Now what?

Once again, our friend Brosephus is spot on with his assessment of the U.S. today. Would MLK be appalled? Probably, but then he’d jump in and get to work trying to help fix this mess. Thanks, Brosephus, for this accurate summation of where we are today.

The Mind of Brosephus

Now what

Yesterday morning, I opened up the WordPress editor to begin writing a column. The words that were bouncing around in my skull didn’t seem appropriate for a day honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so I left the page blank. I didn’t want to sully his memory with the things in my mind. In hindsight, yesterday was probably the most appropriate day of the year to let those words and the message they convey flow freely like water leaping from a waterfall.

America is a broken country. It’s been that way for a long time, but the false sheen of good (or greatness) has been rubbed away by the abrasiveness of modern politics. Instead of working towards the idea of E Pluribus Unum, we’ve been guided by a principle best described as “I’m getting mine, f**k yours”.

CoVID-19 exposed the shortcomings for American health care. Many already…

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Two Men Sans Conscience

I fully intended to do a Saturday Surprise post for this morning, knowing that we could all use a break from the news of the moment, but try as I might, I was not able to do one.  Sure, there were some funny cat pics, a few humorous stories, but … sorry, my friends, maybe next Saturday.  For today, I am just not able to switch gears.  I hope you’ll forgive me.


Guess what?  Yet another lie … a BIG one

Alex AzarSecretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, has handed in his resignation, claiming that, “The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power.”  However, lest you think Alex has suddenly found a conscience, he hasn’t … it’s a symbolic move only, for his resignation is effective at noon on January 20th, the moment of Joe Biden’s inauguration, at which time he would be out of a job anyway.  But there’s more here than just Alex Azar’s resignation, for he dropped a bombshell yesterday when, in an interview with NBC News, he said that the ‘stockpile’ of the coronavirus vaccine that Trump has promised exists, actually does not exist at all.

Funny that just three days prior, on Tuesday, Azar himself said that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses that had been held in reserve for second shots.  There was no reserve.  Alex Azar knew there was no such reserve when he said that barefaced lie.  Is there any single member of the Trump administration who isn’t a consummate liar?  Was that one of the job requirements, that candidates must be able to tell whopper lies while keeping a straight face?  Or was there a ‘Trump School of Lying’ where they learned to emulate the Oaf in the Oval?

So, what does this revelation mean?  It means that states, believing the lie of the reserve, expanded the groups eligible to receive the first dose of the vaccine, and now … there is no second dose.  If it weren’t so damn tragic, you’d almost have to laugh at the name of the group responsible for distribution of the vaccine to the states:  Operation Warp Speed.  Warp speed, I thought, meant fast, but like everything else Trump and his cronies have touched, this has been a disaster from day #1, and far fewer people have received the vaccine than should have.  And now, we find they bungled the procurement and there are no second doses to be had.

Way to go, Trump, Kushner, Pence, Azar, and all the rest.  Obviously, our lives are naught more than pieces on a chessboard to you.


And speaking of idiots and the coronavirus …

Tommy Tuberville is a newly elected Senator from the state of Alabama.  Tommy is 66 years of age … most people would be using Tom or Thomas by now, but Tommy is a good ol’ boy and he likes to be called Tommy.

tommy-tuberville-2Now, ol’ Tommy took his seat in the United States Senate on January 3rd, and within days, he joined a group of Republican senators attempting to overturn Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election based on Trump’s outright lies of voter fraud.  Wouldn’t you think he’d try to learn his job before trying to overthrow the government???  And while most of the Republicans who planned to contest the election results in various states on January 6th backed off after the horrific attacks on the Capitol that evening by Trump supporting terrorists, not ol’ Tommy!  He stuck to his guns and contested the election results in both Arizona and Pennsylvania.  He showed us what he is made of – sawdust.

And yesterday, Tommy got himself in the news again.  I should think it would be a requirement that every single member of Congress should have read the U.S. Constitution at least once, for Pete’s sake!  On Friday, Tommy had been touring hospitals in Alabama … supposedly to get updates about the coronavirus, which he could have done from his office, but whatever.  After one of the tours, he gave an interview to an Alabama television station where he said that he thought the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should be postponed until “a little later on after we got this virus behind us a little bit.”

Say WHAT???  First of all, MR. TUBERVILLE … the United States Constitution, a document that you obviously have NOT read, directs the exact time and date of the inauguration:  noon on the 20th day of January.  Second, MR. TUBERVILLE … Donald Trump has bungled the federal response to the virus so badly that half of our population may be dead by the time the virus is “behind us”!  For the past year, Trump and his cohorts have not done a single damn thing to stem the surge of this virus, and as a result the U.S. has the highest number of cases and the highest death rate on the planet, despite the fact that we have only about 4% of the world’s population!  Donald Trump has no plan, has never had a plan to either control the virus or to distribute the vaccine.  Furthermore … he has begged people to risk their lives by not wearing masks … he has called the pandemic a hoax, has lied so much that nobody even listens to him anymore!  Joe Biden has a plan to help stem the surge and to distribute the vaccine.  He HAS A PLAN, which is far more than Donald Trump has ever had!  Why in hell would you want to delay inaugurating Joe Biden … are you really so stupid?

I honestly believe we need to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that every person elected to or appointed to a federal office MUST pass a test on the U.S. Constitution.  The entire document, including amendments, is just over 8,000 words.  I have read it more times than I can count, and I still have to consult it on occasion to answer a question.  Consider this … an immigrant applying for citizenship to this country knows more about the document that is the foundation of our government than half of our elected representatives, and that includes the ‘man’ who has been calling himself ‘president’ for the last four years!


Since I wasn’t able to give you a nice humorous Saturday Surprise post, I do have a few ‘toons for you that I nabbed from our friend Scottie’s post yesterday

Scottie-1Scottie-3Scottie-4

Scottie-2

And In Other News — There’s A Pandemic!

In light of the storming of the Capitol by white supremacist terrorists one week ago today, much of the rest of the news has fallen by the wayside, not even seen by many.  For instance, on Saturday an Indonesian jetliner, a Boeing 737, crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff on Saturday with 62 people aboard, all presumed dead.  Typically, this would have been headline news for several days, but in the U.S., it was barely a blip. 

One of the things that has dominated the news for nearly a year now is the coronavirus pandemic, yet for the past week it has received far less attention than the Capitol attack and Donald Trump’s role in it. Yesterday the U.S. recorded 4,281 deaths for the 24-hour period, yet we barely batted an eye.  This morning’s email contained my usual daily briefing by David Leonhardt of the New York Times with an update on the pandemic that I thought well worth sharing.


‘A game changer’

david-leonhardtLast week’s attack on the Capitol has understandably dominated the news. But I want to take a few minutes this morning to focus on the other vital story right now — the pandemic.

Below is a three-point summary of where we are now, with help from my colleagues covering the story and from a couple of charts. I’ll warn you up front: The situation is not good.

  1. The new variants are scary. Scientists are still learning about new versions of the coronavirus, including variants that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil. The evidence so far indicates that they “are much more infectious than the Italian strain, which has been circulating here since February,” my colleague Donald G. McNeil Jr. told me. “That’s a game changer.”

Behavior that may once have been only moderately risky — say, airplane travel — may now be more so. The variants seem to be one reason cases worldwide are spiking:

pandemic-chart-1

  1. The mass vaccination campaign in the U.S. is off to a terrible start. The Trump administration promised that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by Jan. 1. Instead, fewer than three million were — and only about nine million have now had their shots.

The Deep South has the country’s lowest vaccination rates. But this isn’t just a Republican failure: California, Virginia and some other Democratic-run states have also been slow. (Here’s data for every state.)

Vaccinations will probably accelerate in coming weeks, especially because President-elect Joe Biden and his team seem much more focused on the problem than President Trump. Goldman Sachs forecasts that about one quarter of Americans will have received their first shot by April 1, half by June 1 and three quarters by mid-autumn. The coming vaccination speedup is the one good piece of good news right now.

  1. Things are likely to get worse before they get better. The virus is spreading so rapidly that hospitals are struggling to keep up. About 130,000 Americans are hospitalized with Covid symptoms, more than double the number two months ago. The strain on hospitals raises the possibility that many patients will not receive the best available treatments.

Los Angeles has recently had to ration oxygen. And Esteban Trejo, an executive at a company in El Paso, Texas, that provides oxygen to temporary hospitals, told Kaiser Health News, “It’s been nuts, absolutely nuts.”

The recent data on cases and deaths is noisy, because diagnoses artificially slowed during the holidays, says Mitch Smith, a Times reporter who follows the numbers. Still, deaths have already hit a record this week — more than 3,000 a day, on average — and the recent explosion of cases suggests they may be heading to above 3,500 and perhaps to 4,000.

pandemic-chart-2

The bottom line: Biden will be taking office next week during the nadir of the coronavirus crisis. His administration will need to both accelerate vaccine distribution and persuade more people to change their behavior — and the second goal is even more urgent than the first.

Unless Americans start wearing masks more often and spending less time together in cramped spaces, many more people are going to die.

MOVING ON.

Sometimes we see other people’s problems more clearly than they are able to see them. About half of my readers are from outside the U.S. and it’s always interesting to get their perspective on what is happening here in the U.S. My special friend David, sickened by the events of last Wednesday at the Capitol in D.C., has written his take on our current situation, and in my book he is spot on. Thank you, David, both for this post and your (implied) permission to share!

The BUTHIDARS

It’s been just a week since one of the most sickening events in American History, some say since my lot were over there kicking ass before having our collective asses kicked. Whenever it was, and whatever it was are irrelevant as nothing in recent history compares to this. It was a definite attempt at a coup and there’s no denying that had the insurrectionists managed to get their filthy hands on certain people like Nancy Pelosi or Mike Pence there may well have been executions.

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Whilst I don’t care for Mike Pence I think it ridiculous that he’s being targeted by Trumpites for letting Trump down. Firstly he obeyed the vow he’d made to the country-not to Trump- and secondly he did not have the power to do as he was asked anyway. What does leave me with a sour taste in my mouth and the obvious question, is why…

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Snarky Snippets Is Baaaaaaack …

I tried to do something humorous for this morning’s post, for my last several posts have been either rants or introspective critiques and I thought it was time to ‘lighten up’.  However, try as I might, it just didn’t work.  But I had no trouble whatsoever finding my inner snarky self … that is, apparently, the real me!


Censure???

The late Senator John McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain, has been ‘censured’ by the Maricopa County (Arizona) Republican Committee.  Why?  Because of her support for “leftist causes” like gay marriage, larger government and “others that run counter to Republican values.”  And also because she “failed” to support conservative candidates and has “supported globalist policies and candidates,” including Democrats such as President-elect Joe Biden.

Incredible, is it not?  I wasn’t quite sure what, in a case like this where the person being ‘censured’ holds no political office, what it even means to be censured.  Turns out, it means pretty much nothing.  According to Wikipedia …

“Censure is a formal, and public, group condemnation of an individual, often a group member, whose actions run counter to the group’s acceptable standards for individual behavior. … Like a reprimand, a censure does not remove a member from their office so they retain their title, stature, and power to vote.”

In response to the censure, Ms. McCain said on Twitter “I am a proud lifelong Republican and will continue to support candidates who put country over party and stand for the rule of law.”  Like her husband, Ms. McCain is a person of character … much more so than the buffoons who decided to censure her.  This is yet another example of the bigotry that has become the foundation of the Republican Party in the 21st century.


‘Patriot’???

More times than I can count in the past few days, I have heard the domestic terrorists who attacked the Capitol on Wednesday referred to as “patriots”.  Hearing this is like hearing fingernails running across a chalkboard … it sets my teeth on edge.

NOBODY who harms others and attempts to undermine or overthrow their own government can possibly be called a patriot.  Period.  A patriot is somebody who cares enough about their country to defend it against enemies, not someone who blatantly attempts to destroy their country from within!

John McCain was a patriot, President Barack Obama is a patriot, Senator Bobby Kennedy was a patriot, as were Martin Luther King and the late Representative John Lewis.  These thugs …

jerks-1jerks-2jerks-3jerks-4

… are not patriots, they are homegrown, domestic terrorists.  They are racists and homophobes.  They are fools, idiots and buffoons.  They are ignorant rednecks … but they are the furthest thing from a ‘patriot’.

Rather than defend their country, what they did, and what they are still planning to do, is to take away the will of the majority of people in this nation and impose their own brand of anarchy based on bigotry, based on racism and hatred.  No, folks, these are insurgents, they are domestic terrorists, every bit as dangerous as members of al Qaeda, and even less intelligent.  Do not make them heroes … call them what they are … the enemies of the United States.


Idiocy has a price …

In January 2019, Senator Josh Hawley, then 39 years old, took his seat in Congress for the first time as the Senator from Missouri.  It was likely the first and last time.  Hawley wanted to be the maverick, the one who gave voice to Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was somehow ‘stolen’ from him, was ‘rigged’, and so Hawley made great show of announcing that he would object to the electoral votes last Wednesday when Congress met to formally certify the electoral votes that declared Joe Biden the next president of the United States.

Yep, ol’ Josh was pretty proud of his sycophancy, pleased to be standing up for the voice of the electoral loser, thought he might even overturn the voice of the people.  And when terrorists gathered outside the Capitol building on Wednesday morning, Josh wasn’t concerned, in fact he waved and smiled, even gave them what I’ve come to think of as the Trumpian equivalent of the Nazi salute …

hawley

And then the shit hit the fan.  Those terrorists Josh thought he was bonding with stormed the Capitol building, disrupted the proceedings, caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, and left 5 people dead.  And Hawley became an overnight pariah.  Former Republican Senator John Danforth, Hawley’s political mentor and a fellow Yale Law School graduate, stated that supporting Hawley in his Senate bid and his prior state attorney general role was the “worst mistake I ever made in my life”.

David Humphreys, who with his mother and sister donated more than $6 million to Hawley’s campaigns, called for Hawley to be censured, having “revealed himself as a political opportunist willing to subvert the Constitution and the ideals of the nation he swore to uphold.”  Hawley has since faced bipartisan calls for his resignation, to which he has responded that he “will never apologize”.  But in all likelihood, his political career is as dead as the fish we had for dinner last night.

Apparently ol’ Josh had written a book … “The Tyranny of Big Tech” … that was scheduled to be published in June by Simon & Schuster.  That has since been canceled, according to Simon & Schuster …

“We did not come to this decision lightly.  As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.”

Fortunately for him, Hawley’s net worth is estimated at $1.1 million, so he won’t have to worry about finding a job as a dishwasher or truck driver anytime soon.

REBIRTH OF A NATION?

Like it or not, the U.S. has a place in the global community, and as such, what happens here affects our friends and neighbours all ’round the globe. Here is an assessment … a spot-on one, as it happens … from our friend David in the UK. Thank you David, for your thoughts on our disastrous day, your hopes for our future, and for caring.

The BUTHIDARS

Yesterday, January 6th 2021 will be a day long remembered in the history books. I saw something I never thought to witness outside of a Banana Republic. A Western Nation go to war with itself. There was armed insurrection in the Capital and the home of Democracy in America , The Capitol Building, was attacked by armed civilians carrying every type of weapon. These people had not gone to demand a more Democratic State, they had gone to destroy Democracy itself.

People were forewarned of such an event and it surprised me that there wasn’t a stronger defence of he building though it seems likely that there may have been some collusion between these insurrectionists and members of the current ruling party. The President who has made an almost single handed assault on Government during the last four years, and who has done little to earn his salary for the…

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Eve of Destruction

Everything that is happening in the U.S. today — the pandemic, highest death toll ever, Trump attempting to silence our voices, dirty cops being let off the hook, racism, civil rights protections for women, minorities, LGBT people under the 1964 Civil Rights Act being removed as Trump attempts to ‘burn it all down’ before he is forced out — it all makes me feel that this song is the right one for the day … perhaps more so today than ever before.

Eve of Destruction
Barry McGuire

The eastern world, it is explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
And can’t you feel the fears I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away,
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,
When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
But when your return, it’s the same old place,
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.
No, no, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Songwriters: P. F. Sloan, 1965
Eve of Destruction lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Alternative Facts — 1984 or 2021?

The events of the past four years have often brought to mind George Orwell’s 1984, starting in the first week with Kellyanne Conway’s assertion that there can be ‘alternative facts’.  But even more so are recent events, such as Trump’s uncanny ability to convince some 70% of republicans that he actually won the election, contrary to what the numbers say.  Charles Lane is on the editorial board of The Washington Post, and today has written a very thought-provoking editorial that I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read and to ponder, comparing Orwell’s dystopian novel to our dystopian reality in the U.S. today.


Trump is playing an Orwellian numbers game

Opinion by

Charles-LaneCharles Lane

Editorial writer and columnist

Jan. 4, 2021 at 5:58 p.m. EST

“Mathematics,” Galileo said, “is the language in which God has written the universe.” Though an atheist, George Orwell very much agreed with the Italian astronomer that quantification is an essential attribute of objective reality.

Orwell understood, however, that politics is not a scientific endeavor, but rather “a sort of sub-atomic or non-Euclidean world” where perception could prevail over substance, sometimes dangerously, and sometimes lastingly. He hoped for a decent politics that would enable people to discern objective truth, and to act on it — consistent with their principles.

And so, in his greatest novel, he framed an individual’s protest against tyranny as an insistence on arithmetic. “Freedom,” the protagonist of “1984,” Winston Smith, confided to his diary, “is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.”

In the Ministry of Love’s dungeons, a different credo prevails: “Whatever the party holds to be truth is truth.” The party’s interrogator knew it had broken Smith’s resistance when, under horrific torture, Smith first lost the ability to count four fingers held in front of him, then came sincerely to believe that the four might be five.

President Trump did not torture Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on Saturday — life does not imitate art to that degree. Yet his attempt to pressure this astonished official and his lawyer into “recalculating” the state’s certified presidential vote totals otherwise deserved the admittedly overused adjective “Orwellian.”

As Orwell illustrated in “1984,” the power to make another person believe something that literally cannot be true — not just to mouth the false words but to believe them — is the ultimate form of domination.

In a sense this is what Trump is doing with Republicans now: He is making acceptance of his phony numbers — figures that are not just false, but impossible — into a test of personal and party loyalty.

In reality, the result of Georgia’s election was: Joe Biden got 2,473,633 votes and Donald Trump got 2,461,854; the former figure is 11,779 votes greater than the latter. These figures have been checked, rechecked and verified repeatedly. They denote real votes cast by actual citizens.

In Trump’s reality, however, such things never happened, but all sorts of fraud — “they went to the table with the black robe and the black shield, and they pulled out the votes” — did occur, and he really “won that state by hundreds of thousands of votes,” as he told Raffensperger.

Raffensperger replied, sounding almost like Orwell’s beleaguered Smith: “We don’t agree that you have won.” He was so incredulous at the president’s words, perhaps, or so desperate to placate him without capitulating, that he used a verb — “agree” — implicitly making Trump’s contentions worthy of debate.

This counts as a courageous performance, however, especially given the threat of legal action Trump made against Raffensperger (albeit probably empty), and the hostility the president is whipping up against both the secretary of state and Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp (R), on social media.

Meanwhile, no beatings or electric shocks have proved necessary to bring others in the GOP into line, starting with the 77 percent of Trump voters who believe he was cheated out of victory, according to a Fox News poll.

The president’s own irresponsible statements were enough to convince them that he had been the victim of massive fraud, just as his concession to Biden would have convinced them of the opposite, had he chosen to behave like almost every other losing candidate in the history of U.S. presidential politics.

For numerous elected officials in the GOP’s upper echelons, however, the threat of a pro-Trump primary challenge, or fear of being rendered nonviable in a 2024 Republican presidential primary, induces obedience, or what they hope will be a sufficiently sincere-seeming display of it.

On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers, including 13 senators, plan to confront electoral votes for Biden with a challenge, the premise of which, essentially, is that two plus two might make five.

Leading the charge in the Senate is Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), joined by fellow 2024 hopeful Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). When he was running against Trump in the May 2016 Indiana primary and feeling offended by Trump’s insinuation that Cruz’s father might have been involved in the JFK assassination, Cruz said: “This man is a pathological liar, he doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. . . . Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute he believes it.” Now, though, Ted Cruz loves Big Brother.

Fortunately, this maneuver will fail, rejected by the rest of the Senate. When you add the Democrats in that chamber to reality-based Republicans — such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Mitt Romney (Utah), John Thune (S.D.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) — the number of votes to accept Biden’s electors could reach 86.

And 86 is, still, a majority of 100.

Invasion of the Brain Snatchers

What follows is Jeff’s reblog of Jerry’s (Grumpy) post, but well worth the read. Can we say ‘conspiracy theories’? Sheesh … is it any wonder this nation has gone to hell?

On The Fence Voters

Our friend Jerry over at Grumpy’s Grumblings continues with a unique look at the suicide bombing on Christmas day in Nashville. I’ve included a link at the end to continue reading at his blog. Thanks Jerry!

What a relief. It turns out Anthony Quinn Warner, the Christmas Day Nashville bomber, was mentally deranged, a loner, and not part of an organized movement of radicals who might inflict further mayhem on our currently fragile nation.

Well, yes, Warner—who died in the blast of his own making—was barkin’ mad, but perhaps we shouldn’t let our guard down just yet.

Warner seriously believed we earthlings are being manipulated by a race of alien reptilians who have implanted microchips in our brains to control us.

As recently reported, Warner seriously believed we earthlings are being manipulated by a race of alien reptilians who have implanted microchips in our brains to control us. Utterly…

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The echo chamber feedback loop

Once again, our friend Keith is spot-on with his analysis and advice. Thanks, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

“Everyone is talking about this,” says the outgoing president on more than a few occasions.. “Everyone knows this is true” or “Everyone knows” he might use as an alternative or add-on to the above, as he is prone to repeat himself. These are intentional phrases used to make the listener or reader skip past them and assume the statements are true. When you hear or read these comments, do yourself a favor and assume the opposite.

Why? Because you are hearing an echo chamber feedback loop. The echo chamber occurs when the same piece of information, rumor or conspiracy theory is repeated within limited sources of information. In fact, this is how disinformation is so easily shared, especially with an untruthful, unrelenting and unaware user in the White House. In fact, when a Russian, Iranian, Chinese or American troll hears the outgoing president repeat what they made up, it is…

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