Impeachment Inquiry-Day Five

There is so much to write about that I simply cannot keep up … I need more than 24 hours in a day! Thankfully, our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written about yesterday’s testimony in the impeachment hearings by Gordon Sondland. I would only add that somebody needs to take Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan back to pre-school and let the adults get on with the business at hand! Thank you, Jeff, for this great summary of yesterday’s events!

On The Fence Voters

Another tough day for the POTUS

We’re now on day five of the impeachment inquiry, and once again, the current President of the United States is having another tough day. His million-dollar donor, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, not only through him under the bus, but also just about anyone else who’s involved in this fiasco.

I guess when a few years in prison might await, the generous donation to the President for an Ambassadorship doesn’t seem all that important. In the end, instead of pleading the fifth as many in the media had speculated he might do, Sondland decided to come clean–kind of.

After his first deposition Sondland came to the realization that based on testimony from others such as Ambassador William Taylor, his recollection was a bit hazy, which led him to amend some of his original statements. Then today, the Ambassador decided that the President, Secretary of State Mike…

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First Amendment Run Amok

Rick Wiles is an American non-denominational senior pastor at Flowing Streams Church in Vero Beach, FL, radio host and pundit. He is the founder of TruNews, a website known for promoting racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Mr. Wiles came onto my radar yesterday when I saw this …Wiles-tweetHe went on to say …

“If they take him [Trump] out, there’s gonna be violence in America. That’s all there is to it. However he leaves, there’s gonna be violence in America. I believe there are people in this country, veterans, there are cowboys, mountain men, I mean guys that know how to fight, and they’re going to make a decision that people who did this to Donald Trump are not gonna get away with it. And they’re gonna hunt them down. The Trump supporters are going to hunt them down. It’s going to happen, and this country is going to be plunged into darkness and they brought it upon themselves because they won’t back off.”

Yes, before you beat me to the punch, I know this is just ignorance and hatred talking, I know that Mr. Wiles is but a gnat on the posterior of humanity.  But … I propose that his speech is classified as hate speech and as incitement to violence and must be stopped.

I’ve said this at least a thousand times before on this blog … ‘Rights’ come with responsibilities.  Rights are not unconditional.  Those who cannot use their rights judiciously, who continually abuse them, who cause harm to others by invoking their own rights, must lose those rights.  I’ve spouted endlessly about the Second Amendment, how it does not give the right to unfettered and unconditional gun ownership, nor the right to own an unlimited number of guns with the capability of killing hundreds within minutes.  I don’t think the gun advocates or NRA supporters have heard me, but … know that someday, somehow, somebody will figure out how to shut the gun lobby down and inject common sense into the interpretation of the amendment.

The First Amendment is no different.  Contrary to popular belief, it does not give people the unlimited right to say whatever pops into their mind, in any venue, and at any time.  Mr. Wiles is a public figure, and as such, he has even more responsibility than the rest of us.  He has a history of racism and anti-Semitism.  He frequently referred to President Obama as a “demon from hell”.  He has asserted that the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the city of Houston, Texas resulted from Houston’s LGBT community; has described Judaism and Islam as “the Antichrist”; has called Central American immigrants a “‘brown invasion'” being used by God to punish American whites because of abortion; has claimed that the Las Vegas massacre was conducted by government death squads; has asserted that Antonin Scalia was murdered; and, in July 2018, predicted an imminent coup that would result in the nationally televised decapitation of the Trump family on the White House lawn.

There are those who would say all of the above fall under the protections of the First Amendment right to free speech.  I disagree.  Remember when Alex Jones claimed that the Sandy Hook school shooting was all a hoax and that the grieving parents were paid actors?  Some parents are still being threatened by the fools who bought into his theory. Remember when the same Alex Jones bought into the theory that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta were dealing in human trafficking and child sex slavery in the basement of a local pizzeria?  Yes, folks, words have consequences.

Do you seriously believe that the framers of the Constitution would endorse or support a man calling for the death of members of a political party solely because that party followed the mandates of the Constitution?

I think we have long passed the point where we need to codify the limitations on certain ‘rights’, starting with both the First and Second Amendments.  For far too long, it has been open season … people claiming that they have a right to say whatever they wish, whenever and wherever, and damn the consequences.  Mr. Wiles presents a clear and present danger to all of us who do not sing the praises of the Oaf in the Oval, and this is not … I repeat … THIS IS NOT the idea upon which this nation was founded.  The right to free speech was intended to provide people the ability to engage in political discourse, to state opposing viewpoints without fear of repercussions.  It was never ever intended to be a tool given to those who would incite violence for any reason.  This nation was once a hell of a lot better than it is today.  Think about it.

The Video …

By now, I’m sure you have all heard of “The Video”.  That would be the video that was played at a three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami.  A conference, I might add, that was attended by Trump’s son, Junior, as well as by former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, among others.

I watched this video tonight, and halfway through I felt ill and had to turn it off.  Folks, this is the most disgusting thing I have seen in the world of politics in all of my 68 years.  It is vile, it is violent, it is horrific and far beneath the dignity of … well, anybody, except possibly Charles Manson.  But worse yet, it is dangerous.  It was designed for one purpose and one purpose only:  to rile the masses, Trump’s base.

The video was taken from the 2014 movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” and showed the actor Colin Firth in a gory church massacre scene. In the movie, the people killed are members of a fundamentalist  church.

The doctored video depicts a scene inside the “Church of Fake News,” where parishioners rise as Trump — dressed in a black pinstripe suit and tie — walks down the aisle. Many parishioners’ faces have been replaced with the logos of news media organizations, including PBS, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and NBC.

Trump stops in the middle of the church, pulls a gun out of his suit jacket pocket and begins a graphic rampage. As the parishioners try to flee, Trump fires at them. He shoots Black Lives Matter in the head, and also shoots Vice News.

Some of those in the church try to apprehend Trump. He fends them off and makes his way toward the altar, knocking over several pews. He wrestles a parishioner with a Vice News logo as a face to the ground and then shoots the person at point blank range. In the background, the former F.B.I. director, James Comey, is seen trying to get away.

From there, Trump attacks a range of his critics. He strikes the late Arizona senator John McCain in the back of the neck. He hits the television personality Rosie O’Donnell in the face and then stabs her in the head. He strikes Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. He lights the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, one of his democratic rivals, on fire.

He takes Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, hostage before throwing him to the ground. Then he strikes former President Barack Obama in the back and throws him against a wall.

Others shown in the video include Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; former President Bill Clinton; the film producer Harvey Weinstein; and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is overseeing an impeachment inquiry of Trump.

The clip ends with Trump putting a stake into the head of a person with a CNN logo for a face. Trump then stands on the altar, admiring his rampage, and smiles.

I am not embedding the video here, for I don’t recommend watching it, however if you have a stomach of iron, or as I did, feel that you should watch it to see for yourself, here is a link.

Trump did not create this video, nor do I hold him accountable for its creation.  It is the work of an unidentified creator who operates under the name of “The GeekzTeam” and who has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.”  However, Trump himself is not without blame.  Since early in his campaign, he has denigrated the press, calling them “fake news”, and worse yet, “the enemy of the people”.  He has made up nasty nicknames for any who disagree with him, for with Trump, there can be no middle ground … you’re either 100% for him, or you are “the enemy”.

Much of Trump’s most avid base is, obviously, comprised of the less-educated … people who could care less about those things they don’t understand:  Syria, alliances, immigration, tariffs, policy goals, Russians, taxes (unless it’s their own).  They care only about what affects them directly and noticeably.  Tariffs affect them, but they don’t notice if the price of apples jumps by 50 cents a pound, and if they do notice, they don’t connect it to tariffs.  The mistrust of our allies, based on Trump’s foreign policies, if they can even be called policies, is naught but a concept to them, and they don’t understand that it makes our own nation a lot less safe.

And … most of them own guns.

So, when a video such as this one is shown online, when those most avid among Trump supporters see it, at least a few are quite likely to get ideas.  They’ve heard Trump tell them that the press is the enemy, and there he is in the video, killing members of every legitimate news outlet.  They’ve heard him put down people like Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Adam Schiff, and the woman he will always resent, for she beat him in 2016, Hillary Clinton.  Now, I see you thinking that no sane person would watch that video and then try to act violently against any of those people.  And most wouldn’t, not even those die-hard Trumpeters.  But …

Remember Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr., the man who sent pipe bombs to Obama, Biden, Clinton, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Maxine Waters, and others including CNN?  He believed certain conspiracy theories he had seen on Sean Hannity’s Fox Network show, and thought that Trump’s critics were dangerous, unpatriotic, and evil.

Remember the Pizzagate conspiracy theory that posited Hillary Clinton and John Podesta were running a pedophilia and human trafficking ring in the basement of Comet Ping Pong pizzeria?  Edgar Maddison Welch took it seriously, took an AR-15 assault rifle to the restaurant with the intent of killing whoever he found there.  Luckily, he was stopped before anybody died, but think what might have happened.

Remember Jarrod Warren Ramos who entered the Capital Gazette newspaper offices in June 2018, began shooting and killed five people?  Though he did not cite Trump, most believe that newspapers and news outlets are increasingly susceptible to violence as a result of Trump’s near-constant criticism.

Remember Brenton Harrison Tarrant?  You probably don’t for his name was intentionally not made noteworthy, but he was the man who killed 57 people in two separate mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, this past March.  In his “manifesto”, he cited Trump as part of his inspiration, calling him “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”.

Now, is it really so far-fetched to think that someone, somewhere, might see this video and go after members of the media or some of those people who Trump has called names, said they should be “locked up”, or threatened to sue?  Or maybe even a simple little blogger who is anti-Trump and whose blog he just happened to see one day?

Think about it.

Too Much Noise …

There is entirely too much noise these days.  Merriam-Webster defines noise as “loud, confused, or senseless shouting or outcry”, and Wikipedia defines it as “unwanted sound judged to be unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing”.  Both are apt descriptions of what we are experiencing today.  The noise is coming from the White House, it is coming from the GOP, and it is coming from the evangelicals.  Mostly, it is coming from the Fool on the Hill, Donald Trump, and his hired sycophants.  The noise is obnoxious and annoying, but worse, it is dangerous.

Robert Jeffress, an evangelical pastor who, by the way, won Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award in November 2016 for his bigoted and mindless bleating, is back in the news this week.  He appeared on Fox News’ program Fox and Friends Sunday where he said …

“I don’t pretend to speak for all evangelicals but this week I have been traveling the country and I’ve literally spoken to thousands and thousands of evangelical Christians, I have never seen them more angry over any issue than this attempt to illegitimately remove this president from office, overturn the 2016 election and negate the votes of millions of evangelicals in the process. And they know that the only impeachable offense President Trump has committed was beating Hillary Clinton in 2016. That’s the unpardonable sin for which the Democrats will never forgive him. And I do want to make this prediction this morning: If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal.”

A ’Civil War-like fracture’?  I would rebut that Donald Trump has intentionally and with purpose caused the divide that is driving people apart in this nation.  He has denigrated everyone in one way or another, except of course his loyal fan base who don’t seem to understand the effect of his words and actions.  But, Mr. Jeffress’ words are dangerous, for some may well see them as a call to action.

The United States is a secular nation … that is, no religion determines policy, but policy is driven by the good of the nation as a whole.  The U.S. Constitution calls for separation of church and state.  And yet, Mr. Jeffress objects to that, as well …

“There is no such thing as a separation of church and state in the Constitution.  We have allowed the secularists, the atheists, the humanists to hijack our Constitution and pervert it into something our forefathers never intended.

And I’m gonna say this. I’m gonna say this, and it may cost me some book sales, but I’m gonna say it anyway. Thank God we have a president like Donald J. Trump who understands that. I don’t like seeing my friend under attack like he is under right now, but I don’t like the prospect of what’s going to happen in America if we allow the left to seize control of this country again.”

‘Scuse me, Mr. Jeffress, but I am in the group that you say have hijacked our Constitution, and I am not taking your words sitting down.  This nation wasn’t founded only for you evangelicals, but for all who live here, regardless of their religious views.  I have worked and paid taxes in this country since I was 13 years old, some 55 years ago.  I am a citizen, though not proud to be at this moment.  I vote … I vote in every election.  I have a voice in the government of this country.  I have taken no less than three graduate-level courses in Constitutional Law.  I have actually read the entire U.S. Constitution … many times … have you?  So just how the Sam Hell do you think I have fewer rights than you and your bigoted followers?

I respect your right to believe as you wish, to follow the tenets of whichever religion you choose, but I’ll be damned if you’re going to take away my rights to have as much say in the governance of this nation as you do.  And frankly, I’m a hell of a lot nicer than you are, for I care about people, about animals, about nature and our planet, whereas the only thing you seem to care about is wealth and your cockeyed religion, even though your interpretation of your religion is about hate, not love.  If I could award you Idiot of the Week a second time, I surely would.

See, folks, this is what all that noise does … it makes us all angry, puts us in fight mode, even when we don’t want to be.  It gives us ulcers, nightmares, and sleepless nights, loss of appetite for food and too much appetite for other substances.  And, perhaps most importantly, it keeps us rattled and distracted so we may not be keeping our eye on the ball as we should.  Perhaps that is the intent?

In addition to Jeffress, we have people starting conspiracy theories that are too idiotic, too inane to even mention.  And it’s not just the crew over at Fox, though they are certainly doing their fair share of it. The republicans are coming out of the woodwork with theories about FBI agents, Adam Schiff, Obama, and others that have absolutely no basis in fact, but … I guess it’s simpler than having to admit that you threw your lot in with a president who is almost certainly guilty of violating the very laws he took an oath to uphold, and who is facing impeachment by, at the very least, the House of Representatives.

There is one part of me that truly wishes the media would stop publishing his every word, would stop covering the fools who are trying to cover his sorry patootie.  Yes, I know … First Amendment rights, need to know, and freedom of the press, which I support fully … 100%.  But, responsible reporting … yes, we need to know what is happening, but I’m not sure we need to know every ignominious, hate-filled bit of rhetoric that Trump tweets.  Most of it is meaningless, almost every word is a lie anyway.  There must surely be room for balance.  If it is relevant or apropos of anything, then yes, we need to know.  But his eternal and meaningless rants do nothing more than rile us all, and that is not healthy for us or for the nation.

Your thoughts?

Two Mini-Rants …

As best I can figure, the only thing Donald Trump did yesterday was stir the pot on Twitter.  He surely must have blisters on his thumbs by now.  Does he ever actually work?  He was on his very worst behaviour today.  Early on, I began comparing his presidency to a train headed at full-speed toward a big cliff.  Today, that cliff seems to be looming just over the horizon.  I don’t know how one ‘man’ can get so many things so wrong in the course of a 24-hour period! train-cliff


trump babyThe child got his tender little feelings hurt when he asked a dumb question and was put in his place by the adult in the room.  The baby is now pouting and hurling objects at the adult in the room.  Typical?  Sure, in a household with a two-year-old child, but not in the Oval Office.

When Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland, even his own staff was confused.  One doesn’t, after all, just get up one morning and decide to buy another, autonomous country.  But, he persisted, and eventually the word got out and was published by the Wall Street Journal.  And then, inevitably, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen got wind of it, and replied to the press …

“Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant. Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there. Jokes aside, we will of course love to have an even closer strategic relationship with the United States.”

Trump got a bee up his {ahem} and decided, based on PM Frederiksen’s response, to cancel a trip that was planned for September 2nd – 3rd, the invitation to visit having been issued by Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II.

PM Frederiksen was wise when she said, “Let’s leave it there”, however Trump is not used to being told “No” and handled the incident so poorly that it is likely to create ill-will between the two nations.

Headlines in Denmark read …

  • “The U.S. and Denmark’s relationship has never been this ice-cold. It will have wide-ranging consequences.”
  • “Trump sends Denmark and the U.S.’s relationship to the freezing point.”

Way to go, Donnie … you just drove a wedge between us and yet another ally. How many is that now?  I’ve lost track.


Wayne Allen Root … the name rings a bell … let me check my archives … AHA!  There it is … I knew he sounded familiar, and no big surprise that he was awarded Idiot of the Week in May, 2017.  You notice how the idiots keep popping back up?  A bit of background …

root-bookRoot is a conspiracy theorist and was on the hate bandwagon when Barack Obama was our President.  He claimed that Obama lied about attending Columbia University, then turned around and said that Obama did, in fact, attend, but that he did so as a foreign exchange student.  He claimed that Obama “cut his afro” in order to infiltrate the political class and become a “Manchurian candidate” meant to take down America from within.  He claimed to have diagnosed Obama as an “arrogant, egomaniacal sociopath” who is either “mentally ill” or committing treason and must be removed from office “before he kills us all” with Ebola-ridden terrorists.

Well, you can read the rest of the idiocy that won him the award, for today there is more!  Mr. Root hosts some ‘call-in’ show on Newsmax TV, and yesterday, his idiocy kicked into full gear, and he said the following on his show …

root-5“I happen to be Jewish by birth and 75% of all Jews vote Democrat, and they don’t like Trump. This is the greatest president for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world. Not just in America, Trump is the best president for Israel in the history of the world. And the Jewish people love him like he is the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.

In America, American Jews don’t like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense. But that’s okay. He keeps doing what he’s doing. He’s good for all of us. Good for Jews, good for blacks, good for gays.

He is good for everyone in America who wants a job.”

What. A. Fool.  Trump, predictably, ate it up and tweeted Root’s words on Twitter.  But that wasn’t even enough for Trump.  Noooooo … he had to go on and make the most inflammatory comment that has everyone, Jew and non-Jew (except, of course, his blind followers) up in arms.

“If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

Ladies and gentlemen … the United States of America has at the head of its government a madman.  He lacks every single qualification that is needed to lead the nation:  intelligence, common sense, compassion, humanitarianism, integrity, honesty, the ability to compromise when necessary, the ability to speak properly, the ability to remain calm under pressure, and the list goes on.

I hereby invite any republican to respectfully tell me what, exactly, they see of value in Donald Trump.  Please be specific … don’t say “he tells it like it is”, “he’s making America great again”, or “he’s one of us”.  Those don’t tell me a thing.  Give me specifics, positive things you believe he has done.  The door is open … feel free to walk through it …


And now, I shall go take a handful of aspirin 💊, pour a glass of sherry 🍷, and seek solace in a bit of music ♫ before going to bed.  Goodnight all.

Where Do We Draw A Line?

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, and in recent times that has been challenged and the limits sorely tested.  It is a slippery slope, one fraught with the danger of going a step too far in censuring free speech, but it is the opinion of this writer that there must be a line … somewhere.  Last night I came across one of the right-wing pundits who I believe has crossed the line no matter where the line is.  His name is Josh Bernstein, and he is an online commentator.  His online show is called, predictably, the Josh Bernstein Show.  His bio says he is an anthropologist, writer, news anchor, political analyst, and more, but I rather doubt most of that, and don’t have time to spend trying to confirm or deny.

What brought him onto my radar was his call for Trump to “sharpen up them guillotines” to use on special counsel Robert Mueller in response to Mueller’s comment during his public statement on Wednesday that “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”  Bernstein went into attack mode, accusing Mueller of taking bribes.josh-bernstein.png

“How much were you paid to do that press conference? All of you are just disgusting, despicable excuses for human beings and, honestly, I hope you all go down. Treason. President Trump said treason. Guess what? I agree with that. … You know what they do for treason? U.S. Code 18 § 2381. They put you to death, that’s what they do. Let’s sharpen up them guillotines, let’s bring out Old Sparky, let’s make sure that those lethal concoctions are ready to go, because you people deserve it!”

Now, we’ve all become used to the hate speech that emanates from both sides of the political spectrum, but most viciously from the far right, and most of us take it with a grain of salt these days.  But I sense a more ominous tone here.  The danger is not in him saying it, but in people hearing it, and some people hearing it as a call to action.

If this were an isolated episode in Mr. Bernstein’s hate speech, I might be more inclined to chalk it up to the ravings of a lunatic and move along, but it is one of many.  In January, he had this to say about democrats …

“Democrats don’t care about Americans, they don’t care about their security, they don’t even care about their paychecks.  The bottom line is, and I hate to say this, these are the types of people that Americans fought against in World War II. These are the ones who should be sterilized so we can start over.”

In October, after Alex Baldwin made a statement that through the electoral process, we need to effect a change in government, Bernstein called him treasonous and said he should be banned.  He went a bit further, though …

“These idiot liberals, these morons that want to bring us down to a third-world level, these people should be locked up for treason. Liberals like to say, ‘Well, it’s very patriotic to say something nasty about your own country.’ You know what? No it’s not. It’s treasonous.”

He has called for all Muslims to be ‘eradicated’ …

“These people need to be eradicated from Western Europe, they need to be eradicated from the United States, they need to be eradicated, I would say, pretty much from everywhere, because they have shown time and time again—whether you’re a peaceful Muslim, whether you’re a radical Muslim—you’ve shown time and time again that you just cannot deal and cope with being in a civilized society. So we’ve got to do something about it.”

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Why is this man allowed to say these things on the airwaves?  Because of the 1st Amendment right to free speech.  I think by now you all know that I fully support the right to free speech and freedom of the press.  But, I’ve said more than a few times, with every right comes an accompanying responsibility to use that right with conscience.  Josh Bernstein is taking his right, but not exercising his conscience.

Picture a white supremacist, or a hater of gay people, or an Islamophobe sitting at his computer one night, watching one of Bernstein’s videos calling for the execution of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller, or just ‘liberals’ in general.  The man has a few guns, maybe a few beers under his belt, and decides to take up the gauntlet.  I don’t need to paint the picture, do I, for we’ve seen it far too many times already.

Remember last October when Cesar Sayoc sent pipe bombs through the U.S. mail to a number of prominent Democrats and Trump critics, as well as CNN?  Fortunately, he was stupid, the bombs were discovered, and nobody was hurt.  But, what about next time, or the time after?  Remember the mosque shootings in Philadelphia last year and New Zealand this year?  What inspired those killers?

I think that the time has come to draw a line somewhere.  Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school shooting has had terrible consequences for the families of children who died in that horrific event.  In December 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch entered Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., armed and planning to kill whomever he came across.  His inspiration was the conspiracy theory that would become known as Pizzagate.

Words have consequences.  While I would not wish to stifle the ability of the press or anyone else to speak freely and offer an opinion, I think we must draw the line at calling for the death of another.  Mr. Bernstein just happened to cross my radar, but how many more are out there calling for the death of an individual or a group that we don’t know about?  I think that when you allow a right or a privilege to be abused, it ultimately ceases to be a right.  Think about it.

They Walk Among Us …

Last week, I re-blogged a post by Gronda titled ‘What Is This QAnon Group All about?’.  I find the very concept of this group so disgusting and reprehensible that I hadn’t had the heart to write about them, so I was happy to find that Gronda had.  A day or so later, I came across a piece in The Washington Post that sent chills down my spine.  What follows is a piece written by Post reporter Isaac Stanley-Becker, based on an interview with a “real-life believer” in the concept of QAnon.  It is not for the faint of heart, and frankly it made me want to simply walk away. I apologize that this post is a bit longer than I normally do, but I thought the entirety was important.

QAnon: Meet a real-life believer in the online, pro-Trump conspiracy theory that’s bursting into view

By Isaac Stanley-Becker, August 3 

QAnon member

Paul Burton, left, who is a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, with his father, Tom Burton. (Provided by Paul Burton)

After I wrote about QAnon, an online conspiracy theory that leaped on Tuesday from the far reaches of the Internet to the audience at President Trump’s rally in Tampa, an email arrived in my inbox from a man named Paul Burton.

He described a colleague and me as “Bezos’ boys,” referring to Jeffrey P. Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post, and asked, “How’s your fishbowl?” meaning, I presumed, a place open to public view and subject to critique. “LOL!” he added.

I responded, asking if he would be interested in speaking with me about his belief in QAnon. Much about the philosophy remains mysterious, even contradictory. But the central idea, which has no basis in observable reality, is that “Q” is the government insider, or cadre of insiders, leaving clues on digital message boards about a countercoup underway to vanquish deep-state saboteurs and their ring of elite allies, including Hillary Clinton and George Soros. 

Less clear to me, given the anonymity that shrouds the threads on which the theory has spread, was the nature of the people who find it credible. How did they come across Q’s “crumbs” of information? What made the tenets of QAnon — tinged with racism and anti-Semitism — convincing to them? What were their day jobs?

We had a short back-and-forth in which Burton suggested several resources to expand my understanding of Q and its mission, which I read. He said they would convince me that the theory had merit, which they did not; QAnon is a hodgepodge of outlandish ideas.

Then he called me. We spoke for 45 minutes early Friday morning.

Burton, 55, doesn’t claim to be representative of QAnon’s following. He lives outside of Atlanta and works in real estate and as an operations manager for a university. He hasn’t met any other believers in person but estimated they number more than 1 million. (Based on activity on message boards and membership in Facebook groups, this appears to be an exaggeration.)

But Burton is one example of the flesh-and-blood Americans who have bought into a theory whose growth online has had actual consequences, including inspiring an armed man to descend on the Hoover Dam in June, demanding the release of a Justice Department report about James B. Comey and Hillary Clinton that had already been released. In the spring, QAnon gave fuel to a fanciful effort undertaken by an armed group called Veterans on Patrol to find evidence of a child sex-trafficking ring in Tucson.

What became clear from our conversation is that Burton’s belief in QAnon stems from his frustration with how authority over information and verification is allocated. He resents what he perceives to be the self-righteous assumption of expertise made by members of the media and academia. He told me he worked in academia, and when I asked him to elaborate, he said he meant he was “an armchair philosopher. I make my impact where I can. I have no desire to be high-profile.”

Burton thinks that QAnon presages “the most devastating impact possible on the deep state, as they call it, and on the evildoers and on the fringe leftists and on the violent antifa groups and devastating effect on the Soros money as well as liberal Democrats.” He doesn’t think the “storm” — the community’s term, drawn from Trump’s reference last year to “the calm before the storm,” for the president’s conquest over the deep state — will involve violence, unless, Burton said, it comes from “the left.”

Perhaps more significant, though, Burton thinks QAnon marks the emergence of long-hidden communities of people who want to decide for themselves what the truth is.

“There are millions of very smart middle-class nerds — men and women of all races — that have normal lives, and they have no desire to work for The Washington Post or work on Wall Street or get their name in headlights and receive a plaque in front of 300 people,” he said. “They want to live their lives, but they happen to be extremely bright or creative or intuitive or unbelievable researchers who are just living humble lives. Now there’s an Internet, and they can plug into a community.”

QAnon, he said, is about circumventing the media’s standards of verification and “speaking directly to the people, just like Trump is doing.”

Burton lives in the Atlanta area with his wife — “she’s not very political,” he said — and two children. In his spare time, he likes to take his family to the park, where they play with a drone that belongs to one of his kids.

“I have a smartphone that I’m addicted to just like most people out there,” he said. “I read an article today that said that 50 percent of adult Americans’ time is spent on media of some type.”

He said he uses Twitter but abstains from most other forms of social media. “Twitter to me is a tailored news feed,” he said. “I try to stay plugged in with sharp, good people out there on the Internet — and in real life.”

The son of a civil engineer for the Navy, Burton grew up all over the country but completed most of his schooling in Southern California. He studied finance at San Diego State University. He liked to sing when he was young.

He said his father, now 88, was a “Southern Democrat,” a supporter of conservative white Democrats in the South, who became a “Reagan Democrat,” part of a massive defection of white voters from the Democratic Party that helped realign the two groupings in the second half of the 20th century.

“I grew up in the glow of the [Ronald] Reagan presidency,” said Burton, who was a registered independent for much of his life but declared himself a Republican 10 or 15 years ago. Part of what accelerated his drift to the right, he said, was the rise of the Clintons’ “corrupt empire,” as he put it, which he said was documented in “Clinton Cash,” a 2015 book by Peter Schweizer, a collaborator of Stephen K. Bannon, who was then head of Breitbart News and later became, briefly, Trump’s chief strategist.

The Clintons, he said, “subverted” Barack Obama, whose presidency, according to QAnon, caused mounting dissatisfaction in the military, where Burton has been led to believe the seed of “Q” was planted.

“Apparently military brass in the Pentagon got sick and tired of it, and they found a candidate that they could discuss everything with,” Burton said. “And apparently they went to Trump and asked Trump to run.”

I asked him why these renegades chose Trump. “They probably thought he would win,” he said.

Burton came to believe this, or at least most of it — “I don’t believe 100 percent of anything,” he told me — when he saw a post on Twitter in December of last year about someone or something operating under the alias “Q,” plotting a “countercoup of the clear coup that was underway.”

“I was just mildly interested,” Burton told me. “You know, with anything, my bullsh– detectors are up. And I always assume something is bullsh– until you sort through it, and you realize it is or isn’t, connect dots with things you know.”

There have been only a few other online theories, he said, that have piqued his interest. “Here and here,” he said. “Nothing like this.”

QAnon just struck him as immensely logical, he said: “Sometimes the best ideas are the most obvious.”

His method of political analysis, he said, is akin to the way he reads the Bible. “I don’t listen to what churches and priests interpret. I go to the most direct translation and read directly Jesus’ words and what Jesus did.”

He thinks Trump “is doing an amazing job,” and he believes the president is one of 10 people who compose Q. In his mind, two others are also civilian — most likely Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway, top White House aides — and seven are military.

He said discounting QAnon comes from the same blindness that caused mainstream pundits to discount Trump. The problem, he said, is one of bubbles, and the fact that people in Washington assume that everyone thinks as they do.

“D.C. is seen as pigs at the trough, and Trump was seen as somebody who would go in and overturn the apple cart,” Burton said. “People don’t care that he talks about grabbing the ‘you know what,’ just like they didn’t care about [Bill] Clinton.”

Evidence that Trump’s plot is working, Burton said, lies in the planned retirement of some of his most vocal critics in Congress. Many Republicans, not all opponents of the president, are leaving their seats at the end of the year. “If you read through the Q posts,” Burton promised, “it’s clear he’s been sending signals for us.”

But for Burton, QAnon isn’t really about Trump. It’s bigger than the 45th president. Bigger even than American politics.

It’s about the screen that Burton believes conceals the truth about nearly everything we encounter. “I don’t read all the fluff,” he told me. “I go directly to the information and find out what they’re talking about. What are these posts, what are these tweets?”

“If you just clear your mind, tabula rasa, you’ll believe it, too,” he said.

This, my friends, is the mentality we are up against.  Those of us who seek a return to respectability and accountability in our government, must find a way to overcome or contend with this mentality and the people who ascribe to it.  Frankly, I’m not sure where to even begin.  Perhaps a hot shower is as good a place as any … somehow I feel a bit grungy.

What Is This QAnon Group All about?

For a week or so, I have been seeing snippets about a new conspiracy theory and its followers, called QAnon, or simply ‘Q’ for short. I dismissed the group out of hand, for I see it as some ridiculous thing created by ignorant people who have nothing better to do with their meaningless little lives. I still see it that way, but can no longer simply ignore it, for like other conspiracy theories that have come before, there is a very real danger that it will lead to violence. Our friend Gronda has provided some excellent information about what Q is, so please take a few minutes to read her post. One phrase, in particular, caught my eye: “… have come to believe that observable reality is false and the QAnon narrative is real.” Sounds rather like Trump when he told his followers not to believe what they are seeing and hearing, but only to believe what he tells them is real. Up is down and hot is cold. The games people play. Thank you, Gronda, for helping us to understand a bit about this bunch of nuts!

Gronda Morin

Image result for PHOTOS OF QANON FLORIDA TRUMP RALLY

On August 1, 2018, Justin Bank, Liam Stack and Daniel Victor of the New York Times penned the following report, “What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory That Showed Up at a Trump Rally” (“Do you remember Pizzagate? It’s a little like that: a web of baseless conspiracy theories. And its supporters were highly visible at an event for the president in Florida.”)

“Those watching President Trump’s rally in Tampa on Tuesday couldn’t help but be exposed to a fringe movement that discusses several loosely connected and vaguely defined — and baseless — conspiracy theories.”

Image result for PHOTOS OF QANON

“In one shot on Fox News, the president was partially obscured by a sign in the crowd reading “We Are Q.” In another shot during the president’s speech, a sign promoting the debunked Seth Rich conspiracy theory, with the hashtag #Qanon, came into focus in the center of…

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Civil War II — Cancelled

As I reported earlier in the week, the U.S. was bracing for the onset of CWII (Civil War II) yesterday as the nation celebrated the Independence Day holiday.  Well, folks, you can come out now, for it didn’t happen and we seem safe, at least for the moment.  America’s numero uno conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, had pronounced on his InfoWars program earlier this week that he had been informed by reliable sources that the democrats had a huge plan to start the second Civil War on the symbolic Fourth of July, overthrowing Trump and taking over the government.  Today, Alex Jones must be busily washing all the egg off his face, eh?egg on faceSome got some humour from the whole thing, at least.  Here are a few tweets …

The war isn’t going as planned. Our supply trucks are limited. I’m out of wine and sunscreen. The enemy burned all the books and there is no place to recharge my Kindle. The only music is an old CD of Justin Bieber. – All is lost. 

“My love, I’m unsure you will ever read this. I was captured at the battle of Starbucks and have been forced to watch the Dukes of Hazard for what feels like eternity. When I asked for water, I was given Budweiser, when I asked for bread I was given KFC.”

Dear heart, today we took a captive. We forced him to do hard labor. So far he has baked 75 gay wedding cakes. Adam and Steve’s battle-side ceremony was beautiful, they thank you for the toaster. 

Dear Ma and Pa, It’s Day 2 of the #SecondCivilWar. My comrades and I have set up camp in a library. There is absolutely no chance they will find us here. Love, Sam

My brothers and sisters: I regretfully report that I will not be able to make it to the battlefield for the #SecondCivilWar. I was drafting battle plans in a Starbucks when I was arrested for not buying anything. You must stay strong in my absence.

Dearest Parents, The mess hall has run out of avocados so I was forced to top my toast with jam. The fog of war is so trying at times that even my therapy unicorn brings no comfort. 😢 

Dear General Rodham, we have  gained on the enemy by building a wall of your emails, which they can’t get over.

We have snuck behind enemy lines and removed the gender-specific signage from their latrines. Now we wait for their bladders to explode.

I have to go to Ralph’s then need to shower but I can shower after the war I guess

Dear Alexa, we are pinned down and in urgent need of ammunition. Please send ASAP… but only if it qualifies for Amazon Prime’s free shipping.

Some people are saying that the war is over. Can this be true? Those of us in Texas remain sceptical, recalling the end of the first war, when the declaration of surrender got lost in the spam filter for two years.

And on it goes, for in the few minutes I spent on #secondcivilwarletters on Twitter searching for the above samples, over 100 more tweets had hit the site!  I am glad that most found the humour in the lies that came from Jones’ mouth, for it had been my fear that enough would take him seriously to arm themselves as they went to various festivities.  Since most of those festivities include massive amounts of alcohol, and since most people aren’t too level-headed after consuming massive amounts of alcohol, I was anticipating at least a few incidents.  Jones’ claims were ridiculous enough that one would think they wouldn’t be taken seriously, but then … remember Pizzagate?

An Idiot of Long Standing

I do try not to rant very often … I really do.  I try to remain professional, keep my speech and tone well-moderated, not use profanity and … and … not beat the paint off my poor little laptop keyboard.  I apologize in advance, for this post is indeed one of those moments when the story simply pushed the wrong buttons at the wrong time.

Coulter2In July 2016, I awarded several Idiot of the Week awards, one of which went to Ms. Ann Coulter.  The others were Pat Robertson, Roger & Ann Stone, Phyllis Schlafly, and Newt Gingrich.  Less than a month later, I did a follow up on Ms. Coulter, for she continued to shriek and clamour for attention.  In recent weeks, I have seen her name, occasionally her picture floating about on my screen, but I have largely ignored her, for she is one of the few people that I simply cannot stand to watch nor listen to.

But tonight I could no longer resist the urge to slap the smile off her face.  However, since I am several hundred miles away, I shall settle for a written slap.  In a rather juvenile expression of angst, I did send her a tweet with a link to the Idiot of the Week award post.  Yes, yes … I already admitted it was juvenile, but sometimes it’s fun to get down ‘n dirty.  I needed the comic relief … my blood pressure needed it.

What has she done now?  She’s apparently been taking private lessons from Alex Jones on how to invent a totally off-the-wall conspiracy theory using kids as pawns.  The most egregious news this week is the separation of children from their parents at our southern border, per orders of none other than Donald Trump, though he has a convoluted way of trying to point the finger back on the democrats.  Pictures and sound tracks of crying children being taken from their parents, detention centers cloaked in mystery that even an elected senator was not allowed to tour … Americans are up in arms, and not just us ‘bleeding-heart-snowflake-liberals’, either. coulter-jones.jpgSo along comes Coulter and says, aka Alex Jones, that she has knowledge that the children portrayed are actually child actors who have been coached!  Sound familiar?  Of course it does … there was Sandy Hook and the Parkland, both of which Mr. Jones claimed the survivors were ‘child actors’ and had been ‘coached’.

An estimated 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and are being housed in overflowing ‘detention centers’ – abandoned stores such as the Wal-Mart in Brownsville, Texas.  Some are teens, others much younger children, even babies.  These are not … I repeat not … child actors!  These are children, for Pete’s sake!  INNOCENT CHILDREN!  Ms. Coulter … please sit down and shut the f— up!

coulter-5Coulter’s apparent ‘concern’ is that Trump, upon seeing the images on television, will have his heart softened and loosen his ‘zero tolerance’ policy.  No need to worry, Ms. Coulter, for Donald Trump has no heart to soften!

“These child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now, do not fall for it Mr. President. I get very nervous about the president getting his news from TV.”

Now, why does she think that these children are little Shirley Temples being coached to cry and wail on command?  Because, she claims, she read it in the New Yorker.  Only problem is, she didn’t reference the article directly, and several news sources – reliable ones – tried every combination of keywords and came up blank.  Finally, Ms. Coulter, with her usual dripping nastiness, said  …coulter … and finally provided a link to a 2011 New Yorker article about a woman from Africa seeking asylum in the U.S.  Hellooooooooo???? And just how does this make the case that the children on the Mexican border are coached child actors???

Excuse me, but can somebody tell me why Ann Coulter is even allowed to continue breathing the same air as the rest of us???  Why she is taking up precious resources on our planet???

Sorry … I’m riled, in case you hadn’t guessed … probably wore the paint off three more keys on my laptop tonight.

Donald Trump is using 2,000 children as pawns, as bargaining chips to obtain funding in the budget to the tune of $20 billion for his damned wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.  Not, mind you, because there is  a need for the wall, but because he promised his followers.  Of course, he also promised them, foolishly, that Mexico was going to pay for the wall, and all of us who ate our Wheaties for breakfast knew from the start that was never going to happen.

And now this blonde bimbo comes along and further denigrates these innocent children whose only crime was being born???

I fully support the right to free speech, but I am also a big fan of truth, of honesty.  Coulter is lying through her teeth, Trump is lying, and innocent children are paying the price. Coulter is an avowed white supremacist who supports white nationalist and ‘scientific racism’ causes … why would anybody listen to her???  I don’t know, but apparently some do.  And that, folks, is reason enough for this rant … that we cannot even trust the people of this nation to think with their brains.