Monday meanderings

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. And, for our Pacific Rim friends, I hope your Monday has gone well. Here a few meanderings on this first Monday in October.

  • A social media analyst said on “CBS Sunday Morning” yesterday that misinformation will be read and routed at a rate six times that of the truth. The only way to stop this is for readers to start asking more questions about what they read. Facebook won’t stop this as their model is to make money off more viewership.
  • An answer to the above is to read and watch multiple sources of information. And, we need to divorce ourselves from sources that are dubious. Infowars’ Alex Jones has now lost three court cases for defamation of Sandy Hook parents for continually saying the twenty-seven people (twenty whom were kids) killed was a hoax. Jones is still not remorseful. Opinion show hosts are not news reporters – even Fox News threw Tucker Carlson under the bus in court saying watchers should not consider what he says news, as he is not a news person.
  • Rudy Giuliani admitted in court under oath that he got his election fraud stories from social media, without checking the veracity. He has also been suspended in New York and DC from practicing law while the trials are going on. Wasn’t he an attorney for the former president? Did he not advise the former president on election fraud?
  • Even the folks at Fox News have banned ol’ Rudy. It does not amaze me that people who fly to close to the Trump sun eventually get burned. What amazes me is why they don’t know this going in? As Thomas Wells, an attorney for Trump once said, “if you are on Trump’s good side, don’t get used to it, as you won’t be there for long.”
  • As for our imperfect Democrat friends, please get something done. The infrastructure bill is over due and the other bill, needs to be made into law, but it will have to be cut back some, whether you like it or not. Do not cut it across the board, as that will water down the impact. Prioritize and pass the things that matter most.
  • As for our adrift Republican friends, please set aside your tribal politics and help get something passed. Democrats are also tribal, but with them I find myself arguing policy. With my Republican friends, I find myself arguing the truth. When a party vilifies its truth tellers and celebrates its liars, that is not compelling. We need a viable Republican party, but what we have now is one adrift and untethered to the truth.
  • I hope our British friends can get their petrol. One of our blogging friends, Roger, says his part of the country is getting more back to normal. Yet, there is still a ways to go. For those blaming only Brexit, it plays a role, but is not the only reason for the mess. There is a long slog ahead on Brexit transition which will last several years, at least that is what financial analysts said before the vote. I wish you the best.
  • There seems to be an interest in more naysayers to get the COVID vaccines. Something about people dying who are unvaccinated or maybe it is more friends sharing that it was not too bad. For those who are citing actual data that people have reacted poorly to vaccines, the percentages are quite small, even though the numbers seem large. We are talking less than 1/2 of a one percent adverse reaction when you think of hundreds of millions US vaccines and billions of global vaccines. Every medication, every vaccine and every surgical procedure has an error rate. The best two A-Fib surgical procedures only have effectiveness rates of 70%. And, just read the side effects on the sheets that come with your prescriptions.

That is all for now. Have a great week. Be safe. Get vaccinated if you have not. My extended family has been vaccinated and out of fifty or so people, we just had a few sore arms and headaches.

Friday fan-fiction?

Fan-fiction is a common term used to define people who have written variations or new stories off their favorite movie series – Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. The fans who write and read these stories are often a self-governing group who offers passionate feedback, good or bad. Sometimes, with so many directors of a movie series, the loyalty to the mission of the characters is better served by these fans, than a director. Even an author can fail to fully understand the history, as well as these passionate fans.

I am reminded of the Stephen King book and movie called “Misery.” The plot is about an author who is tired of writing a successful series about a female character whose name is “Misery,” so he dramatically kills her off. Sadly, for him he has been “kept” by a woman who is a huge fan of the series, after the author is injured in a car crash. She nurses him back to health, until she gets the final book. When she learns he has killed Misery off, she goes berserk and hobbles him, so he cannot leave. She forces him to write a new book that brings Misery back to life.

The fan-fiction concept reminds me of the cult-like following of the former president and his sycophants. The niece of the former president noted her uncle lies so much he starts to believe his own BS. I have witnessed this over the last five years, as well. What happens is the lies are heavily flavored and reiterated by a conspiracy minded group of people and pseudo-news sycophants. So, the lies get wind beneath their wings from the vast fan-fiction and soar ever longer.

Yesterday, one of those conspiracy parrots was formally removed from the House education committee, Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Eleven Republicans joined the Democrats in the censure vote, after Republican leaders failed to address her ongoing fan-fiction which included threats of the Speaker. She has espoused many fan-fictions, but let me highlight two.

Ms. Greene believes a wealthy Jewish cadre is causing the wildfires using lasers from space. The creativity of this fiction is only exceeded by disbelief that a grown woman would actually buy into this. The other is a repeat of old fiction that Alex Jones got in trouble for. Sandy Hook’s school shooting which killed twenty children and seven staff was all a hoax. Jones lost a lawsuit and an appeal for mental anguish he caused with his fiction on the families of the survivors and was ordered to pay restitution.

But, let me take the source of this fan fiction one step further. Jones is a salesperson and he is not only selling conspiracy theories, he is pushing product. His “Infowars” show spends a lot of time selling products, more so than the fiction, but the two are often related. After telling us how there was a Democrat scheme to infect the water system with a sexual neutering chemical, the next day, Jones began pushing his own product to protect you from such chemicals. This is fear tactics at their worst – scare you and sell you a product to protect you. The old term is “snake oil salesman.”:

Fan-fiction is entertaining to the passionate fans. But, please remember the key second word – fiction. The former president claims fake news, when the real news paints him in the appropriate light. Yet, what his fans do not realize, the biggest purveyor of fiction is the person they follow.

You might be a conspiracy parrot

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is famous for his “you might be a redneck” bit making fun of himself and people he has observed. Using the pacing of his bit, please consider the following regarding conspiracy parrots.

-If you believe Jewish space lasers are causing wildfires, then you might be a conspiracy parrot.
-If you believe that 27 people were not killed at Sandy Hook, then you might be a conspiracy parrot.
-If you believe the Parkland High School shooting was a hoax, then you might be a conspiracy parrot.
-If you believe the former president won the election and it was stolen from him, you might be a conspiracy parrot.
-If you believe the former president did not invite and incite violence on the capitol building, you might be a conspiracy parrot.
-If you believe Hillary Clinton was running a child pornography ring from a pizza parlor in DC, then you might be a conspiracy parrot.

These themes are bounced around the popular conspiracy platforms. It should be noted the Sandy Hook hoax concept was used like a hammer by Alex Jones of Infowars. He lost a lawsuit for bringing mental anguish to the loved ones of victims. It should be also noted a North Carolina man is in jail for believing the child pornography story showing up at a pizza parlor armed and dangerous.

And, numerous people have been arrested for storming the capitol building on January 6 after buying into the former president’s BS about the election. The full word BS was used by the Attorney General William Barr to define the former president’s bogus claims to his face.

If people like conspiracy theories, why not look at real ones

There has been a lot of press about Marjorie Taylor Greene, an advocate of the conspiracy theory website QAnon winning a GOP primary in Georgia. Unless the GOP finds its conscience, she will become a member of Congress. Getting less press is Madison Cawthorn who is the GOP candidate running for now Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ old seat. Cawthorn has some social media references to white nationalists and has bragged on visiting the Hitler bunker in Germany. In this case, the GOP leadership supported his opponent in the primary.

Some folks are unfamiliar with QAnon, but the president is not one of them. He often parrots conspiracy theories and it is nirvana for a conspiracy author to hear their words come out of his mouth. My favorite QAnon story is Hillary Clinton was running a Satanic child pornography ring out of a pizza parlor in Washington DC to raise money. As asinine as this sounds, a North Carolina man armed for bear with an AR-15, showed up at the pizza parlor and is now in jail serving the third year of his four year sentence.

Another conspiracy theory is the deep state is trying to unseat Trump. Per Michael Lewis’ well researched book “The Fifth Risk” on the briefing materials that incoming Trump people did not choose to read or show up for a briefing, the deep state are those hard working folks who remember their oath and know what they are talking about. The purpose of Lewis’ book (who read the unclassified materials) is to reveal the many risks that are not being talked about that keep these folks up at night whether they were forced to resign or remain employed – chemical and nuclear waste type risk inside of the US, eg.

But, the best example of conspiracy theories, is Alex Jones of InfoWars. He said for years that the Sandy Hook shooting of twenty-seven children and teachers was a hoax. He was sued for damages by distraught parents and lost his case and the appeal. From what I gather, he is at least been fined $550,000, but it may be more. Jones now confesses that Sandy Hook was not a hoax.

These are all untrue conspiracy theories. But, if people are so fascinated by such, there are real ones right in front of us. Here are a couple:

– The New York Times* reported Senator Mitch McConnell had a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service buried before the 2012 presidential election. Why? It was the fourth study by a reputable entity showing data that trickle down economics does not work.

– The Hill** reported (and Lewis’ book expands on) the following true story. Trump appointed a for profit weather company CEO to run NOAA and its weather service. Lewis reports that Barry Myers is using the weather service tax paid efforts in his for-profit business. That is called a conflict of interest.

– The Charlotte Observer*** reported on the Trump appointed Louis DeJoy as postmaster general having a conflict of interest in hamstringing the postal service, noting he has between $30 and $75 million in investments in for-profit delivery service competitors.

– Then there are the older true stories of Bill Clinton conspiring to keep a White House affair out of the press leading to his impeachment for lying under oath, Ronald Reagan conspiring in the Iran-Contra affair to illegally sell weapons to Iran for money to support the Contra rebels in Central America and, of-course, Richard Nixon’s Watergate conspiracy which led to his resignation before being removed.

These are real conspiracies. They deserve to be looked into by the ethics officers and Inspectors General. The fact the last two have occurred on the president’s watch makes his firing of Inspectors General even more disturbing. Why this is not a big issue to Republicans is beyond me and certainly not in keeping with the good governance. One of my GOP Senators wrote to me it is in the president’s purview to fire people, but what he lost sight of is the president is firing the umpire not the player. If a publicly traded company CEO fired audit people who had reported abnormalities, the Board of Directors’ Audit Committee would be looking into it.

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* Here are the first two paragraphs of The New York Times article from 2012.

“What do you do when the Congressional Research Service, the completely non-partisan arm of the Library of Congress that has been advising Congress—and only Congress—on matters of policy and law for nearly a century, produces a research study that finds absolutely no correlation between the top tax rates and economic growth, thereby destroying a key tenet of conservative economic theory?

If you are a Republican member of the United States Senate, you do everything in your power to suppress that report—particularly when it comes less than two months before a national election where your candidate is selling this very economic theory as the basis for his candidacy.”

** Here are the first three paragraphs from The Hill article:

“President Trump has chosen Barry Myers, the CEO of the private weather forecaster AccuWeather, to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In that role, Myers, who has served as the chief executive of AccuWeather since 2007, would head the agency charged with executing a broad portfolio of responsibilities ranging from providing severe storm warnings to managing the nation’s fisheries.

If confirmed by the Senate, the nomination would install a business executive at an agency more recently headed by scientists. Former President Obama’s last NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan, for example, was a geologist and former astronaut.”

***Here is a select paragraph from The Charlotte Observer Article that cites The Washington Post.

“The Washington Post reported that DeJoy and his wife have between $30 million and $75 million in assets in postal service competitors or contractors, according to her financial disclosure report filed with the Office of Government Ethics.”