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.

Republican Senator warns against being the party of conspiracy theory and talk show hosts

One of the three key reasons I left the Republican Party over twelve years ago is its tendency to make things up. Aided and abetted by radio talk show hosts and the Fox prime time line-up, whose primary mission is misinformation not news, the party became more distasteful to me. I have noted before the outgoing president did not create this untruthful bent, but he has certainly shown how to leverage it more.

Now, with social media allowing less fettered information to proliferate, conspiracy theories have found an accepting home. This is not just my opinion. In an article in Business Insider by T. Porter called “GOP Senator Ben Sasse warned that the QAnon conspiracy theory movement is destroying the Republican Party,” he rakes the now-Trump Party over the coals. Here are a few paragraphs, with a link below.

“Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has warned in an op-ed in The Atlantic that the QAnon conspiracy theory movement is destroying the GOP.

 ‘We can dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution and perpetuating our best American institutions and traditions, or we can be a party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them,’ writes Sasse of the GOP.

Adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory believe, groundlessly, that a cabal of Satan worshipping child abusers control the world. Followers of the movement were on the front line of the Capitol riots, in which a police officer and a rioter who had shared QAnon slogans on social media were killed. 

Swaths of the GOP have embraced the movement, and Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has openly backed the movement. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has warned that the QAnon conspiracy theory movement is destroying the GOP in a blistering op-ed for The Atlantic.

We must confirm our sources (and check other sources) when we espouse information, especially the more sensational. We must ask more why questions of people who are articulating things that are too sensational to be true. We must summon a few seconds of courage to say, “I don’t agree with that” or “I don’t see how that could be true.”

Truth has become a victim in the last four years. Among many poor legacies to choose from, one that will linger on is Trump’s escalation of the term “fake news.” The biggest purveyor of fake news in America convinces unsuspecting followers that others are lying. And, that may be the worst conspiracy of all.

GOP Senator Ben Sasse warned that the QAnon conspiracy theory movement is destroying the Republican Party (msn.com)

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.

***************************************************************************

* 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.”