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.”

A plea for progressive Democrat voters

The following plea is made by an Independent voter who has been a member of both parties. I am fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I am an advocate for the disenfranchised, environment and debt education. What all this means is I believe in helping people climb ladders, equal opportunity and rights, protecting our environment, but recognizing we have to pay for things.

My plea for progressive Democrat voters is as follows: If someone

  • cares about our global reputation and trade,
  • cares about good healthcare options,
  • cares about fighting climate change,
  • cares about protecting the environment and bee pollinators,
  • cares about our growing debt problem made worse by this president,
  • cares about civil rights and liberties for all,
  • cares about common decency,
  • cares about data-driven analysis, and
  • knows that our economy has been growing for over 120 months, only 30 of which have been under this president,

then please vote for Donald Trump’s opponent.

But. you must vote and not phone it in. Trump won in 2016 because he got people who were not crazy about Hillary to stay home or vote for Jill Flynn.

As for the Democrats – beating Trump truly is the major consideration. He is a clear and present danger to our democracy, our planet and even his own party. Please do not nominate a candidate that will not appeal to moderate Dems and Independents. Trump should not win this election if Dems do this. He can win if he continues to resonate with his race baiting and fear mongering of perceived evils of socialism and Dems nominate a George McGovern or Walter Mondale like candidate (please research how they did in the general election).

I am writing this to any progressive readers. We cannot be stupid about this election. Trump is beatable, but he can also win. Watergate was all about making sure Nixon ran against McGovern and not Edmund Muskie and getting dirt on McGovern once they got Muskie to drop out of the race (please research Nixon’s dirty tricks and Muskie’s tears of anger). Trump is more corrupt than Nixon, per conservative writer George Will – I agree. He will do everything in his power to lie, cheat and bully. Take that to the bank.

Finally, a note to all Democrat candidates – get every fact you can correct. Trump uses facts and truth as commodities – sparingly and only when they help him. But, even then he is prone to embellish his own role in good news. Fact-checkers have reported all candidates fudge the truth, but they also show no one comes close to Trump’s rate of lying. Do not be like that. Argue facts, diplomatically and forcefully. And, if anyone or group promotes violence in reaction to the hateful rhetoric, be quick to condemn it. Violence has no place in political discourse.

Vehement and attacking denials

I watched the first of two episodes on the PBS news series “Frontline” regarding the NFL’s cover up of concussions being caused by the money-making game of professional football. Having seen Will Smith star as Dr. Bennett Omalu, the Nigerian born and well schooled forensic-pathologist, who broke the story in the movie “Concussion,” this show caught my eye.

In short, autopsies performed on several deceased players, who had died before age fifty, revealed recurring concussive brain injuries that led to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which caused dementia in these players. Yet, the NFL went out of its way to deny, denigrate and demonize this man and his findings. The NFL conducted its own studies and were able to get them published even when they did not measure up to scientific peer review standards. As a result more players got hurt. Eventually, the NFL settled a lawsuit for $1 Billion payable to the players. This settlement was upheld by the Supreme Court last December.

I mention this story as other entities have followed the vehement and attacking denial approach. You may recall the tobacco industry denied for years that nicotine was addictive, when they had studies in their files dating back to 1964 that told them it was. After years of denying other studies, often denigrating and demonizing the group doing the study, eight CEOs of tobacco companies testified under oath to a Congressional Committee that nicotine was not addictive. That bald face lie was too much for some and insiders began to tell the real story. In 1998, the big four tobacco companies agreed to a settlement with 46 state attorney generals for $206 Billion, payable over 25 years.

President Richard Nixon used a similar approach to attack The Washington Post, in particular Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, for their investigative reporting which linked the Watergate break-in to the White House and the detailed cover-up of various crimes. Nixon threatened them, the publisher and editor attacking their credibility. And, when Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox was getting too close, he had Cox fired, but only after the Saturday Night Massacre, when two of Cox’s superiors refused to fire him – Elliott Richardson and William Ruckelshaus – and resigned. While Nixon was pardoned after resigning, over twenty of Nixon’s staff went to jail.

Today, we have two entities that are following suit. Exxon Mobil has attacked critics and scientists for years on climate change using the same PR strategy and firm that the tobacco Industry used. Apparently, they did not read the ending. They dared scientists to look at their data. A Harvard group of scientists did and found that 83% of the scientific papers done by Exxon Mobil’s scientists confirmed that climate change is an existential threat and is man-influenced.

Not ironically, management’s public positions said the climate change science is unclear 81% of the time, the exact opposite conclusion. Exxon Mobil denigrated the Harvard scientists who just completed their work, but are failing to remember a current class action suit by employees and another by shareholders alleging the company is undervalued due to management’s misrepresentation of climate change impact. Right now, two state attorney generals and the SEC are investigating this very issue. If the AGs and SEC find Exxon Mobil did mislead shareholders, Exxon Mobil will be guilty of the crime of securities fraud.

The other entity is one Donald J. Trump, the current occupant of the White House. He has attacked everyone who dares criticize him or suggests that the Russians not only hacked the election, that he may have culpability in colluding with them. Trump says routinely and often the media is lying and consists of bad people. Senators, Congress members, and others, even from his own party, are met with some negative attack, if they dare be critical of him. Like Archibald Cox, there is a very capable Special Prosecutor named Robert Mueller who is investigating further into all the President’s men and women. Like these other entities, the attacks are vehement and brutal. Like these other entities, the stories seem to change as more details come out. And, like others, I believe the President is guilty of collusion. Why? His history, first and foremost, but if he was not guilty, why is acting so guilty?

So, the story line has yet to be written, but the more vehement, relentless and negative the attacks are and the more the denial stories change, the more likely the party doing the attacking is guilty.