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A Militia of Phantom Patriots

Cambria, Wisconsin, population 767, has “no bank, no grocery store and no stoplight,” as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. For big city livin’ like that, you have to drive 25 minutes to Beaver Dam. Being Wisconsin, it does of course have a bar, which is called The Dump.

It’s out here on a property surrounded by cornfields that five domestic terrorists, militia members who called themselves the Wolverine Watchmen, met on July 10-12 to engage in “firearms training and other combat drills,” according to an affidavit by the FBI. They also attempted to built IEDs out of “black powder, balloons, a fuse, and BBs for shrapnel,” but they failed to detonate.

They property owner is a man named Michael H. Jung. His Twitter bio reads:
Belong to both Oath Keepers and III%ers. We are here to honor our countries [sic] Constitution and keep it the law of Our Country. What about you? MAGA Trump Patriot.

Michael Jung’s Twitter profile pic.

Both the groups Jung lists are militias. The Three Percenters get their name from the supposed fact that only 3% of America’s population fought against the British in the Revolutionary War. The Oath Keepers are named after the oath order to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Both groups view themselves as Revolutionaries fighting against a tyrannical government. They fly the “don’t tread on me” Gadsen flag, and the 13-star flag Betsy Ross flag.

The training session in Cambria was for a failed attempt to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who according to one of the Wolverine Watchmen, was a “tyrant bitch.” A couple of the members were identified in pictures from the massive pandemic protests at the Michigan Capitol building in April and May. Hundreds of armed people were there to protest COVID lockdown measures, which they said violated their freedom.

The FBI affidavit reveals that the Wolverine Watchmen had been forming a plan for months to kidnap Governor Whitmer and take her to “a secure location in Wisconsin for ‘trial.'” The location wasn’t identified, but perhaps it was to be Jung’s property in Cambria.

One of the militia’s ideas called for rallying “200 men” to storm the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing to take hostages, including the Governor. In another plan, they plotted to kidnap her from her vacation home and spent time staking it out twice in the last couple months. They planned to blow up a bridge to distract law enforcement and bomb police cars with Molotov cocktails. 13 men involved with the plot were arrested on federal and state charges.

The Wolverine Watchmen were all Trump fans and perceived him to be a fan of them– after all, as the lockdown protests were taking place Trump tweeted out “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” The assembled militias saw that as validation. Trump also often showed his disdain for Governor Whitmer, sometimes refusing to say her name and referring to her as “that woman from Michigan.” Trump tweeted out that in regards to the militias, the Governor should “talk to them, make a deal,” nevermind the fact that some of these protesters were calling for her to be lynched and beheaded.

Here’s another thing about the Wolverine Watchmen: they were conspiracy theorists. Reviewing the Twitter feed of Michael Jung, the property owner in Cambria, we find the full gamut of 2020 conspiracies between February and his last tweet in August 25– lots of posts sharing anti-vaxxer media, a few posts celebrating QAnon (including a video titled “We are Q. The Plan to Save the World.”) as well as posts about 5G (a “direct energy weapon system”), voter fraud, FEMA camps, the fake “plandemic,” and references to Democratic governors being “tyrants.”

Other Wolverine Watchmen posted conspiracy media as well. Eric Molitor posted conspiracy theories related to QAnon, Peter Musico, ranted on YouTube about the “Deep State,” and shared links to Owen Shroyer, an InfoWars host, while Joseph Morrison shared anti-vaxxer theories and also encouraged his Twitter followers to tune into InfoWars, run by conspiracy peddler extremist Alex Jones. And that’s just what we know so far.

Musico, Molitor, and Morrison on the bottom row all shared conspiracy theories on their social media.

Jones and InfoWars often pop up in conspiracy driven plots– in my book American Madness, I detail how the influence of Alex Jones led a man named Richard McCaslin to heavily arm himself and raid a private retreat of powerful men called the Bohemian Grove back in 2002. He believed he would find satanic sacrifices taking place there. McCaslin viewed himself much like the Wolverine Watchmen probably do, not as domestic terrorists, but as patriots (McCaslin even dubbed himself the “Phantom Patriot”), fighting in a Revolutionary War.

Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot after his arrest in 2002.

The story repeated again in 2016 when a man named Edgar Maddison Welch saw a video on InfoWars about the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which led to his raid on the Washington DC pizzeria Comet Ping Pong. A wave of violence inspired by QAnon beliefs has risen under the Trump administration. 

Alex Jones, by the way, denounced McCaslin’s Bohemian Grove raid after it happened, saying that it sounded “crazy,” even though he was the inspiration. That’s a pattern of denial and disassociation he’s followed ever since, and sorry, Wolverine Watchmen, that includes you. On a recent show, Jones said the whole scheme was a “false flag” by the “Deep State.” In his words:

Well, we knew it was coming. I predicted over and over again, the last few months, it’s not a hard prediction, that they’d engage in a provocateur setup or a false flag against Democrat Party officials, to make them look like victims when they launch incredible tyranny.

Trump, the Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief,  is culpable in this. His presidency has normalized conspiracy belief about the pandemic, alleged voter fraud, and civil unrest. He knows the value of misinformation and fear-mongering– that’s his true Art of the Deal.

This has not been the first incident of armed conspiracy theorists on the march recently– last month I wrote a column where I reported on two armed men heading to Kenosha (to potentially shoot protesters) that were arrested at a hotel. They were part of the 417 Second Amendment Militia. An examination of one of their Facebook pages again turned up lots of posts about the “COVID hoax,” voter fraud, and conspiracies about Trump’s favorite enemies. A disturbing report from Minneapolis, meanwhile, has shown that a private security firm is hiring mercenaries to “make sure the Antifas don’t try to destroy the election sites,” though there’s no evidence such a plan exists.

Taking to Twitter to comment on the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer, Trump once again chose not to condemn right wing extremists, but called out “Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs.”

The real threat to safety of people’s lives, as these cases show, are white supremacists and conspiracy-inspired militia groups like the Wolverine Watchmen. And no matter the results in November, expect to see more plots like this one. If Trump loses, they will consider themselves at war. If he wins, they will be emboldened.

Tea Krulos is the author of American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.

Sources

Read the FBI affidavit in the militia plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer,” Detroit Free Press

Residents shocked band of men trained in Cambria for governor kidnapping plot,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ Accused of Targeting Michigan Guv Spooked Their Neighbors,” Daily Beast

Michael H. Jung Twitter page: https://twitter.com/climer6699 [accessed Oct. 10, 2020]

Plot to kidnap Michigan governor has ties to Wisconsin,” CBS 58

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones: Alleged kidnapping plot against Gov. Whitmer a ‘false flag’ by the ‘deep state,'” Media Matters for America

Tea’s Weird Week: Would-be Kenosha Shooters were into Conspiracy Theory; ‘Q revealed?‘” teakrulos.com

Former Special Forces sought by business group to guard polling sites in Minnesota, company says,” Star Tribune

Tea’s Weird Week: Snap into the Paranoid Style with this American Madness Playlist

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I wrote a book! My book American Madness is officially out and it feels great. There’s some release events going on in the next week. This Saturday, September 5, there’s a release party here in the Milwaukee area at the X-Ray Arcade with food, drink, and of course conspiracy. (See Facebook event here). I’m also doing an online event for those who bought my book via Lion’s Tooth Thursday September 10, a conversation with Milwaukee Record’s Matt Wild followed by a Q and A: www.facebook.com/events/367709997570202/

So that means, after many years of work on this project, it’s party time! And in these conspiracy times, have I got a party playlist for you, which I made on Spotify. It follows the themes and moods of the book.  A lot are self explanatory and were included because of their conspiracy themes. I included a couple songs created by actual conspiracists– David Neal writes songs in the overlooked genre of JFK assassination theory folk, while the Flat Earth Man writes some honky tonk about the “globe lie” (I bought his CD at a flat earth conference I attended).

Other songs you’ll get when you read the book. A couple songs were inspired by Richard McCaslin, who I wrote about in depth. I included some notes on the track listing below explaining a few of my choices. Crank out the volume and weird out!

American Madness Playlist
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2Vmn7G0QgKacIHCMWOSqom?si=nCSVKHsUSW2ukQrsM99c3Q 

“White Rabbit,” Emiliana Torrini (covering Jefferson Airplane)/ the title of the introduction of the book is “The Rabbit Hole.”

“I am the Owl,” Dead Kennedys

“Sunshine Superman,” Donovan/ Richard McCaslin was born in 1964 and this 1966 song includes the line “Superman and Green Lantern ain’t got nothing on me.” Richard loved superhero comics. 

“N.W.O.,” Ministry

“Do the Paranoid Style,” Bad Religion/ the song title is from a 1964 article in Harper’s that talks about conspiracy and politics. You can read it HERE

“Oswald Didn’t Do It” David Neal

“Phantom Zone” The Alex Jones Prison Planet/ a chapter of my book is titled “Alex Fucking Jones.” 

“Phantom Patriot,” Les Claypool/ Claypool read a local news article about Richard and was inspired to write this song. I got a few minutes of phone time with him for a chapter of American Madness. 

“Ruiner,” Nine Inch Nails/ popped in my head while I was thinking of Richard’s raid on the Bohemian Grove, detailed in a chapter titled “Burn the Owl.”  

“Broken,” Chely Wright/ you’ll see why this is here when you read the “Burn the Owl” chapter

“Somebody’s Watching Me,” Rockwell

“They Live,” B.o.B/ John Carpenter’s 1988 film is often referenced by conspiracy believers. 

“I’m Afraid of Americans,” David Bowie

“Chemtrails,” Beck

“Unmarked Helicopters,” Soul Coughing

“Person Woman Man Camera TV,” The Gregory Brothers/ nothing more ridiculous or frightening than Trump’s own words.

“Channel Zero,” Canibus/ great song about the Majestic 12! 

“No Photographs of Earth,” Flat Earth Man/ Flat Earth Man is the biggest music star amongst the flat earthers, though they have a rich hip hop (or as I call it “flat hop”)– you check it out in a Tea’s Weird Week column HERE.

“Last Plane Out,” Toy Matinee

“Hottie Illuminati,” Sunspot/ great track by Sunspot, who also host the See You on the Other Side podcast– see me talk about American Madness with them HERE.

“Mr. Panicker,” Nineteen Thirteen/ a local Milwaukee group, I just love the mood of this one, makes me think of paranoia and melancholy anger. 

“Beware of the Pale Horse,” ILL Bill w/ William Cooper/ this rapper named himself after the infamous conspiracy theorist Bill Cooper and the title is Cooper’s notorious conspiracy Bible. See Mark Jacobson’s excellent book Pale Horse Rider for more on Cooper and his influence on hip-hop

“Cell Therapy,” Goodie Mob/ reminds me of conspiracy and Richard’s time in prison

“D’evils,” Jay-Z

“Aliens Exist,” Blink-182/ music to raid Area 51 to!

“The Future,” Leonard Cohen/ the ultimate track for 2020

“Perfect Day,” The Constellations/ for some reason made me think of Richard driving through the desert of Nevada, where he lived.

More listening material department: I did an in-depth interview about American Madness with the Failed State Update podcast. To listen, CLICK HERE

For more ways you can support me and my book, please see this entry: “American Madness is Out Now!

Purchase from Lion’s Tooth for a signed, inscribed copy, a bonus comic zine, Lion’s Tooth swag, a “this machine kills fascists” sharpie from Feral House, and access to in-person and online events with me! Right here: https://www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/

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And hey, if you read the book and you got suggestions for tracks to add to this list, leave them in the comments below!

 

Tea’s Weird Week: Ask Tea Anything (conspiracy edition)

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What a week! American Madness official release date was Tuesday and it’s been so great to see the book featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as well as an excerpt on Literary Hub. Most exciting of all is seeing people posting pictures of their copies of the book and telling me that they’re starting to read it.

For my column this week I decided to solicit my social media for conspiracy questions. Here’s a few of them. I’ll be doing another “ask me anything” column in a couple months, titled “American Madness–spoilers edition” after people get a chance to read the whole story.

Who is the Phantom Patriot_

First up, not a question, but a comment I got on Twitter that I want to talk about:

Tea this book foreshadows what we are living in right now and especially applicable to another Phantom Patriot in 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed protesters in Kenosha. –Sleepersound

Yes, Tuesday was an absolutely horrifying night in Kenosha (about 40 miles to the south of where I live, Milwaukee) after a militia member killed two people and severely injured a third. Kyle Rittenhouse, spotted in the front row of a Trump rally in January, thought he was fighting for justice and the American way, much like the main subject of my book, Richard McCaslin (aka the Phantom Patriot) did. McCaslin heavily armed himself and raided a place called the Bohemian Grove in 2002 (but didn’t kill anyone).

Also of note– the leader of the Kenosha Guard (a sort of ad hoc militia that organized an event page encouraging armed citizens to show up in Kenosha) sent the police chief a letter proudly noting that the group had been reported on by InfoWars, Alex Jones’ media site. Jones was an inspiration to McCaslin and several others who have committed violent acts over the years.

Have you ever heard a true ends to the means on the flat earth theory? I’m not a believer in many conspiracy theories–but I can understand why someone would when presented the outcome.–Addo

That’s something I was curious to find out when I attended a flat earth conference last November, which I write about in a chapter of American Madness titled “The War Against Science.” If it had been discovered that the world was flat, why cover it up? Science is always evolving with new data, readjusting when they find a theory to be wrong, so what is the gain in the alleged lie?

Flat Earthers say it’s all because of greed from NASA. They started out wanting to explore space in earnest, but when they discovered the truth, they needed to maintain the lie to get paid. They couldn’t get their massive annual budget ($22.6 billion) for space exploration if there is no space beyond the dome covering the earth.  So there you go, follow the money…follow it to the end of the earth.

Any thoughts on the whole “hitler got to Argentina” thing? (Yes, I use a lower-case spelling of his name intentionally)— Shane

Shane, I’ve read about a few Nazi conspiracies– the escape to Argentina in a U-boat, the alleged hidden base in Antarctica, the UFO program. I really like reading classic conspiracy stuff like this and the JFK assassination (even if I don’t believe it). In this case, I think it’s well proven that Hitler died in Germany. One piece of solid evidence was an analysis matching his teeth to those found in the remains in his bunker: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/21/hitler-teeth-test-dispels-myths-nazi-leaders-survival/627831002/

What are the main tenants of the Q “movement?”— Samwell

QAnon beliefs are always morphing and spinning new ideas, but the core belief is that an evil cabal of Democrats, Hollywood, the mainstream media, and other liberal villains are secretly running a satanic child sex trafficking ring, engaging in cannibalism, and harvesting adrenochrome from victims to get high on. The believe a secret informant calling themselves “Q” is leaking information on Trump’s secret plan to bring this cabal down, a period of reckoning called “The Storm” which will lead to a “Great Awakening” of the truth. It’s very cult-like in it’s cognitive dissonance.

Other terms to be wary of– the QAnon motto “where we go one, we go all” (wwg1wga) and #SavetheChildren, a hashtag they’ve sadly hijacked, infiltrating the actual problem of sex trafficking with Q nonsense.

Are more groups like QAnon who have been found making up things going to become more commonplace? What do you think would happen to their followers if they were shown who was behind it? –Discordia

Discordia, I’m afraid both parts of this answer are painful. First, yes, I do think QAnon and other groups will continue to grow, especially in this time of madness. A QAnon believer, Marjorie Greene, is most likely going to be elected to Congress and there are a couple other candidates who have a shot. Trump himself said he liked QAnon because “I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.” When that type of legitimacy is given to a group like this, it emboldens them and makes it easier to recruit new members. I think it’ll be easy for similar groups to gain traction.

To the second question, I think that “Q” is most likely a troll or combination of trolls, but sadly even if there was solid evidence of this you could present to Q followers, they will dismiss it. You might lose a few believers, but the core group will say anything you try to present to them is a “deepfake,” “fake news,” or a “hoax.”

It’s frustrating– as I discuss in American Madness, once you go down that rabbit hole, it’s really hard to come back from it.


For more ways you can support me and my book, please see this entry: “American Madness is Out Now!

Purchase from Lion’s Tooth for a signed, inscribed copy, a bonus comic zine, Lion’s Tooth swag, a “this machine kills fascists” sharpie from Feral House, and access to in-person and online events with me! Right here: https://www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/

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Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.

 

American Madness is Out Now!

Today, August 25, is the official release date of my new book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness, out NOW from Feral House. It’s been a long, strange road to get here. This all started when I was introduced to a conspiracy theorist/ self-styled superhero named Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, who was pushed down a rabbit hole by Alex Jones. A stranger than fiction exploration of Conspiracy World followed for several years. Now the book is out and I’m so glad I can share the whole thing with you.

Two nice pieces for me on release day– Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s book editor Jim Higgins interviewed me for this article, which gives an overview of the book:
American Madness details how conspiracy theories took over one troubled man’s life

And Literary Hub published an excerpt, a chapter about how Richard first discovered a man who would change the course of his life: Alex Jones:
How Do Celebrity Conspiracy Theories Become Who They Are? Tea Krulos on Richard McCaslin and the Origins of Alex Jones

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Here are some simple ways you can help me make the book a success (and great ways to support any author you like):

Order the book: This is the most obvious way to support me, especially now in the book’s early release. My first recommendation is ordering it through Lion’s Tooth (just click on the names of these sites to go right to the book), a great independent bookseller. I live close to them, so I’m able to stop by and inscribe copies for you. In fact, I’ll be there in a couple days to get more copies signed, so order today and fill out the “note to seller” if you want it inscribed. Plus they include a bonus comic book and swag, and an exclusive in-person (socially distanced) event September 5 at X-ray Arcade and an online event with me September 10.

Quimby’s is also an awesome place to order from and Bookshop.org puts your money in the hands of independent bookstores. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, too.

Reviews: Leaving reviews on any site is helpful, even if you didn’t buy the book there. It takes about 50 reviews before you get bumped into a better algorithm and your book pops up more as suggested reading. The big ones are Amazon and Goodreads.

Library New Material Request: I love libraries and it’s a thrill to know my title is available. Most librarians are happy to hear suggestions and a lot of libraries have a “new material request” form you can find on their website or can ask for.

Social Media: Sharing the book/ links helps get the title to people outside my social circle. Sharing anywhere and old fashioned word of mouth is appreciated!

Thank you for your support! I hope you enjoy my new book AMERICAN MADNESS.

–Tea Krulos

August 25, 2020

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Tea’s Weird Week: Watch Out for the Phrase “Do Your Own Research”

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Let me tell you a little bit about Young Krulos– when I was 18, I graduated high school, then I moved out of mom and dad’s. I moved to Milwaukee’s east side into a house full of roommates, got a string of jobs like washing dishes, telemarketing, and cashiering. I lived a carefree life. I didn’t have much money or even wanted much… I dined on Ramen noodle packs, and frozen pizzas. Not having much money, I spent many days hanging out at the East and Central libraries. I would spend hours browsing and reading books, magazines, CDs, and videos.

A lot of times I’d be on some random kick– I’d be reading all the books I could find about comic book history or UFO case studies or famous gangsters of the 1920s…whatever struck my interest. I guess you could say I was “doing my own research,” so I understand the appeal.

“Do your own research.” That’s a phrase I ran into a lot while working on my book American Madness, which is about conspiracy theory culture, and it’s a term I’ve heard many times in the last few months. It kind of makes my eyes roll and my skin crawl when I hear it now.

FlatEarthBoard

Over the course of working on American Madness, I was told I should “research”  9/11 and vaccines and flat earth theory and other stuff I’ll just let you read about in the book.

I have mixed feelings about conspiracy theory, depending on the topic. Some of it, like UFO cases and the JFK assassination, I find to be really interesting. Stuff like the moon landing hoax or Jimi Hendrix faking his death and becoming Morgan Freeman, are just goofy and amusing. Theories like the Sandy Hook shooting being fake are pretty disgusting. There’s a fine line that’s hard to navigate sometimes.

I think my irritation with “do your own research” was already there, but blew up with all the COVID-19 theories from an internet army of people who were suddenly “researchers.” Someone on Facebook told me I was dumb for believing the pandemic was a real threat. This person had “researched,” they said, and their findings was that the “plandemic” was fake.

Really? Did you? Did you do this research in a lab? Did you have it published in a peer-reviewed journal? Or did you just watch something floating around YouTube?

Ok, let me take a breath here. I’m not saying you need a PhD to educate yourself. We should all strive to be better informed. Media literacy is more important than ever.

Fake news is a real problem in 2020. Conspiracy sites, foreign interests (like Russia), bots, data mining, deep fakes, far right sites–some that have deceptive, Orwellian names ( justthenews.com, for example is definitely not “just the news”) have formed a tidal wave of misinformation. Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of people want media literacy. They’d rather follow their “hunch,” like Trump does, and find faulty resources that support their idea that the world is flat, or that vaccines cause autism, or that Democrats have imprisoned “mole children” under Central Park.

Here’s some things we should ask ourselves when searching for information:

  • What source is this and is it credible? Is it “fake news”–not the type that Trump yammers on about because they report information that hurts his ego, but heavily skewed, conspiracy peddling, Photoshop fear-mongering sites like Breitbart News, InfoWars, FOX, OANN, etc.?
  • Who authored it and when was it written? I periodically see people mourning the recent loss of Gene Wilder on Facebook– but he died in 2016.
  • What sources are provided for the article you’re reading or the video you’re watching? Some outlets use an echo chamber– they might use articles on their own site or other similar bad sources for information.
  • Is this source heavily biased, an opinion piece, or a satire site? It’s hard to tell these days if we’re looking at the New York Times or The Onion.
  • Am I looking for the truth, or am I just looking to have my opinion validated? Research follows facts, not emotion.
  • Appeal to authority is a misunderstood logical fallacy. It says that a claim isn’t necessarily true just because an expert says it is without other evidence. It doesn’t mean all authority figures are wrong, it just means that they aren’t always right. Appeal to false authority is using evidence from someone who claims they are an authority on a subject when they are not.
  • Who pays for the site the source comes from? Are they owned by a non-profit, or a special interest group? Those are things to consider. Do they fund their site by selling scam products (ahem, Alex Jones)? Are they really owned by George Soros, or is that something you saw someone say on Reddit?

Doing your own research can be a fun and rewarding thing, a way to understand life better. Just be careful where you get your information from.

Freelance Dept.: I interviewed members of Antifa for local paper the Shepherd Express this week: https://shepherdexpress.com/news/features/what-is-antifa/

My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HEREIt’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

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“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.

Tea’s Weird Week: Trump Inspired QAnon Followers, Proud Boys, Gun Nuts, Racists, all Have 2020 Campaigns

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THE WORST PEOPLE RUNNING IN 2020, RANKED

I’m taking a break from examining COVID-19 conspiracy theories, which are proliferating stronger than ever with the circulation of a documentary titled Plandemic this week. I want to talk about something approaching on the horizon– the 2020 elections. In addition to deciding whether Trump will be in office another 4 years, there are a number of campaigns that are disturbing. Racists, “men’s rights” activists, hardcore conspiracy believers, and uh…people raffling off AR-15s are all throwing their hat into the ring year. The chance, no matter how thin, that any of these people could be elected into public office is sad and frightening. Personally, it’s inspired me to never miss a local election, no matter how mundane. Here then is a countdown of 8 groups or individuals running for office.

8.) QAnon, conspiracy cult with candidates in 17 states

First, let’s check in on the story of QAnon followers running for office. QAnon is a conspiracy cult that believes there is a satanic-pedophile-Deep State ring of Trump enemies– Democrats, intelligence agencies, “Lamestream media,” etc. and that Trump has a plan called “The Storm” that will round them all up and arrest them.

QAnon has been in the news a lot lately for violent, frightening activity. A mother arming herself and kidnapping her children (she didn’t have custody) and a woman who drove to New York with a dozen knives, ranting about how she was going to kill Joe Biden, are just a couple of the most recent ones. The recent failed coup attempt in Venezuela strangely included a mercenary who was into QAnon. These are strange times.

On February 13, I wrote a column titled “There Are Two Dozen Members of QAnon Running for Congress” about the disturbing news that QAnon followers were running for office across the country.

Bad news: the number of QAnon campaigns jumped from 24 to 39. More bad news: QAnon has created their own super PAC to support these candidates, called “Disarm the Deep State.” Kinda good news: After some of the recent elections, 15 of the candidates have dropped out or lost primaries. That means 24 still remain, including some who have advanced to be on ballots in California (7 out, 3 still in) and Texas (1 out of 5 still in). 

You can find a regularly updated list of all QAnon candidates by Media Matters for America here: “Here are the QAnon supporters running for Congress in 2020.”

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DeAnna Lorraine lost in the California primary but is still retweeted regularly by Trump.

7.) Paul Broun, Gun Nut, Georgia’s 9th District [UPDATE: lost in June 9 primary]

Sign up for e-mail updates, possibly WIN a free AR-15! (must be at least 17 to enter)! ‘Merica! Trying to take advantage of pandemic fears, Paul Broun, running for Congress in Georgia’s 9th district, released a cartoonishly bad fearmongering campaign ad. As New York magazine reports:

That’s right: Dr. Broun’s campaign is giving away an assault rifle (a.k.a. a “Liberty Machine”) to a lucky correspondent eager to repulse “looting hordes from Atlanta” (e.g., black people) or “tyrannical government from Washington” (an epithet that worked better when that Kenyan Muslim was president).

Bonus point: he also believes evolution theories he was taught are “lies straight from hell.” Here is Broun’s “Liberty machine giveaway” ad:

6.) Arthur Jones, Literal Nazi, Illinois’ 3rd District (LOST IN PRIMARY)

Art Jones, I’m sad to say, is a product of my home state of Wisconsin (Beloit). He’s a former American Nazi Party leader, holocaust denier, and perennial attention seeker that has run for office many times since 1976, campaigning as candidate for mayor of Milwaukee, mayor of Chicago, Chicago City Council, and Congress.  Jones was a fan of Trump and voted for him in 2016, though he later said he regretted it as Trump “surrounded himself with hordes of Jews.” He was one of several white supremacists who ran for office in 2018 and ran unopposed in the Republican Party in Illinois’ 3rd congressional district. He lost to his Democrat rival, but got almost 58,000 votes.

Embarrassed Republicans put in an effort to squash his candidacy with a “Say No to the Nazi” campaign this year and he came in last in the March 17 primary. Even though he lost, I wanted to mention his campaign to point out that he still managed to get 1,637 votes– that means there are either 1,637 people in Illinois’ 3rd District who have no idea who they are voting for OR are just totally cool with a Nazi representing them.

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Arthur Jones, Nazi, at a 2016 rally. Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/weaverphoto/29683766898

5.) Matt Gaetz, gasmask enthusiast, U.S. House of Represenatives, Florida’s 1st District

GQ calls him the “Trumpiest Congressman in Trump’s Washington.” Here’s a quick few things about Matt Gaetz– in 2017 he crowdsourced a house resolution that “primarily used content from /r/The_Donald, ‘a pro-Trump subreddit notorious for both its embrace of conspiracy theories and its gleeful offensiveness.'” In 2018 he invited an Alt-Right holocaust denier to Trump’s State of the Union address. In 2019, he tried to intimidate a witness, Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen. His most recent controversy was wearing a gas mask on the floor of the House as an apparent mockery to “fake news” about COVID-19. Not long after he was placed under quarantine when it was determined he had been in contact with a COVID-positive attendee of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

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4.) “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, Concentration Camp creator, Maricopa County Sheriff

Joe Arpaio’s legacy will be of racially profiling to fill up his “Tent City,” an outdoor detention facility he proudly compared to a “concentration camp,” where immigrants are kept in a furnace-like tent that “could reach up to 141 degrees,” according to the ACLU. Women prisoners were “denied basic sanitary items,” and prisoners were forced into solitary confinement and chain gang work. He’s had dozens of lawsuits related to abuse of power over the years. He lost re-election in 2016. His racial profiling led him to be convicted of criminal contempt of court in 2017, but Trump, a big fan (Sheriff Joe was a huge supporter of the racist Birther conspiracy theory and Trump’s border wall) pardoned him. This year Sheriff Joe is trying to get his old job back. The Phoenix New-Times reports he has so far outraised all other candidates, most of it from out-of-state donors.

“I’m in this to win,” Arpaio saus, according to Phoenix New-Times. “I’m not taking any prisoners. My posse that I started years and years ago is coming back. A lot of things are coming back.”

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Joe Arpaio (right) with Ted Nugent.

3.) Enrique Tarrio, Proud Boys chairman, Florida’s 27th District and Nick Ochs, leader of Hawaii Proud Boys, Hawaii’s State Rep for District 22 (Honolulu).

The Proud Boys are an Alt-Right group that are racist, homophobic, sexist, just all around pro-toxic masculinity. Just take a look at the group’s initiation process. From Wikipedia:

The first stage is a loyalty oath, on the order of “I’m a proud Western chauvinist, I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world”; the second is getting punched until the person recites pop culture trivia, such as the names of five breakfast cereals; the third is getting a tattoo and agreeing to not masturbate; and the fourth is getting into a major fight “for the cause.”

The group has a history of showing up to cause violence at protests, and were present as part of the Alt-Right coalition at Charlottesville. Most recently, they’ve been using the anti-lockdown protests as rallying points.

Enrique Tarrio is the chairman of the Proud Boys and is running for Congress is Florida’s 27th District (Miami area). A second Proud Boy, Nick Ochs, who leads the Proud Boys chapter in Hawaii, is running for State Representative in District 22 (Honolulu).

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Enrique Tarrio, front and center, leading a Proud Boys march in Portland, OR. Photo via tarrio2020.com

2.) Laura Loomer, “social media martyr turned Trumptastic tribute*”, Florida’s 21st Congressional District

Laura Loomer is a “political stuntwoman” who got her start working with Project Veritas, and specializes in crashing events to grab attention for herself. Her first famous stunt was disrupting a Shakespeare in the Park performance of Julius Caesar in 2017. The play featured a Caesar that looked like Donald Trump and Loomer got onstage and started shouting about political violence.

She grabbed the mic at a women’s march in 2019 and told the marchers that they were “Nazis,” and filmed herself and others dressed in sombreros and fake mustaches trespassing onto Gov. Newson’s property as some kind of statement on immigration, among many other similar stunts as well as ambush “journalism” confronting targets in public. She calls this “Loomering” someone. She’s supported by InfoWars and has promoted “false flag” theories about mass shootings, suggesting they were orchestrated to produce outrage to repeal the 2nd Amendment.

Racist comments led Loomer to be banned on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, PayPal, Venmo, GoFundMe, Medium, Lyft, Uber, and UberEats. The latter ride service bans came from Islamophobic comments about cab drivers. After she was banned from Twitter, she handcuffed herself to the social media giant’s front door.

One reason Loomer ranked so high on this list is that her campaign is picking up steam– she’s already raised over $600,000, more than her eight Republican primary candidates combined, making it likely she’ll be taking on the Democrat incumbent of the district she’s running in. An endorsement of her was retweeted by Trump. Speaking of…

*”Laura Loomer is the Congresswoman Donald Trump Deserves,” The Bulwark

1.) Donald J. Trump, unhinged conspiracy promoter, President of the United States

Let’s not forget who made all this possible. Trump’s constant entertainment of conspiracy ideas paved the way for most of the people on this list. He retweets QAnon believers and an array of other conspiracy pushers, shares disinformation from sites like Breitbart News, and stokes the fires of racism, hate, and paranoia. Anything that damages his massive ego is attacked as “fake news,” with journalists labelled as “the enemy of the people.” As we’ve seen, he is exactly the type of person you don’t want in the face of a pandemic as COVID conspiracy belief has reached dangerous levels. Don’t let the dystopia continue– vote Trump out and shut down his army of delusional, hate-filled, backward thinking proteges.

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Rather than admitting he was wrong about a hurricane trajectory, Trump shows a map modified with a Sharpie. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

A couple observations:

-All of the candidates on this list are/were running as Republicans.

-What in the fuck is going on in Florida, especially Districts 21 and 22? Between the two there are 5 QAnon candidates and Laura Loomer. The districts include Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, and most relevant– Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, so perhaps the proximity to Trump?

-Good luck, human race. And don’t forget to vote. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Check your local elections and take a look at who is running– you might be unpleasantly surprised.

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My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: CLICK HERE

It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

Follow me on:
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Having just returned from the grocery store during an official pandemic, I’m reminded to highly recommend Apocalypse Any Day Now, from Tea Krulos, who went way down the doomsday prepper rabbit hole. Fun and unfortunately highly relevant. Do it.” — Brent Gohde, Cedar Block/ Science Strikes Back

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Tea’s Weird Week: I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 more times batshit crazy every day

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OR “WEIRD DAY?” “WEIRD HOUR?” “WEIRD TIME IS AN IRRELEVANT CONSTRUCT?” 

Well, my column title says it all. To support this theory, I’ll do as a conspiracist does and string some random crazy scraps together with pieces of yarn. The COVID-19 pandemic has made people snap. Yesterday we got news that a Waukesha, Wisconsin man murdered 2 family members and the family dog (and injured 2 more) back in March (the details were just made known in court) after fears of coronavirus overtook him. In Texas, a Trump supporter named Karen posted a screed dismissing the virus as a “media driven” hoax, and that:

They are leading with fear causing you to panic like sheep…you don’t need hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and Lysol. You need common sense, a sense of direction, faith, a will to fight, and of course, guns!

Well, Karen is dead. She died from COVID-19. The stories are coming in so thick and fast, this column could be re-branded as “Tea’s Weird Day.” Consider, for example, these stories from the last few days:

Conspiracy Theorists Are Destroying 5G Towers Because They Believe There is a 5G/Coronavirus Connection

Over the past week, conspiracy theorists have destroyed the following: a train (see last week’s column: “Conspiracy Theory Trainwreck“), “at least twenty” 5G towers, and quite a few of my brain cells. The hottest conspiracy this week is that 5G Internet is linked to coronavirus. The theory is that “5G radiation” is either exacerbating coronavirus symptoms or that the symptoms are from 5G and the virus was invented as a cover story.  The theories are being spread by a coalition of conspiracy theorists– InfoWars, QAnon, Anti-vaxxers, and David Icke.

David Icke. Yeah.While wrapping up my book American Madness (out in August) I was like gee, I hope there’s some conspiracy stuff going on in 2020 to talk about when the book comes out. Ha! Be careful what you wish for–the last couple months have been an American Madness reunion party– Alex Jones and QAnon have been in the news frequently, and now the sudden bump in interest in Icke. If you don’t know who he is, David Icke is a British conspiracy theorist who has been ranting and raving since the 90s, churning out conspiracy books and delivering lectures, which average 9-10 hours long (that’s not a typo.) He’s most infamous for his theory that a race of extra-terrestrials called the Reptilians (aka “Lizard People”) have infiltrated earth and disguised themselves as human world leaders.

 

Now, through a show called London Real, Icke has reached millions of viewers. The most recent Icke episode was removed by YouTube as the platform cracks down on coronavirus misinformation (as you’ll see in American Madness, YouTube is often too little, too late on these policies.) The YouTube ban has only given Icke more street cred. Across the UK about twenty 5G towers have been burned or otherwise destroyed or damaged, most recently in Belfast, Liverpool, and Birmingham. Some of the towers were actually 3 or 4G towers. There is a growing call on the Internet for people to destroy more.  Tech engineers are being threatened on the street. Obviously, the spread of this idea has dangerous implications– communication systems are being targeted during a pandemic.

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Burning 5G tower in Birmingham.

What’s even more disappointing is that several celebrities have helped entertain and spread the misinformation, including John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, M.I.A., and others (though some have since deleted their posts). I think this is a great place to note that we all want to envision someone spreading conspiracy as an obnoxious Alt-Right bloviating gas bag like Alex Jones, screaming and pounding his fist about chemicals in the water “turnin the frickin’ frogs gay!” or saying that Hillary Clinton is a literal demon, but that’s not always what it looks like. Sometimes it’ll be someone you admire or a friend. Just be aware of that, especially if they ask you to…

Holy Moley! Pray for the Mole Children

When I first started my book, I always thought I might find the bottom of the rabbithole, the craziest conspiracy of all. The Bohemian Grove? Reptilians? Flat Earth? Birds Aren’t Real? Nah, keep falling. But QAnon’s latest theory has got to be a contender– that coronavirus is actually a cover up to rescue the mole children. Yes, won’t someone think of the mole children?

Here’s the theory: QAnon says that there are thousands of “mole children” living in tunnels underneath Central Park. As Wonkette reports on the theory:

They have, of course, been bred for the specific purpose of being sex slaves, but also for being eaten and having their adrenal glands harvested so “elites” can get high on their adrenochrome. Which, for the 47,000th time, is not a thing anyone can get high off of.

The coronavirus emergency center set up in Central Park, they say, is to treat the mole children, some of whom are deformed or sensitive to light from living in the tunnels. Rescued children are then moved to hospital ships like the Comfort in New York and Mercy in LA (which was also the target of the guy who derailed the train there last week.)

Do people actually believe this? Yes. Are they praying for the Mole Children? You bet. Are they writing goddamn poetry about them? Hell yes.

Read more: “QAnon Idiots Very Concerned About Mole Children Now,” wonkette.com

One of Wisconsin’s Darkest Days 

On a personal note, Tuesday was an extremely fucked day in Milwaukee, the city I love. It was a batshit, terrible, dystopian day. We have a stay-at-home edict, Summerfest and the Democratic National Convention were both postponed, but the election was ordered to go on here. Not only that, but the usual 180 plus polling locations were reduced to 5 for the entire city of Milwaukee, population of about 600,000. Waukesha, a suburb of 70,000, had 1 open. Thousands of absentee ballots were requested but never arrived. Lines to vote stretched on for blocks of brave voters who had to choose– risk their health or vote. Trump’s words on the situation: “not my problem.” These games being played with people’s lives have left me sad and angry.

The next day, Bernie Sanders dropped out. Let’s ask the important questions here, like the 5 Ws (no, not the 5Gs, settle down) which are: Who, What, Where, When, and of course:

Ok! Excuse me now while I dunk my head in cold water and try to get through the rest of this week. Best wishes to all of you out there in this crazy world.

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My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: CLICK HERE

It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

Follow me on:
Facebook//Twitter//Instagram//YouTube

 

Having just returned from the grocery store during an official pandemic, I’m reminded to highly recommend Apocalypse Any Day Now, from Tea Krulos, who went way down the doomsday prepper rabbit hole. Fun and unfortunately highly relevant. Do it.” — Brent Gohde, Cedar Block/ Science Strikes Back

Every Saturday during quarantine, I’m hosting online trivia via Facebook Live:

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Tea’s Weird Week: Conspiracy Theory Trainwreck

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Yesterday, a man named Eduardo Moreno, a locomotive engineer from San Pedro, drove a train at full speed toward the Port of Los Angeles. He was holding a safety flare in the train’s cab as the train burst through a series of barriers. Moreno was hoping for an action movie like stunt where the train would jump the rails at the end of the track and fly through the air and crash into the nearby docked USNS Mercy hospital ship, which had recently arrived to help with hospital overflow from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Scene of the trainwreck.

The train skidded out in a gravel lot, about 250 yards from the ship. No one was injured, though there was a “substantial amount of fuel oil” that needed to be cleaned up. Moreno was immediately arrested and charged with “train-wrecking,” which has a sentence of up to 20 years.

Moreno told authorities his goal was to “wake people up,” and said “you only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.” It’s not known yet exactly what Moreno was hoping to wake people up to, other than he believed the Mercy was part of a plot for a “government takeover.” Conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are thick and heavy and often revolve around the virus being a bio-weapon or a hoax, designed to implement a Deep State coup followed by martial law.

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The Mercy in the Port of Los Angeles

This story is familiar to me. I have a new book coming out in August titled American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (Feral House). American Madness tells the story of a man named Richard McCaslin, who styled himself as a conspiracy commando and called himself the Phantom Patriot. Heavily influenced by Alex Jones (of InfoWars), Richard raided a secret society retreat called the Bohemian Grove in 2002, where he was arrested. He was hoping to “wake people up” to the alleged human sacrifices going on there. My book tells his story, but it also follows a pattern. Richard was the first one who took drastic action after listening to the words of Alex Jones (and others of his ilk) but not the last.

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Richard McCaslin in his Phantom Patriot costume.

Some other conspiracy theorists who have snapped include Byron Williams, aka the I-580 Shooter, who had a shoot out with the California Highway Patrol after he was pulled over on his way to shoot up charities associated with liberal boogeyman George Soros in 2010. Oscar Ortega pulled up to the White House in 2011 and fired shots at it after seeing an Alex Jones documentary titled The Obama Deception. Jared and Amanda Miller, InfoWars fans, killed three people and themselves in a Las Vegas shooting spree.

In 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch, armed himself and raided a Washington DC pizzeria named Comet Ping Pong. Like McCaslin and Moreno, Welch was hoping to “wake people up” to a Democrats child sex trafficking ring being run out of the restaurant’s basement. That same year, two Georgia men named Michael Mancil and James Dryden Jr. were arrested in a plot to drive to Alaska and sabotage the HAARP facility, based on a conspiracy that says it’s a government brainwashing facility.

Was Moreno inspired to drive his crazy train by Alex Jones? We don’t know yet. But I doubt he came up with this theory out of the blue. Someone put the idea in his ear and I don’t think it was Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper. Like a bad penny, InfoWars is the one who usually shows up in these cases.

Source: “Man charged with intentionally derailing train near hospital ship Mercy over coronavirus concerns,” Los Angeles Times

Update, April 4: Moreno has been denied bail and will be arraigned May 7. It looks like a probable influence on him was QAnon, who have been spreading conspiracies about the Mercy. QAnon is saying the Mercy will be shipping COVID-19 patients to Guantanamo Bay as well as other theories that the disease is a bio-weapon designed by China and/or Bill Gates to discredit Trump. But they’ve also said the virus is a hoax to implement martial law. Let’s not forget that about two dozen of these people have campaigns running for Congress this year: https://teakrulos.com/2020/02/13/teas-weird-week-there-are-two-dozen-members-of-qanon-running-for-congress/

Source: “Coronavirus conspiracy theorists are too nuts even for a zombie-apocalypse movie scenario,” Daily Kos

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My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture, including QAnon. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: CLICK HERE

Follow me on:
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“Journalist Tea Krulos has made a curious and enlightening career out of examining groups of people with odd beliefs.” — Skeptical Inquirer


Oh yeah, and don’t forget that our president is a conspiracy theorist! This week’s #TrumpConspiracyCounter 2020 (now at 177 clicks) column talks about Trump’s theory that there is a face mask black market. Read it here:
https://teakrulos.com/2020/04/01/trumpconspiracycounter-april-1/


This Saturday have some social distancing quarantine fun and play Tea’s Weird Week Trivia! You can win copies of my book, books from my library, and goofy fun prizes like bigfoot socks, shark hologram bookmarks, and more. It’s at 5pm central via Facebook Live video: www.facebook.com/theTeaKrulos 

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