I first began to learn about Alex Jones in 2010. Through an odd twist of events, I was introduced to a man named Richard McCaslin, a conspiracy theorist who attempted to raid a club for the rich and powerful in the redwood forest of California called the Bohemian Grove. Richard was the Patient Zero of someone who listened to Jones and took his bloviating seriously. On Jan. 20, 2002, he was arrested in the Bohemian Grove, wearing a superhero costume with a rubber skull mask and heavily armed.
100% of Richard’s decision to go on his raid was from watching a “documentary” Jones had produced called Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove, which suggested human sacrifice– maybe even children– was happening inside the Grove. It followed the Jones Method– a pinch of truth, a lot of speculation, some far-fetched interpretation, and a scary Satanic, baby-killing, New World Order cabal of those in power. I detailed Richard’s spiral down the rabbit hole and Jones’s influence over him in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked America’s Consciousness. Richard died by suicide in 2018. I believe conspiracy theory is what pushed him over the edge, and the first domino was Alex Jones.
Two things repeated after Richard’s raid– first, Alex Jones and Info Wars would pop up regularly like a bad penny as a motivator in other cases of extremist violence.
To mention just a few: Byron Williams, who had a shootout with California Highway Patrol on I-580 in 2010 and was an avid listener of Jones. He was on his way to shoot up the offices of organizations associated with conspiracy boogeyman George Soros.
In 2011 Oscar Ortega-Hernandez did a drive-by shooting of the White House. He was influenced by the Jones directed “documentary” The Obama Deception.
Starting the year after that, there was a league of Info Wars followers who harassed and sent death threats to Sandy Hook survivors online, by phone, on the street and at their homes as Jones promoted theories that they were “crisis actors.” That’s how a total of $49.3 million was awarded to Sandy Hook parents this week. And that’s just the beginning.
He also promoted Pizzagate conspiracy, which led to a raid of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria by Edgar Maddison Welch, armed with an AR-15, in 2016. Like Richard McCaslin, Welch was hoping to save human trafficking victims after watching the Pizzagate theory he saw laid out in an Info Wars video.
The second thing that repeated is Jones’s pattern of attempting to weasel out of responsibility every time he incited someone. It started with McCaslin– when asked to comment on his case, Jones said he thought McCaslin “sounded insane,” yet Dark Secrets not only gave McCaslin a clear motivation, but Jones stands outside the Grove at the end of the doc to tell people driving instructions to get there. And on January 6 (he was there as an organizer) he riled the mob up with his bullhorn, but when the shit hit the fan and people started beating cops to death– you guessed it, he tucked tail and ran.
And now, after years of dodging the court for the many cases surrounding his lawsuits from the Sandy Hook families, Jones is finally cornered. What a circus this week has been! Jones is in his own personal hell– trapped in a courtroom confronted with the truth and little chance to bloviate and spin it like he can on his rambling, 4-hour long daily radio show. He actually has to shut up and listen and his words here have real consequences.
The wildest revelation came this week when the attorneys for Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis revealed that Jones’s defense had mistakenly sent two years of data off his phone, and that this clearly pointed out that Jones is guilty of multiple counts of perjury. Jones tried to file for a mistrial. The judge said “nah.” Now the January 6 Committee is attempting to get access to that data to see how big his role exactly was in the J6 Q d’etat.
The jury awarded the victims $4.1 million, and then an additional $45.2 million in punitive damages.
That’s a good start, but not enough. A billion dollars isn’t enough.
Here’s what I hope. I hope there’s a string of trials that goes on the rest of his life, where he gets sued over and over– 4 million here, 40 million there– by everyone he’s ever slandered and that he slowly loses all of his ill-gotten money. I hope he has to sit there and hear every one of of his victims give testimony about how he stoked his fanbase to terrorize them, and all the horrible things he’s caused.
I hope it’s long and excruciating- but sadly it’ll never, ever be as painful as what those families and other Jones victims had to go through.
UPDATE, 10/12/2022: After $49.3 in damages at his Texas trial, a Connecticut court found he was responsible for a whopping total of approx 967 MILLION in additional damages today. He’s going to have to sell a lot of his bunk Info Wars Super Male Vitality pills to cover that! Is a billion enough? Nah, what the hell, keep suing him.
My book American Madness can be found here: American Madness : Feral House
A lot of court cases caught my interest over the last week or two. Me and Heidi discuss some of them in the latest episode of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast. Here’s a run down:
– Kyle Rittenhouse case. As of this writing, the jury is still deliberating on what Rittenhouse, who shot and killed 2 people (and injured a third) in August 2020 in Kenosha. I’ve had an interest in this case since it happened. I wrote a Milwaukee Press Club award winning article on the “citizen journalists” who caught the shootings on video: How Citizen Journalists Captured the Chaos in Kenosha (milwaukeemag.com)
As well as a short follow up during the trial: Citizen Journalists Footage Plays Key Role at Kyle Rittenhouse Trial (milwaukeemag.com)
[UPDATE: Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all 5 felony counts]
–Alex Jones meets consequences. A Connecticut judge found Jones to be liable for damages, in the latest ruling on cases filed by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Jones promoted that the tragedy was a “false flag” and that the grieving parents were “crises actors.” My book American Madness talks about Jones and Sandy Hook and the terrible influence Jones has on people. The jury will now decide how much Jones will face in damages.
-The QAnon Shaman. Sentenced to 41 months, Jacob Chansley probably got a longer sentence than other participants because his image was plastered all over the place. It was hard to ignore the shirtless guy wearing a horned headdress, facepaint, and carrying a spear. Another participant in the Q d’etat, Jennifer Leigh Ryan, who bragged that she wouldn’t go to jail because she was “white, with blond hair and a good job” got sentenced to 2 months in the slammer.
-Super creep Steve Bannon was indicted for contempt of Congress after he ignored a deposition to appear before a House committee looking into the January 6 insurrection. He’s facing a charge for contempt and another for refusal to produce documents. He could face 30 days and a year in jail respectively as well as fines up to $100,000.
-Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured and had his committee assignments stripped by Congress after he shared an anime video that photoshopped his image onto a character slashing his colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s head with a sword and then attacking Joe Biden. As I said in one of my first columns of this year, the Orange Stain will remain for a long time.
Hey, I know who can get these dingdongs out of prison! The Ex-presidentiables! (Yes, this is a new painting by Jon McNaughton, subject of a TWW column from last year titled Tea’s Weird Week: Laughing My Ass Off at These Bonkers Trump Paintings | (teakrulos.com) )
Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep09: The Gavel. Me and Heidi discuss some of the above mentioned cases and other weird news, trivia by Miss Information, and we close with a track by Creepy Little Things, “Mind Games.”
Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep09: The Gavel (podbean.com)
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Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
Mid-July always reminds me of a certain mystery ritual involving a giant owl statue and the burning of a pesky entity named Dull Care. Every second weekend of July, the Bohemian Club kicks off their Midsummer encampment in the Bohemian Grove retreat. The Bohemian Club was founded in San Francisco 1872. The original intent of the club was to foster art and culture in San Francisco, with most of the original members being writers, performers, and artists. It quickly grew into a status symbol, and the club began admitting men (it is a men only club) of means. Over it’s history, the Club has included several U.S. presidents and countless politicians, celebrities, CEOs, top brass military, musicians, and other movers and shakers.
Six years after the club was founded, one of the founding members, actor Henry Edwards, announced he was moving to New York. The club– about a hundred members at the the time, decided to have a going away camp out party for Edwards. An account of that first Midsummer Encampment, written by playwright Porter Garnett in 1908 says:
“The camp was without many comforts, but the campers were well supplied with the traditional Bohemian spirit– the factors of which are intellect, taste, conviviality, self-indulgence, and the joys of life. They were also provided with blankets to keep them warm and a generous supply of liquor for the same reason.”
The “Bohemians” enjoyed this outing so much that they made it an annual tradition. It is, what President (and Bohemian Club member) Herbert Hoover called “the greatest men’s party on earth.” The Club bought up a 2,700 acre plot in the redwood forest outside of Monte Rio, California and built cabins and other facilities. During the July summer encampment, which kicks off the second weekend of July, members enjoy theatrical performances, music, the great outdoors, and a lot of boozing and schmoozing. Oh yeah– they also kick the vacation off with a bizarre effigy burning ceremony in front of a giant statue of an owl.
In the 1880s, the Grove began what is called the Cremation of Care ceremony. It’s a piece of pageantry in which some of the club members dress as druids, recite poetic odes to the forest, then bring forward an effigy named “Dull Care” in front of the Great Owl of Bohemia statue. Dull Care is supposed to represent their worldly concerns that might get in the way of them being in party-mode. Dull Care mocks the Bohemians, but then the owl statue lights up and speaks! He instructs the priests to use a flame from a lamp at the base of the statue to destroy Dull Care. The Bohemians burn Dull Care, lots of cheering, fireworks, and drinks follow.
The reason we know about this secretive ritual (no press is allowed in) is from a series of undercover journalists who have infiltrated over the years from the 1970s to the 2000s.
In 2000, conspiracy peddler Alex Jones (of InfoWars) snuck into the Grove and recorded the Cremation of Care ceremony with a hidden camera. He cut this footage into a sensationalized “documentary” titled Dark Secrets: Inside the Bohemian Grove. In it he suggests that the ceremony is a satanic rite, the owl statue is Moloch, and the effigy might actually be a real person, who knows, maybe a child! And there’s your keystone of many conspiracies, from old anti-Semitic “blood libel” myths that said Jewish people used the blood of Christian children for rituals to modern QAnon nonsense about a Deep State cabal of pedophiles that get high off of adrenochrome they harvest from kids.
This Jones documentary influenced a person named Richard McCaslin to adopt a costumed persona, the Phantom Patriot, with a mission to raid the Bohemian Grove, “save the children,” and destroy the Great Owl statue. He was heavily armed when he snuck into the Grove the night of January 19, 2002. Here are pictures he took shortly before that date:
Things did not go as planned for the Phantom Patriot. You can read more on the history of the Bohemian Club (including what Oscar Wilde and Richard Nixon think of it), the strange, random life of Richard McCaslin, and the journey of the Phantom Patriot into the Bohemian Grove (in a chapter titled “Burn the Owl”) and what followed in my book American Madness.
For the Tea’s Weird Week podcast this week. I decided to have a Midsummer Encampment of my own and did a table read of sorts of the entire Cremation of Care ceremony with the help of some podcast host friends I made while promoting American Madness. I played the role of Priest One, while Aaron Franz (The Age of Transitions podcast, author of Revolve) voiced Priest Two. Dave Baker (Deep Cuts podcast, author of the new Everyone is Tulip graphic novel) acted (and sang!) the roles of Priest Three/ Great Owl of Bohemia, and Joseph L. Flatley (Failed State Update podcast, author of New Age Grifter, out next month from Feral House, publisher of American Madness) got the role of the sinister Dull Care.
We didn’t have the druid robes or the giant owl statue, but I think we brought that secret society swagger to the reading. Thanks guys! And begone, Dull Care! The episode also features a clip from an interview I did with Richard McCaslin from 2015 (not heard by anyone but me before) as well as the weird news segment with me and Heidi, a new trivia question from Miss Information and closes with a new track from snag., “Paradigm Shift.”
Listen to Tea’s Weird Week, S2 Ep09, Burn the Owl (Revisited) here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep09: Burn the Owl (Revisited) (podbean.com)
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SEE ALSO: Last summer I wrote a Tea’s Weird Week column (that appeared in a slightly different form as an article in Fortean Times) about how the Bohemian Grove summer encampment was called off for the first time in 142 years, as well as meet-ups for the Bilderberg Group and (probably) Skull & Bones: “Summer Plans are Cancelled for the New World Order.”
Get the full story of the Bohemian Grove and Richard McCaslin in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness here: Lion’s Tooth/ Bookshop.org/ Amazon
SPECIAL POST-FATHER’S DAY COLUMN LOOKS AT REX JONES, GARETH ICKE, and DONALD TRUMP JR.
Ideas are passed down generation to generation and they’re aren’t always good ones. It was Father’s Day last weekend and I stopped by to visit my dad. He’s a pretty cool guy, and I appreciate some of the things he brought into my life, most notably his love of music, old sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies, and most importantly, his love of reading.
I like to think I’ve picked up some traits from my dad but manage to be my own person. But some guys are either the polar opposite or nearly identical to their fathers. On the latter, they say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Timed perfectly with Father’s Day was a screenshot shared on social media which showed that Rex Jones, eldest son of conspiracy peddler and scam artist Alex Jones, had his own InfoWars show where he used his air time to rage against… Lord of the Rings themed erotica? Well, by now some of you probably know that I can’t look away from a car crash, so I decided to dive into the murky waters of the Internet and see if this was true. And yes, it more or less is.
Rex has been trained in the dark arts of The Alex Jones Show for a few years. There was some father and son bonding time on vacation in 2018, for example, when they ambushed and harassed Bernie Sanders at an airport (LAX), chasing after the senator and declaring that he was “the living embodiment of communist and socialist evil.”
“Very disturbing to see my son doing this,” commented Alex’s ex-wife, Kelly, at the time. She would later cite the incident in an ugly custody battle. “Plus they are calling out Bernie Sanders on his elite lifestyle, which is hypocritical. So my son is being encouraged to be a bullying hypocrite.” What Alex’s ex is referring to is the millions of dollars Alex Jones and InfoWars have made on pain, misery, lies, and sham products sold on their website.
In the last couple years Rex has appeared as a teenage correspondent on InfoWars. Now that he’s 18, Alex has perhaps told him he needs to be a man and start pounding a fist on the InfoWars desk and screaming about the dangers of the Deep State and liberal elites and communists. And so Rex makes guest appearances on InfoWars shows like The American Journal and has his own short video segment called Doctor Silence with Rex Jones. I don’t know what “Doctor Silence” refers to, but maybe it’s his fantasy superhero persona. We’re going to talk more about fantasy fulfilment in just a minute.
Rex has his imitation of his father down pat– the loud mockery, the crescendo of outrage, the angry hand gesture as punctuation. He’s going to need to chain smoke and start screaming more if he wants to develop his dad’s gravelly voice, though.
In his videos, Rex has ranted about masks and Black Lives Matter protestors, and a Blue’s Clues episode that aired earlier this month that features a Pride Parade. Not surprisingly, Rex’s interpretation of the cartoon was homophobic, transphobic, and generally rambling and stupid– at one points he asked what happens when someone on OnlyFans has a kid and years later their child sees their mom “performing cunnilingus on a man.” At first I thought this was some joke about transpeople, but I’m guessing Rex hasn’t received an adequate sex education and therefore might not be familiar with what cunnilingus is.
On a June 18 episode of The American Journal, hosted by “white genocide” conspiracy advocate Harrison Smith, Rex made an appearance to talk about his rage about interpretations of the sexuality of Lord of the Rings in fanfic erotica, thought the main thing that seems to have set off Rex and Harrison was a list of upcoming talks offered by the Tolkien Society for an online seminar July 3-4, with an overall theme of “Tolkien and Diversity.”
Some of the talk topics riled the Infowarriors up, like the one titled “Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings,” to which Rex Jones says that as a war veteran, J.R.R. Tolkien is “used to seeing people get their legs chopped off, not their dicks. Holy Hell! You can’t make this stuff up!” They went on to talk more about the seminars and took a look at some Lord of the Rings fanfic erotica pictures.
I think that these guys have a deeply closeted elf fetish. It’s ok Rex, you can be attracted to elves or dwarves or orcs or whatever the fuck you want to.
“They’re just going back and ruining anything that was enjoyable and nice for anyone,” is the Rex Jones take. “You don’t get to listen to the music you liked, you don’t get to watch the movies you like, you don’t get to read the books you like, you don’t get to live the life you like to live. You have to live in their weird rainbow PC playground and play by their rules or they’ll throw you in jail.”
To be clear, all of Tolkien’s work is still in print, widely available, and legal to purchase or get from your local library in it’s original published form.
In the same segment Rex manages to throw is a comparison that Joe Biden is “the Fuhrer” and Kamala Harris is “Goebbels.”
Alex Jones couldn’t bloviate that better himself.
After posting a screenshot of the above story to Twitter, someone informed me that another famous conspiracy peddler, David Icke, the British theorist who popularized the Reptilians theory, also has a son following in his footsteps– Gareth Icke.
Recently, a theme park called Thorpe Park in Surrey, England asked that unmasked people sit in the back of a rollercoaster to reduce the risk of infection to the masked people sitting in the front. Gareth Icke compared these rollercoaster riders to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Gareth and another Son of Icke, Jaymie, have also given speeches at anti-lockdown protests in the UK alongside their father. Gareth is described as a “leading light” of that movement. He writes articles for his father’s website, podcasts, and is also a musician, writing conspiracy themed tunes like “Trojan Horse,” though the majority of his work doesn’t seem to have a conspiratorial theme.
I’m not sure how exactly to describe the Gareth Icke sound, but it reminds me of the Bible-rock anthems of anti-lockdown “Riots to Revival” missionary/ musician Sean Feucht who grabbed headlines last year for holding revival rallies during the pandemic with no social distancing and few masks in sight.
And let’s not forget the man who became the most powerful conspiracy theorist of all (and maybe will be again soon if you believe the conspiracy that Trump will be back in office
January 20 March 4 sometime in August).
Trump had a special Father’s Day message this year: “Happy Father’s Day to all, including the Radical Left, RINOs, and other Losers of the world. Hopefully, eventually, everyone will come together!” This was shared via his political action committee as he has, of course, been banned from his social media platforms.
Like father, like son– Donald Trump Jr. has a long history of promoting conspiracies like Birtherism, school shooting conspiracies, amplifying QAnon accounts, and spreading COVID-19 and “election fraud” misinformation. Politico called him “dad’s ambassador to the fringe.”
Most recently he and conspiracy congressional representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado dusted off a classic– the Clinton Body Count. This suggests that over the last several decades, Bill and Hillary Clinton have had dozens or even hundreds of people murdered. I like to imagine them doing the murders personally– popping out of bushes wearing ghostface masks while death metal plays, Bill choking the person while Hillary shanks them with a butcher knife– the Clinton Body Count.
In this case, Alabama news anchor Christopher Sign, who had reported on the Clintons including the story of the FBI investigating Hillary’s emails, was found to have died by suicide on June 12. There is no sign of foul play, but that didn’t stop Boebert and Trump Jr. from speculating that Sign was the latest victim of the Clinton Body Count.
And just think, if the Orange Menace doesn’t run himself in 2024, there are many pundits who believe Junior is the heir apparent to the Trump political dynasty. Well, that is, if he’s not completely overwhelmed by legal problems, along with the rest of the family.
Tea’s Weird Week, season 2, episode 6: Fathers of Conspiracy: I read this column (with sound clips!) then me and Heidi Erickson discussed this column a little further along with how the Cat got Batman’s tongue and what makes a real hero, as well as Spoonman, aka Uri Geller’s vow to help win a football match (he didn’t), a UFO sighting, a couple handcuffed together for 3 months, and more. Miss Information reveals trivia answers from the first 5 episodes this season and we close out with a track from Rum Revere‘s new album, “Get Up and Watch It.”
Alex Jones, David Icke, Trump, and conspiracy culture is discussed in-depth in my award-winning book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.
Buy a signed copy online from Lion’s Tooth: https://www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/
Or wherever books are sold.
Tea’s Weird Week: Firehose of Falsehood: An Autopsy of Trump’s Conspiracy Theory Presidency (and Why it Will Haunt Us Moving Forward)
It’s fitting that Trump’s presidency is ending on election fraud conspiracies as his 2016 ambitions and every step of his presidency has been one big conspiracy conglomerate, a massive machine of misinformation, salacious rumors, and heavily biased, actual fake news sources. Here’s a tour of some of Trump’s greatest conspiracy hits, why conspiracy has been so beneficial to him, and how the orange stain will linger on long after he’s gone.
Birtherism: In my book American Madness, I wrote a chapter about Trump called “The InfoWars President,” which starts with Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, where he’s being mocked by Obama for his promotion of “Birtherism.” That conspiracy suggests Obama’s birth certificate is fake and that he was actually born in Kenya, thus making him ineligible to be U.S. president. Trump promoted the conspiracy relentlessly, but at the Correspondents Dinner everyone in the room was laughing at him. Trump’s former advisor, conspiracy guru Roger Stone, thinks that night is important in Trump’s plan to run for president.
InfoWars appearance: After launching his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump appears on the most notorious conspiracy-mongering show of all– The Alex Jones Show on InfoWars, at the suggestion of Roger Stone. Trump knew he could build a fringe alliance that would help bolster his base.
Tilting at Windmills: I think Trump probably believes some of the conspiracies he shares are true at gut level, but others he realizes are just a good form of attack. A great example of this is Trump’s seemingly bizarre campaign against wind turbines, or “windmills” as he calls them. The reality behind this is that Scotland built a windfarm near one of Trump’s golf courses, which he will forever be pissed off about because it “ruined the view.” So now he yammers on about wind turbines killing birds and causing cancer because he hates them for ruining his golf course.
Conspiracy Language: Trump quickly began to normalize language like “fake news” (any media that doesn’t shine him) and “witch hunt” (any allegation he’s committed a crime) as a way to deflect. He sometimes also uses language direct from conspiracy theorists, for example, the evil but hard to define “Deep State” that secretly rules the world.
Joe Scarborough Murder Theory: A specific example of Trump using conspiracies to attack his enemies (which is anyone who disagrees with him) is his madness in dealing with Joe Scarborough, former Florida House Rep and host of Morning Joe on MSNBC. Trump responded to criticisms from Scarborough by digging up an old conspiracy that suggests he killed an intern. You can read more in my column here: “Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession.”
Social Media Summit: Trump’s “Social Media Summit” in July 2019 was who’s who of Internet trolls, conspiracy peddlers, and the far-right blogosphere. Throughout his presidency he’s platformed these people by re-Tweeting sources like Breitbart News, TheBlaze, and other far right sites to his tens of millions of followers.
QAnon: One of the most alarming stories of 2020 is the rise of QAnon, a conspiracy cult movement that believes that Trump is a Messiah figure who will vanquish an evil cabal of satanic pedophile Democrats that get high on adrenochrome harvested from people. Is this crazy? Yes. Do we have one QAnon believer now elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (and one who seems at least to be open to QAnon beliefs)? Also yes. (See also: “The Election Day Hangover That Won’t Quit“). Trump’s ego, of course, would never shut the idea of a cult dedicated to him down, so he’s tried to waffle on QAnon, saying he “didn’t know who they were” but also heard “they fight pedophilia very hard.”
There are several cases where QAnon believers have turned to violence. Two armed QAnon believers were arrested when they were discovered trying to deliver a Hummer full of fake ballots to a ballot-counting site in Philadelphia. QAnon will cheat and get arrested for Trump and maybe even die for him.
Obamagate: In January, I attended a Trump rally here in Milwaukee. I guess I wanted a look at the belly of the beast. One thing that puzzled me for a moment was Trump talking about Hillary Clinton and basking in the crowd chanting “Lock her up! Lock her up!” Had I time-traveled back to 2016? But then I realized that this was the major policy of the Trump Show– “Crooked Hillary” and the conspiracy that Obama had wiretapped and spied on the Trump campaign. Without his Bond villains, Trump has nothing to fall back on.
Demon Sperm Lady: ‘Nuff said on this one, but you can read more here: “Demon Sperm, Reptilians, and Alien DNA…Meet Trump’s Latest COVID Expert.”
Antifa: As civil unrest and rioting flooded the streets after the murder of George Floyd, Trump found a boogieman he could conjure up when he wanted to attack Democrat led cities and states and scare his constiuency– Antifa. Radical left Antifa warriors, dressed like ninjas, were everywhere– driving caravans of buses into small town America, filling up domestic flights dressed in black bloc gear, recruiting senior citizens to jam police scanners, and burning and looting across the country.
Election Fraud: And of course, what will be the last major Trump conspiracy– mass voter fraud. This is how he goes out– tweeting and babbling (along with his team) a firehose of falsehood, trying to override the truth. Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out a statement that read, in part, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Which means, of course, Trump fired him.
Beyond January 20: More American Madness
Over 73 million people voted for Trump. A growing population out there believe that Democrats and other “radical left” figures are satanic pedophiles who get high off adrenochrome that they harvest from living people. And now these same people believe the election was “rigged” and stolen from their beloved leader.
These people are being riled up by bad actors like Alex Jones, who has led rallies in Phoenix, Austin, DC (at the “Million MAGA March”), and most recently, Atlanta, where he cruises around in his InfoWars armored vehicle, screaming through a bullhorn about how there will be a revolution like 1776.
Stewart Rhodes, leader of the militia Oath Keepers told media at the Million MAGA March that his group won’t “recognize Biden as legitimate” and “anything he signs into law we won’t recognize as legitimate. We’ll be very much like the founding fathers. We’ll end up nullifying and resisting.”
Trump’s people now believe they at war, and these people are angry, delusional, and heavily armed. Remember that just recently we learned about a plot by a militia/ domestic terrorism group (the Wolverine Watchmen) that was working on potential plots to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and possibly Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
Trump’s Street War will continue on after he’s dragged out of the White House yelling “Rigged!”on January 20.
Please Clap (or vote as the case may be) Dept.: I’m nominated for the Shepherd Express 2020 “best of” contest in the “Milwaukee Author” category. The category was introduced in 2011 and since then historian John Gurda (The Making of Milwaukee) has won it 8 out of 9 years. Can Gurda be overthrown? I’ll get out there with a bullhorn like Alex Jones if I have to. Vote here: shepherdexpress.com/best-of-milwaukee/2020#/
You can buy my new book American Madness here: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Or wherever books are sold!
And you can find my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore here: https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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]
“Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones: Alleged kidnapping plot against Gov. Whitmer a ‘false flag’ by the ‘deep state,'” Media Matters for America
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
“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.
“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
“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.
“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#/
And hey, if you read the book and you got suggestions for tracks to add to this list, leave them in the comments below!
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.
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#/
Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.