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)
Last year, I wrote a column titled “I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 more times batshit crazy every day.” Still a solid theory that I stand by. Back in April 2020 I was talking about the QAnon theory that “mole children” were being held captive in tunnels under Central Park. Today I bring you a disturbing number of stories of conspiracy theory madness…all from just the last couple of weeks. Ready? Yeah, neither am I.
1.) Hundreds of QAnon believers gathered in Dallas because they believed JFK Jr. would appear to them. (via The Dallas Morning News)
If you missed this one, hundreds of QAnon believers gathered in Dealey Plaza in Dallas (where President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963) on November 2. They believed that JFK Jr. (President Kennedy’s son, who died in a plane crash in 1999) would appear there, revealing he was alive. JFK Jr. has been part of QAnon canon since their early days– they believe he faked his death and has been in hiding, secretly helping Trump and may even be “Q” himself.
This gathering believed JFK Jr. would appear, talk about how Trump would be reinstated as president, but then being a messiah-like figure that transcends politics Trump would hand the presidency to JFK Jr., who would make disgraced Gen. Michael Flynn the Veep. When JFK Jr. failed to appear at noon as prophesized, they said he would appear like the Great Pumpkin at Midnight. Or maybe in disguise at a Rolling Stones concert that was happening that evening. But the story didn’t end there…
2.) A QAnon sect appears to be starting a cult compound in Dallas. (via Vice)
As if point one wasn’t strange enough, it appears a contingent of those QAnon believers never left Dallas.
Last weekend, a large group led by QAnon influencer Michael Brian Protzman (and his parrot) returned to Dealey Plaza. There, the group lined up single file as Protzman brought them to him, one by one, to point out an “Illuminati symbol” aka something pyramid-shaped. This seems kind of like a baptism ritual. Then the group arranged themselves in a giant Q in the park. Much of the group has been staying at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas since November 2, where they hold meetings in the hotel conference room.
“In videos of the meeting shared online, Protzman talks about the Rolling Stones concert he attended [note- the concert happened the night JFK Jr. was supposed to appear in Dealey Plaza] with members of the group, and claims that Michael Jackson, John F. Kennedy Jr., Elvis, and Prince were all at the concert and were in fact playing the music on stage, disguised as the Rolling Stones. He also claims that R&B singer Aaliyah, who died in 2001, was one of the backup singers.”
So many questions. Which Rolling Stone was Prince portraying? I mean Elvis, who would be 86, must be Keith Richards? But QAnon believes that Richards was portrayed by JFK Jr. himself. What happened to the real Rolling Stones? Didn’t the Stones sing a song called “Sympathy for the Devil”– and Satanic Panic Q fans are ok with that?
Anyway, none of this is the most fucked part of the story– a rapper called “Pryme Minister” has “offered the use of a property near the city that could act as a permanent headquarters for the group, calling it “the promised land.”
Wow, that sounds like it’ll end well.
3.) An update on the Vancouver Masonic Lodge. (via North Shore News)
Shout out to Vancouver friends Steve and Erin who sent articles on this. On March 30, a Vancouver man named Benjamin Kohlman drove around Vancouver, setting three Masonic lodges on fire. He was back in court this week. The North Shore News reports:
“The court heard Nov. 8 that Benjamin Kohlman, 43, who has drug addiction problems, was hearing voices that told him to burn the buildings because the Masons were engaged in mind control of other people…The damages to the buildings were $500,000, $2.1 million and $34,000 to $43,000, respectively, the court heard.”
4.) Aaron Fucking Rodgers. I’m just going to leave you with this Milwaukee Record headline: “Aaron Rodgers outs himself as delusional, pathetic, stupid person in rambling interview.”
5.) Conspiracy candidates to watch out for. Conspiracy theorists should concern us all as conspiracy peddlers are actively running for (and sometimes winning) public office and setting policy. In 2020 there were over 70 QAnon aligned candidates who ran for Congress. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado were elected. In the upcoming 2022 midterm and 2024 elections, expect more. There’s some “big names” who might be throwing their hat in. One is Ron Watkins, 8kun administrator and suspected fabricator of posts by “Q” (or at least someone who had a major role in creating QAnon). He’s running for a congressional district in Arizona (via the Arizona Mirror). And then there’s Trump’s conspiracy guru, Roger Stone. Stone has threatened that he’ll run for Governor of Florida if Gov. DeSantis decides to run as an opponent of Trump in 2024 (via CBS Miami). What’s next? A Congressional Committee to look into adrenochrome? A Flat Earth Party? It seems entirely possible.
6.) Conspiracy believers say Travis Scott concert deaths were part of “Satanic” ritual. After the tragedy of the concert deaths in Houston (which now total 9 after another person died of their injuries), theories started to spring up that the deaths were actually some kind of Satanic blood libel sacrifice to Moloch. Evidence cited was a stage catwalk that looked like an inverted cross, fiery visual effects, and hip hop’s alleged association with the Illuminati.
Sadly, as someone in the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group pointed out, these were sacrifices– to the almighty buck. They knew there was no way to safely do security for 50,000 people, but they packed them in anyway because they were greedy. No Illuminati or Reptilians needed when you have run-of-the-mill shitty, greedy people on the job.
Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep08: Things are Getting Strange, Damn Strange in Dallas: Me and Heidi discuss these conspiracy stories and more weird news, trivia from Miss Information, and we close out with a track from our sound engineer, Android138, “WrongTown (Sex Appeal).”
A tragic accident that resulted in death could have been avoided if the crew on the film Rust were listened to. Alec Baldwin, a producer as well as star on the film, fired a prop gun and a live round from the gun killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and critically injured director Joel Souza. The Union workers had warned of unsafe conditions on the set and specifically the prop gun, which had not functioned properly in previous takes. Some workers quit over safety concerns, other Union workers were removed and non-union workers brought in to replace them. It’s unknown how a prop gun with a live round made it’s way on set– the investigation is still in process. I immediately knew that this would become conspiracy lore, and that was correct– I’ve since seen a variety of QAnon theories, with one even pinning a piece of yarn to Alec Baldwin’s role in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October. Because, well…it’s October. How did I know this was insta-conspiracy material? Well, here’s the main reasons:
1. Baldwin is Already a QAnon Villain
QAnon believes there is an evil cabal of Satanic pedophiles out there and all you have to do to be put on this shit list is to be an opponent of Trump. There is a “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” going on here– anyone that knew Jeffrey Epstein (except Trump himself, of course), associated with Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, etc. etc. is part of the conspiracy. But Alec Baldwin is one step beyond that– he is, in Trump’s squinty eyes, an actual enemy. Enraged by Baldwin’s doofy impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live, Trump used his Twitter platform to frequently attack SNL and Baldwin in particular.
In 2017, Trump tweeted that SNL was “very unfair and should be looked into.” In 2019 he tweeted that the “Federal Election Commission and/or FCC” should investigate the show because it spent “all of their time knocking the same person (me) over & over.” In 2019 he also tweeted:
“Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!”
Again, to be clear, the President of These United States was all bent out of shape and spending an inordinate amount of time talking about this:
2. Trump Helped Normalize Spreading Conspiracies About His Enemies to His QAnon Followers
With Roger Stone (a self-described “dirty trickster”) as his spiritual guru, Trump quickly repeated the benefits of conspiracy theory as a weapon of choice in his campaign. It wasn’t the first time– Trump was the loudest and most famous voice that pushed the racist Birtherism conspiracies about President Obama. Many people still believe that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii (as per his birth certificate). After beating down the vast field of Republican runners leading up to the 2016 election with silly nicknames, in the final stretch he knew he needed to “go hard” against the remaining few left standing. That’s when he implied that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination. Look, I despise Ted Cruz and thoroughly enjoy laughing about the conspiracy that he’s the Zodiac Killer, but the reality is that he’s not the Zodiac Killer and his father wasn’t involved in the JFK assassination, and the fact that Trump just got away with saying that without any repercussions is pretty insane.
If we lived in a normal timeline, that (along with him openly mocking a person with a disability, being racist, bragging about sexually assaulting women, etc.) would have ended his campaign. But one of the worst things about the Trump presidency is that it normalized conspiracies, misinformation, name-calling, narcissism, and labelled actual media as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” He got away with it by utilizing a “firehose of falsehoods” i.e. he was spouting out so much crazy stuff, it was hard to pin down one thing or another because minutes later he was saying something else equal to or more crazy.
Cruz was far from the only target. When Trump got butt hurt over watching pundit Joe Scarborough’s show, (Morning Joe, MSNBC) he dug up a conspiracy hit piece that he had murdered an employee in 2001 and left her dead body in a campaign office even though he was out of town. (See my column, “Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession“). And these are just a couple examples– I haven’t even mentioned Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden, “Obamagate,” or the 2020 election.
3. The World is Chaos and That’s Something Conspiracists Can’t Wrap Their Head Around
Conspiracists don’t believe in coincidence. They think everything is a well designed plot, especially if there is an unknown element.
Take for example the murder of Seth Rich. Rich was a staff member of the Democratic National Committee. He was shot twice in the back and died just after 4am while walking home from a bar. Police believe it was an attempted robbery. Oh, but they didn’t take his wallet! Attempted– maybe something scared off the robber(s) but we don’t know because it’s an unsolved case. A feeding frenzy of conspiracy, from InfoWars to FOX News quickly spun a story that Rich was the one who sent DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and thus was murdered as part of the Clinton Body Count– the theory that Bill and Hill have left a pile of corpses behind them to rival Mickey and Mallory Knox as they’ve killed their way into power. I like to think of them cranking death metal and jumping out of bushes to personally stab the shit out of their enemies.
When I watched the report on the Alec Baldwin shooting on CNN, I was like, well this is definitely going to be a conspiracy because the reporting was uncertain. The anchor said “this is an accident as far as we know” and “we don’t know how such a tragic accident could happen.” That’s the difference between journalists and conspiracy peddlers. Journalists (good ones, anyway) need to wait for the facts. They can speculate, but they need to wait for investigations, reports, documentation. Those aren’t available immediately. Conspiracists, on the other hand, can pretend to know everything instantly– isn’t it suspicious how a prop gun could fire a lethal round? That’s because it’s a cover up– FACT.
Was this accidental shooting tragic and something that could have been avoided? Yes. Did it happen because Alec Baldwin was engaged in some kind of blood libel secret murder? NO.
You can read more about the tragic toll of conspiracy thinking in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness a book by Tea Krulos (bookshop.org)
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.
If you’ve ever heated up some leftover spaghetti in a plastic Tupperware container in the microwave, you know that you then forever have this kinda gross orangish-red stain on the container. It looks like the sauce has fused permanently into the plastic. You give it a scrub down, maybe throw it in the dishwasher– and it somehow looks even worse.
I’m just so sick of Trump– his stupid face, his ridiculous ego, his stupid family, his Orwellian cabinet, his Alt-Right flunkies like Stephen Miller, “Sloppy Steve” Bannon, Roger Stone, etc., his dumb, dangerous rhetoric, his xenophobia and racism, and perhaps most of all, his reckless spewing of misinformation and conspiracy-mongering, which has been proven to be fatal.
I wrote about Trump a lot in this column in 2020. It was an election year, my book about conspiracy theory, American Madness, was published, and so I wanted to share my observations about the conspiracy epidemic. I wish I could tell you this is the last time I’ll be writing I’ll be writing about the Orange One, but I know the repercussions of Trump will be felt for years, probably even generations. There is a lot to dissect and examine to try to figure out just how in the flying fuck we got here. The MAGA crowd will try to play forward the myth that he was a great hero, like the depiction in that stupid MAGA flag of Trump’s face grafted onto Rambo’s body. Others will compare him to dictators like Hitler and Mussolini, or cult-leaders like Manson and Jim Jones.
To the latter, just look at his own cult, QAnon, the driving force behind January 6’s Q d’etat, and his violent street gang, the Proud Boys (who were also present at the coup, along with Alex Jones, assorted white supremacists, militias, and uh…a Chuck Norris look-alike, Britney Spear’s ex-boyfriend, the guitarist from Iced Earth, among other seditionists.)
My comparison? Well, I’m not above making an absurd argument in absurd times. In 2019 I wrote a column titled “A Theory About Vampires, Zombies, Killer Clowns…and Donald J. Trump” which attempted to tie the Trump presidency into a trend of films like It and Joker. That’s how I view Trump: a killer clown– stupid, crazy, dangerous, with heavy facepaint.
I’m excited to take a break about talking about Trump for awhile. I’m sure he’ll be back in the future, but the columns I have planned over the next month or so are going to feature people I find interesting and inspiring, delightfully unusual.
Maybe this is my way of trying to spray down the orange stain.
Tea’s Weird Week podcast episode 2! I talk more about the orange stain, then me and my co-anchor Heidi Erickson talk about our favorite weird news this week, including a QAnon Bigfoot named Zorth, the exciting mayoral campaign of luchador Blue Demon Junior, mystical cats, elephant dung gin, and the popularity of sea shanties on TikTok (and to give us an example of one, special guest Chris Tischler of Chief sings us “Soon May the Wellermen Come.”) Plus Miss Information’s trivia question (send answer to firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered in monthly prize drawing) and a great new collaborative track from Lauryl Sulfate & Her Ladies of Leisure and LUXI, “Basement Show.” Original music and sound editing by Android138.
Listen here: https://teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-2-the-orange-stain/
Also available on: Player FM//Spotify//Soundcloud//Sticher
Check out my latest books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness: bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book, $2.99/free on KU): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1
Wisconsin Legends & Lore: www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448
I’ve spent years studying the dangers of conspiracy theory. It all started when I was contacted by a man named Richard McCaslin, who told me about his raid on a secret society retreat called the Bohemian Grove, dressed as his own superhero persona, the Phantom Patriot. Meeting Richard led me through the strange and often terrible world of Conspiracyland, documented in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness. At this time, conspiracy theorists were often lone wolfs. That’s evolved in recent years into conspiracy cult thinking– what we saw on January 6 at the Capitol, the event I refer to as the “Q d’etat,” was a full on army of conspiracy theorists.
As I was glued to my TV in shock, I thought about Richard, who is no longer with us. If he was, would we have seen him dressed in his Phantom Patriot costume marching through a haze of tear gas in the halls of the Capitol building with the rest of them? Perhaps. Even after years of interviewing him, I found Richard’s thinking unpredictable at times. I think he would have liked the idea of a “patriot revolution” raiding the Capitol, but then again Richard clearly wrote in his last testament that he was no fan of Trump, who he thought was a Reptilian alien, and he viewed QAnon as a government manufactured “psy-op” program. Richard was so deep in the bottomless rabbit hole that the conspiracies had conspiracies.
Despite the ridiculous theories that this violence was caused by hundreds of Antifa disguised in MAGA gear, anyone can see that this was the work of Trump’s cult, QAnon, and his street gangs like the Proud Boys, other Alt-Right, white supremacists, neo-confederates, and militia groups. The first person to breach the Capitol was a guy in a Q t-shirt. The guy we’re all sick of seeing, Jake Angeli, wearing a buffalo horn headdress, no shirt, and star-spangled facepaint, called himself the “QAnon Shaman.”
After the Q army was cleared, authorities found pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, guns, a noose hanging from gallows on the scene. Plans included hanging Mike Pence, assassinating Nancy Pelosi, and kidnapping members of Congress (some even carried flex cuffs to help capture hostages).
5 people died. Ashli Babbitt was an Air Force vet and QAnon believer who had tweeted she was going to be part of “the Storm”– QAnon lingo for a revolution. She said “nothing will stop us,” but was shot as she tried to climb through a doorway in the Capitol. Rosanne Boyland, another QAnon follower, was in the crowd waving the Gadsen “don’t tread on me” flag, but was trampled to death in the crowd. Benjamin Phillips told a reporter that the event “feels like the first day of the rest of our live,” but died of a stroke. And the death of Kevin Greeson was said to have been caused by him falling while trying to steal a painting, his taser landing in his crotch, zapping him until he had a heart attack. The truth of that story is disputed, but it will live on as part of Q d’etat lore.
Lastly, Officer Brian Sicknick died fro his injuries after the crowd beat him with a fire extinguisher. 60 some other officers were injured, proving that this crowd doesn’t care so much about “blue lives” as they do about disparaging black ones.
How did the hell did we get here? I think the first problem to look at is the growing conspiracy violence over the last year. The sad thing about writing this column was that finding ten stories to write about was not difficult at all. Any one of these stories should be frightening and disturbing. But taken together as a whole, it points to conspiracy theory being an out-of-control public health emergency, a problem that has continued to grow and escalated into the Q d’etat and the potential threats we are being warned about that could unfold over the next week. The FBI reports that extremists like the Boogaloo movement are planning violence surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Here are 10 stories of conspiracy violence that I followed in 2020 that paved the path to the Capitol insurrection.
1.) Trump’s normalization of conspiracy theory: The seeds of the scene we saw at the Capitol January 6 began with Trump making conspiracy part of his everyday language. He popularized phrases ripe with conspiracy like “witch hunt,” “fake news,” “hoax,” “Obamagate,” and “election fraud.” He gave a platform to conspiracy theorists and outlets and promoted conspiracy ideas from the ridiculous, trivial ones that bugged his ego (“energy efficient bulbs make my skin look orange”) to the ones that ended in bloodshed (“mass election fraud stole the election from me.”)
See more: “Firehose of Falsehood: An Autopsy of Trump’s Conspiracy Theory Presidency (and Why It Will Haunt Us Moving Forward“
2.) Crazy Train: Not an April Fool’s– on April 1 a man named Eduardo Moreno, a locomotive engineer, hijacked a train and derailed it in Los Angeles. His plan was to jump the train at the end of the tracks and crash it into the USNS Mercy hospital ship, which had recently arrived to help with overflow COVID patients. Moreno thought the ship was part of a New World Order police state takeover. He 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.”
See more: “Conspiracy Theory Trainwreck.”
3.) 5G Arsons: Conspiracies about 5G internet range from cancer and other illness from “5G radiation” to it being the cause or exacerbating COVID to government mind control programs. This has led to a string of arsons across Europe, burning down 5G towers (and towers misidentified as 5G ones) and internet service workers being harassed in the streets. Between spring and summer of 2020, there were hundreds of cell tower arsons in the UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Canada, as well as in the U.S., where there was an arson in Oregon and a wave of damaged or disabled towers in Tennessee.
4.) Q Goes to Congress: QAnon has emerged as the biggest conspiracy threat we face, as evidenced by the Q d’etat. Leading up to that have been several stories of QAnon believers kidnapping or running people off the roads because they suspect they are “pedophiles.” All this makes it even more disturbing that Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon follower, was elected to Congress to represent Georgia. Her collegue, Lauren Boebert (of Colorado) has also played with QAnon ideas.
In her short time in office, Rep. Greene has already had an incredibly stupid career– she caused a shouting match in the first hour of her first day on the job for not wearing a mask on the floor; on her second day she said Georgia’s election results needed to be overturned…but just the presidential ones, you know, not the ones that elected her on the same Georgia ballot. Her most recent antic is announcing that she will be introducing articles of impeachment against Joe Biden… on January 21, his first full day in office. Good grief.
Rep. Boebert is facing calls to resign for both inciting the crowd (among other things, she tweeted out “This is 1776!”) and revealing that Speaker Pelosi had been removed from the chambers during the insurrection, seen as tipping off those who were looking to kidnap or assassinate her. Almost 100 candidates with QAnon beliefs ran for office in 2020.
See more: “Well, it Happened: Meet Your First QAnon Congressional Representative.”
5.) Stupid Bay of Pigs: I think this May 4 story got glossed over in the craziness of spring 2020, but Operation: Gideon, or as it was soon nicknamed, “Stupid Bay of Pigs,” was an attempt by a private American company, Silvercorp USA, to send a team of American mercenaries and Venezuelan dissidents to overthrow the government of Venezuela. They hoped to be hailed as heroes and make some pretty sweet reward money.
They thought they could pull this off with 60 people. Needless to say everything went incredibly wrong and when the two fiberglass boats full of mercenaries arrived, 8 were shot dead and 17 captured while the rest scrambled their escape. One of the two Americans who led the way, was, you guessed it, into QAnon.
6.) Election Fraud Cop: The number one source amplifying election fraud conspiracies is of course Trump himself. Here’s just one example of where that rhetoric has led– in October, an ex-cop in Houston named Mark Aguirre decided he would become a detective vigilante, hunting down fraudulent ballots.
He began tailing what he viewed as a suspicious van for several days and became convinced that it was full of thousands of fake ballots. He eventually ran this vehicle off the road and pulled a gun on the driver, but when he opened the doors, he discovered…tools and spare parts for the man’s air-conditioning repair service. He’s an ex-cop for a reason. In 2002 he led a botched raid on a K-Mart parking lot, arresting 278 people, accusing them of being part of a street racing ring. The arrests led to millions of dollars in lawsuits for the city and Officer Aguirre was fired.
7.) Wolverine Watchmen: A gang of militia domestic terrorists calling themselves the Wolverine Watchmen actively plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. They went so far as to stake out Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home and made a plan to bring her to Wisconsin to placed under their own “trial.” Other ideas included storming the Michigan Capitol to take hostages, much like we saw attempted at the Q d’etat, and blowing up a bridge to distract law enforcement. Multiple members shared links to InfoWars, QAnon, and pandemic conspiracy theories on their social media.
See more: “A Militia of Phantom Patriots.”
8.) Anti-maskers: I’m just going to put this here. I regret to inform you this is just one of many dozens and dozens of terrible examples:
9.) The Nashville Christmas Bomber: As the details have been rolling in, we see a portrait of Anthony Quinn Warner, the suicide bomber who detonated an RV full of explosives in downtown Nashville as a conspiracy theorists who believed in Reptilian aliens, among other beliefs. It’s unclear what his exact motivation was or if his target was the AT&T center he parked next to, but his conspiracy believers are at least part of his mindset.
See more: “Nashville Bomber was a Conspiracy Believer, Reptilian ‘Hunter’“
10.) COVID Anti-vaxxers: A story close to home, here– a pharmacist at a health center in Grafton, Steven Bradenburg, pulled the equivalent of about 570 COVID vaccine doses out of their refrigerated storage to purposely ruin them, because he believed the vaccines were dangerous and could alter human DNA. It’s clear from his divorce proceedings that he had taken a scary turn into doomsday prepping, believing the government has a plan to shut down the power grid to create an apocalyptic police state. This story is still unfolding, but it leads me to what I think the biggest conspiracy threats of 2021 are.
One, I think we’ll see more stories like the Q d’etat and the Wolverine Watchmen kidnapping plot. All of these Trump QAnon/Alt-Right/Militia/White Supremacists aren’t disappearing on January 20 and in fact, many will consider themselves to be at war with the Biden administration. Two, much like the Bradenburg cases, there’s going to be lots of anti-vaxx issues with the COVID vaccine. We finally got the cure, but will people skip it because they believe they’ll turn into a crocodile or be microchipped by Bill Gates? Will it continue to be sabotaged by anti-vaxxers? Is our country just too dumb and selfish to get past a pandemic?
We’ll see. I hope I’m wrong. Please be safe out there!
Please Clap Dept: Thanks to Emily McFarlan Miller, who did a great interview with me about American Madness and conspiracy threats for Religion News Service: “Conspiracy theories and the ‘American Madness’ that gripped the Capitol.”
I’m happy to present episode 1 of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast! I talk more about the ideas in this column, then me and Heidi Erickson review weird news about monoliths, killer squirrels, black holes, state dinosaurs, and the fate of the Hall of President’s Trumpbot. There’s also trivia by Quizmaster Miss Information, plus a new track by Sunspot, “Hold on for Your Life.” Original music and sound editing by Android138.
Buy my books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness: bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1
Wisconsin Legends & Lore: www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448
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
Back in April I wrote a column titled “I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 more times batshit crazy every day.” It’s a theory I still stand by.
While doing the media and virtual appearance rounds for my book American Madness this fall, people asked what the wildest or craziest conspiracy I encountered was. That was a moving goal post, I’d reply, every time I thought I’d found the most outlandish theory I’d discover that nope, the rabbit hole keeps going. Reptilians, Flat Earth theory, and Pizzagate were all thought to be the peak while working on the book, but the ruthless onslaught of 2020 conspiracies loomed ahead.
Before I continue on, let me preference the rest of this column by saying I’ve met many Bigfooters (people who research and investigate Bigfoot sightings) over the years. While working on my book Monster Hunters, I had a fun and wild adventure exploring the woods of Michigan with Bigfooter Jim Sherman of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO). I’ve met several since. Bigfooters range in personality from very cool, very interesting people (which thankfully describes all the ones I’ve met) to total assholes to somewhere between. But now I’m sad to report that the joy of Bigfooting, or at least a small corner of it, has been struck by the foul cancer of QAnon.
So, it’s late at night, I should be asleep, but I’m doomscrolling Facebook when I stumble across a video titled “Zorth Says That President Trump Wins in the End” in a group I’m apparently a member of called Team Squatchin USA. This group has over 14,000 members.
There are two Kruloses in my head. One says do not watch this damn video, go to bed and the other says do it. watch this damn video. Do it.
I watched it.
Here’s what I learned:
– A man named Dr. Matthew A. Johnson (aka “Dr. J”) says that he is “the 13,” an ambassador to humanity for a council of 12 Xanue (aka Bigfoot Forest People, Sasquatch, etc.) and communicates mostly with the head of council, Zorth, through telepathy.
-Zorth has been telling Dr. J repeatedly that “in the end, Trump wins” and that Zorth has “adamantly insisted” that Dr. J share this message with the world (via YouTube). Here’s a message from Dr. J to the Team Squatchin USA group:
ZORTH is adamant about me passing on the following message that he shared with me a week ago: The Xanue are able to see into the future via a limited manner via multiple possible time lines. ZORTH wants everyone to know that in the majority of the possible time lines, President Trump wins his reelection bid. I DID NOT want to post this but ZORTH strongly insisted that I post it now.
Heavy is the head that wears Zorth’s will.
-Like Trump, Dr. J apparently has no concept of how the vote count happened and the split between in-person (which leaned Trump and were counted first) and mail-in/early voting (which leaned Biden and were counted later). “All of a sudden they miraculously find all these votes overnight.” Incorrect.
-In one of several Xanue/ Trump endorsement videos Dr. J shows footage of a popular QAnon propaganda “documentary” titled Q- The Plan to Save the World. Many of Dr. J’s posts parrot election fraud conspiracy language. QAnon is going to be facing an identity crisis and they, much like Trump himself, are currently in the “denial” phase.
– Is this guy for real? Yes, I’m afraid so. And judging by the many pro-Trump, pro-Zorth comments on Johnson’s videos on Facebook and YouTube, so are his followers. Why on earth would they believe such a shaggy Sasquatch story? Because Dr. J has “done his own research” and written two self-published books and created a whole bunch of YouTube videos. What more evidence do you need?
Look, researching and investigating Bigfoot is one thing. Saying that a wizened council of Bigfoots endorsing an awful person who lost the election and is in a delusional downward spiral about it is another. We need to fight back against conspiracies about the pandemic, civil unrest, and election fraud.
Biden won the election and Trump is attempting a coup like a fascist banana republic wannabe dictator. There is no credible evidence of election fraud. Trump’s hollow lawsuits are all being shut down due to lack of evidence. The only reason Trump won’t concede is ego alone.
Here’s something I haven’t revealed until this column– yes, it’s true, I also have the ability to communicate telepathically with the Sasquatch– prove that I can’t. I happen to be in contact with a rival council of 12 known as the Xerox and their spokesquatch, Zaarg.
And…oh my, here it is. Zaarg says they have an urgent message I must relay. An important message. Zaarg says:
Zorth, I will kick ya hairy arse, ya traitor. Y’ll look like a mangy bearskin roog when I’m done with ya, boy-o, mark me foocking words. [Zaarg is also an Irish bare-knuckle boxer] I will take on all 12 of ya Xanue foocks with one hand tied behind me back, ya foocking liars. Ya deserve to have yer arses shaved and painted orange like the Trump baboons ya are, make no mistake!
Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!
I’m a candidate for Milwaukee author in the Shepherd Express annual best of. You can read the rules and vote here: shepherdexpress.com/best-of-milwaukee/2020
My book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness is out now. It explores a wide range of conspiracies, (but doesn’t explore the Bigfoot-Q connection.)
You can find it on Bookshop.org here: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
I was really hoping to be moving toward writing about Halloweeny shit instead of conspiracy shit this week, but NO. Let me rephrase that: NOOOOOOOOOOOO. Trump had a town hall thing last night (he refused a virtual debate, leading to rival Trump and Biden town halls) and I didn’t think he could possibly appear to be more of a dangerous idiot than he did at the last debate, but welcome to 2020 where everything you know is wrong and the hellmouth continues to open! It was a great night for deranged conspiracies and a bad night for…well, the entire planet, really.
QAnon: When asked about QAnon, Trump did his usual “deny but don’t reject” dance. You might recall this from the debate where Trump refused to denounce white supremacy, then gave a perceived shout out to the Proud Boys, then claimed he “didn’t know” who the Proud Boys were. Moderator Savannah Guthrie, of NBC News, explained what QAnon was in a nutshell– the belief in a Democrat satanic pedophile ring (she didn’t mention their idea that Democrats get high on adrenochrome, though) and asked Trump if he would denounce them. The response:
Trump: I know nothing about QAnon.
Guthrie: I just told you.
Trump: You told me, but what you say doesn’t necessarily make it fact, I hate to say that. I know nothing about it, I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard, but I know nothing about it.
Guthrie: They believe it is a satanic cult run by the DNC!
Trump: [rambles about how vicious Antifa is]…I just don’t know about QAnon.
Guthrie: You do know!
Trump: I don’t know!…Let me tell you, what I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that.
Guthrie: Ok, but there’s not a satanic pedophile–
Trump: I know nothing about that
Guthrie: You know nothing about that?!
Trump: No, I have know idea and neither do you know that [sic].
Trump still doesn’t know who QAnon is! Well, he knows they fight pedophilia “very hard.” That’s funny because, as I noted in a previous column Trump said at an August 20th press conference that he didn’t know who QAnon was other than “I understand they like me very much.”
It’s been almost 2 months– you couldn’t get an intern to hop on Google to see what all this bullshit was about? The real answer is that Trump is a liar– he very well knows who QAnon is and a cult devoted to him is appealing to his massive ego.
The “Biden Killed Seal Team 6 Theory”: This week Trump retweeted a QAnon account twice that had posted a baseless theory that the Navy SEAL 6 team mistakenly killed Osama Bin Laden’s body double in 2011 and rather than say “oops,” Obama and Biden had the whole team assassinated to cover up the mistake. Yes, THIS IS FUCKING CRAZY. It led to this beautiful town hall exchange, when Guthrie brought it up:
Trump: That was a retweet. That was an opinion of somebody and that was a retweet. I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves. I don’t take a position.
Guthrie: I don’t get that. You’re the president. You’re not someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.
Thank you, Savannah Guthrie, for doing your job and calling Trump out and not letting him try to steamroll you.
Obamagate/Voter Fraud: Trump mentions his Obamagate theory and talks about voter fraud.
Trump:”When I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can and they happen to have my name on it, I’m not happy about it.”
Guthrie: There is in fact no evidence of widespread fraud and you are sowing doubt in our democracy.
When Guthrie added that the FBI director noted their was no evidence of mass voter fraud, Trump replied, “Oh really, then he’s not doing a very good job.”
What else– oh yeah, he refused to answer whether he tested for COVID the day of the debate, he misrepresented a study, saying 85% of people who get COVID were wearing masks (FALSE), said he’s second only to Lincoln in helping African-Americans and on and on blah blah bullshit.
FAKE NEWS! But wait, there’s more! Early this morning, Trump tweeted out a post from the Babylon Bee, a satirical site that’s a wannabe version of The Onion. The post said Twitter had shut down to slow the spread of negative news. “Wow, this has never been done in history. This includes his really bad interview last night,” Trump tweeted.
Well, he’s right– this has never, ever, neverever been done in history. If you are voting for Trump, there is nothing I can say to you, you are too far gone. I just hope you put some serious thought into where your own mind and soul are.
And if you don’t think conspiracy thinking is dangerous, I invite you to read two pieces I wrote this week.
“Richard McCaslin: An Obituary,” is about a person I met who descended into conspiracy theory. As the title suggests, he died. I wrote about him in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.
“A Militia of Phantom Patriots” discusses how conspiracy theory was a factor in the Wolverine Watchmen militia terrorists and their plan to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (and possibly Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, as we now know).
My book American Madness is a guide to Conspiracyland (buy it at Bookshop.org or wherever books are sold). Speaking of crazy uncles (I am one, myself!) I talked with the guys on the Strange Uncles podcast about my book to kick off their fourth season. They say: “American Madness is probably one of the best books we’ve read in awhile…highly recommended.” Thanks, Uncles! You can listen here: https://strangeuncles.podbean.com/e/strange-uncles-s4e1-interview-with-american-madness-author-tea-krulos/
Also, I’m doing a virtual event with the fantastic Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago on this Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30pm. I’ll be talking American Madness and doing some conspiracy theory trivia for some cool prizes. It’s free and streaming live on their YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/QuimbysBookstore
Check out the fantastic prizes HERE.
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