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Tea’s Weird Week: Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession

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Memorial Day weekend— a chance to enjoy relaxation, grill out, and remember those who have sacrificed their lives fighting for our country. Or if you’re President Trump, a time to spend golfing and then spiraling into a tweetrage hurling insults, threats, and conspiracy theories. Can you imagine Obama or Bush acting like this? They’d be led out of the White House in a straitjacket, but we’re so used to this that it’s just another crazy day, another Trump meltdown.

Trump has been trying to push three big conspiracies this month of May– he’s continued to spin his mail-in ballot fraud theory (which this week prompted Twitter to finally slap warnings on his tweets), as well as continuing to tweet about “Obamagate,” a theory so convoluted that even Trump can’t explain it. Here’s an exchange between him and a reporter after he he went on a tweetfit about it on Mother’s Day (maybe it’s just holidays that get his conspiracy hype pumped up). After a reporter from the Washington Post asked him to explain what “Obamagate” was, Trump responded:

Uh, Obamagate. It’s been going on for a long time. It’s been going on from before I even got elected, and it’s a disgrace that it happened, and if you look at what’s gone on, and if you look at now, all this information that’s being released — and from what I understand, that’s only the beginning — some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again.

Uh, ok, thanks for the clear answer on that. When the reporter tried to follow up and asked again what exactly the crime was that he was referring to, Trump snapped:

You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.

And then there is the “Joe Scarborough Cold Case” conspiracy.

Trump hates Joe Scarborough, the former Florida Republican Congressman turned talk show host (Trump calls him “Psycho Joe”), his wife and co-host Mika Brezinzski, and their show Morning Joe (MSNBC).

Ooh, does he hate them! They show clips of him doing and saying stupid things…They say he isn’t doing a good job responding to this damn pandemic where 100,000 people have died…Fake news! He’s tried bashing their ratings and calling them crazy and making some shitty comment about Mika bleeding from a facelift, but it isn’t enough– he wants to burn them, badly, his heart overflowing with hate.

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Then Trump remembers something dirty and disgusting– wasn’t there a conspiracy theory from the early 2000s, something about Scarborough murdering an intern and then resigning? There was (and I’m sad to say it was liberals who originally pushed it). Scarborough had an employee (not an intern) named Lori Klausutis, 28, a constituent services coordinator who worked in Scarborough’s office. In 2001, she was found dead on the floor, near a desk.

But it isn’t, as Trump insists, a “cold case.”

AP Fact Check reports:

An autopsy revealed that Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition and a coroner concluded she passed out and hit her head as she fell. The coroner said the head injury caused the death, but she wasn’t struck by another person. The death occurred a month after Scarborough announced he was leaving office. Scarborough was in Washington when Klausutis died.

Source: AP Fact Check: Scarborough staffer death not a “mystery”

Like any conspiracy that grows legs, there are some straws to grasp at. Scarborough was getting a divorce and people whispered that he must have been having an affair with Klausutis (there’s no evidence or even allegations of this) and murdered her (though he was in DC at the time, not Florida, so he would have needed to hire a hit).

Then there was the medical examiner, Michael Berkland. He added fuel to the conspiracy story in 2012 when he stopped paying for a storage facility and a creepy scene at Uncle Bob’s Storage was revealed:

Lungs, hearts, tissue samples and 10 brains were found Aug. 22 in a storage container at Uncle Bob’s Storage that Berkland was renting, according to Pensacola police. There were body parts from more than 100 people found in the air conditioned unit.

They were stored in formaldehyde in plastic containers, specimen cups, trash bags and one part even in a 32-ounce Styrofoam cup from a convenience store, according to police. Some of the containers were cracked and leaking.

Source: “Man Charged After More Than 100 Body Parts Found in Storage Container,” ABC News, 2012.

Yikes! But that doesn’t mean that Berkland’s autopsy report was untrue. The investigation found no reason to dispute it.

Trump can’t pass up an opportunity to smear an enemy, as he has many times before (I write about this in a chapter of my upcoming book American Madness) so he takes this half baked theory and shoots it out via Twitter. A recent article in The Atlantic summed it up well:

When someone holds him accountable—when someone calls him out for his incompetence and ethical wrongdoing—conspiracy theories often become his weapon of choice. At such moments, conspiracy theories are fine, but conspiracy theories with the added element of cruelty are even better.
–Peter Wehner, “The Malignant Cruelty of Donald Trump,” The Atlantic

This is what the real “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is. He tweeted about the conspiracy six different days this month (so far):

May 4:“Concast” should open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough. I know him and Crazy Mika well, used them beautifully in the last Election, dumped them nicely, and will state on the record that he is “nuts”. Besides, bad ratings!

May 12: When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!

May 23: A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida…and, he’s a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!

May 24: A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story!

May 26: The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus. In 2016 when Joe & his wacky future ex-wife, Mika, would endlessly interview me, I would always be thinking…
…about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing? Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?

May 27: Psycho Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his bad ratings but all of the things and facts that are coming out on the internet about opening a Cold Case. He knows what is happening!

This is all especially cruel because Lori Klausutis was a real person, with a family. Her husband, Timothy Klausutis, wrote a heartbreaking letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. It reads, in part:

I have mourned my wife every day since her passing. I have tried to honor her memory and our marriage. As her husband, I feel that one of my marital obligations is to protect her memory as I would have protected her in life. There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died. I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, unfortunately it is the verifiable truth. Because of this, I have struggled to move forward with my life.

You can read the entire letter here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/business/letter-to-twitter-ceo.html

Twitter had a generic response, but they did for the first time flag two of Trump’s tweets (untrue statements about voter fraud). Trump, of course, had a melt down about this and today is signing an executive order against social media companies.

Meanwhile, during all this, thousands more people have died from COVID-19. This is why having a Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief is dangerous: he will ignore everything else to bring you down. If you criticize him, he will label you an “enemy of the people” and spread any lie he can find to try to smear you. These are dark times.

SEE ALSO: My first column of the year, which was about the Kevin Spacey murder conspiracy; also my column from a couple weeks ago about candidates playing the Trump conspiracy playbook to run for office.

Project COUCHSURF: Last week I wrote about my new hobby of spending a couple hours a week in the CIA Virtual Reading Room. This week I read some interesting files on a wave of UFO sightings in Europe and Africa in 1952 (same year as a well known UFO sighting in Washington DC). They were in the CIA’s UFOS: Fact or Fiction? collection.

#TrumpConspiracyCounter: As you can see from this column, May has been a thick month of Trump spreading conspiracy. I’m working on updating the #TrumpConspiracyCounter for this month and will have a report out next week. Needless to say, the number has seen a huge jump.

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

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

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

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

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

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THE WORST PEOPLE RUNNING IN 2020, RANKED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Joe Arpaio (right) with Ted Nugent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A couple observations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#TrumpConspiracyCounter hits 200: April 15

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I don’t know how I fell behind on this seeing I’m stuck in home, but it’s been a busy, crazy month for conspiracy in general (see my last several “Tea’s Weird Week” columns). I’m going to catch the counter up through April 15 today and will finish catching up a week from today. Wheeew. Well, in the middle of a pandemic, Trump is still retweeting members of QAnon and far right outlets. Here we go!

178.-186.) April 3: Retweets from John Solomon and his site justthenews.com. If you think it’s unlikely Trump follows a site that actually reports “just the news,” you’re right. Solomon helped spread Ukranian conspiracy theories: https://www.mediaite.com/news/john-solomon-who-helped-spread-conspiracy-theories-about-ukraine-launching-a-site-devoted-to-facts/

187.) April 3: Retweets Brandon Straka, a former liberal who leads a campaign called #WalkAway, who once warmed up a Trump rally and ended his speech with QAnon slogan “where we go one, we go all.”

188-191.) April 4: I enjoy Joe Rogan as much as the next person, he’s an entertaining interviewer. He’s also promoted conspiracy. Trump flouted Rogan’s recent comment that he’d rather vote for Trump than Biden, retweeting the endorsement 4 times via sources like One America News and The Daily Wire.

192.) April 5: One point here for retweeting gas mask fetishist Matt Gaetz’s retweet of a Breitbart article. Breitbart is a conspiracy site.

193-195.) April 10: Trump retweets three random QAnon supporters in a row:  Zeus (American flag, 3 stars) No Collusion, No Obstruction, who shared a Breitbart article and included the hastags #QAnon #QAnon2018 #QAnon2020 #DemocratsHateAmerica right in the post! He also retweeted Red Lily, who had #wwg1wga in her bio and TrumpsSedonaGirl who has several QAnon retweets.

196-197.) April 10: Retweets from fequent #TrumpConspiracyCounter guest Gregg Jarrett, author of Witch Hunt and The Russia Hoax.

198.) April 10: Retweet from frequent #TrumpConspiracyCounter guest Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch.

199.)April 11: I’m counting this Trump tweet. Saying anonymous sources don’t exist is conspiracy.

When the Failing New York Times or Amazon Washington Post writes a story saying “unnamed sources said”, or any such phrase where a person’s name is not used, don’t believe them. Most of these unnamed sources don’t exist. They are made up to defame & disparage. They have no “source”..Does anyone ever notice how few quotes from an actual person are given nowadays by the Lamestream Media. Very seldom. The unnamed or anonymous sources are almost always FAKE NEWS.

200.) April 11: Another one from John Solomon of justthenews.com.

201.) April 12, Easter: Retweet of DeAnna Lorraine, who was one of the QAnon candidates running for Congress (she suspended her campaign after getting less than 2% of the primary vote) that included a #FireFauci hashtag. Read my Tea’s Weird Week column from last week for more: “Dr. Fauci vs Trump’s Q Army.

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

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

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

 

 

 

Tea’s Weird Week: Dr. Fauci vs Trump’s Q Army

 

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I wrote a column here titled “Laughing My Ass Off at These Bonkers Trump Paintings,” in which I showed some works by Jon McNaughton, a painter who depicts scenes of Dear Leader literally teaching a man to fish, literally running a football down a field, and speaking to the press who are literally clowns. I shared these and cracked a bunch of jokes. You got to understand that this was back in a simpler, carefree time….February 27.

One painting in particular had me ROFLMAO. Take a look at the people aboard the S.S. Trump in “Crossing the Swamp” and see if it jumps out at you.
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That’s right, about half the crew is now gone: besides Nikki Haley  and Sarah Sanders, you have 4 former administration members who were fired/ forced to resign because they butted heads with Trump. Good-bye to James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Jeff Sessions, John Bolton, and John Kelly (and take your duck hunting costumes with you).

Here’s the point– if you anger Trump by disagreeing with him, you’re gone. His ego is more important than your job. His ego is more important than your life.

Let’s talk about QAnon for a moment. If you’re not at all familiar, I’ve ended up writing about them a lot this year– too much. QAnon believes that a mystery figure known as “Q” is giving them information that President Trump has a secret plan to defeat the “Deep State” of Democrats, intelligence agencies, Hollywood, the Fake News media, etc. This cabal of evil are all participating in a satanic pedophile sex trafficking/ cannibalism ring that gets high off eating human adrenal glands. It is cult-like in it’s adoration of Trump and it’s willingness to believe crazy shit. See last week’s column for their theory that the Deep State has been keeping “mole children” hidden in tunnels underneath Central Park. No, I’m not shitting you: Click Here and Pray for the Mole Children.

When I first learned about Q, I thought it was a goofy, ridiculous thing that would burn out and disappear after their early predictions that “Crooked Hillary” and company would be rounded up and sent to Guantanamo Bay failed to pan out. Instead they’ve grown and become way more dangerous than a group of kooks on a message board.

When I started the #TrumpConspiracyCounter on January 1 (trying to catalog all times Trumps promotes or retweets a conspiracy or known conspiracy theorist) I was surprised to see how many times he retweeted a QAnon supporter. He continues to do it on a regular basis. This is the President of the United States sharing these fanatics to his audience of millions. Doesn’t he have people to advise him not to do this? But then again, we wouldn’t expect an egotist like Trump to speak against a cult that worships him, no matter how wrong they may be.

Here’s why you should be concerned about QAnon: their ideas likely inspired a man to derail a train and crash it into a hospital ship in Los Angeles; QAnon are among the conspiracists spreading theories about 5G internet that has led to cell towers being burned across the UK; and there are around two dozen Q believers running for Congress.

Trump went on a tweet binge last week, retweeting three QAnon followers (most of them tipped off they were Q-balls by having hashtags #Q and #wwg1wga which is the QAnon mantra “where we go one, we go all” right in their Twitter bio).

Then, after Dr. Fauci of his Coronavirus Task Force dared to contradict him by saying more could have be done sooner, Trump retweeted Deanne Lorraine, one of the aforementioned QAnon members who was running for Congress and a regular on InfoWars. Lorraine was running against Nancy Pelosi, but suspended her campaign after receiving less than 2% in the primary (let’s hope the rest of the campaigns fizzle out, too). Lorraine’s post, which Trump retweeted on Easter, admonished Fauci for disagreeing with Trump and included the hashtag #FireFauci. QAnon has identified Dr. Fauci as their latest enemy, someone viewed by them as trying to discredit and undermine Trump and have nicknamed him “Dr. FearPorn” as they believe he is trying to inflate the pandemic as a cover up for some nefarious scheme.

So, choose your fighter: one of the world’s leading immunologists or a group of people who believe mole children are being harvested for sex and adrenal glands under Central Park.

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Is Trump going to have a tantrum and fire Dr. Fauci because the doctor speaks truth instead of Trump talking points? Right now any terrible thing is possible. Be well, people.

Please Clap Dept.: My book Apocalypse Any Day Now came out last year but is being marketed as quarantine reading. Here’s a Q and A I did about it this week: https://www.ipgbook.com/blog/publicity-spotlight-apocalypse-any-day-now/

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

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

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

 

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

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

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#TrumpConspiracyCounter: March 25

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#Trumpconspiracycounter2020 (8)I’m still keeping the #TrumpConspiracyCounter rolling. I think it’s important to document. I’ve talked in counter updates before about how Trump’s day-to-day language is steeped in conspiracy theory– “fake news,” “witch hunt,” and “Deep State” being common ones (too common for tallying). The latest– Trump’s move to call coronavirus/ COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” even in a wave of racist attacks against Asians.

After dismissing the virus as being insignificant and pandemic fears as a “hoax,” Trump has tried to turn his act around to be more presidential. But a leopard has trouble changing his spots. Trump can’t resist his manic tweetstorms, blasting out an echo chamber of voices that reinforce him and these often include the far-right Christian conservatives, Alt-Right, and of course, conspiracy mongers. In the midst of this terrible time, when people are afraid of an emergency pandemic and their livelyhood, it’s truly disturbing to know that the President is promoting these conspiracists on almost a daily basis.

138.) March 12: Tweet: “Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted “coup” of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!”

139-147.) March 15-16: Tweetstorm! Clicks for retweeting Tom Fitton/Judicial Watch (2) former InfoWars and FOX regular Dan Bongino (1) and Mark Levin of Glenn Back’s network TheBlaze (6).

148.) March 20: During a contentious press conference talking about coronavirus, Trump refers to: “the State Department or as they like to call them the Deep State Department.” We include each mention (that we catch) of the “Deep State” as it’s conspiracy theory language and a stupid and reckless way to address his perceived enemies.

149-174.) March 22-25: TWEET TRAIN! Trump binges long strings of tweets including:  Tom Fitton (2) sex therapist and QAnon believer Dawn Michael (1) Lori Hendry (1) Donnie Trump Jr.’s link to Breitbart (1) Tomi Lahren (1) thebradfordfile(4) Breitbart News (7) Greg Jarrett (author of The Russian Hoax and The Witch Hunt) (7) Tom Fitton retweeted by James Woods retweeted by Trump (1) Charlie Kirk (1)

The #TrumpConspiracyCounter is on twitter: https://twitter.com/TrumpConspirac3

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

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

#TrumpConspiracyCounter: March 11

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#Trumpconspiracycounter2020 (7)Coronavirus is the hot topic of the day and source of conspiracy theory spiraling out of control. Trump’s number one media advocate, Sean Hannity hosts a QAnon believer to tell everyone is a “Deep State” fearmongering plot. Trump tried to brush it off initially, claiming the outbreak was hype meant to damage his presidency, though as the virus has turned out to be a pandemic, he’s been trying to show he’s putting forward efforts to combat the coronavirus.

In today’s Tea’s Weird Week column (CLICK HERE) you see examples of scams and conspiracies blowing up over the last week. [For more, I recommend reading “Coronavirus is creating a Fake-News Nighmarescape,” Vanity Fair.]

120.) March 8: Hashtag #NeroTrump trends after Trump posts a bizarre meme, shown in the graphic above. It shows Trump playing a fiddle, with lettering reading “My next piece is called…nothing can stop what’s coming,” retweeting Dan Scavino, Director of Social Media at the White House.  Trump commented, “Who knows what it means, but it sounds good to me!”

Um, a couple things. First, the timing, during a coronavirus pandemic and a stock market crash, immediately brought to mind Nero fiddling while Rome burnt.

“Nothing can stop what’s coming” is language frequently used by QAnon to describe their theory of “the Storm,” a day that Trump’s “Deep State” enemies– Democrats, the FBI, Fake News media, etc., will be rounded up for running a pedophile sex trafficking ring and other crimes, according to QAnon lore. This looks like Scavino and/or Trump directly appealing to the Q cult.

121-122.) March 9:  Retweets of Lori Hendry, who has promoted Pizzagate and other conspiracies.

123-134.) March 9-10: Blast of retweets and endorsement of Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk and his new book, The MAGA Doctrine: The Only Ideas That Will Win the Future.

135.) March 9: Retweets someone named Jose Deynes, I italicized part that warrants an entry here:

The President has a duty to protect the American people from two equally dangerous threats: 1)the coronavirus and 2)the mass hysteria that MSM wants to create with the sole purpose of politically hurting the President.

136.) Counting this tweet for “Deep State” content:

“Trump has outmastered the Deep State. He’s light years ahead of us.” MSDNC. I disagree. We have a long way to go. There are still some very bad, sick people in our government – people who do not love our Country (In fact, they hate our Country!).

137.) March 10: We’re going to count this tweet as it implies Democrats have some secret agenda to eliminate cars.

If you like automobiles, how can you vote for a Democrat who all want to get rid of cars, as quickly as possible, especially if they are powered by gasoline. Remember also, no more than one car per family. I, on the other hand, have new plants being built all over Michigan, Plus!


Twitter: #TrumpConspiracyCounter

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

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Tea’s Weird Week: The #TrumpConspiracyCounter Zooms Past 100

TeaWeirdWeek

When Democrats choose their candidate, they’ll have to face the storm of a massive propaganda machine– Russian troll farms, targeted disinformation campaigns, and a tidal wave of vomit spewing forth from the Alt-Right and conspiracy theorists filled with lies, fear-mongering, and every dirty trick in the book. And nobody does this better than Donald Trump himself.

With my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness out in August, I thought that I would do a project this year where I try to catalog all of the times Trump promotes conspiracy theory. What I’ve seen in just two months is frightening, but not surprising.

To recap some #TrumpConspiracyCounter rules: In addition to his direct promotion of a conspiracy, I tally every time Trump retweets or endorses a known conspiracy theorist or outlet, even if he is just retweeting them saying “have a nice day” or something. Why? Because Trump is the President of the United States. He has a huge platform of 72 million plus followers on Twitter (though many are bots) and his tweets get retweeted tens and hundreds of thousands of times. That’s introducing these people and their ideas to a huge platform.

I try to keep track of things best I can, but you could have a whole team devoted to this and I’m just one guy. So think of the #TrumpConspiracyCounter as a highlight reel to what I can catch, which is still enough to keep the counter clicking away rapidly. Just over two months into the year and we’re already at 119.

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Biggest stories so far: Some of the noteworthy stories from the last couple months include Trump awarding vile gasbag and conspiracy monger Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union address. He also heavily defended his former advisor, 7-time felon, self-described “dirty trickster,” Batman villain, and conspiracist Roger Stone. Over the last week Trump (along with Limbaugh, FOX News, and other outlets) have pushed the narrative that the threat of the coronavirus is a Democrat/ Fake News “hoax” to damage Trump’s reputation. He even suggested in an interview with Sean Hannity that coronavirus was equitable to common influenza and people would be fine going to work with it and in true Trump fashion said his info was based on a “hunch.” (Tea’s Weird Week health tip: don’t go to work if you have the coronavirus.)

The coronavirus conspiracies have spread faster than the virus itself. Anti-vaxxers, QAnon believers, and others are passing around theories that the virus was cooked up by mad scientist Bill Gates and that the government will enforce a mandatory vaccine as part of a mass brainwashing program.

Most under the radar story: A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column about how two dozen people in the 2020 race for Congress are QAnon supporters. Trump has retweeted DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, a QAnon believer running against Nancy Pelosi, several times. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more press on this. My column is here: “There Are Two Dozen Members of QAnon Running for Congress.”

Most frequent: In our fist #TrumpConspiracyCounter entry, we talked about conspiracy in Trump’s daily language as he uses terms like “witch hunt,” “hoax,” and “fake news” (and I admitted I couldn’t tally it all due to the frequency he uses it). He’s also very much still obsessed with “Spygate,” the unfounded theory that Obama (with help from the FBI) wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016. He’s brought it up frequently this year, including at the Milwaukee Trump rally I attended and in January, he tweeted out the image below.

EPA3p4FUYAAyFUW

The most frequent theorists he’s retweeted so far include Dan Bongino, an InfoWars favorite and author of a book on Spygate and Tom Fitton, who runs a “watchdog group” called Judicial Watch which has spread conspiracies about voter fraud, climate change, and the “Deep State.”

Conspiracy outlets Trump has retweeted: Trump has retweeted these sources, which frequently pump out conspiracy: The Blaze (a media outlet run by Glenn Beck), Breitbart News, The Epoch Times (run by the Falun Gong, they’ve promoted QAnon and have spent over $9 million on Trump ads and created hundreds of fake accounts to promote them), and Big League Politics (started by a former Breitbart writer who says Alex Jones was “his Walter Cronkite.”) among others. Here’s the counter tallies from Feb. 20-March3.

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#Trumpconspiracycounter2020 (6)97-100.) Feb. 20: Quadruple Hit! “… it appears that Trump combined claims of Democratic voter fraud, unfair media bias, intelligence-community misconduct, and the misreporting of his crowd sizes into one big mess of paranoia.” We’re counting that as 4.
Source: “Trump Enters Full Conspiracist Mode at Colorado Rally,” New York magazine

101.) Feb. 20:  At the same Colorado rally, Trump brought up a frequent enemy: wind turbines. In the past Trump has bizarrely claimed that the sound of wind turbines causes cancer, that they are a mass bird killer (they do kill birds, but not nearly as much as windows, cats, and electric lines do) and, despite claiming “I know windmills very much,” says that people won’t be able to watch their TVs on a calm day, due to lack of power.

Here’s a line from his Colorado rally: “Blow wind please; please keep the birds away from those windmills, please.”

If you think it’s a little…I dunno…out of character for Trump to have an animal rights activism streak for the birds, you’re right. Trump does not give a flying fuck about golden eagles. In actuality, Trump began his quixotic quest after windfarms were proposed in proximity to his golf course in Scotland. Trump became furious at the idea of “ugly” wind turbines ruining the view of his golf course, saying it was an act of “public vandalism.” His crusade against these “eyesores” has been blowing in the wind ever since. Much like his theory that energy-efficient light bulbs make your skin look orange, this is a Trump conspiracy born of his own vanity.

Sources: “Trump Condemns California Wind Farm as Decrepit Eagle Killer,” Forbes.
“Trump resumes fight against windfarm near Scottish golf course,” The Guardian.

102) Feb. 21: Retweets Charlie Kirk (Turning Point USA).

103-104.) Feb. 24: two retweets from Lori Hendry about the plight of Roger Stone. Has promoted Pizzagate and a number of other anti-Democrat conspiracies/ falsehoods, including one that Chuck Schumer raped his 16-year-old daughter’s friend, who comitted suicide. That’s false. Here Trump was retweeting Hendry’s tweets about Roger Stone.

105-107.) Feb. 25: More Retweets and a tweet claiming Roger Stone got an unfair trial.

108.) Feb. 26: Retweets Eric Bolling of The Blaze conspiracy site.

109.) Feb. 26: Retweets Tom Fitton (Judicial Watch).

110-112.) Feb.26: 3 retweets from Mark Levin (The Blaze), 2 on Roger Stone.

113.) Feb.26: Retweets DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, one of the two dozen QAnon believers running for Congress this year.

114.) Feb.27: Trump met for 45 minutes with the cast of a “low budget conservative play about the Deep State” titled FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers by playwright Phelim McAleer.
Source: “Trump Spends 45 Minutes With ‘Deep State’ Play Actors Amid Coronavirus Mayhem,Daily Beast.

115.) Feb. 28: Trump joins in with Rush Limbaugh, FOX, and others in saying that concerns about the coronavirus are a “hoax” to make him look bad. Source: “Trump calls coronavirus Democrats’ ‘new hoax,’” NBC News.

116.) Feb.29: We’re giving one point for Trump attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It’s a den of Alt-Right characters and conspiracy. Here’s an article about last year’s conference: “The Conspiracy Theory President Finds His Comfort Zone at CPAC,” Washington Monthly. This year, coronavirus conspiracies were a popular topic.

Interesting side note: Owen Shroyer of InfoWars was kicked out of CPAC this year after ambushing pundit Seb Gorka at the conference. That led Alex Jones to do the rational thing– he called  CPAC Seb Gorka “a gay whale” and “snakeoil salesman” and challenged him to a bare-knuckle boxing match.

117-118.) March 1 & 3: Tweets endorsement of Charlie Kirk‘s (Turning Point USA) new book The MAGA Doctrine.

119.) March 3: Retweets Dana Loesch, a Blaze, Breitbart, and former NRA-TV personality.

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

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Tea’s Weird Week: The Super Troubles of Phoenix Jones

TeaWeirdWeek

My first book, Heroes in the Night, was published in 2013 and was a deep examination of the Real Life Superhero (RLSH) subculture. I’ve had a plan to write a piece sometime in the near future titled “Heroes in the Night: Where Are They Now?” One of the most sensational people I wrote about in the book is an MMA fighter turned RLSH named Benjamin Fodor aka Phoenix Jones, leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement.

Where he is now is in, as Seattle station KOMO News notes, “super trouble.” On November 21 Fodor sold $500 of MDMA (“Molly”) to an undercover cop (who was tipped off that Fodor was dealing) and delivered it to him at a Starbucks. The agent sent Fodor $500 for a second delivery of Molly, but Fodor didn’t deliver. Around the time of this drug deal, Phoenix Jones was active, according to his Twitter, with posts from September-November 2019 saying he was repairing his “super suit,” “mapping and patrol areas and crime reports” in relation to taking out a local gang, and searching for a stolen vehicle.

After Fodor didn’t deliver the second purchase of Molly, the police agent switched tactics and decided to pose as a frisky young woman who wanted to party with Fodor and his girlfriend.

The Seattle Times reports:

Fodor and “Laura” exchanged text messages over three days. At one point, Fodor gave “Laura” his full name and encouraged her to Google him.

“Laura” responded: “OMG I just googled u … Superhero’s are hot lol. You really a superhero?”

Fodor and “Laura” made an arrangement for Fodor to deliver $225 worth of cocaine for a birthday party on January 9, where Fodor and his girlfriend were arrested with four grams of coke. They are scheduled for a court hearing on February 3.

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Tea Krulos with Phoenix Jones on the streets of Seattle, October 2011. Photo by Lucien Knuteson.

Last I heard, Phoenix Jones was quite pissed off at me. I don’t think he was wrong to feel that way. In 2015, I was a guest on the radio show dedicated to all things strange, Coast-to-Coast AM, with the great George Noory. I was there to talk about my second book, Monster Hunters, but we spent some time talking about Heroes in the Night. I knew I had limited time on the subject, so I decided to roll with talking about one of the most frightening nights of my life– the night of the “Pepper Spray Incident.”

To recap: In October 2011 I voyaged out to Seattle to meet Phoenix Jones. My second night there, I was on patrol with Phoenix Jones, his teammate Ghost, and a videographer named Ryan. We spotted a group of people fighting in the street. Phoenix Jones ran into the midst of the battle and pepper-sprayed the combatants. The scene that followed was pure chaos– an angry woman beat Phoenix repeatedly with a high heel shoe, I was punched in the face by an angry, pepper spray soaked Russian, me and Phoenix were almost run down by angry, pepper spray soaked Russians in an SUV, I was almost arrested with Phoenix Jones (the officer let me go after I explained that I was a writer.)

Phoenix spent the night in jail. The incident was reported around the world and became a joke on Saturday Night Live. I wrote about that night in a chapter of Heroes in the Night titled “People Fighting and Superheroes and Pepper Spray and…I Don’t Know.”

I think Phoenix Jones was angry at me because I chose to share on Coast-to-Coast AM this moment where he had fucked up, a scene where the defender of Seattle caused a scene of dangerous chaos. People running around burning with pepper spray, screaming in Russian, and punching each other made for good radio.

I did not mention the charity events he had organized. I did not mention that he had inspired an entire team of Seattlites to spend their spare time patrolling the Rain City to protect their fellow citizens. I did not talk about how he had placed a car-jacker under citizen’s arrest or how he had dedicated his life to trying to be a superhero and helping people out.  I always try to give a fair assessment of people, a nuanced look that talks about their good qualities and bad qualities. A lot of people I write about seem to be a mix of both. On Coast-to-Coast AM, I failed to do that.

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Tea Krulos examines Phoenix Jones’s collapsible baton. Former girlfriend “Purple Reign” sits next to Jones. Seattle, 2011. Photo by Lucien Knuteson.

Let’s back up for a second. In 2011, 20-year-old Phoenix Jones busts on the scene, energetic about being the world’s greatest superhero. I think he had heart and genuinely wanted to be a hero. But everyone told him he couldn’t.

Phoenix Jones was inspired by the RLSH movement, but found himself aggressively rejected by most of the people he hoped would be his peers. Not only rejected, but some RLSH developed an unhealthy obsession with his downfall. They said he was a liar (I think he embellished or fabricated stories to give him more street cred), a cocky egotist, a sell-out, a scammer. I believe some of this was jealousy over the massive amount of media attention he received, though the media was also not always kind to him. They called him an “idiot weirdo,” and brought up discrepancies in his stories. The police thought he was a pain in the ass. The City Attorney of Seattle dropped the charges against him for the Pepper Spray Incident, but reprimanded him as a “deeply misguided individual.” A loud chorus was calling Phoenix Jones a failure.

It makes me sad to think that all of this rejection possibly led Fodor down the wrong path. If everyone– the RLSH, the authorities, the media is chanting “you are no superhero,” I would think it would wear him down over the 9 years he has tried to do good as Phoenix Jones. Maybe he thought “if that’s what you’re telling me, I’ll just deal drugs instead.” Think of the jaded cops who get worn down and turn dirty, dealing drugs with the same people they are supposed to arrest.

Phoenix Jones, if you ever read this, I want to say that I hope you don’t give up on your dream to be an inspiration– I think you slipped, like most people do at some point in their life (I know I have). You should still strive to be a positive influence– the world needs it.

Sources: “Real-life Superhero ‘Phoenix Jones’ in super trouble, facing drug charges,” KOMO News.

“Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones charged after undercover drug bust,” Seattle Times.

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My book Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement, features my adventures with Phoenix Jones and other RLSH. It’s available here: https://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php?page_id=21

My upcoming book American Madness (August 2020, Feral House) also has a Real-Life Superhero tie-in. It tells the story of Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, and his descent into conspiracy theory culture. Pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/American-Madness-Conspiracy-Theories-Consciousness/dp/1627310967/

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#Trumpconspiracycounter2020 (2)

The #TrumpConspiracyCounter has the goal to track every time Trump promotes a conspiracy theory or theorist in 2020. Here’s the update for January 21-28. 

The conspiracy counter was ticking along slowly until an impeachment trial inspired TWEETSTORM! got the wheels whirring. In the last week Trump has retweeted conspiracy mongers almost 50 times.

09.) Our featured theory today is the image the President of the United States pinned on his Twitter January 23, seen here above. It’s his second count this year of personally promoting Spygate directly, the unfounded allegation that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower. Spygate is something Trump is still obsessed with, even though there’s no proof that Obama directed the FBI to spy on Trump (or that he hung outside Trump Tower with a giant suction cup and a pair of binoculars).

10.) January 21: Retweets his son Donald Trump Jr.’s retweet of Breitbart News. Technically every retweet of Junior should count, as like father, like son, he is a conspiracist who has retweeted InfoWars and promoted theories about the Clintons and George Soros. Can you imagine, though, if the conspiracy counter also included members of the Trump Empire family and administration? I’d have to hire full time staff to update the counter around the clock! This click is for the Breitbart retweet.

11-19.) January 21: Mark R. Levin, host of Levin TV on Blaze (or as I like to call it,  InfoWars Lite), a network ran by conspiracy monger Glenn Beck (formerly of FOX). Trump’s retweets of Levin retweeted not just Blaze, but Levin’s sharing of other conspiracy peddlers like Breitbart News, Peter Schweizer (see last week’s column), and The Right Scoop.

20.-22.) January 21: Three retweets from Dan Bongino. In the past, Bongino has been a frequent InfoWars guest. He hosts his own podcast, The Dan Bongino Show, and is a major proponent of the Spygate conspiracy theory, penning a book titled Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump.

23.) January 22: Trump retweets a photoshop from White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino, a picture of him walking with an explosion labeled “Deep State” behind him. Deep State is a classic conspiracy term that refers to an undefined, shifting group of enemies, including Democrats, intelligence agencies, the media, Satanists, and whoever else conspiracists feel like throwing in.

deepstate

24-31.) January 24: More retweets Peter Schweitzer / retweet of endorsement of Schweitzer’s book and Dan Bongino.

32-36. January 24: Retweets of Gregg Jarrett. Jarrett is a FOX legal analyst and author of books titled The Russian Hoax and Witch Hunt. Nuff said.

37-55.) January 25-28: More retweets from aforementioned #TrumpConspiracyCounter entries Breitbart News, Gregg Jarrett, Mark Levin, Dan Bongino, and Jack Posobiec. 

56.) January 27: Trump retweets Dana Loesch, former NRA spokeswoman, host on the short-lived NRA-TV channel(2016-19) (and before that, Blaze and Breitbart). Not surprisingly, the NRA and their media is ripe with conspiracy theorists, including Loesch. Among many other things, she helped peddle a conspiracy that ISIS was behind a push for stricter gun laws because “terrorists agree, they want you to be disarmed,” Loesch said on NRA-TV.

#TrumpConspiracyCounter now has a Twitter page: https://twitter.com/TrumpConspirac3

“Krulos is one of the best chroniclers out there of the total craziness of our world today, and he does not disappoint in this book. He has a wickedly keen eye for high strangeness and a great voice to bring it to light.”– Mitch Smith, Goodreads review of Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review

Tea’s Weird Week: 100 Seconds

TeaWeirdWeek

DOOMSDAY CLOCK HITS 100 SECONDS TO MIDNIGHT, #TRUMPCONSPIRACYCOUNTER 2020 CLICKS TO 08

While working on my book Apocalypse Any Day Now, I developed an annual tradition, one I guess I’m carrying on (old habits). Every January, I watch the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist’s Doomsday Clock reveal via live streaming video. The Doomsday Clock is a metaphor that shows how close we are ticking toward a major global catastrophe. Factors considered include nuclear threats, climate change, and emerging technologies. It was created in 1947, when the time hovered at 7 to midnight.

My intro to Apocalypse is titled “Two Minutes to Midnight,” which reflects where the clock landed in 2018 (and remained at last year), the closest we’ve been since the invention of the H-bomb. The chart below (from The Bulletin) shows the three times the clock has been this close as well as the furthest away the clock has been (1991, 17 minutes to midnight).

clocks

So, where are we in 2020? Not good news, I’m afraid. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the first time the clock has been measured in seconds and the closest it has ever been since the clock was created.

The board gave many threats as the reason for clicking forward. There were the same problems it considers every year, like nuclear proliferation, greenhouse pollution (which has put us in a “climate emergency,” the board said), the development of biological weapons and hypersonic weapons, and cyber information warfare.

Some interesting new notes– they cited the Space Force as a new factor as we introduce more combat capabilities, as well as the danger of deepfakes in spreading chaos. The labeling of credible news sources as “fake news” while actual fake news misinformation is spread as fact, the “disdain for expert opinion,” and “trashing of respected science boards has created “an unstable equilibrium around the world.” The board said that “the world is like a pressure cooker.” Close your eyes and count to 100. Then imagine the world blowing up.

“The time to wake up is now,” the board said. “We’re not there yet, but we have to pull back from the brink.”

clock

Speaking of misinformation, time for… #TrumpConspiracyCounter

#Trumpconspiracycounter2020

Tea’s Weird Week has a goal to catalog all of President Trump’s promotion and endorsements of conspiracy theories this year.

4.) January 16: Trump retweets a Breitbart News post endorsing a new book by conspiracy theorist Peter Schweizer. Trump says he had a “perfect phone call” with Ukrainian President Zelensky and that there was “no quid pro quo” in asking him to investigate the Bidens. But where did he get this idea in the first place? The answer is Breitbart News editor and conspiracy peddler Peter Schweizer, who stitched together the unfounded Biden theory in his 2018 book Secret Empires. The book got a lot of play on FOX, a channel Trump reportedly watches several hours a day, so he picked up the theory from there and ran with it.

For more, I recommend Jane Meyer’s article for The New Yorker, “The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine.”

5.) January 16: Trump retweets The Daily Caller writer Luke Rosiak, a main architect of the”Pakistani Mystery Man” conspiracy that suggested a DMC staffer was behind Hillary’s leaked e-mails, and not Russia. Will Sommer of The Daily Beast wrote about the failed theory in an article titled “Feds Debunk Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory ‘Pakistani Mystery Man’ Leaked.”

6.) January 17: Trump floats the theory that the “impeachment hoax” was designed by Nancy Pelosi to keep Bernie Sanders stuck on the Senate floor instead of on the campaign trail in Iowa, thus giving Joe Biden the upper hand. Source: “How Trump is Spreading a Conspiracy Theory About Pelosi, Biden and Sanders,” New York Times.

7.) January 20: Retweets a poll from Breitbart News. The #TrumpConspiracyCounter tallies every retweet of Breitbart News, InfoWars, and other conspiracy sites and theorists.

8.) January 21: Climate Hoax! This ties right into today’s Doomsday Clock announcement. Trump spoke at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and said that climate scientists are “alarmists” who “want absolute power to dominate, transform, and control every aspect of our lives.” He also called them “prophets of doom,” “foolish fortune tellers,” and said that the US has the “cleanest air in the world.” That’s a lie. Source: “Trump Just Called Climate Scientists ‘Foolish Fortune Tellers,'” Vice.

Please note that these entries were before Trump’s major tweetstorm over the last couple of days. The counter has more than doubled already, but we’ll pick up the trail next week.

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Pre-order my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (August 2020, Feral House)

Read all my columns from last year collected in Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited)

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“For some reason, though some of his observations are alarming, whenever I read Tea’s work I feel better because of his level-headed reportage and humor.” –Lee Gutowski, editor, Riverwest Currents

Tea’s Weird Week: Introducing the #TrumpConspiracyCounter

TeaWeirdWeek

On Tuesday, I stood in line and shuffled into the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena to witness a Trump rally. I like to have experiences outside of my comfort zone to try to figure out what this weird world is all about. This one was pretty intense– imagine a stadium of ten thousand people screaming, totally high on hatred. I wrote about just a few WTF moments at the rally for the Shepherd Express in an article titled “The Top Ten Wildest Lines from Last Night’s Trump Rally in Milwaukee.”

TrumpRally

This was my view at the Trump rally.

I had another reason for attending– this year I’m closely monitoring Trump’s promotion of conspiracy theories and have been working on a new feature of my writing here. I’ll end some “Tea’s Weird Week” columns with a tally called the #TrumpConspiracyCounter.

It’s a fact, of course, that Donald J. Trump is a conspiracy theorist, sometimes legitimately, sometimes opportunistically. This is one of the reasons I believe that my upcoming book American Madness is very timely.

To give you a quick rundown of Trump’s greatest conspiracy hits so far: he was the person with the biggest platform to promote Birtherism, the racist conspiracy that suggested Obama was born in Africa and forged his Hawaiian birth certificate; that there was massive voter fraud in California that led to Hillary winning the popular vote; he kicked off his presidency by saying a media conspiracy had underreported his inauguration size; climate change is a “Chinese hoax”; the sound of wind turbines “causes cancer”; Ted Cruz’s father was part of the conspiracy to kill JFK; vaccines cause autism; 79-year-old Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was possibly murdered; there is a liberal “War on Christmas” (and last year mentioned a sequel “War on Thanksgiving”); he’s also given many endorsements of personnel from InfoWars and other conspiracy theorists.

And that’s just off the top of my head. Why is this dangerous? Trump is in the highest position of authority, he has 72 million Twitter followers and a cult-like population that accepts his every word as fact.

Every time Trump speaks or tweets something that is a conspiracy or shares from a known conspiracy theorists this year, it’ll be added to the #TrumpConspiracyCounter. I can only take so much Trump talk, so if you notice his promotion of conspiracy, please do help me out by commenting on the blog here or e-mailing me at: teakrulos@gmail.com.

To be clear, this is only tracking claims or associations that have an element of conspiracy to them. To see a tracking of straight-up lies and deceptions, you can look at CNN’s collection of 15, 413 (and counting) gumballs.

Here’s where we are 16 days into the year.

#Trumpconspiracycounter2020
1.) On January 2, Trump tweeted: “Their partisan Witch Hunt is hurting our Country do [sic] badly, & only bringing more division than ever!” It’s a term he tweeted out 11 times in December 2019 alone. In a rambling letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on December 17, 2019, regarding the vote on impeachment, Trump says he is being treated unfairly and that “more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.”

At least 25 people were hung, pressed to death, or died in jail as a result of the Salem witch trials. Trump mentioned “witch trials” in tweets January 6, 12, and 13, to the press on January 7, and at rallies Jan 9 and 14.

I think this is a good place to start with the #TrumpConspiracyCounter. Note that Trump’s daily language is steeped in terms like “fake news,” a supposed media conspiracy perpetrated against him by CNN, NBC, the “Failing New York Times,” and the Washington Post, all of whom he refers to as “the enemy of the people.”  Investigations into him are a “witch hunt” and equivalent to a “lynching.” All of this normalizes conspiracy ideas and the language surrounding it.

I was originally going to catalog ever time Trump says “witch hunt” on the counter, but his volume of using that and related terms ( “hoax,” “scam,” etc.) is too much. We’ll count this as number one and then move on.

2.) January 3: Trump retweets Alt-Right troll and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, a correspondent of One America News Network. Posobiec has been a frequent InfoWars guest and promoter of Pizzagate, among other theories. The retweet was just a commendation of Trump’s killing General Soleimani, but the act of retweeting Posobiec is enough to get on the #TrumpConspiracyCounter.

3.) January 14: Back to the Milwaukee rally. I was wondering if he might leave some conspiracy gem, and sure enough, he brought back his old claim that Obama is guilty of “wiretapping” Trump Tower or in some other way spying on him, sometimes suggesting the FBI was part of “Spygate” as the conspiracy is known (there is no evidence of the theory). Here’s something I wrote for the Shepherd Express article but cut because of length:

“Barack Hussein Obama,” Trump told the booing crowd, “which [sic] administration loves spying on people’s campaigns. By the way, by the way, could you imagine if it was the other way and I spied on his campaign? What would these fake news people be doing?” Trump said, gesturing to the media in the back of the room.

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With my book American Madness out this year, it’ll be interesting to see how many clicks the counter racks up by the book release date (Aug.25 2020). We’re at 3 now. What do you guess the number will be?


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Pre-order my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (August 2020, Feral House)

Read all my columns from last year collected in Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited)

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