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Tea’s Weird Week: There are Two Dozen Members of QAnon Running for Congress

TeaWeirdWeek

“That being said, I do believe there is a group in Brussels, Belgium, that do eat aborted babies.”– Matthew Lusk, QAnon member and Florida Congressional candidate

Red Valentine Countdown Social Media Post

L-R: Twitter page of Joanne Wright, California’s 34th district, Danielle Stella (w/ a Q necklace), Minnesota’s 5th district, QAnon supporter at a Trump rally, campaign website (misspelling “where”) of Christine Scott, Florida’s 22nd district.

I wish I were joking with this week’s column title, but I’m not. Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group that monitors right-wing media, has identified 24 candidates (though two have already dropped out) who have launched 2020 campaigns that are promoters of the QAnon theory. Yikes.

QAnon is a cult-like conspiracy following that believes in a Trump Messiah. I wrote about them in a chapter of my upcoming book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (Aug.25, Feral House) in a chapter titled, simply enough, “Q.”

QAnon beliefs go in a number of crazy directions, but the heart of the belief says that Democrats are running a secret satanic pedophile ring (the Pizzagate theory ties into this) and are practicing cannibalism. They believe Trump is silently plotting a day of reckoning, referred to as “The Storm” when all of these liberal villains– “Crooked Hillary,” Obama, “Nervous Nancy,” members of the Fake News media, and everyone else part of the “Deep State” will be rounded up, given military tribunals and sent to rot in Guantanamo Bay. Cryptic messages about this “Great Awakening” are sent to the initiated by a figure known as “Q.” There is much speculation on who Q is. Some say it is John Kennedy Jr., who faked his death and is secretly helping Trump out, or that it is Trump himself or someone in his inner circle. Spoilers: Q is probably an Internet troll. 

There are many times QAnon has pointed to Trump supposedly acknowledging them– most recently I was amused to see that the Associated Press talked to QAnon members at the Milwaukee Trump rally that I attended and said they “believed the president had traced the shape of the letter ‘Q’ as a covert signal to followers of QAnon.” [“‘QAnon’ conspiracy theory creeps into mainstream politics,”Associated Press.]

You can identify QAnon believers by the lingo they use, often signaled as hashtags. “Where we go one, we go all” (abbreviated to wwg1wga) is the QAnon phrase of solidarity. “The Storm,” and “The Great Awakening,” refer to the QAnon revolution and “trust the plan” is another common signature. Q leaves “drops” and “breadcrumbs” as clues.

Some analysis of the QAnon candidates: Twelve states have QAnon candidates. California and Florida are tied with the most QAnon Congress hopefuls at five each. California has two vying for the 36th district (a huge mass of land east of LA in the Joshua Tree State Park), while in Florida, two are also competing for the 22nd district (which includes Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton). Texas follows with three (though one dropped out) and Minnesota with two. The candidates are split almost 50/50 between men and women. All but one (a Libertarian) are running as Republicans.

The most infamous of these contests include Matthew Lusk, running in Florida’s 5th district (which includes Tallahassee, Jacksonville) unopposed, meaning he’ll be running in the general election against Democrat Rep. Al Lawson. Lusk’s website includes a page devoted to Q, which only has three words of information on it:

Matthew Lusk QAnon campaign site

Danielle Stella of Minnesota is running against Ilhan Omar, a favorite liberal villain.  Stella says Omar hired a hitman to kill a woman and was banned from Twitter after tweeting that Omar should be hung for treason. She’s been a guest on InfoWars, and on a QAnon YouTube channel called “Patriot’s Soapbox.” She apparently also has a problem with shoplifting “cat merchandise.”

Another QAnon contender (and InfoWars guest) is DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, running against top Trump enemy Nancy Pelosi in California. As noted in the #TrumpConspiracyCounter, Trump has retweeted Tesoriero.

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Here’s the list of known QAnon members running for office in 2020:

  1. Daniel Wood, Arizona’s 3rd District
  2. Dan Belcher, Oklahoma’s 5th District
  3. Matthew Lusk, Florida’s 5th District
  4. Michael Blumeling Jr., Florida’s 21st District
  5. Jeremy Brown, Florida’s 14th District
  6. Christine Scott, Florida’s 22nd District
  7. Darlene Swaffer, Florida’s 22nd District
  8. DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, California’s 12th District
  9. Erin Cruz, California’s 36th District
  10. Ignacio Cruz, California’s 39th District
  11. Rhonda Furin, California’s 45th District
  12. Patrice Kimbler, California’s 36th District
  13. Joanne Wright, California’s 34th District
  14. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia’s 14th District
  15. Steve Von Loor, North Carolina’s 4th District
  16. Rich Helms, Texas’s 33rd District
  17. Michael Moates, Texas’s 26th District (dropped out after sending creepy messages to teens)
  18. Joe Walz, Texas’s 22nd District
  19. Nichole Williams, Tennessee’s 1st District
  20. Gary Heyer, Minnesota’s 3rd District
  21. Danielle Stella, Minnesota’s 5th District
  22. Bobby Jeffries, Pennyslvania’s 10th District (has reportedly dropped out)
  23. Jo Rae Perkins, Oregon’s 4th District
  24. Lauren Witzke, Delaware, candidate for U.S. Senate

Source: “Here are the QAnon Supporters Running for Congress,” Alex Kaplan, Media Matters for America.

This is crazy, damn damn damn crazy. It shows how important local elections can be. Please look into your local elections and VOTE. Don’t let these candidates and their imaginary friend Q get into office.

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

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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

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#Trumpconspiracycounter2020 (1)

As noted in today’s column, Trump has already gotten a number of hits on the #TrumpConspiracyCounter by retweeting followers of QAnon, including some this week. Here’s the tallies for Feb.6-12.

64.) Feb.6: Trump, furious at Romney for voting for one of the articles of impeachment, posts a video that promotes Mitt Romney as being a “secret Democrat asset.”

65.-71.) Feb.6-7: Bongino! Dan Bongino has racked up the most #TrumpConspiracyCounter points so far this year. He’s a former InfoWars regular, NRA-TV host, and now a FOX contributor and author of conspiracy book Spygate.

72.) Feb. 6: G’day, mate: Trump retweets Australian conspiracy theorist Miranda Devine, who has promoted the white genocide conspiracy theory, as well as climate change hoaxes, including a strange one that suggests Boeing planes crashed because of pressures to make them more eco-friendly. Make your brain hurt here: “NY Post Columnist Miranda Devine Bizarrely Blames Climate Concern for Boeing Disasters,” Daily Kos.

73.) Feb.6: Trump retweets Charlie Kirk, founder of college orientated Alt-Right Turning Point USA, promotor of many conspiracies, most recently Iowa voting theories.

74-75.) Feb.9: Retweets of Big League Politics. Started by a former Breitbart News writer Patrick Howley, who has called Alex Jones “my Walter Cronkite.” Formed in 2017, the site has promoted several conspiracies including QAnon, the Clinton Body Count, and Charlottesville false flag conspiracies.
Source: “Roy Moore Consultants’ New Project: A Conspiracy-Theorizing Pro-Trump News Site,”Daily Beast.

77.) Feb.9: Trump retweets Red Pill Report, sharing a video of House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler being shouted at by a heckler. The video was made by a QAnon YouTuber called “In Pursuit of Truth.”

78.) Feb. 9: Trump goes on an ALL CAPS Tweet freakout, ranting about the Spygate conspiracy. It read, in part:

SIMPLY PUT, THE PARTY IN POWER ILLEGALLY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE ELECTION, IN ORDER TO CHANGE OR NULLIFY THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION. IT CONTINUED ON WITH THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX. Terrible!

79.) Feb.10-12: These could be stretched out to several counts, as over two days Trump tweeted and spoke to the press in defense of his old campaign advisor and conspiracy theorist (and possible Batman villain) Roger Stone.

Stone has a hand in Trump becoming president, being one of the early people to suggest a White House run to him in the 1980s. In 2015, Trump tapped him to unleash the “Stone’s Rules” playbook. Stone has a long career as being a self-described “dirty trickster” as well as being a conspiracy theorist, spreading ideas like the Clinton Body Count, the Deep State, and many others. He teamed up with Alex Jones and had his own InfoWars show.

Although Trump claims “nobody really knows what he did,” the 7 felonies charged against Stone are specific– obstructing an official proceeding, witness tampering, and five counts of making false statements to Congress for his roll in trying to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks and intimidating witnesses to lie from him.

After the Department of Justice announced a 7-9 year reccomended prison term, Trump vigorously defended Stone, saying his sentence was a “miscarriage of justice” and “very unfair” and that the Stone prosecutors were “rogue prosecutors maybe? The Swamp!” Attorney General Bill Barr stepped in to say that the sentence wasn’t reasonable and would not “serve the interests of justice.” The four prosecutors who made the sentencing recommendation all withdrew from the case, with one quitting the Department of Justice completely. Many have speculated Stone will end up being pardoned by Trump, though he wouldn’t provide an answer when the press asked him.

More on Stone’s dirty trickster history:  “A Brief History of Roger Stone,” The Atlantic.

80.-82.) Feb.10: Retweets of Tom Fitton/ Judicial Watch. Fitton is president of conservative activist group Judicial Watch, which has spread conspiracies about the Clinton Body Count, voter fraud, Spygate, George Soros, climate change, and others.

You can find the #TrumpConspiracyCounter on Twitter: twitter.com/TrumpConspirac3

 

 

Tea’s Weird Week: The Top 7 Flattest of the Flat Earth Hip Hop Songs

TeaWeirdWeek

An Examination of One of Music’s Strangest Sub-genres, Plus the #TrumpConspiracyCounter Hits 063

In past “Tea’s Weird Week” columns, I explored conspiracy theories and urban legends about musicians, everyone from The Beatles to Tupac Shakur to Kurt Cobain to Ace of Base. You can read part one HERE and part two HERE.

But what about music by the conspiracy theorists, for the conspiracy theorists? Although there’s examples of  JFK Assassination Folk and Extraterrestrial themed pop-punk out there, no conspiracy topic has as well-rounded (sorry) of a musical output as Flat Earth Theory, as I discovered when I attended the Flat Earth International Conference in Dallas this last November. Flat Earthers create music in a variety of genres, but the bulk is hip hop, or as I like to call it, “flat hop.” You might be as surprised as I was to learn that there is more than one flat hop artist, and more than a dozen around the world (sorry)… but probably not much more than a dozen.

Bust out a big piece of cardboard, Globeheads, find a flat surface (again, sorry) and get ready to start break-dancing because here is…

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7. “Get Over It,” Mr. Matty Moses

Choice rhyme: “You’re digger deeper and you don’t know what to believe/ you’re getting pissed off that you’ve been duped and deceived/who do you blame NASA? The elites? (both of ’em)/ a lot of darker voices hiding our reality that…the earth’s flat, flat flat get over it.”
Notes: Mr. Matty Moses isn’t having it and wants you to get over the globe lies. To prove he’s tough on this, he’s rapping atop a pile of pallets behind a factory and other urban environments.  Bonus point for working in a diss on Greek philosopher Pythagoras (credited with being one of the first to realize the world is round) into the rap.

6. “The World is Flat,” B.A.G.D.A.G. featuring D. Marble

Choice rhyme: “I’m on a mission to go out and wake the masses/ Like this is They Live, and I’m handing out glasses/ Like ‘put these on quick and you can see how fake space is’/ Like I was sent here to tear down the Matrix.”
Notes: These guys are super stoked about their personalized flat earth sweatshirts. Which came first– the song or the sweatshirts? I’m betting sweatshirts. They Live and The Matrix are frequently referenced in Flat Earther culture (and conspiracy believers in general).

5. “Round and Curvy,” Friend of Yahweh

Choice rhyme: “I want to flow with the planets/ but oh well I can’t get past the firmament/ Just too round and curvy/ think I’m just too round and curvy/ I’m just too NASA nerdy.”
Notes: Wow-weeeee, I’m speechless. This is a (sometimes shot-for-shot) parody of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy” video (which is a parody of “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire). This parody of parody is told from the perspective of a complete tool who believes in, you know,  science, and features alien marionettes and a rapping “round and curvy” earth. Does the world– round or flat– need a “Flat Earth Weird Al” Yankovic? The answer is NO.

4. “It’s Flat!,” Curved Water

Choice rhyme: “It’s flat/ and now it feels so good to me/ I’m waking every day with this smile/ full of positivity/ waited all my life just to think for myself/ just a little bit more critically.”
Notes: I don’t know that this technically counts as hip hop, but I had to include it because of the damn hot flat earth passion! Most flat hop is about dissing NASA, mainstream science, the Illuminati, etc., but this song is about the pure ecstasy of discovering that the world is flat. It’s a flat earth song to make sweet love to.

3.  “Dear NASA, Why Are you Lying?,” ODD TV
Choice rhyme: “NASA’s missions to the moon were never completed/ they just filmed them in a room and people believed it/ I used to wonder what it’s like to be an astronaut/ now when I seem em acting I can’t help but laugh a lot.”
Notes:  ODD TV is one of the grandmasters of flat hop, no doubt. Check out my note about the playlist I made at the end of this article for more ODD tracks like “Cartoon Ball.” I chose this one for the sick Chili Peppers sample and the overall Flat Earth mood.

2. “Flatliner,” B.o.B.

Choice rhyme: “Woo!/ Use Use your common sense/ why is NASA part of the Department of Defense?/ they divided up the seas into 33 degrees/ feeding kids masonry bruh, be careful what you read.”
Notes: This is a Neil Degrasse Tyson diss track! After B.o.B. talked about the world being flat in an interview, it sparked a beef between the rapper and the astrophysicist. B.o.B. recorded this diss track and Tyson appeared on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore to literally drop a mic to demonstrate gravity. Guys, slow down! Remember what happened to Tupac and Biggie!

1.  “Flat Smackin’ (The All-Star Remix),” Wes Blaze Muzik featuring Amber Paster, Sebastian Calico, ODD TV, DECM, Flat Earth Man, The Watcher, D, Marble, and B.A.G.D.A.G.

Choice rhyme: “Eat. Sleep. Debunk the globe, repeat.”
Notes: I have some sentimental value to this song because I saw it performed live at the Flat Earth International Conference last year and it was my awakening to the fact that flat hop was a thing. Just a couple great things about this track: 1.) “Flat smacking” is a Flat Earther term that refers to dropping knowledge on unsuspecting “globeheads” that the world is flat. 2.) Flat Earth Man is the biggest Flat Earther music star, a British dude that sings country songs about flat earth. He joins in the all-star rap here in the greatest country/ hip hop crossover since “Old Town Road.”

Please Clap Dept.: I’ve just created an American Madness Channel on YouTube, please subscribe. I haven’t uploaded any of my own videos yet. So far I got 4 playlists rolling: Flat Hop, which features all the songs on this list (plus several more), playlists with videos on the Bohemian Grove and Denver Airport Conspiracy, and a Tea Krulos Interviews list which has a few of my appearances on various podcasts. More playlists to follow soon.  Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoFCwzjjghaVXSWUwEZx27g/playlists

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My upcoming book American Madness features my experience at a flat earth conference, among many other conspiracy encounters. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: CLICK HERE

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#Trumpconspiracycounter2020 (4)Flat Earth hip hop, Reptilian aliens, and Kevin Spacey murder theories all just seems like stupid crazy stuff. But conspiracy can be dangerous, especially as it is being weaponized for the 2020 elections. The contents of this week’s #TrumpConspiracyCounter is alarming stuff.

57.) January 30: Trump retweets The Epoch Times. The newspaper (and related media) was founded by a Chinese cult called the Falun Gong, who believes a judgment day is nigh and that “Trump was sent by heaven to destroy Communism.” The newspaper is saturated in conspiracy theories, including promoting QAnon and Anti-vaxxers. In December 2019, Facebook took down 600 accounts tied to The Epoch Times that had created fake, A.I. generated user profilers and spent $9.5 million on pro-Trump ads. Source: “Facebook say a pro-Trump media outlet used artificial intelligence to create fake people and push conspiracies,” NBC News.

58.) January 30:  Retweets DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, who is running against Trump enemy Nancy Pelosi and is a regular on InfoWars. Tesoriero is one of 12 QAnon believers running for Congress. Source:“GOP’s ‘QAnon Conspiracy Followers Running for Congress,” The National Memo.

59.) January 30: Trump retweets Dawn Michael, a sex counselor and member of QAnon. For more on Michael and Tesoriero, read:
“Trump Retweets InfoWars Regular And QAnon-Supporting Sex Coach During Impeachment Trial,” Newsweek.

60.) January 30: It’s hard to make the distinction of what to list as conspiracy and what is just wacky Trump bloviating, but we’re going to count this Trump statement at an Iowa rally: “The Green New Deal, which would crush our farms, destroy our wonderful cows. They want to kill our cows. You know why, right? You know why? Don’t say it. They want to kill our cows. That means you’re next.” The Democrats Want to Kill Your Cows and Then You Theory.

61.) February 4: Honorary Counter Click for Rush Limbaugh. Trump’s State of the Union speech contained a lot of lies but was light on conspiracy. That’s not surprising as in situations like this we get “Teleprompter Trump.” But one shocking moment was when he awarded Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom…during the speech. First Lady Melania hung the medal on him as Trump commended his long time friend, who recently announced he is on his way out with stage 4 lung cancer.

Limbaugh is the original Alt-Right. He paved the way for every angry, obnoxious, far-right blowhard that followed– Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and the FOX News personalities, just to name a few. He has a long legacy of disgusting racist, sexist  comments and, of course, promotions of conspiracy theories. To mention just a few of his greatest hits: Birtherism, the Clinton Body Count, the theory that the 2018 New Zealand mosque mass shooting was a “false flag” to smear conservatives, that Hurricane Irma was a liberal hoax, and that mail bombs sent to Democrat targets were being sent by the Democrats themselves.

62.-63.) February 5: Retweets of Michael Lebron aka Lionel, radio and YouTube personality and promoter of QAnon and other conspiracies. See “Trump meets with promoter of ‘QAnon’ in White House,The Hill.

Well, here we are. Just over a month into 2020 and Trump has already promoted conspiracy theorists and ideas over 60 times. Rush Limbaugh has won a medal that is supposed to go to Americans who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” These are dark times.

Follow #TrumpConspiracyCounter on Twitter: twitter.com/TrumpConspirac3

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)

Follow me: Facebook//Twitter//Instagram

 

 

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