Compounding Conspiracy

Facebook is for old people and Facebook has become useless. There are all those people from the old home town, from that last year of high school back in 1965, now retired, mostly in Florida, and now very angry. They watch the news and they hate being called racist, even if no one has called them racist. They hear the implications. Black lives matter? What makes THEM so special? And “Gone with the Wind” was a fine movie. Things were just fine back then. And where did all these Mexicans come from? That would be Mexico of course. And where did all these Muslims come from? And are those two men kissing, in public? And where did all these openly and defiantly gay people come from? This is not how the world is supposed to be. Those who went off to college in the fall of 1965 and, somehow, fell in with the crowd that wanted to change the world, don’t feel this way, but they are few now. Everyone else settled down. Their kids had kids. They’re grandparents now – but there are fewer and fewer pictures of the grandkids. Half of the nation is in the streets, damming racial justice. The rioting and looting ended, but there are still all those angry people in the streets, demanding racial justice. How is a retiree in his seventies, infuriatingly weak and wobbly, supposed to give them that? And why should he? All these years, all this work, a well-earned retirement, and these people want to tear down the country and start over, just when everything fell in place for them, perfectly, near the end.

That’s not fair. That’s why the pictures of the grandkids disappeared. There are clips and links and videos. Black folks are coming to get us. Most of these items are dubious at best, but it’s an outrage. Everything’s an outrage. And they’d probably not understand what Cristina Cabrera reports here:

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, had a meltdown on Monday night over the Black Lives Matter movement as activists protest nationwide against racist police brutality after the killing of George Floyd by police officers.

During an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Giuliani went on a McCarthy-esque tirade accusing “Antifa, Black Lives Matter, the communists, and their allies” of “executing a plan they wrote about four or five years ago.”

Without providing a shred of evidence of his conspiracy theory, Trump’s lawyer claimed the protests were an “orchestrated effort” to “destroy our government.”

“They want to internationalize our government. They want to do away with our system of courts, and they want to take your property away and give it to other people,” Giuliani told Ingraham.

He concluded his doomsday prophecy with a stark warning.

“People who say they are favorable to Black Lives Matter: Black Lives Matter wants to come and take your house away from you,” Giuliani said. “They want to take your property away from you.”

Cabrera makes that sound like a bad thing. That’s exactly what they’ve been reporting and forwarding. Giuliani got it right. Someone finally got it right, and now Cabrera disapproves of this:

President Donald Trump has sparked outrage after he retweeted dog-whistling videos of random Black men attacking white people on Monday night.

“So terrible!” Trump tweeted with a now-deleted video of a Black man shoving a white woman against the side of a New York subway train.

Exactly one minute later, the President tweeted a video from conservative hardliner Matt Walsh showing a Black man hitting a white male Macy’s employee inside a store.

“Look what’s going on here. Where are the protesters? Was this man arrested?” Trump wrote in the second tweet, referring to the demonstrators who are protesting systemic racism against Black people after George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, was killed by a white police officer during an arrest.

The video of the Macy’s incident was filmed last week by the Black man’s brother, FT Quay, who told the New York Post this past Saturday that the white man had called them the N-word right before the video started. Quay said he had not been contacted by the police.

Nothing is simple, unless it’s quite simple:

A congressman from Minnesota said Tuesday that those aligned with Black Lives Matter in protest of police brutality are “at war” with “western culture” – language that advocacy groups note has long been used to promote white nationalism.

Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) made the comment on Facebook in response to a news article about the activist Shaun King, who said this week that murals and statues that depict Jesus as white should be torn down. Numerous Confederate monuments have come down in recent days, at the hands of protesters or under orders from local officials.

“The Democrat ‘Black Lives Matter’ Party, along with armies of rioters, is at war with our country, our beliefs and western culture,” Hagedorn wrote Tuesday. “Their radical movement is orchestrated and growing. We must never let them take power. We must stand up and defend our county [sic], our nation’s identity, our Judeo-Christian values and our American way of life.”

That’s rather obvious Stephen Miller white nationalism but wait, there’s more:

In a statement to the Washington Post, Hagedorn focused on King’s musings about statues and murals that depict Jesus. He did not address the growing chorus of Americans who say they support the Black Lives Matter movement and want to see an end to racial injustice.

“The notion that statues and images of Jesus Christ somehow represent white supremacy and should be destroyed is ludicrous and represent a growing intolerant movement on the left to silence any voices that do not align with their radical secular views,” Hagedorn said.

There are people are coming for Jesus! And of course Jesus is white! These people must be stopped. No one has ever heard of Shaun King but these people must be stopped!

How? The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin offer this analysis:

Over the last few days the president has tweeted context-free videos of random incidents involving black people attacking white people and baselessly argued that President Barack Obama, the country’s first black leader, committed “treason.” In an interview with the Catholic News Agency that was posted online on Monday, Mr. Trump said he planned to sign an order to protect national monuments at a time when statues of Confederate generals are being torn down across the country.

“We’re going to do an executive order,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re going to make the cities guard their monuments, this is a disgrace.”

This is the source of much of this. One man is stirring the pot that calls the kettle black:

As president, Mr. Trump has rarely been so inflammatory on race in such a narrow window of time, from his recent tweet about a doctored video purportedly showing a “racist baby” to his use of a racist phrase – “Kung flu” – to describe the coronavirus at his rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Twitter suspended the account of the meme creator who is a favorite source of material for the president, and who had produced the “racist baby” video that Mr. Trump tweeted.

That was indeed a curious thing:

Twitter added a warning to a post from President Trump about a racist baby on Thursday, saying it contained manipulated media designed to mislead people.

Mr. Trump’s tweet, which he posted earlier on Thursday, featured a video of two toddlers running down a sidewalk. The video had been altered to appear as if CNN had broadcast it, along with a fake chyron that claimed, “Racist baby probably a Trump voter.” The video went on to accuse “fake news” of stoking misinformation.

Mr. Trump sourced the video from a popular pro-Trump meme creator who goes by the name CarpeDonktum.

Twitter added the warning later on Thursday after the tweet had been viewed nearly four million times, tagging it with an exclamation mark and the words “manipulated media.” The company’s policies prohibit sharing videos, photos or audio that “have been deceptively altered or fabricated” to trick viewers and have the potential to cause harm. It was the first time Twitter used that particular label on one of Mr. Trump’s posts.

Trump was furious. He wanted to shut down Twitter. He was told he couldn’t do that, so he called for a change in the law. From now on Twitter and Facebook too can be sued for anything anyone posts on their service, kind of like making it possible to charge the phone company with direct felony murder if anyone ever discussed that on their phone lines. Congress is not eager to take this up.

Haberman and Martin don’t discuss that. They look at the general situation:

Mr. Trump, who has waged only one campaign before this one, is effectively running a primary contest in a general election. Answering to his instincts and what he thinks “my people” want, as he often puts it to advisers, the president is exploiting racial divisions in a way that appeals to only a segment of his party.

As political strategy goes, it’s confounding: First-term presidents historically have sought to broaden their support before their re-elections, but it’s especially peculiar given the fast-shifting views of moderate white voters and some Republicans on matters of race.

“I can speak from personal experience in Oklahoma City: white Republicans are having these uncomfortable conversations and are wanting to have them,” said David F. Holt, the city’s Republican mayor. “I’m seeing a broad consensus of support and empathy for the issues being raised by the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Trump will have none of that. He knows how he won. Only one segment of the party wanted him to win, but they were enough. He’ll work his magic on them again:

While Mr. Trump’s views on race and the protests have been out of step for weeks with many Americans, he has, in recent days, tried to rally his supporters on matters related to race, such as claiming without evidence that progressives have broadly labeled his voters as racists. In tweets, videos and at his campaign rally last Saturday, he has portrayed protesters as a threat in ways that are bound to heighten divisions rather than unite cross-sections of Americans.

The message – I have no proof but these people are calling you racists. I know it! You know it! Everybody knows it! They don’t have to SAY anything!

That may not work:

A recent New York Times Upshot/Siena College survey illustrates the chasm between the president and even many right-leaning voters on issues of race. While Mr. Trump rages about protesters and threatens them with violence, large portions of his party are far less hostile.

Over half of voters surveyed who said they were somewhat conservative, and even a quarter of voters who called themselves very conservative, had a favorable view of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Just as significant, some Republican-leaning voters are plainly uneasy with Mr. Trump’s conduct in the last month. About 46 percent of somewhat conservative voters said they disapproved of the president’s handling of the racial justice protests, and 70 percent of moderates said the same.

But he doesn’t care:

As his political challenges have intensified, Mr. Trump is stepping up his focus on race and “heritage,” in references to totems like statues of Confederate generals. He has vowed to defend a statue of Andrew Jackson, the president who owned slaves and signed a law that led to the forcible removal of thousands of Native Americans from their lands.

But it may be that the Trail of Tears is why he likes Jackson. Like Putin and Kim, Jackson was a strong leader, but that might make Trump a loser:

Some aides and more than a few Republicans worry that, satisfying as this approach may be to him in the moment, it does not offer a path to 270 Electoral College votes, let alone help the GOP retain the Senate. And it is a separate conversation from the one a large chunk of the country not glued to Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed is having.

“He’s not disciplined enough to focus on that,” Terry Sullivan, a longtime Republican strategist, said of a re-election-only strategy. “He needs the constant quick fix of people loving him.”

Mr. Trump, continued Mr. Sullivan, is “the Rod Stewart of politicians – he may keep coming up with new material but deep down he knows his fans just want to hear ‘Wake Up Maggie,’ so he keeps playing the same tune because he can’t stand the thought of them not loving his performance.”

But the rest of the country has moved on, so no one knew what to make of this:

President Trump on Monday accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of treason, without offering any evidence or details to back up his claim.

Trump made the accusation in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network. The president has frequently accused others of “treason,” but Monday marked the first time that he has leveled that claim against the man who preceded him in the Oval Office.

“On Obama and the spying situation, this idea that they were spying on your campaign – you’ve been asked before about what crime would have been potentially been committed,” Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody said.

“Treason,” Trump responded. He added: “It’s treason. Look, when I came out a long time ago, I said they’ve been spying on our campaign. … It turns out I was right. Let’s see what happens to them now.”

Trump mentioned Attorney General William P. Barr and U.S. Attorney of Connecticut John Durham, who was tapped by Barr last year to investigate the origins of the 2016 election interference probe that has overshadowed Trump’s presidency.

“Let’s see what they come up with,” he said.

So it’s that again:

Despite Trump’s assertions that the FBI under Obama wire-tapped the phones at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said last year he found no evidence of that. But that has not stopped Trump from continuing to make the claim.

In an exchange with reporters in the White House briefing room last month, Trump was pressed for more information on the scheme he has taken to calling “Obamagate.” What crime, a reporter asked him, was he accusing the former president of committing?

“You know what the crime is,” Trump responded, providing no details. “The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers – except yours.”

Everyone then read every newspaper available. There was nothing, but now things may be changing:

Senate Republicans on Tuesday distanced themselves from President Donald Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama committed “treason,” refusing to back up the unfounded allegation that has fueled the president’s revenge campaign against his predecessor.

In general, Republicans have shied away from directly criticizing the president’s comments and actions as the November election approaches. In fact, they have heeded Trump’s encouragement to undertake wide-ranging investigations targeting Obama administration officials for their roles in opening up the investigations that have ensnared Trump and his associates for years.

But accusing Obama of treason was a bridge too far, they said.

“I don’t think that President Obama committed treason,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who is up for reelection this year.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” added Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “I don’t have any evidence to believe he committed treason.”

They’d better be careful. They’re going to make him very angry, and when he’s very angry he tweets and destroys uppity Republican traitors, ending their careers with just one tweet. So they adapt:

Trump’s allies often claim the president was joking whenever he makes a controversial statement, even when Trump’s tone is serious and he repeats the claim several times. For example, Trump told a reporter on Tuesday that “I don’t kid” when asked whether he was serious when he said he had ordered a slowdown of coronavirus testing.

“It’s a silly, comedic thing, and you guys got to stop taking it all so seriously,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who laughed off the question. “I don’t think the former president committed treason.”

But not everyone is amused. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of Trump’s more vocal GOP critics, said that she did not see the president’s comments but that “obviously, he shouldn’t have said that.”

There is no winning now, but there are careful Republicans:

The GOP’s resigned response to Trump’s comments also suggests a level of fatigue with being asked to answer for the latest tweet or controversial remark, while knowing that any semblance of criticism can prompt a fiery tweet from the president himself. Asked about a separate subject on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused reporters of trying to get him into a food fight with Trump by asking him about the president’s controversial statements.

“Every week, you all try to get me into a running commentary on the president’s comments about a variety of different things,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

And then he smiled enigmatically and walked away.

But it’s all conspiracy all the time, and CNN is now jumping in to expose this nonsense:

The White House’s nominee for a top Pentagon post repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that a former CIA director tried to overthrow President Donald Trump and even have him assassinated in newly discovered comments from radio and television appearances as well as on social media.

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who was nominated to become the undersecretary of defense for policy at the Department of Defense, promoted conspiracy theories that John Brennan, the former CIA director, wanted to oust Trump from office, and pushed a bogus conspiracy theory that Brennan sent a coded tweet to order the assassination of Trump in 2018.

That’s something only Trump would believe, and a bit bonkers, but CNN did their homework and changed this a bit:

CNN’s KFile reviewed dozens of Tata’s radio and television appearances and found that Tata also spread conspiracy theories that a “deep state cabal” of officials would rather see Trump fail than succeed in office, a sentiment echoed by the President and his allies, using extreme rhetoric. Tata also said then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama engaged in “borderline treasonous” behavior by expressing their dismay over a Trump presidency during the transition period.

The retired general’s nomination to the third-highest position at the Pentagon faces jeopardy after Democratic senators spoke out against his nomination following CNN’s KFile reporting last week on Tata’s history of Islamophobia and derogatory comments and tweets, including falsely calling Obama a Muslim and “terrorist leader.” At least two high-profile retired generals have pulled their support for Tata since his tweets were reported. Tata has since deleted dozens of his tweets, screenshots of which were captured by CNN.

And then the man apologized:

CNN obtained a letter Tata sent to the top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Chairman Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island, both of whom oversee his nomination, apologizing for his past Islamophobic tweets. He wrote, “I deeply regret comments I made on social media several years ago” and that “my tweets were completely out of character.”

No one seemed to believe that, but Trump wants him anyway:

If confirmed by the Senate, Tata would oversee the Pentagon’s policy on everything from Afghanistan, China, Iran and Russia to nuclear deterrence and missile defense policy. He would also closely advise the secretary of defense on national security and support the Pentagon’s program and budget decisions.

Tata’s nomination comes as the White House seeks to install loyalists to key positions throughout the administration. His newly surfaced comments appear to mimic what the President and his allies have long maintained – that the “deep state” has sought to undermine Trump’s presidency and that his opponents would rather see the country fail than see him succeed – without citing specific evidence.

The retired general also said that Obama’s foreign policy “was born of the Jeremiah Wright school of hate America” and that the former president held a “Weather Underground” philosophy, referring respectively to the Obamas’ former pastor and to the FBI-designated domestic terrorist group born out of anti-war sentiments that bombed dozens of buildings and government institutions in the 1960s and 1970s.

These are all bad Facebook posts:

Tata also accused the Obamas of engaging in “borderline treasonous” behavior during the presidential transition period from Obama to Trump after they expressed dismay at a Trump presidency.

“So when you see President Obama on Comedy Central, digging on the President-elect, making fun of him and talking about Russia. And you hear Michelle Obama on the Oprah show saying for the first time in her life, she’s felt no hope – that is unconscionable. That is, that is a borderline treasonous to be undermining the term, a peaceful transition of power,” said Tata on a December 2016 podcast.

He also claimed Obama was an insurgent who tried to undermine and overthrow American life in another broadcast from December 2016.

This is getting tiresome. And all of this is available on Facebook anyway. This is the angry high school class of 1965 lashing out because the world keeps changing. Of course it does. So stop this. Post pictures of the grandkids.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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