Our Greatest Strengths May Also Be Our Greatest Weaknesses.

Since its inception, the US has been celebrated for its guaranteed freedoms: Most notably the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to own a gun, and the freedom to choose our leaders no matter how flawed and unqualified they may be. But those freedoms come with a cost.

Under our Constitution, profiteers and ideologues such as Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and the mysterious Q are free to distribute a torrent of half truths, mistruths, and outrageous lies intended to divide us and to weaken our nation. As a result, there are no shared truths. Not even the need to deal with the horrors of a pandemic has been able to pull us together. Far too many have been willing to take the word of pundits and politicians over that of caregivers and scientists. Even after nearly 350,000 deaths, they continue to believe the pandemic is a hoax. By refusing to wear a mask, they are making a political statement. And they are convinced that vaccines have been created as a way for the government to track them or, worse, poison them.

White supremacists, white nationalists, and other hatemongers hide behind our freedom of religion to discriminate against those of other religions, colors, cultures, and sexual preferences. They even use their religions to deny women the freedom to control their own bodies.

The gun lobby uses the 2nd Amendment and fear tactics to expand gun ownership. Not for hunting. But for “protection.” This is despite the fact that more gun owners are likely to be shot with their own gun than to use it for self-defense. And despite the overwhelming number of gun deaths enabled by easy access to guns. Further, as hate and division have grown, millions of Americans have assembled arsenals with the expectation of using them against their political “enemies” and their own government!

As for our “free” elections, consider the fact that many American citizens are routinely denied the freedom to vote. Especially those Americans of color and those living in poverty. They have not only been victimized by reduced polling places, reduced voting hours, and the purges of voter registrations. Many have been required to take time away from work and drive long distances in order to obtain necessary voter IDs. And one need look no further than the chaos created by Donald J. Trump to see the consequences of electing greedy, unethical, and unqualified government outsiders.

It’s not hyperbole to state that our freedoms may also lead to our nation’s demise.

The question is: How can we address the weaknesses of our system while maintaining our Constitutional freedoms? How can we prevent the liars, the unethical, the profiteers, and our enemies from using our own Constitution against us, especially now that our Supreme Court has been politicized?

We can end division by, once again, demanding that media report the truth. That could be accomplished by a return to some form of the Fairness Doctrine, which required radio and television channels to operate in the public interest by clearly labeling opinions and separating them from the news. The same rules could be applied to all other media.

We could also take the politics out of religion by enforcing current laws that take away tax exemptions for churches that routinely engage in political activities. We should also tax churches that collect millions in donations, permitting their pastors to live in mansions and travel in private jets.

We can address our gun problem by instituting national gun laws, including universal background checks and red flag laws. We should also end the sales of military-style weapons, such as AR-15s, AK-47s, 50 caliber sniper rifles, and large capacity ammunition clips which add to the killing power of mass shooters. And we should conduct buyback programs to recover those already in our citizens’ hands.

Finally, we should reform our electoral system by eliminating the Electoral College, by instituting universal voter registration, and by standardizing elections from state to state. In addition, we should demand that anyone running for national office submit to extensive background checks and release all financial information, including 10 years of tax returns.

Do I think any of this will happen? No. But if we don’t make any changes, it’s pointless to continue to spend trillions on national defense. Before any external enemy can destroy us, we will likely destroy ourselves.

Are Racism And White Nationalism The Inevitable Result of Military Training?

With each military conflict, our soldiers become more lethal. In WWII, it was estimated that only 15-20 percent of our soldiers fired their weapons in combat. After changing our training methods, it was estimated that the percentage had grown to 55 percent in Korea and 90-95 percent in Vietnam.

Those numbers have likely continued to increase in recent conflicts against people of color and other faiths.

The increases are almost certainly the result of dehumanizing the enemy to make it easier for our soldiers to fire to kill in combat. That makes our military more lethal and efficient than at any time in our history. But it may have a troubling side effect.

In her book, Bring The War Home, Kathleen Belew describes how the environment inside our military has led to a number of veterans joining the White Power movement and applying their military training to make it increasingly violent. And it appears that racism within the military is growing. Indeed, a Military Times study conducted in 2019 found “36 percent of all active-duty service members have personally seen examples of white supremacy and racism within the military.”

The consequences may be as benign as military veterans rejecting dating partners with olive skin and dark hair in favor of blondes. But, too often, racism within the ranks results in deadly consequences for our society. As some members of our military retire, they seek outlets for their racist views. They end up in White Nationalist militias and other militaristic groups, such as the Oathkeepers. Others, seeking to recapture the adrenalin rush from military conflicts join more militant groups such as the Proud Boys, and the Boogaloo Bois.

During the Trump administration, far too many of these veterans contributed to the division and violence on our streets. In blatant attempts to bully political opponents, they showed up at demonstrations in military regalia with combat-style weapons. Some engaged in street fights. And, in clear conflict with their oath to protect the Constitution, others used guerilla military tactics to burn properties and create disorder to inspire a civil war or to blame Black Lives Matter or Antifa.

Worse yet, as police departments across the nation have prioritized the hiring of military veterans, too many racist and violent people have ended up with badges. Perhaps that explains why Police Federations have labeled Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization despite the fact that BLM’s marches and demonstrations have remained almost entirely non-violent. Indeed, most of the violence surrounding their events has been committed by others or instigated by the police themselves.

What can be done to stem racism in the military and to prevent it from having a residual impact on our society?

First, we must demand that our military branches do a better job of rooting out racists. Second, we must create better mental health programs for those combat veterans who are leaving the service. Third, our governments should make it a priority to break up heavily armed militias and hate groups, to confiscate the weapons of those who have instituted or threatened violence, and make it difficult for them to obtain new weapons. Fourth, we must demand that law enforcement do a better job of screening job applicants for racist and violent tendencies.

Only then can we hope to have real peace in our streets.

Give Trump Credit Where Credit Is Due.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald J. Trump promised to drain the “swamp.” And he did. Unfortunately, he replaced it with something much worse: A cesspool.

Swamps are not only natural. They’re a necessary part of the landscape. They serve as filters for our waterways. They provide homes and food for an abundance of wildlife. And they absorb floodwaters. Cesspools, on the other hand, contain only excrement and bacteria.

Consider the stench coming from the Trump cesspool over the past four-plus years: It has been thoroughly documented that Trump and members of his campaign encouraged and cooperated with Russian operatives in order to influence the 2016 election cycle using information stolen from the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. To suppress news of his extramarital affairs, Trump ordered his private attorney to make hush money payments.

Trump filled his family coffers by holding many of his campaign events at his Trump-branded properties. He ignored the Constitution’s emoluments clause by guiding foreign leaders and powerbrokers to his Washington hotel and resorts. Following Trump’s corrupt lead, cabinet members Mnuchin, Pruitt, Sessions, Carson, Zinke and Pompeo all illegally used government resources for personal use. Trump’s weekly visits to his golf resorts funneled millions into his company’s bank accounts by charging Secret Service for rooms, food, and golf cart rentals. He even tried, and failed, to use his office to encourage G8 members to hold a meeting at his struggling Doral resort.

He chose known white nationalists as his closest advisors who cut immigration of refugees from majority black and brown nations. They ordered family separations at our border and placed children in cages. They put the Dreamers at risk for deportation to countries many could no longer remember. And they ordered the deportation of refugees to countries where their lives were at risk.

Trump oversaw the most chaotic administration in history creating a revolving door at the top of each agency as he searched for loyalists to do his bidding. One by one, competent, well-intentioned civil servants were fired or resigned in disgust. Trump pardoned loyalists for serious crimes, including crimes that bordered on treason. With a compliant Senate, he filled the courts with blatantly ideological, and often unqualified, judges. Even faced with a growing pandemic, he pushed aside virologists and epidemiologists to rely on the advice of unqualified partisans.

He spurned our traditional allies as he embraced the world’s most brutal dictators. He tried to bribe Ukrainian officials to manufacture dirt on his political opponent – an act for which he became the third president in US history to be impeached. He sold weapons to some of the worst actors in the Middle East. He sold out the Kurds who helped defeat ISIS. And he sold out the Palestinians, all but ending their dream for their own state.

The Trump administration conducted an all-out assault on the environment by deregulating corporations and freeing them to pollute our air and water. It withdrew the US from the Paris climate accords, making us the only nation on the planet that is not a signatory. It reduced national monuments and sold off the land and mineral rights to the highest bidders. And it made several endangered species vulnerable to hunting.

In the 2020 campaign, Trump ignored the Hatch Act by holding political campaign events at the White House and involved government employees in his campaign. He undermined our elections by falsely claiming his defeat was the result of widespread fraud. And he’s currently cramming through a myriad of changes with the intent of making it more difficult for his successor to govern. During his campaigns and his time in office, he has told tens of thousands of lies. His final act will be to pardon his family and himself of all crimes they committed during his horrific term.

So, yes, he did drain the “swamp” of competent, patriotic civil servants. And he’s leaving it a stinking hot mess.

The Threatening Legacy Of Donald J. Trump.

When President Joe Biden takes office, he will face some of the most problematic crises in our nation’s history. Not only will he have to orchestrate the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the face of resistance from a growing number of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. He will have to find ways to restart the economy despite the inevitable obstruction of Republicans who have already announced their intention to focus on the national debt, despite spending like drunken sailors during the Trump administration and adding $7 trillion to the total over the past four years. Of course, their “solution” is to cut Social Security, Medicare, and other safety nets. A “solution” that would only exacerbate the current economic crisis.

And those may be the least of the problems Biden will face.

Consider that more than 74 million Americans overlooked the incompetence, cruelty, depravity, corruption, and treachery of the Trump administration to vote for another four years of the same. Those 74 million are almost certainly diametrically opposed to Biden’s plans. They are likely to believe – mountains of evidence to the contrary – that Trump was unfairly accused of colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election. They also believe that Trump’s impeachment trial was a Democratic witch hunt. Many still believe that the coronavirus is a hoax. And many more believe Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Millions of those who oppose Biden have followed the mysterious Q down the rabbit hole of bizarre conspiracy theories. They believe Democrats, some corporations, and A-list celebrities are child traffickers, pedophiles, and cannibals. And they believe Trump was sent by God to save the children (a belief that is especially ironic since Trump is known to be a serial sexual assaulter who had close friendships with actual pedophiles).

Given all of this, Biden will face enormous resistance from Republicans and Trump supporters. But all that pales in the face of the chaos created by the outgoing president and his family.

Trump has fired numerous high-ranking government officials he considers disloyal. And he is expected to fire many more, leaving federal agencies in various stages of disorder. Trump may engage in further acts intended to hamstring the incoming administration. These range from a flurry of executive orders and policy changes, as well as foreign policy decisions. And, in an attempt to remain relevant, Trump has pondered the idea of creating a Trump television network which would add to the rightwing propaganda network that has contributed to our divisions. Even if he doesn’t, he is likely to rely on other media to encourage his followers to foment conflict and disorder.

Moreover, Trump will be a very real security threat to our national interests.

It is well known that Trump is an admirer of one of our nation’s greatest rivals – Vladimir Putin. In addition, he has shown an affinity to other strongmen and dictators. Trump, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Jared Kushner have all enjoyed top secret clearances for the past four years. And since the Trump family has hundreds of millions – some say a billion or more – in debts coming due by the middle of 2021, they may well be tempted to trade information in exchange for money.

Indeed, the Trumps could pose the greatest threat to our national security since the Rosenbergs who were accused of providing top-secret information about radar, sonar, jet engines, and nuclear weapons to the Soviet Union.

Further, the Trumps are facing daunting legal threats in the State of New York – threats that cannot be dismissed by presidential pardon. That opens the very real possibility the family will emigrate to a nation that does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Who might that be? Russia, of course. And if they do emigrate, what are the chances that they will share our national secrets with their hosts?

The prospect of such actions can only be described as frightening.

Don’t Mourn For The GOP Of Old.

In the age of Trump, some long for the GOP of old. True, the party of Lincoln was truly admirable. But that GOP hasn’t existed for a very long time. The GOP of modern history bore little resemblance to the party of Lincoln. Yet some would have you believe that the party of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush was just as caring, just as patriotic and just as principled.

Don’t believe the myth.

Though it is true that the GOP of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s was significantly better than the current hot mess, it was no friend of ordinary working people. It was a coalition of corporatists and industrialists. It included war mongers, bigots, anti-unionists, and those who felt it was their duty to interfere with democracies and governments around the globe on behalf of our corporations.

It was the GOP under Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers that overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran when it tried to nationalize Iranian oil, an act that led to a brutal dictatorship and, ultimately, the Islamist revolution. It was the GOP that undermined the Vietnam peace talks to help Nixon’s election chances, an act that resulted in thousands more deaths. It was the GOP that embraced southern racists after the civil rights movement.

In the old GOP, it was Nixon who founded a dirty tricks squad and tried to circumvent our democratic elections by breaking into the Democratic National headquarters. It was Nixon who ordered the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected president who was replaced by a dictator.

In the old GOP, it was Reagan who fomented distrust in the government, who launched an attack on labor unions, who handed out large tax cuts to the wealthy under his bogus “trickle-down” economic theory, who imposed a range of hidden taxes on the middle class, and who ran up the national debt. It was Reagan who created a shadow government that illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to fund the Central American Contras.

It was George H.W. Bush who continued Reagan’s economic policy and launched a war in the Middle East. And it was George W. Bush who used his brother to corrupt Florida’s election in order to attain office. “W” also ignored warnings of the impending terrorist attack on 9/11 and launched a horrific war in Iraq based on false information.

It was the old GOP that spawned ultra-partisans such as Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan and Moscow Mitch McConnell – the people who placed party over country and made compromise a dirty word. It is members of the old GOP who, like Mitt Romney, Moscow Mitch, and Elaine Chow, have parked funds in offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. It was members of the old GOP that showered trillions on the military-industrial complex. And it was the old GOP that has gone to great lengths to suppress and intimidate voters who are unlikely to vote for GOP candidates.

Yes, the GOP of Trump is significantly worse than what preceded it – led by a treasonous conman who has taken corruption, division, lies, and bigotry to new levels. But it was the old GOP that embraced Trumpism and made this horror show possible.

Why Republicans Should Lose. And Lose Bigly.

Set aside most Republicans’ embrace of divisiveness, violent militias, Qanon and its wacko conspiracy theories, and their head-in-the-sand approach to the climate crisis. The reason you should spurn the entire Republican Party is its blatant attempts to deny millions of American citizens the right to vote.

For more than 20 years, the party has launched an all-out attack on the voting rights of people of color and the poor. It began by raising questions about the integrity of our election process on the heels of the party stealing the 2000 election in Florida. Yet the GOP had the audacity to claim that there was widespread voter fraud throughout the nation. Acting on that claim, the Bush administration ordered an investigation which found that intentional voter fraud was non-existent.

Nevertheless, many GOP-controlled legislatures began limiting voting rights to only those who had a photo ID. And, rather than make the IDs free and easy to obtain, the legislatures not only set fees for them. They limited access, often forcing poor Americans without drivers licenses to take time off from work and travel many miles to obtain the IDs. The IDs had the effect of denying voting rights millions of Americans.

In 2013, a Republican-driven lawsuit against the federal government (Shelby Co v Holder) led to a US Supreme decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, claiming that federal oversight of state election rules was no longer necessary. Almost immediately following the decision, GOP-led states dramatically reduced the number of voting centers in areas that are predominately black. At the same time, they reduced early voting periods and voting hours. That caused voters in those areas to wait in lines twice as long as their white counterparts.

In Arizona, Georgia, and other Republican-controlled states, the legislatures have ordered a purge of registered, but infrequent, voters. That act alone almost certainly put a Republican in Georgia’s governor’s mansion, instead of the more popular Democrat.

More recently, Donald Trump his Republican Party, in an attempt to undermine the 2020 election, have argued that the election is rigged and raised concerns about the safety of mail-in ballots, saying that mail-in voting is an opportunity for Democrats and China to commit election fraud. At the same time, Republican-appointed members of the governing board of the United States Postal Service and Trump’s Postmaster General have delayed mail service by removing dozens of mail sorting machines and hundreds of mailboxes. They have called for armed militias and white supremacist supporters of Trump to show up at the polls in large numbers as “poll watchers” – an obvious attempt at voter intimidation.

In Florida, the Republican Secretary of State has defied a voter-approved referendum by refusing to restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences until they pay all costs associate with their crimes while making it almost impossible to determine what those costs might be. The Republican governor of Texas has ordered that there can be only one voting drop-off box per county, thus making voting even more difficult for those living in large cities.

In Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and other states, Republicans have resorted to extreme gerrymandering which allows Republican officials to choose their voters rather than voters choosing their representatives. Administration attempts to rig and cut short the Census are also intended to impact redistricting in order to create more districts that are safe for Republicans.

As if all that isn’t enough, Republicans have continued to bombard voters with disinformation to create fear and confusion. They have embraced Russian interference and disinformation campaigns. And, I believe, Trump’s performance in the first debate was intended to cause numerous voters to become so disgusted with politics that they stay home on Election Day due to the reality that voter suppression always benefits Republican candidates, since the majority of Americans support Democratic policies.

The only solution to such tactics is to vote. Vote as if the future of our democracy depends on it. Because it does.

The End Of Precedent. The End Of Justice.

From its beginning, US law, following that of the United Kingdom, has been based on legal precedent – that the outcome in one case is binding or persuasive in the outcomes of subsequent cases with similar circumstances.

However, in recent years, conservatives have increasingly chosen to ignore precedent. That is certainly true in the case of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, the unleashing anonymous political donations by Citizens United, and the weakening of abortion rights as established by Roe v. Wade. In each case, conservative justices on the Supreme Court of the United States have decided that their conservative political views outweighed precedents previously established by the Court.

Similarly, the US Senate under Moscow Mitch McConnell has ignored long-established precedent to steal two seats on the Supreme Court.

In the entire history of the US, there have been four previous vacancies on the Court that occurred between July 1 and a presidential election. In three of those cases, beginning with Abraham Lincoln, the president refused to nominate a judicial candidate to fill the open seat until after the inauguration of the next president. In the other case, the president nominated a candidate. But the Senate refused to hold hearings on the nomination until after the election.

In addition, there have been nine vacancies on the Court between January 1 and July 1 of the same year of a presidential election. In eight of those cases, the president nominated judicial candidates who received Senate hearings and were confirmed. The lone exception is President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, which was blocked by Moscow Mitch who claimed the vacancy occurred too close to the election and should be held open for the next president to fill.

Now we come to the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

For the first time in history, the Senate under the leadership of Moscow Mitch has vowed to confirm and seat a nomination by Donald J. Trump before the election. Precedent and Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish be damned.

This win at all costs mentality has become a hallmark of Trump, McConnell and the GOP. Rather than following precedent and principle, they choose to divide. Trump has blamed Democratic governors and blue states for his own failures, even going so far as to prioritize PPE for red states. He then stated that if it were not for the pandemic deaths in blue states, the administration’s response to the pandemic would look much better. Indeed, that fits the pattern of the entire GOP. When in power, GOP officials almost entirely dismiss the opinions and wishes of their political opponents. They initiate voter suppression measures and gerrymandering to hold onto power. And, when in the minority, they routinely resort to parliamentary tricks to block Democratic initiatives.

It is this mentality that is responsible for the increasingly violent political division in the US. How can you debate policy issues and achieve consensus when only one party is willing to come to the table?

If The Pandemic Was A War, It Would Be The 3rd Most Deadly In US History.

As of today, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans. To put that number into perspective, it exceeds the number of deaths of any other nation on Earth. It’s nearly 70 times the number who died as a result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 (2,977). It’s nearly 4 times the number of Americans who died during the Vietnam War (58,209). It’s double the number of Americans (116,516) who died in WWI. It’s nearly equal to the number of Americans who died during combat in the Civil War (214,938). And it’s nearly half the number of Americans who died in WWII (405,399).

Lest you think that the disease only affects the elderly – that you are somehow immune to it – think again. Thus far, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 health care providers. And, so far this year, more police officers have died from Covid-19 than from violence. The victims have ranged in age from infants to the elderly and every age in between.

Moreover, all of these deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in just 7 months. And most scientists predict that, with the onset of Autumn and Winter, the number of deaths will almost certainly accelerate even if a vaccine is made available before the end of the year. That’s because the vaccine will likely require two doses and it will take many months to deliver them beginning with those most at risk. And a large percentage of Americans say they will refuse to take the vaccine.

Adding to the problem is that Trump has not only failed to effectively respond to the pandemic. He has politicized mitigation of the virus. He refuses to encourage Americans to wear masks – the one thing that has been proven to reduce infections. As a result, Trump’s followers refuse to wear masks. They have even violently attacked those who have asked them to put on a mask before entering their businesses.

Just the other day, two unmasked Trump followers were refused entry to a restaurant in my former hometown. Rather than put on masks, they later returned to the establishment and pepper-sprayed the entire outdoor seating area requiring several customers to seek medical attention.

That should come as no surprise, since Trump has implied that the coronavirus is a Democrat hoax – that Democrats are either misreporting the deaths or, in fact, causing them. He has not only divided the nation. He has incited violence among his heavily armed and racist followers who have acted against peaceful protestors and against governors who have mandated the wearing of masks in public places.

So, thanks to the knuckle draggers who support the most corrupt, most cruel, and most incompetent president in our nation’s history, the deaths will continue to rise.

Will The US Become The Next Belarus?

With the US presidential election approaching, US citizens should see the events in Belarus as a warning. As you may know, though the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed to be re-elected with 80 percent of the vote. International observers have declared that the election was neither fair nor free. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Belarussians have continued to march and demonstrate. More worryingly, one of the leading members of the opposition candidate’s campaign has been abducted by masked men and 3 others have vanished.

Think that couldn’t happen in the US? Think again.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has raised concerns about the integrity of the upcoming election. Other international observers have also voiced concerns. Why? Maybe it’s because the GOP has disenfranchised many voters by demanding often difficult to obtain voter IDs. Maybe it’s because Republican-controlled states have closed voting locations and reduced voting hours in Democrat-leaning areas. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have gerrymandered congressional districts to make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win. Maybe it’s because the average waiting time to vote is 51 minutes for minorities and only 6 minutes for whites. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have purged tens of thousands of registered voters.

Maybe it’s because the wannabe dictator incumbent has tried to discredit and undermine vote-by-mail and installed loyalists to the governing board of the US Postal Service with the express purpose of delaying the mail. Maybe it’s because he continues to tell his heavily armed and conspiracy loving supporters that he can only lose if the election is rigged against him!

Or maybe it’s because the incumbent was put in office as a result of election interference by our nation’s greatest rival and, in fact, has solicited foreign interference yet again.

Moreover, increasingly it appears that Trump and his supporters will only accept a Biden win if the vote is overwhelmingly against him. Anything less and Trump is likely to claim the vote is rigged and refuse to accept the results. After all, he already has claimed that Hillary Clinton’s nearly 3 million margin in the popular vote was only due to voting by undocumented immigrants and Democratic cheating.

So, it’s highly unlikely that Trump will bow out gracefully. He’s far more likely to refuse to leave the White House and to call for his armed supporters to rise up in his defense. We’ve already seen his supporters attack peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors. We’ve seen anonymous federal forces under his direction abduct protestors. And we’ve seen him order a peaceful demonstration cleared with force so he could have a photo-op with him holding a Bible backwards in front of a church he doesn’t attend.

Vote! Vote like our democracy depends on it. Because it does.

America: From The Age Of Enlightenment To The Age Of Lunacy.

In a 2017 radio interview, the late comedian and “King of Fake News” Paul Horner described how he earned the title. He explained that he was looking for a way to reach more people with his comedy through satirical posts on Facebook. He quickly learned that Democrats, liberals, and progressives immediately recognized the satire or fact-checked his posts. As a result, he received few clicks and, therefore, little money from them. On the other hand, he found that a significant percentage of Republicans and conservatives embraced his posts believing them to be factual and quickly shared them with friends.

So, it’s not entirely surprising that an individual peddling bizarre conspiracy theories could gain traction on social media. Such is the case with Q, the anonymous poster who claims to expose deep state secrets from within the government.

Q began with an October 2017 post on the white supremacist website 4chan which stated: “HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur. US M’s [Military] will conduct the operation while NG [National Guard] activated. Proof check: Locate a NG member and ask if activated for duty 10/30 across most major cities.”

Of course, Q’s prediction did not come true. In fact, few, if any, have. Nevertheless, Q quickly gained a following of millions and continues to “drop” information from within the “deep state.” Moreover, Q has convinced followers to believe that Donald Trump is a “Messiah” who has been chosen to quietly lead a revolution against the deep state. They are told that they must protect Trump at all costs. Even more bizarrely, the QAnon cult has come to believe that Trump will expose and imprison those involved a secret worldwide child sex trafficking ring run by a satanic cabal consisting of leaders of the Democratic Party, A-list celebrities, and Pope Francis.

They actually believe that, in addition to their sexual lust, members of the cabal kill children in order to harvest and consume their blood for its life-extending properties. In other words, Q followers are completely and hopelessly delusional.

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t dangerous.

In 2018, an armed Q follower drove an armored vehicle onto a bridge spanning the Hoover Dam and blocked traffic. He demanded that the government “release the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] report,” a report that Q claims will expose the deep state. In 2019, another Q follower murdered a leader of the Gambino crime family believing him to be an enemy of Trump. And earlier this year, a Q follower was arrested for threatening to kill Joe Biden.

These nutcases are encouraged by Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists. And the cult recently gained traction when six unabashed QAnon followers ran for national office as Republicans. Even more worrisome, at least three of them won their Republican primaries!

Some of the most notable targets of Q followers are the Clintons, President Obama, Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Robert Mueller, George Soros, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Trudeau, Senator Scott Wiener, John Legend & Chrissy Teigen, the Gates Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, Wayfair, and Disney.

QAnon followers have been led to believe that they are victims of chemtrails and vaccines. They think the world is controlled by the Bilderbergs, the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and the mainstream media. They are convinced that artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G cell towers are designed to kill them. They believe that ordering an armoire from Wayfair is code for “send me a child to abuse.” And, despite the debunking of pizzagate, they still believe that Comet Ping Pong, a popular Washington DC pizzeria, is a cover for the trafficking of children. In case you’ve forgotten, in 2016 a young father from North Carolina who had been convinced that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex ring out of the pizzeria’s basement burst into the restaurant with an AR15 demanding to be shown to the pizzeria’s basement. After scaring the bejeezus out of the restaurant’s patrons, he discovered the pizzeria had no basement and he was arrested by police.

Of course, none of these fantasies should come as a surprise when you consider that QAnon followers see Trump as a savior and great president.