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.

Will US Election Be Decided By Outsiders?

During the Clinton and Obama administrations, the right-wing promoted numerous conspiracy theories – that Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered; that Obama is not a US citizen; that Obama is a secret Muslim; that Obama is coming for your guns; that Clinton and Obama sacrificed our Libyan ambassador by telling a military response team to stand down; that Obama planned to use the Jade Helm military exercises to take over our nation and institute Sharia law. The list of conspiracy theories is lengthy.

Now, allow me to posit a conspiracy theory of my own.

We know that Russia hacked the email servers of the DNC (Democratic National Committee), of the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee), and the DGA (Democratic Governors Association). We also know that some of emails were altered before their release to make them seem more damning than they were. We know that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has threatened to release additional emails aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton’s election campaign. And we now know that a foreign government hacked into the election systems of at least two states: Arizona and Illinois.

We know that, until recently, Donald Trump’s campaign was being run by a man with close ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin. We have heard accusations that Russian oligarchs are heavily invested in Trump’s businesses (we can’t know for certain because Trump refuses to release his tax returns) . And we know that Trump called for Russia to hack the former Secretary of State’s email server and release her personal emails.

Taken separately, these things are concerning enough. But collectively, I believe they represent a true threat to the sanctity of our election, especially given the improprieties that occurred in Florida during the 2000 presidential election that resulted in George W. Bush claiming the White House.

Equally worrying are Trump’s suggestions that the US elections are rigged and his claims that the polls don’t show the true strength of his campaign, saying that there are many voters who refuse to acknowledge their support for Trump to pollsters (of course, this would represent a ready-made excuse if the voting software are hacked to show that Trump’s vote totals significantly out-performed the polls to win the election).

Yes, I acknowledge that such concerns can be dismissed as a wild-eyed liberal conspiracy theory. But I think you will have to admit that there is far more substance to it than any of the aforementioned right-wing theories.

America’s Biggest Losers.

Texans have always been proud of their state’s size and independence as clearly expressed in the tourism slogan: ” It’s like a whole other country.”

Since the territory was annexed from Mexico, Texans have seemed to deny their relationship to the US, proudly referring to their state as “The great republic of Texas.” In 1861, the state declared its secession from the US and joined the Confederate States of America which fought to maintain slavery. More recently, former Texas governor and wannabe US president, Rick Perry, again raised the possibility of secession after an African-American was elected president.

Obviously, the state has not fully embraced the notion of statehood, except when there is an obvious economic benefit, such as lucrative oil and gas subsidies, the deployment of US Border Patrol agents to stem the immigration of Mexicans into their former colony, or the construction of military bases within its borders. In fact, many Texans seem to view the US in the same way they viewed their former landlords. They want the benefits of statehood, they want to control the land and all of its resources. But they refuse to acknowledge national supremacy when it comes to obeying laws and paying taxes.

These attitudes have never been more apparent than now.

You see, recently, the US Department of Defense announced a coordinated training exercise involving government troops stationed in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The training exercise, called Jade Helm 15, is not the first such exercise to be held in Texas. But it is the first to be held with an African-American occupying the White House. So, not too surprisingly, the right-wing conspiracy theories have run wild. A number of Texans have become convinced that the US military is coming to take away Texas’ freedom; that US troops are coming for their guns; that US troops are going to enslave Texans on behalf of the United Nations.

Not even public meetings with military leaders could dissuade Texans from their batcrap crazy notions. The racist conspiracy theorists openly accused the leaders of trying to sell them a pack of lies. Given such lunacy, one would think the state’s top office-holder would step in and reassure his constituents.

Of course, he did.

But instead of bringing some sanity to the situation, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he was ordering the Texas National Guard to “monitor” the military exercises saying, “During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”

This is going to be fun!

So the branches of the US military, with all of their weaponry are going to be “monitored” by the weekend warriors of the Texas National Guard? And, if it is determined that the constitutional rights of Texans are in danger of being infringed, the Guard is going to act. But who determines those rights are in danger? The governor? The lead conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones? The Texas Tea Party rabble? Are we to believe that the many loyal Texans in the military are going to willingly enslave their friends and neighbors? And if they try, do the Texas lunatics think their Guard is so powerful that it can defeat the world’s most powerful military?

The slogan says that Texas is “like a whole other country.” That is certainly true. But many of its residents seem to be from a whole other planet!

JFK RIP.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, yet after all of these years, there are still many questions about his death. Did Oswald act alone? How could one man fire three bullets from the bolt-action rifle in such a short time when no other marksman has been able to duplicate that feat? How could the so-called “magic” bullet do so much damage and not be fragmented or even misshapen? Why did so many observers turn to the grassy knoll following the shots? Why did those in front of the rail yard hit the ground, convinced that shots were fired from behind them? Who were the people behind the fence in the rail yard? How could a portion of Kennedy’s skull fly backwards from a shot that entered the back of his skull? How was a visitor to the Dallas Police station allowed to shoot and kill Oswald?

The Warren Commission that investigated the assassination did not have answers to many of the questions, and many of the answers it did have stretched credulity. Is it any wonder that so many people still question the Commission’s conclusions so many years later?

As a senior in high school, I was sitting in math class when Kennedy was shot. When the teacher announced the news, I reacted badly because I thought he was joking. After learning that he wasn’t, I followed the unfolding story as closely as I could. I read most of the reports and books that were spawned by the assassination, including the report by Warren Commission. The most interesting of them was Rush To Judgment by Mark Lane. Lane detailed much of the key testimony from the Warren Commission. He pointed out the flaws in the Commission’s conclusions. More interestingly, he detailed testimony of witnesses who were not interviewed. And he chronicled the overwhelming number of suspicious deaths of witnesses and others involved in the months following the assassinations.

Some of the information in the book may have been flawed, but it convinced me that there is far more to the story than we were told.

In the ensuing years, there have been many attempts to debunk any and every conspiracy theory. Forensic scientists have tried to explain the “magic” bullet. They have tried to explain the contradiction that is the Zapruder film and the questions surrounding Kennedy’s autopsy. Government authorities have dismissed Oswald’s and Ruby’s mafia ties. They have dismissed Oswald’s apparent ties to the CIA. They have dismissed Oswald’s denial of guilt. They never fully explained Ruby’s motives.

There have been numerous official investigations into the assassination over the years. A number of those involved, such as former Senator and presidential candidate, Gary Hart, were unconvinced that Oswald acted alone. Indeed, Hart who served as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Agencies said that the Warren Commission failed to follow numerous leads; that the Warren Commission failed to fully investigate the CIA-Mafia connection.The Warren Commission’s failure to do so is nothing less than astounding.

To understand why, you have to realize that, just a few years before Kennedy’s election, Fidel Castro led a revolution to overthrow the Cuban dictator and to rid the island of the mafia which had long controlled Cuba’s casino business and other criminal enterprises. The mafia was determined to get their island back. At the same time, the CIA was threatened by a communist government so close to our shores. There was a belief that communism was like a spreading plague that would infect every capitalistic government…the so-called “Domino” theory.

Moreover, the CIA, under Allen Dulles, had a long history of orchestrating coups to remove world leaders it considered a threat. The CIA had conducted several attempts on Castro’s life that involved the mafia. Yet the Warren investigation essentially ignored the connections between Oswald and the CIA, the connections between Ruby and Oswald, and the connections between Ruby, Oswald and the mafia. The failure to do so left a lot of gaps in the Warren Report…especially since JFK’s policies had made powerful enemies within the CIA, the mafia, even the military.

Following the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy had developed a relationship with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. This made him unpopular with both the CIA and US military leaders. Kennedy had also extended an olive branch to Castro. (At the time of his assassination, an envoy from Kennedy was meeting with Castro.) Further, the mafia felt betrayed when JFK and his brother, Robert, embarked on an initiative to destroy organized crime. As a result, Carlos Marcello, the Louisiana mafia boss who controlled much of the crime in the Southeast, made several threats against JFK. He later took credit for having Kennedy killed while serving time in prison.

Add to this Gary Hart’s revelations that, while his Senate committee was investigating the assassination, two of the key witnesses from the mafia were murdered and there is even more reason to suspect a conspiracy. Indeed, Hart told the Huffington Post, “You don’t have to be a genius to believe that they knew something about the coincidence of events — Cuba, Mafia, CIA and Kennedy — that somebody didn’t want that out in the public 12 years later.”

We likely will never know the whole story of the Kennedy assassination. And, unfortunately, we’ll never know what the world would be like had JFK and RFK been allowed to finish their service to our country and to live out their lives. I, for one, believe that the world would be a much better place. In his short time as president, JFK inspired many young people to service. He inspired us to literally reach for the moon. And he reassured our faith in government by leading us through the Cuban missile, working to end the Cold War and beginning the process to end racial discrimination.

Ironically, the failures of the Warren Commission and the government agencies investigating his death, have caused many who were alive at that time to distrust the government. That’s one legacy that Kennedy and his family would abhor.