I have talked a bit about the political divide in this country. I've talked about the effect that has on the kind of news we consume.
But, I haven't addressed the 600-pound nitwit in the room who is apparently shoving nickels up his nose and believes every conspiracy theory the ringleaders of QAnon beam him through the fillings in his teeth.
We all probably know one, and are properly befuddled as to why some seemingly sentient beings can come to think there are lizard people walking among us, and the moon is hollow. I frankly don't know how they dress themselves in the morning.
I, like you, am nursing a sore jaw after it hit the floor when a group of folks gathered in Dealy Plaza in Little D to await the return of JFK and JFK Jr. I'd call it gullibility, but that implies they are simply naive. This nuclear level looniness requires them never having seen the Zapruder film or the coroner's report on John Kennedy Jr's plane crash. Sorry to be morbid here, but this crowd needs some cold water, probably cold vodka, splashed in their faces to see the simple truth we all understand. In short, you're embarrassing your families while amusing the rest of us.
This latest round of nonsense is politically driven, and the practitioners are primarily in the MAGA crowd. But I remember well when my friends in the 60's were sure that Gene McCarthy was screwed by LBJ somehow in the primaries, and Nixon or Lyndon, take your pick, somehow managed the JFK and RFK assassinations.
Remember when Nixon or Reagan, not Obama or Biden, were going to set up concentration camps for those with the temerity to stand outside the White House and shake our fists effectively against the war, or deregulation, or something. Now, don't get me wrong, there are conspiracies, but they usually get discovered. That Watergate thing that was in all the papers is one example.
But it isn't new. The rise of the Know-Nothings in the 1850s is a good example. They, like every dedicated, card-carrying acolyte of the mysterious Q, played in this performance by Frank Morgan (first Wizard of Oz reference), knew for a fact that the US government was ruled by a secret cabal of unknown powerful mogul types, and interestingly, the issue of ethnicity came in to play. Imagine that in America.
Since the group, called that for their habit when asked about the organization of replying "I know nothing," in their best Sgt. Schultz accent had members both north and south, they generally avoided any talk of slavery. I know, about as hard to ignore in the 1850s as Pamela Anderson at the Boy Scout Jamboree. But they did support anti-drinking laws because of my ancestors, the Irish. They supported harsh immigration laws to keep those pesky papists out of the country, or at least, out of government jobs.
They eventually named themselves the Native American Party, ignoring the obvious irony there (sorry Chief Joseph), and they gained political influence with state and national representatives and senators, even governors in place. Imagine a bunch of Marjorie Taylor Greene's in charge. Gives new meaning to "know nothing."
And if they hated the emigres from the Emerald Isle, imagine Jews and Italians? There were rumors of priests and nuns strangling babies (sound familiar?), and they even got a President out of it. But deservedly, it was Millard Fillmore, the Major Frank Burns of chief executives.
So, we've been here before. And, as quickly as they appeared in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Whigs, they vaporized with the rise of the Republican party after the Civil War.
But now we see not just the kind of bull-goose loony shenanigans as the Dealy Plaza group, but the latest focus of their laser-like investigatory zeal is, all together now, the notorious National Butterfly Center.
Yep, and a more sinister operation, you'd be unlikely to find. This entomological Illuminati, run the Center located in Mission, Texas, right on the border. And why them? Well, do your research.
They objected to the building of the border wall a while back, as it would hinder the migration of the butterflies they are dedicated to preserving, and virtually destroy the large area of land that was part of the habitat. Well, according to the QAnon folks, that was to facilitate their access to the Rio Grande and the child trafficking they engaged in.
That's right, the all-purpose charge these days, child trafficking and pedophilia. From a pizzeria to a butterfly center, it's a sinister global plot to obtain the blood that will keep them young, or something like that. Well, OK, just look at Hillary, ye who doubt. OK, not the best example, but we know for sure it's going on.
And on and on it has gone. From Pearl Harbor and 9/11 truthers, to Roswell, to JFK conspiracy theories (except, he's coming back, right?), to Obamas birth certificate, to...
It gets exhausting, doesn't it? And when politics get involved, you end up with a riot in Chicago in 1968 or the riot on January 6th.
So how do you convince these folks to join the reality-based populace? The simple answer is, you can't. Some just choose to believe purposely misleading political theories like a stolen election. And that goes both ways, as Al Gore can attest.
And those folks represent, in many cases, a part of our society that feels left out. They see stagnant salaries, manufacturing jobs off-shored to folks who work for a paycheck that would net you a Snickers bar here. They are demographically shrinking in influence, and financially, falling behind. They can't afford to pay for college for their kids like my dad did, hear people on TV and radio telling them the country is on the brink of another civil war and Dr. Fauci is the new Mengele. They feel angry and ignored.
And they fall for a political theory called "the man on the white horse." He will ride in to solve it all, right the wrongs, return them to the influence they've always had. Politicians have used this ploy for years. It's as old as campaign contributions.
And those contributions come from the real cabal, but it's not secret and it's as subtle as a pile of 100's slapped on a congressman's desk. In World War II, Roosevelt needed help from the industrial moguls of his day. He needed Ford, GM, Standard Oil, AT&T, and the big banks for the war effort. He got it, but they all still dealt with the Germans into the bargain. Edsel Ford communicated with Hermann Goering, Chase Manhatten sat across from the Deutsche Bank in Switzerland, oil was shipped to the Axis and AT& T refused to tap phones in German embassies in Latin America to detect potential espionage coming up from the south. It’s all chronicled in an excellent book called “Trading With the Enemy.”
So, yes, there are powerful forces at work. But they are about as secret and undetectable as a massive comb-over. Now, they are what is jocularly referred to as Big Tech. And they wield the kind of power Henry Ford could only dream of. And it has nothing to do with censorship, but more to do with regulation, international markets and profits. Their lobbyists don't care who is in power. Whenever there is a change in leadership, they take off their elephant ties, put on their donkey ones and knock on a different set of doors.
The supreme irony here is that neither Democrats or Republicans have done anything to reign that in. Same goes for manufacturing. There are no real constraints on off-shoring and enacting them is as likely as Aaron Rogers playing in this year's Super Bowl. Although if Mike Pence had any courage, he would have.
When old, traditional American names like Levi's, Lionel, Schwinn, Winchester, Daisy and every TV on the planet are manufactured overseas, do you really think they are coming back?
Now, as to the friends and family who believe the truly nutlog stuff? I think your chances are roughly the same as winning the Oscar this year. I know folks who indeed believe in lizard people, a faked moon landing, chemtrails, a secret plan to control us with the pandemic, and by default, the vaccine. They think aliens have a base inside the hollow moon and George W. ordered the planes to hit the twin towers. But not the Pentagon. That was faked.
Honestly, I don't know how to talk them off that intellectual ledge, and I can only hope they don't go the way of the Heaven's Gate gang. I don't really have an answer to "Just wait, it'll all come out." Although, I do admire Buzz Aldrin for cold-cocking a guy on camera who confronted him for umpteenth time about the "fake landing."
So, buckle up kids. It will get worse before it gets better, and while one side abets it, the other spends its time worrying about safe spaces and micro-aggressions.
Pardon my toxic masculinity here, a charge never leveled at me before, but we'd better get a little more forceful in correcting this nonsense before the congress is populated with GED-level statespeople and the film "Idiocracy" becomes a documentary.
*An addendum to my piece last week about electric vehicles. One big concern in the minds of potential buyers is the range and battery life. Who wants to be stuck in Normangee on your way from Houston to Dallas? Well, an Israeli company has come up with an electrified road that essentially charges your vehicle as you drive. They are doing a demonstration section in Detroit this year. It’s like my old slot car racing set come to life. The only question now is, how do we make enough juice for all this?