Jeff Spevak, Writer

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Tag: Conspiracy theories Page 1 of 2

Epstein is dead. Long live Epstein.

I’m not sure if this photo is real. But the evidence suggests the sentiment is real.

I can’t stand it, anymore. My quiet Sunday morning is ruined. My head is going to explode.

Jeffrey Epstein, multi-millionaire serial pedophile and sex-crime ringleader, committed suicide. Zero evidence has been presented to suggest he was murdered. Zero evidence has been presented that a dead body was substituted for Epstein, and at this moment he is flying to his private Caribbean island. To say otherwise is to ignore the fact that undoubtedly dozens of people – including doctors and too many prison officials to be bribed – are in on the conspiracy.

Imagination is a great thing. It helped Sherlock Holmes solve many crimes. Who would have thought the demonic ghost haunting the moors of Baskerville was actually a dog painted with phosphorus? But there are no such dogs roaming the hallways of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

We must always go to where the evidence leads. To do otherwise is frivolous. It can be fun, even. But then we encounter moments when imagination creeps into the realm of dangerous rationalization.

This week, we’re once again debating guns, following three high-profile mass shootings. Rather than addressing what’s obvious – guns being used as conflict arbitrators – we’re hearing imaginary nonsense about how murder sprees are a mental-health issue (As if other countries with few mass shootings don’t have schizophrenics and manic depressives). Or how video games led to these shootings (As if other countries with few mass shootings don’t have video games). It takes a lot of imagination to block out the inexcusable hate that this week’s killers felt for their victims.

We’ve seen a lot of imagination at work on immigration. Last week I was talking to a Republican who insisted that separating children from their immigrant parents at the border is a longstanding policy. It is not. Re-writing history takes some imagination, but mostly it’s lying. Barack Obama’s immigration policies contained specific language aimed at keeping families intact. It is a Trump executive order that snatched children from their parents and put them in cages. Defending cruel policy utilizes the same imaginative rationalization that led Trump to claim during the 2018 elections that the caravan of Central American refugees heading for our southern border, people fleeing poverty and the threat of death, were actually violent, disease-ridden gang members.

And once the election was over, the caravan magically… disappeared.

Imagine that.

Conspiracy theories, offering different levels of threat to Americans, that have been thoroughly disproven: 9/11 was an inside job. Obama was born in Kenya and his birth certificate is fake. The Holocaust didn’t happen. And the Hillary Clinton all-you-can-eat buffet of Benghazi, her unsecured email server and how she ran a child-sex ring out of a pizza restaurant. We can add to that pile aliens at Area 51, the moon landings were fake, extraterrestrial reptilian humanoids called “Annunaki” are secretly ruling humanity. And Paul is dead.

Oh, sure, rampant corruption of officials is easy to imagine in this age of a Trump White House. This morning, the current president of the United States re-tweeted a conspiracy rumor suggesting former president Bill Clinton is complicit in murder – again with zero evidence. It demonstrates once again that Trump and his administration, and the adoring acolytes who hide their corporations’ profits in offshore accounts or paint “TRuMp” on the sides of their weathered barns, have careened through the guard rails protecting law and functional society.

The evidence is conclusive. Epstein’s dead, he killed himself. If anything, today’s Epstein conspiracy talk sheds light on the incestual level of corruption to be found among the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Rats finding comfort, and protection, in each other’s company.

Distraction allows them to escape. We must stay focused. What is the true conspiracy? Conspiracy theories thrive without light. The most-dangerous ones feed on lies.

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Delusion is hard work

Cruz: Was it murder, or just a dog thing?

Cruz: Was it murder, or just a dog thing?

A 3-year-old Samoyed died three days after it competed in the Westminster Kennel Club show last month. And it may be… murder.

Cruz’s owner says the dog appeared to have been poisoned. Cruz’s handler – who’s now out of a job, I guess – takes it a bit further, and suggests Cruz may have been poisoned by animal rights activists, who stage protests at the event each year.

As a dog owner myself, I’ll go with what the vet who treated Cruz told The New York Times: “Dogs are dogs. It’s not anyone’s fault. They eat stuff; they get into things; they make bad decisions.”

Yes, obvious. So why is it always a conspiracy?

Conspiracies are complex ideas. They have to be. Because there’s generally an obvious answer to every question: Terrorists hijacked jetliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. And for an alternate theory to dispute this conclusion – the Bush administration planted explosives in these buildings – a conspiracy theory must circumnavigate a lot of eyewitness testimony, forensic science, the public record and common sense, including how a demonstrably inept administration could even pull off such a flawless endeavor. And then you get to the realization that it would take the silence of thousands of people to keep the government’s role in 9/11 a secret, and after more than 10 years not one person has stepped forward to confess, “Yes, I was a part of this massive conspiracy and subsequent cover-up.”

Some of the greatest conspiracy theories are non-partisan in nature. The United States military is engaged in a massive coverup of UFOs visiting the Earth? I’ll bet that’s a belief shared by Republicans and Democrats alike. The assassinations of JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are big in the conspiracy world.  Elvis, Tupac and Michael Jackson are alive. Paul is dead.

I can think of  few liberal conspiracy theories. The pharmaceutical companies are keeping disease-curing drugs from us, so that they can continue to make money off of our illnesses. Car manufacturers have deliberately kept a successful electric car off the market so that we continue to rely on fossil fuelmobiles. And here’s a good one one: That a President of the United States would approve a plan to break into the party headquarters of his political opponent in search of anything that could be used against him in the next election.

Of course, that last one  proved to be true….

But most conspiracy theories – particularly the outright ridiculous, demonstrably false ones –  seem fueled by conservative fears. Here’s a short list: Obama is a Muslim. Obama was born in Kenya. Obama is taking away our guns. Obama will use drones to kill U.S. citizens on American soil. Voter fraud. Climate change. Muslim extremists are introducing Sharia law into the United States. The New Black Panther Party is intimidating voters and influencing elections. The Holocaust never happened. Fluoridated water is a mind-control scheme. Jet contrails are actually the U.S. government conducting a chemical attack on its own people. The shootings of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School were faked in order to get people behind gun control. Planned Parenthood is a corporation that wants to keep abortions coming so that its stockholders can make money. Liberals control the media (Even though virtually all media outlets are owned by right-leaning corporations). And the United Nation’s “Agenda 21,” its non-binding plan for sustainable development in a world that’s outgrowing its resources, is actually the foundation of a plan for a One World Order (The Illuminati, the Freemasons and the Fourth Reich are also hard at work on a One World Order).

Operating hand-in-claw with many of these conspiracy theories is the need to demonize the other side. Obama is a socialist, a communist, an agent of Satan. The rhetoric needs to be heavy, because of the overwhelming evidence that he is actually a decent guy and perfect family man.

Delusion is hard work.

I feel badly for the folks who lost a beloved dog. But in crying conspiracy, and accusing animal rights activists of the deed, Cruz’s bereaved survivors are overlooking the obvious. Animal rights people seem the least likely suspects to be behind the death of a dog.

If I were Cruz’s people, I’d be looking at other, more-obvious suspects. Like, do the owners of the other 32 Samoyed dogs at the show that weekend have alibis? Now that is a murder mystery that I can buy into.

The Critical Mass

I read The Sunday New York Times, so you don’t have to: June 5

First music of the day, Bill Frisell’s Disfarmer. First sounds from outside, coming through the open windows: crows.

1, A food crisis is coming to our planet, and it is our fault. “The rapid growth in farm output that defined the late 20th century has slowed to the point that it is failing to keep up with the demand for food, driven by population increases and rising affluence in once-poor countries,” The Times writes in its lead story. Price jumps, the result of that high-school economics class primary rule of inequity between supply and demand, have hit poorer countries harder. But now we’re seeing the effects of global warming on crop yields as well, say scientists, and it’s coming much sooner than they’d expected. The planet’s population, at about 7 billion, is expected to grow to 10 billion by the end of the century. Food production will have to double before that, and we’re making it hard on ourselves to meet that goal. “Unlike in the past,” The Times writes, “that demand must somehow be met on a planet where little new land is available for farming,where water supplies are tightening, where the temperature is rising, where the weather has become erratic and where the food system is already showing serious signs of instability.”

2, “In reports of Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s death on Friday at the age of 83, the general rule of obituaries held,” The Times writes: “Do not speak ill of the dead.” The face of assisted suicide, his obituary does note that Kevorkian was a difficult man, described as “erratic, loud, playing by his own rules.” Praise for his efforts on behalf of terminally ill patients taking charge of their own end of life was decidedly muted, The Times notes. Dr. Kevorkian, as best I can tell, did not pass on while hooked up to one of his “suicide machines.”

3, The Smith Corona manual typewriter on which the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski tapped out his manifesto was sold in auction last week for $22,003.

4, Conservatives want a nation with the lowest tax burden of any major country, limited government with little regulatory powers, where one’s religion is a litmus test and prayer in schools is encouraged, same-sex marriage is outlawed and outlaws are tortured, the military is the top spending priority, generals rather than civilians make policy decisions and none of its zealously patriotic citizens ever burns a flag. If this is your fantasy nation, careful what you wish for. In noting those goals, so typical of the Tea Party and many Republicans, columnist Nicholas D. Kristof writes that “when many Republicans insist on ‘starving the beast’ of government, cutting taxes, regulations and social services – slashing everything but the military – well, those are steps toward Pakistan.”

5, In Arts & Leisure, we learn about how the marvelous HBO series Treme, set in New Orleans, is increasingly emphasizing food in its story lines. Real chefs and food writers make cameos, and Anthony Bourdain has been doing some of the writing. David Chang, owner of a couple of tiny but trendy New York City restaurants, gets his close-up next Sunday. “I take back everything I’ve ever said about actors..,” he says. “Moving a piece of vegetable into another container in a really hot kitchen while you’re speaking is a real feat. I started thinking,’Wow, that Tom Cruise guy is an amazing actor. How the hell does he talk and shoot a gun at the same time?’ ”

6, In the magazine, Bill Keller wonders why smart folks can be taken in by conspiracy theories. “Our receptiveness to the outlandish is primed by the fact that that we know of actual conspiracies,” he writes. “Watergate happened….” The loss of faith in authorities further loosens the bricks in the foundation, and these days holds open the door for “self-appointed authorities.” But conspiracy theorists fly in the face of proven incompetence, Keller writes. “In my own experience, governments, corporations and other powerful institutions are not usually that good at making things happen according to plan, let alone at keeping secrets.”

7, The Summer Reading edition of the Book Review is here! Fifty-six pages of biblio-ecstasy! But too much to read this morning. I have to mow the lawn now.  I’ll report back later.

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