About Those Conspiracy Theories…

Maybe it’s the Internet, and the ubiquity of social media, but it sometimes seems as if we are living in the age of conspiracy theories. Most of these contemporary versions aren’t just new twists on old standbys–aliens landing Roswell, UFO sightings, people who really killed JFK.  In this age of hyper-partisanship, they tend to focus on political figures.

We saw an explosion of wild accusations when we elected our first African-American President. Obama wasn’t “really” American; he was born in a foreign country (Kenya, or for the more geographically-challenged, Hawaii). He wasn’t really Christian, but Muslim (which in their “minds” evidently equates with being a fellow-traveler of some sort). He was going to confiscate all the guns, eliminate the election and seize continuing power…

Usually, the people susceptible to conspiracy theories are those who find the real world baffling or uncongenial or both. I suppose it is bafflement that may explain a recent theory about Donald Trump’s inexplicable campaign for President.

This theory, which has been making the rounds on social media, rejects the premise that Trump’s self-immolation is due to his significant intellectual, moral and emotional deficits. Reasoning that no one could be as un-self-aware and self-destructive as Trump appears to be, they speculate that it is all part of a nefarious Clinton plot: he is really running to ensure Hillary Clinton’s victory in November.

After all, as one person considering this thesis asked, how would his behavior be any different if he were trying to elect her?

The posts I’ve seen point to Trump’s previous statements complimenting Hillary, his prior campaign contributions to her, and–especially suspicious–reports that he actually talked to the Clintons at some gathering a few months before entering the race. Ergo, they put him up to running a campaign so disastrous that even people who strongly dislike Hillary would vote for her.

What seems to distinguish this particular conspiracy theory from, say, the aliens at Roswell, is that it is offered by people who are generally logical. They are desperately trying to make sense of farce. No sane person, they reason, could possibly behave the way Trump has behaved. It’s one thing to fashion an appeal to white supremacists–that may be reprehensible, but it’s comprehensible. It’s another to constantly lie about matters that are easily fact-checked, to insult individuals and constituencies whose support you desperately need, to display a breathtaking ignorance of the world and the rules governing the country you propose to lead.

It must be an act, part of a clever, if convoluted, plot.

I’m sympathetic to the desire to explain the otherwise inexplicable, but let’s face it; this conspiracy is pretty implausible.

Freud famously said that “sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.” Sometimes, a narcissistic buffoon is just a narcissistic buffoon.

 

 

62 thoughts on “About Those Conspiracy Theories…

  1. “The posts I’ve seen point to Trump’s previous statements complimenting Hillary, his prior campaign contributions to her, and–especially suspicious–reports that he actually talked to the Clintons at some gathering a few months before entering the race. Ergo, they put him up to running a campaign so disastrous that even people who strongly dislike Hillary would vote for her.”

    I had to copy and past the above paragraph because it gave me a huge laugh after yesterday’s Trump rally with the surprise appearance, meeting with The Donald and speech at the rally by the Chairman of the RNC (I won’t attempt to spell his name). Trump’s comment, “If the RNC stops helping me, I will stop funding them.” resulted in my own conspiracy theory regarding this entire presidential election fiasco. Suppose the DNC, headed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has been paying Trump to deliberately run a campaign with no foundation other than his bigoted, senseless rants to help get Hillary elected president. Granted, it is just my own conspiracy theory but it makes as much sense as anything Donald Trump has said or done for more than a year and his choice of Pence as running mate seems to have escalated his out-of-control campaigning. There must be a reason 16 other Republican presidential wannabes turned tail and ran from the campaign; they were NOT out-campaigned by Trump, they were outshouted. Just sayin’

  2. Whew, I feel relieved. Now if we can all work so hard that there’s no Chance for Trump to win….I always wondered who actually will not only vote for Trump, but campaign for him. There’s a big nest of them in Wyoming. I’ll let Yall figure how to reason with them. I tried.

  3. I agree that Donald Trump is a narcissistic buffoon, but it is more than that. He is expressing the feelings of a significant portion of the population which the social media just can’t face up to. It’s a FACT.

    So in order to get a good night’s sleep, it’s better to have pleasant dreams that Donald Trump must be part of some kind of Democratic Party conspiracy than to do otherwise.

  4. I must admit to having questions about Trump’s behavior turn to ideas of conspiracy theories. Alas, such ideas quickly were dismissed with his next harangue, but left open the nagging question as to what the hell was going on here.
    Yesterday I made myself listen to one of Trump’s speeches. He was free associating. His thoughts were disorganized. He started out saying one thing and quickly shifted to another subject altogether. He was manic. And it hit me. This isn’t some nefarious plan. This is no conspiracy theory. This man is mentally ill. Really!
    We have all been trying for months to figure the guy out and make reason of what we were seeing and hearing. Impossible. He is irrational. He is sick…. and very dangerous.

  5. Hypothetically, let’s say it’s true. What does that say about Republicans? The party people and voters alike? Keeping in mind he has not changed from day one….

  6. No one on the Right is objecting to what Donald Trump is saying. They are just objecting to the style of a NARCISSTIC MESSENGER. If nothing else, Trump has been doing the groundwork for the acceptance of MORE extreme rhetoric from many Republican candidates throughout the U.S.

    You can see it and hear it on TV here in Jacksonville. The usual Tea Party candidates are now being challenged by more extreme candidates who probably have a good chance of winning.

  7. He has a mental illness…no other explanation. I watch all the media and their guest political analysts try to make sense of DT and his behavior. It is called a personality disorder….this explains the behavior, the pathological lying..many can be quite charismatic which pulls people in and it takes many sometime to realize that something isn’t right….usually chaos surrounds these folks and the create havoc in organizations. Call it what it is, he has a mental disorder and we are all witnessing it.

  8. What I cannot comprehend is how he has managed to fool lenders into believing his BS for decades, even after multiple bankruptcies.

    I understand that his propensity to bully others has kept him in some sort of power over them, but his record of actually starting and running businesses baffles me.

    He apparently inherited enough money and real estate to last a lifetime and then some.

  9. We may not understand now. We’ll probably never understand, ever. But, I heard Robert Schrum say all we have to do: Nothing. Don’t ever get in the way of a train wreck that is about to happen.

    My own view, for what it’s worth, is that we need to look at Mr. Trump’s career. He’s basically been in the entertainment business all his life, and his TV show has given him the confidence to go on stage — big time.
    Think of him as the Florence Foster Jenkins of politics.

  10. All of this supposes that *Hillary* would participate in a scheme like that, which, if you bother to even look up one thing about her, is ludicrous. Hermione Granger is not going to conspire with Voldemort to make a horcrux. Although that probably was a Daily Prophet story at one time or another.

  11. I believe we are all agreed that Donald Trump has some form of mental illness, he isn’t suffering from a mental illness, WE are the ones suffering from it.

    As Marv has so often stated; a (if not THE) basic problem in this country is “white supremacy”; what seems to have been lost in Trump’s pandering to that group, the white race in this country is nearing – if not having reached – being the minority race at this time. Conspiracy or not; we are in deep doodoo at the present time and should begin shoveling our way out by strongly supporting Trump’s opposition and encouraging voter registration and voting for all levels of candidates on November 8th. There is much more at stake than the presidency; there is the salvation of the United States as a nation – different weapons, different state’s rights and preserving the union – but we are in a Civil War.

  12. Marv,

    “I agree that Donald Trump is a narcissistic buffoon, but it is more than that. He is expressing the feelings of a significant portion of the population which the social media just can’t face up to. It’s a FACT.”

    I would also say that the Republican party has been unwilling to listen to their ‘formerly middle class’ supporters and that is the reason that politics has gotten so out of hand. They are more interested in listening to the billionaires like the Kochs and their money.

  13. Not everything is a conspiracy, though there are conspiracies. Conspiracy theories are born by a lack of transparency on the part of people not trusted, and since there is no transparency, the imaginations of some run wild.

  14. Thanks for that, Neal. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m contemplating going down a rabbit hole.

  15. Those angry people who feel they are losing out in our country have been voting against their economic self interest since Reagan ran for office.

  16. Yesterday my husband and I were talking about the staunch Trump supporters and he said….his supporters would vote for Hitler and Mussolini, even knowing the atrocities, their hate for Hillary, for Democrats, their hate for this is so much greater they would vote for Hitler and Mussolini

  17. I learned a long time ago not to try to make sense of the crazy. It don’t work and if you try long enough you end up just as crazy as them. Trying to teach a pig to fly is a ot only a waste of time but annoys the hell out of the pig.

    When Barack Obama was nominated much of white America lost their f@ing minds. They bought into the Lies, Fear and Hate promulgated by their masters. I alienated a lot of people when I told them feeding the crazy would come back to haunt them. Donald J Trump is their just reward.

    Like many others I try to figure out Trump. I suppose one theory is just as good as the next. But I can figure out many of his followers. The article below regarding the birth of Jim Crow explains a lot. With minor changes it could describe Trump and his supporters.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://media2.newsobserver.com/content/media/2010/5/3/ghostsof1898.pdf&ved=0ahUKEwiHp4jXr77OAhXK2R4KHUedDLkQFggbMAA&usg=AFQjCNG3Bqi7HClUnUuu2rZb3l797cu2AA&sig2=GL1g5QvyoYfMBQY1SDnB6g

  18. Nancy,

    Let’s give Donald Trump some credit. Many real estate promoters are experts at BOOM AND BUST. He’s very experienced at riding the real estate waves. His extreme narcissism led him to believe he could ride a national political wave. There is no democracy involved in his real estate ventures. He controls the deal. Running for President is a different story completely. He now has to contend with all of us.

    The other day, I mentioned Peter Rummell, the former Disney whiz kid, who is now, for the time being, in total political control of Jacksonville [emphasis on now]. This is another paragraph and a half from “Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State” by T.D. Allman:

    “WaterColor (a real estate development) made the decor of Seaside the centerpiece of its marketing strategy as, once again,a valid human experience was turned into a theme. In spite of its marketing image of intimacy, WaterColor was a sprawling, energy-intensive suburb–though, unlike in America’s traditional suburbs, you couldn’t give birth there and, should you die there, you couldn’t be buried there either. Rummell and his imagineers had created one of those “family-oriented” Florida “communities” with no schools, as well as no hospitals, no cemeteries, also no public transportation.”

    “Water Color offers endless opportunities!” its sales brochures claimed. The right to vote was not one of them. As at Celebration, DEMOCRACY was written out of the prospectus. The neighbors were left to foot the bill for the costly public improvements the creation of those new housing estates made necessary. In one instance, taxpayer money was used “to reroute a major highway….when 3.5 miles of US-98 were moved inland to enhance the value at WindMark Beach,” another of Rummell’s newly invented “real places.” This, too, continued a Florida tradition: public money being used to generate private wealth. In this case it also deprived the taxpayers of access to their beaches.”

    What happens when a real estate developer thinks he can run the city or a country like his latest real estate deal? DISASTER. Because he is now faced with some kind of foreign notion called DEMOCRACY, which is the last thing he knows anything about.

  19. Peggy and RN have touched on the two points that make the most sense.
    Peggy: “Those angry people who feel they are losing out in our country have been voting against their economic self interest since Reagan ran for office.”
    RN: Mental illness.

    All of these trump supporters are FOX News watchers which has called Hillary, Killary, she caused Benghazi, the emails (omg, those damn emails!), etc. You cannot convince them that they are wrong and supporting a lunatic. I give props to anybody that can sit through one of his speeches. OMG, not me. No way. No How!

    I do wonder though if Trump and Hillary did decide that if he or she got the nominations from their parties that he would say and do anything to help her win…(shakes my head at the thought)…I’ve thought this for months now but I know it’s just silly (at least I hope so). They were ‘friends’ right? Their daughters are close, right?

    3 days and I’m off to Indiana…jet lag…here it comes. ugh.

  20. The Republican ballet is interesting. Can we back away from the nominee without alienating a chunk of Republicans? Can we starve his campaign? The Republicans not standing for election or re-election are not supporting their nominee; those in elections have to roll the dice. Some are still vigorously backing Trump. What will really be interesting is after the votes are counted and he has lost and destroyed the party how will the party respond?

    It is difficult for me to believe that the GOP, once staid and thoughtful conservatives, have sat idle and watched their party degenerate into what it has become.

    Same for the Democrats, but it looks like they may skate by this time thanks to DT.

  21. We all have to do at least one thing to ensure the short-fingered vulgarian’s candidacy ends in a train wreck- vote a straight Democratic ticket. It’s not a real train wreck unless all the cars follow the engine off the bridge and into the canyon.

  22. Nancy,

    “I would also say that the Republican party has been unwilling to listen to their ‘formerly middle class’ supporters and that is the reason that politics has gotten so out of hand. They are more interested in listening to the billionaires like the Kochs and their money.”

    That’s the big one. Unraveling that relationship is the key to facing up to what JoAnn stated earlier: “There is much more at stake than the presidency; there is the salvation of the United States as a nation – different weapons, different state’s rights and preserving the union – but we are in a Civil War.”

    We are not in a Win, Win situation right now. It is more like, as JoAnn has also continued to emphasize, a ZERO SUM GAME. Democracy has to prevail.

    There is nothing in between racial theocracy, as promoted by the Koch Brothers et al, and democracy. Many of the Republicans need to understand that. Their only realistic choice is to come back to democracy. There is nothing to gain from pulling away from democracy. America is not the Germany of the 20’s and 30’s where taking on the Jews who were less than 1% of the population was a sure thing.

  23. No sane person would so recklessly ruin their own brand name, dragging their family down with them.

  24. From The Washington Post:

    “Yes, the DCCC may deserve some blame for Democrats’ struggle to flip the House. But the sad truth is that, as Wasserman says, “The Democrats’ best chance of taking back the House is a Trump presidency.” Without the added fuel of a backlash to an incumbent GOP administration, winning the House will be nearly impossible. With Trump both trailing badly and embarrassing many key conservative donors such as the Koch brothers, millions of dollars that would have gone to support a different GOP presidential nominee will now go to defending the House and Senate majorities. Furthermore, gerrymandering, the coalescing of Democrats into high-density urban districts and the decline of split-ticket voting have all made it more difficult for either party to flip a large number of seats.”

    So what does the election of Hillary Clinton as President solve under the above scenario? Not much if anything. Clinton will be facing much more obstruction than Barack Obama has ever imagined.

    The problem we’re now facing is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer explained so well…..CIVIC COURAGE. More specifically, the disastrous failure to engage the Tea Party MOVEMENTwhen they were on the defensive. And wow, will they ever come back WITH A VENGEANCE.

    All you have to do is look at the French election of 1935. And the vengeance that was the aftermath.

    venge-ance (ven’jens) n. [< L vindicare, avenge] the return of an injury for an injury, as in retribution; revenge—with a vengeance 1. with great force or fury 2. excessively
    ~Webster's New World Dictionary

  25. And let’s not forget those who try to get others to buy into ‘vast right wing conspiracies,’ until the blue dress show up.

  26. I don’t subscribe to many (any?) conspiracy theories but I think there is no question that there are cultural tsunamis that begin, build to out of control, then overcome everyone.

    When Lewis Powell wrote his manifesto he was just expressing his extreme opinion based on his “profession” as a corporate board gadfly. When Rush Limbaugh first opened his considerable mouth he was looking for employment. When Rupert Murdock bought Fox News he was just investing. When the Bushes and Kochs and ExxonMobil started advertising anthropogenic global warming denial they were just protecting their investment. When the GOP opened the flood gates for Presidential candidates without a a qualified candidates in sight they were just going through the normal steps. When Don the con won he probably was the best of the worst slate in history.

    Normal stuff that evolved to an out of control devastating tsunami to everyone’s surprise.

    The vilainification of the players is a natural cultural artifact of their massive mistake rather than an accurate indictment of their character. They, like Trump, are just self centered and not smart enough to see their contribution to the tsunami until it’s too late and then it’s too late.

    But now we have to do what has to be done to limit the destruction caused by the massive wall of water bearing down on us.

    The natural cultural artifact of name calling is meant to polarize people because sometimes that’s effective at organizing them, opening their eyes to the magnitude of the threat or recruiting them to help mine the opportunity.

    When it was launched by the Tea Party it worked for them. Now it’s working for liberals and conservatives. Hopefully when this tsunami is in the rear view mirror so will be the name calling.

    Until the next time.

  27. Fran: “No sane person would so recklessly ruin their own brand name, dragging their family down with them.”

    Consider the Kardashians. It’s the celebrity business.

  28. Marv: “the disastrous failure to engage the Tea Party MOVEMENT”.

    True but Democracy welcomes diversity until it becomes a threat.

  29. After the 2012 election the Republicans met and conducted “an autopsy” (their words, not mine). I mentioned to a friend of mine that autopsies were only conducted on dead things, and that their use of the word said a lot. If they weren’t dead after 2012 they were mortally wounded and the Trump/Pence may be the death knell–To which I say, Amen and amen.

    Bravo Steve! Great comment! “My own view, for what it’s worth, is that we need to look at Mr. Trump’s career. He’s basically been in the entertainment business all his life, and his TV show has given him the confidence to go on stage — big time.
    Think of him as the Florence Foster Jenkins of politics.”

  30. Wow, the hysteria meter here is clearly in the red zone today. I will not list all the attack words against the Trumpet associating the Trumpet with Hitler or Mussolini seems a common theme, or he is mentally unbalanced, a lunatic, etc. So far no one has mentioned the dark plot hatched in Russia by Putin to release more E-Mails to Wikileaks, that help the Trumpet. I suppose by inference people that might vote for the Trumpet or the Republicans are fill in the -blank (with your favorite pejorative). Koch Brothers are castigated for trying to influence public policy with their money, but Goldman Sachs gets free ride when their money is bestowed on the Clinton’s.

    The Right Wing Media and Republicans have been lambasted for over the top hyperbole. It seems some people have fallen into the same trap. When faced with the intransigence of the Trumpeters or Republicans just insult them.

    At some point one of my employers provided us with a book by Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People#Fundamental_Techniques_in_Handling_People

    One of his points in the book is – Human nature does not like to admit fault. When people are criticized or humiliated, they rarely respond well and will often become defensive and resent their critic. To handle people well, we must never criticize, condemn or complain because it will never result in the behavior we desire. I must admit I have not always followed this advice.

  31. Pete,

    “Marv: “the disastrous failure to engage the Tea Party MOVEMENT”.

    True but Democracy welcomes diversity until it becomes a threat.”

    I agree with you. So what organization or institution is in a position to evaluate that threat for democracy? You should be able to give me a name, don’t you think? It couldn’t be the Southern Poverty Law Center. They only attempt to monitor white supremacy and militia groups. The Tea Party Movement doesn’t fit into that category. Bill Moyers surely doesn’t.

    I hope you’re not going to tell me that no one is doing it like I have been suggesting for many, many months?

  32. Marv: “So what organization or institution is in a position to evaluate that threat for democracy?”

    One answer is the institution of Democracy.

    Back when the Kochs birthed the Tea Party the American voters listened politely and heard some good things. Freedom. Love the Constitution. Patriotism. God and country.

    Then the truth started coming out. Freedom for me at your expense. My Constitution not the Constitution. America for armed, white, pseudo-Christian, heterosexual, males only.

    Then Democracy reacted. Slowly as Democracy always moves, but methodically and intellectually.

    Now we are on the verge of eliminating the threat.

    Remember in Germany Hitler was only successful by subverting Democracy and that’s what the GOP has tried here too. I think that’s what it took for at least some of us to finally recognize this as the biggest threat ever to Democracy.

  33. Love the references to Florence Foster Jenkins. Like Trump she apparently loved living in the world her ego insisted was the real one. Unlike Trump she didn’t have a conquering bone in her body, it was all for fun.

  34. William: “Don’t forget that Trump conspired with Putin to go after DNC emails”

    The conspiracy I believe was all on Putin’s part. Trump was just not smart enough to not look a gift horse in the mouth to use an old truism. Fortunately Democracy saw a gift from the enemy as a Trojan Horse.

    Proving once again that Democracy is smarter than ego.

  35. One fantasy of mine is a disguise such that a GOP/Trump “poll monitor” would try to intimidate me away from voting.

    I’m thinking that I could cause instant regret.

  36. Pete,

    Marv: “So what organization or institution is in a position to evaluate that threat for democracy?”

    One answer is the institution of Democracy.

    Then Democracy reacted. Slowly as Democracy always moves, but methodically and intellectually.

    Now we are on the verge of eliminating the threat.”

    In other words, I should thank the Institution of Democracy for Donald Trump’s slump in the polls. And I shouldn’t give any credit where it’s due to Donald Trump for being such a narcissistic A*S@!&$?

    Pete, please give me the name and address of the Institution of Democracy. I would like to send them a short thank you note.

  37. I am reminded of a remark made by a friend in response to concerns (circa 1968) with the government of the day and the theory that aliens (the space kind) were poised to take over earth, to wit: “We had better hope they are really out there because with the mess being made everywhere these days, we need all the help we can get…” He was perfectly serious.

  38. All I’m saying Marv is that Democracy is the only stable form of government. It self corrects. It’s downside is that it is, like evolution, painfully slow, but, again like evolution, sure.

    Under that grand category are many things. Smaller less powerful institutions for and against it. Things that bend in one direction or another King’s “arc of justice”.

    You are one of them.

    In the end Democracy is the “decider”. It not only promotes you and I and allows our words but rewards those that bend towards justice with power.

    You and I have never lived without it on our team. The book “1984” describes as well as any what our lives would be like without it.

    No thank you.

  39. Pete,

    “All I’m saying Marv is that Democracy is the only stable form of government. It self corrects. It’s downside is that it is, like evolution, painfully slow, but, again like evolution, sure.”

    First of all, Democracy isn’t like evolution. It doesn’t necessarily self correct.

    Secondly, Democracy isn’t all that stable. Maybe you need to speak to a few of the Germans who are still living who experienced the death of the Weimar Republic.

  40. Perhaps I need to explain that “stable” in engineering terms means that when perturbed a systems reaction is to restore, not abandon, it’s stable position. Disturb a pendulum and it will always return to where it was. Nothing external is required.

  41. WWII was not caused by the fact that Hitler temporarily ended German Democracy. It was caused by the fact that he couldn’t maintain his power there and live within her borders. The Third Reich was doomed from day 1. He chose the option of bring evicted by the world. The other fate waiting for him was to be evicted by the Germans.

    Does anybody think that Kim Jong Un’s got a stable position?

    Democracy is stable because it’s what the majority demands. The majority has the power.

  42. Pete,

    “Marv, Germany is a Democracy. All developed countries are.”

    The Weimar Republic was Germany’s experiment with democracy during the 20’s and 30’s. It crumbled.

    A few weeks ago, you made a distinction between the two of us. You said you were global and that I was U.S. I agreed with that. To be a little more specific, you’re most concerned about a worldwide ecological model. On the other hand, my overriding concern is an American democracy model. No doubt both are connected. But they are two different systems.

    And they are almost IMPOSSIBLE to deal with by concentrating on the COMBINATION which you are trying to accomplish at the expense of the TRUTH. One can effect the other. Right now democracy is affecting your model more that the ecology is affecting mine. If it was the other way around, I probably would be doing the same thing that you’re doing……. attempting to control the truth, in order, to deal with my model. I believe our differences are probably as simple as that. However, that shouldn’t stop us from being on the same team if we are aware of our boundaries.

  43. Atta boy, Steve Smith! Good eye! The comparison of Donald Trump to Florence Foster Jenkins is spot-on. As soon as I saw the review of the movie (on CBS News Sunday Morning) starring Meryl Streep, I thought to myself, ‘OMG! This is Donald Trump exactly, only the female version!’

    Jenkins was wealthy beyond imagination and determined to be an opera singer, yet she had no talent or gift for it. She financed her entire campaign to be a famous singer with zippo skills. Determined, yes! She was really awful as portrayed by Streep, who had to deliberately sing off-key and out of time. Beginning to ring a bell here?

    Fans flocked to Jenkins’ performances for a lot of reasons: to admire her guts for getting onto the stage, to laugh at her lack of prowess, or maybe because some actually thought she wasn’t all that bad. She was, but she was filthy rich and she did it all to entertain herself more than anything else. There is a shockingly real comparison between Florence and The Donald. The timing of the release of the movie, unintended though it may (or may not) have been, is spot-on…just like the comparison between the two who had/have money and guts and that’s about all. Go and see “Florence Foster Jenkins” for yourself. You’ll be amazed at the similarities. We all need a good laugh right about now, and that movie ought to do it for you.

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