An Accurate Diagnosis

Last week, President Biden spoke at the opening of the John McCain library. In an impassioned address, he drew a bright line between the Republican Party of John McCain and others with whom he’d worked in a bipartisan fashion, and the MAGA crazies who now dominate the party. 

The entire speech was excellent, and if time permits, it’s worth clicking through and reading it all, but a couple of paragraphs really stood out to me–striking me as especially accurate diagnoses of where we find ourselves today.

“[T]here is no question that today’s Republican Party is driven and intimidated by MAGA Republican extremists. Their extreme agenda, if carried out, would fundamentally alter the institutions of American democracy as we know it.”

The MAGA Republicans, Biden said, are openly “attacking the free press as the enemy of the people, attacking the rule of law as an impediment, fomenting voter suppression and election subversion.” They are “banning books and burying history.” “Extremists in Congress [are] more determined to shut down the government, to burn the place down than to let the people’s business be done.” They are attacking the military—the strongest military in the history of the world—as being “weak and ‘woke’.”

They are “pushing a notion the defeated former President expressed when he was in office and believes applies only to him: This president is above the law, with no limits on power. Trump says the Constitution gave him…’the right to do whatever he wants as President.’ I’ve never even heard a president say that in jest. Not guided by the Constitution or by common service and decency toward our fellow Americans but by vengeance and vindictiveness.”

Biden spoke at a time when rational Americans were facing the intransigence of MAGA House Republicans who were clearly enthusiastic about forcing a government shutdown (and later, furious with McCarthy for working with Democrats to avoid it.), Their  “impeachment hearing”–a hearing at which their own witnesses testified that they had no evidence of wrongdoing–was a pathetic attempt to distract the public from their refusal to do the jobs they were elected to do.

Those who read and comment on this blog probably share my reaction to the utter insanity of all this: disbelief. Who are the people who still support these extremists? How is it possible that any American citizen listens to Trump’s increasingly demented word salads and thinks, yep, that’s the guy who ought to have control of the nuclear codes?

How is it possible that roughly a third of Americans remain Trumpers?

The answer is pretty chilling.  It turns out that–in addition to racism– a lot of Americans are nuts.

Back in 2016, polling found  that twelve million Americans believed alien lizard people rule us.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, around 12 million people in the US believe that interstellar lizards in people suits rule our country. We imported that particular belief from across the pond, where professional conspiracy theorist David Icke has long maintained that the Queen of England is a blood-drinking, shape-shifting alien.

That research was conducted in April. In November, Trump was elected…

As the article pointed out, there are a number of equally…let’s just say unsupported…beliefs endorsed by millions of Americans.

Around 66 million Americans believe that aliens landed at Roswell, New Mexico; around 22 million people believe that the government faked the moon landing; and around 160 million believe that there is a conspiracy surrounding the assassination of former US president John F Kennedy.

In the years since 2016, we’ve seen the growth of various QAnon conspiracy theories, Bill Gates’ chips in Covid vaccines, vaccines causing autism…etc. etc.

Who are the people most susceptible to these beliefs?

Researchers say feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty trigger a need to believe in conspiracies. Or, as one scholar is quoted,

Conspiracies are for losers … 

“I don’t mean it in the pejorative sense, but people who are out of power use conspiracy theories to strategically alert their side to danger, to close ranks, to salve their wounds,” Uscinski explains. 

According to another researcher, belief in a conspiracy theory–alien lizards, the existence of Q, the ‘real purpose’ of vaccination– is a strategy fearful people use to regain a sense of control, even if the conspiracy theory is unrelated to what caused the lack of control in the first place. Conspiracy theories allow  a person to make sense of what they see as otherwise senseless or unfair in the world they inhabit, and allow them to restore some sense of control.

Bottom line, there are millions of Americans for whom logic, evidence and demonstrable facts are irrelevant. And they vote.


  1. Hard to believe that Bill Gates’ “chips in Covid vaccines” theory took rise out of HIS feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty, but then who doesn’t harbor a conspiracy theory or two out of one’s attempts to make sense of the world we inhabit.
    The only thing new about conspiracy theories today is the media for spreading them. Otherwise, it is the same old same old, namely some super powerful entity has secret control over us, and we all need to either submit or worship or both. If we don’t submit and /or worship we are doomed. Conspiracy theories are as old as religion. Unfortunately, they are just a powerful.

  2. Ukraine is burning, Israel is burning, they’re calling for a stock market crash which will affect folks that can least afford it. It’s becoming difficult to withdraw money from banks, and, I think that this bank issue is a lot worse than anyone realizes. While people in this country are living in tents and underneath the viaducts, the government sends tens of billions of dollars, which by the way might not be worth much shortly, to everyone else on this planet except for the citizens of this country.

    In Chicago here, the migrants that are being shipped from other states, have been caught engaging in organized crime. There is anarchy in the streets, every weekend especially. Law enforcement doesn’t really respond much like they did a few years ago. And, they really don’t want to. I hear shooting every single night, I hear drag racing up and down the streets, law enforcement does not respond to any of it. And, absolutely, some of this is related to “defund the police.”

    Politicians don’t have a clue on how to stop What has been a boulder rolling down the mountainside. The MoneyGrab by these politicians, and those connected to the politicians is gut-wrenchingly overwhelming. The grift and graft is the norm. When those who love big oil and are watching the public freak out over $200 a barrel oil, or when it costs about $150 to fill up your car, or $300 to fill up your truck, you think there won’t be even more violence?

    Society is on the verge of collapse, and you still have these politicians fighting their petty spitball wars. They’ve made themselves irrelevant in the function of government, because government is not functioning at all. This is way beyond voting, this is a systemic collapse of the political, judicial and law enforcement portion of government. They can’t even keep the narcissistic traitorous politicians from running for office! It really is evidence that all of these conversations on all of these threads are useless.

    When people can’t fuel their vehicles, when they can’t afford a trip to the grocery store, when they realize government will not fix their unhealthy water supply, when these banks finally can’t hide with their failing, anarchy is going to take the place of every form of government.

    Does this sound overly prophetic? This entire world system is like an iceberg, as bad as the things are that you can see, that’s only about 5%. The rest is hidden under the surface! The issue is that when people start to revolt, that subsurface is revealed. Then, there’s going to be a day of reckoning that we have not seen in our lifetimes. Why didn’t the frog jump out of the pot when the heat was turned up? It’s because it was done just slow enough to put that frog to sleep! Then the frog became a boiled dinner. This is exactly what’s happening to majority of humankind, the anarchy and narcissistic cravings by businesses, influencers, and politicians, we’re turning up the heat very slowly, but now they’re cranking that knob all away to high. Because there’s so much arcane conduct and moral turpitude, people can’t see the forest because the trees are in the way. And when the forest starts burning, no one’s going to be able to stop it!

    The collapse of government, the collapse of law and order, the replacing compassion and empathy, basic human rights, social safety nets, and civility, is going to be so intense, there will be many who feel their skids are greased out the door. And many of those will be looking to take others with them. A depressed and desperate population that worships weapons of mass destruction, weapons of war in a decadent civil society, what could go wrong?

    There is going to be no magic pill, there is not going to be any political savior, we have our own fiddlers as society burst into flames, and most people have taken no note of it.

  3. Another speech written for him. The conservatives of the Republican party thought of John MCCain as crossing the line to give Democrats what they needed and wanted. He always took the fight out of conservatives. Describing the press to be like Pravda is more like it. For four years the “free press” let Adam Schiff lie as they only thing they focused on was atacking the former President.
    Joe Biden is hurting the black community, continues to be a liar. Accurate? Total BS. I can spot It here. He is hated more and more as he will go down as the worst President ever. He is campaigning in Arizona and needs to be there, thats all.

  4. I wonder if the second comment to Sheila’s essay might be the output of an AI program. This is because it is 668 words long and was written in 52 minutes after Sheila’s appeared.
    Whether my guess is correct or not, the very fact that I suspect it is frightening.

  5. I often feel as John does. I also know so many people who are working every day to make this a better world. Then I remember that the Secretary General of the UN said that we have come to the brink of hell through our destruction of the environment and that the
    entire planet is becoming unhinged. I don’t expect a savior because it is up to us. That causes me great fear.

  6. It’s hard to comprehend for my generation that there are so many sources of news feeding all of my social and unsociable media, yet millions have not seen any of it. Yesterday I got a piece of a Jordan Klepper “report” in my feed in which he was asking young women about January 6th. They had no idea what he was talking about.

    It seems like it must be a lot of work to completely ignore the world. Maybe that’s why so many people carry their phones in their hands. Is it possible that the phones have the ability to block rational thought? I just wanted to start my own little conspiracy theory! Try it on for size and let me know what you think.

  7. Jeez! One little war in a place that has been riven by war for thousands of years and some of you think the world is about to end. Get a grip.
    Of course there are threats to our existence. There always have been and every generation, as they age, thinks the end is near. Which it is for those of us of a certain age.
    People solve problems. That’s what we do, what people have always done.

  8. I would respectfully suggest one BIG root cause – the simultaneous crumbling of public education and the move from teaching thinking to teaching facts. I again recommend “Teaching as a Subversive Activity” from back in the ’60’s.

  9. That 2nd comment: John Sorg has long been known to wax eloquent, and LONG.
    Theresa, it is not Bill gates “feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty” that gave rise to the conspiracy theory!
    “Conspiracy theories allow a person to make sense of what they see as otherwise senseless or unfair in the world they inhabit, and allow them to restore some sense of control.” Q’Anon, which virtually became a religion, and other conspiracy theories come from the same place religion did: an attempt to make sense of an otherwise random world; a world that brings both good and bad things to us. In at least one of the Native American stories about creation, first man, Nanabozho, a caring, kind man “…learnedthat in the duality of all things, he had a twin brother who was committed to making imbalance as Nanobozho was dedicated to imbalance.” (Braiding Sweetgrass- Robin Wall Kimmerer)
    Randomlessnes and senselessness, obviously, are frightening, so humans try to formulate reasons for things that happen. How far removed is the idea of alien lizard people from the “god of the volcano? ”
    The problem is that we are not an illiterate, hunter-gatherer culture, and really ought to know better than to accept things like liars-people concepts. So, yes many Americans are nuts!!

  10. Sharon, et. al., The “X” factor in problem solving has been reduced to “God told me to do it.” Even Putin is delving into the fever dreams in the Bible to justify his invasion of Ukraine. Add to that the doofuses in MAGA and you see that once again humans with too much power for their small brains are evoking fantasy to “solve problems”. This condition will get us all killed.

    Have a nice day.

  11. Patterson and Lemler,

    Lol, AI? Not hardly, 🤌 Capito?


    You contradicted yourself in the same comment. If something’s been going on for millennia, and is still going on, then how are people solving those problems? People don’t solve problems, they’re inclined to make them.

  12. John Peter Sorg isn’t AI but natural intelligence. But then again, it would explain why he didn’t mention religion. 😉

    Who places the JFK assassination into the heap with “lizard people?”

    Anyone believing the government account on anything must be nuts or a sucker. Sociopathic liars only slip once they get old…see Dianne Feinstein and Joe Biden. We are still waiting for France to tell the world who sabotaged Nord Stream pipelines. Duh!!!

    Give me a break.

    John mentioned the economic decline, and it’s coming as the Yuan is slowly replacing the dollar. Saudi Arabia and OPEC now have a petro-Yuan, so the USA cannot enforce sanctions.

    Conspiracy theories are the flip side of the coin for government propaganda. You get a heavy dose of BS following the Secretary of State on X. Responses below the Secretary’s posts are more accurate than the man himself.

    Now for my AI version… LOL

  13. The rich and powerful run things, get all the media attention and “conspire” daily and in our face. Why wouldn’t most of us believe that this is “how things are”?

    Who’s a “hero” – Musk or Liz Cheney?

  14. Thanks Mr. Sorg and Mr. Smekens for your excellent summaries of the dire state of the nation.

    My growing fear is that our government’s solution to the people’s discontent will be another war against another “enemy,” this time China.

  15. Kudos to Sharon! As Mark Twain noted: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” but such is to be expected by those in the eye of the storm. The negativity expressed in today’s responses to Sheila’s effort surprises me, but such dour reports of our approaching doom are nothing new, and we have survived all of them. Such “reports” include the Great Depression and the Revolutionary and Civil Wars – and we survived – and we will survive this exaggerated state of affairs brought about by Trump’s removal of the scabs of racism and other politization of the simmering faults in our society which have been based on the Maga view that government is bad, education is bad, and all other institutions upon which we base democratic government are in need of dissolution. This is not politics; it’s nihilism.

    The Magas have no interest in governing or even reform of government; they are interested in the destruction of government in an exercise of libertarianism run amok without promise of a replacement of a governing apparatus, and with Trump and other Republican candidates for president currently applauding such a nihilistic plan it is not surprising that civil dislocations may be on the uptick (though such reports may themselves be suspect as nihilistic propaganda and not fact-based as noted by Sheila a few blogs ago).

    Whether such reports are true or not, now is not the time to panic, which is precisely what Trump and other chaos-sellers want us to do, all designed to invite a modern version of a Sir Walter Scott story where the hero rides in on his (always a his) white horse and rescues the damsels from the castle. Trump must first have chaos in the castle in order to play such role and if there is no chaos he will invent it with his attacks on our institutions. Our job is to protect our institutional order from such chaos, hold fast to democratic idealism, and persevere since, if we do, this, too, as with previous crises, some of which are set forth above, will pass. Out of chaos – order – as the eye of the storm recedes. Complaining about the symptoms of the disease is to be expected and is O.K., but let’s cure the disease at the polls.

  16. WADR Gerald – folks who write on this blog are not the problem – it is the ones who don’t think it is important enough to vote…your solution(s)? Voting has been shown to be driven by emotion. So how do get them “worked up” to vote “for” or against? Promise them? They’ve been promised before and where are we? Scare them??? Make them “feel” what could happen? Guess what – that’s exactly what MAGA is doing! Why don’t we do that??????????

  17. McCain was friends with Biden as most politicians are. But McCain on foreign policy warned sgainst the future failures in the Biden administration. Blinkens policy is dangerous of a full withdrawal from Afghanistan along with unfreezing $6 Billion of Irans money, cutting US oil production and bolstering Iranian oil production. Iran had $4 billion in financial reserves, now it has $70 billion due to the Blinken and Biden. The huge intelligence failure and loss of life, Biden can react, but his own bad policy.

  18. Hmmm, I have a bit of a different take than John Peter Sorg.

    Certainly, supporting a war and possibly a second is disconcerting. The only thing more ultimately more expensive is not supporting it. I think that there’s a straight line between not intervening in Crimea in 2014 and the Ukrainian situation today.

    “They” have been predicting 20 of the last 5 stock market crashes of the past 20 years.

    If you are paying $150 to fill up your car or $300 to fill up your truck, you are an idiot. Seriously.
    We have had decades (since the 1970’s) to realize that gas prices are not stable. Don’t buy a F250 to use as a passenger vehicle to carry your ego around and then get upset about gas. Cheap gas is not a God given right. Not even close. And BTW: Last I checked gas was $3.60 a gal in central Indiana.

    And let’s get something straight about homelessness: Finding affordable housing is a problem-for sure. But the vast majority of homelessness isn’t about affordable housing – it’s about an intersection of chronic mental illness and substance abuse – with a very heavy emphasis on substance abuse. It’s the substance abuse that makes homelessness so intractable.

    I also think there is a straight line between the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 and the MAGA extremists today.

    We do need to get out of crisis mode and running around claiming that the sky is falling like chicken little isn’t the way to do that.

  19. Some of these responses are truly frightening; some of them spewing even more theories that are your own phantasms.
    I think I’ll just continue to get my news from the free press, consider the facts, and make my own decisions.

  20. John, I did not contradict myself. Remember that I tend to view things from a biological perspective. The problem/challenge is always survival and people have been solving problems and surviving for hundreds of thousands of years. Will we always?
    I think the human species will become extinct. Either all the progeny will die out or they will eventually evolve into something as different from us as we are from Homo errectus. We can’t predict which with any certainty. In the meantime, being a prophet of certain doom doesn’t seem to be any help. And BTW, if you have no hope, I suggest you just kick back and enjoy the time you have left. What’s the point of agonizing over something you really believe can’t be changed?

  21. It looks like JP Sorg ruffled the feathers of a couple DNC & DLC apparatchiks .

    The truth hurts. Biden’s America sucks. This country needs more than a fumbling and feeble idiot king.

    Moreover, as most of you are currently retired and among the upper 20%, I would consider the readership accurately defined as a new leisure -class. Observing this, It’s no wonder you cling to an anachronism such as Biden.

  22. Joe Biden is the security blanket needed for the comfortable to stay…comfortable.

    The constant meme of this blog succinctly typed is; Don’t Rock The Boat, I’m Doing Fine!

  23. Hmmm, I think Joe Biden has done a remarkable job. I underestimate him, and then he gets the job done – starting with getting elected.

    He’s been a steady hand at the wheel and gotten a lot done while a lot of crap has been thrown his way. Our economy has come out of the covid shut-down far better than other industrialized countries. He was masterful at strengthening NATO. He’s passed an infrastructure bill everyone else just gave lip service to. He even got a modest gun bill through. Yes there is inflation, and that’s not good, but he did the right thing to get the economy going again. Keep in mind the first of the “helicopter money” had Trumps name on it.

    If, however, you think that a president (any president) can somehow single-handedly remake the economy, remake politics, etc. and snap their fingers and make wars, covid, supply chain issues, etc. not to mention global climate change disappear in 2 years, you are as dilutional as they come.

    And the alternative to Joe Biden is_____?
    Look, I would have liked a much younger Democrat a couple of years ago, not because he was too old then, but because I wanted two good terms.
    The Republican party is entirely dysfunctional and incapable of governing anything. They are a cult with a shared mental illness – that’s the only way to explain the break with reality.

  24. I truly am so tired of listening to those on these comments who continue to cry about lies, then create their own or parrot someone else’s.
    If every politician is a crook, grifter or charlatan, then the question remains, who gave them the power? If voters are so easily manipulated, why the need to oppress and exclude?
    If the truth is that all is corrupt, it follows that the voter has little incentive to vote. Honest candidates apparently don’t exist, so why bother. It is a nihilistic view that feeds upon itself.

  25. RFK, Jr. opts to run as an Independent and Cornel West plans to do the same. One a former Democrat and the other who seems to have joined the Green Party and left it in the span of a few months. Egos run amok.

    Here on this site, folks speak out against conspiracies yet create their own to support their worldviews. It’s a crazy world.

  26. Cheap gas? Yeah I agree, cheap gas isn’t a human right! But, the price of oil continuing to go up, is going to be a huge issue with the poorest in this country and probably the middle class.

    If you read Axios, if you read Bloomberg, if you read Forbes, it goes through past and present. They all tell us that oil is going to at least double in price per barrel. And you’re talking about $150 to fill up a car or $300 to fill up a truck. A diesel pickup truck is already over $100 to fill up. More like $130, so the math will tell you, $200 a barrel oil or $250 a barrel oil is going to cause a lot of consternation not just in fuel supplies, but it also extends out to metals and food stuffs. The government will not be able to subsidize any of this, because of 13 trillion dollars of debt.

    Lester and Vernon are two of the individuals I enjoy reading, and not just their books. And they are divergent personalities with divergent opinions, but also, very intuitive.

    I’m wondering Sharon, what human intellect are you pointing to? The slaughter of the indigenous populations of North and South America? The import of Africans for slavery to be bought and sold as a commodity? The dark ages? The middle ages? Northwestern has artificial intelligence that can create artificial intelligence! What could go wrong?

    In many of the more wealthy states so to speak, eggs are still about $6 a dozen! Some even more. Milk almost $5 a gallon. Butter, $5 or more a pound. Australia is slaughtering their beef because of the droughts. That combined with all of the conflict and natural disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, The food supply will be for the wealthy, everyone else is going to be on an unwanted fast.

    What’s the difference between now and millennia ago? One person can reach billions of people because of social media. Lies and disinformation spread on a massive scale. You think things have gotten better? They’re exponentially worse. I can click on certain websites and watch the slaughter of civilians oceans away. What would make anyone think humans can be problem solvers? 250 years of voting, and we still can’t figure out how to have the radical minority stay the radical minority and not manipulate the electorate!

    1948, the plenary meeting of United Nations representatives came up with the UDHR. What a novel idea!

    539 BC, the Cyrus cylinder, listed the basic human rights.

    1215 AD, The magna Carta discussed the basic human rights to the English speaking world.

    1628 The petition of Right, as in the magna Carta, another English speaking listing of human rights.

    1787, the United States Bill of Rights!

    1787, the French declaration of “the rights of Man.”

    1864, the first Geneva convention!

    Anyway, I think you get the drift. Since King Cyrus, humanity has been talking about human rights, and yet, human rights are the first thing that gets tossed in the trash bin. So yeah, not so many problem solvers. We can say everybody needs water to live, but if nothing’s done to provide it, what good is it?

    The reason the crash hit in 2007 2008, was the rollback of the Glass Steagall act of 1932 after the Great depression, which allowed banks to act as stockbrokers. And, they sold their subprime mortgages around the globe. Basically, a pile of toilet paper or a bag of fools gold. But the greed Factor was much more alluring than doing the right thing. Liar loan anyone?

    So, here are the ones you vote for, here are the ones that everyone has faith and trust in. There absolutely is not one golden apple sitting in the pigsty!

  27. John. Yet, we are still here and my life has been far better than it would have been had I been born a couple of hundred years ago. And I suspect that is even more true for you. I’m very glad that you are not a slave and I didn’t suffer a forced marriage. Can’t you generate even a smidgen of hope for more progress?

  28. Sharon,

    You know, you’re right! People don’t like to be scared. I’ve been posting on here for probably about 8 years now. Or something around there. Anyway, from the beginning of my time on here, I was talking about, or I should say posting about the very things that are happening today. What caused society casting human rights into the trash bin? What caused life to be considered disposable? Mass shootings, murders by the hundreds every week. 8 years ago you never heard about these mass of carjackings, now, there are dozens every single day in Chicago alone. Masses of young people converging on stores and malls, cleaning off the shelves like a giant Hoover vacuum cleaner. No morality in their conscience, And really no conscience at all. Conscience and morals were something that separated humanity from animals. Not anymore!

    And I will mention that all of these things happening are much more intense than they ever were at any time in American history except maybe the civil war. But even then people never locked their doors. But the civil war didn’t impact the The entire world. What’s happening today, in the Ukraine, and in Israel, it affects the entire planet. Why? Because we have billions more in population, and, instantaneous news and experiences blasted throughout social media and other forms of communication.

    This is something that never existed anytime in human history. So one cannot say that because it seemed certain disasters were brought under control, they didn’t have people stoking the fire so to speak to keep the tumult going.

    I truly hope that you’re a happy person Sharon, and I hope that these terrible things don’t affect you, but when it’s all said and done, it’s going to affect every life on this planet. And, is that scary? Well, it scares the living snot out of me.

    One more caveat, I talked to some of the police officers here, I know quite a few of them. Almost all of them are pretty decent dudes and dudettes. They said that covid has turned the entire population insane. Now, I’m not going to get into conspiracy theories, but when the law enforcement recognizes COVID crazy, there must be something to what they believe. What and why are all of these things happening at the same time?

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