Archives for category: Insane

Folks, the federal government is in the hands of some very unstable people. The man in charge of communicating public information about the coronavirus at CDC is an unhinged Trump loyalist.

This story was in the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.

Mr. Caputo, who has faced intense criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger from opponents of the administration. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he urged his followers.

He went further, saying his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed.”

“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” Mr. Caputo said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He also said the mounting number of Covid-19 deaths was taking a toll on him, telling his viewers, “You are not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.” The United States has lost more than 194,200 people to the virus. Mr. Caputo urged people to attend Trump rallies, but only with masks.

To a certain extent, Mr. Caputo’s comments in a video he hosted live on his personal Facebook page were simply an amplified version of remarks that the president himself has made. Both men have singled out government scientists and health officials as disloyal, suggested that the election will not be fairly decided, and insinuated that left-wing groups are secretly plotting to incite violence across the United States.

But Mr. Caputo’s attacks were more direct, and they came from one of the officials most responsible for shaping communications around the coronavirus.

C.D.C. scientists “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” Mr. Caputo said. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”

A longtime Trump loyalist with no background in health care, Mr. Caputo, 58, was appointed by the White House to his post in April, at a time when the president’s aides suspected the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, of protecting his public image instead of Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Caputo coordinates the messaging of an 80,000-employee department that is at the center of the pandemic response, overseeing the Food and Drug Administration, the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health.

“Mr. Caputo is a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

Mr. Caputo’s Facebook comments were another sign of the administration’s deep antipathy and suspicion for its own scientific experts across the bureaucracy and the growing political pressure on those experts to toe a political line favorable to Mr. Trump.

This weekend, first Politico, then The New York Times and other news media organizations published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the C.D.C. to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light. The C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports had previously been so thoroughly shielded from political interference that political appointees only saw them just before they were published.

Mr. Caputo’s 26-minute broadside on Facebook against scientists, the news media and Democrats was also another example of a senior administration official stoking public anxiety about the election and conspiracy theories about the “deep state” — the label Mr. Trump often attaches to the federal Civil Service bureaucracy.

Mr. Caputo predicted that the president would win re-election in November, but that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., would refuse to concede, leading to violence. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.”

There were no obvious signs from administration officials on Monday that Mr. Caputo’s job was in danger. On the contrary, Mr. Trump again added his voice to the administration’s science denialism. As the president visited California to show solidarity with the fire-ravaged West, he challenged the established science of climate change, declaring, “It will start getting cooler.” He added: “Just watch. I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Mr. Caputo’s remarks also dovetailed in part with those of Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime confidant of both Mr. Caputo and Mr. Trump. Mr. Stone, whose 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress was commuted by the president in July, told the conspiracy website Infowars on Friday that Mr. Trump should consider declaring martial law if he lost re-election.

Grant Smith, a lawyer for Mr. Stone, was among the followers who had joined Mr. Caputo’s talk on Sunday. Mr. Caputo has 5,000 Facebook friends, and his video was viewed more than 850 times. He has now shut down his account.

Over all, his tone was deeply ominous: He warned, again without evidence, that “there are hit squads being trained all over this country” to mount armed opposition to a second term for Mr. Trump. “You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Mr. Caputo added.

In a statement on Monday, Mr. Caputo told The Times: “Since joining the administration, my family and I have been continually threatened” and harassed by people who have later been prosecuted. “This weighs heavily on us, and we deeply appreciate the friendship and support of President Trump as we address these matters and keep our children safe.”

He insisted on Facebook that he would weather the controversies, saying, “I’m not going anywhere.” And he boasted of the importance of his role, stating that the president had personally put him in charge of a $250 million public service advertising campaign intended to help the United States return to normal.

The Department of Health and Human Services is trying to use that campaign to attract more minority volunteers for clinical trials of potential Covid-19 vaccines and to ask people who have recovered to donate their blood plasma to help other infected patients. Department officials have complained that congressional Democrats are obstructing the effort.

While Mr. Caputo characterized C.D.C. scientists in withering terms, he said the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, was “one of my closest friends in Washington,” adding, “He is such a good man.” Mr. Caputo is partly credited with helping choose Dr. Redfield’s new interim chief of staff.

Critics say Dr. Redfield has left the Atlanta-based agency open to so much political interference that career scientists are the verge of resigning. The agency was previously seen as mostly apolitical; its reports were internationally respected for their importance and expertise.

Mr. Caputo charged that scientists “deep in the bowels of the C.D.C.” walked “around like they are monks” and “holy men” but engaged in “rotten science.”

He fiercely defended his scientific adviser, Dr. Paul Alexander, who was heavily involved in the effort to reshape the C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. Mr. Caputo described Dr. Alexander, an assistant professor at McMaster University in Canada, as “a genius.”

“To allow people to die so that you can replace the president” is a “grievous sin,” Mr. Caputo said. “And these people are all going to hell.”

A public relations specialist, Mr. Caputo has repeatedly claimed that his family and his business suffered hugely because of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Caputo was a minor figure in that inquiry, but he was of interest partly because he had once lived in Russia, had worked for Russian politicians and was contacted in 2016 by a Russian who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Caputo referred that person to Mr. Stone and was never charged with any wrongdoing. Mr. Caputo later wrote a book and produced a documentary, both entitled “The Ukraine Hoax,” to undermine the case for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Mr. Caputo worked on Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign for a time but was passed over for a job early in the administration. He remained friendly with Dan Scavino, the former campaign aide who is now the deputy chief of staff for White House communications and played a role in reconnecting Mr. Trump and Mr. Caputo.

Some of Mr. Caputo’s most disturbing comments were centered on what he described as a left-wing plot to harm the administration’s supporters. He claimed baselessly that the killing of a Trump supporter in Portland, Ore., in August by an avowed supporter of the left-wing collective was merely a practice run for more violence.

“Remember the Trump supporter who was shot and killed?” Mr. Caputo said. “That was a drill.”

The man suspected in the shooting, Michael Forest Reinoehl, was shot dead this month by officers from a federally led fugitive task force in Washington State. He “went down fighting,” Mr. Caputo said. “Why? Because he couldn’t say what he had inside him.”

Trump defended the QAnon conspiracy theorists at a news conference as “people who love our country.”

President Trump on Wednesday offered encouragement to proponents of QAnon, a viral conspiracy theory that has gained a widespread following among people who believe the president is secretly battling a criminal band of sex traffickers, and suggested that its proponents were patriots upset with unrest in Democratic cities.

“I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” Mr. Trump said during a White House news conference ostensibly about the coronavirus. “So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”

When told by a reporter about the central premise of the QAnon theory — a belief that Mr. Trump is saving the world from a satanic cult made up of pedophiles and cannibals connected to Democratic Party figures, so-called deep-state actors and Hollywood celebrities — Mr. Trump did not question the validity of the movement or the truth of those claims.

Instead, he offered his help.

“Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?” the president said lightly, responding to a reporter who asked if he could support that theory. “If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.”

A separate article explains “What Is QAnon??

QAnon is the umbrella term for a sprawling set of internet conspiracy theories that allege, falsely, that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Mr. Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.

QAnon followers believe that this clique includes top Democrats including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros, as well as a number of entertainers and Hollywood celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres and religious figures including Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. Many of them also believe that, in addition to molesting children, members of this group kill and eat their victims in order to extract a life-extending chemical from their blood.

According to QAnon lore, Mr. Trump was recruited by top military generals to run for president in 2016 in order to break up this criminal conspiracy, end its control of politics and the media, and bring its members to justice.

An article in the Los Angeles Magazine explained QAnon:

It’s not behind a paywall.

Here is a portion:

Until recently, few knew much about QAnon. The right-wing conspiracy movement emerged in 2017 as a result of cryptic clues posted on the internet that portray a world in which Donald Trump works secretly to vanquish a coven of global elites, including top Democrats and Hollywood celebrities, who torture children, traffic them for sex, and even eat them. Flagged as a violent threat by the FBI, banned from Twitter and TikTok, and avidly courted by the Trump campaign, QAnon has become the most potent force in American politics that most Americans have never heard of. In a few short years, QAnon-associated accounts have metastasized on Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok at an unprecedented rate. The pandemic has further fueled its growth, uniting anti-vaxxers and COVID deniers with the Sandy Hook skeptics already part of QAnon’s growing coalition. That coalition apparently also includes everyone from Roseanne to porn queen Jenna Jameson to former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. (The general, a QAnon icon, recently released a video of himself and his family earnestly reciting the QAnon pledge.)

There are thousands of groups and pages devoted to QAnon on Facebook, with millions of members and followers, according to an internal Facebook report leaked to Ari Sen and Brandy Zadrozny of NBC News. A popular Reddit group called the Qult Headquarters now offers support to the estranged families and friends of QAnon converts. The group, dedicated to debunking the conspiracy theory and deprogramming its devotees, has more than 24,000 members. Once a strictly American phenomenon, QAnon has gone global. There is evidence of QAnon presence in 71 countries and on every continent save for Antarctica, says Concordia University researcher Marc-André Argentino.

The group’s followers also include some mentally unbalanced people who have latched onto the QAnon ideology with a fervor that has broken into real life in dangerous ways. Defense lawyers for the man charged in the murder of the underboss of the Gambino crime family in New York City, say their client is obsessed with conspiracy theories and believed the mobster was a member of the “deep state.” (The same man had previously attempted to make citizen’s arrests of Schiff and Congresswoman Maxine Waters.) The landscaper arrested for igniting the 2018 wildfire that burned nearly 20,000 acres of Orange County and destroyed a dozen homes had posted dozens of conspiracy videos on his Facebook page, including some about a satanic cult that ruled the world and a mysterious U.S. intelligence insider who is working with Donald Trump to thwart it. A QAnon believer and self-identified member of the alt-right Proud Boys in Seattle killed his brother in January by stabbing him in the head with a four-foot-long sword, later claiming he thought his brother was a lizard. In June of last year, an armed man inspired by a QAnon post barricaded himself in an armed vehicle and blocked traffic on the Hoover Dam bridge for hours. He was demanding the Justice Department release a (nonexistent) secret report on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server that a QAnon influencer had claimed was being stashed at the dam.

Despite its outlandish allegations, the group has also become an increasingly influential player in GOP politics. Fourteen QAnon supporters are running for Congress in 2020; two, including Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a GOP candidate and avid conspiracy theorist with a history of making racist comments, seem poised to win. Despite early objections from a few party members, she has encountered little opposition from party leaders or the president. In fact Trump, who frequently retweets out QAnon conspiracy accounts, warmly congratulated the candidate on her victory. At this stage in its growth, QAnon “is driving conversation on the online right,” says Kevin Roose, the tech columnist for the New York Times. “Many of the stories that end up trending on Twitter or Facebook are there because QAnon found them and pushed them. It is a lot bigger and more influential than people realize.”

The basic premise of QAnon is this: “Q” is a top government insider close to the president who has proof that global elites secretly enslave and torture children and extract from their blood what they believe is a life-extending chemical named Adrenochrome. Q’s targets range from Democratic politicians like the Clintons, Adam Schiff, and the Obamas to globalist moguls like Bill Clinton and George Soros to celebrities like Tom Hanks and Chrissy Teigen. Trump and his military allies are working secretly to unmask all these evildoers and make sure that they are carted off to Guantánamo and hanged for their crimes. The enemies of QAnon are, in nearly every case, enemies of Trump, which experts say is no coincidence. “At the end of the day, this conspiracy theory is targeting the Democratic establishment,” says Cristina López G., who studies QAnon for the liberal research group Media Matters for America. “To believe Q requires rejecting mainstream institutions, ignoring government officials, battling apostates, and despising the press,” wrote journalist Adrienne LaFrance in The Atlantic. “One of Q’s favorite rallying cries is ‘You are the news now.’ Another is ‘Enjoy the show,’ a phrase that his disciples regard as a reference to a coming apocalypse: When the world as we know it comes to an end, everyone’s a spectator.”

The QANon candidate for Congress in Georgia won the primary. She will be elected in November as it is a staunchly a Republican district. Trump congratulated her.

Parodist and entertainer Randy Rainbow is at his best up iF this video, explaining how a disinfectant will kill the coronavirus, and kill you too!

 

Just when you think Trump could not get crazier, this happens.

 

The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent messages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election, current and former officials said.

As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators — a list that includes senior officials who reported directly to Clinton as well as others in lower-level jobs whose emails were at some point relayed to her inbox, said current and former State Department officials. Those targeted were notified that emails they sent years ago have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations, according to letters reviewed by The Washington Post.

In virtually all of the cases, potentially sensitive information, now recategorized as “classified,” was sent to Clinton’s unsecure inbox.

State Department investigators began contacting the former officials about 18 months ago, after President Trump’s election, and then seemed to drop the effort before picking it up in August, officials said.

Senior State Department officials said that they are following standard protocol in an investigation that began during the latter days of the Obama administration and is nearing completion.

“This has nothing to do with who is in the White House,” said a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing probe. “This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about 3½ years.”

To many of those under scrutiny, including some of the Democratic Party’s top foreign policy experts, the recent flurry of activity surrounding the Clinton email case represents a new front on which the Trump administration could be accused of employing the powers of the executive branch against perceived political adversaries