Dark Magic – All Aboard the Conspiracy Train

I love close-up magic. I’m one of those people who never wants to know how it’s done; I just enjoy the ride. In fiction it’s called “willing suspension of disbelief.” I know it’s not real, but there’s a little part of me that wants to think that maybe there is a little magic in this crazy world of ours.

This kind of misdirection and optical illusion is done to entertain and amaze viewers. We are all happily fooled together. And it’s fun!

You know when “magic” isn’t fun? When it has political, economic, or social consequences.

This week I finished listening to 33 Strategies of War. The last section is about “Unconventional (Dirty) War” and the last chapter is called “Sow Uncertainty and Panic through Acts of Terror: The Chain Reaction Strategy.” Now I’m sure you’re all thinking, “Well, of course that would catch her attention. She lives in Israel and deals with this all the time.”

And this would be where I invite you to join me on the Conspiracy Train.

What if the chapter was called “Sow Uncertainty and Panic”? And what if the “enemy” isn’t a band of terrorists? What if uncertainty and panic in the general public serves a different purpose?

In the past few weeks, I feel like my attention is constantly misdirected. In Israel, is it the election that is distracting from the Prime Minister’s corruption charges? Are the corruption charges a misdirection from the alliance with Kahanists? In the US, is Michael Cohen a distraction from the summit with Kim Jong-un? Or is the summit a distraction from the Mueller investigation? What about the southern border wallWhere does Putin’s threat of targeting “decision-making centers” in the US fit in? Or in the UK, is Brexit a distraction from growing anti-Semitism in the Labour Party? Or vice versa?

Trying to follow the media on these topics is like running after a hyperactive raccoon jumping into a garbage dump in search of shiny things that are apparently everywhere. The 24-hour news cycle leaves one shiny story after another in the dirt and no one seems to be putting the pieces together.

Sometimes you think the “trick” is finally being revealed. Or is it just another veil  of misdirection?

So how do you fight against uncertainty and panic?
Calm, rational thought. Unity and resolve. Do not bow to fear.

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We normally expect this kind of inspiration from our leaders, but I’m not sure we can count on the illusionists in office.

As much as I love a magic show, I hope the house lights come up soon. This has gone on too long and I’m exhausted.

[Expletive deleted]

The president of the United States is a racist, anti-Semitic, lying, paranoid, philandering, nepotistic, potty-mouthed, narcissistic, reality TV personality, who makes everyone uncomfortable when he talks about his daughter.

Unfortunately, none of those things make him unfit to be president.

As a person with a background in history, I try to think about events in a larger frame than the 24-hour news cycle.


JFK was a philanderer and gave his brother the Attorney General position.

LBJ was a racist. He used the N-word. A lot.

Nixon was a paranoid anti-Semite and a crook. His secret tapes brought into the public lexicon “expletive deleted.” He pointed out once that while he swore a lot, LBJ was worse. He resigned before the impeachment process started.

Ford and Rockefeller were the only people who held the office of president and vice president and were not elected by the people to either office.

Ted Koppel’s count of the days of the Iran hostage crisis brought down the Carter administration (Carter, by the way, also had anti-Semitic tendencies) and ushered Reagan, an actor who had some governing experience, into office and Reagan proceeded not to remember anything about Oliver North or Iran or the Contras.

Bush Sr. cleaned up the Iran-Contra mess with 6 pardons in his last days in office.

Clinton was a philanderer, made improper use of a cigar in the Oval Office, and had too many whatever-gates to count. But that’s not what he was impeached for. His crimes were perjury and obstruction of justice. There were not enough votes to remove him from office.

Bush Jr. was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he managed to convince the American people to go to war in Iraq to dispose of non-existent weapons of mass destruction and to fight Osama bin Laden, a Saudi who was actually hiding out in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan.

There is a lot floating around about Obama, but in historical time, it’s too soon for an analysis.

I bring all this up because I’m still annoyed by Fire and Fury and the short-sighted debates of the 24-hour news cycle.


Two books came out this week that don’t talk about all the petty relationships within the White House: It’s Even Worse than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston, and Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum, senior editor of The Atlantic. They talk about how the Trump machine capitalized on all the holes in the system, how the presidency is based mostly on tradition and Trump has thumbed his nose at all that (which is not technically illegal), how previous presidents may have been flawed but at least they put forward their ideas of how to improve America and Trump is doing nothing of the kind, and how everything that the Trump administration is doing in every department is destroying the foundation of US democracy as we know it. Just reading the excerpts available on Amazon is blood-chilling and nightmare-inducing.

How did the internet respond? Crickets, as the internet is wont to say.

Meanwhile, Fire and Fury is set to become a TV show and is currently #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.  (To be fair, we’ll have to wait a week to see the numbers for the other two books.)

What will bring down the president?

Verifiable impeachable offenses. According to the Constitution, these are “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” And then a vote to remove him from office. Get busy, Mueller!


His own choice to resign. Nixon resigned when he saw that he lost all political support in Congress. Republicans! Are you listening?

But I’m worried. The American people would rather read a journalistically problematic book of gossip. Two journalists wrote serious critiques of the Trump administration and few people even noticed. The GOP won’t recognize that the emperor has no clothes. I’m not even sure where the Democrats are.

So come election time, will a slim majority vote for another episode of the circus? It sure does make for riveting TV.

Thinking about the Constitution reminded me of the SchoolHouse Rock song about the Preamble of the Constitution (We the People), but Youtube suggested another oh-so-appropriate video: an explanation of the Separation of Powers depicting government as a three-ring circus. Sadly, the analogy is apt.