Friday, April 27, 2018

The Waffle House Conspiracy

Travis Reinking, the 29-year-old, Tr*mp inspired "sovereign citizen" who invaded a Waffle House restaurant in a black suburb of Nashville on April 22  sought an interview with the President last July.  Although denied a meeting, his name did come to the attention of White House officials.  Anonymous sources report that he was of particular interest to Stephen Miller, the 33-year-old speechwriter and Tr*mp-whisperer who has maintained a suspiciously low profile in recent months.  Those sources say that a Miller aide contacted Reinking the following week, and helped him plan the attack.  "Don't wear pants," the aide suggested, "and they won't look at your face.  Nobody will know it was you."

Miller apparently believed that a racist massacre would help to distract media attention from the seizure of incriminating documents from Tr*mp attorney Michael Cohen, as well as other White House problems connected to the Mueller investigation.  "They'd have preferred more prominent victims, like in the Dylann Roof attack," said one insider, "but the guy was crazy, so they had to take what they could get."

All of the above is a total fabrication, of course, but no more incredible than the story about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor.  You'd expect that somebody might believe it, though — right?  Well, no.  Conspiracy theories aimed at liberals are far less effective than conspiracy theories aimed at conservatives.  "That's because conservatives are stupid," you reply.  Sorry, wrong again.  There are plenty of stupid liberals.  The difference is attributable to the different personality characteristics of liberals and conservatives.

Research shows that conservatives have a far greater need for cognitive closure: they find it much harder to tolerate ambiguity, and so are more willing to accept new "information" that confirms their preexisting beliefs.  Conservatives also are measurably more fearful than liberals, hence more responsive to stories they see as threatening.  Fear overrides logical inconsistencies, and demands an immediate, aggressive response.  Fear feeds authoritarianism.

Nonpartisan internet entrepreneurs who monetized fake news during the 2016 election quickly abandoned attempts to make money on liberal-themed sites, but the conservative clickbait was highly profitable.  There is little reason to believe that Facebook and Google will correct their algorithms in time for the 2018 midterms, so we can expect the lies to flow on unabated.

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