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Op-Ed: More to worry about than bombs and powder

The current story about these attempted attacks is bad enough, agreed. Bombs and/or powder were sent to Obama, Clinton, Soros, CNN, NY Governor Cuomo, former Attorney General Holder, and the package to CNN was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan. This is superficially the Alt Right wish list hit list, all people who are hated on a daily basis by the Alt Right.
The packages were relatively low scale pipe bombs, and envelopes of white powder. Sufficient to do damage to anyone opening the packages and those in the area. “Low scale” also means relatively anonymous; these things could be made by anyone anywhere, and are more difficult to pin down than more sophisticated devices. There’s no forensic analysis at this point. No connections, apart from the obvious similarity of the methods, have been made.
QAnon to the rescue? Not quite.
Of course, it’s not that simple. The logic of this situation is pretty convoluted in another, even less impressive, way. I happened to be unenthusiastically wading through a section of social media with the inevitable “Things They Don’t Want You To Know” stuff a couple of weeks ago.
This crap is unavoidable now, and while wading, I noticed a prediction from the ever-egregious, totally unbelievable QAnon, doyen of the conspiracy theorists and Deep State watchers. This post stated that there was going to be a mass deception in the form of a Democrat staged series of “attacks” on Democrats before the elections, which would be blamed by inference on the Trump administration. The actual prediction was pretty vague, and I couldn’t even find it on a search which turned up a virtual mythos of conspiracy theories and, very unsurprisingly, nothing of much actual use. QAnon is also routinely, turgidly, anti-Democrat at the Info Wars level, so at the time this “prediction” was nothing special.
Before you start wondering how these guys and their appallingly self-serving thinking escaped grade school, this doublethink approach has been around for a very long time. Doublethink allows the lucky wearers of suggestible brains to believe the exact opposite of visible facts by simply inverting the logic.
Based on this logic, if someone else shoots you, you obviously did it to yourself for political motives, despite the presence of any number of facts showing someone else did it. It’s for shallow thinkers and people who are easily pleased by anything which makes them feel smart. It’s a dog biscuit reward psychology. They’ll still think the exact opposite, even if someone’s convicted for a crime, and the logic is the same – Someone else did it for motives which are usually 100% counterintuitive.
I wouldn’t give QAnon or any other conspiracy-by-macro site the time of day. They predict everything on a shopping list basis, whether it happens or not. It’s like the unending End Of The World predictions. OK, it didn’t happen this time, but it will sometime, so keep following our BS, you lucky, well-informed soul, you.
The reason for mentioning QAnon’s prediction, which wasn’t all that specific, is that in this case it illustrates a point. The prediction would have been made without a shred of evidence, anyway, by this type of feed and it wouldn’t matter if the prediction happened or not. The trick to QAnon and similar sources is making things look incredibly dramatic.
Less encouragingly, there is some sort of habituated, even accepted methodology, (old and out of date as it is), which can generate credibility for practically anything, particularly dramatic events. The current bombs and powder may well be systemic, part of a “merchandising” operation for whatever hideous crap the propagandists are putting out.
It works like this:
1. Someone predicts some event like this.
2. Someone else makes it happen.
3. The credibility of the prediction is established.
4. Every poor bastard who believes this crap feed feels fine, and the crap feed gets a lot more attention, and probably money.
Grade school? Basic marketing 101, which is more like kindergarten. Get attention, and you get more sales, because someone, somewhere, is going to be dumb enough to buy whatever crap you’re peddling.
The political timing of this bomb and powder attack is far more serious and adds another dimension to a truly lousy, sewer-level scenario. The Trump administration is saying the bombs and powder were terrorist acts, which they were. The FBI is investigating, and everyone’s more or less on the same page at the visible level.
The problem with this rosy view is that:
1. Someone made direct, verified, at least potentially lethal, attacks on people who Trump personally and the Alt Right have been criticising for years. That mud will stick with administration opponents, skeptical as they may be of motives. It’s an own goal for the administration, in any possible sense, if you believe they were somehow involved.
2. All targets were hit with the same things at the same time, indicating some level of organisation and planning. The choice of targets and addresses was banal, to say the least, but even so, the scale of attacks indicates something a bit less… folksy… than usual.
3. The net content and distribution of packages was relatively large, given the broad spread of targets, indicating access to white powder/anthrax/ricin/whatever (not yet confirmed in this case as anything but a white powder) is alive and well in the United States 17 years after September 11.
4. The same methods were used after September 11, targeting mainly Bush administration operatives. 5 people died, and 17 people were affected by the white powder. Other reports of white powder attacks have cropped up erratically ever since. Donald Trump Jr’s wife was sent to hospital as a precautionary measure after they received a white powder in the mail in February this year. Seems that postal hate can go anywhere.
Naïve theories about some easily identifiable, instant explanation for everything Deep State, conspiracies, and other dribbling crap aside:
1. The polarized United States is in a truly godawful position for managing “events” of this type. Forget allegations and political motives made up out of thin, sleazy air by idiots, there is a real physical problem here.
2. Suppose a foreign power, or some of the internal nasty objects who’s actually competent and capable of proper deception in transit and delivery of more than hate mail, starts using the same methods. They’d have plenty of cover in the melee of usual internal US suspects. A large scale attack could do incredible damage to the US as a whole, easily. Proper targeting on the right scale could hit a virtual plague of important targets, and it’d be relatively cheap and easy to deliver. There are also whole classes of technologies which could be added to attacks of this kind, making them far more likely to be lethal, and successful.
3. This habituated methodology and its counterintuitive logic would have the US chasing itself and its own thriving population of nutcases, (thanks guys, you’re geniuses, aren’t you?) not the actual perpetrators. It could be an epic nationwide cluster event, with many sidetracks and misleading distractions.
4. Even good, accurate analysis and enforcement takes time and a lot of effort to get anywhere. Never mind who knows what, who knows who, and the rest of the Delirious Dating Agency political and other connections. You could have a “mail order Pearl Harbor” in waiting here, although it’s far more likely that other, less easily stopped, methods would be used.
As for the current situation, time might tell who did what. QAnon and other Sages of the Swamps notwithstanding, a real and very dangerous issue has emerged, and it’s not going to be doing anyone any favors. Forget the BS, focus on the real risks.

Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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