You’re just wrong

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returned for another season on HBO last Sunday and fans like me will tell you that it’s long overdue. Unfortunately, John is almost exclusively preaching to the choir and I fear that Red State, Middle America (the proud members of, “Trump Country”) will never get the message; nor will they bother to consider it if they happen upon it. Oliver can too easily be dismissed as just another “liberal” (to be said in a disparaging voice) who uses too many off-color jokes and too frequently curses. Granted, these same people managed to talk themselves into overlooking the President’s %^**#-grabbing, foul mouth and horrible behavior, but, as I’ve said before, people can talk themselves into anything. Lord knows that Trump certainly does.

The news and rumors coming out of the White House are disturbing enough – from the needless fear mongering and probably unConsitutional travel ban to the childish berating of Federal Judges and the entire Judiciary to the absurd talk of massive voter fraud on an impossible scale to the increasingly serious allegations of Russian collusion and the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – but the heart of the matter goes much deeper than this and it is far more troubling. Based on the examples John Oliver gives and others you can easily find, I honestly think that Trump does not believe in truth. I’m not saying that he simply disagrees with me or you about the facts on this or that issue; I’m saying that he doesn’t understand what a fact actually is and he doesn’t care to. When you look to the National Enquirer, Breitbart, and InfoWars as credible sources. When you’ve had compulsive liar Roger Stone working for you. When you compliment the work being done by conspiracy supernut Alex Jones (who thinks Sandy Hook was a, “false flag,” performed by actors) and then you turn around and call nearly every major news outlet, “fake news,” because they’re not friendly to you, you’re a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.

I know some of you voted for Trump because you hated Hillary or wanted a particular type of Supreme Court pick or wanted the repeal of Obamacare or any number of reasons, but I implore you to put that aside for a moment and think about the future of the country you love. Most of the hyperbolic rhetoric out there is ridiculous (e.g. “liberals are communists” and “conservatives are fascists”) but the dangers that the #NeverTrump Movement tried to warn you about are real! You’ve been had by this conman in the White House. I know it hurts to find out you are wrong and it’s much easier to avoid the possibility but facts are stubborn things and this needs to be said in no uncertain terms; you’re just wrong. The Donald does not deserve your support.

There I go again, preaching to the choir. I mean, honestly, is anyone who disagrees with me going to consider what I am saying? Is anyone open to being a convert? I doubt it, and yet I keep soldiering on, “fighting the good fight” (as I keep telling myself). Maybe the problem here is with people, in general, who seem to be driven more by their emotions than reason. Even if this is true, however, it still brings me back to the same point: How do you get through to them when they are wrong?

In more depressing news, yesterday, Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro held a press conference to push their anti-vaccination nonsense. These two men of the left, and very vocal Trump critic in De Niro’s case, nevertheless share this irrational belief with the new President, and they are all putting us in greater danger. Kennedy and De Niro have gone so far as to offer $100,000 to anyone who can prove that vaccines are safe. This is like offering to pay for proof that Oswald wasn’t framed or the Holocaust wasn’t faked. You can always deny any proof and dismiss any facts you like if you live under a conspiratorial worldview.

One more thing that further depressed me this week is that I started listening to Michael Lewis’s latest book, The Undoing Project (he also wrote Moneyball and The Big Short). It’s about a couple of Israeli psychologists who spawned the field of Behavior Economics and demonstrated that people are not as rational as they like to believe they are. For example: Take a room full of people and ask everyone to write down the last two digits of his/her phone number. Then have everyone write down their best guess how many African Nations there are in the United Nations. What you will find is that the people with the higher phone numbers will also make higher guesses. Yes, we are that easily manipulated and thrown off by things that are seemingly irrelevant.

Any husker du, I don’t know what the conclusion is to this stream of consciousness. What I do know is that it’s making me think about my own work, refuting conspiracy theories and how I should or should not be going about it. For now, I guess I’ll have to just keep telling people, “You’re just wrong,” and coming off like an arrogant jerk they’re not interested in listening to. :(

Hunting Hitler

Last Friday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day and it inspired me to write the following post about a particular piece of Fake History that recently came to my attention. That night, however, my second son decided he wanted to be born, which delayed me from finishing this for nearly a week, but it also inspired me all the more to keep fighting the good fight against nonsense. I don’t want to see my boys grow up in a nation were fairytales are as readily accepted as facts or given “equal time” in some perverse distortion of fairness. Any husker du, here’s the situation…

It was nearly two weeks ago that a friend asked me, “What do you think of the History Channel show, Hunting Hitler?” I was shocked to learn that the program, which claims Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide at the end of the Second World War and escaped to South America, has two seasons on the air and it’s not alone in this conspiracy subgenre. My friend, who’s no dummy, thought parts of the show sounded convincing but he was clearly skeptical as well. I was certain that the premise of this fable was false but wanted to look into the details a bit before passing any definitive public judgements.

WHO IS BOB BAER?

The principle “investigator” in Hunting Hitler is Bob Baer, a former CIA man who cashed out for a conspiracy career. Like one-time Nixon Aid and compulsive liar, Roger Stone, Baer is quick to proclaim that he’s, “not a conspiracy theorist,” and simply follows the evidence wherever it leads. Of course, if these men actually did that, they wouldn’t have anything to peddle. Check out Bear being interviewed by Alex Jones (aka Captain Disinformation), and his interactions with a couple of 9-11 “Truthers” on the street in this video:

The fact that Bear would appear on Jones’ program and they got along so well together is a huge red flag. The fact that he thrives on asking questions that are rooted in partial truths, at best, and filled with allusions to wild, unrealistic accusations, while never fully crossing the line and saying, “I’m a truther too,” is sickening. For example, the story about the five Israelis who were detailed after filming the Twin Towers on fire and apparently smiling and/or laughing is real, to a point. The crucial fact that Bear gets wrong, however, and which makes the story far less sinister, is that there is no evidence the Israelis were there in advance of the first plane hitting the first tower. Like the other onlookers that day they had no advanced knowledge of the attack and there is zero evidence that Israel was involved in 9-11 in anyway! What is particularly disgusting about this story, and the way Bear chooses to misrepresent it, is the fact that Jew hating is the mother of all conspiracy theories and this story in particular has been used by others to blatantly accuse “The Jews” of being behind 9-11; going so far as to claim that, “4,000 Jews stayed home that day.” You don’t get in bed with trash like this unless you are trashy.

Another extremely troubling part of this video comes at the very end when Bear claims, “I know the guy that went into his broker in San Diego and said ‘cash me out, it’s going down tomorrow,’” the day before 9-11. Then he adds that the man’s brother, “worked in the White House.” Really? And you didn’t take these “facts” to anyone in law enforcement or any credible news outlets? These claims would be very easy things to verify if they were true. It seems obvious to me that Bear is more interested in trying to look cool in front of a couple of gullible truthers than he is sincerely interested in the thousands of people murdered on 9-11. His behavior is pathetic and it’s even more pathetic that the inappropriately named “History” Channel would choose to work with someone like this.

THE SHOW

Despite Bob Bear’s more than questionable character, I watched an episode of Hunting Hitler (S01E03: Escape from Berlin) and part of the next (S01E04: The Tunnel). I quickly found the presentation of its facts and innuendos to be dishonest and illogical. For example, they talk about Hanna Reitsch, a rare female Nazi pilot who was in Hitler’s Bunker for a couple days near the end. She flew Generaloberst Robert Ritter von Greim into Berlin to meet with Hitler and out again two days later. According to the show, the fact that Reitsch could get out of Berlin in a plane, “certainly sent a very strong message to Hitler that if she could do it, he certainly could.” They then go through a greatly drawn out sequence walking around subways and abandoned airport tunnels to prove that there were likely tunnels available to Hitler at the time that could have theoretically got him from his bunker to the Tempelhof Airport without going above ground. Since Hitler’s, “last public appearance,” was April 20, 1945, and there were several planes that apparently took off on April 21 from Tempelhof, the show concludes that Hitler could have got to the airport undetected and left on one of those planes. There are so many problems with this tale, including:

  • Hanna Reitsch, who proved escape from Berlin was possible, as Hunting Hitler puts it, and inspired Hitler, didn’t fly into the city until April 26 and out again on April 28, long after the day the show pretends that Hitler escaped from the city.
  • Not only do we have the eyewitness testimony of Reitsch and von Greim about visiting Hitler but we have the testimony of many others, include those who were there until the very end, when he committed suicide and his body was cremated in a gasoline fire.
  • Hitler was last filmed outside the bunker on April 20, giving medals to child soldiers, but he was seen in the public areas of the bunker up until his suicide on April 30 and he was photographed surveying the damage from Allied bombers on April 28.
    last-photo-of-hitler
  • Reitsch did not land or take off from Tempelhof, because it was too dangerous. She had to use a road that the troops on the ground had turned into a makeshift runway. It is also well known that her flight out of Berlin was the last plane to leave the besieged city.
  • Reitsch and von Greim were give poison vials by Hitler, with which to kill themselves, if it became necessary. The same kind of vials that Hitler and his longtime mistress and short-lived wife Eva Braun used, along with many others who kill themselves rather than be captured by the Russians or face a future without Hitler to lead them.
  • When Reitsch was captured by the Allies at the end of the war she expressed regret that she was not able to stay in the bunker and die at Hitler’s side. She also continued to be a loyal National Socialist until her death in 1979, refusing to the very end to renounce Hitler and the faith she had placed in him.
  • Reitsch and von Greim, like all the other eyewitnesses who survived the bunker had no doubt that Hitler died there. The accounts they all gave also call into question Hitler’s sanity in those final days. He seemed to have no realistic sense of how few troops he had left and wanted to pretend that he was not out of options, despite every fact that was presented to him, until the last possible moment. He was not a man with the presence of mind or the desire to plan for escape.

In short, Hunting Hitler’s scenario for Hitler escaping Berlin on April 21 (or any other day) makes no sense and has zero credibility, yet they have gone on and on from there, pursuing “leads” about where their imaginary Hitler went and what he did after the war.

Lenny DePaul, who Hunting Hitler bills as a Former Commander with the U.S. Marshals and, “One of the most skilled manhunters in the world,” claims in E03 that when he tracks a fugitive he has to get inside the criminal’s mind and know, “what his every thought is.” But he seems to know very little about how Hitler thought and he clearly spent no time learning anything substantive about this madman. Instead, he looks exclusively for “clues” that suggest Hitler may have tried to escape Berlin and then asks how Hitler would did it? Later he talks about how, “Any individual on the run,” has the same mindset, “Escape, escape, escape. He’s going to do whatever it takes.” In other words, DePaul assumes that Hitler was an individual on the run, despite no evidence of this and a wealth of evidence to the contrary, and he then applies some generic motivations to Hitler rather than understand Hitler’s particular mindset at the time of his suicide. There is no investigation here and no reason to believe anything DePual, Bear, and company present.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?

Hitler had opportunities to leave Berlin and some tried to convince him to do so but he refused. Hitler was not, by any reports or indications, concerned with is own life or his people as much as he was obsessed with murdering Jews. Hitler was a fanatical conspiracy theorists, who was convinced that Jewry had to be stopped and he was willing to divert much needed manpower from the frontline fighting to ensure that as many Jews were rounded up and executed as possible. Hitler was still railing against the Jews and blaming them for starting the war in his, “Political Testimony,” which he dictated to his secretary, Traudl Junge, in the bunker, on April 29, and signed in front of her, before marrying Eva Braun in a public ceremony in the bunker. In that same document, Hitler stated that he was choosing death rather than falling into the hands of his enemies and having his body desecrated in, “spectacle, presented by the Jews, for the diversion of the hysterical masses.” He made this decision one day after the former dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini, was killed, along with his mistress, and his remains were put on public display.

death-of-mussolini

death-of-mussolini-cu

Anyone who has spent any time actually studying Hitler knows that these were the thoughts on his mind at the end, not, “Escape, escape, escape.” This is why he not only took poison and shot himself in the same moment but had his body burned with the last of the gasoline his men could siphon from the cars in the motorpool above the bunker. The man tasked with carrying out Hitler’s cremation was Otto Günsche, who stood outside the door as Hitler and Eva killed themselves, then personally directed the removal of the bodies and burning. Günsche was captured and spent more than a decade in a Soviet prison, where he was questioned repeatedly about Hitler for Stalin, who wanted to know everything he could about his adversary and how he died. To believe that Günsche successfully lied all those years during his imprisonment, and continued to lie until his death in 2003, along with so many others who were there as witnesses until the end, is utterly ridiculous and would be laughable if it were not so serious.

SOME QUESTIONS SHOULD NOT BE ASKED

According to Hunting Hitler there is, “no physical evidence,” of Hitler’s death. In fact, enough of Hitler’s teeth survived for a positive identification by the Russians. Stalin, however, chose to keep this information to himself and even claimed that Hitler had escaped because it was in his political interest to keep the boogieman of Hitler’s ghost alive. Nevertheless, Stalin’s people took meticulous records about what actually happened to Hitler. In time, the Soviets decided to destroy the last of Hitler’s remains, as the Allies had decided to destroy the entrance to his bunker and his mountain home, to prevent these things from later being used as some kind of sick holy shrines and artifacts by his misguided followers. The photographic evidence of Hitler’s remains, however, are conclusive, along with the records of their examination, and the overwhelming eyewitness testimony. To say that it is reasonable to doubt what became of Hitler and think he might of gone into retirement while the Jewish State of Israel was created and Germany was divided into two, with half going to the communists, is to completely deny reality. It is no more rational than asking if the Holocaust actually happened and that is exactly where I fear we are headed. How long before the (NOT) Hitler Channel or some other well funded outlet is willing to create a show centered around that sick premise?

According to Tim Kennedy, a former MMA fighter and Special Forces soldier who serves as another “investigator” on Hunting Hitler, the show has a, “$2 million-per-episode budget,” which makes me want to vomit. I can only imagine the good, entertaining, and informative work I could do with two million dollars. It could fund many truthful videos and a polished website where people could find reasonable information and conclusions about the past. Sadly, the funding for sensible projects like mine does not seem to be as readily available as it is for sensationalistic garbage.  I can’t believe that this is where we are at. That such ridiculous amounts of money are being wasted asking questions that already have definitive answers, and that the audience for such foolishness is so large that you can turn a profit from exploiting their ignorance, even when you are spending two million dollars an episode. Please, tell me we are better than this, because I’m losing faith.

DOWNFALL

If you are interested in Hitler’s final days, I highly recommend that you watch Downfall (2004), which is currently streaming on Netflix. It is perhaps the most faithful reproduction of a historical event that I have ever seen, with a heavy reliance on eyewitness testimony and other evidence, and minimal dramatic licence. If you have ever seen any of those, “Hitler reacts to…” videos on YouTube, then you have seen a little piece of Downfall.

Those spoofs can be pretty funny but the actual film is horrific. To think how deeply and faithfully so many people fell for this tyrant’s lies and followed him faithfully into death. It only goes to show the degree to which people can delude themselves and why we must do what we can to stop ourselves from going down a similar road. We must stand up for truth and advocate for reasonable sources of information. We must not give into conspiracy theories or any other alternative facts. Nor should we accept such drivel as merely a TV show, with no real world consequences. It was wild stories and Fake Historical Documents, like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion that “proved” to Hitler he had to fight the Jews. What will be the consequences of shows like Hunting Hitler? It’s hard to say but the longer we accept them the greater the damage will certainly be.

 

I’ll be on News Talk Nov 22

justice-and-drew-news-talk

I’ve been asked back on Twin Cities News Talk (aka KTLK) this Tuesday, November 22 at 8am CST. I made an appearance on there back in August, when Drew didn’t have a co-host, for the Up And At’ Em program, but now it’s the Justice & Drew show. You can listen in the Twin Cities on AM1130 or on the Internet from anywhere.

November 22 marks fifty three years since President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. I suspect we will mostly be talking about that tragic day and my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), along with general conspiracy talk. It should be fun and I hope you will tune in.

UPDATED:

I will be going on the air at 7:30am CST.

UPDATE:

Here is the podcast version of of my appearance. I began in hour 2 and continued on into the first part of hour 3.

Fake History

There has been a good deal of talk lately about fake news and how social media has helped it flourish. Hopefully this will prompt more people to think critically about the bubbles we all live in and the need for thoughtful, fact-checked, and well-edited news outlets. This is not to say that the mainstream media is always correct, or free from bias, of course not, but it is vastly superior to the alt-right, radical leftist, and otherwise conspiratorial “news” on the Internet.

As regular readers already know, I have spent years now arguing against fake history and the danger of its widespread acceptance. My documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), deals with the gateway drug to all modern conspiracy theories, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the overwhelming load of nonsense that surrounds that case. Additionally, I have written on the subject and tried hard to champaign a rational, thoughtful view of history through every means at my disposal.

tellthetruthnov22I recently asked people to help me #TellTheTruthNov22 and turn that sad day into a hopeful one. Please take a few minutes out of your day to do what you can. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use the hashtag #TellTheTruthNov22 to show your support.
  • Invite your friends and enemies to check out my work.
  • Give Conspiracy Theorist Lie a positive review on the Internet Movie Database, Amazon, and indieflix.
  • Contact media outlets, show hosts, and journalist to tell them the truth is worth covering.

There is no shortage of conspiracy nuts out there with large media soapboxes and megaphones from which they can spew their poison. Men like Roger Stone, who even NPR has cited as simply a, “Trump advisor,” rather than a compulsive liar. Help me grow my audience and become the alternative to this garbage. Help me make fake history a thing of the past.

#TellTheTruthNov22

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November 22, 2016 will mark 53 years since President Kennedy was murdered at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. The Kennedy assassination remains the gateway drug into a world of conspiracy theories. It is the one alleged conspiracy that everyone seems to have tried; having watched at least one movie or TV show, or read at least one book on the subject. Most do not take it any further than this but they are typically left doubting, “What really happened,” and that is enough to drive some of them deeper and deeper into a dangerous world of nonsense where 9-11 was an “inside job” and even the Holocaust was faked.

For years now I have been a vocal critic of the paranoid and unrealistic view of history that conspiracy theorists thrive on. I have written on this, appeared on shows, and made a feature documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), trying to push back on the tidal wave of lies that we can’t seem to escape. My dream is to turn the date of President Kennedy’s tragic death into a day of truth telling and renewed interest in real history. That’s where you come in and here a few simple things you can do to help:

  • Use the hashtag #TellTheTruthNov22 to show your support.
  • Invite your friends and enemies to check out my work.
  • Give Conspiracy Theorist Lie a positive review on the Internet Movie Database, Amazon, and indieflix.
  • Contact media outlets, show hosts, and journalist to tell them the truth is worth covering.

Our crazy election year, in which the Republican Party has been hijacked by a conspiracy nut and millions of like-minded supporters is a warning sign of where we are at as a national. Far too many people do not know history and confuse it with Hollywood. They are transforming our civil discourse into a Reality TV Show where the most thoughtless and emotionally charged sound bites often carry the day. Please help me #TellTheTruthNov22 and maybe we can provide a new signpost for better days ahead.