Thursday, October 01, 2020

An earful of conspiracies

I find myself in the strange position of having inadvertently helped QAnon and the Trumpers. They went shopping for conspiracy theories and somehow wandered into my store.

Long ago, toward the beginning of this blog's life, I wrote a widely-read series of posts in which I posited that George W. Bush wore an earpiece during his first debate with John Kerry. As was (and is) my custom, I did not see that debate in real time. As I recall, my lady and I had a lovely night out in Calabasas, exploring the haunted Leonis Adobe and its picturesque environs. 

Later, when we finally saw a replay of the debate, my lady called out: "What's that thing on Bush's back?" 

I didn't know, but she saw something. A bulge beneath his coat. The same bulge showed up in various online photos. 

The next morning, I found a photo that seemed to depict something unusual in Dubya's ear. During the debate, Bush had an odd moment: He anxiously said "Let me finish" even though no-one had tried to interrupt him. The obvious theory, though not the only theory, was that Bush received instructions via a hidden earpiece, and that the receiver caused the bulge.  

And so I wrote the first of a series of posts which attracted much attention. The "Bush bulge" controversy pretty much made this blog. Perhaps a million people read Cannonfire during those weeks.

Did I take the bulge seriously? Well, yes and no. 

I did try to research the matter as thoroughly as possible. But I came to no hard-and-fast conclusions, and was quite willing to consider all explanations, whether benign or outre. 

Eventually, a NASA imaging expert offered his opinion that, yes, there really was something bizarre lurking beneath the president's jacket. So...something was going on. That much seemed certain. But I could not determine what the "something" was.

At the same time, my lighthearted tone indicated that I was in it for the giggles. It wasn't as though the Bush bulge was a life-and-death matter.

Late-night comics and Doonesbury took the idea and ran with it. More giggles.

For a while, my ladyfriend proudly wore the nickname "Bulge Girl." When she finally got the chance to meet John Kerry after the election, she tried to ask him about the post-debate moment when he patted Bush's back. No response. Kerry turned away quickly.

Over time, I noticed that similar oddly-shaped something-or-others snaked beneath the jackets of other politicians. Even Hillary Clinton's jacket bore signs of the bulge. The mystery thingie usually popped up during debates, though I've seen it on other occasions.

Eventually, I received a private message from a source claiming to be in the know. The source said that the bulge was caused by a security device provided by the Secret Service. No further information. Frankly, I do not want further information.

Was my source lying? Maybe; maybe not. Was he truly in a position to know? Maybe; maybe not. I have no way of coming to a conclusion. Let's just say that I decided to accept my informant's claim because it makes sense -- more sense than any competing theory. 

Nevertheless, I still smile at the idea of Bush receiving offstage instructions from his handlers. That "Let me finish!" moment was hilarious. And you must admit: There was always something odd about the weird stop-start way Dubya spoke. 

Remember...? He had a bad habit of ending his sentences. Prematurely. Almost as if he was being told. What to say. One clause at a. 


A theory reborn! The "earpiece" theory has been revived. Before the Trump/Biden debate, Q and other Trump supporters claimed that Joe Biden uses an hidden earpiece. They wanted a third party to glance down Joe's ear canal before the debate. Doesn't seem like a particularly pleasant task, does it?

There are profound differences between what Q did and what I did. I presented evidence, while Q offered none. I clearly labeled my theories as theory, while the QAnon crowd routinely offers theory as certainty. I was willing to consider a variety of explanations, while the QAnon crazies refuse to consider any counterarguments: "It is so. Rome has spoken!" 

Also, I had fun. QAnon and other Trumpers aren't in it for the giggles.  

My ladyfriend has a message for Q: 

"Get your own riff! I'm the one and only Bulge Girl! Don't take this from me!"
(Sorry, Bulge Girl. Q steals all his riffs. Many of them first appeared in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Q, whoever he is, is a fascist fucker who never had a truly original idea in his life.)

After the first debate, a Trump-friendly conspiracist offered an alleged piece of evidence: A short clip of Biden during the debate allegedly shows a wire poking out from beneath his coat's lapel. This video was soon seen all over Twitter and Facebook. 

Politifact says that Biden's "wire" was actually a shirt crease. I'm not convinced. One thing bugs me about the Twitter video: It's a shaky iPhone video-of-a-video. Someone pointed a cel phone camera at a teevee set.

That's a tell. 

If you've ever played with After Effects, you may know what I'm talking about. One way to hide imperfect CGI is to degrade the image by playing the video clip on a large-screen television and re-photographing it with another camera -- preferably a really crummy camera, like the one in your cel phone. That's why so many "ghost" videos on YouTube look as though they were (as the saying has it) filmed with a potato. 

Here's a famous example of what I'm talking about. That YouTube video depicts an alleged spook called the Fresno Walker. No-one has ever seen the original footage; we've only seen the video-of-a-video version. There's a reason for that.

Even if the Biden "wire" footage were on the level, I can think of a benign explanation. 

Back in 1976 -- yes, I'm old enough to recall! -- there was a technical problem with the audio during one of the debates between Gerry Ford and Jimmy Carter. The microphones died. For something like twenty or thirty minutes, the two men stared ahead in silence, not talking to each other or to anyone else. Since neither man seemed particularly comfortable speaking in public, they were probably quite happy to zone out and become One With Everything. It was a very '70s interlude. 

(I used to think that the Ford-Carter encounters were the most cringe-worthy debates in history. Then Trump happened.) 

(Okay, okay: Stockdale. I've met people who knew him. Actually, Bulge Girl met him several times; she worked at a photo lab that he occasionally patronized. Apparently, he was a wonderful guy. But the TV camera was not his best friend.) 

The Ford-Carter debacle illustrates why it can be a good idea to have more than one audio feed. Even when the talent is speaking into a large, visible microphone, it's prudent to wire him or her up with a lavalier mic affixed with moleskin under the shirt. A wire from that lav would plug into a small, portable transmitter hidden in a pocket. Thus, if one audio feed fails -- as occurred during the Ford/Carter debate -- the other will still function.

Nota bene: Such a wire would run to a microphone, not to a miniature loudspeaker. (That's what an earpiece is -- a really tiny loudspeaker.) If a wire had gone all the way up into Biden's ear canal, you would have seen it. There's no way to hide something like that.  

A final word about the debate. As you know, Trump acted like the proverbial Interrupting Cow throughout the night. (Did he emit an actual Moo! or is my memory playing tricks on me?) The question is why

In my previous post, I posited that he was on some form of speed. That's still the theory I favor. However, others have offered the idea that Trump did what he did as part of a strategy to trigger Joe Biden's stutter.

As everyone knows, Biden used to suffer from a severe stutter, though he has done a remarkable job of conquering his impediment. But a truly merciless verbal aggressor might cause the problem to resurface. 

I don't stutter. Yet whenever I've had the misfortune of running into thuggish talkaholics like Trump, I have found it impossible to respond in an erudite fashion. Frustration causes the synapses to fire out of sequence, and all one can do is sputter: "But...but...but..."     

A certain type of barbarian will use a low trick of that sort and then tell himself that he has "won" an argument.

Just now, it has been revealed that Trump does not want the debate rules changed to allow the moderator to cut off a candidate's mic. 

"Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?" he tweeted.

Oh, that's hilarious. The tangerine turd really does seem to believe that there are polls out there which pegged him as the winner. This is more like it.

Trump's tweet buttresses the theory that his strategy was to trigger a Biden stutter. If Biden had stuttered, rightwingers would have flooded Twitter with claims that Biden was either drugged or senile.

I say that the Commission must change the rules. Trump has proven that he cannot behave. Let Trump duck further debates if he wishes. I've no desire to witness another national horror like his last performance.

One final final word on the first debate. Did you note the contrast when the two men met their wives after the whole thing was over? Joe Biden was heartily -- one might almost say lustily -- embraced by a woman who clearly loves him. As for Melania and Donald...

...well, it was instructive to see them illustrate the concept of social distancing.


OTE admin said...

Both Donald and Melania have tested positive for COVID-19. Yet another "October Surprise."

Gus said...

I, in fact, have seen people on Facebook suggesting that BOTH candidates were drugged. I guess because "sleepy Joe" didn't seem too sleepy and Trump seemed wired. Or something. People did comment that he stuttered a couple of times as well, though I think that was just him trying to talk over Trump's constant interruptions.

Anonymous said...

1. All that cocaine-suggestive "deep sniffing" that Trumpy did four years ago was absent; did anyone mention that?

2. But do you also remember just what topic was was being mentioned and may have "triggered" the mysterious audio shut-off?