They have the freedom to do it… but what can be done about it?

Maybe I’m wasting my time saying this.

Maybe everyone already knows.

The truth is that I haven’t bothered reading much of anything about QAnon or its permutations.

From my perspective, very little analysis is needed to understand this phenomenon.

It’s been happening for years, this growing migration of the radical right away from fact-based reality and into the world of myth.

I was there for the very first “Q drop.”

Back in 2017, I took note — along with many others — of a new voice on the controversial 4Chan message board.

Like a cryptic storyteller, a bard half-hidden by…


Or, how to transform information into intelligence

Photo by bennett tobias on Unsplash

Once I knew a guy, let’s call him Chuck, who did oversight for the military.

This meant that Chuck worked for the government at the same time he was investigating the government.

Chuck was doing basically what a journalist does, only he had access to far more resources than an individual journalist usually has. The massive coffers of the Pentagon gave his office the luxury of paying him to investigate its own secrets.

Once, Chuck told me a story about having his staff go out and collect as much public information as they could about a new weapons system, gathering…


From a historical perspective, the mainstream media is actually an aberration

Photo by Johann Walter Bantz on Unsplash

The headline for the article jumped out at me right away.

It was shocking, upsetting:

I Cut Out Her Heart and Stomped on It

But it wasn’t a headline on Slate or Medium, nor was it blended with less sensationalist headlines on a mainstream news website like CNN, Fox News, or the like.

In fact, it was a headline from the September 8, 1963, edition of the National Enquirer, a tabloid sold at newsstands and drug stores in the Manhattan area.

Generoso Pope, Jr., the owner of the tabloid, had noticed the way people gathered at the scene of gory…


And what if they never find it again?

Photo by Tina Rataj-Berard on Unsplash

In the early 2000s, congruent with the rise of the Internet, I began to notice a similar phenomenon at either end of the political spectrum in America.

The phenomenon, even more pronounced today, involved an essential critique of “the mainstream media” for failing to cover stories appropriately.

Although today the debate has devolved into an argument over the factual details of many stories, in the early 2000s the argument centered mostly on the editorial choices being made — about what the mainstream media covered and what they didn’t, about the perspective or angle taken by the reporters, about the overall…


A deep dive beneath the surface of the mainstream media

Many people have by now seen a grid similar to the one above, a grid that ranks many of the best-known media publishers by reliability and political skew.

Typically, the grid shows that as the political skew of the publisher increases, the reliability and usefulness of the information decreases.

But this picture of the media is woefully incomplete.

In our capitalist society, news is not two-dimensional but three-dimensional.

The two-dimensional grid we see is just the surface.

This is where the free or mostly free content exists.

But as we proceed into the third dimension, the picture gets significantly more…


It’s tempting to turn our backs on the mainstream media. But should we?

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

When I was poor and still living in a group house, one of my housemates, a journalist named Kevin, came through the front door in the middle of the afternoon carrying a cardboard box.

“Jack!” he moaned. “I got fired!”

At the time, Kevin was writing for what’s known as a trade publication, a special magazine geared toward professionals in a particular industry — estate attorneys, research chemists, logistics managers and the like.

Because of the narrow focus of trade publications, their articles usually target professionals in that specific field but are not relevant enough for a general publication like…


The Red Hats tried for a 1922 Mussolini, but instead they got a 1923 Hitler

Photo: The Munich beer hall where the attempted coup began in November 1923. Source: Wikipedia under creative commons license.

Even casual students of history know about the 1933 fire in the German Reichstag and how Adolf Hitler, then the Chancellor of Germany, used the fire as a pretext to suspend civil rights and arrest his political opponents.

Although the fire was not the only step in the process of Gleichschaltung (co-ordination) — the process by which the Nazi party brought Germany under totalitarian control — it was among the most pivotal.

What most people don’t realize about the fire, however, is that Hitler had already tried and failed to take over Germany ten years earlier.

In November 1923, Hitler…


Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer:

After several months of negotiations, you are still at odds with Republicans over a second coronavirus stimulus package to follow up the $2.2 trillion CARES Act approved in March.

Under your leadership, the U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a $3 trillion stimulus package to follow up CARES. This happened way back in May. Nevertheless, the Republican-controlled Senate ignored this legislation, declaring it “dead on arrival,” and waited until late in the summer before attempting to negotiate a totally different stimulus package with you.

Perhaps the Republicans thought that waiting until the…


A confession of sorts

Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

My mother’s father was a wealthy lawyer in Manhattan, and he lived in a penthouse on the 20th floor of an Upper East Side apartment building.

According to a story I was told several times as a child, it was during a family visit to the Statue of Liberty, in the shadow of our greatest symbol of American opportunity, that my grandfather took his son-in-law, my father, aside, and magnanimously declared that he would not have to worry about affording college for myself or my brother.

Meanwhile, my grandmother, a long-time employee of the Federal Reserve…


Identity politics has jumped the shark in these United States

Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

I recently came across a social media post made by a small liberal arts college in which a perfectly fresh-looking undergraduate student was featured along with her name and the quote:

“Yes, I’m first generation and low-income, but I’m also a scientist, I’m a musician, I’m a Muslim.”

And that’s all it said.

Nothing about anything she’d discovered, nothing about any music she’d performed or awards she’d won or even whether she was a good student.

The assumption of the young woman was that pithily summing up five of her…

Jack Luna

Stealth influencer. Don’t bother looking for me on Twitter. This is my home at the moment.

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