The Flavors of Crazy

How did insane people get control of the most powerful country in the world?

1. All the Best People

There is a sliding scale of crazy. For instance, if we were going to list a set of beliefs in ascending order of insanity—from a little strange to pathologically nuts—it might look something like this:

  1. There are an awful lot of unexplained flying objects.

  2. Atlantis was real.

  3. Bigfoot is real.

  4. The earth is actually flat.

  5. I was abducted by aliens.

Your reaction to these views being espoused by a person you just met would be quite different.

If someone told you they were interested in UFOs, you might be curious to know more. If someone told you they believed that Atlantis was real, you’d probably find it charming.

If someone told you they had personally been captured by little green men, you’d back away slowly.

So there’s crazy. And then there’s crazy.

Furthermore, our indulgence for craziness varies on the context. If your barber thinks the earth is flat, you might still let him cut your hair. If your oncologist told you that the earth was flat, you would find another doctor that afternoon.

So let’s talk about Michael Flynn.

Over the weekend, Flynn gave an interview to an outlet called Worldview Weekend. In the course of his remarks, Flynn had this to say about Donald Trump and the 2020 election:

“There is no doubt in my mind that he won this election. Hands down. In a landslide,” Flynn said about Mr. Trump during a phone interview that was uploaded to the internet afterward.

“I believe that at the end of the day we’re going to find out that he won by a massive landslide and he’ll be inaugurated come this January,” Flynn stated later during the interview.

Where does this fall on the crazy scale?

Let’s start by noting that Flynn is not doing the coy “just-asking-questions” routine. He’s not saying, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, Who can really say what happened?

He’s going the full monty. He doesn’t just believe that Trump probably won. He has no doubt—literally none!—that Trump won.

And not just won, but won by a “landslide.”

And not just a normal landslide, but a “massive landslide.”

So let’s try to hang a number on this belief.

In 2008 Barack Obama won with a +7 margin. Let’s call that a “landslide” win.

And let’s say that “massive landslide” means winning by a couple more points. Let’s call it +9.

We still haven’t finished counting all the votes, but as of now Joe Biden is +4.

Which means that Michael Flynn believes that there is at least a 13 point difference between “reality” and the current vote count.

We’re headed toward about 158 million votes being cast.

Which means that Michael Flynn believes—with total certainty—that there are in the neighborhood of 20 million votes worth of fraud being perpetrated.

20 million votes!

And Michael Flynn doesn’t just believe that this is true, but he believes that this truth is going to be demonstrated and that in 51 days, Donald Trump will be sworn in for a second term.

On our list of crazy, where does this fall? Probably between “the earth is flat” and “I was abducted by aliens.”

Except that Michael Flynn does not cut hair for a living.

He was the forking National Security Advisor to the president of the United States.

How in God’s name did America let something like this happen?

I have some theories.

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2. Burn It All Down

Certified Good Republican Larry Hogan—who courageously wrote in “Ronald Reagan” on his ballot—now says:

Some questions:

  • Why does Larry Hogan need to issue an endorsement in Georgia Senate races?

  • Is Kelly Loeffler a champion of “moderation and compromise”?

  • If the goal is to have a Republican-controlled Senate so as to force Democrats to compromise, then why endorse both Loeffler and Perdue, since Republicans only need to win one of those seats?

The answer to all three of these is: Because Larry Hogan is trying desperately to preserve viability in the Republican party.

Good luck, bro.

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This is the problem with the Republican party as currently configured: It requires anyone who wants to pretend that they have a future in it—and to be clear, that’s all Hogan is doing—to also pretend that the party is something it is not.

My friend Damian Penny runs an excellent (and free!) newsletter. You should sign up for it. Today, he put his finger on something that has been bothering me about the Brad Raffensperger hagiography of the last couple weeks:

Let’s give credit where it’s due: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did his job and did it well. Whenever an elected Republican these days puts his duty before his party, as Raffensperger while overseeing the 2020 elections in his state, they deserve some applause. Because, God knows, it’s rare enough.

And yet, when I read his USA Today op-ed bemoaning the fact that his preferred candidate for President has turned on him - even calling him an “enemy of the people” now - I can’t help wondering what he thought was going to happen . . .

Donald Trump got into politics by spreading racist “birther” conspiracy theories about President Obama, shrieked that any 2016 primaries he didn’t win were rigged, personally insulted and belittled any Republican who didn’t promptly bend the knee, kept personally insulting and belittling even Republicans who did bend the knee, went through unprecedented staff turnover and leaking in his White House, insisted that everyone he had hired and subsequently fired was always terrible, and throughout it all, assumed absolutely no responsibility for anything - explicitly, in the case of a rapidly spreading pandemic. . . .

When you vote for the Face-Eating Leopards Party, don’t be surprised when the Leopard starts eating your face.

I mean sure, I am glad that Brad Raffensperger did his job instead of breaking the law. That seems like a pretty low bar. We expect every elected official to do their jobs rather than breaking the law. Are we supposed to give them a cookie?

And as for the terrible trial that Raffensperger and his family have endured . . . well, they literally asked for it by voting for Donald Trump. They knew exactly what Donald Trump was. They saw how he and his followers have treated people. And yet they were surprised and unhappy when he did it to them?

As I said: The overarching theme here is people desperately wanting to remain part of something—the Republican party, the conservative movement, what have you—while pretending that it’s something other than what it is.

3. Soccer Slam

The Athletic has a great piece on the brief history of the XFL of Soccer:

Johnny Aducci, the goalkeeper for the New York Bruisers, is heated. Moments earlier, he’d strolled into the arena, through the tunnel and onto the turf, emerging from a cloud of smoke and pyrotechnics. Now, he’s commandeered a microphone from sideline correspondent Lou Spadini and is ranting and raving into the camera with all the twitchy panache of Macho Man Randy Savage, a WWF caricature come to life.

“It’s like this, Lou,” belts Aducci. “The Bruisers are gonna show those L.A. pretty boys that, just like last year, we’re gonna ride right over them to another championship. After they’re done eating our dust, they’re gonna know that they’re just a bunch of chumps. And to the rest of the World Championship Socker League, the champs are in the house baby, and you’re going down.”

Aducci is flanked by a pair of women, one of them trimmed out in a zebra-print cowboy hat and leather skirt. In the wings of the arena, Vanessa Montgomery does not look pleased. Montgomery, the daughter of L.A. Surf owner Malcolm Montgomery — a former soap star who bears a striking resemblance to Hugh Hefner — is Adduci’s ex-wife. Now, she’s entered into a relationship with the Surf’s goalkeeper, Jimmy Braun. It’s a mess. And tonight this off-field drama has spilled onto the pitch.

Braun has been fuming in the tunnel. He emerges with his own entourage, grabs the mic and lobs his own semi-problematic retort back at Aducci.

“We’re gonna pound New York into the ground,” Braun says from beneath a mop of beachy blonde hair, extending a pointed, goalie-gloved finger toward the camera. “They know we should’ve won the championship last year, they know they cheated. I’m gonna pound that loud-mouthed Italian into the ground.” 

Braun’s L.A. Surf teammates snarl and growl in rabid anticipation. Aducci charges back into frame. A melee erupts. 

For decades, the question that plagued those who tried to make soccer successful and relevant in the United States was a simple one with no clear answer: How do we Americanize the global game? 

Read the whole thing. It’s amazing.