Theatre Craft - When Lying Is the Message
The distraction of George Santos as active measure
Many of us will recall the day we woke up two Januaries ago to the horror video of Marjorie Taylor Greene trolling Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg.
She was spouting QAnon rhetoric and asking him conspiratorial questions, and Hogg just kept walking. My heart hurt watching the clip, thinking of my friend Fred Guttenberg, who has suffered so much from the willful harms of GOP extremist rhetoric. To see yet another trauma merchant - this one a junior Congresswoman - harassing a survivor of the same violent shooting that stole Fred’s daughter, Jamie, was extremely painful.
I realized in that moment that Marjorie Taylor Greene would be the new avatar for extremist distractions as Trump’s star faded.
She spent the last two years delivering stochastic terrorism in pumps.
So as news of lies from George Santos began to populate my feed, I thought, here we go again - a new avatar to distract from the authoritarian capture occurring in statehouses throughout the country. This one, in the form of a New York lawmaker who has admitted to lying about his education, employment, and ancestry, but telling Fox News, “I am not a fraud.”
Federal prosecutors are probing Santos’ public filings, which will ensure plenty of opportunities for him to appear on Tucker Carlson to role play victimhood - a Trump speciality.
The reason I took apart Trump’s 2024 announcement speech is because corporate media has continually parroted propagandists and not explored their fascist undercurrent.
So I compared paragraph by paragraph Trump’s speech to Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works to show all categories present - unreality, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, sexual anxiety, law and order, victimhood, the mythic past.
The point is, lying is the message, a distortion of the reality field to have us all questioning our own truths.
I recognized George Santos immediately as theatre craft, a form of Russian active measures that introduces new characters as if in a play whose role is to distract from the more important headlines - corruption of their leader, the theft of nations.
So it did not surprise me that when I was writing yesterday’s post ‘Move Fast and Break Things’ - Just, No that I stumbled upon a financial connection between Santos and sanctioned oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg.
In the post, I revisited the FBI’s 2014 warning about Russia’s infiltration into Silicon Valley and academia as a national security threat. I also questioned whether the much-lauded ‘genius’ heads of tech were actually useful idiots for the Kremlin and the transnational mob.
While revisiting Vekselberg’s $300 million dollar investment in MIT, Santos’ name popped up.
The headline read:
And the lede in The Daily Beast reads:
The cousin and cash handler for one of Russia’s most notorious oligarchs poured tens of thousands of dollars into electing a newly minted congressman-elect who called Ukraine’s government “a totalitarian regime.”
So when the mask was pulled back on a new junior congressman, who represented himself as a gay Latino millennial showing great fealty to Trump while spouting anti-Ukraine sentiment, what was revealed? Just another Putin proxy.
The cousin in question is Andrew Intrater, who manages money for Viktor Vekselberg, one of Putin’s wealthiest oligarchs. You might recall Intrater as the mover of monies to the tune of $500,000 to Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, when it was revealed they had exchanged hundreds of phone calls and text messages during the 2016 campaign.
Vekselberg attended Trump’s inauguration, which George W. Bush called “some weird shit.” And he was also questioned by FBI agents working for Robert Mueller about hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the RNC and Trump’s inauguration.
So you see, there is a pattern here. Useful idiots come in all shapes and sizes. Some were once thought of as tech icons, who now transmit messages for Vladimir Putin on Twitter. Others were once reality stars. Some are in Congress. You might recall the short-lived distraction of Madison Cawthorn.
We need to develop a thicker, collective skin to these avatars - to see them for who they are and what their role is and who they represent. It is a good thing a federal probe into Santos’ filings has been initiated.
2023 is the year we find out if we are still a rule of law country. I am hopeful.
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