Truth and lies twist and turn in the cult of Donald Trump

The wonder is how so many gullible people are capable of holding down jobs, getting the trash to the curb each week, or even dressing themselves without help.

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Donald Trump fans demonstrate in Nevada on Aug. 22 against face masks and for the president.

Bridget Bennett/Getty

Perhaps you remember what some called the “Information Superhighway” and how it was going to deliver us to wisdom and enlightenment. Alas, it hasn’t quite worked out, has it?

More like the Freeway of Delusion, it would appear.

In the era of social media and satellite TV, millions of Americans who struggled with 9th grade biology now fancy themselves experts on infectious diseases and their treatment. Real scientists and genuine expertise they deride as “elitist.”

Never mind that the United States of Trump has accumulated almost 24% of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, with 4% of its population. The same government that makes you wear pants in public now requires masks. It’s tyranny, they say.

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Boss Trump dispenses quack cures on national TV, even as millions of his supporters enlist in an online political cult that basically recapitulates the themes of the Salem witchcraft trials of the 1690s.

The ongoing wonder is how individuals so gullible as to subscribe to QAnon can be capable of holding down jobs, getting the trash to the curb each week, or even dressing themselves without help.

Last week, Trump described this parliament of loons as patriots “who love our country” and not so coincidentally love him — a holy warrior whom they believe is secretly conducting a subterranean battle against Satan-worshiping, cannibalistic pedophiles led by Hillary Clinton.

It’s a festival of lunacy the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when a score of human beings, dogs and even barnyard animals were executed for witchcraft, most by public hanging.

Much of the Salem evidence was “spectral” — that is, ghosts. Almost needless to say, there was a lot about women having sex with demons and, to quote one victim’s confession, “the dark rituals which bind them together in service of Satan.”

Historians partly blame an outbreak of rye ergot — a fungus that forms hallucinogenic drugs in bread. But there’s always a strong element of authoritarian religion and sexual fantasy to these things. People bored and bewildered by ordinary life get excited imagining Hillary abusing and torturing children. It’s pornography for True Believers.

If you want to know how crazy it can get, Google “QAnon” and “adrenochrome.” That’s a drug allegedly harvested from the pituitary glands of tortured children. Hillary and Huma Abedin are supposedly addicted. (Hint: It’s a make-believe high invented by Hunter S. Thompson in his stoned classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”)

Anyway, how long do you suppose it will be before Kamala Harris is accused of witchcraft?

My man Charles P. Pierce saw this stuff coming in his terrific book “Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.”

Pierce describes the Three Great Premises of Idiot America:

1. “Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings or otherwise moves units.

2. “Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.

3. “Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.”

Enter Donald J. Trump, reality TV tycoon and professional wrestling shill. Possessed of absolute contempt for his audience of dupes, Trump runs his political campaigns exactly like a WWF promotion.

Heroes become heels in the blink of an eye. One day you’re Secretary of Defense Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, and the next day you’re out: a loser, a has-been, a never-was. It’s happened over and over.

Knowing very little and utterly without shame, Trump can believe virtually anything that’s convenient for him to believe at any given moment — confident that his “base” will follow him almost anywhere.

Keeping track of, much less refuting, his more than 20,000 documented lies is virtually impossible. Two weeks ago, CBS correspondent Paula Reid asked him why he keeps claiming that he, and he alone, was able to pass the Veterans Choice Act that was, in fact, signed into law by President Obama in 2014. He turned and stormed out of the press conference.

How much follow-up have you seen?

Last Monday, Trump claimed that the Democratic Party cut the words “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance during their national convention. Absolutely false. He just flat made it up. Video evidence is readily available.

He alleged that Democrats planned to circulate 80 million mail-in ballots to unregistered voters and dispatch operatives to collect them.

Totally illegal, totally imaginary.

Meanwhile, Trump wages war on mere reality. Anything he doesn’t want cultists to know, he calls a “hoax.” CNN’s Brian Stelter has been keeping track. Writing in The New York Times, Stelter documents Trump crying “hoax” 18 times in 2017; 63 times in 2018, and “a whopping 345 times” last year. “[A]fter the news broke that Russia paid bounties to militants for killing American service members, Mr. Trump tweeted, it’s ‘just another “HOAX!’”

So who are you going to believe, America? Trump or your lying eyes?

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