Trump gets posterior handed to him on a platter at WHC dinner.

May 1, 2011

This…makes me very, very happy. The President was awesome and puts the nutter creep in his place:

And then there was Seth Myers, who was not restrained in any way by anything like nicety. Which was awesome:

Ah! That was just exquisite! I have always had qualms about the mingling of press and President at this affair (which Colbert addressed in his speech a few years ago), but perhaps there is something potentially redeeming about the affair after all.


The Week in Conspiracy, 30 April 2011

April 30, 2011

Nothing related to conspiracy theories happened all week. Well, except that I have been receiving messages from the New World Order through old Monty Python episodes. Other than that, nothing conspiracy related has happened. Except that Obama released the birth certificate.

In other not-news:

Conspiracy Theory of the Week:

That’s all, folks. Only 3 more weeks to the rapture, so make sure to wrap up warmly.


Breaking News: American President American!

April 27, 2011

I’ve discussed the issue of Obama’s birth status more than it warrants. Indeed, everyone has. During the campaign, the issue came up, but was dealt with handily by the press and they walked away from it. But the news cycle and the conspiracy theory cycle are not in sync, and the smoldering conspiracy theory every so often will occasionally flare up. Usually it appears only when some wingtard (I use that word with all possible respect–none whatsoever) who has managed to get elected decides to submit a “birther” bill, stipulating that a presidential candidate, to be on a ballot in the state, needs to produce a birth certificate.

Take Georgia clown Rep. Mark Hatfield, who submitted that the following become the law of the land:

(b) Within 10 days after submitting its list of names of candidates, the state executive committee shall submit to the Secretary of State for each candidate an affidavit by the candidate stating the candidate’s citizenship and age and shall append to the affidavit documents that prove the candidate is a natural born citizen, prove the candidate’s age, and prove that the candidate meets the residency requirements for President of the United States as prescribed in Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution.
(c) The Secretary of State shall review the affidavit and supporting documents submitted for each candidate; and if the Secretary of State finds reasonable cause to believe that the candidate does not meet the citizenship, age, and residency requirements prescribed by law, the Secretary of State shall not place that candidate’s name on the ballot.”

Now, it doesn’t say “birth certificate” or “nigger,” but we know what it means.

Personally, I believe that race is an important part of this ridiculous movement. The white ruling class, which people somehow assume I am a member of, is losing its majority. This, to me, at least, suggests, “Be nice to the swarthy people,” but reactionary types kicked back hard against the election of a black president. The president no longer looks like them, and there seems that there is something very primal, very basic, fueling this unquenchable fire.

Now, this is not the first presidential birthplace scandal, and historically the issue has not been raised on the basis of race. Take for instance the case of Chester Arthur, who was born within a day’s walk of the US/Canada border. (See? There is something mildly interesting about Chester Arthur!) He was the subject of much suspicion by his political opponents, but it seems to have just been that. More recently, candidates like Barry Goldwater (born in the “Arizona Territory”), John McCain (born on a US military base in Panama), and even Al Gore (born in Washington, DC) have faced scrutiny over their status and eligibility underneath the “natural born citizen” clause of the Constitution, though they generally haven’t been more than mild objections by opportunists. (Chester Arthur might not have been able to prove to himself that he was born on the American side of the border, by the way. Record keeping was not then what it is today.)

The Obama birth story, as far as I can tell, is the product of WorldNetDaily and Joseph Farah, and it surfaced as an issue in 2008. When you go back into the papers, you find that it was originally linked to allegations that not only was the dirty word “Hussein” in Barack Obama’s name, but “Mohammud,” at least so it appears in the 14 June 2008 edition of the St. Petersburg Times. The fact that this stems from concerns about his religion (I mean, doesn’t anyone remember him being criticized for hanging out with Jeremiah Wright?) suggests that this manufacture-versy is originally rooted in racism. And this is dangerous. I’m concerned about what could happen to the President when a significant percentage of the population think that he is a usurper.

Indeed, as I look through the record regarding the President’s ancestry, a headline (19 Jan 2004) from Africa News seems badly worded, considering the current goofiness and otherwise-valuable-time sink of the birther conspiracy theory: “Kenyan in US Senate Race.” Of course the first line of the report is more precise: “An American of Kenyan descent is topping the opinion polls in the race for Senator in the state of Illinois.”

I wanted to post some reactions from conspiracy theorists to today’s release of the so-called long-form birth certificate:

Obama’s Damned Birth Certificate

Joseph Farah, the guy who started this at his weird little website, says that he is still going to publish a book that attacks Obama’s birth certificate. Yeah, the guy really has no shame. I encourage the New York Times and Amazon to no longer list this book, “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” as non-fiction, but as fiction.

Infowars just rejects it out of hand and says that it “raises as many questions as it answers.”

The Smoking Gun anticipates the upcoming looniness from those who simply will not accept this as evidence. Ironically, even though TSG calls these ideas “nutty,” Infowars (Alex Jones’s website) cites it as if it didn’t think that they were loonbats from Mars.

Donald Trump has gotten stranger by the week. He is now demanding that Obama show his college record (as anyone in education knows, these records would be sealed under FERPA, so of course we don’t have them). He suggests that Obama was not a good student, basically suggesting that Obama was an affirmative action hire, who took away a slot from a more talented, better-qualified white kid. Of course, Trump’s son-in-law clearly bought his way into Harvard.

I’m just glad this is all behind us, and that now that undeniable evidence has come to light, exactly what the birthers were demanding, that we can put this behind us and march happily into a bright tomorrow!


The Panic Virus

January 13, 2011

On the Media, one of my favorite podcasts, interviewed Seth Mnookin about his new book, The Panic Virus, which is about the vaccine scare brought on by Andrew Wakefield, who remains happily complicit in unprecedented child suffering and death.

I am excited about this in particular because host Bob Garfield uses the phrase “false balance” to describe the disproportional representation of vaccine fears in the media despite vaccines’ statistically insignificant risks.

We included On the Media in the podcast section of the website because Bob Garfield, Brooke Gladstone and their producers and contributors do a fantastic job of showing how often-unseen forces affect the news and media consumed by the public. I’ve been hooked ever since 2004, when they explained exactly how everyone on NPR sounds so damned good. The report is a classic, and I still recommend it.

Oh, this week they also mention Allen Gribben’s shamefully bowdlerized new edition of Huckleberry Finn, which substitutes the word “nigger” with the word “slave.” They are not the same thing, Allen. I was going to hurl a pithy Twain quote at him (“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it”), but I can’t verify that it is actually Twain’s. Oh well.


Bug Girl reports on a different type of infestation…

January 12, 2011

If you visit Bug Girl’s Blog today, you’ll find a useful discussion about the Christian Identity movement, a peculiar racist subculture that holds the peculiar religious belief that the real Chosen People are America’s white males.

The Real Chosen People

The roots of this delusion can be traced back to beliefs that surfaced in England during the Empire, when believers saw their nation, as the colonial governor of Palestine, playing a special role in the fulfillment of divine revelation. This slightly patronizing view of Jews mutated in this country into the extremely racist theology that it is today. A great source on this uncanny evolution is Michael Barkun’s Religion and the Racist Right. I also recommend Chip Berlet’s extensive work on conspiracy and American politics.