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Mental Is As Mental Does
Life is like a box of magic mushrooms...

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
August 8, 2009

The right wing have gone mental.

OK, OK, they weren't very tightly wrapped to begin with. This is a group, after all, that still believe that Republican politicians actually practice the “family values” that they preach, that major corporations have only our best interests at heart, that there is considerable room for doubt about climate change and the harmful effects of smoking, but it is revealed truth that the earth is 6,000 years old and humanity was conjured out of the dust by an invisible sky critter.

It takes a fair bit of crazy to wrap your personal universe around that collection of beliefs and opinions. Not only do you have to believe seven impossible things before breakfast, but you have to have them over hard, and no OJ on the side.

I expected them to act crazy when Obama became President. They act crazy whenever a Democrat is in office, because they take it as a personal betrayal when the country elects someone they don't like, and they set out to destroy that politician. They're a bit hazy on this whole “democracy” business. Once they realized that Obama wasn't just going to do what they wanted, they went right off the deep end, just like they did with Clinton. First, it was the howls that Obama was a socialist, a Marxist, a Communist, any type of -ist that would make John Birchers plotz, which means just about any type of -ist. The fact that Obama is, at worst, a pragmatist, just filled them with utter fear and loathing. What do you do with a left-wing ideologue who insists on being fair, open-minded and reasonable? Why, them's the worst kind!

They first tried bellowing that Obama was from a corrupt state, which he is. It worked with Bill Clinton, where they were able to hound him about White Water with the willing complicity of the contemptible New York Times. If you don't remember that, it was a land scam in which the Clintons were enticed into making a moderate investment and got fleeced. What, you thought they perpetrated the land scam? No, they were two of the people who got suckered. Let me guess: American Spectator and the New York Times forgot to mention that part.

Obama either is a complete boy scout, or incredibly adept at removing fingerprints. Boy scouts don't make good presidents, since the job requires a certain amount of duplicity. So I prefer to think he was adept at being not too crooked. But the right couldn't get any traction linking him to various Illinois scandals, not even the ones that involved African-American politicians.

So next they tried raising questions about Obama's birthplace. This came up during the campaign, along with questions about McCain's birthplace. McCain, in fact, was actually born in the American canal zone to American parents in the service, but a 1923 law declared children born under those circumstances to be natural born. That prompted me to write an essay opining that nobody born via C-section was eligible to be president, since by MacBeth rules, they weren't “of woman born,” and, not being born, were not eligible. The idea somehow failed to catch on, and while the fuss about the foreign-born McCain (not MacBeth) went away, the fuss about the indisputably-born-in-Honolulu Obama did not.

The money behind much of the right wing decided that they had a winner, because not only would it create mistrust of Obama, but insisting he was born in Kenya might remind people that he was black, and foster the notion that his sympathies lay with Nairobi, not Washington. Does that seem like a strange belief? Go back and reread the first three paragraphs of this piece.

So, a year later, we've got Glen Beck and the Moonie Times and a whole “birther” movement, all howling that Obama is secretly from Kenya, part of a secret plot to, um, niggarize America or something. I've actually seen that phrase used on Usenet. It's not quite clear that there's anything wrong with being born in Kenya in and of itself, but the right sure wants people to think that someone born there might not be sympathetic to truth, justice and the American way.

But this week, they came up with another phony birth certificate for Obama. This one, cribbed from a South Australian birth certificate, featured a “Republic of Kenya” that didn't exist as a Republic at the time, and a village that was not in Kenya at that time. That the names of the officials, the language of the document, and the serial numbers were the same as the South Australian original shows just how sad an effort at counterfeiting this was. A week later, and the birther movement has nearly been laughed out of existence, and there's even a website devoted to generating fake birth certificates based on that document. You just type in a name and birthdate (the web owners advise against using real ones) and parents info, and it creates a high res copy of the certificate, that has the information you put on it but otherwise looks like the birther copy.

It killed the birther movement. I know it killed the birther movement because right wingers did what right wingers always do when one of their stupid ideas blows up in their faces: they started claiming the whole thing was a liberal conspiracy to make right wingers look stupid. But I bet we'll be seeing remarks alluding to Obama's “secret Kenyan birth” online for decades now.

Then there's the “enemies list” fooforraw. There's an outlandish number of wild claims about “Obamacare” out there, ranging from mandatory euthanasia for the elderly to claims that government bureaucrats will be in every doctor's office. For a detailed look at many of the lies going around, I recommend visiting Milt Shook's blog, “Please Cut the Crap”. _Www.pleasecutthecrap.com _.

The White House webpage, seeking to stay on top of the mountain of lies, had this message from Macon Phillips: “There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to _flag@whitehouse.gov _.”

Notice they didn't ask for headers or anything that might identify who sent the email: just the content. Given the incredible mountain of lies, it's hardly unreasonable to want to track them, right?

The right wing went nuts. This, they declared, was nothing but a blatant effort by the White House to compile an enemies list! Dark allusions were made to the 900 records that turned up in the Clinton White House basement, but not to the fact that they were compiled by the Bush administration before them, and no mention at all was made of the original, actual “enemies list” complied by Nixon. It always horrifies right wingers to imagine, or even fantasize, that their opponents might have the same morals and manners that they have. Even worse was the notion that the White House might actually respond to their claims, severely impacting their right to lie with impunity.

Then there's the matter of thuggery at Town Hall meetings. The Tampa Bay paper had a lurid video of frustrated 912ers (That's Glenn Beck's organization of flash mobs designed to take over any and all town hall meetings about health care) and others who had to stand outside because the meeting room was full, and let their frustration be known by shouting, chanting, and hammering on the doors and windows. There were a couple of minor skirmishes, and one guy actually got slapped before the police showed up.

The right wing likes to claim these are genuine grass-roots collections of concerned citizens, and while a lot of the demonstrators probably ARE just regular folk and not insurance company lobbyists, Faux News presenters or GOP officials, they have been fed an awful lot of disinformation, and are upset, not at the non-existent “Obama Plan” but at the crazy things they've been told are in it, the government sponsored euthanasia and all of that. These people aren't exceptionally bright, and tend to be incapable of doing independent research to try and find out what the facts are. At one town hall meeting, the Congresswoman asked how many opposed government run health care. About half the people there raised their hands. Most of them were retirement age. She then asked how many were on Medicare. Most of the same hands stayed up. Point made.

Given the widespread and terrible publicity the Tampa Bay incident generated for the right, they'll probably back off on the efforts to control the Town Hall meetings through noise and intimidation. But they are, again, doing their favorite thing when one of their ideas backfires. They are blaming the liberals.

This time, it's Unions, and the dread ACORN. ACORN, which is kind of the SMERSH of American politics, controls all that is evil, vicious, and naughty in American politics. They have the power to control men's minds, milk sours as they fly across the night sky cackling, and they all listen to Randi Rhodes on the radio. Obviously, they are a menace to society. As far as the right is concerned, the only thing worse is Unions. So we've been treated to lurid tales of “uniformed union thugs” attacking concerned citizens with batons and frozen fish sticks and gawd knows what else.

As far as I know, ACORN doesn't even HAVE an official policy on health care reform, although individual members have been heard to opine that reform of the existing system would be good. And the SEIU hasn't weighed in, either. Like most of us, they don't even know if they will like the version that comes out of Congress, and while members are pushing for elements they would like to see, there isn't any sort of broad consensus beyond being pleased that people are actually talking about reform, and hope that there might somehow be real reform, despite the wealth, power, and ferocity of special interests arrayed against it.

Against the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, all of whom make billions by cheating Americans, the crackpot right is comic relief. Sarah Palin (review first three paragraphs again) called health reform “evil” and warned that we would have “death panels.” Grassley, a US Senator intent on proving the adage that “shit floats” actually claimed that public health care would have “killed Senator Kennedy by now.” It was vile enough that this piece of human excrement would exploit the illness of a supposed friend and colleague that way, but Grassley forgot to mention that both he and Kennedy ARE on public health programs, as is all of Congress. What a moron! What a buffoon!

But then, Hitler's brownshirts were seen as buffoonish cartoon caricatures as well, until they had their Krystalnacht.

Given how hard the insurance and Big Pharm outfits are working to scare the rabble to death and make them convinced they are fighting for their lives, something like that isn't out of the question.

Yes, it could happen here.

And it's anybody's guess how the rest of America will react to such a thing.

Posted: August 11, 2009

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