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”.
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
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.