Have you heard the news? Abraham Lincoln invented a fore-runner of Facebook. No, really! It must be true because it said so on the internet.

Well, the hoax was exposed within a day, but not before a lot of major news sources fell for it. Here’s an excerpt from the hoax article:

The whole Springfield Gazette was one sheet of paper, and it was all about Lincoln. Only him. Other people only came into the document in conjunction with how he experienced life at that moment. If you look at the Gazette picture above, you can see his portrait in the upper left-hand corner… But just to the left of his picture, and above that column of text, is a little box. And in that box you see three things: his name, his address, and his profession (attorney).

The first column underneath his picture contains a bunch of short blurbs about what’s going on in his life at the moment – work he recently did, some books the family bought, and the new games his boys made up. In the next three columns he shares a quote he likes, two poems, and a short story about the Pilgrim Fathers…

Put all that together on one page and tell me what it looks like to you. Profile picture. Personal information. Status updates. Copied and shared material. A few longer posts. Looks like something we see every day, doesn’t it?

And it goes on:

Lincoln was requesting a patent for “The Gazette,” a system to “keep People aware of Others in the Town.” He laid out a plan where every town would have its own Gazette, named after the town itself… Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located collection of documents where “every Man may have his own page, where he might discuss his Family, his Work, and his Various Endeavors.”

This right here should have tipped anyone who read this off that this was a hoax, by the way: the use of the word “page” sounds very odd here, not at all like someone from the 1800s would use it, and exactly like someone familiar with the internet would use it.

And surely it must have struck the people reading this that the concept is on its face absurd. People would have no need for such a tool back in the 1800s. They already had town newspapers. The faux-proposal sounds just stupid when you put it like this. This, again, should have given the whole thing away.

What this hoax exposed–perhaps unwittingly–is that Facebook is not a lot more useful than a town newspaper. It gives you some ability to stay in touch with your friends, but for the most part it’s just a time-waster. It’s addictive, sure, but not all that useful. It is barely more than a glorified bulletin board. or newspaper.

Lincoln invent Facebook! The idea is laughable at first sight!

He was much too smart for that.

A new Gallup poll puts Ronald Reagan as the nation’s greatest President. Then it’s Lincoln, Clinton, Kennedy, Washington and FDR.

Yes, in that order.

My opinion: Lincoln, Washington and FDR are the only ones out of that crowd who could conceivably have any claim to the title of “greatest President”. And where is Eisenhower? I mean, maybe he wasn’t the greatest President ever, but he ought to have been in the running.

Also, George H. W. Bush should have gotten more votes than George W. Bush, in my opinion. Finally, I think President Obama shouldn’t even be eligible for this poll yet, since he’s currently President and we have yet to see what he’ll do the rest of his term and if he’ll win re-election.

At the end of the film The Wrath of Khan, when Spock is exposing himself to deadly radiation in order to save the crew of the Enterprise, he reminds Kirk that: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.Or the one.” When I saw this, my first thought–probably because of reading Ayn Rand–was “this is a rather neat description of Socialism.” It’s the sacrifice of the individual for the collective. And it is this notion from which all the other aspects of Socialism derive.

Supposedly, this idea is alien to the United States of America, where we value individualism. Part of the idea of “American exceptionalism” is that we are more friendly to the rights of the individual than other nations; hence, Socialism is a philosophy that Americans seemingly reject.

Or do we?

In an earlier post, I said that “War is a fundamentally Socialist undertaking.” And, indeed, it is in wartime that the Socialists and anti-individualist philosophies gain the greatest acceptance in the United States of America. Witness Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus in the Civil War, the efforts at managing the war economy in World War I, or even the very idea of conscription. All these sacrifice the rights of individuals for the purpose of winning a war.

One of the redeeming factors of Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism is that he seems to have grasped this point. It sort of undermines his own thesis, of course, but nonetheless he figures out that the United States is, historically, susceptible to this sort of socialistic mood. Of course, Goldberg calls it “fascism”, and he may be right about that as well.

I have said in the past that “Fascism is nothing more than a particularly militaristic brand of Socialism”, and while I’m no longer sure if that’s the only difference, I think it’s clear that fascism is more militaristic than socialism. So, perhaps I should rephrase my earlier statement: war is a fundamentally socialist undertaking–and it’s called fascism. Again, Goldberg makes something of a decent case that socialism and fascism have some similarities that people don’t know about. (Of course, he seems to think they’re almost interchangeable.)

I realize this post is somewhat disjointed and confusing–it’s a combination of a post I’d been working on for a while, plus the stuff about Goldberg’s book that I was reminded of by this–but what I’m ultimately trying to do here is figure out just what the hell fascism actually is, and how it relates to socialism. Anyone care to help? So far, the best explanation I’ve read is here.

Over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism, Alicia Colon wonders if George W. Bush is the most reviled President ever.  She says she hasn’t done enough research yet. I can help her there.

No, he isn’t. Neither is Lincoln, as she speculates. It’s Richard M. Nixon. 

Why, you ask? Because he’s almost the picture in the dictionary next to anti-charisma.