I am always amused by conspiracy theories. Here’s a good one currently going around, as reported by The Daily Mail, that the strange on-air bouts of incoherence by various people on television are the result of secret experiments by the U.S. military.

It’s a fairly good conspiracy, but I dare any conspiracy-minded readers to peruse H.P. Lovecraft’s novel The Shadow Out of Time and not come away with an infinitely more terrifying, and slightly more plausible theory. Here is an excerpt:

“The collapse occurred about 10.20 A.M., while I was conducting a class in Political Economy VI – history and present tendencies of economics – for juniors and a few sophomores. I began to see strange shapes before my eyes, and to feel that I was in a grotesque room other than the classroom.

 My thoughts and speech wandered from my subject, and the students saw that something was gravely amiss. Then I slumped down, unconscious, in my chair, in a stupor from which no one could arouse me. “

I don’t want to give away too much. “Most merciful thing in the world” etc.


For some reason, Conservatives like to theatrically ponder the question “why doesn’t President Obama release his birth certificate?” Liberals respond to this with incredulity that such a question is being asked, and usually imply that the reason it is asked is the hidden racism of the asker. The above video contains a clip from The View which contains a performance of this ritual.

It would profit the Liberals far more to simply say: “he has released it.” There are people who claim what he released was a forgery, but they have not actually proven this. Therefore, the burden of proof currently lies with them. Furthermore, whatever Donald Trump’s objections, the newspaper announcements of his birth would have required the participation of the hospital at which he was born and the Hawaiian government.

In short, if you think all these things are forgeries–for which there is no evidence–it means there was a massive conspiracy dating back to the 1960s working in his favor. If this is what you believe, then you are in total Deus Ex-style conspiracy territory, and really there’s no way you can believe anything anymore.

Anyway, though, that isn’t what I really want to write about here. The interesting thing is the debate Hannity and Springer get into about what is a “Conservative” versus what is a “Republican”. It’s important to understand that the people who call themselves “Conservatives”, meaning socially conservative, weren’t particularly Republican before 1965. Those Republicans, led by Barry Goldwater, were basically what we would call “Libertarians” today.

(Hat Tip to Little Green Footballs.)

Today is the 47th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a tragedy in which many believe, to quote Kennedy’s Secret Service agent Clint Hill: “the Age of Innocence died”; and which famously–or infamously–brought about many conspiracy theories.

Personally, I never bought in to any of the conspiracy theories. They’re all just too convoluted to work, in my opinion.

I did see Oliver Stone’s movie JFK. It was a good movie, but it didn’t do anything to make me think there really was a conspiracy.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, I see that a Texas Republican is filing a bill that would require Presidential candidates to show their birth certificates, saying: “”This bill is necessary because we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place.”

Alright, dear readers. I know I’m over my allotment of Gilbert and Sullivan references this week, but I just cannot resist posting this that I wrote awhile ago:

(Sung to the tune of “He is an Englishman” from H.M.S. Pinafore.)

He is American!
    For he himself hath said it,
    And it’s greatly to his credit
That he is American!
    (Though he might well be a Kenyan
     In the ill-informed opinion
Of ev’ry third Republican.)
     But, despite the protestation
     Of the Fox News Corporation,
He remains American!

A few hours into BioWare‘s epic game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, there’s a scene involving a swoop-bike race between two gangs in the slums of a backwater planet. When the race is over, the leader of the losing gang decides that he will not allow the other gang’s racer to claim the prize. This prompts the guy in charge of the race to say something like: “You can’t back out now! It would violate all our most sacred traditions!”

Now, this line has always struck me as rather funny. I mean, it’s a race between two criminal gangs in the slums. Just how “sacred” could such an event be, I’ve always wondered.

I’ve thought of this scene more than once while reading about the pseudo-controversy involving Sarah Palin’s daughter on the program “Dancing With the Stars”. People are quite  indignant over the possibility that fans of all things Palin are compromising the integrity of a TV dancing competition. A damned silly thing to be upset about, if you ask me.

That said, it is irritating to me how the mainstream media insists on calling it a “conspiracy theory”. That makes it sound as if people pointing out that die-hard Palin supporters are voting for her daughter are roughly as credible as people who believe lizardmen are responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

The fact of the matter is that Palin fans freely admit voting “early and often”. Is it cheating? I don’t know; the stakes are so incredibly low that I don’t think it qualifies. (The only way it might matter is if there is major gambling involved, and if there were I would assume that ABC would already have better security for the voting.)

But like I said, how worked up can one get over this? I mean, it is somewhat scandalous that our politics are hopelessly intertwined with silly entertainment programs, but it’s been going this way for awhile, and seemingly with the consent of the population in general.

Roger Ebert writes:

“We know, because they’ve said so publicly, that George W. Bush, his father and Sen. John McCain do not believe Obama is a Muslim. This is the time — now, not later — for them to repeat that belief in a joint statement. Other prominent Republicans such as Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul also certainly do not believe it. They have a responsibility to make that clear by subscribing to the statement. Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh must join, or let their silence indict them. Limbaugh in particular must cease his innuendos and say, flat out, whether he believes the President is a Muslim or not. Yes or no. Does he have evidence, or does he have none? Yes or no.” 

I would venture to say that if people still believe President Obama is a Muslim at this point, they wouldn’t be convinced otherwise even if the ghosts of Lincoln, Grant, Eisenhower and Reagan arose and told them so. And besides, Beck and Limbaugh still have to keep their audience interested, and there’s nothing like some innuendo for doing that.

This is pretty cool. The article concludes:

“The X-37B might lack a flashy name, a made-for-the-movies mission and public hoopla, but this space plane’s low profile might be just the thing that helps it beat the long odds and become a success.” 

Actually, “X-37B” sounds exactly like the sort of name that Secret Projects have in science fiction. Perhaps it will be our first line of defense against The Reapers.

(Hat Tip to Huffington Post)

Ron Paul: Barack Obama is Not a Socialist.

He says: “In the technical sense, in the economic definition, he is not a socialist,”

I’m not sure what definition Paul is using here; but I think Socialism is so broad it’s hard to say for sure that Obama isn’t one. Obama may secretly wish to have the State take ownership of all the factors of production but he hasn’t done it yet, though, so we can’t call him a Socialist on that basis. That said, I’m pretty sure Obama does believe that the income which accrues to private firms and individuals must sometimes be redistributed in the interest of the “greater good” or, more technically, to “maximize social welfare.”

Obama is probably a market socialist of some sort. This is not a terribly unusual position for a U.S. politician; in fact, Paul is probably one of the few politicians who doesn’t fall into this category. Of course, none of them would ever dare describe themselves as such–generally, when they’re advancing Socialist/redistributionist ideas, politicians tend to use the language of the Bible. (Hence Obama’s frequent use of the phrase: “I am my brother’s keeper.”)

One huge mistake people make is to act like Obama is the first guy in U.S. history to ever advocate redistributing wealth for what he thinks is “the greater good”. He’s not close to it. Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive corporate regulator type. FDR implemented Social Security. Lyndon Johnson had his Socialist “Great Society”, a term which ought to give any individualist a fright.

 Republicans cheerfully point this stuff out to show how the Democratic Party is all secretly a bunch of Socialists. But here’s a little something they might want to think on: What’s more radical than market Socialism? Non-market Socialism! That’s where the market isn’t even involved in determining prices. Who imposed price
controls in the United States? Republican President Richard M. Nixon.

Back to Ron Paul for a minute: He says: “[Obama’s] a corporatist,”  and “[He takes] care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country.”

That sounds like something Michael Moore would say. And it’s incorrect. I think he must be thinking of George W. Bush. But it leads nicely into my point about how Republican economic Socialism works.

When Republicans redistribute the wealth for the “Greater Good”, it generally involves giving it to either corporations or particular kinds of Churches, rather than other entities–individuals, non-profits, etc. They are particularly fond of paying money to corporations that make weapons, or, in one infamous instance, secret mercenary corporations.

Some may debate whether this practice is technically Socialism or technically Fascism. In my view, Fascism is nothing more than a particularly militaristic brand of Socialism, so it makes little difference. The point is that both sides are redistributing wealth in order to serve society as a whole.

I’ve quoted him before, and I’ll quote him here:

“If we allow that Socialism (in the ethical, not the economic, sense) is that world-feeling which seeks to carry out its own views on behalf of all, then we are all without exception, willingly or no, wittingly or no, Socialists…. All world-improvers are Socialists.”–Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West.

To which I would add only that if you already have a Socialist “ethic”, and you become a powerful politician who can influence aspects of the economy, it is virtually impossible not to become an “economic” Socialist as well.

What bothers me about the quote from Paul is that he’s poking around the edges of a very deep insight into the truth of how the American political parties really act, whatever they may claim they believe. But he has somehow gotten things completely backwards.