I am embarrassed to admit it but prior to 2004, I had never been on the Internet. I had no use for computers (to this day, a well trained three-year-old chimpanzee is more adept with computers than I) and I wore my obstinate refusal to buy a computer and join the modern world like a military decoration (“For stubbornness and stupidity above and beyond rationality”).
But circumstances changed and we finally logged on in the spring of 2004. One of the first things I found in my travels on the Internet was a site dedicated to listing all of the “murder victims” of Bill Clinton. What I discovered was that President Clinton was head of a crime syndicate, based in Arkansas, and was deeply involved in smuggling coke as well as contract killing. He was also a commie, having been turned by the KGB when he visited Russia as a young man. His wife Hillary was a domestic terrorist and they had a secret plan to hand the country over to the Reds — presumably the Chinese.
Just how the Chinese were going to govern 300 million ornery, ill-tempered Americans was not mentioned, nor was it explained how this handover was going to happen. One constant with the tinfoil hat crowd is their inability to think through their theories to examine the nuts and bolts of how their conspiracies were carried out. They have all sorts of “evidence” that points to some dark secret, but when you ask “How” or even “Why” you are met with a tantrum about “not believing” or turning your back on the “evidence.”
I had never read historian Richard Hofstadter’s essay from 1964 entitled “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” but I found it with little trouble. His words echo down through the decades, encompassing both right and left, and are especially prescient given what we’ve gone through the last eight years with the paranoid left and are apparently about to go through with the equally cuckoo right:
American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics.
Now there are two ways you can approach the tinfoil hat crowd on the Internet. You can rail against their paranoia and stupidity or you can laugh at them and view their idiocy as entertainment. I choose the latter most of the time because it’s very hard to keep a straight face when someone who is perfectly “normal” in every other respect earnestly assures me that Bush planned the 9/11 attacks or that the president will never leave office, using the military to stay in power.
But to prove Hofstadter’s point that the paranoid style is not limited to one side of the ideological spectrum, there is a movement being advanced by otherwise normal and rational people on the right to nullify the election last month using as a basis the preposterous notion that President-elect Barack Obama is not eligible for office because he was not born in the United States.
There are currently 20 lawsuits moving through state courts seeking to block Obama’s election on the grounds that he fails to meet the Constitutional requirement that he be a “natural born citizen.” One lawsuit seeking an injunction to keep the electoral college from meeting December 15 has now made it all the way to the Supreme Court, and — in their infinite wisdom — the august justices will decide whether to hear the case. A vigil of true believers in this cockamamie theory will take place on the steps of the Supreme Court as they breathlessly await the certain rejection of the motion. Blogger Eugene Volokh told the Chicago Tribune that in the last eight years, 782 petitions have been rejected while only 60 have been heard by the full court — and many of those were not successful.
The Tribune helpfully gives an overview of the nature of these lawsuits:
Among those filing lawsuits is Alan Keyes, who lost to Obama in the 2004 Illinois Senate race. Keyes’ suit seeks to halt certification of votes in California. Another suit by a Kentucky man seeks to have a federal judge review Obama’s original birth certificate, which Hawaiian officials say is locked in a state vault.
Other suits have been filed by Andy Martin, whose case was dismissed in Hawaii, and by an Ohio man whose case also was dismissed. Five more suits, all later dismissed, were filed in Hawaii by a person who is currently suing the “Peoples Association of Human, Animals Conceived God/s and Religions, John McCain [and] USA Govt.” The plaintiff previously sought to sue Wikipedia and “All News Media.”
One of the most important pieces of “evidence” used by the conspiracy promoters is that Obama refuses to release his actual birth certificate. They point to the certificate of live birth that was released by the Obama campaign as insufficient proof that he was born in the U.S. Some have gone so far as to claim that it is a forgery. Ed Morrissey points out that Obama would be able to obtain a driver’s license, a social security card, and passport using the certificate of live birth. Factcheck.org has validated the certificate which sent the conspiracy nuts into a frenzy because Obama backer and financier George Soros has given money to the parent organization of Factcheck, the Annenberg Public Policy Center. No mention by the loons that Annenberg was a member of Ronald Reagan’s “Kitchen Cabinet” of backers in California and that the Annenberg Public Policy Center is one of the most respected educational outfits in the country.
Others have pointed to Obama’s trip to Hawaii before the election as a sinister sign that he was buying off Hawaiian officials and making sure the “truth” stayed buried. They posited that his stated reason for going — to visit his grandmother, who lay near death — was a subterfuge in order to keep the records buried and besides, he was back on the mainland for more than a week and she was still alive. That meme petered out when Obama’s beloved grandmother ended up dying the day before the election.
There are also several wild and crazy theories involving Obama being born in Indonesia, Kenya, or even the old Soviet Union since some claim his mother was a Communist. There is the notion that Obama renounced his U.S. citizenship while in Indonesia or that his father renounced it for him after he was born in Kenya.
All of this frothy mix of conjecture, speculation, wishful thinking, and downright kookiness can be done away with by simply reading the blurb below (courtesy of Hot Air):
The above announcement of Obama’s birth appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser in August of 1961. It is, along with the certificate of live birth and the statements by the head of the Hawaiian health department and the Republican governor attesting to the validity of Obama’s actual birth certificate (which is under lock and key in Hawaii), proof positive that Obama was born in Hawaii. It was discovered by Lori Starfelt, a Hillary Clinton supporter during the primaries, who was actually looking for proof that Obama was not born here. The date listed is, in fact, Obama’s birthday. The information was probably supplied by the hospital where he was born, but even if it was given to the paper by his parents, one need only ask some simple questions to put this matter to rest for the overwhelming majority of thinking people on planet earth.
If you believe the notice is a fake, why would someone back in 1961 seek to “plant” proof that Obama was born in the U.S.? Is it reasonable or even possible to believe that a conspiracy would go back that far? Who could have possibly known 47 years ago that Obama would be running for president and that it was necessary to print a blurb in a local paper that he was born in Hawaii rather than some other country in order to prove that he was a natural born citizen? And if this is, in fact, an actual report of Obama’s birth in Hawaii — as it surely must be — doesn’t that put to rest the entire matter of Obama’s eligibility to serve as president of the United States?
Given the virulence of the left’s paranoid delusions regarding President Bush these last eight years, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Obama Derangement Syndrome will be any less toxic. That’s why the whole birth certificate mess just goes to show that the only true bipartisanship in America today is wild, unreasoning hate for one’s political foes.