Posts Tagged “conspiracy theorist”

'Insanity: At least it's better to be someone who cannot think clearly than one who clearly cannot think.' / Motifake.ComNo sooner did I blog about the continued irrational phenomenon of “Sandy Hook truthers,” than I see another story about these paranoid freaks and wingnuts. The Seattle Times reports Amazon has had to change its online review process because of “truthers'” attacks on a survivor’s book (WebCite cached article):

Amazon.com is revising its product review system six weeks after The Seattle Times reported on activists posting reviews [cached] to push their political and social agendas.

“We are taking a close look at our policies regarding activism reviews and are considering changes,” Amazon spokesman Tom Cook said in a statement.

The Times article reported on coordinated attacks by Amazon reviewers on Scarlett Lewis, the mother of a 6-year-old boy murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut three years ago Monday. Lewis wrote “Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother’s Journey of Hope and Forgiveness” to describe her journey after the massacre.

Dozens of reviewers — conspiracy theorists who believe the shootings were an Obama administration hoax to push for gun-control legislation — savaged Lewis on the Amazon book Web page as a liar and opportunist.

The article goes on to describe many of the “reviews” (which aren’t actually reviews, just sanctimonious caterwauling by enraged “truthers” who feel as though they’re entitled to visit their outrage and fury on the world), as well as the “truthers'” ongoing conspiracy to disparage Sandy Hook survivors at every step. (The irony of people who believe in a conspiracy theory concocting and participating in one of their own, is truly precious!) The Times also goes over other, similar campaigns involving other products Amazon sells.

The real problem here, of course, is immaturity. The Sandy Hook truthers, as well as other types of conspiratorial thinkers (e.g. the anti-Monsanto crowd), simply haven’t grown up enough to deal with their own insane impulses and feelings. So, like two-year-olds, they lash out however they wish, any time they wish, and rationalize it based upon the presumed “righteousness” of their “cause.” In this case, the “truthers” are visiting their insanity and rage on a company … for no good reason.

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

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'I'm never alone, they're always here, watching, waiting, listening, scheming ... I can't escape them, they're suffocating me, with their dark lies. I need to get out. Everyone's against me, there's no one I can trust, I'm my own worst enemy.' / PARANOIA - demotivational poster, via MotifakeIt’s been a while since I blogged about the Sandy Hook truther phenomenon. For the most part this trope has died down here in Connecticut, but elsewhere it seems to live on — in spite of how insane it is. Perhaps the strangest aspect of this movement is that, while many of the scenarios are contradictory — some propose that the shooting happened and people died but it wasn’t done by a lone murderous criminal, while others presume it to have been a staged event in which no one died — Sandy Hook truthers tend to stick together anyway (as though they have no idea their arguments differ substantially).

The only point in common that they have, is that they think it was ordered by President Barack Obama so he could justify confiscating everyone’s guns and/or nullifying the Second Amendment. (That he hasn’t even come close to attempting to do either of these, is irrelevant to them.) This unity of spirit, if not in detail, coupled with the insanity inherent in most conspiratorial thinking*, makes it a potentially dangerous movement.

Over the past month, some of that danger has reared its ugly head. A month ago, as the Connecticut Post reports, one truther tried to interfere in a race held in memory of slain teacher Vicki Soto (WebCite cached article):

A self-proclaimed “truther” was arrested after police said he tried to disrupt the Vicki Soto 5K race.

Matthew Mills, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged Saturday with interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace. He was released after posting $2,500 bond.…

Hundreds were attending the third-annual race to raise money for educational scholarships in Soto’s name. Police said Mills approached Vicki’s Soto’s younger sister, Jillian. They said Mills shoved a photograph in the younger Soto’s face and began angrily charging that not only did the Sandy Hook tragedy not take place, but that Vicki Soto never existed.

Police said the photo was of the Soto family, including Vicki Soto, sitting on a seawall in Stratford.

In case you didn’t know it, Sandy Hook truthers are obsessed with photos they think show the slain victims alive and well after the massacre. They don’t know what they’re talking about when they wave them around … and quite obviously, appearances can be deceiving … but those realities never put a dent in their sanctimonious outrage.

And just a couple days ago, truthers ramped up their war against the Soto family as News Corp Australia reports, by threatening Carlee Soto and publishing her address (cached):

The Sandy Hook “truthers” took their theories a step further this week when they tracked Ms Soto down, threatened her family and posted her address online. As she grieves her sister’s loss three years on, she’s faced with fear all over again.

On a memorial page dedicated to Vicki Soto, her family described how they were “scared to go home” after users on photo sharing site Instagram shared their home address.…

The family shared a number of messages sent to them. In one message, user @divinely_awakened_ wrote to Carlee’s husband Brent: “They’re coming after you. They know who you and your wife are. They know where you live.”

In another message, user @anon_perkeletic shared the family’s details with a message accusing Ms Soto of being an actor.

The truthers have long accused Carlee Soto of being a “crisis actor”; Snopes even has an article debunking that notion. Isn’t it time for people to just fucking grow the hell up already and stop letting themselves go out of control over insane ideas that aren’t even comprehensible, much less reconcilable with known fact?

* Yes, I know the old saw that some conspiracy theories are true. And yes, I’m aware that some are. But that doesn’t make any given conspiracy theory true. It just doesn’t, and I’m not stupid enough to fall for that contention.

Photo credit: Motifake.

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September 11 Photo MontageToday is the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed thousands in New York City, the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, PA. The mass media are running story after story about the commemorations and remembrances and lots of other aspects of this milestone. For me, this event provides an object lesson in human nature and demonstrates conclusively where we go wrong.

First, all the 9/11 conspiratorialism demonstrates that any event that involves enough details is ripe to be plucked by sanctimoniously-outraged paranoiacs of every possible stripe. Rick Green of the Hartford Courant ran a column the other day about one particular crank named Wayne Coste who stands on Hartford’s streets, railing and wailing like a street-preacher about how “9/11 was an inside job” (WebCite cached article). He uses the fact that he was an engineer as a kind of credential that — supposedly — “proves” his insane jabbering must be correct. But it doesn’t. That he has an engineering credential (in electrical engineering, not in mechanical or civil engineering or in architecture) does not automatically grant his conclusions any veracity. Lots of engineers and scientists have looked at the same evidence he has, but arrived at very different conclusions from it.

Perhaps the seminal explanation of how the World Trade Center came down — researched and written by engineers and scientists with the same kinds of credentials as Coste — was done by the venerable magazine Popular Mechanics. It’s well worth reading for anyone with any interest in this matter. Another source of information is the “9/11 conspiracies” entry at the Skeptic’s Dictionary; it lays out many of the screwy scenarios that have been proposed and picks them off one by one. Yet, in spite of these and many other such “takedowns” of all the lunatic scenarios, the wacky 9/11 conspiratorialism (aka the “Truther” movement) is alive and well and populated by all sorts of animated wingnuts like Coste.

What’s really happening with “truthers” is that their laughable “theories” grant them what they perceive as a moral license to indulge their juvenile impulses and paranoiac brain patterns. Telling them they’re wrong only enrages them more than they already are, causes the person telling them so to be viewed as a willing and integral part of the “wicked conspiracy,” and they just dig their heels in harder and cling even tighter to their insane fantasies. As R.T. Carroll of the Skeptic’s Dictionary puts it in the subtitle of his article on the matter, the “truther” movement is, indeed, very much a “war on critical thinking.”

A second lesson shown by Americans’ reaction to 9/11/2001 is their insular, even selfish reasoning. Too many people in the US view this country as the sole target of Islamofascist terror. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Among the other large-scale terror attacks that have taken place elsewhere in the world since then:

Note, this is only a partial list. There were many more Islamofascist terror attacks in the last ten years. The point is that none of these took place in the US, and Americans were not the targets. Other people in other countries were. The Islamofascist terrorists aren’t killing people in places all over the planet just because they hate the US and our “freedom” — or whatever. They’re doing it simply because they’re murderously religiofascist; quite frankly they don’t give a crap about anything else.

The third chief lesson of the September 11, 2001 attacks, more obviously, is that militant religiofascism can become deadly, and it must be stopped. In every one of its forms. Everywhere it occurs. All the time, every time, without letup, and without granting it any excuses. It’s one thing to have metaphysical beliefs. It’s another to believe that everyone else on the planet must adopt them. And it’s another beyond that to believe one is entitled to kill in order to make that happen. This is rather obvious; we certainly didn’t need 9/11/2001 to tell us so … but apparently there are lots of folks who genuinely were unaware of this fact — and sadly, they remain so, in spite of 9/11/2001.

A proper response to such events is for believers to concede that other people are not theirs to order around or kill because of their beliefs, and just leave them alone. What’s not acceptable is to respond to murderous Islamofascism by becoming militantly Christofascist in return and then launch a Neocrusade to eliminate Islam. This Neocrusade is merely the same sort of religiofascist impulse, just manifest within a different religion and in a different country. Of course, to the Neocrusaders, 9/11/2001 itself is the reason they think they’re entitled to destroy Islam … but this belief, while widespread, is just “two wrongs make a right” thinking and is both fallacious and immoral.

In sum, let’s all stop using events like 9/11/2001 to justify insular thinking, American exceptionalism, and “getting back at Islam” because we feel entitled to. It’s time for us all to grow up, stop “reacting” emotionally every time something bad happens, and start living like the mature adults we all ought to be. And by all means, let’s stop giving in to the idea that militant Christianism is an appropriate response to militant Islamism. It’s not. They’re really just the same thing, only packaged in different wrappers.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Battle of Ascalon 1099The great Neocrusade against Islam in the US has been simmering for months; now that Religious Rightists have control of the House of Representatives, the heat is being turned up. Tellingly, we’ve reached the point where the Neocrusaders have started turning on their own. The religiofascists at World Net Daily have picked up on allegations by furious Rightist Frank Gaffney that “radical Islamists” are infiltrating the American conservative movement, and in particular, the Conservative Political Action Conference (locally cached version):

With the Conservative Political Action Conference under fire for allowing participation by a homosexual activist group called GOProud and for a financial scandal in which some $400,000 was misappropriated under the watch of current leadership, Frank Gaffney, a leader of the conservative movement for the last 30 years, charges that CPAC has come under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is working to bring America under Saudi-style Shariah law.

Gaffney, deputy assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, is founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and co-author of the new book “Shariah: The Threat to America.” He told WND that Islamism has infiltrated the American Conservative Union, the host of CPAC, in the person of Washington attorney and political activist Suhail Khan and a group called Muslims for America.

Like most WND articles, this one is laced with links to purchase the books it mentions. Because this is advertising and not useful reference material, I’ve chosen not to preserve them here.

Of course, it’s not just Frank Gaffney being paranoid. The equally enraged religiofacist Debbie Schlussel is also leveling accusations against Rightist darling Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey (WebCite cached article):

Are you a fan of Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a darling of the Tea Party activists? Are you planning to support him for the Republican nomination for President in 2012, for which he’s rumored to be planning a run? The conventional wisdom is that Christie’s biggest drawback is his obesity. But he’s got a much weightier problem: his big, fat love affair with HAMAS Muslims in New Jersey. …

To that end, Christie is nominating an extremist Muslim (redundant phrase), Sohail Mohammed, lawyer to assorted Islamic terrorists, to a Passaic County Superior Judgeship. Yup, Chris Christie rewarded those Muslim mobs who cheered on U.S. soil for the mass murder of 3,000 Americans with a judgeship.

Of course, Schlussel provides no evidence that Mohammad is a member of Hamas. But that’s only to be expected: Little things like “facts” and “documentation” don’t carry any weight in Schlussel’s sanctimonious universe.

Normally I’d be gratified to see the Right turning on itself in these ways … but actually I find it frightening. It’s the paranoid conspiracy theorists among the Right who are becoming most vocal, and it’s never good for any ideology when the PCTs among it become this vocal. Moreover, it’s the angriest and most religious wing of the Right which is carrying the standard of the Neocrusade; historically, anger and religiosity usually prevail, in these contests over future of the Right. So be afraid … be very afraid.

Hat tip: Talking Points Memo.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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As a brief follow-up on my earlier blog entry concerning the Rightists’ “birther” delusion, it turns out that Obama’s original, long-form birth certificate cannot be produced, not merely because the state of Hawai’i provides no means to request it … but it has been destroyed. The Los Angeles Times Show Tracker reports on what CNN has found out (WebCite cached article):

The website TVNewser reported today that Klein sent an e-mail to staffers of “Lou Dobbs Tonight” just as the program went to air, informing them that CNN researchers had determined that Hawaiian officials discarded all paper documents in 2001. A long-form birth certificate with details about the doctor who delivered Obama no longer exists, they reported.

I’m sure all those dutiful Rightists out there will say, “Sure, CNN claims that. They’re CNN, after all, the flagship media outlet of the Liberal Media Elite®!” While CNN does lean toward the Left, though, the claim that the state of Hawai’i destroyed the long-form certificate in 2001 is something that could easily be verified … meaning one need not take CNN’s word for it.

Of course, despite having been told this by his own network, Lou Dobbs continues to pander to the birther-delusionists, as the LA Times goes on to say:

In his show Thursday, Dobbs did note the explanation from Hawaiian officials, though he went on to devote another segment to the topic, interviewing CNN contributor Roland Martin and Rep. Ted Poe, a co-sponsor of a bill that would require future presidential candidates to produce their birth certificates. …

In the segment, Dobbs stressed that he has said repeatedly that he believes Obama is a citizen, something that he said his critics in the “left-wing media” ignore.

Note how deftly Dobbs plays both sides … on the one hand he concedes Obama is a citizen, but on the other, he courts those who think otherwise. In other words, he’s being disingenuous. His duplicity is especially obvious, since he also said:

But he continued to press the question of why Obama has not shown a long-form birth certificate. “When this could be dispelled so quickly, and — and simply by producing it, why not do it?” Dobbs asked.

Earth to Lou — and all the other birther-delusionists out there: Now you know why Obama can’t produce the long-form cerificate … IT DOESN’T EXIST! The time has finally come for you to grow the fuck up and stop demanding what can never be provided.

P.S. To everyone who goes along with the old canard about CNN being part of the Liberal Media Elite® … if this is true, please explain how such an outlet could possibly keep guys like Dobbs on its payroll? Just wondering.

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I mentioned this controversy a couple of times already, in an earlier blog post on the “moon-landing” hoaxers, but apparently this is another one that just won’t die. This particular misbelief — that President Barack Obama is not a “natural-born citizen” of the US as required by the Constitution and therefore not legally the President — is a favorite of the Religious Right and assorted other paranoid conspiracy theorists.

It became an issue during the 2008 campaign, and despite his electoral victory, it appears never to have died out. It kicked up afresh when a “birther” showed up at Republican Congressman Mike Castle’s “town meeting,” sanctimoniously raging about Obama not having a birth certificate and waving her own — which she believes constitutes proof that Obama refuses to provide his own. The Chicago Tribune‘s Swamp blog comments on this and other events that have pushed this misbelief back into the limelight:

Listen to the cheers for the woman holding up her birth certificate and asking why the president won’t share his.

Listen to the boos when a Republican congressman asserts rather assuredly that the president of the United States, a Democrat, “is a citizen of the United States” …

Listen to the Pledge of Allegiance break out.

Yes, indeed … the assembled childish crowd was angered by Castle’s response that Obama is, in fact, a citizen. And yes, they actually launched into a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance … as if that, too, were somehow proof that Obama is not a citizen.

Folks, the matter of Obama’s birth was settled long ago. Obama has produced all the documentation necessary to show that he is a “natural-born citizen” as defined by federal law. Claims that his birth certification is not valid, are simply untrue, as FactCheck has demonstrated conclusively:

Some claim that Obama posted a fake birth certificate to his Web page. That charge leaped from the blogosphere to the mainstream media earlier this week when Jerome Corsi, author of a book attacking Obama, repeated the claim in an Aug. 15 interview with Steve Doocy on Fox News. …

Corsi isn’t the only skeptic claiming that the document is a forgery. Among the most frequent objections we saw on forums, blogs and e-mails are:

  1. The birth certificate doesn’t have a raised seal.
  2. It isn’t signed.
  3. No creases from folding are evident in the scanned version.
  4. In the zoomed-in view, there’s a strange halo around the letters.
  5. The certificate number is blacked out.
  6. The date bleeding through from the back seems to say “2007,” but the document wasn’t released until 2008.
  7. The document is a “certification of birth,” not a “certificate of birth.”

Recently FactCheck representatives got a chance to spend some time with the birth certificate, and we can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it’s stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates). We even brought home a few photographs.

Said photographs are available on the FactCheck page in question, including full-size high-resolution photos if you click on the smaller images on the page itself. FactCheck explains a bit more about this document and why it constitutes proof that Obama is truly a “natural-born citizen”:

The document is a “certification of birth,” also known as a short-form birth certificate. The long form is drawn up by the hospital and includes additional information such as birth weight and parents’ hometowns. The short form is printed by the state and draws from a database with fewer details. The Hawaii Department of Health’s birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department. We tried to ask the Hawaii DOH why they only offer the short form, among other questions, but they have not given a response.

Note that Hawai’i is not the only place that provides a “short-form certification” rather than the “long-form certificate.” A friend of mine recently requested a copy of her birth certificate, in the town of her birth, and was given a generated document very similar to this one. It was more than enough to get her a passport … which means it passes muster according to federal standards of citizenship.

Something the “birthers” fail to understand is that, while the Constitution requires that the President be a natural-born citizen, it does not state what documentation is required to show this. There is nothing in the Constitution about whether birth certificates or certifications of birth are necessary. Rather, it allows the federal government to decide what is necessary. And according to federal statutes and legal decisions, what Obama has provided, suffices … just as a similar document sufficed for my friend when she applied for her passport.

While the sanctimoniously-outraged woman at Mike Castle’s “town hall meeting” was able to get her long-form birth certificate, for any number of reasons, not all Americans are able to get them. Local officials in some jurisdictions simply do not provide them, and offer no means to get them.

Whether Obama is a “natural-born citizen” is a matter for officials in Hawai’i to decide … and they have done so, as FactCheck explains in the article:

Update Nov. 1: The Associated Press quoted Chiyome Fukino as saying that both she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama’s original birth certificate.

Fukino also was quoted by several other news organizations. The Honolulu Advertiser quoted Fukino as saying the agency had been bombarded by requests, and that the registrar of statistics had even been called in at home in the middle of the night.

Honolulu Advertiser, Nov. 1 2008: “This has gotten ridiculous,” state health director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said yesterday. “There are plenty of other, important things to focus on, like the economy, taxes, energy.” … Will this be enough to quiet the doubters? “I hope so,” Fukino said. “We need to get some work done.”

Fukino said she has “personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.”

It turns out that Fukino was incorrect, back in November; it was not enough. His word and those of other local officials are simply being ignored by those who are too committed to their irrational beliefs and delusional thinking to accept otherwise.

It’s really time for the “birthers” like the raging woman at Castle’s “town hall meeting” to grow the hell up and stop denying reality … but we all know they will not do so.

I’m not a big fan of Chris Matthews, but he has a point, as the Tribune‘s Swamp blog entry mentions:

See Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball question Rep. John Campbell, a Republican from California, about the “crazy” bill that he and others are sponsoring requiring future candidates for president to present their birth certificates. …

“Wouldn’t you like to put it to rest? That’s what this proposal is all about,” replies Campbell, noting that people also questioned Republican Sen. John McCain’s credentials because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. …

“Nice try,” replies Matthews. “What you’re doing is appeasing the nut-cases… You’re verifying the paranoia out there… You are playing to the crazies… You guys are playing to the whacko wing” of the Republican Party.

It’s true. Acting as though the “birthers” have a legitimate objection, only makes them feel as though their delusion is well-founded. Yet, as the Swamp blog relates, even Campbell has little doubt:

“As far as I know,” concedes the congressman, pressed to say whether Obama was born in the United States. “Yes,” he says, “I believe so.”

If this concession is good enough for Campbell, it should be good enough for everyone.

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No sooner did I publish my last blog post on irrational and erroneous beliefs, especially about Obama’s citizenship and the putative “moon-landing hoax,” than I noticed that the “moon-landing hoax” theory has a public proponent, and that is Whoopi Goldberg. This report comes via Real Clear Politics (video available there):

Whoopi Goldberg questioned the original moon landing on today’s edition of “The View.” Goldberg, a co-host, wondered who shot the footage and why the flag was “rippling” if there was no wind.

The flag rippling has been explained — by Mythbusters and others — and the lander had external cameras requiring no one to hold them.

Not that these facts are likely to sway Whoopi or any other moon-hoaxer. It would be nice if people like Ms Goldberg weren’t so gullible or ignorant … but they are.

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