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Archive | November, 2015

Conspiracy theory theories

Conspiracy theories are a pervasive part of the American experience. Why is that? The literature is replete with attempts to explain conspiracy theories by historians, sociologists, political scientists, psychologists and even neurophysiologists. While the United States may not be the most conspiracy minded country in the world, it’s right up there.

The American Revolution was a time of conspiracies on both sides. Conspiracy historian Peter Knight wrote in 2002:

From the anti-Masonism of the 1820s and 1830s to the anti-Catholicism of the 1830s and 1840s, and from the anti-Mormonism of the 1850s to the anticommunism of the 1950s, fears of invasion and infiltration by un-American influences have repeatedly dominated the American political scene.

The United States was founded in the midst of conspiracies and intrigues (it’s one of the reasons that we do not allow an alien-born person to be our president). The idea that conspiracy theorists are just a few crazies infecting an essentially “normal” American culture just doesn’t match the historical record.

Knight’s lists suggest an “us v. them” mentality where “they” is defined as something different, other. If he had written that list today, I don’t doubt that anti-Muslim would have been added.

We value the rugged individualist—the frontiersman and the cowboy. A culture that values individualism is less likely to see the State as benign, but rather as something to be mistrusted and even feared.


“I’m not a real doctor, but I have a Masters Degree, in science!”

photo of motorcycle taxi in PeruAs the blog rapidly approaches it’s 7th anniversary, I am reminded that at one time there was a page on this site with a list of absurd-sounding degrees for Dr. Conspiracy, one degree I remember was from the Universidad de Motor Taxi in Lima, Peru. The page was lost in the reorganization of the site long ago, but it represented the whimsical nature of the “Dr. Conspiracy” character’s name. (Today the “About Dr. Conspiracy page” has a straightforward statement of my academic and professional history in real life.)

While I respect academic achievement, I also know that there are some with advanced degrees who lack the good sense that God gave rocks. Credentials amount to a presumption of competence in my book, but I expect more if I am going to adopt what someone says into my “store of facts.” And of course someone with a doctorate in one field, may not know squat about another field. Dr. Ben Carson comes to mind, as does investment advice from Dr. Jerome Corsi. I take a dim view of someone who uses an unearned or irrelevant “Dr.” in front of their real name in order to make them seem more credible.

Michael Shermer writes in his book, The Believing Brain, that the popular notion that smart people are less prone to believing “weird things” than dumb people, is a myth. He says:

…smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons.

When I was in high school, a fellow preached at our church saying something about some strain of influenza being a Chinese Communist plot. So afterwards I asked him for some evidence. He took my name and address, ostensibly to send me the proof, but what I got was his newsletter for years, addressed to Rev. N. W. Davidson.

Graduating clemson student with large tiger pawFor two decades I participated in the graduation ceremonies at Clemson University, where I led the singing of the school’s Alma Mater, at least twice a year. During that time I saw a great many honorary degrees bestowed with words about lifetime achievement, although most didn’t sound that impressive. The closest I ever got to an honorary degree was when one of the newly-installed Clemson presidents introduced me as “professor of music.”

photo of Real Pizza restaurantI used to get pizza a rather good place near where I lived, Real Pizza. I’d call in the order and leave my name. The owner who was operating the drive through window always called me “Dr. Davidson.” I asked him why he did that, and he said that I looked like a professor. Later when I went by and talked to someone else, they said he called everybody “Doctor.” 😆

According to Barry Soetoro, Esq., I may actually be a medical doctor whose real name is Chris Kaufmann, and in addition I could be William David Sanders, who died at the Columbine shooting. (I was once denied credit because I was deceased, but that is another story.)

Photos of Dr. Conspiracy, Chris Kaufmann, and William Sanders

I downplay my own very real honorary juris doctor degree. One of the reasons that I have done so is that up until now is that I couldn’t find the darned certificate. Heh, I should have looked in the filing cabinet in the folder labeled “Certificates.” 😳 So here are a my credentials, and you can click on it to get the official PDF version.


And in all honesty, I will stack that degree up against any honorary degree from a non-accredited school in the country. It represents (well I hope it does) recognition by my peers of my body of work online. I have learned a lot about the law since I began this blog, and I have also gotten a glimpse of how much I do not know about the law, so I take this opportunity to congratulate Mike Dunford who just recently took his oath as a real attorney in Hawaii. Well done Mike, well done! Mike’s achievement should be an object lesson to what can be accomplished in the time birthers that have wasted on trying to remove an elected President for spurious reasons and by unconstitutional means.

Mkie Meyers playing Dr. EvilI don’t think that “Dr. Conspiracy” misleads anyone about my real-life credentials. It’s supposed to be just a snappy character name, like “Dr. Doom, ” “Dr. Horrible”, “Dr. Demento,” or “Dr. Evil.” In the beginning I posted under the default WordPress user name, “admin,” but that seemed so “generic” that I cast about for some nom de Internet as a substitute and came up with “Dr. Conspiracy,” inspired by Dr. Science of the Ducks Breath Mystery Theater, who always gave the disclaimer: “I’m not a real doctor, but I have a Master’s Degree… in science!”

Read more:

Arrests at Birther Report imminent?

Claims are that the government is arresting people for anti-Obama comments on the Internet

I picked this story up from Robert C. Laity’s Facebook page, that Obama had a Marine arrested for anti-Obama comments on Facebook. I found many similar stories all over the Internet. The FBI program cited in these stories (Operation Vigilant Eagle) exists to identify and prevent violent attacks from white supremacists and militia/sovereign-citizen extremist groups.

It is true that a former Marine named Brandon Raub was committed in 2012 (yeah, three years ago) after local law enforcement believed that he was a threat to himself and others, after he posted violent threats on Facebook

John Whitehead, writing at The Rutherford Institute (the source for many of the Internet copycat stories), said: “In the four years since the start of Operation Vigilant Eagle, the government has steadily ramped up its campaign to ‘silence’ dissidents, especially those with military backgrounds.” He was able to cite only one instance, the Raub case, in support of the “steadily ramped up” claim. (PS: He mentions Hitler.)

Whitehead and many of the conspiracist articles quote “journalist” Anthony Martin who describes a mental health diagnosis called “oppositional defiance disorder” (ODD) in a way that makes it sound like political dissent1. The actual condition is called “oppositional defiant disorder” and it applies to children and teens with (according to the Mayo clinic), a “persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance towards [parents] and other authority figures.” The original Anthony Martin article appeared at in 2012.

Read more:

1“denotes that the person exhibits ‘symptoms’ such as the questioning of authority, the refusal to follow directions, stubbornness, the unwillingness to go along with the crowd, and the practice of disobeying or ignoring orders. Persons may also receive such a label if they are considered free thinkers, nonconformists, or individuals who are suspicious of large, centralized government… At one time the accepted protocol among mental health professionals was to reserve the diagnosis of oppositional defiance disorder for children or adolescents who exhibited uncontrollable defiance toward their parents and teachers.”

Adjudication in South Carolina?

Is the “First in the South Primary” and an eligibility statute the perfect storm for a Ted Cruz legal challenge?

SCI think that any presidential election challenge brought after the US general election is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts. By then it’s a political question, and the Electoral College and Congress are the branches of government assigned the responsibility for choosing of the next president under the Constitution.

The US Constitution and statutes grant considerable control over the conduct of elections to the states, and they may impose rules on potential candidates, including oaths affirming eligibility, viability, fees, and forms. States have excluded potential presidential candidates for eligibility, recently Peta Lindsay in California on account of age, but I don’t recall that the Supreme Court has ever ruled on a case where a presidential candidate was refused ballot position by a state for eligibility reasons. Should a state refuse a candidate’s place on its presidential primary ballot, there is a ready-made scenario for that challenger to sue, but it seems very unlikely that any state would do that based on the birther “two citizen parent and born in the country” theory, given the extreme minority opinion status of that opinion.

Some state courts have ruled (e.g. Florida and Georgia) that presidential primaries are party elections and that the state has no say in who goes on the ballot, once certified by the party, so suing the state is no good. The party itself has discretion, for example, the South Carolina Democratic Party refused to register Stephen Colbert in 2012 because they said he was not a viable national candidate–there was no lawsuit.

So it seems to me that IF there is any chance for a successful lawsuit to adjudicate candidate eligibility, a state party or a national party would have to be the defendant, and the challenger would most likely have to be a credible opposition candidate in order to have standing. The case could either be brought before a primary election in the case of a state party defendant, or between the primaries and the national convention in the case of a national party defendant. In any case, the challenge must be brought early to have an effect. An adverse ruling to a candidate would have tremendous influence, generating precedent and national attention, and what better venue than South Carolina’s “First in the South Primary” to be held February 20, 2016, for that challenge?

Candidates that have filed (and not yet withdrawn) in South Carolina:

  • Marco Rubio
  • Jeb Bush
  • John Kasich
  • Ben Carson
  • Ted Cruz
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Rick Santorum
  • Bobby Jindal
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Donald Trump
  • Rand Paul
  • Jim Gilmore
  • Chris Christie
  • George Pataki

The law in South Carolina on presidential preference primaries requires that the state parties certify to the SC Election Commission that the candidates are eligible under the Constitution. In particular Section 7-11-20(B)(2) includes:

Political parties must verify the qualifications of candidates prior to certifying to the State Election Commission the names of candidates to be placed on primary ballots. The written certification required by this section must contain a statement that each certified candidate meets, or will meet by the time of the general election, or as otherwise required by law, the qualifications in the United States Constitution, statutory law, and party rules to participate in the presidential preference primary for which he has filed. Political parties must not certify any candidate who does not or will not by the time of the general election meet the qualifications in the United States Constitution, statutory law, and party rules for the presidential preference primary for which the candidate desires to file, and such candidate’s name must not be placed on a primary ballot.

So maybe candidate Donald Trump (or some have suggested John Kasich) could sue the South Carolina Republican Party to prevent the party from certifying Ted Cruz (or Rubio, Santorum or Jindal) to the Election Commission for the February 2016 presidential preference primary on the grounds that he is not eligible. If they do, they need to get busy. February is right around the corner.


Democratic congressman threatens Cruz eligibility lawsuit

Breitbart News reports that Florida Congressman Alan Grayson spoke yesterday (November 25, 2015) to Alan Colmes on his Fox News Radio program, and said:

photo of Rep. Alan Grayson the Constitution says natural-born Americans, so now we’re counting Canadians as natural born Americans? How does that work? I’m waiting for the moment that [Ted Cruz] gets the nomination and then I will file that beautiful lawsuit saying that he’s unqualified for the job because he’s ineligible…. Absolutely! Call me crazy but I think the president of America should be an American.

You’re crazy.

In July of 2014 Grayson told MSNBC that he didn’t think Cruz had a chance:

Since Ted Cruz is a Canadian, and our Constitution requires that an American win, I’m pretty sure that it’s not going to be Ted Cruz.

Deep blue liberal Grayson said that Cruz hadn’t even reached “anchor baby” status. In his characteristic shoot-from-the-hip style, he quipped:

In Cruz’s case, it is obvious what happened. The Canadians got pissed off at us for acid rain, so they gave us Ted Cruz.

In my opinion Grayson lacks standing to bring such a lawsuit.

Grayson is seeking the Republican Senate seat from Florida in 2016.