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Patriot Games

So with Lent being over, I went over to Birther Report and made some comments, on their Michael Shrimpton article. Even Jerome Corsi doesn’t take Shrimpton all that seriously, but some of the commenters there were all over some massive conspiracy involving the UK and Shrimpton, corrupt government officials and who knows what else.

The whole thing was so extremely silly that I made a suggestion that what I was reading was some kind of role playing fantasy game of “Evil Obama.” In reply, I got this from Martha Trowbridge:

No Patriot is playing; we are warring. … Obama and his co-conspirators are, de facto, evil.

The other thing that set me off was a title over at Orly Taitz’ site:

Report: Fracking Has Reduced CO2 More Than All the Solar Panels & Wind Turbines in the World

That counterintuitive statement refers to an article that refers to an article at Fox News by John Stossel. Stossel’s article doesn’t even hint at how fracking reduces CO2 emissions, by the way. A Fox News internal memorandum from Bill Sammon, managing editor of the Washington bureau of Fox News said:

We should refrain from the assertion that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period of time without immediately pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. (“The Loudest Voice in the Room” by Gabriel Sherman, p. 322)

In fairness to Stossel, fracking is reducing greenhouse gasses because it creates more natural gas, which in turn has led power plant operators to switch from coal to natural gas; however, petroleum industry claims of the amount of reduction seem exaggerated, attributing all the gains to this switch while ignoring the reduced demand for heating due to climate warming, and the increasing efficiency of the US automobile fleet. Further, natural gas production may actually increase global warming due to issues with its production.

I guess my point is that extremely polarized positions about energy policy founded on biased or manipulated numbers are not much different from polarized political positions in Congress. The public debate should be based on the best science. To put the future of the planet in a secondary position to an agenda is unpatriotic.

I don’t find Fox News’ policy very patriotic, any more than the Birther Report commenter knee-jerk belief in everything bad about Obama.

It seems that the Congress (at least the Republican half and perhaps the other side) is playing a game to annihilate the other party rather than move the country along. I can’t see how the right-wing secessionist factions can honestly pledge allegiance to the flag (“One nation under God, indivisible”). It seems that extremists on both sides virtually loathe America.

So where are the real patriots these days?

I think our armed forces are filled with patriotic Americans. The folks who obey the law and pay their taxes, the informed voters, the people who volunteer in civic activities to help children and the disabled—these are patriotic Americans.

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Unfair and unbalanced

I just added Fritz Wenzel to my list of “Birthers From A – Z,” based on an article at Media Matters for America. They wrote:

Wenzel is a birther who has called President Obama an “imposter,” and teamed up with conspiracy site WND to push dubious polling about the president’s birth certificate.

A couple of days ago, I finished reading Gabriel Sherman’s book, The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News–and Divided a Country. The book documented what I empirically observed, Fox News is intentionally propaganda and entertainment, not news. Their trademarked “fair and balanced” means that they will go as far as they can to the right to balance what they perceive as a media bias to the left. I also learned from that book that Media Matters for America was created largely as a response to Fox News.

As a general rule I don’t watch Fox News or read Media Matters. While I find useful material at the MMA web site, I am also troubled by their readiness to label someone a birther, and in this case it’s Fritz Wenzel. It is not without some hesitation that I added Wenzel to the “Birthers from A to Z” list. I followed the MMA article to a source at RightWingWatch a site belonging to People for the American Way, and from there to two WorldNetDaily articles questioning President Obama’s eligibility (2009) and his legitimacy (2010). Those WND articles left me wondering whether Wenzel was a birther or simply a propagandist, and I am also wary of any claims that someone is a birther today based on what they said before April of 2011 when President Obama released his long form, and the number of birthers in polls tumbled. I’ll go with the preponderance of evidence in the case of Wenzel and leave him on my birther list, but proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not there in my mind. (I have a similar pause with the non-rigorous use of the “racist” label.)

The Ailes biography has certainly spawned much thought on my part about propaganda. I have a long-standing aversion to any attempt to mislead others with tricky words, and misrepresented facts. I personally believe that the best way to fight fire is not with fire, but with water; or un-metaphorically, the best way to fight bias is with non-bias, not more bias in the opposite direction. This is why when I want news, I go to NPR and PBS, not MSNBC.

Banned ‘Birther’ Breaks the BR Censorship Barrier

The Cold Case Posse’s “Universe Shattering” Evidence

Opinion: By Brian Reilly To: Kevin Davidson, Dr. Conspiracy

Once again, America is being told by Birther news outlets that new, universe shattering evidence about the Obama investigation will be released by Commander Mike Zullo and his non-profit, all volunteer, Cold Case Posse in March, or possibly April or possibly May or, possibly never, depending on who the Birther spokesperson is for the day. Even if new evidence were released this month, the Cold Case Posse has cried wolf so many times, who really is going to listen, except hardcore, agenda driven Birthers?

But wait a minute…..Brian Reilly…..isn’t he a Birther? Why is he writing to Dr. Conspiracy??? I’m glad that you asked. I’ve been banned at many Birther websites, including Birther Report. Many Birther sites put my comments into an endless, black cavern of moderation with my comments never seeing the light of day or the courtesy of a reply or a posting. My comments don’t fit the Birther narrative. On one particularly nefarious Birther website I’ve read threats and defamatory statements directed toward me for simply speaking my opinion. Do these tactics sound familiar? I came to Dr. Conspiracy’s website because, I had no other choice. I believed that he would give me the freedom to write and publish my thoughts. I was right. I am grateful for Dr. Conspiracy’s courtesy.

Yes, Dr. Conspiracy has me listed on his Birthers A-Z list, but I have never considered myself a Birther. I simply had questions about President Obama’s birth certificate, based on the PDF I saw posted on April 27, 2011 on the White House website. Many wanted answers as did I. But no, I don’t consider myself a Birther. Continue Reading →

Feeling informed

I’m currently reading a biography of Roger Ailes, titled The Loudest Voice in the Room, that includes this quote:

Viewers don’t want to be informed; they want to feel informed.

– Chet Collier
– Co-developer of Fox News Network

That fits so much that I see every day in the birther business. I get these chain emails that sound so authoritative and so knowing, but are actually junk. I read on Birther Report that “everybody knows” or “every expert says” that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, when that’s actually nonsense. They feel so very knowing and superior, but it only takes a minute engaging them with details to expose the fact that they are not informed at all.

Feeling informed feels good. How do you take that away from folks?

The State of the Union

The President will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday. My interest was piqued by a line from pre-address coverage at The Hill saying:

President Obama hopes to push the reset button on his second term Tuesday when he delivers the State of the Union address to Congress and a primetime television audience.

If there were to be a birther rebuttal to the State of the Union, it might well have the theme of pushing the reset button on Obama’s first term. But that’s not going to happen and as far as I am concerned, whatever birther relevance there was ended with the re-election of Barack Obama last year. A news article mentioning “birther” today is more likely to be about Ted Cruz or someone else, than about Barack Obama.

While the state of the birthers today is abysmal, irrational right-wing beliefs about Barack Obama, and world affairs in general, are strong, and this should be no surprise. The most successful news organization in the country is the Fox News Channel, and it is run by a man who believes that Barack Obama is a socialist and that climate change is a hoax spread by foreign countries to try to get an advantage over the United States. Roger Ailes1, President of Fox News Channel, was instrumental in the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. His message of fear and division is not only on home television screens, but in many restaurants and medical waiting rooms in this area. The Colbert Report this week had a piece on a recent court decision about “net neutrality” and gave three clips from three news organizations, highlighting by comparison Fox News fear mongering:

CBS: The way we use the Internet could change after a federal appeals court struck down “net neutrality” rules.

PBS: The fallout over a big decision may change now the web works and the future of so-called “net neutrality”

Fox News: We could be witnessing the end of the Internet as we know it.

Some furor has arisen after a recent series remarks by a Republican House candidate Joshua Black from Florida who said on Twitter of Barack Obama:

I’m past impeachment. It’s time to arrest and hang him high.

and

He should be executed for treason. I think the appropriate punishment is death. They killed Benedict Arnold.2 (Obama) shouldn’t be allowed to kill Americans without a trial.

The liberal web site Politicus USA wrote of this incident:

The real issue isn’t the mental health issues of Joshua Black, but the fact that so many Republicans agree with him.

But look at right-wing news coverage that leads to this kind of thinking:

  • Obama Care Exemption – None Dare Call it Treason (Washington Times)
  • Treason Season at the State Department (Fox News)
  • Cheney: Obama Giving ‘Aid and Comfort to the Enemy’ (Fox News)
  • ‘Fast and Furious’ an Act of Treason? (Fox News)
  • Romney supporters mock Obama, Call Him Treasonous (Newsmax)

If one wonders why so many people believe something as crazy as Barack Obama being a socialist doing everything he can to destroy the country, it is because they belong to a community where this belief is the norm, lead by a powerful persuader who actually believes it. Folks like me do not understand the seeming insanity of extreme conservatives because we do not live in the world as it is portrayed to them by Fox News and its kindred.

A nation only survives when it shares some basic level consensus and good will, so I conclude that the State of the Union is precarious so long as divisive voices have such professional skill and reach. Only time will tell. I will leave you with this quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.


1There’s a lot on the Internet this month about Roger Ailes due to the publication of a new biography of him: The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News—and Divided a Country by Gabriel Sherman.

2Actually Benedict Arnold went to England where he eventually died of natural causes.

Sock Puppets Pro

When commenting on the Internet, have you ever been accused of being a pro-Obama propagandist paid for by George Soros? I have, lots. Here’s an example from ORYR:

You are deliberately spreading propaganda, deception, lies & misinformation. You are exposed as a paid Soros & Obama obot & fraud. Dr. C’s intentional propaganda, deception, lies & misinformation = -100 Truth & Facts = + 100. You always are a loser with your paid propaganda lies, misinformation, deception you promote.

I’ve been among the anti-birther community for approaching 5 years now, and I have never found any reason to suspect that any of the regular anti-birther cast has any connection for Soros, or gets paid for their online activity, quite the contrary, and I don’t have any evidence that this is the case with the birther side either, but …

In a new book NPR media reporter David Folkenflik discloses that Fox News’ paid PR staffers did write pseudonymous blog posts to counter negative or even neutral comments about Fox News on Internet blogs. They used various techniques to erase links back to Fox, including using untraceable broadband Internet connections and even resorted to an AOL dial-up connection to obscure their multiple accounts. A former Fox News staffer disclosed that they had personally used 100 fake accounts to plant Fox-friendly commentary.

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