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Dr. Conspiracy, sworn peace officer?

iVotronic voting machine with standToday is the day of the historic election to decide the future form of government for our town. Vote “Yes” signs are all over. It’s 6:25 AM as I type this and, if all is going according to schedule, election managers have been at the town hall for 10 minutes already setting up the iVotronic voting machines, putting up signs, making sure that the site is physically accessible for everyone and preparing for the thousands of potential voters who will decide our town’s future.

In South Carolina, election managers are sworn peace officers with full powers to enforce election laws within the polling places. I have been seriously considering trying to become one of them. I am told that county-wide we are short 300 people. The pay is not all that good, $60 for a 14-hour day (and another $60 for attending training), but is is a civic duty and a public good to serve.


Negativity merchants

I just saw this in our Twitter feed:


This comes on the heels of a hilarious August 7 segment on Colbert Nation on the Ebola panic that makes the serious point that an Ebola outbreak is something we’re being told to be afraid of, even though no one has come down with Ebola in the United States yet.


All of this gives some context for a new university study published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences that says that conservatives tend to be more responsive to negative news than liberals. refers to the study in their July 29 article, “Secrets of the right-wing brain: New study proves it—conservatives see a different, hostile world.

The more nuanced journal article (which unlike Salon doesn’t mention birthers) says:

…A rapidly growing body of empirical evidence documents a multitude of ways in which liberals and conservatives differ from each other in purviews of life with little direct connection to politics, from tastes in art to desire for closure and from disgust sensitivity to the tendency to pursue new information, but the central theme of the differences is a matter of debate. In this article, we argue that one organizing element of the many differences between liberals and conservatives is the nature of their physiological and psychological responses to features of the environment that are negative. Compared with liberals, conservatives tend to register greater physiological responses to such stimuli and also to devote more psychological resources to them.


Jesse Ventura, birther?

imageWill I have to add James George Janos (aka Jesse Ventura) to the Birthers from A to Z list? The former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler has launched a podcasting series, “We the People,” and in the first episode, he covers the birther issue, according to the online edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

During the premiere episode last week, Ventura interviewed [Adam] Carolla and discussed the Pope and the birther issue.1

Minnesota-themed web site goes further to say:

Yes, you read that right. He still has questions about the birther issue.

Ventura has been a guest on the Alex Jones InfoWars show, and Ventura hosted a series of programs titled “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” covering everything from reptiles in the British monarchy to HAARP.

But is Ventura a birther? None of the news stories cited above actually link to the podcast, but I do:

So on the question of whether Ventura is a birther or not, I found this smoking gun. In a discussion of the recent Rasmussen poll on conspiracy beliefs, Ventura says:

It’s not shocking to me that Republicans, like in this survey, believe that Barack Obama wasn’t born here, well, because they want to. It gives them an excuse then, if they believe that. They’re anti-Obama and it reinforces their belief.

Jesse Ventura doesn’t sound like a birther to me. He does say, as a general proposition, that questioning the official story is “healthy and good.”

1Note that Ventura does not discuss the Pope and birthers with Adam Carolla, but before the Carolla segment.


A birther questions his assumptions

With the notable exception of Michael Shrimpton who has not really been a mainstay of the birther movement, birthers have been remarkably consistent in their agreement on President Obama’s day of birth, August 4, 1961. No matter where in the world they think the President was born, that date has always been the date, even though it causes problems for their alternate histories. Even the Lucas Smith fake Kenyan birth certificate has that date.

Now, however, Jack Cashill raises the issue and suggests that Obama could younger by 5 years! The article, “Obama Turned 53—Or Did He?” at WorldNetDaily and his own web site,, is the usual collection of petty smears and catty insults. Here’s an example:

If there ever were a romance between Dunham and Barack Senior, it likely started at closing time and ended when Senior sobered up.

In reality Cashill is not really suggesting Obama is impossibly younger than it says on his birth certificate, but actually criticizing a remark Obama made in a speech in Selma in 2007 where he talks about events in Selma making his own birth possible. The discussion of the date of birth, coincident with Obama’s birth day, is nothing more than a way to make a largely-discredited smear topical again. The alleged anachronism was analyzed at 6 years ago, and interested readers can follow the link and evaluate their argument.


The other way to remove President Obama

Of all the improbable scenario’s to remove President Obama from office, there is one that the birthers missed. They don’t have to prove anything. They don’t have to find “high crimes.” All they have to do is pass a Constitutional amendment to do away with the executive branch of government.

This solution is not entirely out of the blue, because it’s happening in my own town. While everybody attempting to change our Mayor-Council form of government to a Council form says it’s not about personalities, digging into the issue always leads to a number of problems centering on the current mayor. One allegation says that one of the Mayor’s cronies used a city Air Card to run up a $500 bill one month, including watching the classic film, “Lesbian Vampire Killers” (that got quite a reaction at the town meeting). Whatever the details, one objective fact is that we have a 150% turnover rate in town staff and to quote one councilmember, “that’s a problem.”

Those who want a change are not just banging their keyboards in protest, but have gone through the legal process to call a special election, scheduled for next Tuesday.

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