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Operation American Spring v. Lymanfest

Blogger predicts small-town festival will out-draw national protest

imageI’ve lived in Lyman, South Carolina, for 6 years now but so far I’ve not actually made it to Lymanfest, the annual town celebration. I tried to go one year, but I couldn’t find it (they never mention on the web site exactly where it is), and I’ll miss it again this year because I’ll be attending the Obot meetup in Philadelphia that weekend.

I feel pretty confident that Lymanfest will significantly out-draw the Obot meetup, but Operation American Spring I’m not sure about. I give Lymanfest the edge. All three events are scheduled at the same time.

Neither Operation American Spring nor Lymanfest is getting much media coverage beyond niche Internet sites and social networking. On Facebook, Lymanfest is trailing OAS by a considerable margin. The official OAS Facebook page has 5,611 “likes” as of this writing compared to 65 for Lymanfest. There are OAS splinter group pages (here and here) that are doing better.

imageI am trying to get estimates on Lymanfest attendance. The original claims from OAS organizer Col. Harry Riley (US Army ret.) said that there “1.8 million definite militia members” coming (reported Mother Jones back on January); however, that number has been called into question since it exceeds by several orders of magnitude the total number of militia members in the United States. The Vocativ web site published an informative article on OAS yesterday titled, “A Former Colonel Plans to Overthrow the U.S. Government on May 16,” subtitled, “The founder Of Operation American Spring is planning a million-man march on D.C. But will anyone show up?”

Unlike Lymanfest, which is a single-day event, Operation American Spring envisions persons camping out in the Capitol until President Obama, Eric Holder, and the Congressional leadership resigns. President Obama will leave office January 20, 2017.

My personal prediction is that Lymanfest will be the attendance winner. I don’t think that many Americans want to turn the United States into Egypt.

No room on the fence

Here’s the headline at Mother Jones: “Birther John Philip Sousa IV Wants a Tea Party Darling to Run for President.” Mr. Sousa is, it seems, a disciple of Donald Trump, saying in an interview with Tim Murphy,

I mean, can you unequivocally say that Obama was born in the United States? I can’t. … I don’t trust [the documentation]. I don’t distrust it. I don’t know.

The Obama Conspiracy Theories Glossary defines “birther” as “someone who believes Barack Obama is not eligible to be President of the United States by reason of the facts of his birth.” Sousa doesn’t make himself a birther by that definition, but the way such statements are usually understood, his meaning is probably closer to “I don’t think Obama’s eligible to be President, but I’m not willing to commit myself on the record (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more).”

So I am not going to criticize Andy Kroll’s characterization of Sousa as a birther, any more than I would criticize someone who called Donald Trump a birther.

Georgia lawmakers briefed on Obama mind control plot

One of the goofier Obama conspiracies that I have covered in the past 4 years involves a story that Obama is using mind-control techniques to make people vote for him. One of my earliest articles was “Barack Obama Won the Presidency THROUGH HYPNOSIS.”

GOP lawmakers in Georgia, reports Mother Jones magazine, had a closed-door meeting of their caucus to view a video on Agenda 21, a non-binding UN resolution on sustainable development that some nut cases think is a plot to implement one-world government, and according to presenters, Barack Obama is using a Cold War mind-control technique called Delphi to depopulate the cities to achieve something akin to the Chinese Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong.

Anyhow, take a gander at the Mother Jones including a 50-minute video of what lawmakers saw and a healthy serving of some of the crème de la crazy that’s out there.

Circular reporting

According to the Wikipedia:

In source criticism, circular reporting or false confirmation is a situation where a piece of information appears to come from multiple independent sources, but in fact is coming from only one source. In most cases, the problem happens mistakenly through sloppy intelligence gathering practices, but in a few cases, the situation was believed to have been intentionally caused by the original source.

Chart showing circular reporting or divergent and convergent reporting

An attorney, who comments here occasionally, remarked that the recent article in Mother Jones that linked to me was an example of “circular reporting.”

Here’s a circle: I wrote an article titled, “Mother Jones: The Obama Conspiracy-o-rama.” It, of course, references Mother Jones; the article is “Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever” that has a link to my own page, “The Debunker’s Guide to Obama Conspiracy Theories.” One of the items in “The Debunker’s Guide” is a link to an article of mine titled “Obama’s legal fees” and one of the sources for that article was Mother Jones.1

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Mother Jones: The Obama Conspiracy-o-rama

Mother Jones Conspiracy ChartMother Jones has done an impressive chart of many of the conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, and this puts into perspective how little of the total nuttery about Obama that I actually cover on this blog.

Following the chart is a list of what’s on the chart, with explanation and follow-up hyperlinks. Somebody did a lot of work. You’ll have to visit Mother Jones to see the full-sized chart, but I will include just this one item from among many:

Obama was born in Kenya: In early 2008, fringe theorists began a push to prove Obama was born on foreign soil and was therefore ineligible to live in the White House. The theory gained national attention thanks to the efforts of perennial GOP candidate Alan Keyes, "birther queen" Orly Taitz, and Corsi. Related: Obama’s birth certificate is a fake, he killed his grandmother in Hawaii because she knew the truth, sealed access to his birth certificate and other damning documents, and did pretty much everything horrible you could possibly do for the sake of a phony birth certificate.

I was already familiar with the chart, but one of the commenters here tipped me off about something I didn’t know, that the first and last hyperlinks in that section point to my own Debunker’s Guide to Obama Conspiracy Theories. That was nice!

Obama’s legal fees

An argument in the form of a question

Central to the birther position is a question that is some variation of:

If Obama has nothing to hide, when why has he spent $81 Berjillion1 dollars on legal fees to seal his records?”

This question actually hides two assumptions:

  1. Obama has spent $81 Berjillion1 dollars on legal fees
  2. Obama is using lawyers to seal his records

Usually, since the argument is made in the form of a question, no one actually justifies the underlying claims in the question. Let’s look at them.

Obama has spent $81 Berjillion dollars on legal fees

Where does this number come from? I’ve seen two arguments. The first involves the fact that the same legal firm, Perkins Coie, represented both President Obama and his Presidential Campaign. Federal Election Commission filings reveal millions of dollars in legal fees spent by the Campaign. If one had the total of all the legal expenses and subtracted all the other campaign legal expenses, what would be left should be what was spent by the Campaign defending Obama eligibility lawsuits. However, since the “all other” number is not known, the answer is just a wild guess. Another approach is to assume that all other campaign legal expenses ended the moment Obama was elected and that every legal expense since them is for defending Obama eligibility lawsuits. However, one need only glance at the FEC page to see hundreds of campaign filings made since November of 2008 and add that to the cost of FEC post-election audits. To top that off, no one has shown (to my knowledge) that any Campaign dollars went to defend Obama eligibility lawsuits. Continue Reading →