The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘socialism’

Addressing Birthers: Turning the Tables and Outright Mockery

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 24, 2012

In the last few days, the political process in the great state of Arizona has been made a mockery of by one of its own highest elected officials, Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett.  That’s because Bennett mentioned last week in an interview that due to “outstanding questions” regarding President Obama’s citizenship, he might have to withold Obama from the Arizona ballot in November’s presidential election.  He stated that while he personally believed that Obama is a U.S. citizen, he also had a duty to “investigate” because he kept getting emails (about 1200 of them) demanding proof of Obama’s citizenship.  Essentially, a bunch of birther conspiracy theorists pestered Bennett, and he went off on this fool’s errand as a way of appeasing these nutbags in the base of his own Republican party.

But the joke’s on Bennett, because not only did the state of Hawaii address his concerns (by providing solid evidence, yet again, that proves Obama was born in the U.S.), but it did so by turning the tables on Bennett and his fellow birthers:

Hawaii’s Now Asking Birthers to Prove Who They Are

Ken Bennett, Arizona’s secretary of state, is the latest person to question the President’s birthplace, although he’s doing it the way people do when they want to call it into question but don’t want to seem like a loon. Bennett, a Republican who perhaps coincidentally is planning to run for governor in 2014, said on a radio show last week that he’s looking into the issue, and that it’s “possible” he might keep Obama off the Arizona ballot in 2012, not because he thinks the President isn’t a “natural-born citizen” but because some other people say they think that and so he’s gotta look into it. …

… In the meantime, though, he’s just waiting (apart from his other secretarial duties) for Hawaii officials to provide verification. He said on the show that he was puzzled it took them eight weeks to respond to his request, and when they did respond they still didn’t give him what he wanted.

Instead, they asked him to prove who he was:

On Thursday, Bennett said he sent his request to Hawaii officials eight weeks ago but has yet to get the proof he was hoping for…. In the weeks since then, Bennett said, Hawaii officials have forced him to provide proof that he is who he says he is. They asked him to send them copies of the Arizona laws that prove the secretary of state really is the person in charge of handling the ballots. Admittedly, Bennett said they told him they were “tired of all the requests.” But he is continuing anyway.

Oh my, that’s embarrassing!

This is why, whenever I get into a discussion with birthers, I first insist that they prove – to my satisfaction – that they are citizens of the United States by giving me a copy of their birth certificate.  You can just imagine how happy they are to hear their own stupid arguments turned back at them :)

But it gets even better.  Apparently, Bennett was using the fact that he received so many requests (about 1200 or so via email) about President Obama’s citizenship as justification for this colossal waste of time and resources.  So how can one respond to such a wimpy excuse for backpeddling out of such a dumb position?  Answer: outright mockery…

Mitt Romney: Is He a Unicorn? More Than 17,000 People Want Ken Bennett to Find Out

Is GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney a businessman? Or is he really a unicorn?
At the time of this post, more than 17,000 people would like Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett to find out.
In response to the 1,200 “birthers” who asked Bennett to verify with the state of Hawaii — yet again — that President Obama has a birth certificate there, the left-wingers would also like Bennett to check out their conspiracy theory.
“I understand you are considering kicking President Obama off the ballot because some people continue to raise questions about his birth,” the petition to Bennett says. “Well, I believe it cannot be proven conclusively that Mitt Romney is *not* a unicorn. A unicorn would not be qualified to be president. Thus, I hope you will apply the same standard to Romney, and investigate the unicorn question.”
Indeed, Romney has never denied being a unicorn, and the left-wingers say it’s possible Romney’s hair could be covering up a unicorn horn. …

Ridiculous?  Of course it is – but that’s the whole point!  Once you have set the bar so low by trying to kowtow to the level of birther conspiracy mongering, you might as well open the door to ludicrous inquiries such as that above about the Romney-Unicorn.

Congratulations, Mr. Bennett!  You’ve earned this:

Posted in conspiracy theories, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Putting “Birther” Stupidity Into Context: President Obama Gets Osama Bin Laden

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 2, 2011

This image, which seems to be getting spread around the Internet, puts the entire stupidity of the conspiracy-mongering “birther” movement into context…

‘Nuff said :)

Posted in conspiracy theories, humor, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Laughing at Birther Conspiracy Theorists: Stephen Colbert Combines Humor & Skepticism

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 30, 2011

In a hilarious example of calling the bluff of the conspiracy-mongering, reality-challenged, walking hairpiece that is Donald Trump (along with all of his “birther” buddies), President Obama produced his long-form birth certificate.  Of course, Obama’s U.S. citizenship was solidly established long, long ago (as clearly outlined at this Snopes.com link), but the birthers kept on moving the goalposts and making ever-more crazy demands for evidence.

Now that President Obama has provided his long-form birth certificate, you can expect the birthers to move the goalposts once again and go even further down the rabbit-hole (in true conspiracy theorist fashion).  In fact, to give you a sense of what is likely to come, satirist Stephen Colbert quite effectively skewers Donald Trump & the entire birther movement – enjoy! :)

**Follow-up: In an astonishing example of moving the goalposts & special pleading, like I mentioned above, take a look at what the “Queen of the Birthers” – Orly Taitz – has to say to journalist Lawrence O’Donnell when he directly challenges her on the fact that President Obama produced the very birth certificate she has for so long demanded.  This is utterly amazing, and it gives a clear view into the twisted mind of a dedicated, true-believing conspiracy theorist.  Wow…

Posted in conspiracy theories, humor, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Donald Trump & Birtherism: How to Argue with Birthers?

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 12, 2011

Lately, billionaire & bad-hair aficionado Donald Trump has been getting a lot of press by going around the talk show circuit and making references to the supposedly “questionable status” of President Obama’s U.S. citizenship.  In case you didn’t know, there is a name for this particular brand of reality-denying conspiracy mongering: birtherism. (And, just for the record in case you didn’t know, President Obama is a natural born U.S. citizen ;) )

And, yes, it seems that – for whatever reason – Donald Trump has jumped aboard the birther crazy train.  I don’t know if this is for him to gain traction among the hardcore conservative base of the Republican party (a whopping 51% of whom believe President Obama wasn’t born in the United States!) before announcing a bid for the presidency or if it could all just be a publicity stunt in order to get Trump more face-time with the media (and therefore, more money).  Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: the media has swallowed Trump’s line of codswallop hook, line, and sinker.

And there’s the rub, folks.  By the mere fact that the media is giving all of this attention to Trump in the first place, in a sick sort of way it gives him (and, by extension, his nutty “birther” claims) a kind of validity.  The best thing the media could do is to simply ignore this kind of nonsense; there should be no “fair & balanced” reporting on this issue, because those who continue to peddle this stupid conspiracy theory are dead, flat wrong.  To steal a phrase from Christopher Hitchens, Trump and his birther buddies are not the kind of people that should be taken seriously at all; in fact, they’re the kind of people who should be spouting their lunacy out on the streets while they sell pencils from a tin cup!

So the best thing the media could do, if they were interested in covering real news stories instead of sensationalistic garbage, is to tell Trump to take a hike.

Now, if you are confronted by a birther and there is no way to avoid the conversation with them, how should you engage them?  I have one piece of advice on this, and – thus far – it has never failed me.  Tell them that in order for them to have a valid opinion on the issue of President Obama’s citizenship, they must first prove, using their own standards of evidence, their own status as a natural born U.S. citizen.  In short, they must provide to you the following:

1.  Their original birth certificate.
2. A newspaper clipping that highlights their birth.
3. Records proving that their mother was present in America at the time of birth.
4. Investigations from multiple fact-checking organizations that have held the documents with their own hands to verify that the documents from #1-3 exist and are authentic.
5. A press release by at least two officials within the state of birth, verifying that these records are on file.

After the birther has provided said evidence, which seems to sum up the current standard of evidence which they demand that President Obama provide, then tell them they can go on and spin their claims all they want.

Every time I have confronted a birther with this line of argumentation, the result is universally the same: they either ignore the challenge, get angry about you questioning their “patriotism”, or they scuttle away to hide under the nearest rock.  And if they get offended and/or try to run away or change the subject, hit them with this one: “Why won’t you provide this evidence?  What are you hiding?!!” (cue spooky music :) )

Try it sometime.  You’ll find the results very revealing somewhat entertaining, too.  Perhaps the next time Donald Trump is on television, the next media personality to interview him will have some real balls and ask him to put up or shut up.

Posted in conspiracy theories, media woo, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Rep. Barney Frank PWNs Holocaust Deniers at his Town Hall!

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 19, 2009

In the ongoing drama that are the August town hall meetings in the U.S., the stupidity displayed by some continues to amaze me. Probably the most vile thing being spewed by various rightwing nutbags are comparisons of health care reform to Nazism.  In fact, this can be viewed as a kind of Holocaust denial, because it ignores & distorts the real reasons why the Nazis murdered so many people in that dark period of human history…

Health care debate turns vile with Nazi analogy

Right-wing loudmouths distort history, diminish true evil of the Holocaust

Rush Limbaugh and those invoking the Nazi analogy to attack President Barack Obama’s effort to reform health care in America are not “insane” as David Brooks pronounced on last Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the rest of the loud-mouthed right wing are, when they even hint at an analogy to the Nazis in talking about Obama’s health reform effort, engaged in something far worse than insanity. They are engaged in the vile evil of Holocaust denial. …

But if you want a REAL treat, just take a few moments to watch this video of Rep. Barney Frank from Massachusetts putting one of these lunatics in her place:

Let me put this very simply: this isn’t about whether you prefer Obama’s health care plan or not, it is about crushing nonsensical, conspiracy theorist b.s.  Politicians of both parties should watch Frank’s response and copy it in their town halls. If they don’t have the balls to stand up to some fruitcake spouting “health care reform = Nazism” nonsense, then they don’t deserve to be in office. I don’t care who they are… Republican or Democrat. That sort of vile & stupid talk has no place in civil and mature discourse, and our elected officials should have the courage to stand up against it.

Frank’s response was spot frakkin’ on. Win :D

Posted in Holocaust denial, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Sarah Palin: A Case Study in the Politics of Lies & Nonsense

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 14, 2009

I recently posted about how irrational & uncivil the discourse on health care reform has become, and the role that extreme right wingers have in it.  Well, now former VP candidate and Alaska governor Sarah Palin has provided a perfect example of how insane & dishonest these nutters can be in the pursuit of their ideology.

Recently, Palin made an outlandish, and completely false, claim about President Obama’s proposals to overhaul health care – specifically, she made a claim about “death panels” that would encourage euthanasia of the elderly & children with birth defects which was subsequently & thoroughly debunked by non-partisan sources…

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says the health care overhaul bill would set up a “death panel.” Federal bureaucrats would play God, ruling on whether ailing seniors are worth enough to society to deserve life-sustaining medical care. Palin and other critics are wrong. Nothing in the legislation would carry out such a bleak vision. The provision that has caused the uproar would instead authorize Medicare to pay doctors for counseling patients about end-of-life care, if the patient wishes.

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Posted in politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

On Health Care, Rightwing Nutbags Choose Lies & Misinformation Over Civil Discourse

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 12, 2009

Okay, so the hot U.S. political topic of the day is health care reform.  I am not going to make this a post about advocating for or against a specific kind of legislation, though personally I do have my preferences.  Rather, this post is about the manner in which the debate, or lack thereof, is progressing concerning this all-important topic.

Sadly, there is a large amount of misinformation and outright lies being spread about health care reform, and much of it is being fueled by uncritical & hysterical thinking via TV ads and the Internet.  Most of these lies are being spewed by various rightwing groups with the express purpose of derailing any kind of reform, and the movement is encouraging people not to take part in a civilized debate & discourse (which is needed).  Rather, this movement is actively encouraging people to attend Congressional town hall meetings solely for the purpose of disrupting them with angry shouts and even death threats.  Yes, that’s right – some members of Congress have been getting death threats.

So what can one do to cut through all the b.s. and get “just the facts”?  I’d say the best thing to do is go to a non-partisan source, such as FactCheck.org.  They’ve been doing a bang up job of looking into various claims about health care reform, as well as some of the outrageous garbage which is causing such a stir.  Let’s take a quick look at some of the big lies repeated of late, and how FactCheck.org takes them on…

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Posted in politics, psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Birthers Plan to Target GOP Congress-Critters

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 2, 2009

I recently posted about how the birther conspiracy theorists have started to gain a higher profile in the media. In that post I also lamented about how such a group of hardcore rightwing conspiracy mongers could threaten to push the Republican party into dangerously extreme territory and how that would be bad for the United States as a nation.

Well, it seems that my fears were at least somewhat founded, because during the August recess the birthers are planning to target GOP Congressmen & women in their nutty campaign…

GOP headache: The birther issue

As GOP Rep. Mike Castle learned the hard way back home in Delaware this month, there’s no easy way to deal with the small but vocal crowd of right-wing activists who refuse to believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

At a town hall meeting in Georgetown, a woman demanded to know why Castle and his colleagues were “ignoring” questions about Obama’s birth certificate — questions that have been put to rest repeatedly by state officials in Hawaii, where the birth certificate and all other credible evidence show that Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.

When Castle countered that Obama is, in fact, “a citizen of the United States,” the crowd erupted in boos, the woman seized control of the gathering and led a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The video went viral; by Sunday, it had been viewed on YouTube more than half a million times.

And birthers say members should expect more of the same in the coming weeks.

“Absolutely,” says California resident Orly Taitz, the Russian-born attorney/dentist who has become a kind of ringleader for the movement. “It is a very important issue, one that politicians should have taken up a long time ago.”

Moments after speaking with POLITICO Saturday, Taitz posted a call to arms on her blog:

“I believe it is a serious concern and I hope that each and every decent American comes to town hall meetings with a video camera and demands action,” she wrote.

So there you have it.  While the country struggles with all manner of big problems: two wars, an ailing economy, high unemployment, and highly complex healthcare reform – these birthers are attempting to hijack one of the two major political parties with a near fundamentalist religious zeal.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be watching Youtube closely over the next few weeks.  This is going to get interesting, folks – like watching a train wreck in slow motion…

Posted in conspiracy theories, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Birther’s Continue Their Conspiracy Mongering of Obama’s Citizenship

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 27, 2009

One thing that’s true of most conspiracy theories is that they never die – they may be buried for awhile, but the hardcore true believers will insure that they don’t ever quite go away.  Case in point: the ludicrous “birther” conspiracy theory that President Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen.

Recently, new life got breathed into the birther CT because of an incident which took place a couple of weeks ago at a town hall meeting with Congressman Mike Castle (R) in Delaware.  The town hall was supposed to be about health care reform, but right in the middle of it a woman derailed the entire thing as she spewed the usual birther nonsense…

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Posted in conspiracy theories, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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