Courtesy of our good friends at Right Wing Watch, we learned of several conspiracy theories floating around in the toilets known as the minds of right wing lunatics, some of whom you’ve heard of before. We’ve got the president planning to kill all the white people so he can declare martial law (which would seem silly since he could declare martial law first and save the taxpayers’ money on bullets.) We’ve got citizen border patrols sneaking upon and nearly apprehending scientists studying bats. We’ve got Teh Gays coming for your kids, as always. (Why is it always the kids Teh Gays want? Why aren’t they after your husbands and boyfriends, which is far more likely?) We’ve got the President secretly flying from Hawaii back to Washington to attend Christmas services at a mosque, then back to his family in Hawaii again without anybody noticing. And we’ve got a right wing cacophony of cries of secret messages and support for terrorists because the President chose to use a more accurate acronym for the bad guys. Nothing more than that. He just decided to use an ‘L’ instead of an ‘S’, and now you and I are going to die.
Courtesy of Right Wing Watch we learn that your precious tax dollars are paying the salaries of certifiably insane Congress Critters Hell bent on scaring the crap out of anybody within earshot, that some of those children from Central American countries in turmoil really may have come from Venezuela to be trained as warriors because, you know, the Revolutionary War, and that President Obama is simultaneously starting a race war and turning children gay. Oh, and those Central American kids have Ebola. Must’ve gone to Western Africa before heading back to Venezuela for their warrior training. And that’s just this week.
If it were just people like Tamara Scott, an Iowa state-level Republican official and conservative activist, I’d say it was a cry for attention. Scott thinks among the tens of thousands of migrant children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are warrior children, trained in Venezuela by Hezbollah, or Hamas, maybe both, who knows? After all, there were 12-year-olds fighting in our American Revolution. Except, of course, that was before there was such a thing as the modern childhood, an early 20th-century invention. Before that, once kids were old enough (four, five, maybe six years old), they started working for the family. Or they went to live with someone else and learn a trade. But they were put to work, maybe in the fields picking food, maybe on farms feeding livestock. There was no public education system, where kids were sent to learn to read and write and, most importantly though conservatives ignore it, to socialize, to learn to get along with other people. So it should surprise no one that there were 12-year-old children fighting in the Revolutionary War. What does that have to do with today? It’s hard for me to believe that someone who isn’t paranoid would believe this “chain of logic.” She may want attention, but what she needs is help.
If it were just people like Larry Klayman, a misanthrope who thinks the President and Attorney General of the United States are both trying to start a race war and to bring reparations to black people, I’d say someone was off his meds again. Klayman, like many voices we hear on the Conservative fringes of Society, has a problem with facts. His problem seems to be a severe allergy to them, to the point where he just doesn’t use them to make a point. In a WorldNutDaily column (from which I’ll quote but to which I won’t link), he wrote:
First, it has become clear that Obama’s economic policies and eventual legislation, such as the disastrous Obamacare, have been designed to favor blacks over whites, and to in effect have whitey pay reparations to blacks for the insidious years of racial discrimination. Obama’s intention is to melt down the gold in America and redistribute it to his people.
Second, Obama ignores racially motivated crimes against whites, some of which is manifest in the rising anti-Semitism and anti-Christian bigotry here and worldwide. It is an undisputed fact that hate crimes against Jews far exceed those against blacks.
I’m disputing that. I base that on the summaries of the last two annual FBI Hate Crimes Reports. In 2011, racial motivations were behind 46.9% of all hate crimes, while religious bias was behind only 19.8%. Lest you think this might have changed significantly the next year, in 2012 racial motivation accounted for 48.3% while religious bias only 19%. And while these are overall numbers addressing race and religious persuasion in general, it’s hard to believe if you dug down deep within those numbers, that “hate crimes against Jews far exceed those against blacks.” But that would have to mean that virtually all hate crimes of religious bias were against Jews, and only a small proportion of racially motivated hate crimes were against blacks for Klayman’s statement to be remotely true.
If it was just the Tea Party of Louisiana calling for repeal of Common Core because it turns students gay, I’d say it was bigots and homophobes at work again. Don’t think they believe their claim wasn’t baseless. They had proof. They had a link to “Broken World News“, a parody website whose About page features the warning, “Disclaimer: If you believe any of the shit you read here you are a freaking moron.” Spokesman Bob Reid that he was trying to “bring attention of the Common Core issue to those who maybe aren’t paying attention,” which I guess includes not paying attention to the links he was providing. I suppose I could give the Tea Party of Louisiana the benefit of the doubt and assume that they aren’t bigots and homophobes, just freaking morons.
And if it was just Republicans in Congress, such as Phil Gingrey, Michele Bachmann, and Todd Rokita, claiming that the children fleeing violence in Central America were carrying the Ebola virus with them, I’d chalk it up to simple medical ignorance, even on the part of the one Georgia certified to be a medical doctor. (Hint: His name rhymes with Still Dinghy.) If they bothered to listen to the Centers For Disease Control (whose work they pay for through their taxes), they’d know that the only known location where people contracted Ebola has been Africa. And if they listen to Immigration and Naturalization Service, they’d know that none of these children have tested positive for Ebola. Not one single child. And that’s a problem.
The problem is it isn’t just these people, it’s a whole bunch of low-intellect, low-information people who listen to and believe them. And then those people start complaining their government is trying to start a race war, turns kids gay, and infect the country with Ebola. And then they go out in November and vote for the politicians who tell them all of that is true. Frankly, I’m surprised our Democracy has lasted as long as it has.
This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss race wars, gay recruitment, Ebola, or anything else that strikes your fancy and gets your conspiratorial nut going.
Tim Guffey, a commissioner in Jackson County, Alabama, who can best be remembered from me mentioning his name three seconds ago, has proposed doing what got current Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore removed from his office about a decade ago. For reasons defying both logic and common sense, Alabamans not only let the highest judicial officer in their state be elected by the people, they proved this was a bad idea by re-electing Roy Moore as their Chief Justice. Roy Moore got himself in trouble when he installed a monument to the religious aspects of the Ten Commandments on the public property housing the court house and refused to remove it when a federal judge ordered him to do so. Now a county commissioner wants to do the same thing, except he claims the Ten Commandments are a “historical document” and that without them, there would have been no Declaration of Independence or U.S. Constitution (the real historical documents beside which he wants to place the religious one.) Here’s the primary flaw in that argument: There’s absolutely no historical evidence that the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments is remotely true. So it can’t be an historical document.
What evidence exists, outside the religious texts within which they were included, that the events described about Moses and how he came to be in possession of these tablets are true? None! It’s just a story. If you want to believe it literally happened that way, do you also believe that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and survived inside it for three days only to be spit out onto dry land to live and complain some more? Of course, you have to start with a belief in a god to believe such a story could possibly be true (apart from the lines God had in the story), just as you would have to have a belief in a god to believe that Moses watched the Finger of God write the Ten Commandments into stone slabs on the mountain wall, or however it happened in
Cecile B. DeMille’s movies the Bible. Which means it’s impossible to think of the Ten Commandments in something other than a religious context. Speaking seriously (I know my readers), have you actually read the Ten Commandments? Do you know what the very first one roughly translated into English (how convenient) reads? “I am the Lord thy God. Thou shall have no other gods before me.” Would you seriously argue that whatever else it says, it can have anything other than a religious context?
And while it may have influenced some of our nation’s Founders (BTW, Snopes does a great job of destroying some Conservative Christian beliefs as the myths they are about quotes from the Founding Fathers, and of our government buildings. Oh, and John Adams did say, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”), that does not justify giving it such a place of prominence on the public property of the citizens of a secular nation, which we are. Benjamin Franklin was well-known for being a womanizer, which was used to great advantage in gaining support for our nation in its early history. Should we be putting monuments to his libido on public property? Of course not. It doesn’t matter what influenced these men personally, because it wouldn’t work for everybody. And when as a public servant you try to claim that a religious story should be treated equally with historical fact by the taxpayers, you cross a serious line against which Thomas Jefferson, one of your heroes, warned should never be done. Religious fundamentalism, whether it’s in the Middle East or Jackson County, Alabama, is never a good thing for a people who value freedom.
This is our daily open thread. Discuss whatever you wish to discuss.
It was forty years ago today, August 9, 1974, that President Richard M. Nixon bid farewell to his staff. At noon that day, Vice President Gerald R. Ford, appointed to the Vice Presidency upon Spiro Agnew’s resignation over corruption and tax evasion activities (they weren’t just allegations; he took a bribe in his VP office from a Maryland contractor) took the oath of office to become our nation’s first un-elected president (the next being George W. Bush). Fun Fact: Dick Cavett noted that the letters in Spiro Agnew’s name can be rearranged to spell “Grow A Penis”.
This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Richard Nixon, other people named Milhous, un-elected office holders, or anything else you wish to discuss.
There are people in this country (both men and women) who have gone completely off the deep end. No, I’m not talking about the state of Florida (though if there is a God, the people of Florida who voted for Rick Scott to be Governor will have some explaining to do), but of something called the Sovereign Citizens Movement. It has no organized structure and no leader. There are people, well known to other sovereign citizens, who go around the country training people in how to become one. They vary in some of the specific beliefs, but in general they feel the United States government, and just about any level of government, is not legitimate. Some of them believe…well, I think it might sound better coming from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit:
Sovereign citizens believe the government is operating outside of its jurisdiction and generally do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or governmental regulations. They subscribe to a number of conspiracy theories, including a prevalent theory which states the United States Government (USG) became bankrupt and began using citizens as collateral in trade agreements with foreign governments. They believe secret bank accounts exist at the United States (US) Department of the Treasury. These accounts can be accessed using Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Universal Commercial Code (UCC), and fraudulent financial documents. Sovereign citizens are known to travel the country conducting training seminars on debt elimination schemes. The seminars focus on obtaining funds from a secret “Strawman” account using legitimate IRS forms, UCC forms, and fraudulent financial documents. Sovereign citizens believe once the documentation is filed, they gain access to their “Strawman” account with the Treasury Department.
Like I said, completely off the deep end. A search of the FBI website for “sovereign citizens” yields 122 results. A search on the Southern Poverty Law Center website yields “over 2,500 results.” These are not people to be ignored. The SPLC has this to say about them and the origins of their movement:
The ideas of the “sovereign citizens” movement originate in the ideology of the Posse Comitatus, an anti-Semitic group that raged through the Midwest in the late 1970s and 1980s. Sovereign citizens claim that they are not subject to most taxes, are not citizens of the United States (but instead are “non-resident aliens”), cannot be tried for crimes in which there is no complaining victim (zoning and professional licensing violations, for instance), and are only subject to “common law courts,” a sort of people’s tribunal with no lawyers. Most refuse to obtain Social Security cards, register their vehicles, carry driver’s licenses or use zip codes; many refer to UCC-107, a part of the Uniform Commercial Code, to justify their bizarre claims; and some use weird forms of punctuation between their middle and last names in all kinds of documents. Sovereign citizens also often distinguish between so-called “14th Amendment citizens,” who are subject to federal and state governments, and themselves, who are also known as “organic citizens” — an ideology that causes adherents to claim that black people, who only became legal citizens when the 14th Amendment was passed after the Civil War, have far fewer rights than whites. Some of the more famous adherents of sovereign citizens ideology include Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and members of the Montana Freemen.
Just how crazy are they? Get a load of this.
The sovereigns all say it started sometime during the Civil War (or its aftermath) or maybe after events in 1933 when President Roosevelt wisely took our nation off the gold standard. They’re not sure when, but they say the government that was set up by the Founding Fathers, which operated under a system of Common Law, was replaced by a secret government operating under Admiralty Law, the law of the sea and international commerce. They believe that under common law, they are free men. But under admiralty law, they are slaves and that secret government forces have a vested interest in keeping things this way. They claim that all judges are aware of this set-up, and have been deliberately denying the sovereign citizens’ legal motions, which often include placing liens on property owned by judges and government officials. But don’t worry, we haven’t gotten to the crazy part yet.
When our nation was taken off the gold standard and our money was backed by the “full faith and credit” of the United States, this meant to the sovereigns that its citizens were pledged as collateral, and that our future earnings were sold to foreign investors thus, in essence, making slaves of us all. The sale happens when you are born and your birth certificate is issued and your Social Security Number obtained. The government uses the birth certificate to set up a corporate trust in the newborn’s name (a secret Treasury account), and this account is funded with anywhere form $600,000 to $20,000,000. (Again, no clear agreement about the amount.) Setting up the account is what splits the baby’s rights between its flesh-and-blood body and its corporate shell account.
So what’s their evidence for such a bizarre belief system? Well, if by “evidence” you mean “proof; something plain or clear to the sight or understanding,” they have none. What they have is another bizarre theory – the name on your birth certificate. Notice in this sample birth certificate that the name is spelled out in all capital letters. The sovereigns say this is the name of the shell corporation (or “straw man”; yes, the Sovereign Citizens Movement is based on a straw man argument), while your name spelled with normal upper and lower case letters is your “real name.” Any legal documents that refer to you in all capital letters (such as your birth certificate, driver’s license, marriage certificate, car registration, criminal court records, cable and utility bills, and even correspondence from the IRS rejecting your sovereign citizen claims) are actually referring to your corporate shell identity, and not your sovereign self. Through a process called “redemption” you can free yourself sovereign self from your corporate shell and gain access to those millions of dollars the government has in your corporate account. Though no one has ever successfully done this, they believe the secret lies in coming up with just the right words in your legal documents.
While sovereign citizens do not typically resort to actual, physical violence or gunfire, they do employ what they call “paper terrorism.” They file false liens against the property of government officials and nonsensical court documents that accomplish nothing but waste taxpayer dollars having to process them. For example, when one sovereign citizen was asked to enter a guilty or not guilty plea, she responded, “I accept for value in returning for value for settlement in closure of this accounting.” (If I were the judge, I would take that as “guilty.”) After the husband was involved in a car crash, a Florida couple (who claim to be members of the Moorish Science Temple) was under investigation for filing false liens and other documents under false names. And a Michigan man is claiming that his rights do not come from the Constitution but from the Creator, and that the search warrant bearing his name in all capital letters did not refer to him. He was a convicted felon, so he wasn’t allowed to have the guns they found stashed throughout his house. At least, according to our laws, but not according to his.
Claiming to be a sovereign citizen by itself does not make one incompetent to stand trial. I’ll let the legal experts explain it:
Most psychologists and researchers believe that a sovereign citizen is not incompetent to stand trial simply by virtue of being a sovereign citizen. Although sovereign citizens’ beliefs appear to be delusional, they typically are not considered delusions sufficient for the diagnosis required for incompetence. Delusional disorder, the mental illness with which a sovereign citizen would most likely be diagnosed, requires that the belief be a non-bizarre delusion. The types of delusions that qualify for the diagnosis are personally held and could possibly happen in real life, and generally relate to the person’s perception of life events. Common examples of qualifying delusions include believing that someone is conspiring against you, or that people are talking about you. However, widely held and culturally sanctioned beliefs that might be considered delusional in other cultures, but are recognized in one’s own culture, often do not qualify for a diagnosis of delusional disorder. For example, many commonly held religious beliefs may sound delusional to some people. Although they may sound delusional, they are culturally non-native beliefs shared by many individuals and therefore not delusions. Because sovereign citizen beliefs are shared by up to, and maybe exceeding, 300,000 people, the psychologists and researchers who have studied the subject conclude that the sovereign citizen’s odd, seemingly delusional beliefs have been sanctioned and accepted by too many to be considered delusions.
To summarize, because so many people believe this nonsense, it’s not, for legal purposes, considered delusional. Just like Religion. So if not believing yourself subject to the laws of the country in which you’re standing, whose protection you’re currently enjoying, and whose public services you are using daily, is not considered delusional because the laws only apply to your corporate shell entity, which was set up by the government after you were born, as evidenced by the capital letters used to spell your “name”, then what is?
This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss sovereign citizens, delusions in general, or anything else you wish.
Conservative Republicans in Congress are at it again. And by “it,” I mean making a mockery of Logic, Science, Common Sense, and Reality. For the life of me, I cannot understand why voters continue to send Republicans to Congress, especially Republicans who spend their entire time in Washington trying to destroy the very government in which they work. Cases in point: Senator Ted Cruz (R-La La Land), who wants to sell off public lands, and Representative Sam Graves (R-Fantasyland), who wants to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ted Cruz is one of those conservatives who does not believe in the concept of publicly owned property. From the Think Progress article:
Federal lands make up one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and over 50 percent of the land Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. Under Cruz’s proposal, these states, which are home to some of the country’s most beloved national parks, forests, wildlife areas and iconic natural resources, would be forced to either pass the costs of managing these lands along to state taxpayers or, more likely, give them away or sell them off for mining, drilling, and logging.
And that worries me, because most of those states are run by Conservatives, and Conservatives believe in exploiting the land for its resources regardless of how much destruction they do to our habitat. I just don’t see too many of today’s Conservatives being very good Conservationists, especially the Conservative Christian ones. They believe the Bible gives them the right to take what they want from the land. (Remember, Ann Coulter said, “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.'”) Conservatives, selfish people by nature, despise anything resembling “Collectivism.” So they don’t seem to understand the concept that our government is us, it is “We the People.” We are not ruled by nobility who believe in the Divine Right of Kings. We rule ourselves, by choosing who we want to have in our governments of all levels. Granted, we don’t always make good choices (Republican voters, I’m looking in your direction; we didn’t put Ted Cruz in office), and we often don’t have the greatest of choices. In fact, for most of us, if we do have a choice it’s usually between Evil and Not-So-Evil, or Shitty and Not-So-Shitty. Bad as they are, they’re OUR choices. And when we don’t like what they’re doing, we have the means (not nearly exercised enough) of voting them out of their phony-baloney jobs. And the best part of our system of government, is that in all the years we’ve been governing ourselves, we’ve always had a peaceful transfer of power from one president, or governor, or mayor, to the next. True, there have been many presidents, governors, and mayors who were assassinated, but their assassins did not take over that person’s governing responsibilities. We’ve had no military coups. You don’t usually have that kind of government where monarchies are involved. And part of the reason for that is the very concept of The Commons, the parts of the country that belong to everybody, not just a few people, or a single person. And because public land belongs to all of those, we have to protect it from those who would rape it for its natural resources, just to make a little money for themselves.
Which is why we need an Environmental Protection Agency with the authority to punish those who destroy public lands. Otherwise, what’s the point of having public lands in the first place, if there’s no one to protect them from destruction? But Graves thinks the EPA goes too far in exercising its authority, and so he has introduced the “Stop the EPA Act.” I think Sam needs to hire a proofreader, because the very end of his appeal calls for doing the exact opposite of the bill’s name.
The EPA is putting the squeeze on small businesses and middle class Missourians. Higher costs, longer delays, tighter budgets, and bigger headaches are on the way unless the EPA is not stopped.
Sam, I think you meant “unless the EPA is stopped,” or “if the EPA is not stopped.” By saying “unless the EPA is not stopped,” you’re saying all those inconveniences will happen unless the EPA is allowed to do its job. A rant of his against the EPA said, “Our region benefits greatly from coal-generated electricity, the cheapest and most readily available form of American energy.” Not true. It’s the most profitable, maybe, but it’s not the cheapest and it’s not the most readily available. Solar power is, and it’s free, delivered to your planet daily from the Sun. But the Capitalists don’t like it because the source is infinite (for our lifetimes), and they can’t follow the normal rules of supply and demand to set a high enough price. But once they figure out a way to control it, they’ll drop coal in a heartbeat and sell us sunlight, at a premium. (“Get it while it lasts, the Sun could go supernova any day!” No, it won’t, but they’ll try to sell you on the idea that it’s somehow in limited supply. I think they’re waiting until there’s no shred of Truth in Advertising laws left.) I think Sam’s biggest problem is that he doesn’t like the idea that the Congress gave this agency the authority to set the rules by which we protect our environment. He thinks the States should be allowed to regulate their own lands, even though the impact of their decisions could easily have adverse effects on neighboring states (and often does; New York State has to deal with the ramifications of all those smoke stacks in the Midwest pumping crap into the atmosphere. If there weren’t federal authority to regulate such emissions, New York would be at the mercy of everyone west of us.) Besides, if you enjoy drinking clean water and breathing clean air, you can thank the EPA for that. I know I do.
This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Ted Cruz, Sam Graves, that more intelligent than either of them mold spore growing behind your refrigerator, or anything else you wish to discuss.
The below link is some food for thought.