Category Archives: Democrats

The American Right: A Case Study in Lunacy

You might remember back in January the political controversy that raged in the wake of the gun attack on Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at an open air constituency clinic outside a shopping mall in Tucson. Nineteen people were wounded by a lone gunman, Jared Loughner, six of whom were killed, the youngest a nine-year old girl, and afterwards there was a good deal of talk that he might have been inspired by right-wing, hate-filled hysteria of the sort available, and at that time reaching a new pitch of intensity on Fox News and talk radio.

There was some basis for this thinking. Loughner had made whacky anti-federal government statements of the sort popular in Tea Party and libertarian circles; attacks and threats against Democrats were ratcheting up (Giffords herself had warned in a TV interview of the consequences of such violent rhetoric) and mainstream figures like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Fox’s Glenn Beck had been busy feeding the right-wing’s insatiable appetite for conspiracy theories and addiction to gun violence as the way to confound them.

But the prospect of having to confront the great unacknowledged reality of American life, that one of the two major political traditions in the country was significantly if not largely under the sway of nutballs and psychotics, horrified the mainstream media. After all, having to admit that Grandma might be going a little nutty is one thing but being obliged to concede that insanity is rampant on father’s side of your DNA is an entirely different matter.

But not to worry. Deliverance was on its way and within a few days it arrived in the form of Jared Loughner’s mug shot which clearly showed that the gunman was as mad as a hatter. The sigh of relief from America’s newsrooms was almost audible. Loughner’s violence couldn’t have been political, they sang in chorus, because he was clearly, visibly insane.

Jared Loughner - so crazy he couldn't possibly be right-wing

No doubt about it. The guy was as loopy as they come. But that seemed to me to rather miss the point which is that Loughner was and is no less certifiable than much of the American right-wing. A philosophy that can see ‘death panels’ in proposals to extend health coverage to more people, that is convinced that Barack Obama is a Muslim Marxist, or that Sharia law is about to be imposed nationwide and that Al Qaeda is sending pregnant Muslim woman to America so their offspring can be reared as citizens and ‘sleeper’ human bombs – so-called ‘terror babies’ – is every bit as deranged as someone, like Loughner, who believes that the government uses mind control to brainwash people by controlling grammar.

If more proof for this central, almost defining aspect of Conservative American politics is necessary it can be found by the bucket-load in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s decision to make his long-form birth certificate publicly available earlier this week. The birther phenomenon, the conviction that Obama was born in Kenya, is not a US citizen and therefore ineligible for the White House, is itself evidence of mental instability but the fact that the latest, and most shameless champion of this bit of lunacy, Donald Trump, was riding so high in the opinion polls indicates that political dementia in Conservative America is at epidemic proportions.

(While there can be little doubt that much of the birthers’ bile is fueled by racism and their irritation that an African-American sits in the Oval Office, it is worth bearing in mind that right-wing dementia of this sort first became visible during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Clinton was white and a good ol’ boy from the South, where the anti-Obama lunacy is strongest yet the right-wing leveled charges against Clinton that they have not dared to make against Obama – at least yet. The gravest accusation against Clinton was that he had been responsible for murdering as many as fifty people who might have been about to testify against him or his wife Hillary.)

One symptom of madness is the inability of the lunatic to recognize their own illness and so it is with the birthers. Their refusal to accept the evidence of Obama’s US citizenship, mirrored by the reluctance of mainstream Conservative politicians to bury the issue for once and all, was to be expected but it is only when you actually read what they are now saying that you can properly realise how truly and irredeemably mad these people are and, by extension, how malign are American politics.

Take for example this website, which calls itself “The Patriot Update – A Free Press for the Conservative Revolution”, a Tea party-inclined outfit by the look of it. It starts its coverage of Obama’s birth certificate by saying: “Of course we’d love to put this issue behind us and move onto the important issues facing our nation, but questions still remain.” Of course. And those questions?

Well first there is the fact that the certificate did not reveal the juicy and embarrassing details that followers of “The Patriot Update” expected, like Obama being a Muslim because his father was one, or him being misdescribed as “Caucasian” because his mother was one. The absence of all this is points to dirty work at the White House and an effort to buy time. As “The Patriot Update” put it: “….makes you wonder why this went on so long”.

And what could that reason possibly be? Well of course it was to give Obama the time and opportunity to fabricate the birth certificate. What else could it be? And the evidence? There’s three bits, and here they are:

• Supposedly the original document was in a bound volume (as reflected by the curvature of the left hand side of the certificate), why is the green patterned background of the document’s safety paper seem to be so seamless?

• Why, if Obama was born on August 4, 1961, was the “Date Accepted by Local Reg.” four days later on August 8, 1961?

• The certificate says “African” for Obama’s father’s race when the term used in the 1960’s was “Negro”.

So there you are. No doubt about it, the birth certificate is a fake, Obama is an impostor, and America still faces the threat of ‘death panels’ and a Marxist Muslim plot to impose Sharia law.

Less than 24 hours after “The Patriot Update” posted all this nonsense, no less than 1,064 of its readers had left their comments, enough of them to remove any doubt at all that the only difference between them and Jared Loughner is that he went out and did what they only fantasize about doing. Here are some examples. Read them, remember that people like these nowadays dictate or profoundly shape the policies of America’s second largest political party, and weep.

Len says:

April 28, 2011 at 6:48 am

”We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” Obama said. “We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve.” THIS IS A GRAVE SECURITY ISSUE THAT THIS PRESIDENT AND MANY PEOPLE PLAYED DOWN, THAT WITH THE THREAT OF SHARIA LAW & MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD INFILTRATING POLITICS TO SUBVERT & OVERTHROW CONSTITUTIONAL LAW & GOVERNMENT, IT IS CRITICAL THAT WE HAVE CONSTITUTIONALLY A U.S. NATURAL BORN CITIZEN! What is the matter with us, where is our common sense? Where is the FBI, CIA, our Internal Security to investigate these things?

Obama's 'Kenyan birth certificate'

LD Gray says:

April 28, 2011 at 7:47 am

Is anyone going to prove the Kenyan birth certifate as being a “fake?” The Kenyan birth certificate has an ink impression of his foot – and the President of Kenya said construction of a monument of Obama is underway at Coast Provincial Hospital in Mombasa – where Obama’s Grandmother said she witnessed his birth. His mother was swimming in the ocean when she had cramps and went to Coastal. Check it out on Google: Coastal Providence hospital birthplace of obama -
– that is if Obama hasn’t had the site removed – you can view his Kenyan birth certificate and zoom in by clicking on it.

UncleRickets says:

April 28, 2011 at 8:30 am

The big O cannot be trusted. He says one thing and does another. Proclaims to be a Christian but says nothing of the Resurrection Day (Easter). This birth Certificate is not real. It is a fabrication. He wants to put this silliness behind him because people with resources (Trump) brought it up and he doesn’t want anyone with those resources digging any deeper. When this is all said and done we will have put a Muslim, Kenyan in the highest office of the United States. The reason Congress doesn’t want it to come out is that they would be the laughing stocks of the world. Actions speak louder than words. This president doesn’t act like an American!

JACK3889 says:

April 28, 2011 at 9:18 am


PriklyPete says:

April 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

I’ll volunteer and furnish the bullets and guns!

Ron says:

April 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

right on dude

Miss Vi says:

April 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Count me in – my guns are loaded!!

patriot4life says:

April 28, 2011 at 9:05 am


Donna Eyman says:

April 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

Obama was born with the name Barry Soroeto, so this is definetely a fake. I am outraged that no one seems to be seeing this obvious play on our emotions. His pattern is totally unConstitutional so when are people going to start doing something about it and quite smiling and agreeing?

just myrtle says:

April 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm

It makes not the teeniest, weeniest difference what can be proved against this man, he is America’s King of Kings and he will remain just that. He is a liberal radical Muslim and he has a houseful of political radical liberal muslims to keep him where he is. Enough to have him impeached and tried for treason has already been proved and nothing has been done. There is only one thing that I know of that will stop him, “THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR AND THE SON OF GOD”.These radical libersl do not believe in GOD AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST but to all Christians there is no greater truth or power in the world.

Haters Gonna Hate says:

April 28, 2011 at 10:12 am

I know right, for some reason liberal candidates don’t seem to get scrutinized as harshly as their conservative counterparts. I mean when Bush was asked about his war record, he produced TONS of information, no more questions. The liberal a-holes need to go away. I wish we could hand our whole country over to the major US corporations who then could choose our congress and president. I bet they would get it right! And F..k panda bears, they are not American, quit funding the zoos! Zoos are are a major problem in the US, just in my city alone millions are spent on animals that don’t make money for any businesses, just there for amusement. First windmills are stopping the world from turning, now OBAMA is telling me to get a prostate exam, what next? God Bless Dick Cheney.

Mark says:

April 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

OK, so he finally released his birth certificate. He’s had over two years to hire someone to forge a document that looks real and even if it is, his eligibility is still in question. According to the Constitution, both parents have to be natural citizens of the U.S. His father was may have been naturalized, but was certainly not born here. This seems to be a point that everyone is missing and that’s why he’s taken so long to release it.

Dixie Lee Eubank says:

April 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

I just want to know if Obama think we’re all as stupid as he is. It’s got to be a fake. If not, then why the delay in showing it. Of course, I agree with a lot of the comments. We just need to get that man out of office and try to straighten out all the mess he’s made. His birth certificate is the least of our problems.
Don’t all of those people in Washington realize that all we would have to do, is get rid of Welfare, food stamps and send all the illegas back to were they came from and we would be a rich country. They have just let it get out of hand.

The Nuking of Barack Obama

With Japan teetering on the edge of a nuclear catastrophe potentially many times worse than Chernobyl, its government incapable of interacting candidly with its

A reactor on the edge of meltdown

own people and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns and runs the Fukushima reactor, a case study in Keystone Cop-like incompetence, many are looking to America for guidance and help and in particular to President Barack Obama for a lead.

The folks at TEPCO search for a lead

As the Japanese nuclear crisis faces its second week, Obama has announced a comprehensive safety review at all 104 reactors in the US. But just what is the track record of America’s 44th president in dealing with nuclear safety issues and the nuclear industry; how resolute will he be in the face of industry lobbying? It would be re-assuring to be able to say that in this case at least, the soaring rhetoric has been matched by action. But sadly, the answer is that it provides yet another metaphor for the Obama presidency and style of politics – he can talk the talk like no other politician in the hemisphere; the problem begins and stays with the walking part.

Obama’s connections to the nuclear industry surfaced briefly during the battle for the Democratic nomination with Hillary Clinton in the Spring of 2008 and then promptly disappeared. This was a pity because the story really told us all that we needed to know and have come to know about Obama in the White House, which is that what he says he will do when he is searching for votes and what he actually does do once he has got them are often two very different things. It also told us that, despite his campaign slogan of ‘Change’, Obama was no different from any other American politician; his vote could be bought and sold like a pig at market.

The story began on December 1st, 2005 when Exelon, an Illinois-based utility company and America’s largest single producer of nuclear energy (20% of all nuclear-generated electrical power) disclosed that traces of tritium, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear reactors, had been discovered in the water table at its Braidwood plant, some fifty miles southwest of Chicago. Within days tritium was found in wells nearby that provide drinking water to locals and Exelon admitted that the radioactive element had been present in millions of gallons of water that had leaked from the plant years before but the leakage had not been reported.

Now tritium, while a radioactive element, is not the most dangerous substance than can be released from a nuclear reactor. Unlike say Uranium 235 or Plutonium, being in the presence of tritium is not inherently dangerous – those old-fashioned watches with faces that glowed in the dark did so because tritium was painted on the numerals – and it is only when it is ingested in food or liquid that it can do harm. Clearly a lot of tritium had been released from Exelon’s plant and how much harm it may have done was an unanswered question compounded by the alarming realisation locally that other far more dangerous substances may have been released without anyone’s knowledge, except of course Exelon’s.

As Joseph Cosgrove who lived and worked in the nearby hamlet of Godley, Ill, told the Los Angeles Times in 2008: “We want people to be notified. Think about

Safe to drink?

it. They had releases and no one was told. How would you like to turn on the tap and (have to) think, ‘Should I drink this?’”

Cue the arrival of a white knight in the genial form of Illinois’ newest Senator, Barack Obama, elected just a year or so before the tritium leakage was disclosed and, since his electrifying keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, a rising star in the Democratic party and already touted by some as a future White House runner.

The existing law governing radioactive discharges from nuclear plants stipulated a requirement on the owners’ part to report leakages to state and local authorities only if they amounted to an “emergency”. So Senator Obama proposed a new law, called the Nuclear Release Notice Act of 2006, which stipulated that nuclear plants “shall immediately” notify officials at local, state and federal level of any accidental release of radioactive material that exceeded “allowable limits for normal operation”.

To objections from the nuclear industry that tritium posed not such a great health threat, Obama responded, according to the New York Times:

“This legislation is not about whether tritium is safe, or at what concentration or level it poses a threat. This legislation is about ensuring that nearby residents know whether they may have been exposed to any level of radiation generated at a nuclear power plant as a result of an unplanned, accidental or unintentional incident.”

It looked as though Senator Obama was going to do the rare thing in American politics, take a stand on behalf of ordinary people even if that was at the expense of corporate interests. Until that is the nuclear industry started cozying up to the Democrats. By 2006/2007, George W Bush’s unpopularity was at its peak and it was clear that any Republican candidate running for the White House in 2008 would likely take the blame for Bush’s follies and lose badly.

Traditionally, the nuclear lobby had always donated most heavily to the GOP but from 2006 onwards, as the result of the 2008 presidential race became more predictable, nuclear’s money went Democratic. When the race got underway the Los Angeles Times estimated that for every dollar that the nuclear industry gave to Republicans, it donated $3.50 to Democrats.

In the case of one of the leading Democratic contenders, Barack Obama, the nuclear industry’s bet paid off handsomely. Exelon and the nuclear lobby, the Nuclear Energy Institute, opposed Obama’s Bill and within a few months their lobbying helped gut the legislation.

Out went that requirement to “immediately” notify the authorities of any nuclear leakage and in its place the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was asked to “consider” public notification in the light of the findings of a special task force set up to examine the tritium discharges. Predictably, that task force reported that “existing reporting requirements for abnormal spills and leaks are at a level that is risk-informed and appropriate”. The Obama Bill was also re-written – the words apparently chosen by Exelon – to make it clear that State and local authorities would not be able to exercise regulatory oversight of nuclear reactors.

The one concession made by the nuclear industry was agreement that plants would “voluntarily” report leakages from now on. But as David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the New York Times: “…because it is all voluntary who’s to say where things will be in a few years from now?”

Joe Cosgrove, who had campaigned for Obama’s Bill, now complained in the media that the Illinois Senator was bending to the pressure: “Senator Obama’s staff was sending us copies of the Bill to review, and we could see it weakening with each successive draft. The teeth were just taken out of it”.

So why did Barack Obama water down his Bill and allow the nuclear industry to remove its heart and soul? Answer: they gave him lots of money.

Since 2003, when Obama started his run for the US Senate, Exelon employees and bosses had, by February 2008, contributed $227,000 to his Senate and White House bids. That’s a New York Times’ estimate. The Los Angeles Times claimed that $190,000 of that sum was for Obama’s White House campaign. Two of Exelon’s top executives, Frank M Clark, executive vice-president, and John W Rogers, a director, raised funds for Obama while John W Rowe, the chairman of both Exelon and the lobbying group, the Nuclear Energy Institute, was also a donor to his campaign. In addition, Obama’s key aide and adviser, David Axelrod had also worked as a consultant for Exelon.

In the event neither Exelon nor the nuclear industry need have worried. Although Obama had re-written and watered down his Bill, the Senate, which remained under GOP control in 2006, still found reason to object and stalled it. Obama re-introduced the legislation in 2007 but it went nowhere.

Obama took over $225,000 in campaign donation from Exelon staff

This did not stop Obama from claiming just the opposite. On the campaign trail in the winter of 2007/2008, he boasted about the Bill, telling voters in the Iowa primary that it was “the only legislation that I’ve passed. I just did that last year.” Not true but Obama’s claim went largely unchallenged. His main opponent, Hillary Clinton was in no position to exploit the slip, if such it was. Obama was the number one recipient of nuclear cash but Hillary came a close second.

Obama’s promise to the voters of Illinois went the same way as his presidential campaign pledges to, inter alia, offer a public option in health reform, to protect whistleblowers from prosecution, march alongside union members if their collective bargaining rights were threatened, end the Bush tax cuts to the rich and close down Guantanamo prison camp – abandoned in the face of powerful or wealthy opposition.

His current energy proposals include a $36 billion subsidy to the nuclear industry so it can build more reactors. When the policy was drawn up nuclear power looked preferable to oil and carbon-based fuels as a source for energy. The disaster in Japan is a timely reminder that nuclear energy is every bit as unappealing as conventional sources and that a major re-assessment of the Obama energy plan is now imperative. But in the light of the president’s interaction with Exelon, it might not be prudent to bet the mortgage that this will happen.