An ongoing meme on the podcast that Bob Cesca and I do involves a debate over how much good actually comes from constantly bitching online. It typically goes something like this: Bob plays the somewhat heroic role of the passionate crusader, a guy who fights injustice armed only with a keyboard and a microphone and who points out the insanity of modern politics with the goal of changing things for the better; I make a couple of shitty cracks, throw up my hands at the futility of it all, then go get drunk. All things considered it works out pretty well for us. He's like a righteous Felix Unger, cleaning things up as best he can, and I'm Oscar Madison, not giving a crap -- or at the very least Jack Klugman on the deck of the sailboat in the opening credits of Quincy, examining the chick in the bikini with a champagne glass in my hand.
I generally think Bob's doing God's work and I'm just being a slacker, but every once in a while I can say without fear of contradiction that, dammit, I'm right: Things are so thoroughly screwed-up that it's incomprehensible that any sort of raging against the dying of the light will make one bit of difference. Case in point: birtherism -- the conspiracy that simply will not die.
Chances are if you don't have a little card in your wallet that needs only one more punch to earn you a free night at Bellevue you thought the whole birther thing was put to rest years ago -- or at the very least, if you're particularly obstinate, last year when President Obama publicly smacked down reality TV jackass Donald Trump by producing his long-form birth certificate. Turns out you're wrong; like Jason Voorhees, who can't be stopped no matter how many times you stab, torch, shoot or blow him up, the thoroughly debunked belief that Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and therefore isn't constitutionally eligible to be president just keeps coming back for more.
Within just the past week or so, the secretary of state for Arizona -- a place that I'm convinced is some kind of experimental test bed used by aliens to measure human stupidity -- has threatened to keep Obama off the ballot in November pending an investigation into the authenticity of his birth certificate. Running concurrently with this mind-boggling idiocy is the ongoing investigation into Obama's true upbringing launched by real-life cartoon character Joe Arpaio, whose "threats unit" has now been dispatched to Hawaii to flash their badges as if they hold any authority whatsoever and demand answers in what Arpaio and doddering, buffoonish Jerome Corsi are sure is the biggest conspiracy in U.S. history. And lest you think that only the ass-backward yokel faction of Arizona is perpetuating this long-since-decided nonsense, a copy of the platform being proposed by Republicans in Iowa shows that they'll officially demand that any candidate for President of the United States prove his or her natural born citizenship when they meet in mid-June. These aren't far-flung fringe lunatics we're talking about here; these are members of the ostensible GOP establishment -- and they're jumping feet-first into a pool clouded with the warm urine of conspiracist wack-jobs.
The nature of a conspiracy is that it's a self-reinforcing delusion: The less it appears to be real, the harder you look and don't find the answers you're sure are there, the more it proves that there's treachery afoot and that it involves the highest levels of power -- the only ones who could successfully engineer such an exhaustive cover-up. And you need look no further than talk radio clown Alex Jones -- whose latest YouTube video claims that his media contacts have warned him that the upcoming Ridley Scott film Prometheus will contain coded messages about the Illuminati -- to understand that there's profitability in ridiculous fear-mongering, whether it's making money, pandering to a specific audience or simply making yourself an icon among the very, very dumb. The result is always the same, though: A person who truly believes a conspiracy theory will not ever be convinced otherwise. It just won't happen.
Which brings me back to my original point: Why in God's name am I even writing this? I get the idea that it's important to point out to those not in the throes of a rage-and-resentment-fueled hallucination just how morally, ethically and mentally bankrupt the people are who've latched onto this horseshit and who refuse to let go; likewise, it makes a certain amount of sense to highlight whenever possible the fact that one political party in this country has aligned itself with this kind of farcical non-thinking. But at some point you just get tired of saying the same thing over and over again.
The first piece I ever wrote about birtherism was published here in August of 2008. August of 2008. It's almost four years later -- and we're still talking about this crap. I have a semi-functional cerebral cortex, which means that I'm sick of it by now.
Donald Trump just said he's sure the President of the United States was born in Kenya. Mitt Romney is still tripping over his Edward Greens to stand next to him in public.
No, really, why the hell am I still writing about this?
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