Every Time the Poll Numbers Rise, a Kook Gets His Wings

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Five years ago blogger (and reason contributor) Megan McArdle formulated "Jane's Law."

The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

After spending plenty of time dumpster-diving in the Obama conspiracyverse, I'd like to propose my own law.

The multiplication of conspiracy theories about a presidential candidate is a function of his/her success in the polls.

When McCain was surging two months ago, theories swirled about the veracity of his "cross in the sand" story. During that fortnight when Sarah Palin was popular and credible, people questioned whether her youngest son was really hers. Now McCain is fading, so: Back to the Obamaswamp! And the latest Obama conspiracy is… well, I wouldn't say the best (not while a wanted con man is driving around the country bullhorning about a two-day Obama drug binge that never happened), but it's pretty hilarious. It's Jack Cashill's theory that Bill Ayers wrote Obama's first book, Dreams from my Father.

Like all the great pieces of Obama conspiraciana, Cashill's piece is half throat-clearing and half assertion. The evidence:

– Obama hasn't released much of his pre-Dreams ouvre, and what we have seen doesn't read like Dreams. Cashill refers to poems written when Obama was 20 and legal work written before he was 30.

– Obama met Bill Ayers a few months before Dreams was published. Thus, "Ayers had the means, the motive, the time, the place and the literary ability to jumpstart Obama's career."

– Ayers and Obama were both community organizers, both struggled with their identity, and both gave their kids African names.

– Ayers' 2001 memoir gets similar numbers to Dreams on the Flesch Reading Ease Score.

Dreams from My Father includes a number of naval metaphors, and Ayers was a merchant marine.

Seriously, that's it. This was enough for National Review's Andy McCarthy to link Cashill and send a boatload (naval metaphor! Is Bill Ayers writing this blog?) of traffic his way.

I don't want to feed into what sounds, at first blush, like Vince Fosteresque paranoia.

You know… if that thought crosses your mind while posting, it's probably time to step away from the Movable Type.

Cashill's article is kookery: Ayers hadn't met Obama when the book went to the publisher, Obama's naval metaphors can be explained by his childhood in Hawai'i and his reading of Moby Dick, etc, etc. But there are two telling nuggets in this conspiracy theory.

First: Why does Cashill rule out the possibility that Ayers—whose own memoir was released six years after Obama's—was influenced by the state senator, and not the other way around? As Cashill points out, in a 1997 book Ayers refers to Obama as a "writer" who lives in his neighborhood. Ayers has an epic case of white guilt and an obsession with African culture (African art decorates his Hyde Park home). Isn't the most likely explanation for Obama-esque passages in Ayers' own book that Ayers read his neighbor's book? (After all, the education book Ayers wrote in 1997 reads nothing like Dreams.)

Second: Why, in 1995, would Chicago's left-wing assume that the best way to send their agent, Barack Obama, into power politics, was with a warts-and-all literary memoir that discussed his drug use and thoughts on Black liberation?

I don't know what it is about Obama that inspires this stuff. How hard is it just to run against the man with the most liberal voting record in the Senate in the year 2007?

NEXT: Girls Gone Wild Killed

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  1. How hard is it just to run against the man with the most liberal voting record in the Senate in the year 2007?

    Pretty hard when free-market fundamentalism is collapsing, idiot.

  2. First of all, anyone who thinks that George Bush represents “free market fundamentalism” is not only an idiot, but a moose cum gargling douche.

    Leaving that aside, I really don’t see how questioning why John McCain’s recollections of his POW experience seem to shift over time, in ways that mirror the anecdotes of others, is somehow on a par with some nut’s claims to have engaged in a drug-fueled orgy with Obama. Are these really equivalent.

  3. Dave, it’s amusing that you are trying to apply logic, reasoning, and sense to this. Do you also enjoy hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, or giving yourself purple nurples?

  4. Yeah, nothing says free market fundamentalism like expanding the resources consumed/redistributed by the Federal Government at record rates.

    The funny thing is, Edward/Leftiti should be happy; his man is about to win the white house. For the first time in how many decades, the Democrats will have the Whitehouse, an overwhelming majority in the Congress, and a crisis giving them political cover to massively intervene in the economy.

    If Edward is right, it’s going to be the dawn of a whole new age or prosperity. People will look upon this month and say “here’s when the long national nightmare ended”. I wonder why poor edward is still pissing and moaning.

  5. I haven’t read either Obama book, but it seems like whatever similarities there are between Dreams and Audacity of Hope would be pretty relevant evidence here… evidence that Ayers wrote BOTH OF THEM!

  6. How hard is it just to run against the man with the most liberal voting record in the Senate in the year 2007?

    Very hard if you’ve shot yourself in the foot and nobody believes you anymore.

    Think about it. The Republicans have lied. They said “humble foreign policy” and turned around and picked fights with China, Iraq, Iran and Russia. They said “free markets” and gave us tarriffs on steel, massive agriculture bills, expansion of medicare, social security “privatization”, de facto nationalization of the stock market, etc

    People who genuinely believe that Republicans support the Free Market are blaming the current economic crisis on free markets, and are hardly going to support more of the same. People who recognize that the Republicans pay lip service to being for free markets are hardly going to vote to put the bozos back in charge for another term.

    So they have to pull this shit. They have to scare people to get them to pull the lever for McCain, and on most issues if they scare people away from Obama, they also scare the same people away from McCain.

  7. There’s a fair amount of people on the right who think Obama is not very bright and has only enjoyed success due to the benefits of his skin color. I’m guessing if I were to draw a Venn diagram with one circle representing these folks and the other those apt to believe this sort of conspiracy theory, there’s going to be a lot of overlap. For them, it would make much more sense for Ayers to ghostwrite Obama than the other way around.

  8. Isn’t the US the closest thing to a free market? If that is the case, then, you can’t complain when people think that the current crisis is an indictment of the ideology. This is like complaining that socialism didn’t really fail, it was just badly implemented.

  9. As Soros has pointed pointed out, all human constructs are imperfect. Socialism’s failure doesn’t mean markets are perfect. Regulated markets work better than unregulated markets. All this means to you fucking market fundamentalists is that your little self-maturbatory cult will be even more marginal and irrelevant. Donate now!

  10. In answer to your closing question, I don’t think I can do better than suggesting that you read and think deeply about the illogic on full frontal display in anon’s post of 10/13/08@11:42am.

    If people paying attention don’t grasp how this is most definitively NOT a failure of free markets, I can do no better than recommend this piece (via Pejman):
    http://myslu.stlawu.edu/%7Eshorwitz/open_letter.htm

  11. Isn’t the US the closest thing to a free market?

    No.

  12. Considering John McCain is running ads blaming Democrats for not enough regulation ( among other things), it seems the GOP has given up any pretense of being “free market.”

    The GOP’s strategies to win are:

    1. Out-socialist the Democrats
    2. race-baiting

    How could that possibly not be a winning combination? I dont know.

  13. “the Democrats will have the Whitehouse, an overwhelming majority in the Congress, and a crisis giving them political cover to massively intervene in the economy.”

    I give you, presumptive Vice President Biden’s

    “Patriot Act 2, Poverty’s Revenge”

  14. “How hard is it just to run against the man with the most liberal voting record in the Senate in the year 2007?”

    They said the same thing about Gore and Kerry. Im I the only one that gets the feeling that every four years the test is re-writen to match the record of the democratic nominee. I know I know…republicans would never do anything dishonest like that.

  15. You let Lefiti jack the thread.

    Except Jason S. I think there’s more than partisanship behind the phenomenon of people who passionately defended the intelligence of George W. Bush concluding that Barack H. Obama isn’t very bright.

  16. I really don’t know much about Ayers other than his, uh, domestic terrorism from 40 years ago.

    But if you believe anything being said,apparently he is like the King of Chicago, a multi-billionaire political king maker who funnels millions and millions of dollars through communist organizations that run illinois, best selling author and in demand ghostwriter, starting Quarterback for the Bears, inventor of the Pet Rock, Nobel winning physicist, ghostwriter for jay Z and Lil Wayne, and CEO of Viacom.

    How does this guy accomplish so much while being so under the radar ( besides the bombing and everything)?

  17. “I don’t know what it is about Obama that inspires this stuff.”

    OOH! OOH! I know. He’s black and he will likely be president.

    There are some white people who aren’t exactly covering themselves in glory this election.

  18. I think writing an autobiography should be the first disqualification for POTUS.

  19. BakedPenguin | October 13, 2008, 11:54am | #
    Isn’t the US the closest thing to a free market?

    No.

    That list seems pretty flawed.
    Singapore executes people for engaging in unapproved economic activity, for instance. You don’t have the right to chew gum openly. That seems like a pretty heavy hit on claims of “property rights.”

    Somalia’s market is closer to a true free market, no?

    Here is their list of factors:

    Business Freedom | Trade Freedom | Fiscal Freedom | Government Size | Monetary Freedom | Investment Freedom | Financial Freedom | Property rights | Freedom from Corruption | Labor Freedom

    Each is weighed equally.

  20. Somalia:

    Business freedom: no regulations, 10 points
    Trade Freedom: no tariffs, 10 points
    Fiscal freedom: no taxes, 10 points
    Government size: no government, 10 points
    Monetary Freedom: difficult to assess
    Investment freedom: no regulations, 10 points
    Financial freedom: no regulations, 10 points
    Freedom from corruption: no goverment, 10 points
    Labor freedom: no regulations, 10 points.

    Total score at least 90…our winner?

  21. Oops,

    I skipped property rights: clear rules that are strictly enforced.

    Rule, if you have it and can keep me from taking it, it’s yours. Clear and strictly enforced.

    10 points.

  22. Neu, that’s funny. Usually, liberals have no problem segregating economic from political and social freedom. Apparently, you’re the exception. Singapore has a free economy. It does not have a free society.

    As for Somalia, there a bunch of warlords fighting it out to gain political power. I’m not an anarchist, so I don’t think the lack of a single, centralized government = liberty. The fact that no one thug has been able to seize power across the entire country does not mean it’s a free country. Keep burning that straw if it keeps you warm, though.

    Ceteris parabus, more freedom will produce a wealthier society. That you could question this after history has borne it out time and time again is amazing to me.

  23. Isn’t the US the closest thing to a free market? If that is the case, then, you can’t complain when people think that the current crisis is an indictment of the ideology.

    Yes, you can complain.

    Because it isn’t sufficient to show that the US is close to a free market.

    You’d have to show that the party in power during the creation of the crisis was pursuing free market policies, and that those policies took us closer to a free market than we were prior to the crisis.

    Was the US becoming more free market, or less free market, during the period of time under examination? No reasonable analysis of the economic history of the US during the Bush administration can conclude that the US became more free-market oriented during that time frame.

    When Obama says, “…the failed free market policies of the last eight years,” he’s either an idiot or deliberately lying.

  24. Rule, if you have it and can keep me from taking it, it’s yours. Clear and strictly enforced.

    This may be the single most stupid thing that anyone has ever said on this board, ever.

    Eric Dondero never said anything this stupid.

    Neu just defined the existence of property rights as the complete lack of property rights.

  25. Singapore is essentially an ultra-conservative Republican’s wet dream in a lot of ways.

  26. Kind of like how Holland is an ultra-liberal Democrat’s wet dream.

  27. and send a boatload (naval metaphor! Is Bill Ayers writing this blog?

    fwiw, in the navy we generally measure by the ‘shit-ton’ not the ‘boat-load’

  28. By the way, it’s incorrect to state that Somalia does not have a government.

    Somalia has an interim government put into power by the US and Ethiopia, and kept in power by the Ethiopian army.

    That government has not been effective at stopping the war of all against all, and is much less effective at that then the previous Islamist government was, but it’s still a government.

    Maybe Somalia would have a more stable political economy if the US hadn’t smashed its previous government because it had scary Muslims in it.

  29. I remember stumbling across a conspiracy website that tried to link Cindy McCain to the illuminati, Bilderberg Group, stonemasons, or some other secret ancient super-powerful group that controls everything. My only thought was, if McCain had not just won the Republican nomination, would they really be talking about her?

  30. Kolohe,
    I have a good friend that uses ‘fuck-ton’ as a unit of measure. “We’re gonna need a fuck ton of beer.” He is recently out of the air force. Is that an air force thing?

  31. I prefer to think of BHO as an experiment by the ChicagoMachine that became much more successful than they imagined.

    As for running against him, his campaign is very good, in both the CommunityOrganizing sense and in the AlDavis sense.

    But, the major thing BHO has going for him is the fact that, for one reason or other, the MSM wants him to win. In fact, they’re willing to put their reputations on the line to get him elected.

    And, the so-called “CitizenJournalists” and those who blog at major sites (*cough*) aren’t willing to do the job the MSM refuses to do.

    If anyone’s interested, here’s How to Defeat Barack Obama.

    Trust me on this: if BHO becomes president, every time he does something incredibly dangerous or just stupid, I’m going to point to my warnings about him and my highly effective plan to defeat him in an attempt to discredit those who supporter him through action or inaction.

  32. Not everything written on a comment board at H&R is a deeply held belief.

    I was mainly making fun of the way the ranking was conducted.

    There list of factors is not valid in many, many ways. As a result, Singapore ends up on top of their list.

    Neu, that’s funny. Usually, liberals have no problem segregating economic from political and social freedom. Apparently, you’re the exception. Singapore has a free economy. It does not have a free society.

    When economic activity (dealing drugs) is a capital offense, you do not have a free economy, whether or not you want to treat other authoritarian policies as economic or not.

    Neu just defined the existence of property rights as the complete lack of property rights.

    If I were asked to answer the following question: What is slavery? and I should answer in one word, It is murder, my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required to show that the power to take from a man his thought, his will, his personality, is a power of life and death; and that to enslave a man is to kill him. Why, then, to this other question: What is property! may I not likewise answer, It is robbery, without the certainty of being misunderstood; the second proposition being no other than a transformation of the first?

    […]

    …we soon see that every argument which has been invented in behalf of property, whatever it may be, always and of necessity leads to equality; that is, to the negation of property.

    Lighten up.

  33. OLS, why do you randomly capitalize words and eliminate the spaces between them LikeThis? If you explain, I’d appreciate it.

  34. By the way, it’s incorrect to state that Somalia does not have a government.

    Somalia has an interim government put into power by the US and Ethiopia, and kept in power by the Ethiopian army.

    That government has not been effective at stopping the war of all against all, and is much less effective at that then the previous Islamist government was, but it’s still a government.

    Maybe Somalia would have a more stable political economy if the US hadn’t smashed its previous government because it had scary Muslims in it.

    There are some important facts in this comment.

    There is also some misinformation.

    Rather than getting into the details, I’ll ask a side question: Is the government of “tribal regions” of Pakistan the Pakistani government? Does the fact that someone claims to govern an area make it true that they govern that area?

  35. OLS – I’ve wondered that to. I actually kinda like it. You’ve got a little style going for you there. It makes it like everything’s a screenname. xXChicagoMachineXx.

  36. Rather than getting into the details, I’ll ask a side question: Is the government of “tribal regions” of Pakistan the Pakistani government? Does the fact that someone claims to govern an area make it true that they govern that area?

    This is a fair point.

    I would, however, say that if anarchistic conditions of mayhem in Somalia are being held up an an example of the “free market”, it’s fair of me to point out that those anarchistic conditions are themselves the result of state actions by foreigners. Somalia had an “organic” government that arose from domestic conditions, and the US and Ethiopia decided to blow it up and put an ineffective government in its place. Somalia is not really a “failed state”, but a strange kind of “ship in a bottle” where the ship is chaos and we are the modelmakers.

  37. When economic activity (dealing drugs) is a capital offense, you do not have a free economy, whether or not you want to treat other authoritarian policies as economic or not.

    Very true. Nevertheless, dealing drugs is legal nowhere. That Singapore’s laws are insanely draconian doesn’t say much about the vast majority of economic activity in the country.

  38. BDB the reason why he types like that is because he’s a socially stunted recluse with Asperger Syndrome and delusions of grandeur.

  39. Bingo – I thought it was because if he leaves spaces, IllegalMexicans will sneak in between them.

  40. It’s very simple, a Mexican spacebar stole LoneRetard’s good, hardworking American spacebar’s job. It being a lazy Mexican spacebar, it only works some of the time.

  41. Rather than getting into the details, I’ll ask a side question: Is the government of “tribal regions” of Pakistan the Pakistani government? Does the fact that someone claims to govern an area make it true that they govern that area?

    Also, I would point out that if we consider the people actually exercising power to be “the government”, regardless of the claims of some internationally recognized government, then the entire list you did for Somalia has to be revised.

    We’d have to re-examine each of those areas as if each individual warlord was the government in his region.

    And that would mean, for example, that areas under the control of pirates and warlords have tax rates of 100%, 0% freedom to trade, 0% labor freedom, 0% freedom to invest, etc. Every act of thievery by a pirate or warlord becomes a government act that we can fairly call a tax, a takings, a regulation, etc.

  42. I have a good friend that uses ‘fuck-ton’ as a unit of measure. “We’re gonna need a fuck ton of beer.” He is recently out of the air force. Is that an air force thing?

    It’s a joint thing used by all the uniformed services since goldwater-nichols. Including the Coast Guard and the Public Health Service.

  43. No, really. I want to know why OLS does this.

    If you tell me, OLS, I’ll click on every link you post here instead of ignoring them. I promise!

  44. Or I should say, why he DoesThis?

  45. You’d have to show that the party in power during the creation of the crisis was pursuing free market policies, and that those policies took us closer to a free market than we were prior to the crisis.

    Does Venezuela pursue true socialism or are they just paying lip service to socialism (just like Bush does with respect to the free market). The theory doesn’t work in practice as intended.

  46. why do you randomly capitalize words and eliminate the spaces between them LikeThis?

    The Wiki creation software automatically creates a new page if you eat the space between capitalized words. Not sure though if that is the reason why OLS does it.

  47. Couple of points:
    1) If you compare Somalia in its anarchic phase to the situation where it had a marxist government, the anarchic phase was better in terms of life expectancy, gdp per cpaita and the rest. Google for the essay “Better off stateless” if interested in the details.

    2) Counterfactual to argument 1, most of the improvements happenned in the North which had a government (called itself Puntland). Of course this government wasn’t recognized by other governments, but it existed and exercised a small measure of sovereignty over the territory.

    3) Somalia wasn’t anarchic. While it lacked a central state, the clans performed a similar function. Technically Somalia was a kritarchy.

  48. Bill Ayers was a merchant marine? A US merchant marine? He was a Z-Card holding union member? What tonnage class? Just from what I’ve gathered growing up with a now-retired MEBA first engineer for a father, I can only imagine a guy like Ayers would’ve made it (as a deckhand or galley hand) without getting his ass kicked numerous times or being stranded in a foreign port by treading pretty lightly. Did he go to sea when he was on the run or something? Wikipedia didn’t say anything and I’m too lazy for real research.

  49. During that fortnight when Sarah Palin was popular and credible, people questioned whether her youngest son was really hers.

    To be fair, a lot of us still question that.

  50. When McCain was surging two months ago, theories swirled about the veracity of his “cross in the sand” story. During that fortnight when Sarah Palin was popular and credible, people questioned whether her youngest son was really hers. Now McCain is fading, so: Back to the Obamaswamp!

    Really? Cuz from reading articles here i would be under the impression that only crazy rumors about Obama existed…

    Can anyone remember Weigel writing any article about crazy McCain rumors? Or how those rumors are the heart and soul of the Democratic party?

    Cuz I sure can remember a lot of Obama rumor articles and how those rumors were the creation of the core republican party.

  51. “Having tasted righteous indignation, Ayers began a radical journey without clear route or model. He left the University of Michigan searching first for a role in the Civil Rights Movement, and then for adventure in the merchant marine, yet he discovered very little. By 1965, we find Ayers sitting in a caf? in Rome reading about a place he knew little about called Vietnam, and then returning to Michigan to join the antiwar Movement.”

    from a Monthly Review article.

  52. I see today that the babydaddy of Bristol’s current alledged pregnancy is doing interviews. My assholier than thou theory is this: they are trotting this out as a preamble to a near future miscarriage. Said loss of baby being the only way to cover the lie that Trig is the Governors baby.
    The palin’s are also shifting the focus back onto the keeping of the child as evidence of her pro-lifey ness.

    But the really latest controversy is that the Palin’s house was built at the same time as the sports complex by unnamed contractors. The question is if the contractors given the arena job built the house as payback. Sarah learned alot from Ted while they where doin the horizontal bop.

  53. Nobody cares about Palin. She’s on the verge of being the second woman to be on a Presidential ticket which suffers a landslide loss.

  54. Ayers hadn’t met Obama when the book went to the publisher

    And we know this because the Obama camp says so? It’s very possible that they met in the early ’80s at Columbia. Also, Ayers’ wife Bernadine Dohrn also worked at Sidley Austin at about the same time as Barack and Michelle, in the late ’80s.

  55. Tarran,

    Of course. It is nice to remind people of this occasionally.

    Fluffy,

    Also, I would point out that if we consider the people actually exercising power to be “the government”, regardless of the claims of some internationally recognized government, then the entire list you did for Somalia has to be revised.

    We’d have to re-examine each of those areas as if each individual warlord was the government in his region.

    And that would mean, for example, that areas under the control of pirates and warlords have tax rates of 100%, 0% freedom to trade, 0% labor freedom, 0% freedom to invest, etc. Every act of thievery by a pirate or warlord becomes a government act that we can fairly call a tax, a takings, a regulation, etc.

    Highlighting the arbitrariness of the criteria that was used to create the list?

    I was, somewhat clumsily it seems, trying to point out the lack of validity for the list that was posted.

    Just because some guys somewhere that use the word “freedom” in the name of their club think that Singapore is the closest to a free market of any economy in the world. This does not make it true. The fact that an authoritarian city-state tops their list invalidates it on its face, imho.

    Even if we stick to their 10 dimensional description of a market and declare them valid, equating overall distance from an arbitrary ideal point to any other point in that 10 dimensional space is a pretty meaningless activity.

  56. Da Ayers!

    OMG!
    FUNNY!

  57. ” …and then for adventure in the merchant marine, yet he discovered very little…”

    from a Monthly Review article.

    Awesome. I love how some hippie dipshit’s “adventure” was my old man’s “fuckin’ job”.

  58. THANK YOU, Highnumber.

    Sheesh. What’s it take to get a larf around here?

    Really?,

    He was a hippie AFTER the Merchant Marine. He was just a spoiled kid with a rich daddy when he joined.

  59. take a look at these big mamas

    sing it, sista!

  60. Well, I’m convinced. It’s not like a former editor of the Harvard Law Review would be able to write an inspirational memoir, anyway.

  61. “As Soros has pointed pointed out, all human constructs are imperfect”, lefiti

    Despite repeated warnings, you have invoked the name of the Mad Hungarian on this blog. I hereby sentence you to 25 stabbings to the ‘taint with a rusty corn-on-the-cob holder.

  62. Singapore won’t let you sell anything there that says something about its government that its government doesn’t like to hear. You won’t get caned for that, but you will get sued. This pretty well guarantees that any official screwup in that place will go right down the old memory hole. Which in turn renders any assertions about what it’s like to do ANYTHING under that regime, suspect.

  63. “Joe the Plumber” replaces “Joe Six-Pack” in re: Wife’s Busch fortune & “3-Tier” alcohol wholesaler racket. Look for it.

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