Open Thread: 50 Years of Apollo 11 Conspiracies

I’m as big a Fortean as you’ll find outside an academic instituion, but sometimes I feel like Buzz Aldrin had the best response. Joel Achenbach, in the Washington Post:

The moon hoax is a classic conspiracy theory — elaborate, oddly durable, requiring the existence of malevolent actors with a secret agenda. The moon-fakers are allegedly so competent they can fool the whole world (but not so competent that they can actually put humans on the moon).

Researchers suggest conspiracy theories are spreading more easily in today’s information universe, with the Internet functioning as a superconductor. A growing science of conspiracism seeks to understand who these people are, why they embrace such ideas, and whether there is anything that can dislodge a really magnetic conspiracy theory from the mind of a true believer.

Polls show that about 5 or 6 percent of the public subscribes to the moon-hoax theory, former NASA chief historian Roger Launius said. That is a modest number, but these folks showed up reliably whenever Launius gave a lecture on the topic: “They’re very vocal — and they love to confront you.”
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Friday Morning Open Thread: Maybe Just Enjoy the Weekend

Speaking of weird “patriotic” co-optations… I knew that Gretchen Peters’ “Independence Day” was not exactly an America Fvck Yeah! anthem, but then I was living in the area during the Francine Hughes trial. What I had *not* known, until now, was that the song has been claimed by the same sort of rightwing nitwits who think “Born in the USA” is about how Ronald Reagan made jingoism kewl again. From Rolling Stone, “How a Song About Domestic Violence Got Mistaken for a Patriotic Anthem”:

When Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” was released to country radio in April 1994, it was easy to mistake the country song for a U-S-A! U-S-A! anthem. It was titled after America’s most patriotic holiday after all, and its irresistible chorus of “Let freedom ring!” seemed custom-made for small-town Fourth of July celebrations to come. But the true meaning behind “Independence Day,” written by Gretchen Peters and recorded by powerhouse vocalist McBride, was lost on many listeners — the seemingly July 4th holiday hit turned out to be a story of domestic violence and one woman’s drastic measures to escape abuse at home.

“I started getting all these letters — handwritten letters, back in the day — from women saying, ‘This is my song,’” McBride says now. “I got a few letters that said, ’I heard this song on the radio, I’ve been battered for 10 years, and I left. This was the thing that made me realize that it’s not my fault, that I need to make a change.’”

Throughout the past 25 years, both McBride and Peters have watched as their song has taken on a life entirely of its own — not just in its cathartic impact for victims of abuse, but also in its misinterpretation for political means. Sean Hannity used the song as a theme on his radio show from shortly after 9/11 until 2014; Sarah Palin chose it as a walk-on song during her Vice Presidential campaign. Peters, in particular, has been saddled with a patriotic anthem she did not write.

“As the writer, I always believe that it’s very powerful to know what your story’s about and know your characters, but not necessarily put it all in there,” she says. “Because I think it invites the listener to play a part. The danger there is that those kinds of songs are much more easily misconstrued.”…

Somehow a song about deliberate cruelty driving its victims to a terrible revenge seems appropriate right at the moment, or maybe that’s just me. It’s a darned catchy ditty, regardless!








Excellent Read: “FAMILY Values!… “

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
.

Alexandra Petri is a national treasure:

Let me make one thing clear: The treatment that children are receiving at the border, reported with horror by those lawyers — this is not against my values. Do not misunderstand! I still have more values than anyone. I am a values voter, with values for days, values that go all the way to the floor, values that wave amberly as far as the eye can see!…

We can clearly see that these are just children by themselves, not families, and they are merely covered in filth and tear stains, not exposed to comprehensive sex education, Darwinism or a textbook implying the reality of climate change. So, yes, what’s going on there is in no way an attack on the family. The family is something to be cherished, as luminous as it is theoretical.

It is important to have these values. But I have lots! All the most important, decorative values are the ones I have…

We must have values because people are flawed and fallen. As the Good Book teaches us (it is no “The Art of the Deal,” but it has some points, if you skim it correctly), if you see someone who is suffering, ask yourself, is it possible that this person did something wrong? Not only is it possible, it is probable. Well, then! Probably what they are getting is a just desert. Cross to the side of the road, and let a Samaritan handle it, or some other foreign entity….








Independence Day Planning Open Thread: Get Your Tee Now!

Of course, his minions will do their best to protect Lord Smallgloves from knowing about this. But when the MAGAts are faced with the conundrum of choosing between ‘defending Dear Leader’ and ‘supporting Our Sacred Military’… well, if it’s actually possible for heads to explode, Garden State Fireworks and Fireworks by Grucci may have some competition on the National Mall!








Excellent (Orlando-Alternative) Read: “The Man Who Was Upset”

In my opinion, David Roth is poised to follow in the footsteps of great commentors like Damon Runyon, Roy Blount, and Charles P. Pierce as he moves from sportwriting to politics. This is from the New Republic:

Even after the hit NBC reality show The Apprentice rebuilt his personal fortune and retooled his image from Gilded Tabloid Oaf to Glowering Dealmaster, Trump never declined an opportunity to fish a quarter out of the toilet when the situation presented itself. That reflexive and amoral avarice is one of the ignoble truths of Trump, but it’s subsidiary to the most important and elemental fact about the man, which is that he never does or says anything new. Some things may be shaded slightly differently from one blurt or boast to the next—every number he says invariably cheats upward over time, and he periodically adds new scenes and jokes to the metastasizing stand-up act that he rolls out at his rallies… 


At this stage in his sublimely unexamined life and increasingly evident cognitive decline, Trump isn’t really capable of very compelling misdirections or even passably convincing falsehoods. He digresses because he loses the plot, and he lies when the truth wouldn’t look good on him; he distracts himself and tells himself lies because it is the only way to square what is actually happening with what he would prefer to be happening. (In this, he is but building on the spiritual birthright bestowed on him by his dad: Fred Trump was an ardent worshipper at the Marble Collegiate Church of Norman Vincent Peale, the reactionary business prophet who distilled many failed superpower incantations of his own in his blockbuster self-help tract, The Power of Positive Thinking. Peale presided over Donald’s first wedding in 1977, and remains Trump’s most frequently cited spiritual mentor.)

Where the media has failed and continues to fail is in its insistence that Trump is doing all of this, or any of it, for the same reason that other politicians are understood to have aimed to distract or chosen to lie. When this tendency is criticized, the criticism often arrives in the form of some lamentation that the media is still covering Trump as if he were a Normal President.


That criticism is reasonable as far as it goes, which is not nearly far enough. A series of long-standing procedural and political and discursive norms really have failed the essential challenge that Trumpian politics and Trump’s own bulletproof shamelessness present. But the steepness and rapidity of their fall raises some serious questions about just how sturdy they were to begin with. The spectacle of expert analysts and thought leaders parsing the actions of a man with no expertise or capacity for analysis is the purest acid satire—but less because of how badly that expert analysis has failed than because of how sincerely misplaced it is. Trump represents an extraordinary challenge to political media precisely because there is nothing here to parse, no hidden meanings or tactical elisions or slow-rolled strategic campaign. Mainstream political media and Trump’s opponents in the Democratic Party conceive of politics as chess, a matter of feints and sacrifices and moves made so as to open the way for other moves. There’s an element of romance to this vision, which is a crucial tenet in a certain type of big-D Democratic thought and also something like the reason why anyone would need to employ a political analyst. But Trump is not playing chess. The man is playing Hungry Hungry Hippos… 


The politics of Fox News are reactionary, but they are also hard to pin down—they are about a feeling, a combination of distaste and distrust for all the things that other people are getting away with and seem so entitled to out there. This hunched and feral posture of grievance is then combined with a fiercely put-upon impatience with the service that viewers themselves are receiving… 

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