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NTM I have to admit that when I think of the Texas secession movement I experience emotions ranging from eye-rolling amusement to head-scratching bewilderment.  Now, 144 years after the Civil War, excuse me, “the War of Northern Aggression” we have a wave of enthusiasm from a small group of Texans who believe that Big Gummint is the root of all evil. Is the South rising again or is this a small group of wingnuts who believe that not only is secession possible, it is desirable?  Well, the rationality of these individuals is open to question but according to one Rasmussen poll, 1/3 of Texans believe that the state can legally secede from the U.S.  However, only 20% believe that Texas should leave. That’s 5 million people, most of whom are probably, ummm, not especially sophisticated, although all are apparently constitutional scholars.

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secret-planAnyone who has been watching the news lately has been subjected to video of crowds of people trying to shout down their elected representatives who are trying to forge a health care reform plan.  Events in Tampa, St. Louis, Michigan, and Texas have been disrupted by angry protesters who are pumped full of bravado by such “astroturf” organizations as Freedom Works, chaired by former Republican congressional leader Dick Armey. A speaker from Patients First, associated with the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, told activists. “Adolf Hitler issued six million end of life orders – he called his program the final solution. I kind of wonder what we’re going to call ours.”  Rush Limbaugh, himself closer to fascism than he realizes, also likens the Democratic push for health care reform to the Third Reich.  Sarah Palin refers to the plan, which she clearly hasn’t read, as “evil.”

The strategy behind these protests and the inflammatory (and misleading) rhetoric is to raise the specter of “socialized medicine,” “rationing,” and “death panels” allegedly sitting in judgment on the futures of sick Americans. What escapes these people is that all three are here and have been for some time. Only we call them “Medicare,” “Medicaid,” and “managed care.” Those who don’t realize this haven’t been paying attention for the past 35 years.

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conspiracyThe “Birther movement,” is a collection of folks who are convinced that Barack Obama was born in Africa and therefore is not an American citizen and therefore is not eligible to be president of the United States and therefore is not the legitimate president and,  come to think of it, just how can we be sure that he’s not from another galaxy?

Even professional paranoid G. Gordon Liddy has weighed in on the issue, suggesting on Chris Matthews’ show, “Hardball” that Obama’s mother, wanting her son to be an American citizen, somehow managed to have a birth certificate and birth announcement appear in Hawaii, thousands of miles away from his actual birthplace in Africa. Like his Birther compatriots, he never actually says that Obama was born in Kenya but produces doubtful evidence and challenges Obama to prove his nativity. For Birthers, the possibility, no matter how outlandish, is enough.

Those of us who actually live full time on this planet have considerable difficulty making sense of this issue. I would posit that there are two factors are at work here: a world view that lends itself to paranoid ideation and helpless rage. Racism is likely to be a factor, but that is harder to pin down.

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