Thursday, March 29, 2012

Conspiracy Advocation

Among the many things I'm reading is 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. I'm reading it in trade paperback form, being late to the bandwagon. It's a great book that I'll talk about more on Comics and... at some point.

In the fourth trade, titled A Foregone Tomorrow, there's a forward by Bill Savage, who's a Ph.D. in American lit at Northwestern U. He's a bit wordy, and I'll not get into all of the praises he sings for the book. They're deserved.

One of the premises of the book is that the US is run by thirteen powerful families who operate extralegally. These families have been running the US since its founding, or before. Savage wrote the forward during the Bush II years and, evidently addressing some previously spoken concerns about the believability of the premise, says "We live right now in a nation whose President is the son of a President and grandson of a Senator, who defeated a forme Vice President, himself the son and grandson of Senators, in an election in part decided by a Supreme Court Justice appointd by the winnder's father. Such a world of self-perpetuating political power is not htat far off, really, from Azzarello's vision of the thirteen families of the Trust running America from behind a screen of absolute secrecy and murderous violence."

Non-existent Lord save me from conspiracy theorists. Let's just start with 50 years of history in America. In particular, let's start with Presidents. Fifty years ago JFK was president. What was his big, controlling family connection? None at that point. The best they'd reached was him being Senator and his father being Ambassador. Not a lot of juice there.

Then there's LBJ. Poor kid from Texas with no family connections. Nixon? Another guy with no family connections. Same with Ford, Carter, and Reagan. It's not until Bush I that you get to someone with a family history in the higher eschelons of politics. And he couldn't even manage to get re-elected when facing a bumpkin from Arkansas with zippo connections. Next is Bush II and the royal history he and Gore have, such as it is, but the next president is Obama, who, again, has no family connections whatsoever, nor did his opponent, McCain.

So, out of 9 presidents in 50 years, only 2 have a family royalty at the time of their election. Kennedy's family wasn't political royalty until after his election. Even so, including him would only make for a third of Presidents having an American royalty pedigree. And as noted, one of them couldn't manage his own re-election, while another was assassinated.

And the Supreme Court allusion is even more suspect. For one, the Supreme Court didn't decide the election. The eventual recount that was halted by the Supreme Court showed that Bush won Florida, so even if it had continued, he would have won. For another, there are 9 Justices on the court. Bush I appointed only 2, and Souter didn't even agree with 2 of the 3 reasons for stopping the vote recount. In fact, there was a 5 Justice majority sufficient to stop the recount that didn't consist of either of the 2 appointees (the other being Thomas).

I don't care if Azzarello has has a dubious conspiracy at the heart of his story. I read conspiracy stories for the fun of the things. I haven't come across one conspiracy yet that was remotely believable. The only way to enjoy them is to take them for the fiction they are, just like an alternate history story where the South won the Civil War or something.

Savage's attempted defense of it as realistic is less realistic than the posited conspiracy. Say what you will about the influence of money in politics, it's the direct kind, not the behind closed doors machinations of murder that 100 Bullets has. In fact, at this point, it's not even the direct payment of money to representatives. It's the corruption of vast sums of money being used to anonymously slur candidates that's the problem. Lies are put out about a person with no requirement that it be known who's making the claims so that person's or organization's motivations can be known.

It's kind of funny because Savage is a liberal conspiracy theorist. Now it's the wingnuts of the Know Nothings (aka Tea Party) who are the big conspiracy advocates. Obama is ruining their lives, personally, you know. Just another proof that conspiracy theory is riddled with holes but will continue to be popular with whoever is sympathetic to whatever political position isn't currently in ascendency.

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