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Your Genius Grant dollars at work

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By See-Dubya  •  June 28, 2008 08:13 PM

They’re not your dollars, actually; the $500K Macarthur Genius Grants are sponsored by a private foundation. And apparently the recipients put the money toward vital research projects like…tracking down the source of internet chain e-mails.

Psst: It’s my mom. She sends out a bunch of these. Can I have five hundred grand now?

There’s been mockery of this story across the dextrosphere today, and I’ll send you around for some snorts and giggles at the well-compensated Dr. Danielle Allen’s expense as she struggles to get to the bottom of who started the “Obama is a secret Muslim!!!!1!” rumors. And I’ll add an observation of my own:

As Allen scrolled through the e-mail about Obama, she saw that the list of people who had received the missive consumed several full screens. Her first thought was to try to learn about the people behind the addresses. She traced a number to North Carolina Web sites about golf, but quickly hit a dead end. Then she had another thought: What if she took some of the unusual phrases from the text of the e-mail and Googled them?

Whoa, that right there is a downright Newtonian epiphany. No mere amateur blogger would ever think to use this advanced research methodology called “google” to track down the origin of a particular phrase.

No wonder the Washington Post devoted so much space to covering the shocking, if inconclusive, findings of this far-reaching Google investigation.

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But enough with the snark. As Dr. Allen pursued her cutting-edge google search across the interwebs, a familiar name emerged in connection with the Obama-is-a-Muslim smear: Ted Sampley.

Around the same time Ted Sampley, a North Carolina man who runs his own Web site, published a similar piece. In an interview, he denied authorship of the e-mail, but said he did not doubt that his article had provided source material. “That’s the miracle of it,” Sampley said. “Once it takes off, and people start posting it on Web sites, you really have no idea how far it goes or who reads it. You get a ripple effect. It’s like a little pebble and then it gets bigger and bigger.”

Sampley is the fantasist who says (and has said for years) that John McCain is a Manchurian Candidate, reprogrammed by Hanoi to…I don’t know, do something Communisty when he gets into power, I guess. Sampley also formed an anti-Kerry group of Vietnam Veterans in 2004 that is often confused with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and in fact is usually lumped in with them on lefty websites in order to discredit the actual Swift Boat Veterans led by John O’Neill. (Dean Esmay explained the difference in those groups here.)

I’m not surprised to see Sampley involved in the Obama-is-a-secret Muslim-smear; the man has an amazing talent to place-kick John Birchy conspiracy theories into the mainstream.

For some people, people in the core Sampley target zone, politics can never be bad enough. McCain need not merely be an abrasive centrist who panders to Hispanic race-baiters and despises movement conservatives, he has to be a traitor commie spy. Obama isn’t just a callow far-left machine politician caught up in the cult of his own personality, he has to be Al-Qaeda’s secret sleeper trained from birth.

They’re just the Right’s equivalent of Truthers. And Sampley is the Right’s equivalent of Larry Johnson–and every bit as credible.

Me, I think politics is more than depressing enough–and interesting enough–without making up these crazy conspiracies.

As for Sampley, there’s a certain irony to his being a driver of the Obamuslim rumor. Because right now on mybarackobama.com, one Obamanite has sanctimoniously posted an article from Britain’s Daily Mail about John McCain’s deceit…as told by Ted “Obama=Secret Muslim” Sampley.

UPDATE: Dr. Danielle Allen isn’t the only one deploying advanced internet research technology. Super-genius braniac prodigy savant Brian McMurphy, of the prestigious 6MB Institute, has advanced the frontiers of science by using a radical new technique called “sitemeter”.

Lo and behold, he seems to have met with some success in outing another political hack operating on the web behind a cloak of presumed anonymity. Someone probably named “Dr. Danielle Allen”.

Me, I can’t even get the clock on the VCR to stop blinking twelve o’clock, twelve o’clock.

Is that funny anymore?

Oh, it was never funny? OK:

I can’t get the clock on the Blu-Ray to stop blinking twelve o’clock, twelve o’clock….
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{Post by See-Dubya}
EDIT: John O’Neill’s name was corrected.

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