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Politics
Philip Kadish, who's completing his Ph.D. in American Lit. at The City University of New York, notes that a 'neglected anniversary' recently passed by: the 150th anniversary of the Miscegenation Hoax of 1864, which, as he notes, was "one of the greatest and least remembered political media hoaxes in American history."

The old hoax is certainly evidence that bigotry has always been a part of American politics. As Kadish notes, the hoax foreshadowed modern political hoaxes that play to bigotry, such as the claim that Obama is a Muslim.

The race-mixing hoax that dogged Lincoln
By Philip Kadish

This year is the 150th anniversary of one of the greatest and least remembered political media hoaxes in American history, one with startling parallels to 21st century politics and the Internet age. It involved Abraham Lincoln, covert governmental programs for interracial sex, pro-slavery politicians and scheming newspaper editors.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror, Politics
Posted by Alex on Sun Feb 16, 2014
Comments (0)
Dave Wilson insists he didn't get elected to the Houston Community College System Board of Trustees by "pretending to be black," though many people are now accusing him of doing exactly that. He says he merely ran a smart campaign and used "targeted marketing" to appeal to voters in the majority black neighborhood where he was running.




Yes, he avoided putting a photo of his own white face in his campaign literature, but included lots of stock photos of smiling black people. But there's nothing illegal in that.

And yes, he did prominently claim to be endorsed by Ron Wilson. People might have assumed that was the well-known black Houston politician called Ron Wilson. But if they did so, that was their own fault, because it was made clear somewhere (in the fine print at the bottom of the campaign flyer) that the Ron Wilson in question was Dave's (white) cousin in Iowa. [That brings to mind the "Subways Are For Sleeping" hoax from 1962 in which the newspaper ad for the Broadway play trumpeted the rave reviews it received from people who happened to have the same name as famous theater critics.]

Anyway, Dave Wilson is in office now, and will be for the next six years. And there's not much anyone can do to change that. [khou.com]
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Politics
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 13, 2013
Comments (0)
The Washington Post reports that the Azerbaijan Central Election Commission accidentally released, via a smartphone app, the results of the country's presidential election a day before the election took place. Oops. The commission is saying that the app's developer accidentally sent out the 2008 election results as a test. But no one is believing this since a) the results show candidates from this year, not 2008; and b) it's Azerbaijan, and everyone assumes the election there is totally rigged.

This seems to deserve a place in the annals of outrageous election fraud, alongside such classics as the 1927 election in Liberia, in which Charles King was elected president with 240,000 votes cast for him, in a population with only 15,000 registered voters.

As Stalin maybe said (or maybe didn't), "It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes."


The vote totals that the Azerbaijani Central Election Commission sent out via its official smartphone app -- before voting started.
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 10, 2013
Comments (0)
With the government shutting down today, I was reminded of this 1933 April 1st article in the Madison Capitol-Times about their state capitol building exploding because of a buildup of "large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the senate and assembly chambers"

I don't think any newspaper would publish a joke like this today, in the post-9/11 era, but it still seems appropriate.



Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 01, 2013
Comments (0)
Indian papers are reporting that the attorney general of India, Goolam Vahanvati, recently received a series of calls from someone claiming to be Sonia Gandhi (President of the Congress), urging him to resign. But it wasn't actually Gandhi on the phone. It was a woman imitating her voice.

Usually it's radio stations that are behind this kind of prank. But in this case, a senior member of the Indian congress is suspected to be the mastermind behind it.

Hoax caller imitates Sonia Gandhi, government in a tizzy
Times of India

A hoax call from a PSU woman officer who convincingly sounded like Sonia Gandhi, an agitated attorney general of India who received that call and was convinced that a not-too-happy Congress president was on the line, an informal CBI inquiry into the matter, and now a formal Delhi Police inquiry into the complaint filed on the hoax call. Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde confirmed such a hoax call had been made and that the matter was referred to the home ministry. He declined to give further details.
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 24, 2013
Comments (0)
A week ago, news broke that a hacker (calling himself 'Guccifer') had broken into George W. Bush's email account. The hacker sent some of the emails and photos he found there to the Smoking Gun, which promptly published them.

Three of the leaked photos showed works of art, apparently by Bush. Two of the works were self-portraits in the bathroom — Bush taking a shower and a bath. The third showed Bush working on a more traditional scene of a seaside chapel.






It's the bathroom self-portraits that attracted all the attention. Understandably, since they were so odd. Art critics from the New York Times and New York magazine (among others) reviewed them, treating them as if they were serious works of art.

But Lee Rosenbaum (aka CultureGrrl) asks an interesting question. How do we know that the bathroom paintings aren't a hoax? After all, information is only as good as its source, and the source of these paintings — the hacker Guccifer — isn't very credible. Rosenbaum notes, "If you get into bed with hackers, you may end up taking a bath."

An email from New York conservator Lenora Paglia first prompted Rosenbaum to wonder about the authenticity of the paintings. Paglia points out that it's odd the bathroom paintings are displayed on cheap wooden easels, whereas the chapel scene (the one we actually see Bush working on) stands on a top-of-the-line metal easel. Paglia's email:

Are we certain these paintings are actually by George W. Bush?
I notice that in the photo of him actually at work, he is shown in his home, painting on a nice new metal easel, which I would expect. However, the two bath pictures are displayed on two different beat-up old wooden easels, which are covered with paint marks, like a poor art student's. Would the former President be using such an easel? Also, notice how tentatively W paints—and yet at least one of the wood easels shows hasty-handed marks.
I wonder if the paintings are a hoax!

Of course, if the paintings have been falsely attributed to Bush, the obvious question is why wouldn't Bush deny they were his? One possibility is that the Secret Service has advised him not to comment in any way on the leaked material, beyond admitting that his account was hacked.

The other possibility is that Bush hasn't said anything because the paintings really are his. They're so strange that I'm kind of inclined to think this must be the case. But I think Rosenbaum and Paglia are justified to be skeptical. After all, the source of the paintings is a pretty dubious one.
Categories: Art, Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 14, 2013
Comments (0)
William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States (1909-1913), was a large man. He reportedly weighed 355 pounds while in office, and according to rumor, he was so large that he once got stuck in the white house bathtub. The experience supposedly so rattled him that he ordered the installation of an extra-large tub big enough to hold four ordinary men.


William Howard Taft

The story of him getting stuck in a tub has been frequently repeated in books and newspapers, but is there any truth to the tale? Constitution Daily recently investigated the rumor, scouring through newspaper archives, documents from the National Archives, and Taft biographies, and concluded that "the entire 'stuck in a tub' story appears to be pretty leaky." There are no primary sources or first-hand witnesses who can confirm that such an incident occurred.

What is true is that Taft had some extra-large bathtubs made for him. One was installed on the U.S.S. North Carolina in 1908. A second extra-large tub was installed on the presidential yacht Mayflower in 1910. From what I gather, these tubs were extra-large partially to accomodate his size, and partially because they were built with high sides to prevent water from sloshing out while at sea.

A picture was taken of four workers sitting in the North Carolina tub. This picture may have been one source of the 'stuck in a tub' rumor. But Constitution Daily also notes that "Roosevelt's supporters made fun of Taft's weight in the bitter 1912 election. The story could have grown from there."

Categories: Politics, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 07, 2013
Comments (1)

Add this to the satirical candidates file: The guy in the picture was born Eric Mutch. But in 2010 he changed his name by deed poll to "Zero None Of The Above" and ran in the general election for Mayor of Bristol. But he only received 172 votes. He theorized that people didn't understand the point of his name, which was "to give a choice to people who wanted to vote but did not want to give their support to any of the candidates on their ballot paper."

So he's changed his name again. It's now "Mr Corrupt Self-serving Lying B'stard." And he's running for Mayor of Bristol again.

If elected, he promises to "print a local currency and pay an annual unconditional basic annual income guarantee to every Bristol resident of £10,000 Bristol pounds."

If I lived in Bristol, I'd vote for him. Link: thisisbristol.co.uk
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Fri May 11, 2012
Comments (3)

This image has been circulating online since February with the caption:
Romney's family misspell their last name in the greatest Freudian slip in history.

The Hill reports that it's fake. However, I don't yet know any further details — such as where the picture was taken. Nor have I seen the original yet.

But I've got to say, assuming this is a fake image, it's a really good one. Both because it's very believable (it's easy to imagine that two kids could momentarily stand in the wrong place), and because it makes its point very clearly: That Romney is incredibly rich, and that he seems to prioritize the interests of the rich.

Update: Some investigation reveals the original picture was taken by Reuters photographer Brian Snyder at a Romney campaign rally in Elko, Nevada on Friday, Feb 3, 2012. And that's not Romney's family wearing the t-shirts. It's the Fisher family. (csmonitor.com). Below is another picture in the series:

Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 26, 2012
Comments (1)
Did he not intend to plagiarise, or did he not intend to get caught?

Hungary's president steps down after plagiarism scandal
telegraph.co.uk

Last week Semmelweis University revoked Mr Schmitt's doctorate after a special committee concluded he had copied "word for word" large chunks of his 1992 thesis on Olympic history. In parliament the 69-year-old president reiterated claims he made on Friday that had not intended to plagiarise and that examiners should have raised any problems with his thesis at the time...

(Thanks, Joe!)
Categories: Literature/Language, Politics
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 03, 2012
Comments (1)
This auction managed to generate some attention from the internet — enough to get it pulled from eBay. Try as anyone might, no one could see the image the seller claimed was there. And the guy wanted $88.40 just for shipping. Apparently the auction was really just a thinly veiled anti-Mormon diatribe. Link: gawker.com.

Categories: Pareidolia, Politics, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 19, 2012
Comments (1)
Last week an image showing the "tip" left by a rich banker who had dined at a Newport Beach restaurant spread around the internet. The financial tip was slightly less than 1%, on a bill of over $100, but the patron also left a life-advice tip: "GET A REAL JOB".


Naturally, the image provoked the customary rage reaction from netizens.

The image originally was posted on a blog called "Future Ex-Banker" run by an anonymous blogger who said he worked in the corporate office of a bank for a boss who represented "everything wrong with the financial industry." He further claimed of this boss:

So proudly does he wear his 1% badge of honor that he tips exactly 1% every time he feels the server doesn't sufficiently bow down to his Holiness. Oh, and he always makes sure to include a "tip" of his own.

The image has now proven to be a hoax. The owner of the restaurant, True Food Kitchen, searched through their receipts and found the original copy, which included neither the stingy tip nor the insulting piece of advice. The "Future Ex-Banker" blog (futureexbanker.wordpress.com) has been taken down.


I gotta say, the original image was a pretty good photoshop job. I'm guessing that the hoaxer scanned the original receipt, digitally erased some of the information, then printed out a new copy, wrote the new "tip" on it, and took a picture of it. That would be easier than doing the alteration entirely digitally.

I'm also curious whether the hoaxer was a liberal or a conservative. Given that the hoaxer had to know that the hoax would eventually be exposed, it makes me think this might have been black propaganda by a conservative, trying to make it look like a liberal/progressive hoax.

Links: Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Smoking Gun.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 01, 2012
Comments (5)
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