Andrew Breitbart, a politically conservative writer and author, died the other day of natural causes, according to postings on his website. This hasn't prevented conspiracy theorists from claiming that the government murdered him to silence him or that Obama had him killed because he was about to expose the president by showing compromising videotape of Obama when he was an undergraduate in college.
I still hear talk around town about the black helicopters flying in some night to pick up our guns, take away our freedoms and put the country under martial law.
Add to that the world coming to an end on Dec. 21, 2012 because that's the day the Mayan calendar ends, the government secretly seeding the clouds, political activists labeled as domestic terrorists, the on-going saga of Obama's birth certificate, the imminence of Armageddon according to a local newspaper columnist and Obama being a "snob" for wanting everybody to go to college and you have just a few of the rumors and theories being bandied about by people who live around here.
On top of that, a prominent private weather forecaster who charges to read his blogs has said that this winter has been like no other because accurate predictions have been impossible to make for the first time in his career. He says he doesn't know what is going on. Maybe he's just lost his touch.
And Bob Kerrey, after deciding not to run for the Senate seat being vacated by McCook's Ben Nelson, changes his mind on the last day and declares he IS running. Some of my Republican friends say this is a travesty because he hasn't lived in Nebraska in several years but this is not an uncommon thing for politicians of both parties to do. You remember when Tom Osborne declared a cabin at the lake in western Nebraska as his home so he could run for Congress in an area much more likely to elect him than the metropolitan areas of Lincoln and Omaha.
Rick Santorum, a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, is the one who called Obama a "snob" for thinking everybody should go to college, despite the fact that in 2006 when he was running for re-election in Pennsylvania, he said he was committed to "ensuring that every Pennsylvanian had access to a higher education." Santorum himself has an undergraduate degree from Penn State University, an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from Dickinson School of Law.
The peculiar thing is that I don't hear any of these stories at the college where I teach.
Nor do I hear them in the civic organizations I belong to which are made up of professional men and women. Although I don't listen to talk radio, I do look up quotes on the Internet from radio personalities and find that most of the things I'm hearing around town came from these folks. People obviously find it easier to repeat verbatim the things they hear rather than doing any fact-checking on their own.
So I'll close this week's column by doing a little hypothesizing too.
The world isn't going to end on Dec. 21, 2012, Armageddon isn't going to happen any day now, the black helicopters swooping in and taking everybody's guns, declaring martial law and seeding the clouds have always been myths and always will be, Obama was born in the United States of America, the Democratic party didn't kill Andrew Breitbart and nobody's a snob just because they go to college or want others to. A college education is the best way to improve your financial situation and provide for your family. It has been for a long time and will continue to be.
There's been a lot of talk over the past year or two about the haves and the have-nots when I think the real focus ought to be on the knows and the know-nots.