Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Obama Birth Certificate Flap: Textbook Crankery

For anyone interested in the issue of Obama's birth certificate, I found this post and comments on Ed Brayton's blog most illuminating and entertaining. The facade of legitimate concern for constitutional government as motivation for the accusations was revealed by one poster going by, sickeningly enough, John Adams:

"Obama is on the record saying that he was born in a hospital in Hawaii. The long form version would list the hospital and the doctors names that were present during the delivery. If it turns out that Obama's long form birth certificate says he was popped out at home, or in a taxi that is going to raise questions that will need to be asked of Obama as to why he would lie about that. That will require further investigation."

It would? Why? The issue is not "Did Obama lie about anything?". The issue is "Is Obama qualified to be president?". We've got a long history of liars as president (Clinton, Nixon), with mixed results. /snark But seriously, clearly the agenda is not protection of the constitution. The agenda is to take Obama down, whatever it takes. It's the same strategy that brought us the nonissues of Ayers, ACORN, and flag pins. They are just taking their strategy into extra innings. The problem is, they went into a hornets nest. The best retort was this one:

"Note the ['If']. It's the most important part of the entire sentence. As in 'If a starship enters Earth orbit from the Galactic Center and her commander produces a birth certificate saying Obama was born on a planet whose name can't be pronounced by humans, that is going to raise questions that will need to be asked of Obama as to why he would lie about that.'

Until the 'if' condition is proven true, the wackaloons have nothing to their name but a lot of empty 'what if' speculation, with ZERO evidentiary backup, which no decent court has time to deal with."

The problem that becomes readily evident in the referenced thread is that the wingnuts are not used to dealing with the scientifically inclined, who tend to ask annoying questions like "Where is your evidence for that?", to which, through over 300 responses, an answer never appears. They aren't used to that. In their little secluded corners of the internet, all that is required is assertion linked with suspicion. No need to be specific enough to, say, wager on the outcome. Stay vague, must have wiggle room. No need for internal consistency either. It doesn't matter if some aspects of your theory are contradictory, just keep repeating the assertions.

You see the gamut of conspiracy techniques, and seeing them run headlong into the buzzsaw of an audience with sharpened thinking skills, and an appreciation for evidence gave me no shortage of schadenfreude. Here are some selected responses for your enjoyment:

"I also love that the same people who used Obama's full name as a slur during the campaign now want us to believe that's not really his name. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to eBay to shop for a new irony meter!"

"What this means, in simple terms, is that Alan Keyes has gone right off the deep end and will be laughed out of court. I've started reading the brief and it appears Keyes is trying to argue standing by claiming California's Electoral College members have a constitutional duty to examine each candidate's "Original vault copy long form" birth certificate. It's a tactic that's guaranteed to fail by virtue of the fact no such verification has ever been required before. Either every Elector in every election since the adoption of the constitution has been derelict in his duty or Keyes is full of shit. Guess which one the court will choose."

"I think I know the wingnut's next line of criticism, 'Ok fine, there *was* a Barak Obama born in Honolulu, but how do we know this man's name is really Barak Obama *and* that he's the same Barak Obama as in the certificate?'"

"Just to summarize for those who have difficulty reading,
a) Obama's mother is a US citizen thus her son is too (no matter where he was born)
b) Obama born on US soil (HI) thus he is a US citizen
c) Even if b) is false, a) is true, thus he is a US citizen
d) Short form of birth certificate has always been sufficient to prove citizenship*
e) Birth announcement is further evidence of HI birth
f) HI authorities have confirmed details of birth
g) Relevant Federal authorities have confirmed details of Obama's birth
h) the burden of proof IS ON YOU, unless you can PROVE IT no amount of speculation changes anything
j) IF (and such a probability is SO LOW as to be non-existent) Obama IS NOT a US citizen - all hail President BIDEN (at least, in your eyes, he's WHITE). -DJ
*None of the other [white] candidates has been set this high a level of burden of proof,
wonder what would raise the bar now? Hmmm, let me think...."

"The 'short form' birth certificate is a real birth certificate, and valid as legal proof of his place of birth.

The only ones who seem to have a problem with that are a handful of whackjobs who got their legal education at the Imperial Klan University of West Nutlick, GA.

The specific question was 'where was he born', and the answer, found on the 'short form' certificate, is 'Honolulu'. Whether he was born in a hospital, home, or taxi, and whether he was delivered by Dr. Feelgood or Dr. Frankenstein, has absolutely no bearing on his citizenship."

"of course they lied about his place of birth in the advertisement and on the short form birth certificate because their commie, race-mixing conspiracy to put a Muslim terrorist in the White House was already under way back in 1961."

"There is only a crisis in your paranoid little mind. You act as though this is a serious issue - rest assured that it isn't. Several paranoid loons, some of whom have filed in court, a case doth not make. I'm sorry, but a very, very few folks actually give a shit about this.

Show me the evidence that what you assert is true. Show me the evidence that the parties who actually certify anything, are being given a line of bullshit. Show me the evidence that Obama is hiding anything from the actual people who will certify this election. Until you can, until you can prove that something nefarious is going on, you don't have a leg to stand on."

"[wingnut]Obama's birth certificate can't be real, both them Hawaii state officials who say they seen it is just Japs and it's still part of the whole Pearl Harbor conspiracy, and the 14th amendment don't mean nothing cause it's right after that there 13th amendment that lets them uppity nigras vote, and I don't agree with that, so everything after it don't count, and it don't matter that Obama's mother was a US citizen cause she done give up her citizenship whin she done had sex with a black man in the first place.[/wingnut]"

"Well, it seems perfectly obvious to me...

In some sort of Manchurian Candidate sort of way, Barack's parents KNEW that he was destined to become President. So they had to overcome the mistake of allowing him to be born in Kenya by forcing the Hawaiian authorities to create a new American birth certificate for him.

In my humble opinion, they should have also had enough foresight to change his middle name too.

/tin foil hat mode"

"This Obama trip to see Grandma 'Toot' was put together with ABC and Good Morning America as a two-fold attempt to, 1) legitimize a Publicity stunt to gain sympathetic favor for Obama and, 2) provide a cover for Obama to solicit a legal story and affidavit from Grandma 'Toot' as to his claim of having been born in Hawaii.

'One of the things I want to make sure of is that I had a chance to sit down with her and talk to her,' Obama told Roberts on GMA. 'She's still alert and she's still got all her faculties. And I want to make sure that I don't miss that opportunity right now.' 'And then we're going to find out what chores I can do, because I'm sure there's been some stuff that's been left undone,' he said.

Yes, there was good reason that Obama needed to 'talk with her and find some chores that need to be done!' And it's very important that you the voter decipher his words 'she's still alert and she's got all her faculties.' He keeps repeating this mantra because that's an absolute requirement for a valid affidavit. And Grandma 'toot' was the only American relative left that could cover-up his birthplace."

"On a practical note, does anyone really think that it is remotely possible that a woman with limited financial resources, in her ninth month of pregnancy, is going to say to herself, 'Yes, I think it would be a fabulous idea to fly to a third world country where I don't know a soul and give birth!'??? And then, having had the child, would arrange for the newspaper in her hometown to announce the birth, but lie and pretend it happened in Hawaii? Then fly home, without anyone noticing that she had been gone, with a newborn in tow? Does this make any sense at all to anyone?"

"they're not just good citizens asking for evidence. They're scum who blatantly ignore evidence and facts and who will never, never, be satisfied with anything they receive, even if Obama were to give them everything--because their goal isn't the truth. Their goal is to overturn the election.

They are attacking American democracy, and they are attacking the rule of law. They, and you, are enemies of America. Fuck you. Go die. I'm an American, and you are my enemy because you want to destroy democracy and the rule of law just to get at Obama."

I'll end with my contribution to the mix, that all you conspiracy nuts think you predict everything, because you reinterpret everything to fit your misconceptions. Conspiracy theories are always nonfalsifiable, as you guys keep demonstrating.

Show some documentation that you've predicted anything over the last 10 years and then we'll talk. Or better yet, how about enlightening us on what's going to happen in the next ten years? Claiming you made a prediction after the fact sort of leaves off the "pre" part.

And indeed, it shows how these conspiracy nuts are not interested in good science, or good epistemology at all. And they sure as hell aren't interested in Democracy. Trying to change the outcome of an election with conspiracy theories is every bit as anti-Democracy as an armed coup, just with less balls.


Anonymous said...

"The only ones who seem to have a problem with that are a handful of whackjobs who got their legal education at the Imperial Klan University of West Nutlick, GA"

And Alan Keyes.

Anonymous said...

This Obama Citizenship Denial (OCD) thing just keeps coming. But when you dig into it, just about everything derives from the original Philip Berg lawsuit--its misstatement of facts, its misstatements of the law and its unsubstantiated suppositions. The Berg claim reads a lot more like a layman's blog than a legal brief.

Anyway thanks for providing a bit of rationality in this Alice in Wonderland story.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, the following statement by the Kenyan ambassador (starting at the 12:30 mark) had nothing to do with Berg: