Various and Sundry, 4/28/11

Short thoughts on three things:

Obama’s Birth Certificate: It’s times like these that one has to make a conscious act of will to remember that in fact Americans are not getting stupider, they’ve always believed idiotic things about the politicians they hate. Believing that Obama was not born in the US long ago got placed on my list of Things That Suggest You May Be a Willful Moron, along with believing in horoscopes, being against immunizations, arguing against evolution and thinking 9/11 was an inside job (note: this is not a complete list), so it’s not entirely surprising to me that the President releasing the long-form birth certificate doesn’t satisfy the birthers at all. Morons can’t help being morons; most of them like being morons. Also, there’s money (and/or votes) to be had continuing to argue to other morons that you’re right in the face of all reasonable evidence.

The best you can say about it is that if you ever believed Obama was not a US citizen, you might have been a moron, but if you still believe it, well, now you’re definitely an ultra moron. So well done you. Honestly, people who are unhappy with the president have lots of genuine and legitimate reasons to be be unhappy with him. Focusing on his birth just indicates your inherent ridiculousness and unseriousness.

The Royal Wedding: I don’t believe it will surprise anyone to know I plan to sleep through it. Philosophically, as an American I refuse to get excited about things involving monarchies; as a human, I don’t know either the bride or groom or either sets of parents, and I didn’t get an invitation, so honestly, what do I care. I wish the couple happiness, because I’m a fan of marriage, and I always hope people are happy in them, but I’d wish the same happiness to any two people getting married, a largess universal, as it were, not confined to people who will one day be ceremonial heads of state and/or such a person’s spouse. Otherwise, meh.

Storms in the South: I’ve donated to the Red Cross today. Have you? Think about it.

155 thoughts on “Various and Sundry, 4/28/11

  1. I am wondering when the moron factor will reach critical mass, form a singularity and create a tear in the very fabric of reality. I wonder what lies beyond such a tear?

    Elvis, perhaps?

  2. But really, how can I be sure he was born in Hawaii. I mean, I wasn’t there to see and, since all I know about the world is just input from my senses, I can’t even trust that. Maybe everything in the world from before I was born didn’t even exist and Mom and Dad have just been really busy inventing the past for me?

  3. In common with most of the UK, I say thank you very much for the extra, free holiday – and I’ll just catch 10 minutes of wedding footage on the news later in the day.

  4. My issue with the birthers was never their belief, moronic though it is. It was the disgusting amount of coverage given to it by the ‘responsible’ media. Whenever I hear whining from traditional news organizations about how the new media developments are endangering quote-unquote real journalism, I point to the inordinate amount of coverage this has gotten along with, frankly, anything Tea Party.

  5. Did you contact Buckingham Palace, maybe your invite got lost in the post. I can’t believe the Queen wouldn’t want to meet the guy who once taped bacon to a cat (yeah, you better believe she has seen that meme, apparently HRM is a serious ‘net user).

  6. I am tired of the morons, too. Why is it that Everything they don’t like a tremendous conspiracy? Those things only work, imho in small circles, and they fade when they come to light. And thanks for mentioning the royal wedding, John, I like weddings, but like you said, I don’t personally know the couple or happen to be related to them, and didn’t we Americans have a revolution over two hundred years ago so that we wouldn’t Have to pay attention to the British monarchy? I seem to remember reading about the revolution -it was in all the newspapers- so I guess the only people slavering about this seems to be the media. I care about this less than our local morons who want us to secede Texas Again from the union. How well did that work the first time, people? sorry for the anti-moron rant.

  7. Conspiracy theorists are immune to evidence. In fact, it makes them more suspicious. Ultra-moron is not a bad name for this.

  8. I see both “the wedding” and birtherism as symptoms of the same sickness. In order to keep the morons busy & preoccupied so that they never see what is being done to them they need lots of shiny objects and sugary treats. So much of what passes for news during the dawn of this new century falls into this category & there is an eager audience of ultra-morons waiting to be distracted.

    While I like “ultra-moron” my favorite is still “moran” in honor of this guy:
    http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/images/blpic-moran.htm

  9. people who are unhappy with the president have lots of genuine and legitimate reasons to be be unhappy with him

    Obama just nominated General Patreus to be the head of the CIA. The inteligence agency is becoming more and more a black military ops agency.

    Obama’s vigorous support of the ongoing torture of an American soldier, Bradley Manning.

    The foot dragging on democratic revolt in Egypt, then the transparent attempt to put Egypts vice presient in as the new dictator, has cause Egyptians in a recent poll to say overwhelmingly that they distrust and dislike America.

    Most tellingly, Obama has launched more wars (Libya and Yemen) and more Predator missiles than all other Nobel Peace prize winners combined.

    Plus all the standard broken campaign promise stuff.

    http://www.warhw.com/2011/04/13/obama-v-obama/

  10. My only complaint about this is the order. Storms should be first. And really the birther nonsense and royal wedding craziness are equally stupid in my mind. And yet… listening to NPR this morning, other than a quick news report about some blown out windows, I heard almost nothing about the storms, quite a bit about the wedding and birther nonsense, and too much about Ben Bernanke giving a press conference. (Not that I don’t care about the economy, but not exactly important in comparison to natural disasters…) Plus when they start talking about whether or not he’s actually apprehensive or if that’s just an affect of his voice *GAH*.

  11. Sundry – I did donate to the Red Cross.This makes three times this year already (New Zealand, Japan, USA). Mother Nature be fierce in 2011.
    Various –
    1. I am going to a friend’s wedding this weekend. Don’t care about two people in England getting married. People I have never met and will never meet. I suppose a royal wedding meant something long ago, as the monarchy had actual polictical power at one time.
    2. Anyone who ever seriously believed Obama is not a citizen has a serious brain problem.

  12. Most tellingly, Obama has launched more wars (Libya and Yemen) and more Predator missiles than all other Nobel Peace prize winners combined.

    Leaving out Predator missiles (exactly how many other Peace Prize winners have had access to Predator drones?), the war thing is just piffle. Obama isn’t even first on the list of individuals, as both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson took the US into more wars than BHO did.

  13. Birthers are defenitely an indefensible, kooky bunch of maroons, but I see Obama and the networks using the issue for cynical means; why didn’t Obama simply release his long-form birth certificate back in 2008? Answer: because it was a useful distraction to the questions about his executive experience (or lack thereof) and ideological temperament.

  14. While I share your meh about British royal weddings, I was pleased the the couple has requested, and set up a website to facilitate, charitable donations to be made in lieu of gifts. I consider that “using one’s powers for good”. Of course, right now the U.S. Red Cross would be the better chpice for your charity dollars. But still…

  15. Ack, html fail. The website, if you have the means and desire, is www dot royalweddingcharityfund dot org

  16. Chris Shaffer:

    Alternately, he like many rational people was under the assumption that releasing the short form version would be sufficient, since it is the document that is generally accepted as legal evidence.

    Also there’s the thing that even if there never was a birth certificate issue, the crazed nutbags would have found some other reason (and did, i.e., he’s a secret Muslim and/or Socialist, etc).

  17. If it was me, I’d have released a birth certificate with white out, handwritten entries and the box for “satanist” checked.

    Because that would be fun.

    But I’m never likely to ever be President of the US.

  18. Every time I see the word “moran” used in a political context I wonder what poor old Joanie Cunningham did to offend the person using it.

  19. The real question isn’t whether or not he is American… The real question is whether Barrack Obama is even a human being? I am onto his hidden pro-alien agenda and his attempts to turn us all into weak and meager servants for his alien overlords.

    Just saying…

    rabid

  20. What I never got about the birther nonsense is why it matters where BHA was born. His mother was a US citizen, so therefore, so is he. Also, no one seemed to be worrying about McCain’s being born in Panama.

  21. @Greg @18: Not that I’m condoning Bradley Manning’s treatment, because I’m fairly appalled by it, but I was under the impression that he’d been transferred and was being treated much better at Ft Leavenworth. They’re even going to allow the media to tour the prison and witness his treatment.

  22. Ultra-moron. I like the sound of that. I have always used “militant stupidity” to describe that mindset.

    I am one of the many who believe that a white baby born and raised under the same circumstances, with a father who was a citizen of, say, Croatia, would never have gotten the same attention from the birther morons. They are racist to the core, but smart enough (barely) to know that they can’t openly use his race to get rid of him.

    My opinion, but I’m sticking to it.

  23. Peyton – What did she do? She loved Chachi, that’s what she did. Chachi! C’mon, that’s just unforgiveable. Maybe if she had fallen for Charles in Charge, okay, but not Chachi.

  24. Re: Birthers … Reminds me of an episode of True Blood where a character described the small-town idiots as “aggressively ignorant.”

  25. Donated. Thanks for the reminder. Didn’t have to think about it. Did it with a cat on my lap, so I hope I get extra points.

  26. The birthers are so stupid even Glenn Beck is telling them to shut up. I do not think all the birthers are racists. I think its sort of a racism equivalent against liberals. Anyone who isn’t conservative is the enemy and evil, so anything they do is evil. Its pretty similiar to the Hate Bush is a Nazi garbage on the left (I am a moderate).

    A note on Donald Trump, I thought he was basically a used car salesman in real estate long before any of this happened. In 1996 he toyed with running for president and floated a networth tax. I think he will just say whatever it takes to hype himself and improve the image of his brand.

    I didn’t vote for Obama. It is obvious he was born in the US. I am surprised he actually released his birth certificate, since the birthers are totally turning off moderates. Seriously when you have a sitting president who in his 3rd year still has an unemployment rate near 9%, this birther garbage is a distraction. Even if you don’t think the unemployment rate is Obama’s fault, it is still his problem and a MUCH stronger issue to use against him.

  27. My donations to the American Red Cross consist of type O+ blood; I’m about due for my 115th pint in a week’s time. I wish I felt better about their management of both money and disasters. I do give money to the International Red Cross.

    As for the multiply-bankrupt, loutish, serially-polygamous, ill-educated fashion criminal Donald Trump, enough said.

  28. Re storms: holy crap. If the climatologists are right and we’ll be getting more and more of this, that’s scary.

    Re royal wedding: Meh.

    Re birthers: The “Southern Strategy” with different vocabulary. Per Greg @ 18, there are lots of reasons to be unhappy with Obama, but if you’re the sort of person who approves of militarism and civil rights only applying to some people and ever-increasing disparity of wealth, someone has to make shit up that you’ll latch onto. Obama’s skin color makes it easier, and if the dog-whistling is done right you also get the added benefit of self-righteously claiming offense if someone calls you out on the nasty overtones.

    Of course, the corporate media could be counted on to uncritically rebroadcast it as newsworthy “controversy”. Tellingly, said media responded more-or-less correctly to the equally stupid but less … useful … Trig Palin birth “controversy”. Idiotic speculation about who Trig’s “real” mom is was mostly dismissed as idiotic speculation.

  29. #31 hit the nail on the head– birthers were spiining thier wheels from day one

    royal wedding? – I concur , meh

    red cross – next blood drive is in 3 weeks – already signed up (I can’t go sooner gave blood too recently)

    just to throw gas on the moron fire- guess what global warming theory predicts re: severe storms….. yup
    (my moron Venn diagram has climate change deniers, birthers, and creationists with significant overlap – less so with holocaust deniers and those that deny that HIV causes AIDS but it appears there are those that exhibit the full panoply for moronitude)

  30. Payton@32: They’re even going to allow the media to tour the prison and witness his treatment.

    Tour the prison maybe. Witness his treatment? Like someone from Huffington Post will be there 24/7 to witness whether they let Manning sleep or not?

    Obama, allegedly a constitutional lawyer, declared Manning guilty before he has even had a trial.

    The military has been saying that Manning is a suicide risk for better part of a year, and using that as an excuse to justify sleep deprivation, forced nudity, etc. Even though the base psychologists have been saying he wasn’t a suicide risk for that entire time.

    Back on march 11, Obama asked the Pentagon if Manning was being treated OK, they said yes, and Obama said that was good enough for him.

    Obama’s answer to “Who guards the guardians?” apparently is “the guardians, of course”. Clearly, the president who’s motto is “Look forward, not back” wanted this to all be quietly swept under the rug.

    A month later, April 11, 250 legal scholars (including one of Obama’s university professors) send Obama a letter saying Manning is being tortured and his treatment is illegal. That plus continuingly increasing public awareness and pressure forced “look forward, not back” Obama to do change something.

    Manning wasnt transferred until April 21.

    Any change to Manning’s treatment is clearly in no way a reflection of Obama or the administration in general suddenly finding their principles. They’re doing it because it keeps getting more attention and is becoming impossible for them to ignore, downplay, spin, or whatever.

    So, I am far more skeptical of this “change” being anything more than changing the curtains on the torture chamber. Or an attempt to appease the masses so this can all be ignored and torture in some new form can be renewed.

  31. Greg @42: I don’t disagree with anything you just said in #42. I only wanted to point out that the word “ongoing” is probably inaccurate, for whatever reason.

  32. Guess @ 37: Haven’t you gotten the memo? Jobs are irrelevant. The real danger is the deficit … now that there’s a Democrat as president. (Before that, while most of the deficit was actually being created, not so much. “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” – Dick Cheney, Dec 2002)

  33. Truly well said about the Birth Certificate and the so called Birthers. As for Donald Trump who is “claiming some sort of victory” over this….he’s an idiot.

    I have loved ones in Alabama, and I am communicating with them regularly (I am on other family business, currently at NYC). Thanks for the kind thoughts and keep donating to the Red Cross for our losses. There are over 1 Million people without power in Northern Alabama because the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant got knocked out by the storms when the transmission lines coming and going to the plant got cut. They say, power won’t be restored for at least 4-5 days.

  34. Pam Adams: As a preface, I don’t believe the underlying assumptions for this to be relevant, but…

    In the 1960s, the law governing the citizenship of a foreign born child with one US citizen parent had several requirements, one of which was that the citizen parent must have resided in the US for ten years, five of them after the age of 14. As an 18 year old, Stanley Ann Dunham did not qualify under these rules.

    Which is moot, because he was born in Hawaii.

    But still, it makes slightly more sense.

  35. @ #8 Stella
    Come on. I know some birthers. While their belief is moronic, they are generally good people and most certainly NOT racist. What a horrible dirty word to call someone when you have no idea what is in their heart. That was not called for. Try to rise above.

  36. the word “ongoing” is probably inaccurate

    An inspection of the prison holding Manning isn’t the same as having some independent observer actually observing Manning’s treatment 24/7.

    My point is that given how Obama has established a track record of “look forward, not back”, asking the pentagon politely if they might be breaking any, you know, laws, declaring Manning’s guilt before he even has a trial, (and not investigating the Abu Graib torture mess, and not releasing the remaining torture photos), I think it is entirely appropriate to assume this change of prisons is a bunch of bullshit until proven otherwise.

    Given Obama’s repeated demonstrated indifference to the rule of law, due process, and basic human rights, as far as I’m concerned, Manning’s mistreatment is ongoing until proven otherwise. And it’ll take more than a dog and pony show to prove that it has actually stopped.

    Had Obama a history of investigating government torture, respecting the rule of law, giving Manning the due process of being innocent until proven guilty, and responded effectively to legitimate concerns raised about Manning’s treatment, then I might give him more benefit of the doubt that Obama would make things right.

    As it is, it seems fairly clear to everyone who’s been following Manning’s case that he is being tortured as a warning to others and probably trying to get him to say Wikileaks somehow “conspired” with him to release the info so that Wikileaks can be charged with a crime. By all accounts Manning’s treatment appears to be coming from the top down. Like Abu Graib, this has no indication of being “just a few bad apples”, but rather appears to go all the way up the chain of command.

  37. Elgion: While their belief is moronic, they are generally good people

    Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, but he is generally considered a good person.

    The point being that generally good people can still be specifically racist.

  38. @31 Pam – His mother was a US citizen, so therefore, so is he.

    This is incorrect. There are additional rules beyond having one parent being a US citizen for you to be a natural born US citizen.

  39. Elgion: How do you explain their birtherism, then?

    My take is that most birthers are racists, whether or not they admit it to themselves; the rest are the “politics as a team sport” types.

  40. @42
    I doubt that this is just changing curtains on the torture chamber and expect that there will be a marked improvement in Manning’s conditions. The fact is that they don’t need to overtly torture him anymore, the psychological and emotional damage has been done, now they can offer the veneer of civility and appropriate treatment and still leverage cooperation by threateningly making it clear that conditions can starting reverting the moment people are distracted by whatever media circus hits tomorrow. Right now Manning is faced with a strong likelyhood of being convicted on some of the charges and is likely going to be in a military prison for at least a decade. They can afford to back off on his mistreatment while everyone is watching but Manning knows that if he is uncooperative that in a year or two he can expect to keep getting humiliated and being isolated again. Part of the power of torture is that when you stop the threat of resumption is almost as good as carrying it on (actually sometimes it is more effective).

  41. I think it’s safe to say that most on both the Left and Right are happy to have the birth certificate in the rear view mirror of history.

    For those unconvinced, their belief is at least helpful as a marker (like believing the U.S. was involved in 9/11, etc). If someone expresses this sentiment, it’s a handy cue to back away from the conversation. There’s no amount of talking that will change their mind. They are believing what they want to be true. By definition, there are no counterfactuals.

    As the saying goes, you can’t reason someone out of a position that they were not reasoned into in the first place.

    Also, I too look eagerly forward to the spectacle and splendor of the impending great event that has once again captured our collective imagination. It brings a tear to my eye with its promise of a better tomorrow.

    I refer of course to the NFL draft.

  42. Pretty sure the frequency and intensity of disasters around the world is Mother Nature’s way of informing us she’s a bit miffed at the way the planet has been treated.

  43. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti I started a direct debit monthly donation to MSF/DWB so that I could budget my These Things Happen and Are Awful donations, even in months during which These Things don’t happen. This year is making me very glad I did so, and I advise others to do so as well with the disaster response group of their choice.

    Re: the other things: humans puzzle me.

  44. The fact is that they don’t need to overtly torture him anymore

    If they want Manning to say Wikileaks conspired with him so they can charge wikileaks witha crime (and it seems abudantly clear that this is exactly what Obama wants), then they will likely keep up some sort of overt torture until they get Manning to “confess” what they want him to confess.

    Part of the power of torture is that when you stop the threat of resumption is almost as good as carrying it on

    The threat of torture is still torture.

    Manning’s treatment has been outside the rule of law from thebeginning. It still is. Changing what prison he is beign held in, while doing nothing to address the systemic problems that lead to his months of torture, which means he can be tortured at any time again in the future, is window dressing.

  45. The birther nonsense is nothing more than barely veiled racism. Look at how quickly the talking point has moved to claims that Obama wasn’t smart enough to get into an ivy league college (with the unspoken assertion that he got in only because he’s black). Disgusting.

    I’ve heard claims that Trump is really trolling the GOP to make Obama look better, but I fear people are only saying that because the alternative is that Trump is an awful, opportunist, racist asshat who is proud of his own ignorance, and that the national news will happily devote their coverage on such scum of humanity.

  46. Forget common sense and the fact that anyone running for president is vetted by all the three letter agencies. Unfortunately the morons will find something else to latch on to.

  47. Honestly, I didn’t think he was going to release it (I thought it was good politics on his part as a way of grouping and minimizing his critics), but I guess he might feel like he is under a lot of pressure since its becoming election season again and prices are rising on a lot of commodities.

  48. Frank@28: Nah–check “atheist,” that’d stir up the fundies more than satanism.

    Of course, as Ricky Gervais says, atheism is a religion in the same way that not skiing is a hobby, but people still list it thus on forms.

  49. I thought there was a deal whereby when we elected a non-Caucasian President that people had to stop pointing at things they didn’t like and yelling ‘racist,’ unless, you know, there was actual racism involved. Never been a birther, and can’t stand Trump, but that does not mean that there’s racism involved. It could be, you know, that people are judging President Obama based on his character (or perceived lack there of) and not on the color of his skin.

    For those of you that think Trump is being racist for questioning how Obama got into Harvard with less than stellar grades… what would you think of someone that came right out and said: “he [Obama] had ‘undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action.’ “

    Is that person a racist? If you think so, then you think that Obama is racist, as he is the one that wrote that when he was back at Harvard… and he should know, yeah?

    Please remember that there is nothing new in the world. For those that claim this birther nonsense is because Obama is black, please explain Chester Arthur. You know, the white 21st President of the US who had to deal with the claim that he was born in Ireland or Canada, was not a Natural Born US Citizen and as such, ineligible to be President. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_A._Arthur

    Save the racist epithets for when people are actually being racist, okay? It’ll mean more.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_Who_Cried_Wolf

  50. Hawke:

    Your inability to see racism does not mean it’s not there, and your lecturing posture is making you look obnoxious. As a hint, the person on this site who gets to tell people how to frame their argument is the one who owns it, and that’s not you. So try not to do that again. Thanks.

  51. Sorry Hawke, that dog, as they say, don’t hunt. At least for me.

    If Barack Obama was a generic White Democrat president who was born in Hawaii would they have EVER asked about the birth certificate?

    The answer is no.

    The ONLY reason this has been an issue is because he is a) not white, b) …hmmm… I can’t think of a b.

    Now, he *may* of got into Harvard due to affirmative action, although I really really really really struggle to believe that Harvard would go for that myself… it’s possible. I don’t think they’d give President of the Law Review for that reason though.

    As it stands, does it really matter?

    It’s not like good grades have historically mattered for a president. I understand the last one wasn’t exactly a stellar scholar either.

  52. Robin @61: Obama has been vetted by not just the complete set of 3 letter agencies but also:

    The Illinois state bar
    The Illinois state police
    The board of admissions for Harvard
    The State Department
    The Secret Service (whose primary job, don’t forget, is investigating forgeries)

    Obama is the most vetted man in the history of vetting. Birthers are trying to make the outrageous claim that Obama managed to forge a birth certificate so perfectly, that it fooled every one of the above listed agencies. At that point, you have to wonder what could be the difference between a forgery and the real thing? if it’s such a good forgery that no one can tell the difference, it’s authenticity becomes a matter of theology rather than any observable, phenomenological criteria.

  53. @Hawke
    Part of what made the Obama Birthers so obviously racist is the fact that McCain was actually born outside the United States and there was absolutely no attention paid to that fact by the same people constantly harping on Obama’s legitimacy. At best you could argue that the Birthers are purely partisan issue fabricating liars but given the fairly consistent low level racism coming from them simultaneously (Madrasa’s, Hussein, Kenya) along with extremely specific (though rarer) racist attacks it is a reasonable assumption of their motives.

    Also using Chester A. Arthur as an example of a non-racist Natural Born Citizen issue is a poor choice. The original lie that he was born in Ireland was a specifically racist claim from an era where being Irish was the equivalent of being Mexican today in terms of racism. It was chosen to cast aspersions on his character and create doubt about him even after it was refuted. The morphing into being from Canada after being proven false is quite similar to how the Obama birthers are constantly shifting the goalposts and claims to keep the issue in the minds of poorly informed voters who equate the new issue with the old without understanding that the previous lie was proven false.

    Yes, many of the claims against Obama are primarily motivated by partisanship rather than racism but they are still often tinged with racism by the inclusion of ‘dog whistle’ phrases and words and sometimes are overtly racist despite the basis of the opposition being primarily political. You are effectively saying that people shouldn’t cry wolf because it sometimes turns out that it is actually a coyote rather than the wolf from last week.

  54. Hawke: It could be, you know, that people are judging President Obama based on his character (or perceived lack there of)

    WTF?

    Obama allowing Manning to be tortured shows a lack of character. But it takes a ride on the crazy train to get from there to “Obama was born in Africa”.

    One has nothing to do wtih the other.

    Unless you’re saying people born in Africa are intrinsicly of lesser character or something.

    Otherwise its a non sequitor.

  55. I thought there was a deal whereby when we elected a non-Caucasian President that people had to stop pointing at things they didn’t like and yelling ‘racist,’ unless, you know, there was actual racism involved.

    You have a lot of damn gall saying that to people who’ve faced racism and had their families affected by it.

  56. Birthers are trying to make the outrageous claim that Obama managed to forge a birth certificate so perfectly, that it fooled every one of the above listed agencies. At that point, you have to wonder what could be the difference between a forgery and the real thing?

    Well, no, at that point you have to say, “if he’s that GOOD, then you, by damn, WANT HIM IN CHARGE.”

  57. Mr. Scalzi

    First, my humblest apologies for trespassing on your privilege. Having suffered actual racism including attacks, theft and property damage I thought that I might actually have a perspective on the topic, but evidently it was one that is not welcomed.

    I’ll go now and leave you to your other readers.

    Oh, and it’s not that I look obnoxious, I actually am–I’ve had to be. But at least I’ll never be a victim.

  58. I can understand your meh reaction to the British Royal Wedding, John. But you know, 30 years ago the Charles and Diana wedding was such fun to watch for all its pagentry. This one will be as well. I think I shall get up early tomorrow morning and watch it live, at least until I have to go to work.

    Of course, after deep reading in our history I concluded long ago I’d have been a tory loyalist shipped off to Canada by the patriots after their victory and their stripping me of all my colonial assets without due process of any law, but simply for being on the losing side. Our founding fathers were wealthy men who did not want to pay their taxes to the British crown. Greed caused the American revolution. All the talk about the rights of an Englishman were the spin they used to cover up their avarice.

  59. @ Hawke
    It could be, you know, that people are judging President Obama based on his character (or perceived lack there of) and not on the color of his skin.

    Because people saying he’s from Kenya means that…he has a lack of character? I’m trying to follow the logic that the claim that the reason why people are saying he’s not a citizen is that he’s somehow lacking in character and failing. Can you clarify?

  60. A former coworker and I once argued about the importance of immunizations. I had just finished telling her about my own childhood experience having suffered through the measles when the vaccine I received in school turned out to be a bad batch. I warned her that measles and other diseases against which vaccines protect people are often deadly, and she could be dooming her child..

    She rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah, but that’s still better than my baby getting autism.”

  61. “Because people saying he’s from Kenya means that…he has a lack of character? I’m trying to follow the logic that the claim that the reason why people are saying he’s not a citizen is that he’s somehow lacking in character and failing. Can you clarify?”

    Because you asked, yes.

    The idiot birthers clearly do not like Obama as president, for whatever reason. For a few ot may be racism, for others it may be the fact that they do not like his politics, do not like the direction he has taken once in office, or it may be that, considering the fact that he has never completed a term in elected office and has no real experience, they they do not trust him.

    So searching for, hope beyond reasonableness, they latched on to the birther notion in a hope of getting him out of the office that he was clearly legally elected to.

    His lack of character (see above notes from others re: Manning, Gitmo, etc.) has nothing to do with where he was born, the color of his skin or anything other than the choices he has made.

    Okay, I’m gone now.

  62. Hawk @ 64:

    Is there a corresponding deal to not assume that people are crying wolf if one doesn’t personally see the wolf?

    Note that people who often have to deal with wolves and/or have educated themselves about wolves tend to be more likely to notice wolves and/or wolf sign, and less likely to misidentify them as big shaggy dogs.

    (I’m sure there’s some witticism to be made here involving dog whistles and wolf packs and such, but it doesn’t seem worth the effort right now.)

  63. Hawke@64: Never been a birther, and can’t stand Trump, but that does not mean that there’s racism involved. It could be, you know, that people are judging President Obama based on his character

    Hawke@76: His lack of character has nothing to do with where he was born

    (SPOING!)

    Dammit. I just had those shear pins replaced.

    I’m completely lost now. So, the birthers who say Obama was born on Venus are (or are not) criticizing his character?

    If they are, then how does one have something to do with the other.

    If they’re not, then what’s that got to do with the actual thread, of, you know, moronic, racist birthers?

    I’m totally confused now.

  64. Hawke: So searching for, hope beyond reasonableness, they latched on to the birther notion in a hope of getting him out of the office

    Uhm….

    I know you don’t like people making assertions without evidence, like crying wolf when there’s no wolf, or crying racism when there’s no racism.

    So, that sort of implies that your assertion above whereby you talk about all the birthers as a whole and their true motivations… is based on….

    you personally interviewing ever single birther?

    Because I know how much you hate assertions with no proof.

    It’s just that… well… there’s an awful lot of moron birther’s out there…

    And I can’t quite figure out how you managed to talk to them all.

    Unless you rented time on Santa’s magic snowball or something.

    But that would open a larger can of worms re the existence of the jolly fat man of the north pole.

    I’m just saying, we wouldn’t want you crying wolf about the intentiosn of all the birthers, and then have no one take you seriously….

  65. Hawk at 76:

    I’d be stunned if the birther crowd overlapped much with the crowd pissed at Obama for his *actual* failings in the office, especially considering the clear overlap with people who think he’s a secret Muslim socialist intent on destroying the country. No, it seems pretty clear that the judgment mostly came first, and the manipulators happily piled on the fake reasons.

    I doubt very much that *all* birthers are racist, and it’s likely that the vast majority aren’t *consciously* so, but there’s no way this would have gotten anywhere near the mileage it has without that context.

  66. @Hawke

    It could be, you know, that people are judging President Obama based on his character (or perceived lack there of) and not on the color of his skin.

    His lack of character has nothing to do with where he was born

    Except that you just asserted the reason why they’re having a problem with believing where he was born is because of his character, so then where he was born does having something to do with his place of birth (to these people, according to you).

    I think you’re giving Birthers more credit than they are due.

  67. Hawke, experiencing racism in no way makes you an expert on the subject.

    Your other reasoning is just as suspect.

  68. what’s insane to me about the latest birther insanity is that donald trump, a man who inherited 400 million dollars and made a timely donation to Harvard at the same time his son applied for admittance, a man born into wealth and privilege is calling into question the accomplishments of a man who was born to a single teen mother and worked hard to get into an Ivy League establishment to now hold the office as President of the US.

    isn’t that the quintessential american dream? Work hard, study hard and you can do great things…. yeah i guess not.

  69. Actually, anybody thinks Trump and Obama were saying the same things about affirmative action is pretty obtuse and is not particularly observant.

  70. Mr Scalzi,

    The long form birth certificate is what is usually required by government agencies to get a passport, verify US citizenship for a state/federal position. I’m not sure if some agencies waive that in lieu of the short form if the long form bc is lost, but in my experience, both as a federal employee and a US passport holder, I had to show my original long form bc to acquire a passport and start my job with the federal government.

    Obama was able to get his hands on the long form bc and release it long before he did so recently; one of his campaign promises was to have the most transparent and open goverment as possible and yet he sits on a piece of paper that would shoot down the most obnoxious, idiotic and borderline racist rumors and accusations against him? He used that issue as a distraction from policy disagreements and the media in their idiocy were only too happy to focus on something asinine and shallow.

  71. @Chris Shaffer

    Are you from Hawaii? It is my understanding that in Hawaii the long-form birth certificate is actually not given, due to state law, and that the short form version is what is legally admissable. Obama had to recently get special approval from the Hawaii DoH in order to receive the long-form version so I don’t think you’re correct.

  72. Chris @86: The short answer to your points about the Long Form is No. Everybody from the Governor of the State of Hawaii downwards, and numerous agencies has been quite clear that a computer generated Birth Certificate is what they give you if you ask for a copy and its perfectly good for all official uses and that has been the case for quite some time.

    The transcripts the White House released yesterday showed that the representatives of the State of Hawaii viewed the release of the copy of the Long Form as an extraordinary concession to the right royal Pain in the Posterior that this whole thing had become and was certainly not normal nor something they wanted precedent set over.

    There was no plot, there was no distraction – there was purely a bunch of people who don’t understand how the system works now who had an axe to grind and wouldn’t stop.

    I see the Birther In Chief is back on the telly insisting that this changes nothing and she’s back in court on Monday.

  73. @87 Matt – No I am not. I found on Wikipedia that Hawaii itself accepts the short form bc as prima facie evidence of birth, but was not aware of that earlier. Would that apply to people born in Hawaii applying for passports and federal jobs?

  74. @Chris… given that people from Hawaii get government jobs and passports and they don’t issue the Long Form as a replacement I would infer that that applies to all people there. CNN tested this by requesting a replacement passport for a person born at roughly the same time as Obama and he got the computer generated one.

    I’m not sure that Short Form is the right term really, as the Hawaiian view seems to be that this is an official document generated by computer, rather than them trying to find the copy of the original in safe storage.

  75. yet he sits on a piece of paper

    One clarification: Obama didn’t create these obnoxious, idiotic, racist[1], conspiracy theorist, birthers. They’ve always been there. They were there long before anyone heard of Obama on the national scene.

    that would shoot down the most obnoxious, idiotic and borderline racist rumors

    Shoot down???

    Really? Seriously? That one piece of paper will make the obnoxious, idiotic, racist, conspiracy theorists suddenly listen to reason? The CIA, FBI, weren’t enough? All the other evidence was too flimsy????

    I think this is naive at best and disengenuous at worst. It reminds me of the pro war hawks who retrofit history and say in such reasonable sounding tones that had anyone presented them evidence at the time that there were no WMD’s in Iraq, then they would have listened and considered it rationally.

    No. They wouldn’t. Because there was credible evidence at the time and they ignored it. All of it. Every piece of it, large and small.

    It would be like someone saying, if Joseph Wilson had just said something about that yellow cake rumors in Niger, this whole Iraq war thing wouldn’t have happened.

    Damn Joseph Wilson.

    This sort of framing language is convenient for the insane birthers and the war mongering hawks, because it separates them from having any responsibility for their actions. Suddenly, the insane, racist birthers are Obama’s fault. The march to war was Joseph Wilson’s fault.

    I think if one were to discuss the birther situation with even the smallest dash of responsibility and reality, then the insanity, racism, bigotry, adn conspiracy theory idiocy of the birther nation is the responsibility of the birther nation.

    But, hey, lets blame Joseph Wilson for the war.

    Damn his eyes.

  76. In my opinion, we don’t have to worry about morons, until they begin to march. Woops, too late!

  77. I believe the phrase is “bread and circuses.”

    However, due to budget cuts, we just get half of that.

  78. Firstly, the shorthand sobriquet “birther”, while handy, is a disparaging epithet allowing one to preen in ersatz moral and intellectual superiority.

    Secondly, while I always stated that I had complete confidence in President Obama’s birthplace as Hawaii, I equally asserted that as a candidate running on a platform of matchless transparency, he demonstrated ineptitude as the Executive by prolonging the period in which suspicion attached to the topic, allowing his extremist critics to gain tyraction to sway the middle.

    No, John, I firmly disagree: it was not rational for President Obama to suppose that a computer-generated data form was going to settle the manner. He — as President and Chief Executive of the United States of America AND as the person to whom it pertained — should have promptly compelled the State of Hawaii to produce this document in a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners, I’m-the-guy-in-charge fashion. This is **politics** after all. Appearance is substance in political coin.

    It’s not the extremist nativists who need to be satisfied — it was Mom & Pop voter, subject to the doubts raised by the prolongation of the issue.

    Granted, much of the doubt in the extremists likely arose from xenophobic tendencies that “Obama’s not like us”, but most of the middle more probably simply wondered why as the President of the United States — arguably the most powerful individual in the world — couldn’t lay hands on a copy of his own original birth record unless… Gosh, Martha! Could it be…???

    This should put the matter, for that large middle, to rest; however, the damage to his reputation for quick, competent action has already taken affect.

    What a stupid waste.

    JJB

  79. Firstly, the shorthand sobriquet “birther”, while handy, is a disparaging epithet allowing one to preen in ersatz moral and intellectual superiority.

    I think you mean “easily earned” as opposed to ersatz.

    Any doubts were pig ironed ignorant, not to mention appalling sexist.

  80. JJB:

    Any “mom and pop voter” who’d fall for the birther gag is stupid enough they shouldn’t vote anyhow.

    Elitist? You bet!

  81. JJ Brannon:

    “Firstly, the shorthand sobriquet ‘birther’, while handy, is a disparaging epithet allowing one to preen in ersatz moral and intellectual superiority.”

    Well, no. Toward the latter, in fact I am morally and intellectually superior to the sort of racist and/or moron who is a birther and there’s no “ersatz” about it. Toward the former, “birther” is probably the most polite thing to call them. Certainly more polite than “racist moron” in any event.

    “No, John, I firmly disagree: it was not rational for President Obama to suppose that a computer-generated data form was going to settle the manner.”

    Again: well, no. Among rational people, it did settle the matter, to the extent that rational people were in the slightest bit concerned about Obama’s provenance, which generally they were not. Among racists and/or morons, it did not, nor did, clearly, the release of the long-form birth certificate. Racists and/or morons, as noted earlier, have no desire to be persuaded.

    Hawke:

    The tactic of condescendingly lecturing people on what is or is not racism and then claiming to have been a victim of racism one’s self when called on it, then flouncing out in a further cloud of condescension, has already been done here before. You get a “D” for your efforts, with some marginal credit for trying to wing the word “privilege” past the plate. Please try a more interesting tactic the next time.

  82. Daveon: If Barack Obama was a generic White Democrat president who was born in Hawaii would they have EVER asked about the birth certificate?

    The answer is no.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. It could well have been an issue, but I agree it certainly wouldn’t have lasted this long.

    Keith: Birthers are trying to make the outrageous claim that Obama managed to forge a birth certificate so perfectly, that it fooled every one of the above listed agencies.

    And yet somehow they can see the obvious signs of forgery, when none of the professionals could. Funny, that.

  83. Shorter reason why Obama needn’t have wasted his time trying to convince the birthers:

    “I should rightly be counted as mad if I disputed with madmen.”

  84. Two thoughts on this latest scene in the birther black comedy of errors.

    1. I have personally interviewed every single birther that I know (quantity = 1) and I am quite certain that the attacks on Mr. Obama’s presidential legitimacy were based on his skin color. What anecdotal evidence do I offer? When McCain’s Panamanian birthplace was raised, the answer to that issue was (and I quote), “but he (McCain) looks like an American”. Ugh.

    2. I think Obama’s tactic was well thought-out and timed nicely. NOW what platform does The Donald have to run on? One possible (long-shot) candidate taken out early — which is exactly in line with the strategy employed by the Obama team in nearly every other political campaign they’ve ever waged.

  85. MiA @#100: Or, as has been attributed to Mark Twain, “Never argue with a fool; onlookers may be unable to tell the difference.”

  86. I’m sorry, John. We’ll have to continue to disagree on this. I did not speak to rationality of the body politic; I spoke to President Obama’s rationality in turning his back on enemies with a loaded weapon aimed at him when he had the power to disarm them.

    JJB

  87. @Chris Shaffer: and yet he sits on a piece of paper that would shoot down the most obnoxious, idiotic and borderline racist rumors and accusations against him?

    The last couple of days are definitive proof that that piece of paper has no such powers. The rumor-mongers are impervious. Even Trump’s just gone on to flogging the Bill Ayers/Harvard stuff.

  88. I spoke to President Obama’s rationality in turning his back on enemies with a loaded weapon aimed at him when he had the power to disarm them.

    He doesn’t have the power to turn white.

  89. By the way…why is all the onus on Obama? Far as I can tell, all the birthers bring to the table are a bunch of whining that’d set a three year old’s teeth on edge and very little evidence of their own. (Not to mention they’re dissing the entire island of Hawai’i, telling they’re not running their own system the way the birthers want them to).

  90. gwangung, I dispute that racism is the majority of the impetus. Methinks your own prejudices are showing — against those who do not hold your own beliefs.

    The recent CBS/NYT poll indicated that ~67% of Republicans, ~50% of Independents, & ~19% of Democrats doubted or were unsure if President were born in America. That’s nearly twice what the polls showed at the time of the President’s election.

    The fact that spot tests and commentaries are indicating that those numbers are melting since the President’s release of the long form. Even Trump has moved on to President Obama’s school grades because the birth certificate controversy is a dead letter. The core conspiracy theorists will never be placated, agreed.

    But the ordinary working bloke? I think less xenophobia and more unrest at the direction of the economy has them questioning the fundamental order of things.

    The President disarmed the extremist nutjobs who were dragging the reasonable but skittish majority by releasing the long-form; ergo, your contention is false. This is the point with which I part ways with Our Gracious Host: it is perfectly reasonable to frame the question, in a world of digital fakery, rife with identity theft, “If Obama’s the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, why in God’s name can’t he get a copy of his own birth record from those officials in Hawaii.”

    That’s all the rational-basis soil in the ordinary citizen needed for the troublemakers to plant the seed of doubt. That’s why I also say the broad use of the term “birther” is disparaging to all those people carrying those honest doubts.

    My objection to the President not driving a stake into the heart of this controversy from the outset derives from my experience in practical politics. I’ve managed three State Legislature Democratic campaigns here in Delaware [yes, I personally know, if faintly, Joe Biden].

    Let me relate a controversial but possibly profound personal anecdote. My XSO’s redneck-mechanic current husband observed to her after the election, “I can’t believe a n****r got elected President. More unbelievable to me is after years of not voting for anybody, I voted for him!”

    While it may be naive to believe no decisions pivot on perception of skin color or class origin, it may be worse to presume that all such decisions swing on those factors.

    Hillary Clinton started the snowball rolling for political purposes. I don’t think she did it for racist reasons. That white dude John McCain had his accusations of ineligibility brought **before** Obama’s and his went to court before Obama’s, even though by statute his case was settled law. [Full disclosure: I am a military dependent who resided in the PCZ as a child, so it's not an academic issue to me.]

    At least, it’s over.

    Now I’m waiting for the evidence to be released that Washington **did** take his orders from the Illuminati. :>)

    JJB

  91. @ 101 Nick from the O.C. – I don’t know if you are being sarcastic or not about your sample size, but I think Scalzi’s Rule of Anedoctal Evidence comes into play here…

    My personal belief is the rumor mongering about Obama’s nationality, supposed secret Muslim religion, etc etc comes from the kind of kooks and idiots who latch onto these rumors because they don’t like the direction the country is going yet don’t have the intelligence to articulate a economic/social/ issues based reason for their opposition to Obama.

    I also think some conservatives use these rumors and innuendo out of frustration because they know that the mainstream media does their best to smear, lie and obfusticate the opposition to Democratic politicians and policies. To wit: Accusing Republicans of trying to impeach Clinton over his affair with Lewinsky, when they very well knew the man lied under oath in a deposition. Another example; ignoring the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter scandal until it was impossible to not report on it.

    For myself, I think the birthers are idiots who discredit themselves trying to come up with reasons that Obama was never qualified to run for president rather than focus on articulating economic/social/foreign affairs reasons why he is a disaster as President. Things like, using the economic stimulus to prop up the states’s budgets and resistance to cutting taxes to promote economic growth rather than more federal spending financed by higher taxes and bond bought by the Chinese.

  92. The best Obama birther conspiracy theory I have seen concluded that he was a gay gigolo, hiding from arrest warrants in NYC, who had previously been a drug mule for Middle Eastern terrorists. I’m not making this up.

  93. @31 Pam Adams:
    What I never got about the birther nonsense is why it matters where BHA was born. His mother was a US citizen, so therefore, so is he.

    Um, it does matter because your Constitution says it matters. (http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_citi.html ) AFAIK, Winston Churchill’s mother did not renounce her American citizenship when she married; but he was born in England, with a British father who (as the law stood in 1874) did not meet the residency requirement for his sons to qualify as “natural-born citizens”, or meet the qualification clause in Article II.

    That doesn’t make the birthers any less crazy (or malicious). however.

  94. As an English person all this about the birthers is so totally ‘meh’ to me, can’t see what you’re getting so worked up about, he’s your president now and somebody whos job is to check these things already checked.

    Also I find it bemusing that Americans seem to treat racisim as a matter of just skin colour. It’s not, white on white racisim abounds over here, it’s far more about nationality – Irish, Welsh and Scottish, Romany and Polish, all white, all experience racism. It’s all not good.

    On the other hand, as an english person, thats the second in line to the throne of my country getting married and given me the day off to watch it. And he’s marrying a commoner, it says a lot about the breakdown of the class system, we’re happy because he’s happy, nobody is moaning because he hasn’t chosen a member of the nobility – privlege can be overcome.

  95. For me Birthers hit Ultra-Moron when it came out that hospital-originated birth announcements for Obama had been published in two local Hawaiian papers in 1961. Those were found even before the “short form ” was released. You have to have a pretty deep case of paranoia or something to buy into a conspiracy theory that requires those birth announcements to have been made to cover anything up for a three-day-old baby.

    Obama delayed so long on getting the long form released because the issue played in his favor. When it started to play against him in the polling with independents, he released, which defused the doubt (among non-deluded reasonable people) and restored the Birthers to their Ultra-Moron status.

    As ben pointed out in #15, conspiracy theorists are immune to evidence. Or rather, dispositive evidence actually makes them MORE certain of their position. To them, it magically become additional evidence of the depth and might of the conspiracy …

  96. gwangung, I dispute that racism is the majority of the impetus. Methinks your own prejudices are showing — against those who do not hold your own beliefs.

    You’re quite right — there’s also a hearty dollop of anti-Muslim psychosis in play. Because, of course, Obama’s father was a (not particularly observant) Muslim, therefore his son is not only lying about his birth but his religion. Don’t also forget the whole “the liberal media conspiracy covered up evidence that Barrack Obama was schooled at a radical Muslim school that taught him to HATE AMERICA”.

    Really, dude, not every racist and religious bigot pulls on a bedsheet and burns crosses on people’s lawns. Why would you when there are plenty of folks who will dog-whistle, and have people like you bending so far backward to deny the obvious the only thing they can see are their own arses?

  97. I place birthers in the same category as creationists. All evidence is dismissed as fabricated and goalposts are moved to continue the denial. Intelligent debate is pointless.

    @108 Hillary Clinton started the snowball rolling for political purposes. I don’t think she did it for racist reasons.

    And yet conservative bloggers at the time railed against her for doing so and called it a racist attack. Imagine that!

  98. Craig @ #115: Really, dude, not every racist and religious bigot pulls on a bedsheet and burns crosses on people’s lawns. Why would you when there are plenty of folks who will dog-whistle, and have people like you bending so far backward to deny the obvious the only thing they can see are their own arses?

    I agree with your first sentence. Your second, however, relies on my not having at the start affirmed the premise that some of the people drawn to the birth certificate controversy were motivated by xenophobia ["He's not like us!"] Melissa Harris-Perry, a Princeton professor of African-American studies, analyzed why some black Americans questioned the legitimacy of the President’s birth records and concluded that it was because he was not “black like me”.

    Sandflake @ #116: And yet conservative bloggers at the time railed against her for doing so and called it a racist attack. Imagine that!

    Again, that was all political posturing by those on the right who loath Hillary. Don’t confuse that with earnest critique. All sides play that game.

    The stakes were the middle — white, black, brown, lower-to-upper middle-class — voters who were frustrated.

    JJB

  99. JJ: While it may be naive to believe no decisions pivot on perception of skin color or class origin, it may be worse to presume that all such decisions swing on those factors.<?

    Good lord.

    Everyone defending the birther idiots keep committing the same logical fallacy. It goes something like this:

    Birthers aren’t xenophobic. Deep down, they’re concerned about unemployment being high and the economy being on the skids. They blame Obama for the current state of economic conditions. But they’re not exactly bright, so this concern for the economy causes them to grasp about blindly for anything to question Obama’s legitimacy, adn they latch on to whatever they can find, and what they found was that someone said he was born in Africa and can’t be president.

    THink about this “defense” for a moment.

    Birthers are completely sane, normal, everyday working blokes who have legitimate concerns about Obama’s handling of various issues. But these specific concerns manifest themselves into something compeltely unrelated: where Obama was born.

    Obama is mishandling the economy. -> Obama must be born in Africa.

    What this “defense” is doing at the very least is saying the birthers are complete fucking morons. If this defense is true, birthers are idiots, committing fundamental errors in logic on the order of pro causa non causa, red herring, non sequitor, and so on.

    but even if this defense were true, it indicates that the birthers are inherently tribalists. Economy is bad. Obama must be a foreigner. A muslim. A terrorist. A socialist. Whatever. The point of tribalism is that he is not one of us.

    Tribalism basically says “pepole like me are good. Everyone else is bad”. Tribalism doesn’t have to be racially motivated. But racisim is one of the forms of tribalism.

    This “defense” of birthers basically boils down to this: Look the birthers have legitimate concerns about the economy, but they manifest those concerns in various tribalistic ways.

    That doesn’t really say anything good about the character of the birthers. Even if they’re not racists, you’re saying the extent of their moral compass is “people different than me are bad”.

    And you know what? If that’s the best “defense” of birthers you can come up with, I’m OK with saying that racism is a component of the birther movement. Because the whole point of tribalism isn’t to look at someone’s character, but rather look for various external measures to decide who is “good” and who is “bad”.

  100. Gah!

    If that’s the best “defense” of birthers you can come up with, I’m OK with saying that bigotry is a component of the birther movement.

  101. The only quote you need on the birther issue: You cannot reason somebody out of something they were not reasoned into.

    To various and sundry, there has been “ethnic” racism in U.S. history and it still exists, but it is probably on life support. I have seen it and experinced it: lucky me. The President and the Federal Government actually have fairly limited power to compel state Governments to do things and most of that power is to compel them to NOT do things (or to bribe them with money or to replace a state activity with a federal activity in the same sphere.) Hawaii has every legal right to ignore Obama, as President, on how it issues birth certificates, as long as it does not violate the Federal Constitution with its policy. Obama, as an individual, might have various legal remedies if their policy unfairly impacted him.

  102. On a happier subject: my 4 year old insisted on being woken for the Royal Event. When the couple were announced as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, she yelled: They said there would be a Princesss. Argghhhh!

    Picture Charlie Brown’s sister in similar situations.

  103. People may think the best of birthers. I don’t. Given the history of racism in the US, I think my approach is more rational–It’s a survival tactic.

  104. Bigotry
    –noun, plural -ries.
    1. stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.

    I’m thinking when you make the jump from moron to racist without knowing the person you need to be careful not to fall into the above definition. I agree the birthers are morons.

    Can someone please explain to me (seriously, I really want to know) how you judge a group of people you don’t know and figure out what is in their hearts.

    What do you call it when you take one aspect that a group of people have in common and then judge the whole group by your standards?

    People can have opinions that are different from yours and even be morons for whatever reason without being racists.

  105. Chris Shaffer @86: The long form birth certificate is what is usually required by government agencies to get a passport, verify US citizenship for a state/federal position.

    Other people have responded to this, but.. I was born in Hawaii, and I had to research the whole birth certificate thing long ago when my parents couldn’t find my original. The form of birth certificate that Hawaii issues as standard to people in this kind of situation is certainly legally accepted proof of citizenship.

    You normally can’t get the “long form” from the state after a certain period without a lot more difficulty, so it really wouldn’t make sense. Even though this is “important paperwork”, it’s just one small slip of paper that is easy to lose track of in the wrong circumstances.

    The people who are now trying to get laws in place requiring the “long form” for various things are probably going to end up tangling things badly.

  106. @Nonentity

    It also depends on how they word the law, right? If they say they only want a “birth certificate”, then there may be issues of symantics; already some of the birthers are saying that the long-form doesn’t count because it says “certificate of live birth”.

  107. I think people should stop using the term ‘birther’ and use the correct term: racist.

    It’s funny how in this country, pointing out racism has become a worse thing than being an actual racist.

  108. Chris Shaffer @86: The long form birth certificate is what is usually required by government agencies to get a passport,

    Uhm, yeah, Obama has never left the country, ever.

  109. “What do you call it when you take one aspect that a group of people have in common and then judge the whole group by your standards?”

    When that one thing in “common” is bigotry, then you can judge them all as being bigots.

  110. @125

    Oh lord, I don’t even want to think about that. It’s bad enough that the Arizona law puts a certificate of circumcision as an acceptable substitution for a birth certificate as proof that a presidential candidate is a citizen. If enough lunacy piles up, maybe it’ll become impossible to prove citizenship in every state and we’ll just end up deporting everyone from the country.

  111. What the proponents of the various state laws regarding “proof” of “eligibility to run” actually want to say is that you are ineligible for the ballot if your first name is Barack and your last name is Obama. Bonus points for disqualifying anyone who wants to run with a -D next to their name.

  112. @127 Farley, errr aren’t you forgetting the time he was living in Indonesia with his mother and stepfather?? He would have needed a passport to leave the country. Just sayin’

  113. Greg @ 118, 119 & others following —

    The fact that some people here continue to argue that I am ignoring xenophobia [whether it manifests as racism, classism, tribalism, ageism, eta alii] when I stated this clearly and emphatically in my first post [with variations thereof in subsequent posts]:

    Granted, much of the doubt in the extremists likely arose from xenophobic tendencies that “Obama’s not like us”, but most of the middle more probably simply wondered why as the President of the United States — arguably the most powerful individual in the world — couldn’t lay hands on a copy of his own original birth record unless… Gosh, Martha! Could it be…???

    demonstrates, in those arguing such that I did not acknowledge the influence of xenophobia, a self-perceptual blindness of their own.

    Please do not cast stones against those in that vast questioning middle for blindness to the evidence when you cannot see the words I wrote in black on white here. That’s why I disdain the term “birther”. The polarization regarding this subject causing mental blindness to the relevant facts and reasonable inference works both ways, leading to reductio ad absurdem derogatory name-calling.

    I am always suspicious of ideological purists, whatever flavor or strain.

    JJB

  114. But Griffin, where is your long form first commentator certificate? What are you trying to hide from the public? HOW DARE YOU SIR!

  115. Thanks Mr Scalzi.
    I’m always glad to hear your thought on current events. I appreciate posts like these, and hope that the contentious nature of the comments threads don’t pursuade you to avoid such posts in the future.

  116. Melissa Harris-Perry, a Princeton professor of African-American studies, analyzed why some black Americans questioned the legitimacy of the President’s birth records and concluded that it was because he was not “black like me”.

    JJ: So, now the best you can do is cite an African-American because (I guess) black people can’t really be racist? As the child of an inter-racial marriage, I’d like to order you an extra tall double-shot bullshit frappé sprinkles. Please, dude, just stop. You’re embarrasing yourself.

    Can someone please explain to me (seriously, I really want to know) how you judge a group of people you don’t know and figure out what is in their hearts.

    @Elgion: Sadly, my psychic skills are rather shit so I form my views of people by their words and actions. It works.

  117. Sadly, my psychic skills are rather shit so I form my views of people by their words and actions. It works.

    Well, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

    BTW, Goldie Taylor opines, “I’m not calling Trump a racist. But he ought to stop quakcking before people start believing he’s a duck.”

  118. Craig @ #138,

    Gee, as a member of an inter-racial family myself — a detail utterly irrelevant to the reason and evidence I’ve adduced — allow me to say that I’ll do us both a favor by quitting the subject, having stated the same thing three times and had the substance ignored.

    If a person cannot read or will not read what another has written, rather ascribing invented intentions or qualities to that other person, than one should heed Mark Twain’s advice and the like above.

    The best I could do is speak plainly, repeat what I said, show the numbers, address the contrapositive, skewer the reductio ad absurdum, and remain polite.

    JJB

  119. Surely birthers, in their bid to prove everyone wrong that they are not racist, are busy being outraged at Trump’s recent comment that he has a great relationship with “the blacks” or when he told a black reporter, unprompted, “Look I know you are a big Obama fan.”

    No?

  120. So, since everyone else is concerned with Mr Obama and the circumstances of his birth, I’d like to weigh in on a tiny side issue raised by…….oh, Hell, it’s too far back up the comments chain. Anyway, the phrase “Didn’t we have a revolution so we didn’t have to have anything to do with a monarchy” (or something similar) came whistling through. Not being a student of American History, I have to admit to being a little vague about all this, but wasn’t your revolution about Taxation and representation? From my understanding, I think the rebels would (initially, at least) have been happy to remain subjects of King George if they had a say in the governance of America. It was the fact that they couldn’t have representatives in parliament, but still had to pay taxes to the crown that irked.
    Apologies if I’m way off base. As you yourself pointed out, you don’t have to be a monarchist to wish William and Kate well on their wedding day, just as you don’t have to give two hoots about it at all. You do have to accept that the media loves Royal shennanigans of all types and so your news channels and papers will be full of the wedding, the honeymoon and endless rumours at least until a baby is produced. Sorry.

  121. I completely agree with Scalzi, and much to my own astonishment, agree with everything Greg has said on this thread.

    here’s my own dime’s worth.

    1. I wouldn’t call birthers either morons or racist. A better word, surely, is “paranoids”.

    2. conspiracy theories are a bit like viruses – they are more likely to hit certain people but can be quite indiscrimate. A close relative of mine is a 9/11 truther! He’s not stupid, he’s just prone to conspiracies.

    3. On whether it’s racism. I think it’s driven by a feeling that Obama doesn’t share their version of American cultural values; so from there it’s a small emotional step to believing he literally isn’t american.
    I suppose you could call it racism in the sense that it’s “suspicion of people who are very different from you, and who you don’t understand”. But it’s not racism in the standard sense of “He’s a negro”.

    4. I actually didn’t have a problem with them wanting to see his long-form certificate. There’s nothing wrong with wanting evidence to test a theory, however silly that theory appeared to be. Sure, no other president has had that demand made of him, but then again, no other president has been accused of not being eligble by place of birth. So it seemed like a pretty harmless request.

  122. I’m always glad to hear your thought on current events. I appreciate posts like these, and hope that the contentious nature of the comments threads don’t pursuade you to avoid such posts in the future.

    If you think this thread’s contentious, you ain’t seen nothin’.

  123. Elgion@123: Can someone please explain to me (seriously, I really want to know) how you judge a group of people you don’t know and figure out what is in their hearts.

    Ah, but bigotry is something you do. A bigot is something you are in your heart of hearts. And I specifically said “bigotry”. I don’t know what’s in their hearts. Doesn’t really matter. What I was commenting on was what they do. And what they are doing is called bigotry.

    People can have opinions that are different from yours and even be morons for whatever reason without being racists.

    I also specifically made a point to strike out the word “racism” and rewrite that sentence with the word “bigotry”. Because bigotry is a superset of racism. That was sort of the whole point of my post. Tribalism is nothing more than a fancy term for bigotry. anyone arguing to the effect that “he is not one of us” is exercising tribalism, which is nothing more than standard bigotry 101.

    Also, note saying Obama is not one of us is not the same as saying Obama has a different opinion on Health Care Reform than I do. The defenders I was criticizing keep trying to say that the Birthers have legitimate disagrements with Obama (like HCR or economic recovery or whatever) but that those legitimate disagreements manifest themselves in the form of birtherism so it should be OK.

    No. It’s not OK. Disagreeing with Obama on the economy is having a difference of opinion. Saying Obama isn’t an American and can’t be president is tribalism and is functionally indistinguishable from bigotry.

    The stock defense of birthers does nothing but acknowlege that birthers are bigots but defend them by trying to give them justification and smoke and mirror people’s attention away from the bigotry.

    JJ@133: demonstrates, in those arguing such that I did not acknowledge the influence of xenophobia, a self-perceptual blindness of their own.

    No, I just think it just means they disagree with your population assessment here:

    much of the doubt in the extremists likely arose from xenophobic tendencies that “Obama’s not like us”, but most of the middle more probably simply wondered why

    I don’t think one could say that “most” of the birthers actually land anywhere in any political spectrum anyone could reasonably call “middle”. As someone has mentioned already, polls showed that the VAST MAJORITY of people who werent sure about Obama’s place of birther were Republicans. And I would be willing to bet that 98+ percent of “Birthers”, i.e. people who are actually going out of their way to publicaly challenge the president’s legitimacy based on his place of birth, are Republicans or third party folks who voted agaisnt Obama.

    I think your attempt to describe the birthers as any sort of “moderate” or “middle” fo the road politically speaking group is either naively overestimating the reasonableness of the birthers or intentionally trying to misrepresent them for some reason or another.

    But pointing out what I see as clear polling bias on your part isn’t “blindness” on my part. Or at least isn’t any less blind than you trying to say we’re blind for disagreeing with you.

    Or in short: right back at ya’.

    Please do not cast stones against those in that vast questioning middle

    Yeah. That right there just doesn’t line up with anything I’ve seen of the birther movement. The only way this makes sense is if you are somehow trying to invoke Nixon’s “silent majority” from his 1969 speech. i.e. a silent majority that doesn’t actually exist. Nixon was for all intents and purposes saying “the lurkers support me in email”.

    I don’t think your vast questioning middle of the Birthers actually exists. The basic polls show it is highly biased towards Republicans to start with. And I highly doubt the small percentage of democrats who had doubts were actually going out and marching in the streets or signing petitions or wahtever to challenge Obama’s presidency. The people trying to use Obama’s birthplace as a means to disqualify his presidency are nothing but extremists (or politicians and others (Trump) trying to take advantage of that extremism).

    So, in that regard, the issue isn’t that you acknowledge xenophobia as being a part of birtherism. The problem is you keep invoking “the (silent majority, middle of the road politically speaking) lurkers support the birthers in email” type arguments. And everyone keeps trying to tell you they don’t exist.

    The “vast middle” of birthers you keep trying to talk about doesn’t actually exist and isn’t supported by any polling data or any other objective information.

  124. DA @145: I don’t mean to spoil the moment; but yes, it is racism, and no, it wasn’t reasonable to demand the long-form birth certificate. There’s everything wrong with wanting evidence to test a theory when no amount of evidence can disprove the theory. The entire reason for Obama Is Different is that Obama Is Black. His difference from the “cultural values” of birthers is really no greater than Hillary Clinton’s difference, or John Edwards’s difference, or Nancy Pelosi’s difference. But they’re white, and he’s not. I get that you’re not in the US and maybe not seeing this up close, but seriously, this is not about Obama being the spiritual twin of Wavy Gravy or something.

    It’s interesting that JJ Brannon didn’t link to what he claimed Professor Harris-Perry said, and perhaps with good reason; she never said that black Americans were birthers or “questioned Obama’s birth”, as JJ would have us believe, but that the African heritage that fuels birthers is also an issue in the African-American community for somewhat different reasons. Nice try though, JJ.

  125. Pardon my evil, duplicitous…er, “interesting” omission:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/29/opinion/main20058562.shtml

    Since I reject this whole lumping together the small fraction of extremists who assert that the President was not born in America and the large [grown substantially between comparative polls two years ago to last week] middle who simply expressed doubt under the same rubric as “birther”, one should not imagine that I would “have you believe” any such claptrap.

    However, Professor Harris-Perry did write this:

    “Nearly a quarter of Americans, most of them white, believe President Obama was not born in the United States.”

    Not white =/= black, obviously. However, when one sends an entire essay explaining why some blacks question President Obama’s “American-ess”, such a backhanded acknowledgment is not an unreasonable inference.

    Once more, mythago I **explicitly** stated that Prof. Harris-Perry’s analysis was about why, to many blacks, Obama was not “black like me”.

    I wanted to leave this discussion behind, but continued distortions and deliberate misreadings [I do not ascribe low intelligence to the participants of this forum] of my statements require some defense.

    I do regret, mythago, that I thought citing a source among this Internet savvy group would lead the majority to read Prof. Harris-Perry’s essay. That’s what I’d do, after all.

    It’s why Greg’s unsupported assertions regarding the political demographics of those questioning the President’s birth certificate is bilge, refuted by both the ABC/Washington Post 2010 and the current CBS/NY Times polls on the matter.

    http://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/Birthers_new.pdf

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/21/politics/main20056282.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

    When I am criticized for making the effort to distinguish between the minority extremists and the larger number of tag-alongs wondering why the President hadn’t supplied the long-form all being lumped together under the same derisive term “birther”, and then Greg asserts, as if discovering the existence of night and day, that there is this extremist portion to which one can point as if some sort of confirmation of his argument, I have to chuckle, if ruefully.

    A close comparison of the entirety of 2010 poll versus the 2011 poll indicates that while in 2010, a substantial minority portion [about one-third] of those who questioned the President’s birthplace also were happy with his policies. Likewise, the concomitant rise in the portion of questioners follows a rise in the displeasure with the handling of the country, supporting my contention.

    Please do me the courtesy of not painting me as deceitful.

    Perhaps, I was unclear yet most of the soi disant refutations here of what I said depended on someone misstating what I wrote or not responding directly to those statements but raising tangential objections [Greg] or insinuating I was hiding something by pointing to it [mythago] or pulling the race card rather than reviewing the evidence submitted [Craig].

    Sue me for believing that most people are decent, if insecure and gullible to hucksters when confused. This is why the term is repellent to me: how its use slyly compels one to mass condemnation.

    Exeunt, stage middle,
    JJB

  126. I wanted to leave this discussion behind, but continued distortions and deliberate misreadings [I do not ascribe low intelligence to the participants of this forum] of my statements require some defense.

    They do? Is that an OSHA regulation? We certainly wouldn’t want you to have to deal with some stupid administrative penalty. The alternative, of course, is that this is the typical Internet version of a child yelling “I’m REALLY running away THIS time!” when his parents ignore his threats.

    Indeed, citing a source means that people will read it. Linking the source is a courtesy and encourages people to review the material you did, particularly when there is no other citation to make locating easier. This means, however, that it’s a bit silly to huff when called on your interpretation of the material.

    “Not white” certainly doesn’t mean “black” – Asian and Hispanic, for example, are not generally considered ‘white’ by US standards – and you went into a whole string of strange assumptions from that aside: assuming that the professor meant black “birthers” who question whether Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born citizen. Which is, plainly, not what the article is about; she is comparing what Obama’s immediate African heritage means to birthers (NOT AMERICAN OMG OMG), and what it means to American blacks, who have a complicated relationship with Africa. The article doesn’t, as you originally said, state that there are black birthers who think “Obama isn’t black ‘like me’, therefore the birth certificate is shopped”.

    Dressing up how-dare-you-imply outrage in ten-dollar words doesn’t make it convincing or distracting, by the way.

  127. From my understanding, I think the rebels would (initially, at least) have been happy to remain subjects of King George if they had a say in the governance of America. It was the fact that they couldn’t have representatives in parliament, but still had to pay taxes to the crown that irked.

    Initially, World War II was about the invasion of Poland. It got bigger.

  128. JJ: It’s why Greg’s unsupported assertions regarding the political demographics of those questioning the President’s birth certificate is bilge

    Dude.

    Bilge?

    First of all, your link was crap. Googling around, it looks like this might be what you were trying to link:

    http://abcnews.go.com/PollingUnit/poll-half-birthers-call-suspicion-approve-obama/story?id=10576748

    If that’s your link, it says: “it’s mostly Obama critics who suggest he was born abroad“.

    Two-thirds of people who say Obama was born abroad are critical of Obama.

    Also, no where in that poll could I find any information about what I specifically said: Namely that people who think Obama might have been born in another country are not “birthers”. A “Birther” is someone who actually is trying to disqualify Obama’s presidency based on the delusion that he wasn’t born in the US.

    Having a belief, but not doing anything about it, is sort of a nonissue. I am not a member of the thought police. I only care about what people do. And the third of the people in that poll who say Obama may have been born in somewhere other than the US, but aren’t acting on that belief in any way, don’t show up on my radar. What they think is none of my business.

    When they file lawsuits to stop Obama, or try to convince others to become birthers, then it becomes more than just thought. It’s action. And it’s distracting from real issues threatening the country to entertain moronic conspiracy theorists who have let their paranoia get the better of them.

    And what sort of things do people do if they act on the belief that Obama was born somewhere else? Well, they make money. According to wikipedia:

    claims about Obama’s citizenship … became a significant issue among sections of the political right. By mid-2009, the citizenship issue was one of the hottest and most lucrative sources of fundraising for organizations on the right that raise funds through direct mail and telemarketing. Online petition sites such as that of Alan Keyes, who has been collecting signatures on the birth certificate issue, are a major source for generating mailing lists of movement conservatives

    The same article also says that Tea Party protest organizers recommended people carry signs questioning Obama’s birth. I’ve yet to see any organizer from a left-leaning party do such a thing.

    So, I stand by my original “bilge” statement. The “birthers”, the people who are trying to make something out of this insane idea that Obama was born in Africa, are probably in the high ninety-percentile in the right wing somewhere (independent but voted against Obama is indistinguishable from right wing for purposes of this discussion)

    I don’t care if some poll found that a third of people weren’t sure where Obama was born but voted for him anyway. Answering a poll about what you think isn’t the same as filing a lawsuit or using it as political leverage to stop Obama or the left.

    What I care about is what people do. And the idiots trying to cash in on the Birther movement or are signing petitions for the birther movement or sending donations to teh birether movement or whatever action in support of the bither movement, are, by all observed measures all right wing (or third-party but voted against Obama too) folks.

    Out of curiosity, where do you stand on teh political spectrum?

    Have you done anything in support of the birther movement? Signed a petition? donated money? lobbied your politicians to support the birther ideas?

  129. the minority extremists and the larger number of tag-alongs

    Just because you keep saying it over and over and in different ways, doesn’t make it any more true.

    People doing something in support of the idea that Obama was born in another country, raising money, campaigning, petitioning, filing lawsuits, have all been on the far, far right end of the political spectrum.

    That poll that you tried to link to said a third of people who think Obama may have been born somewhere else approve of Obama’s presidency. But that poll doesn’t say anything whether that third is active on that belief.

    If you look at the people acting on the birther belief, they are by and large far to the right politically speaking. Tea partiers, for example. Extremists. There is no “larger number” of moderates active in the birther movement. There are likely zero number of left leaning people in the birther movement. The birther movement is not politically “balanced” in any way. Anyone active in the birther movement has a high, high probability of being far, far to the right.

    You keep asserting this as a premise to your argument, but you’ve never proven it. And I’ve pointed out several bits of facts that suggest the exact opposite of what you’re saying is actually true.

    Again, have you ever been active in the birther movement? It just seems odd that someone would be so adamant in defense of something that they couldn’t bring themselves to act upon otherwise.

  130. Just watched the video of the White House Correspondents Dinner. Hard to believe Donald Trump actually showed up. I guess he really is proud of himself. He took a lot of well-merited abuse both from Obama and Seth Meyers. I would have felt sorry for almost anyone else. I hope he continues as the flag-bearer for the Birthers: they deserve such a leader.

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