A Trip to Birtherville

What do a guy with a dead hamster on his head, a tooth pulling/much sanctioned attorney/real estate hustler immigrant and a gun totin' octogenarian shuruff have in common? If you said, "They are all birthers," you would be correct.

For over five years we have watched as the birthers grasped at straws, outright lied, struggled with and failed to provide any actual evidence that our president was not born in the United States of America.

I thought it would be fun to go through some of the "facts" put forth over the past five years, because honestly, little has been funnier than the machinations of this group of low information individuals.

Hang on as we board the Big Red Car (older, former So Cal residents will get that reference) and enjoy the laughs as we roll down the streets of "Birtherville!"

This non-issue began early on in the presidential run of Barack Obama, with rumors circulating that he was not a citizen of the United States. Logical people chuckled and went on about their business, not taking into consideration that there are those who will buy into anything, particularly those who were panicked by the very thought that our nation might be led by a black man.

One of the most virulent pushers of the birther nonsense (discounting one local) is Orly Taitz, a former citizen of Russia and Israel who, over the years, has maintained Obama did not have the right to the presidency. Ms Taitz filed suits in courts all across the nation and had each case tossed out, with one judge fining her $20,000 for wasting the court's time.

Her biggest "find" came in 2009 when she produced a Kenyan birth certificate as proof Obama was not born in Hawaii. It took less than a day for the document to be proven as a fake, having been altered from the original birth certificate of an Australian man who had posted it on a family website.

The document purported to have been issued by the "Republic of Kenya." Extremely difficult considering the fact such a state did not yet exist at the time of Obama's birth (Kenya was a British Colony until 1963). The Washington Independent website cited a blogger for taking responsibility for the forgery and posted four photos substantiating his claim.

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One claim made by Donald Trump - and joined by that goofy woman from Alaska - is that President Obama spent $2 million in legal fees to keep his birth certificate secret. Predictably, this figure is based on shoddy reporting by a discredited birther website and lacks any actual evidence to support it.

On CNN, Trump cited the "$2 million" figure as one piece of evidence that Obama was not born in the U.S. Trump asked, "I just say very simply why doesn't he show his birth certificate? Why has he spent over $2 million in legal fees to keep this quiet?" Ms sad Alaskan used a similar formulation on FAUX News, applauding Trump for investigating and asking, "why President Obama would've spent $2 million to not show his birth certificate?"

While the $2 million figure has now been invoked thousands of times around the Web, it appears to have originated on WorldNetDaily, a right-wing news website that consistently lies to support outrageous conspiracy theories.

WND's Chelsea Schilling wrote a series of articles on the Obama campaigns legal bills in 2009. According to Schilling, the campaign paid $1.7 million in fees to the law firm Perkins-Coie between October 2008 and October 2009. At one point, Perkins-Coie's Bob Bauer fired off a letter to an attorney who presented a case questioning Obama's eligibility to be president. Bauer warned the attorney that the case was frivolous and asked him to stop pursuing it. (The case was Hollister v. Soetoro - with Soetoro referring to the name President Obama supposedly used as a child in Indonesia). After being tossed out of the lower courts the case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which immediately refused to hear it.

The implication of the WND story is because Perkins-Coie worked on a birther lawsuit, and because the Obama campaign paid Perkins Coie $1.7 million, the campaign paid $1.7 million fighting birther suits. That is an obvious logical fallacy, but then birthers can never be considered as individuals who function on any logical basis.

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In 2010, Lt. Col. Terry Lakin refused to follow a lawful military order deploying him to Afghanistan on the basis Obama was not the legal president of the United States based - you got it - on birther nonsense. Lakin was convicted at courts martial and sentenced to six months in prison and dismissed from the Army for failing to obey orders. So in a way the coward won because he did not have to go fight in Afghanistan.

Lakin's attorney claimed anyone could acquire a Hawaiian certification of live birth, and so Obama's possession of such a certificate does not prove that he was born in Hawaii. However, that suggestion was rejected by Janice Okubo, director of communications for the Hawaii Department of Health, "If you were born in Bali, for example, you could get a certificate from the state of Hawaii saying you were born in Bali. (However) you could not get a certificate saying you were born in Hawaii." Another fact that refutes this specific claim is that the law allowing foreign-born children to obtain birth certificates in Hawaii did not exist until 20 years after Obama was born.

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Other Birthers have suggested Obama obtained Indonesian citizenship (and thus may have lost his U.S. citizenship, which they also claim he never held) when he lived there as a child. Of course it is impossible for a child to renounce his/her U.S. citizenship, but remember birthers and fact do not mix.

In another attempt to prove that Obama was not a U.S. citizen (or held dual citizenship), are the claims his 1981 trip to Pakistan took place at a time when there was supposedly a ban on United States passport holders entering that country, which would in turn have required him to use a non-U.S. passport and these misguided birthers claim he traveled to Pakistan on a British passport.

There was in fact no such ban; a New York Times article and U.S. State Department travel advisories from 1981 make it very clear that travel to Pakistan by U.S. passport holders was legal at that time. And there has never been any empirical evidence that Obama ever held a British passport, something that would have been impossible since he is a citizen of the United States.

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The Georgia Secretary of State pressed an eligibility suit filed by Orly Taitz against president Obama and a state magistrate issued a subpoena demanding Obama's presence in a Georgia Courtroom. The White House ignored the subpoena rather than set what could be seen as a disturbing precedent for not only President Obama but all future presidents. When the case was decided a 10-page order was issued by Judge Michael Malihi with the following conclusions -

1) With regard to the challenge that Obama does not have legitimate birth and identification papers, Malihi said he found the evidence "unsatisfactory" and "insufficient to support plaintiffs' allegations."

2) A number of the witnesses who testified about the alleged fraud were never qualified as experts in birth records, forged documents and document manipulation and "none provided persuasive testimony."

3) Addressing the other claim that contends Obama cannot be a candidate because his father was never a U.S. citizen, Malihi said he based his decision on a 2009 ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals that struck down a similar challenge. In that ruling, the Indiana court found that children born within the U.S. are natural-born citizens, regardless of the citizenry of their parents per the 14th Amendment.

4) In conclusion, Judge Malihi stated, "Obama became a citizen at birth and is a natural-born citizen and accordingly, Obama is eligible as a candidate for the upcoming presidential primary in March."

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Some birthers, such as Leo Donofrio, a New Jersey birther who filed yet another lawsuit, contends in order for a person to be a natural-born citizen within the meaning of Article II, Section 1, it is necessary that both parents be U.S. citizens at the time of that person's birth. Those who subscribe to this theory argue that since Obama's father was not a U.S. citizen, Obama could not have been a natural-born citizen, and is therefore ineligible to be President of the United States.

Donofrio also claimed that a person cannot be a natural-born citizen if he is a dual citizen at birth. Those who subscribe to this theory argue that because Obama's father held citizenship of the UK and its colonies at the time Obama Jr. was born, Obama was born a dual citizen and therefore was not a natural-born citizen.

In August 2008, the Rocky Mountain News ran an online article asserting that Obama is both a U.S. and a Kenyan citizen. This turned out to be incorrect, according to FactCheck.org, which noted that Obama was indeed born a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) under British law, by virtue of his descent from a Kenyan father at a time when Kenya was a British colony, but lost CUKC citizenship and became a Kenyan citizen when that country gained independence in 1963. However, Kenya's constitution prohibits dual citizenship in adulthood. Obama therefore automatically lost his Kenyan citizenship on his 23rd birthday, in 1984, by failing to formally renounce any non-Kenyan citizenship and swear an oath of allegiance to Kenya. Although the paper apologized for the error and published a correction, the article continued to provide fuel for online rumors about Obama's eligibility for the presidency.

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Numerous individuals and groups have filed state and/or federal lawsuits seeking to have Obama disqualified from standing or being confirmed for the presidency, or to compel him to release additional documentation relating to his citizenship. To date, over 30 lawsuits have been filed challenging Obama's eligibility. No such suit has resulted in the grant of any relief to the plaintiffs by any court. All of the cases have been rejected in lower courts and three birther suits were dismissed by the Supreme Court as being "without merit."

In April 2011, the Arizona legislature became the first to pass a bill "requiring President Obama and other presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before their names can appear on the state's ballot." That bill was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer.

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Maricopa County Shuruff Joe Arpaio joined the birthers and proceeded to form a "posse" to chase the birther nonsense and in the process made a fool of himself. He provided no proof of anything and came up with "suspicions" that have no basis in fact.

One such theory is that the birth certificate, downloaded to the internet from the White House website, is a fraud, based on "layers" found when examining the document. Anyone familiar with Adobe PhotoShop PDF files knows when a document is scanned, then saved as a PDF, it will have "layers" embedded in the file. But Sheriff Joe uses this as the basis for the document being a fake. Now I posit that it is impossible for anyone to determine the authenticity of any document, photograph or painting by looking at a downloaded PDF file from the internet. Seriously - would an art lover purchase a million dollar painting based on some moron's confirmation of it being authentic because said moron examined a PDF file sent via e-mail?

There is also, in Shuruff Joe's world, the instance of missing INS records for the week Obama was born. The specific sections cover the end of one reel of micro-film and the beginning of the next reel of micro-film. Sheriff Joe contends Mrs Obama was allowed to sneak back into Hawaii, bringing with her an infant son born in Kenya.

So here is the scenario - Mrs Obama, heavy with child, leaves the country - flies Hawaii to San Francisco (or L.A.) to New York to London to Nairobi, a minimum three day trip in 1961. She then gives birth to a son and immediately retraces her route - Nairobi to London to New York to San Francisco (or L.A.) to Hawaii where, in collusion with corrupt INS officials, she is allowed to sneak into the country with the newborn infant. Now, if that sounds stupid and farfetched - it is.

The point that seems to be absent from Sheriff Joe's little tale is that neither he - nor his "posse" - provided any evidence that Mrs. Obama ever left Hawaii in the first place. Where are the departure records for her leaving Hawaii? Arriving in San Francisco (or L.A.)? Departing New York for London? Also where are the records showing her arriving in New York from London? The evidentiary trail that is so vital in proving something has taken place is missing in Sheriff Joe's report - in order to prove that a U.S. citizen entered the country it must first be proved that they left the country.

To add insult to injury, Sheriff Joe was taken to task by the highly conservative, right-wing National Review in an editorial on 6 March 2012, where they basically said he is nuts.

"As Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio beclowns himself and his wayward admirers, it is worth bearing in mind that the manufactured controversy surrounding President Barack Obama's birth certificate has its origins in anonymous e-mails.

"One of the particularly disturbing aspects of Sheriff Arpaio's investigation is its relationship with conspiracy entrepreneur Jerome Corsi, who would very much like to sell you a copy of the birther book he has co-authored with Michael Zullo, the volunteer investigator who took the leading part in the sheriff's recent press conference. There is a booming business in birther baloney.

"Republicans who have chosen to associate with the birthers have done their party and their country a disservice. And as Sheriff Arpaio settles comfortably into that political mental ward, the same must be said of those Republicans who choose to associate themselves with him more broadly. Those who cannot distinguish between the birthers' flim-flam and the critical questions that face our nation in 2012 will not win and do not deserve to."

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Another fact that must be dealt with is Congress agreeing that Obama is indeed a natural born citizen, having been born in Hawaii. In August of 2009, long before the birther loon nonsense gathered its full head of steam, the House of Representatives, by a unanimous vote, offered up HR 593 which stated in part, "Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii."

This is similar to the senate resolution (SR 511) passed in April of 2008 that stated, "Resolved, That John Sidney McCain, III, is a 'natural born Citizen' under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States." This in spite of the fact that McCain, clearly, was not born in the United States. And it should be pointed out that Senator Obama signed that resolution.

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As we move toward the quadrennial Clown Show know as the Republican Primary run-off we see a new face emerging and being embraced by the Birthers. Rafael (is that an "American" name?) Edward "Ted" Cruz, that sad little member of the TEA Party and senator from Texas (now there's two strikes against the guy from the get go) who wants to shut down our nation is being touted as someone the birthers would support. In the usual dichotomous confusion birthers live with they have failed to realize that Cruz was born in Canada (complete with a Canadian birth certificate) and that his father was a Communist from Cuba. Cruz, a member of the United States Senate, when confronted appeared very confused and said he did not "know" he held Canadian citizenship (kind of like Michelle Bachmann's holding U.S. and Swiss citizenship), something that ... well, you would think one would be aware of. Cruz immediately renounced his birth nation (which of course does nothing because he has to officially file paperwork letting the Canadian know he hates them).

As this issue raised it's head one pathetic birther from Texas, who had voted for the Canadian Cruz, made the statement that she does not consider Canada to be a foreign country. Can it possibly get any funnier than that? One last point, Cruz will not be the winner in the 2016 Clown Show.

And as our Big Red Car approaches the end of its run through Birtherville, it should be pointed out what I consider to be a very salient point. Do you think for a moment that if there was any possibility that Obama was not a natural born citizen under the provisions of the U.S. Constitution that such information would not have been used by the Hillary Clinton campaign in the 2008 election? The Clintons are fighters that will go to all extremes to win and if they had any suspicion as to Obama's status they would have attacked voraciously. And do not for a moment think they did not investigate every facet of Obama's life during the election cycle.

Our ride is now at an end and we have seen on our trip through Birtherville that birthers are the funniest group of losers to come down the pike in a very long time. And will remain so for time and all eternity.