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Combat the Birther craziness, part two

I don’t think everyone who thinks President Barack Obama hasn’t been completely open with the American people with regards to his birth certificate is crazy or a loon. The problem is that the crazies have latched onto this topic and they will not let go. Also, the MSM cannot or will not do its job, which is to investigate. (We could get evidence of illegal wiretapping but not Obama’s BC.) It is the same people who believe that Clinton killed Vince Foster and 30 or 40 others, depending on which e-mail you read. In my mind, Obama should explain why he does or does not have the long form of his birth certificate. That’s it. He should announce it in Hawaii while standing in front of the hospital in which he was born. He should take one of those knuckleheads from Fox News to look at the document and be done with it.

On the other hand, this will not go away. I don’t believe that if Obama were to deliver his birth certificate (the long form) that the crazies would go away. They have a list of stuff (see the bottom of this post) that they want to see. The list is getting longer every day, like why did Hilliary Clinton go to Kenya?  Was it to look for Obama’s “real” birth certificate?

BTW, although I believe that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and that he should come clean, I don’t think that he will. This is disappointing, especially because I thought we were ushering in a new era of openness. How much information should we expect our president to give us before taking office. Birth certificate. What about medical records? McCain’s records were incomplete and viewed by a select number of reporters. Is that okay? How about school records and papers? Where does it end?

Below is a continuation of the Salon.com article that I referenced before.

Myth 6: Obama traveled to Pakistan using an Indonesian passport

When the Birthers tire of arguing that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., they take another tack. At some point during the time he spent in Indonesia growing up, they say, Obama must have taken Indonesian citizenship or renounced his American citizenship or both. As proof, they cite the trip he took to Pakistan in 1981 with a friend from college, and say the U.S. government had issued a ban on travel by its citizens to the country.

Thing is, there was no travel ban. “We have no record of any travel ban between America and Pakistan during that period or since,” a State Department spokesman told Weigel. And FactCheck.org’s Brooks Jackson notes that the New York Times printed an article about travel to Pakistan on June 14, 1981, which said Americans just needed a visa to travel there. Two months later, the U.S. consul general in Lahore, Pakistan, wrote to the Times to say he’d “welcome an influx of Americans.”

Myth 7: Obama hasn’t released his birth certificate

Here, we’ll admit, Uncle Floyd has a point — at least a limited one. Strictly speaking, what Obama’s campaign released wasn’t called a birth certificate; it’s a certification of live birth. But there’s no functional difference between the two: Ask Hawaii for your birth certificate, and you’ll get the certification of live birth back.

“Our Certificate of Live Birth is the standard form, which was modeled after national standards that are acceptable by federal agencies and organizations,” Okubo told the Honolulu Advertiser. “With that form, you can get your passport or your soccer registration or your driver’s license.”

There’s been some confusion about whether the original even still exists, but that’s now been cleared up. Okubo told the Advertiser that in 2001 the state’s paper documents were put into an electronic form, but “any paper data prior to that still exists … we have backups for all of our backups.”

Myth 8: If Obama would just release his birth certificate, he could end all this

So why hasn’t the state of Hawaii released the original paper document? By law, the state can’t release Obama’s birth records without his OK. State law says that the document can only be released to or “inspect[ed]” by someone with a “direct and tangible” interest. (Though, again, except for “permit[ting] inspection,” the law refers to the release of copies and certified copies, not the original record.)

But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Obama could get the original paper document out of its undisclosed Hawaiian location and show it to reporters. Shouldn’t he? Maybe not. He’s already released a completely legal form of proof of his birthplace; to cave in to the Birthers’ demands now would legitimize them. It would also likely lead to a wave of stories asking why the change in stance had happened, and what had taken so long.

The truth is that it was the original release of the certification of live birth that kicked off the Birther movement to begin with. And some of its leaders wouldn’t cease their quest even if they were given the original birth certificate — along with a video showing Obama being born, lei already around his neck.

Conspiracy theorists cling to their theories in the face of all evidence, and in this case the groundwork for disputing an original birth certificate has already been laid. In October of 2008, Rush Limbaugh suggested that Obama’s trip to Hawaii to see his dying grandmother might really have been made in order to do some quick forgery. Limbaugh’s fellow talk radio host Michael Savage jumped on that bandwagon, too.

Plus, the Birthers have a long list of other demands. Here’s one sent out by Gary Kreep, who’s representing Alan Keyes in his lawsuit challenging Obama’s eligibility. Read it, and abandon all hope:

  • Actual long-form birth certificate (NOT an easily-forged electronic copy of a short-form document that is not even officially accepted in Hawaii)
  • Passport files
  • University of Chicago Law School scholarly articles
  • Harvard Law Review articles
  • Harvard Law School records
  • Columbia University records
  • Columbia University senior thesis, “Soviet Nuclear Disarmament”
  • Occidental College records, including financial aid that he may have received
  • Punahou School records, where Mr. Obama attended from the fifth grade until he finished high school
  • Noelani Elementary School records, where Barack Obama attended kindergarten (according to the Hawaii Department of Education, students must submit a birth certificate to register — but parents may bring a passport or student visa if the child is from a foreign country)
  • Complete files and schedules of his years as an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004
  • Obama’s client list from during his time in private practice with the Chicago law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Gallard
  • Illinois State Bar Association records
  • Baptism records
  • Obama/Dunham marriage license
  • Obama/Dunham divorce documents
  • Soetoro/Dunham marriage license
  • Soetero/Dunham adoption records
By |2009-08-08T23:00:21-04:00August 8th, 2009|Obama administration, Party Politics|Comments Off on Combat the Birther craziness, part two

Mega-corporations and the news (update)

hand-over-mouth-silenceIt seems to me that we can easily chart the decline of the evening news from the moment Walter Cronkite stepped down back in the early 1980s. Now, we get 10 minutes of “news”, 10 minutes of commercials and 10 minutes of goofy stuff — sports, entertainment news, what have you. Rarely do I see an interview with a real, honest to God, expert. Instead, we get interviews with commentators. We don’t ever get a clearer idea of what the issue is that instead we get a picture from the left and a picture from a right, like every issue only has two sides. It is completely ridiculous.

Last week, we learned that there was some deal made between General Electric, the parent company of MSNBC, and News Corp., the parent company of Fox News. Basically, a muzzle has been placed over the news anchors and commentators. Glenn Greenwald has much more to say on this:

I want to return to the subject of GE’s silencing of Keith Olbermann both because there are new facts I’ve obtained that shed light on what happened here and because this is one of the most blatant examples yet of pernicious corporate control over America’s journalism.  The most striking aspect of this episode is that GE isn’t even bothering any longer to deny the fact that they exert control over MSNBC’s journalism.  They’ve brazenly dispensed with the long-held fiction of the sanctity of journalistic independence from interference by the corporate parents that own America’s largest news organizations.

Instead, GE is now openly and proudly boasting of their editorial control over the news organizations they own, and publicly rubbing it in the faces of NBC News journalists that they’re subservient to GE’s corporate agenda.  Look at this smug, creepy quote from GE executive spokesman Gary Sheffer explaining in The New York Times why GE issued its gag order preventing Olbermann from criticizing Fox and O’Reilly, all but mocking NBC and MSNBC journalists as nothing more than GE’s office of corporate spokespeople:

“We all recognize that a certain level of civility needed to be introduced into the public discussion,” Gary Sheffer, a spokesman for G.E., said this week. “We’re happy that has happened.”

Why is GE even speaking for MSNBC’s editorial decisions at all?  Needless to say, GE doesn’t care in the slightest about “civility” in general.  Mika Brzezinski can spout that people who dislike Sarah Palin aren’t “real Americans” and Chris Matthews can say about George Bush that “everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs,” and GE executives won’t (and didn’t) bat an eye.  What they mean by “civility” is:  “thou shalt not criticize anyone who can harm GE’s business interests or who will report on our actions.”  Thus:  GE’s journalists will stop reporting critically on Fox and its top assets because Fox can expose actions of GE that we want to keep concealed.

Does anyone need it explained to them why it is so dangerous and destructive to have our political debates controlled by GE executives, sitting in their offices censoring the journalism of our leading media outlets in the name of “civility,” code for:  you will respect those who can harm us?  Our entire political culture is already designed to ensure corporate control of our political institutions.  Their lobbyists literally write the laws enacted by Congress and control their implementation.  The reason the journalism industry insisted for so long on the ludicrous fiction that corporate parents never violated the sanctity of journalistic independence is precisely because everyone understood why that would be so dangerous.  Apparently, they no longer feel a need to maintain that fiction. (more…)

Keith Olbermann has posted this at DK:

Primarily, there is no “deal” between MSNBC and Fox over what we can and cannot cover. This is part of a continuing strategy of blackmail by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, that reaches back to 2004, and has as its goal the cancellation of “Countdown.” This stuff has ebbed and flowed for five years, it’s part of my daily job to push it back with whichever strategy I think will best work at a given moment. For the last two months I’ve been employing “News Jujitsu.” If you watch tonight and catch the references to Fox and its rogues gallery you will know that the most recent tack has worked, but the fight is endless and there will be reversals in the future, I’m sure.

Ailes himself is tonight quoted as saying he tried to ‘broker peace’ by restraining his hosts. This is the same Ailes who insisted he would never interfere with what Bill O’Reilly said on the air. Even naked hypocrisy is not too much if Fox can make itself seem victimized, or can muzzle dissent.

But there is no “deal.” I would never consent, and, fortunately, MSNBC and NBC News would never ask me to. (more… )

This is of course great news but it makes me look at the NY Times and ask – What are y’all doing over there?  Are you just making stuff up?  Olbermann mentioned on his show that you (NYT) called him twice and he said that he wasn’t a party to any deal, twice.  Who were your sources for this story?

By |2009-08-03T22:39:51-04:00August 3rd, 2009|Media|Comments Off on Mega-corporations and the news (update)

So what is torture again?

Glenn nails this one:

There’s been a major editorial breach at The New York Times today, in this obituary of an American fighter pilot who was captured by the Chinese:

Harold E. Fischer Jr., an American Flier Tortured in a Chinese Prison, Dies at 83. . . .

From April 1953 through May 1955, Colonel Fischer — then an Air Force captain — was held at a prison outside Mukden, Manchuria. For most of that time, he was kept in a dark, damp cell with no bed and no opening except a slot in the door through which a bowl of food could be pushed. Much of the time he was handcuffed. Hour after hour, a high-frequency whistle pierced the air.

After a short mock trial in Beijing on May 24, 1955, Captain Fischer and the other pilots — Lt. Col. Edwin L. Heller, First Lt. Lyle W. Cameron and First Lt. Roland W. Parks — were found guilty of violating Chinese territory by flying across the border while on missions over North Korea. Under duress, Captain Fischer had falsely confessed to participating in germ warfare.

So that’s torture now? To use the prevailing American mindset: a room that doesn’t meet the standards of a Hilton and some whistling in the background is torture? My neighbor whistles all the time; does that mean he’s torturing me? It’s not as though Fischer had his eyes poked out by hot irons or was placed in a coffin-like box with bugs or was handcuffed to the ceiling.

Also, using the editorial standards of America’s journalistic institutions — as explained recently by the NYT Public Editor — shouldn’t this be called “torture” rather than torture — or “harsh tactics some critics decry as torture”? Why are the much less brutal methods used by the Chinese on Fischer called torture by the NYT, whereas much harsher methods used by Americans do not merit that term? Here we find what is clearly the single most predominant fact shaping our political and media discourse: everything is different, and better, when we do it. In fact, it is that exact mentality that was and continues to be the primary justification for our torture regime and so much else that we do.

Also Andrew Sullivan tackles this subject:

You will notice how the NYT defines torture when it comes to foreign governments – isolation, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation. Much milder than anything the US did to one of its own citizens, Jose Padilla. But the parallel is almost perfect: these are, after all, the exact Chinese Communist techniques that were reverse engineered from the SERE program. So you have a perfect demonstration of the NYT’s double-standard. If Chinese do it to Americans, it’s torture; if Americans do it to an American, it’s “harsh interrogation.” Does Jill Abramson really expect us to take this lying down?

You will also notice the quality of the intelligence procured through methods milder than the Bush administration’s:

“He wanted me to admit that I had been ordered to cross the Manchurian border,” Captain Fischer told Life magazine. “I was grilled day and night, over and over, week in and week out, and in the end, to get Chong and his gang off my back, I confessed to both charges. The charges, of course, were ridiculous. I never participated in germ warfare and neither did anyone else. I was never ordered to cross the Yalu. We had strict Air Force orders not to cross the border.”

“I will regret what I did in that cell the rest of my life,” the captain continued. “But let me say this: it was not really me — not Harold E. Fischer Jr. — who signed that paper. It was a mentality reduced to putty.”

Dick Cheney believes that a “mentality reduced to putty” is the best source of reliable intelligence; that methods designed to give you false confessions should be the basis for national security assessments. (more… )

Hypocrisy revealed.

By |2009-05-09T06:54:58-04:00May 9th, 2009|Bush Administration, Obama administration, Torture|Comments Off on So what is torture again?
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