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“YouTubes are infallible”

Texas Representative Leo Berman is I suppose that unwanted uncle of the birther movement, allowing himself to be skewered regularly by the news media. I was not prepared, however, to see him say one of the most remarkably stupid things yet: “The YouTubes are infallible.”

That statement makes a fitting conclusion to the video report by Thanh Tan of the Texas Tribune that appears below. I can’t be to harsh, though; I might be old and senile myself one day.

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29 Responses to “YouTubes are infallible”

  1. avatar
    Tarrant February 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Comments like this scare me. Not because they’re wrong (which they are) but because these are the people making key decisions that affect these very items.

    A few years ago when Senator Ted Stevens was made fun of for saying the Internet was a series of “tubes” and that his staff had “sent him an Internet” (actually an email) I was horrified. Sure it’s funny, but at the same time he was on a key committee debating things like Internet security and network neutrality. Regardless of one’s positions on those issues, it’s frightening that a senior guy on such a committee was perfectly fine giving a speech on the floor of the Senate, and making regulatory/law decisions about, a topic on which he clearly knew nothing.

    Even scarier is that there are people that will vote for someone because of that fact – I’ve had people say to me “Well, I don’t understand it either, that guy’s just like me! I’ll vote for him.” I mean, it’s fine with me if I don’t understand every topic – but I’d like to hope that the person who is making a decision that affects the entire nation has spent at least a little bit of time learning about it.

    Unfortunately, living in Washington DC as I do (although not for the government) I have met many staffers in Congress and the executive branch and learned that sadly almost none of them try in the slightest to do so, and if they do want to know, they find a lobbyist willing to give them money in exchange for explaining the subject from their (biased) point of view.

  2. avatar
    Jules February 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Tarrant:
    Comments like this scare me. Not because they’re wrong (which they are) but because these are the people making key decisions that affect these very items.

    A few years ago when Senator Ted Stevens was made fun of for saying the Internet was a series of “tubes” and that his staff had “sent him an Internet” (actually an email) I was horrified. Sure it’s funny, but at the same time he was on a key committee debating things like Internet security and network neutrality. Regardless of one’s positions on those issues, it’s frightening that a senior guy on such a committee was perfectly fine giving a speech on the floor of the Senate, and making regulatory/law decisions about, a topic on which he clearly knew nothing.

    Even scarier is that there are people that will vote for someone because of that fact – I’ve had people say to me “Well, I don’t understand it either, that guy’s just like me! I’ll vote for him.” I mean, it’s fine with me if I don’t understand every topic – but I’d like to hope that the person who is making a decision that affects the entire nation has spent at least a little bit of time learning about it.

    Unfortunately, living in Washington DC as I do (although not for the government) I have met many staffers in Congress and the executive branch and learned that sadly almost none of them try in the slightest to do so, and if they do want to know, they find a lobbyist willing to give them money in exchange for explaining the subject from their (biased) point of view.

    There are differences between Leo Berman and Ted Stevens. Ted Stevens clearly ignorant about the technology on which he was commenting. Leo Berman was making a comment that was unrelated to technical knowledge and related entirely to the inability or unwillingness to critically consider information delivered via computer technology.

    Information put on YouTube is only as reliable as those posting it, even if the technology works perfectly. As anyone is able to put videos on YouTube, factual errors and flawed reasoning can pop up on YouTube just as much as they do in everyday conversation.

  3. avatar
    charo February 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Also in the video, James White who supports Berman’s bill but believes Obama was born in U.S.- “We should have some means to ensure that its the case” (referencing NBC constitutional requirement for candidates). His response indicates to me that he is answering to his constituency, but maybe he just believes in the bill.

  4. avatar
    US Citizen February 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    I’m thinking that perhaps he took it from a position adopted about video in courtrooms and such.
    Something along the lines that video is irrefutable evidence.
    I can’t believe that he’d otherwise consider YouTube videos as infallible or prima facie evidence about anything.

    BUT…I should add that that the other day I observed something kind of strange.
    I have a friend that’s a right-winger.
    Not a birther, but definitely not about to throw any parades for Obama or endorse many progressive viewpoints or policies.
    He watches a lot of TV, I should add too.

    Well, we live in a very small town. At the corner of one of our major intersections, someone put up a sign that said the world is going to end on certain nearby date.
    I think it was May 21st, but it doesn’t really matter.
    What perplexed me was that this otherwise fairly intelligent friend called me up in a panic after having seen this sign.
    I had to “talk him down” logically and he did seem to trust me and settle down afterward.
    But it just struck me so odd that someone would see a sign that some unknown person staked into the ground and believe it at face value or at least allow it to affect them negatively to such a degree.
    It seems that some people truly do put more weight into something they read or hear about any external source.
    I don’t know if it’s a predisposition to worry and such a sign was enough to provide confirmation or if they have a place in their brain that regards the written word or videos as usually or always truthful, but it certainly opened my eyes to something I never knew existed.
    I understand the power of compelling writing and presentation, but this sign indicated no other agenda (religious, for example.)
    It simply said the world was going to end soon and apparently some people embraced it without any counter reasoning.
    Weird, scary and perhaps related to how Berman’s mind works too.

    One more thing: it’s harder to get a job at a supermarket than it is to become a politician in many ways.
    No one asks for a drug test, for example.
    I could be high as a kite and become a district rep easier than I could pack groceries into a bag.

  5. avatar
    obsolete February 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    US Citizen: I think it was May 21st

    Crazy story- I have met people like this.
    BTW- May 21st is indeed the day the world is ending.

  6. avatar
    Sean February 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    We don’t even know where Obama went to school. All we have is his word.

    hm.

  7. avatar
    Daniel February 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Sean:
    We don’t even know where Obama went to school. All we have is his word.

    hm.

    I don’t know what brand of underwear Obama wears.

    And, like where he went to school, it is neither any of my business, nor has anything to do with his eligibility.

  8. avatar
    Joey February 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Sean:
    We don’t even know where Obama went to school. All we have is his word.

    hm.

    His word and the class pictures with Barack Obama in them:
    For example, from Noelani Elementary School:
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Cn61JM4kNR8/TLnHuP-zw-I/AAAAAAAABDY/iNzH8i4Lacw/s1600/obama+kindergarten.png

  9. avatar
    Joey February 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    Sean:
    We don’t even know where Obama went to school. All we have is his word.

    hm.

    Barack Hussein Obama II in 5th Grade:
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/173/426192567_d0f8af7d5f_o.jpg

  10. avatar
    Joey February 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Sean:
    We don’t even know where Obama went to school. All we have is his word.

    hm.

    Barack Hussein Obama II, graduation ceremony, Punahue Preparatory School, Honolulu:
    http://www.hawaiimagazine.com/images/content/obama_punahou/00005f.jpg

  11. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 28, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Joey: Barack Hussein Obama II in 5th Grade:
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/173/426192567_d0f8af7d5f_o.jpg

    Ron Polarik has analyzed all the Obama school pictures and declared them “Photoshopped.”

  12. avatar
    Joey March 1, 2011 at 12:15 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Ron Polarik has analyzed all the Obama school pictures and declared them “Photoshopped.”

    “Polarik?” Dr. Ronald Jay Polland is photoshopped.

  13. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 1, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Ron Polarik has analyzed all the Obama school pictures and declared them “Photoshopped.”

    Well, if he said it on the U-toobs it must be true, right?

  14. avatar
    Keith March 1, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    obsolete: BTW- May 21st is indeed the day the world is ending.

    Is that May 21st in the USA which would be May 22nd here in Australia?

    So I get an extra day on you folk?

    No you can’t come here, Oz imprisons illegal immigrants on Christmas Island, and there aren’t any Sugar Plum Fairies. So there.

  15. avatar
    US Citizen March 1, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    Keith: there aren’t any Sugar Plum Fairies.

    That part doesn’t bother me.
    I have sugarplum seeds left over from my Y2K seed collection.

  16. avatar
    Sean March 1, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    Sean:
    We don’t even know where Obama went to school. All we have is his word.

    hm.

    Sorry I didn’t make myself clear. I was commenting on Leo Berman’s statement about Obama and the school’s he attended as if Obama’s word was all we had. Of course there’s a record of him attending those schools if you look for it.

    If you lie about the schools you attended, you end up like Christine O’Donnell and be exposed as a liar.

  17. avatar
    Sean March 1, 2011 at 6:03 am #

    charo: James White

    Didn’t James White remind you of Dave Chappell’s character the blind, Black KKK leader?

  18. avatar
    dch March 1, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Sean say:
    “We don’t even know where Obama went to school. All we have is his word.”

    If by “we” you mean delusional birthers that ignore reason and evidence then yes (which also explains the NINETY to Zero loss record in front of judges).

    But for the rest of us we have considerable photographic evidence.
    Well that and the year book pictures and stories from school mates from High School.
    Coulumbia U website list him as an alumni.
    His Columbia roomate has photos from the apartment they shared.
    And of course he was the head of the Harvard Law Review.

    So exactly what part of that is in dispute? Be specific please.

  19. avatar
    dch March 1, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Opps sorry Sean did not pick up on your correction!

  20. avatar
    Sean March 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    dch:
    Sean say:
    “We don’t even know where Obama went to school. All we have is his word.”

    If by “we” you mean delusional birthers that ignore reason and evidence then yes (which also explains the NINETY to Zero loss record in front of judges).

    But for the rest of us we have considerable photographic evidence.
    Well that and the year book pictures and stories from school mates from High School.
    Columbia U website list him as an alumni.
    His Columbia roommate has photos from the apartment they shared.
    And of course he was the head of the Harvard Law Review.

    So exactly what part of that is in dispute?Be specific please.

    Leo Berman’s words were so unbelievable I had to repeat them slowly to myself to make sure I understood him correctly.

    He was the same way when interviewed by Anderson Cooper.

  21. avatar
    elmo March 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Well, he’s got a point. Youtubes (sic) are infallible. I mean, just take a look at this!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDdzNSXDaRI&feature=related

  22. avatar
    AnotherBird March 2, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    “Youtubes are invaluable.” Hearing those words sums up the birther movement perfectly. Seeing people manipulate the truth just to present an utter incorrect argument. “Argument from ignorance” is the first thing that comes to my mind

  23. avatar
    AnotherBird March 2, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Well it was actually “infallible” not “invaluable.”

  24. avatar
    milspec March 2, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    You mean its not infalible! Shocking.

  25. avatar
    Black Lion March 2, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Palin Fans Organizing Plan To All Pull Over To Side of Road For Some Reason
    Personality cultists have such an abiding faith in their messenger that they’re certain everyone will accept this cult figure if only everyone could hear the message more often. And that brings us to the Palin-worshiping conservative group Stand Up America, which just wants all Americans not otherwise occupied with a job or kids or whatever to drive to their “nearest highway or main route” on March 13 at 4 p.m. Eastern time and then pull off to the side of the road, presumably causing all kinds of traffic jams and car accidents. Why? “Sarah Palin called the Obama Administration’s actions the Road to Ruin’!” Okay, yeah, that sentence tells this group what it should do, on the highway.
    What it will be is FUN, and a great way to vent your frustration, without being labeled, or maligned!

    Sure! BULLET POINTS:
    Imagine others driving by wondering “what the heck”? Wave to everyone;
    Get ten friends to do the same; or go to an over pass and hang temporary signs saying – “Time to stop!” Just imagine the imagery! But be SAFE!
    Once pulled over to the side, place calls or texts to your friends, take pictures, send tweets, flood Facebook with messages and photos, along with several million others on other highways across the land.
    Stay one hour if you can, get your friends to do the same, line up all your vehicles in a safe manner as far off the side as you can, and hit your horns.
    One hour gives the media a chance to react, a chance to get footage. Imagine the traffic reports!
    Hang a sign inside your back window, or use temporary soap to write a message safely on the window;
    Be a part of millions of people saying: “Stop the madness, we are pulling over and just stopping!”

    THAT FU*KING KENYAN MADE ME PULL OVER MY TRACTOR THAT I DROVE ON THE ROAD SO I COULD PULL OVER!

    Helicopters recording the event, YouTube filling with videos from every spot in America, with one message: “Just Stop”! Imagine seeing 300 cars pulled over for miles in California, in Texas, in New Jersey…etc.
    Imagine the evening news and cable stations saying, “What the heck is going on?”
    Do the math. If a car is 17 feet long, and 10 feet is maintained between each vehicle, it takes only 195 cars to stretch one mile. Imagine 500 tractor trailers pulling over for one hour! That’s over seven miles!
    Haha, yes, do the math. And realize even a million vehicles spread sparsely throughout the roadsides of America wouldn’t create a disturbance, because the highways are already littered with broken-down old minivans and abandoned Hummers.
    But hopefully their impossible dream will come true. Which would mean motorists on the freeway having car trouble wouldn’t have a single spot to pull over safely to the shoulder, which will cause millions of fatal car wrecks across the country along with endless standstill traffic jams everywhere else. Yeah, that will bring attention to some meaningless throwaway ghostwriter line Sarah Palin once uttered.

    http://wonkette.com/439457/palin-fans-organizing-plan-to-pull-over-side-of-road-to-get-people-in-accidents

  26. avatar
    Ray March 3, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    “I can’t be to [sic] harsh, though; I might be old and senile myself one day.”

    One day? Sir, are you kidding? Devoting an entire website to Barack Obama puts you well beyond one day.

  27. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Ray: “I can’t be to [sic] harsh, though; I might be old and senile myself one day.”

    One day? Sir, are you kidding? Devoting an entire website to Barack Obama puts you well beyond one day.

    Curses! I’ve been [sic]ed!

  28. avatar
    JD Reed March 4, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Hey, Ray,

    The factual accuracy of the content, not the amount of time devoted to the content, is the gauge to use. I think that by this yardstick, Dr. C’s content stacks up extremely well against the birthers’. The utterly false statements spread and embraced by significant percentages of the birther community would take far more space than I can conscientiously take, so I” hit a few highlights:
    – The alleged travel ban to Pakistan in ’91.
    – Obama’s sealing his records by his first executive order.
    – Tim Adams’ and Mike Evans’ statements about birth records in Hawaii.
    – The assertion that the amount of info on Obama’s COLB, leaving aside the issue of authentiicity, is not enough to obtain a U.S. passport.
    – The embrace of an April Fool’s joke as actual truth concerning college student Obama’s financial aid.
    – The allegation that there’s no proof Obama attended any of the schools he claimed. (One that Texas birther Rep. Leo Berman embraces.)
    As a non-lawyer who’s been in dozens of courtrooms, I’ve seen a lot of jury trials in which neither side could present a “smoking gun,” Thus jurors had to decide what is most likely given the totality of the evidence, as some testimony and exhibits would favor one side, and others the opposing side.
    Now my question is: If you’re convinced that your side is right on the facts, why in the world wlould you introduce false testimony and exhibits to bolster your case? If the jury learns that you’ve introduced wholesale liies, why should they accord you any credibility? The presiding judge instructs jurors that they are the judges of the credibility of the wintnesses.
    Birthers have introduced reams of false evidence into this debate, and their credibility should be judged accordingly.

  29. avatar
    JD Reed March 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    You know, the more I think about it, the “birther” bill introduced by Rep. Berman in Texas
    may not be so far off base after all. (The man himself, well … he’s quite an outside-the-box thinker.)
    I think if the words I put in all caps below were inserted in the relevant section, it would take care of the problem. I had first thought to strkie “original”, but upon reflection I think that a COLB — very similar in information to the Texas document that enabled my son to get a driver’s license and passport — IS a copy of the original. It’s just not a photographic reproduction. As for indicating the candidate is a natural born citizen, I think a Hawaiian COLB or similar document from another state would fit the bill nicely, unless you buy into the no-dual-citizenship or two-parents-required memes — which I don’t think the courts would do. So if Rep. Berman would just amend his bill slightly …

    “(d) The secretary of state may not certify the name of a
    candidate for president or vice-president unless the candidate has
    presented A CERTIFIED COPY of the candidate’s birth certificate indicating that the person is a natural-born United States citizen.”