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Whither birthers?

Politico.com has a new article tracing the origins of the birther movement, Birtherism: Where it all began. Here’s where they put the blame:

The answer lies in Democratic, not Republican politics, and in the bitter, exhausting spring of 2008. At the time, the Democratic presidential primary was slipping away from Hillary Clinton and some of her most passionate supporters grasped for something, anything that would deal a final reversal to Barack Obama.

What follows is a history of the birther movement that I found entertaining. I don’t think there is anything in the article you couldn’t find SOMEWHERE among the 1,200 articles on this site, but Politico has better writing, and lays it all out nicely.

In every major debunking of birther myths, there is always “the mistake”, and Politico doesn’t break the streak by including this zinger:

The website World Net Daily, for instance, has written that “Hawaii at the time of Obama’s birth allowed births that took place in foreign countries to be registered in Hawaii.” This is true,…

That is not true. At the time of Obama’s birth, the law allowing foreign registrations was still two decades in the future, the law not passed until 1982. But you knew that.

I did a two-part series on the origins of the birthers, in 2009 and also discussed the important role of Phil Berg in the rise of birtherism in 2010:

Let me drop a tantalizing hint that there may be more to come from another researcher into the origins of the Birthers. That’s a story for another blog.


Note that the article should be “Whence Birthers?”, bit “whither” sounded better.

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24 Responses to Whither birthers?

  1. avatar
    James M April 22, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Thanks for trying to gather this history.

    I remember when I first started to get really fed up with the birthers. I was engaging one of them on a newsgroup, asking how he could support both Berg (who claimed that Obama was born in Kenya) *and* Donofrio (who claimed that Obama was born in Hawaii). I never got an answer from any birther as to how they could support both of these lawsuits, since they had fundamentally contradicting claims.

    I would still to this day appreciate an answer from any birther who supported both Berg’s forgery claim and Donofrio’s dual nationality claim.

  2. avatar
    Wile E. April 22, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    “””At the time of Obama’s birth, the law allowing foreign registrations was still two decades in the future, the law not passed until 1972. But you knew that.””

    1982?

    But I think you knew that.

  3. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 23, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    Hey Doc, why don’t you make up a conspiracy theory about why there is always ‘the mistake’ in any debunking article…

  4. avatar
    Robert Clark April 23, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    The website World Net Daily, for instance, has written that “Hawaii at the time of Obama’s birth allowed births that took place in foreign countries to be registered in Hawaii.” This is true,…

    I think a much more serious mistake is that they repeat a mistake put out by a *public official*. I don’t know but I thought it was reporters jobs to point out when public officials mislead the public, especially when it may be intentional.
    I’m referring to this passage:

    Birtherism: Where it all began.
    “In addition to declaring the document a forgery, the birther movement’s main
    response – echoed by the ill-informed Trump – has been to claim that only a
    “long form” birth certificate can be valid. But the document shown by Obama is
    the only one the State of Hawaii is permitted, by law, to release. It is
    accepted as valid by the government entities like the State Department.
    Hawaii law prevents the long-form record from being photocopied or released to
    anyone — including Obama. Obama himself would only be permitted to inspect it –
    not copy it or post it online.”
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53563_Page3.html

    I don’t know but it seems to me if I was a reporter and a public officials giving me out wrong information caused me to report that false information to my readers then I would be mad enough to want to get to the bottom of it.
    But I don’t know. Perhaps reporters don’t see their jobs that way anymore.

    Bob

  5. avatar
    Suranis April 23, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    Robert Clark: don’t know but it seems to me if I was a reporter and a public officials giving me out wrong information caused me to report that false information to my readers then I would be mad enough to want to get to the bottom of it.

    You keep saying that and yet you have not had the stones to actually look up the law of Hawai’i to prove it.

    Fact is that despite you birthers blathering this for 3 years, only 2 allegedly recently issued “long forms” have surfaced. One was Danae’s, which was a non certified photocopy useless for anything that she got by pestering the DOH for months, and one was Miki Booth’s which was actually a 2001 long form she faked the date on. If it was so easy for someone to get their own long form we would be awash with them.

    So, birther, put up or shut up. Wheres the Birth certificate?

    If you cant show it then we have to conclude no-one can get a long form in Hawai’i, and that’s the law. And yes, I’ve had it with your “I’m only asking questions” shtick.

  6. avatar
    Black Lion April 23, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Good article from MSNBC regarding Trump and the birthers….The birthers wanted the so called mainstream media to “take notice” of them….I think for them it has been a case of “be careful of what you wish for”….

    ‘Birther’ claims force GOP leaders to take a stand
    Democrats hope the debate will fire up their liberal base in 2012

    WASHINGTON — It’s the conspiracy theory that won’t go away. And it’s forcing Republican officials and presidential contenders to pick sides: Do they think Barack Obama was born outside the United States and disqualified to be president?

    As the Republican candidates tiptoe through the mine field, Democrats are watching. They hope the debate will fire up their liberal base and perhaps tie the eventual GOP nominee to fringe beliefs that swing voters will reject.

    In recent days several prominent Republicans have distanced themselves, with varying degrees of emphasis, from the false claim that Obama was born in a foreign country. But with a new poll showing that two-thirds of adult Republicans either embrace the claim or are open to it, nearly all these GOP leaders are not calling for a broader effort to stamp out the allegations.

    ..”It’s a real challenge for the Republican Party and virtually every Republican candidate for president,” contends Democratic pollster Geoff Garin. If it’s not handled well, he said, all-important independent voters might see Republicans as extreme or irrelevant.

    Many Americans consider claims of Obama’s foreign birth to be preposterous, unworthy of serious debate. Yet the “birther” issue threatens to overshadow the early stages of the GOP effort to choose a presidential nominee for 2012. Real estate mogul Donald Trump has stirred the pot lately, repeatedly saying Obama should provide his original birth certificate.

    From a political standpoint, it’s impossible to dismiss the matter as conspiratorial fantasy, akin to, say, claims that the 1969 moon landing was staged. In the latest New York Times-CBS News poll, 45 percent of adult Republicans said they believe Obama was born in another country, and 22 percent said they don’t know. One-third of Republicans said they believe the president is native born.

    The same poll a year ago found considerably less suspicion among Republicans. A plurality of GOP adults then said Obama was U.S.-born, and 32 percent said they believed he was foreign-born.

    .In the latest poll, about half of all independents said Obama was born in the United States. The other independents were about evenly split between those saying he is foreign-born, and those saying they don’t know.

    Ten percent of Democrats said Obama was born overseas, and 9 percent were unsure.

    Obama’s birth certificate indicates he was born in Hawaii in 1961. Newspaper birth announcements at the time reported the birth, and news organizations’ investigations have rebutted the birthers’ claims. The Constitution says a president must be a “natural born citizen.”

    Trump’s leap to the top tier of potential GOP presidential contenders in recent polls has frustrated party leaders who’d like the birthplace issue to go away
    ……

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42723024/ns/politics-decision_2012#

  7. avatar
    mimi April 23, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    “the law not passed until 1972. ”

    72 or 82? I really don’t remember.

  8. avatar
    Judge Mental April 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Doc…..my understanding is that in an article which is fundamentally about the birther origins, you are basically considering the question of where they came from, not where they are going to, although the latter may be a related additional aspect. Therefore I suspect you have used the word “whither” (where to) in the article title when you really mean “whence” (where from). I realise this might seem a little nitpicky but these two words do basically convey opposite meanings.

    We’ll cover Shakespeare next week lol.

  9. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Judge Mental: Doc…..my understanding is that in an article which is fundamentally about the birther origins, you are basically considering the question of where they came from, not where they are going to, although the latter may be a related additional aspect. Therefore I suspect you have used the word “whither” (where to) in the article title when you really mean “whence” (where from)

    I think you state pretty much what happened and you are correct. However, “Whence birthers?” doesn’t sound right. In any case, I’ll know better next time.

  10. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    mimi: 72 or 82? I really don’t remember.

    82. I’ll fix it.

  11. avatar
    Robert Clark April 26, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    Dr. C., that passage in the article now says:

    The website World Net Daily, for instance, has written that “Hawaii at the time of Obama’s birth allowed births that took place in foreign countries to be registered in Hawaii.” But that law was not enacted until 1982 which was 21 years after Obama’s birth was registered. Further, such a birth certificate would show the actual foreign place of birth instead of listing – as Obama’s does — Honolulu.

    Is this what it said originally? If so, that’s not a mistake.
    Also, do you know if any of those legal challenges to Obama’s eligibility included arguments to the effect that Hawaii law allowed foreign births to Hawaiian parents to be registered as Hawaiian?

    Bob

  12. avatar
    misha April 26, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Robert Clark: do you know if any of those legal challenges to Obama’s eligibility included arguments to the effect that Hawaii law

    Do you know barnyard animals become skittish when Joseph Farah is near? He never denied it.

  13. avatar
    G April 26, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Robert Clark: Also, do you know if any of those legal challenges to Obama’s eligibility included arguments to the effect that Hawaii law allowed foreign births to Hawaiian parents to be registered as Hawaiian?

    HI Law does NOT allow that. You are a LIAR.

    Any birth that took place outside of HI would show that actual location of BIRTH on the BC you fool!

    FACT: The HI COLB can only list place of birth as HONOLULU, HI if that is where it took place.

  14. avatar
    Robert Clark April 26, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    G: HI Law does NOT allow that.You are a LIAR.
    Any birth that took place outside of HI would show that actual location of BIRTH on the BC you fool!
    FACT:The HI COLB can only list place of birth as HONOLULU, HI if that is where it took place.

    I wanted to see if any of the court challenges claimed that. So far all court challenges have been dismissed or denied. Some may have claimed this but were not upheld.

    Bob

  15. avatar
    The Magic M April 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    > do you know if any of those legal challenges to Obama’s eligibility included arguments to the effect that Hawaii law allowed foreign births to Hawaiian parents to be registered as Hawaiian?

    “Arguments” in the birther sense, yes, I think Orly mentioned this “birther fact” without further proving or substantiating it.

  16. avatar
    The Magic M April 26, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    > I wanted to see if any of the court challenges claimed that. So far all court challenges have been dismissed or denied.

    What difference does it make? Most cases were denied on grounds of lack of standing. No court ever examined the bogus arguments that “lawyers” such as Orly brought forth.

    Much unlike a lawyer, Orly seems to think that it suffices to say “it is possible to get a Hawaiian COLB while born out of country” in a court filing. This may suffice in an opinion piece on a birther website, but bringing such claims in a court filing without further substantiating it is totally useless. Even if the case had gone beyond the “standing” phase, no court would have entertained an unsubstantiated claim – the defendant would have denied it and what then? Orly can’t produce a Hawaaian COLB for someone born outside Hawaii that states Hawaiian birth, so there would be no triable issue of fact.

  17. avatar
    Daniel April 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Robert Clark: I wanted to see if any of the court challenges claimed that. So far all court challenges have been dismissed or denied. Some may have claimed this but were not upheld.

    Bob

    Sorry but the courts aren’t there to assuage your idle curiosity

  18. avatar
    Suranis April 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    The Magic M:
    > I wanted to see if any of the court challenges claimed that. So far all court challenges have been dismissed or denied.

    What difference does it make? Most cases were denied on grounds of lack of standing. No court ever examined the bogus arguments that “lawyers” such as Orly brought forth.

    Alkeny vs Daniels did rule on the issue of Obamas eligibility.

  19. avatar
    Robert Clark April 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Daniel: Sorry but the courts aren’t there to assuage your idle curiosity

    Dr. C. very graciously does frequently answer questions posed here.

    Bob

  20. avatar
    G April 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Robert Clark: I wanted to see if any of the court challenges claimed that. So far all court challenges have been dismissed or denied. Some may have claimed this but were not upheld.Bob

    Here…then take a look at the cases that were on the docket and read them yourself to find out what they claim:

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/Docket.html

  21. avatar
    Greg April 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Mario’s case, Kerchner v. (?) contained such a claim.

  22. avatar
    Majority Will April 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Greg:
    Mario’s case, Kerchner v. (?) contained such a claim.

    40. The Hawaiian law that existed in 1961 when Obama was born (Chapter 338-178 Hawaiian Statues which applied for all births prior to 1972), which allowed parents to register their foreign born babies in Hawaii, was lax in terms of assuring the integrity of the documents and did not adequately safeguard against fraud in the process.

    This is a total misstatement of the law, which reads in full:

    [§338-17.8] Certificates for children born out of State. (a) Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child.

    (b) Proof of legal residency shall be submitted to the director of health in any manner that the director shall deem appropriate. The director of health may also adopt any rules pursuant to chapter 91 that he or she may deem necessary or proper to prevent fraudulent applications for birth certificates and to require any further information or proof of events necessary for completion of a birth certificate.

    (c) The fee for each application for registration shall be established by rule adopted pursuant to chapter 91. [L 1982, c 182, §1]

    Note the “L 1982‘ which means the law was passed in 1982 (not “existed in 1961‘), 21 years after Obama’s birth was registered. Do you see anything about “prior to 1972‘ there?

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2009/01/kerchner-v-obama-and-the-whole-country/

  23. avatar
    Whatever4 April 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Robert Clark:
    Dr. C., that passage in the article now says:

    Is this what it said originally? If so, that’s not a mistake.
    Also, do you know if any of those legal challenges to Obama’s eligibility included arguments to the effect that Hawaii law allowed foreign births to Hawaiian parents to be registered as Hawaiian?

    Bob

    I wonder if some of the confusion comes from the special status of native Hawaiians. Foreign births to Hawaiian Parents would be registered as taking place in the foreign locale, but would be usable for the Hawaiian Lands program if the parents were native Hawaiian.

    There was a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth in use until 1972. This was separate and different from the Certificate of Live Birth (only applied to births not previously registered, and only after 1 year of age). Looks like this: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~sprin/document/gomes/bmarg.jpg

    Registering foreign births in a state isn’t exclusive to Hawaii. PA does it too.

    “Can we register the birth of our child that was born in another country?”

    “Yes. You may register the birth of your child who was born in a country other than the United States with the Division of Vital Records if either parent is a citizen of the United States and a legal resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The appropriate forms and instructions may be requested from the Division of Vital Records.”
    http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/birth_certificates/14121/faqs_births/610832#M

  24. avatar
    G April 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Whatever4: I wonder if some of the confusion comes from the special status of native Hawaiians. Foreign births to Hawaiian Parents would be registered as taking place in the foreign locale, but would be usable for the Hawaiian Lands program if the parents were native Hawaiian. There was a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth in use until 1972. This was separate and different from the Certificate of Live Birth (only applied to births not previously registered, and only after 1 year of age). Looks like this: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~sprin/document/gomes/bmarg.jpgRegistering foreign births in a state isn’t exclusive to Hawaii. PA does it too. “Can we register the birth of our child that was born in another country?”“Yes. You may register the birth of your child who was born in a country other than the United States with the Division of Vital Records if either parent is a citizen of the United States and a legal resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The appropriate forms and instructions may be requested from the Division of Vital Records.”http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/birth_certificates/14121/faqs_births/610832#M

    Although that might be part of the confusion, nothing explains why Birthers can’t grasp the simple fact that ANY “foreign birth” registered in a state still lists the ACTUAL BIRTH LOCATION.

    In other words, you would only see “HONOLULU, HI” listed as place of birth in one was actually born IN the jurisdiction of HONOLULU, HI.