In truth, I thought I had written this article long ago, but apparently not. Now some new bunk about the long form has surfaced from Penbrook Johannson and Dan Crosby in “Vital Records Indicate Obama not Born in Hospital (Part 2)” at The Daily Pen (Part 1 was debunked in my article: More Birther certificate numbering BS) and it’s time to spend a little effort describing the penciled notations on the President’s long-form birth certificate.
Part 1 of this article deals specifically with the Daily Pen article. Part 2 discusses what can be determined from the pencil marks on the Obama form itself, .
By way of background, my first job out of college was at the Appalachia II District Health Department in Greenville, SC. What I did between 1974 and 1980 was essentially to create their automated data processing operation from scratch. I was in charge of procuring equipment, hiring staff, programming, and overseeing operations. Part of that job involved the direct supervision of data entry operators using key punch machines. I know a lot about the preparation of documents for data entry and what key operators will and will not put up with (still have the scars to prove it). In 1978 I personally designed and programmed a system for issuing birth certificates, and since that time up until my retirement January 1, 2011, I worked with vital records systems and software.
One of the remarkable marks of authenticity, something a naive forger couldn’t have imagined, is the penciled notations on Obama’s long form. In 1961 Hawaii, for the
first second time, participated in the National Center of Health Statistics statistical report on births, 1961 Vital Statistics of the US – Volume 1: Natality (VSUS). That report indicates in a footnote that data were submitted on punched cards. The pencil marks on Obama’s form are codes for data entry.
According to the response to my FOIA request to the Department of Health and Human Services, the unpublished manual “Coding and Punching Geographical and Personal Particulars for Births Occurring in 1961” that is referenced on PDF page 228 of VSUS
Johannson and Crosby’s article opens with this remarkable claim to anonymous authority:
An intensive examination of the contents of Obama’s alleged 1961 “Certificate of Live Birth” image by the most respected experts in vital records accounting and identity investigation reveals that much of the contrived information about his alleged Hawaiian birth simply renders his Natural-born status impossible.
Having been a long time member of NAPHSIS and having served on two national advisory committees, including their Vital Records Fraud Prevention Committee for two years, I think I qualify as an expert. Who are theirs? It’s hard for me to imagine that there are ANY vital records professionals who are birthers.
I want to discuss an exhibit from the Daily Pen that I reproduce here:
At this point it might be helpful to include a hyperlink to the complete long form certificate so that you can follow along. I linked to the higher-resolution version of the form, not the White House PDF.
Following are close-ups from the 7-series of blocks on the left and what appear at the same vertical position on the right of the form:
What should be obvious is that whatever appears in the extreme left gutter next to the “7” blocks is formatted differently from what is on the right. That means what we’re seeing on the left is not the right side of a similar form, but some completely different form layout. There is a page of different material and different information beyond the crease on the photocopied book on the left. You can see that it is a form with a question on it based on the surviving question mark to the left of block 7d. What is it? I can give an informed speculation that it is medical information about the birth. The important point is that whatever penciled notation appears to the left of the vertical line is not about what is on the right side but about the blocks that contain it on the left.
Here I add my personal experience, that one would never annotate a data field in the wrong box and expect a data entry operator to pick it up. There is different data in that box, and it needs its own annotation.
Nevertheless, Johannson and Crosby make just that mistake, asserting that a penciled number “6” in the box on the other page is actually an annotation of the Place of Birth in box 6a on the right page.
Johannson and Crosby then go on to turn the “6” into “56” (not an unreasonable conclusion given the image) and then assert that “56” is the code for “remainder of the world” and that’s where Obama was really born.
There are several objections to this theory. First, Hawaii didn’t register out of state births in 1961: That law wasn’t passed until 1982. So no matter what we’re looking at, it can’t be a birth registration from outside Hawaii. The second objection is that the code is on another block on another form, not the 6a place of birth block. The third objection goes to the suggestion that “56” is a place of birth code for “remainder of the world.” Fortunately we have the 1961 coding manual for geographic locations.
Here’s what Johannson and Cosby say:
The presence of the “6” next to the “Place of Birth” item is most troubling. As the second digit of the number 56, the 1961 VSIM uses the number 56 to code the location of births which occur outside of the United States but which are processed “in conjunction with” the county of registration. The states and the District of Columbia are numbered in alphabetical order from 01 to 51 while Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Panama Canal Zone were 52 through 55, respectively. This left the number 56 as the code for classifying “Remainder of the World”. This can be found in the 1961, 1962, 1968, 1977, 1993 and 1999 versions of the VSIM. In 1993, number 55 was the code for New York City because of its large birth volume it was classified as its own major birth rate statistical reporting area.
There is just so much wrong with this! First Vital Statistics of the United States is, duh, statistics about the United States. It doesn’t include foreign births, not in 1961 and not today. (The only exception is for a child born in international waters or in the air, and in that case the place of birth is considered the place in the US where the ship or plane landed.) Look at the 1961 VSUS report itself:
The report is about births “in the United States.” The statement about “’in conjunction with’ the country of registration” is pure fantasy!
In addition, the part about number “56” is nonsense too. There is no US geographic code “56” used for coding vital statistics. We have the 1961 coding manual, and here are the state codes (note that they are nothing like Johannson and Crosby describe):
You can read the whole manual that specifies the coding of 1961 data. It is complete and comprehensive (and 300 pages!). There is no “remainder of the world” allowed by the manual.
There is one other fraudulent representation in the Daily Pen article. Here’s the screen shot (click to enlarge):
What they represent as the contents of the 1961 Vital Statistics Manual are actually from the 1969 tape file layout. You can see (click to enlarge) by the little smudge over the ellipsis to the right of “2” and by the peculiar italic appearance of “Chinese” and the broken letters in “Indian” that it’s the 1969 version.