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Archive | May, 2013

Bye Bye Bachmann

Minnesota Congresswoman announced yesterday that she will not be seeking reelection in 2014. Rep. Bachmann is the head of the House Tea Party Caucus. She is also well-known for her many gaffes, her propensity to believe nonsensical tales, and her apparent distrust of science. She doesn’t believe global warming is a problem because carbon dioxide is “a natural byproduct of nature” (text from Think Progress) and therefore can’t be harmful. She pushed the Obamacare death panels malarkey, a falsehood that Politifact deemed the lie of the year for 2009. She was among five House members who asked several federal government agencies to investigate whether the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated their ranks. She really, really, really doesn’t like President Obama. Or facts. She doesn’t like them either. And yet, she is not a birther.

She flirted with birtherism a little. In an interview on Good Morning America in February of 2011, she refused to say categorically that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen. In a radio interview the following month, she said, “I’ll tell you one thing, if I was ever to run for president of the United States, I think the first thing I would do in the first debate is offer my birth certificate, so we can get that off the table." (text from CityPages) Just one week before President Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate, she seemed to be taken aback a bit in an interview with George Stephanopoulos when he showed her a printout of the President’s short form birth certificate, leading to the following exchange (text from Huffington Post):

Stephanopoulos: Well I have the president’s certificate right here. It’s certified, it’s got a certification number. It’s got the registrar of the state signed. It’s got a seal on it. And it says ‘this copy serves as prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding.’

Bachmann: Well, then that should settle it.

Stephanopoulos: So it’s over?

Bachmann: That’s what should settle it. I take the president at his word and I think- again I would have no problem and apparently the president wouldn’t either. Introduce that, we’re done. Move on.

Stephanopoulos: Well this has been introduced. So this story is over?

Bachmann: Well as long as someone introduces it I guess it’s over.

Stephanopoulos: It’s right there.

Bachmann: Yeah, there you go. Because that is not the main issue facing the United States right now.

When she was presented with evidence that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, she accepted that he was, in fact, born in Hawaii. No birther would do that. Michele Bachmann is not a birther. If birthers couldn’t convince Michele Bachmann to get on their crazy train, they will never succeed in convincing any member of Congress to join them.


Zullo promises nothing new at public presentation

PPSimmons via Obama Release Your Records says that volunteer birther investigator Mike Zullo will make a presentation at an open session at the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association in St. Louis this weekend. Zullo is quoted as saying:

This public presentation will contain no new information concerning the case. However, the public presentation will be monumentally important. Because of the overall mainstream media news blackout there will be many there who will hear this important information and criminal evidence for the very first time. We are certain that once they hear the information from this 15-month criminal investigation, they will be deeply concerned.

Duh. However, there will be a close-door session where he promises full disclosure (not necessarily anything new), but you have to have a badge to get in. Once again, Zullo evades presenting his promised convincing proof (which anybody with a grain of sense knows cannot exist) to the public. Zullo’s private breakout session is at 11:00 in meeting room “Imagination D.”

So exactly what is the “Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association?” I’d never heard of them. I asked my research assistant Google to check up on them. Apparently, they are a group of county sheriffs who have pledged not to enforce (hypothetical future) Obama gun laws that they think are unconstitutional. One member, Sam Page is quoted as saying:

I have learned more on Constitutional law in one day here at this convention than I have in my 15 years as a Sheriff.

imageThat’s pretty scary when a sheriff knows that little about the Constitution. The group was founded in 2011 and its current leadership council is listed on their web site, all sheriffs plus one chief of police and one county commissioner. The Sheriff from the largest jurisdiction is Carolyn (Bunny) Welsh of Chester County, PA, just west of Philadelphia. The photo I took (right) shows part of her county.

CSPOA Founder and Executive Director (former) Sheriff Richard Mack described the emphasis of the meeting as: “state sovereignty and local autonomy,” reports the Rockland Times. Mack says: “The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our own federal government.” Mack appeared on the same white supremacist Political Cesspool radio show that introduced us to Tim Adams way back when.

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The third alternative

When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That seems to be the birther motto, but I think the familiar saying above implies trying for the same goal using different means, not repeating the same exact failure. Nevertheless, that’s what activist birther attorney Larry Klayman and an Ocala Florida Tea Party group who have “indicted” the President, Vice President, Attorney General and Chief Justice for a list of stuff the group, styling themselves a “grand jury,” came up with, reports Lest we forget, the Ocala Tea Party indicted Obama and Biden already, back in October of 2012. How did that work out?

I believe what [Klayman]’s doing is the right way to go about making the federal government responsive to the people,” Tea Party Solutions President Stephen Hunter said. “There’s two alternatives: 1776 all over again or complete capitulation to a communist, socialist society.”

There is a third alternative: voting in a new president and petitioning Congress to impeach officials who have committed high crimes. Representative democracy does not mean that everybody gets their way.

Chief Justice Roberts was “indicted” because he refused to force Justice Kagan to recuse herself, something that he is not empowered to do under the Constitution. Surely at least Larry Klayman knows this, and this these indictment are a sham in the worst possible way. As one federal judge said:

Any self-styled indictment or presentment issued by such a group has no force under the Constitution of laws of the United States.

Responding to his critics, Klayman said:

What do you expect from atheists and ultra-left wing socialists who hate conservatives and people of faith?

I would expect them to ignore the law, convene fake grand juries, and tell lies about their opponents. Thanks for asking.

People for the American Way research director Josh Glasstetter said of Klayman:

If they took the time to look, they’d find a long record of scandal, failed lawsuits and outlandish claims that never panned out.

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Birther’s gate

It was 16 years ago last month:

Heaven’s Gate was an American UFO religion doomsday cult based in San Diego, California, founded in the early 1970s and led by Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) and Bonnie Nettles (1927–1985). On March 26, 1997, police discovered the bodies of 39 members of the group who had committed mass suicide in order to reach what they believed was an alien space craft following the Comet Hale–Bopp, which was then at its brightest.

— Wikipedia

Something powerful must have been at work to convince 42 people to commit suicide (3 committed suicide shortly afterwards), the ultimate commitment to a belief system. They believed that they were actually aliens inhabiting human bodies, the so-called “walk-ins,” a popular idea in the New Age subculture of the time. An amateur astronomer photographed the comet showing an ambiguous fuzzy image discussed on the conspiracy-minded Art Bell radio program as possibly a UFO accompanying the comet. That was the sign to a group that was looking for a sign.

Things to note:

  • Their beliefs were in line with the contemporary New Age subculture
  • They had invested in their belief system by giving up their assets
  • The Internet was the primary way the group disseminated their beliefs

We know that the Heaven’s Gate beliefs are wrong because the world didn’t come to end in 1997, although there is still (as of 2007) a survivor of the group saying any day now.

Heaven’s Gate was possible because a subculture evolved in which their belief system was considered normal and reinforced. They took random events as evidence. They are a little like the birthers, who believe equally irrational nonsense, living in their online subculture of conspiracies and fuzzy photographs revealing to them what the know must be true. They are convinced that concrete, irrefutable proof exists that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, although Maricopa County Bill Montgomery says there’s not even enough to take to a grand jury.

Some worry about a lone wolf excited by birther myths doing some act of violence. I’m more worried about a birther cult springing up in a retirement community doing something to themselves in 2014 based on crazy beliefs about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act going into full effect or some other doomsday totalitarian government scenario.

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I saw this cool Cold Case Posse timeline over at RC’s blog (compilation by Verbalobe posted in parts at The Fogbow) and I wanted to link to it. That led to some re-thinking about the menu structure on the blog and as I was editing the menu, lots of stuff disappeared, and so right now there are about a dozen items at the end of the menu missing, most notably the Contact Form has been coming and going. The Media Archives are missing along with the Cartoons.

I hope I can get this fixed; it’s a known WordPress problem when one has as many menu entries as I have. If not, I’ll have to simplify the menus somehow.

What used to be the “Docket” is now called “Resources” and it’s exclusively external links now. My stuff has been moved under Features.


I think everything is back together. I had to remove the individual state ballot challenges from the menu and put them on a page. Also under Resources I have added the “Birther debunkers wiki” which is worthy of notice.

While I was hand-typing the entire menu structure back in, I was struck by the number of ballot challenges filed in 2012, a ridiculous number of redundant, abusive, frivolous, wasteful and ultimately pointless activities. It’s times like that this that I see birthers as petulant children.


Arpaio’s clock is ticking

This is an utterly silly article. The headline on the Taitz web site says:

8 days left for Sheriff Arpaio and Investigator Zullo to file a criminal complaint against Obama in regards to his 100% forged birth certificate. If a criminal complaint is not filed, donors will will start asking for a refund of all donations.

That was posted May 26, making the deadline June 3. I left a comment:


Seriously, refunds? Since when did a failed birther effort, or a broken birther promise, ever result in a refund? While I don’t expect to see such a thing, imagine the chagrin if there were a birther class action lawsuit against the Maricopa County Cold Case Posse, claiming fraud, and asking for a refund as damages, or an injunction to force Zullo and Arpaio to take their fake evidence to court. That would be great birther theater!


In case any birther still has hopes that Arpaio will file a criminal complaint, let me introduce a bit of reality from the Maricopa County Attorney, via Obama Release Your Records:

Dear Mr. Reilly, Thank you for taking the time to write and for the concerns you have expressed. There are a couple of points of analysis, though, in determining whether a criminal charge can be filed, regardless of the charge or who the suspect might be. The first is whether I have jurisdiction over the case. That requires that some conduct had to have occurred in Maricopa County for me to have jurisdiction. From the Sheriff’s Office investigation into suspect documents produced by the White House to date, that investigation has not revealed any evidence that conduct occurred in Maricopa County. I have discussed this with the Sheriff. As for any issues regarding qualifications or information provided regarding the Presidential Election itself, that is a statewide election. Under Arizona law, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General have jurisdiction over statewide elections. I do not.

I will share with you, as well, that the criminal statute you cited in your message requires additional evidence that the MCSO investigation to date has not uncovered. Specifically, we would need evidence to affirmatively prove that Mr. Obama is not a US citizen. To date, there has been evidence presented leading to speculation that documents have been forged and other documents do not exist. That alone, though, is not sufficient evidence to present to a grand jury and actually have a reasonable likelihood of conviction. I cannot speak for other prosecutors at the state level around the rest of the country or for prosecutors at the federal level but Arizona’s ethics rules do not permit prosecutors to file a charge they can only hope to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt at a later stage.

I stand ready and willing, however, to review any case submitted for charges and, fi (sic) the evidence is there, I will prosecute regardless of who the suspect/defendant may be.


Bill Montgomery
Maricopa County Attorney