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Archive | August, 2013

Who the hell is Ted Nugent, and why should I care that he’s a birther?

I can barely understand why I’m covering this story, much less the Huffington Post. Thanks to the Wikipedia, I now know that there is a 65-year-old rock musician named Ted Nugent who had hits like “Wango Tango” in the 1970’s.

Huffpo reported on one of his rants that included praise for Sheriff Arpaio and the phrase “phony birth certificate.” But why should I care about just another RWNJ? Maybe he and Reed Hayes can go hunting or something—BYOB.

Last month Nugent expressed an interest in running for President of the United States as a Republican in 2016. Forget that.

How many mistakes can you put in one article?

Birthers to the rescue! I had nothing to write about today, but lo and behold something popped up at the Lysander Spooner Law School blog (not a real law school), an article  about me, taking me to task for something I didn’t write. The Spooner article is essentially an ad hominem argument that goes something like “Mike Zullo is right and I am wrong about Obama’s documents because Zullo is virtuous and I am not.”

Anyhow, let’s count the mistakes1 in the article:

  1. The article appears to be in response to the article published here titled, “Is Mike Zullo running a scam on the birthers?” The article suggests: “Kevin Davidson has gone to the internet to suggest that Mike Zullo is running a scam on ‘birthers.’” The problem is that the article mentioned is not mine. It was written by Jim. I will note that while the Spooner article mentions me by name 8 times, it fails to mention its own author once, appearing only under the title “administrator.” The blog belongs to Ken Olsen2, a birther and legal crackpot.  I actually am certain that Zullo is running a scam; I just don’t know what kind of a scam it is—whether it is a financial scam or a information scam.
  2. Olsen describes me as a “retired civil servant.” That’s not really accurate. I did work for Greenville County, South Carolina, for 6 years right after I got out of college, but I was in private industry for 30 years after that until I retired.
  3. Olsen says: “Mike Zullo has politely requested unrestricted access to the source documents that can demonstrate whether the Cold Case Posse’s conclusion that the LFBC PDF is a fake is right or wrong.” Such a request is not in the public record; indeed Zullo in answer to a question stated specifically that he had not contacted the Hawaii Department of Health, and I am not aware of him ever saying that he had contacted the White House either. So exactly when and to whom did Zullo make this polite request? Perhaps Zullo’s request was rhetorical. [Update: There is an account of a visit by Zullo to Hawaii, where he visited the Department of Health and asked to look at the records, and was told that the law didn’t permit it.]
  4. Olsen says, “Zullo has successfully found an independent, highly-qualified expert who substantiates the conclusions of the Cold Case Posse.” The report to which Olsen alludes has not been published and so nothing can be said about whether the writer is an expert in the content of the report.
  5. Olsen says, “Kevin Davidson claims to be interested in ‘obama’ conspiracies, yet  ignores many of the most compelling theories regarding ‘obama,”…. That is somewhat true. Some of the sleaziest smears are mainly avoided on this web site. This is the Larry Sinclair/Jack Cashill material. However, there is nothing “compelling” about them and there’s nothing in the way of evidence to examine or debunk. Olsen is banned here for trying to hijack threads by posting some of this stuff. It isn’t true, however, that I have completely ignored this topic, see for example: articles tagged Larry Sinclair and articles tagged Jack Cashill.
  6. Olsen says: “Mike Zullo is quiet and persistent, and presents the problematic facts as they have been found.” Holding press conferences, publishing videos and making regular appearances on radio is not being “quiet.” Zullo is a major publicity hound. In fact Zullo has consistently refused to discuss the problematic facts in his own claims, like the fake vital records manual, and others. He won’t debate and he blew off a subpoena to appear in court.
  7. Olsen says: “Kevin Davidson hides from the facts, and claims to be scientific as he advocates disregarding the simple scientific approach of examining the best evidence.” How am I “disregarding examining the best evidence?” Birthers in general seem to believe that anti-birthers’ primary motivation is to help Obama keep his records sealed, and to oppose their release. This isn’t true. I work with the evidence I have available and I try to correct the record about why other evidence is not available. I don’t advocate for or against the President releasing material the birthers would like to see. I note that the literature on conspiracy theories says that evidence rarely settles anything.
  8. Olsen says: “Mike Zullo is modest, and will admit he is wrong if the evidence proves it.” That statement is painfully ironic. Name one instance when Zullo ever admitted he was wrong. If he’s never admitted he is wrong, then how does Olsen know he would. In fact Zullo has not only been proven wrong, but a liar. See details here: “Indicting Sheriff Joe and the Cold Case Posse,” “Cold Case Posse video fraud: it gets worse” and “Cold Case Posse: backed into a corner.”
  9. Olsen concludes: “Mike Zullo is a good faith seeker of the Truth; Kevin Davidson is a self-regarding, pseudo-scientific hypocrite.” I’ll let history be the judge of that.

Mr. Olsen is not invited to defend his article here.

1Olsen does get a couple of things right. I do like to hear myself talk, and I do have a problem reconciling my sometimes-derisive language and my religious convictions, but even Jesus got angry at the hucksters of his time. I should hasten to add that by birther standards, Olsen’s article does not display a remarkable number of mistakes.

2Olsen is somewhat of a pest leaving comments and emails calling me a coward for not getting into “his issues” and not letting him hijack the threads here and degrade the level of discourse to character assassination and smear. He also tries to get by the ban on this blog using fake names. His approach, as a fan of Jack Cashill, is really not much conspiracy theory, but an attempt to twist facts to make them look bad. Reading such material and having to respond to it is a dirty and smelly job, and I have largely ignored Olsen, and in fact I wouldn’t have known about the article here if someone hadn’t tipped me. But to my surprise, I find that Olsen seems rather fixated on me, publishing articles (none of which I have or will read) such as:

As a smear artist, Ken Olsen is really not very good.

The Hayes dilemma

Photo of Hayes examining ransom note in JohBenet Ramsey murder caseI wonder if Reed Hayes, credentialed handwriting expert, has ever been in this situation before. He’s produced a report for Mike Zullo1 that expresses an opinion on the authenticity of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate. I would think that in just about every other job Hayes has taken that his reports are either made public (as in testimony in court) or they are kept private, being only of interest to the parties involved in the controversy over a document. Has he ever before provided a report whose contents are characterized widely in public, but whose client tells him not to talk about it?

It did happen before: a respected document examiner in 2011 did a report on that same long-form birth certificate, its contents were characterized in public, and the folks doing the characterization (WorldNetDaily) refused to publish the actual report. In that case the examiner, Ivan Zatkovich, felt it necessary to publish the report himself because it was being mischaracterized and his conclusions distorted. You can read my 2011 article on this affair, “WND document expert says: not quite accurate.”

Conspiracy theorists try to prove things by asking open-ended questions and expect the reader come to a conclusion. What follows is a number of questions I have, but I do not expect the reader to come to a conclusion; in fact, I intend exactly the opposite. By posing these questions, I hope that the reader will recognize the difficulty of arriving at a conclusion.

  1. What does the Hayes Report say?
  2. Reed Hayes is certified as a forensic document examiner by the National Association of Document Examiners. Which if any of the forensic disciplines that fall under that certification was used by Hayes in arriving at his conclusions.2
  3. It is well-documented that the forensic disciplines involving pattern matching (handwriting, fingerprints, bite marks, etc.) are subject to bias when the expert is supplied additional information in advance about the case. What did Zullo say to Hayes in the way of additional information about the case before Hayes did an analysis? Did Zullo simply give Hayes copies of his discredited reports from his birther volunteers, and ask him to buy in to them, or did Hayes start with a fresh slate and do an independent analysis? In any case, it is unlikely that Hayes was unaware of the claims of the birthers. What was Hayes’ opinion of birthers before Zullo showed up?
  4. Are there available any other reports by Hayes in other cases? Has he ever testified in federal court, and if so, what case?
  5. It is generally acknowledged among handwriting experts, that reliable conclusions require examination of original documents not photocopies. How did Hayes get around this problem?
  6. It is reported by Zullo that Hayes is a registered Democrat. Apart from the fact that voters don’t register by party in Hawaii, did Hayes vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama? Conspiracy theorist and birther Phil Berg was a Democrat, but not an Obama supporter.
  7. What is meant by the statement reportedly by Hayes that the birth certificate is a 100% forgery? Hayes himself has said that handwriting analysis is only 80-90% accurate. Where does the 100% come from, and how certain does Hayes actually say that he is of his conclusions in his report. Finally, it would be interesting to know why Hayes took the case when reportedly over 200 of his colleagues turned it down.

If what Zullo says is true, and he has fairly characterized the Hayes Report, we may conclude that Reed Hayes has indeed gone over Niagara Falls in a leaky barrel, but there are just too many unanswered questions to jump to any conclusions just yet.

I realize that Reed Hayes has been asked by his client not to discuss the report, but I would welcome any comments from him on the generalities raised here. He can reply in comments or on the site’s contact form.

1I say “for Mike Zullo” as a matter of convenience. The best information I have is an email reproduced at The Fogbow reportedly from Hayes stating:

I did in fact perform work for Mr. Zullo with respect to the Obama Certificate of Live Birth. However, the results are strictly confidential, to be released only by Mr. Zullo and/or the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Posse, the legal owners of my report. Please contact Mr. Zullo directly for answers to your questions.

2According to Zullo, the Hayes Report includes these words:

based on my observations and findings, it is clear that Certificate of Live Birth I examined is not a scan of an original paper birth certificate, but a digitally manufactured documented  created by utilizing material from various sources.

That conclusion does not to seem to come from any of the forensic disciplines certified by the NADE. We have one independent source for what Hayes concluded from RealityCheck who reports an email he received from Hayes saying:

Thanks for inquiring about the Obama birth certificate. Yes, I did an examination and have concluded the birth certificate released by the White House is indeed fabricated.