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Reading on the lines

I’ve noticed a few stories appearing on various sites today that follow a theme, reading things that are not there. One of them involves Ted Cruz and a headline at Birther Report:

Shock Claim: Ted Cruz Said Obama Not Eligible To Be President; Citizen Parents?

In fact, Ted Cruz didn’t say anything. Some guy named J. B. Williams wrote an open letter to Cruz that said Cruz would be a real hero if he said:

I am honored that so many Americans want me to run for the office of President. However, my moral convictions require that I state clearly for the record that I am not eligible for the office of president or vice president according to Article II – Section I – Clause V of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that only a Natural Born Citizen of the United States, born of an American Citizen Father, seek or hold these offices. As I was born the son of a Cuban Citizen living in Canada at the time, I am not a Natural Born Citizen of the United States. On this Constitutional ground, I hereby state that Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a Kenyan Citizen Father, is also not a Natural Born Citizen of the United States…I hereby call for the immediate investigation and resignation of Barack Hussein Obama and all who were involved in the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the world, as well as all who have engaged in the greatest political cover-up in the history of politics.

The text preceding is widely repeated on various low-level web sites. This thing is easy to mistakenly attribute to Cruz, either because of misleading headlines such as the one at BR, or carelessly missing the context.

Williams goes on to make a stronger assertion, based on the memory of an unnamed source:

Now, a close personal friend, a Texas RNC precinct chair-person, supported Ted’s senate campaign in Texas. He shared with me a conversation he had with Ted during the early days of the campaign. In that conversation, he asked Ted – “What is your understanding of how one becomes a natural born citizen?” – to which Ted answered, “Two citizen parents and born on the soil…” – “That understanding is incorrect, and I don’t have time to explain the real definition right now.” Stated my friend…

“Based on your understanding, do you agree that Obama is not a natural born Citizen, and is therefore ineligible?” – to which Ted correctly answered, “YES!”

The second misreading story I’ve already written about in my article “What’s really going on in Taitz v. Colvin” where an order that Orly Taitz must submit an amended complaint within 21 days, gets turned into “the government has to supply some Social Security records within 21 days.” Somehow Taitz read into the order an assurance that the government would be ordered to surrender some documents that they say they don’t have. Others skipped from “assurance” to an “order to produce.”

A third example involves an old news affidavit by Al Hendershot. A selection was quoted to me in comments on some site where I was arguing about something. I went to Scribd for the (correctly quoted) original with context. Here’s the text:

Exhibit 2 attached herein is the (FOIA) Freedom of Information Act request which was completed for numident 042-68-4425 with Harry Bounel as the name associated with said numident 042-68-4425. Exhibit 2 clearly states that the aforementioned numident belongs to Harry Bounel and not Barack H. Obama as detailed in the response from the Social Security Administration dated November 2012.

What Hendershot appears to have done is to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Social Security Administration for records of Harry Bounel with the social-security number of President Obama. The response he got back was that the records could not be released due to the Privacy Act of 1974. That implies that what could not be released was a record of a living person. Harry Bounel born around 1890 is not alive, so the record found could not have been his. The alternative is that Obama’s SSN led to President Obama, who is alive. Hendershot is reading between the lines rather than on them. He’s reading into the SSA letter the search methodology they used.

What I learned in this last item is that Hendershot is saying that the unidentified database entry through which he originally linked the President’s social-security number to the name “Harrison J. Bounel” is no longer there. He says “scrubbed,” but I offer the alternative, “corrected.”

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28 Responses to Reading on the lines

  1. avatar
    Benji Franklin December 19, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    Hey, Doc! Your, as usual, excellent summary of yet another pathetic aspect of the Birthers’ non-stop assault on intellectual integrity, re-triggered a simple early insight which everybody who is appalled by Birther ravings should revisit frequently, because it transcends in a satisfying way, the endless need to keep telling them the details of all the many ways in which their allegations and charges are seen to be absurdly wrong.

    And that insight is to just imagine how pathetic you would feel if your cause was so hollow that you had nothing more effective to do than resort to their pathetic antics and misrepresentations of the truth. At least the most intelligent of their lot, can’t help but feel mortified at how poor their cases all are.

    That makes me smile.

  2. avatar
    Thinker December 20, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    There’s a part further down in the Birther Report article where the author quotes a friend who recounts a tale in which Rafael Jr. did allegedly say that Obama is not a natural born citizen:
    ——————————————————-
    “Now, a close personal friend worked on Ted’s senate campaign in Texas. He shared with me a conversation he had with Ted during the early days of the campaign. In that conversation, he asked Ted – “what is your understanding of the term Natural Born Citizen?” – to which Ted answered, “someone born on soil to Citizen parents…”

    “Ted no doubt learned this definition from Tea Party friends helping out with his campaign. Despite it not being exactly correct, it was close enough for my friends to ask the second question…”

    “Is Barack Obama a Natural Born Citizen of the United States? – to which Ted correctly answered, “NO!”

    “Then the most important question was asked… “If we get you elected to the Senate, will you do something about our illegal occupant of the White House?” – to which Ted answered…. “I think repealing ObamaCare is more important…” The witness is willing to go on record if need be.”
    ——————————————————-
    I don’t buy for a second that this happened. If Cruz knew the birther definition of natural born citizen at the time this conversation supposedly happened, he had certainly only recently learned it. He would have not only known that it’s wrong, he also would have known that he might be vulnerable on this issue in terms of pandering to right-wing lunatics who make up his base.

  3. avatar
    Slartibartfast December 20, 2013 at 3:02 am #

    I also think that it has completely escaped the birthers that if a member of Congress doesn’t know something about the law that they would turn to the Congressional Research Service to explain it for them. Do they think that Congressmen would doubt their own researcher, Jack Maskell?

    Thinker:
    There’s a part further down in the Birther Report article where the author quotes a friend who recounts a tale in which Rafael Jr. did allegedly say that Obama is not a natural born citizen:
    ——————————————————-
    “Now, a close personal friend worked on Ted’s senate campaign in Texas. He shared with me a conversation he had with Ted during the early days of the campaign. In that conversation, he asked Ted – “what is your understanding of the term Natural Born Citizen?” – to which Ted answered, “someone born on soil to Citizen parents…”

    “Ted no doubt learned this definition from Tea Party friends helping out with his campaign. Despite it not being exactly correct, it was close enough for my friends to ask the second question…”

    “Is Barack Obama a Natural Born Citizen of the United States? – to which Ted correctly answered, “NO!”

    “Then the most important question was asked… “If we get you elected to the Senate, will you do something about our illegal occupant of the White House?” – to which Ted answered…. “I think repealing ObamaCare is more important…” The witness is willing to go on record if need be.”
    ——————————————————-
    I don’t buy for a second that this happened. If Cruz knew the birther definition of natural born citizen at the time this conversation supposedly happened, he had certainly only recently learned it. He would have not only known that it’s wrong, he also would have known that he might be vulnerable on this issue in terms of pandering to right-wing lunatics who make up his base.

  4. avatar
    The Magic M December 20, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    Thinker: I don’t buy for a second that this happened.

    Precisely. The story tries to reinforce the meme of “Congress knows but won’t act”. And they want us to believe Ted Cruz believes that the President is ineligible, yet instead of using this golden opportunity to shut down all his future plans, he thinks repealing a single law is more important than removing a “usurper”.

    This is the same level as the alleged Obama/Keyes exchange (alternatively “in a Senate discussion” or “behind the stage”) where Obama allegedly admitted to not being eligible.

    But I think we’re seeing a resurrection of many “I once heard/read/saw… but don’t have proof” memes about things that never happened. The other day I read a birther comment where the person claimed he saw a picture of Stanley Ann Dunham in June 1961 where she wasn’t looking pregnant at all (despite being in her 8th/9th month). Of course the photo has been “scrubbed” since and of course the birther never bothered to store it for later…

    It ties in with all the “I saw a video where Obama said he was born in Kenya” (apart from the spoof that’s still online) or “I saw Michelle’s ‘whitey’ tape” or “I learned in civics class you need two citizen parents” talk that never had any facts to corroborate.

  5. avatar
    Curious George December 20, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    IMO, BR is the most pathetic excuse for a “news” source on the web.

  6. avatar
    Lupin December 20, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    The interesting thing, here, is that it seems that, despite the fact that Cruz is “one of them”, the loonies are sticking to their opposition to him on faux-NBC grounds. More GOP Not-So-Secret-Wars looming?

  7. avatar
    The Magic M December 20, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    Lupin: despite the fact that Cruz is “one of them”, the loonies are sticking to their opposition to him on faux-NBC grounds

    Some of them still dream that

    (a) Cruz will “join them” and publically state that he isn’t eligible and neither is Obama, or

    (b) Democrats will go birther on Cruz when he runs, thereby retroactively giving legitimacy to the Obama birther movement.

    Of course neither is realistic, but when has that ever stopped them?

    Lupin: More GOP Not-So-Secret-Wars looming?

    I somehow missed the whole budget deal issue until I heard about it on German TV; even our newspeople said this may mean the influence of the Tea Party is gone. Should be a real slashfest in the primaries next year. The TP had their chance and blew it, so they’re gonna fight tooth and nail against becoming insignificant. And that means some (many?) will believe their only chance is cranking up the crazy, including more birtherism.

  8. avatar
    JPotter December 20, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    The Magic M: The TP had their chance and blew it, so they’re gonna fight tooth and nail against becoming insignificant. And that means some (many?) will believe their only chance is cranking up the crazy, including more birtherism.

    Yep and amen. Tea Pottiers to go the way of Anti-Masons and Bull Meese … ? I Know Nothing ;)

  9. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy December 20, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    And the Dixiecrats. Don’t forget the Dixiecrats. Oh, I see your point.

    JPotter: Yep and amen. Tea Pottiers to go the way of Anti-Masons and Bull Meese … ? I Know Nothing

  10. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG December 20, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    So, its another case of a birther adding 2 + 2 and coming up with “Poughkeepsie”.

  11. avatar
    Joe Acerbic December 20, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    May I request a little correction: in case of birfoons, it’s always “carefully missing the context”.

  12. avatar
    AGROD December 20, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Cruz’s ego is so large he would never admit he cant run for president in fact it is very obvious he will.

  13. avatar
    JPotter December 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    And the Dixiecrats. Don’t forget the Dixiecrats.Oh, I see your point.

    Ach! It was early. The Dixiecrats, a direct ancestor of the Tea Pottiers, would have been a much better pick than the Bull Moose Party in my comment …. but it was early. I was trying to make a quick connection of popular political [manias-masquerading-as-] parties …. the Bull Moose was built on a personality, like the Paulites and the Perovians, not a popular derangement.

  14. avatar
    donna December 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    AGROD: Cruz’s ego is so large he would never admit he cant run for president in fact it is very obvious he will.

    he was raised that way – his dominionist father said he was “anointed”

    as an accomplished harvard law grad, i find it inconceivable that he doesn’t know whether he is or isn’t qualified

    in fact, he probably has pleadings already drafted saying he IS a NBC and has rehearsed his oral arguments ………. he’s an actor ……… a master debater

    i keep thinking of this go-around: As they were entering their second year in law school, Melissa Hart agreed to give Cruz a ride from New York, where Cruz was at the end of the summer, back to Cambridge. She didn’t know him well, but he sought her out after she had been given a prestigious award for first-year students.

    “We hadn’t left Manhattan before he asked my IQ,” Hart said. “When I told him I didn’t know, he asked, ‘Well, what’s your SAT score? That’s closely coordinated with your IQ.’ ”

    “It went from, ‘Nice guy,’ ” she said, “to ‘uh-oh.’ ”

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2013/11/10/ted-cruz-was-polarizing-figure-harvard-law-foreshadowing-his-partisan-profile-senate/gEUPs0iVgOyoidafkNe94H/story.html

  15. avatar
    ZixiOfIx December 22, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    A dreamer by the name of J. B. Williams wrote:

    I am honored that so many Americans want me to run for the office of President. However, my moral convictions require that I state clearly for the record that I am not eligible for the office of president or vice president according to Article II – Section I

    That’s nice and all, but Ted Cruz has already said that he is in fact eligible for the presidency.

    Sen. Ted Cruz rejected questions Sunday over his eligibility to be president, saying that although he was born in Canada “the facts are clear” that he’s a U.S. citizen. “My mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She’s a U.S. citizen, so I’m a U.S. citizen by birth,” Cruz told ABC. “I’m not going to engage in a legal debate.”

    Canadian-born Ted Cruz says “facts are clear” he’s eligible to be president^, Dallas Morning News

  16. avatar
    Rickey December 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Andrew Vrba, PmG:
    So, its another case of a birther adding 2 + 2 and coming up with “Poughkeepsie”.

    I doubt that brother John can spell “Poughkeepsie,” much less add up to it.

  17. avatar
    Keith December 22, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    donna: in fact, he probably has pleadings already drafted saying he IS a NBC and has rehearsed his oral arguments ………. he’s an actor ……… a master debater

    He’s probably pretty good at putting a worm on a hook too.

  18. avatar
    The Magic M December 23, 2013 at 4:18 am #

    Rickey: I doubt that brother John can spell “Poughkeepsie,” much less add up to it.

    I can spell it but probably not pronounce it (is it “pew-” or “pow-” or “puff-” or “puh-” or “poe-“?).

  19. avatar
    RanTalbott December 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Back in my mainframe days, our IBM reps usually pronounced it either “poh-kip-see” or “p’kipsee” (not “puh”; the “u” was shortened to near-nonexistence), mostly depending on how Yankee/Suthrun/urban/rural their accents were.

  20. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy December 23, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    I visited the IBM plant in Rochester. Is that pronounced “Rooster?” 😜

    RanTalbott:
    Back in my mainframe days, our IBM reps usually pronounced it either “poh-kip-see” or “p’kipsee” (not “puh”; the “u” was shortened to near-nonexistence), mostly depending on how Yankee/Suthrun/urban/rural their accents were.

  21. avatar
    RanTalbott December 23, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Is that pronounced “Rooster?”

    I have no idea. We had a brief visit from an IBM 5110 when they first came out, because the University was a leading APL user, and they wanted feedback from some of our experts. Afaik, that was the only IBM Rochester product in the shop during the 7 years I was there (The Rochester, NY business services division came along years after I had left IT, and moved into doing embedded micros).

    I have a vague, and possibly incorrect, recollection of one of our reps mentioning “Rah-ches-ter” once (possibly during the 5110 evaluation), but that memory is so weak even Zullo wouldn’t accept it as “proof”.

  22. avatar
    Keith December 24, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    RanTalbott: I have no idea. We had a brief visit from an IBM 5110 when they first came out, because the University was a leading APL user, and they wanted feedback from some of our experts. Afaik, that was the only IBM Rochester product in the shop during the 7 years I was there (The Rochester, NY business services division came along years after I had left IT, and moved into doing embedded micros).

    I have a vague, and possibly incorrect, recollection of one of our reps mentioning “Rah-ches-ter” once (possibly during the 5110 evaluation), but that memory is so weak even Zullo wouldn’t accept it as “proof”.

    In the last 6 months of my job with IBM before I retired, I was in almost daily phone calls with Lexington, and I used to have a lot of communication with Hursley Park. I still have friends working at Hursley.

    But APL? Man that is one damn obscure language. Bak in my University days we were looking for a new computer to support this new fangled ‘interactive’ kind of computing. The Burroughs sales rep thought the spec was insane because it demanded that the new machine did not have a card reader, but they did try to show us how neat APL was (the Uni eventually got a DEC System 10).

    I spent the next 18 months playing around writing an APL interpreter for the CDC6400. I sort of had some bits working, but man that is one weird language.

  23. avatar
    Sef December 24, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    donna: Melissa Hart

    As in ‘Sabrina, The Teen-Aged Witch”?

  24. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy December 25, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    When I was at Clemson U in the early 70’s some of the computer center folks were into APL. I never used it myself. There systems programmers were into PL/1 around that time.

    Keith: But APL? Man that is one damn obscure language

  25. avatar
    RanTalbott December 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Keith: But APL? Man that is one damn obscure language

    It was a creature of its time, when computers were a lot less powerful*, and people still had to accommodate their limited capabilities. But it repaid that accommodation handsomely, putting a lot of computing capability in the hands of people who were not primarily programmers, and didn’t want to be. I have better tools for the things I do now, but, if I were doing jobs like mathematical modeling, I might still be using it. I still have a somewhat-dusty copy of Gilman and Rose on my bookshelf, though I stopped kidding myself by installing GNU APL as part of my Linux upgrades several years ago.

    And it sure beats the (bleep) out of BASIC for anything involving a lot of math (especially vector or matrix math).

    * The Samsung Captivate hanging on my belt, which is almost “primitive” by this year’s standards, has more CPU power, more RAM, and possibly more online storage (it definitely would, if I felt like sticking a larger microSD card in it) than all 4 mainframes (plus several minis) we ran to support a university with 50,000 students and several thousand staff, combined.

  26. avatar
    justlw December 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    RanTalbott: I still have a somewhat-dusty copy of Gilman and Rose on my bookshelf

    Hey, me too! I keep a copy in my office, just to see if anyone ever notices. No one ever has. Sad, really.

    I learned APL in college, and thought it was completely awesome, for its power, brevity, and absolute impenetrability. I can’t imagine how one person could ever reliably debug someone else’s APL program.

    I also liked that it required its own special character set, because that’s totally practical. I think we had a grand total of three terminals on campus that could be used for it.

  27. avatar
    Keith December 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    RanTalbott: I still have a somewhat-dusty copy of Gilman and Rose on my bookshelf,

    I still have Katzan’s “APL User’s Guide” (1971) on mine.

  28. avatar
    RanTalbott December 26, 2013 at 1:03 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: There systems programmers were into PL/1 around that time.

    Well, it’s a case of “Horses for courses”: APL is very good for what it’s intended for, but quite useless for most of what sysprogs used PL/I for in those days. But, if they were any good, it’s likely that they also used APL , SNOBOL, and other languages as needs arose. I certainly did.