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Birth certificate forensics and general points about birth certificates

Mike Zullo: Birther misleader

I want to focus on two statements, one made by Mike Zullo before the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer’s convention June 1, 2013, and one by Mark Gillar in an interview with Mike Volin the following December. I make the comparison to show that birthers who hear what Mike Zullo says can be misled. Here’s Zullo’s statement:

In 1961, the term used to describe black people on a birth certificate was “negro.”  In order to document this we obtained the 1960 vital statistics instruction manual containing the instructions for coding race on a birth certificate that where followed by every health department in the United States, including the Hawaiian Health Department. As you can see, if the parents race was reported as “colored,” “black,” “brown,” or “Afro-American” the Department of Health Services was required to consider the parents a “negro.” For those of you who may be wondering why the 1960 manual was consulted instead of the 1961 manual, it’s because the 1961 manual wasn’t published until 10 days after Barack Obama’s birth…

Anyone who is familiar with birthers knows that it is widely held among them that the Father’s Race (African) on the Obama certificate is not an allowable entry, and therefore the only reasonable purpose for Zullo’s statement would be to confirm that view. Upon careful examination, Zullo doesn’t say that the race reported by the parent is restricted or changed, but only considered “negro” (in context “considered” refers to the application of a set of rules for determining the race of the child). Zullo also does not say who does the considering—it is key operators at the National Center for Health Statistics who enter data from microfilm records from the states). Zullo also does not say that the 1960 manual was used to code Obama’s data, only notes its publication date. Since 1961 data was keyed in 1962, the August 1961 manual is the applicable document for all 1961 data. A careless listener might also think that the Zullo statement was applicable to the Obama certificate, even though the race “African” wasn’t a listed category. Finally Zullo may leave the impression that what he cited from the 1960 manual was not in the 1961 manual, but it is.

Now what happens when a birther hears the Zullo statement? Here is Mark Gillar’s impression:

It’s about law. In 1961 when Obama was born, the 1961 vital statistics coding manual had not come out. They were still using, even in August, they were still using the 1960 vital statistics manual, and what that manual clear states is that if someone represents themself as “African American,” which was abbreviated A. A., if they represented themself as “black,” if they represented themself as “colored,” the clerk at the department of health was still supposed to list them as a negro. And that’s what the 1960 book has. I can give that to you guys. I actually got them to turn that over to me.

Zullo’s “Department of Health Services,” an ambiguous term probably indicating the Department of Health and Human Services, the federal successor agency to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare that issued the 1960 manual becomes in Gillar’s mind “Department of Health,” which would be appropriate for the Hawaii Department of Health or other local health department. In Gillar’s mind, “considered as” (for statistical purposes) became “list them as.” The fact that Gillar makes the statement at all suggests that he also failed to notice that “African” wasn’t on the list in the instructions.

In the infamous tableau of false and misleading statements that was the second Cold Case Posse press conference, perhaps the highlight was the account of Jerome Corsi’s interview with Verna K. Lee, a registrar at the Hawaii Department of Health in 1961, the person who signed Obama’s birth certificate. Zullo attributed very little to Lee beyond the assertion that entries on Hawaiian birth certificates were double checked,  yet I have read birthers say that basically everything in that press conference related to race coding came from Lee, including the fake 1961 race code chart.

Here is what Zullo actually said:

These codings we learned through our investigation, and then locating the mysterious U.K. Lee, which has plagued this thing for four years, where people were wondering who this is, we located Verna Lee. Verna Lee is 95 years old, amazingly sharp. We spoke with her and she confirms to us what I’m going to share with you now.

You can’t have a document coded like other documents double-checked and have a code that says 9, “not stated” and have a piece of information sitting in the box. That just can’t happen. Verna Lee confirmed that for us.

See how easily one could fall into the false impression that Zullo was saying that Lee had confirmed a specific 1961 code and that she had confirmed everything that followed. Does “what I’m going to share with you now” refer to the next paragraph or more? It’s ambiguous. In fact birther listeners widely believe that it was Zullo who interviewed Lee over the phone rather than Jerome Corsi; that is after all what one expects the lead investigator to do.

The human mind expects that points in an argument are relevant and logically consistent, and it will fill in some obvious gaps. I do this myself. In the case of Mike Zullo, filling in those obvious omissions is a mistake because sometimes the obvious relevance and logical connection one would fill in isn’t true.

See also:


Note: I have found it curious that neither Zullo nor Gillar has been willing to provide the title of this 1960 manual. I think I know why.

141

Everything is about the birth certificate

or so it would seem if you read Birther Report or WorldNetDaily.

NBC News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended for 6 months for misrepresenting his exploits in Iraq and when reporting on hurricane Katrina. There is speculation as to whether he will return to the NBC Nightly News anchor slot after his suspension or whether someone will take over that job permanently. Several names are mentioned for a replacement:

  • Lester Holt
  • Savannah Guthrie
  • Matt Lauer
  • Jake Tapper
  • Katie Couric
  • Jon Stewart :shock:

WorldNetDaily focused on the number 2 slot, Savannah Guthrie, who was NBC White House Correspondent on that fateful day, April 27, 2011, when the White House released President Obama’s long form birth certificate in an early morning press briefing, followed later in the day by a nationally-televised address by the President to say that “we don’t have time for this silliness.” Guthrie appeared on the NBC Nightly News that evening and reported that she had personally handled the birth certificate and “felt the raised seal” that is somewhat difficult to see in the photo she took with her phone and tweeted.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Outside the small world of birther activists and their detractors, Guthrie’s role in the birth certificate story is insignificant, but for those who focus on these issues, Guthrie stands as a testimony to the fact that a significant part of birther conspiracy theories is a lie.

Now WorldNetDaily jumps in with a remarkable article titled, “Obama’s birth certificate to sink Brian Williams’ ‘replacement’?” The article had what appears to be one significant lie attributed to Mike Zullo:

[Zullo] pointed out that, according to former White House attorney Bob Bauer – a Perkins Coie attorney before coming to the White House – Obama never even handled the document.

What Pfeiffer [not Bauer] said was that Obama wouldn’t be holding the certificate during the press conference.

The article itself says not a word to suggest that Guthrie’s birth certificate story will have any effect whatsoever in NBC’s selection of a replacement for Williams, but only talks about Guthrie’s reporting on the certificate, and some remarks from Mike Zullo stating that there is “no evidence of a raised seal,” despite everybody else being able to barely see it on the Guthrie photo. The suggestion, as we so often see at WND, is left to the headline and to the readers’ imagination.

Did Arpaio authorize the Sheriff’s Kit version 1.8.4?

Mike Volin’s “Sheriff’s Kit” DVD has reached version 1.8.4 according to his web site, “Where’s Obama’s Birth Certificate?

My first question whether or not Sheriff Arpaio has authorized his name to go on this DVD. If I were sending out something with someone’s name on it, I would include a prominent statement from the person endorsing the material. If there is an endorsement, it’s not prominent and it’s not in the Cover Letter listed in the contents following:

Sheriff’s Kit
MCSO Cold Case Posse

Documents

  • Mike Zullo’s Affidavit to the Alabama Supreme Court
  • Obama’s Long-Form-Birth-Certificate as found on the White House Website
  • WhiteHouse.gov – Obama’s Long-Form-Birth-Certificate
  • Sheriff Joe Releases Obama Findings March 1, 2012
  • Sheriff Joe Releases Obama Findings July 17, 2012
  • Media Supplemental Report
  • Mara Zebest Report on Barack Obama’s: Long Form Birth Certificate
  • Director Lawrence Romo – Selective Service System
  • Sheriff’s Kit Cover Letter

Video’s

  • What Should Obama’s Birth Certificate Have Looked Like After Being Scanned Into a Computer
  • Obama’s Long-Form Birth Certificate
  • Optimized – A Fancy Way of Saying a File Was Drastically Reduced in Size
  • Conclusion
  • Obama’s Selective Service Registration Card
  • Sheriff Joe Obama ID Fraud Presentation – June 01, 2013
  • Full Press Conference Sheriff Joe Arpaio Barack Obama Birth Certificate July 17, 2012
  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio: New Criminal Evidence About To Be Released

Images

  • Obama’s Book Biography
  • Five Examples of a PIKA Stamp from 1980
  • Obama’s Selective Service System Card
  • Obama’s and another Selective Service System Card

I removed all the hyperlinks, since you don’t have the DVD on your computer. On the surface, it looks like the same old stuff. The PDF files all have 2012 dates on them except the Zullo affidavit that is from 2013. The videos all have modification dates in 2013 except one from March of 2014.

A couple updates:

First, some may have noticed that my site looked a lot like Birther Report for a while. I don’t normally link to images off site, and didn’t intentionally do it this time, but the CD image in the article came from Volin’s site. When the birthers figured that out, they replaced the CD cover image with the big graphic that looked like Birther Report. Well I got punked and that’s good fun. The birthers deserve to have a laugh over that.

The other thing is more substantive and that is some evidence that Sheriff Joe really did endorse the Sheriff’s Kit, even to having his picture taken with one.

SheriffsKit

So the answer to the article’s titular question seems to be some kind of a “yes.” It is still very odd that the kit lacks any kind of cover letter from Arpaio.

Old News! Conservative Fact Check retracts birther claim

In a stunning reversal article in December of 2012, Conservative Fact Check, a web site on my Ugly list, said:

Over the holiday break we’ve been taking another look at all the evidence, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the claims that Obama’s birth certificate are just that — claims.

To be clear: it might be fake. And, it might be the case that scientists have genetically engineered a cat that looks, acts, and talks like a dog. Both are possible, but unlikely. If it looks, acts, and barks like a dog, it’s usually a dog.

Why the reversal? Their first reason should be obvious to anyone:

The experts… aren’t.

As for Joe Arpaio and Mike Zullo:

So perhaps TechDude is just a bad apple, right? Perhaps he meant well, and was simply operating under the misguided notion that it was acceptable to fudge here, exaggerate there in pursuit of what he saw as the greater good (as Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s posse was caught doing). There must be efforts by other experts that support the forgery theory, right?

Well… no.

The treason of images

The Treason of Images” is one of the translations of the title of a painting by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. For some reason that image came to me during lunch today and I thought of its application to the blog. [If the reader is not familiar with the work, now might be a good time to follow the preceding link to the Wikipedia article to see it.] I might adapt Magritte:

The famous birth certificate. How people reproached me for it! And you, could have you gotten a passport with my birth certificate? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a birth certificate,” I’d have been lying!

Not a birth certificate

Birthers seem confused about the difference between an object and a representation of it, a photo of it in the case of Obama’s birth certificate. No one in real life confuses the two. You cannot get wet looking at a photo of Niagara falls, but no one complains about this. They don’t curse the image for its dryness. Still birthers get all upset that Obama put a photo of his birth certificate on the White House web site, as if one could put a piece real of paper on the web somehow. (Obama’s attorney did show the actual certified copy—what one calls a birth certificate—to the press who handled it and photographed it. One could get a passport with something like that.)

Word salad

So this person under the name “Calista Dvorak” showed up on YouTube under a 2012 Mark Gillar video, the one with the false statements about race codes on Obama’s birth certificate.

She said she was an expert in digital imaging and that Obama’s birth certificate was a digital forgery. When I asked the standard questions about her qualifications:

I would just ask you simply have you ever even taken a course in electronic forensic document examination? Have you ever taught such a course? Have you ever been employed as a forensic document examiner? Have you been certified in this field by any accredited forensic accreditation organization? Have you ever been qualified by any court as an expert witness in forensic electronic document examination? Have you applied any scientifically recognized methodology in determining that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery? If you answered yes to ANY of those questions, you would be ahead of every so-called birther expert to appear.

Her response to me (which totally dodged the questions) is one of the most painfully turgid things I have ever read (ellipses in the original):

The essential demand precludes your ancillary details.  A digitally fabricated cartoon, regardless of technical method of production, of an alleged vital record…presented through an undisclosed, undocumented chain of custody…presented through a restricted non-interactive media source controlled only by the perpetrators…lauded by ideologically corrupt accomplices in media, is not an acceptable method for providing verification of, not only the identity of the person, but the actual existence of the original paper document it purports to represent.

In this case, the vital information of an ideologically radical public figure seeking the power of public office has been proffered to that public in the form of cartoon.  Denial of these factual premises is symptomatic of a serious psychopathology.

While your need to cull a pedantic argument without addressing this crux is fascinating, I’m certain you don’t require affirmation to push extraneous explanations in defense of Obama’s lies.   Most Obots don’t.  In fact, as this lie continues to erode, along with the credibility and moral character of this illegitimate administration and the obotic horde, I truly hope that yours is one of the remaining voices among the desolate petitioners arguing in favor of immaterial trinkets like “Xerox Workcentres” and “MRC compression”.

I’ll enjoy witnessing the futility of your sophisticated gewgaw against the righteousness of subsequent wrath.  For example, your promotion of document examination, electronic or otherwise, is futile because there is no document to examine in concert with a documented chain of custody in this case.

Dr. Queiroz?  While I honor the expertise of colleagues, Dr. Queiroz is an equally respected academic who, as a fan of the Tales of Count Lucanor, admits that he has little experience or understanding of vital records management, counterintelligence or, most importantly in this matter, criminology.  Coincidentally, I am personally familiar with Dr. Q’s work through mutual membership with various committees and am pleased to say that we not only share academic and professional qualifications but also the privilege as contributors to a handful of industry standards overlapping our respective fields.  However, we are merely two of many qualified thousands.

However, unfortunately, as proficient as he may be with a scanner, confirmation of arcane theories, provided by foreign galleries, outside appropriate adjudication in this matter (YouTube comments do not qualify) remain subordinate to the need to confront its domestic criminal genesis.   For, I am confident, if prosecution were undertaken and the case brought to the appropriate venue, there are far more qualified experts able to provide essential rationale to the acts, motives and methods for this forgery and deception, than you or Dr. Q.

Unlike most you inaccurately identify and mischaracterize, I am one of few who genuinely desires that Obama not be removed from his current place despite his counterfeit identity.  On the contrary, I would that he to remains perched upon his precarious illegitimacy…as high and as publicly viewable as possible.  The blood-ransomed sovereignty of the office of the U.S. President has been proven strong enough to withstand the assault of such an amateur, as we continue to witness.  Moreover, I am of the rare opinion there is no better place for reconciliation than the seat designated for the most powerful leadership position in the world.  Only upon that prolific mantel can equal action against of the most prolific lie in human history be brought.

For the time being, I will enjoy weighing “feet of clay” arguments promoting office implements and discredited paper Dicks against the emerging truth revealing Obama’s fraudulent identity, and his sociopathic agenda, to the electorate.  Perhaps then, after the eradication of ill-elected overbenders and fake internet doctors from our ranks, we can impress upon a righteous majority, the descendants of those worthier, to address this hideous aberration with the vigor and intellect it demands.

There really is a Calista Dvorak, a neurologist in North Carolina. The same? Not a clue.