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Birth certificate forensics and general points about birth certificates

Cultivate bemusement

Obama laughs over birth certificate controversy

When President Obama released his birth certificate to the world on April 27, 2011 (a date that will live in history), he said that he had watched the birther story “with bemusement.” Obama himself has minions to keep tabs on the birthers: political aides to see if there’s anything of substance to respond to, and the Secret Service to keep tabs on any birthers who show symptoms of rabies. He doesn’t think about birthers much any more, according to a speech he made to the National Action Network convention in New York City yesterday. Speaking about Voter ID laws, the President quipped [11:12 in the video]:

imageAnd just to be clear, I know where my birth certificate is, but a lot of people don’t. [crowd laughs] A lot of people don’t. [Obama chuckles] I think it’s still up on a web site somewhere. [Obama chuckles and shakes his head] You remember that? That was crazy. [crowd laughs] That was some crazy stuff. [crowd and Obama laughs] I haven’t thought about that in a while. [Obama shakes his head and laughs]

Business Insider has an article: “Obama Laughs About ‘Crazy’ Birth Certificate Questions.” [I had a problem with Firefox locking up on that page, and had to use the Chrome browser.] A lively discussion appears there with a number of below average birthers participating. The discussion reveals a subculture of birthers who are even more clueless than the ones we deal with most frequently, saying things like:

  • Harrison Bounel is Michelle Obama’s cousin.
  • The Acton and Dystel bio appeared on the inside flap of Obama’s book.
  • No legitimate PDF document has layers.

The better-informed (relatively speaking) birthers at Birther Report are trying to read hidden significance into the remarks through the analysis of Obama’s microexpressions. One said:

I think Mike would agree, at 21:09 he twitches the right side of his mouth and face like I’ve never seen him do before.

Some contextually challenged folks think that Obama is acknowledging in the video that a lot of people don’t know where the President’s birth certificate, but he’s saying that a lot of people don’t know where their birth certificate is. See “Obama Admits People Don’t Know Where His Birth Certificate Is” at The Daily Dose of Conservatism web site. A commenter there thinks the video has been scrubbed :roll:

Other birthers are whining because Obama insulted them. See “Here Is Obama’s Latest Insult To Birth Certificate Skeptics” at Western Journalism.


★FALCON★ gets his ass handed to him

Totally out of character, I know, but since ★FALCON★ doesn’t use his real name, I can’t add him to my prayer list.

So I was minding my own business making nice at Birther Report when all of the sudden, and completely off topic, I get this:


Dr. Conspiracy,
On November 4, 2013, you published an article titled “New revelation: Obama finds his birth certificate.” The article references a story found in Double Down: Game change 2012, by Mark Halperin and John Heilmann (sic). Yet you knew this title was a lie. A line from the book (and excerpted in your article) says as much: “White House Counsel Bob Bauer took one look at the booklet in Obama’s hand and knew it wasn’t the birth certificate.”

Halperin and Heilmann’s (sic) version of events reads in part:

Continue Reading →

Have birthers found their one honest judge?

I’m still waiting to find one honest birther

Douglas Vogt filed something with the US District Court in Seattle, trying to force the judge to refer Vogt’s birther allegations to a grand jury. The Court responded that a civil lawsuit cannot be used to initiate a criminal case. The Court of Appeals agreed. Birthers have failed in every one of their more than 200 legal actions, and sometimes they (including Vogt) blame the judge, rather than their own ineptitude, and lack of a valid legal claim. It is the nature of a crank to disrespect authority (or else they wouldn’t be cranks in the first place).

Federal judges can refer matters to a grand jury for investigation, and I along with others wondered why Vogt didn’t just write the judge a letter rather than waste the resources of the Court by filing it formally. What I did not envision was what happened next: Vogt sent letters and 170 pages of crank forensic document stuff to 175 federal judges (their original list had 625)!

My reaction to the results is “the glass is mostly empty” as only 3 judges even bothered to reply, two of whom said they would pass the documentation on to the US Attorney, who normally runs federal grand juries. One judge, however, reportedly responded with something that put some birther hearts all aflutter:

“I was very impressed by the letter and attachments you sent to me. I do not dismiss the allegations you make as untrue.”

One of my pet peeves with US English grammar is the placement of the period in relation to quotation marks: The period always goes inside and so we do not know whether there is a period in the original at that point or not. Here’s the redacted image from Montgomery Blair Sibley, Vogt’s legal ghost writer (Sibley was disbarred and cannot actually represent Vogt):

Heavily redacted letter

Continue Reading →

Michigan candidate gets his birth certificate

Michigan gubernatorial candidate Mark McFarlin went to the vital records office to get his birth certificate, and to make a press statement about Obama’s.

I previously reported that McFarlin was a Republican running as a Democrat, but in this video, he says that he is a Republican. McFarlin has received some media attention about his ill-informed claim that “African American” should not have appeared on Obama’s certificate. Responding to criticism that “African American” isn’t on the President’s certificate, McFarlin corrects the record with the ill-informed claim that “African” should not have appeared on the certificate, citing the investigation of the Maricopa County Arizona volunteer Cold Case Posse. (The Cold Case Posse is a birther named Mike Zullo who has fabricated evidence and lied.)

Read more about why McFarlin is ill-informed:

One more observation on the POSFKBC

I mentioned in my previous article, “Smith posts another version of his POSFKBC" that I had been trying to figure out precisely what font was used to make his image. I did an experiment towards making that identification, putting text in a trial font next to his text on his own image and looking for differences in the character shapes. I thought that what I found was interesting enough to publish.

Presuming that the Smith document was at some point scanned, and given that scanners generally reduce the size of documents they scan just a bit to make counterfeiting more difficult, the font size of the Smith image is probably not a standard size. The program I used does not allow fractional point sizes, so my text is not precisely the same size. Also my text is a computer-generated original not printed and scanned, and Smith’s original document was saved as a JPG file at 44% quality, both reducing the crispness of the text appearance.

The font I used is True Type Garamond version 2.40, a font that was already on my computer and something that either comes with Windows or Microsoft Office. I do not claim any expertise on typography, but I think the similarity of my results to the Smith text is remarkable. What do you think1? Here’s the document (click to enlarge):

1I would not equate what I did here with the Dan Rather moment when the Bush National Guard letter was exposed as a likely-computer generated phony. The technique is similar, but the results not quite so compelling.

Smith posts another version of his POSFKBC

We’ve seen an evolutionary process in the document from Lucas Smith that purports to be a certified copy of a birth certificate (affectionately known by anti-birthers as the POSFKBC), that he says he obtained in Kenya, showing Barack Obama born at the Coast Province General Hospital in Mombasa. First, all we had was a shaky image in a video, purportedly made in Kenya. Then we got a wrinkled still version submitted in the Keyes v. Obama lawsuit by Orly Taitz. In 2012 we were treated to a photograph showing the raised seal more clearly. More recently, Smith claims to have obtained scans of details from the original from which the certified copy was made, and finally he has released the entire document that follows (click to enlarge):

Since this purports to be a copy of the original (not of the certified copy), it would lack the certifying elements of the earlier copy, elements that were troublesome due to internal contradictions. Some internal faults remain, such as the reversed date order (American style mm/dd/yyyy instead of Kenyan style dd/mm/yyyy), and the missing full date of birth of Obama’s father (which was not known at the time the certificate was published). And of course, no other birth certificate of this form has ever been put forward.

I did a cursory forensic analysis of the new document and about the only thing that stood out was the remarkably low quality of the JPG file (44%). In the earlier version of the certificate, it appeared that there is kerning in the word “Kenya” that one would not expect from 1961 typesetting equipment. The kerning is not evident in this document and this one is consistent with blotchy copying on the former. In that one instance, the new document helps the old.

Just for fun, I tried to identify the font used in the preprinted sections of the form (excluding the title) and the top result was Simoncini Garamond, a font designed in 1961. :shock: That’s not the right font because of a difference in the uppercase “B”. [When the quoted material consists of a single character, the period appears outside the quotation marks.] (Some anonymous person calling himself “the pressman” said that the font was Adobe Caslon, but it obviously isn’t.]

Anyway, I get to open the year with a shiny birther object to object to.