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Slander

The birther movement is quite a phenomenon in its size and longevity. Since the very beginning I have tried to understand it under various models. What has come to mind of late is the concept of slander and this is how I would put it:

People prejudiced against Barack Obama justify their prejudice by slandering him, and in turn they justify their prejudice against anyone connected with Obama by slandering them too.

The original source of prejudice, I believe, is either racism or bias against anyone not on the right politically. Racism still remains stigmatized in the minds of most Americans, so racists have to come up with some other justification, such as calling Obama other things (noting that there’s noting “wrong” with some of these):

  • Ineligible (foreign born)
  • Ineligible (not a natural born citizen because of his father)
  • A forger
  • A liar
  • A Muslim
  • A Communist
  • Gay
  • A foreigner

And by extension, Obama’s parents, grandparents and wife come in for their own slander. The State of Hawaii, it’s constitutional officers, and the Department of Health have been demeaned. Members of Congress are called traitors for not doing anything. Even bloggers and others who criticize birthers have come in for their share. I got this mild example through the Contact Form a few days back:

[B]efore I read this I thought Obama was the biggest liar in the world but now I see I was wrong. He’s tied with you. If you have kids you’re helping to insure they have no future in America.

When I replied asking what I had lied about, the writer evaded the question. I replied:

You have sent me several emails, but you have yet to identify any falsehood or immoral act on my part. It seems to me that your perception of “terrible” is based on prejudice rather than fact.

Slander is deeply offensive to me in all of its manifestations. Combatting it is one of the things that keeps me blogging.

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.

The apotheosis of the birthers

“Apotheosis” is one of a handful of words that I’ve always wanted to use in a sentence. One definition of apotheosis is:

the highest point in the development of something; culmination or climax

I got to use it at Birther Report yesterday. Here’s a bit of the exchange:

VeniVidiVici4U: kevin,  your false sense of security is about to come face to face with a serious case of asswhooping reality.

Dr. Conspiracy: You seem to think that as the days pass, you are getting closer to the apotheosis of the birthers. But you’re doing nothing more than going around in circles chanting the same mantra of forgery this and fraud that (and telling yourselves that Zullo will save you).

I used it to describe the mythical transformation of birthers from a bunch of Internet Yahoos to the heroic removers of the usurper president, who saved the Republic from destruction, and are forever enshrined in the pantheon of true patriots™.

What strikes me about the discussion at BR is the earnestness and consistency of the belief. I suppose I could paste a compilation of similar statements, but that would be tedious and not particularly informative. Suffice it say that there are many, and I’ll leave with two examples:

BornTexas: It’s not impeachment that will end the usurpation, it will be the mountain of lies and fraud revealed for all to see. Once released, the feeding frenzy will be epic. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. The Dems will eat their own to avoid the gallows. Soetoro and his enabling minions will suffer the brunt of the onslaught.

William: I don’t get it. You are going to lose. How you deal with that fact is concerning.

I’m just not seeing this.

Two more years!

The birthers are getting painted into a corner. “Any day now” has a shelf life and it expires in exactly two years. When Obama leaves office on the appointed day, the birthers lose. All their agitation will have been in vain. It will all have been for nothing.

See also:

Is the Sheriff’s Kit the best strategy?

Mike Volin is a birther with a plan. He has assembled a collection of material that he calls the Sheriff’s Kit, and he has been giving it to sheriffs and to members of Congress. While I reject the conclusions Mike has come to, I respect his approach. He has the constitutional right to petition Congress and he is exercising that right.

I contrast what Mike is doing with what I consider the abuse of the legal process by birthers seeking relief in the courts for things outside their jurisdiction (the cases that were dismissed for lack of standing—a jurisdictional requirement). And don’t get me started on the “citizen grand juries.”

Under the Constitution, birthers had exactly two options: convince the voters not to elect Obama or convince Congress to remove Obama from office. The first option (which is no longer available) involved moving public opinion, and it made some sense to put up web sites, send chain email letters, show up at rallies with signs and write letters to the editor. It didn’t work. Now Congress is the only option.

I think the problem is that Volin is taking a shotgun approach to Congress, sort of a “throw it out there and see if it takes root.” That’s not been very effective and I don’t know of anyone in Congress convinced by a Sheriff’s Kit—and if there is, they aren’t admitting it. And if someone in Congress were convinced by a Sheriff’s Kit, there is no political cover for them. Birthers are considered crazy nut-job conspiracy theorists by enough people to decide just about any election against a birther candidate. Any congressman who went birther would become a laughingstock and the subject of embarrassing newspaper political cartoons. And of course, it takes more than one congressman to impeach the President.

What the birthers need is one respectable birther whose personal gravitas legitimizes the movement. They need to focus all their energies on that individual and convince him with their evidence. So far, the best they have is Sheriff Arpaio, and Arpaio didn’t even investigate the birth certificate. He wasn’t willing to commit his own department resources, but shunted the investigation to some volunteers with no qualifications and no resources. And of course Sheriff Joe himself is a hugely controversial figure, costing the County tens of millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements for wrongful deaths in his jail, and for his personal abuse of power in trumped-up charges against political enemies. He is damaged goods not to mention his well-publicized axe to grind against the President over immigration. Arpaio is trivially dismissed with the Obama saying against the right-wing nut jobs: “we all know what that’s about.”

No, what the birthers need is a supporter with credentials, either political, legal or scientific. I don’t mean some obscure document examiner who won’t even release his report or a celebrity. I mean someone that everyone has heard of and is widely respected, someone who doesn’t have an axe to grind and can be seen as an honest broker. A bunch of nobodies and political partisans are not going to create the tipping point necessary to change the status quo. Volin’s dilemma, however, is that the kind of person I described wouldn’t buy the birther nonsense in the first place.

The default position

I’ve been exchanging comments with Rambo Ike at Birther Report today and he wrote something that made me think. I replied to him, and I’ll copy that here, possibly edited for clarity. Rambo Ike wrote:

There’s a continuous theme that runs through your whole archives from the time you started it to the present that is one Big Lie. In the past I’ve called it the “Obots default position for everything”. It really stands out in your site’s comment sections what your site is most known for.

Well I would like to know more about the “Obots default position for everything.”

What you said caused me to think about the themes on my site. Certainly I would take the default position that Barack Obama was born where he says he was, and where the State of Hawaii says he was, and I would put the burden of proof on someone challenging that position. And I realize that birthers reject that default position, saying that Barack Obama must prove everything to their satisfaction.

Those on my side consider the birther position hypocritical since they didn’t make the same demands of other historical presidential candidates, and this leads to the obvious question of why Obama was singled out. President Obama himself would say: “We all know what that’s about.”

Birthers have said to me that the reason Obama needs special vetting is because of all the issues raised about his origins, but I don’t buy that because there was no justification for the issues in the first place. Remember, back when the “Obama’s mother went to Africa but was too pregnant to be allowed home, so he was born in Africa and his mother registered him when she returned” first surfaced back at the Free Republic, there was no reason, no evidence, no argument made that the story was true. It was just a rumor, pure and simple. This was before the short form; this was before the grandmother tape; this was before everything. People still believed it, believed it because it resonated with something inside them, something I don’t find very nice.

So if I have identified my “default position” correctly, then I believe it is the most reasonable default position. As someone has said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” I’d settle for mere require ordinary proof, but the birthers haven’t come up with any.

What my blog has done primarily over the past 6 years is to demonstrate as rigorously as I can, that birther evidence is false and their arguments are fallacious. I think I and the other birther-debunkers have a 100% success record, and I think that says something important because if the birther stories were true, you would think that after almost 7 years, some real evidence would have surfaced, and it hasn’t.