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April Fool!

Visitors to the site earlier today will have seen this image:

It’s my little April Fool’s joke. On the last minute of March, 2014, I converted Obama Conspiracy Theories into something that I thought might look like the opening crack in the birthers’ universe shattering event.

The image was adapted from a notice I found on the Internet for a gambling site. “Arrest Warrant in Rem” refers to the seizure of property, not the arrest of a person. The image gives folks the opportunity to get move involved in the hoax since they have to search for statutes. 18 USC § 1756 deals with money laundering (a crime full of avenues for speculation) and 18 USC § 201 deals with bribery of a public official (the text of the 3rd paragraph comes directly from the statute).

The diligent birthers at Birther Report are having none of it:

image

They seem to think that there is some violation of federal law involved in my April essay, something about impersonating a federal agent or some such. The also have accused me of another crime in comments to this article: Someone posting under the name “Dr. Orly Taitz, Esq.” wrote:

Is no joke. Davidson set up fake Defend Our Freedom Foundation website stealing money and I alerted the FBI. He will be going to jail.

For the record, I have never set up any fake Defend Our Freedom Foundation website, nor have I ever stolen any money from Orly Taitz. Of course, I don’t know if this is the real Orly Taitz commenting or not—other commenters at BR are skeptical.

What shall we do with a crazy birther?

Today is September 19, International Talk Like a Pirate Day1, arrrrrr. And so mateys, in recognition of that day I introduce a nautical-themed contest, to come up with the best one-line answer to the question:

What shall we do with a crazy birther,
What shall we do with a crazy birther,
What shall we do with a crazy birther,
Early in the mornin’?

The tune is from the song “What shall we do with a drunken sailor” as heard in the video below. The Wikipedia article has many answers to the drunken sailor question. What’s your solution for a crazy birther? My entry is:

Strap him in a chair at Orly’s office.

Arrrrrr.

Continue Reading →

Is this a joke?

Beats me. This is an example of one of those where you can’t tell a thing from a spoof of the thing. It’s a web page with lots of pictures highlighting “problems” with Barack Obama’s published long-form birth certificate. It’s a compendium of objections we’ve seen before, but with a few even more nonsensical things thrown in, and then there are the silly pictures.

I started answering the objections:

  1. There is no patterned background in the bound volume. The book copy was copied onto security paper.
  2. That’s normal.
  3. So what?
  4. Lots of people die when they get very old.
  5. Key punching instructions
  6. More keypunch codes (and well-documented ones at that)
  7. PDF optimization artifact
  8. Examination of several certificates show they aren’t supposed to be in birth order
  9. There is a seal, just hard to see. Douglas Vogt, Orly’s witness in Georgia, testified that the seal was there.
  10. They all do
  11. Parents’ race is self reported. Black Kenyans regarded themselves as “African” as evidenced by the 1962 Kenya census forms.
  12. No it isn’t.
  13. None of the other period Hawaii birth certificates have one either (and here one begins to wonder seriously about whether it is a joke).
  14. None of the other period Hawaii birth certificates have weight either. Lee Harvey Oswald?
  15. No they aren’t.
  16. Pre-printed on form. Who is the guy in the diaper?
  17. No it isn’t.
  18. No, he didn’t.
  19. Layers are a normal result of PDF optimization.
  20. Pakistan? You mean Indonesia, and no.

The Doc’s detour

Someone was kind enough to tip me off to this story. Let me share how I approach something new like this.

First I read it for what it says and what it doesn’t say. In this case, something called the Borowitz Report says that Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith quoted “sources close to the President” as saying that Obama is “increasingly nostalgic for the land of his birth.” Initial reaction: hmpf, third-hand anonymous source.

According to Borowitz, Smith then fills in a number of comments not attributed to sources close to the President that mention Kenya. In particular Smith supposedly said:

While Mr. Smith stopped short of saying that Mr. Obama planed to leave Washington and return to his native Kenya, “his birth certificate does allow him to return at any time he sees fit.”

At this point several strains of thought are going. Is there anything from the anonymous source that links Kenya with “land of his birth?” Maybe Obama wants to go back to Hawaii. Did Shepard Smith really say any of this? What’s the value of an anonymous source in the hands of Fox News anyway?

I recall that Shepherd Smith, last time I listened to him, was no birther. Check out this video from 2009 where Smith called birtherism preposterous and dangerous. Has Smith done a 180-degree turn in his thinking? My hoax alarm is ringing loudly at this point, and it would seem that a prudent first step would be to see if Shepard Smith ever said this in the first place.

That’s not a happy task because simple search of the keywords involved is bound to return hundreds of birther blogs and comments quoting the story. To avoid being overwhelmed with junk, I’ll try searching Google News and Fox News first. Google News returned nothing relevant using keywords: shepard smith obama birth. I tried expanding the time period and using keywords: shepard smith obama birth kenya. Nothing close.

So it’s not a true report. However, I fired off a few more Google queries and realized my mistake. You see, I lied. I only read MOST of the Borowitz article. I failed to read the last two sentences that make the joke obvious.

In other debt ceiling news, by unanimous vote the House of Representatives passed a bill raising Speaker of the House John Boehner’s medication.

As for the debt ceiling negotiations, they are “right on schedule,” according to the ancient Mayans.

So that’s the true story of Dr. Conspiracy, the detour, and the joke.

More presidential foolery about the birth certificate

Some wisecracking at the Gridiron dinner is reported at the National Journal.

President Obama got the Marine Band to give him a special musical introduction at the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner on Saturday night. After the traditional “Hail to the Chief,” Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Bennear sprang to the stage and as the band struck up the familiar chords of Bruce Springsteen’s anthem, belted out:

“Born in the U-S-A! Born in the U-S-A!”

“Some things just bear repeating,” said Obama, as an audience of more than 600 government officials and media executives broke up at the allusion to the long-running rumors over the president’s birth certificate.

My favorite was a reference by Gov. Mitch Daniels to Mike Huckabee’s recent gaffe:

[Daniels] noted that when Mike Huckabee mistakenly said Barack Obama was raised in Kenya, Sarah Palin corrected him by saying that Obama “hasn’t even been to Europe.”