Main Menu

Archive | Lounge

Chit chat and things about building the site.

Still not my problem

I’ve been over at WorldNetDaily commenting on their article “Media star jumps into Obama Eligibility Debate.” Birther commenters are arrogantly spouting total counterfactual nonsense, and I am shooting them down, at least a few—there are so many (“African,” “40 experts say it’s a fake,” “no one has seen the certified copy” …).

My original “Not my problem” essay was from April of 2013, and in it I give a corollary to my life principle that “Some things are my problem, and some things are not my problem, ” namely, “Your being a birther is not my problem.”

This web site grew out of a desire to put some material up in an accessible form so I wouldn’t have to waste time arguing with innumerable individuals one on one, and I don’t spend a lot of time doing that. The site was not created with the expectation that it was needed to accomplish some grand purpose, or to influence the 2008 election (which had already happened). It was not created to keep the country from tipping into absolute crazy. It’s just here to provide information to those who are interested.

imageFrom time to time, a birther story leads me to read about other conspiracy theories, the most recent a variety of stories that Obama will declare “marshal law” and cancel the 2016 elections. I am reminded that the conspiracist domain is vast, and I must remind myself that it is not my problem.

Something not being my problem seems to me analogous to the legal concept of standing. My harm from conspiracy nuts is not particular and individual. I don’t suffer more from them than the general public. Any attempt to particularize the damage is speculative and hypothetical. Nobody elected me prosecutor or juror on a conspiracy theorist case. Birthers and other conspiracy theorists may be my hobby, but they are not my problem.


Good citizenship, Dr. Conspiracy’s other hat

My joining Civitan International has nothing whatever to do with this blog. Civitan’s motto: “builders of good citizenship” and questions of citizenship covered on this blog are purely coincidental. That said, the question of how a good citizen acts does relate to both of them. While birthers like to put on the robes of patriotism, I think birtherism is neither patriotic nor representative of good citizenship.

I believe that quality public discourse is a civic virtue, and that extends to this blog. I am proud of the 3,562 articles published on this site, particularly those articles that educate, inform and correct misinformation. That said, the 2012 presidential election is over and nothing that birthers do really matters any more (unless a rogue birther branches out into criminal acts). Countering birther nonsense is not as valuable, now that nothing is at stake. Consequently, I am spending less time blogging about birthers these days.

I wrote earlier that I had signed up to be a poll manager in my county. I take my oath next Tuesday and I’ll be putting in 14 hours at the polls come election day. Attending my local political party meetings has also been on my agenda. I have been working on Habit for Humanity houses a lot over the last couple of months. I am on the board of the local Civitan Club and do several jobs for my church. I volunteered at the Special Olympics. Indeed I now have to put everything on a calendar to avoid conflicts, I am scheduled so much. All of that is on top of quite a bit of tourism. So these days I’m wearing many hats.

Dr. Conspiracy on the roof wearing Hard Hat

I don’t list all these volunteer activities to say what a fine citizen I am, but to suggest to birthers more productive ways to channel their energies. I have the luxury of being healthy and retired, making my particular choices possible, but others can be good citizens in other ways.


First US Ebola case; Doc leaves country

A semicolon does not imply causality, and actually I left the US before the Ebola case was confirmed. All I’ll say is that I haven’t met Lucas Smith, and I haven’t found any new birth certificates for Barack Obama.

Normal blog operations will resume when I return in a few days.

Preserve, protect and defend

Today I completed my training to be certified as a poll manager for Spartanburg County in South Carolina. I should get a letter in the next couple of weeks telling me where I will be working. One of the next steps in the process is to swear an oath (South Carolina Constitution Section Article III Section 26) before the Clerk of Court:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been appointed, and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof, and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this state and of the United States. So help me God.

I’ve never had occasion to swear an oath before to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and I look forward to doing so, considering it a serious and solemn privilege to serve my state and my country. On the other hand, I feel I have always tried to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, oath or no. As I contemplate taking this oath, my thoughts move towards the significance of taking the oath and what it means.

George Washington taking the Oath of Office

I haven’t thought much about this blog as “defending the Constitution,” but in a way it does. The framers of our republic clearly intended the country to be guided by enlightened reason and the rule of law. That’s what this blog seeks to do–encourage enlightened reason and respect for law. A considerable portion of this blog deals with certain birther attempts to misrepresent the Constitution regarding who is eligible to assume the office of President of the United States. It also, in some small measure and in certain narrow areas, seeks to explain how the law and the courts work.

I have long felt a certain similarity between the legal doctrine of standing and the Mormons’ doctrine of revelation. Mormons believe that any member of the Church can receive a revelation from God; however, they further believe that true revelation comes in the context of an individual’s responsibility from which it follows that only the head of the Church would receive a revelation applicable to the whole church. (So when Cody Judy claimed that he had a revelation that he should be the head of the Church, that wouldn’t be seen as valid.)

These concepts of revelation and standing seem to apply also to defending the Constitution, and this is where some of those on the right wing misapply their oaths. I do not criticize birthers for bringing their grievances before the courts, although I criticize them for doing it over and over. The access to the courts is their privilege under the law. Terry Lakin swore an oath to defend the Constitution, but it was not his responsibility to have the President vetted, and I criticize Lakin for breaking the law in his attempt. Defending the Constitution is done within the context of respect for the laws made under the Constitution.

Note: Eligibility to be a poll manager in South Carolina requires one to be a registered voter and to live in the county (or a county adjacent to) where one serves.

It’s better to light a candle than to curse the birthers

HabitatRoofI didn’t go out intentionally to commemorate the 9/11 tragedy today, beyond titling the Open Thread, but if I had, I don’t think that I could have made a better choice than what I actually spent the day doing, helping to put shingles on a roof with Habitat for Humanity.

I was first motivated to look into Habitat through the influence of someone I greatly respect, former president Jimmy Carter. Now that I’m retired, I have more opportunities to get out and work on the houses, not just on Saturdays.

Besides getting involved in community service projects with Habitat, Civitan International and my church, I have also come to a greater appreciation for the importance of local government. To be honest, I’ve pretty much been involved in politics only every 4 years during the presidential race. The shenanigans  in my local town government, a scandal that just keeps on giving, have made it clear that local government won’t just work itself out if left alone.

So I think that the best way to remember and honor those who lost their lives on 9/11 is to serve our own communities in their place.

Note: The original title of the article was “It’s better to light a candle than to curse Obama,” a title directed at birthers. Then the title became “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the Republicans.” That second one is probably the one I would address to myself. But, this is a blog largely about birthers, so I put them in the title instead.