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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.

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Fake Arms Grab memo

One of the really odd things coming out of conspiracist thinking is the idea that all mass shootings are faked. It boggles the mind how impossible it would be to stage a fake school shooting—how many people would have to be in on the conspiracy, and the impossibility of keeping such a thing secret.

Part of the problem is deliberate fakery targeted at the conspiracists, such as this example from 2013. One birther said: “Yes, this is a real document,” pointing to an image, purportedly from the UN Disarmament Commission, talking about a number of gun restriction goals, a nightmare scenario for the pro-gun side. Of course, it mentions “Agenda 21.” One birther remarked:

… psycho leftwing Snopes is already claiming it’s a fraud even though it’s got the UN bar codes all over it.

Here’s one of those codes:

image

I hope that’s good enough for you to scan. When I did, it went to a UN page for a real document. You can select “English” and see that the document is from the UN Disarmament Commission, but it’s totally about something else.

imageWe can determine that the document is a fake because the QR Code doesn’t match the document number on the document. The QR Code on the fake document is http://undocs.org/A/CN.10/L.70 while the plain text on the fake document is L.72 (see at right).  Even if the conspiracy theorist claims that the UN switched documents on their web site, they cannot get around the internal contradiction between the QR code and the document number on their version.

I couldn’t readily find the Snopes article, but PolitiFact rated the story “Pants on fire.”

Brent Douglas Cole now facing federal charges

Brent Douglas ColeBrent Douglas Cole, sovereign citizen1 and birther, was arrested and arraigned in connection with the shooting of a California Highway Patrol officer and a Bureau of Land Management ranger last year, an incident where Cole himself was also wounded. Those charges were dismissed September 25, 2014, by a Nevada County, California, court, only to be followed by a federal grand jury indictment on a charge of assault on a federal officer. Cole’s arrest was the occasion for the creation of my article category, Birthers Behaving Badly.

The case got scant publicity in the local press, and nothing was published that I can find about the dismissal, which I had to seek found in court records. The federal charges appeared in an FBI press release.  Cole is still facing an earlier state weapons charge and was due in Nevada County, California, court October 30, 2014. He didn’t show according to court records. Why? Here’s the note on the court record:

MISC CLERICAL DOCKET NOTE: DEF IS IN CUSTODY OF FEDS. FAILS TO APPEAR THIS DATE AS ORDERED (FEDS REFUSE TO RELEASE) B/W [bench warrant] $5,000 ORDERED. SJV

I’m unsure what the status of the case is. I found it under case number 2:14-mj-00212-EFB-1 in the Eastern District of California, with nothing showing except appointment of counsel, October 1 and a “date closed” of 10/2/2014. Now there is Cole v. USA (2255 – (2:14-CR-00269 GEB)) which is a “Motion to Vacate Sentence” filed January 29, 2015.

Update:

imageCole was found Guilty on Tuesday, February 11.

Read more or less:


1His sovereign citizen name is Brent-Douglas : Cole.

The woman who saw Obama in the hospital

It was 2011 when CNN went to Hawaii to investigate Obama’s birth certificate. The esteemed commenter on this blog Whatever4 left a comment and  link to the video below. I never wrote about it, but it’s just this great historical piece that shows that the Media wasn’t ignoring the birth certificate question; they were investigating and reporting on it.

It’s well worth taking the time to watch.

Update:

Hawaii did not have a separate tabulation for black people in 1961. The smallest category separately tabulated was Korean, with 149 Korean fathers and 169 Korean mothers (with 44 of those births to 2 Korean parents). Taking the smaller of those two numbers (minus 1) as a possible number of black parents, we would get 296 total black-appearing babies born that year. On most days, a Hawaiian hospital, even the busiest one, would not have a black child.

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.

Did Zullo lie again trying to cover up lie?

I’ve beaten the fake race code issue to death here on the blog with articles like:

I’ve proven that the Race Codes that Zullo presented as 1961 codes were not really 1961 codes, and they weren’t used in Hawaii.

I want to revisit the cover-up and perhaps give a little insight into Mike Zullo’s essential dishonesty when representing his investigation to the birthers. So first, let’s go back to that 2nd official press conference in 2012 with Sheriff Arpaio Mike Zullo. Here is a screen shot from the video presented by Mike Zullo, referring to a “1961 vital statistics instruction manual”.

The video showed a one-page screen shot from a 1968 manual available on the Internet, instead of the real 1961 manual they claimed to have, but which was not readily available at that time. The screen shot itself came by way of a birther blog. The source of the manual could be determined by matching marks and dust spots on the image.

It appears that all Zullo had was a screen shot, that he could not verify, from some birther source. Subsequently, Zullo tried various diversions to get out of the dilemma, such as the smoke screen of a 1960 manual (the race codes are the same for 1960-91).

Now let’s fast forward to 2014. Zullo continues to be embarrassed by this fake race code table from the video, evidenced by him trying to recover from the event. Zullo tells a story that might have a grain of truth in it. Here’s the story as told by Zullo to Carl Gallups on October 4, 2014:

Zullo: “And for two feverish days Jerry Corsi sent his associate who this woman stayed in the lobby of the CDC for eight hours a day for two days trying to get the answer to this question. On the third day, it was about two and a half hours I believe before the press conference was going to go, at that point in time the “9” code issue was not going to be in it. As fate would have it, Attorney Larry Klayman happened to be in Phoenix so he stopped in wanted to say hello to the sheriff. Larry Klayman, Larry Klayman’s associate, Sheriff Arpaio, myself and Jerry Corsi were all in the conference room when the phone rang from the woman from the CDC. And I have her information, who she is and she’s not a clerk. She’s a highly educated individual. Jerry put her on speaker phone. I remember Jerry sitting there with his fingers crossed. And she confirmed for us that what we were saying and requesting, what the number 9 meant was in fact what it was. He asked her to repeat it. ‘Are you saying this 9 in this box yada-yada-yada means X?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’”

Basically Zullo admits not having a manual but rather some other source of information that had to be verified. If he had a manual, then there would have been no need for verification (and if he had a manual he would have known the screen shot was a fake). Zullo lied about the source of his information, trying to make it seem more official than it was. This is the key lie of Mike Zullo and the Cold Case Posse—representing that they are competent and that they are conducting a real law-enforcement-style investigation, when they are neither.

Let’s assume that everything in Zullo’s 2nd story is true. What does it tell us? Some unnamed “Corsi associate” (“Corsi associate” could basically be anybody who contacted Corsi) called Mike Zullo and put someone on the phone who said something that Zullo took for confirmation. Zullo had no way of knowing that the person he heard on the phone was from the CDC, and the wording of the statement suggests that Zullo didn’t even know her name.

But even if it really was someone from the CDC, Mike Zullo never tells us what she really said! Look it again:

And she confirmed for us that what we were saying and requesting, what the number 9 meant was in fact what it was. He asked her to repeat it. ‘Are you saying this 9 in this box yada-yada-yada means X?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’”

Yada-yada-yada? Didn’t our crack investigator take any notes?