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The other birther motive

I rarely look at Twitter, but I glanced at the Twitter app on my phone as I made a rare personal tweet supporting the waffle I was eating at Waffle House. There I saw a post directed @DrConspiracy from none other than Ron Polland, the person behind one of the first two birther document examiner Internet characters who concluded that Obama’s short form was a forgery back in 2008.

Polland, who has a doctorate in instructional media, made a couple of YouTube videos claiming all sorts of criminality at the Hawaii Department of Health, but I have not really noticed him in years. The tweet that came my way wasn’t interesting, and I think I must have gotten it by being added earlier in the conversation (which I have not been able to decipher). Of more note was a comment from Polland, not directed to me:

Obama committed SABOTAGE & ESPIONAGE against Israel & Democrats bitched over Bibi’s talk?

Polland is an ardent supporter of Israel and comments by him over the years suggest that he also believes Obama is bad for Israel. Did this combination lead Polland to become a birther? The historical record doesn’t answer that question, but we can see similar birtherism in others who believe Obama is bad for Israel, such as Orly Taitz who daily attacks all things Muslim, and claims Obama is one of them. Here we have the “chicken and egg” question. Did Polland’s belief lead him to become a birther?  Did Orly Taitz hatred of Muslims lead her to become a birther? I think the answer is yes, at least for Polland.

The early publication of birth certificate forgery claims came via the Israel Insider web site (the site is no longer active). Here is a sample of their friendly reporting of anti-Obama claims:

Meanwhile, yet another front as opened up as a strong attack video shows Obama in 2006 mocking the Bible — Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and the Sermon on the Mount — and argues that Obama himself is an alien to the Judeo-Christian tradition — that his speech reveals him, not just the Reverend Wright, as anti-Jewish and anti-Christ. Islam, not surprisingly, is spared his mockery.

 The Israel Science and Technology web site carried claims that Obama’s long form was a forgery, along with expressing a views antithetical to Obama’s more balanced approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, for example:

Is improving economic conditions for Palestinian Arabs conducive to peace?

No, the opposite is true! A landmark study on the subject indicates that the prerequisite for Peace-seeking is not better economic conditions but rather democratic forms of government. Since most Arab countries are far removed from multi-party democracy (see table above), the conditions are not ripe for overall peace in the Middle East. The study concludes that "making  inherently aggressive dictatorships of the region more prosperous will not make them more pacific only more powerful" and more willing to pursue armed violence (see article). This is true not only for conflict with Israel but for Intra-Arab conflicts as well (see most recent examples of Iran-Iraq war, Gulf War, etc.).

I confess that I am not expert enough to spot subtle spin on this issue, but I get the impression that the site is trying to sound balanced, while not being so.

I think someone needs a little push to start believing in nonsense, some sort of bias. A person who is strongly pro-Israel and believes Obama is bad for Israel, might just have that push.

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Speculation as to Doug Vogt’s sealed forger: Jane Doe #2

Update 2:

The speculative conclusions in the following article turned out not be correct upon the revelation of more clues from Douglas Vogt. Here are the details.


Before the US District Court in Seattle is a legal action styled In re: Douglas Vogt. In it, Vogt makes a list of birther claims and wants federal judge Robart to convene a grand jury to investigate them. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere except towards dismissal; however, one of the interesting parts of his Affidavit was a reference to a sealed document which names the alleged forger of Obama’s birth certificate. That person is identified as Jane Doe #2. (Of course, Obama’s birth certificates aren’t forged in the first place and there is no forger.)

image

I had speculated a week or so ago on Reality Check Radio that Jane Doe #2 was Hawaii Department of Health spokesperson Janice Okubo. I said that because there are four strong arguments why a birther might accuse her:

  1. She works for the Hawaii Department of Health
  2. People have heard of her
  3. There is an unflattering photo of her available
  4. She says that Obama’s birth certificate “is just like hers.”

What more could you want? Of course that list is ridiculous when it comes to any real proof, and I was largely joking when I made the Jane Doe #2 identification. However, I may have been more likely to be right than I knew.

I tend to view birther claims as episodic: the claim is made, the claim is debunked, and the claim becomes inactive. Birthers do not think that way. The whole corpus of birther claims and rumors accumulate into the birther’s milieu. What I had forgotten is that Janice Okubo had been charged with being part of the “forgery” before.

Early on in the birther movement an Internet character called “Ronald Polarik, PhD” made the rounds with tedious and fallacious arguments that the President’s original short form birth certificate was a fake. The identification of Ron Polarik’s real name somewhat tarnished his mystique, but he continued to publish attacks on anyone and everyone connected with Obama’s birth certificate, including a particularly scurrilous attack video titled “Blue Hawaii.” I the video Dr. Polland (his real name) names three Hawaiian women as criminals: Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Hawaii Department of Health, Linda Lingle, Governor, and Janice Okubo, Department of Health Communications Director. Specifically, Polland accuses Okubo of providing the original short-form birth certificate (her own) used to make the allegedly fake Obama certificate. The Free Republic had a thread: “Bombshell: HI Official, Janice Okubo’s BC used to forge Obama’s COLB, Amended Records.”

It is only a small step from claiming Okubo provided her birth certificate to make a forgery, to her making the forger herself. Vogt claims that the same person forged both the short form and the long form certificates.

It is also possible that Vogt named Okubo as Jane Doe #1.

Update:

In a comment [link to Taitz site] at her site, Orly Taitz says that Vogt’s forger is someone Taitz has met, and not Chiyome Fukino. I don’t know that Taitz has met Janice Okubo, but she has met Jill Nagamine, who works for the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office.

Decoding the long form (Part 1)

Update:

After writing my new article: Decoding the long form (Part 2), I did additional research into 1961 coding practices. I will mark inserted material to appear underscored.

In truth, I thought I had written this article long ago, but apparently not. Now some new bunk about the long form has surfaced from Penbrook Johannson and Dan Crosby in “Vital Records Indicate Obama not Born in Hospital (Part 2)” at The Daily Pen (Part 1 was debunked in my article: More Birther certificate numbering BS) and it’s time to spend a little effort describing the penciled notations on the President’s long-form birth certificate.

Part 1 of this article deals specifically with the Daily Pen article. Part 2 discusses what can be determined from the pencil marks on the Obama form itself, and publishing for the first time new documentation on the process.

By way of background, my first job out of college was at the Appalachia II District Health Department in Greenville, SC. What I did between 1974 and 1980 was essentially to create their automated data processing operation from scratch. I was in charge of procuring equipment, hiring staff, programming, and overseeing operations. Part of that job involved the direct supervision of data entry operators using key punch machines. I know a lot about the preparation of documents for data entry and what key operators will and will not put up with (still have the scars to prove it). In 1978 I personally designed and programmed a system for issuing birth certificates, and since that time up until my retirement January 1, 2011, I worked with vital records systems and software.

One of the remarkable marks of authenticity, something a naive forger couldn’t have imagined, is the penciled notations on Obama’s long form. In 1961 Hawaii, for the first second time, participated in the National Center of Health Statistics statistical report on births, 1961 Vital Statistics of the US – Volume 1: Natality (VSUS). That report indicates in a footnote that data were submitted on punched cards. The pencil marks on Obama’s form are codes for data entry.

According to the response to my FOIA request to the Department of Health and Human Services, the unpublished manual “Coding and Punching Geographical and Personal Particulars for Births Occurring in 1961” that is referenced on PDF page 228 of VSUS could not be found and they suggest that such a document never actually existed. However, they did point me to Geographic coding manual for 1961 and provided tape layouts for that year (but no coding manual). In particular, they told me that the “Vital Statistics Instruction Manual for 1961” (cited by Johansson and Crosby) with the exception of the Geographic coding manual could not be located. I filed an appeal and they replied that they checked again with  all the subject matter experts, and no such document exists today.

Johannson and Crosby’s article opens with this remarkable claim to anonymous authority:

An intensive examination of the contents of Obama’s alleged 1961 “Certificate of Live Birth” image by the most respected experts in vital records accounting and identity investigation reveals that much of the contrived information about his alleged Hawaiian birth simply renders his Natural-born status impossible.

Having been a long time member of NAPHSIS and having served on two national advisory committees, including their Vital Records Fraud Prevention Committee for two years, I think I qualify as an expert. Who are theirs? It’s hard for me to imagine that there are ANY vital records professionals who are birthers.

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Expert witnesses in Georgia

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This article is my informed opinion.

Courts in the United States have rules to exclude junk science and cranks posing as experts. At the federal level, experts are subject to what is called the “Daubert standard” defined by three Supreme Court cases: Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, General Electric Co. v. Joiner, and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael. These decisions are incorporated in the Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 703.

At the most  basic level, the Court said that an expert must meet two criteria:

  1. the expert witness used generally accepted practices and standards and
  2. the expert witness was property credentialed.

Their testimony must meet additional standards of relevance and methodology.

The Standard

The Supreme Court’s ruling sets up the following standards for relevance and reliability of expert testimony:

  1. whether the theory at issue can and has been tested,
  2. whether the theory has been subjected to peer review and publication,
  3. whether there is a known or potential error rate, and
  4. whether the theory has been generally accepted within the scientific community

Farrar v Obama

The “witness list” presented by Orly Taitz for the January 26 hearing of Farrar v. Obama includes two individuals, Dr. Ron Polland and Douglas Vogt; both have published papers in which they claimed expertise in forensic document analysis. Dr. Polland concluded that President Obama’s short form was created from images of other certificates (no actual physical certificate exists), and Mr. Vogt has said that the PDF copy of the long form birth certificate released by the White House is not a scan of any real document but rather something composed electronically. Both allege criminal fraud by the President and Hawaiian officials. Neither have any credentials as document experts.

The rule in Georgia

In 2005, the State of Georgia adopted tort reform that, among other things, established standards for expert testimony in civil cases similar to the Supreme Court’s standards in Daubert. Georgia law now essentially adopts the Federal Rules of Evidence  702 and 703 with minor differences in wording from Federal Rule 703. (Georgia has not adopted the entire Federal Rules of Evidence or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, so the context under which Rule 702 and 703 are applied is different.) The Georgia statute also states:

(f) It is the intent of the legislature that, in all civil cases, the courts of the State of Georgia not be viewed as open to expert evidence that would not be admissible in other states.  Therefore, in interpreting and applying this Code section, the courts of this state may draw from the opinions of the United States Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993); General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136 (1997); Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999); and other cases in federal courts applying the standards announced by the United States Supreme Court in these cases.

The Georgia statute also provides for an optional pre-trial hearing hearing to assess proposed expert testimony.

Conclusion

If Orly Taitz tries to present Polland and Vogt as expert witnesses I would expect an objection to be made by Obama’s attorney. There is also the issue of relevance. I cannot imagine anyone presenting a JPG or PDF image of a birth certificate as evidence at the hearing. If a birth certificate is presented, it will be on paper. Looking rules, I don’t see any chance that either Polland or Vogt will be allowed to testify as expert witnesses.

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Birther rogues gallery to appear in Atlanta

The Georgia ballot challenge administrative hearings (Farrar v Obama and others) scheduled for January 26 is shaping up to be quite a show. I said before that it’s probably the most important Obama Conspiracy story of the year and birthers seem to think so too, based on the participants lined up to appear [link to Taitz web site]. (Photo right of previous birther rally in Atlanta taken by Loren Collins.)

  1. Felicito Papa
  2. Douglas Vogt
  3. Susan Daniels
  4. Dr. Ron Polland
  5. Linda Jordan
  6. Chris Strunk

Looking at Orly’s witness list, I see half of the people relate to her claims that Obama uses a fraudulent social-security number. I fail to see how this is relevant to whether Obama can appear on the Georgia primary ballot. Likely Judge Malihi won’t see it either.

Taitz has claimed to have hired a real attorney to help her just in case. She is excusing herself as having been too busy with her personal lawsuit (Liberi v Taitz) to properly prepare. She says that the timing is not a coincidence – so this implies what – that Phil Berg and Gary Kreep are in Obama’s pocket?

At this point, I suggest that readers unplug any irony meters they have, and put on a pair of irony-reducing glasses to prevent injury. Here’s what Taitz said about the Liberi suit:

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FactCheck responds to Polland challenge

Brooks Jackson, Director of FactCheck.org, a nationally acclaimed journalistic organization dedicated to truth in politics, has responded to the recent attack by Ron Polland published in WorldNetDaily. In an email to Obama Conspiracy Theories, Jackson wrote:

On advice of counsel, I am losing not one second of sleep over this comical "challenge."

Donations to FactCheck.org are deductible because we are a part of the University of Pennsylvania, a 501(c)3 organization. So if Polland has actually filed some challenge against FactCheck.org as he claims — and I’ve seen nothing either from him or from the IRS to confirm that — then he’s challenged the wrong legal entity.

Should he realize his error and try to correct it, I think he’ll have zero chance of making a case that an Ivy League university should not be tax exempt.

I’m also mystified at his claim to have filed something with the Federal Election Commission, which has no jurisdiction over tax matters.

That’s a big OOPS, Ron. In my earlier article on Polland’s challenge, I omitted the part about the Federal Election Commission because it didn’t make any sense to me either and I was trying to avoid “piling on.”