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Birther tax

A modest proposal

In the United States today’s tax day, the deadline for filing federal income tax forms for 2013. I E-filed mine yesterday and mailed my quarterly estimated tax payments today. Let’s just say that I have a lot less money today than I did two days ago. For some reason paying my taxes is an anxious experience, I guess because I am afraid that I will make a mistake.

If I may speak partially out ignorance for a moment, it seems to me that one of the differences between conservatives and liberals is that liberals want to distribute the burden of funding government programs using a formula where the largest share goes to those who can best afford it, while conservatives want the burden of funding government programs to fall more on those who use the programs, the latter approach labeled “user fees.”

I remember that when my son attended UC Berkeley, one of the mandatory student fees paid for unlimited public bus transit. Everybody paid the fee (and we could just as well call it a tax) whether they rode the bus or not. I pay property tax to support schools, even though I have no school-age children.

It seems to me that birthers consume an inordinate amount of government resources when they file repetitive lawsuits, say irresponsible things that require Secret Service investigation, file FOIA requests, bug congressmen, degrade public education by promoting false history, require police supervision for demonstrations, claim undeserved tax subsidies, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Why shouldn’t they pay a user fee for their conspiracy activism?

Here’s my solution: a birther tax:

birther tax

Just an idea.


The re-branding of Mike Zullo

My apologies to readers. I thought this was a new article, but it was from last summer.

It’s too soon to be certain, but a new article by Floyd Brown (author of Obama’s Enemies List: How Barack Obama Intimidated America and Stole the Election) looks like the introduction of a new career for Cold Case Posse Commander Mike Zullo.

Readers here have wondered just how Mike Zullo, 53, makes his living. Zullo was a policeman in New Jersey, he said, for 5 years and then was a private investigator for a few more. Then he moved to Arizona and was involved in the automotive sales business. But recently Zullo’s source of income has been a mystery, leading to speculation that he was siphoning off charitable contributions to the Cold Case Posse, speculation only heightened by the opaque finances of that organization.

Now, we learn that Zullo has an occupation of sorts: day trading.1 Brown published the article, “A Dollar Collapse is Coming” on his web site Capitol Hill Daily. It opens up with this introduction of Mike Zullo:

4 computer monitors with day trading softwareMike Zullo is an impressive man. When he strides into my office I can immediately see him carefully observe and analyze his surroundings. This is a result of his years of law enforcement training. Mike spent a number of years as a cop, and then as a detective.

After a successful career in law enforcement, he left to become a trader of equities. Here, Mike also excelled. But recently he has focused less on making money and more on protecting America – a country we both agreed had given us much but was now in grave danger.

The article itself is not a profile of Zullo, quickly jumping from Zullo puffery to its main point: that US currency is unsafe, will crash, and that Brown will one day tell people how to survive. Brown, along with others who advertise at WorldNetDaily, sell financial fear and anxiety—the financial apocalypse is coming any day now.

So what is Zullo doing in the article besides striding in, impressing the author, and agreeing with him? The only reason for Zullo even being in the article that I can think of is that Brown is introducing Zullo to his readers in preparation for Zullo entering the field of financial punditry. After demonstrating that he can sell promises to birthers, year after year, while delivering nothing, Zullo seems the perfect salesman for apocalyptic financial predictions of the collapse to happen any day now.

We’ll just have to wait an see whether Zullo’s new career is pursued and how well he does.

1Some day traders make a consistent living, but most lose money, and many go broke. For some, day trading is a day job, and for others it is gambling addiction. It’s too risky for my blood.


Cultivate bemusement

Obama laughs over birth certificate controversy

When President Obama released his birth certificate to the world on April 27, 2011 (a date that will live in history), he said that he had watched the birther story “with bemusement.” Obama himself has minions to keep tabs on the birthers: political aides to see if there’s anything of substance to respond to, and the Secret Service to keep tabs on any birthers who show symptoms of rabies. He doesn’t think about birthers much any more, according to a speech he made to the National Action Network convention in New York City yesterday. Speaking about Voter ID laws, the President quipped [11:12 in the video]:

imageAnd just to be clear, I know where my birth certificate is, but a lot of people don’t. [crowd laughs] A lot of people don’t. [Obama chuckles] I think it’s still up on a web site somewhere. [Obama chuckles and shakes his head] You remember that? That was crazy. [crowd laughs] That was some crazy stuff. [crowd and Obama laughs] I haven’t thought about that in a while. [Obama shakes his head and laughs]

Business Insider has an article: “Obama Laughs About ‘Crazy’ Birth Certificate Questions.” [I had a problem with Firefox locking up on that page, and had to use the Chrome browser.] A lively discussion appears there with a number of below average birthers participating. The discussion reveals a subculture of birthers who are even more clueless than the ones we deal with most frequently, saying things like:

  • Harrison Bounel is Michelle Obama’s cousin.
  • The Acton and Dystel bio appeared on the inside flap of Obama’s book.
  • No legitimate PDF document has layers.

The better-informed (relatively speaking) birthers at Birther Report are trying to read hidden significance into the remarks through the analysis of Obama’s microexpressions. One said:

I think Mike would agree, at 21:09 he twitches the right side of his mouth and face like I’ve never seen him do before.

Some contextually challenged folks think that Obama is acknowledging in the video that a lot of people don’t know where the President’s birth certificate, but he’s saying that a lot of people don’t know where their birth certificate is. See “Obama Admits People Don’t Know Where His Birth Certificate Is” at The Daily Dose of Conservatism web site. A commenter there thinks the video has been scrubbed :roll:

Other birthers are whining because Obama insulted them. See “Here Is Obama’s Latest Insult To Birth Certificate Skeptics” at Western Journalism.


Heartbleed security vulnerability

Public Service Announcement

“Heartbleed” is a security vulnerability in ubiquitous open source software used to implement secure communications with web servers. Because of this vulnerability, information you enter into a secure web page on an affected server might be accessible remotely. One security consultant said that on a seriousness scale from 1 to 10, “heartbleed is an 11.”

Obama Conspiracy Theories as best I can tell is not affected by heartbleed because logons to this site don’t use secure sockets in the first place. :shock:

This is one of those times when even I am changing my passwords.


Asymmetric commenting

Yesterday morning I had only a few minutes to put up something on the blog before I had to leave for a volunteer gig at the Special Olympics. The article, Obot Wars VII: A New Hope, was one of those articles that I expected to get few comments on, yet as of this writing the number of comments is 330.

I think that number of comments is not due to the article but to a comment left on it, the sixth:

William: Name one vital historical development in the world historically that met an exact deadline to the day?

Over the past week or so, I’ve been watching episodes of the TV series NUMB3RS. For the benefit of those not familiar with the program, a college math professor uses applied mathematics to help the FBI solve crimes and catch criminals. My math training was on the theoretical rather than the applied side and quite a bit on that show sounds like technobabble to me, but the general idea that human interactions can be quantified has stuck in the back of my mind and came forward as I was thinking of the reaction to the comment quoted above. A small commented garnered a big response.

While the comment seems simple enough on the surface, it really is a powerful topic-shattering statement, working in two ways. On topic, it appears to be a defense of Zullo’s continual promises of evidence that are don’t get delivered. It has the goading quality of unfairness, since Zullo is not just late; he has been delaying his last set of revelations for a year and a half, and now is holding out for next October or November. In addition to raising the unpopular (on this site) idea that Zullo should be given more time, it provides the opportunity to revisit everything Zullo ever argued against Obama and every argument that can be raised against Zullo, so we get topics like

  • The full faith and credit clause
  • The de facto officer doctrine
  • Commenter demands of other candidates
  • Donald Trump
  • Obama’s “questionable background”
  • Citizens’ right to an investigation
  • Hawaii verifications
  • Who in the Hawaii Department of Health holds a political office
  • The definition of “hearsay”

The second effect of the comment is to ask a literal question, sending readers scurrying off looking for vital historical developments that came off on time, leading the way for the introduction of topics as far from Obama Conspiracy Theories as could be, like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This online community has selected itself around certain consensus opinions, and gets along pretty well; however, once the topic ranges outside familiar territory, differences surface and arguments start, like secondary fires after an explosion. We get topics such as:

  • Pearl Harbor
  • Moon Landing
  • D-Day
  • Operation Sea Lion

Unlike our typical drive-by birther commenter, this one stayed around to keep things rolling, introducing:

  • Obama’s Selma speech
  • The authenticity of historical citations
  • Eric Holder
  • Anonymous office seeker somewhere who allegedly tried to seal records
  • John McCain birth certificate
  • Vladimir Putin
  • How candidates are vetted
  • Congressional certification of elections
  • Acton & Dystel bio
  • Birther lawsuits: dismissal vs. decision on the merits
  • Is Zullo a witch?
  • Insults, present and historical
  • Tea Party and anti-Obama rhetoric
  • The use of the name “tea bagger” and its origins

The asymmetric comment appears to either have been intentional or at least co-opted based on the closing comment for the day from the commenter that started it:

William: So works done for the day.

That was some hard earned dollars. But it rallied up the team Obots, for what is about to come.

We’re really a pretty soft target. Perhaps this will help explain why I sometimes bring in the topic police here.