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The new political balance

After a long night’s sleep recovering from a long day working the polls, I awoke this morning to news of a Republican House and a Republican Senate majority starting next year.

Birthers believe that just about everybody knows deep down, and that everybody includes members of Congress, that Barack Obama’s biography is false and his identity documents are fakes. If that is truly the case, then what is to prevent those in Congress, the majority of whom are not of the President’s party, from holding investigations, passing resolutions and even starting impeachment proceedings against the President based on those beliefs of identity fraud? I can see nothing blocking such outcomes except the falsity of the birthers’ underlying premise that people in Congress believe the nonsense birther conspiracy theories.

I do not know what the effect of new voter ID laws has had on this election. All the votes in South Carolina have not been tallied, but so far it is the lowest voter turnout in any election for which the South Carolina Elections Commission provides data (since 1984). At my precinct, every voter had an ID, but publicity about the law may have kept others from trying. Whatever the cause, most South Carolinians did not vote yesterday, something that has happened only one other time since 1984. We turned away two voters, neither of whom was registered to vote. Lines were not long and even at peak times, I doubt that anyone waited more than 15 minutes.

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Congressman Gowdy: Not a birther

My Congressman, Trey Gowdy (R-SC), has been pretty far out there in his criticism of the Obama Administration, so I decided to ask him point blank whether he’s a birther or not. I was a little surprised to get a reply to such a provocative question, but reply he did:

October 29, 2014

Dear Mr. Davidson:

Photo of Trey GowdyThank you for contacting me about President Obama’s right to hold the office of the presidency. I appreciate hearing from you.

Like you, I believe the Constitution must be our nation’s guiding document, including its provisions specifying the requirements that must be met for an individual to hold the office of President. President Obama was qualified to run for this office by the Federal Election Commission, and courts have dismissed all lawsuits challenging his status as a natural born citizen of the United States. As such, I believe President Obama to be the legitimately elected leader of our nation.

Thank you again for contacting me, and please do not hesitate to do so in the future. It is an honor to serve you and the 4th Congressional District.

Sincerely,
(signed)
Trey Gowdy
Member of Congress

Bless his heart.

imageRep. Gowdy (chairman of the House Select Committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attack) does not have a Democratic opponent in the 2014 4th District House of Representatives election, but is opposed by Libertarian candidate Curtis McLaughlin. Gowdy is favored to win. Some have suggested (here and here) that Gowdy should be elected the next Speaker of the House.

Gowdy was rated 0% by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, and 100% by the National Retail Federation, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business.

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Birthers achieve total depravity

I think evil is addictive. It can start with anger, harsh words and small misrepresentations. There is a rush from saying hateful things and getting away with it. (On the Internet non-famous people can say almost anything and get away with it.) However, to maintain the rush, the rhetoric has to ratchet up and the lies get bigger. Birthers have lied so often that they are unable to even recognize the truth.

We’ve seen birthers escalating over the years, both in their obscene language towards their opponents, their homoerotic fetishes and their violent language. What they say about their opponents pales in comparison to what they say about President Obama and his family. Now they are about as depraved as they can get without graduating from verbal to physical violence.

Case in point is Nathan M. Bickel, writing for his misnamed “Moral Matters” blog in a March 26 article: “US Congress Members Qualify for Execution: Their Criminal Support for Treasonous Criminal ID Fraud Obama,” sporting images of a noose and gallows with accompanying text:

How shall public executions take place for various US Congress members who aided and abetted criminal ID (felony) fraud aka Obama? Will each state hold state capital public hangings for US Congress Members who were informed about aka Obama’s criminality and who failed to act according to their Constitutional oaths of office?

Such imagery and rhetoric is not acceptable in civilized society.

Ironically, the article is headed by a text from the Bible:

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” – Proverbs 19.5

put there by a member of the party of liars and character assassins, the birthers. Bickel says that he is a former Lutheran pastor, but even to his his very conservative branch of Lutheranism, such lies are not acceptable. Here’s an image from Bickel denying the power of Christ to change lives:

image

I left the following comment at Moral Matters:

I condemn you for bringing into disrepute your church and the Name of Jesus Christ by spreading lies and slander about Barack Obama and specifically a wholly baseless conspiracy theory about fake IDs. I further condemn you for bringing into disrepute your church and the Name of Jesus Christ by your bloodthirsty and murderous imagery in regards to the execution of members of Congress.

Such depraved conduct has no place in civil society, much less coming from someone who describes himself as Lutheran pastor.

I pray for your repentance.

Patriot Games

So with Lent being over, I went over to Birther Report and made some comments, on their Michael Shrimpton article. Even Jerome Corsi doesn’t take Shrimpton all that seriously, but some of the commenters there were all over some massive conspiracy involving the UK and Shrimpton, corrupt government officials and who knows what else.

The whole thing was so extremely silly that I made a suggestion that what I was reading was some kind of role playing fantasy game of “Evil Obama.” In reply, I got this from Martha Trowbridge:

No Patriot is playing; we are warring. … Obama and his co-conspirators are, de facto, evil.

The other thing that set me off was a title over at Orly Taitz’ site:

Report: Fracking Has Reduced CO2 More Than All the Solar Panels & Wind Turbines in the World

That counterintuitive statement refers to an article that refers to an article at Fox News by John Stossel. Stossel’s article doesn’t even hint at how fracking reduces CO2 emissions, by the way. A Fox News internal memorandum from Bill Sammon, managing editor of the Washington bureau of Fox News said:

We should refrain from the assertion that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period of time without immediately pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. (“The Loudest Voice in the Room” by Gabriel Sherman, p. 322)

In fairness to Stossel, fracking is reducing greenhouse gasses because it creates more natural gas, which in turn has led power plant operators to switch from coal to natural gas; however, petroleum industry claims of the amount of reduction seem exaggerated, attributing all the gains to this switch while ignoring the reduced demand for heating due to climate warming, and the increasing efficiency of the US automobile fleet. Further, natural gas production may actually increase global warming due to issues with its production.

I guess my point is that extremely polarized positions about energy policy founded on biased or manipulated numbers are not much different from polarized political positions in Congress. The public debate should be based on the best science. To put the future of the planet in a secondary position to an agenda is unpatriotic.

I don’t find Fox News’ policy very patriotic, any more than the Birther Report commenter knee-jerk belief in everything bad about Obama.

It seems that the Congress (at least the Republican half and perhaps the other side) is playing a game to annihilate the other party rather than move the country along. I can’t see how the right-wing secessionist factions can honestly pledge allegiance to the flag (“One nation under God, indivisible”). It seems that extremists on both sides virtually loathe America.

So where are the real patriots these days?

I think our armed forces are filled with patriotic Americans. The folks who obey the law and pay their taxes, the informed voters, the people who volunteer in civic activities to help children and the disabled—these are patriotic Americans.

Rep. Stockman on board birther ship, says Zullo

“This is not a political agenda for us”

Zullo and Gallups were on Mike Volin’s Blog Talk Radio show this past Thursday (Oct. 3, 2013). Zullo asserts that Congressman Steve Stockman is definitely going to move forward to get a Congressional investigation into Obama’s identity documents. That’s the spin the birthers are putting on this. Another possible interpretation is that some low-level Stockman functionary is failing to say “hell no” loudly enough.

Zullo rewrites history when he says that from the beginning he was saying that the issue of Obama’s eligibility belonged with Congress. If that was the case, then what does the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have to do with it? Why the use of the words “law enforcement” at every turn? Now the issue is for Congress, and that’s where the Cold Case Posse’s lobbying efforts are directed, contradicting his statement in the audio clip that “this is not a political agenda for us.”

Wiley Drake (one of the birther plaintiffs) was also a guest on the show (or maybe Volin’s show was a guest on Drake’s show—it was complicated).

Here’s a link to the full show (2 hours) on Blog Talk Radio and here’s an excerpt below where Zullo talks about Stockman:

Birther progress

We often focus on the 140 lawsuits that the birthers have lost as evidence that birthers are complete and utter failures; however, I would like to look at it another way and highlight the progress the birthers have made.

Initially birthers had doubts about where Barack Obama was born, the lack of precedent precisely defining “natural born citizen,” and questions about whose responsibility it is to verify a President’s eligibility. In these core areas, I think the birthers have made a lot of progress.

First, because of birthers, we now have Barack Obama’s birth certificates in the public record, and iron-clad verification of their validity from the State of Hawaii residing today on the Arizona Secretary of State’s web site. The first area of doubt has been resolved fully. That’s a win for the birthers.

The second point still lacks a simple declaratory statement from the US Supreme Court, but precedent is building up at the state level, and the federal district court level, at least so far as the citizenship of persons like Barack Obama is concerned. We have several cases that say that those born in the country, whether of citizen or alien parents, are natural born citizens, and eligible to run for President, and the courts have straightened out the birther misreading of Minor v. Happersett.

Finally I see precedent building in the courts that the eligibility of presidential candidates is not the responsibility of the states, nor the courts during the election process. It seems to me a tremendous stroke of bad luck that birthers have not been able to adjudicate eligibility in state court. If the Florida statute had been written differently, someone might have been able to raise a challenge to the preference primary, or if New Jersey had required presidential candidates to file an affirmative statement of eligibility, someone might have had a shot at adjudicating the birther question there. But as it is, the combination of law and standing have not come together and because of that we haven’t gotten much precedent as to whether state cases like this are allowed by the Constitution. Still, we begin to see the courts defining the legitimate process for vetting eligibility. I wrote about this topic in more detail in:

but the short version is that it appears that states may not regulate who political parties run for President. It is the Electoral College and the Congress who provide the final check that the President is eligible. It remains an open question whether an objection to the action of Congress is judiciable, and it will likely remain an open question for this election cycle since only a major party’s losing candidate (or perhaps the Attorney General) would have standing to sue and I can’t imagine any doing that.

So really the birthers have won. They now know Barack Obama was born in Hawaii; they know that the children of aliens born in the United States are eligible to the Presidency, and they know that the Congress is there to make sure nothing goes wrong. It was a long an torturous road, but they have arrived and to borrow a phrase from Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

Well done, birthers. Well done.

There are some birthers, I should add, that don’t seem to be ready to celebrate their success, perhaps because they find happiness in the race itself. The anti-birthers have won as well but have less to celebrate, having know the outcome all along.