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Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Things are sort of quiet on the birther front and I’m waiting for something interesting to happen. There are a couple of dropping shoes that I’m waiting for.

First is some development in the Arpaio/Montgomery story. We learned that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been spending 6 figures on information from a notorious scammer about federal judge G. Murray Snow and US Attorney General Eric Holder. This is apparently some offshoot of the Cold Case Posse investigation of Obama’s birth certificate. I and commenters here have posted their speculations. What I’m waiting for is a public response from the Sheriff’s Office or from another media article confirming or expanding the story.

The second shoe belongs to Reed Hayes. It’s no accident that my article about Google queries featured the keyword reedwrite.com–it came from my Google alerts. There was a strong indication a while back that Hayes was going to post something on his web site related to his examination for Mike Zullo of a second or third-generation copy1 of the Obama birth certificate. What I strongly suspect is that poster Joe Mannix at Birther Report is Mike Zullo and that what he said about the Reed Hayes report is authoritative:

Of course. Reed is a master at detecting forgeries, especially when people try to mimic other peoples signatures on such things such as checks or birth certificates as in this case. He detects anomalies in forged signatures the average person can’t recognize. He immediately knew something was wrong after looking at the document hence why he called Mike back within 20 minutes.

That’s about all we know, and “know” is even too strong a word. It would be great for the other shoe to drop and we learn from Hayes himself what he thinks about how his work has been characterized. We remember that Ivan Zatkovich eventually spoke out against how his work had been buried and mischaracterized by WorldNetDaily.


1I consider the White House PDF to be a digitally compressed second-generation copy. The birth certificate itself is a photocopy of the original onto security paper. Scanning to PDF and display on a computer monitor, or printer gives the second generation.  (Considerable confusion has arisen from the complex digital compression involved in the creation of the PDF). The AP press scan is from photocopy (or perhaps a photocopy of a photocopy) of the certified copy, then imaged and displayed making it the third (or fourth) generation.

The frenzy of discovery

It’s always helpful in the frenzy of discovery when nearing a solution to a complicated puzzle, to take a step back for a reality check. Case in point is the identification of what Sheriff Joe and his Posse have been incessantly promising Universe-shattering results about. Recent revelations in the Phoenix New Times that Arpaio has paid big bucks to a notorious scam artist for information about US Federal District Judge G. Murray Snow and US Attorney General Eric holder provide an emotionally satisfying answer: Arpaio and his Posse are credulous fools. In this moment of excitement where all of the pieces seem to line up it’s worth considering whether we are fooling ourselves and to ask a few questions:

  • Does any part of the story require unusual complexity or implausibility?
  • Has confirmation bias caused contrary evidence to be pushed aside?
  • Are the sources credible?
  • Is there a plausible alternative narrative?

I can’t answer these questions for you, as they involve trust and value judgments, but I will attempt to answer them for myself.

I think the story is plausible because the actors in the alleged narrative do things that they have done in the past. Sheriff Joe has gone after political enemies with bogus investigations, and he has bought into conspiracy theories. Dennis Montgomery has scammed people and used their technological ignorance to his advantage. He has fabricated evidence before in the form of altered emails, according to expert court testimony. There are plausible mechanisms for the two to connect up because Sheriff Joe’s Obama investigation is widely reported in the national press. Also another Cold Case Posse source, Doug Vogt, lives close to Montgomery. The nearest thing to implausibility in the story is the amount of money, $200,000, allegedly spent by the Sheriff’s Office on Montgomery’s information. That’s a lot of money and it allegedly come from a secret fund—one should always be wary of secret boxes where the best evidence is. Still, given the power of Arpaio, I can sort of buy the $200,000. Montgomery got $20 million from the US government for fake information.

One contrary item is that Cold Case Posse insider Brian Reilly had never heard of Dennis Montgomery. However, the Universe-shattering investigation allegedly involving Montgomery didn’t start until after Reilly had left the Posse. Nothing else comes to mind.

I tend to trust the Phoenix New Times. What is my source? Most of what I know about the New Times comes from the New Times. That’s problematic. The bulk of their information comes from an anonymous source.  They portray themselves as journalists with integrity battling the evil empire of Joe Arpaio. In their favor, they won a $3.5 million settlement against the Sheriff’s Office. Indeed the County has lost $55 million in payouts for false arrest and prosecution charges against the Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecutor. The story’s author, Stephen Lemons has won a string of journalism awards. I do not have wide experience with stories in the New Times and whether they are always reliable. There is one thing strongly in favor of the credibility of the story which is the account of both Arpaio and Montgomery refusing to deny their relationship, which it would have been trivially easy to do so. I would say that if the story is baseless, the New Times runs the risk of getting sued (or arrested?).

There are any number of alternate scenarios:

  1. The New Times made it all up out of spite.
  2. The New Times’ informant made it all up out of spite.
  3. Montgomery really has used his technical skills to uncover damning evidence against Eric Holder and Judge Snow, and is providing it to Arpaio. Indictments to follow.

None of those seems likely, with #2 the only one remotely plausible.

I invite readers to suggest things I overlooked, or to weigh in with their own evaluations, and other questions that need to be asked.

Birthers play the race card

While I have been hesitant to play the race card and make generalized statements saying that birthers are fundamentally racist, others have not, and they have used the “racist” label to good effect against birthers, to the point where I think that there are many, and maybe a majority who view birthers as racists (and undoubtedly they are right in many instances).

Birthers have been quick to pick up on any claims that they are racist and try to turn that into the entire argument to avoid the fundamental weakness of the birther position in general. However, seeing, I think, the effective use of the racist label when used against them, they are now responding in kind by labeling their opponents “racist.” Any time they can find two instances remotely parallel where the black guy is treated differently than they white guy, they cry racism, and we have seen such attacks against Barack Obama, Eric Holder and others.

We saw examples of this in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida this past July this such as the “Blackness Trumps Fairness (Eric Holder the Racist)” thread at the Free Republic from last July. Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld (in an ironic statement) suggested that calling some a racist unfairly is itself racist hate speech. Birther rock musician Ted Nugent said:

We are most offended that the president of the United States and the U.S. attorney general are clearly guilty of racism when they intentionally bring race to the fore when they make public judgments based on the color of someone’s skin instead of the content of their character in total defiance of the findings of the FBI, Department of Justice, entire state’s investigative resources and a jury verdict.

Orly Taitz is, of course, not to be left out of any anti-Obama movement. OC Weekly reports on this comment from Taitz, and her link to a racist web site:

More evidence of young black men beating up, mutilating and in some cases killing whites, particularly elderly, women and children. Black racist Eric Holder does nothing about it, only charged one white man with hate crime, did not charge any blacks, Demand impeachment hearings for Holder. Please, give me phone numbers of white men and women, who were victims of these attacks.

Black on white crime is a popular theme on the Taitz web site the last couple of days. Here are some articles, with links to the Taitz site (which still issuing that fake browser alert, so watch out):

The following are older articles from the Taitz site (where she is just copying the stories of others):

Taitz v. everybody else: Orly’s massive lawsuit

A “do over” of the last four years is what Orly Taitz seems to be asking for in her latest filing in California, Judd v. Obama [link to complaint on Taitz web site]. This is the amended complaint in the case that was originally styled Taitz v. Obama, Feinstein, Emken et al.

Photo of Plaintiff Keith JuddSince Orly Taitz is still an attorney in California, she’s representing herself as well as a collection of the usual birther litigants, but this time the lead plaintiff is Keith Judd (aka “Dark Priest” right), a candidate for President. Recall that Judd got 40% of the Democratic primary vote in West Virginia and is supposed to be released from prison next June. Judd claims that he should have gotten all of West Virginia’s votes at the Democratic Convention because Obama wasn’t eligible. It seems a little late, though, to be pressing that claim.

What is amazing is the list of defendants, including pretty much everyone that has ever crossed Orly Taitz, even federal judge Clay D. Land who sanctioned her in Georgia. She’s got Obama in her sights of course, plus the Social Security Administrator, Selective Service, the secretaries of state of Virginia, Georgia, California and New Hampshire. She has the Republicans in California, her Republican opponent in the California Senate race, a pile of news organizations (MSNBC, CNN, The Daily Beast, Forbes Magazine and KFI AM), and the US Attorney General and even the Postmaster General. The State of Hawaii and the Democrats get their place at the table too–31 defendants all told.

Not only are there several plaintiffs and many defendants, in addition to filing the case in the US District Court for Central District of California, Southern Division, it is also being sent to the Department of justice, Inspector General of the Department of Justice, Public Integrity Unit of the Department of Justice, House of Representatives Oversight committee, Judiciary Committee, Elections subcommittee, Civil Rights Commission of the United Nations, International Criminal Bar Panel in Haague (sic), and the Inter-American commission for Human Rights.

The 110-page complaint (not including exhibits) includes an incoherent mix of causes of action as diverse as the list of defendants. I hesitate to try to impose order on this thing, but I’ll take a shot at the high points. Orly is taking aim at:

  • Republicans, for Orly’s loss in the California Senate Race (she claims fraud)
  • Government agencies (Social Security, Selective Service, the US Postal Service) that won’t do what she wants
  • The State of Hawaii that won’t bend their laws to let Orly play detective
  • Democrats who nominated Obama, or said he is eligible
  • People in the media who have said not nice things about Orly
  • Secretaries of State and elections commissions who are putting Obama on the ballot even though Orly told them not to
  • Everybody who has engaged in a criminal conspiracy to keep her from getting Obama out of office.
  • The federal judge who sanctioned her for her previous antics in court

Basically Orly is trying to re-litigate all of her prior losses in court over the last 4 years, hold the California Republican Senate Primary again, and to punish the media for speaking ill of her. It’s as if Orly never learned one essential English word: “no.”

Since Orly has pretty much lost all of these cases already, I can imagine that the defendants will looking for monetary damages for having to defend a frivolous lawsuit. Skimming Orly’s usual nonsense might be light entertainment for some, but it has to be a royal pain for the attorneys and law clerks to go through these things point by point, citing applicable law as to why they should be dismissed. By suing everybody under the sun, she’s opening herself up for some serious sanctions and assessments of costs and fees. Orly’s mania may have finally ruined her.

DC: Sibley added to list of ballot challengers

Montgomery Blair Sibley, a candidate for President, has brought a quo warranto suit against Barack Obama, arguing that he should be “ousted” from the presidency. A quo warranto petition is made to the courts to ask by what right a person holds office and can be used to remove an office holder who, for example, is ineligible to hold office. The District of Columbia has a statute under which such claims may be presented, but the courts have ruled that only the Attorney General of the United States or the US Attorney for the District of Columbia may bring such suits, as they are the only appropriate representatives of the people.

Sibley presented his objections to Barack Obama’s eligibility to Eric Holder, who of course didn’t file suit against the President. In this action Sibley seeks to press the quo warranto claim action himself, or failing that, to seen a writ of mandamus, an order from the court forcing Holder himself to initiate an action against Obama.

Normally, I wouldn’t have listed this lawsuit as a ballot challenge, but it presents a group of additional claims, one of which is (quoting from the First Amended Petition):

A Writ of Quo Warranto ousting Obama as President of the United States and/or preventing him from holding the franchise of being on the ballot for that office in 2012 insomuch as he is not a “natural born Citizen” of the United States as required by Article II, §1, of the U.S. Constitution.

Mr. Sibley makes a two-pronged claim – first citing Emerich de Vattel in support of a claim that US Presidents must have US citizen parents, and second disputing the President’s birth documentation, largely based on the work of WorldNetDaily volunteer image “experts” including Douglas Vogt and Paul Irey.

Sibley, unsatisfied with the court’s pace in dealing with his claim, filed a writ of mandamus in Circuit seeking to force the District court to Rule. This was denied. The Government has moved (unopposed) to set the deadline for their response for April 2.

Read more:

Orly’s fuzzy FOIA

Orly Taitz

Orly Taitz has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with US Attorney General Eric Holder, asking for “access to the two certified copies of the long form birth certificate for Barack Obama.”  [Link to Taitz web site] She thinks the FOIA requires her to get it in 20 days.

I don’t follow Taitz’s reasoning.

First, Eric Holder is the Attorney General, and his agency is the Justice Department. Why does Taitz think the Justice Department or any federal agency would have Barack Obama’s personal papers? The Freedom of Information Act only applies to federal government documents, which Obama’s birth certificate is not.

Second, we all know by now that information about living persons is normally excluded from what can be obtained by FOIA. Taitz should know this from the response she received from the Social Security Administration when she tried to get Obama’s social-security application.

Third, the FOIA does not require that results to the request be provided within 20 days. The law does require that the agency determine whether it intends to respond within 20 business days (although this doesn’t always happen). That response is a foregone conclusion.

Fourth, the FOIA doesn’t provide for access to original documents only copies. Barack Obama has already published copies.

Then Orly rambles on about not being able to ask the National Archivist for a copy because of some Executive Order. That’s silly since the National Archivist wouldn’t have Barack Obama’s personal papers.