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Age and birtherism

It’s a well known fact that older Americans tend more towards birtherism than younger ones. Why is that? Is it the result of deteriorating mental acuity? Perhaps it is something else.

According to a new study reported in the New York Times, political leaning is correlated with birth year. The explanation is that one’s political attitudes are formed most strongly in their 20’s:

[whites born in 1941] … came of age under Eisenhower, who was popular throughout his presidency. By the time Eisenhower left office in 1961, people born in the early 1940s had accumulated pro-Republican sentiment that would last their entire lifetimes. …

In contrast, people born a decade later – baby boomers – were too young to be influenced much by the Eisenhower years. Childhoods and formative years under Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon left them relatively pro-Democratic.

It is also well documented that birthers tend not to be Democrats.

Unclean hands

The Wikipedia says:

Unclean hands, sometimes called the clean hands doctrine or the dirty hands doctrine is an equitable defense in which the defendant argues that the plaintiff is not entitled to obtain an equitable remedy because the plaintiff is acting unethically or has acted in bad faith with respect to the subject of the complaint—that is, with “unclean hands”. The defendant has the burden of proof to show the plaintiff is not acting in good faith. The doctrine is often stated as “those seeking equity must do equity” or “equity must come with clean hands”.

The Bible has Jesus approach this from another direction:

Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.

John 8:7b ESV

copyrightSo where are my stones aimed? They’re aimed at Orly Taitz for copyright violation. I try to stick to fair use of copyrighted text on this site, but I am not as careful about images (such as the one at the right). What I wouldn’t do is just insert somebody else’s copyrighted article like Orly Taitz often does, and did yesterday [link to Taitz web site] with an article and photo from the New York Times about a shooting in the Bronx in August, 2011. (I ratted her out to the Times. 👿 )

But why is Taitz interested in a two-year-old random act of gun violence? It appears that she’s interested because the article mentions Daly Avenue, and that’s the street where Harry S. Bounel (or some variation thereof) lived way back in 1940. Do you see the connection? Let me explain it to you. If one submits “Daly Avenue” “New York” to a search engine, this article pops up, and pasting the whole article found is a low-cost way to produce well-written web content, albeit not ethically.

“How far is corner of 181 Str. and Daly Ave  from 915 Daly were Bounel lived?” Taitz asks, and in monumental understatement adds: “This is probably not related to Bounel case,” which begs the question of why she bothered to post the article in the first place.

Ah, but the plot thickens. One commenter on the Taitz site opined that the census address for Bounel is wrong, that it really should be “1915” instead of “915.” Taitz has one other piece of “information” from an undisclosed source, Bounel was Jewish.

The investigation continues.

Bi-curious Rep. Yoho excoriated by NY Times

I use the term “bi-curious” to denote folks who make friendly explorations into the birther issue. Representative Yoho sponsored a “birther bill” in Congress, previously earning for himself that distinction.

Now the New York Times takes Yoho to task for ignorant remarks about the economy. The Times wrote:

Representative Ted Yoho, a freshman Florida Republican who had no experience in elective office before this year, said the largest economy on earth should learn from his large-animal veterinary practice.

While the Times didn’t mention Yoho’s flirtation with birtherism, it was not lost on, quick to repeat the Times story with the birther connection.

If you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Breitbart News accuses NY Times of “going birther.”

imageSeeing how effective an epithet “birther” is, conservatives are lining up to use it, both here on this blog and nationally. In an article “NYT Goes Birther: Attacks ‘Canadian-born’ Cruz, calls him McCarthyiteBrietbart News directs the accursed “B” word at the Times. They said:

In what is known as a “tell” in the media parlor game, Weissman and the Times commit an unforgivable error by referring to Cruz as “Canadian-born” without mentioning he was born to a mother who was  a U.S. citizen, which most likely makes Cruz “natural born” and eligible to run for the nation’s highest office. Yes, just when the Texan shows some “muzzle velocity” toward 2016, the Times goes birther.

Me thinks that Brietbart protests too much. Indeed, the headline is just a teaser for a whiny article complaining that the Times has made some substantive criticism of Cruz. Mr. Lee and Mr. Bannon, it’s called politics in case you’ve been asleep for the past 8 years.

But why the demand for a full statement on Cruz’ presidential eligibility? What chance does a freshman Senator have becoming President? Uhhh. Never mind.


Photo of Civil War dead along split rail fenceI noted previous Orly Taitz titles1 about secessionist movements in Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Obama’s re-election. I didn’t mention the fact that there have been secessionist movements in the South for about as long as there has been a South.

Steven Hanh wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times Sunday Review yesterday entitled, “Political Racism in the Age of Obama”:

The “birther” challenge, which galvanized so many Republican voters, expresses a deep unease with black claims to political inclusion and leadership that can be traced as far back as the 1860s. Then, white Southerners (and a fair share of white Northerners) questioned the legitimacy of black suffrage, viciously lampooned the behavior of new black officeholders and mobilized to murder and drive off local black leaders.

A related sentiment was expressed by commentator Maureen Dowd:

Mitt Romney is the president of white male America.

Hanh is right that political racism is not dead. I was about to type: “the Southerners of my generation and before who grew up in racially-segregated schools are dying off.” That’s not quite true because there are a large number of  church-run schools in the South these days; I see ads for them on bumper stickers all the time. Articles have appeared discussing such schools and, for example, one study found that private religious schools are more racially segregated than public schools. The Christian Science Monitor reports in, “Are American schools returning to segregation?” that districting policies are re-segregating the public schools as well.

Nevertheless, despite historical revisionism, the South seceded from the Union over slavery, which was both an essential economic issue and an acknowledgment, frankly, that Southerners were scared witless that if the slaves ever got free, former slaveholders would be murdered in their beds. Today the economic interests of the South solidly rely on the United States, and for this reason alone talk of secession is nothing more than hotheads letting off steam. Secession is just white “trash talking”.

Hanh notes:

The anti-Obama riot at Ole Miss, integrated 50 years ago by James H. Meredith, was followed by a larger, interracial “We Are One Mississippi” candlelight march of protest.

1I was going to write “article” but lots of things on the Taitz web site are just titles with no body.

Is Birtherism really a bunch of conspiracy theories?

A commenter asked that question.

I asked the question too from the very beginning of this blog, since it is called "Obama Conspiracy Theories." When I first asked I asked it more literally, focusing more on the definition of the word "conspiracy" than the general concept of conspiracy thinking. As the birther stories evolved, they invoked conspiracies to explain their lack of success, and so my original naming concerns were taken care of.

Later I came to understand birtherism as the kind of thinking that characterizes conspiracy theorists. Experts on conspiracy theory seem to agree. An important early article on birtherism is "Why the stories about Obama’s birth certificate will never die" where Alex Koppelman wrote at

Barack Obama was, without question, born in the U.S., and he is eligible to be president, but experts on conspiracy theories say that won’t ever matter to those who believe otherwise.

Last year, I took some time to delve into the literature about conspiracy theories. What I found was that certain cognitive errors described in the literature seemed to fit the birthers. If conspiracy thinking does result from peculiar "brain wiring" then one would expect that those who believe in one conspiracy believe in others. Anecdotes support that. Jerome Corsi and Phil Berg, for example, are both 9/11 Truthers. Orly Taitz sees a conspiracy under every rock. I see a lot of birthers who also believe in vast international conspiracies, black helicopters, chemtrails,  and all sorts of such things.

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