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Wikileaks on the birthers

WikiLeaks logoJust on a whim, I entered this query at Google:

“birther” OR (“obama” AND “birth certificate”)

I didn’t expect 59 results. I didn’t expect any.

One, from Stratfor, looks like a joke. A new Stratfor analyst became a US citizen on April 26, 2011, and wrote in an internal email:

Do you think it is a coincidence that Obama released his birth certificate the day after I became a citizen. I don’t think so.

Virtually all of the material is from Stratfor, for example Newsmax sending Stratfor a notice of them publishing an article (and reprints from WND as well), but at least one Stratfor employee has birther tendencies, writing in a 2010 email:

ICE should check Obama’s birth certificate to determine true identity. I would bet that Stick and I could prove US PPT fraud.

That same year, another Stratfor sender wrote about an upcoming Obama trip to Indonesia:

(and maybe Obama will bust out his birth certificate and Quran while he’s there in order to develop a peace treaty with jihadists and earn his nobel peace prize)

I wouldn’t want to paint Stratfor with a birther brush in general based on this more general email excerpt from 2012:

During his presidential campaign, Obama harboured some illusions about a post-partisan America. Given that ideological distinctions between the Democrats and the Republicans have grown fuzzy over the decades, the idea may not have seemed completely fantastical to some. He ought to have known, though, that a rightwards shift in the so-called liberal centre invariably encourages conservatives to drift towards extremes.

What made such a process even more likely was the fact that a substantial proportion of American citizens were discomfited by the very idea of an African-American head of state. Small wonder, then, that the nonsense about Obama’s birth certificate gained so much traction.

It turns out that one of the WikiLeaks documents is a copy of the Honolulu Advertiser announcement of Obama’s birth, from August 13, 1961. They released it on October 28, 2008 (a couple of months after it became public). The item is unremarkable except for the talk page which has some birther-like commentary towards the end.

Another WikiLeaks area is called the Public Library of US Diplomacy, and it contains copies of US Government cables. One is titled “Daily Summary of Japanese Press 07/31/09” containing a book review of “Remove Obama’s mask” by Kazuyki Hamada. (I think that name translates into English as “Jerome Corsi.”) It’s very birther.

I went through all the results (Google first indicated over 400, but wimped out as I paged through them). A few were off topic. Nothing really exciting or new.

The State of the Union

The President will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday. My interest was piqued by a line from pre-address coverage at The Hill saying:

President Obama hopes to push the reset button on his second term Tuesday when he delivers the State of the Union address to Congress and a primetime television audience.

If there were to be a birther rebuttal to the State of the Union, it might well have the theme of pushing the reset button on Obama’s first term. But that’s not going to happen and as far as I am concerned, whatever birther relevance there was ended with the re-election of Barack Obama last year. A news article mentioning “birther” today is more likely to be about Ted Cruz or someone else, than about Barack Obama.

While the state of the birthers today is abysmal, irrational right-wing beliefs about Barack Obama, and world affairs in general, are strong, and this should be no surprise. The most successful news organization in the country is the Fox News Channel, and it is run by a man who believes that Barack Obama is a socialist and that climate change is a hoax spread by foreign countries to try to get an advantage over the United States. Roger Ailes1, President of Fox News Channel, was instrumental in the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. His message of fear and division is not only on home television screens, but in many restaurants and medical waiting rooms in this area. The Colbert Report this week had a piece on a recent court decision about “net neutrality” and gave three clips from three news organizations, highlighting by comparison Fox News fear mongering:

CBS: The way we use the Internet could change after a federal appeals court struck down “net neutrality” rules.

PBS: The fallout over a big decision may change now the web works and the future of so-called “net neutrality”

Fox News: We could be witnessing the end of the Internet as we know it.

Some furor has arisen after a recent series remarks by a Republican House candidate Joshua Black from Florida who said on Twitter of Barack Obama:

I’m past impeachment. It’s time to arrest and hang him high.


He should be executed for treason. I think the appropriate punishment is death. They killed Benedict Arnold.2 (Obama) shouldn’t be allowed to kill Americans without a trial.

The liberal web site Politicus USA wrote of this incident:

The real issue isn’t the mental health issues of Joshua Black, but the fact that so many Republicans agree with him.

But look at right-wing news coverage that leads to this kind of thinking:

  • Obama Care Exemption – None Dare Call it Treason (Washington Times)
  • Treason Season at the State Department (Fox News)
  • Cheney: Obama Giving ‘Aid and Comfort to the Enemy’ (Fox News)
  • ‘Fast and Furious’ an Act of Treason? (Fox News)
  • Romney supporters mock Obama, Call Him Treasonous (Newsmax)

If one wonders why so many people believe something as crazy as Barack Obama being a socialist doing everything he can to destroy the country, it is because they belong to a community where this belief is the norm, lead by a powerful persuader who actually believes it. Folks like me do not understand the seeming insanity of extreme conservatives because we do not live in the world as it is portrayed to them by Fox News and its kindred.

A nation only survives when it shares some basic level consensus and good will, so I conclude that the State of the Union is precarious so long as divisive voices have such professional skill and reach. Only time will tell. I will leave you with this quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

1There’s a lot on the Internet this month about Roger Ailes due to the publication of a new biography of him: The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News—and Divided a Country by Gabriel Sherman.

2Actually Benedict Arnold went to England where he eventually died of natural causes.

Let’s move on

That’s the theme that I’ve been seeing in newspaper articles of late:

Hey, it works for me.

Fred C. Trump’s hospital souvenir

Donald Trump

OK, I give up. Donald Trump is an idiot; I said it; let’s move on.

Donald Trump has given a piece of paper that he describes as a birth certificate “exclusively to Newsmax“. I suppose one could call it a birth certificate, but one could call Monopoly money “money” too.

What he has is one of those souvenir birth certificates that hospitals give new parents. The problem is that hospitals can’t issue official birth certificates any more than Parker Brothers can print legal tender. If Trump were trying to establish a late registration with the State of New York, that piece of paper might be useful for starters, but it sure as heck wouldn’t get him a US Passport. The little souvenir doesn’t have his mother’s name; it doesn’t even say he was born in the United States!

The US Department of State requires that a Birth Certificate valid for passport application must be:

Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state…

and contain

registrar’s signature, and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office


A Trump spokesperson acknowledged that the Newsmax certificate is not an official birth certificate, and said:

In order to rectify the oversight, I am sure he will either find his original birth certificate or order another one and release it.

And indeed, Donald Trump has, according to ABC News, released another birth certificate that looks a lot more “official.” This is a city-issued certificate, not a state one and there is nothing wrong with that.