Sunday, August 02, 2009

Beware the Birther Baggie Lady (With reader mail!)

Latest Newspaper Column:

Poor Mike Castle. The guy never knew what hit him.

Castle, a Delaware Republican congressman, was speaking at what he probably thought was going to be a nice, sedate town meeting, when a woman in the audience stood up.

She held up an American flag and a baggie, and in the type of angry, indignant voice usually reserved for people protesting sex offenders trying to move in -- well, anywhere -- she began: "I have a birth certificate here, from the United States of America, saying I'm an American citizen. With a seal on it."

She went on to describe said birth certificate in some detail, then asked : "I want to know, why are you people ignoring his birth certificate?" Her voice rose as she declaimed: "He is not an American citizen! He is a citizen of Kenya. ... I want my country back!"

Rep. Castle then made a serious mistake: He tried reason. "If you're referring to the president there," he said mildly, "he is a citizen of the United States."

The crowd erupted in boos and catcalls, and the Baggie Lady stood up again and brilliantly riposted by demanding that the whole crowd recite the Pledge of Allegiance with her. Because, after all, who needs to back up serious accusations with facts or logical arguments when you have the Pledge of Allegiance? I'm definitely trying that next time I'm in court.

Rep. Castle had been ambushed by what has become known as a "birther," a new and particularly reality-resistant type of conspiracy theorist. Birthers insist that President Barack Obama is not, as the Constitution requires, a native-born American citizen. The proof, they claim, is that he's never produced a birth certificate from his native state of Hawaii. The only problem with this theory is that he has.

The Obama Campaign posted the certificate online. When that wasn't good enough, they showed it to reporters from the nonpartisan website, who in their words, "touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate" and concluded, "It meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false."

In addition, the Republican governor of Hawaii, the state's registrar of vital statistics and their director of public health have confirmed -- repeatedly -- that Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.

But the hallmark of a true conspiracy theory is that every fact produced to refute it is cited as further proof of just how fiendish the conspiracy is and how far its tentacles extend. Witnesses? Part of the plot. Documents? Forgeries. Sanity? Overrated.

A recent highlight of birther-mania occurred on a Chris Matthews' "Hardball," where convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy stumbled and stammered as he attempted to explain why a document entitled "Certificate of Live Birth" is not a birth certificate.

In many ways, the birthers are like another group of crackpots, known as the "9/11 truthers," who advance various "proofs" that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America were actually planned and executed by the Bush administration. That they were the result, not of aerial attack, but controlled demolition. Or U.S. missiles. Or something.

The difference is that truthers don't get the sympathetic national forum granted the birthers by talk show hosts like de facto Republican Party Chairman Rush Limbaugh or CNN hothead Lou Dobbs. And very few political figures, on either side of the aisle, would respond to the question "Do you think Bush or Cheney was actually behind 9/11?" with the sort of cagey answers some Republican pols have used when asked "Do you think Barack Obama was born in the U.S.?"

"I think there are questions, we'll have to see," said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.).

"Oh, I'd like to see the documents," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the vice-chair of the House Republican Conference. Imagine the uproar if Nancy Pelosi had responded to the question "Did Bush order the attacks on 9/11?" with "I'd like to see the proof he didn't."

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) was more upfront, telling an interviewer, "I don't believe [Obama] ever produced a birth certificate." But then Blunt, along with 377 other House members, Republican and Democrat, voted for a resolution honoring the 50th anniversary of the entry of Hawaii into the union, a resolution which begins, 'WHEREAS, the president of the United States was born in Hawaii ..."

Maybe he didn't want to say it on camera because he was afraid of the Baggie Lady.

Addendum: you know, for reasons of space, I didn't even go into the racist underpinnings of the whole birther movement. But the very first e-mail I got when the column ran on the newspaper's website pretty well sums it up:

Obama is part joo, part nigger.  A mongrel hybrid.  Yahweh god almighty
disfavors hybrids as in Noah's flood and in many other instances. If you want
to know more I will be happy to tell you. At least you will never be able to
say that NO ONE ever told you.
russ --


'Nuff said.


Randy Johnson said...

The sad thing for me is that racism is behind the "Birther" conspiracy, however they want to phrase it. The GOP knows what the truth is as you pointed out in the resolution vote on Hawaiian statehood anniversary.
The dismaying thing is they will say and do anything to pander to these idiots in an attempt to regain lost power rather than doing what is necessary to get the country moving out of this mess.
I'm a Republican that voted for Obama and, no I don't like everything he's trying, but I don't automatically dismiss everything else. Something has to be done and he's making that attempt. These fools that are impeding his every move should be ashamed of themselves and I hope on their next re-election bid, they are tossed out on their asses. Unfortunately it's not likely to happen.

Charlieopera said...

I have daily battles with a confirmed wingnut (I nicknamed “wingy”) who’s actually posted here and at Dave’s site a few times). She believes the following: “Obama is a welfare child, who got into Harvard via affirmative action and was then funded by radical Muslims so he (and they) could one day take over the country. She refuses to read any government statistics (or anything else that runs contrary to her “opinions”) and insists gun control legislation (of any ilk) will one day “enslave” all of us because that’s what Stalin did in Russia, “the commie, pinko, fag.”

How do you reason with someone like that?

You don’t.

Me, I stir it up with her (the way I do here sometimes), but what she says is pretty much in line with the whack job birther baggie person … which is scary nonetheless; that there are people believing any of it. Yet, I suspect most of them will die off just about the same time as the traditional majority in this country suddenly becomes the minority and things should literally even out for a few years. See this article Ed Gorman sent along last night:

That said … there was this comment during the Presidential campaigns by the Secretary of State regarding President Obama. “… you don't believe that he's a Muslim.” Hillary said, “No, No! No! Why would I? There's nothing to base that on. As far as I know.”

People have agendas and it’s up to us to figure them out. The good thing about the psychos at FOX is they’re so obvious … the bad thing is I guess there’s still a substantial amount of people who pay attention to them.

Sheila said...

When each of my children were born, I was issued a certificate of live birth, but would have to wait until the state issued an Official Birth Certificate before I could actually "register" for anything official. When they entered school, they needed a copy of the OFFICIAL Birth Certificate.
The certificate of birth wouldn't do because it didn't have all the information on it. My college aged son took a cruise last year, and guess what? We had to produce an OFFICIAL Birth Certificate before he could board the ship. Would they accept a certificate of live birth? NO! I asked...because providing the OFFICIAL Birth Certificate, with the seal intact, was going to cost $32 to order from the state. That's right, they wouldn't even accept a COPY of an OFFICIAL Birth Certificate! Now if that's required for a cruise ship, why can't the President just show his??? He's making things more suspicious by NOT showing it. JUST SHOW IT and it'll all be over!

Anonymous said...

What I'd like to see is when a birther or a truther interrupts an event, the politician fielding questions just says, "I'd answer that, but clearly, you're a moron. Next question."

JD Rhoades said...

Sheila, I don't know why everyone's picking on you. I have short form birth certificates for me and my kids and they've always sufficed for every purpose including going to school and getting passports.

My folks have been on several cruises,and they've never had to produce birth certificates as long as they had valid US passports.

JD Rhoades said...

That's the problem, Jim. Morons are their base.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Charlie's right when he says you can't reason with them. I don't think they're all from the older generation, though. I've run into a few twenty-somethings who believe this shit.

Charlieopera said...

There are a few questions I'd like Obama to answer (without interruption), while we're at it:

1. Is there an exit strategy for the war in Afghanistan you insisted was the right war during the presidential campaign?

2. Are we there to spread democracy?

3. Are we there to find Osama Bin Laden?

4. If so (to find Bin Laden), didn’t you say (or isn’t he believed to be) in Pakistan?

5. If it is to punish those who attacked us, why aren’t we at war with Saudi Arabia (since most of the hijackers were born there)?

6. If it is to punish states that sponsored Al Qaeda, at what point do we stop punishing them (and put an end to the cost in American & Afghani {and Iraqi} lives)?

7. You spoke of changing Washington and bringing about an inclusive political environment during the campaign. What happened (referring to the Democrats within your party who aren’t playing ball)?

8. Current plans call for a 2011 withdrawal from Iraq. Why 2011 if it was the wrong war in the wrong place? Why not yesterday?

9. Outsourcing … you’ve already given away OUR money to corporate America. At what point do you do something for US … say, like, require corporations who borrowed OUR money to end outsourcing? Goldman just posted record profits after paying back their TARP loans with money WE gave to AIG. You think maybe they could stop sending OUR jobs overseas?

10. Or how about deferring penalties for borrowing from 401K’s (what the market has left us with after destroying most of them)?

11. When are you going to grow a pair of balls regarding “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL” and promote a constitutional amendment that guarantees the rights of gays to marry?


12. Since people like Ralph Nader already support equal rights, getting out of Iraq & Afghanistan, wouldn’t have paid the extortion Wall Street demanded, why should anyone supporting those policies vote for you in the next presidential election … or do you intend to actually CHANGE something in Washington before 2012?

Gerard said...

Charlie, I don't see how a Constitutional amendment would be needed for gay marriage to be legal.

Charlieopera said...

Gerard, you're right. It's my way of shoving it back at those who demand an amendment to say gay marriage should be illegal.

It shouldn't be an issue anymore ... but here we are.

LongHairedWeirdo said...

That said … there was this comment during the Presidential campaigns by the Secretary of State regarding President Obama. “… you don't believe that he's a Muslim.” Hillary said, “No, No! No! Why would I? There's nothing to base that on. As far as I know.”

If it's the exchange I'm thinking of, it's a bit more forgivable than it sounds there. She was asked "Is he a Christian," and she said yes. And then she was pressed with a followup and that's where she came up with the "as far as I know".

But seriously, how do you know that someone is "really" a Christian, when they have a history of attending a church with a loud and emphatic preacher? Do Christians have a secret handshake? We Catholics didn't, but we were all going to burn in a special section of hell reserved for papists, so it didn't matter.

LongHairedWeirdo said...


The certificate of live birth that Obama has shown *is* the real, live, official, honest-to-Allah - whoops, I mean "God" - 100% pure, undiluted, all-American birth certificate for the state of Hawaii. There's also a "long form" that includes stuff like the name of the attending physician and so forth that is kept for official records, but not given out.

Obama has shown the one, true, and only, birth certificate anyone from Hawaii gets. There's no question of "releasing the long form" or "releasing the real birth certificate". That's it; that's the official one. That proves he's a citizen.


As if the State Department hadn't already established his citizenship bona fides a long time ago when he got his bleeding passport. As if he hadn't already had his background thoroughly investigated by the feds when he became a Senator, for security clearance. A

Not that I'm impatient with people who raise these questions without even *thinking* of the *obvious* reasons that they're complete and utter bullshit, or anything.