Are Trump and the birthers hypocrites? Racists?

April 28, 2011

You will love this post from Day Riffer:

Looks Like Trump’s Right: How the Hell Did This President Get Into Those Ivy League Schools?

Politics

– “The dean looked over Barack’s transcript and college boards and then suggested in a kindly way that he apply to some less competitive colleges in addition to Columbia.”

– “There were no class rankings at his high school, but Barack never made honor roll even one term, unlike 110 boys in his class.”

– “His SAT scores were 566 for the verbal part and 640 for math. Those were far below the median scores for students admitted to his class at Columbia: 668 verbal and 718 math.”

– “At Columbia, Barack Obama distinguished himself primarily as a hard partier, and he managed to be detained by police twice during his university years: once for stealing a Christmas wreath as a fraternity prank and once for trying to tear down the goalposts during a football game at Princeton.”

– “Obama’s transcript at Columbia shows that he was a solid C student. Although a history major, he sampled widely in the social sciences and did poorly in political science and economics while achieving some of his best grades (the equivalent of a B+) in philosophy and anthropology. The transcript indicates that in Obama’s freshman year, the only year for which rankings were available, he was in the twenty-first percentile of his class—meaning that four-fifths of the students were above him. Yet at the same time that he was earning Cs at Columbia, Obama displayed a formidable intelligence in another way. At his induction into the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity, he and others were asked to name all fifty-four pledges in the room. Most were were able to name only five or six. When it was Obama’s turn, he named every single one. Later he rose to become president of DKE, and he was also tapped into Skull and Bones, an elite secret society to which his father had also belonged.”

And then he somehow got into Harvard for graduate school.

Oh, wait.

My bad.

I made a mistake.

Please replace the reference to “high school” with “Andover.”

Please replace “Columbia” with “Yale.”

Please replace “Barack Obama” with “George W. Bush.”

Thanks.

(PresidentProfiles.com)

Read more: http://dayriffer.com/category/28/l/2056/looks-like-trump-s-right-how-the-hell-em-did-em-this-president-get-into-those-ivy-league-schools#ixzz1Kr8k1xVN

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kenny, back from China and “digging deep” in his new studies.


NBC on the Obama birth certificate issue

July 23, 2009

Embedding the video from NBC escapes me — but go here to see NBC’s four-minute report on the Obama birth certificate crazies.

Here’s the full video of the BCOs going crazy at a Congressman’s town meeting.

It’s really a form of mass hysteria, isn’t it?

For months the birthers, or Birth Certificate Obsessed (BCOs), have pleaded for mainstream media to take a look at this issue.  NBC did just that.

Is it any surprise that this morning the crazies say “NBC lied?”

BCOs fell hard to the hoax about Obama not being eligible, and now they deny all evidence that they fell for a hoax.

BCOs/birthers?  Can we have our country back, now that you’re done?

Other notes:

Be sure to see earlier material here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Here’s a large dose of facts, including David Maraniss’s article in the Washington Post about Obama’s early life.  Note that it describes details that would be impossible to fake, were the story not accurate:

Please share good information:

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“Maybe the best reason yet for being happy that Obama was elected”

January 4, 2009

Go look at Barry Weber’s post at First Morning.

Spend at least a full minute looking at that photograph.

Wow!

Look at every single face. Each face is the verse of an epic poem. Each expression is a note in a symphony. Here are a hundred eyes full of excitement and joy, and..(though these kids don’t know it yet their parents and grandparents do)..hope. This is the kind of Hope that straightens paths, brightens colors, and builds bridges to possibilities. It is the kind of Hope that I feel so grateful to have been able to witness, and even feel in my own heart.

But, just look at these kids! Whatever I might feel is peanuts compared to the smiles, laughter, and amazement of these young ones.

By many accountings, these are dark days for the United States.  Those faces show the light of the future — they may be the light of the future.

Nice catch, Mr. Weber.


Obama’s birth certificate: Astrologers bring sound reason

November 30, 2008

Texas Darlin‘ and the bevy of sites who contest the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate need to come up for air once in a while.  When astrologers start using better science, logic and reason than those obsessed with Obama’s birth certificate, it’s time for those so obsessed to change their ways, don’t you think?

See also the six ways the arguments against Obama’s birth certificate fail.


Obama went to the White House, and all you got was . . .

November 17, 2008

Oh, wait.  He’s still interested in recruiting your help.

Change you can count on.  Change you can believe in.  Change we need.

What sort of thing did that campaign unleash?  We’re still learning.


Arc of history under the St. Louis Arch

November 7, 2008

This is just so, so, so delicious.

Look at this photo.  It’s a shot of the crowd gathered in St. Louis on October 19 to see and hear Barack Obama — about 100,000 people.  Study the buildings in the photo.

Supporters of Barack Obama rally in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 19, 2008

Supporters of Barack Obama rally in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 19, 2008

See the building with the green dome?  Recognize it?

Elizabeth Kaeton wrote at Telling Secrets:

If you look in the distance there, you can see a building with a greenish-copper dome. That’s the Old St. Louis Courthouse. For years and years, slaves were auctioned on the steps of that courthouse.

The Old Courthouse used to be called the St. Louis State and Federal Courthouse.

Back in 1850, two escaped slaves named Dred and Harriett Scott had their petition for freedom overturned in a case there. Montgomery Blair took the case to the US Supreme Court on Scott’s behalf and had Chief Justice Roger Taney throw it out because, as he wrote, the Scotts were ‘beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.’

Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

What is rather uplifting is that, 158 years later, the man who will most likely be the first black US President was able to stand outside this very same courthouse and gather that crowd. Today, America looked back on one of the darkest moments in its history, and resoundingly told Judge Taney to go to hell.

That case is the first one I thought of when Sarah Palin got caught by Katie Couric unable to explain Supreme Court decisions with which she might have disagreed.  In re Dred Scott is right at the top of my list, and generally on the tip of my tongue.  We fought a great and bloody war to overturn that decision, amended the Constitution, bore another 100 years of atrocities, then passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, all to blot out the dreadful decision those conservative, activist judges wrought on the nation.

Kaeton posted the photo and comments last Saturday, before Freedom Tuesday when we voted as nation to clean up even more of the mess of the Dred Scott case.

History teachers:  I’ll wager that’s a photo you can get cheap, to blow up to poster size for your classrooms.  You ought to do it.  Students should not only understand history, they ought also be able to take delight in watching it unfold, especially when justice comes out of the unfolding.

Found the photo and post, with a tip of the old scrub brush to Blue Oregon, while looking at the astounding number of literary and history allusions in Obama’s unique victory speech, in which he talked about Americans trying to “bend the arc of history.”  I knew I’d heard that line before.  It’s from Martin Luther King, who saidm “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”  (Where did he say that?  When?)

Those allusions, and the speech, may be a topic for another post.

Resources:


Hoaxers promise to slam Obama to the end

November 2, 2008

The Economist, that august, conservative British publication about economics, endorsed Barack Obama for president. (I added highlights, below):

IT IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.

For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.

We face tough issues, and tough times.  The world’s economy is in a fix, America is involved in two protracted wars, our reputation internationally is at a low ebb for the past 125 years, and too many of America’s institutions just are not working.

Serious issues won’t stop the hoaxsters from trying to hoax Americans about Barack Obama right up to election day, and probably beyond.

For example, there’s a guy named Mitchell Langbert, who insists that there remains an issue about Barack Obama’s birth certificate.  He goes so far as to claim that Obama might be committing fraud merely by running for office, and then he stretches a biased assessment of U.S. election law to say Obama’s running is a violation of voters’ rights.  The birth certificate hoaxers roll on despite their nuisance lawsuits being dismissed solidly in at least two jurisdictions, and despite the complete lack of any cogent or coherent case that there is a problem with Obama’s citizenship.

Consider this:  Obama’s birth was recorded by the State of Hawaii, in Hawaii, in 1961.  As many newspapers did at the time, the Honolulu Advertiser listed births in the state, and it listed Barack Obama’s birth there.  This issue would have been checked again on at least three occasions.  First, when he applied for his own passport, the U.S. State Department would have required a showing of a birth certificate.  Second, when he applied for a law license, he had to make such a showing to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (as we all did); I haven’t checked, but Illinois may have required a separate confirmation.  And third, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, the FBI would have checked the issue in their routine checkings of senators for top secret clearances (Obama is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, where secret information is often passed to senators).

Finally, it is the duty of the state secretary of state (SOS) to verify that candidates are eligible for listing on the ballots.  I suspect most SOS offices take a certification from the candidate without much checking; however, what this means is that the SOS is the person who would have authority to challenge for citizenship.  Knowing that they have no case, none of the birth certificate hoaxers, not Langbert or Texas Darlin’, nor anyone else, has bothered to ask their SOS to check things out.

Other hoaxers are worse, creating whole cloth fictions, just for the sake of malice.  (See here, too, for a solid example of just plain malice in hoaxing.)

Remember the 7 Signs of Bogus History?  (You’ll find a link just under the masthead here.)  The first is that the work is conducted by press release, and not in the archives, or in serious searches for the facts.  Each of these anti-Obama hoaxes originates either with a press release or a blog post.  Not one has withstood scrutiny of any court, nor of any editor at any serious mass media outlet who seriously worries about libel, slander, or otherwise getting the facts straight.  That’s a serious indictment.

Gone are the days when one needed a printing press at least to make one’s views known broadly.  Web tools, like the blogging software and servers used by this blog, allow any fool (as I may well be) to throw his hat, brain too often included, into the public arena as a pundit.

The Economist conclude in their endorsement editorial:

He has earned it

So Mr Obama in that respect is a gamble. But the same goes for Mr McCain on at least as many counts, not least the possibility of President Palin. And this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Update, November 2, 2008: Langbert appears to be censoring comments at his blog, as well – none of my responses other than my first post have been allowed to get through his personal filtering.  This is a pattern we’ve seen in many of the hoax blogs that complain about Obama, and the McCain sympathizer blogs that pose as disgruntled Democrat blogs.  Any post that offers serious criticism is dangerous to their posing as informed seekers of the truth — so posts that contain real information rebutting their claims are not allowed through their “moderation,” or are edited to say inane things.

For Obama voters, this confirms their fears that a McCain administration would probably continue the Bush administration’s suppression of views and filtering of helpful criticism.  Also, it means bloggers like Langbert are bullies who can’t take the hurly-burly of serious discussion.


Slinging mud, losing elections

November 1, 2008

Encouraging reports from North Carolina, not-so-encouraging reports from Kentucky.

In North Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s campaign dived into negative campaigning, with a crude and inaccurate campaign ad against her rising-in-the-polls opponent, state Sen. Kay Hagan.  It appears many voters are disgusted with the negative ads.  In any case, the Charlotte Observer wrote an editorial condemning Dole’s ad and negative tone, “Dole’s desperate turn to Big Lie advertising.” Good on them.

In Kentucky, however, we learn that negative campaigning can still pack a punch among poorly educated or bigoted groups.  The Lexington Herald-Leader has a poll showing significant portions of Kentucky voters think Barack Obama is Muslim.

One might recall Dumas Malone’s description of the election of 1800, between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson thought it beneath his dignity, and not part of American politics, to discuss a candidate’s religious faith.  Alexander Hamilton, on behalf of Adams, led a campaign of calumny in newspapers throughout the U.S. saying that because Jefferson was atheist, as president he’d send the army to confiscate Bibles.  Jefferson refused to respond.  Malone notes that on election day, fully half of all American voters were convinced Jefferson was atheist.

They voted for Jefferson anyway, rather than stick with the failed policies of Adams.  There’s a lesson in there somewhere.


Why we liked Obama then

October 31, 2008

On July 27, 2004, candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, Barack Obama, delivered the keynote address to the National Democratic Convention.

It was a turning point speech.  Obama went on to win the Illinois senate race.  His candidate for president, John Kerry, lost.  But the power of his speech and its ready reception earned Obama consideration as a candidate for the presidency in 2008.

As the 2008 campaign winds down to election day next Tuesday, it’s interesting to revisit Obama’s debut on a national stage.  What was it that made his speech so well received?  What was it about the biographical portions that made Obama look like a potential president?

PBS’s Online Newshour described the speech:

Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama introduced himself to Democrats and a national television audience Tuesday, giving the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Obama told the story of his working class family and urged the nation to elect Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, saying he would ensure more educational and economic opportunities for all.

Here is the full text (borrowed from PBS), so you can see for yourself.

A YouTube capture of the CSPAN broadcast:

BARACK OBAMA: On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place; America which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he signed up for duty, joined Patton’s army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or “blessed,” believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody’s son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted — or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

Don’t get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice, because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he’ll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never be the first option.

A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6’2” or 6’3”, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It’s that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.


Federal judge dismissed the challenge to Obama’s birth certificate

October 26, 2008

As expected, a federal judge in Philadelphia late Friday dismissed a challenge to the campaign of Barack Obama to produce yet another copy of his birth certificate. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled that the plaintiff, screwball attorney Philip J. Berg, lacked standing to sue.

Appearing to take his inspiration from the Monty Python character, the Black Knight, Berg promised to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the U.S.

Among reputable media, only the Philadelphia Daily News took note of the dismissal early on:

Obama and the Democratic National Committee had asked Surrick to dismiss Berg’s complaint in a court filing on Sept. 24.

They said that Berg’s claims were “ridiculous” and “patently false,” that Berg had “no standing” to challenge the qualifications of a candidate for president because he had not shown the requisite harm to himself.

Surrick agreed.

In a 34-page memorandum and opinion, the judge said Berg’s allegations of harm were “too vague and too attenuated” to confer standing on him or any other voters.

Surrick ruled that Berg’s attempts to use certain laws to gain standing to pursue his claim that Obama was not a natural-born citizen were “frivolous and not worthy of discussion.”

The judge also said the harm Berg alleged did “not constitute an injury in fact” and Berg’s arguments to the contrary “ventured into the unreasonable.”

For example, Berg had claimed that Obama’s nomination deprived citizens of voting for Sen. Hillary Clinton in November. (Berg backed Clinton in the primaries.)

Berg could not be reached for comment last night.

Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, and the campaign posted a document issued by Hawaii on its Web site, fight thesmears.com, confirming his birth there.

Berg said in court papers that the image was a forgery.

The nonpartisan Web site FactCheck.org examined the original document and said it was legitimate.

Further, a birth announcement in the Aug. 13, 1961, Honolulu Advertiser listed Obama’s birth there on Aug. 4.

Dozens of bloggers bought new rolls of aluminum foil to make protective hats, and questioned the dismissal, or jumped to other equally unwarranted conclusions. Near total insanity.

Resources:

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Update, 10-27-2008:  Here’s an example of how lunatic this issue is, and how bizarre are the arguments.  This blog argues that Judge Surrick had the decision dictated to him from someone else in the Obama camp — the same lunatic argument creationists made against the decision of Judge Jones in the Dover, Pennsylvania, “intelligent design” trial.  Could it be that all lunatics are creationists?  Or is it just that lunatics all stumble into the same lunatic arguments?


Obama “most liberal,” McCain “most absent”

October 20, 2008

Anyone who has staffed Congress knows the various ratings of the votes of Members of Congress are most often skewed by the organizations that make them.  They pluck a dozen votes out of several hundred cast by a member in a year, to claim that special dozen can tell the character, or value, or liberalness or conservativeness of the member.

So when campaign surrogates claim that one of the candidates is “the most” whatever, it need be taken with a few grains of salt.

Presidential campaigns can wreak havoc on a members voting record — heck, reelection campaigns can do the same — because candidate forums and primary election dates almost always conflict with the work of Congress.  A candidate for president might be lucky to make even the major votes.

Obama missed several key votes, but got enough in to get rated.  According to one rating, by National Journal, Obama is “the most” liberal U.S. senator.  In today’s U.S. Senate, that’s not really saying much, since moderate Republicans have gone extinct there, and most of the liberal lions of the Democrats are at least retired, if not dead.

Listening to the Sunday talk shows today, I wondered why McCain’s people, always anxious to brand Obama as “most liberal,” don’t point to McCain’s own ranking.  Why not show the differences between the two on the issues, where it counts, in the votes?

So I checked.  John McCain missed more than half the votes in most areas rated by National Journal, and so could not be ranked. It looks worse when you look at the company McCain keeps in the “unranked” category.

Three senators do not have scores for 2007 because they missed more than half of the rated votes in an issue area: John McCain, R-Ariz., who was running for president; Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who was recuperating from a brain hemorrhage and returned to work on September 5, 2007; Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., who died on June 4, 2007; and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who was appointed to succeed Thomas on June 22, 2007.

John McCain:  Most absent.


Atomic history, nuclear future

October 19, 2008

We’re going to see more nuclear power plants in the U.S., it’s a safe bet.  Both presidential candidates support developing alternatives to oil and coal.  Nuclear power is one of the alternatives.

John McCain kept repeating his comfort words, that ‘storage of wastes is not a problem.’ There is not a lot of evidence to support his claims.  With turmoil in financial markets, however, the nuclear power issue has gotten very little serious attention or scrutiny.  From the push to get compensation for radiation victims of atomic weapons and development in the U.S., I learned that the issue is not really whether wastes and other materials can be safely used and wastes stored. The issues are entirely issues of will.

Advantage to Obama, I think.  He’s not claiming that the storage problems are all solved.  A clear recognition of reality is good to have in a president.

Son Kenny sent a link to a history site, Damn Interesting, and it tells the story of the Techa River in the old Soviet Union — a place condemned for generations by the nuclear excesses of the past.

To make the story briefer, in their rush to produce nuclear weapons, the Soviets did nothing to protect Russia from radioactive waste products until it was much too late.  Efforts to reduce radioactive emissions, by storing them in huge underwater containers, resulted in massive explosions that released more radiation than Chernobyl (What?  You hadn’t heard of that, either?).

It’s a reminder that safety and security with peaceful uses of nuclear power depend on humans doing their part, and thinking through the problems before they arise.

Can we deal with radioactive wastes?  We probably have the technology.  Do we have the will? Ask yourself:  How many years has the U.S. studied Yuccan Mountain to make a case to convince Nevadans to handle the waste?  How many more decades will it take?

How is our history of dealing with nuclear contamination issues?  Not good.

Last spring SMU’s history department sponsored a colloquium on a power generation in the southwest, specifically with regard to coal and uranium mining on the Navajo Reservation.   We’ve been there before.

One of the photos used in one of the lectures, by Colleen O’Neill of Utah State, showed two Navajo miners outside a uranium mine during a previous uranium boom.  Neither one had a lick of protective equipment.  Underground uranium mining exposes miners to heave concentrations of radon gas, and if a miner is unprotected by breathing filters at least, there is a nearly 100% chance the miner will get fatal lung cancers.

Of the 150 Navajo uranium miners who worked at the uranium mine in Shiprock, New Mexico until 1970, 133 died of lung cancer or various forms of fibrosis by 1980 ([Ali, 2003] ).

Our Senate hearings on radiation compensation, in the 1970s, produced dozens of pages of testimony that Atomic Energy Commission officials understood the dangers, but did nothing to protect Navajo miners (or other miners, either).  It is unlikely that anyone depicted in those photos is alive today.

AP Photo  (borrowed from ehponline.org)

"Mine memory - Navajo miners work the Kerr-McGee uranium mine, 7 May 1953. Today, uranium from unremediated abandoned mines contaminates nearby water supplies. image: AP Photo" (borrowed from ehponline.org) This photo is very close to the one used by Prof. O'Neill. It may have been taken at nearly the same time. If you know of any survivors from this photo, please advise.

At a refining facility on the Navajo Reservation, highly radioactive wastewater was stored behind an inadequate earthen dam.  The dam broke, and the wastes flowed through a town and into local rivers.  Contamination was extensive.

Attempts to collect for the injuries to Navajo miners and their families were thrown out of court in 1980, on the grounds that the injuries were covered under workers compensation rules (where injury compensation was also denied, generally).

Navajos organized to protest the power plant. One wonders whether they can win it.

Sen. McCain seems cock sure that radioactive wastes won’t kill thousands of Americans in the future as they have in the past.  The uranium mining and uranium tailings issues occurred in Arizona, the state McCain represents.  Does he know?

We regard ourselves in the U.S. as generally morally superior to “those godless communists.”  Can we demonstrate moral superiority with regard to development of peacetime nuclear power, taking rational steps to protect citizens and others, and rationally, quickly and fairly compensating anyone who is injured?

That hasn’t happened yet.

When [uranium] mining [on the Navajo Reservation] ceased in the late 1970’s, mining companies walked away from the mines without sealing the tunnel openings, filling the gaping pits, sometimes hundreds of feet deep, or removing the piles of radioactive uranium ore and mine waste. Over 1,000 of these unsealed tunnels, unsealed pits and radioactive waste piles still remain on the Navajo reservation today, with Navajo families living within a hundred feet of the mine sites. The Navajo graze their livestock here, and have used radioactive mine tailings to build their homes. Navajo children play in the mines, and uranium mine tailings have turned up in school playgrounds (103rd Congress, 1994 ).

Think of the story of Techa River as a warning.

Resources:


Obama didn’t start the sub-prime mortgage crisis

October 12, 2008

The intensity of the rabid attacks on Barack Obama is troubling. The issues grow more bizarre, the links to Obama grow more tenuous, and the shouts more shrill.

And that’s from the reasonable opponents of Obama.

For example, over at the oddly-named IUSB Vision Weblog (Indiana University – South Bend), there is much yammering about how Barack Obama personally is responsible for the sub-prime mortgage industry collapse, because he represented an ACORN client in a redlining case and won the decision from the judge.

From there, the story trails off into a rabbit warren of wild conspiracy theories and the granting of supernatural powers to Obama (though the authors wouldn’t admit it’s supernatural). For example, there is this post about a letter Sen. McCain signed urging some action on oversight of federal mortgage refinancers.

The authors stoutly defend their bizarre claim that Congress is the agency responsible for the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through the OFHEO, Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. Congress maintains its usual oversight over the executive branch agency, but it is, after all, an executive branch agency. Think about your high school civics classes: Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances.

Congress is not the superintendent of OFHEO

Here is OFHEO’s mission statement — notice no reference to being in Congress’s chain of command:

OFHEO’s mission is to promote housing and a strong national housing finance system by ensuring the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation). OFHEO works to ensure the capital adequacy and financial safety and soundness of two housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the nation’s largest housing finance institutions. They buy mortgages from commercial banks, thrift institutions, mortgage banks, and other primary lenders, and either hold these mortgages in their own portfolios or package them into mortgage-backed securities for resale to investors. These secondary mortgage market operations play a major role in creating a ready supply of mortgage funds for American homebuyers. Combined assets and off-balance sheet obligations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were $4.2 trillion at year-end 2005.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are Congressionally-chartered, publicly-owned corporations whose shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Under terms of their GSE charters, they are exempt from state and local taxation and from registration requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Each firm has a back-up credit line with the U.S. Treasury.

OFHEO’s oversight responsibilities include:

Conducting broad based examinations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; Developing a risk-based capital standard, using a “stress test” that simulates stressful interest rate and credit risk scenarios; Making quarterly findings of capital adequacy based on minimum capital standards and a risk-based standard; Prohibiting excessive executive compensation; Issuing regulations concerning capital and enforcement standards; and Taking necessary enforcement actions.

OFHEO is funded through assessments of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. OFHEO’s operations represent no direct cost to the taxpayer. In its safety and soundness mission, OFHEO has regulatory authority similar to such other federal financial regulators as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

The legislation that established OFHEO also requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to meet certain affordable housing goals set annually by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. These goals specify the share of mortgages that the two GSEs are required to purchase annually from low-income, moderate-income and central-city homebuyers.

And, explaining its role in mortgage refinance regulation:

OFHEO was established as an independent entity within the Department of Housing and Urban Development by the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 (Title 13 of P.L. 102-550). The agency is headed by a Director appointed by the President for a five-year term.

OFHEO’s primary mission is ensuring the capital adequacy and financial safety and soundness of two government-sponsored enterprises, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are congressionally-chartered, publicly-owned corporations whose shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the nation’s largest housing finance institutions. They buy mortgages from commercial banks, thrift institutions, mortgage banks, and other primary lenders, and either hold these mortgages in their own portfolios or package them into mortgage-backed securities for resale to investors. These secondary mortgage market operations play a major role in creating a ready supply of mortgage funds for American homebuyers. Combined assets and off-balance sheet obligations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were more than $4.2 trillion at year-end 2005, which represents over 40 percent of mortgages outstanding.

In fulfilling its role in the secondary mortgage market, OFHEO promotes housing and a strong national housing finance system.

OFHEO’s oversight responsibilities include the following:
– Conducting broad-based and targeted examinations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
– Making quarterly findings of capital adequacy based on a minimum capital standard and a risk-based capital standard
– Administering a risk-based capital standard, using a “stress test” that simulates interest rate and credit risk scenarios
– Prohibiting excessive executive compensation
– Issuing regulations concerning capital and enforcement standards
– Taking necessary enforcement actions
– Issuing an annual Report to Congress on the financial and operational condition of the Enterprises

OFHEO is funded through assessments on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. OFHEO’s operations represent no direct cost to the taxpayer.

The website for the agency is clear that it resides in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), though it is an independent agency whose director is appointed by the president for a five-year term. When I posted this information at IUSB Vision, however, it was censored. Instead, I got this charming response from the immoderator:

Ed – Stop lying,

You did not read the links. You need to start reading at OFHEO.gov and go and read the links I provided. OFHEO reports to Congress, not the administration. It is a fact. Deal with it. All you have to do is go read on their site THEY will tell you.

Charming fellow. He has censored all of my comments since then. At one point he was lecturing me that I didn’t know the organization. I pointed out to him that the Constitution makes clear the lines of organization in this case: OFHEO is an independent agency within the executive branch. It works closely with the Secretary of HUD. The organization charts show it is not a Congressional agency.

Similarly, this fellow is convinced that Obama, as a lawyer, made the federal courts dance to his tune. He appears to have no understanding for how federal courts work, nor for how a federal judge would regard any attorney acting as arrogantly as they claim Obama did.

Object lesson: You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not get to by reason in the first place.

Election, come soon!

Resources:


What if Obama carried Alaska?

October 6, 2008

Just wondering, after reading the latest news from Mudflats:  “McCain Palin Rally vs. Obama Biden Rally in Anchorage!  The blow by blow.


McCain on Eisenhower’s two letters

September 27, 2008

In the first of the 2008 debates between presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain pointed to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s two letters, written on the eve of the D-Day invasion in June 1944.  One letter would be released.  The first letter, the “Orders of the Day,” commended the troops for their work in the impending invasion, giving full credit for the hoped-for success of the operation to the men and women who would make it work.

The second letter was to be used if the invasion failed.  In it, Eisenhower commended the troops for their valiant efforts, but said that the failure had been in the planning — it was all Eisenhower’s fault.  (It was not a letter of resignation.)

You can find the first letter, the one that was released, through links at this post at the Bathtub, “Quote of the Moment:  Eisenhower at D-Day Eve.”

The second letter, you’ll find in image and text with links to other sources at this Bathtub post, “Quote of the Moment:  Eisenhower, duty and accountability.”  Last year I wrote:

In a few short sentences, Eisenhower commended the courage and commitment of the troops who, he wrote, had done all they could. The invasion was a chance, a good chance based on the best intelligence the Allies had, Eisenhower wrote. But it had failed.

The failure, Eisenhower wrote, was not the fault of the troops, but was entirely Eisenhower’s.

He didn’t blame the weather, though he could have. He didn’t blame fatigue of the troops, though they were tired, some simply from drilling, many from war. He didn’t blame the superior field position of the Germans, though the Germans clearly had the upper hand. He didn’t blame the almost-bizarre attempts to use technology that look almost clownish in retrospect — the gliders that carried troops behind the lines, the flotation devices that were supposed to float tanks to the beaches to provide cover for the troops (but which failed, drowning the tank crews and leaving the foot soldiers on their own).

There may have been a plan B, but in the event of failure, Eisenhower was prepared to establish who was accountable, whose head should roll if anyone’s should.

Eisenhower took full responsibility.

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troop, the air [force] and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.

Who in the U.S. command would write such a thing today?

It was a case of the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, taking upon himself all responsibility for failure.

McCain has called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which he points to as part of his plan for accountability.  The analogy fails, I think.  The proper analogy would be George Bush taking blame for the current financial crisis.  In his speech earlier this week, Bush blamed homebuyers, mortgage writers, bankers and financiers.  If Bush took any part of the blame himself, I missed it.

I wonder if McCain really understands the Eisenhower story.  I still wonder:  Who in the U.S. command would write such a thing today?


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