August 3, 1923: Calvin Coolidge sworn in as president

August 2, 2014

Calvin Coolidge taking the oath of office August 3, 1923, upon learning of the death of President Warren G. Harding. Curtis Publishing Company image (artist?), 1924; from the American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress

Calvin Coolidge taking the oath of office August 3, 1923, upon learning of the death of President Warren G. Harding. Curtis Publishing Company image (artist?), 1924; from the American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress

Vice President Calvin Coolidge took the oath of office for the presidency first from his father, a notary public, in New Hampshire, after having been officially informed of the death of President Warren G. Harding while on a tour, in San Francisco.

Coolidge is the only president to have been sworn in by a member of his immediate family.

More on Calvin Coolidge from the Library of Congress “Today in History” feature:

Calvin Coolidge

After all, the chief business of the American people is business.

President Calvin Coolidge,
address before the American Society of Newspaper Editors,
Washington, D.C., January 17, 1925.
Foundations of the Republic (1926), 187.

Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge, full-length portrait, seated at desk, facing front, holding pen and paper, wearing black armband in mourning for President Harding,
Washington, D.C.,
August 4, 1923.
Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

Calvin Coolidge took the presidential oath of office on August 3, 1923, after the unexpected death in office of President Warren Harding. The new president inherited an administration plagued and discredited by corruption scandals. In the two remaining years of this term, Coolidge, long recognized for his own frugality and moderation, worked to restore the administration’s image and regain the public’s trust.  He went on to win the presidential election of 1924 in his own right.

Coolidge believed that government should interfere as little as possible with business and industry. His administration supported tax reductions for U.S. businesses as well as high protective tariffs in support of U.S. goods—which were being produced in greater quantities than ever before. Technological and managerial innovations, improvements in the methods of production, and growing distribution networks made consumer items more generally available.  Many Americans purchased cars and radios, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines—taking advantage of increasingly obtainable consumer credit.

Vacuum Cleaners on Display at the J.C. Harding & Co. Store
Vacuum cleaners on display at the J. C. Harding & Co. Store, probably in Washington, D.C.,
Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

Raleigh Haberdasher Show Window
Raleigh Haberdasher show window
Washington, D.C., circa 1925.
Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

Automobiles in Window of the Washington-Cadillac Co.
Automobiles in window of the Washington-Cadillac Co.,
Washington, D.C., 1927.
Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

Some groups did not participate fully in the emergent consumer economy, notably both African-American and white farmers as well as immigrants. While one-fifth of the American population made their living on the land, rural poverty was widespread. Despite agricultural overproduction and successive attempts in Congress to provide relief, the agricultural economy of the 1920s experienced an ongoing depression. Large surpluses were accompanied by falling prices at a time when American farmers were burdened by heavy debt. Between 1920 and 1932, one in four farms was sold to meet financial obligations and many farmers migrated to urban areas.

Restrictive immigration laws, aided by a resurgence of nativism in America in the 1920s, contributed to an atmosphere hostile to immigrants. The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 discriminated against immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. The National Origins Act of 1924 completely excluded Japanese and other Asian immigrants and further reduced those admitted from southern and eastern Europe.

Visitin' 'Round at Coolidge Corners
Visitin’ ‘Round at Coolidge Corners,
Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

The economic growth of the 1920s spurred the rise of consumer organizations and campaigns. Some, such as the Truth-in-Advertising Movement, which pursued ethics and self-regulation in advertising, were industry-based. Other campaigns and organizations sought to educate consumers. The Better Homes Movement celebrated home ownership, home maintenance and improvement, and home decoration in towns and cities across the country. The Thrift Movement sought to teach children and citizens how to save and spend wisely. Stuart Chase worked to educate consumers about unfair advertising and pricing practices used by manufacturers of consumer products. Lastly, there were campaigns such as the Playground Movement which began in response to popular anxieties about material excess, misuse of leisure time, and the loss of traditional values.

Learn more about Calvin Coolidge and his era:


From the Library of Congress collections: Calvin Coolidge, full-length portrait, seated at desk, facing front, holding pen and paper, wearing black armband in mourning for President Harding. Coolidge took the oath of office in Plymouth Notch, VT early in the morning of Friday, August 3rd, and arrived in Washington late that night, the day after the death of President Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865-1923). Coolidge was the nation’s thirtieth president.

I get email (sorta): How long could U.S. survive without a president?

March 31, 2013

A brilliant and vexing former student, Bryan Sabillon, asked a question — on Facebook:

Remember how you said America can’t go two hours without a president? What’s the worst that can happen if it just so happens to take three-four hours? Or is it uneventful?

Interesting question — to me, at least, and maybe even to Bryan.  Here’s my response, with a few links added:

Did I say that? (Some context would be nice. No I don’t remember saying that.)

Technically, can’t happen now with the 25th Amendment and succession laws; if a president dies, another is there, probably without regard to swearing in.

A few historical examples suggest no big problem; these are nullified if missiles are in the air at that moment, though:

1. When Tyler succeeded Harrison 1 (first death of president in office), John Tyler was more than 24 hours out of Washington. Worse, many people thought that while the duties of the president fell to the VP under the Constitution, that should be a temporary condition settled by a special election. Despite all this uncertainty, nothing bad happened in the interim.

U.S. Sen. David Rice Atchison, from Missouri; photo by Matthew Brady

U.S. Sen. David Rice Atchison, from Missouri; photo taken by photographer Mathew Brady at the United States Capitol at Washington, D.C., March 1849. Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, via Wikipedia. Photo taken the same month some say Atchison was acting President, for one day.

2. On March 4, 1849, [James K.] Polk’s term expired. But it was Sunday, and incoming Pres. Zachary Taylor refused to be inaugurated on Sunday. So did incoming VP Millard Fillmore. Some argue that David Rice Atchison, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and then-third in line for the presidency under the laws then existing, was president for one day. He didn’t claim that, but in any case, spent most of the day sleeping, as the outgoing Senate had been working late for several previous nights. Some argue that because the Senate had adjourned sine die on its last session, not even Atchison was president. In any case, nothing happened.

President of the Senate Vice President Chester...

Official Senate bust, President of the Senate, Vice President Chester A. Arthur (it’s a bust; he was not really that pallid) Photo from Wikipedia

3. When [James] Garfield was shot, he did not die immediately, but hung on for more than a month before infection took him. Vice President Chester A. Arthur did not assume duties of president, nor did anyone else, in that period. A lot of stuff got delayed, but no big deal. Government continued during the long dying process, and until Arthur was sworn in.

4. Similarly, when [William] McKinley was shot, they thought he’d survive. VP Teddy Roosevelt took off to hunt in the Adirondacks. When McKinley took a turn for the worse, guides had to be dispatched to find Teddy climbing a mountain (Mt. Marcy); by the time he got to Buffalo, McKinley had been dead for several hours. Nothing of consequence happened as a result of there being no president on hand (and they were in Buffalo, New York, not Washington, anyway).

5. Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke on October 2, 1919, that left him blind in one eye and unable to walk. He was kept out of the presence of the VP and cabinet for months; when he finally returned to cabinet meetings in 1920, he was clearly unable to function as president. It’s an interesting case with his second wife essentially taking over the office under the guise of intermediary and care giver to the president. This one may have had some consequences – the Senate never did ratify the Treaty of Versailles, for which Wilson was campaigning when he was stricken, and so the U.S. never joined the League of Nations, dooming it to failure years later as World War II erupted. But perhaps Wilson couldn’t have gotten it ratified had he been fully active, anyway. Perhaps Wilson could have influenced the election of 1920, which Warren G. Harding won (who would die of a heart attack in San Francisco, making Calvin Coolidge president). But all of that is pure conjecture.

6. The funniest (in retrospect) was when Ronald Reagan was shot. At a press conference at the White House as Reagan was being prepped for surgery, a reporter asked some cabinet officials “who is in charge?” Perhaps reacting too much to the question as a challenge to whether the government was leaderless and vulnerable, Secretary of State Al Haig grabbed the microphone and said “I’m in charge here!” In reality, Vice President George H. W. Bush was in full communication mode of the modern presidency; control of the “football,” the nuclear strike code case which accompanies the president at all times, could have been an issue, but was not.

President Obama waving

President Obama at an airport; the Marine in the background looks to be carrying the “nuclear football.” Photo from Cryptome (Is this an AP photo? Anyone know?)

Under the 25th Amendment and the Succession Act, it’s difficult to imagine how the U.S. could be without a president at any time; the confusion around the death or disability of a president offers a window of a de facto gap, but that should last only minutes under the procedures and precautions now in effect (some of which we saw on 9/11).

Worst that could happen now? If missiles were incoming, and confusion over who has control of the football went on for more than 10 minutes, a retaliatory strike could be late in getting launched. It takes about 15 minutes for intercontinental ballistic missiles to get to their downward path, or to register on known radar, so a ten minute delay might be encouraging to a Russia that hoped to knock out the U.S. before a retaliatory strike could occur; but that’s probably not realistic. And, even that would be of no great consequence if the secret “missile net” many people think the U.S. has, actually exists.

Is this a class question, or are you involved in some odd drinking game again?

(Update:  Sheesh.  Turns out he just saw “Olympus Has Fallen,” and wondered.

Everyone knows we’re really safe, so long as Morgan Freeman is anywhere near the presidency, even Speaker of the House.)

(Anyone else seen the movie?  Is it a scenario not already contemplated under the 25th Amendment?)


Voice of America video on Al Haig’s life, featuring the famous quote:

Where are the birth certificates for Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul?

March 15, 2012

Odd as hell.  It’s like Obi Wan Kenobi pulled the old mind-wave trick (“You don’t need to see his identification”), and the birthers suddenly forgot what they’ve been saying, doing and threatening, for three years.

Have you heard any of the most frantic, frenetic, dedicated birthers ask for the birth certificates of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum?

Why all the tough questions for the Democrat, for the non-lunatic, for the Chicago guy, for the kid from the single-parent household, and none for the White Anglo-Saxon Catholic/Mormon/Lapsed Lutherans?

Where’s the birth certificate for Joe Arpaio?  Could he be so tough on immigrants because, secretly, he is one, and hopes not to be discovered?

I think, perhaps, they weren’t really concerned about citizenship qualifications to be president, except to “get” Obama.  If they can’t figure out a way to win — and therefore beat Obama — by cheating, they don’t want to play at all.  Even Leo Donofrio is folding his tent.

If only Congress would get the message that America’s president is president of all of America, and their efforts to bring down the nation to “get” Obama are not working, and should be stopped, I’d be a lot happier guy.

Minor update, March 17, 2012:  Sorta as I feared/expected/realized-from-years-of-experience, the birthers are letting the current group of Republicans slide, so far as I, or they, can tell.  Most of them are completely unaware that at least one candidate has a foreign-born father, most of them don’t know where or when the candidates were born or naturalized, and of course, because the Republicans are not Obama, they don’t really care.  One birther claims to be sure that “others” are looking hard into these questions, experts.  Shades of that other Harrison Ford movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark:”  What experts?  “Top experts.”  And shame on me for even asking the questions calling their bluff.

More (if you can stand it):

Birthers lose to an empty chair

February 5, 2012

Yes, really.

Despite dire warnings from an administrative law judge in the Georgia Secretary of State‘s office, Obama’s attorneys refused to even put in an appearance at the hearing to decide whether Barack Obama is eligible to run for president under the Constitution’s natural born citizen clause.  Facing a contempt citation, they refused to lend the attention that an appearance by the president’s lawyer would give to such a circus trial.

Empty Chair, by Jim Strong Photography, copyright 2006

Beautiful photo of an empty chair, by Jim Strong, copyright 2006 — go buy a print from him (click the picture), and have him autograph it. That empty chair’s cousin made better arguments in a Georgia courtroom that did Orly Taitz or any other birther.

Pleading their case before a judge mad at Obama, with no defense put up by Obama’s lawyers at all, the birthers still lost.  Their case does not cross the threshold of credibility a case needs to be taken seriously, the judge ruled.  Obama is a natural born citizen, Obama is perfectly eligible for the presidency due  to his Hawaiian birth, and the birthers should fold their tents and go back to their figurative plows or knitting.

The birthers lost to a defense argued (badly) by an empty chair.

If your livelihood depends on their going back to their plows and needles, you’re in trouble.

Were you surprised?  Birthers have lost every one of these suits.  Birthers still don’t give up.

Here, read the decision at SCRIBD:  Barack Obama is who he says he is.

View this document on Scribd

Judge Michael Malihi was not pleased with Obama’s lawyers for their failure to show.  That tactic force the judge to actually look at the evidence presented and rule that what was presented by the birthers not only does not make the case that Obama is not a natural born citizen, but that the evidence does not even make a prima facie case that further arguments are needed — the evidence sheds no light, it’s “not probative.”

Technically the ruling is advisory to the Georgia Secretary of State; no one expects the SOS to go completely off the rails, barking down the halls of the capitol building to graze the lawn, and decide contrary to the recommendation from Judge Malihi.

Several birthers allowed themselves to get excited that their string of bad luck and courtroom smackdowns might be changing.  They have been disappointed.

The world works, and law again proves its value.

More, Resources:

Tip of the old scrub brush to reader Whatever4, who alerted us to the decision and gave us the link to Scribd.

Birthers: Lacking the sense God gave chickens

January 30, 2012

Birthers are still claiming the Earth is flat, still looking for a missing link, still claiming Judge Crater didn’t go missing, and still embarrassing America?


Barack Obama's Long Form Birth Certificate

Barack Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate – image from (available many places)

Orly Taitz was in court in Georgia, losing another case because she lacks even a whiff of a scintilla of an iota of evidence to back any of her claims that President Barack Obama was not born in Honolulu, Hawaii, as his now-released long-form birth certificate, short-form birth certificate, contemporary newspapers, eyewitnesses and all other evidence indicate.  They have no evidence, and they have clowns for lawyers:

In court filings, Obama’s legal team has called the “birther” allegations baseless and the criticisms of his birth records “patently unfounded.” The filings also noted 68 similar challenges filed have been dismissed and, during a 2009 challenge, a federal judge in Columbus fined Taitz $20,000 for “frivolous” litigation.

But I stumbled onto a wildly misnamed blog, The Constitution Club*, where the issue is given credence and way too many electrons.

(Are lobotomies legal, again?  Can people perform self-lobotomies?  Just wondering.)

I added some references to sites in the real world, so that anyone not totally insane might find an anchor in reality and follow the threads back to the light.

The post’s author, Daniella Nicole, tried to make a defense of the birthers insane, destructive antics.

I responded, but you never can tell when the birthers will plug their ears, cover their eyes and start singing “Born in the U.S.A.” at the top of their lungs to avoid information that would require them to appear sober.  My comment went straight to “moderation.”  Probably too many links, or too many high-quality links (thank you, Cornell University Law Library’s Legal Information Institute).   For the record, here’s my last reply to Daniella Nicole:

[Daniella Nicole wrote:]

I daresay any of the GOP contenders, or to use your reference, SNL’s the Church Lady, Frankie and Willie or one of the Coneheads, would all be better than the clown (or Homey D. Clown from In Living Color, if you will) currently in office.

Excuse me. I had mistaken you for an American, a patriot, and someone who bears no ill will to the American people.

Unless Obama has lied about who his father is and the birth certificate is a fraud (which would raise other legal issues), Obama is NOT a natural born citizen. Period.

“Born on American soil” means “natural born American citizen.” Obama was born on American soil. End of your argument.

BUT, had he been born on foreign soil, with one American citizen parent, he would still be a natural born citizens — as is John McCain, born in Panama (and not on a military base, but in the local Panama hospital).

Remind me never to refer any of my clients or friends to you for immigration advice.

The Supreme Court actually set the precedent of defining natural born as born of two American citizen parents in the 1875 case Minor v. Happersett. Note it was not a dicta, which is an authoritative statement by a court that is not legally binding, but an actual precedent, which is a rule of law established for the first time by a court and is referred to by other courts afterwards.

The holding in Minor was that women are not voting citizens. The case dealt with Mrs. Minor’s attempt to register to vote. Obama is not a woman, and the issue you’re talking about has nothing to do with registering to vote. So, if the case says what you claim, it MUST be in obiter dicta. [Obiter dicta means those parts of the decision in which the court explains how and why it ruled as it did, but NOT the key ruling itself.]  No offense, but you really could use some legal training. At least get a Black’s Law dictionary, will you?

Here, read excerpts from the opinion:

The question is presented in this case, whether, since the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, a woman, who is a citizen of the United States and of the State of Missouri, is a voter in that State, notwithstanding the provision of the constitution and laws of the State, which confine the right of suffrage to men alone. We might, perhaps, decide the case upon other grounds, but this question is fairly made. From the opinion we find that it was the only one decided in the court below, and it is the only one which has been argued here. The case was undoubtedly brought to this court for the sole purpose of having that question decided by us, and in view of the evident propriety there is of having it settled, so far as it can be by such a decision, we have concluded to waive all other considerations and proceed at once to its determination.

So it would be error to claim the case got to the issue of who is a “natural born citizen” at all. It did not.

And, had you read the case, you’d know that. In fact, the case says the opposite of what you claim. It says:

Additions might always be made to the citizenship of the United States in two ways: first, by birth, and second, by naturalization. This is apparent from the Constitution itself, for it provides [n6] that “no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President,” [n7] and that Congress shall have power “to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” Thus new citizens may be born or they may be created by naturalization.

The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their [p168] parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts. It is sufficient for everything we have now to consider that all children born of citizen parents within the jurisdiction are themselves citizens. The words “all children” are certainly as comprehensive, when used in this connection, as “all persons,” and if females are included in the last they must be in the first. That they are included in the last is not denied. In fact the whole argument of the plaintiffs proceeds upon that idea.

Under the power to adopt a uniform system of naturalization Congress, as early as 1790, provided “that any alien, being a free white person,” might be admitted as a citizen of the United States, and that the children of such persons so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under twenty-one years of age at the time of such naturalization, should also be considered citizens of the United States, and that the children of citizens of the United States that might be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, should be considered as natural-born citizens. [n8] These provisions thus enacted have, in substance, been retained in all the naturalization laws adopted since. In 1855, however, the last provision was somewhat extended, and all persons theretofore born or thereafter to be born out of the limits of the jurisdiction of the United States, whose fathers were, or should be at the time of their birth, citizens of the United States, were declared to be citizens also. [n9]

If you’re going to opine on citizenship, you would do well to read a summary of actual citizenship law, and don’t take the odd rantings of anti-Obama people on the internet.

Dani said:

Interestingly, many refer to Vattel’s definition of natural born (which is essentially the same thing and may have influenced the founders in their work on the Constitution), but it is not Vattel that sets legal precedent. The Supreme Court can and did set the precedent in the matter in 1875.

Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875) most assuredly did not rule that a child must have two U.S. citizen parents to be a citizen, nor to be a “natural born” citizen. Read the case’s key sections above.

The precedent that is important here is the presidency of Chester Alan Arthur, a man who, like Obama, had a father born in a foreign country, and who was not a citizen of the U.S. at the time of Arthur’s birth. While opponents tried to make an issue of this in the campaign of 1880, it was a non-starter. You know the rest — Arthur was elected vice president under James Garfield, and ascended to the presidency upon Garfield’s death after being shot (no, Orly Taitz was not the shooter). So, had Hapersett had anything to do with presidential eligibility, it would have applied to Arthur. Since Arthur served out his term as president, it’s pretty clear that the actual precedent supports Obama’s eligibility 100%.

Somebody told you a tall tale about the case — it’s about whether a woman may vote, not about what is a natural born citizen. Seriously, how could anyone confuse those issues?

Congress in 2008 (including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) also defined natural born as having been born to two American citizen parents when a challenge to John McCain’s eligibility was issued.So, even by the standard and definition of Congress, including Obama himself, he is not legally qualified or eligible.

1. That was a non-binding resolution, stating the opinion of the U.S. Senate.
2. The resolution, S. Res. 511 in the 110th Congress, ( does NOT say “two American citizen parents,” but instead refers to children born to “Americans.” Obama’s mother was an American.
3. Obama was born on American soil, and so the resolution, covering kids born outside the U.S., is inapplicable, and off the mark.

Obama was not born to two American citizen parents, by his own admission and via the birth certificate which he has provided to America. Ergo, he is not a natural born American citizen and does not meet the Constitutional requirement for the office of President of the United States of America. As such, not only is he not legally qualified to be in the office he currently holds, but he is not legally eligible to be on any ballot in the U.S. for the upcoming election. Period.

Except, none of the laws you cite says what you’d need it to say. Obama is natural born because he was born in the U.S. He is also natural born having been a child of a U.S. citizen. He is fully legally qualified — at least, to people who know the law, and who appreciate that it’s necessary to follow the laws.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Your wishes do not change the law. Your misstatements of the cases and the laws do not change the laws. Your wish to find something bad against Obama, a good man and a good president, does not give you a leg to stand on, nor a horse to ride.

And how, pray tell, is using legal means to resolve serious legal matters “polluting the courts”? That is what they are there for.

Junk lawsuits. Nuisance suits. Orly Taitz has already been fined for making these nuisance claims. The evidence needed to challenge Obama’s eligibility simply does not exist, except in the fevered and overactive imaginations of those crazies. The stuff in Georgia this last week is a supreme embarrassment to America — but thank God, the courts got it right.

But by all means, continue to stamp your foot and blather on about this. Your work on this insane and hopeless issue keeps you off the streets, and out of real politics. You can’t do damage to a school board race while you’re lost in the ozone on citizenship and Obama.


* Maybe by “Constitution Club” they mean “a club with which to beat the Constitution,” and not a group of people joining together in a noble cause, you think?

Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

Constitutional right to be stupid: Birthers at it again

November 19, 2011

Where are the Republicans to stop this waste of time and money?

I get e-mail, from the Obama bunch; can you believe it?:

2012 Ed —

It’s no surprise that professional conspiracy theorists are still on the birth-certificate warpath — but now elected officials are getting their backs.

Yesterday, four Republicans in the New Hampshire State House supported a hearing requested by a group of birthers who want President Obama officially removed from the state’s primary ballot.

It’s not clear whether all this is a smokescreen or whether these dead-enders actually believe this stuff. But they aren’t letting the facts get in their way — one group in Arizona has even demanded that the President “release the microfiche” of his birth certificate.

Sadly, I don’t have any microfiches on hand, but we have the next best thing: In honor of birthers everywhere, we’re re-releasing the campaign’s limited-edition “Made in the USA” mugs.

Donate $20 or more today and we’ll send you one — complete with a reprint of the President’s birth certificate on the side for everyone to see.

Get your limited-edition mug

Here’s what one of the state representatives backing the effort had to say about yesterday’s hearing: “I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even I could take [the long-form birth certificate] apart and see that it was fraudulent.”

Well, I won’t argue with one part of that statement.

There’s clearly nothing we can do to satisfy this crowd — or anyone else who insists on wasting time and energy on nonsense like this.

But when it starts to make your head hurt, I’ve found the best remedy is to have some tea in my “Made in the USA” mug.

Works like a charm. I recommend Earl Grey:



Julianna Smoot
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America


Goldie Taylor at Why Obama shouldn’t have to “show his papers”

May 1, 2011

More, Resources: 

No, Henry Wallace would not have been president long, had FDR died a few months early

March 25, 2011

Oh, it’s a technical quibble, I know.

Henry Wallace campaign button from 1948

Henry Wallace campaign button, probably from 1948. R. Emmett Tyrell worries unnecessarily that Henry Wallace might have been president, had FDR died a few months earlier.

I’ve read R. Emmett Tyrell for years.  Back in the day, when American Spectator was scratching to get anyone to read, they sent me free copies — I presume because they got my name off of a list for National Review.  At some point they decided they could actually get someone to pay for the magazine, and I fell off their list.

It was a fun read back then.  American Spectator showed up on newsprint, not slick paper.  There was a college newspaper feel to it.  They had a great section called “Brayings from the barnyard,” in which they’d quote stupid things that people said.  That was the first place I encountered the old saw, “Those whom the gods destroy, they first make mad.”

And I’m sure that, had he thought about it for three minutes, he wouldn’t have written it.  But Tyrell didn’t think.

In the on-line blog for the Spectator, in the traditionally-named “The Current Crisis,” Tyrell wrote:

Progressives have long been in favor of One World vouchsafed by the United Nations. Henry Wallace, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second vice president and the 1948 presidential candidate for the Progressive Party, spoke of it often. On the campaign trail in 1948 he spoke of “jobs, peace, and freedom” that “can be attained together and make possible One World, prosperous and free, within our lifetime.” He too promised to coordinate policy through the United Nations. Had President Roosevelt died but six months earlier, America would have had this fantastico in the White House. As it was, in one last act of cunning for his country, Roosevelt maneuvered Wallace out of the vice presidency and Harry Truman in. Harry was green but he was not naïve. We came that close to Henry Wallace and his “Gideon’s Army” in the White House.

Does Tyrell really believe that?

Henry Wallace could not have succeeded to the presidency at any time after noon, January 21, 1945, and had he succeeded to the presidency any time before January 21, he’d have served only until January 21.  Had Roosevelt died any time after November 7, 1944, Harry S Truman would have been inaugurated on January 21, 1945.  Had Roosevelt died between the Democratic Convention and the election, one could make an argument that Truman would not have won the nomination nor the presidency — we’ve never had a candidate die before election day, nor between election and inauguration (though William Henry Harrison sure pushed it).

Berryman cartoon, 1948, Truman v. Tom Dewey

Berryman cartoon, probably from the Washington Star, 1948 — New York Gov. Thomas Dewey was expected to handily defeat President Harry S Truman; the election was held anyway. Elections have consequences.

Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945.  Six months earlier quickly calculated would have been October 12.  [I goofed when I submitted a comment at the Spectator site, and calculated December — too quick a calculation!]  Wallace, then the vice president to FDR, almost certainly would not have won the Democrats’ nomination for president.  It may have been possible for the party to name a new ticket, and if so, it would not have had Wallace on top.  One can make a case that Truman wouldn’t have been on top of a new ticket, either — but even October 12 may have been too late to change the ballot, for pragmatic purposes, prior to the election.  Most discussions I’ve seen suggest that the vice presidential candidate would be moved up in such a case.

So, had Roosevelt died months prior to April 12, 1945, we would have had Henry Wallace as president for only a few weeks, until inauguration day the next January.  Then we would have had Harry S Truman, or Thomas E. Dewey.  Dewey ran against Truman in 1948, and lost.  There’s a good case to be made that Truman would have defeated Dewey in 1944, had they run against each other then.  Truman would have had the sympathy vote, and he would have been thought to have been the heir to the Roosevelt legacy and policies near the end of World War II.  With Hitler and Tojo on the run, it would have been a bad time to switch parties and policies.

We’ll never know, but Tyrell need not worry.

Harry Truman and Chicago Tribune from November 4, 1948

Harry Truman and Chicago Tribune from November 4, 1948

Birthers claim Obama born in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub in 1853

March 12, 2010

With Henry Louis Mencken as his father.

No, that’s not really what they claim (I think; sometimes it’s difficult to tell). But what happened, and how it spread virally through websites of birthers and Obama haters, should provide a moral to someone’s story.

To demonstrate how easy it is to create hoax claims about Obama and birth certificates, somebody created a false MySpace page, and a story of an office supply store employee who helped the Obama campaign generate a false birth certificate.

Birthers jumped on the story as proof that the Obama birth certificate is false.  Seriously.  You can’t make this stuff up.  Story at the aptly-named and fully entertaining Oh, For Goodness Sake! which seems dedicated to debunking all the birthers’ craziness (a mother lode of hoaxes and gullibility to be sure).

Santayana’s Ghost wags his finger, and Mencken’s Ghost has gone out in search of stronger beer.  You tell ’em it’s voodoo history, you tell ’em it’s a hoax, they still suck it up.  Dr. Kate, New Mexico Paralegal, Texas Darlin’, Free Republic, Orly Taitz, Tea Baggers, we know what you are and we don’t want to haggle about the price.  We ain’t buyin’.

Birthers: Still crazy after all these months

March 1, 2010

The New Mexico paralegal who claims to know more about the law than any federal judge including the Supreme Court has resurfaced here, at this post.  He seems bent on making a case against President Obama’s eligibility for the presidency no matter how many fables he has to invent.

Don’t birthers eventually get a good night’s sleep and wake up and wonder why they waste their time on such a loser issue?

No, no, I guess not.

Previous posts at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Special kind of birther crazy:

Stubborn Birthers soldier on

January 4, 2010

Birther “Dr. Kate” sez there’s a case coming to a hearing in Pennsylvania that will go to the Supreme Court no matter how this hearing turns out.

Here’s the table of contents to Kerchner v. Obama. Here’s the full complaint, according to Dr. Kate.

Probably the best thing going for the plaintiffs is that Orly Taitz only appears by name in a bizarre accounting of everything ever said on the issue (except for the lack of evidence and reasons this case will fail which, oddly, isn’t included in the complaint; everything else is included).

I predict the case will be dismissed, but it may be dismissed with prejudice.  That is, if it really does come to a hearing.  Is that really possible?

Warn others so they don’t get trampled:

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Obama’s eligibility: California court tossed the challenge out

October 30, 2009

On the one hand it’s nice to see cool heads and wisdom prevail.

On the other hand, the Orly Taitz, Stumbling and Bumbling Bros., Barnyard Bailout Circus provided belly laughs for everyone who watched it.  How can such outstanding legal pratfall comedy possibly be replaced?  “Boston Legal” can’t hold a candle to Orly Taitz.

CNN and other sources report that Judge Carter booted the suit late Thursday, noting that the question is one for Congress, and Congress’s earlier decision sticks.

The lawsuit represented the claim by the so-called “birthers” movement that Obama was not born in Hawaii – despite a birth certificate to the contrary – or that if he was, his citizenship was invalidated by living overseas as a child.

In a 30-page ruling, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter of California said his court lacked the jurisdiction to rule on a case intended to unseat a sitting president.

Carter’s ruling said the plaintiffs were trying to persuade him to “disregard the constitutional procedures in place for the removal of a sitting president.”

“The process for removal of a sitting president – removal for any reason – is within the province of Congress, not the courts,” the ruling said.

Carter’s ruling also noted that the plaintiffs “have attacked the judiciary, including every prior court that has dismissed their claim, as unpatriotic and even treasonous for refusing to grant their requests and for adhering to the terms of the Constitution.”

“Respecting the constitutional role and jurisdiction of this court is not unpatriotic,” the ruling said. “Quite the contrary, this court considers commitment to that constitutional role to be the ultimate reflection of patriotism.”

Will Orly Taitz go quietly?  How can she replace the daily adrenaline rush of knowing she’s earned the official ire of judges from Chesapeake Bay to Long Beach Harbor?

It may be unrelated, but sketchy early reports say Orly Taitz has climbed aboard a mylar balloon shaped like a flying saucer . . .

More information:

Lou Pritchett, you make me fear for my nation – an open letter to a former soap salesman

August 20, 2009

It looks like an internet hoax, but it’s not. It’s worse than that.  It is a triumph of cynicism and pessimism wedded to false claims, crafted to impugn a good man.  Lou Pritchett’s letter is scary because he appears to believe it, and others may, too.

Lou Pritchett on a yacht, holding his book, which has nothing to do with politics. Notice the lack of libraries in the photo.

Lou Pritchett on a yacht, holding his book, which has nothing to do with politics. Notice the lack of libraries in the photo. Image from

It usually comes with this line:  “Subject:  Letter from Procter & Gamble Exec to Obama.”  It may be entitled “An Open Letter to President Obama.”  It’s a letter filled with rant and inaccurate claims against Obama.  But it demonstrates something troubling.  It’s a letter from a guy who should know better, from a guy who can read newspapers and check facts for himself, but a guy who has been suckered in by every false and calumnous claim made against our President.

In short, it’s a letter from a supreme cynic, who has every reason to know better but appears to refuse to think.

Below the fold, I post the letter completely as it came to me, and I respond, with an Open Letter to Former Soap Salesman Lou Pritchett.

Here’s how the letter came to me, and below that, a careful and more pensive response.

“Subject: Letter from Procter & Gamble Exec to Obama

Please read, even if you are an Obama fan.  It is legitimate, written by respected, Lou Pritchett, formerly of Proctor and Gamble.  Lou Pritchett is one of corporate America’s true living  legends- an acclaimed author, dynamic teacher and one of the world’s  highest rated speakers. Successful corporate executives everywhere recognize him as the foremost leader in change management. Lou changed the way America does business by creating an audacious concept that came to be known as “partnering.” Pritchett rose from soap salesman to Vice-President, Sales and Customer Development for Procter and Gamble and over the course of 36 years, made corporate history.


Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don’t understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and ‘class’, always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America ‘ crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer ‘wind mills’ to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You scare me because you have begun to use ‘extortion’ tactics against certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending  proposals.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O’Relllys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8  years.

Lou Pritchett

The letter came with this explanation attached:


This letter was sent to the NY Times but they never acknowledged it.

Big surprise!  Since it hit the internet, however, it has had over 500,000 hits.  Keep it going.  All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.  It’s happening right now.

I disagree.  I think people can actively promote evil, even when they do not intend to.  For example, this letter contains a number of nasty, erroneous claims (I have to work hard not to call them “lies,” but I’ll wager Pritchett just doesn’t know better; I can’t pass judgment on his motives).

No rational person should read anything into the failure of the New York Times to publish the letter.  They get thousands of letters on many topics, and they try to pick the best.  Plus, that paper as most responsible, major papers do, put letters through a basic fact check.  This letter wouldn’t survive that.  Had the paper published Pritchett’s letter, he would have been subject to widespread ridicule.

And, this should not be news, The New York Times does not respond to each of the thousands of letters-to-the-editor it gets every day.

I doubt Pritchett will ever get this letter, though I’d like to be proved wrong.  Garbage should be picked up an carted off so vermin can’t breed in it, however, and so I offer my response below

Open letter to Former Soap Salesman Lou Pritchett

Dear Mr. Pritchett,

Knowing that you’re a voting citizen of the United States, and that you have access to vast stores of accurate information, I look at your letter to President Obama, and I fear for my country. Someone noted the old saw that the only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.  On that basis, I cannot let your cynical claims go uncorrected where they err, and unrebutted.

I’ve only lived through 11 presidencies, so you have at least 6 years on me.  But you’re comfortably retired, sitting on a fat pile of assets from your comfortable job at Procter and Gamble.  I will be lucky to be able to retire before I hit 85, after years of public service.  I have reason to be cynical [while you don’t].  Your irrational lashing out puzzles me all the more, and troubles me all the more.

You say you don’t know Barack Obama.  That is no one’s fault but your own.

Barack Obama’s been a character on the national stage since he offered a stunningly beautiful keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2004.  There were dozens of profiles written about him in magazines and newspapers, and profiles offered on national television.  His race for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, a major state, got heavy coverage when the Republicans offered a carpet-bagging man from Maryland as candidate for the seat, when the duly-selected Republican candidate dropped out when scandal caught up with him.

Obama won the right to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate, in the seat occupied before him by people like Alan Dixon, Adlai Stevenson III, Everett Dirksen, and Stephen A. Douglas.  That seat is always watched closely by national media.

Obama’s popularity was based on many things, including two terms in the Illinois State Senate where he pushed through an ethics reform bill, which most people though impossible, and on his best-selling book, Dreams from My Father, a book contracted for by the publishers after Obama had been elected president of the prestigious journal, Harvard Law Review.   Published first in 1995, it was re-published in 2004.  You’ve had 14 years to get to your local library and read the book.

The book wasn’t a secret.  Wikipedia summarizes some of the reaction to the book:

In discussing Dreams from My Father, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison has called Obama “a writer in my high esteem” and the book “quite extraordinary.” She praised “his ability to reflect on this extraordinary mesh of experiences that he has had, some familiar and some not, and to really meditate on that the way he does, and to set up scenes in narrative structure, dialogue, conversation–all of these things that you don’t often see, obviously, in the routine political memoir biography. […] It’s unique. It’s his. There are no other ones like that.”[28]

The book “may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician,” wrote Time columnist Joe Klein.[29] In 2008, The Guardians Rob Woodard wrote that Dreams from My Father “is easily the most honest, daring, and ambitious volume put out by a major US politician in the last 50 years.”[30] Michiko Kakutani, the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times, described it as “the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president.”[31]

The audio book edition earned Obama the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.[32]

Your library might have the audio book, too.   Have you looked?

After he joined the U.S. Senate, he wrote another book based on his campaign and what he saw in Washington, The Audacity of Hope:  Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.  It topped the New York Times best-seller list in the fall of 2006.

So, you say you don’t know a guy who strode quickly into the limelight in 2004, wrote two best-selling books spilling his guts on his hopes and dreams as an American for a better and stronger America.  Seriously, man, whose fault is it that you didn’t bother to check him out?

You didn’t know anything about George W. Bush, either, even after he’d spent four years as president.  Did you vote for him?

There is no excuse to claim you don’t know about the man we elect president.  Your lack of curiosity, failure to pick up a newspaper or go to the library, is not Barack Obama’s fault.  You need to read more.

If you’d read the books, or the profiles, you’d know that Obama attended Columbia and Harvard on scholarship.  Most students at those schools, today, attend on scholarship.  Several Ivy League schools tell prospective applicants up front that, if they are accepted, they will have the money to go.  Even in the 1990s they prided themselves on helping bright but poor students.

How can you fail to know that?

Barack Obama left the U.S. for a few years early in his life.  He was born in the U.S.A. — in our 50th state! — and he attended school in the U.S. for eight years — longer than Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and George Washington combined.  He was raised by his two Kansas-born grandparents — as American as L. Frank Baum’s Dorothy, who was raised in similar circumstances (other than her trip to Oz).

Obama grew up playing basketball, the sport invented in a YMCA in New Jersey.  He attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, that all-American megalopolis in California, hoping to play basketball.  But, like William J. Bennett who said he went to Williams College to play football but discovered he had a brain, Obama woke up to scholarship at Occidental — in a big way.  He transferred to Columbia and graduated, worked building a powerful anti-poverty program from scratch in Chicago, and went off to law school at Harvard where he was a smashing success as a scholar and good guy.

These are all grand, American institutions.  Your claiming that basketball, college, Hawaii, California, New York City, Chicago, and Occidental, Columbia and Harvard are outside American culture is a slander to our entire nation and most of the people who live here.

Neither you nor I are more American than any of this culture, or any of these institutions, or Barack Obama.  Your claim insults us all — it is thoughtless, unwarranted and unsupportable.

Why did you not bother to learn this before you wrote your letter?

You accuse Obama of never having had to make a payroll.  I don’t know your early career, but your experience in a large corporation like Procter and Gamble is no better.  You never had to meet a payroll there, either — there was always plenty of money in the bank, a good line of credit from the world’s biggest banks, a good expense account for you, and someone else to do the accounting and cut the checks.

Obama, on the other hand, built from the ground up a non-profit poverty fighting organization for the Catholic Church in Chicago, building it to several employees and a half-million dollar budget in just a few years.

Why do you not know this?

You complain that Obama doesn’t understand the military, but National Guard veteran George W. Bush ignored the advice and wise counsel of the military and led us into a blunder in Iraq.  Military experience is no substitute for genuine curiosity, scholarship and wisdom.

You claim, without any cause I can find, that Obama lacks “humility and class.”  And yet he put his campaign on hold for days to fly to Hawaii for a few moments with his dying grandmother, to say “thank you” for her work raising him.  It could have cost him the election.  Those white, conservatives who voted for him for president of the Harvard Law Review (with many others) note what a good leader he was, not cocky but sure, a class act.

Obama blames others?  What I see is a man who steps up to responsibility, on the economy, on the budget, on our wars, on social issues, though they are all situations he inherited.  He engineered a new budget through Congress — a task George Bush couldn’t get done — in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  He went to the Capitol to offer to work with Republicans — an offer they promptly repudiated — and he has soldiered on trying to get America’s course straight without their help since.

Obama has never aligned himself with radicals who want to see America fail.  Specifically, he has never aligned himself with Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Back.  Nor has he aligned himself with anyone half as radical on the left.  He’s very much a moderate, and his cabinet choices reflect that.  Ray LaHood is no radical of any stripe.

Where did you ever get that odd idea?  Didn’t you read his books?  Don’t you read the newspapers?

Cheerleader for the “blame America crowd?”  No, that’s not Obama.  He did not say America deserved to be attacked on September 11, 2001, as Christian preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson did.  When he met with Vladimir Putin, unlike George Bush who claimed to have looked into Putin’s eyes and claimed to have seen “trustworthy” man, Obama told Putin the facts and extracted tough agreements to our nation’s advantage.

How could you miss those events?

Obama has never said he wants to change America into a European-style country — though, when we look at greatly reduced heart disease rates in every nation of Europe, or when we look at mass transit in France, Germany and England, we might see places we could do better.

Where did you get such a far-fetched idea?

Obama has never said he wants a government-run health care system.  He has said we have a moral duty to find ways to cover the nearly-50 million Americans who lack insurance and access to timely and inexpensive health care.  He has said we pay too much (we spend $7,000 per capita for health care, way more than double any other nation — and we pay that for the 50 million people who don’t get health care, too).   He has said we need to rein in health care cost inflation, which is double the rate of other goods and services, and which was a major factor in crippling American auto companies competing against foreign producers whose governments offer health coverage for all citizens including auto workers.

Have you read Obama’s statements?  Have you read the House bill, H.R. 3200, which is not Obama’s proposal, but which also doesn’t nationalize health care?  How can you draw that conclusion, when there is no proposal to do so?

Obama wisely urges that we ramp up alternatives to fossil fuels.  But he has also urged that we explore “clean coal,” a proposal that sends environmentalists screaming away. You’re imagining Obama’s opposition to fossil fuels. Windmills?  He’s said we should produce them in the U.S., and not buy them from foreign producers — keep the jobs at home.  Do you favor sending those jobs off-shore?

Where did you get such an idea?  Did you check it out for yourself?

Obama has said not one word in opposition to capitalism. When faced with a choice between nationalizing industries to rescue them, and any other choice, he has in every case avoided nationalization.  The government is a stockholder in some rescued companies, but not the sole owner.  Obama has chosen free market solutions to tough problems where other free-enterprise nations did not.

Why don’t you consider what Obama has done, rather than wild claims from . . . where?

Since when is it “extortion” to give banks enough money to stay in business? Good heavens, man!  The alternative was collapse of our banking system.  Most people complain that the banks were “given” too much!

Plus, most of the banking actions were done by George Bush’s appointee to the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, and by the Bush administration prior to January 21, 2009.

Where did you get the idea Obama was behind the actions of the Bush administration, since much of this stuff occurred well before January 21, 2009?

Since when is funding the Pentagon “wild and irresponsible?”  You’ve never heard of the “Blue Dog Democrats,” who threaten to derail our much-needed health care reforms because of the cost?

Surely you live where a newspaper is available, no?

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and others, noted that Obama seems to have paid careful attention to her book on Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, Team of Rivals.  She summarized lessons for Obama from the book in the Harvard Business Journal earlier this year.  I mention that because you cite that Harvard case study of your project, which tells me that you probably grant credence to that journal — though that makes your disrespect of Obama’s term heading the Harvard Law Review more mysterious and silly. Obama said he wants opposing views in the White House, in the basic discussions in his cabinet room and all other rooms of power.

In any case, Obama has populated his cabinet with people who have opposing views — Hillary Clinton, his chief and sometimes bitter rival for the Democratic nomination, Republican Ray LaHood at the critical Department of Transportation. He kept on Robert Gates at the critical post of Secretary of Defense — George W. Bush’s appointee.  No one thinks Gates is a pushover Obama supporter.

Obama made a point of going to the Capitol to confer with congressmen — Republicans first.

When Obama nominated a candidate for the Supreme Court, he consulted with my old boss, Orrin Hatch, first.

Obama’s team, like Rahm Emanuel, makes it a practice not to ignore Republicans, as the Bush administration ignored Democrats and — truth be told — Republican Members of Congress.

“I’ve heard more from Rahm in six months than I heard from Andy Card in six years, and Card’s daughter worked for me,” said former Representative Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia, referring to a chief of staff under President George W. Bush.

Where did you get the idea that Obama doesn’t like discussion or debate, or that he doesn’t listen to dissent?  That view is wholly unsupportable in history and current action.  Have you read the newspapers this week?  Proponents of health care reform claims he’s listened too much to the opposition.  One might have assumed that if one assumed George Bush’s White House was the model — but Obama promised to change things.  This is one area where he’s delivered better than anyone had any right to hope.

Obama thinks he is omnipotent and omniscient?  Then you must have stood and cheered when he noted — wisely — that the U.S. would have no comment in the first days after the disputed Iranian election, noting that any comment would be taken by the rulers as evidence of  U.S. interference.  The U.S. cannot dictate what happens he noted then, and often as well in regard to Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the one hand you claim Obama thinks himself omnipotent and omniscient, but when he goes to Europe to confer with our allies, saying we are neither omnipotent or omniscient and we need and will honor their views and information, you accuse him of “blaming America.”   I think you have not thought through these issues, nor where America’s best interests lie — certainly not as well as has President Obama.

Lou, your bizarre claim about Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and Beck almost doesn’t deserve comment.  These are guys who revel in America’s failure, whose ratings and income go up if America fails.  Rush Limbaugh admits that he wants Obama to fail, damn the cost to you, me and all other Americans.

And then you have the gall to claim that Obama demonizes them?

In a just universe, their transmitters would be taken out by lightning.  Obama has merely pointed out a few of their errors, but by no stretch, all of their errors.  Obama hasn’t even mentioned more than a dozen of their hundreds of slanders, errors, and misreportings of events.

Do you have a newspaper?  Where could any fair-minded person think these broadcast bullies deserve protection from the guy they try to bully most?

Obama favors control over governing?  In the most important big policy changer so far, health care reform, rather than dictate to Congress, Obama asked Congress to assemble a proposal.  Republicans refused to participate in making a good bill until Nancy Pelosi got it passed in the House.  Then, rather than wake up and try to make changes they might need in the Senate, they launched a campaign of slander and fiction against health care.

Lou, you, particularly, should appreciate what is going on here.  You worked for Procter & Gamble.  Would it be fair to claim you are a satan-worshipper, as Procter & Gamble’s old logo “proved?”  Of course such a charge is bizarre, ungrounded in fact, and damaging to people who have no intention to worship satan (I hope!).  Since you worked for a company that literally had to change its logo due to unfair and wild claims, you should be particularly sensitive to wild and unfair claims against others.  And yet, here you are with a letter read by more than a half million people, passing along wild and unfair claims.

Did you at least blush when you realized what you had done?

Control?  Obama has given up a great deal of control in order, he hopes, to get the reform that will keep our nation from going bankrupt (more than 60% of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are due to excessive health costs).   This is the mark of a leader.  Did you read Goodwin’s book on Lincoln?  You should.  Obama did.  It shows how a true, flag-waving patriot leads this nation.

Lou, we survived eight years of George Bush and his assault on the Constitution.  Your dissenting views will be honored far more than any dissent was ever honored by Bush — and if Obama has his way, your life will be better, more secure, and your dissent more free, in four years, six years, and eight years.

You could have learned all of that by reading Obama’s two books, by reading his extensive profiles in newspapers and magazines, by watching his well-known speeches and campaign appearances.  Lou, you’re a bright guy, a successful guy who should be reading newspapers and gathering information about how to vote.

It scares me mightily that despite these many opportunities for you to get the facts, you don’t have them, and you promote wild and scurrilous claims across the internet.  If you don’t know better, that’s your fault.  You should know better.

And if Lou Pritchett, with all his money and information gathering ability, smarts and charm, has such a distorted view of America, America’s election process, and our president, then I truly fear for my nation.

James Madison told us why it’s important to have a good public education system and why it’s important to use that education:

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

  • James Madison in a letter to William T. Barry, August 4, 1822; Library of Congress, Letters of James Madison

How many others like you might there be, Lou, literally endangering our republic with disinformation and wrong ideas about what is going on?

Is this the result of the slashing of library budgets begun in the Reagan administration?  Is your lack of information due to a lack of a library?  Is this a result of the reduction in news holes in newspapers as that industry struggles to survive against electronic competition?

In any case, shouldn’t a citizen know what the citizen does not know, and seek that information out before making unfounded charges based on false information?

Madison said knowledge governs ignorance.  But Kin Hubbard or someone like him noted that it’s not what we don’t know that gets us into trouble:  It’s what we know that isn’ t so.  You “know” a lot of stuff about Obama that is wrong. If that misplaced “knowledge” governs, America is doomed.

You wrote that letter months ago.  Please tell us you’ve learned in the passed time, and that you now know better.

Yours truly,

Ed Darrell

(I’ve e-mailed this letter to Mr. Pritchett.)

Update: Pritchett responded, sort of.  Like poking a hog.

More information:

Spread the good words instead:

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Birther karma: Hoaxers get hoaxed on alleged Kenya document

August 4, 2009

He who lives by the hoax, dies by the hoax.

People have been complaining for months about Barack Obama’s birth certificate, complaining that the official, under seal document from the State of Hawaii should not be honored, contrary to Hawaii law, contrary to federal immigration law, and contrary to the Constitution’s full faith and credit clause.  Something must be wrong with the document, they have claimed over and over, though no credible evidence of any problem has ever surfaced, let alone been presented to any authority.  Lawsuits have been dismissed for standing, dismissed for failure to state a case, and lately dismissed with warnings that nuisance suits will bring Rule 11 sanctions (Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that an attorney not file false or misleading documents, and that they swear that what they allege in a complaint is actual controversy and not hoax or false).

Even a reiteration from Hawaii officials didn’t quell the lunatic screams from the birther asylums.  (Here’s I’ve usually referred to the birth certificate-obsessed, or BCOs; I’ll continue using that acronym.)

The BCO universe erupted with glee over the weekend with the presentation of a document purported to be a birth certificate for Barack Obama, Jr., from Mombasa, Kenya.

While warning more sane and cool people that they were not skeptical enough of Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate, BCOs claimed they now had the smoking gun.  Orly Taitz, a California dentist/lawyer, promised to blow the case of Obama’s alleged ineligibility wide open with new filings of documents in California state courts.

They wanted so badly for the document to true and accurate, even though it would have offered no new ammunition for their claims, since Obama’s mother was a citizen and under U.S. law a child born to a U.S. citizen is considered a born citizen no matter where in the universe it is born . . .

That was Friday night.  Beginning Saturday morning, the hoax began to unravel.

BCO’s were had!  Someone had hoaxed them!

So, of course, they have gotten louder in their demands that the White House toss Obama to the crowd with pitchforks and torches, so they can investigate.

The document is a classic hoax, delivered where and when gullibility made the BCO arguments most vunerable  (which is any time, really).

Just after having complained that long-established and well-respected hoax debunking site could not be trusted, WorldNet Daily, the modern electronic analog to the pre-lawyered National Enquirer crossed wtih Saga magazine, now claimed it had the smoking document, and showed pictures of it.

Hoax birth certificate for Barack Obama, Jr, alleged to be showing birth in Mombasa, then Zanzibar

Hoax birth certificate for Barack Obama, Jr, alleged to be showing birth in Mombasa, then Zanzibar

Never mind that the certificate offered suffers from more problems than the BCOs claimed to find with the document Hawaii offered — no signatures of any official, no attending physician, unintelligible seal, not a “long form,” etc. — it was, WorldNet Daily, Orly Taitz and others said, THE jenyu-wine article.  They even offered close-ups.

Another view of the hoax document offeree by BCO Orly Taitz.

Another view of the hoax document offeree by BCO Orly Taitz.

See?  Right there you can see:  Barack Obama, Sr. (Obama’s father), 26 years old.  The Registrar, E. F. Lavender.  Registered in Mombasa on August 5, 1961, one day after Obama’s birthday.  It even shows the book and page number of the original registration document, and the date the  official who signed this document issued it in Mombasa, Republic of Kenya, on February 17, 1964.

Okay, students:  How many problems can you find with the document?

See below the fold.

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Crazies never think they are

July 31, 2009

David Paul Kuhn at Real Clear Politics wonders why the “birthers” or birth-certificate-obsessed garnered a good deal of attention in the last month, which struck Kuhn as rather sudden.

Meanwhile, incidents like this (and I mean the outsized coverage) do seem to justify conservative charges of bias. Is there an unintentional effort, perhaps intentional in some corners of the partisan press, to portray Republicans and conservatives as a bunch of kooks? Well, one should never presume motives.

But I do think the drumming coverage blends a conservative fringe group with conservatives and Republicans. It seems fair to say that, by consequence, much of the media is characterizing conservatives as a bit loony with this exaggerated “birther” storyline.

Both sides have their ideological fringe. Party flanks tend to believe their passions despite the facts. But the mainstream media did not, to the same degree, discuss the conspiracy theorists that believed Bush and Cheney were behind the 9/11 attacks, in order to justify an invasion for oil, in the context of liberals or Democrats.

Two observations:

First, Kuhn appears to have missed that the BCOs stepped up their activities a bit, including giving “indictments” to a dozen or more federal courts across the nation, begging for an indictment of the president, and even got a bill introduced to require candidates to offer more evidence of their birth than anyone ever before .  So BCO activities increased in frequency and seriousness.  I think the tone has gotten nastier, too.  Anyone concerned about nuts with guns should have noticed the uptick in activities, and with luck the FBI and other law enforcement agencies took note, too.

But second, notice that Kuhn thinks that exposing the BCO arguments makes them look crazy.  Exactly the opposite of the BCO claims of conspiracy, Kuhn thinks there is a conspiracy to get the BCOs plastered on the front pages where they can present a picture of lunacy for the world to see, and reject.

According to Kuhn, who is the chief political reporter for Politico, the birthers are so crazy that exposing their arguments makes all Obama opponents look bad. A reporter rather sympathetic to the BCO’s views on Obama, hopes their views on the birth certificate issue are hushed up, so they don’t look so crazy.

Astoundingly, even some of the BCO’s agree that their wackiness on display hurts their cause.  Leo Donofrio, the professional gambler, ranks right near the top of the BCO crazies, and a friendly comment at his blog makes a similar point:

Max Says:
July 27, 2009 at 11:18 pm

The Birth cert issue IMHO is being used by Axelrod Inc. to divert attention from Obama’s falling poll numbers.

Kuhn may be on to something.  The BCOs won’t view it the same way.  With few exceptions, crazies never think they are the crazy ones.  And when they get crazier?  No one likes to know about it, especially their friends.

‘Mainstream Media won’t cover us, they’re part of the conspiracy.  Oh, No!  They’re covering us, and we look crazy!’

(By the way, Donofrio has joined the People’s Republic of China, creationist Islamic wackoes in Turkey, Neil Simpson, Cuba, conspiracy-monger Texas Darlin’ and Douglas Groothuis in banning my comments.  Kim Jong-Il is considering such a ban, too, and I guess Donofrio wanted to avoid the rush.)

File it under “be careful what you wish for.”

(In fairness, I mustt note that I have been guilty of praying Voltaire’s prayer.  My enemies, really few in number,  are entirely a self-selecting cohort.)

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