The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘We the People Foundation’

Birthers Conspire Against Each Other

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 10, 2009

I’ve written before about the Birther Movement, which is basically a group of right-wing ideologues who are convinced there is a conspiracy to conceal the supposed fact that President Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen.

I won’t go into detail here about why the Birthers are off their collective rockers (see my earlier blog post – Citizen Obama – for more info).  What I wanted to do is just give a brief update about a hilarious development: it seems the Birthers are now conspiring against each other!

The following article in Salon.com elaborates on this latest development in the Birther drama…

Pity the poor members of the Birther movement, those people who believe that President Obama was not born in Hawaii or is otherwise ineligible to be president. They’ve been rejected time and again by a justice system sadly uninterested in their crackpot legal theories, and ignored by a media that’s for some reason unconvinced by the complete lack of evidence for the movement’s claims. And now, some of their leaders, once friends and allies, are very publicly slamming each other.

Politico’s Ben Smith reports that one group of Birthers (the “East Coast faction,” in his words), led by early crusader and 9/11 Truther Philip Berg, has filed suit against the West Coast branch of the movement, as represented by the dentist-slash-lawyer Orly Taitz. Berg and his fellow plaintiffs claim, among other things, that Taitz and her crew have been defaming them. The complaint, if you want to read it, is here — it is, as you might expect if you’ve been following this saga, long, rambling and a bit incoherent.

This sort of development is not unsurprising – when you have a group of people who are committed to a conspiracy-driven worldview like that of the Birther Movement, it is not uncommon to see members of that group eventually fight each other, claiming that they are the “true” believers while others are not.  Such is the level of suspicion and paranoia that is often displayed by conspiracy theorists – in fact, the behavior exhibited by the Birthers in this respect is almost cultish.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.  I’m always amused to see the nutters fight against each other 🙂

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Citizen Obama

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 20, 2009

On Tuesday, January 20th, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, the first African-American to ever attain that high office. Whether you voted for Obama or not, I think one thing all can agree on is that will be a historic day, to say the least.

President Obama

However, true to form, there are woo-meisters out there who insist upon pushing all manner of silliness in regards to President Obama. Specifically, I am referring to various conspiracy theories claiming that Obama is not a United States citizen and therefore not eligible to hold high office. There is a further implication that his presidency is an attempt by a foreign nation to install a real-life Manchurian candidate into the White House in an attempt to gain control over our government.

The primary examples of this stupidity are the claims pushed by Philip J. Berg (who also happens to be a “9/11 Truther”) and Robert L. Schulz, the founder of the We the People Foundation for Constitutional Education (a rabidly anti-tax organization).

Berg filed a lawsuit last August in federal court alleging that Obama was born actually in Mombasa, Kenya and that the “Certification of Live Birth” on Obama’s website is a forgery – the case was dismissed as being “frivolous and not worthy of discussion.” In December, he even petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for an injunction to prevent the seating of the Electoral College – his request was denied without comment.

For some more loony examples of similar litigation filed in U.S. courts challenging the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship, click here.

Now let’s talk about Schulz and his claims – many of which are listed on his website. Here are some examples:

Despite the overbroad and erroneous claims of many news sources, Hawaii officials have NOT confirmed that Obama was born in Hawaii. Read the 10/31/08 official Hawaii Dept. of Health press release. Again, at NO time do state officials confirm that Obama was actually born in Hawaii.

Compounding the question surrounding Obama’s citizenship status is a subsequent statement of Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo (see Chicago Tribune, 10-31-08). Citing Hawaii state privacy laws, and guidance from the state attorney general, she said she, “was not permitted to confirm the authenticity of the certificate released by the Obama campaign.”

Among Berg’s arguments is that if Obama was born in Kenya, U.S. Immigration law in effect in 1961 barred Obama from U.S. citizenship at birth because his father was a Kenyan citizen and his mother, although a U.S. citizen, was not a resident of the U.S. for at least FIVE years following her 14th birthday. Obama’s mother was only 18 at the time of Obama’s birth, and thereby barred – by U.S. Immigration law – from passing U.S. citizenship to her child Obama — even though she was a U.S. citizen. See page 6 of the legal brief.

Read the Donofrio Supreme Court appeal: Mr. Donofrio’s arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court. (right-click to download). Donofrio’s primary legal argument is that Obama could never be a constitutional “natural born” citizen simply because his father was a legal citizen of another nation, i.e. a foreign national of Kenya, regardless of place of birth. See page 16 of the brief.

Schulz decided to bypass the courts and take his case directly to the American people. In early December, he took out ads in the Chicago Tribune – called “An Open Letter to Barack Obama” – directly challenging Obama’s citizenship and the legitimacy of his upcoming presidency. Ironically, on Dec. 3rd (the day the second round of the ad was run) the Chicago Tribune ran a story systematically demolishing every single claim made in the ad.

So, apparently, these CTists are claiming that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen because he wasn’t born in Hawaii (he was – see here for evidence of that fact) and even if he was born on U.S. soil he still isn’t a citizen due to their convoluted interpretation of the law. Thus, they are attempting to set up an argument where they win, no matter what – thus preserving their conspiracy-driven worldview.

These CTists have been rebuffed in their lunacy by independent non-partisan groups such as FactCheck.org, the press, the U.S. government, and the courts. Yet still they press on partly due to an extremist political faction and convinced with almost religious zeal that Obama’s ascendancy to the White House is part of a vast conspiracy – no matter what, to them everything is evidence of this conspiracy. As such, CTs such as this are not falsifiable, at least in the minds of the true believers.

Okay, so what? Why should we care about some goofwads running around making these claims? Well, I can give you a damned good reason why we should care – because there are some people out there who really do believe that President Obama is a Manchurian candidate, out to undermine the nation and should therefore be stopped. In fact, just this past weekend, a man was charged with threatening Obama’s life on a website. The man seems to have been a regular on a conspiracy website – Alien-Earth.org – and in his postings there stated that he would kill Obama “for the country’s own good.”

Hmmm… so, what do you think? Should we take these conspiracy theorists and their drivel seriously? Does the promotion of healthy skepticism & critical thinking in our society matter?

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