Lost causes.

This birther video was going around yesterday; you’ve probably already seen it, but here it is, if not. I can’t decide if it’s hilarious or frightening. The screechy speaker with her sense of wounded entitlement, the masculine YEAHS from the crowd, the hysterical Pledge of Allegiance — scary and funny. “I don’t want this flag to change, I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK.” You want to know who the bitter gun-clingers are? Exhibit A.

Sometimes you wish people could just summon the character to be overtly racist. At least it would be a position with a little risk attached, like Bruce Willis standing in his sandwich board at the beginning of “Die Hard: The One Where They Steal All the Money in the World.” This birth-certificate stuff is just chickenshit. Some of the analysis is so baroque it makes Andrew Sullivan’s obsession with Sarah Palin’s amniotic fluid look practically sane. I urge you to read Timothy Egan’s NYT piece of earlier this week, in which he notes:

When candidate Barack Obama made that comment about bitter people in small towns clinging to guns and religion, he was criticized as a clueless elite from the big city. No one paid attention to the first part of what he said:

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration.”

Every president said he would do something about it, Obama continued, but never did.

Well, exactly. I can’t help but think that if everyone was making a living, we wouldn’t all want our country “back.” Back from what? But then, one should never underestimate the power of a good conspiracy theory. From my earliest days in talk radio, I remember Federal Reserve Frank, who called regularly to alert the world to the vast conspiracy of European bankers — gee, who would those folks be? — who were manipulating world currencies and business and I forget all what. Sometimes he would bring up Ezra Pound, which before this I had only known as a fairly impenetrable poet. Pound was “a very smart man,” F.R. Frank would say, so if he thought the Fed was a problem, why couldn’t I? I should have made him explain “The Cantos” to me.

Anyway, Birthers. Some of the comments at this LGM post get into the so-called nuances of the argument, if it can be called that.

Maybe it’s not the conspiracy, but the lost cause that’s the lure. Suppose, through some miracle, it was somehow found that yes, these people are right, and Obama isn’t qualified to be president, setting off a Constitutional crisis and probably widespread civil unrest. They’d be like the dog that caught the truck. They’re much happier chasing and whining.

Which brings us to another video, which I watched on Slate’s V site with a mounting sense of astonishment. It’s about a woman who describes seeking out the hardest-case shelter dog in L.A.’s hard-case shelter, only to discover, after a brief honeymoon period, that her abused pit bull/dalmatian mix (which she couldn’t keep, by the way — this adoption was only about “saving” it until it could be raised by someone else) was so unstable it wasn’t fit to live among humans. I had to watch it twice to absorb both the amazing quotes (“He had been everything to me in the two weeks I had him”) and the thread of her story, which boiled down to: Insane, abused dog saved from shelter death, attacks people, sent at great expense to “dog sanctuary” in Texas, where it continues to absorb her money at the rate of $50 a month until it dies. Happy ending! “It’s the best thing I could have done.”

No. No, it’s not. The best thing would be for the dog to have been humanely destroyed while still at the hard-case shelter, and for you to be sending $50 a month to a children’s charity. When I used to ride, every so often a girl (always a girl) would get attached to a hard-case horse, a bucker or bolter or biter or spooker or whateverer. Most horses are sweet or at least tractable on the ground, and the rider/owner would anthropomorphize that the animal was fixable, kind of like an abusive husband who only punches when he’s drinking. The cycle of misbehavior would continue until the rider became permanently fearful, which fed the misbehavior, and never mind the idea of taking this beast to a show, ostensibly what everyone was working toward. Finally, it would be time for the trainer to make the Speech, which boiled down to: With no shortage of good horses in the world, why waste time on the bad ones? Put out the For Sale sign, get it done and move on. Some people responded to this, others clung to the lost cause.

Some people like being on the losing side. It explains the romance of the Confederacy. In the case of the Birthers, maybe it all comes from the same root of racism. Or maybe it’s unconscious: I’m a loser, and I deserve to be in accord with other losers. If you spend your days paging through websites that reflect your opinions, or poring over documents with a magnifying glass, it reinforces and distracts you from reality.

Meanwhile, why won’t Sarah Palin offer a sample of her amniotic fluid for DNA testing? What is she trying to hide?

Man, I’m late today. Bloggage? Not bloody much:

Wow. Video link.

I want this garage door. The one with the crocodile.

Jim at Sweet Juniper’s got some great summer ivy pictures, here, here and here. Nature is patient that way.

And Detroitblog features a poor man’s bank, i.e., a pawn shop.

Step away from the keyboard, Nance. I have errands to run.

Posted at 11:24 am in Current events, Detroit life |
 

67 responses to “Lost causes.”

  1. 4dbirds said on July 22, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I’m with you Nancy, it is all about racism. My birth certificate from Virginia is a long involved form which list everything from my sex, weight, length, parents birthplaces to their race, how many other pregnancies and births my mother had, the docs name, my parents address and whether I was a single, twin or triplet.

    My husband’s birth certificate from Pennsylvania is a short form that lists his name, his date of birth and his parents names. I don’t think it even lists the city of his birth. That short form, much like Obamas certificate was good enough for passports, for joining the army and for everything else one needs a birth certificate for.

    Three of my children were born in Germany. My husband and I are American citizens. Therefore I believe my kids are ‘natural born’ Americans and I’ll punch anyone who says they aren’t.

  2. Colleen said on July 22, 2009 at 11:43 am

    RE: Jobs and getting our country “back”. Sobering stat from the N-S tonight. Little blurb about the GE sign being refurbished. It was noted that in the 1940s, as many as 10,000 people worked there. Now, it’s about 200. I know, the D is full of stories like that. But it’s sucky wherever it happens.

  3. MichaelG said on July 22, 2009 at 11:58 am

    4d, kids like yours are automatically American but as far as I know they are supposed to be registered at birth. I once had a friend who was born in Great Britain. The usual, his dad was in the Air Force. However, his parents failed to register him when he was born. As an adult he wanted to go to Europe and applied for a passport. He was shocked to learn that, as far as the Feds were concerned, he was a British subject. He got it worked out but it took him a couple of months.

  4. moe99 said on July 22, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Am I wrong in thinking that this sentence needs a negative somewhere? I can’t help but think that if every­one was mak­ing a liv­ing, we wouldn’t all want our coun­try “back.” I think that the sentiment is that if everyone is NOT working, that they would want their country back. If they are working, then what is there to want back?

    the “wouldn’t” makes it a double negative, I guess but double negatives are the hardest for readers to absorb.
    Sorry, it’s just the latent editor in me…

  5. coozledad said on July 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I can only imagine how well this is playing with the rubes out here. They believe lightning bugs emerge from earthworms.

  6. 4dbirds said on July 22, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    MichaelG,

    How did your friend get back to the states in the first place? We registered our kids shortly after birth at the consulate and they received a State Department issued “Report of American Birth Abroad” (or something like that), a passport and a social security card. The consulate required that we bring the real live baby along with the their passport photos, our birth certificates, marriage license, and gobs of forms. That’s why this whole birther thing is silly. I don’t see how baby Obama made it back in the country without someone at the State Department ‘stamping’ off on it. Therefore it would be easy to find out if he was born outside the U.S.

  7. brian stouder said on July 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    RE: birthers – my reaction is divided, too – but I lean more toward frightening than funny.

    I saw the video on Rachel Maddow’s show, and was struck by the same thing Nance points to – the nonsensical “I want my country back” refrain. I’ve been reading one of Bing West’s Iraq books, “The Strongest Tribe”, and its portrait of societal disintegration is a useful perspective, when considering folks like those Town Hall chuckleheads. There are many scenes in the book wherein troops go into once-pleasant homes on burned-out blocks. Tribal allegiances compete with religous zealots and plain thugs, for control of enclaves scattered here and there. Plain folks, if they don’t killed first, pack up and leave for anyplace where they might avoid being murdered, and will give their allegiance to a government that keeps the sewage off the streets and keeps the electricity coming – if anyone can.

    The thing is, we’re all human; The US could go the way of Iraq – and indeed would, if some of these folks actually got what they’re wishing for – or as Nance says, if they ever ‘catch the truck’. Hell, we’ve already been there once – not so very long ago

  8. 4dbirds said on July 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Aren’t some of “these” people feeling what many of us on the left felt for the 8 years prior to the Obama administration? I remember saying I wanted my country back.

  9. Cosmo Panzini said on July 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK? Puhleeze–these people aren’t racists, they’re just garden-variety whack jobs. The racists, on the other hand, seem to be Harvard professors demanding apologies from the Cambridge, MA police force.

  10. Scout said on July 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I think Nancy has hit the nail on the head – the birth certificate kerflufflers are like dogs chasing a truck! It’s all about the noise combined with a concept they can wrap their simple minds around. Policy debate is too complicated an effort for these folks and this justifies their opposition to Obama without having to break an intellectual sweat.

  11. Peter said on July 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Colleen, I can second those sentiments.

    Last weekend we went to the Dayton Air Show, and on the way back I-65 was closed north of Indy due to a hazmat truck spill. I took a back road to US 41 and took that up to Hammond. For at least 80 miles, I did not see a living thing. Abandoned gas stations, abandoned stores, abandoned homes, and one abandoned police car. This on a road that was a major thoroughfare in a state that isn’t doing nearly as bad as Michigan.

  12. Connie said on July 22, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I find the birthers downright frightening. They are angry and they truly believe what they are saying about the Prez’ citizenship. I think they want a revolution.

  13. MarkH said on July 22, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    RE: Birthers. Is this good enough for everyone?

    http://msgboard.snopes.com/politics/graphics/birth.jpg

    Just asking.

    Here’s the full Snopes take on it:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthcertificate.asp

    I’m satisfied.

  14. Jason T. said on July 22, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Actually, MarkH, no. They claim that’s a fake, citing all kinds of crazy stupid technicalities. Even though my birth certificate from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania looks exactly the same.

    If you produced 8-mm footage of Barack Obama emerging from his mother’s birth canal with a hula dancer, Jack Lord, Richard Denning as the Governor and the Iolani Palace in the background, these people would find some reason to claim it was faked.

    The problem with the Birthers — and, indeed, with whack-jobs of every stripe, on the left and the right — is that most of us are afraid to just confront them with their nuttiness.

    In that video, Rep. Castle and the rest of the panelists freeze, like deer caught in the headlights.

    They needed to respond, “You are talking nonsense. Please sit down unless you have a reasonable question to ask. Otherwise, you are a crazy person and I am going to ignore you.”

    And if (when) they won’t cooperate, you politely walk out.

    You cannot try to have a rational, reasonable argument with someone who’s bat-guano insane. It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

  15. MarkH said on July 22, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I know, I know, Jason. They also claim there is a multiple passport issuance, one from Great Britain, one from Indonesia, that he travelled on in his college days, proving that a lack of proven citizenship kept Obama from getting a US passport. As always with this stuff, where is the proof? I’m just wondering how long all this stuff has to swirl around us before it is resolved, if ever. I’ve got other beefs with him more worth my time than this.

    EDIT: As with all conspiracy theories, an incredible number of people have to be on board with the same consistent story to make it stick, beginning with all the relevant public officials in Hawaii. Not one person can crack. How possible/plausible is that, 48 years later? There are still lots of questions about JFK’s murder, for example, but none involve an Oliver Stone-type vast conspiracy.

  16. Sue said on July 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Sounds a lot like the Elvis-faked-his-own-death theorists of several years back, only less cheerful and more dangerous. (I was stuck in an elevator with an Elvis guy once – he had a lot of source material that he carried around with him. It was an interesting conversation.)

  17. derwood said on July 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Does this mean MJ is not really dead? Just askin…

    daron

  18. Sue said on July 22, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Nope, he’s dead and already haunting Neverland.

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2518485/Fans-claim-that-Michael-Jacksons-ghost-has-been-spotted-at-Neverland.html

  19. MarkH said on July 22, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Yeah, stay tuned, daron; the fun is just beginning.

    EDIT: My question is, did Larry King say anything about this at the time? My guess is it would be right up his alley.

  20. ROgirl said on July 22, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I met a guy in the 90’s who was a conspiracy theorist. He tried to convert me to the cause, to which, according to him, every leader in the world became privy upon coming to power. A big part of the conspiracy, of course, was the Fed (JP Morgan had merely been fronting for European bankers), and that tied back to the Freemasons and Illuminati, and once again, those pesky European bankers (code word for Jews), and into the present with the defense contractors doing their bidding. Mostly, it was about the Jewish bankers running the world, pulling the strings and masterminding the cooptation of everyone and everything to their nefarious ends (he insisted he wasn’t anti-Semitic). Whatever happened in the world was simply one more example of the conspiracy playing out.

    It was all quite absurd and ridiculous to me, but he wasn’t the only person out there who believed this stuff, and not even the most extreme. The birthers are a variation on a theme, supported by Lou Dobbs and some Republicans (see Chris Matthews eviscerate a California congressman) in their racism, paranoia, nostalgia for what never used to be, and fatuous, angry rants about THEIR country.

  21. John said on July 22, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Seung-Hui Cho’s (the Va Tech shooter) medical records turned up at the private residence of the university clinic’s former director. Evidently taken when he left the clinic, a year before the shooting.

    LA Mary or any other medical professional, other than being illegal, is this a common practice for doctors to walk off with medical records?

  22. MichaelG said on July 22, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    4d, my friend flew with his parents from an Air Force Base in Blighty to an AF base in this country aboard an AF aircraft. He was an infant at the time. In those days little kids could travel with their parents on their parents’ passports. Also at this time, 40 or 50 years ago, the feds weren’t searching AF transports carrying AF personnel from one base to another for terrorists and wetbacks. Things were a lot looser then, especially in such a closed environment. While in the Army I went from this country to Vietnam and later from Vietnam to Singapore for R & R all without a passport. Arrangements can be made.

  23. Sue said on July 22, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    The West Bend Library controversy makes the big time:
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/07/22/wisconsin.book.row/index.html

  24. Christy S. said on July 22, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Every time I see “birthers” I automatically think of midwives and doulas. Can’t these people come up with a better name for themselves and start using it?
    And many of them are the same people who used “tea-bagger” allegedly unaware of its meaning. Weird.

  25. Mindy said on July 22, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    My brother-in-law and his wife had their third child in Mexico last year. They told me that their little guy will have dual citizenship until he’s eighteen, then he will have to choose one as his country of origin. Poor Jeff is already a little worried that his son will be wrangling with teenage angst by then and choose Mexico just to piss him off.

  26. LAMary said on July 22, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I’m not a medical professional. I hire them. I can tell you that it is not typical or legal for the medical records to be carried off.

  27. Dexter said on July 22, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    That little flag was a nice touch on that loud mouth bitch’s birth certificate.

  28. Sue said on July 22, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    ROgirl, it’s not really a conspiracy, but did you know the new pope always gets the secrets that Our Lady gave to the children at Lourdes? Scary secrets about when the world will end and if the communists win, that kind of thing. How he gets them, I don’t know, since the old dead pope can’t pass them on, but he gets them. I learned that in 6th grade at St. Mary’s, so it must be true.

  29. LAMary said on July 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Speaking of rescuing animals, my younger son was out riding his bike around the hills and canyons the other evening, and he saw a cat in the middle of the road, not moving, with a truck heading for it. Son Pete waved for the truck to stop, and picked up cat. It was very skinny and had some old bad injuries. He wrapped it in his shirt and brought it home on his bike, about a two mile trip. The cat ate a full can of food at our house, then we took it to the shelter. They didn’t make any promises about it. It was not in great shape, but it was sweet and purred a lot, and seemed to already attached itself to my son. We have three cats already, and I was not so sure this cat wasn’t carrying some sort of ailment they might catch, so I wasn’t ready to keep it. The animal shelter intake person was trying to carefully let my son know that the chances of this cat not being put down were slim, but my son was not getting the message. I think he’s figured it out now, and he’s devastated. He isn’t convinced that he did the wrong thing by bringing in the cat, since they killed it. I’m saying he did the right thing, since the cat was in bad shape. It’s just sad to see.

  30. Dexter said on July 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Very nice story about Al’s Jewelry & Loan. My dad bought me my first tape recorder at B&B Loan in Fort Wayne, 45 years ago.
    I never entered a pawn shop until a few years ago when I forgot my binoculars for the OSU-M game in Columbus.
    I went to this place and bought another pair:
    Kenny’s Jewelry & Loan Co
    662 N High St
    Columbus, OH

  31. Peter said on July 22, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Sue, I think it’s Our Lady of Fatima that had the secrets, not Our Lady of Lourdes (gee, that woman gets around…) If I remember, there’s six secrets that are in the Vatican vault, and the Pope let’s one become public when it turns out to be true (or something like that); one of them was released recently and it had to do with the fall of communism.

  32. Sue said on July 22, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Right you are, Peter, now that I think of it. Five Our Fathers and six Hail Marys for me.

  33. MarkH said on July 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Conspiracies. OK, I’ve got to deal with this.

    Brian Stouder, yesterday, post #47: “It strikes me as similar to an exercise we recently engaged in, wherein some obscure fellow standing near a polling place with a baton was presented to us as indicative of some huge, unreported and unaddressed criminal conspiracy, or something.”

    You are, of course, referring to my post #28 on July 10, where I brought up the Philadalphia polling place incident in question, and a discussion ensued. Brian, I merely asked two questions: what was voter volunteer Coozledad’s take on such an incident, and did the NN.C journos have any opinion, given their professional news judgement, about the lack of coverage. Any conspiracy theories regarding this incident are in your head, Brian, not mine. My point was about newsroom and USDOJ apathy, not conspiracies. I merely brought up the incident for discussion as it was, indeed, getting very little play in the press. Of course, Fox reported it, and the usual right-wing bloggers mouthed off, but I wanted to avoid sourcing them for obvious reasons. As of July 10, the most recent press entry was a Washington Times editorial, which James concluded, contained no facts.

    OK. Before I go further, a mea culpa: In my item #2 July 10, I was wrong and you were right, Brian. Something was done that day, and I found the video just after I posted, as I was looking for further coverage. The police were indeed called, arrived, and removed the offending individuals from the front of the polling place. But they did not leave the area and continued to hang out, a legal distance away, but still making themselves visible.

    Since we want to deal with facts, let’s take a look at a copy of the actual letter from the US Commission on Civil Rights to Ms. Loretta King at the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. The letter should be read in its entirety:

    http://www.usccr.gov/correspd/VoterIntimidation2008LetterDoJ.pdf

    The commission makes clear the facts they are dealing with.

    While it may not be as clear in the short video with the Penn student, by virtue of the complaints filed, and the eyewitness accounts that went with them, some form of voter imtimidation was going on, whether visible in this video or not. This is acknowledged in the letter. And, how anyone can look at that video and not be suspicious, let alone see what theses individuals were trying to do, is beyond me. LAMary thinks the camera guy was acting worse(?), “making assumptions”. James, they were identified in court documents as a group containing the name Black Panthers. And Cooz, that’d be some big-ass joint that guy is holding, even by rastafarian standards, if all they were doing was “selling tickets at a flea market”. And, if there are any right wing connections to Bartle Bull, they didn’t come up in my search.

    After civil charges were filed, the process continued from the Bush DOJ to the Holder DOJ, which did follow through to a trial. The defendants don’t show up, there is conviction by default, but the charges are dropped. This is a terrible precedent the DOJ is setting, and the Civil Rights Commission correctly wants answers.

    Question to Brian: Is this commission made up of a bunch of conspiratorial wackos? Are their concerns completely misplaced? The commission certainly didn’t think this just was about “some obscure fellow standing near a polling place with a baton”.

    Nancy, Jeff B., Kirk, others, any opinion on newsworthiness, given the letter? Not today, but let’s say, but right when the charges were dropped, and the commission issued the letter. Moe, go back to your DOJ days, and (lower case)mark, what are your takes on legal precedent here?

    I’m just asking questions, folks, not fight-picking. I would hate to think all the violence and bloodshed in the ’50s and ’60s to ensure voter rights, particularly in the south, were in vain, when voter intimidation now seems tolerated, at least in this instance, in a northern urban area.

    Sue, at least for you, I hope this (at least the letter) sheds some light.

  34. 4dbirds said on July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    MichaelG. You are right, there most likely were some instances of military dependents coming back to the States without all the papers necessary to ‘legally’ do so. I don’t think it happened very much and I bet it didn’t happen to a child born to a civilian American mother in Kenya. I guess what I was trying to say was that even if he wasn’t born in the U.S., if his mother was an American citizen at the time of his birth, then he’s a natural born citizen. The SC has never ruled on this but if they judged that only people born on American soil are natural born they’ll have a lot of pissed-off military folks to contend with.

  35. 4dbirds said on July 22, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Just because I’m reminded of it, I know a woman now in her late 40s who was a two year old child when her German mother married an American soldier. They came to the States shortly after the marriage. She went to school, got a driver’s license, married, and has worked all her adult life but she is technically an illegal alien. Her parents never started or completed the paperwork to make her a citizen. Now she’s terrified that if she tries to make her situation right, she’ll be returned to Germany until it is all sorted out. She doesn’t speak German and her grandparents are dead so there is no family there.

  36. Danny said on July 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Body Found in McDonald’s Food Processing Machine

    Soylent Green .. It’s people!!!

    Ah well, you are what you eat.

  37. ROgirl said on July 22, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Sue, maybe the truth about Obama’s birth is one of the secrets the pope has yet to reveal.

  38. Rana said on July 22, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I’m of two minds on the “birthers” – on the one hand, it’s clear that they are terrified and angry that a black man is president, and they dearly wish that he could be immediately removed from office without the complexity and lack of surety of something like an impeachment hearing. On the other hand, the other “solution” to that perceived problem combined with that set of attitudes is assassination. I’d much rather have them ranting about his citizenship than agitating for his death.

  39. Sue said on July 22, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    The birther thing: if his mother is a citizen, he’s a citizen. Or am I missing something about the special-ness of a piece of paper?

  40. Sue said on July 22, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    ROgirl: you win today’s Tie It All Together award.

  41. LAMary said on July 22, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    “And, how any­one can look at that video and not be sus­pi­cious, let alone see what the­ses indi­vid­u­als were try­ing to do, is beyond me.”

    We clearly are looking at from very different perspectives. The most provocative behavior I saw in that video was by the camera guy.

  42. James said on July 22, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Nancy:

    Funny… I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this birther stuff all day today. Here’s what I came up with.

  43. MichaelG said on July 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Jeez, 4dbirds, I wasn’t thinking of my friend in terms of the birthers until you pointed it out. I’m kinda slow, I guess. The incident with my friend occurred about twenty years ago and seemed like a big joke at the time. He went around affecting a Briddish accent. While it did take a couple of months to clear up the glitch, the time was paperwork, inbox, etc. time. The gov’t never gave him any difficulty about the situation and the whole process was painless and costless except for the red tape time.

  44. Scout said on July 22, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Here’s Chris Matthews giving a birther some airtime:

    http://www.bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2009/07/chris_matthews.html

  45. brian stouder said on July 22, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Mark, I read the letter you linked to, and in answer to your question –

    Is this com­mis­sion made up of a bunch of con­spir­a­to­r­ial wackos? Are their con­cerns com­pletely mis­placed?

    I don’t think their concerns are completely misplaced, and really – I thought their letter was fair enough…except for this one passage, which actually made me guffaw!:

    So it is with great confusion that we learned of the Civil Rights Division’s recent decision to dismiss a lawsuit against defendants who were caught engaging in attempted voter suppression the likes of which we haven’t witnessed in decades

    My question is, was there even one voter we can point to whose vote was actually suppressed? Was there a single person who was actually assaulted?

    Despite the fairly amazing assertions that letter makes, I’ve seen nothing ‘on video’ that makes me recoil (the way images from “decades ago” does, for example), and it is a leap to assume that there was an official ‘Black Panthers’-organized and executed plot to thwart voters…unless we’re going to argue that the Republican Party is a drug-running corrupt organization, because so much of it snorts a daily dose of oxycontin Rush

  46. moe99 said on July 22, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I would bet that the members of the Commission are Bush administration holdovers.

    http://www.usccr.gov/

    4 Repubs, 2 Dems, 2 Independents. Yup.

  47. Dexter said on July 22, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    from Twitter: What lance armstrong listens to in the evenings “over there”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCZfJ5ai07U&feature=related

  48. coozledad said on July 22, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    James: You’re not far off the mark, but I think it was less of a conspiracy than a side benefit of the Republican Party plank of mainstreaming schizophrenia. Let’s just say I have a relative who sometimes poses as a member of the Secret Service. He’s unmedicated, and a birther.

  49. Jolene said on July 22, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    To follow up on Moe’s point, of the four commissioners voting, two were Republican, and two were independents. One wonders if the Democratic commissioners were notified of the meeting.

  50. brian stouder said on July 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    For the record, I enjoyed immensely President Obama’a press conference, and especially his last-question answer regarding Professor Henry Louis Gates. (although indeed, he certainly stepped on his overall message, there)

    And when the right-wing blowhards attack the president for calling the Cambridge police department’s actions “stupid” (as they certainly will), my question for them would be – what would we think of a president who endorsed agents of the government violating a man’s own home, and arresting him for daring to sass them?

    Somehow the rules always change (under color of law), depending on the color of the homeowner

  51. jcburns said on July 22, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I feel like I’m living in a science fiction version of the country. “Birthers,” seriously? If you had told me that in the 21st century, there’d be a nameable group of nutcases questioning the birthplace of the first African American president, I’d think I had fallen asleep and awakened in a parallel world.
    Folks, please continue to avert your eyes as we roll on past the wreckage of this latest act of idiotification. Look away, please.

  52. moe99 said on July 23, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Sue, You have to be born in the US to qualify for presidency according to the US Constitution. Hawaii is in the US but Kenya is not.

    Article II, Section 1 (in part):
    No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

  53. Dexter said on July 23, 2009 at 1:46 am

    jcburns, thank you. There are some issues that come to our attention through either msm or obscure blogs that I don’t deem necessary to discuss . Now parallel universes , that topic is fascinating. HBO piqued my interest in that topic during the run of “Six Feet Under”. Alan Ball used a recurring theme of parallel universes throughout the story line…sometimes I thought Ball was commiserating with David Lynch for ideas. Ball wouldn’t come into the message boards like Simon would with “The Wire” so we never got to ask him all the questions we had.
    On the HBO threads, I learned more about Schroeder’s (sometimes referred to as Schrodinger’s Cat) Cat than I ever bargained for.

  54. Danny said on July 23, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Umm, don’t necessarily disagree with you, Dexter, but JC is a pretender.

    What’s the matter JC, on to the next topic after you were wrong yesterday? You and your brother have selective myopia which must be a real ego boost if you can sustain the illusion.

    You two are real pieces of work. These “birthers” are a obviously bunch of loonies, yet you two, who are supposed to be so .. um … smart, latch onto this rotten, low-hanging fruit like mindless lampreys and try to use it to your own stupid ends like it proves some axiomatic point.

    First, James-the-lesser, he has to do some lame-assed, ham-fisted cartoon that I guess gives him some idiotic cathartic relief, and then you, John-the-even-lesser-if-that-were-possible pile on with your usual diatribe of liberal shooting-fish-in-barrel … not only adding no insight, but subtracting from such and that of the collective IQ.

    Listen, I know you two are friends of Nance and I guess I get that (not really). After all, you run the website and all that. But I call it as I see it and for being so supposedly smart, you two comport yourselves as quite the opposite.

    Now I know I haven’t exactly explained this in the most flowery language, but please understand that I mean all of this in the most loving and nurturing of ways.

  55. Rana said on July 23, 2009 at 1:54 am

    Are you sure about that, moe99? First area of question is what we mean by “a natural born Citizen” – if physical location of the birth alone was the decisive issue, there’d be a lot of ex-pat parents’ children who wouldn’t qualify for citizenship until they were old enough to take the oath and become naturalized. That’s not actually the case – my brother’s child was born in Japan to a Japanese mother, but he can, as a US citizen, have her registered as a citizen as well. It is not clear, in that part of the Constitution, whether being born on US soil is the deciding factor (though it has been interpreted as such for the children of immigrants, legal or otherwise) or whether being born to US citizens is sufficient. The basic idea is that you have to be a citizen from birth, with no other loyalties to other nations to give up.

    I’m also wondering about that comma between “Citizen of the United States” and “at the time of the adoption of this Constitution” – if it’s there in the original, it would have a significantly different legal implication than if it were missing.

    So, if one looks only to the Constitution for answers, it’s not precisely clear. Rather, our sense of who or who is not eligible has developed over time, as the Constitution has been interpreted and reinterpreted over the years. It’s a bit like expecting the Bible to offer one-size-fits-all advice for every modern situation, when, in fact, it must be interpreted and its core messages extrapolated to the current issue at hand.

    And, in any case, Obama wasn’t born in Kenya, even if his father was.

  56. moe99 said on July 23, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Rana, Yes, I am very sure of this. On a lawyers’ private poltical site, where I have been a member for 10+ years, we had a discussion about how John McCain could be technically barred from the presidency under this provision because he was born in the Panama Canal. But we basically agreed that it was not worth the effort needed to try to disqualify him. We (the lawyers) are reasonable folk. The ‘birthers’ are not. And this is what they have seized on to try to disqualify Obama–the very false assertion that he was born in Kenya, not the US. Please keep in mind that this was what I studied when I took Constitutional law lo these many years ago in law school and it was agreed at that point as to the meaning of this Article. “or a Cit­i­zen of the United States, at the time of the Adop­tion of this Con­sti­tu­tion,” simply means that at the time the constitution was adopted, most could not claim US citizenship by birth because when they were born, the US did not exst–it was a British colony then.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_born_citizen_of_the_United_States

  57. MarkH said on July 23, 2009 at 4:57 am

    moe, I had hoped you wouldn’t be so predictable. You count yourself among “reasonable folk”, yet in post #46, you make no reasonable argument for anything. You just fall back on your tired old “it’s all Bush’s fault” canard in sweeping away concerns of the US Civil Rights Commission. Whats does “yup” mean? Four out of eight members make up a leftover W conspiracy? Did you read the bios? Only three are listed as Bush appointees, and at least four members must be, and were, appointed by congress. Why no comment on the legal issue and precedent at hand?

    And Jolene, you might be the only one to wonder something like that. You might as well wonder if the signing republican members had some sort of snit with the other two and didn’t notify them, either. Besides, we don’t know if all eight had met and agreed unanimously and only four signed the letter, as Bartle Bull previously suggested. Anyone who has suspicions of any of the members’ motivations ought to read their biographies. We here can only wish to aspire to their accomplishments.

    And, Brian, please…you take the cake when it comes to conspiracies. Guffaw all you want, it won’t make up for your lack of understanding of the law. Voter intimidation is against the law, as prescribed in the US voter rights act. Additionally, physical threats and verbal harrassment were mentioned in the letter, not assault. Go back and read it if you have questions. Any of them can amount to intimidation. It’s also reasonable to assume not all the violations were captured on the video, but came from seperate complaints. But we’ll never know how that played out, will we? The defendants don’t show up for the court appearance, so no trial and DOJ decides to dismiss the charges. How convenient. And all some of you come up with are conspiracies and political suspicions.

    Why all the reaching to slough this thing off? Extremism by those who support Obama is no vice, to paraphrase an old political campaign?

    All this lends truth to (lower case)mark’s comments yesterday about smugness, personalities and avoiding discussion of issues by some who post here. I’m still waiting for his take by the way, and at least one resident journo’s take. Oh, well…

    Might as well get back to the easy target birthers…

  58. James said on July 23, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Danny:

    Personal attacks. Nice…

    So I guess that means you can’t refute our honestly held beliefs and logically argued points. If you’re at a loss for refutation, may I suggest you just keep your mouth shut? That would be the polite, and smart thing to do. This is a place where people share their thoughts, not their bile.

    When there is a movement of people acting like idiots, I’m going to mention it, and not avert my eyes. Low hanging fruit, it may be, but the point is that this is the base of the Republican party. Doesn’t that frighten you at all? Have you no care for our political system?

  59. ROgirl said on July 23, 2009 at 6:57 am

    The point about the birthers isn’t how idiotic they are, it’s that they have emerged from the fringe as a few seriously wacko loons to a growing movement that has moved to the mainstream. They’re filing lawsuits, getting traction from Fox, some Republicans and people like Lou Dobbs, and as witnessed by the youtube video, bringing up the issue in congressional townhall meetings. Brian Williams ran it last night on the Nightly News.

    They’re a symptom of the delusional thinking that so many people in the world (not just Americans) live under; they don’t respond to reason. They appear pretty harmless and are easily mockable, but they can’t just be dismissed as cranks. Most of them are no doubt all talk, but I’m sure at least one or two of the outliers are ready to take things to the next level.

    Like the rumor during the campaign that Obama was a Muslim, this may die down for the time being, but it will pop up again and again in some mutated form.

  60. coozledad said on July 23, 2009 at 7:31 am

    If there’s any idea being put forward by the Republicans besides obstructionism or some kind of incitement, I’d like to hear it. Aleksander Hemon said years ago that this phony patriotic posturing was just like the shit Milosevic was flinging before the house burned down in Yugoslavia. It’s not just radio mouthpieces, it’s goddamned elected officials of the Republican Party spewing it.
    I wish someone had a fucking time machine to send them to the siege of Sarajevo, or Vicksburg, for that matter, so they could get a little taste of what they’re brewing. At the very least it might bury that slimy corpse of American exceptionalism.

  61. moe99 said on July 23, 2009 at 9:25 am

    MarkH, Now why would I think that those put in office by the Bush Administration might not be playing with a full deck? It has something to do with the quality of Bush appointees overall. And it has not been pretty. Wikipedia has a 179 page list of the Bush scandals and there are numerous appointees and Bush employees listed therein.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:George_W._Bush_administration_controversies

    As one small, milder example, just look at what’s been done to NPR–when the Board that governs their operation shifted to Bush appointees, what I was listening to in the morning was many times no different in point of view from what I could hear on Fox. I look at the total ineptness of the SEC under Christopher Cox and again that tells me something about Bush appointees. What about “Brownie?” The list goes on and on. As Aesop wrote many years ago, ‘you are known by the company you keep.’ So yes, I have, until proven otherwise, a deep rooted suspicion of Bush appointees. And just the resume does not cut it. Justice Roberts has a sparkling pedigree but his decisions on the Supreme Court have been, so far, 100% in favor of corporate interests, and some in my opinion are decidedly wrong.

  62. jcburns said on July 23, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Danny, I’m not pretending. I really am this way.
    Take whatever collection of shots you’d like. If you think O’Reilly on Cronkite was a praise-fest (yes, he did praise Walter some to bash Rather), we’re gonna have to agree to disagree. If anything, he was praising Walter for not sullying us with his dirty reprehensible “liberal” beliefs. That’s just wrong on so many levels.
    And, hm, you say “I mean all of this in the most loving and nurturing of ways.” Tough love, I guess.
    (By the way, I’m happy to provide the webspace, but believe me, Nancy runs this website. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.)

  63. Danny said on July 23, 2009 at 9:39 am

    JC and James, I might as well get this out of the way now.

    I’m sorry. Please accept my sincere apology for posting the stupid things I wrote about you two last night. I was wrong. Not the first time, certainly won’t be the last.

    I probably shouldn’t post after a very long, very irritating day (make that several such days in a row). I’m not making excuses for bad behavior, just giving some context.

    Nance and everyone else, sorry to you all too. Maybe I need a break. Summers used to be relaxing.

  64. jcburns said on July 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Hope you have a better day tomorrow. Summers are supposed to be relaxing. Me, I’m finding them too damn hot and muggy.

  65. Connie said on July 23, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I need that break too Danny. Beach week starts Saturday!

  66. MichaelG said on July 23, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I was going to make a comment about getting personal, but things seem to be smoothing out. Maybe it has to do with people being adults or something.

    The fact that a target is easy or obvious makes it no less valid.

    Glad Arnold doesn’t qualify, although the presidential talk we used to hear has pretty much stopped.

  67. jcburns said on July 23, 2009 at 10:34 am

    I’m part of a cult that believes fervently that Arnold was born in Austria. Either that, or Amish country, Indiana. We’re called the ‘eggers.’