No Time for Silliness

28birthcertificate-hpMedium-v2 Thanks to Donald "The Weave" Trump, we're back to talking about Obama's birth certificate. In fact, Obama had to have a press conference about it this morning. 

Is this country insane? 


47 thoughts on “No Time for Silliness

  1. Yeah. What’s the official birther attempt salvage conspiracy? The story was always so bizarrely convoluted (in a weird way that required the internet, I think, since it required knowledge of obscure citizenship rules). It doesn’t seem like anything could actually put it to rest.
    I do think that it’s good to point out that Trump is a huckster. I’ve been reading about the lack of strong Republican candidates, and it struck me that one of the reasons is that a number of people with prominence in the property are really celebrities who have used politics as their performance venue, rather than politicians (i.e. folks on the speaker circuit rather than lobbyists). It’s kind of easy to see why those folks would think that actually running the united states isn’t a job they’re willing to take on. Trump’s using politics to build his entertainment brand (as is Palin). I suspect the same for Gingrich.
    That’s one thing that I can say about Reagan. In spite of all the jokes about an actor being president, I never thought that he was running for president to get a better deal on his next entertainment contract.

  2. Also, I object to the title. Silliness is like grabbing a handful of chips or saying a polite “hello.” There’s always time.

  3. Yeah. I bet Obama never went to Harvard, either. I claim to see the non photoshopped pictures from his supposed “time” at the HLR.
    But anyways, from what I’ve read about Trump, he did an about face on all his beliefs (taxes, abortion, gay marriage, Obama) in the past 6 months. My guess is he realized that Republicans are so crazy, say the right things and you have a very good shot of becoming the Republican candidate. If you think about it as a move for power/publicity, it would make sense that he’d go straight for the crazy stuff. If you don’t believe any of what you’re saying, it doesn’t really matter how outrageous it is.

  4. “Now for the college transcripts!”
    I could go for this. But, I want to see their SAT scores, too. And, who has to release them? Candidates for the nomination? The nominees? The vice-presidential nominees?
    I’m guessing Gingrich actually has a college degree, since it says that he’s a historian. But where from?
    Romney went to Stanford/Brigham Young/Harvard. It’d be interesting to see.
    We should be able to get their LSAT scores, too, right?
    All that stuff would be huge fun to see.

  5. God does not love the Democrats enough to give us Trump as Obama’s opponent in 2012.
    Is the Bush operation going to back Daniels, or are they sitting this one out? If not Daniels, then probably Pawlenty or maybe Mitt, if the Rs can get over the Mormon thing (though I am not at all sure they (in the sense of people who vote in R primaries) can).
    What’s it look like to those of you who are closer than eight time zones away from the continental US?

  6. When the Barack Obama who was born in the US went to Kenya he swapped places with a similar looking boy also called Barack Obama, who returned in his place, and became President. I’d be looking in Kenya for the original Barack Obama, and demanding a DNA test to see whether that one is related to his (still hopefully alive) “parents”.

  7. Also, Shakespeare’s plays were not written by William Shakespeare, but by another playwright with an identical name.

  8. “What’s it look like to those of you who are closer than eight time zones away from the continental US?”
    Tradition is that Republicans give the nomination to the guy whose turn it is (ideally a crusty, unphotogenic 70-something military veteran who has lost 1-4 previous primaries).

  9. That is based on the fact that I can’t remember the other people’s names except for the ones that are probably in it to boost their media brand.

  10. bj
    More notably, Laura’s blog ad for me (I don’t know if they change based on location) is Trump, wearing a salmon necktie with the words “President Trump” above them. I can’t click on that ad, because I worry that the world would end (whatever it might actually be for. probably sells paper towels or something).
    I’m putting my early bet on Pawlenty, for no good reason than that I can remember his name too, and that I don’t think that Republicans will vote for Romney.
    I haven’t heard the Barak Obama was replaced by Barak Obama one yet (though I’m guessing that’s ’cause harry made it up). I did hear one (and I don’t think it was a joke) arguing that even if Obama was born a US citizen, the fact that he had a non-citizen father meant that he wasn’t eligible to be president.
    (I do think there will be a Republican nominee)

  11. Here are some problems for Romney in the Republican primaries:
    1. The Mormon thing
    2. Romneycare
    3. He looks like a middle-aged Ken doll–just a little too conventionally handsome for his own good
    In his favor:
    1. It’s his turn.
    2. Some of his photographs show him a bit greyer and less male-modelish

  12. I did make it up, but feel free to spread it. Good ideas should be spread. This could be fun!
    Rep nominee: someone you’ve never heard of. That’s going to be fun too.

  13. Okay, so the original idea, of the Founders, was to keep the Vile Brits from sending in a royalist ringer who would cede the freedom and self-government we had won at such cost. I’m not very worried, any more, no I’m not. It’s been hard for me to think that Jennifer Granholm and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Henry Kissinger haven’t got enough commitment to the country and ought not be able to run. Well, maybe not Henry Kissinger.
    I think O. has some problems, and they have nothing to do with his birthplace: he spent a lot of formative years in Indonesia, and his mother was from the Birkenstock-and-Muu-Muu culture. Usually Birkenstock-and-Muu-Muu culture people do not run for high office, but instead end up running used book stores in university towns. People from Texas generally reject them. Dukakis did poorly, and he was sort of a Birkenstock-and-Muu-Muu person, Cambridge Berkeley Ann Arbor, this is not where Presidential timber is generally cut. And I think those are reasons many voters think this was not the right guy, and have a lot to do with why Jesse Jackson had such a violently negative reaction to him.
    Those aren’t really credible reasons to offer against him, so the birther nonsense was uttered instead.
    I do think O. has handled this staggeringly badly, has done it in a way which elevated Trump to plausible opponent and led to widespread doubts on his legitimacy. There are now web sites claiming that he is the bastard child of someone else (not Barack Sr.) and with naked photographs claimed to be of his mother. This kind of stuff is never good for a career and I think would not have happened without the birther hook to hang it on.

  14. “elevated Trump to plausible opponent”
    This could, of course, be more trouble for the Rs than for the Democrats. “When Donald Trump is the Republican nominee” is one member of the extremely small set “situations in which Obama could plausibly carry Idaho and Utah in 2012.”

  15. LG&M reminds me that the Obama ’12 campaign is gearing up to be able to play “Born in the USA” as much as possible. Boo yah St. Ronnie. He’ll win Minnesota, too.

  16. “I propose Pawlenty and Obama.”
    I propose Ryan and Obama (with maybe a third party run by Trump or an anti-war candidate), but I’m stumped by the VPs. I’d hesitate to go with a dual white guy ticket in 2012 going up against Obama, even if both members of the ticket were individually the best for the job. Maybe Nikki Haley, Jindal (if his articulateness picks up), or Marco Rubio for Republican VP? Any of those three would also balance the Republican ticket geographically. Nikki Haley has already been through the worst national politics can offer.
    Also, Is Biden really going to be on the 2012 ticket? That sets the Democrats up for a disadvantage come 2016.

  17. Scott Walker made his bid a few months ago.
    I’m sure he has his eye on it, but not for 2012. He would barely have a year in office before the primaries.

  18. Also, Is Biden really going to be on the 2012 ticket?
    Stupid handlers have made him no fun. Go ahead and replace him.

  19. I was looking at what I would have said in 2007, and realized that I would have had no idea about who would end up the actual nominee. When punditry fails (even retropsectively) I think it’s good to think about why.
    I think I would have failed in 2007 (for predicting the Rep’s nominee) because I would have picked the businessy northern types, who seem to fail in the primaries (I think I would have said Giuliani). I also would have under-predicted the role that money raising plays. The money is everything, and I noted that a number of people I thought might have a chance dropped out before the primaries. I think it’s tough for us to know how the money plays out because especially on the early stages, with big donations in play, it depends on individual relationships these folks have and how much money those folks have available to back a candidate. That’s a big deal that helps Romney (who is using some of his own money, right? I think it helps Gingrich, who has money connections. I think that it hurts Pawlenty, unless he makes enough of a splash that people are willing to bet on him early).
    (but, usually, I’m not interested in this game — it’s easier to just wait and see what happens. That’s especially true in the Rep primary, since I have no plans to invest in those candidates. For a Dem, it’s worth thinking through to decide if there’s someone you want to stake early, with time or money. Usually I say no, but my spouse did stake Obama early).

  20. “Those aren’t really credible reasons to offer against him, so the birther nonsense was uttered instead.”
    OK, I find this incredible — you can’t say that you don’t support a candidate because they come from Birkenstock stock, so instead you invent a delusional fantasy about birth certificates? That’s somehow more respectable in some circles? I mean, I’d think you were wrong if you said you couldn’t support a candidate because their parent was a hippy or from Kenya, but I wouldn’t respect you or your views any less than if you showed yourself to be clearly delusional by buying into the ridiculous and convoluted theories of non-citizenship.
    There’s an interesting discussion at an adoption blog about birth certificates stemming from Obama’s release of his long form birth certificate. Roughly, adopted people are asking what happens when people look at their birth certificates, which are officially falsified: would they be eligible to run for president under the current laws (assuming, that is, that they were indeed born in the US)?

  21. so instead you invent a delusional fantasy about birth certificates…
    It is a bit strange and I don’t buy it either.
    But, there is a wide spread focus on “magical paperwork” that you see throughout American political conspiracy-types. I think people have been bitch-slapped by somebody behind a counter saying “You don’t have the right form” so often (or heard that “X criminal was released on a technicality”) that they have internalized the idea that the technicality is the most important thing. Someone with more education will understand the reasons behind various technicalities and know which ones are actually flexible, but somebody at the bottom end of the scale won’t.

  22. “would they be eligible to run for president under the current laws (assuming, that is, that they were indeed born in the US)?”
    Well, actually, the answer to that is clearly yes. The question they’re asking is whether they’d be allowed to run for president under he birther’s delusional fantasies + the new crop of laws that’s appearing asking for birth certificates to run for political office.

  23. I dislike mindreading a whole bunch, but I’m going to do a bunch.
    1. Back during the Bush years, a lot of people said stuff like “Bush lied, people died,” “9-11 was an inside job,” “Bush = Hitler” and “fire can’t melt steel.” And yet, if you paid attention, it was pretty obvious that 1) Bush wasn’t Hitler and 2) Bush’s opponents didn’t think he was the same as Hitler. If they had really, deep in their hearts, believed that Bush was Hitler, they would have packed their Subarus and left for Canada, rather than sticking around and participating in anti-war protests. The very fact that they were able to protest at all should have suggested the need for a tweak in world view. “Bush = Hitler” didn’t really mean “Bush = Hitler”–it actually meant something more like “I really hate Bush.” The same goes for Trutherism. As of 2006, 51% of Democrats said that it was somewhat likely or very likely that “people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.”
    If you truly believed that your government cold-bloodedly allowed 3,000 of your fellow citizens to die (or even murdered them) in order to have an excuse for war, isn’t it time to pack the the Outback, leave the US, and not come back? But as with “Bush = Hitler,” the correct reading of all of that 9-11 conspiracy mongering was a simple “I hate Bush.”
    2. I suggest that we are seeing something very similar with Obama. “Obama wasn’t really born in Hawaii” and “Obama is a secret Muslim” are both just ways to say “I distrust and dislike Obama, he doesn’t seem to like the US all that much, and he has much more enthusiasm for talking about Islam than for talking about Christianity.” When you dislike somebody, you’re more likely to believe evil of them, even improbable evil. (For the record, I’d guess that Obama is religiously more of an egotheist than anything else.)

  24. As a correlate, I’d suggest that an increase in the number of birther/secret Muslim responses to surveys suggests mainly an increase in dislike of Obama.

  25. In the fall of 2006, I talked to an old friend who had worked for Bill’s National Security Council and had stayed active in NY-area Democratic circles after 2000. When I asked, he told me that not only was Hilary running for 2008, she (and those close to her) were telling people (donors, movers and shakers, party leaders, etc.) that if they did not get on board now (i.e., autumn 2006) they would be frozen out in 2008. That’s a roundabout way of saying I think bj is completely correct about money. (On the other hand, bj, Gingrich is not running; again, God does not love Democrats that much.)
    I’ll probably never have that level of access again, but it makes me think several things: 1. Many of the big-money people on the R side already have a preferred candidate; indeed much of the establishment support may be sewed up already one way or another. 2. The big-time political press, whose job it is to have that level of access, knows much more than they are telling, or at the very least ought to know. 3. People in higher echelons of law and finance in and around NYC could find out a lot of this without too much trouble. 4. The entrance of competition and actual voters into the process changes things (President Dean, anyone?).
    Is it Romney’s turn? Will the Bush people start making the wheels turn for Daniels? Pawlenty? (Hm, have to talk with my MN friend from the wrong side of the aisle.) Anyway, AmyP, I’ll take Obama straight up anytime; or will you want him to have to cover a point spread as well?

  26. Was “Bush= Hitler” something that was every widely said? The only people I’ve ever heard talk about the idea is Bush supporters who claim it was widely said, but I don’t watch TV news at all if I can avoid it, so maybe more than a few people w/ signs somewhere did say something like that. Surely it was not pushed like the birther thing by people who are plausibly candidates for president. as for “Bush lied, people died”, my understanding was that that was about the run-up to the Iraq war. It’s possible that Bush was just widely ignorant and delusional, rather than lying about things there (and so left the lying to people like Colin Powell and others) but that lies were told in the run-up tot he Iraq war in order to help sell it is, I think, undeniable. (Ask Colin Powell- he knew very well he was selling lies at the time.)
    My impression about people saying that members of the government having knowledge of the impending Sept. 11th attacks is that this was mostly a garbled version of the true story that there were warnings that al qaeda was planing to try an attack soon, and that these were put on the back-burner to deal with issues like child pron and the like, mixed with some general tendency to think that bad things must have complex explanations. (Compare here with theories that Roosevelt knew about the Pearl Harbor attacks before hand and the like.)

  27. “suggests mainly an increase in dislike of Obama. ”
    If so, there should be a pretty good correlation between his general approval rating (or I guess, among Reps) and the birther nonsense.
    The CBS/NYTimes poll (45% of about 500 sampled Reps said “Obama was not born in the United states”) was postulated to have been influenced by Trump’s huckstering. Now we have the release of the “long form” birth certificate. Presumably, the long form doesn’t change how much the anti-Obama folks dislike him. If so, a poll done now (I hope they’re doing one) shouldn’t change the proportion of “birthers.”
    Now, I still find that surprising, that so many Americans would be willing to answer a factual question incorrectly in order to send that message. But, I am willing to be influenced by evidence that what people say in polls is not necessarily what they believe. I think surveys are general a pretty poor means of gathering information of any sort.

  28. My impression about people saying that members of the government having knowledge of the impending Sept. 11th attacks…
    There were a great many people who posited that explosives from inside the towers were what brought them down and even more who argued that Bush pulled back deliberately, not just ignored warnings.

  29. Bush = Hitler was a favorite sign slogan for anti-war protests. Try doing a google search for Bush Hitler for lots of examples.
    I was just googling “Reichstag fire Bush” and came across the song Reichstag Fire by David Rovics. It’s musically terrible and feels much longer than 4.5 minutes, but it gives a good feel for the conspiratorial mind. The person who set it to images even worked in a couple of Masonic symbols. Conspiracy theories are like potato chips–you can’t just stop at one.

    “Now, I still find that surprising, that so many Americans would be willing to answer a factual question incorrectly in order to send that message.”
    It doesn’t need to be happening on a conscious level. I also think that in other cases with surveys, the questions are sometimes so badly phrased that you have to put some thought into what the pollster really means before answering. I’ve noticed this a lot in religion surveys. A lot of times the pollsters don’t know enough to be able to frame a question correctly. (For instance, a survey might ask, do you consider yourself religious, while in some Protestant circles, “religious” or “religion” is kind of a dirty word.)

  30. There were a great many people who posited…
    It’s worth keeping in mind that the US is a big country, you can have a “great many people” believe all sorts of things, and it’s not close to, say, 45% of registered Democrats. I’m pretty sure this was a fringe view, and that it got nothing like the press that birtherism did by many of the would-be Republican presidential candidates.

  31. Here’s another birther theory.
    There’s a Chekhov story about a man who appreciatively smacks his lips while at a party admiring some food. A guest hears the noise and assumes that the first man was kissing a servant. The first man then goes all over the party, explaining that he wasn’t kissing the servant. Eventually everybody hears the story, but the man doesn’t realize that he was the one spreading the rumor about himself.
    Likewise, maybe it’s the anti-birther talk that’s responsible for spreading birtherism. I understand that MSNBC has spent a lot of energy on the issue.
    I don’t think that ones very likely, but I’ll just add it to the pot of theories.

  32. This seems apposite:

    John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?
    Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?
    John: … a bit low, actually.

    As a topical bonus, the full article contains an Obama reference from 2005.

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