United States v. Blog

I have been fascinated for a long time with the fact that there are groups of people who firmly believe one thing and other groups that firmly believe the opposite thing. I’m not talking about religion or philosophy, but rather disagreements about things that reasonable people should be able to come to consensus on.

For example: Barack Obama’s published birth document is/is not a certification that he was born in Hawaii.

Put aside the questions of forgery or fraud and focus only on the question, “does the document assert that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii?” Reasonable people, given an opportunity for exchange of ideas, with not-too-much research, should be able to find out what, on the face of it, true or not, the document says.

Now here is where the title of the article “United States v. Blog” comes in. If you were to take a poll by doing a web search for “Obama Birth Certificate”, selecting only blogs, you would find a massive majority of “No” votes to my question (and high-confidence in the answer). If you took a poll of people in the United States, you would find a massive majority of people who had never heard of a published birth certificate, but nonetheless are convinced that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.

Why do rational people differ? The answer is that bloggers get information from bloggers and most people get their news from radio, television and newspapers.

One person can set up a blog and using relatively simple free software can with some effort set up a very impressive-looking web site. A billion-dollar news organization can also set a very impressive-looking web site. The old addage, “you can’t tell a book by its cover” applies equally to the web. The web sites can look similar but the typical independent blogger has limited resources to verify what appears, while the news organization has access to people and services that the average person does not.

What you may see in a blog is nothing more than a collection of rumors inside a fancy cover. Blogs are still in their infancy and some blog readers haven’t yet learned to separate the quality of the layout from the quality of the content. There are certainly some high-quality blogs out there, but it’s hard to separate them from the garbage just by looking at the cover.

It’s OK to read blogs and get information from them, but it is not OK to believe everything you read without a little critical thinking and a little fact checking. If you see a link on this blog, more than likely it will be to a newspaper, a university or a government agency because I wouldn’t expect anyone to accept somebody’s blog as an authority.

About Kevin

Just an old guy with opinions that I like to bounce off other people.
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29 Responses to United States v. Blog

  1. Kevin says:

    That’s all well and good, but you sometimes don’t have time to check everything. What are some things on the cover to alert you to flaky content? As I come across them, I’ll add them to the list.

    • Vague credentials for the site owner or contributors. Specific credential: Professor of Law at Cornell University; vague credential: legal researcher and investigator.
    • Persistent claims of independence or objectivity.
    • Boasting
  2. Kevin says:

    Chicago Tribune writer Colin McMahon put it nicely:

    One lesson is something many of us learned from our mothers: People believe what they want to believe. Another is an old lesson with a new twist: Repeat a rumor enough, even just to shoot it down, and more people will latch on to it. The twist is the Internet, which has done for rumors what mosquitoes do for malaria.

  3. TRUTH says:

    How TRUE it IS. And don’t forget, that works both ways. My suspicion is much more so than you realize even.

  4. TRUTH says:

    Change and Change we’ll Change then Change and Change some Change until Change is Change.

    HEY, this guy is different, he speaks well, looks nice, is always so calm natured, and I don’t know why but I believe he can really Change things.

    Yes sir, Mr. McMahon knew what he was talking about.

  5. Kevin says:

    I do not believe Obama can change things. I think it is possible that Obama can change things and I hope Obama can change things.

    One of the barriers, however, to Obama succeeding is the distraction from the “stop Obama” movement (StopObama.org, ObamaCrimes.com, Stop-Obama.info, stopobamainfo.org, stopobamaexpress.com, stopbarack.blogspot.com, stopobamafund.org just to mention a few).

    I think we’re seeing right now the biggest disinformation campaign in the history of the Internet. Political dirty tricksters, single issue voters, and white racists have teamed up with traditional conspiracy theorists to create a massive Obama Citizenship Denial web presence. Before the Internet, nutcase ideas were contained by the expense of publishing and traditional news outlets didn’t cover rumors and unsubstantiated claims. Now world-wide publishing is essentially free and the anti-Obama faction has taken full advantage of it.

    I expect in time folks will develop the necessary skeptical filters, so that nutcase ideas like Obama Citizenship Denial will not be able to gain the traction that they have and cause the disruption of the legitimate political process that they potentially may.

  6. Kevin says:

    And Obama brought this all on himself because he’s black, his middle name is Hussein, Hawaii can’t print it’s birth certificates right, he lived overseas, he’s liberal, he wasn’t born in a “real state”, because he associated with the “wrong people”, blah, blah, blah.

  7. Truth says:

    Now Kevin, if your going to talk about ALL those different things, you need to direct them to the people that are complaining about ALL of that, which isn’t me.

    — I don’t care if he is purple,
    —if his middle name is Puntang,
    —-or if he lived in a tent in Timbucktoo.

    + But, and as your aware, I do want his B.C. confirmed(its a matter of security level issue for me)

    + Of course Hawaii was a State, a non-issue

    + No I don’t feel his associations with SO MANY “wrong people” is a GOOD thing for a President-Select, but that was a campaign issue that apparently 63million people feel it is ok to associate with known crooks.

    + and…uhh…his own Party said he is the Most Liberal Democrat in the party, so I don’t get that one at all. I don’t want him removed because of it however, that is another campaign issue he succeeded to get by on.

    Where he stands on issues, although I don’t agree with many of them, they are what the people choose. I’m concerned about his legal standing, which will never be decided in a blog, and probably never be decided even in a LEGAL format. He will get away with having to prove anything, whether he is legal or not.

    Kind of a shame he doesn’t come forward and just prove everyone wrong. I recall in his acceptance speech something like “I am going to BE your President, like it or not, so lets all work together”. So if he wants 57 million that voted against him to work with him, it would make sense he took that first step, averted all this Supreme Court silliness, and just present the documents proving he is qualified and be done with it. He knows what the critics want, why should they have to chase after it or get the Police?

  8. Kevin says:

    Truth, unless you see your name on a reply, I’m not replying directly to you and general remarks about the anti-Obama gang are not meant to apply to you specifically.

    And, as we have been over before, Obama took the first step and presented a legally acceptable proof of birth place in answer to unfounded rumors that he was born in Kenya. People believe what they want to believe and nothing could be better evidence of this than the absurd “this is not a real birth certificate” stuff on hundreds if not thousands of web sites, or your insistence that a “Certification” doesn’t certify anything.

    Obama (or one of his minions) went to the Hawaii Department of Health and filled out the form at http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/pdf/birth.pdf and obtained his standards Hawaiian “Certification of Live Birth”. Later he put a copy on the web for the whole world to see. Obama didn’t say to Hawaii “make sure you don’t send a photocopy of that hospital record”; he got the same piece of paper everybody gets and the only thing you can order off the web. Somehow, though, what is good enough for everybody else isn’t good enough for the smear bots who chopped up a legal document, switched the boxes around and taped it back together so that it no longer says what it says, no longer means what it means, and is, by the way, a forgery anyway.

    The fact that I document everything I assert here (or correct it) is irrelevant because people believe what they want to believe.

  9. Truth says:

    My Bad, seemed like a reply to a comment I made, I won’t make the same mistake.

    And I did not realize you were so close with Mr. Obama to know for sure how he went about getting his Birth Certification. That is interesting. If someone did not know better they would think you were just assuming that and posting speculation, but I know you better than to assume things. You don’t say it unless it is proof positive. Good On ya. Well then, case solved….moving forward.

  10. Kevin says:

    Actually there is a narrative from the Obama campaign about obtaining the birth certificate. What I wrote was fictional and not intended to be taken literally. It was written to point out how one would obtain a birth certificate from Hawaii accentuating that if any Hawaiian-born person asked for a birth certificate, they would get the same thing that Obama did. (And I use the term “birth certificate” in the same way that the spokesperson from the Hawaii Department of Health did when she said: “[Obama’s] looks exactly the same as my own birth certificate“.

  11. TRUTH says:

    Well now we have the opinion of ONE person from the Hawaiian Health Dept.

    The real birth certificate we hold in our household doesn’t look like Obamas at all, NOT Saying what he has is not legal for we’ve gone round and round about that, it just doesn’t look the same except for the green shade is similar. Ours is from Army Tripler Medical Center Honolulu HI, and we knew enough to keep it locked up since birth and make copies of it as/when needed. And if ever needed, this one is open to anyone needing to verify its authenticity, for we have nothing to hide.

  12. Kevin says:

    Truth, I don’t know exactly what you have. If the birth certificate looks like http://www.blogordie.com/pvtimages/SAMPLE-CertificateLiveBirth-HI-med2.jpg and has a raised Hawaiian seal and the signature of the registrar (might be local or state) then I would think that you have a legal birth certificate. If what you have was issued by the medical center and lacks the seal or registrar’s signature then you have a souvenir from the hospital. I have one of those souvenirs, and I was informed that it was useless to get a passport.

  13. Kevin says:

    You can find all sorts of interesting things entering “obama birth certificate” into a search engine, and the article on Salon.com from which the following was excerpted is no exception:

    …Yes, Obama was born in Hawaii, and yes, he is eligible to be president. But according to several experts in conspiracy theories, and in the psychology of people who believe in conspiracy theories, there’s little chance those people who think Obama is barred from the presidency will ever be convinced otherwise. “There’s no amount of evidence or data that will change somebody’s mind,” says Michael Shermer, who is the publisher of Skeptic magazine and a columnist for Scientific American, and who holds an undergraduate and a master’s degree in psychology. “The more data you present a person, the more they doubt it … ”

    …Perhaps the most common argument of those questioning Obama’s eligibility is that he should just release his full, original birth certificate, rather than the shorter certification, which is a copy. His failure to do so only proves there is reason to be suspicious, they say, and if the document was released, the issue would go away. But that’s unlikely. It was, after all, the Obama campaign’s release of the certification this summer that stoked the fever of conspiracy mongers.

  14. Truth says:

    I’m no B.C. Professor, but I do know the difference between the Foot Stamped souvenir b.c. my Mom had of mine and the Seal Stamped original copy I have of my Son. My point was what ONE person says is just that, ONE persons perspective, when I have a totally legal B.C. that indeed doesn’t look like BHO’s, so her comment isn’t worth 2 cents.

    And WOW, for a man with a Masters in Psychology he sure makes some big assumptions. And Obamas Campaign did not JUST RELEASE that certification as if they had this epiphany. They released it because of Obamas own words and writings bringing up the suspicions of “hey just where WAS this guy born at?”, which drove them to the attempt of dispelling the concerns, but with the infamous questionable COLB.

    And for such a smart man, how can he BEGIN to pass judgement on what people may or may not do, when there is nothing to compare it with yet, and by that I mean the Obama folks have NOT DONE ANYTHING yet for anyone to say “we showed you this, now you want this, and now this, and now this…..etc..” He is making that statement just because his DEGREE says things like that have happened in the past, BIG DEAL. That is and has been just another LAME excuse to NOT show the document. Almost as sorry of a line as “No OTHER President-elect ever had to do this…sniffle sniffle”.

    I hear all the excuses why NOT to do such a simple simple thing, I wonder what the following means to the people sworn into office, or to anyone for that matter.
    x x x x x x x x x x
    In the United States, the oath of office for the President of the United States is specified in the U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1):

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    The oath may be sworn or affirmed. Although not present in the text of the Constitution, it has become a standard practice for modern presidents to add “so help me God” at the end of the oath.

    The Constitution specifies in Article VI, clause 3:

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    For other officials, including members of Congress, it specifies they “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution.”
    x x x x x x x x x x x
    To SUPPORT our Constitution should have a bit more value than to worry about ignorant lawyers making invalid claims. Maybe just MAYBE when a suspicion is brought up about a “possible” candidate for office not meeting the qualifications, not by just a “small” group of people but by the thousands that are behind this, well maybe the People voted into office could do just a bit to “Make Sure” they are doing their jobs and “Defending” and/or “Supporting” our Constitution.

    And SO WHAT maybe all these people are incorrect, then let due process determine that and stop whining about the reasons why they are all crazy and PROVE them wrong. Lots of words have been spoken(typed) but not one legitimate Action has been taken to dispel the concerns.

  15. Kevin says:

    Questions for Truth:

    1. Do you have one moments doubt that if you ordered a Hawaiian birth certificate today that it would look materially different from the format of the published Obama certification?

    2. Specifically what in Obama’s “words and writings” suggests to you that he was not born in the United States?

    3. What percentage is 100,000 out of 100,000,000?

    4. To dispel the concerns a legal document was provided. What evidence can you provide that there is any fault in this document? (And don’t say it doesn’t look like your sons’ cause that’s just silly. I have an old $20 bill here that looks nothing like a modern one. They’re both legal tender.)

  16. Truth says:

    1. “LOOK” different? Of course it would, the ARE different. It doesn’t make the one posted Wrong, that has yet to be established. Four Quarters looks a lot different than a Dollar Bill too, but they are the same. But if you told me you were holding a dollar bill for me that one day would mean something important to my family, I would like to see that dollar bill first.

    2. When I typed that, it was in reference to what invoked others to ask “where was he born”. Sorry if I implied I thought he wasn’t born in the U.S. That isn’t the reason I want to see the Orig. B.C. Lets say TRUTH accepts he was born in the U.S. You’ve not heard me say otherwise since we’ve blogged, have you?

    3. 100 zillion, whats your point? or whats your Real question?

    4. For Gods Sake, is this your Newest angle to avoid yet once again from saying “sure, I believe they should just LOOK at the Real document and end all of this”. Never ONCE has a democrat said that.
    And I’m not so stupid to say “it doesn’t look like my son’s” as the REASON. I said THAT because your reference of a Hawaiian Health Dept claimed hers looked just like Obamas, Big Deal!, as if that was the determining reason that made it proof positive it is an accurate document.

    What EVIDENCE can YOU provide that there is NOT any fault in that document? Other than your experience in the field of B.C.’s I’ve also numerous times said the REAL ORIGINAL will probably be fine, but ONLY GOD Knows at this point. I never said I have any evidence the COLB isn’t fine, but NOBODY knows if it is or not, not until they compare it to the real one.

    And I don’t believe your $20 bill looks like mine, so send it to me so I can verify that. lol

  17. Kevin says:

    The substantive answer to the evidence question is in my article entitled “Burden of Proof.”

    The math question’s answer should tell you what portion of US voters give a fig about seeing any birth certificate.

  18. TRUTH says:

    Give a Fig? If only ONE person questioned the LEGALITY of Mr. Obamas position, being he is an Elected official, he should be required to prove himself Completely legal, without a Shadow of a Doubt which he has NOT done. But this isn’t just 1, or 10 or 100, but THOUSANDS which I feel confident in saying speak for the Millions that don’t speak out just because of people like you that are fast to blow off the “Possibility” there “Might” be something wrong, so they figure why cause waves when nothing will be done about it anyways. cry conspiracy and any other excuse except do the VERY SIMPLE step and prove everyone wrong, and say “Yes he should show the real B.C.”. You never ONCE said that, which has to imply even you are afraid there is something on the real one that would implicate your beloved President-select.

    Nothing personal but politically your math sucks. HOnestly it is pathetic, and laughable you think this is a competition. The ELECTION was a competition Kevin. The matter of being Eligible DOES NOT mean More People have to want it than Not. Obama being Eligible IS NOT a Competition for Gods Sake.
    Ever heard of our Legal system here in America? You might want to look into what it takes for someone to be guilty if you think it is a larger percentage.

    I’m anxious for him to take office, this will be some fun times ahead of us. Hey, you think he will Pardon Blagojevich at the end of his term in 4 years or will they be playing checkers with each other?

  19. Kevin says:

    I have heard of the legal system. It has rejected the Obama conspiracy.

  20. TRUTH says:

    Well you sure don’t imply you realize what it takes to be guilty. Unless 50% of everyone in the city sees me rob the bank, I guess I can get away with it according to your math. Because Legal only matters according to you if MOST the people want it investigated.

    Don’t confuse Running for a position with Qualifying for a position.

    For your Educational and Viewing pleasure:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX7uuhHXs-0&feature=channel_page

  21. Kevin says:

    Truth, I think it is you who doesn’t understand what it takes to be proven guilty: evidence. Got any?

    If there is a bank robbery, you go to the police.

  22. Truth says:

    Back on the police thing again I see. Your to funny. He hasn’t committed a crime, that anyone knows of. It is a QUESTION of his eligibility, which time and time again I have admitted he is probably ok. BUT, “Probably” isn’t good enough in the government I used to work for. “Definitely” was what we used to always have to abide by. And not ONCE did we have to call the Police.

    Tell us all again how 100,000 people out of a 100 Million isn’t enough to matter. That is as many people that are in a lot of medium-large cities. And that many peoples concern “doesn’t matter”. Or is it your saying “We Won, You Lost, now stop trying to find out something we’re afraid you’ll find out.” ? If you weren’t afraid, you would support full disclosure.

  23. Kevin says:

    Truth, let me try to explain.

    Think about the Donofrio lawsuit. On the verge of the election, Donofrio tried to get an emergency injunction to stop it. This one guy was dissatisfied about how the Secretary of State in New Jersey did her job and wanted to stop the election in his state. Donofrio’s objection involved a completely non-standard interpretation of the Constitution (that “native born” didn’t imply “natural born”). But because this one guy thought everybody was wrong, he wanted to stop the whole election for everybody.

    What I want to show in the preceding paragraph is that there has to be some common sense balance between small groups with odd ideas and the normal functioning of society for everybody else.

    I personally think that the Obama citizenship objections are fringe thinking. I further believe that without the Internet’s power to publish for free, the views about Obama’s citizenship denial would have gone nowhere (similar to the demand for Chester A. Arthur’s birth certificate in 1880). For years, people have sent me emails like sending a copy of the email to all my friends so that Microsoft would donate $1 to the American Cancer society, or opening a virus-laden package because the title was “I love you”. It takes just a little social engineering to get a million people be fooled. As Lincoln said “you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time.”

    Based a lot of digging on my part, I have concluded that some people have been fooled. I generously put that number at 100,000, or less than one tenth of one percent of the number that voted in the general election. (You may say that if more people heard the citizenship denial story that more would be concerned, and surely they would under the Lincoln principle.)

    This tiny percentage are demanding that government stop and take their concerns into account. (I believed you called for a “Forensic Document Expert, along with two trusted agents from both sides, a law official and whomever Hawaiian Gov. mandates” descending on the Hawaii Health Department). Meanwhile, the courts (both state and federal including the United States Supreme Court), states attorneys general, members of Congress are ALL in disagreement with these fringe claims. They are satisfied that the Constitution is being followed. The people whose job it is to defend the Constitution do not share your concerns. However, the Obama citizenship deniers, like all good conspiracy theorists, scoff at the idea of anyone in government doing their job right.

    Put bluntly, a bunch of fringe conspiracy theorists, with no evidence of any wrongdoing, pretending nonexistence of a preponderance of evidence against them, have an overblown sense of their own importance, and so justify unreasonable demands and find it odd that the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt on their account.

    I will say this one more time. A document legally proving the facts of Obama’s birth has been shown to the world. If that weren’t enough, State officials have personally checked the archives. Asking for anything else is simply blindly refusing to accept facts. I have no use for propositions which require ignoring the facts.

  24. TRUTH says:

    Simply refusing to agree that looking at the real birth certificate, not even acknowledging someone should take a look at it to prove everything is on the up and up, you COMPLETELY Scoff!! the idea of doing THAT, amplifies your concern for what might be found “if” they look at it. ALL you can do is keep repeating, we’ve seen real proof, we’ve seen real proof.

    Your clueless what ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ means. I held a Top Secret clearance. This chump you voted in will have the highest clearance in the country, and based on a piece of paper that had his mom n dads name and city born, and the National security of this country will never see the real one because of people like you….. “We’ve Seen Legal Proof” …. Clueless. I can’t wait until his Spread the Wealth lies slap each one of you right where it hurts the most.

  25. Kevin says:

    Truth, Whether Obama’s hospital records will be seen or not will not rely on “people like me”. It will rely on people like the justices of the United States Supreme Court and members of Congress. If you are saying they are all “clueless” while you know better, then I suggest that you are indeed ready for full membership in the ranks of the conspiracy theorists.

    And for the record, I served on a criminal jury once and took the course on “reasonable doubt”.

  26. Kevin says:

    A bit more on that jury. The experience was more about prima facie evidence than about reasonable doubt. It was a drunk driving case where the defendant was over the legal limit. His blood alcohol was so high that BY LAW the prosecution’s case was proved by that one fact alone unless the defense could refute it some way. The blood alcohol was prima facie evidence of guilt. The defense had no real evidence, just the lame excuse that he was swerving all over the road because he was “tuning the radio”. Guilty.

    In Obama’s “case”, there is prima facie evidence that he was born in Hawaii. His detractors are just “tuning the radio”.

  27. TRUTH says:

    Served on a JURY?! Since when does that make one an expert? Its your civic duty, big deal.

    Very weak and sorry comparison. For the 1 millionth time, why won’t they show the real b.c.? BESIDES the fact they shown this “prima fakie” version, WHY NOT show the real one? What scares you about seeing the real birth certificate?

  28. Kevin says:

    Truth, as part of my jury service, I received a training course on topics that included “reasonable doubt”. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it also counters your comment that I was “clueless”.

    Ridicule (words like “prima fakie”) does not advance the argument.

    You ask for the one millionth time, “why won’t they show the real b.c.? ” The obvious answer is, that I answered you every time with reasonable argument. If my reasonable answers don’t settle anything, why would you think any document Obama provided would settle anything?

    To expect a conspiracy theory to go away in the face of evidence is not to understand the nature of conspiracy theories.

  29. Kevin says:

    Truth asked: “What scares you about seeing the real birth certificate?”

    Nothing scares me as to the eligibility of Obama to be President. What scares me are things that would make the conspiracy theory get more traction.

    Having studied the law about birth registration in Hawaii and what has to be on certificates, there are some things that could be on the certificate that might be troubling.

    Hawaiian law says that any certified copy of an amended certificate must say “altered” on it. Obama’s COLB does not say this, meaning it hasn’t been amended. However, Hawaiian law says that something not available on the original certificate can be added later without having this label. So it is possible that no father (NOT A DIFFERENT FATHER) is listed on Barack Obama’s original certificate. If this were the case, it would start a firestorm of speculation.

    The other possibility is that there is something troubling on the original form that is not one of the items on the short version. The only thing I can think of here would be that Barack Obama was born at home. If this were the case, again, a firestorm of speculation would result that his mother lied in claiming Obama was born in Hawaii. If this were the case, all documents would still say Barack Obama was born in Honolulu and nothing to contradict that.

    In either case, Obama is qualified to be president, but the conspiracy mess gets worse.

    If someone can think of another scenario consistent with the printed COLB and the statement by Hawaiian Health officials other than these two, let me know.

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