Intentionally "fake but real" fuel for paranoid conspiracy claims?

I know this will sound like a paranoid conspiracy theory, but I really think the convoluted paranoid conspiracy claim about Obama not being a citizen may itself be the result of some sort of agent provocateurism originating with the Obama campaign -- the idea being to game the paranoid WND types by giving them plenty of meaningless "ammo." (A deliberately fabricated copy of an underlying valid document would be a perfect red flag to wave at unsuspecting red meat brigadistas.)

I mean, really. They're arguing about digital images as if they're supposed to be official government documents!

Utter nonsense. There are in fact real official government documents -- all of which can all be verified through public records. Whatever images are posted online are largely irrelevant. And as Glenn Reynolds notes, none of it matters anyway, because if Obama's mother was a U.S. citizen he's a citizen too.

There are plenty of ways to beat Obama, but this is not one of them. I think it (and other similar claims) will help him tremendously.

Incredibly, while the claim was debunked by Strata-Sphere, a commenter there maintained the story should be kept alive anyway -- despite its falsity:

...I would suggest all seek out the original birth certificate. But, of course, if there is one, then this is all for naught. But I believe keeping the story alive does serve to expose Obamessiah as an outsider, not because he was not born here, but because he is intellectually, emotionally, philosophically, and ideologically an outsider. He is a racist, anti-American radical, who hates whites, America, Christianity, free enterprise, and just about everything else about America. He loves the Muslim call to prayer, diversity, affirmative action, taxes, Islam, terrorists old and new, abortion, illegal immigration, etc. If not born an outsider like his father, he hates America like his father does.
So it might as well be true.

I'd say "Dan Rather call your office!" but this is a bit more complicated than that. There is a hard-core, gullible minority of people who believe things like Obama is a secret Muslim because they want to believe. The way some people want to cater to them reminds me of Jeremiah Wright and the AIDS conspiracy claims. Or promoting the legend that George W. Bush was responsible for dragging James Byrd to death. Or Katrina "genocide." 9/11 Trutherism.

It's as if there are two tiers of people, the suppliers of demagoguery and the gullible consumers. While the former know better, they rationalize keeping the stories alive. Because the enemy is bad.

But what if the enemy revels in these paranoid conspiracies in hope of building a better backlash?

MORE: The nonsense will not stop. There's even a web site named BirthCertificateNow.com.

Were I working for the Obama campaign, I'd be savoring this while doing absolutely nothing.

Israel Insider asks some questions which come close:

Why should the wannabe President play hide-and-seek with the prime Constitutional requirement for a US President?

[...]

He prides himself on transparency, so why is he concealing and stonewalling legitimate demands for proof of?

[...]

Why, indeed, does not Obama make this issue go away? At this point, there's no good reason -- unless he doesn't have a birth certificate, or has one he feels compelled to hide.

These questions overlook the possibility that Obama is stalling because he knows he has absolutely nothing to hide. Either that or he's not stonewalling at all because he doesn't think the document is a forgery (see Strata-Sphere's detailed analysis concluding that the Kos version isn't).

If by doing nothing Obama can engender this sort of paranoia, that's probably an excellent reason for him to continue to do nothing.

Especially if he knows he's on safe ground.

MORE: David Weigel has an answer to the question, "Why wouldn't Obama just end this quickly?"

Jeez, probably the same reason Andy McCarthy won't respond to the allegations that he kidnapped the Lindbergh baby. Seriously, what is it about Obama that induces this Flowers for Algernon IQ dip on the right and in the Hillary Clinton insurgency?

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and for thinking of the chaff analogy. ("Overloading the radar and rendering it untrustworthy.") A warm welcome to all.

Comments appreciated, agree or disagree.

posted by Eric on 07.07.08 at 11:17 AM










Comments

Presidents must be native-born citizens?

altoids   ·  July 7, 2008 11:26 AM

Never mind - "For example, the child of American citizens who happened to be overseas when the child was born is considered native-born."

altoids   ·  July 7, 2008 11:28 AM

I've also wondered if the Obama campaign was subtly fueling this silly controversy. It seemed to me that there were three possibly embarrassing yet ultimately trivial possibilities concerning his birth certificate. One is that his birth name might have been something mundane like "Barry." Another was that perhaps his mother was officially single. The third was maybe there was an entry for religion, and it was one of those that begins with an "M." Not Methodist.

As to the first, it puts me in mind of when James Earl Carter took his oath of office under the name "Jimmy" and some excitable folks thought that invalidated his position as President. Normal people didn't even blink.

The second, so what if his mother had actually been single? That's not a big deal anymore, and in any event wasn't Obama's responsibility. Bill Clinton's train wreck of a family didn't hurt his prospect, nor should it have.

As to the third, well even if a parent identified Obama as a Muslim at his birth, he certainly has not been living as one for his adult life. I wouldn't consider him much of a Christian given his 20 years with TUCC, but he sure isn't a Muslim.

As I said, any of those possibilities might have been somewhat embarrassing, but still trivial. All of them would have been easy to dispel. Yet the campaign didn't even bother - perhaps because they didn't feel they were worth addressing (which I would understand, but come on, when has a political campaign ever passed on an opportunity to polish a candidate's background and maybe indulge in a little myth making?).

Like you, though, I kept going down that paranoid rabbit hole, wondering if perhaps they were quietly agitating the non-issue in order to keep the conspirazoids harmlessly occupied, or to make them look even sillier. Whenever that happened, though, I'd conclude that elaborate double layered conspiracy scheme only happen in movies.

Steve Skubinna   ·  July 7, 2008 12:55 PM

Some people believe that secrets rule the world, and therefore any secret information is automatically more believable to them than any open information.

I hope it is a double-layered conspiracy. That's the sort of idea that's too clever by half that people will try again if they think it will work.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  July 7, 2008 3:08 PM

Dudes. Take deep cleansing breaths. You've almost reached the stage of paranoia where you think Obama's people want you to think that they kept the birth certificate story going, because they think they want you to think . . . . Wait. I'm confused.

notaclue   ·  July 7, 2008 3:24 PM

Not going to argue the validity of the birth certificates, only going to explain why the location of his birth matters.

The question is to whether Person X is a "natural born" citizen.

Question 1: Was Person X born in the United States? If Yes, STOP; congratulations, Person X is a natural born citizen. If No, go to Question 2.

Question 2: Were BOTH Person X's parents United States citizens? If Yes, STOP, congratulations, Person X is a natural born citizen. If No, go to Question 3.

Question 3: Was ONLY ONE of Person X's parents a United States citizen? If Yes, go to question 4. If No, STOP, sorry, Person X is not a natural born citizen.

Question 4: Was the parent of Person X who was a United States citizen a resident of the United States for at least 10 years? If Yes, go to Question 5. If No, STOP, sorry, Person X is not a natural born citizen.

Question 5: Was that parent of Person X a resident of the United State for at least 5 years after his/her 16th birthday? If Yes, STOP, congratulations, Person X is a natural born citizen. If No, STOP, sorry, Person X is not a natural born citizen.

The question as to Obama's place of birth is relevant. If He answers Question 1 as "No", then the answers to the subsequent questions are "No", "Yes", "Yes" and "No", resulting in him NOT being a natural born citizen. Only if he answers Question 1 as "Yes" can he claim to be a natural born citizen.

DaveO   ·  July 7, 2008 3:41 PM

Hogwash. You're "natural born" if one parent is a citizen, wherever that is. Natural born is just to distinguish from naturalized citizen.

PookyBear   ·  July 7, 2008 6:44 PM

Maybe Obama really works for George Soros, who is setting up John McCain to be President. If Obama really isn't a natural-born American citizen, then his raison-d'etre is to clear the way for John McCain. You don't really think that McCain spent those years in the prison camp without going a little nuts, do you? He's probably a stealth communist, whose time has finally come to take over the US.

That's the only explanation that makes sense to me. ;)

Barry   ·  July 7, 2008 6:48 PM

"Hogwash. You're "natural born" if one parent is a citizen, wherever that is."

Agreed. Even if he was half-something else, once he turned 18 and chose to be a citizen of the US, the point was moot.

This is a non-issue Obama would love to have the chattering class absorbed with, it takes away from his real weaknesses.

Dark Jethro   ·  July 7, 2008 6:57 PM

A larger percentage of people than ever before, including Americans of course, believe that the moon landings were faked.

Now, ponder just how stupid one has to be to be able to believe that. Imagine the sheer number of people, including Soviet space workers, who would be required to hold onto that secret or who could have broken it open in a heartbeat. Yet there the "moon-truthers" (hah, that's good!) are.

Quite simply, this is all a part of Sixties-era post-modern deconstruction and their glorious Long March, including the ideas that logic and knowledge as the West has passed down through generations are in fact "constructs of oppression" and all that crap. Truer words were never spoken than "A man who believes nothing will believe anything". Except maybe, "The man must be an intellectual to believe such nonsense, no ordinary man could ever be such a fool" (Orwell).

So the people who quite literally believe they are smarter and wiser than all who came before have created legions of people who are able to swallow wholesale the most preposterous bunkum.

Our forefathers would have seen through such nitwittery in a blink of an eye.

Lie awake at night question: Are we getting stupider as we go along?

Andrew X   ·  July 7, 2008 7:03 PM

"This is a non-issue Obama would love to have the chattering class absorbed with, it takes away from his real weaknesses."

Whether or not he had anything to do with it, he benefits from it.

It's hard to think of a substantive discussion about Obama's qualifications for the job of President that would be good for him. If the conversations don't happen, for any reason, he benefits.

See "they just want to divide us." I find that repeated response from Obama to be at best, pathetic, and at worst, frightening. Does anyone really think that "division" is a bad thing in a democratic system?

Barry   ·  July 7, 2008 7:04 PM

"Hogwash. You're "natural born" if one parent is a citizen, wherever that is."

Agreed. Even if he was half-something else, once he turned 18 and chose to be a citizen of the US, the point was moot.

This is a non-issue Obama would love to have the chattering class absorbed with, it takes away from his real weaknesses."

I believe the following site is definitive, and it shows that Obama is a citizen only because of his birth in Hawaii, not because of his mother's status.

http://immigration.findlaw.com/immigration/immigration-citizenship-naturalization/immigration-citizenship-naturalization-did-you-know(1).html


GaryC   ·  July 7, 2008 7:15 PM

DaveO says "You're "natural born" if one parent is a citizen, wherever that is."

Alas, that's not true. And it was even less true at the time Obama was born. At that time, you would be a natural-born citizen if one parent is a citizen who had lived in the USA for 10 years at the time of the birth, and 5 of those years were after the age of 16.

In other words, at the time of Obama's birth, if a child is born outside the USA, and the child has only one parent who is a citizen, and that parent was less than 21 years old at the time of the child's birth, then the child is not a citizen.

That is why the place of Obama's birth is important.

Aside to Barry: If you become a citizen as a result of exercising a choice, then you're not a natural-born citizen.

Andrew Koenig   ·  July 7, 2008 7:19 PM

I was born in England of an American father and an English mother. According to England, citizenship passed through the father, so I was an American.

According to America, I had dual citizenship with England. I have a certificate attesting to my citizenship, issued on the occasion (in high school) when I renounced allegiance to all foreign princes, etc., which was necessary before I could be considered for a service academy appointment.

I don't think it likely, but could it be possible that Obama legally has dual citizenship?

wheels   ·  July 7, 2008 7:32 PM

So basically, we're seeing the first signs of ODS--Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Of course, if Obama gets into office, ODS will be presented as the true and representative face of his critics; right now, people who claim that George W Bush is part of a secret society of homosexual child molesters are "just part of the lunatic fringe, nobody takes those stories SERIOUSLY".

DensityDuck   ·  July 7, 2008 7:34 PM

I find it amusingly ironic that the first truther-type to respond went by the sobriquet "notaclue!"

rrr   ·  July 7, 2008 7:39 PM

Oh, wait. The poster is below. I also have no clue!

rrr   ·  July 7, 2008 7:41 PM

People are calling other people idiots for looking into the possibility that all might not be as it seems for citizen Obama, and while calling the other people idiots they are making statements like "if one parent is a citizen then the baby is a citizen no matter where born".

Pot, meet kettle.

Know your law before you mouth off. I consider it entirely possible that he was not born in Hawaii, but was faked in so that he could get that wonderful ticket known as US citizenship. Lots of people do that, for lots of reasons, and had been doing it for many years prior to 1961. Until this is comprehensively dismissed (and it isn't yet), don't be throwing names around at people who are trying to get answers to reasonable questions.

dave   ·  July 7, 2008 7:49 PM

Haven't you been paying attention? For weeks I've been saying all these whacko rumors were being generated by Obama people so Obama could pivot off them and start websites, make speeches etc. about how he's not going to sit back and take it; that he's going to fight these whacko rumors coming from who-knows-where. It's sooo obvious only a fourth grader or a pantywaist Republican could fall for it.

Dan Friedman   ·  July 7, 2008 8:02 PM

Any one who has had any dealings with the EPA, or any federal authority with law making powers, knows that just one little thing, textual thing, can make or break you.

Try telling a federal bureaucrat that some part of his thousands of pages of rules are 'ridiculous'. Of course if you go to Harvard or Yale law school and become a mouth piece for Chicago racketeers, things are usually different.

Paul   ·  July 7, 2008 8:16 PM

Concocting conspiracy theories about conspiracy theories. How meta.

Chris Wren   ·  July 7, 2008 8:16 PM

All I got to say is that I once believed that the allegation that Obama subscribed to a racist anti-American church that spewed hatred was a wild-eyed conspiracy theory as well.

Batman   ·  July 7, 2008 8:48 PM

I loved the "X-Files" series, but we're now paying the price.

Too many people, especially the Gen-Xers and Millenials who are now becoming large voter blocks, have had their world views shaped by the dark, "shadow government/evil cabal" plot line and the mantra, "The Truth Is Out There".

fdcol63   ·  July 7, 2008 8:49 PM

Holy nail on the head, Batman!

I think 'The X-Files' specifically did a terrible disservice to us culturally. Why it is so difficult for so many who truly consider themselves intelligent to grasp that 'The X-Files' is every single bit as much a fantasy as the white bread world of 'The Brady Bunch' and 'Ozzie and Harriet' is beyond me.

Wake up people!! The conspiracists are lying to you!!

Andrew X   ·  July 7, 2008 9:18 PM

barry the muslim obamabot show some paper now!

dre   ·  July 7, 2008 9:23 PM

I'd just like to know if the original birth certificate(the paper one) states his name as Barack Obama.

Jason   ·  July 7, 2008 9:53 PM

BHO was born in Hawaii in 1961. His mother, born to resident American citizens, spent the first 25 years of her life in the U.S.A.

Which pretty much seems to satisfy this requirement from the "Findlaw" site's definition:

"If only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth, that parent must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16."

This contretemps is as ridiculous and facile as the whole "John McCain isn't a U.S. citizen" saga some months back.

Kerry   ·  July 7, 2008 9:54 PM

I've long wondered about conspiracy theories as a weapon of propaganda/disinformation, ever since all the speculations about the F-117 Nighthawk seemed to center on the idea that a key element of the design was not a straight edge in the thing... and then when the fighter was finally revealed, it was ALL straight edges. (Note: I'm not an aerospace aficionado, so someone who is, will likely have a more accurate take on that).

What a great way to keep everyone off the scent, I figured... create some alternative story about X that sounds a lot juicier and "leak" it until it forms a conspiracy following -- then deny it into immortality.

Secondary approach: wild-eyed conspiracy theories about X tend to retard mainstream inquiry into X lest one be seen as one of the kooks. This also might work after the fact, if those investigating X aren't very far along yet, or are not well connected or particularly reputable.

You really have to be on the epistemological ball these days to avoid getting snookered...

Seerak   ·  July 7, 2008 10:03 PM

This is just what the Obama Campaign ordered. Right now they're fighting allegations that he's flipped on everything from gun control to Iraq..."But look! Over there! It's a moonbat Republican opposing Barack's candidacy because they've doctored his birth certificate and selectively reinterpreted citizenship laws. They can get away with this because all Republicans are xenophobic racist morons who oppose everything intelligent, modern, or rational. We in the National News Media can objectively recommend that everyone vote for Obama on Tuesday, and say no to these outlandish and completely spurious claims."...Anyone think this couldn't happen?

David   ·  July 7, 2008 10:05 PM

The rumor that BO associated with unrepentant, America-hating members of the Weathermen underground also sounded way to far-fetched to possibly be true.

Batman   ·  July 7, 2008 10:14 PM

At a minimum, I'm fully prepared to accept that his birth certificate could name him by his mother's maiden name, or lists his religion as Muslim.

Batman   ·  July 7, 2008 10:18 PM

I find it amusing that somebody created a whole new controversy by doing a simple search and replace on a few "Mccain Isn't an American Citizen" stories,

Alan Kellogg   ·  July 7, 2008 10:48 PM

I fully expect that Obama is a US citizen. BUT having a US citizen mother (or father) is NOT in itself sufficient to ensure that. The folks that claim that he is a citizen simply because his mother was, including Prof. Reynolds (if that is in fact his whole claim) are misinformed.

I am married to a non-US-Citizen, and our children were both born outside the US. I had to go through an extensive process to get the declaration from the US Embassey in that country (for each) that they "are a US citizen and have been since birth". Among the tests that had to be passed, in addition to proving my length of previous US residency through tax returns (!), was proving that my wife and I were legally married, which involved providing not only a valid marriage cert, but also a certified copy of my prior divorce cert from the US jurisdiction where it was granted!

So people who say that one US citizen parent is sufficient for citizenship simply don't know what they are talking about, and people who say that a "naturalized" citizen can be President know even less. Ask US citizen, and Governor of the State of California, Arnold Schwartzeneggar. "Natural-born" is different from "naturalized", whether it seems fair or right to you, or not. That's what the Constitution says.

sherlock   ·  July 7, 2008 11:47 PM

Mr. Kellogg,

See my post above. BHO was born in the United states, which makes his situation inherently different from your childrens.

As long as "Findlaw"'s definition is correct anyway. :)

Kerry   ·  July 8, 2008 12:00 AM

Dear Kerry,

Please re-read my comments (Kellogg's are above mine), perticularly the FIRST sentence, and the words "NOT in itself sufficient" in the SECOND sentence. Then you might want to reread the whole thing to try to understand the point I am actually making.

If you still think I am arguing that Obama is not a citizen, I just can't help you anymore, sorry.

sherlock   ·  July 8, 2008 12:09 AM

First of all, sorry about the misidentification sherlock.

More importantly, since BHO was born in the U.S. and his mother was a natural born citizen for 8+ years after her 16th birthday it seems to fulfill the requirements.

However, I now understand that you aren't arguing against that proposition. Just that your own predicament invalidates what some others were postulating as a blanket citizenship test.

Sorry about the confusion. I'll go take my thorizine now. ;)

Kerry   ·  July 8, 2008 12:24 AM

Better read your FindLaw again, Kerry.

"...his mother was a natural born citizen for 8+ years after her 16th birthday it seems to fulfill the requirements."

She was a "natural-born citizen" from her birth to her death... it is her US RESIDENCY that must meet the test of 5 years beyond her 16th birthday. RESIDENCY. So if, as I recall hearing, Obama was born around her 18th birthday, that is a physical impossibility, no? If he was actually born after she was 21, then it's a different story, but I don't think she was that old. As you correctly observe, if he was born in Hawaii, is doesn't matter anyway.

Glad you got my actual point though. If all those people saying one US citizen parent is sufficient for automatic citizenship regardless of place of birth were right, I sure got put through the wringer by Uncle Sam for no reason at all, didn't I?

sherlock   ·  July 8, 2008 12:41 AM

From what I read in her bio she was resident in the U.S. from her birth in Kansas in 1942 until she moved to Indonesia in '67 or '68. See my original post.

I just added the five years after the 16th birthday in case someone might have thought she was out of country during that time period.

Btw, you did get put through the ringer.

Kerry   ·  July 8, 2008 1:16 AM

From what I read in her bio she was resident in the U.S. from her birth in Kansas in 1942 until she moved to Indonesia in '67 or '68. See my original post.

I just added the five years after the 16th birthday in case someone might have thought she was out of country during that time period.

Btw, you did get put through the ringer. I'll never look at that Czech au pair next door the same way after reading that. ;)

Kerry   ·  July 8, 2008 1:17 AM

Whether or not a candidate qualifies to be president under the constitution is a serious and legitamate issue. For that reason, I expect that both parties have done the research on both candidates.

If there were anything to this rumor, it would be an immediate disqualification of Obama, no if's, and's or but's. Which means we would have heard about it from the Clinton and McCain campaigns.

That fact that we haven't tells me there's no there there.

tim maguire   ·  July 8, 2008 12:40 PM

Sorry, Instapundit is almost certainly wrong on this one. If Obama was not born in the USA (and that's a big if), then he is not a natural-born citizen, at least according to Blackstone. At the time of his birth he was subject to the laws of whatever country he was born in, and that makes him a natural-born citizen of that country and not of the USA. McCain is different, not because his parents were USA citizens, but because his father was a USA serviceman stationed at a USA base. That makes him the same as an ambassador, and, as Blackstone wrote, children born abroad to "the King's embassadors" are natural-born citizens.

By the same token a child born in the USA to a foreign ambassador is not a USA citizen and can never become president; and if there were a German military base in the USA (to balance the USA one in Germany), a child born to a German serviceman stationed there would similarly not be eligible for the presidency.

Milhouse   ·  July 11, 2008 4:20 AM

All of that said, the chance that Obama was born in Kenya are close to nil. Air travel was expensive in 1960, and people who weren't rich didn't fly casually. The main mode of overseas transport was still the passenger ship; going by ship from the USA to Kenya would have taken a long time.

Milhouse   ·  July 11, 2008 4:23 AM

All of that said, the chance that Obama was born in Kenya is close to nil. Air travel was expensive in 1960, and people who weren't rich didn't fly casually. The main mode of overseas transport was still the passenger ship; going by ship from the USA to Kenya would have taken a long time. No doubt he was born in Hawaii, and will eventually produce his real birth certificate to prove it.

Milhouse   ·  July 11, 2008 4:25 AM

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