Some People Are Certifiably Nuts

A couple of days ago, while the wingnuts were trying to make an issue out of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, I wrote,

One might argue the Obama campaign ought to just release the mystery birth certificate to put the rumors to rest. But you know that would just set off a new round of rumors. Some rightie blogger would question the authenticity of the birth certificate, and that very evening Sean Hannity would look into a Faux Nooz camera and intone, why did Barack Obama release a forged birth certificate? Questions are being asked, after all.

Today Kos, who should have known better, posted a birth certificate for Obama without documenting how he got it. Big mistake. I assume it’s authentic, but it’s a big mistake to have played their game and posted it, anyway, especially without provenance.

Already people like this idiot, who apparently has little experience with resized .JPEGs (the distortion he finds suspicious is something I’ve seen a lot in graphics I’ve worked with. I don’t know what causes it but it’s not an indication of photoshopping, in my experience), insinuating the birth certificate is fabricated.

There’s also a certificate/certification flap at Suitably Flip (“Kos Tries To Pass Off Obama’s Birth Certification As Birth Certificate“). Children, if you have a copy of your birth certificate around — a notarized one as needed to get a passport or for other stuff — what does it say? Does it say “certificate” or “certification”?

I dug mine out of a file and lo, it says “certification.” Yet it’s still what is commonly known as a “birth certificate” and, as it is notarized, it’s a legal document that will fill the bill whenever anyone asks me for my “birth certificate.”

The “birth certificate” document that was issued to my parents when I was born has a lot more stuff on it. I have seen it, but I don’t know what happened to it or even if it still exists. But typically (I’ve retrieved birth certificates for my children, born in Ohio and New Jersey, over the years also), what you get if you ask a state for a “birth certificate” is the simplified, notarized “birth certification.”

However, the wingnuts will dance around with the certificate/certification thing for a while and try to make an issue out of it. Just watch ’em.

And this is exactly the sort of thing that I predicted would happen if the birth certificate became public, which is why I said there was no point making it public.

See Philosophers’ Playground:

The fact is what we are looking at is trap…the same stupid one the Republican operatives been using for two decades. They create a dilemma:

If you don’t answer their inane questions, it’s an argument from ignorance based inference that something is being hidden. Gotcha.

If you do respond to debunk it, then (just like with Intelligent Design) they simply repeat, repeat, repeat the accusation while ignoring the evidence refuting it. The fact that there is now a “serious disagreement” involving a Presidential candidate shows that it is a serious topic to be reported on widely and the fair and balanced way to present the story is “some say this is true, but slimy politician worried about getting votes denies it.” Gotcha.

Further, once you’ve shown you’ll play their silly little game, they’ll deluge you with made up accusations to tie you up and make sure you can’t stay on message. They will work hard to use up all the oxygen in the room — gotcha.

And so on. The only way to respond is to turn the tables on them and slam them back. If they trap us into perpetually playing defense to their offense, we lose.

See Jack and Jill Politics.

11 thoughts on “Some People Are Certifiably Nuts

  1. You say the only way to respond is to turn the tables on them and slam them back. How, exactly? I was interested in raising some pedantic question about McCain. What I found is that there already is a question about McCain’s eligibility based on his place of birth. Then I recalled that sometimes the BScontroversies the Republicans raise are preemptive, or designed to coopt IMPORTANT questions about their own candidate. Classic example: Bush 43’s military service, or lack thereof was turned into a loud controversy about ehther the documents on 69 minutes were genuine; to date, no real evdience they were not genuine, but the Repugs certainly killed the AWOL issue.
    It turns out that there actually IS a legitimate question about McCain’s birthplace:

  2. “NY Times style” correction:
    A well-known television program in the United States was cited in our comment as “69 Minutes.” We regret that we attributed nine more minutes to that program than it actually possesses. The actual title is “60 minutes.”

    As for “ehther” and “evdience,” remember, to err is human.

  3. priscianus jr — the issue of McCain’s birth, although interesting in a nerdy way, is not something that’s going to get traction with voters.

    We don’t have to manufacture controversies about McCain to slam him. We need to make voters aware of the facts. He is anti-choice. His health care proposals are nuts. His Iraq policies amount to drifting along on the course Bush has set. That’s what McCain needs to be slammed on. Slam slam slam! It should be relentless.

  4. I agree with priscianus jr. We just need to ride the issues hard. And then every time McCain’s team tries to start something that is not related to issues…responding calmly and quickly, and then say, “but the American people are most concerned about these important issues, so we’re going to stay on top of those.”

    Maybe…just maybe, the voters will start to realize the fools they’re being played for by the Republicans…but then again, the depth of the stupidity of the American electorate never ceases to amaze me.

  5. I agree with priscianus jr. We just need to ride the issues hard.

    Of course we need to ride issues hard. But we need to be sure we’re riding real issues and not more distractions, and I think McCain’s offshore birth is a distraction, and voters would see it as such.

    What is it about McCain that we most want people to know? I’d say his stand on the war (just like Bush’s), his stand on economic policy (just like Bush’s), his stand on health care (nuts), his stand on abortion (misogynistic). Forget the birth thing.

  6. What, only an idiot? Give me some credit, at least one of them wascally wacky wing nuts! 🙂

    No, I am pretty familiar with jpeg’s and stuff, have been working with photo editing programs since the mid 90’s. What I saw was a VERY large graphic with fuzziness. Now, I will admit it is not a fake, as it is not an actual birth certificate, but, a certification, which is usually printed out using some type of electronic printer, which, when rescanned, can cause those types of fuzziness.

    You have to admit, it did look fishy, since there was no citations, no mention of where it came from, etc.

    PS: priscianus, those cBS docs were fake. cBS even said so in their report.

    Such is the fun of politics!

  7. I don’t have a “birth certificate”!

    Mine says it’s a “Registration of Birth Certificate” It basically says that this document verifies that there is a certificate of birth on file, and that this is NOT a copy of it. There is an embossed stamp and signatures from now-dead people that held positions of importance at the time.

    So technically the document I’ve used all my life to prove who I am is bogus to the Righties.

  8. William Teach said, “priscianus, those cBS docs were fake. cBS even said so in their report.”

    Not true, CBS never said that. CBS News President Andrew Heyward DID say, “Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret.”

    The rest of CBS’ actions were cowardly behavior and caving in to right-wing lies which were meant to protect (grandson of pro-Nazi Prescott) Bush from truth and reality: that he was NOT fit to serve as President of the USA.

    NO forensic tests have ever been done to prove or disprove those documents. To date, NO ONE has verified them, or dis-proven them. Since CBS used only faxed and photocopied duplicates, authentication to professional standards is impossible, regardless of the provenance of the originals.

    But the TANG secretary DID say she DID prepare documents EXACTLY like those when she worked for the TANG office.

    But all this is academic: the actual point is that grandson-of-a-pro-Nazi-traitor George Bush WAS AWOL, and received NO punishment. And he has always been unfit and ineligible to serve as President.

  9. I’m sorry I missed the claim by William Teach that CBS had admitted the Killian memos were forgeries. Comrade Rutherford is right. What CBS said was that there was no way to authenticate the memos because CBS didn’t have originals.

    I think it was dumb of CBS to have published the memos without originals or without a clear provenance. On the other hand, the elaborate arguments from the Right that the memos must have been created by a computer amount to a good circumstantial case, but not absolute proof, either.

    As I blogged at length at the time, typewriter technology existed in the early 1970s that could account for all typographic phenomena on the memos. Some of that technology was not standard on electric typewriters, but it existed.

    In fact, as I recall Editor & Publisher dug up an old typewriter and replicated one of the memos quite nicely with it, but the Right shouted down this demonstration, um, somehow. I don’t remember what their objections were.

    Without the originals no one can know for sure if the Killian memos were forged or not, and since the originals probably were destroyed long ago, we’ll never know.

  10. The jpeg distortion is due to the lossy compression format used. Jpeg’s don’t store all of the original pixel values as-is, but rather store “this area of pixels is roughly greenish, and each of pixels in the area is +/- n% away from greenish”. More or less anyway – the math is a bit more complicated, but that’s the gist of it.

    This works well on natural landscapes and pictures of people. But it falls apart on line drawings and text where there is a hard boundary between colors that are more than a small n% apart, as in the case of black lettering on a white background.

    To preseve the original image exactly, one should use lossless formats like PNG or BMP instead of JPEG. Kos could always rescan it, but I doubt that would satisfy the numbskulls.

    *end geek mode*

  11. Rhys — thank you. I have seen that distortion a lot and never understood where it came from, although I knew it didn’t have anything to do with photoshopping.

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