I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009


One reason it hasn't been too dificult to cut back on my news consumption (see my previous post), is that some of my once favorite right-wing news sites have stopped running any news stories at all other than articles calling into question Obama's status as a natural born citizen. Some of my favorite left wing sites are also having problems; sites like "buzzflash" are still running non-stop articles blaming all the world's problems on republicans, seemingly unaware that republicans have absolutely no governing power any more.

I enjoy a press that's confrontational in its relationship to government. I suppose it's not a shock that liberal sites have lost their edge. But it's the right wing sites that I feel most betrayed by. Barely a month ago, the house passed a sweeping climate bill, perhaps the most consequential legislation to come out of Washington in this year. At the time, the right wing sites made a big deal about the speed with which the legislation was passed; they complained that no one had time to read the bill and debate the details. But, there's now been a long pause between the passage of the bill in the house and the debate of the bill in the senate. It would seem like the right wing press would use this gap to go through the bill page by page and run an article each day discussing the details and talking about the ramifications. They complained about not getting to study the bill in advance, but apparently they really had no intent to talk about the specifics of the bill, ever.

Let's look at World Net Daily, a news source whose perspective on the world is usually in opposition to mine, but who I used to respect because they would, from time to time, actually report on an issue. For close to a year now, this site has been stuck on the "issue" of Obama's birth certificate. On the site today, the first twelve headlines deal with the issue in some degree. There are no articles about climate change, health care, Sotomayor, the Gates arrest, or any of our various wars. They've surrendered the field of debate entirely to focus on the "mystery" of why Obama won't release his long form birth certificate.

I honestly can't see how this matters in the least. The constitution doesn't require a candidate produce a birth certificate, only that the president be "naturally born" in the US. I don't know why Obama hasn't released his long form birth certificate. It may be that it no longer exists, or never existed. Paper records can have gaps; they can be lost or destroyed over the course of five decades. Hawaii has released a "certificate of live birth," it's a legally binding document good enough to issue Obama a passport. And, there are are birth announcements in Hawaii newspapers announcing Obama's birth. This seems to me to be the most devestating blow to the birthers. It just seems unlikely that Obama's parents were thinking ahead to his presidential eligibility when they announced his birth in Hawaiian newspapers even though they were actually living abroad at the time, as WND contends. The birth announcements list a physical address where the parents live; World Net Daily actually sent reporters to this address to interview the neighbors. None of them remember Obama from almost fifty years ago! Further proof of the conspiracy!

The greatest mystery to me is what, exactly, the birthers are hoping to accomplish. The absense of a birth certificate won't disqualify Obama as president. What they need to produce is hard proof that Obama was born overseas. In the absense of this evidence, they really don't have a case. But, suppose they found a Kenyan birth certificate. Then what? Presumably, just as the right wingers denounce evidence of Obama's American birth as smoke and mirrors planted by Obama supporters, a real, solid, Kenyan birth certificate would almost certainly be attacked as a forgery. Paper documents just aren't that hard to fake. I don't think a single Obama supporter would change their mind if WND posted photos tomorrow of a Kenyan birth certificate. I'm certain that the house wouldn't draft articles of impeachment. The republican's will roll into the next election squawking "birth certificate... birth certificate!" Democrats will laugh at them and say that they are afraid to talk about the issues of the day. Rather than triggering some great constitutional crisis, the republican will just look increasingly crazy and conspiracy minded, lumped in the same camp as flat-earthers, gold-standard proponents, and deniers of evolution (oh, wait, they already have these last two among their ranks).

Here's my advice to right wing news sites: Stop focusing on an issue that only appeals to the most xenophobic members of your base, and start focusing on the actual problems this country faces, such as our national debt, our foreign entanglements, and some of the structural problems built into our economy, some of them government inflicted, some inflicted by plain old greed. Absent the creation of a time machine, Obama's Hawaiian birth will never be established to the satisfaction of the hard core right, and will never be disproven to the satisfaction of democrats, and will never be of any interest at all to most independents. You're obsession with this non-issue, and utter neglect of everything else happening in the world, has contributed to your loss of me as even an occasional reader.


Loren Eaton said...

I posted this elsewhere about the same subject, but it bears repeating: In Pattern Recognition, William Gibson has a short section on apophenia, wherein he says, "Every conspiracy theory served in some way to aggrandize the believer." Given the fact that the government can barely get the mail from Point A to Point B, I fail to understand how anyone can buy into the Birther conspiracy for any other reason.

I've never liked WorldNetDaily, but if you want a different take on the news, you might find Hot Air interesting. It's a right-leaning, conservative/libertarian site that recently took Congressman John Conyers to task over one of your favorite issues -- reading bills before voting on them.

Ted said...

Here’s Obama’s dilemma in a nutshell (READ VERY CAREFULLY AND DIGEST):

If BHO shows his original long form birth certificate, indeed showing he was born in Hawaii, it will also show his father was American citizen, Frank Marshall Davis, not the Kenyan/British citizen, Barack Obama Sr. While that would allow Barack Jr. to be POTUS eligible as BOTH a "citizen"/“native born citizen” AND an Article 2 “natural born citizen” -- that is, born to two American citizens on American soil -- it would simultaneously show he is a fraud hiding his real father -- a unacceptable political debacle.

If, on the other hand, BHO keeps hiding his original long form birth certificate -- while simply repeating, without showing, he was born in Hawaii -- he can still CLAIM BOTH he was born in Hawaii AND his father was the Kenyan/British Barack Obama Sr. This would enable Barack Jr. to claim he's a "citizen"/“native born citizen” but it would mean (if a federal court would ever get around to declaring and thus far no one has standing to bring the suit) that he’s NOT an Article 2 “natural born citizen” and thus not eligible to be POTUS -- a legal/constitutional debacle since all acts under an illegal POTUS are void.

So it seems, BHO has elected option one until forced to go option two because for now it looks like no federal court will ever find a plaintiff with standing. (Of course, there’s the additional issue of BHO losing American citizen status if/when he became an Indonesian citizen -- that is, IF he returned and was naturalized he would be a legal citizen, but would lose both native and natural born status, and, IF he returned and was not naturalized, he would be an illegal immigrant unlawfully in this country -- but we’ll leave that for another day.)

James Maxey said...

Loren, I just checked out Hot Air and it looks a lot more entertaining than WND. The thing I miss most about the pre-birther WND is that their previous "big conspiracy theory" was the conspiracy of evolution. They've probably run a couple of hundred articles proving it's all a scam. So, I guess I must shamefully admit I was trolling the site for strawman arguments I could refute here.

Ted, what the hell? It's funny you start by telling me to read carefully and digest when it's pretty obvious you must not have gotten my point at all. You can make all the speculations you wish about Obama's birth, but that's all you have, speculations. And, even if you produced a Kenyan birth certificate, it wouldn't change a single thing: Congress is never going to impeach him, and the courts aren't going to touch this with a ten foot pole. Nor are you going to motivate any voter to vote against Obama who wasn't already going to be voting against him anyway.

There are genuine problems facing the US. Our deficits are quite possibly about to drag us into third world status. The government is intruding into finance, energy companies, health care, and private industries like automobiles in a way that I find bothersome. On the flip side, the world has some problems that the government could help solve that just get ignored. They're so busy overhauling the entire health system, they neglect to spend more than the tiniest portion of the budget on actual investments that might yield benefits, like funding cancer research with the same sort of dollars that they throw at funding research into next generation fighter planes. The birthers seem to have completely marched off the playing field of policy; they seem to be holding on to this weird, impossible hope that one day they'll wake up and Obama will admit he's Kenyan and leave office, and America will be saved!

The reality is, Obama is president, and will continue to be so for at least three more years, barring tragedy. Devoting your energies to pretending he's not president is just the biggest waste of time I can imagine. If birthers want to get rid of Obama, they should start finding some positions that actual voters might get behind and front a candidate to beat him in 2012. If the birth certificate is the best anti-Obama plan you've got, you've pretty much surrendered the next seven years to him.