Bad faith

None of the birthers, and none of the birther fellow-travelers, has come out and said “I was wrong.” Which tells you all you need to know.

A side-plot in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency involves a piece of decision-support software called Reason. Its function is decision-support in the fullest sense of that term: the user enters a desired decision, and the program computes a set of arguments to support it.

Which brings me to Birtherism.

So far as I can tell, not a single one of the Obama-haters who has been pounding one version or another of the “birther” drum has had the decency to say, “OK, there’s the ‘long form’ we asked for, and it says what the short form said it said. Sorry!  Case closed.” And the truly sleazy, slimy Obama-haters who never went “birther” themselves but kept making snide remarks about the White House’s handling of the phony controversy are still making the same damned snide remarks.

Once you realize that these people’s brains, mouths, and keyboards are running Reason Mark II, and the decision the program has been told to support is “Hate Obama,” everything falls into a (admittely, somewhat twisted) pattern.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

25 thoughts on “Bad faith”

  1. Hey! Over here! I think Obama and his people have handled this staggeringly badly, have 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. I cannot imagine what benefit they thought accrued from letting it fester. Best option would have been to go over to the registry and get the certificate while he was in Hawaii for vacation.

  2. dave,
    please clarify: are you saying that you were a birther, and are now convinced? Are you saying that the circulation of risible and absurd bastardy allegations (my favorite is of course the Malcolm X story), or the already-disproven nude photos are somehow the result of Obama handling the wacko birther allegations badly, instead of just being more evidence that a fair number of people who happen to be completely unhinged also happen to hate Obama? And why should Obama go to the state and get it to release the “long-form birth certificate”, which it is apparently not standard practice for Hawai’i to release, when Hawai’i had already released the documentation it normally releases when proof of birth is requested? When the “long-form birth certificate” apparently contains no interesting information not present in the document previously released, which was both predictable and in fact predicted?

    Mark,
    whatever dave’s answer, there is, I believe, one convinced ex-birther: our own resident Troll Brett Bellmore (not entirely our own; I’m given to understand that we share him with other sites), after magnificently advancing an argument in James Wimberley’s thread that amounted to denying any certitude about Obama’s birthplace because it was philosophically impossible to prove the existence of an external universe, nonetheless returned to that thread after the “long-form birth certificate” was released to announce that he was convinced. Which was a load off my mind, let me tell you!

  3. I don’t believe you will find too many contrite birthers out there. It is one of the hallmarks of Conservatism: never having to say you’re sorry. I mean look at the Iraq war: where are the apologies from the conservatives over that one? “I’m sorry, we were wrong about the WMDs and we should have listened to others.” So of course there will be no apologies from birthers. The witch hunt was started by the conservative leaders like Rush. There was never any evidence that Obama was born anywhere but Hawaii and not a natural born citizen. But the birthers believed their conservative patriarchs, evidence be damned. Will people stop listening to conservative pundits who advanced the birther story to the masses? Nope. Why should they stop listening to their patriarchs? Because they were wrong? Who cares; you can create your own reality. And thus this blog got its name.

  4. dave schutz,

    Why do you think Obama handled this poorly? Doesn’t elevating the the Donald into a legitimate Republican contender only help Obama’s reelection campaign?

  5. Case closed, but not sorry. I’ve got nothing to be contrite about, I never thought Obama was born outside Hawaii, and said so. I just thought he had to produce the damned birth certificate. Now that he has, I’m satisfied.

    If anybody should apologize, it’s Obama, for dragging this out so long.

  6. I remember the many hours and nights of sleep that I lost waiting for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to release their long-form birth certificates.

  7. Yes, Brett, it’s inexcusable that Obama did not go above and beyond the standard level of proof to dispel a ridiculous, completely unsupported, and laughably illogical theory any faster than he did go above and beyond the standard level of proof. It’s all his fault. Because if there’s one thing that could settle an “issue” not settled by the first official document, it’s a second official document.

  8. dave, whoever gets the Republican nomination will be considered a serious threat. It’s not like there wasn’t going to be one. Better for it to be Trump, even though that obviously won’t pan out in the end.

    And if it wasn’t the birther thing, it’d be something else. The goal is to find reasons to hate Obama, and everything bends to the service of that goal. I don’t know if their move yesterday was clever or terrible, but it’s not like this actually has anything to do with Obama personally.

  9. Hey Whities! You don’t get it! From the time of William Lloyd Garrison, White disbelief has carried this racist undertow, and now The Donald has elevated it to the ultimate level when he as a privileged wealthy white man worked us into a frenzy by demanding President Obama the duly elected President of the USA to produce his papers! Whitey don’t get it, because whitey can’t relate to the legacy this humiliation!

  10. Yes, Brett, it’s inexcusable that Obama did not go above and beyond the standard level of proof to dispel a ridiculous, completely unsupported, and laughably illogical theory any faster than he did go above and beyond the standard level of proof. It’s all his fault. Because if there’s one thing that could settle an “issue” not settled by the first official document, it’s a second official document.

    Because that is so precisely and beautifully worded, it deserves to be repeated in its entirety.

  11. But, but, look at the edges of the document, and it says “Certificate of Live Birth” instead of “Birth Certificate, ” and how the M in 7:24 PM is smaller than the P, and how the chromatic aberration is present…or is it absent; I forget. And the layering and the Department of Health number is 61 10641 and there you have a 6 and another 6 and then you have 4+1+1=6, so you have 666, and the box “MD” has an X that has been altered, and the IBM Selectric Typewriter was released only 4 days earlier and the hospital could not possibly have one just 4 days later, and the K in “Kenya” is different from the K in “Kansas.” And what about those twins who were born just a day before Obama, or is it a day after, I keep getting confused, but anyway the numbers were not in the same order, plus the hospital wasn’t called Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital until the 1970s, but wait a minute, that is the name of the hospital on those twin girls’, and the M in PM is smaller than the P, and the typewriter is the same, but some guy on the radio said it was a fake, and that is good enough for me! And WHY AREN’T THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA COVERING THIS????????

  12. Dave:
    I like your claim that this stuff “is never good for a career.”
    On the one hand, he’s President of the United States. But on the other hand, his ideological enemies have peddled wild-eyed and frothy-mouthed conspiracy theories.
    Basically, Obama came out and gave a press conference essentially noting that the sun continues to rise in the east and set in the west. There are two reactions to that: 1: duh. 2: ZOMG!!1!. I’m not sure if I believe that and have many further questions, and why didn’t you tell me that earlier!
    If your response was 2, you have failed as a thinking human.

  13. Warren Terra: no, not a birther. never thought it likely that Obama was born anywhere other than where he said he had been, nor if he had would I have cared. I would be perfectly happy to have Jennifer Granholm and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Henry Kissinger run for President, I don’t think we need protection against the Vile Crown of Britain running a stealth candidate to take away the independence we bought at such high cost. I think it was stupid to let this thing fester as long as it did, and that Obama has been hurt by it, and would have been hurt less if he had gotten it closed out earlier.

  14. The Donald has elevated it to the ultimate level when he as a privileged wealthy white man worked us into a frenzy by demanding President Obama the duly elected President of the USA to produce his papers!

    Goldie Taylor eloquently discussed the racism aspect of the “show me the birth certificate” thing last night on the Rachel Maddow Show.

  15. …and isn’t it “convenient” that the doctor who signed the certificate just happens to be dead?
    And on the “news” tonight the so-called “networks” were talking about the more than 200 people in the South who died in the tornados instead of this!!!!!

  16. The idea that Obama has been “hurt” by the birther nonsense is amusing and amazing. I wish he had allowed the nonsense to “fester” some more until the percentage of Republicans who wallowed in it had risen to 90 or 95%. Even “independents” would have been able to figure out, in that case, how intensely stupid the modern GOP is.

    –TP

  17. “I don’t think we need protection against the Vile Crown of Britain running a stealth candidate to take away the independence we bought at such high cost.”

    Then repeal the clause.

  18. Brett, I think we should repeal the clause. I think our political life would be enriched if Granholm and Schwarzenegger were plausible candidates. I don’t want confusion and question when the first adopted girl from China wants to run and is challenged because not born here. I think ‘citizen’ is adequate, and I don’t have any problem with ‘over 35’, that can stay.

  19. Fine, then repeal it. I’d be cool with that. However, until it IS repealed, it’s a valid part of the Constitution, which should be enforced just like any other clause. That’s been my position in this fight all along: I don’t like the use of “standing” to make certain parts of the Constitution unenforceable, on the principle that being deprived of law abiding government isn’t a specific enough harm to litigate. No violation without a remedy.

    I’m not too keen on the “enrolled bill” doctrine, either, for much the same reason.

    In any event, a fantastic number of man-hours have been wasted over Obama’s petty, stubborn refusal to simply ask for his long form birth certificate, and make it public. Something he could have done at any time in the last few years that he didn’t find this mess convenient.

  20. “Obama Blinked” (headline I saw on the web last night) says it all. Reality doesn’t matter to these people, never has. Compromising with wing nuts only makes them scream their irrational demands more shrilly.

  21. I think it was stupid to let this thing fester as long as it did, and that Obama has been hurt by it, and would have been hurt less if he had gotten it closed out earlier.

    I disagree. I wish they had let it go on longer, so that the rich obnoxious clown with the mop on his head could stir up the rabble for long enough that he got the GOP nomination.

    Then we would have a clear optic for the level of depravity of the GOP. Too bad that the rabble would deny it, and the Dems would be unable to do anything with the optic.

  22. Brett: “I just thought he had to produce the damned birth certificate.” He did, long ago. A birth certificate is a standardised official extract – a “certified copy” – of the register of births, which as I’ve explained civilians are not normally allowed to see. The document the Hawaii Department of Health has released as an exception to the rules is not a standard certificate at all but a photograph of the original register. Try and get one for yourself. By your standards of proof, Obama is the only certain citizen of the United States; and I’m the only married man in Spain.

Comments are closed.