New on NewsReal – Latest Indicator of Racism: Questioning Obama’s Intellect

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

As the White House deals a devastating blow to one Obama conspiracy theory, leave it to leftists to dig up another one to browbeat allegedly-bigoted conservatives with. At the Daily Beast, pseudo-feminist Michelle Goldberg “traces the far-right history of the claim” that something funny’s going on with Barack Obama’s academic background:

Claims about Obama’s educational history date back to September 2008, when The Wall Street Journal attacked him for not releasing his school records, writing in an editorial, “Some think his transcript, if released, would reveal Mr. Obama as a mediocre student who benefited from racial preference.” Since then, Orly Taitz, queen of the birthers, has developed elaborate theories about Obama’s college years. As Taitz argues, Obama himself acknowledged that he was directionless when he started college. How, then, did he get himself accepted into the Ivy League?

Despite purporting to refute the right-wing “fever swamps,” Goldberg won’t actually reference the WSJ piece again, so it’s worth mentioning that it makes substantive points, among them that the ambiguity of Obama’s college days doesn’t square with the prominence of his personal story in his claim to fame. And as Andy McCarthy points out, Obama has a habit of modifying details of his biography for different audiences. (Ace has more solid analysis of Obama’s college days here.)

But not a peep about any of this from Goldberg. Instead of addressing what serious Obama critics have said, she spends the next couple paragraphs shooting down the theories of Orly Taitz, an especially destructive Birther attorney, who speculates that Obama attended Columbia as a foreign exchange student, attended for a mere nine months instead of two years, and even that he got into Harvard Law thanks to the machinations of a Saudi prince.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

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Half of All Republicans Are Birthers…According to Democrat Pollsters

In a bid to keep their meal ticket going, WorldNetDaily is pushing a new poll that allegedly reveals that “only 3 in 10 members of the GOP believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States”:

With the issue still disputed in a number of court cases and under review by nearly a dozen states considering laws that presidential candidates document their constitutional eligibility, the poll by Public Policy Polling found that only 28 percent of the Republicans surveyed believe Obama was born in the U.S. while 51 percent do not.

Another 21 percent say they are not sure.
“Any thought that the birther theory has been put to rest can be thrown out the window,” Dean Debnam, the president of the Democratic-leaning polling firm, told Politico.

“That view is still widely held in Republican circles,” he said. [Emphasis added.]

Granted, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie’s quest to find Obama’s birth certificate once and for all ended in failure, and Obama has brought some distrust over his origins on himself—he has a record of misrepresenting details in his own biography for political gain. So it’s not completely surprising that a not-infinitesimal percentage of Republicans would have doubts. But half? I doubt it.

I’ve duked it out with Birthers time and time (and time and time and time) again, so I won’t revisit the merits of believing Barack Obama was secretly born in Kenya. Here I’d like to instead call attention to the words in bold. Shouldn’t the head of a left-leaning firm (check out their list of clients, which includes the National Education Association and the North Carolina chapters of Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club) discussing how their poll reflects on Republicans set off a few alarm bells?

Leftists are known for using dubious polls to smear conservatives as nutjobs, and they especially like having the Birther club to beat Republicans over the head with. During the midterms, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out memos directing candidates to try making their races about whether or not their opponents thought Obama was a natural-born citizen. Why? Because it’s easier to talk about that than the really bad ideas they want to implement in office. As Kurt Schlichter wrote for Big Journalism on February 8, 2010:

The last thing we need as the truth and power of our core beliefs in small government, a strong defense and the Bill of Rights are becoming evident again even in places like Massachusetts is to distract and discredit ourselves by tolerating weird, nutty conspiracy theories.  It’s also a dream come true for our opponents – a chance to dodge the real questions about out-of-control spending, crippling taxes and hug-a-jihadi terrorist policies and to instead focus on the irrational fixations of a few nuts.

Every time some right-wing journalist “raises a question” about the President’s birth certificate, Rahm Emanuel smiles.

One would think experienced right-wing media outlets would know the Left well enough to recognize propaganda by a hostile entity when they saw it. But instead, WND can’t embrace and disseminate it fast enough. I’m sure President Obama and the Democratic Party are most appreciative.

New on NewsReal – Hawaii Governor Revives Birth Certificate Wars Because He Wants to End the Controversy. Yeah, Right

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Thankfully, TV and the blogosphere haven’t suffered any major Birther eruptions in a while, but Hawaii’s new Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, is poised to reignite the dumbest of Barack Obama’s scandals…in the name of putting a long-overdue stop to it. Abercrombie intends to settle the question of Obama’s citizenship status once and for all by releasing more previously-undisclosed birth records:

[T]he governor made clear in the CNN interview that he will push forward on this matter regardless of whether the White House is privately worried that it may bring more attention to the so-called “birthers” who continue to deny that Obama was born in America – despite evidence showing that he was.

“We haven’t had any of those discussions,” Abercrombie said of the White House. “It’s a matter of principle with me. I knew his mom and dad. I was here when he was born. Anybody who wants to ask a question honestly could have had their answer already.”

Asked if one option is to ask Obama to waive his privacy rights so that a copy of his actual birth certificate can be released publicly, Abercrombie cut off a reporter’s question.

“No, no, no – it’s not up to the president,” he said.  “It has nothing to do with the president.  It has to do with the people of Hawaii who love him, people who love his mom and dad. It has to do with respect the office of the president is entitled to. And it has to do with respect that every single person’s mother and father are entitled to.”

All the evidence we have overwhelmingly indicates that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii and is constitutionally eligible for the presidency. The facts are on Abercrombie’s side, as far as the question of Obama’s eligibility goes, but his dramatic talk of standing up to “a political agenda not worthy of any good American” reeks of partisan posturing.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Why Do People Believe Irrational, Simplistic Things?

And why are they so insistent upon holding on to those things in the face of clear evidence to the contrary?

It’s actually not as surprising as it might seem at first. I think conspiracy theorists and fringe types are often motivated by the same thing: humans are naturally tempted to seek simple answers to complex questions. We want to solve our problems in as few steps as possible, and it can be hard to acknowledge that life just doesn’t work that way. It’s comforting to

Birthers hate Barack Obama so much that they succumb to fantasies about a way to remove him from office that’s supposedly easier and can be achieved earlier than defeating him electorally in 2012.

The same goes for those who insist that George W. Bush stole Florida in 2000.

9/11 Truthers can’t bring themselves to imagine that a series of events ultimately rooted in government incompetence and human error could have allowed a handful of people from what they see as a drastically inferior part of the world to carry out such a horror on their own.

Isolationists seek a quick and easy fix to international dangers like Islamic radicalism. If we don’t have a presence over there, they won’t want to bother us here. (Iraq & Afghanistan are separate issues: to these guys, the wrath of the entire Middle East can hinge upon the presence of but a single US military base on foreign soil.)

The more dogmatic libertarians simplistically assert that society will be near-perfect as long as we let the government do virtually nothing, because they see government as the source of all social illness. While they’ve got a strong case that the private sector will generally be more effective than public, they hurt both by overselling the former and underselling the latter.

And progressives seek to legislate social ills like racism and poverty out of existence. They can’t admit that information is too dispersed, and that human behavior isn’t malleable enough, to make centralized government solutions work, or that there are always behavioral and psychological factors at play that public policy can’t always alleviate – and in fact, can often make worse.

These tendencies are annoying, frustrating, and counterproductive, but they’re also natural. Humanity will never be fully rid of them, so their mere existence is hardly worth freaking out over. The real issue is whether or not the mainstream indulges or embraces the fringe – and one side has a much better record in that regard than the other.

Back to Birthers

Lefties are caterwauling about a new poll that purports to show that a quarter of Americans think Obama wasn’t born in the US. Some thoughts:

A.) The last time you guys sounded the alarm on a poll purporting to show insanity on the Right, it turned out to be bogus.

B.) If anyone thinks the Right is egging the Birthers on, he’ll have to square that theory with the fact that the list of conservative and Republican voices which rejects Birthrism includes, but is not limited to:

RNC Chair Michael Steele
National Review
Human Events
American Spectator
Glenn Beck
Michelle Malkin
Ann Coulter
Andrew Breitbart & others at his websites
HotAir.com
Townhall.com
RedState.com
NewsRealBlog.com

In other words, anybody who’s anybody on the Right. Do I wish these morons would shut up and go the heck away? Of course. But the Right as a whole has done everything it can fairly be expected to do to stand against them…

C.) …which is more than your side can say about Michael Moore, whose lies about the Bush Administration were just as bad (arguably worse), yet the Democratic establishment embraced his film wholeheartedly?

D.) Where was your hand-wringing in 2006, when a poll showed that 1/3 of Americans thought the federal government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks?

E.) Gee, I guess disgruntled Hillary supporters shouldn’t have started this Birther nonsense, should they have?