Obama’s eligibility: California court tossed the challenge out

October 30, 2009

On the one hand it’s nice to see cool heads and wisdom prevail.

On the other hand, the Orly Taitz, Stumbling and Bumbling Bros., Barnyard Bailout Circus provided belly laughs for everyone who watched it.  How can such outstanding legal pratfall comedy possibly be replaced?  “Boston Legal” can’t hold a candle to Orly Taitz.

CNN and other sources report that Judge Carter booted the suit late Thursday, noting that the question is one for Congress, and Congress’s earlier decision sticks.

The lawsuit represented the claim by the so-called “birthers” movement that Obama was not born in Hawaii – despite a birth certificate to the contrary – or that if he was, his citizenship was invalidated by living overseas as a child.

In a 30-page ruling, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter of California said his court lacked the jurisdiction to rule on a case intended to unseat a sitting president.

Carter’s ruling said the plaintiffs were trying to persuade him to “disregard the constitutional procedures in place for the removal of a sitting president.”

“The process for removal of a sitting president – removal for any reason – is within the province of Congress, not the courts,” the ruling said.

Carter’s ruling also noted that the plaintiffs “have attacked the judiciary, including every prior court that has dismissed their claim, as unpatriotic and even treasonous for refusing to grant their requests and for adhering to the terms of the Constitution.”

“Respecting the constitutional role and jurisdiction of this court is not unpatriotic,” the ruling said. “Quite the contrary, this court considers commitment to that constitutional role to be the ultimate reflection of patriotism.”

Will Orly Taitz go quietly?  How can she replace the daily adrenaline rush of knowing she’s earned the official ire of judges from Chesapeake Bay to Long Beach Harbor?

It may be unrelated, but sketchy early reports say Orly Taitz has climbed aboard a mylar balloon shaped like a flying saucer . . .

More information:


2009 winners of the Rachel Carson “Sense of Wonder” arts contest

October 30, 2009

You can view, and read, the winners of the 2009 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder contest at the website of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Bee on a flower - EPA Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder 2nd place winner 2009

2nd place photo, Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder contest, 2009 - by Patricia, age 70, Peggy, age 47, Maggi, age 16

Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder 2009 contest winners

The Sense of Wonder. Image logo.

EPA’s Aging Initiative, Generations United, the Rachel Carson Council, Inc. and the Dance Exchange, Inc. are pleased to present the winners for the third annual intergenerational photo, dance, essay and poetry Sense of Wonder contest. All entries were created by an intergenerational team.

The categories are Photography, Essay, Poetry, Mixed (Photo, Essay and Poetry) and Dance.

Drop over to EPA’s site and look, and read.

2010 contest rules are already up.  You can get the entry form there, too.  Links to the 2008 and 2007 winners and finalists also reside there.

This photo caught me a bit off guard, bringing back wonderful memories.

Gina, age 36, Bill, age 64, Christian, age 1 - 3rd place photo, 2009 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder art contest - EPA

Bill and Christian explore outdoors, photographed by Gina - Gina, age 36, Bill, age 64, Christian, age 1 - 3rd place photo, 2009 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder art contest - EPA

Gina, the photographer, described the photo:

My father has been a good role model to me as I grew up with plenty of time outdoors. The red plaid shirt became a sort of symbol, and it was an honor to get a matching shirt myself when I was in college. Now, at just one year old, my son is continuing the tradition of wearing the red and black shirt outdoors. It was fun to photograph the two together in our rural wooded backyard, and helped illustrate that my father can continue to pass along his sense of wonder and love of the outdoors to my son, his first grandchild.

My father, Paul Darrell, wore an old jacket for my entire life — a once-fuzzy buffalo plaid red-and-black woolen jacket.  No one in the family can remember a time he didn’t have it.  The jacket was probably at least 30 years old when I was born.  He wore it when it was bitter cold — one story was that when it was well below zero one wintry morning in Burley, Idaho, it was the only coat he wore to walk to his furniture and appliance store to make sure the pipes hadn’t frozen, a walk of about a mile each way.  It was too cold to start the car.

After he moved to Utah it was his usual gardening and yard-work coat on cold mornings.  I know he took it on a few campouts with my Scout troop, and I’ll wager it went along on camping trips with my older brothers and sister 20 years before that.  I remember my father sitting warm in that jacket on cold mornings around the campfire.

We had a peach tree in the back yard in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  Frosts would come on those mountain slopes when the peaches were just ripened.  I have memories of my father picking peaches in the jacket.  He’d slice the peaches for our breakfast.  No peach has ever been sweeter or more flavorful (but I keep searching).  I remember my father in his buffalo plaid jacket, his arms full of ripe, cold peaches, coming through the kitchen door, and the smile on his face.

The red buffalo plaid coat was so much a symbol of my father that, at his death in 1988, it was one of those objects we nearly fought over.  My niece Tamara ended up with it.

I have one, now.  It’s a good L. L. Bean version, with the wool much thicker than my father’s well-worn version.  After 20 years it still looks new, compared to his.  I suspect it always will.  It could never be warmer than his.

Special tip of the old scrub brush to Dr. Pamela Bumsted.


Gilded Age project

October 27, 2009

I really like this project, and I wish I’d come across it about a month ago:

The Gilded Age Class Documentary Project

The Gilded Age – Class Documentary Project

Instructors:  Rachel Duffy, Marc Ducharme

May, 2005

Adapted from:  The Gilded Age WebQuest – Documenting Industrialization in America

By: Thomas Caswell and Joshua DeLorenzo

What do you think?


Does Michelle Obama have the largest staff of any First Lady? No . . .

October 27, 2009

You probably have gotten the e-mail that claims Michelle Obama has the largest staff of any First Lady.  Either you dismissed it as great sour grapes, or you may have given it a moment’s consideration before hitting delete.

Did you wonder whether the charge is true?  Mudflats, the great blog from Alaska, tracked down the sources.  Mudflats’ discoveries are well worth the read.  You may want to bookmark that site for the next time you get the e-mail.  You know there will be a next time.

Wall of shame:  Sites that pass on the gossip as fact

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dr. Bumsted.


Democrats take solid South

October 25, 2009

Bob Moser says they can.  He’s talking about how to do it at SMU this week.

Can’t make it?  Buy the book.

The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
and the
Geurin-Pettus Program in the Department of Political Science
at Southern Methodist University
invite you to



Bob Moser, editor of the Texas Observer and an award-winning political reporter for The Nation, has chronicled Southern politics for nearly two decades.

In Blue Dixie he argues that the Democratic Party needs to jettison outmoded prejudices about the South if it wants to build a lasting national majority.  With evangelical churches preaching  a more expansive social gospel and a massive left-leaning demographic shift to African Americans, Latinos, and the young, the South is poised for a Democratic revival. Moser shows how a volatile mix of unprecedented economic prosperity and abject poverty are reshaping the Southern vote. By returning to a bold, unflinching message of economic fairness, the Democrats can in in the nation’s largest, most diverse region and redeem themselves as a true party of the people.

Books will be available for purchase.

THURSDAY, October 29, 2009

Noon to 1 pm
Texana Room, DeGolyer Library
6404 Hilltop Ln. & McFarlin Blvd
Bring your own brown bag lunch!

Better, make it to the lecture, buy the book, listen to Moser and let him autograph it for you.

For more information, please call 214-768-2526 or email carberry AT smu DOT edu

Invite a friend to a brown-bag lunch:

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Quote of the moment: Eric Blair (George Orwell) on lies becoming history

October 25, 2009

George Orwell (Eric Blair) on cover of Time Magazine, Novmber 28, 1983

George Orwell (Eric Blair) on cover of Time Magazine, Novmber 28, 1983

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

— George Orwell, 1984

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kate at The Urban Primate

If Big Brother is watching, why not let him watch all of us? Spread the word:

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What’s a journalist’s duty? Limbaugh ignores warning signs, punks himself

October 25, 2009

Millard Fillmore’s bathtub came out of a hoax story written in 1917 by one of America’s greatest cynics and writers, H. L. Mencken. Mencken lived to regret that he ever wrote the piece, after it was cited as fact by encyclopedias and critics of Fillmore’s presidency.

Mencken’s story holds a moral, a lesson for all critics of the American scene, and especially anyone who comments on political figures:  Verify everything.

Ernest Hemingway put it best, if crudely:   “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”*

If a writer or reporter doesn’t have one of those devices built-in, he is likely to find himself up to his chin in it after having failed to detect it in time to avoid the plunge.

Rush Limbaugh is in it up to his chin right now, after following Michael Ledeen off the dock.

Faithful readers here — all dozen of ‘em — may remember last January when we spotlighted a hoax at a blog called Jumping in Pools; the author claimed President Obama had ordered members our armed forces to take an oath of allegiance to Obama in place of their regular oath to the nation.

Orson Welles was on to something with his “War of the Worlds” broadcast.  In fact, after that first night of panic, the same script was used on other occasions, and people still got suckered in.  (Listen to the RadioLab feature on this phenomenon — it’s wonderful.)

It’s almost as if people were going around with signs on their backs that say “Lie to me, baby!”  Only, the people put the signs on their shirts and blouses themselves.

For whatever ill-thought, malicious reason, somebody invented an absolutely unbelievable hoax that President Obama asked the Pentagon to have military people swear allegiance to him, instead of the nation. Jumping in Pools posted it.

Jumping in Pools also listed it as satire, in tags.

But the hoax sucked in the gullible all over the web.

Limbaugh?  Ledeen?  Y’all would do well to read this blog, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.  You might have recognized the name of the blog, Jumping in Pools, that carried that phantasmagorical story about Barack Obama’s student essay, finally being released in part to Time Magazine’s Joe Klein.

Yahoo!’s Buzz Up explained the story, with links you ought to check out:

It must have seemed so perfect. An obscure blogger unearths some pages of President Obama’s college thesis. The report supposedly comes from big-time journalist Joe Klein of Time magazine. And the thesis has some real gems: like Obama’s disdain for the Constitution.

The whole thing was nothing more than a satirical post on a humor blog. But Rush Limbaugh, who quoted from the supposed thesis on his radio show, sure wasn’t laughing. Here’s how it went down.

An unknown blogger picked up on a made-up post meant as a joke, which claimed that Joe Klein had gotten his hands on 10 pages of student Obama’s college thesis. Rush Limbaugh jumped on it, which immediately sparked Web searches on “obama thesis.”

Supposedly titled “Aristocracy Revisited,” the excerpt revealed the president had “doubts” about the “so-called founders.” Juicy. Except not true. Limbaugh discovered halfway through his show that he’d been had, but defended himself by saying basically the thesis felt true. Listen in to Rush’s mea sorta culpa.

Joe Klein finally jumped in, and called the report “nonsense” on his Swampland blog, and the blogger who thought the hoax was real also apologized.

Michael Ledeen writing at Pajamas Media was that “blogger who thought the hoax was real.”

Ledeen had the good grace to apologize (and in doing so reveal that he really should have been much more en garde):

The hoax/satire was written in August, so it’s not connected to any current event.  I cam across it on Twitter, read the blog, found it interesting, and posted on it.  I failed to notice that one of the tags was “satire.”

So he got me, and lots of others. It worked because it’s plausible.  I’ve done satirical pieces myself, and I know how they can take off.  I once wrote one that said that Bill Casey did not die, and was hiding in a bunker under the St Andrews golf course from which he was running Mikhail Gorbachev.  I thought it was obviously satirical, but it went like wildfire all over the world.  And that was in the days before the Internet.

So I should have picked up some hint, but I didn’t.  Shame on me.

But Limbaugh?  He railed on for more than half an hour on the evils of Obama revealed in the completely fictional essay; and then when he was alerted to the fact that it was a hoax, he didn’t apologize.  He said he was suckered in because the hoax was plausible, and Obama might have done such a thing.

“I know Obama thinks it,” Limbaugh said, purporting to channel the guy he despises only too openly.

I’m trying to suppress it, but Limbaugh’s actions remind me mightily of an old Cheech and Chong routine.  One wonders what Obama’s more rabid critics would not grant credence to.

Wall of Shame

What would Hemingway have reported?

Other thoughts:

  • Jonathan Last’s article for the Templeton Foundation’s In Character Journal wonders about how we choose what to believe, and whom.  The Dallas Morning News carried the article in the “Points” section this morning, but it’s not up on their website; look at the article at the Templeton Foundation site.

________
* I’m convinced he said it. I’m relying here on Elizabeth Dewberry’s contribution to The Cambridge Companion to Ernest Hemingway, “Hemingway’s Journalism and the Realist Dilemma,” on page 25.  She cites to an interview, but I’ve misplaced the rest of that note for the moment, and for some odd reason the page with the citation isn’t included on Google Books (the pain of internet research, to get to the information you need out of the haystack, and find that particular needle has been intentionally removed).  Read Dewberry, though, for a much longer and informative discussion about hoaxes and fakery in journalism, which is the problem discussed in this post.

Don’t let your friends be bamboozled, pass the word:


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