Round-up of Thanksgiving Op-eds

November 27, 2008

Nice round-up of op-eds and other writings in newspapers and other media, on Thanksgiving, at Religion In American History.

I learned a lot.

There’s more.  This one post could be the source for a fun Documents Based Question for practice in an AP class, history or economics — maybe English, too?


Thanksgiving 2008 – Fly your flag today

November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving? Texas had it first. No kidding (unless you count the Vinlanders, who probably were grateful to be out of Greenland, but left no records that they ever actually had a feast to say so — but see the comments in the posts linked at various places).

Last year, Mrs. Bathtub was in the hospital. We sprang her before dinner, but barely.  This year, #2 son is off in the wilds of Wisconsin — the first Turkey Day he’s spent away from home and family.  We empathize with the families the first colonizers left behind.

Still, there will be dinner with the family, thanks for the endurance of storms and trials, reflections on good times past, and hopes for the future.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday, one of the 18 days designated by Congress as a “Fly the flag” day.  It’s been a historic year.  It’s a good day to fly the flag.

So, in keeping with that spirit of remembrance, it’s reprise post stuff mostly, today. If you need more, go here:

Google's Thanksgiving logo, 2007

Here’s the main reprise post, text below (there were some good comments in 2006); Margaritas and nachos do sound good, don’t they?
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Patricia Burroughs has the story — you New Englanders are way, way behind.

Palo Duro Canyon in a winter inversion

Palo Duro Canyon during inversion, Winter 2001, site in 1541 of the first Thanksgiving celebration in what would become the United States. Go here: www.visitamarillotx.com/Gallery/index3.html, and here: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/paloduro/

Update, 11/27/2006: Great post here, “Top 10 Myths About Thanksgiving.”

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Resources for 2007:

Google's 2008 Thanksgiving logo - click here for search on "Thanksgiving"

Google's 2008 Thanksgiving logo - click for search on "Thanksgiving"


6 ways challenges to Obama’s citizenship fail

November 27, 2008

Enough already.  Somebody’s putting LSD into the water conservatives and other wackoes are drinking — that’s the only rational explanation for continued complaints about Barack Obama’s birth eligibility for the presidency.

First, here’s the rational view of the issue, from FactCheck.org, “Born in the USA.”

Here are a few of the sites that seem to have lost all touch with reality, and continue to whine that Obama might somehow be ineligible for the presidency:

Conservatives expert advisor Leo C. Denofrio, from his seat at a Caesars Palace poker table

Do you trust your nation's future to this man? - Conservatives' expert advisor Leo C. Denofrio, from his seat at a Caesar's Palace poker table

Weird enough, irrational enough yet?  As odd as these sites are, sometimes the comments get even odder.  It doesn’t help the rationality quotient that so many of these bloggers block out or strike down comments that present an alternative case or rational answers.

And in fact, it’s partly because of Texas Darlin’s anti-rational-comment pose that I put this post up.  Somebody, somewhere, needs to suggest the rational foundations, and inject them into the discussion.

A commenter named Carlyle states the basic case of the birth-certificate-obsessed people (BCOs).  It’s a nutty case, ungrounded in fact or logic, but Texas Darlin’ won’t allow responses.  So, here are some of the things these people are not thinking about as they fold ever-thicker tinfoil hats.

Carlyle said:

But let me back up for a moment and lay out the two great truths. These are the things that are known without doubt and far above speculation.

1. FACT – Obama has never provided admissable auditible citizenship documentation to anybody. No complete birth certificate, no passport, no selective service registration, nothing, zero, nada, zippo. Nobody can produce any of this stuff – not DNC, FEC, DOJ, State SecStates, electors – nobody.

No, actually Carlyle is doing a lot of speculation there (as are other BCOs).  Almost all of these rants are based on speculation, wild speculation far outside of what is known.  The key questions would revolve around what sorts of evidence would be admissible as evidence in a court of law in the U.S.  Very few of these anti-Obama rants ever bother to touch ground on those issues.  The birth certificate issued by the State of Hawaii, posted by the Obama campaign for months, is the legally-admissible document.  The ranters have to ignore that to get on to the rest of their complaints.

Beyond the legally-admissible, there are logical cascades of events to which we can point, which strongly suggest the ranters are truly full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

First, in order to obtain a passport, for one example, one must provide “admissible, auditable citizenship documentation” to the U.S. Department of State. We know Obama has held a passport for many years, so we can be reasonably certain he provided that information originally (Do you have a passport?  How did you get it without a birth certificate?  I got a diplomatic speedy process, and I still had to provide a birth certificate . . .).

Propagandist-and-self-promoter-for-hire Jerome Corsi claims Obama didn’t travel on a U.S. passport, claiming results from an impossible Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. State Department.

Obama’s passport is a matter of record (though privacy laws do not allow release of the passport itself, generally).  Without evidence to the contrary, this presents a rebuttable presumption that Obama is a citizen. Does anyone else have information that the birth certificate Obama gave State was wrong?  Obviously not — the BCOs don’t appear to have been aware such a thing was even required.

Second, one of the things State checked for when I applied for a passport (when I worked in the Senate) was my Selective Service Status.  Hypothetically, they don’t want to grant a passport to someone who is not registered.  Again, under the rules of civil procedure, we have a rebuttable presumption that Obama’s draft registration was fine when he traveled as a student.  If it was fine then, absent a showing from anyone that there was a later event that made the draft registration invalid, we should assume that State did their job.  As a pragmatic matter, the draft ended in the early 1970s, so there could be almost no issue that could have caused Obama’s draft status to change.  It’s pretty clear that his draft registration is valid.

Third, Obama is a lawyer.  In order to get a license to practice law, applicants must provide a certified copy of a birth certificate to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, in order to be eligible to take the bar exam. The National Conference then does a background investigation on all candidates, generally an investigation more thorough than the FBI’s checking for most federal appointees.  In the past, the Conference has reported issues like minor drug use, preventing people from becoming lawyers in several states.  Absent a showing by someone that the National Conference granted special waivers, or a showing of other irregularities, the fact that Obama held a license to practice law presents a rebuttable presumption that his birth certificate is valid exactly as he alleges, and that his draft status is legal. Obviously, the BCOs have no information to indicate any irregularity, since they were unaware of this check.  We should assume, therefore, that Obama has a valid birth certificate and draft registration, since the Illinois Bar got a recommendation from the National Conference of Bar Examiners that Obama was morally fit to be a lawyer.

Fourth, Obama is a U.S. Senator.  As a matter of standard operating procedure, the FBI does a thorough background check on every elected Member of Congress, to certify that they are eligible for top secret clearance, since every member will be seeing national secrets.  Occasionally these checks produce questions, which are usually resolved by the Rules Committee of each house.  There is no record of any proceeding dealing with any irregularity in the background check for Sen. Obama.  This means that there is a rebuttable presumption that the FBI was satisfied with Obama’s citizenship status, as well as his patriotism and ability to keep state secrets.

Furthermore, for members of the Armed Services, Intelligence oversight, and Foreign Relations Committees, there is a more thorough background check by the FBI, since many of these members will be seeing a lot of secrets, and many of them will be talking with foreign dignitaries and visiting foreign nations, and in other ways would have opportunities to pass state secrets to non-allies and even enemies of the U.S.  The simple fact that Obama sat on the Foreign Relations Committee and was, in fact, chairman of the NATO subcommittee (which deals with secrets of many of the allies of the U.S.), creates a fourth rebuttable presumption that Obama’s citizenship status, draft status, patriotism and ability to wave the flag and sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” are above reproach.

Obviously, BCOs don’t have any information to suggest there is any problem with this tougher security clearance, and in fact appear to be wholly unaware that such an investigation had been done, or could be done.

Fifth, since the November 4 election, Sen. Obama has been getting the daily National Security briefiing that President Bush gets.  This briefing includes our nation’s most precious secrets, and cannot be done, even for the president, without the CIA and Homeland Security verifying that the man is who he says he is.

BCOs have no information to overcome the several rebuttable presumptions that Obama’s credentials are in order, evidenced by their total lack of awareness that such procedures even exist.

So, in five ways, we have assurances that Obama is wholly legal and qualified to hold the office of the presidency.  Neither TD’s commenter Carlyle nor any other BCO has any basis to question these federal and state agencies, nor have they suggested any irregularity in any one of these processes which would lead to the irrational conclusion that Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen, or not eligible to be president.

Sixth, Obama posted his birth certificate in June, on-line [archived version here]. Are these people Google impaired?

2. FACT – Against numerous attempts by journalists and courts to ask for such information, Obama has uniformaly resisted. One might even say beligerently so.

One might say that, but one would be prevaricating, belligerently.  As noted above, Obama’s birth certificate is available on-line.  So much for resistance.   So far as we know, every reporter who asked was able to view the actual certificate with it’s stamp of authority from the State of Hawaii.  Such analyses have been done, written about, and posted on-line.  Are they Google AND Yahoo impaired?

Do the BCOs have any serious evidence of any problems that the U.S. State Department, the FBI, the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the State Bar of Illinois, the FBI again, the Rules Committee of the U.S. Senate, the CIA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security missed?  What is their evidence?

We challenge them to be specific.  If they are claiming something like an aged grandmother’s testimony that Obama was born in Kenya, they should have the good sense not to waste the court’s time about such folderol unless unless have a sworn affidavit from the woman, taken down by a court reporter, and corroborating evidence (Corsi did not even bother to get statements, let alone sworn statements under oath, I understand — he’s asking a Supreme Court hearing for inadmissible hearsay).

And Joseph Farah, here’s my challenge to you:  Provide corroboration for your charges, provide affidavits where they would be required, provide evidence of error on the parts of these federal and state agencies, or shut up about it. Even scandal-sheet journalists have some responsibility to at least try to look like they care about accuracy.  Farah owes it to his readers to get things right.  He’s not living up to the duty he owes.

What do they have?

Why must we entertain cargo cultists in their dances?  We have two wars and a crashing economy to fix.  Can we get on with the transition, please?

Barack Obamas birth certificate, showing the states stamp of authenticity, from FactCheck.org

Barack Obama's birth certificate, showing the state's stamp of authenticity, from FactCheck.org

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Killer county budget: “People will die”

November 27, 2008

How bad is our economic mess?

Ask county officials in Hamilton County, Kentucky (across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio).  According to Cincinnati.com, the website for the Cincinnati Enquirer:

County Administrator Patrick Thompson said Monday that the county may have to slash another $2.3 million from its already bare-bones budget proposed for 2009 because of tumbling sales tax collections and reduced funding from the state.

That means that the county will have to find more cuts on top of the more than $40 million it’s already cut from departmental requests.

The news comes as the county sheriff and other public safety officials say even the current recommendations will devastate their ability to do their jobs.

“It’s downright dangerous,” said Michael Snowden, director of Hamilton County’s Emergency Management Agency. “People will die. It’s as simple as that.”

He was referring to a recommendation to withdraw funding for the Greater Cincinnati Hazmat team, which responds to hazardous material spills.

The budget for 2009 has already been cut $31 million below the budget for 2008, to $241 million total.  Recommendations are already in place to lay off 500 workers.

What to do?

Project lower sales tax revenues.  Already done.

The county previously predicted $65 million, or a 0 percent growth, in sales tax receipts next year. Sales tax revenue typically accounts for about 25 percent of the county’s general fund budget. But because of the credit crunch and bailout fallout, all of which just came to a head in the past few months, spending has plummeted and the holiday shopping picture looks bleak. Thompson asked the board to revise that number to $63.9 million, a decrease of $1.1 million.

Maybe the state government can help out?

He also recommended reducing the amount of local money the county would receive from the state by 5 percent, or $1.2 million, to about $22.8 million because the state is in a similarly tough budget situation and likely won’t be able to fund the county adequately.

At least make sure that the public safety offices get funded.

Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis said the cuts will have a “dramatic impact” impact on his department. “In my career in law enforcement, this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said after the meeting about the budget situation. “We’ve got major problems.”

He said he may decide to cease providing security at the county buildings rather than take deputies off the road. If the county closes the Queensgate jail, 84 corrections officers and 25 support personnel would lose their jobs and 450 inmates would be released, said Leis. Because the county’s main jail has long been out of room, the Queensgate jail, meant for only low-level inmates, now also houses some of the more serious offenders, he said. Inmate charges include burglary, robbery and drug abuse.

“We do have violent offenders down there,” Leis said. “They’re not choir boys.”

The county says it can’t afford to staff or maintain the aging jail, which it leases from a corrections company.

By law, the Hamilton County, Ohio, budget needs to be locked in by January 1, 20 days prior to the inauguration of the new president. No one is talking about bail-outs for state and local governments, yet.

What would you do?


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