Constitutional right to be stupid: Birthers at it again

November 19, 2011

Where are the Republicans to stop this waste of time and money?

I get e-mail, from the Obama bunch; can you believe it?:

2012 Ed —

It’s no surprise that professional conspiracy theorists are still on the birth-certificate warpath — but now elected officials are getting their backs.

Yesterday, four Republicans in the New Hampshire State House supported a hearing requested by a group of birthers who want President Obama officially removed from the state’s primary ballot.

It’s not clear whether all this is a smokescreen or whether these dead-enders actually believe this stuff. But they aren’t letting the facts get in their way — one group in Arizona has even demanded that the President “release the microfiche” of his birth certificate.

Sadly, I don’t have any microfiches on hand, but we have the next best thing: In honor of birthers everywhere, we’re re-releasing the campaign’s limited-edition “Made in the USA” mugs.

Donate $20 or more today and we’ll send you one — complete with a reprint of the President’s birth certificate on the side for everyone to see.

Get your limited-edition mug

Here’s what one of the state representatives backing the effort had to say about yesterday’s hearing: “I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even I could take [the long-form birth certificate] apart and see that it was fraudulent.”

Well, I won’t argue with one part of that statement.

There’s clearly nothing we can do to satisfy this crowd — or anyone else who insists on wasting time and energy on nonsense like this.

But when it starts to make your head hurt, I’ve found the best remedy is to have some tea in my “Made in the USA” mug.

Works like a charm. I recommend Earl Grey:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Birth-Certificate-Mug

Thanks,

Julianna

Julianna Smoot
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

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November 19th, 1863: Mr. Lincoln at Gettysburg

November 19, 2011

A mostly encore post about today’s anniversary of Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg.

Prior to 2007, this was the only known photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg, on the day of his address - Library of Congress

148 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln redefined the Declaration of Independence and the goals of the American Civil War, in a less-than-two-minute speech dedicating part of the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as a cemetery and final resting place for soldiers who died in the fierce battle fought there the previous July 1 through 3.

Now in 2011, we’re in the “150th anniversary” years of the Civil War.  Maybe some will look back to the time our nation worked hard to tear itself asunder, and learn lessons that might help us keep from doing that in the 21st century.  Some might find inspiration, or aspiration, in Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg.

Interesting news for 2007: More photos from the Library of Congress collection may contain images of Lincoln. The photo above, detail from a much larger photo, had been thought for years to be the only image of Lincoln from that day. The lore is that photographers, taking a break from former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Everett’ s more than two-hour oration, had expected Lincoln to go on for at least an hour. His short speech caught them totally off-guard, focusing their cameras or taking a break. Lincoln finished before any photographer got a lens open to capture images.

Images of people in these photos are very small, and difficult to identify. Lincoln was not identified at all until 1952:

The plate lay unidentified in the Archives for some fifty-five years until in 1952, Josephine Cobb, Chief of the Still Pictures Branch, recognized Lincoln in the center of the detail, head bared and probably seated. To the immediate left (Lincoln’s right) is Lincoln’s bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon, and to the far right (beyond the limits of the detail) is Governor Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania. Cobb estimated that the photograph was taken about noontime, just after Lincoln arrived at the site and before Edward Everett’s arrival, and some three hours before Lincoln gave his now famous address.

On-line, the Abraham Lincoln Blog covered the discovery that two more photographic plates from the 1863 speech at Gettysburg may contain images of Lincoln in his trademark stove-pipe hat. Wander over to the story at the USA Today site, and you can see just how tiny are these detail images in relation to the photographs themselves. These images are tiny parts of photos of the crowd at Gettysburg. (The story ran in USA Today last Thursday or Friday — you may be able to find a copy of that paper buried in the returns pile at your local Kwikee Mart.) Digital technologies, and these suspected finds of Lincoln, should prompt a review of every image from Gettysburg that day.

To the complaints of students, I have required my junior U.S. history students to memorize the Gettysburg Address (though, not yet in this school year). In Irving I found a couple of students who had memorized it for an elementary teacher years earlier, and who still could recite it. Others protested, until they learned the speech. This little act of memorization appears to me to instill confidence in the students that they can master history, once they get it done.

To that end, I discovered a good, ten-minute piece on the address in Ken Burns’ “Civil War” (in Episode 5). On DVD, it’s a good piece for classroom use, short enough for a bell ringer or warm-up, detailed enough for a deeper study, and well done, including the full text of the address itself performed by Sam Waterson.

Embedded video from CNN VideoIn 1863 Edward Everett, the former Massachusetts senator and U.S. secretary of state, was regarded as the greatest orator of the time. A man of infinite grace, and a historian with some sense of events and what the nation was going through, Everett wrote to Lincoln the next day after their speeches:

“I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

Interesting note: P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula notes that the Gettysburg Address was delivered “seven score and four years ago.” Of course, that will never happen again. I’ll wager he was the first to notice that odd juxtaposition on the opening line.

Do you have a favorite performance of this address you’d commend for internet bloggers?  Let us know where to find it, in comments.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Chamblee54 for reminding us about the anniversary, today.

Resources for students and teachers:


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