Desperate Republicans? Recycling four-year-old PhotoShop hoaxes . . .

July 31, 2012


This is an encore post, from August of 2008.  We need to recall, an issue early in the Democratic primaries was ‘who would you want on the Hotline at 2:00 a.m.’  Sometime before the end of the primaries, a jokester mashed up a photo of candidate Barack Obama, changed the line on the phone handpiece, and added a clock at 3:00 a.m. on the wall. 

Republicans picked up on the photo, and thinking it a real photo, shipped it around during the general campaign.  It was a hoax then, and it still is.  I found it today on Facebook, and found people defending the hoax photo as real.  Oy, it will be that kind of election as Republicans get more desperate and more crude.  The encore post:

Dennis at Thinking in a Marrow Bone — not an Obama supporter, mind you — posted a conversation he had with a guy who posted a hoaxed photo of Barack Obama, purporting to show him holding a landline telephone upside down.

This is the hoax photo

The real photograph. Notice there is no clock on the wall, and the phone works properly. By the way, the suit fits, too — Obama’s a very tall man, and that’s what a well-fitting suit looks like on a tall man sitting in a low chair.


Dennis called him on the hoax. After a few rounds of weak defense, and then moral waffling of significant proportion, the hoaxer deleted the comments from his blog. Dennis preserved the conversation at TMB.

Moral of the story: Don’t believe much of what you hear or see, without corroboration. If a claim casts aspersions on someone, and comes on the internet, check it out before granting credence. Thanks to Dennis, an honest guy, for exposing the hoax and preserving the record of it.

Hoaxers are malicious and will do almost anything to damage Obama, even if it requires bringing down the U.S. and burning the flag. No wonder George Washington wanted out of this sort of politics.

Question: What’s the deal with the clock in the doctored photo? [Oh – it says “3:00 o’clock”]

Honor roll: Bloggers and others who exposed the hoax:

Dishonor roll, the Little List, bloggers who tried to perpetrate and perpetuate the hoax, or who got suckered themselves:

Special Consideration:


‘No red America, no blue America – a United States of America’ (Please vote)

November 3, 2008

Who said this?

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead.

I could vote for a guy who said that.

Hoaxers promise to slam Obama to the end

November 2, 2008

The Economist, that august, conservative British publication about economics, endorsed Barack Obama for president. (I added highlights, below):

IT IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.

For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.

We face tough issues, and tough times.  The world’s economy is in a fix, America is involved in two protracted wars, our reputation internationally is at a low ebb for the past 125 years, and too many of America’s institutions just are not working.

Serious issues won’t stop the hoaxsters from trying to hoax Americans about Barack Obama right up to election day, and probably beyond.

For example, there’s a guy named Mitchell Langbert, who insists that there remains an issue about Barack Obama’s birth certificate.  He goes so far as to claim that Obama might be committing fraud merely by running for office, and then he stretches a biased assessment of U.S. election law to say Obama’s running is a violation of voters’ rights.  The birth certificate hoaxers roll on despite their nuisance lawsuits being dismissed solidly in at least two jurisdictions, and despite the complete lack of any cogent or coherent case that there is a problem with Obama’s citizenship.

Consider this:  Obama’s birth was recorded by the State of Hawaii, in Hawaii, in 1961.  As many newspapers did at the time, the Honolulu Advertiser listed births in the state, and it listed Barack Obama’s birth there.  This issue would have been checked again on at least three occasions.  First, when he applied for his own passport, the U.S. State Department would have required a showing of a birth certificate.  Second, when he applied for a law license, he had to make such a showing to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (as we all did); I haven’t checked, but Illinois may have required a separate confirmation.  And third, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, the FBI would have checked the issue in their routine checkings of senators for top secret clearances (Obama is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, where secret information is often passed to senators).

Finally, it is the duty of the state secretary of state (SOS) to verify that candidates are eligible for listing on the ballots.  I suspect most SOS offices take a certification from the candidate without much checking; however, what this means is that the SOS is the person who would have authority to challenge for citizenship.  Knowing that they have no case, none of the birth certificate hoaxers, not Langbert or Texas Darlin’, nor anyone else, has bothered to ask their SOS to check things out.

Other hoaxers are worse, creating whole cloth fictions, just for the sake of malice.  (See here, too, for a solid example of just plain malice in hoaxing.)

Remember the 7 Signs of Bogus History?  (You’ll find a link just under the masthead here.)  The first is that the work is conducted by press release, and not in the archives, or in serious searches for the facts.  Each of these anti-Obama hoaxes originates either with a press release or a blog post.  Not one has withstood scrutiny of any court, nor of any editor at any serious mass media outlet who seriously worries about libel, slander, or otherwise getting the facts straight.  That’s a serious indictment.

Gone are the days when one needed a printing press at least to make one’s views known broadly.  Web tools, like the blogging software and servers used by this blog, allow any fool (as I may well be) to throw his hat, brain too often included, into the public arena as a pundit.

The Economist conclude in their endorsement editorial:

He has earned it

So Mr Obama in that respect is a gamble. But the same goes for Mr McCain on at least as many counts, not least the possibility of President Palin. And this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Update, November 2, 2008: Langbert appears to be censoring comments at his blog, as well – none of my responses other than my first post have been allowed to get through his personal filtering.  This is a pattern we’ve seen in many of the hoax blogs that complain about Obama, and the McCain sympathizer blogs that pose as disgruntled Democrat blogs.  Any post that offers serious criticism is dangerous to their posing as informed seekers of the truth — so posts that contain real information rebutting their claims are not allowed through their “moderation,” or are edited to say inane things.

For Obama voters, this confirms their fears that a McCain administration would probably continue the Bush administration’s suppression of views and filtering of helpful criticism.  Also, it means bloggers like Langbert are bullies who can’t take the hurly-burly of serious discussion.

Slinging mud, losing elections

November 1, 2008

Encouraging reports from North Carolina, not-so-encouraging reports from Kentucky.

In North Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s campaign dived into negative campaigning, with a crude and inaccurate campaign ad against her rising-in-the-polls opponent, state Sen. Kay Hagan.  It appears many voters are disgusted with the negative ads.  In any case, the Charlotte Observer wrote an editorial condemning Dole’s ad and negative tone, “Dole’s desperate turn to Big Lie advertising.” Good on them.

In Kentucky, however, we learn that negative campaigning can still pack a punch among poorly educated or bigoted groups.  The Lexington Herald-Leader has a poll showing significant portions of Kentucky voters think Barack Obama is Muslim.

One might recall Dumas Malone’s description of the election of 1800, between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson thought it beneath his dignity, and not part of American politics, to discuss a candidate’s religious faith.  Alexander Hamilton, on behalf of Adams, led a campaign of calumny in newspapers throughout the U.S. saying that because Jefferson was atheist, as president he’d send the army to confiscate Bibles.  Jefferson refused to respond.  Malone notes that on election day, fully half of all American voters were convinced Jefferson was atheist.

They voted for Jefferson anyway, rather than stick with the failed policies of Adams.  There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Federal judge dismissed the challenge to Obama’s birth certificate

October 26, 2008

As expected, a federal judge in Philadelphia late Friday dismissed a challenge to the campaign of Barack Obama to produce yet another copy of his birth certificate. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled that the plaintiff, screwball attorney Philip J. Berg, lacked standing to sue.

Appearing to take his inspiration from the Monty Python character, the Black Knight, Berg promised to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the U.S.

Among reputable media, only the Philadelphia Daily News took note of the dismissal early on:

Obama and the Democratic National Committee had asked Surrick to dismiss Berg’s complaint in a court filing on Sept. 24.

They said that Berg’s claims were “ridiculous” and “patently false,” that Berg had “no standing” to challenge the qualifications of a candidate for president because he had not shown the requisite harm to himself.

Surrick agreed.

In a 34-page memorandum and opinion, the judge said Berg’s allegations of harm were “too vague and too attenuated” to confer standing on him or any other voters.

Surrick ruled that Berg’s attempts to use certain laws to gain standing to pursue his claim that Obama was not a natural-born citizen were “frivolous and not worthy of discussion.”

The judge also said the harm Berg alleged did “not constitute an injury in fact” and Berg’s arguments to the contrary “ventured into the unreasonable.”

For example, Berg had claimed that Obama’s nomination deprived citizens of voting for Sen. Hillary Clinton in November. (Berg backed Clinton in the primaries.)

Berg could not be reached for comment last night.

Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, and the campaign posted a document issued by Hawaii on its Web site, fight, confirming his birth there.

Berg said in court papers that the image was a forgery.

The nonpartisan Web site examined the original document and said it was legitimate.

Further, a birth announcement in the Aug. 13, 1961, Honolulu Advertiser listed Obama’s birth there on Aug. 4.

Dozens of bloggers bought new rolls of aluminum foil to make protective hats, and questioned the dismissal, or jumped to other equally unwarranted conclusions. Near total insanity.



Update, 10-27-2008:  Here’s an example of how lunatic this issue is, and how bizarre are the arguments.  This blog argues that Judge Surrick had the decision dictated to him from someone else in the Obama camp — the same lunatic argument creationists made against the decision of Judge Jones in the Dover, Pennsylvania, “intelligent design” trial.  Could it be that all lunatics are creationists?  Or is it just that lunatics all stumble into the same lunatic arguments?

High cost of lipstick

October 24, 2008

Now we know why the McCain campaign has been so sensitive about mentions of lipstick.

At more than $600 a day for what Delbert McClinton would call lipstick, powder and paint, can the U.S. afford Sarah Palin?

Carnival of Education Bankruptcy

October 24, 2008

Have you looked around lately?

Dallas isn’t the only school system in trouble in America.  Financial woes plague many, perhaps most of the nation’s schools systems.

Funding for schools is difficult in an environment where even good schools get stuck with the label “failing school” due to seriously misdirected programs from the federal government.  The situation is complicated by a non-booming economy, especially in districts that had been gearing to build new schools to accommodate increased student populations.

What will the future bring?

It’s enough to merit its own little impromptu carnival.  Oy.

There may be updates.  We haven’t even gotten to the Texas SBOE House of Science Horrors.

Vote, will you?

%d bloggers like this: