Monday, January 10, 2011

Hyper Partisanship: Could political rhetoric lead to violence?

Not too much to say, but in the aftermath of the tragic shooting that occurred in Tucson, AZ; many questions are being asked about whether Sarah Palin’s campaign tag lines (i.e. don’t retreat, reload) or ads (see below) which placed crosshairs on “targeted districts” helped create the environment which lead to the shooting.   While I am not a fan of Sarah Palin and do find her rhetoric over the top, I find it completely unfounded and wrong to place any direct responsibility on Sarah Palin.  However, with that being said Sarah Palin’s tactics are an example of a more general problem which MAY have contributed to the climate of public anger toward politicians and Washington DC.

The increasing demonization which climaxed during the 2010 campaign season was significantly higher than past campaign seasons.  Incidents in which people were intimidated, verbally or physically assaulted during rallies were reported by news stations repeatedly.   Congressional Offices were protested and in one case violently as a congressional office was vandalized.   This video with the recent shooting victim Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was originally aired on March 25th, 2010. Take note of some of the signs being held “Kill the Bill” and the quote from the host “war rhetoric and campaign rhetoric are interchangeable”

Frustration and anger with Washington DC was high and some campaigns chose to fan the flames to rally support.  Rhetoric would portray opponents as the enemy or attempting to destroy America.  The partisanship was so high Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert put on a “Rally to Restore Sanity”, which promoted the idea; you can disagree without being disagreeable, you can draw contrast from your opponent without inflammatory propaganda. 

Perhaps in the wake of such a tragedy we should all step back and reevaluate our own standards of what we will accept from our elected officials and those working on their behalf.  Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the incident in Tucson Arizona.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Birther Movement: Proof of De-Evolution

Birther Movement: Proof of De-Evolution (UPDATED)

For those of you who somehow are not aware of the “Birther Movement” and its beliefs, it is basically a group of people who believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States but born in Kenya  and is therefore not qualified to be President of the United States as laid out in the U.S. Constitution.  Now I can not speak to the intentions or motivations of the “Birthers” so I will simply lay out the facts and show that the “Birther Movement” does not hold water.
I was shocked when I saw a CNN poll that showed; when asked “Was Barack Obama born in the U.S.?” Over 25% of American’s responded either probably NO (16%) or definitely NO (11%)

I do not understand how such a large number of American’s could believe an absolute falsehood when the truth is so easily accessible in today's world.  The following are what facts I have found to prove the truth that Barack Obama was born in the United States.  To save you some time I have pulled information and quotes from the source material, however reading the pull scripts would be better.

On November 1,2008 “The Associated Press quoted Chiyome Fukino as saying that both she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama's original birth certificate.”
Who is Chiyome Fukino? She is the Director of Hawaii’s Department of Health, Fukino was also quoted say; she has “personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."

Unfortunately despite the verification and repeated news coverage attempting to set the record straight there are still many who Americans doubt the authenticity of reports stating President Obama’s place of birth is Honolulu Hawaii.  Some of those people doubting even hold positions in the government which provides “Birthers” with a public voice….sane or not.

This “Birther Movement” has not been contained to the civilian sector either, in one high profile case as mentioned in the video above, Army Lt. Col Terrence Lakin refused an order to deploy based on the belief that the President was not born in the U.S. and thus not a legal authority to give an order to deploy.  Of course since that time,  he was found guilt of failure to obey an order and sentence to jail by a military court.  I do not know if this Army Lt. Col was simply attempting to duck a deployment or whether his belief was genuine, but I share this as an extreme example of the damage that lies such as these can do.  Army Lt. Col Lakin position is echoed by those who state more evidence is still needed to verify the legitimacy of President Obama's place of birth.  The debate has continued as seen below
Since this “Birth Movement” has yet to fade away the newly elected Governor of Hawaii, (D) Neil Abercrombie has taken it upon himself to “end the birther dispute.” I can only hope that this effort is truly effective and lasting.  The "Birther Movement" is an unfounded distraction from the real policy issues; whether you agree or disagree with President on matters of policy that should be where the debate takes place because it will be through that discourse the American people will see benefit in their lives.

UPDATE: 4/12/11

Donald Trump has entered the political arena with a bit of a splash, by considering publicly a run for President, and making inflammatory (and completely bogus) statements about the current President's place of birth.  This lingering myth has been given new life and in response the website has releashed a new piece documenting Donald Trump’s claims and then thoroughly debunking them.  
Please read the full article however I have pulled out some sections I found most interesting:

  • He claims the president’s grandmother says Obama was born in Kenya. In fact, the recording to which he refers shows Sarah Obama repeatedly saying through a translator: "He was born in America."
  • He claims that no hospital in Hawaii has a record of Obama’s birth. Hospital records are confidential under federal law, but Honolulu’s Kapi’olani Medical Center has published a letter from Obama calling it "the place of my birth," thus publicly confirming it as his birthplace.
  • He insists that the official "Certification of Live Birth" that Obama produced in 2008 is "not a birth certificate."  That’s wrong. The U.S. Department of State uses "birth certificate" as a generic term to include the official Hawaii document, which satisfies legal requirements for proving citizenship and obtaining a passport.
  • He claims that there’s no signature or certification number on the document released by Obama. Wrong again. Photos of the document, which we posted in 2008, clearly show those details.
  • He says newspaper announcements of Obama’s birth that appeared in Hawaii newspapers in 1961 "probably" were placed there fraudulently by his now-deceased American grandparents. Actually, a state health department official and a former managing editor of one of the newspapers said the information came straight from the state health department.
  • He claims "nobody knew" Obama when he was growing up and "nobody ever comes forward" who knew him as a child. "If I ever decide to run, you may go back and interview people from my kindergarten," Trump said. Well, two retired kindergarten teachers in a 2009 news story fondly recall teaching a young Barack Obama.

UPDATED: 4/27/2011

Finally, the debate is over! President Obama released a copy of his long form birth certificate for the world to see. All the internet myths and misinformation can be put to rest.