Belaboring the Obvious

Monday, August 17, 2009

A few musings on "change"....

It's not easy to make sense of much of anything these days. All the craziness can be defined, but not explained nearly as well, and it always seems as if one has to fall back on some alternative ideology to counter the ideological nature of the insanity. Sure, it's easy to say that it makes good sense to come up with some means of equitable health care for all, even if a necessary element of such a program is limiting the profits of the for-profit health care industry.

That sounds quite reasonable to anyone who's not of the opinion that God and his minions mandated profitability for the strong and perdition for the weak. And, sure, it's anathema to those crazies who think that denying corporations the right to ravage society is clear and compelling evidence of creeping communism, and to them, that's a far worse outcome than their mere selves being sacrificed in the process. Inevitably, all arguments fall back upon basic opposing political philosophies.

In the United States, one side has a very small (and I do mean small) inclination to see some aspects of the nation's resources as part of the common wealth which ought to be shared. The other side, particularly over the last thirty or forty years has conflated Friedmanite free market" economics with democracy, in part because Friedman did the same himself (how odd it is, then, that Friedman's free market" worked only to move wealth upwards and then mostly did so only in economies that were run by dictators--one has to assume that he was intentionally blind to these anti-democratic flaws in his theories).

One can argue that so many Americans embrace a political philosophy that is ultimately damaging to them because they've been propagandized about big government" and have not had much of an education in economics. One can also say, with some cause, that the Horatio Alger myths were and are powerful cultural icons--that hard work and industry and a little luck can bring extraordinary wealth to anyone. (I suppose the proof of that power is to be found in the corollary myths about small businesses being the stepping-stone to great wealth and upward mobility, when the unvarnished statistics suggest the precise opposite, that four out of five small businesses fail within five years, and that upward mobility in the United States is now even worse than in class-bound Great Britain.) That one would give up a decent, comfortable life for a decreasingly likely wealthy future unmolested by taxes and regulation seems an odd bargain, indeed, but it is one made every day in the United States by tens of millions.

But, that doesn't explain all the craziness, nor does the invocation of racism (although, surely, that plays a part, as in I don't want my tax money going to ...."). Millennialism might explain some of it, but, not all. As belief in the Rapture" grew in the years before the turn of the century, so has the desire to make world events conform to the mythology after the turn of the century, in order to hasten its eventuality, thus legitimizing the belief. As the decades pass, though, this sort of deus ex machina thinking will go into decline, until the next Millennium. No, what's got a lot of people crazy is the possibility--remote as that possibility is in their world view--that the scientists might be right, that global warming and the climate change it brings might just be devastating, and that, against all human desire, oil might really be running out. There's no willingness on their part to accept the evidence at face value--in fact, they're doing everything they can to deny that these possibilities even exist, with lots of help from industry-supported astroturf groups--but, that doesn't mean that the possibilities have been refuted. Far from it, they still exist in the imagination, buried, but still alive. All around the lefty blogs in the last week or two, there's been a general outcry that can be summed up as, I can't figure out why these people are so `I've got mine, so fuck you' lately." It just might be that, subconsciously, they're coming to the conclusion that their lives are going to change, and rapidly, and not for the better. Let's not forget that the essence of conservatism has always been to resist change. If the status quo is crumbling, their natural and expected reaction is to grab hard onto the things they perceive as most emblematic of the status quo, and every sign of change, whether it's gay marriage, or acknowledging the existence of endangered species, or attempts to modify the health care system, or breaking up the power of Wall Street megabanks, or talking to one's international adversaries instead of maintaining the military hegemony of the United States by aerial bombing, is like fingernails raking across the blackboard of their sensibilities.

Which might be why Obama stirs such fears in them--after all, the word, change," has done yeoman duty in his campaign and presidential rhetoric--and might be why Obama is destined never to win them over with promises of bipartisanship," a concept that was never very firm in American politics and is little more than a caricature of cooperation after the last thirty years.
This is not to say that Obama has the slightest clue about what his bipartisanship" is actually doing, but, it's safe to say that his constant invocation of it sparks annoyance in his base that knows conservatives of both parties will use it to disable or destroy any good policy initiative he attempts, and equally safe to say that the wackos in society see it as a means of either co-opting or enslaving them.

Ultimately, though, this tension will result in stasis, rather than a change from within that is equal to meeting the demands of the challenges from without, and the challenges from without will occur--and more rapidly--without the single organizing force of government addressing them. The invisible hand" of the markets won't do anything but make existing problems worse over time, and a government seeking to accommodate those markets (and their managers looking for big bonuses) is probably destined to fail--if not at the ballot box, then certainly at solving the real problems.

The great problem to be solved now is that the dominant macroeconomic model--exporting jobs to countries that make cheap shit for U.S. consumers to buy with borrowed money and then throw away when the cheap shit breaks--has collapsed, and yet, the current administration is, seemingly, doing everything it can to revive that model. This will inevitably result in another--perhaps bigger--crash, since the model itself is drastically flawed. Add in an economy that depends upon many hundreds of billions of dollars of military expenditures to keep oil companies' profits high (and then hundreds of billions of dollars in debt maintenance each year on top of that because the oil companies and others aren't paying their share in taxes) and there's no money left for the intensive research required to maintain that economy when it becomes pointlessly expensive to try to get the last few barrels of oil out of the ground. We will have pissed away many trillions of wealth trying to maintain the status quo, when just a small fraction of that might have realized the technological gains necessary to forestall disaster.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ah, yes, the sound of goalposts...

... being moved.

This morning, because I'm on a mailing list, I get an email from one David Axelrod, from the White House, and the very first sentence says:

Anyone that's watched the news in the past few days knows that health insurance reform is a hot topic....

So, actual health care reform has officially morphed into "health insurance reform."

Once again, the Democrats have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The bill that finally reaches Obama's desk for signature will be some unworkable monstrosity surreptitiously designed to increase the profits of the for-profit health care industry at government expense.

It will be a bill no one outside of Washington likes, and Obama will sign it and claim a great victory.

And, the Republicans will sit back and smile, having gotten all they wanted without having to vote for the bill and put their names to it. They win twice--first with their natural constituency, the corporate wealthy, and second, politically, when this tub of shit turns out to be one of the worst bills ever passed.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Well-Polished Turd...

... that is "health-care reform" might well become the biggest boondoggle of the century thus far, even surpassing the wretched excesses of the $700 billion bailout or the Raskolnikovian administration of two concurrent wars by the Pentagon.

What is becoming more and more obvious in these Dog Days is that what supposedly began as genuine straight-up health-care reform effort has become a dog's breakfast of a muddle of a legislative traffic jam.

Moreover, as the special interest groups become even more splintered and as increasing numbers of people have their own particular bit of the monstrosity to defend, what would ordinarily and rightly be called typical Washington kabuki has become multiple layers of kabuki and meta-kabuki.

The public seems to be divided into those who staunchly believe in and support the concept of health-care reform, and the fringe wackos who've been seduced by the power of teabags and corporate lobbying money and their own crazed, near-religious fact-free sense of rectitude. The truth is, though, that neither of those groups have a clue about the legislation as it is now, and what it will be in its final form. I certainly don't, either, but, there are enough signs and signals out there to indicate that when Congress is done, no one except the for-profit health care industry is going to be happy with the results.

If one were actually serious about health-care reform, and if one had control of the House, the Senate and the White House, the simple and obvious plan of attack would be to introduce a bill for a single-payer system, modeled after, say, France's, or Germany's, or Sweden's. Simple, straightforward and would go right for the jugular of the for-profit system that is the cause of virtually all of the country's problems with health care delivery. And, the bill should have come from the White House, to indicate that this is what the President would like to see. That should have been the opening gambit, and nearly two-thirds of the country's voters would have been in favor.

Instead, the President said, in effect, "okay, Congress, go to it, and what you come up with will be okay by me." Then, immediately, the poobahs of Congress took their strongest card, single-payer, completely off the table. The Villagers of Washington couldn't have been more pleased, because that was "bipartisan," i.e., what Republicans wanted. The plan, instead, would have a "public option," which would be the principal means by which for-profit insurers would be kept honest through competition. "Boooo," said the Villagers, "that's unfair." And, the for-profit people were ahead of the curve, as usual, sending in an army of lobbyists (to the tune of $1.4 million per day) to wheedle, cajole and campaign-contribute their way into the hearts of sundry Congress critters.

In almost no time at all, the House version of the bill had grown to roughly a thousand pages (and in my calculation, that would be about 100 pages of guts, and 900 pages of qualifications, exceptions, loopholes, giveaways and bearded one-eyed men with a limp).

Which is sort of where the layers of kabuki and meta-kabuki begin to be stacked one on top of the other and are sort of dribbling and melting through each other.

The White House tries mightily to evade demands for the names of the for-profit industry representatives who've been invited to the White House to make their case. The Obama White House does this as if there had never been any controversy over Cheney's Energy Task Force and its little secret visits from Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Ambitions.

Even though the Senate Finance Committee ought to be restricted to determining funding for the bill, it's not. Sen. Max Baucus (that's Mr. For-Profit, to you, bub) has his staff leak news that the bill reported out of his committee won't have a "public option" in it, and will approve co-ops, already determined by most observers to be ineffective and incapable of matching the power of regional for-profit insurers.

Then there's leaked word that the for-profit industry likes the reform bill. Heads pop up out of the sand all over the country and say, "wha?"

Then, there are leaks to the effect that the "public option" will not cover very many people or be as vigorous and comprehensive as originally planned.

After the bad news that there won't be an ass-kicking public option, we're told that, yes, the only way the system will work is if everyone is mandated to purchase health insurance. Of course, we are also told that the government will provide subsidies to help with the purchase. Critics see this as a way of leaving the very poorest out of the system, just as they are now. If they don't have enough money for food, they won't have enough money to pay their share of insurance. If the government pays for it all, it bankrupts the plan without additional taxes.

A tiny tax on the top 1% of income earners is proposed to make up the difference. The right-wing wackos, corporations and Republicans (let's see the Venn diagram on that one--we need a laugh by now) begin the mantra that Obama's a commie. Corporations would be the big winners in this, since it would be yet another successful transfer of tax revenues into their hands, but, their executives would likely whine at paying an additional 1% surtax for the privilege. They're wearing the inscrutable, expressionless kabuki mask on this one.

Then, there's the news that there won't be a vote on the bill before the August recess. In-the-know people and those wise to the ways of Washington realize that this will mean a full month for the naysayers to pummel reform advocates at townhall meetings in their districts.

Then, even though the for-profit industry supposedly likes the bill, they begin pouring large amounts of money into right-wing PR firms to provide organizing information to teabaggers, oddballs, kooks, crazies and little old ladies who think Medicare is not a government program, the better able they will be to completely disrupt townhall meetings in the districts of reform advocates.

Then there's a last-minute, just before the recess, hail-Mary pass by Pelosi: she will allow a vote on single-payer after the recess, but there's virtually no more information on what she means than that. No one knows if it's an attempt to euthanize single-payer or resuscitate it.

Then, various administration types start repeatedly referring to the bill as "health insurance reform," not "health care reform." Listening carefully, skeptics hear the wrenching, crunching noise of goalposts being moved.

Then, when we find out who's been chatting up Obama in the White House, we find that deals were made, and "pledges" by big Pharma were given, and that Billy Tauzin strikes again, which probably explains why the White House didn't want to hand out any list of names.

The townhalls begin, and right on cue, the right-wing nutballs descend on them, shouting down the representatives with calls of "read the bill" and "tell the truth." There is the occasional representative hanged in effigy. Canny observers note that the same slogans are being yelled in disparate parts of the country, and that many of the complainants aren't from the representative's district, don't know what they are talking about, and don't really care. They just believe as they're told. By right-wing talk show hosts. Dog, meet bell.

In the meantime, all the people in favor of health-care reform don't have an iota of a smidgen of a glimmer if there's anything left in the bill to support. Recent polls suggest waning support for health care reform and for Obama. Critics complain about the polls. The legislation might not even take effect until 2013. No one knows, because after almost eight months, there's nothing even remotely close to a finished bill that will pass both houses.

And yet, the polishing continues. The turd gets smaller and smaller, glossier and glossier, and yet, its turdly essence is preserved, intact.

There might be a metaphor in there.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Redefining 'unclear on the concept'....

This pronouncement by John Brennan that Obama has declared an "end to the 'war on terrorism'" seems fraught with Nixonian overtones.

Except that the guiding principle seems to be not declaring victory and going home, but, rather, declaring victory and staying put, thus ensuring ongoing terrorism.

Obama can focus on the socio-economics of terrorists all he wants, but, that's not going to end terrorism. As John Feffer writes today at, it's a simpler matter:

Non-state actors are even more prone to launch suicide missions against occupying forces. Remove the occupying force, as Robert Pape argues in his groundbreaking book on suicide bombers, Dying to Win, and the suicide missions disappear. It is not a stretch, then, to conclude that we, the occupiers (the United States, Russia, Israel), through our actions, have played a significant part in fomenting the very suicide missions that we now find so alien and incomprehensible in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Lebanon, and elsewhere.

The archetypal modern suicide bomber first emerged in Lebanon in the early 1980s, a response to Israel's invasion and occupation of the country. "The Shiite suicide bomber," writes Mike Davis in his book on the history of the car bomb, Buda's Wagon, "was largely a Frankenstein monster of [Israeli Defense Minister] Ariel Sharon's deliberate creation." Not only did U.S. and Israeli occupation policies create the conditions that gave birth to these missions, but the United States even trained some of the perpetrators. The U.S. funded Pakistan's intelligence service to run a veritable insurgency training school that processed 35,000 foreign Muslims to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Charlie Wilson's War, the book and movie that celebrated U.S. assistance to the mujihadeen, could be subtitled: Suicide Bombers We Have Known and Funded.

There were six major terrorist attacks on U.S. "interests" between 1993 and 2001--the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, two attacks on U.S. personnel inside Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, the bombing attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden in 2000, and, finally, the attacks of 9/11/2001 on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

All had one thing in common: they involved Muslims--principally Saudis--who were aggrieved by the United States' deception and determination to keep U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War, occupying what they considered holy soil. It didn't matter to them that the Saudi royals had grudgingly approved the troops' continued presence--to those suicide bombers, the Saudi royals had no legitimacy to govern precisely because they were in bed with the United States and were complicit in what was perceived as an insult to their holy lands and to their religion.

United States' policy has aimed, at least back to the days of Kissinger and Nixon and the first oil embargo, to place U.S. forces permanently in the Middle East--and preferably smack in the middle of where the oil is, Saudi Arabia. Kissinger and Nixon even considered a military seizure of the Saudi oilfields in 1973. Having a large military presence in or very near Saudi Arabia would intimidate the Saudis and disincline them toward another embargo, but, in a sort of devils' agreement, the Saudis recognized that such a force would also be available to them, were they to be threatened by general insurrection.

There had been some U.S. Navy presence in the region in Bahrain since 1948, but until the late `90s, it was never the sort of force that might convince the Saudi Arabian royals that an embargo was not in their best interests. The first George Bush and his band of oil cronies figured out a way to do it: Get a war started that required staging forces in Saudi Arabia, then convince the Saudis that they were under imminent attack, then simply hunker down in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert and not move those forces after the war was over.

It worked splendidly, to their minds. Not only did it achieve the primary goal of having a force in Saudi Arabia capable of eliminating all Saudi military resistance in short order, but it provided a jumping-off point for future military occupations, and, thanks to the combined nationalist and religious fervor of Sunni Muslims not aligned with the Saudi royals, that military occupation set off a decade-long round of terrorist acts aimed directly at the United States, which the neoconservatives could exploit to their own advantage.

After 9/11, the neoconservatives were quick to say that their programs of warrantless wiretapping, general disregard of Constitutional rights and torture were the reasons for the United States' safety and domestic freedom from further attacks (even though those programs resulted in a cacophony of false leads and signals). What they did not say, because it would have undermined their domestic propaganda campaign, was that the Sunni Arab reason to attack the United States had been rendered moot shortly after 9/11. U.S. soldiers and airmen at the Prince Sultan air base had been rather hastily requartered in Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE. Except for some civilians and a few military advisors who were keeping low profiles, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia was mostly gone after 9/11, and virtually entirely gone after the "shock and awe" bombings of Baghdad in 2003. The occupiers, for practical purposes, had left the Muslim holy lands. The presence of those Westerners that remained in Saudi Arabia has tended to incite terrorism inside Saudi Arabia directed toward the Saudi royals.

Of course, United States' aims were not entirely thwarted--they've just been repositioned to Iraq and Afghanistan (and soon, Pakistan, I would guess), which has set off new rounds of terrorism directed at the occupations of those countries.

Brennan and crew can talk about socio-economics until they turn blue, but, until they grasp the very simple fact that occupations breed terrorism, they'll remain unclear on the concept. If they persist in the belief that those occupations are necessary, they should at least acknowledge that part of the price of those occupations is ongoing terrorism. The people most often described as being at the center of terrorism directed at the United States, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, are not products of economic disarray and poverty. They are both very well-educated and come from wealthy, influential families. They seek recruits with the same religious and nationalist fervor they themselves possess. And they are certain that the occupations they resist are ultimately intended to enable Western corporations to move wealth out of the Middle East and Central Asia and funnel it to the West.

Brennan and Obama had better consider that when decrying the economic conditions that they believe produce terrorism, because they're about to start a whole new round of it in Africa. Very few people there are fooled by the altruistic platitudes used by the U.S. to explain why AFRICOM is necessary, and much of sub-Saharan Africa has already been impoverished by U.S.-instigated WTO trade rules and the imposition of Friedmanite privatization schemes in exchange for IMF and World Bank loans, loans often intended to prop up corrupt military dictators sympathetic to Western companies, and whose debt transferred to emerging democracies after their departure or overthrow.

If Obama really wants to solve the problem of terrorism, he's going to have to, first and foremost, come to terms with the imperial ambitions of his own government and the corporations that influence it, and of more than a few of his campaign contributors. If he can't do that, the least he could do is to tell the American people, honestly, that terrorism is one of the prices to be paid for trying to control the natural and labor resources of the world.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The teabaggers' 'Big Gummint' lament....

Invariably, the right wing in this country--regarding most any issue that might improve the lot of ordinary people--starts screaming about 'Big Gummint' intruding in their lives, and they eventually drive themselves nuts because of it.

Usually, a fair amount of this is pure smoke generated by corporate interests who stand to lose profits, and are astroturfing madly to maintain some particular status quo. Some, though, is meant to tug at longstanding fears of conservatives about the way things worked in the Soviet Union. Anything that smacks of central planning is anathema to them, mostly because of the disastrous way that Stalin's henchmen did economic planning, and because those economic plans had dire consequences for the Soviet populace. Conservatives, always tending to either/or binary thinking, therefore have a very strong tendency to believe in the "invisible hand" of markets to sort out all societal problems, big and small. If only that were true. But, largely, it's not.

Most self-described conservatives today have no knowledge as to why the Soviet system went badly sour, beyond the simplistic "communism doesn't work, there's no progress without profit incentive" mantra, which doesn't exactly get to the root of the problem. Stalin, in particular, saw the Soviet society as technologically backward, and his answer to this problem was to import as much current technology as possible in the shortest space of time, and to him that meant two principal things--greatly increasing the amount of electricity available and ramping up the production of steel. By 1930, Soviet planners found what they perceived to be the perfect model for the modern industrial city: Gary, Indiana.

Integrated into this vision of Stalin's was the belief that one could engineer a new, modern society in the same way one could engineer a bridge or a power plant or a subway. If every aspect of life--education, art, manufacturing, agriculture, social interactions--were engineered in a wholly rational fashion, Soviet society would flourish. It's the reason, for example, why Stalin would refer to the writer as "the engineer of human souls."

It was, of course, folly. Human beings aren't always rational, innovation rarely comes on a schedule, and creativity is a capricious creature. The Five-Year Plans were exercises in self-deception, and the political horrors carried out to force-fit Soviet society to them was a sure sign to any outside observer that they were doomed to fail.

Despite this, there have been times when central planning was indispensable, even in the U.S., as during WWII. During the war, the federal government established considerable control over manufacturing, extraction of raw materials, agriculture, in short, over almost every aspect of society that might contribute to the successful prosecution of the war. That effort was largely the result of a clearly understood need for central planning. As a result, a war spanning several continents and oceans required, from declaration of war in December, 1941, to final surrender of the Japanese in August, 1945, just three years and eight months.

These two examples indicate that central planning, in and of itself, isn't intrinsically bad and to be avoided. It can be done badly or well. In times of strife and national emergency and impending calamity, there is almost no way to coordinate the resources necessary to address the problem without some central planning by government.

And yet, today, whenever there's some suggestion that government has to step in to solve a persistent or looming problem, the conservative wailing and gnashing of teeth (along with some mind-blowing infantilism) over "Big Gummint" begins anew, even to the point of denying the existence of more and more obvious problems (and by ignoring that the very largest part of government--the national security apparatus--grows larger and larger by the day). In the case of the deeply intertwined problems of carbon emissions and impending world oil production decline, the "invisible hand" of the market has been not only of no use, it's been decidedly unhelpful. The big corporate players in that market aren't responding to those problems in rational ways. They are, instead, using every public relations tool at their disposal to convince the public (and its representatives in government) that the problems don't exist--that they're fictions--even as the evidence for them continues to mount. Pretty much the same routine has been employed to derail the effort to reform health care delivery, even though the societal and economic costs of the current system are unsustainable.

The essence of conservatism is to resist change, and that's never more true than when the status quo is profitable to the country's elite. But, when the vaunted "invisible hand" is simply grasping for more dollars and chooses to ignore problems affecting the entire society (or world, for that matter), government has no choice but to step in, order resources and plan for solutions to those problems. I think that's what the Founders meant when they included in the Constitution's preamble the words, "promote the general welfare...."

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Not even in the most tortured rendering...

... of the Constitution can it be said that the document supports the "state secrets privilege." The whole underlying principle of the Constitution is that the federal government is responsive to the people, that it operates in daylight (note the language in it, for example, requiring regular reporting of government activity), and that it is an integrated part of the society.

And yet, the Obama administration continues to defend the previous administration's excessive use of the privilege to shut down cases that would prove embarrassing to the government.

The first and obvious reason why it's not inherently constitutional is that the Supreme Court established the principle in U.S. v. Reynolds in 1953. They did so at the request of the Executive Branch, and it is of considerable importance that the evidence offered by the Executive to that end wasn't just tainted, it was outright fraudulent. The Executive Branch claimed that great harm would come to the national security if the details of a B-29 research flight were to be exposed in open court if a wrongful death civil trial proceeded. Without actually examining the evidence--the Air Force accident reports, the high court agreed, and the principle was established--in the heat of an expanding Cold War.

More than forty years later, the accident reports were quietly declassified, and they showed, not just inferentially, but conclusively, that the crash of the B-29 was the result of incompetence and negligence. There was nothing--absolutely nothing--in the reports that would have compromised security in any way. The government had achieved its aim of creating a new privilege of absolute and total secrecy not found in the Constitution through deception and fraud.

It is that privilege which the Obama administration now defends so strenuously. It's not a feat of intellect to figure out why, because the roots go back to classification law itself. It is against the law to use the classification system to hide information which shows illegal activity on the part of the government, or which may prove embarrassing to the government. Because that same title of the U.S. Code also makes it a criminal offense for a government employee to reveal classified information showing the illegal activity of the government or actions bringing embarrassment to the government, it's the perfect Catch-22. Therefore, the only way such information comes to the attention of the general public is if a court demands that information during discovery (with essential sources and methods redacted, if necessary).

The state secrets privilege has been successfully used for years by the Bush administration, in particular, to completely thwart that discovery process, and to therefore maintain a perfect wall around itself, allowing no scrutiny--not even by the courts.

We know that the Bush administration has used the state secrets privilege--and the classification system upon which it depends--to hide illegality. We know this because the plaintiffs in one specific case were accidentally given a document by the government during discovery that proved that the government had acted illegally--it had eavesdropped on the telephonic lawyer-client conversations of a now-defunct Muslim charity without a warrant, at a time when a warrant was clearly required to do so. Even though the plaintiffs' lawyers have seen the document, they were ordered to return it and all copies, thus rendering it invisible to the legal process.

Even though it was illegal to spy on Americans without a warrant, and just as illegal to hide the evidence of doing so through the classification system, that is precisely what the government has done, and it is precisely this usurped power to violate the law and then hide that violation which the Obama administration now defends.

There ain't nuthin' Constitutional about it.

It's been pretty much talked to death...

... but, let's face it--getting Orly Taitz to help you with your 'Obama was born in Kenya' argument is a lot like hitchin' your wagon not to a star, but to a submarine.

But, I'm sure that the flat-earthers, er, birthers will explain away how their latest sacred document greatly resembles an Australian one found via Google Images from a genealogical site.

And, that Kenya was not a republic, as the form reads, until ten months after the signature on the certificate.

And, how oddly coincidental that the number on the certificate is 47,044, when Obama was 47 when he became, hey!, the 44th president. Man, that's, uh, uh... cosmic!

And, that the registrar listed on both forms--one in Australia, and one in Kenya--has the last name of "Lavender." Well, admittedly, maybe there is a very large family of professional vital statistics registrars out there in the former British Empire.

And, that the purported city of his birth, Mombasa, wasn't even in Kenya in 1961. Mombasa, at that time, was in the state of Zanzibar, and was ceded to Kenya upon its independence in Dec., 1963, over two years after Obama's birth.

Lessee, the line from "Body Heat" goes something like this: "Any time you do a decent crime, there are fifty ways you can fuck up. If you think of twenty-five of them, you're a genius... and you ain't no genius."

Being blind to the blazingly obvious is not an effective evolutionary trait. Let's hope it doesn't catch on....