Factcheck Verifies Legitimacy of Obama’s Birth Certificate

One of the more ridiculous attacks on Barack Obama were the claims that he was not born in the United States. These attacks continued even after his birth certificate was posted, with a variety of crazy conspiracy theories being spread with claims that this was a forgery. Factcheck.org has reviewed the birth certificate and writes that it is real. From their summary:

In June, the Obama campaign released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate to quell speculative charges that he might not be a natural-born citizen. But the image prompted more blog-based skepticism about the document’s authenticity. And recently, author Jerome Corsi, whose book attacks Obama, said in a TV interview that the birth certificate the campaign has is “fake.”

We beg to differ. FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as “supporting documents” to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.

The article provides further details along with debunking of the various conspiracy theories. PoliFact has also come to the same conclusion that the birth certificate is legitimate. Of course the right wingers and PUMA kooks who are promoting these conspiracy theories will not be dissuaded. Just as right wingers continue to claim that John Kerry never released his military records despite the fact that his full records were posted on line during the 2004 campaign, opponents of Obama will continue to deny the fact that his actual birth certificate has been posted.

Now The Campaign Is Over John McCain’s Inability To Count All His Houses

I imagine this was inevitable. Obama is attacking John McCain for having so many homes that he can’t answer a question as to how many he owns.

“Somebody asked John McCain, ‘how many houses do you have?’ and he said, ‘I’m not sure, I’ll have to check with my staff,’” said Obama at a Thursday morning campaign stop. “True quote! ‘I’m not sure, I’ll have to check with my staff.’ So they asked his staff and he said, ‘at least four.’ ‘At least four.’

“Now think about that — I guess if you think that being rich means you gotta make five million dollars, and if you don’t know how many houses you have, then it’s not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong,” he continued. “But if you’re like me and you’ve got one house — or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don’t lose their home — you might have a different perspective. …

He also said that there was a “fundamental gap of understanding” between McCain’s world and “what people are going thru every single day here in America.”

I don’t really care how rich John McCain is or how many homes he has, although an argument could certainly be made that this is relevant considering how John McCain’s tax plans are so heavily weighed in favor of the ultra-wealthy. I would prefer that Obama stick to the actual issues, but I also cannot blame him for attacking on this either. At least it is an honest representation of something McCain has said. In contrast, Obama has seen a loss of his lead in the polls following dishonest attacks from McCain and has come under criticism for not hitting McCain hard enough.

While this is not the type  of campaign I’d prefer to see, it was John McCain who decided to take the low road, and unfortunately such counterattacks probably will be more effective than a wonky talk about how McCain’s tax plans are so favorable towards the ultra-wealthy while Obama’s provide a bigger tax break to the vast majority of tax payers.

Voters Notice McCain Going Negative

John McCain has been running a negative campaign, and possibly benefiting based upon his recent improvement in the polls. Considering how little predictive value pre-convention polls have had in the past, it is questionable whether this gain means anything at all. On the other hand, general percenptions of the candidate can last and ultimately might have an impact on how people vote, and voters are seeing McCain as the one who is going negative:

By a nearly six-to-one margin, voters say Republican presidential candidate John McCain is running a negative campaign against his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Nearly three in 10 voters, 29%, pointed to McCain as the candidate running a negative campaign, compared to just 5% who said Obama is running a negative campaign. McCain’s 29% rating is the highest of any one candidate in the previous two presidential elections according to the WSJ/NBC News survey.

The challenge for Obama will be to turn this against McCain while still taking the offensive and  highlighting the differences between them, as Obama reportedly intends to do at the convention. Obama will especially benefit if the comparison is changed from whether the candidates are negative to whether they are honest and fair in their criticism. As I’ve discussed before, there is a tremendous difference here. Criticism of the other candidate over areas of disagreement might be negative but is fair game. Lying about the record and positions of the other candidate, which was done earlier by Hillary Clinton and now is being done by John McCain, is an entirely different matter. Hopefully the voters will realize that candidates who resort to such dishonest tactics to get elected are likely to continue to engage in such dishonest once in office. We’ve seen the consequences of this as Rove-style politics led to Rove-style government in which the country was lied into a foolish war.

McCain and the Draft

The big question today is whether John McCain would reenact draft. The question arose during a townhall meeting today in which someone made a long comment including, “If we don’t reenact the draft, I don’t think we’ll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.” McCain responded by saying ” Ma’am, let me say that I don’t disagree with anything you said.”

The woman said a lot and it is certainly possible that McCain was not paying close attention to every detail, leading him to give a vague reply such as this to maintain the woman’s support. I’m hoping that a reporter can get in a follow up question and specifically ask him about whether he would reinstate the draft and under what circumstances. In the past he has said it would take an “all-out World War III” for this to  happen. This sounds reasonable but right wingers often compare the “war on terror” to a World War. On September 29, 2007 he has also said, “I might consider it, I don’t think it’s necessary, but I might consider it if you could design a draft where everybody equally could serve.”

Whether McCain would reinstate the draft is important for a number of reasons, including both the individual liberties ramifications and in interpretation of his statement on remaining in Iraq for one-hundred years. A valid objection to the Move On ad, in which a mother criticizes McCain for potentially sending her child to Iraq in the future, is that in an all volunteer army the child would not go unwillingly. It is a totally different matter if McCain would use a draft to send more people to Iraq involuntarily.

Update: Marc Ambinder’s take on all this is that McCain does not support a draft. I’m still hoping a reporter follows up on this and gets a more definitive answer as to what circumstances he believes would necessitate a draft.

Mistakes of the Stupid and Famous: John and Rielle

John Edwards’ stupidity in engaging in the affair with Rielle Hunter is quite obvious. Beyond all the usual considerations on how this would affect his family, for John Edwards it was also ridiculous to risk the possibility of becoming president. But who is the more stupid one–John or Rielle? New revelations from The National Enquirer make this a very difficult one to judge:

The ENQUIRER has also learned that Hunter’s own lawyer advised her to allow Edwards to take a paternity test but she refused out of misguided belief that Edwards will marry her after the death of his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth.

So Rielle is one more naive mistress who believes that they have a shot of marrying the married man. Maybe her chances are better since Elizabeth will not be around forever, but somehow I still doubt this is a wedding we will ever see. At least Rielle is getting something out of this. The Enquirer also reports how Hunter and her daughter were flown to St. Croix in a private jet on the day before Edwards’ confession of their affair. She is also receiving a number of other perks paid for by friends of John Edwards:

None of this is paid for by Rielle.  The money continues to come from Edwards’s network of loyal supporters, with no explanation from Edwards why he is having his friends continue to support Rielle now that the affair has been made public.

Edwards is not only aware of the hush money payoffs but orchestrated it with his team of former campaign advisors and now The ENQUIRER has discovered that a team of six more lawyers have been involved in the coverup and are funneling payments to Hunter, who has no money and no means of support.

The Enquirer also reports that there were numerous secret rendezvous between the two even after John told Elizabeth of the affair. Well, maybe she does have a shot at him after Elizabeth is gone, but could she ever trust him to be faithful to her?

Michael Moore Suggests Caroline Kennedy For VP

Michael Moore is receiving some attention today after calling on Caroline Kennedy to pull a Cheney by recommending herself for the vice presidential spot. This isn’t the first time the idea has come up. I discussed it back in June after Kennedy was placed in charge of the search. Moore writes:

What Obama needs is a vice presidential candidate who is NOT a professional politician, but someone who is well-known and beloved by people across the political spectrum; someone who, like Obama, spoke out against the war; someone who has a good and generous heart, who will be cheered by the rest of the world; someone whom we’ve known and loved and admired all our lives and who has dedicated her life to public service and to the greater good for all.

That person, Caroline, is you.

I cannot think of a more winning ticket than one that reads: “OBAMA-KENNEDY.”

Caroline, I know that nominating yourself is the furthest idea from your mind and not consistent with who you are, but there would be some poetic justice to such an action. Just think, eight years after the last head of a vice presidential search team looked far and wide for a VP — and then picked himself (a move topped only by his hubris to then lead the country to near ruin while in office) — along comes Caroline Kennedy to return the favor with far different results, a vice president who helps restore America to its goodness and greatness.

Caroline, you are one of the most beloved and respected women in this country, and you have been so admired throughout your life. You chose a life outside of politics, to work for charities and schools, to write and lecture, to raise a wonderful family. But you did not choose to lead a private life. You have traveled the world and met with its leaders, giving you much experience on the world stage, a stage you have been on since you were a little girl.

Obviously it will never really happen, which makes it easy to consider the attractive aspects of such a ticket and ignore all the reasons against it for the moment.

Obama Appears Unlikley To Repeat Kerry’s Errors of 2004

Prior to the conventions in 2004 John Kerry had a lead against George Bush but made three errors. He made a poor vice presidential pick, he failed to respond adequately to the Swift Boat Liars, and he failed to take advantage of his convention to make the case against Bush. Obama is unlikely to repeat these errors.

We will probably know who the vice presidential pick is any day now. Without knowing the answer it is premature to say he will do better than Kerry, but at least it is safe to predict he will not make the same mistake. Both Kerry and Obama have learned an important lesson from the Swift Boat attacks and any Democratic candidate will be better prepared this time. Kerry wanted a positive convention without criticism of Bush, but Obama plans to take on McCain:

Barack Obama’s campaign plans to use the four-day Democratic National Convention next week to relentlessly portray John McCain as a carbon copy of President Bush, in a strategic shift foreshadowed by two days of tougher attacks on his GOP rival.

The criticism itself, which will focus on the Arizona senator’s economic policies, ties to lobbyists and decades-long tenure in Washington, is not new. But the intensity of the attacks is — and it is meant to minimize the heavy emphasis on Obama’s charisma-driven campaign.

McCain has hammered the theme in recent weeks that Obama is an aloof “celebrity” unprepared to be commander in chief.

“The convention will offer a series of contrasts and comparisions of the McCain record so voters can see how clearly the choice will be in November,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton told FOX News. “The convention will also introduce Senator Obama to the country, but it will make sure to convey strongly the differences and choices Obama’s campaign presents over McCain’s.”

The move is a rejection of John Kerry’s decree in 2004 that his convention would project a positive message about Kerry and the Democratic Party while minimizing attacks on President Bush and the GOP.

Obama strategists believe Kerry’s convention was too passive and gave Bush and the Republicans space to create their own message without having to respond to Democratic criticisms. Advisers say the convention contrasts will not be personal, but will cast a harsh light on McCain’s record, lobbyist relationships and similarities with Bush. Aides say the campaign is setting out to offer a stark contrast between McCain and Obama.

Obama and His Fanatic Critics

Right wingers, who are generally more interested in distorting the positions of their opponents as opposed to serious discussion of real issues, have been attacking Obama over a vote in Illinois which they dishonestly cite as evidence he supports the killing of live babies. The Politico sorts through this.

I had already known that the attacks on Obama were bogus. What I did not know was exactly how extreme one of his major critics on this issue is. While it is dishonest to portray Obama’s votes as favoring baby killing, it would not be incorrect to say that Jill Stanek is actively trying to bring about increased deaths from AIDS in Africa. Ben Smith writes:

Since long before Obama entered the presidential contest, Illinois conservatives have cited his opposition to a state bill called the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. But while the cause seems rather hard to oppose — the bill nominally aims to prevent the murder of children who have been born — the debate is firmed up around the old, familiar and utterly polarized lines of the abortion debate, a fact the identity of his long-time critic on the issue makes clear.

The bill, which Obama opposed in various iterations in the Illinois state Senate, aims to bar killing infants who have already been born, an utterly uncontroversial stance. Obama opposed it in Illinois, as did women’s groups there, because they thought it was a backdoor way to regulate abortion. (It was an Alan Keyes favorite in 2004.) The newest twist on the story is that he opposed one version identical to a version passed by Congress (on the grounds, again, that it has no effect), arguing that it would have different implications under state than federal law.

The New York Sun has the clearest coverage of the argument, and David Freddoso dwells on it in his book. But given that the bottom line is that the bill has only passed when its critics are satisfied that it’s utterly meaningless, this doesn’t seem like a particularly substantive debate over whether or not he wants to kill living infants.

The notion that this fight is actually about killing live babies, rather than regulating abortion, seems a bit absurd; however, the website of the Illinois activist who championed the legislation, Jill Stanek, bears that out.

It turns out she doesn’t just oppose child-murder. Or late-term abortion. Or abortion. She’s also against condoms — in Africa. She’s raising money for more billboards in Tanzania with the message: “Faithful condom users die.”

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan, who also has a previous post pointing out differences between the Illinois bill and the bill Obama voted for in the Senate.

AP Calls Lieberman a Prick

Why does everyone assume that this assessment of Joe Lieberman in this AP report on vice presidential prospects was a typo? (Hat tip to Crooks and Liars for the screen grab.)

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Veronica Mars Might Return As A Movie

It’s a good thing Obama didn’t announce his VP choice today as there is even bigger news which would have eclipsed it. (Ok, maybe not.) Michael Ausiello reports that a Veronica Mars movie might be made:

The impromptu powwow took place last week in the offices of Thomas’ Hollywood-based production company, which just so happens to be located on the same lot where Bell is shooting Heroes. “Kristen and I ran into each other, and we did discuss a Veronica movie,” confirms Thomas, who says he has also had “a few conversations” with Mars executive producer Joel Silver…

For her part, Bell considers it a “major compliment” that people are still interested in Mars. “[Fans] still ask me all the time if the show’s coming back. Emotionally, I don’t want to think about Veronica Mars every day because it really does make me sad.”

Regarding her recent chat with Thomas about a Mars feature, the star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, perhaps not wanting to jinx things, flashes a Cheshire cat grin and says, “We’ll see.”

Translation: We’re halfway there to getting this thing greenlit!