Saturday, January 29, 2011

President Obama, Hawaii, a Governor, and Getting a Grip

Before getting into the topic of this post, President Obama's birth certificate, I'd better make some declarations:
  • This is not a political blog
  • I don't think
    • There's some kind of vast conspiracy to besmirch the reputation of President Obama
      • Apart from the usual political stuff
    • The Democrats know that Obama
      • Wasn't born in America
      • Has a criminal record
      • Is really a shape-shifting space-alien lizard man
    • Everybody who disagrees with the President is a
      • Racist
      • Nazi
      • Commie
      • Whatever
I'm not "for" President Obama. I'm not "against" him, either. I didn't vote for Barack Obama in the last presidential election, and I think America would be better off with someone else in the White House: but I have nothing against him as a person. Some of his policies I do not and cannot support. Others are not nearly as bad as I had feared: and he's occasionally made decisions I think were sensible.

The matter of Barack Obama's birth certificate is in the news again. Still.

Birth Certificates, Politics, Reality, and Big Oil

Again, I'm not "for" the current American president. I'm not "against" him either, although I'd rather see someone else as chief executive in this country.

I remember that while the second president Bush was in office, some Americans seemed convinced that he was evil incarnate - or the politically correct version of "evil," at any rate. As I said in response to a comment, back in 2008, "...an otherwise-reasonable adult referred to Bush as 'diabolical.'..." I heard and read quite a bit about "Big Oil" then. Funny, how we don't hear about "big toothpaste" so much. And I'm drifting off-topic.

Between the all-too-human habit of getting a fixed idea, like 'the commies are behind it' or 'it's the fault of the Jews,' and holding on to it regardless of facts; and what happens to our frontal cortex when emotions are in play - I don't expect to change the mind of anyone whose mind is made up about President Obama.

I've discussed this sort of thing before:

Politics, Stress, and the Tree of Liberty

The 2008 presidential campaigns were stressful for quite a few folks in America, I think. And, as as often happens: when the tree of liberty gets shaken, loose nuts fall out.

One of the notable anti-Obama signs read "Obama Half-Breed Muslin." The sentiment, distasteful as it is, made a little sense. A very little. Barack Obama doesn't have a 'regular American' name like Smith or Tailor. He doesn't look like a 'regular American:' not the WASP version, anyway.

President Obama's appearance and ancestry is an issue, in my opinion: but not in the 'half-breed muslin' way. He's touted as 'America's first black president,' although I gather he's black about the same way I'm Irish. He's America's first Hawaiian president, too - and I've discussed that before. (January 7, 2010)

I think 'firsts' are important, when they represent changes in a culture. That's one reason that I think the first Irish president was a sort of milestone in America's history - and so is the first black president. But I don't think President Kennedy was a good president because he's Irish - and I don't think Barack Obama's ancestors are relevant to his performance, either.

Paperwork and Bureaucracies

Barack Obama's birth certificate - or some official record of his time and place of birth - may be important. On a technical level, at any rate. America has rules about who can and who can't be president - intended, I gather, to help insure that whoever gets voted into office is primarily focused on the interests of the United States of America.

All public knowledge of Barack Obama indicates - strongly - that he was born about 10 years after I was, in the State of Hawaii. And it turns out that he may not have a "long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate ... within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health."1

Does this mean he's not 'really' an American? Or that 'the truth is out there,' and some vast conspiracy is keeping 'regular Americans' from knowing it?

At this point, I don't think so. Or, rather, I don't think there's reason to assume that Barack Obama isn't, legally, an American citizen, born in one of the 50 states.

Although just barely. Hawaii became a state in 1959. Oddly, I haven't run into anybody claiming that Hawaii isn't really a state in this country. And that's almost another topic.

I do think that Hawaii, like all states, has a bureaucracy that manages paperwork like birth certificates. I also think that it's no great surprise that, about two years after entering the Union, the Hawaii Department of Health either misfiled a full long-form hospital-generated birth certificate - or that the full-blown document was never made in the first place.

Real People All Have Birth Certificates?

Hawaii's Governor Neil Abercrombie has a few words to say about Barack Obama:
"...'It's a matter of principle with me,' the 72-year-old said. 'I knew his mum and dad. I was here when he was born. Anybody who wants to ask a question honestly could have had their answer already.'

"Birthers insist Obama, born in 1961, is not eligible to be commander in chief. The reasons often vary, and have changed and expanded in the two years since the Internet rumour began...."
(Mail Online)
Well, Governor Neil Abercrombie is a Democrat: and in some circles 'everybody knows' what they're like. He's also a man, and white: and there are biases about those people, too, for some.

Maybe Governor Abercrombie really is involved in some vast conspiracy. Maybe he's lying to protect Obama for his own reasons - or to hurt Obama for his own reasons. For someone trying to maintain a cover story, it seems to me that Abercrombie is doing a lousy job.

I'm inclined, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to think that the state of Hawaii has a bureaucracy that takes care of its paper work. And - no big surprise - that Hawaii's bureaucracy can't find a particular document. And/or won't release it.

I recently signed a form that gave someone who's been speaking with my wife and me - permission to speak to my wife. Then there was the hoop I had to jump through to get a look at my own medical records: and that's yet another topic.

Do I think there's something suspicious about a bureaucracy that has trouble finding - and releasing - a particular bit of paperwork? Frustrating, yes: surprising, no.

About somebody not having a birth certificate: One of my ancestors, not all that far back, didn't have a birth certificate. We knew where she'd been born, and had every reason to believe that she was part of the family. But the part of the world she was born in had issues with the sort of people we were - and that's still another topic.

So, no: I'm not shocked and suspicious when someone who wasn't of the 'right sort' when he was born doesn't have a 'real' birth certificate.

As for the American president's time and place of birth? My guess is that there will be more-or-less imaginative stories about that for years to come. Or maybe we'll discover that he's really a genetically-engineered Chinese agent: although that doesn't seem likely.

Related posts:
In the news:

1Excerpt from Mail Online:
"Pressure was mounting on Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie today amid increasing confusion over whether President Obama was born there.

"Abercrombie said on Tuesday that an investigation had unearthed papers proving Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961.

"He told Honolulu's Star-Advertiser: 'It actually exists in the archives, written down,' he said.

"But it became apparent that what had been discovered was an unspecified listing or notation of Obama's birth that someone had made in the state archives and not a birth certificate.

"And in the same interview Abercrombie suggested that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health.

"He said efforts were still being made to track down definitive vital records that would prove Obama was born in Hawaii...."
(Mail Online)

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Gosh. Records like that go missing all the time. Or aren't made in the first place. That goes double if the only record you'll accept is an original, notarized, super-official document. (Reminds me of the transcript debacle I went through a few years back.)

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Indeed. I'm fairly well-documented: but my parents were both librarians, and had the training and background to both appreciate the importance of thorough cataloging - and the ability to make sure that bureaucrats got it right.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

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