Quotes of the day

“For President Obama, critics who question his U.S. citizenship are becoming a joke.

“Last night in Los Angeles, Obama spoke with donors about the early days of his 2008 campaign, back when “the prospect of electing a Barack Hussein Obama to the Oval Office was slim.”

“‘None of you asked for my birth certificate,’ Obama said. ‘It was a complete leap of faith.'”

“Highlighted in yellow on page 1,218 of the thick binder is the computer-generated listing for a boy named Barack Hussein Obama II born in Hawaii, surrounded by the alphabetized last names of all other children born in-state between 1960 and 1964. This is the only government birth information, called ‘index data,’ available to the public.

So far this month, only The Associated Press and one other person had looked at the binder, according to a sign-in sheet viewed Wednesday in the state Department of Health building. The sheet showed about 25 names of people who have seen the document since March 2010, when the sign-in sheet begins…

“[The] original birth records typically include additional birth details, such as the hospital and delivering doctor, said Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the state’s former health director who twice looked at and publicly confirmed Obama’s original long-form birth records.

“But those documents are state government property that can’t be released to anyone, even the president himself, said Joshua Wisch, special assistant to the state attorney general. Obama would be able to inspect his birth records if he visited the Health Department in person, but original records of live birth are never released, he said.”

“[The] theory first emerged in the spring of 2008, as Clinton supporters circulated an anonymous email questioning Obama’s citizenship.

“‘Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy. She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth,’ asserted one chain email that surfaced on the urban legend site Snopes.com in April 2008.

“Another early version of the theory, reported by the Chicago Tribune in June 2008, depended on a specious legal theory that was, for a time, the heart of the argument: that Obama was born in Hawaii but had a Kenyan father, and his mother was only 18 years old. Therefore, under existing immigration law, he was not eligible for automatic citizenship upon birth — a claim that depended on an understandable, but incorrect, reading of immigration law. Other theories suggested that Obama lost his U.S. citizenship when he moved to Indonesia or visited Pakistan in violation of a supposed State Department ban as a young man. (There was no such ban.)…

“Ironically, the birther movement didn’t really take off in earnest until the Obama team tried to debunk it.”

“The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) is raising funds off efforts by opponents of President Obama who have questioned his place of birth…

“‘Republican governors, eager to score political points, keep these myths alive by refusing to unequivocally say that birtherism isn’t true and that they won’t sign any bills trying to undermine our president,’ reads the appeal from DGA Executive Director Colm O’Comartun. ‘Since they won’t act, it’s up to us to make sure they know the American people are watching.'”

“The reality is that ‘facts’ are unlikely to mean much to those who believe in their gut that Obama is not American. Political psychologists call this ‘motivated reasoning.’ It goes something like this: I dislike someone; I learn something positive that should make me feel better about him; instead, I dislike him as much or even more. This is clearly irrational, but our feelings about people are complicated, and we tend to hold on to them even in the face of contradictory information. This is not unique to those who dislike Obama.

“We are all somewhat impervious to new information, preferring the beliefs in which we are already invested. We often ignore new contradictory information, actively argue against it or discount its source, all in an effort to maintain existing evaluations. Reasoning away contradictions this way is psychologically easier than revising our feelings. In this sense, our emotions color how we perceive ‘facts.’…

“So the smart bet is that the birthplace issue, the Muslim issue, and any other ways in which Obama can be portrayed as outside the mainstream are not going away. And no amount of data to the contrary will change that for some people.”

Flashback: “I don’t understand why the Governor doesn’t just say ‘snap it up . . . send me a copy right now.’ And why doesn’t the President just say ‘send me a copy right now.'”

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