Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Demand to See Donald Trump's Birth Certificate, Hoping for the Gang of Six, A Presidency in Crisis?

Birthers Are Racist Idiots
Barring some kind of dramatic event unfolding, my sincere hope is that this is the last time I have to write about this topic. I've spilled enough virtual ink on this nonsensical topic. Let me try one more time to rehash things:
In 2008, when then-Senator Barack Obama was running for President, rumors from the conservative blogosphere emerged that he had not, in fact, been born in Hawaii, but had been born in Kenya. In response, his campaign released a "Certificate of Live Birth", the current legal copy of a birth certificate issued in Hawaii, which should have put the issue to bed. But there is no convincing idiots with logic, and the rumors have persisted, buoyed in recent days by the incoherent ramblings of one Donald Trump.

Let me review the facts one more time:
* The "Certificate of Live Birth" is the current legal standard for birth certificate copies in Hawaii, it is accepted as proof of birth in all 50 states and by the U.S. State Department for the issuance in passports.
* Microfiche evidences proves positively that the birth of Barack Obama in Hawaii was reported by the hospital in two papers the day after it occurred.
* Several news organizations including and CNN had viewed the original of his birth certificate in Honolulu and reported that fact.
* Even if one were to ignore the obvious facts as to the location of his birth and choose to continue to believe he was born in Kenya, President Obama would likely have been eligible anyhow as he was entitled to U.S. citizenship at birth based on the citizenship of his mother. This is no different from Senator John McCain, who was born in Panama while his father was serving in the military.

But, the President relented this past week and was able to convince the State of Hawaii to release his birth certificate. This was a poor move in my opinion -- there was absolutely zero credible evidence to counter from the birthers and frankly, if the right-wing of the GOP wants to behave like a bunch of braying jackasses, I'd be happy to let them. Karl Rove commented extensively on how this issue was hurting the credibility of the President's opponents, as had Bill O'Reilly and they were both 100% correct. But, in his continuing spirit of "ever backing down", the President conceded ground to the wing nuts and convinced the State of Hawaii to release his original.

So why do I think birthers are racist? Ask yourself a question. Has Donald Trump released a copy of his birth certificate? How about Mitt Romney? Michelle Bachman? Have any of the GOP candidates?

And why is no one asking?

You could say that it is because there is no credible reason to believe that any of them were born outside the United States and you'd be right. There is equally zero credible evidence that Barack Obama was born outside the US. Simply put, if you choose to believe that the President was born in Kenya, against all facts, then you are simply buying into the Muslim-Kenyan-Tribal image of our first black President. And you are doing so without evidence. And that is racism, period.

If you've been hawking this issue, get a life. I'm talking to you, Mr. Trump.

Will the Gang of Six Crack the Deficit Code?
We are a long way from a deal on long-term deficit reduction. It's a very strong possibility that, as has happened so many times in the past, all the talk will lead to very little action. There have only been a few times in my lifetime that the parties have come together to effectively address the deficit. The Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction act of 1985, which closed tax loopholes and implemented the original version of "pay as you go" comes to mind. So does the tax deal that President George Herbert Walker Bush struck with congressional Democrats in 1991, which was wildly unpopular with his party but set-up for the surpluses of the late 90s. But it doesn't happen much.

But I AM very encouraged with the bipartisan negotiations that are taking place between the so-called "Gang of Six" which include 1 liberal Democrat (Dick Durbin-IL), two moderate Democrats (Kent Conrad-ND and Mark Warner-VA) and three conservative Republicans (Saxby Chambliss-GA, Mike Crapo-ID and Tom Coburn-OK.) Using the deficit reduction commissions plan as a baseline, they are working towards a deal and making some progress. Coburn has even defended tax changes that would increase revenue (also known as tax increases) so long as the revenue-enhancement is achieved through closing loopholes and not through raising marginal rates (which is what the deficit panel had proposed.) I wish we'd gained alignment at the outset for an up-or-down vote on the panel's findings, but thanks the partisan flip-flopping of Senator John McCain and others, we didn't get that chance. But if these six Senators, who come from across the ideological spectrum, can agree on a plan, then I believe that a bipartisan bill can pass. And they are doing it the right way, putting things on the table, negotiating in good faith. We all should root for their success.

How Much Trouble is Barack Obama In?
I've been writing for a while that President Obama was an odds-on favorite for a second term. My theory has always been that the timing of economic recovery would create favorable conditions for an incumbent, regardless of any policy squabbles. But the economic recovery has become significantly less robust, with economic growth slowing to 1.8% in the first quarter of this year and inflation jumping up significantly, particularly on commodities such as oil and food. Incoming growth above the "mendoza line" of 1.5% (the line on linear regression analysis that generally correlates to the incumbent President's party receiving 50% of the Presidential vote) is not assured and the President's poll numbers, after a bump at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, have sagged again (a full update on those numbers next week.)

But the President is still polling favorable against would-be GOPers. Here is a quick average of his performance against possible GOP candidates:

Versus Mike Huckabee: Obama +2.5%
Versus Mitt Romney: Obama +2.4%
Versus Jon Huntsman: Obama +11.0%
Versus Michelle Bachman: Obama +12.0%
Versus Mitch Daniels: Obama +13.0%
Versus Tim Pawlenty: Obama +13.5%
Versus Newt Gingrich: Obama +14.3%
Versus Donald Trump: Obama +15.4%
Versus Sarah Palin: Obama +17.9%

Of course, these polls are not very predictive of final outcomes at this stage of the race - Jon Stewart did a great comedy piece on this on the Daily Show last week which relived the news reports of Hillary Clinton being a lock in 2008, Joe Lieberman being the front-runner in 2004 and Bill Clinton being in 7th in the Democrat running order in 1992. But they do give us some clues.

Clearly Huntsman, Daniels and Pawlenty are suffering from the fact that few people really know very much about them yet. And Gingrich, Trump and Palin are likely suffering from the fact that people DO know a lot about them. Romney and Huckabee are the two established, credible candidates that the public knows, and they poll pretty close to President Obama. Either one of the lesser-knowns will break out of the pack or those two, who have to be considered the front-runners at this point (regardless of Donald Trump polling well in some polls at this point), would run a very close, competitive race with the President next November.

So how much trouble is the President in? I've said it before and I'll say it again -- it's all about the economy.

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