April 28, 2011

Trump's Hair Caught in Tuscaloosa Tornado - Film @ 11

That's the picture I actually wanted to run (as opposed to Kapiolani Medical Center to the right), with all respect and affection for my fellow Alabamians, who have been devastated by a series of massive tornadoes in regions I ordinarily thought of as being somewhat south of the usual path of twisters. Oh well, the climate, she is a-changin'. I do know that tornadoes are usually formed along the scrum line between cold fronts from the north and warm fronts from the south, which mix and create an upward spiral or turbulent convection, and so one looks for these a little farther north, say along the Red River area between Texas and Oklahoma, or farther north where Dorothy and Toto lived.

Meanwhile, the nascent presidential aspirations of The Donald have hit a major snag, or split end, since President Obama decided to release the so-called "long form" birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. What the White House released is essentially identical to the "abstract" which was already in the public domain, so one has to wonder why the conspiracy theory, The Donald's "signature issue" as Doonesbury derisively called it, was allowed to fester as long as it was. Which of course will give rise to a new round of conspiracy theorizing centered on the idea that the "long form" is a forgery or computer mock-up (I've already seen some of that stuff on the Net), and the "delay" will be used as the central "proof" of the new cover-up, and so forth, ad absurdum, ad nauseum. There's never any way out of a conspiracy maze once one is entered.

For my part, I never had any doubt that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu in August, 1961. The test I used was Vincent Bugliosi's "in this world" argument from his analyses of the O.J. Simpson trial. "In this world," there is simply no way that Barack Obama was born anywhere other than Honolulu, for the simple reason that there were two contemporary newspaper accounts, from two newspapers I'm personally familiar with (the Honolulu Advertiser being the main rag in the islands, then and now) that published the fact of his birth in August, 1961. Conspiracy theorists, motivated as they really are by blind hatred and racism, have no answer to this simple fact, much as the "O.J. was framed" theorists had no answer for the mountains of blood and DNA evidence admitted at the Juice's trial. (As the joke had it, "take away all the blood and DNA evidence, and what do you really have?" Plenty, actually, such as the cuts all over O.J.'s hands and arms the morning after the murders, supposedly caused by a broken drinking glass in a Chicago hotel room. Funny, O.J. never looked clumsy.)

But the real acid test of the "in this world" argument is simply this, and it is a common sense standard not actually usable in a court room: one cannot prove a single fact, in this world, which is decisively inconsistent with Barack Obama's having been born in Honolulu. There is compelling evidence that he was, of course, such as eyewitnesses, the birth certificate, the doctor's recollections, all kinds of stuff along with the published newspaper accounts giving the home address of Obama's parents in 1961 on the Kalanianaole Highway, and with no explanation why two newspapers of record would falsify vital statistics provided by the Kapiolani Hospital 47 years before Barack Obama was elected.

I doubt, nevertheless, that the production of the "long form" certificate will have much effect on the beliefs of the Birthers. This is actually a window into the declining capacities of critical thought in the American population, and is aligned, in my analysis, with the growth in general religiosity and "enchantment," that is to say, mumbo jumbo. As with Creationism and anti-evolution "theories," the Luddites believe it is enough, to justify their own prejudices, to poke holes in science or to find areas that are not absolutely certain, in order to claim, voila!, that their own viewpoint has been vindicated or even "proved."

Epistemologically, or from the viewpoint of logical positivism, this makes no sense whatsoever. One does not "prove" anything by process of elimination unless one has already proved, positively, through evidence meeting the standards of scientific proof, that the one remaining explanation is the only one possible. And mumbo jumbo advocates, including the Birthers and Creationists (who I suspect are frequently inside a Venn Diagram with one circle), never come close to proving anything as a positive fact. Thus, their arguments run along these lines: "If evolution cannot explain absolutely everything with no questions remaining (such as explaining to our satisfaction the concept of punctuated equilibria), then God must have created the Universe and all the creatures great and small." This is a form of backing into proof and hoping no one notices the trick. For there is another possible explanation for the existence of the Universe or of modern species: we don't know the explanation.

Similarly, with the Birthers, the reluctance of Obama to release the long form was used as "proof" that he was born in Kenya (this being the only possible alternative explanation for a reluctance to release the form), when such a supposition does not meet, in any sense, the probative weight of two contemporary newspaper accounts or the records maintained in the regular course of business by Kapiolani Hospital.

I suppose the beauty of Know-Nothingism is that it frees you up to take the day off and then tune in Dancing With the Stars, with no heavy reading. God's in his Heaven, Barack's birthplace is in Kenya, and all is right with the world. One windfall from Mr. Obama's decision, however, is that it might be enough to get The Donald out of the race. His "college transcript" attack is pretty lightweight stuff next to the Birther junk, and beyond these "signature issues," The Donald is a badly-coiffed joke. When we have the regular staff in Washington, D.C. bankrupting the country for 30 years running, why do we need to bring in a serial bankrupt from New York City?