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Monday, October 27, 2008

On-line video and the 2008 election

Check out the Political Video Barometer on Shifting the Debate. That page includes a graph that indicates the political leanings and number of bloggers linking to particular videos related to the 2008 election. Left to right, the horizontal axis reveals videos linked by blogs rated liberal to conservative. The vertical axis reveals the quantity of links.

I clicked on a link for one of the most popular videos on conservative blogs: "Obama Citizenship" (episode 6), which claims to be the October Surprise.

The entire video is an interview with attorney Philip J. Berg, who claims to be a lifelong Democrat and former Deputy Attorney General in Pennsylvania. Berg says Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen and is thus ineligible for the presidency.

It's interesting that so many conservatives are linking to this video. I wonder if they realize that he filed lawsuits to arrest George W. Bush and Dick Cheney because of their involvement in the 9/11 conspiracy?

In any case, the arguments he makes in the video are typical of conspiracy theorists. Some of the "evidence" is based on hearsay, second-hand accounts of what some people supposedly say. Other "evidence" is based on tortured logic. Obama went to school as a child in Indonesia. The country was at war at the time and only citizens could go to school. You get the picture, right?

He claims that images of Obama's birth certificate posted on the internet are fake, basically because one image includes an Hawai'ian state seal and another does not. Snopes sides with Obama.

Berg recently lost his suit to block Obama's candidacy because the court ruled he did not have standing. That's the soft part of the ruling:
In a 34-page memorandum and opinion, the judge said Berg's allegations of harm were "too vague and too attenuated" to confer standing on him or any other voters.

Surrick ruled that Berg's attempts to use certain laws to gain standing to pursue his claim that Obama was not a natural-born citizen were "frivolous and not worthy of discussion."

The judge also said the harm Berg alleged did "not constitute an injury in fact" and Berg's arguments to the contrary "ventured into the unreasonable."
It's good to see that the right-blogosphere is focusing on important matters for the nation's future.

If John McCain was the Democratic candidate, I'm sure many of these same bloggers would be linking to similar theories about his eligibility for the presidency. Interestingly, in the case of McCain, the facts are clear about where he was born. Any uncertainty is based on the legal question as to whether a person is a "natural born citizen" if delivery occurs in a U.S. military hospital in the Panama Canal Zone.
According to a State Department manual, U.S. military installations abroad cannot be considered "part of the United States" and "A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth."
Prominent legal scholars, including Harvard's Larry Tribe, say that McCain has nothing to fear.

It's easy to imagine the right blogosphere sneering at Tribe's defense of a Democratic McCain.

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