Birthers, for those of you who are not politically savvy or have been living in a cave, are fringe activists and pundits who believe that Barack Obama is not a natural-born American citizen.
These people include wack job Alan Keyes, the perennial Republican presidential candidate; 9/11 conspiracy freakazoid Philip Berg, who is a Democrat, and radio talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh, the de facto head of the Republican Party, and Michael Reagan, adopted son of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. And depending upon his mood on a particular day, Lou Dobbs of CNN.
The birthers grind their axes in different ways: Some claim that the short-form Hawaiian birth certificate (above) that Obama's presidential campaign produced was forged and the notices of his birth in Honolulu newspapers (also above; click on image to enlarge) were plants. Some claim that he was born in Kenya. Some claim that he is a citizen of Indonesia or that he is ineligible because he had dual citizenship (U.S. and British) at birth. But the bottom line for all is that he is not eligible to be president under Article Two of the U.S. Constitution.
Like most conspiracy theories, Obama As Alien collapses under the sheer weight of all of the people who would have had to conspire in the 47 years since Obama's birth. These include his parents, Hawaii state officials, the news media, Secret Service, fact-checking organizations and . . . well, you get the idea.
Oh, and since Obama's momma was an American citizen, he'd qualify anyhow.
Meanwhile, some people who are not card-carrying birthers remain skeptical of Obama's citizenship because, as feminist jerkoff Camille Paglia says, "Simple questions about the certificate were never resolved to my satisfaction." This, Camille baybee, is because the Internet can be like a bad penny that keeps coming around again and reliably regurgitates birther talking points ad nauseam.
Then there is the vile Liz Cheney, a backhanded birther who defends them by noting that they're merely concerned about Obama not defending America. Right.
It is tempting to dismiss birthers as just another bunch of rabid wingnuts who in the face of overwhelming evidence continue to flap their gums, file lawsuits, convene "citizen grand juries" and otherwise make nuisances of themselves. Because most are right-wing Republicans, it also is easy to ridicule them as yet another drag on a political party that is lost deep deep in the wilderness, keeps driving its clown car into walls and otherwise shows no sign of sobering up.
Tempting and easy, but wrongheaded. That is because the poisonous cynicism of this crowd could be the very fuse lit by some locked-and-loaded sicko who believes that violence is the only recourse to remove a man who happens to be the first African-American president.
Lou Dobbs and his complicitous employers at CNN, which is the highest-rated cable news channel and clings piously to the non-existent middle ground, deserve an extra heaping of scorn.
Dobbs, of course, is a died-in-the-wool xenophobe who has an especial hard-on for Mexican immigrants, but his continuing birther blather still comes as a bit of a shock since it's obvious that no one with a big corner office has told him to zip his incendiary lip.
This is not suppressing free speech. It is yanking the soap box from under a man who is fomenting hatred and possibly violence.
PHOTOS (From top): Keyes, Berg, Limbaugh, Reagan, Dobbs