Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Steve Cee's Desperation

So Steve finally responds to my allegations that he lied by...trying to cover it up. Here's what he wrote on Christmas Eve:
"I have updated my previous post to include the origional image that was to be posted, but swapped to keep Loren Christopher Collins, Obot lawyer and George Soros little hack’s panties in a wad."

Here's what he added to his original post:
An Obot lawyer, who is too stupid and arrogant to realize that the image above, has been resized, by this blog hosting. Has decided to post a comparison image. The image below demonstrates that the FactCheck people used to verify the COLB were not only inexperienced, but were deceptive as well. They were not qualified to even photograph the document and took every effort to decieve anyone looking at it, just like the questionalbe lawyer. Regardless of the level of focus that the deranged lawyer is pawning, there are no defects from the embossing that are visible in other images. Since he can’t explain that away, he’s throwing a temper tantrum.

UPDATE 12/24/2009 As I have posted a new post today I am inserting the origional image that was to go here. Here is the one that I changed from to keep the Obot’s off-guard. The original was to have stated ‘Some degree of being in focus’ and an cropped section showing that even the date was visible.


First off, Steve's attempt to blame his blog host for the image resizing completely ignores the fact that Steve, himself, chose not to link to FactCheck's image or website. If WordPress resizes uploaded images (and I'm not sure that it does), Steve still knew that he was presenting his readers with a shrunken image and ONLY a shrunken image.

More importantly, Steve's being inconsistent with his stories. On December 21, he wrote that he himself resized the image: "In reality, I resized the image for posting only a reference image only..." Then three days later, he blames the blog host: "An Obot lawyer, who is too stupid and arrogant to realize that the image above, has been resized, by this blog hosting."

Second, Steve proposes that this new image is the "origional" that he intended to post, but apparently didn't in an effort to smoke me out, or somesuch nonsense. This, of course, ignores that the new words "Some degree of being" are in a different font than "In focus." And they're a different font size. And it means he randomly capitalized "In" for no reason. Yes, I'm sure that this was the original image, and that what we don't have here is Steve altering the image and making up a story to explain away his lie.

Take a step back, and consider the tale that Steve is spinning at this point. He's proposing that his plan was:

1) Before December 13, Steve draws up an illustration saying "Out of focus" and "In focus" in one font, and "Some degree of being" in another font.
2) Steve posts on December 13 the image without "Some degree of being," in the hopes that Loren will spot the lie and call Steve out on it.
3) Loren responds to Steve's post, pointing out where Steve lied in his labeling.
4) Steve makes a follow-up post a week later on December 21 that mocks Loren, but doesn't share this "origional" image and doesn't address the lying allegation.
5) After Loren points out Steve's lie again, then on December 24, eleven days after the original post, Steve posts the "origional" image and declares that it was always his Machiavellian plan to share a phony image in order to get Loren to call Steve a liar and thus link to Steve's page.

Of course, such a ridiculous plan should be no surprise coming from someone whose central thesis involves some vague but elaborate scheming where the Obama campaign swaps out two or three different documents during a FactCheck photo shoot, and the FactCheck folks don't notice.

No wait...the FactCheck agents being innocent dupes was Steve's old conspiracy theory. His new conspiracy theory is: "The image below demonstrates that the FactCheck people used to verify the COLB were not only inexperienced, but were deceptive as well. They were not qualified to even photograph the document and took every effort to decieve anyone looking at it." I admit, it makes it difficult to shoot down someone's conspiracy theory when they keep changing it.

Also, in an effort to fabricate a reason why he lied in the original image, Steve concocts an explanation that totally defeats his initial reason for posting it. Steve's point was that the impressed seal ought to be visible because part of the document was in focus; if the whole document is out-of-focus, only in varying degrees, then that's precisely what I said to start with, and which he called "lies."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Strike Three for Steve

In no time flat, Steve responded to my post from yesterday. Fortunately, he doesn't have much substantive to say, so this post will be considerably shorter than the last one. In fact, I'll do it bullet-point style.

- Steve begins "A lawyer claiming to know ’something’ about images is pawning himself as a legitimate authority on the Obama COLB forgery." That's absurd. I'm not claiming to be an authority on any forgery. That would require there to BE a forgery.

- In response to where I pointed out that Steve provided only a relatively tiny version of a FactCheck image that obscured the fact that his labels were blatantly untrue, Steve writes "I resized the image for posting only a reference image only and allowed the readers to judge for themselves by downloading the FactCheck image off FactCheck’s own web-site."

I suppose Steve "allowed the readers" to do that, to the extent that he didn't somehow prohibit them from doing so. But Steve did not provide a link to the FactCheck image in question. Nor did he provide a link to the FactCheck page where it appeared. Or the name or date of the article to narrow a search. The only way Steve's readers could download the FactCheck image would be if they first searched out and located the image for themselves, without any guidance whatsoever from Steve. And they had no reason to do that, since Steve gave no indication that the FactCheck image was any better or larger than the one he was sharing. Meanwhile, Steve had EVERY reason to hope that his readers wouldn't go to that trouble, because if they did, they would discover that he'd lied in his labeling.

- Similarly, notice that when I respond to a post of Steve's, I include a link to his post, so that my readers can read his comments for themselves. By contrast, notice that when Steve responds to me, he does not post a link to my post, or to this blog, or even mention this blog by name. This way he keeps his readers in the dark, and they have no clue what he's responding to apart from how Steve himself presents it.

- By not linking to my post, Steve successfully avoids having to ever address the fact that he flat-out lied when he called the image "In focus." He just glosses over that entirely. He also avoids having to address his use of inconsistent standards and the other problems I pointed out.

- Steve again asks "Why is ALL the lettering, including the date indicated, but no evidence of the SEAL." Because common sense should tell you that a lightly impressed stamp, on the reverse side of patterned paper, may not be visible in a blurry photo. In the one blurry photo out of nine FactCheck photos, the seal isn't visible. It's that simple. Running a photo through color filters doesn't unblur it.

- Naturally, once again, Steve says I "misrepresent the facts, and that he's caught me in "lies, fraud, and deciet." And once again, he totally fails to identify a single actual lie or fraudulent statement.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 'Duh' of Steve

I don't intend to make a habit of rebutting Birther 'proofs,' but when one is issued directly at me, how can I not?

Following my critique of Steve Christiansen's excuse for document analysis, Steve wrote a response post with a bunch of new graphics that he claims support his conspiracy theory. I'll jump right in with his first reference to me:
Now we look at an what an Obama supporter claims as false representation on the FactCheck image.

To quote his lies; “Now a real expert, or even just a person of reasonable common sense, would chalk this up to factors like how the photo isn’t in focus, making it difficult to see a pressure seal, or how it might be obscured somewhat by the shadow. Here, for instance, is how one portion of this JPEG looks, without any modification”



The is attempting to take a portion, at the furthest point of the image and state that, ‘that area represents the entire image’.

Steve then links to this COLB picture, which he observes has portions of the document that are in focus and others that are out of focus, and to this image (note: the image below is the exact size of Steve's image, copied from his site):

Steve's utilization of the first image demonstrates only one thing: his seeming ignorance of photography. Of course the seal is in focus and the far side of the document isn't; the camera focused on the seal. It wasn't a deep focus image, so at that distance, the far side is unfocused. This is unsurprising and irrelevant to the issue at hand. And if Steve is aware of the focal issues presented by this shot, it's not clear why he's sharing it at all.

As for the second image, Steve simply resorted to lying. See where he wrote "In focus" in blue on the image? Total hogwash. The reason I pointed out that the above image is the largest size that Steve shared is because the FULL size of the image (as posted by FactCheck and as linked to by myself) conclusively shows that Steve is full of it. The portion of the COLB that Steve calls "In focus" is anything but; only because he shrunk the photo down to approximately three percent of its original size, and conveniently failed to link to the original image size, he's made it impossible for readers to see those details.

Seriously, to illustrate just how much Steve shrunk the image to suit his purposes, and how ridiculously small his image is compared to FactCheck's original photo, here's a side-by-side comparison of how Steve's image compares to the size of the original FactCheck image it's derived from:



And the part that Steve considers and calls "In focus," but doesn't provide a full-size image of? It would be plainly obvious that it is NOT in focus, if Steve had linked to the actual size. But of course, to do that would have contradicted his own lie. So here it is, actual size:



If you think that image is in focus, please make an appointment to see your opthamologist. If you agree that it isn't, then you understand that Steve flat-out lied to his readers. Here, for comparison, is a crop of the same text from the other FactCheck photo that showed the whole document, again actual-size, and this time in focus:



Steve then goes on at length about how the inked date stamp on the back of the COLB doesn't appear to have affected the rattan lines on the document's front. He appears to consider this to be decisive evidence that the document is a forgery, but it's not clear why. It's an ink stamp; it shouldn't affect the texture of anything.

Then he says "The same anomolies and marking across the ‘Blank Hawaiian Template’, The DailyKos image, indicating that the same image was used to create them." Well, yes. Obviously. The 'Blank Hawaiian Template,' as Steve calls it, was made from Obama's COLB, so it shows the same marks. It's not like there was a blank COLB independently floating around the internet. Steve doesn't say where this 'Blank Template' comes from, but IIRC, it was the creation of Jay McKinnon, who admitted creating it from Obama's COLB.

He also repeats his previous claim (which he pontificated on at length in his original 'analysis') that the COLB as posted on Kos should be considered a forgery because you can't see any bleedthrough from the signature inkstamp. Of course, in another post he treated another COLB that similarly had no signature bleedthrough as unquestionably legitimate, which just serves to remind readers that Steve and other Birther 'analysts' pick and choose their evidentiary standards as they go along, without regard for consistency.

Well, that's about it. Inconsistent standards, imagined errors, and flat-out fibs. That's the kind of quality research you can expect from Steve.

Oh, and one final note. Steve repeatedly claims that I have engaged in lies or the misrepresentation of facts. However, he is remarkably vague as to what those specific falsehoods are. He is incapable of saying 'Loren said X, and that's false because the truth is Y,' because I haven't actually lied. So instead, he throws around the allegation as a broad charge, and doesn't back it up with any specifics.

By contrast, where I have above accused Steve of lying, I have been most specific. I identified the specific falsehood he posted ("In focus"), I demonstrated with superior evidence that it was indeed false, and I pointed out that Steve shrewdly manipulated image sizes and omitted relevant links so that his readers would not be able to tell that he was lying without searching out the original image that he didn't provide. And that's just one difference between me and Steve; he may be willing to throw around the 'liar' accusation just to avoid addressing arguments, but if I claim that a statement is a lie, I'm going to actually substantiate that claim.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Glee," on Birtherism

Glee had its fall finale last night. Songs were sung, rewards were reaped, and secrets were revealed. And one of those secrets was that cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester is a Birther.

OK no, not really. But she does talk like a Birther. When the exchange below took place, I was immediately struck by how perfectly it reflected Birther reasoning. It even involves the disputed authenticity of a document. The only significant difference is that the viewer knows that Sue is being disingenuous in her arguments; one can only guess at how disingenuous any given Birther is.

To set up the quote, first a little Glee backstory for the uninitiated. Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch) leaked the school's Glee Club's set list for a local competition to two rival schools. The other schools eventually admitted their complicity in this cheating, and the principal is confronting her as she continues to deny her involvement:
Principal Figgins: "Sue, the directors, both from the Jane Adams Academy and Haverbrook School for the Deaf, have informed me that you gave them the New Directions set list."

Sue: "You have no proof."

Principal Figgins: "The set lists were on Cheerios letterhead."

Sue: "I didn't do it."

Principal Figgins: "They say 'From the Desk of Sue Sylvester'."

Sue: "Circumstantial evidence."

Principal Figgins: "They're written in your handwriting!"

Sue: "Forgeries."

Principal Figgins: "Sue, there is an orgy of evidence stacked against you!"

Sue: "Well, you've clearly made up your mind not to be impartial in this case."

Birthers: the Sue Sylvesters of the political world. Great for laughs, but miserable company.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Scrutinizing Steve C.'s Conspiracy Theory

*Sigh*

You demonstrate that a supposed "credentialed [forensic] examiner" is anything but, and what reaction do you get? 'Well, he may not actually be an expert, but that doesn't mean his material isn't correct!' And in a very broad sense, that's true.

Granted, it's true in the same sense that the local guy who's "proved" that George W. Bush detonated the World Trade Center *could* be correct, and all the real scientific experts are simply wrong, but it's theoretically possible.

So if only to preempt further complaints that I haven't actually addressed Steve's material, here's a cursory look at why it's conspiratorial hackwork.

(And to be clear upfront, it's a cursory look because I'm not wasting my time taking down every wrongheaded point made over the course of 21 pages.)

Let's just skip straight to the conclusion:
My original conclusion stands, that the Date on the COLB was printed on the top when the document was created, by printing out the ‘Fight the Smears’ COLB and then attempting to apply an embossed seal to the document in an attempt to produce a forged Birth Certification. However they produced two completely different documents one with a SEAL and the other without one. I believe they noticed that during the process that the document was missing a SEAL, applied one, and did not catch the image without one till it was too late and already posted.

They are forgeries, plain and simple.

Forgery #1 - The COLB posted on 'Fight the Smears' - No Stamp, No Seal, evidence of tampering and forgery. Sandra Ramsey Lines, Ron Polirak, and myself, among others.

Forgery #2 - FactCheck - Two different COLB's one with a SEAL, however NOT an Official State of Hawaii Department of Health SEAL

Forgery #3 - FactCheck - COLB without a SEAL, image of COLB being held up. High resolution and NO indicating of a SEAL.

Fom this closing breakdown, it's hard to tell how many different forgeries Steve is proposing the Obama campaign generated. "Forgery #2," for instance, is described as being "Two different COLB's." And right after he writes "they produced two completely different documents one with a SEAL and the other without one," explicitly suggesting two "completely different documents," he then immediately turns around and says "they noticed that during the process that the document was missing a SEAL, applied one," which suggests only one paper that was altered mid-photo-shoot. In other words, his theory is not even consistent from sentence to sentence.

It was also hard to tell from his writeup whether Steve was proposing that FactCheck was complicit in this alleged conspiracy of his, or whether he was proposing that the FactCheck staffers were snookered by the Obama campaign. Thankfully, he clarified his position at RSoL:
"And because of this, If I had been one of the two at FactCheck, I would have seen the discrepincies of the COLB and stated them at that time."

So Steve's thesis is clearly that the FactCheck staffers were fooled. Now in its article, FactCheck wrote:
We beg to differ. FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate...Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false...

[W]e can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it's stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates).

Thus, the FactCheck staffers were not foolishly ignorant of the verification marks on the COLB, as Steve would like to pretend they were. They knew to look for the seal. They knew to look for the signature. They said both were there. They took photos and posted them.

Steve's theory, quoted above, is that the Obama campaign gave the FactCheck staffers a COLB without no seal, and that FactCheck didn't notice its absence. Steve goes on to claim that after FactCheck took one or more photographs, the Obama campaign realized the document they'd given FactCheck didn't have a seal (something, according to Steve's theory, FactCheck *itself* hadn't realized yet). The Obama campaign then took the unsealed COLB away from the FactCheck staffers, applied a seal, and gave it back to the FactCheck staffers, who proceeded to take more photos without noticing that the document had been given a brand-new seal right in the middle of their photo shoot.

To reiterate highlight some of the absurdities of this theory:

- Steve proposes that the Obama campaign gave FactCheck photographers a COLB without a seal, during a photo shoot that was supposed to prove the COLB was *real*.
- Steve proposes that the Obama campaign gave FactCheck this unsealed COLB despite having a fake Hawaiian seal handy.
- Steve proposes that the FactCheck staffers managed to examine the COLB and start taking photographs without noticing that the seal was missing.
- Steve proposes that the Obama campaign interrupted the photograph-taking, took away the COLB from FactCheck, then either took it out of the room or applied a seal in the same room, and then gave it back to FactCheck, and the FactCheck staffers didn't find this suspicious or worthy of comment.

And how many photos does Steve allege managed to get past quality control without signs of a seal? Only one. Out of nine photos that FactCheck put online of the COLB, only one shows the area where the seal should be, but where it's not immediately visible to the naked eye.

Now a real expert, or even just a person of reasonable common sense, would chalk this up to factors like how the photo isn't in focus, making it difficult to see a pressure seal, or how it might be obscured somewhat by the shadow. Here, for instance, is how one portion of this JPEG looks, without any modification:



And he expects to see a lightly impressed seal? But no, in Steve's world, "It's blurry" isn't good enough; the seal isn't immediately visible because there was a conspiracy, multiple forgeries, and some remarkably foolish photographers.

It doesn't help Steve's case that he also uncritically repeats the old Polarik canard that the COLB posted at FightTheSmears does not have a seal. This claim always depended upon accepting that the Obama campaign would have sent a COLB image WITH a seal to the Daily Kos (which they did), and then turned around and posted a COLB image WITHOUT a seal on their own site. Why would they post an inferior image to their own site? I imagine that's a question that simply doesn't occur to someone who's willing to believe that they'd produce an inferior image to visiting photographers.

The only difference is that because the FightTheSmears image is considerably smaller than Kos's, the seal is considerably more difficult to see. Even at best only part of the circular seal can be pulled out, but it's there.

I'm not going to go through each of Steve's individual "proofs," but I do want to single out one claim of his. Steve alleges that one or more COLBs (he's somewhat vague on this point) lacks the signature stamp of Alvin Onaka. Here is the image of the back of the COLB, showing the signature stamp:



Nearly 2/3 of his 21-page paper is devoted to this signature stamp. Steve appears to allege that not only did the FactCheck staffers fail to notice that they took photos of a COLB with a seal AND a COLB without one, but that they also failed to notice that they took photos of COLBs with and without a signature stamp.

Again, where Steve sees conspiracies and multiple forgeries, the answer is in simple common sense. The date stamp and signature stamp were, naturally, made with two different stamps. The date stamp, you'll notice, is, on the back, darker and crisper than the signature stamp. The signature stamp is noticeably lighter, and almost failed to imprint at the top middle. And whereas the darker date stamp is just barely visible on the front of the COLB, the lighter signature isn't visible at all. Steve wrote "There is NO additional ink bleed through in the ENTIRE area," and this is true. The signature stamp simply didn't bleed through. There's no need for a more complicated, conspiratorial explanation.

So there you have it. Steve's analysis and theory may be considerably shorter than Polarik's, but it may be even more absurd and unscientific. That's quite a feat.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Steve Christensen, the Birther "Genealogist"

Birthers love their experts. Specifically, they love anonymous experts. People who produce pseudo-academic work supporting the Birther cause while claiming to possess expert credentials, but who don't produce such things as their real names or any evidence of the expert credentials they claim they have.

TechDude was the original forensic expert darling of the Birther crowd, claiming to have extensive forensic credentials, but keeping his identity secret. He was eventually exposed as a fraud. After that, Ron Polarik took to creating an expert resume for himself, and for a year was the Birthers' new favorite expert, all while keeping his true identity secret and refusing to produce proof of any forensic credentials. Then he was exposed as a fraud too.

In the last four months, after Polarik was exposed, the Birthers have found themselves yet another document expert: "Steve Cee," a supposed genealogist. And, for a perfect strikeout, the Birthers seem to have fallen for a third fake expert.

Phil at 'The Right Side of Life' recently wrote:
"[Facebook's employees] may be very well credentialed in their chosen fields, but it hardly seems fitting that individuals who are not trained in the science of document forensics — like four otherwise credentialed examiners have been -"

Phil's link goes to Parker "Beckwith" Shannon's TheObamaFile, where the four "credentialed examiners" who are "trained in the science of document forensics" that Phil mentions are: "Dr. Ron Polarik," Sandra Ramsey Lines, "a genealogist," and "MissTickly -- aka TerriK.

Note that three out of four of Phil and Parker's "credentialed examiners" don't even have real names. TechDude thankfully isn't listed, but Shannon still falsely claims that Polarik/Polland "specializes in computer graphics," which everyone but Shannon has known to be flatly untrue for months.

One of these "credentialed examiners" isn't even listed with his fake name. Of the "genealogist," Shannon writes:
A third investigator, a genealogist, says The FactCheck.org Certificates of Live Birth (COLB) have been an issue since they were posted...

This genealogist concludes the COLBs are forgeries, plain and simple.

Forgery #1 - The COLB posted on 'Fight the Smears' - No Stamp, No Seal, evidence of tampering and forgery. Sandra Ramsey Lines, Ron Polirak, and myself, among others.

Forgery #2 - FactCheck - Two different COLB's one with a SEAL, however NOT an Official State of Hawaii Department of Health SEAL

Forgery #3 - FactCheck - COLB without a SEAL, image of COLB being held up. High resolution and NO indicating of a SEAL.

This post isn't about the "genealogist's" "research." But I do want to point out that his theory here is that Obama's people gave the FactCheck employees two different birth certificates during their visit, and that the FactCheck employees were either in on the scam or were too utterly incompetent to notice that they were given one document with a seal, which was then taken away, and then they were given a second document without a seal.

The "genealogist" behind this absurdity went by "Steve Cee". On July 28, 2009, The Steady Drip shared this material and wrote "This information was provided by Steve Cee, a genealogist, who has also authored this new analysis...Steve's contribution adds to Dr. Ron Polarik's extensive forensic examination." As it happened, the very next day "Dr. Ron Polarik" was revealed to possess precisely ZERO forensic credentials. "Steve Cee's" work is admittedly on par with that.

Where did The Steady Drip get the "genealogist" label? Two days earlier he'd written "Steve Cee decided to confirm if Klein's statement were factual and sent a series of emails to the State of Hawaii...Identifying himself as a genealogist, Steve specifically asked..." Steve is identified as a "genealogist" because when he'd called e-mailed and harassed some folks in Hawaii, that's what he called himself on the phone in the e-mail.

Enough backstory, let's get on with the real story. Who is the "genealogist" that Parker Shannon considers an expert and who RSoL Phil deems a "credentialed examiner" with forensic training?

He is Steve Christensen of Boise, Idaho. You may know him as "ch22240" or as "syc1959," the latter being the handle that he uses to post at RSoL itself, and the name he used to sign his "research". He runs Nobarack08 and he posts Birther YouTube videos. And at 50 years old, he's in the same age demographic that so many vocal Birthers seem to be.*

Is Steve a credentialed examiner, like Phil claimed and like Steve wants you to believe? No. Does he have forensic experience, like Phil claimed and like Steve wants you to believe? No more than Polarik does. He is yet another in a line of anonymous pseudo-experts that the Birthers keep putting their uncritical faith in.

Two months ago, I confronted Steve with this, and asked for his credentials. Here is how the conversation went down:
Me: "Everyone who cites your paper online offers only "genealogist" as your expertise. Now I rather enjoy genealogy, but what in your genealogy past gives you experience in digital image examination?"

Steve: "You’d be surprised at my past and experience."

Me: "So surprise me."

Steve: "You will be!"

Steve then promptly disappeared from FreeRepublic for two months, starting that very day. No credentials have been proffered in the eight weeks since. After Phil stated that Steve is a "credentialed expert" the other day, Steve made several dozen posts in the comments thread without even hinting that he was one of Phil's supposed forensic experts.

Finally, Steve was asked again for these alleged credentials. His response? "All in good time. When the time is right." He then promptly started talking about Perkins Coie and citizen grand juries and criminal conspiracies and Obama's poll numbers and Bill Richardson quotes and Obama's birth certificate from the 1970s and how complaints aren't being dismissed on the merits...all in the same post. When confronted with his months of deception, his response was not only to change the subject, but to attempt to change it to as many different subjects as possible.

When given one more chance to say whether he actually has any background in forensics, Steve wrote only: "I will not divulge this." Steve is apparently content with Phil describing him as a "credentialed examiner" with training in forensics, but adamantly refuses to provide so much as a scintilla of actual credentials to anyone to support this description.

When Steve has felt prompted to cite his credentials under other circumstances, unprompted by skeptics such as myself, what has he offered up? Only that he is a former service member (though he doesn't state which branch, or when or how long he served), and that he joined Oath Keepers earlier this year. That's quite a resume, isn't it?

As for his status as a "genealogist," there is no Steve Christiansen who is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and he has actually described his own expertise as follows: "I've done some genealogy research myself." In other words, he's as much of a genealogist as I am.

So there you have it. Steve Christensen is a man who doesn't want you to know what credentials he may or may not possess, but who wants you and everyone else to believe that he really does have secret awesome credentials that totally validate his wild conspiracy theories. He's Polarik 2.0, and until he produces proof of expertise that support his claims of expertise, he is no more an "expert" than the next anonymous hack.

_____________________________________________

*In case you've never noticed, your most vocal and proactive Birthers were almost universally born before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Leo Donofrio is practically the baby of the group, and he's 44.

+ Edited for spelling.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Emmerich de Vattel vs. Plural Nouns

It is generally agreed among Birthers, and has been all but conceded by others, that Emmerich de Vattel wrote that two citizen parents were required for a child to be a "natural-born citizen."

But did he really? Stop and look at the exact quote cited:
"The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens."

Birthers automatically treat "of parents" as meaning "each of two parents." But that is not a given. The subject ("natives") is plural, so it stands to reason that "parents" should be plural too. While grammatically correct, "The natives...are those born in the country of at least one parent who is a citizen" is more than a bit stilted.

Vattel points out in his next sentence that "children naturally follow the condition of their fathers." So it would be perfectly accurate to rephrase the above Vattel sentence to read:
"The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of fathers who are citizens."

Fathers. Plural. Now, does that mean that a "natural born citizen" must have multiple fathers? Of course not. But multiple children must have multiple fathers; similarly, multiple children must have multiple parents.

As a point of comparison, consider the Sons of Confederate Veterans. How do they describe themselves?
"The SCV is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans, and the oldest hereditary organization for male descendants of Confederate soldiers."

"of Confederate soldiers." Does this mean that to be a member, you must be descended from more than one Confederate soldier? Obviously not. (Though I would still qualify, being descended from five.)

Similarly, there's the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They write:
"Membership is open to women no less than 16 years of age who are blood descendants, lineal or collateral, of men and women who served honorably in the Army, Navy or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America, or gave Material Aid to the Cause."

"of men and women." So read as literally as Birthers read Vattel, not only must a Member be descended from multiple Confederates, rather than just a single one, but this says she must be descended from both Confederate men AND Confederate women. While, when taken in the context of other pages from the website, is clearly not the case.

This same tortured reading applies to virtually every 'two-citizen-parent' citation that Birthers have. Vattel, taken in context, reflects a definition of "native" that is governed wholly by the father's citizenship status, without regard to the mother's. It is a definition from a bygone era. If the Birthers wish to claim that in 1961 America, a child could be born whose citizenship and eligibility for the Presidency was governed only by the child's father and with no consideration given to the mother, then they should be upfront about it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why I Believe Obama is a Natural-Born Citizen

Buried in the comments section of a Jay Bookman blog post at ajc.com, I've had a conversation with one fellow who asked me why I believe Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen. When he didn't like my first answer enough, here's what I wrote:

---

I’m going to do it kinda bullet-point style, to keep things relatively short. So here goes. These first several assume birth in Hawaii, and all take into account the 'two-citizen-parent' theory of natural-born citizenship; I will deal with the Kenyan birth allegations further down.

- I have a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary in front of me. It defines “natural born citizen” as “A person born within the jurisdiction of a national government.” It then defines “naturalized citizen” as being “A foreign-born person who attains citizenship by law.” It does not list any other kinds of citizen, only by birth or naturalization. It does not require two citizen parents. This points to the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen.

- I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a law degree. Everything I learned in school, both undergraduate and graduate, points to the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen, and nothing I learned suggests otherwise.

- Two hundred plus years of electoral precedent and the public understanding of what constitutes a natural-born citizen (for instance, see WWI draft cards), and the lack of any prior eligibility challenges akin to the one made against Obama (and there have been other Presidential candidates who were not born to two citizen parents) supports the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen.

- The consensus opinion of the legal scholarly community as to the meaning of “natural-born citizen” supports the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen. Whereas there are essentially zero legal scholars who have given support to the ‘two-citizen-parent’ theory, which suggests that it is a fringe and wholly Constitutionally unsupported theory.

- Obama faced seven opponents in the Democratic primary, in addition to Republican opponent John McCain. All of them had election lawyers. Out of those eight, precisely zero of them ever so much as accused him of being ineligible for not being a natural-born citizen. Even Hillary, who refused to concede until the eleventh hour and who would have been the automatic Democratic nominee if he had been declared ineligible, never even suggested that he was ineligible. This supports the conclusion that he is a natural-born citizen.

So assuming a birth in Hawaii, my belief that Obama is a natural-born citizen is supported by the preeminent legal dictionary, my own legal and political education, two centuries of precedent, the legal scholarly community, and everyone who had a personal stake in Obama’s eligibility status.

As for why I believe he was born in Hawaii:

- The Certification of Live Birth says Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. The newspaper birth announcements say he was born in Hawaii. The director of the Hawaii State Department of Health has said “Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii.” Obama has consistently said, for 48 years, that he was born in Hawaii.

- There was never *any* doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii until spring 2008, four years after his name started getting mentioned as a Presidential contender, and over a year after he started his campaign. And the claims that he was born outside Hawaii were started and spread by anonymous and pseudonymous folks online, without any sources to back up their claims that ‘I heard that his mother had gone to Kenya…’ And in the year and a half since those initial rumors started being written online, not a single bit of evidence has turned up that the rumor-authors could have been relying on.

- Evidence ’supporting’ a Kenyan birth has consistently proven to be falsified, manipulated, grossly exaggerated, or non-existent. Meanwhile, the ‘experts’ who claimed that the Hawaii evidence was faked or forged consistently turned out to be liars and frauds themselves.

- And as obvious as this seems, I feel I should say it anyway: the notion that Ann Dunham traveled from Hawaii to Kenya to give birth is really, really stupid. I could mince words here, but I’m not. It’s just absurd on its face, and it’s barely even internally coherent. It’s a 10,000 mile plane trip from a first-world nation to a third-world nation, with no direct flights in-between. (By contrast, Joe Biden was born just a 200-mile car trip from Toronto, but no one claims he could’ve been born in Canada, even though it’s 1/50 the distance and could be driven in a few hours.) Until spring 2008, there had never been so much as the suggestion that Ann Dunham had ever set foot in Kenya during her lifetime, much less while she was pregnant. There is still no actual evidence that she ever traveled to Kenya. She knew no one there, and didn’t speak the language. And for her to obtain a birth registration by August 8, which said that her son was born in Honolulu, would have required a considerable amount of deception and fraud (which of course raises the internal consistency problem of: why go to Kenya in the first place to give birth if you want your child’s vital records to say he was born in Hawaii, and want it so hard that you’re willing to commit fraud?)

So there’s a lot of credible evidence to support a Hawaiian birth, as opposed to a lot of speculation and non-credible evidence to dispute a Hawaiian birth or support a birth anywhere else. There is no more credible reason to doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii than there is to doubt that Joe Biden was born in Pennsylvania, or that Bill Clinton was born in Arkansas, or that Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois. There is simply no reason to demand extraordinary birthplace evidence from Obama that was not demanded of previous candidates or Presidents.

Finally, to preempt any questions as to where my political loyalties lie, I am not a Democrat. I regularly vote Libertarian, and I have rarely voted Democratic for a federal office. I have never voted for a Democrat for President, and I did not vote for Obama last November. Rather, I voted for, and strongly supported, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr. And I fully stand by my choice, because I continue to oppose much of what Obama has done in office. But despite that, I can’t abide denialism, so I find myself forced to defend his eligibility against unsourced, unsubstantiated, and unsupported allegations. It’s something of a Golden Rule thing, really.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lucas Smith is Back

Back in July, I helped expose Lucas Smith, the BS artist who was auctioning on eBay a supposed Kenyan birth certificate for Obama. Smith disappeared for a while, but reemerged in mid-August in a series of WorldNetDaily articles. Amusingly, WND has simultaneously run headlining articles publicizing Smith's claims alongside separate articles declaring that his claims are bogus. Thus, they position themselves to help spread lies and falsehoods while positioning themselves to be able to deny any responsibility for spreading those same lies and falsehoods.

Anyhow, after releasing a couple of incredibly poorly shot videos, Smith has submitted an unsworn declaration in Orly's latest case of Barnett v. Obama. It's not an affidavit, because it is neither sworn nor notarized, but it's a form of federal declaration that is given equal consideration to an affidavit.

So let's consider some of the things Smith as to say in this declaration:
1. My name is Lucas Daniel Smith. I am over 18 years old, am of sound mind and free of any mental disease or psychological impairment of any kind or condition.

2. I am a citizen of the United States of America, I am 29 years old and I was born and raised in the state of Iowa.

Given that Orly is involved with this declaration, it's not terribly surprising that its content is already odd. Including "born and raised" information in a declaration is terribly irrelevant to the subject at hand. On the other hand, not including any information about where Mr. Smith can presently be found is an atypical omission for a declaration of this type. The court, after all, has no clue who "Lucas Daniel Smith" is, or how to locate him.
4. On February 19, 2009 I visited the Coast General hospital in Mombasa, Kenya.

In contrast to this claim in the declaration, back in late June/early July, Smith said "This spring I traveled through Kenya and it's capital Nairobi." Now instead of "this spring," he says he was in Kenya in February.
5. I visited the hospital accompanied by one more person, a natural born citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as “Zaire” and before independence as the “Belgian Congo”).

I see two things in this item worth noting, one questionable, and one just odd. The odd one is the inclusion of the political history of the Congo. Why that belongs in the declaration is beyond me; it's as relevant as the state of Smith's birth.

The other is the mention of Smith's associate, a "natural born citizen" (funny how that phrase makes it in) of the Congo. Based on previous postings by Smith, that person is "Andylenny." Here is a photo of Smith (left) and Andylenny (right):



I don't know the man, and I've never seen him in person, but "Andylenny," to me, looks hardly more like a Congolese citizen than I do. And I have five bucks that says the airport in that photo isn't even on the same continent as Kenya.
6. I traveled to Kenya and Mombasa in particular with the intent to obtain the original birth certificate of Barack Hussein Obama, as I was told previously that it was on file in the hospital and under seal, due to the fact that the prime minister of Kenya Raela Odinga is Barack Hussein Obama's cousin.

A lot to unpack here:

First, there's the matter of Smith's intent. Here he claims he went to Kenya intending to get the birth certificate, having been told previously it was at a Mombasa hospital. Back in June, Smith said that he was in Kenya simply on travel, and that he first started hearing talk about a Kenyan birth certificate when he was already in Kenya.

Second, Smith says he was "told previously" that there was a birth certificate on file with the hospital. Back in June all he said that was he "delved and found" that a birth certificate was on file at the hospital. No substantive difference, but Smith's source both times remains unstated. If he learned it by calling the hospital or contacting the state, you think he'd say so. But given his subsequent claim that he had to pay off a military official to get at the physical document, why would the hospital or the state be so open on the phone? On the other hand, who else in Nairobi would even be able to tell him decisively that he should make a 200+ mile trip to Mombasa? And why is that information not relevant to share while the history of Congo's name-changes is?

Third, Smith repeats the outright lie that Obama and Odinga are cousins. Putting a proven false statement in a court declaration isn't very smart, and it certainly doesn't encourage the reader to trust all of his less-verifiable claims.
7. I had to pay a cash “consideration” to a Kenyan military officer on duty to look the other way, while I obtained the copy of the birth certificate of Barack Hussein Obama.

8. The copy was signed by the hospital administrator.

9. The copy contain the embossed seal.

Kenya had a military officer in the hospital? In the records office? One that he simply slipped a few bucks, which not only allowed him to look at the records, or photograph them, but to walk away with a sealed document that was stamped and signed by the hospital administrator? Seriously?

Then there's the document itself:



There are some aspects of the document I find odd and curious (e.g., the lack of a birthday for Barack Sr.; the complete lack of a residence line for the father; ), but nothing that I can firmly state is hard evidence that it's a fake. But one feature stands out to me as the strongest evidence of fakery: the seal. Not only is it not a government seal for either Kenya or Mombasa, but it's terribly generic. It just says "SEAL" in the center, as though it was a bottom-level embossed sealmaker, bought from an office supplies dealer for about $25.

All in all, nothing totally concrete, but we have a combination of questionable and unsupported assertions along with some statements that are rather inconsistent with claims that Smith himself has previously made. Above I said that I'd put five bucks on the line that the photo of Smith and Andylenny wasn't taken in Kenya. I'd put another five bucks on the line to say that Smith hasn't so much as stepped foot in Kenya in 2009.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

World War I and Natural Born Citizens

When the U.S. government instituted a draft in World War I, a lot of information was collected from prospective draftees, namely young men of draft age. From a genealogy standpoint, the draft cards are unusually handy. In addition to providing details of vital records, they also included information about occupation, specific addresses, and even things like height and hair color.

There were three different types of cards used during the draft, with slight variation in the questioning. One of the cards looked like this one:



This card belongs to Artie Lee Barnwell, who was a first cousin four times removed of mine. (I have images for closer relatives, but this is the largest and most clear one.) I draw your attention to Question #4:
4. Are you (1) a natural-born citizen, (2) a naturalized citizen, (3) an alien, (4) or have you declared your intention (specify which)?

Notice that there are only two categories of citizen: (1) natural-born, and (2) naturalized. That's it. No third category that amounted to 'citizen since birth but not the natural-born variety.' To buy the Birther theory of citizenship is to suggest that a lot of young American men had no applicable box to check on this form.

The interpretation of these categories is also straightforward, as it would have been to the people of the time. For example, my great-great grandfather Ingwer Dockweiler, who immigrated from Germany and subsequently went through the naturalization process, was a 'naturalized' citizen. His son, Fred, who was born in North Dakota, was a 'natural-born' citizen, simply by virtue of being born in North Dakota.

The other two types of draft cards used different language for this question, but serve to bolster this straightforward duality of citizenship. One type of card had five boxes that one could check, three under the heading of 'U.S. Citizen' and two under the heading of 'Alien.'

The three 'Citizen' box options were "Native born," "Naturalized," or "Citizen by father's Naturalization before registrant's majority." The two 'Alien' options were "Declarant" or "Non-Declarant."

The third card had these options:

Native of the United States
Naturalized Citizen
Alien
Declared Intention


So not only did the U.S. Government not have a third category for 'Born in the U.S. but not a natural-born citizen,' but it considered "Natural-born citizen" to be effectively synonymous with "Native born citizen" and with "Native of the United States."

Now I'd love to close out this post with an image or two of young men born in the U.S. to aliens stating on their forms that they were "Natural born citizens." Unfortunately, my own family immigrated long before the 20th century, and I only have images handy for my own family. However, I do have research access. So I'll end with a request.

If you had ancestors who immigrated around 1900 and had a son soon thereafter, a son who would've been draft age in 1917, let me know. I'll pull the draft cards for you, and illustrate that a boy born of aliens in the United States was a natural-born citizen.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Why Polland Is Polarik

My identification of pseudo-expert 'Ron Polarik' as statistician/self-proclaimed dating expert Ron Polland has drawn plenty of attention, but also questions about how I can so conclusively state that they are the same person. After all, my post largely consisted of my declaration that they were one and the same, with their similar names and resumes presented as the only real connection between the two. I initially held back additional evidence in anticipation of Polarik's reaction to my announcement, and now that he has reacted, I offer my proof that they are one and the same.

The initial finding that caused me to draw a connection between 'Polarik' and Ron Polland was this: On June 18, 2008, Polarik made a post on the Hannity.com forums. Two months earlier, on April 4, 2008, a poster with the handle of "DrRJP" posted at DanielPipes.org.

Both posts were strongly anti-Obama, while expressing only reluctant support for McCain. Both made Obama's position on Israel a high priority. Both spoke of Obama participating in fundraisers for Islamic causes. Both criticized Obama for his gradual distancing of himself from Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Both criticized Obama for calling his grandmother a "typical white woman."

And then there was this:

Posted by Polarik:
This fool is totally convinced that his silver tongued rhetoric can sway terrorists as easily as he swayed Democrats and media pundits. It is the height of hubris and chutzpah to think that the most pernicious and persistent enemy to human freedom can be won over with dialogue.

The "Change" that Obama preaches will be one from democracy to demagogery. Heck, this election is not a choice between the "lesser of two evils, "but the choice between someone who will resist evil and someone who will capitulate to it.

Posted by Polland:
Obama is totally convinced that his silver tongued rhetoric can sway terrorists as easily as he sway voters. It is the height of hubris and chutzpah to think that the most pernicious and persistent enemy to human freedom can be won over with dialogue.

The "Change" that Obama preaches will be one from democracy to demagogery. This election is not a choice between the lesser of two evils, but the choice between someone who will resist evil and someone who will capitulate to it.

At the absolute minimum, 'Polarik' is blatantly plagiarizing Polland. The word "demagogery" is even misspelled the same way both times.

Note, however, that this post of Polarik's came only five days after his first appearance on Townhall.com. 'Polarik' did not start calling himself 'Ron' until August. He did not claim a doctorate until September. And he did not claim degrees in "Instructional Systems" and "Educational Research," the specific degrees possessed by Polland, until December.

So 'Polarik' did not start trotting out personal details that mirrored Polland's until, at the earliest, two months after his post at Hannity.com. Polarik cannot claim ignorance of Polland; he was already copying his writing in June 2008. So either he stole his identity, and chose to do so by copying his writing months before he borrowed additional personal info, or they are, and always were, the same person.

So that was the starting point. It was this that allowed me to identify Polland's pre-Polarik online handles, DrRJP and DocRJP.

So what else connects the two?

First, Polarik posted comments on several websites that were able to confirm his IP address. Polland lives in the same metropolitan area associated with this IP address.

Second, both Polland and Polarik have very strong and very similar opinions on Israel. Israel is easily the second most common subject of Polarik posts at FreeRepublic, behind Obama's eligility. Polland has submitted multiple letters to the editor of the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union on the subject of Israel. One letter of Polland's was so inflammatory that the paper actually apologized for running it:
Misinformation, acrimony and a personal attack that could inspire fear for one's safety, marked a recent exchange of letters to the editor. It was typical fodder for the Internet, but a disappointing lapse in the Times-Union's editing process...

There followed a response letter, which Zogby claims was inaccurate, a personal attack on him and perhaps even dangerous in that it could incite those prone to hate crimes to seek him out.

Written by Ron Polland, the letter criticized Zogby for ignoring the fact that terrorists have used American passports to infiltrate Israel. He accused Zogby of "writing denigrating and inflammatory comments about Israel," and much more.

"Shame on him," Zogby said of Polland, a researcher at the University of North Florida who has written several letters critical of Muslims and Palestinians.

"This is the kind of bizarre ranting that occurs on a blog," Zogby said, asking for an apology.

"When it is in print, it has more merit and it should be viewed differently," he said. "I know you have standards. Someone didn't review it carefully."

Mike Clark, editorial page editor, said he regretted the failure to more carefully screen the letter.

In fact, what Polland described as the Palestine Human Rights Commission was actually known as the Palestine Human Rights Campaign...

Polland insisted on the veracity of the things he wrote. Asked to provide references for his assertions, Polland sent links to seven partisan Web sites, including one for the columnist Michelle Malkin. Those sites can be found by entering Zogby's name on a search engine.

"The blogosphere is the source of truth where people can really find out what is going on," Polland said.

Echoes of Polarik's online style abound, don't they?

Third, Polland is 61. Polarik has described his age as "I got my Masters degree before Krawetz was born, and my Doctorate while he was still in grade school," which puts him in his 60s.

Fourth, Polland has degrees in Educational Research and Instructional Systems. Polarik has claimed identical degrees in Educational Research and Instructional Systems. Additionally, Polland is a statistician with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, and Polarik has claimed (apparently false) graduate degrees in Statistics and Psychology.

Fifth, Polland's first name is Ronald. Polarik has said that his real first name is Ronald.

Sixth, both Polland and Polarik have identified themselves as being Jewish.

Seventh, both Polland and Polarik have been occasional commenters at DanielPipes.org. These two posts, for instance, involve both Polland and Polarik discussing how the Muslim concept of 'taqiyya' can allow Obama to be a secret Muslim through public deception.

Eighth, both Polland and Polarik are fans of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." Coincidence, ridiculously overzealous impersonation, or same person? Take your pick.

Ninth, both Polland and Polarik are advocates and defenders of Bulgaria. See #8.

Tenth, and finally, you can actually listen to and compare audio of Polarik and audio of Polland, and watch video of Polarik and video of Polland:



In the 48 hours since my post went online naming Polarik, he has not had much to say on the subject. His only post on the subject had this to say: "Are they saying that I swiped his identity, now? I’ve heard this before. The trolls have been saying for a year now that I have a phony PhD, but this guy’s got a real one." Not a firm, outright denial, but he does refer to Polland as "this guy."

However, that was Polarik's public response. He was not so careful with his words elsewhere. After my post went online, a link to it was sent to Polarik by Steve "koyaan" Eddy, and Polarik responded:



Polarik's response: "Nice try, but that's not who I am."

If true, then Polarik has, for the past year, conducted the most unnecessarily elaborate impersonation of another person that I imagine any of us have ever witnessed. "It was coincidence" is simply not an option, especially after the common writing. And if Polarik is confessing to having effectively impersonated another man for the past year, he's confessing to a most elaborate lie.

Unfortunately, it's not that elaborate. The truth is that when Polarik wrote back "That's not who I am," he was unambiguously, flat-out lying. Ron Polarik is Ron Polland, despite his claim to the contrary. And Ron Polland is Ron Polarik. Once again Polarik has demonstrated his willingness to lie in the face of blatant fact. In only five words Polarik has successfully managed to demonstrate his capacity for dishonesty in even the most straightforward of situations.

Consequently, his 'research' must be viewed through the lens of the fact that it was conducted by a non-expert in computer matters who has a strong history of lying and misrepresenting facts, even about himself. This is precisely the reason why 'TechDude' was summarily dismissed ans non-credible and untrustworthy as soon as he was exposed last year. And it's precisely the reason why 'Polarik' should receive exactly the same treatment now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Meet Ronald Jay Polland

Allow me to introduce you to someone you may already know:



This is Dr. Ronald Jay Polland. He received a BA in Psychology from Florida State University in 1970, a Masters in Educational Research from FSU in 1972, and a Doctorate in Instructional Systems from FSU in 1978. His curriculum vitae lists the other accomplishments he finds noteworthy. He holds himself out as an expert on surveys and market research.

As of a few years ago, he worked in the Office of Institutional Research at the University of North Florida, where he helped conduct surveys and generate statistical reports. For instance, he wrote this Satisfaction Survey of A & P Employees. Polland is not currently listed as being on staff with that office, and it is unclear what his current occupation is.

However, surveys and statistical reports are not the only aspect of his life. He is the "President and Founder of Dr. RJP Consulting, an international consulting firm," begun in 1989. Polland's previous corporation, Innovative Systems, Inc., was involuntarily dissolved by the state of Florida in 1988.

Polland also has deemed himself an expert on dating. As he writes on his MySpace page, he is an "Expert advisor on relationships, romance and .. dating," and describes himself as "a psychologist by training who has devoted part of his life to helping others with questions and issues related to .. relationships, romance and dating."

He writes the following about how he came to find and recognize this expertise:
"His interest and research into Internet dating began in 1995, the year following the end of his 23-year marriage. His search for a woman to date also brought him into contact with many others who had previously used the Internet to find romance. From his own experience and the experience of others, he noted that both men and women often misrepresented themselves on the Internet. He found that people often lied about their age, looks, background, and occupations to others they met online."

With its talk of online misrepresentation, I imagine this passage is more autobiographically ironic than it was perhaps intended to be. Because if you have not realized it yet:

Ron Polland is Ron Polarik.

As you can see, Polland/Polarik does have the educational degrees he named in his anonymous declaration. He does not hold the other degrees he has claimed: a Masters in Statistics, a Masters in Experimental Psychology, and a Doctorate in Experimental Psychology. Additionally, the proper title for his doctorate is Instructional Systems, not Instructional Media.

It is, perhaps, ironic that the one and only time Polarik accurately named and represented his degrees was in a document that he refused to sign either his real name OR his online pseudonym to.

Also, despite specific (yet contradicted) claims that he was writing under his real last name, or that "I never said that Polarik was a pseudonym," it can now be firmly acknowledged that 'Polarik' is not his real name. Which is, of course, in agreement with the other occasions when he did say that 'Polarik' was a pseudonym.

Given Polarik's history, I fully expect him to respond to this revelation by trying to direct attention to the discrete details he's given that weren't lies. The degrees that he does have, as opposed to the ones he made up, or the false insinuations of technical expertise that he tried to draw from his educational resume. If he addresses his naming at all, I expect him to attempt to convince people that a mere history of misrepresentation shouldn't make him untrustworthy. That people shouldn't doubt his expertise in computers and scanners simply because he's not actually an expert in those things.

Because as is readily evident from his C.V., his education, and his work history, Polland/Polarik has no discernible expertise in computer forensics, digital imagery, or document examination.

I feel I should repeat that with emphasis: Ron Polland/Ron Polarik has no discernible expertise in computer forensics, digital imagery, or document examination.

His trade is in statistics and surveys. He has no degrees relating to computers or technology. He is not a computer expert; he has used computers. He is not a scanner expert; he has used scanners. At best, he is an amateur photography buff. He may have a doctorate, true, but it is in a field wholly unrelated to computer technology. Just see Florida State University's program profile. Even had he signed his real name to his 'XXXXXXXXX' declaration, he still would not have qualified as an expert in the field in which he was attempting to provide expert testimony. Polland would never survive a Daubert challenge, and any lawyer would be foolish to attempt to pass him off as an expert on these matters.

Thus, when Polarik was identified by Phil Berg as one of "three (3) Document Forensic Experts", this was a gross misrepresentation. A gross misrepresentation that Polland must not have minded, as he had his reports posted on Berg's website, without any comment or correction.

Contrast this lack of technological expertise with the credentials of one of his leading critics, Dr. Neal Krawetz. Krawetz holds a Bachelor's in Computer and Information Science, and a doctorate in Computer Science. His specialities are in computer security, software development, and computer forensics. Krawetz has given presentations on how digital images can be manipulated.

And what was Polland's response to this critic who has immensely more education and expertise with computers and digital forensics than himself? "[Krawetz is] a charlatan who falsely used his credentials to fool others into thinking that he is more than qualified to critique my research;" "He doesn't know what scanners can or cannot do;" and "I can say, flat-out, that Krawetz does not have anything close to the research skills I have."

Admittedly, Polland is correct on that last point; Krawetz does not have skills that are comparable to Polland's. Krawetz's relevant skills are far, far superior to Polland's. I refer any and all interested readers to Krawetz's criticism of Polarik's 'research'.

If all of this sounds comparable to the TechDude incident from last year, that's because it is. TechDude passed himself off as an expert in a field where he had no such expertise, declared that he'd made a bunch of stunning discoveries, a lot of people bought into his armchair 'forensic research,' and he was eventually exposed as a phony. They both even doctored their evidence. The reason why Polarik defended TechDude right up until the day he was exposed as a fraud was that Polland simply lacked the expertise to recognize TechDude's errors. Errors that Neal Krawetz, incidentally, did not miss.

The key difference between Polarik and TechDude is that TechDude only managed to pull off his charade for a month. Whereas Polland has managed to stretch his out for over a year.

Don't let him continue it any longer.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama's Pearl Harbor that Wasn't

I fear I've been a little one-note in my Birther criticism lately, so let me take the opportunity to take a look back at another headliner of the Obama birth certificate crowd, Larry Johnson.

Slightly under a year ago, on August 9, 2008, Johnson wrote a post entitled "Obama's Impending Pearl Harbor". In it, he writes:
But then there is the Indonesian problem and his Hawaiian birth certificate.

I confirmed today that several teams/individuals visited Jakarta during the last six months to gather up critical documents regarding Barack. It is amazing what money can buy. The information includes details of how Barack made his way to Pakistan. Oh! Did I mention there have been similar efforts underway in Pakistan. There are several lessons and warnings in the John Edwards affair for Obama. First and foremost, you cannot hide your past.

Did I also mention how small Hawaii is? Republican operatives, with help from their own island backers, have unearthed critical information on Obama and are just biding their time until after the convention to drop it on him. Such as? Having a birth certificate that lists you as Barry Soetoro...

Meet the Obamas. You don’t know them? Don’t worry, Republican operatives are loaded for bear and you are going to meet a Barack Obama that was hidden and disguised during the Democratic primary. And when the introduction is over the Obama supporters will wish the only thing they had to worry about was a video with Michelle saying disparaging things about caucasians.

Dems. You’ve been warned. Don’t be surprised when the attacks come.

Notice that Johnson goes so far as to say he has "confirmed" at least some of this information. So, looking back a year later, how accurate were Johnson's predictions?

Destructive revelations and critical documents about Obama's trip to Pakistan that were unearthed by teams sent to Jakarta? Nope, never materialized. Johnson is 0-for-1.

Critical information on Obama's life in Hawaii found by Republican operatives? Nope, never materialized. 0-for-2.

A birth certificate giving Obama's name as 'Barry Soetoro'? Nope, never materialized. 0-for-3.

Ooooh, strikeout. Plus, I don't recall any surprise revelations in the last three months of the campaign that would've put the infamous "whitey" tape to shame. I hope Larry's found some more reliable sources.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Polarik's Faked Forgery

I made it clear previously that I have no intention of meticulously debunking hundreds of pages of argument that "proves" Obama's birth certificate was forged out of two or more real Hawaiian COLBs, one of which may or may not have been Patricia DeCosta's, any more than I ever felt like debunking the books' worth of material from 9/11 Truthers who claimed that the photographic evidence "proved" the Pentagon was hit by a missile and not a plane. I'm especially not going to do it when the person presenting the argument hasn't produced any real forensic credentials, and yet who would fall back on those non-existant forensic credentials as to why my rebuttal shouldn't be trusted anyway.

After all, I have no forensic credentials. I'm an attorney. Granted, I have years of experience with computers, printers, and scanners, and I've read a lot of web pages and even built a few, and while that may be enough for Polarik to claim he's an expert, I have no such pretensions. I'm honest about that upfront.

However, since my central thesis is that Polarik is NOT honest, I'm most interested in demonstrating an occasion when his 'research' was not honest. Particularly one in contrast to an explicit claim of honesty. For instance:
"I HAVE NEVER FABRICATED ONE SINGLE BIT OF MY EVIDENCE. THE ONLY THING I MADE WAS A CLONE OF OBAMA'S FABRICATED COLB. ANYONE WHO SAYS THAT I FABRICATED EVIDENCE IS A LIAR!!"

Amazingly, all three of those sentences are lies.

Polarik's "clone" was presented in this post of July 23, 2008, just a smidgen over a year ago. In it, Polarik claimed that this image...



...was "actually the clone I created more from Michele's 2008 COLB image." He would subsequently describe the creation by saying that "I chose the highest quality image available to me, which was Michele's COLB, and made a bitmap of it. I then edited it, and saved it at a JPG comression of 45 percent."

He went on:
Keep in mind that this is not a point-for-point clone of the Kos image, since I did not proceed from an original, scanned image (a bitmap that has never been seen by the public), but it's darn close, and nobody was the wiser.

How do you tell my clone from Kos?

The "Time of Birth" on my clone is 7:25 AM; on the Kos it's 7:24 PM.

I replaced everything, EXCEPT the funky border. Like I said, the "security" border is not very secure when it can be reproduced by a scanner.

Making an exact "forgery" in terms of the Kos image dimensions, file size, JPG compression and resolution was not an easy job, although I spent less about an hour to make it.

I admit there is one kernel of truth in this: he's right about the times.

To begin with, I'm outright baffled by his claim that his "forgery" is exact in terms of image dimensions and file size. The Kos image is 2427 × 2369 pixels. His "clone" is 640 × 625 pixels. It's slightly under 7% of the size of the Kos COLB.

As for the claims that he created the above image from the "Michele COLB," and that this is "not a point-for-point clone of the Kos image, "I have created some simple illustrations. And I'm going to disclose upfront how I created them. They were all made with GIMP 2.6.6. All the underlying images were taken downloaded directly from the image locations provided on polarik.blogtownhall.com (e.g., the Kos image came from Kos). The underlying images were not manipulated in any way other than resizing, cropping only when noted, and resaving as animated gifs. There was no sharpening, blurring, recoloring, level-adjustment...nothing.

First, I trimmed the excess around the outside of the Michele COLB, to make the borders line up, and resized it to 640x625. I overlaid it with Polarik's "clone" image, allegedly built from it, and got this:

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Very noticeably different. Different background, different word placement, different border, missing seal, etc. Polarik apparently did a *lot* of work to turn one into the other, and he did it in under an hour, no less.

So let's look at an animation of the "clone" and the Kos image. For this, I only had to resize the Kos image; the ratio of 2427 × 2369 pixels precisely equals the ratio of 640 × 625 pixels. Funny how that works.

Anyhow, here's *that* animation:

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Now aside from some difference in clarity, you may not notice at first that *anything* is different. Even the rattan pattern in the background doesn't shift. Compare that to how well Polarik managed to imitate the background in his other attempt at mimickry:

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Admittedly, he claimed this was the work of only two minutes, but that was a self-imposed deadline. In attempting a little digital trickery, this is what he produced, and it's the one point of comparison we have for his Photoshopping skills. It's not a very convincing fake, and it was admittedly made directly from the Obama image.

Meanwhile his "clone" was allegedly made from a completely different image, and yet it's ridiculously close. The rattan background is exactly placed. The border is indistinguishable. Every letter of text is exactly the right size and in exactly the right place (except for five).

However, two significant things are different. One, the reverse date stamp that is evident on the Kos is *almost* missing on the "clone." Almost, but not quite. As you can tell, it's mostly missing, but some remnants of it remain around the bottom of the '7,' '6,' and 'N,' in exactly the right places. It's curious that in making his "clone," Polarik would fake the bottom of those three figures, and be careful enough to place them exactly, but not bother with the whole date stamp.

Second, the time has been changed. Not merely the exchange of a '4' and 'P' for a '5' and 'A,' but the entire time has noticeably moved upwards. And it's conspicuously moved upwards in a way that is mirrored by no other text on the certificate. Here it is cropped and scaled up (notice too how the backgrounds match up):

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So when Polarik claimed he never fabricated evidence, he lied. He fabricated his evidence of this "clone." When Polarik claimed the only thing he made was this "clone," he lied. He never made a clone. He took the original Obama image, made a sloppy and incomplete attempt to cover up the date stamp, replaced the time (in not-quite-the-right-place), shrunk the image down to 7% the size of the Kos, and resaved it. And then he falsely claimed that he had mocked it up from the Michele COLB.

Then again, I could be wrong. He might have replaced the time and THEN sloppily attempted to cover up the date stamp.

At the time a year ago, Polarik promised to publish within days "a step by step guide showing exactly how I produced this clone, as well as posting a sampling of all of the dead ends I reached using the explanations professed by the nonbelievers." Not surprisingly, this "step by step guide" never materialized.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Polarik Recap

OK, so with all I've had to say on the subject of Ron Polarik, what do I think it all adds up to?

Simple: I don't believe he can be trusted. His willingness to outright lie is on full display in his accounting of the TechDude saga; in an attempt to redeem his own reliability after having defended TechDude, he fell back on the claim that he'd simply been lying to everyone for a month.

It's a similar problem with the name. It doesn't matter whether "Polarik" is a screen name or a real name. Lots of people post online under screen names, and I'm sure one of the explanations for is probably true. No, it's the fact that Polarik can't maintain a consistent story as to which it is. Here's a minor detail that really doesn't matter, but he's clearly giving different explanations at different times.

And what about the credentials? Over the last year, it's the credentials that have gotten the most attention. To be perfectly honest though, I don't think they're ALL bogus. In fact, I'd be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the credentials he gave in his anonymous, XXXXXXXXX declaration. Polarik's a liar, but I don't think he's dumb. And it would be very, very dumb to lie about your credentials in an expert legal filing, even anonymously. It's hard to plead mistake or ignorance on that, the way he could claim mistake with his work product.

Besides, if he's going to completely make up credentials to validate his "expert" opinion, he made up the wrong credentials. The claimed degrees aren't any more relevant to document analysis than my J.D., and the claimed experience is frankly rather generic. He's worked with computers, scanners, and printers. Well, so have I. Doesn't make me much of an expert in them though, any more than my frequent use of a microwave makes me an expert in radiology.

I can even conceive of a reason why he wouldn't have mentioned any legitimate credentials earlier. Legitimate credentials are real information, and Polarik has always been very, very careful not to give any personal information about himself. Enough personal information could allow someone to figure out who he really is. Although he's claimed a lot of degrees, he hasn't actually named them often. But I'm skeptical of there being two other Masters and another Doctorate, especially when they DON'T appear in the declaration, so I still find his overall resume untrustworthy.

Frankly, I don't think it costs much to concede he may actually have a single Ph.D., particularly when it's not in the field he's trying to claim expertise. After all, so does Alan Keyes. Orly Taitz has a J.D., and so does Phil Berg. Suffixes may be a sign of simple intelligence (except in Orly's case), but they're not a guarantee of credibility.

So we know that Polarik is willing to lie on a fairly wide range of matters, even on petty matters. We know that he doesn't actually claim any specific expert credentials with regard to digital imagery, image analysis, or forensic studies (even as he chides his critics for not having the technical expertise that he lacks himself). And we know he's adamant about not having his real identity discovered.

We know that he would appear to be partial to a wide array of conspiracy theories, particularly surrounding Obama. In a handful of FreeRepublic posts, he's expressed some anti-vaccine beliefs. He's even suggested that illegal immigrants carry bubonic plague and smallpox, despite the latter having been eradicated 30 years ago.

In the end, the question with Polarik's "evidence," as with any evidence, is whether the source is credible. And Polarik isn't.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Polarik Miscellania

In the course of drudging through old posts, I've come across a few more noteworthy comments from the good "Doctor." I'll be editing my previous posts to add them in, but I wanted to draw some attention to them here first:

Polarik, on his experience:
July 25, 2008 - "I have almost 40 years of computer experience and 20 years of computer graphics experience. That trumps his experience.I was a professor of Research for 15 years,"

I'll cut the guy a break for claiming he's a "professor of research" without specifying any field of research. Still, I'm not aware of any other occasions when "Polarik" claimed professorial experience. For what it's worth, it wasn't until over a month later that he gave himself his first higher education degree. Also note that by this point in late July he had already upped his computer experience to "40 years" from his initial claim of 20 years just five weeks earlier.

You can also add to Polarik's list of skills the capacity to do voice comparison analysis, which he claimed in his posts in the FreeRepublic thread "Is Obama the secret son of Malcolm X?"

Polarik, on TechDude:
July 15, 2008 - "FYI: TechDude and I are collaborating on a full report, along with TD."

& - "TechDude's got the technical details nailed down."

Nothing terribly different here, but these rather strong pro-TechDude posts are from five days earlier than the earliest pro-TechDude comments I previously shared. "Polarik" was firmly in TechDude's camp for a full month before he retconned himself into having always known the guy was a fraud.

There's a hint of '1984'-style history there: "Polarik has always been at war with TechDude."

Polarik, on what he thinks Obama's hiding:
July 24, 2008 - "Here's another thought. I've seen many people spelling Obama as "Obamah." If that is a legitimate variant of his name, the number of letters in each of his three names would be 666!"

July 24, 2008 - "There is more than a distinct possibility that Obama Sr. is an Arab and not an African...How much support would he have if he were Arab-American? Now, that wouyld be a good reason to post a forgery."

August 12, 2008 - "Yes, it is in Obama's case b/c his current COLB bears the name of "Barry Soetoro."

Sep. 17, 2008 - "I swear I think the guy's an operative for Al-Qaeda."

April 14, 2009 - (Do you think Stanley Ann Dunham is not his mother then?) "Stanley, Yes. Obama Sr, No."

June 28, 2009 - "[Obama's Hawaiian grandmother] was cremated like his mother, and scattered, like his mother, and both may be living just fine some place out of sight."

I like putting lots of conspiracy theories back-to-back. I think it helps to see the full picture of someone like Polarik, who apparently believes that Barack Obama is the faux-black/Arab, Indonesian-adopted-and-renamed, al-Qaeda sleeper agent, illegitimate son of Malcolm X, whose mother and grandmother faked their deaths, and who could bear a sign of the antichrist (if only you added extra letters to his name).

Polarik, on moving:
August 12, 2008 - "Fortunately, no, because I've moved twice in the past two months, and I'm going to have my number disconnected, and use my cell in the meantime."

I just thought this was interesting. Especially when taken in connection with his later comments about struggling to make rent.

Polarik, on his name:
August 12, 2008 9:08:08 AM - "Which is why I use my last name and why I'm still here. When you have irrefutable evidence, you let it speak for itself."

So "Polarik" is his own personal real last name. Noted.

And if you're wondering why I included the time of that disclosure, it's because when "Polarik" posted at August 12, 2008 12:57:44 AM in the same thread (a post I previously shared), he claimed his screen name was a pseudonym.

Yes, "Polarik" actually changed his story about his screen name in the 8 hours and 10 minutes between these two posts. When he went to bed in the early hours of August 12, "Polarik" was a pseudonym. When he woke up, "Polarik" was his real last name. He also went to bed defending TechDude, but didn't have much to say the next day. What could have happened on August 12 to cause these 180 degree turnarounds?

Oh...right.