Top ten lists are usually done when editors can't find anything more interesting - so in light of Breitbart.com's senior editor Ben Shapiro's refusal to vet Mr. Obama's origin and citizenship, herewith the top 10 insane, unfounded, conspiratorial, and generally absurd Obama history questions professional journalists don't think serious people should ask.
The birth certificate and COLB cited by the Obama campaign organization were both issued by the State of Hawaii and reflect documentation available to the state.
However.. the digital records management software apparently used by Hawaii to produce the long form image does not meet Hawaiian legal standards and incorporates numerous artifacts suggesting that the documents digitized by the state as part of its electronic records initiative had been either altered or created during the 1980s.
Bottom line? we don't know whether or not source documentation for the birth certificate exists and, if it does exist, we don't know whether or not it has been compromised. What we do know is that Mr. Obama continues to prevent public access to whatever documents may exist, and that there are serious inconsistencies in the claims and artifacts produced by, or on behalf of, the campaign.
Mr. Obama has claimed to have been born in Kenya, at Queens hospital in Honolulu, and at the Kapiolani center in Honolulu - but none of the three locales he's cited has yet produced supporting documentation.
The only person still alive who claims to have been present at his birth, a paternal grandmother, swears it took place in Kenya. The only person still alive who claims to have seen him as a near new born in the custody of both birth parents in Hawaii, Democrat Neil Abercrombie, retracted the memory after others proved it absurd.
The COLB, the long form image, Mr. Obama after late 2007, and two co-temporaneous newspaper announcements all point to his birth somewhere in Honolulu on August 4th, 1961.
Bottom line? there's no public information of sufficient substance to support an opinion.
If Mr. Obama Sr. was his father, then the laws of England, Kenya, The United States, and Indonesia would all see him as inheriting British, not American, citizenship at birth.
However.. his mother's subsequent marriage to an Indonesian muslim would not have been legal in Indonesia unless she first abjured, for herself and any dependent children, the British citizenship she would have been seen to hold if local authorities saw her as previously married to Mr. Obama sr.
Bottom line? at birth? only if the parents were legally married; after his time in Indonesia? probably not.
Assuming that he was born in Hawaii, to Ann Dunham and Mr. Obama sr., then the the Immigration and Naturalization Act (1948, 52, and 58) would have applied. Under this act an American mother of a child born to a foreign father passes American citizenship to the child only if that mother had been an American resident for at least ten years prior to the birth and over the age of 14 for at least five of those years.
Since his mother was barely 18 in August of 1961, he would not have obtained American citizenship at birth - and there are no records of him ever taking action to obtain American citizenship on his own.
However.. Many of Mr. Obama's supporters maintain that the 14th Amendment grants him both citizenship and natural born status. This assumption is much honored in liberal judicial and media circles but has not been ratified by the Supreme Court and ultimately depends on Mr. Justice Brennan's ability, in a 1982 footnote to a difficult 5-4 decision, to see one condition rather than two in the statement: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,..."
Thus Mr. Obama's supporters claim his citizenship a certainty, but others argue that the anchor babies interpretation of this section in the 14th amendment has not yet been directly challenged in the Supreme Court and will inevitably be over-turned when it is.
More significantly in the specific case presented by Mr. Obama's birth story, the court would have to over-rule an informed Act of Congress applicable at the time in favor of a lower court's interpretation, twenty-two years after the fact, of a footnote based on not seeing a comma in an amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Bottom line: if the birth story is largely true, then de facto: yes; de jure: probably not.
It is known that his mother moved to Indonesia, married an Indonesian citizen, and enrolled the future Mr. Obama first in a Catholic private school and then in an Indonesian public (i.e. Muslim) school under the name Barry Soetoro (PDF) at a time when local law required, both for the marriage and for the school enrollments, that she accept Islam and Indonesian citizenship for herself and any dependent children (including the future Mr. Obama).
Indonesia was, at the time, in the midst of their version of the Cloward-Piven recommended riots (extremist racist and religious violence for political purposes) with legal and conformist pressure on the Soetoro family backed by the local equivalent of today's new black panthers. Under these circumstances the fact that both the marriage and the school registrations are documented strongly suggests (but does not prove) that she followed local law to abjure either British or American citizenship for herself and her dependents before the marriage and adoption processes ratified her new Indonesian status.
Since Indonesia clearly treated him as a citizen, the issues are whether that status was real and whether it has changed since.
There is no known documentation on either part of this. There are public records of Mr. Obama's school registrations in Indonesia under the name "Barry Soetoro" and public records of his use of the name "Barry Obama" at the Punahou school in Hawaii, but no documentation covering either his return to Hawaii or his adoption or resumption of the "Barrack Hussein Obama jr." name is known to exist.
Bottom line? unknown, but more likely yes than no.
Just after the 2008 elections, a long and detailed article on the the Debbie Schlussel blog raised the possibility that Mr. Obama's selective service registration had been forged.
This view did not gain much credence among Mr. Obama's critics until the cold case posse assembled by Arizona's sheriff Arpiao was denied access to source materials held by the selective service board.
There are many apparent inconsistencies on the registration card but the key one is that the official post office stamp validating the card appears significantly different from that on cards known to be genuine and stamped at the same Honolulu post office in the same month. In particular the other cards show the year as "1980" but Mr. Obama's shows only the "80" part - and Sheriff Arpaio's investigators were able to duplicate its slightly mis-aligned and mis-spaced appearance by cutting the "08" from a genuine 2008 stamp, inverting it, and applying it as "80" to a facsimile of Mr. Obama's purported 1980 registration.
The bottom line? the registration looks like a fairly crude forgery - but there is no certainty without access to the records the selective service board has so far refused to disclose.
Writer/journalist Jack Cashill believes, as do many others, that the American terrorist, Bill Ayers, wrote most of what Mr. Obama claims as his own.
The basis for this is two fold: first that works like Dreams of my Father reflect themes, styles, and content typical of Bill Ayers; and, second, that nothing unambiguously attributable to Mr. Obama remotely aspires to the quality of writing and thought obvious in the disputed works. For example, the one thing Mr. Obama is thought to have contributed to the Harvard Law Review during his nominal time there, an unsigned note, is poorly written, widely considered inconsequential among his supporters, and dismissed as superficial twaddle by his critics.
Bottom line: it is obvious that Mr. Obama cannot speak ex tempore, does not write clearly, does not write his own speeches, and did not write his own books.
Many people don't believe Mr. Obama ever attended Columbia University. In the most common variation the belief is that he registered for courses and was eventually graduated, but did not attend classes.
In general the problem is that there is no public record of his transfer from Occidental College; he does not appear in the public records available from Columbia; and, no students or professors there at the time readily admit to remembering him - a black student in an almost all white faculty.
As in most Obama conspiracy theories, secrecy feeds speculation - and his detractors say things simply don't add up. Thus the ascent to Harvard five years after undistinguished Columbia undergraduate work is as unusual as the absence of any public record with respect to his work at either school. Similarly, his marks, his letters of referral, his employment and/or citizenship status at the time, and his LSAT/IQ scores for entry to Harvard are all secret and thus don't contradict the general belief that even the strong affirmative action push at Harvard during the late eighties would not have been enough to get him admitted unless there was real money at stake for Harvard and/or someone like Columbia's professor Zbigniew Brzezinski (who says he did not) provided a strong endorsement.
His supporters point, however, to the only publicly available record: a mention of his name as one graduate among many for the spring 1983 Columbia undergraduate convocation, as sufficient proof of both attendance and graduation.
Bottom line: it seems highly unlikely that he spent much time at Columbia.
During much of his time in Hawaii Mr. Obama appears to have been mentored by Frank Marshall Davis - a well known civil rights activist and American communist leader with close ties to the far left movement in British East Africa (particularly the Oginga Odinga group Mr. Obama Sr. was closely associated with and Mr. Obama himself would later campaign for).
It appears likely that Mr. Davis got the young Obama into Punahou first and Occidental College later, and used his influence to have fees waived or paid for him at both. Allegations exist, however, that he registered at Occidental as a foreign student to take advantage of financial support for non American citizens.
However, if he attended Columbia as claimed, there is no public information on who paid his fees and living costs there but considerable public information on the efforts his lawyers have made to supress any investigation of his activities there.
The ascent to Harvard is particularly interesting in this context because this could only have been facilitated either on merit or money or some combination of both. There is no indication of merit in what we have of the Columbia record but documented support exists for the belief that both his entry to Harvard and his financial position there were secured for him through Khalid al-Mansour, key advisor to Saudi billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal - both America haters who blamed the United States for the 9/11 massacre.
What makes this a clarion call to conspiracy theorists is the confluence of two apparently coincidental bits of history. First, Al-Waleed has well established links to Indonesia's Riady family - owners of the Lippo Group, major Clinton contributors, and key players with Consolidated Edison's Bill Ayer's senior in the processes under which Bill Clinton shut down a major coal development in Utah to give Indonesia's Paiton Power a near monopoly on the world's supply of easily accesible ultra-low sulfur coal.
And, second, not only was Bill Ayers Jr. a key Obama supporter who helped launch his early career but there seem to be direct links between Mr. Obama's presidential ambitions and the senior Mr. Ayers in that a man who delivered the mail to the parents of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers claims to have met an exultant Mr. Obama as the latter emerged from the Ayers home sometime in the late eighties. According to the story:
Hulton also recalls one particular conversation with Mary Ayers. "She was enthusiastically talking to me about this young black student that they were helping out," he tells Corsi, "and she referred to him as a foreign student." Adds Hulton, "I was taken aback by how enthusiastic she was about him." Within a year of this conversation, Hulton had a fateful meeting with the young man he presumed Mary was talking about.
Obama explained to Hulton that he had taken the train out from Chicago to Glen Ellyn in order "to thank the Ayers family personally for helping him with his education." What shocked Hulton was that when casually inquiring into the young man's plans for the future, Obama answered, "I am going to be president of the United States." As Hulton tells Corsi, "[i]t came across like this was something that's already been determined." Adds Hulton, "I was speechless."
Conspiracy theorists therefore assume that the senior Mr. Ayers, a man whose money and influence certainly helped establish both his son and Mr. Obama in Chicago political circles and may have been behind the book offer leading up to "Dreams of my Father", developed and financially supported Mr. Obama as a surrogate son and personal "Manchurian candidate."
Bottom line? we don't know.
Most of Mr. Obama's supporters assume that he has no religious convictions - and see his claim to Christianity as politically necessary condescension to the prejudices of the uneducated.
His detractors, however, point out that only two things about Mr. Obama's embrace or otherwise of religious belief have been verified:
Bottom line: his religious beliefs, if any, are unknown - but his actions in office suggest a consistency of vision with the anti-Christian, anti-semitic, anti-white posture adopted by such associates as the Reverend Wright, Derrick Bell, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan.
The social security number issue is that Mr. Obama is thought to use, or to have used, a number issued to a resident of Connecticut in 1976 or 1977, claims to have worked legally in Hawaii two years earlier, was never resident in Connecticut, and may have used different social security numbers in Illinois and/or while attending University.
Mr. Obama's supporters generally say that he worked off the books in 1975; that his 1976/77 number was obtained for him by his father (Mr. Obama Sr.); and that the other social security numbers recorded by the social security administration under the name "Bar[r]ack H. Obama" are coincidences arising from the commonness of the name.
Mr. Obama's detractors say that Mr. Obama Sr. was not in the United States during this period; that most kids get their social security number along with their first jobs; and, that his continuing efforts to block release of his social security, school, birth, and other records speaks to an agenda of concealment.
Note: as of early September 2011 two claimed Obama relatives, an Aunt Zeituni and an Uncle Omar, had been arrested and held as long term illegals living separately in the Maryland state area. Both apparently had false social security identifications, and there are now unconfirmed suggestions that the uncle's includes the Connecticut identifier.
Bottom line? unknown.
Credible estimates put his costs to date in the millions of dollars - but there seems to be no information on who bore those costs: Mr. Obama himself? the Obama Campaign? the federal taxpayer?
Bottom line: unknown.
Some Obama supporters claim that much of Mr. Obama's documentation is weak or missing, and much of his background murky, because his family worked for the CIA.
Those who argue this point mainly to coincidence and oddity: that a furniture salesman would move from Seattle to Honolulu and meet Mr. Obama sr; that a woman who worked for banks and courts would move to Indonesia just before the Sukarno government there fell to rioters; that they had family connections to others thought to have been involved in intelligence; and so on.
Mr. Obama's detractors have not responded in any significant way to this story - it should be noted, however, that:
A note: Weak suspicion on both the anti-Palin astro-turfing effort and the "Obama was CIA" story points at a company called Fenton Communications influenced by Obama publicist David Axelrod and run by 70s Ayers associate David Fenton as the source.
Bottom line: almost certainly a complete fabrication designed to cover weaknesses in the official Obama history.
Huh? 10 + 3 ? because Because once you question any part of the official Obama history you'll never be ok with any of it again.
Other questions? Comments? Suggested fixes? murph at winface com, please