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June 17, 2008



Oh, my goodness,,I forgot to thank bad and Ann for their magnificant and amusing live blog.


I was in a hurry after blogging THE VIEW and didn't get to post anything about Jane's Tiger ( I let her say "my" cause I love her, but I think we might have to add him to the mud wrestling list :))
He will comeback!!

Elliott, My snark blogging doesn't even compare to yours, but thanks anyways.


Yes, his father said that between the morning and afternoon rounds of the 1994 U.S. Amateur final match, at which point he was 4-down to Trip Kuehne. (The article is undated but looks to have been written after the 2000 Canadian Open.)


Thanks Elliot, The View was an education, not something I watch. But I had heard they were very political so was unprepared for the total cheerleading session.

Jane, Your Tiger is amazing and will bw greatly missed for the rest of the season. What a talent!


Thanks, but wouldn't it be great if the JOM women had their own TV show. We could show them what real women are like. We could also invite real men to be on the show. (All kinda possibilities come to mind)


Thanks Clarice, I hope you found plenty to laugh about. What I'm thinking isn't always what comes out.

JM Hanes


Thanks for the link -- I hadn't noticed anybody talking about it elsewhere, but it's definitely curious. I was interested to see that the author included the border anomoly which also bothered me.


Sue is referring to a Hot Air discussion thread. I posted some enlargements of my own over at photobucket, two of which you can see here and here, along with an examaple of what more normal
jpeg pixel blocks look like from the background, where a bit of text from the reverse shows through.

As I said at the time:

It’s more a puzzle than a issue, as far as I’m concerned, but it really bothers me when something like this simply makes no sense. I couldn’t begin to guess who would have fiddled with the document — or the when & why either — but I also can’t think of a single logical reason (including filters, sharpening, or conversions) that a scan of an original document could result in the kind of selective pixelization/artifacting in evidence here. Pasting from one image into another, however, would produce precisely that effect
I originally thought perhaps an Obamanaut somewhere was just trying to be helpful, but then Fight the Smears, having told Karen Tumulty they were going to post a PDF of Obama's birth certificate, actually posted a much reduced version of the same certification posted by Kos (in which, perhaps conveniently, the anomolies are less pronounced as a result of the reduction). They didn't even post that till after Tumulty went back and corrected her column when a reader pointed out that the promised PDF hadn't ahown up yet. I think it's strange that neither Kos nor FtS cite an actual source for the document; if this were an official campaign release, I also think it's odd that apparently Kos was the only one on the distribution list -- esp. when they were talking to Tulmulty at the time.

I have no idea why this document was faked. It could be a tempest in a teapot over something mildly embarassing, it could be something more, but I work with Photoshop all the time, and there's no doubt in my own mind that it was pieced together.

*I originally included links to Fight the Smears, Kos, and Tumulty (hat tip to MayBee), but my post got flagged as comment spam! I can provide 'em if anybody wants to take a look for themselves.*


Ann, while I love the JOM women I would never want to do anything like The View..
Jane's radio show " Morning Mud Wrestling" is more my style.


bad, you were great today. Did we both miss MO calling her husband pathetic? I will have to go back and look. Anyways, I hope we get a better assignment the next time.

I want to blog someone like Mark Steyn. It would be so easy just to fawn and not say anything.


JMH I know nothing of these things--is it possible that copying a copy or faxing it might have this result?

JM Hanes


"I think that show is one of the reasons we will never have a woman president."

I call that first class snark! You and bad did such a great job that I haven't even bothered to watch the playback. If there's a feminist hell, it will probably look like The View.


JMH: I have played around with Photoshop, and certainly have no expertise in using it. That said, I have a good eye, even if I can't replicate what I see with software. I think there is something to the analysis of the Certified Copy of the Birth Certificate.

I am not sure there is anyting sinister going on, but I do believe that KOS and cohorts would want to take the discussion off the table. Y'know, just in case there might be some there there.


Clarice, now you can check your email.


Night, all!


I did--smooches..and thanks.


Ann you are too kind but I couldn't handle blogging anything with real content, just too slow. You'll be on your own for a real event. You'll be great.
I didn't hear "pathetic" either, probably busy being snarky about a previous statement.

I have no idea why this document was faked. It could be a tempest in a teapot over something mildly embarassing, it could be something more, but I work with Photoshop all the time, and there's no doubt in my own mind that it was pieced together.

If the certificate posted at Fight the Smears is faked in any way, it is a huge story, since that is Obama's own site and he can't just pawn it off on Kos.

Charles Johnson says he thinks it's a dead end, because supposedly a reporter (Tumulty?) emailed the image to government workers in Hawaii and they said it checks out. But a clever Photoshop could fool someone who was just looking for a format that corresponded to the official one they were already familiar with. Especially when they're only looking at an image and not the actual piece of paper.

This one is a puzzler.

JM Hanes


No, the problem is not degradation -- in fact, as with Fight the Smears' reduction, degradation would actually tend to obscure pixel related anomolies, not increase them. (Here's the Kos version.)

Whoever pieced this document together apparently didn't know a lot about these things either -- that's why I initially figured it might just be an Obama fan trying to lend a hand. In the end, that may still be the most likely explanation -- if Obama were trying to cover up something really important, I should think we'd be looking at a more professional job, but who knows? Having appeared on Fight the Smears, though, the potential PR problems get bigger, it seems to me. Fixing smears with a hoax would be pretty embarassing, and I expect somebody is praying that interest has crested.


bad, You have the best heart and soul and sense of humor. You are real content, faster than all of us. You are the real event in my eyes.


Given TANG, I doubt that interest has crested. As you say, especially since Obama's team has given the imprimatur to this document.



Thanks. It is really sad how many women we could add to the list of why we will never have a woman president:

Katie Couric
Foxy Fox Girls
Soledad O'Brien
Christiane Amanpour
Hollywood's Fonda, Susan Surrender, Barbara Streisand: If You Want Change, Get the Republicans Out of Office
Sheesh, there are to many to type.


To me the pixelation around the characters looks like it could be image compression artifacts.

JM Hanes


If you zoom way in on the "IF" in "CERTIFICATE NO." you'll see that the text artifacting is at odds with the background above. The way the pixels are rendered in the "F" itself suggest to me that the text may also have started out at a different resolution than the background. The perfect rectangle of black where the actual certificate number has been redacted is interesting in comparison, because it appears to be a fill, not a paste.


I went searching over at Little Green Football for details, but man, that's one slow loading site. I was curious to know whether Hawaii confirmed the actual info, or just the nature of the document. I don't doubt that the fake was modeled on the real thing, and could quite easily be a rework of a real certification. If Tumulty were the emailer, I suspect she would have been checking out the reduced version on Fight the Smears, which has far less detail. At normal screen resolution or when printed out, even the Kos version would probably pass ordinary muster.

After finding out that "certifications" were legit substitutes for certificates, it looked to me like Johnson pretty much lost interest when Kos assured him that he got the image from the Obama camp. Sure wish we had a JOM rep from Hawaii who could supply a certification for comparison. In any case, I'm happy to let the Townhall crew take it from here!


Very good work jmh.


Over at Hot Air, I was in the skeptical camp. I didn't see anything to bother me about the document. And then, JMH showed up. If she sees something wrong with it, I will take her word for it. After the work she did figuring out who the redacted players were in the Libby case, I am not about to question her credentials. She convinced me someone monkeyed with it. For what reason though, I can't even begin to imagine, other than there might be no father listed or some other embarrassing information.

it looked to me like Johnson pretty much lost interest when Kos assured him that he got the image from the Obama camp.

I think you're right, JMH. Thanks so much for all your input on this. I'll try to find where I saw the info about the reporter checking the image with Hawaii gov people - I think it may have been in the depths of Free Republic or another comment thread, although it's referenced elsewhere.

FWIW someone on Free Republic did say that they were born in HI in 1968 and their sibling was born in 1964, and neither of their birth certificates list race of parents.


I wondered a little about 'African' listed as race. Did they use that terminology in Hawaii in 1961?


JMH I wish you would write this up into an article and submit it to AT. Please email me if you've any questions. If you are busy I could go thru your stuff and write up what you've posted, but it's so far out of my area I feel uncomfortable even writing a summary of your work.

I'd start with why would a candidate's website designed to scotch false rumors about him, itself put forth a document that does not pass muster on authenticity?


Yup, c, there is funny business here, but why? I don't doubt he was born in Hawaii, but of course, I'd not swear to it. They are attempting to hide something, and the desperate clumsiness of the effort raises the hair on the back of the spidey's legs.


I particularly like the irony of the 'prima facie' evidence.


Perhaps his parents never married...after all his father did have another wife from whom he was not divorced. But I can't imagine why anyone would go thru such an elaborate ruse to hide that..surely it doesn't reflect badly on the child.



The clerk's in the courthouse have access to his birth certificate. If he wasn't born where that document says he was born, someone there already knows it. I still think it is a personal embarrassment he is hiding. His parents didn't marry and his birth certificate is probably marked illegitimate. He wouldn't be so bold as to run for president if he had something to hide about where he was born. Surely.


His parents didn't marry and his birth certificate is probably marked illegitimate.

I'm sorry. I made that a definitive statement and I am speculating. A question mark was warranted.

Rick Ballard

"A question mark was warranted."

Not really. His parents were not legally married, no matter what the birth certificate says. That little matter of the other wife in Kenya makes any "marriage" in Hawaii a matter of fraud and bigamy. Are marriage licenses subject to the same restrictions on copying in Hawaii?

Why would anyone expect other than fraudulent information about anything concerning Obama to show up? Other than by accident, of course.


I agree that it doesn't reflect on the child, but the B word will resonate. As in 'That Rat B*****d'


Ta dah! Barack Hussein Fitzobama.

To the degree that the appellation of bastardy to a child historically applies, it may here. Commonly bastards had absent fathers. This one was missing father and mother. Sociologists ho.


Maybe that's why he is such a sucker for an ideology that diminishes the value of parents.


Look out for the Bitter, Bibled, Bastard Baiters.


Here is the story of the reporter emailing the image to a Hawaii gov't official. It's from the St. Petersburg Times:

No 'Muhammed' in Obama's name; certificate is real

It's hard for me to imagine he was born anywhere other than Hawaii as well, Sue. If he is trying to hide something it is likely along the lines of your guess.

What really makes me wonder is the blacked out certificate number. From a confidentiality standpoint, there's no reason it should be blacked out in its entirety. Yet if one was faking a certificate from whole cloth, it would be impossible to fake the number. And as sbw pointed out yesterday, Hawaii will verify birth certificate information to a non-relative.

So *if* there is any funny business going on, that woudl explain the redaction - because anyone could write Hawaii to verify that certificate number X had Obama's name on it, and if the answer was "no," it would expose the certificate as a fake.


Sorry, bad link:

No 'Muhammed' in Obama's name; certificate is real


OK, kim, time to go check out the weather. And I'll have fun, fun, fun, until Revkin takes the DotEarth away.


Hmmm... Like the only thing I can possibly imagine being worth hiding is that somebody other than Barak Obama, Sr. is listed as his father on his birth certificate. Which would make the "autobiography" a total fraud. Even the absence of a father from the certificate wouldn't be something to hide -- Obama has built a political career on the absence of his father. But if the birth certificate has someone else's name there, then that would be something else.

The only thing REALLY worth hiding is if he is not a native-born US citizen. But that would make him ineligible for the presidency, and it is hard to believe that he would try to make such a mess out of the electoral process. (McCain was not born on US soil, either, and the little detail which shows how various court rulings and statutes have established that he is "native born" for the purposes of the constitutional test has been duly noted.)

But, anyway, that's speculation. Another quite innocuous reason why the "birth certificate" could be a fake could be that some wacky follower made it up by taking somebody else's form and photoshoping in Obama's info as taken from publicly available sources, and like lots of things on the internet, it took on a life of its own. (Remember Osama bin Laden and Bert?) The fact that Obama has more than a few creepy followers who follow him with quasi-religious devotion makes that a bit more probable.



One of the speculations was his mother named him Barry and he later changed his name to his father's name. He did not start using Barack until his roommate suggested it in his first years of college.


Look--if his fight the smear site is known to have peddled a fraudulent document, it is finished as a campaign tactic and whatever the reason to take that risk it has to be better than the ones I'm hearing.OTOH it could be just plain arrogance and a disrespect for the truth which would not be out of character at all.


The problem with that is that it's pretty well public record that he was called Barry rather than Barack growing up, and that being called "Barack" is his choice.

My mother's middle name is Caterina, and my grandmother was royally pissed to find out that the "helpful" cousin who spoke English had anglicized it to "Catherine" on her birth certificate. My father-in-law is named Gerard, and the hospital staff wrote down what they heard, which was "Jelardo". He had to go to court and get it fixed. In more recent times, when we went to get my daughter's birth certificate for her passport when she was 2 months old, we discovered that they had reversed her name and my name on the birth certificate, and that was the way that they had submitted it to the social security office. My husband had one of those surreal 4.5 hour experiences at the social security office getting THAT fixed. ("You know you're in trouble when you take the number and it is #137 and the sign says 'now serving number 8.'") When we were at the birth records office seeing that the daughter's birth certificate was wrong, we got suspicious and had them look up my son's birth certificate. They had reversed my first and middle names on that one. Fortunately that did not require a trip to the social security office.

America is a nation of immigrants, full of people with anglacized names, and also people who "got in touch with" their roots by switching their anglacized names back to the original. Not to mention everybody has the experience of having the government bureaucrats mess things up. It's not something to hide -- it's the amusing anecdotes that we pull out and tell, which mostly serve to point out our similarities. Anything wacky on Obama's birth certificate is somebody else's fault, and nearly half a century ago. Why hide it?


I've only been using Photoshop for thirteen years--so that's my qualifier:-)
The only way you're going to really tell if the document has been "doctored" is to see what the "original" or what is being passed off as the original is.
Screen resolutions of various computers and artifacts introduced in image file compressions can cause all kinds of havoc with an image.
And a bunch can be determined from the "history" of image file. Every image has a past that can be tracked down and there is new software that was designed for that purpose for copyright protections.

JM Hanes

I wish I could take credit for ferreting out Armitage, but I was just a fellow spectator. MJW did the heavy lifting.

Many thanks for digging up
St. Petersburg item. Amy Hollyfield confirms that the certification was an official Obama release:

"I know there have been some rumors spreading about Obama's citizenship, so I wanted to make sure you all had a copy of his birth certificate," Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor wrote in an e-mail.
Kos probably didn't cite a source because he didn't want to look like he gets his info from generic campaign emails like everybody else. Hollyfield also posted the untrimmed version and reported:

To verify we did have the correct document, we contacted the Hawaii Department of Health, which maintains such records. "It's a valid Hawaii state birth certificate," spokesman Janice Okubo said after we e-mailed her our copy. Okubo said a copy of the birth certificate was requested this month, but she wouldn't specify by whom. But as we know from our attempts to get one in April, Hawaii law states that only family members can access such records
This sounds pretty definitive, but it still seems a little odd that the Hawaiian official makes no distinction between a certificate and a certification, especially when I suspect this isn't the only query they've gotten. One of the LGF commenters posted some info from the "State of Hawaii" website on establishing your Hawaiian bona fides, per the Department of Hawaiian Homelands:
In order to process your application, DHHL utilizes information that is found only on the original Certificate of Live Birth, which is either black or green. This is a more complete record of your birth than the Certification of Live Birth (a computer-generated printout). Submitting the original Certificate of Live Birth will save you time and money since the computer-generated Certification requires additional verification by DHHL.
If Hawaii only releases birth records to family members, I wonder how much a "spokesman" can legally say about the content as as opposed to the format? Why does Hawaii's on DHHL require "additional verification" when presented with a "computer-generated Certification"? Such questions do seem like a stretch, but when I try to think of a legitimate explanation for the specific peculiarities here, I remain stumped.
JM Hanes


It's certainly hard to imagine even government mandated software that could be bizarre enough to produce documents designed for official use that look like second rate fakes, but I could also be wrong. Kos posted a 300ppi version, and other than the trimming he acknowledged there's not much reason to think he didn't post what he got directly from Obama HQ -- a process which also doesn't suggest much reason for a lot of interim iterations either.

A high resolution scan of an original document would survive jpeg conversion pretty well, and, indeed, the black rectangular redaction which is clearly a computer generated fill survived reproduction with minimal muss. The limited number of pixels and the diagonals required in text would never be quite that clean, of course, but it seems to me that problematic aspect here is discontinuity of the artifacting between between the letters themselves and the background -- a feature which is not typical of compression, but looks very familiar if you've ever tried erasing the background of text you're trying to paste without zooming in on the pixels to do it.

That said, however, I agree completely that unless and until we have another original for comparison, I might as well be barking at the moon. I know that's what it feels like!

JM Hanes


I really can't add much to the work that "Polarik" did over at Townhall, and he provides a much tidier look at most of the particulars, if you want to write something up. I'm afraid I've pretty much reached my limit on the thing, and I have to admit to feeling like I'm verging on truther territory here.

After seeing Porchlight's St. Petersburg article I'd have thrown in the towel myself, but I suddenly found myself thinking back to the story about the Obama camp trying to access Obama's own passport records in what seemed to be some circuitous fashion. I can't remember whether or not they were scouting opposition records as well, but IIRC, it did seem passing strange that they wanted to know what was in the Obama files. I also don't remember how the timing related to the spate of articles about McCain's citizenship status. Maybe someone should float the idea of a reciprocal Congressional resolution on Obama's status and then sit back and see what happens. :)


HEH-- What I can't understand is the why of it,jmh. It seems so high risk/low reward.

It's certainly hard to imagine even government mandated software that could be bizarre enough to produce documents designed for official use that look like second rate fakes, but I could also be wrong.
I have a friend, Australian, who lived and worked in Canada, who ruefully commented that the paperwork documenting his Commonwealth status looked like it was faked by a 3rd-grader. It made it fun to pass the US/Canada border!

....but it seems to me that problematic aspect here is discontinuity of the artifacting between between the letters themselves and the background...

JMH--noticed what you are referring from the TownHall article before I made my comment. I could try to reproduce what you are saying and will report back with results if any are worthy.

Here is a link to the article mentioned above.

An international team of computer scientists has developed a new image-recognition software. They found that 256 to 1,024 bits of data were enough to identify the subject of an image.

The birth certificate issue may not fit within this articles description but it seems to me that there is a real effort being made regarding "funny" image fixing.


A fun anecdote:

I once had a case which involved a wwii document. Paper was scarce then and often was rather cheesy even for official documents of some importance..An expert called by the defense claimed he believed the document was a fake and my partner hit the roof and started to get nasty on cross. I asked for a break, talked to him in the hall and persuaded him that the witness was honorable and we ought to explore at length why he was so certain..It turned out defense counsel which had hired him at the last minute, preventing him from doing his usual careful job, had misrepresented to him the nature of the document. It was an application for a library card (which we'd used to establish the signature was consistent with those on more important papers the defendant had signed at that time.) Defense had told the witness it was a birth certificate.

When we explained the error, he turned on the defense. At trial--when he'd had more time to carefully study all the docs he undercut the defense and supported the prosecution in every respect.


Golfweek's Jeff Rude imagines the world without Tiger Woods. I excerpt his amusing politically related paragraph:

Tim Finchem never made it to this millennium as commissioner. Frustrated with begging potential sponsors, he resigned to ‘pursue other interests’ and returned to politics. Now he’s an adviser to Barack Obama. So under new Tour boss Peter Jacobsen, there’s no odd mix of one old Democrat leading 200 young Republicans.

Meanwhile, the Golden Bear's statement on Jane's Tiger is here.


I wonder when (and where) the surgery is. It's gonna be a long season without him.


We'll probably hear about it after it happens. My question is whether the doctors will wait until after the stress fractures have healed to perform the knee surgery.

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