Politics: April 2011 Archives

I haven't commented previously about the Obama birth certificate issue. My problems with the president involve his policies, not his place of birth. My guess was that there was something embarrassing on the long-form birth certificate that didn't appear on the certification of live birth that he released earlier.

And now the White House has posted on its website a PDF containing what purports to be a scan of a certified copy of the birth certificate of Barack Hussein Obama, II.

I say "purports" because there are some weird things about it. It's not strange that it's a PDF, rather than an image file, like a JPEG, BMP, PNG, or TIFF. Many scanners generate a PDF by default.

A tweet from Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit alerted me to some oddities with the document. I downloaded a copy of the PDF directly from the White House website, at this URL:


The metadata in the file is strange: It indicates that it had been processed in some way by Adobe Illustrator.

I happen to have Illustrator, so I opened the birth certificate PDF in Illustrator and followed the process outlined by Mara Zebest, coauthor of a book on Photoshop:

1. Select the entire document (Ctrl-A)
2. Object | Clipping Mask | Release
3. Repeat step 2 until Release is no longer an option.

When I did it, I could only do step 2 once after which Release was grayed out. But the result was the same: Boxes outlining eight parts of the document as separate objects and one box surrounding it all.

Reopening the original file again, I found that all I had to do was open the file in Illustrator and click using the Selection tool, and I could see all the box elements. In the layers box, there is one layer, composed of one group, which in turn is composed of 9 groups and a clipping mask. Each of those 9 groups is composed of an image and a clipping mask.

After following the above steps 1 and 2, all the clipping masks were converted to paths and the layer was composed of 9 groups and a path, with no intermediate path. Each individual component image could then be made invisible, using the layer dialog.

The nine components:

  1. Tiny fragments the same color as the safety paper pattern on the top edge just left of center
  2. Tiny fragments the same color as the safety paper pattern on the top edge just above the certification date
  3. The letters "Non" from the word None in box 17a.
  4. "AUG - 8 196" - part of a stamped date in box 20.
  5. "AUG - 8" and the digit 6 in 1961in box 22.
  6. "APR 25 2011" at the bottom left of the page.
  7. The certification stamp of the state registrar at the bottom right.
  8. Most of the remaining typed letters on the form, the handwritten dates, and the last half of Ann Dunham Obama's name.
  9. Everything else -- the safety paper pattern, with white ghosts or haloes around the letters were first half of Ann Stanley Obama's signature, the signature of the Physician, all but one letter of the original registrar's signature, the form grid, and scattered letters -- the R in Barack, the K in Kenya, the S in Stanley, the last digit of the sequence number in the upper left of the page, and the handwritten numbers (which look like coding for statistical purposes)

Here's the ninth image -- what's left after the top 8 images are turned off (click the half-size thumbnail to view 997 KB full-size PNG -- I exported it from Illustrator at the same 72dpi resolution as the White House PDF):


I have no idea whether this is evidence of tampering, but it certainly looks different than other scanned PDFs in my possession. For example, here's a scanof ethics filings by Tulsans for Better Government (earlier incarnation of the rule-or-ruin bunch now known as Save Our Tulsa). Like the birth certificate, it's a form -- a mixture of pre-printed text and handwritten text. Opening that file in Illustrator shows what you'd expect -- one image (the entire form) in one group in one layer. Metadata reveals the model of scanner that produced the image (Toshiba e-STUDIO 353).

There's one other odd thing about this birth certificate: There is a sequence number in the upper left corner, which appears to have been produced by a hand stamp, perhaps the sort that automatically advances. The number on Obama's certificate is 61 10641. The sequence number on the certificate of Susan Elizabeth Nordyke, born at the same hospital the following day, is 61 10637. Obama's certificate was accepted by the Registrar General on August 8; Nordyke's was accepted on August 11. How can a certificate processed three days later have a lower sequence number? I'm making an assumption that the sequence number was applied when the certificate was received by the registrar; that assumption could be incorrect.

Does this mean I think President Obama was born in Kenya or is ineligible to be president? No. But I don't understand why Obama would release an image that appears to have been edited or processed in some way, especially given the long-standing controversy over the document which began three years ago during his bitter primary struggle with Hillary Clinton.

MORE: KRMG reports that Tulsa IT professional Scott Grizzle notes that several aspects of the document "don't pass the smell test." KRMG has audio of a conversation with Grizzle and pictures of the various digital pieces of which the document appears to be composed. I've known Scott for several years, and he's as far from an extremist in temperament and ideology as you can get.

The US Air Force is looking for a supplier for Light Air Support aircraft, to be used by the Afghan Air Force and by the USAF to train other partner air forces. Award is expected this summer, and the question is whether the Air Force will pick a variant of an American-designed and -built aircraft it already uses, in the hundreds, or a Brazilian-designed aircraft that would be new to the fleet.

In 1994, the US Air Force and US Navy issued a request for proposals for a new aircraft to be used for primary pilot training to replace the T-34 and T-37 aircraft, along with the flight simulators for the new aircraft. One of the bidders was Beechcraft (then part of Raytheon); the company I worked for at the time, FlightSafety, was part of the Beechcraft team, would design and build the simulators.

T6TexanII.jpgTo be frank, I didn't think our team stood a chance. The proposed aircraft was a modification of a Swiss-designed single-engine turboprop, and the RFP required the controls and performance of a jet aircraft. But Beechcraft was able to provide jet handling and performance at a turboprop price, using technology to conceal the peculiarities of a propeller-driven aircraft from the pilot, and they won the contract.

I was part of the FlightSafety design team for the simulators for the winning aircraft, dubbed the T-6 Texan II. My job was to develop an Ada 95 framework which would connect software models of flight dynamics, engine performance, radios, instruments, hydraulic, electrical, and fuel systems, and would do so in an object-oriented way without compromising real-time performance.

The T-6 Texan II is now being used by the air forces of seven different nations, and FlightSafety Simulation in Broken Arrow has built dozens of T-6 simulators for the USAF and for Greece's Air Force. (I have no idea if any of my work is still in the simulator, or if it has all been rewritten over the years. Ada 95 lost its DOD status as a "mandatory" programming language about the time we started developing the T-6 sim.) The aircraft itself is built at the Hawker Beechcraft factory on the east side of Wichita, Kansas. It's been a good thing for our region's aviation industry.

There's also an armed version of the T-6. The AT-6 has on-board avionics (based on the system in use on the A-10C) to support surveillance, attack, and reconnaissance. Now the Air Force is looking for an aircraft to fill a light aircraft support and counterinsurgency role for the Afghan Air Force and other military partners.

The only other declared bidder, according to Aviation Week, is Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer. A U. S. company, Sierra Nevada Corp., is the prime contractor, but Embraer would supply the parts from Brazil for assembly in Jacksonville, Florida. The Light Air Support contract will be awarded this summer.

Embraer began as a government-owned aircraft manufacturer in 1969, was privatized in 1994, but the government has retained a "Golden Share" which gives the government of Brazil veto rights over:

  • change of our name and corporate purpose;
  • amendment and/or application of our logo;
  • creation and/or alteration of military programs (whether or not involving Brazil);
  • development of third party skills' in technology for military programs;
  • discontinuance of the supply of spare parts and replacement parts for military aircraft;
  • transfer of our control;
  • any amendments to the list of corporate actions over which the golden share carries veto rights, including the right of the Brazilian government to appoint one member and alternate to our Board of Directors and the right of our employees to appoint two members and their respective alternates to our Board of Directors, and to the rights conferred to the golden share; and
  • changes to certain provisions of our bylaws pertaining to voting restrictions, rights of the golden share and the mandatory tender offer requirements applicable to holders of 35% or more of our outstanding shares.

I would not want the DOD to be forced by protectionist policies to buy poorly designed and expensive equipment from American companies, but neither would I want our defense dependent on overseas companies who are subject to the whims of a sometimes-friendly, sometimes-not foreign government.

The US has a long history of taking an aircraft and creating variants to extend its use into new mission areas. (The C-130 is a great example.) Parts for one variant often can be used for other variants. A pilot or maintenance technician trained on one variant of an aircraft can quickly learn to fly or work on another.

And if that aircraft and its simulators are built by US companies, it means keeping our tax dollars in the US, supporting American high tech and manufacturing capabilities. I trust the Kansas and Oklahoma congressional delegations are aware that it would also mean high-tech and skilled manufacturing jobs for their constituents.

DISCLOSURE: I have no financial interest (direct or indirect) in the outcome of this procurement. Hat tip to John Hawkins of Right Wing News for calling the issue to my attention.

American Majority will hold a day-long citizen activist training session on Saturday, April 23, 2011, at Tulsa Technology Center, focused on training activists to be effectively engaged with state and local government. As part of the event, I'll be joining Jamison Faught of Muskogee Politico and Peter J. Rudy of Oklahoma Watchdog on a local blogger panel. It should be a great program -- hope you can join us.

Here are the details:

Our nation was founded by ordinary citizen activists desiring a government that was accountable to the people. Today, ordinary citizens in every citizen and in every community are tired of the status quo and are ready to get involved like they never have before to demand accountability.

American Majority's purpose is to address these passions by providing education and resources to help you reach your goals.

To that end, American Majority desires to challenge concerned citizens to turn their focus to state and local issues with the first annual Tulsa Battlefield Training.

This event will provide those in attendance with two things:

First, the Tulsa Battlefield Training will give those in attendance a clear picture of what is happening at both the state level and local level with government spending, waste, and clear explanation regarding how all levels of government got into this mess.

Secondly, the Tulsa Battlefield Training will also provide tool, resources, and specific ways that attendees can get involved in the local government structure - whether as informed citizen activists or candidates for local office.

Confirmed Presenters Include:

  • Ned Ryun, President of American Majority
  • Michael Carnuccio, President of Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs
  • Matt Robbins, Executive Director of American Majority
  • A Local Blogger Panel Consisting of Michael Bates of Batesline.com; Jamison Faught of MuskogeePolitico.com; and Peter J. Rudy of OklahomaWatchdog.org
  • Plus Presentations by the American Majority Oklahoma Staff

The Tulsa Battlefield Training will take place on Saturday, April 23rd at Tulsa Technology Center located at 3420 S Memorial Dr. from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Doors open at 8:30 am.

Registration is $20 per person (which includes lunch and all materials) - space is limited.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, call Seth Brown at 405-639-8896 or email him at seth@americanmajority.org

You do not want to miss this event!

American Majority is a non-profit and non-partisan political training organization whose mission is to train and equip a national network of leaders committed to individual freedom through limited government and the free market.

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So many people have a blog nowadays that you may stumble across a friend's blog before they let you know that they have one. Here are a few blogs of friends and associates that I've come across recently. They're worth reading, and I'm adding to the blogroll, so you'll see their latest posts show up over on the BatesLine blogroll headlines page and (as appropriate) the BatesLine Oklahoma headlines and BatesLine Tulsa headlines pages.

I've gotten to know Tulsa visionary and restaurateur Blake Ewing through his involvement in organizations like TulsaNow. He doesn't post on his blog often, but when he does post it's usually a blockbuster essay on our city's challenges and possible futures. There's been a lot of talk about his latest: "Grow up, Tulsa." (I disagree with him on a few points and may elaborate in coming days.)

English with Rae is a blog aimed at helping those learning English as a second language go beyond "This is a pen," providing examples of conversational English and American culture in context and presented in a way that makes them interesting even if English is your first language. Rae, a college friend of my wife's, spent many years in Japan and writes from her experience as a second-language learner of Japanese and with Japanese learners of English. A news item about a Honolulu restaurant adding a tip to the bills of non-English speaking guests is the starting point for her most visited article, Tipping Cows and Everyone Else, which covers three different kinds of tipping (restaurant, cow, and advice), introduces customary tipping practices, and provides examples of the Present Real Conditional form, all neatly interwoven.

Gina Conroy is an author based here in Tulsa. We know her through school, and she was my daughter's creative writing teacher. Her blog, Defying Gravity, is devoted to striking the balance in life as a wife and mom and in pursuit of her dream of novel writing. She is under contract to contribute a novella to an anthology, and a recent entry is devoted to the process and pain of cutting a 50,000-word work in progress down to 20,000. She often interviews other writing moms and dads. Many recent entries have been devoted to dreams and ambitions -- rekindling them, thwarting dream-killers, and balancing your dreams.

Urban Garden Goddess is a Philadelphia-based blogger just getting into home organic gardening. As a rookie gardener last year, Tania (a friend through blogging circles) won third prize in the individual vegetable garden category in the Philadelphia Horticultural Society's City Gardens Contest. She's also a runner, and a recent entry is about "solid eating for a solid race performance."

San Francisco architect Christine Boles and I were both active in Campus Crusade for Christ at MIT back when. Her blog illustrates some of the creative solutions she and her husband, partners in Beausoleil Architects, have devised to meet the needs of clients while respecting history and the environment. Her latest entry shows how they turned a ground floor room into a garage while preserving the bay window that makes up the historic facade. In an earlier post, she advocates for "deconstruction" and recycling of building materials over demolition and landfill. This was interesting, too: The importance of the oft-overlooked V in HVAC -- ventilation.

Texas State Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) is married to a high school classmate of mine. Last year he defeated an incumbent Republican in the primary and went on to election in November. His blog has only a few entries, but they provide some insight into the 2011 Texas legislative session and the budding conflict between fair-dealer and wheeler-dealer Republicans. He is an author of HB 1937, which would prohibit TSA groping in the absence of probable cause. His article -- Dividing the Apple -- about the tough budget decisions facing the legislature, is worth reading. An excerpt:

Civil government has nothing except that which it takes from We the People. Unlike God, the government cannot create value or substance out of nothing.

When the Federal Reserve with Congress' approval "prints more money," it simply increases the number of federal reserve notes ("dollars") that are being exchanged in our economy for goods and services. The increase in the number of federal reserve notes in circulation does not represent more wealth. It merely divides the same value of goods and services in the economy into smaller parts. If you divide an apple into 4 parts or 8 parts, it is still just one apple.

The Texas legislature cannot create wealth either. It has no money except that which it takes from We the People. It can divide the apple of wealth we enjoy and redistribute it, but it cannot create more apples.

Even so, we are running out of apple. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, the portion of the apple that our state government consumes has grown by 45% over the last decade (that number is 87% without any adjustments). As the state's portion has grown, Texas families and businesses have had to settle for a smaller portion to feed themselves.

As first steps to budget cutting, Simpson has called for cutting all corporate welfare from the budget and reducing administrative overhead in the common and higher educational systems. His name popped up in a recent AP story:

Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, put together an odd-couple coalition of Democrats and Republicans to approve an amendment zeroing out funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts and redirecting it to services for the elderly and disabled.

Channeling tea-party-like, populist anger right back at his own leaders, Simpson also has railed against hundreds of millions of dollars in what he calls "corporate welfare." It happens to include Perry's job-luring initiatives, the Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund.

"These parts of the budget are more protected than schools and the weak among us," Simpson said. He failed to redirect the money, but not before raising a stink among Republicans.

U. S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) illustrates the United States's current headlong rush into a debt crisis in which the national debt would be three times the national economy.

Imagine if you had credit card debts of $150,000 with a $50,000 a year income. You wouldn't be able to afford the interest on that kind of debt, much less paying it off. That's where we're headed if we continue to defer hard decisions on spending.

To those who would complain about the Republican preference to cut spending rather than raise taxes: What percent of the nation's economy should pass through the Federal government? Republicans are aiming to get that number back down to 20%. That still seems too high to me.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from April 2011.

Politics: March 2011 is the previous archive.

Politics: May 2011 is the next archive.

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