What if the birthers are right?

As if the existence of a “paranoid style” in American politics required any further proof,  the birther movement refuses to die. It’s adherents claim, contrary to all available facts, that Barack Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and is therefore ineligible to serve as President. Like all good conspiracy theories, it will never completely go away no matter how much evidence there is to disprove it. Ignorance and hatred are powerful things and the American right-wing has a shortage of neither.

Aside from the fact that the birther movement appears to be little more than another in a long series of attempts by the right-wing to delegitimize their opposition rather than engage with it, there is amidst all of this sound and fury, an important question that has yet to be thoroughly explored: what if the birthers are right? What if Barack Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii? I have read speculation ranging from the idea that it would actually make Obama a British subject to the constitutionally unsound notion that he would be designated as ineligible and that therefore John McCain would be President.

I believe the answer is quite simple and that it is not one the birthers will like: even if Obama really was born in Kenya, he would still be a U.S. citizen. That’s right, being born in Kenya would not disqualify Obama from being President.

Think about it. John McCain was born in Panama, but no one seriously question his citizenship. Why is that? Is it a simple case of racism and double standards? No. John McCain is a citizen because his parents were citizens. The children of U.S. citizens born overseas are U.S. citizens.

But wait, you say, Obama’s father was Kenyan. Fair enough, but it doesn’t matter, Obama still meets the criteria.

  1. His mother was a U.S. citizen;
  2. She lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years before he was born; and
  3. A minimum of 5 of those 10 years were after her 14th birthday.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_nationality_law#Through_birth_abroad_to_one_United_States_citizen

Case closed. Not only are the birthers idiots, they’re wasting their time. Even if they could somehow prove their conspiratorial fantasies, they would STILL LOSE. What morons.

An irritating difference between liberals and conservatives.

I was delighted yesterday when Rep.  Alan Grayson (D) – FL decided to give the Republicans a taste of their own medicine on the House floor.  His tongue-in-cheek speech that the GOP’s health care plan consists of “don’t get sick” and if you do to “die quickly” was intended to drive home the point that the Republicans’ politically motivated opposition to reform will simply perpetuate the problem.

Predictably, the irony-challenged and apparently amnesiac House Republicans seized on Grayson’s remarks (which don’t differ substantively from the pronouncements of Grayson’s Republican colleagues), sanctimoniously demanding an apology and comparing him to Rep. Joe Wilson (R) – SC. I don’t really want to go down that road as it’s already being explored except to ask how many of those Republicans voted against the measure to censure Wilson?

I’m more interested in the liberal reaction to Grayson.

Last night on MSNBC I watched as Keith Olbermann and Ariana Huffington lauded Grayson while tut-tutting Grayson’s use of the word ‘holocaust’. Later Rachel Maddow did the same thing and during her interview with Grayson, she asked him at least three times whether he regretted his use of the word. Not only did this make me angry, it got me thinking.

I don’t contend that Olbermann, Huffington and Maddow are wrong to take exception with Grayson’s use of the word ‘holocaust’. I agree with them that it’s both a distraction and an inaccurate comparison.  But I think that the real distraction is that they feel the need to chide him for it.

Imagine if a Republican had made an identical speech. Would Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh criticize their fellow traveler for an unfortunate choice of words? No. They would circle the wagons and press their point.

Conservatives are better at gut-level communications. They aren’t afraid of their own shadows. Wrong as they are, you have to give them credit for sticking to their guns. They ruthlessly deliver their message to its intended recipients.

Opponents of reform would much rather argue about decorum and the proper usage of ‘holocaust’ than fix the existing system. Olbermann, Huffington and Maddow are simply playing into their hands. In this regard they remind of the so-called Blue dog Democrats. If health reform is defeated or watered down so as to be meaningless it will be the Blue dogs’ fault, not the Republicans.  If Democrats like Grayson who want to take a stand fail to deliver their message, part of the responsibility for that failure will rest with PC-obsessed media liberals who dilute that message with silly nattering over his choice of words.

The Democrats need more Graysons. People who aren’t afraid to call the hypocrites out. Instead of eating their own, the three aforementioned liberals (all of whom I like and respect) need to be driving home Grayson’s point. Health reform is too important to bother with self-defeating arguments over semantics.

New Project

I’ve been given the task of migrating an old, but large jsp website that uses loads of proprietary and outdated technology. Basically, it’s an administrator’s nightmare. I should know because I’m the administrator. I have no budget, working for a tiny company, so open source is my only option. Fortunately, there are many excellent choices that weren’t available when the antiquated system was built.

I’ve done a number of projects with Joomla, which I like quite a bit.  Joomla is easy to learn and good for getting a site up and running quickly, but for my needs it isn’t flexible enough.

I took a long hard look at Typo3, and came very close to using it. It’s extremely flexible and powerful, but the outdated documentation is abysmal. Add to that a very steep learning curve that would slow the project down not to mention having to learn (otherwise useless) typoscript and their theming system. Typo3 had many features to recommend it, but it ain’t for me.

drupal-logoI played with Drupal a few years ago and didn’t take the time to get to where I thought much of  it. Having grown wildly frustrated withTypo3, I decided to give Drupal another look. I’ve spent a couple of days now playing with a test installation and I’m already hooked. Drupal has everything I need. It’s flexible, powerful and scalable. It has a large user community and modules for everything you can think of.  A lot of large well-known sites use it.

I’m still just scratching the surface, but having messed around a bit with the Views module and Content Construction Kit (CCK) and I have to say that I’m impressed. I don’t think I’ll have any problems customizing Drupal to fit my needs.