Monday, February 16, 2009


Guest column by retired attorney Glenn Neal.

I want to cover two topics in this post: the first is "bitchin' rights," the second is Obama's birth certificate. Although on first glance they may seem widely disparate, in fact they are closely related.

We have a tradition in my family that if you don't vote, you forfeit your right to "bitch" if you don't like the person who is elected. According to the United States Census Bureau, about 201 million citizens would have been voting age and eligible to vote in the 2008 election. Sixty-seven percent of them registered to vote.[1] Of those registered voters, sixty-three percent actually voted.

That means that of the potential eligible voters (both registered and those who could have registered but didn't) about forty-two percent actually voted. Obama won the presidency by around fifty-two percent of votes cast (best estimate at the time of this writing), so he was elected by twenty-two percent of the potential eligible voters who might have voted if they made the effort.

I can only speculate on the reasons people don't register to vote; some just don't care, some care but believe their vote doesn't count and they cannot change the outcome of an election, still others who did register don't vote for any number of reasons. Incidentally, those who believe their vote doesn't count are absolutely right. Their vote doesn't count--if they stay home.

What does this all have to do with Obama's birth certificate? I'm glad you ask.

Seventy-eight percent of eligible voters did not vote for Obama. Of that seventy-eight percent of eligible voters, some of the small number of voters who did vote against Obama--and still have their bitchin' rights--have filed lawsuits challenging whether Obama is even eligible to be president because, they suspect, he is not a natural born American as required by article II of the Constitution.

Obama, according to press reports has three law firms working to keep him from having to produce a birth certificate. That has to be a major distraction for the president at a time the nation is facing a severe financial crisis which needs all the attention he can give it. Why waste time on what appears to be a trivial matter of a birth certificate if you have nothing to hide? What's the big deal?

When I went to apply for my first driver's license I had to produce a birth certificate; when I enlisted in the U.S. Navy, I had to show my birth certificate. I once had a military-related civilian job that required a security clearance. I had to have a birth certificate. I never gave that a second thought, I just considered it the cost of doing business. So why is Obama so adamant about not allowing anyone to examine his?

Perhaps the birth certificate is not the issue at all. Maybe the refusal to present a valid birth certificate is a red herring--something to draw attention and keep the public, and the few curious journalists who question Obama's bona fides, chasing a phantom which keeps them from seeing there may be something more sinister Obama is really hiding. This is all speculation, of course.

But in the final analysis, Obama is spending a lot of time, energy and political capital to keep from doing something the rest of us do routinely--show a birth certificate when we deal with our government. Intuitively, it doesn't make sense.

[1] For a discussion of voting age population (VAP) vs. voting eligible population (VEP) and their effect on calculating voter turnout, see (accessed February 11, 2009)

Thursday, February 12, 2009


As the news from both within and without the United States gets worse with each day, I am reminded of the poet W. B. Yeats' immortal words, in his "The Second Coming":

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?