Finding hypocrisy in politics isn't difficult, but it's seldom been easier to point out than in the recent case of U.S. Army Maj. Stephen Cook. Cook has refused orders to redeploy to a war zone with his unit, because he believes President Obama was born in Kenya, which would mean he is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and unqualified to be president. Cook is what's come to be called a "birther."
Nevermind that Obama's birth certificate was certified as genuine by the state of Hawaii or that it's on the Internet or that the local hospital has confirmed his birth or that his birth notice was in both Honolulu papers a day after he was born. (A look at FactCheck.org or Snopes.com confirms all of this.) In Birther World, everyone's in on the cover-up, including fact-checking websites, and until Obama "produces" his birth certificate, he's an alien.
It's a no-win situation, and the administration has wisely avoided engaging these morons. I have no doubt that if Obama walked on stage with a copy in his hand and passed it around, birthers would say it was fake.
It's pretty nutty stuff, but there always have been loonies and conspiracy theorists among us. It's a proud American tradition. So if some whackos want to believe that a Honolulu hospital and two newspapers were somehow in on a conspiracy to falsify a child's birth announcement in 1961, there's not much any of us can do about it.
What really bothers me is, as I said, the hypocrisy. When some U.S. soldiers advocated withdrawal from Iraq a couple years back, Rush Limbaugh labeled them "phony soldiers." Several Fox News pundits, including Ann Coulter, called them "traitors." When decorated war veteran Representative John Murtha raised objections to the Iraq war, Coulter said he should be "fragged." Now, Cook is refusing deployment to a war zone. Surely, that's a phony soldier's traitorous act, worthy of fragging, right?
Nope. Instead, Fox News has been broadcasting at least one birther story every day. (A recent one featured an accompanying picture of Obama in native Kenya garb, taken during a trip to Africa a few years back.) Cook is treated as a patriot, standing up for what he believes. The suits at Fox must believe that the more credence they can lend to this absurd story, the better their ratings. As I said, there have always been loonies and conspiracy theorists among us — they just never had their own "news" network before.
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."