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'Transparent' White House blacklists 'birthers'
Posted By Chelsea Schilling On 06/04/2009 @ 12:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Despite the “open government dialogue” website being overrun with posts addressing the eligibility issue, the White House appears to be moving on with its plans while ignoring concerns from thousands of people about Barack Obama’s elusive “long-form” birth certificate.
“We read and considered all the proposals,” Beth Noveck, White House deputy chief technology officer for open government, said in a statement on the White House website. “We took the voting into account when assessing your enthusiasm for a submission, but only somewhat in evaluating relevance.”
She continued, “The ideas that received the most organized support were not necessarily the most viable suggestions.”
As WND reported, many of the top-rated threads have been from citizens calling on Obama to release his birth certificate. There were more than 200 individual threads and thousands of comments on the eligibility issue alone, but moderators repeatedly edited dialogue about the birth certificate.
WND observed the “Making Data More Accessible” section for several hours Tuesday as more suggestions appeared, and at least 60 were subsequently removed on the first page alone – all requests for the president to submit proof of citizenship.
Earlier in the week, on Sunday night, only 30 percent of respondents in one forum, “Verifying eligibility to be president of the USA,” demanded the president release the document. But that number exploded to nearly 80 percent the following day after WND alerted the public to the White House resource.
Today, as one of the popular single threads with more than 600 approving votes, that post has been flagged pending moderator approval.
“The most popular idea yesterday had more than twice as many votes as the next,” one poster lamented about an eligibility post. “Today it is gone!”
Another user told WND one popular birth certificate story was being manipulated to show only 68 votes cast in favor of disclosing Obama’s long-form birth certificate. With 1,193 votes cast for the idea and 369 against, the display should have shown a positive vote of 824 – a relatively high score on a popular article.
The following image shows the discrepancy:
With 1,193 votes cast for the idea and 369 against, orange number should have shown a positive vote of 824 rather than 68
Moderators did not respond to questions about whether the votes were being manipulated. Other users reported having votes counted twice, experiencing positive votes switched to negative numbers or having their posts removed completely.
The website dialogue is moderated by the National Academy of Public Administration, or NAPA. Vice President Lena Trudeau told WND that moderators pull posts once the public chooses to “flag” them.
“Our team is focused on removing two types of posts: Those that violate our moderation policy and those that are flagged by our user community as being inappropriate,” she said. “As an independent, non-profit, non-partisan institution, we do not take a position ourselves on what ideas are ‘inappropriate’ other than insofar as they fall into either of these categories.”
Much of the transparency portion of the website is still being overrun with citizens demanding presentation of the long-form birth certificate. Every one of more than 200 threads features dozens – and even hundreds – of people in agreement that Obama should release the document.
Asked whether the threads about Obama’s eligibility will
translate into the next discussion phase, Trudeau said, “While we are
providing advice as to what topics are most relevant to the president’s
open government agenda, the ultimate decision as to what is included in
the discussion phase is entirely at the discretion of the White House.”
Despite the overall popularity of the eligibility
subject, the White House is showing no indication that it will address
the issue in the next phase.
“There were plenty of great ideas that we read but that unfortunately
did not make sense to bring into the next phase, including those with
no relation to transparency policy, endorsing a product, or describing
legislative action outside the purview of the Executive branch,” Noveck
said in her statement.
Trudeau’s June 1 summary analysis of the open government brainstorm to the White House made no mention of the eligibility issue.
Likewise, a “mindmap” compiled by the White House of the redacted transparency proposals does not include the topic, and the it is also absent from specific submissions listed on the White House website for “deeper and more focused conversation.”
Noveck said today the open government website will invite comments on the first blog post of the discussion phase. The first set of posts will focus on five transparency themes: principles, governance, access, data and operations.
“Today, we want to share with you a little about what we’ve learned from you about transparency,” Noveck wrote. “Transparency is of vital importance. As the President emphasized in his Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act: ‘A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. … At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.’”
Frustrated with the administration’s handling of the “open government dialogue,” one user wrote, “Any organization, such as the NAPA, that moderates this site is surely not going to do anything that would cause them to lose favor with Obama and thus lose the funding for this project. Thus, as a result, I can almost guarantee that the thousands of concerned citizens who have legitimately asked the question about Obama’s eligibility will not be heard.”
He continued, “This project was a total farce that was put out here to make us, as the ignorant masses that Obama thinks we are, just think that we have a voice.”
Meanwhile, the visibility of the Obama birth certificate issue has also been raised by a new national billboard campaign initiated by Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. Launched just over a week ago, the campaign has raised about $65,000 and begun erecting billboards that ask the question, “Where’s the birth certificate?”
That campaign followed one launched months earlier to collect names on an electronic petition demanding accountability and transparency on the issue. So far, that petition has gathered nearly 400,000 names.
In his questioning of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving specifically made reference to the WND petition.
“Are you looking for the president’s birth certificate?” he asked incredulously. “Lester, this question in many ways continues to astound me. The state of Hawaii provided a copy with the seal of the president’s birth. I know there are apparently at least 400,000 people – (laughter) – that continue to doubt the existence of and the certification by the state of Hawaii of the president’s birth there, but it’s on the Internet because we put it on the Internet for each of those 400,000 to download. I certainly hope by the fourth year of our administration that we’ll have dealt with this burgeoning birth controversy.”
It was the first time any member of the press corps has publicly asked a member of the administration a question directly related to Obama’s constitutional eligibility for office as a “natural born citizen.”
Politico has video of the exchange, which is embedded below:
Farah announced the billboard campaign to raise public awareness of the fact that Obama has never released the standard, “long-form” birth certificate that would show which hospital he was born in, the attending physician and establish that he truly was born in Hawaii, as his autobiography maintains.
The “Certification of Live Birth” posted online and widely touted as “Obama’s birth certificate” does not in any way prove he was born in Hawaii, since the same “short-form” document is easily obtainable for children not born in Hawaii. The true “long-form” birth certificate – which includes information like the name of the birth hospital and attending physician – is the only document that can prove Obama was born in Hawaii, but to date he has not permitted its release for public or press scrutiny.
Congressional hearings were held to determine whether Sen. John McCain was constitutionally eligible to be president as a “natural born citizen,” but no controlling legal authority ever sought to verify Obama’s claim to a Hawaiian birth.
Both the petition and the billboard campaign are part of what Farah calls an independent “truth and transparency campaign.”
Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs bends over laughing at a question over Obama’s eligibility
The first sign to be posted under the week-old campaign, a digital, electronic one, is up and online on Highway 165 in Ball, La. In addition, based on the heavy volume of financial donations in the first two days of the campaign, WND was able to commit to leasing two more standard billboards – one in Los Angeles and the other in Pennsylvania. It will take several weeks to get those billboards up because of the vinyl printing and shipping involved. Yesterday, WND agreed to lease another electronic billboard in Orange County, Calif.
While the campaign is off to a robust start, many viewers have asked why Obama’s name is not included in the billboard. Farah said the matter was carefully considered.
“There are several reasons we chose the message: ‘Where’s the birth certificate?’” he explained. “There is only one birth certificate controversy in this country today – despite the near-total absence of this issue from coverage in the non-WND media. This is a grass-roots issue that resonates around the country, as our own online petition with nearly 400,000 signers suggests. In addition, I like the simplicity of the message. I like the fact that the message will cause some people to ask themselves or others about the meaning of the message. It will stir curiosity. It will create a buzz. I’m assuming when these billboards are springing up all over the country, it might even make some in the news media curious. And there’s one more factor that persuaded me this was the way to go.
Birth certificate question being raised in Ball, La.
“Come 2012, campaign laws will pose restrictions on political advertising mentioning the names of presidential candidates. This one clearly doesn’t. I would like to see the federal government make the case that this is somehow a political ad,” he said.
Farah said the campaign was born of frustration with timid elected officials in Washington, corrupt judges around the country and a news media that show a stunning lack of curiosity about the most basic facts of Obama’s background – especially how it relates to constitutional eligibility for the highest office in the land.
“As Obama transforms this country from self-governing constitutional republic to one governed by a central ruling elite, the simple fact remains that no controlling legal authority has established that he is indeed a ‘natural born citizen’ as the Constitution requires,” Farah said. “Obama’s promises of transparency have become a bad joke as he continues to hide simple, innocuous documents like his birth certificate and his student records.”
The idea behind the billboard campaign is to make sure Obama cannot avoid this question any longer. He must be asked to produce it at every turn, Farah says. Billboard space is currently being hunted in Houston, Dallas, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle and other metro areas.
“Is it unusual for a news agency to launch such a campaign?” asks Farah. “Yes it is. But we live in very unusual times. The founding fathers built special protections into the First Amendment for the free press. The reason they did that is because they understood a vibrant ‘Fourth Estate’ was necessary as an independent watchdog on government. It is in that tradition that WND assumes this role – since nobody else in the press will do it.”
WND previously launched a petition campaign that has collected more than 375,000 names demanding Obama’s eligibility be verified and demonstrated publicly. That campaign continues. That list has been shared with members of the Electoral College and the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I wish such a campaign were not absolutely necessary,” said Farah. “I wish there were checks and balances in our political and electoral systems to ensure that constitutional eligibility of presidential candidates was established before politicians could assume the highest office in the land. I wish my colleagues in the news media believed the Constitution really means what it says and pressed this issue as hard as we have pressed it at WND. I wish radio talk-show hosts were bold enough to ask this question. But wishing is not enough. It’s time to raise the visibility of this issue vital to the rule of law in America. I ask everyone to pitch in and help WND make a simple yet profound statement: The Constitution still matters.”
Your donation – from as little as $5 to as much as $1,000 – can be made online at the WND SuperStore. (Donations are not tax-deductible. Donations of amounts greater than $1,000 can be arranged by calling either 541-474-1776 or 1-800-4WND.COM. If you would prefer to mail in your contributions, they should be directed to WND, P.O. Box 1627, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Be sure to specify the purpose of the donation by writing “billboard” on the check. In addition, donations of billboard space will be accepted, as will significant contributions specifically targeted for geographic locations.)
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