Are Obama's 1961 Birth Announcements Fake?
What a long, strange journey it has been for the records of Barack Obama's birth.
Couldn't the Obama camp just "release a copy of his birth certificate"?
So asked Jim Geraghty of the National Review on June 9, 2008. Geraghty posed this question in response to an item in Politifact, the Tampa Bay Times fact-checking service, which seemed to dispel internet rumors that Obama's full name was in fact "Barack Hussein Muhammed Obama."
Politifact researchers could find no public record of Obama's with the name "Muhammed" in it. But that was not all they failed to find. They also proved unable "to obtain a copy of Obama's birth certificate," finally conceding that Obama's "campaign would not release it and the state of Hawaii does not make such records public."
On June 12, 2008, just three days after Geraghty's inquiry, a simple-looking Obama birth certificate mysteriously appeared on the website Daily Kos. The website's founder Markos Moulitsas, author of the Saul Alinsky-inspired Taking On the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era, emphatically stated, "[H]ere is Obama's birth certificate."
Moulitsas noted that the edges of the scan were trimmed, so any attempts to "debunk" the birth certificate based on its dimensions would be futile, and the precise date and time of Obama's birth was an added "bonus" with which "astrologers" could work their calculations. Moulitsas boldly concluded that "the latest batch of crazy internet rumors" are now "debunked."
On the same day of the Daily Kos posting, PolitiFact received in their e-mail a copy of the same birth certificate from the previously unhelpful Obama campaign. Any and all pesky "Muhammed" middle name rumors were officially squelched.
On June 28, 2008, Honolulu resident Thelma Lefforge Young passed away. Mrs. Lefforge's address of 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy would soon appear on the web in a August 13, 1961 Honolulu Sunday Advertiser birth announcement: 'Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy., son, August 4.'
Best evidence (hat tip: Butterdezillion) is that an image of the August 13 Honolulu Sunday Advertiser (with twenty-five birth listings) was first posted on the web sometime around July 23, 2008 by a documentary filmmaker named Lori Starfelt on a TexasDarlin blog. Starfelt's heroes include Malcolm X, and her political writings include "More Americans Killed By Right Wing Terrorists In The 90s Than Foreign Terrorists." Starfelt claimed that while working on a film titled The Audacity of Democracy, she received her copy from a nameless research librarian at the Hawaii State Library. Starfelt's film was eventually released in 2009 to little or no fanfare.
In addition, Starfelt said she "talked" to Department of Vital Records and the Honolulu Advertiser. She learned that in 1961, hospitals would take their birth records to Vital Records, which would post a sheet at the end of the week for the Honolulu Advertiser to pick up. The Advertiser would then "routinely" print this information in their Sunday edition.
Starfelt calculated that since Obama was born on Friday, August 4, 1961, and since hospitals didn't take birth certificate information for the first few days after a birth, Obama's birth records would then be taken to Vital Records on the following Friday (August 11, 1961). Hence, Obama's birth announcement appeared in the 8/13 Honolulu Sunday Advertiser.
In fact, however, a ten-day sample of birth lists from the August 1961 Honolulu Advertiser, collected by blogger "Ladyforest," shows that births were posted not just on Sunday, but throughout the week.
8/8 Tuesday - 50 births
8/9 Wednesday - 76 births
8/10 Thursday - 82 births
8/11 Friday - 0 births
8/12 Saturday - 0 births
8/13 Sunday - 25 births - Obama's birth announcement
8/14 Monday - 49 births
8/15 Tuesday - 0 (?) births
8/16 Wednesday - 67 births
8/17 Thursday - 203 births
Starfelt's credibility, and thus the credibility of the Advertiser birth announcement, immediately comes into question. Did Starfelt make up the story about births being posted at the end of the week by the Advertiser, or was she misinformed by the Advertiser, the Hawaii Department of Vital Records, or both? There is another confusing detail. The Nordyke twins were born on Saturday, August 5, 1961, in the same hospital Obama was reported to be born in, but their birth announcement appears in the Wednesday, August 16 Advertiser.
Starfelt unfortunately passed away on March 16, 2011, just when the Donald Trump/birth certificate debate was beginning to heat up. Starfelt's memorial service was held in May 2011 at The Unitarian Universalist Church in Studio City, California. Coincidently, Obama's grandparents, Madeline and Stanley Dunham, were members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Seattle and Madeline Payne-Dunham's memorial service was held in 2008 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Hawaii.
At about the same time as Starfelt's July 2008 posting, a blogger named "Infidel Granny" posted the same birth announcement image on an AtlasShrugs blog. Infidel Granny claimed to have received her copy in an e-mail from the same nameless research librarian who helped Starfelt from the Hawaii State Library. Infidel Granny briefly resurfaced in 2009 in an AtlasShrugs blog, where she opined, "I sure hope you don't think I had anything to do with a forgery."
The origin of the second birth announcement is even more murky. The best evidence (hat tip: Butterdezillion) is that sometime around August 13, 2008, a Honolulu resident named "Koa" posted the August 14, 1961 Honolulu Star-Bulletin birth announcement on TexasDarlin apparently after she found it herself in the Hawaii State Library. The first twenty-five births in the August 14 Honolulu Star-Bulletin announcements match exactly in the same order as the twenty-five births from the August 13 Advertiser.
Were identical birth lists between the two papers common? Hawaii Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo confirmed, in fact, that both 1961 newspapers received vital statistics from the Health Department, who in turn had received its "information directly from hospitals."
A ten-day sample collected from blogger "Ladyforest" from the August 1961 Honolulu Star-Bulletin shows births posted with no apparent connection to the ten-day sample from August 1961 Honolulu Advertiser shown above. Hence, spokeswoman Okubo is discredited.
8/8 Tuesday - 56 births
8/9 Wednesday - 4 births
8/10 Thursday - 0 births
8/11 Friday - 0 births
8/12 Saturday - 17 births
8/13 Sunday - 21 births
8/14 Monday - 58 births - Obama's birth announcement
8/15 Tuesday - 0(?) births
8/16 Wednesday - 18 births
8/17 Thursday - 129 births
The Honolulu Advertiser added that "birth announcements from the public ran elsewhere in both papers and usually included information such as the newborn's name, weight and time of birth."
Where "elsewhere" is located is a mystery. No samples collected of the August 1961 newspapers show the newborn's name, weight, or time of birth.
PolitiFact's Robert Farley added that a reporter named Will Hoover checked with newspaper officials and "confirmed those notices came from the state Department of Health," with Hoover explaining, "That's not the kind of stuff a family member calls in and says, 'Hey, can you put this in?'" Farley then pondered, "Take a second and think about that. In order to phony those notices up, it would have required the complicity of the state Health Department and two independent newspapers -- on the off chance this unnamed child might want to one day be president of the United States."
Just how independent were the two newspapers? On June 1, 1962, less than a year after Obama's birth, joint operations began between the two newspapers under a company called the Hawaii Newspaper Agency, and then, after occupying the same building for almost fifty years, on June 6, 2010, both newspapers merged into one newspaper called the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Farley should take a second and question the "complicity" of the Hawaii Health Department and two vaguely independent newspapers to "phony up" August 1961 microfilms in the summer of 2008.
Samples from the two, at the time, "independent" Hawaii newspapers in August 1961 show that most births announcements fell in an eight-day range about a week behind the date of the papers publication. For example, the Monday, August 7 Honolulu Star-Bulletin births range from July 24 to July 31, August 14 Star-Bulletin births range from July 31 to August 7, and August 16 Advertiser births range from August 3 to 10.
All seventy-four births from the August 13 and 14 Honolulu Advertiser can be found in the seventy-five births from the August 12 and 14 Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and vice versa, in an unbelievably confusing and mishmash manner. For no apparent reason, the identical birth lists were broken up into smaller blocks ranging from two to twenty-five names, and then these smaller blocks of names were randomly jumbled together with the birth names within the smaller blocks, without exception, remaining in the same order:
1. The August 13 Honolulu Advertiser contains 25 births (#22 Obama) matching exactly in order the first 25 births (out of 58) in the August 14 Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
2. The August 14 Honolulu Advertiser contains 49 births, which can be separated into seven blocks found in the August 12 and August 14 Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
(1) 1-19 match August 14 Star-Bulletin # 3 (35-54)
(2) 20-21 match August 12 Star-Bulletin # 4 (16-17)
(3) 22-26 match August 12 Star-Bulletin # 3 (11-15)
(4) 27-29 match August 12 Star-Bulletin # 1 (1-3)
(5) 30-33 match August 14 Star-Bulletin # 4 (55-58)
(6) 34-42 match August 14 Star-Bulletin # 2 (26-34)
(7) 43-49 match August 12 Star-Bulletin # 2 (4-10)
3. Conversely, the August 12 Honolulu Star-Bulletin contains seventeen births which can be separated into four blocks found in the August 14 Advertiser:
(1) 1-3 match August 14 Advertiser # 4 (27-29)
(2) 4-10 match August 14 Advertiser # 7 (43-49)
(3) 11-15 match August 14 Advertiser # 3 (22-26)
(4) 16-17 match August 14 Advertiser # 2 (20-21)
4. The August 13 Honolulu Star-Bulletin contains twenty-one births with no matches to either the August 13 or August 14 Honolulu Advertiser and, curiously, no birth dates after July 31. At least three of the birth announcements can be found in the August 17 Honolulu Advertiser.
5. The August 14 Honolulu Star-Bulletin contains 58 births (#22 Obama) which can be separated into 4 blocks found in the August 13 and 14 Advertiser:
(1) 1-25 match August 13 Advertiser # 1 (1-25)
(2) 26-34 match August 14 Advertiser # 6 (34-42)
(3) 35-53 match August 14 Advertiser # 1 (1-19)
(4) 54-58 match August 14 Advertiser # 5 (30-33)
A few questions need to be asked. Why were blocks of identical names between the two newspapers jumbled together in a hodgepodge manner when identical birth lists were given to the newspapers by Hawaii Vital Records? Did someone from the Hawaii Newspaper Agency in the summer of 2008 intentionally cut and paste blocks in a random fashion in order to sow confusion into "phonied up" August 12, 13, 14, 1961 microfilms?
In the August 14 Advertiser (#22 Obama), birth announcements #56 and #57 repeat for "Mr. and Mrs. Robert K. Kamalu Jr., 3427-A McCorriston Street, son. August 6."
A few more questions need to be asked. Why is there a repeating birth announcement? Why does the birth announcement repeat in only one of the birth lists when, once again, identical birth lists were given to the newspapers by Hawaii Vital Records?
As noted, the twenty-five births from the August 13 Advertiser match exactly in the same order the first twenty-five births of the August 14 Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
In the August 13 Advertiser, the announcements seem to be listed randomly until the thirteenth posting -- "Mr. and Mrs. Edward Walker, daughter, Aug 7." From there, the births clump together in descending order by date of birth, all August: 7, 7, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4. The pattern continues through the twenty-second posting -- "Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, son, Aug 4" -- and ends with the twenty-fifth and final listing, "Mr. and Mrs. Harry Wong, son, Aug 4."
The August 14 Star-Bulletin (#22 Obama) birth list likewise begins randomly with the descending pattern starting with the thirteenth posting -- "Mr. and Mrs. Edward Walker, daughter, Aug 7" -- but then runs longer to the thirty-fourth posting, "Mr. and Mr. Raymond, son born on Aug 3" -- i.e., August 7, 7, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3. After #34, the births appear to be randomly listed with a tendency to sometimes be clumped together by date of birth.
Even more questions need to be asked. Why does a descending pattern suddenly appear in a birth list otherwise randomly ordered in both papers? Why does the same descending pattern found in the August 13 Advertiser birth list run from entry #13 to entry # 25 and then from #13 to #34 (out of 58) in the August 14 Star-Bulletin birth list? What are the odds that an orderly descending pattern involving twenty-two names would naturally emerge in an otherwise random list?
Assuming an eight-day range (August 1-8) and a pattern beginning on August 7, the only two dates which continue a descending pattern are 7 and 6. The chances that a 7 or 6 would be picked from the dates (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) is 2/8, or 1/4. If a 6 was picked, then the chances that a 6 or 5 would be picked, continuing the descending pattern, are 2/8, or 1/4, and so on. The odds, then, that a continuous pattern starting on August 7 would run for twelve more dates is (1/4)^12 = 1 in 16,777,216. The odds the pattern would run for another nine dates (for a total of twenty-one) in the second birth announcement is (1/4)^12 x (1/4)^9 = (1/4)^21 = 1 in 4,400,000,000,000.
A comparison of the August 1961 Sunday Advertiser and the corresponding next Monday's Advertiser and Star-Bulletin (i.e., August 6 and 7, August 20 and 21, August 27 and 28) would show if it was a normal occurrence for birth lists (1) to incorporate a jumbled mishmash of blocks of identical names, (2) to contain repeating names, and (3) to contain orderly descending patterns.
A partial list of thirty-nine births from the Monday August 7 Star-Bulletin microfilm contains no repeating names and no continuous descending patterns longer than two births.
Despite the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the two newspaper birth announcements, FOX news anchor Bill O'Reilly stated that although he is "very busy," he has in fact himself "looked into the birth certificate" and "found out there were two separate birth announcements made in Honolulu newspapers on the day Barack Obama was born." Huh?
O'Reilly then estimated off the top of his head the "odds" that someone was "conspiritorializing" the birth of a "little mixed-race baby" and "planted" two newspaper birth announcements in 1961 are about "29 gazillion to one." Someday, when O'Reilly isn't too busy, he might try calculating the odds that, during the summer of 2008, a fake birth certificate was planted on a Saul Alinsky-inspired website, and two fake 1961 newspaper birth announcements were planted on the web by a complicit Hawaii Health Department, two "independent" newspapers, two anonymous bloggers, and by an unknown filmmaker who believed that more Americans were killed in the 1990s by right-wing terrorists than by foreign terrorists.