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Meet the Birthers

Who are these people, really?

| Sun Aug. 9, 2009 7:21 PM EDT

Dr. Ron Polarik
Polarik (not his real name) claims to be a "document imaging" expert. He says his four-month examination of images of Obama's birth certificate offer "conclusive and irrefutable" evidence that the document is a forgery. In a lengthy treatise, dubbed "Obama's 'Born' Conspiracy" and published on the conservative web site FreeRepublic, Polarik describes his quest for the truth as his "Holy Grail." He concludes: The answer to "What's on Barack Obama's real, original birth certificate" ranks right up there with some of the great mysteries of our time—and that is really hard to swallow. That a man, with a dubious background, has been elected to the highest office of the greatest superpower in the world without ever having to prove who he says he is! That is not "nutty," that's just plain insane!"

Who is Polarik, really? Blogger Loren Collins claims his real name is Ron Polland, and he's not the expert he says he is. "He has no degrees relating to computers or technology. He is not a computer expert; he has used computers. He is not a scanner expert; he has used scanners. At best, he is an amateur photography buff." If Polarik and Polland are indeed one and the same, then he also fancies himself an expert in another area—Internet dating. He once ran a web site, MyLoveNeeds.com, devoted to showing "you how to find safe and satisfying relationships using the Internet by avoiding potential problems." Sorry, folks, it's since been taken offline.

Andy Martin
Who started the rumor that Obama was a secret Muslim? Martin, whose real name is Anthony Robert Martin-Trigona, usually gets the credit. He's run for public office during almost every election cycle since 1978, twice for the presidency. Thankfully, voters have never seen fit to elect him—certainly his 1986 campaign vow to "exterminate Jew power in America" didn't endear him to the electorate. Despite his own history of anti-Semitism, during the campaign Martin slammed Obama’s “long associations with anti-Semites and anti-Americans."

Martin, who considers himself the "godfather" of the birther movement (he also refers to himself as an "internet powerhouse"), sued the state of Hawaii in October 2008, seeking access to Obama's original birth certificate. In addition to questioning Obama's origins, he has also suggested that Barack Obama Sr. is not the president's real father. After Orly Taitz came forward with the fake document that she claimed was Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate, Martin held a press conference casting doubts on its validity. Instead, he offered the novel theory that Obama himself had forged the certificate "as part of his 'affirmative action' application to Occidental."

Oh, and during the early days of the Iraq War, Martin also claimed to know where Saddam Hussein was hiding.

Joseph Farah

Farah made his name in the conservative movement pushing conspiracy theories about the death of Clinton associate and former White House counsel Vincent Foster. Now his right-wing website, WorldNetDaily, has become a clearinghouse for all things birther, interspersing shocking new "evidence" with special offers for colon cleansers and emergency survival kits. In addition to its wall-to-wall coverage, WorldNetDaily also sponsored “Where’s the birth certificate?” billboards that have sprung up in California, Louisiana, and elsewhere, and launched a line of 'eligibility' products for purchase on its website.

Jerome Corsi
You may remember Corsi, co-author of Unfit for Command, for his leading role in swiftboating Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 election. During the 2008 election cycle, he released The Obama Nation (get it?), an attack on Obama's candidacy so riddled with errors and falsehoods that FactCheck.org said "a comprehensive review of all the false claims in Corsi's book would itself be a book." Given his past exploits, it's hardly surprising to find him at the center of the birther debate. Writing for WorldNetDaily, he's published a series of stories advancing the phony birth certificate meme. In an interview with Fox News, he claimed the Obama campaign had posted "a false, fake birth certificate." His proof? A "good analysis of it on the Internet, and it's been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop." The source: another anonymous "forensics specialist" who goes by the handle TechDude.

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