Normal method of applying petard (explosive device) to gate of fortress. The fuse has just been lit and the Fusilier is retreating quickly in order not to be 'hoist with his own petard'. Stipple engraving c1800

We’ve often heard, and just as often seen it misused and misunderstood, the phrase “hoisted on his own petard.” 

Perhaps we find this phrase so amusing because we’ve heard that the word “petard” comes from the French word for “fart.” 

But in this phrase the word “petard” refers to a primitive exploding device that would later become known as a bomb.  The original petard was a simple box of gunpowder that was placed against a door and ignited, for the purpose of creating an opening through which soldiers could gain entrance to attack.

Therefore, the phrase “hoisted on (or by) his own petard” means that one has been blown up (that is, hoisted or lifted) by his own bomb.  I believe that when we hear that phrase nowadays, we tend to picture someone humiliating himself by farting in a social situation.  Or better yet, …

… farting so forcefully that they are literally raised in their chair by the force of the expulsion of gas.  But the real meaning is more accurately described by a similar phrase, “blew up in his own face,” especially as in the case of a saboteur or terrorist having a bomb explode as they were transporting or planting it, doing the most damage to himself.

In any case, this phrase, in any of its interpretations, is what comes to mind when I see Republicans or other political opponents of President Barack Obama espousing the “birther” argument that Obama is not legally qualified to be President because he is not a “natural born citizen” of the United States, as required, but not defined, by the Constitution.  I don’t know where he was born, or who his really daddy is, but I’m not about to go on record as a birther.

I want to urge those who wish to be taken seriously: “Don’t take the bait.”  By taking up the birther argument, you are playing right into Obama’s hands.  It just makes you look like a kook, which is exactly what his team wants.

Back in 2008, we had a lot of people studying his Certificate of Live Birth, a virtually meaningless document that proved nothing.  And many people tried so hard to read too much into it, and they just ended up looking foolish.  Like kooks.

Then, about a year ago, in April 2011, Obama released his so-called “long form Birth Certificate,” supposedly to stop the conspiracy theories about his birth.  But here’s where you need to think like a true strategist.  The white house could have released a simple one-layer image, like the many images on the internet.  It could have been a GIF, JPEG,

TIF, or other type of image file… what you would expect if there was an actual photo taken of the birth certificate.  Instead, they release a multi-layered PDF, which has the look of a forgery before the image is flattened or has the layers merged into one image.  To anyone who has worked with Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, both of which use multiple layers of images which are usually saved to a single-layer PDF for the “finished product,” you just have to ask, “What were they thinking?”

I mean REALLY!  Are they such amateurs that they go to all this trouble to create a multi-layered forged birth certificate, and then FORGET to merge the layers for the version they put on the Internet?  Really?  You think they are that stupid?  I don’t.  I think they knew exactly what they were doing.  They were just yanking the chains of the birthers.  Just reviving the argument that has worked so well for them.  With each new document the birthers come up with, the more normal, uncurious people just laugh them off as kooks.

This is why you haven’t seen Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or John McCain or Mitt Romney jumping on the birther bandwagon.  They know exactly how that would make them look.  You got it.  Like kooks.

A few days ago, a promotional pamphlet hit the blogosphere from Barack Obama’s old book publicist.  In it, his bio described his as “born in Kenya.”  That was the meme Obama wanted for himself before he decided to take a serious run at the presidency.  Back then, it seemed exotic to be from Kenya.  It bolstered his “African” creds, instead of the spoiled rich half-white kid raised by his white family in the vacation paradise of Hawaii.  Who’s going to take an Oreo from Hawaii seriously on African-American issues?  Since he was not descended from American slaves, he decided to be a second-generation African.

At least, this is the way it appears to me and many others.  The reality of his birth and upbringing didn’t fit the way he wanted to be perceived in the black communities, so he reinvented himself.  Then when he decided to run for president, he had to reinvent himself again, or uninvent himself.

You know something?  It has always been my opinion that Barack Obama never took himself seriously as a presidential candidate in the early run-up to the 2008 election.  I believe he was just trying to make a name for himself like so many other also-rans, like Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann, and others you would never have heard of if they hadn’t decided to run for president.  I truly believe Obama was as surprised as anyone that his candidacy took off and overcame the juggernaut Hillary Clinton.  I think that up until the Iowa Caucuses in January of 2008, he figured he’d be doing good to come in third behind Clinton and Edwards.  Then, from out of nowhere, he won the frickin’ lottery.  Oops!

It probably never occurred to him until the early primaries that his “Natural Born Citizen” status would ever become a serious issue.  I think all politicians think they are squeaky clean until the opposition starts digging up their backgrounds.  Who in their right minds would ever think that a boyhood fist fight would ever pop up to haunt a candidate for office?  Or an old bookseller’s blurb?  Whodda thunk it?

So this last week, we’ve all been delighted to see this old book publisher’s pamphlet showing Barack Obama’s biography claiming he was born in Kenya.  But as No Quarter’s Larry Johnson and others have been careful to point out, it was probably a lie that Obama was telling back then to make himself appear more interesting.  And it may well be that he used a false claim of foreign birth for other reasons, like college enrollment or visiting POCKisTAWN with his gay lover.

Yes, I still make fun of Obama as being a foreign-born closeted-homosexual phony intellectual gasbag.  Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things.  It’s just his lying about it that bugs me.

So we are all still left wondering if Obama is legally unqualified to hold the office of President.  We may never know.  I guess I’d have to say that doesn’t matter at this point.  Now that he’s been in office nearly four years, it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone except the die-hard birthers, and that’s mostly so they can finally say “HAH!  TOLD YOU SO!!”

But if you were running against him in an election, as John McCain did and Mitt Romney will, would you really want to win it by a technical foul on Obama’s part?  Would you want your claim to the Presidency muddied by the implication that you only won because Obama got disqualified?  Would you want that to be your legacy?  I don’t think so.

The political and legal wrangling over this issue would fill volumes, so I don’t intend to address the legal meanings of the requirement, definitions inherent to it, or claims that Obama does not meet that requirement.  My personal opinions are all over the road on this subject.  I can certainly see that there is plenty of circumstantial and perhaps conclusive evidence that he does not meet that constitutional requirement, but as he has already been President for nearly four years, I feel the point is moot (not “mute” as some say, which makes me want to throttle them).

Even if we had absolute, irrefutable evidence that Obama was born in Kenya, as he apparently claimed prior to 2007, it would do no good to argue the point because public opinion is against you.  Since we all know how easily documents can be forged, especially digital documents on the Internet, no document is going to convince the majority.  It just makes you another “birther,” which has become synonymous with “conspiracy nut.”

A birther is the political equivalent of a “truther,” one who believes the President George W. Bush administration had a role in the 9/11 attacks.  Birthers are likened to people who believe in UFO abductions, people who believe in Bigfoot, people who think the CIA has put listening devices in their dental work, and people who believe the world is actually being run by a secret cabal of super-wealthy power brokers.  Of course, all of the above have true believers that there are strong elements of truth to them, but none has been proven so far.

And by the way, I have seen plenty of evidence that parts of the 9/11 attacks are different than what the government and media would have us believe.  I am pretty firmly convinced that some, if not all, of the building collapses at the World Trade Center were controlled demolitions.  It seems logical to me that government officials might feel it would be better to bring those towers down in a controlled way rather than let them fall sideways, spreading flaming debris for blocks.  I could easily be persuaded that if our government knew there were fully-fueled jetliners in the air around Washington, on the verge of being used as guided missiles, that the military would have jets in the air as fast as we could scramble them.  But once they are in the air and shadowing the jetliners, what would be their orders?  Just hang back and watch?  It sounds plausible to me that their orders would be to bring them down in an unpopulated area — like rural Pennsylvania. I’m only saying, it sounds plausible.

Speaking of unpopulated areas, I think it’s pretty safe to say that if I were a UFO navigator or commander, I would find it pretty easy to avoid being seen up close and personal in highly populated areas.  And if I wanted to clandestinely kidnap human specimens for my biological experiments, I’d find it much easier and safer to do so out in the boonies.  And if I was a Bigfoot, or any form of non-human primate, I would probably stay away from humans as much as possible, and I’d probably find that a pretty easy thing to do, given all the wilderness on this continent and others.

And I think we all pretty much know that the world is being run by the secret societies of the super-wealthy crowd.  We don’t have any real proof, but it just makes so much sense!  It has to be that way!

But I don’t buy the thing about the CIA putting listening devices in my fillings.  If that were true, they’d have locked me up a long time ago!!