I am happy to live in a country where you can believe whatever you want to believe no matter how crazy it might be.
It's the price we pay for living in a free society. It's a pain at times, but I feel we can all get through it without too much damage ... hopefully. Yes, "birthers," I'm looking at you.
In a free society like the United States, you can believe the moon landing was faked. You can believe the CIA killed President John F. Kennedy. You can believe President George W. Bush planned or knew about 9/11. You can believe Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton killed Vince Foster. You can believe Adolf Hitler is alive and playing poker with Elvis on Uranus.
And, yes, you can believe Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S., is an illegal immigrant, and can't be president.
The problem is none of the above is true.
Believe what you want, just leave the rest of us out of it. Really.
Here's what makes me and other non-Chicken Littles go crazy. It's not enough for "birthers" to believe what they believe; they tend to want to act on their nutty views. To me, it's sort of like this: Your freedom to swing your fist ends where someone's face begins. The freedom to believe in the "birther" movement is starting to get silly and a little sad.
The difference between the other conspiracy theories mentioned and the "birthers" is they want to pass some law that will somehow magically fix what is going on only in their minds. Trust me, there isn't a law written by anyone, especially in Washington, D.C., that will help with that condition.
So here's where the rest of us have to step in and call "birthers" out for what they really are: uninformed, ignorant or just not crazy about having a black president. Yes, that's harsh, but what do you want? All of the theories mentioned have been investigated over and over again, and nothing to back up these nutty ideas has ever come to light. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Sorry. Believing doesn't make it so despite what Peter Pan says. Perception is not reality.
Here are a few actual facts. I saw Bob Tyrrell, editor of the American Spectator, say on TV there's nothing to these "questions" about Obama's birthplace, and the "birther" conspiracy is a waste of time. The American Spectator is a magazine and Web site that is to the right of Attila the Hun.
There's a right-wing Web site called World Net Daily that inspected Obama's birth certificate in person and said it's real. World Net Daily, by the way, still believes the Clintons ran a drug cartel out of Arkansas for years and murdered up to 13 people to hide it. Hardly a bunch of silly little liberals.
The McCain campaign investigated it and found nothing.
Ann Coulter, the "conservative Christian" pundit who once said the widows of the Twin Towers were happy their husbands are dead, says there's nothing to the "birther" conspiracy and she is embarrassed by the so-called movement. After seeing her on TV, I can tell you it takes a lot to embarrass her, but the "birthers" pulled it off.
No one has found anything that comes close to proof that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and they never will, just like with the moon landing, Kennedy assassination, Bush planning 9/11, Clinton killing Foster and Elvis hanging out with Hitler.
Here's something I would like "birthers" to ask themselves. Why is it the only people in any sort of power position who push this theory are people who want something?
They want money so they can continue their quest to get more money. They want ratings so their No. 3 television show can move up a spot and charge a little more for commercials. They want more hits on their Web sites so they can boast about how many hits they get and they can charge more for ads on their Web sites.
They want names, addresses and e-mails so they can collect a database and sell it to the highest bidder. They want to show how conservative they are to get more money and more votes to get re-elected.
These are the worst of the worst. They are playing on fears and prejudices when they should be working on the mountain of problems facing us.
I'm sorry to tell the "birthers," but this is not a grass-roots, of the people, bottom up, nonhierarchical, rank-and-file movement. It's a money-making venture making fools of good people who should know better. "Birthers" are being played and made fun of, and they don't even know it.
If you don't like the president, fine. Disagree with the president, great. Don't like his policies, super.
But as I was told when George W. Bush was elected twice, he's the president, get over it. It's time for some people to take their own advice, get over Obama's historic election and stop making fools of themselves and what's left of the Republican Party.
By the way, Elvis wants to know if four of a kind beats a straight flush. Yes, but only on Uranus.
Tony D'Astoli is a freelance videographer living in the Valley. He is a multi-Emmy-award-winning journalist with six Edward R. Murrow honors and is a former video reporter for the Tribune.