By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Birth of an Obsession
With her strong will, busy travel schedule and breathless blogging, Laguna Niguel dentist Orly Taitz has become the most controversial figure in the effort to prove that President Barack Obama is foreign-born
Before she addressed the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States on March 13, Dr. Orly Taitz thought about his son and her sons and nearly started to cry.
This was after she had woken up at 3 a.m., headed to Kinko’s in Laguna Niguel, photocopied hundreds of pages, gotten on Interstate 5 heading south, answered questions on her cell phone from a radio station, caught a flight in San Diego, sat for a few hours in Salt Lake City, caught another flight, landed in Spokane, picked up a rental car, driven two hours in falling snow along the Washington-Idaho border, parked, entered University Ballroom at the University of Idaho, and then taken a seat to listen to a speech from Chief Justice John Roberts.
“This is a man who has his priorities straight,” said the law-school faculty member who introduced Roberts, going on to describe how Roberts had skipped part of the pre-event reception to be at his son’s baseball game.
That got Taitz thinking. She has three sons: One’s a singer with an “Elvis Presley voice,” another is a tenth-grade AP student who loves math and basketball, and another is studying to be a doctor at an Ivy League school. Since November of last year, Taitz has been “criss-crossing the country”; talking with activists, law-enforcement officers and government officials; filing lawsuits and finding plaintiffs; and speaking at events. She has had to hire extra help at her two dental offices; she can count on one hand the number of times she has been able to sit down and watch TV; and, worst, she has missed awards ceremonies, sports tournaments and family dinners with her sons. Her mascara-rimmed eyes teared up as she thought about all the time she’s never getting back.
After Roberts gave his talk, he took questions from the audience. Taitz, in her black, turtleneck sweater and gold pendant, was the first person at the microphone. She explained that she was a lawyer who had come all the way from Southern California. She asked Roberts whether he was “aware of some illegal activity that is going on in the Supreme Court of the United States,” and then mentioned that she had printed out a petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures asking for an investigation into the fact that “Barack Hussein Obama, a.k.a. Barry Soetoro, is totally ineligible to be president.” Audience members chuckled as she was interrupted by Roberts—“Thank you very much, ma’am”—and told that she could hand her suitcase full of documents to the security personnel in the room.
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Outside the Santa Ana Courthouse in April, the day that disgraced ex-sheriff Mike Carona was to be sentenced for witness tampering, Taitz met with the Orange County press corps. The journalists had assembled to cover the ruling, but they instead found themselves being addressed by a woman with blond hair, long eyelashes, a low-cut blouse and hands full of binders. Taitz first approached the TV camera crews, but after a few moments of chatter, they directed her to the reporters a few feet away. “I know you,” she said to then-Los Angeles Times staff writer Christine Hanley—who, Taitz then implied, worked for Obama. As she handed out bound-and-laminated copies of her hundred-page legal pleadings to reporters, including the Weekly’s R. Scott Moxley, Taitz smiled and pontificated in her Eastern European accent about the clerks of the Supreme Court whom she believed had been sabotaging her lawsuits.
There’s a term some use for people like Taitz, and she doesn’t like it. It’s “birther”—or, if you want to be really mean, “birfer.” (The controversy was born on the Internet, so naturally the Internet gave it a goofy name.) While rumors about Obama’s background and citizenship simmered throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, after Election Day, those rumors coalesced into a near-religion for a group of true believers. To Taitz and the unknown number of people who agree with her, Barack Obama isn’t president and probably wasn’t even born in the U.S. Taitz, a Laguna Niguel dentist with a law degree from an online academy, has been awarded a few creative variations on the birther term: “The Queen Bee of Birferstan” is probably the best.
“That’s demeaning,” Taitz says. “I don’t call anybody names.”
This isn’t quite true. She calls Obama a “usurper” and an “arrogant jerk from Africa and Indonesia.” She called a judge an “idiot.” And she calls anyone who stands in her way an “Obama thug.” Taitz has built a sizable following on her blog; in the comments for each post at orlytaitzesq.com, you can read a few more names for people whom Taitz doesn’t like: “traitors,” “Muslims,” “terrorists.”
In the past eight months, Taitz’s face has become one of the most recognizable of what its adherents prefer to call the “eligibility” movement, and her actions have been some of the most controversial. Her end goal is simple—to remove Obama from office—but her methods have sometimes put her at odds with other anti-Obama activists. And that’s not to mention the legion of Obama supporters who have assembled evidence claiming that Taitz is, at best, a liar and, at worst, treasonous.