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
Ask about Taitz’s motivations, and she’ll tell you about her background. She immigrated to the United States from Israel in 1987; before Israel, she lived in what was then the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldavia. She says it’s her upbringing that initially caused her to be suspicious of Obama. “I was just like any other mom; I didn’t do anything different from any other mother,” she says, her accent turning mother into muddah. “And it’s just during this last election, I became really concerned because I came from a communist country. I saw the things that Obama is saying that really did not make sense and that concerned me. One, of course, that had to do with the all-civilian army. And I saw footage of children dressed in uniforms, saluting Obama and doing drills. That reminded me of young communists.”
(Unsure what she’s referring to? Google “Obama civilian army” and “Obama children drills.” That’ll bring up the appropriate World Net Daily articles and FOX News clips.)
The mistrust turned into something stronger when Taitz received an e-mail claiming there was evidence that Obama wasn’t born in America. “At first, I thought it was a hoax,” she says. “I didn’t believe it.” But then, in October, she filled out the “contact” form on the California Secretary of State website, asking if the secretary verifies the eligibility of presidential candidates. The response was no. “I was shocked,” Taitz says.
She fired off a round of letters to the editors of local newspapers, arguing that Obama didn’t meet the constitutional requirements to be president. The only one to publish her words was the Westminster Herald. But that was enough. Someone read the letter in the newspaper and called Taitz at her dental office to invite her to speak at an upcoming meeting of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform in Garden Grove, the far-right anti-immigrant group whose projects include a boycott of Mexico. There, she told the story of her own legal immigration to the United States, and afterward, she was approached by Buena Park radio pastor Wiley Drake (recently in the news because he publicly admitted to praying for Obama’s death). After chatting a little about immigration, the conversation turned to Obama’s birth certificate. Drake invited Taitz onto his radio show. On the air, the two discussed what they thought of the Usurper, and then Drake asked, “Well, what can we do?”
Taitz’s answer: “We can sue.”
This would not be the first lawsuit filed to challenge Obama. Pennsylvania lawyer Philip Berg made headlines in August 2008 by attempting to block the Democratic National Committee’s endorsement of Obama. Berg is a Democrat with history: He’d once served as Montgomery County Democratic Party chairman and as deputy attorney general in that state. He supported Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, but he insists his problem with Obama is constitutional, not political. He also had spent part of the past seven years suing the Bush administration to prove that 9/11 was an inside job. A judge threw out his first Obama suit for one reason: standing. Berg couldn’t prove he would be materially damaged by Obama’s presidency.
In Taitz’s mind, Drake’s being a vice-presidential candidate running on the American Independent ticket with Alan Keyes gave him standing. So Taitz filed her first eligibility lawsuit, Keyes v. Bowen, on Nov. 13, asking that California Secretary of State Debra Bowen investigate Obama (see Matt Coker’s “The Preacher vs. the President-elect,” Dec. 17, 2008).
But her real entrance onto the national stage came in early December. Political activist Robert Schulz is an engineer by trade, but he bills himself as a constitutional scholar. Others merely call him a tax cheat: A federal judge held him in contempt of court in May 2008 for refusing to comply with an earlier injunction ordering his We the People Foundation to stop teaching people how to “legally” avoid payroll taxes (it wasn’t legal). But later that year, his cause wasn’t taxes; it was Obama. Schulz took out two full-page ads in the Chicago Tribune asking President-elect Obama to hand over a number of documents at a press conference Schulz would be holding on Dec. 8.
Obama didn’t show up for the conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (Schulz had rented out the room), but Taitz did. So did Berg and a number of other activists and lawyers agitating against Obama. Taitz, who was invited by Schulz, spoke for several dozen minutes about her legal actions against Obama. “She was interesting,” Schulz says. “I could tell she hadn’t been through press conferences before. Instead of good, short, powerful statements . . . God bless her, but she had a tendency to want to go through all the details. She’s passionate, no question about that.”
The conference earned Taitz mentions on Slate and Salon; the latter reported that “Taitz . . . kept making stranger and stranger assertions. At one point, she asked why the government had fined broadcasters for Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction,’ but didn’t intervene to force the media to report on Obama’s allegedly phony birth certificate.”