Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A dead terrorist, a president born in America, and a serving of slop for conspiracy theorists

The White House just made two big decisions on whether to release information to us — one no, one yes, one important, one ridiculous. Both bug me.

President Barack Obama decided against releasing photographs of a dead Osama bin Laden on the belief that the bloody pictures could inflame anti-American passions and endanger lives.

By now it is not news that bin Laden was killed. But maybe it's not a bad idea to take a breath between the stunning headlines about a mass murderer found after nearly 10 years and the public airing of evidence of his death.

But in the end, we have a right to see what happened, because bin Laden happened to us.

He was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, for global war and for changing us. To many, his end is a measure of justice. We should be able to see images of it — not because we don't believe it, but because it marks an important moment that is ours.

Another reason less important: to quiet conspiracy theorists. Not that they will stop talking.

In the old days, they were the ones ranting that the moon landing was all Hollywood or space aliens crashed in Roswell, dismissed by the rest of us. But today, ours is a world hungry for slop to feed radio rants and incendiary bloggings regardless of truth, decency or common sense.

Already, the nut lobby is at it. Is bin Laden dead, or is that what the government wants you to think? Sounds like an elaborate lie, a huge hoax cooked up to bolster a president facing a vicious re-election battle. Pass it on.

Who would care about such yammerings? Now I'm thinking of a different so-called presidential controversy, one that should have been laughable.

After years of blowing off rumors that he was ineligible to be president because he was really born in Africa instead of the America he claims, Obama was finally goaded into releasing his original birth certificate.

I can see why officials would want to get past this — "We do not have time for this kind of silliness," the president said — but what a shame to have to comply with people who will say anything.

Hey, I'm in the skeptic business and all for a healthy conspiracy theory, given the litany of historical reasons you and I can come up with to distrust our government. But this "birther" claim, the one that has always seemed somehow rooted in racism? That's all you've got?

More sad commentary is that the birther business got its big boost from Donald Trump, that cartoon character blowhard rich guy with the bad hair and the ego the size of Manhattan. Trump's freakish brand of celebrity rendered the question of birthplace so big the White House could no longer afford to take the high road.

So of course the birth certificate said the president was indeed born in Hawaii, though even Hawaii may not be real America enough for some in that hard-core conspiracy crowd.

Trump as a major player in this reminds me of a bad TV show that's been on for so long the writers have to make up increasingly absurd scenarios. Such as: Donald Trump, contender for president!

Though, and you didn't hear it from me, I'm told he was up to his ears in that whole Roswell business. Pass it on.

A dead terrorist, a president born in America, and a serving of slop for conspiracy theorists 05/05/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2011 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  2. In Florida, nation's only lightning center closes after DARPA cuts funding


    University of Florida professor Martin Uman usually spends much of this summer at an old Army base about an hour northeast of Gainesville, shooting rockets at thunderclouds, then measuring the bright flashes of lightning that followed.

    Rocket-and-wire triggered lightning at the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, which recently lost federal funding. A rocket trailing a grounded wire is launched toward an active thunderstorm at the ICLRT. One launch is from a tower, one from ground. When the wire is about as high as the Empire State Building, lightning is induced to strike the top of the wire, much as it strikes tall objects like the ESB. Interestingly, the cloud charge source is about 3 miles high, so a 300 yard-long wire can cause a 3 mile or more long lightning.  After that, there are several normal tortuous strokes ( downward leaders from the cloud charge/upward return strokes) which can be seen as the wind blows the individual strokes to the right. The time between strokes is about 50 thousands of a second. Between some strokes, continuing current can be seen. Continuing current is what generally starts forest fires. [Photo by Dr. Dustin Hill]
  3. Editorial: Reasonable clarity on gambling in Florida


    Gambling expansion strategies — and misfires — are nearly an annual ritual in Florida. There were the eight counties that voted to allow slot machines but were blocked by the Florida Supreme Court. There was the governor's $3 billion deal with the Seminole Tribe in 2015 that was never approved by the …

    Gov. Rick Scott agreed to a much simpler deal with the Seminole Tribe that embraces the status quo instead of expansion. And that’s a good thing.
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Editorial: Hillsborough smartly embraces diversion program for youths


    Children who commit minor crimes can pay for their mistakes for a lifetime — losing a chance to attend college, join the military or obtain credit and a good job. That is unjust to the individuals and a burdensome cost to society, and Hillsborough County is taking the right new approach by giving some juveniles a …

    Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has announced an agreement between law enforcement agencies and the courts that will allow first-time offenders who commit nonviolent crimes as juveniles to be issued civil citations rather than face an arrest and prosecution.