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The Other Birthers; or, Trig Trutherism
April 16, 2011 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Palin, the Press, and the Fake Pregnancy Rumor: Did a Spiral of Silence Shut Down the Story? Kentucky journalism professor Brad Scharlott makes a case. Reporter (and former Palin communications director) Bill McAllister, mentioned by name in Scharlott's article, says 'If we ever meet, I'll slap you.' Scharlott writes an op-ed in response.

Gawker.uk, PoliticalGates and Business Insider have analysis.
posted by box (232 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my goodness, Andrew Sullivan will just plotz.
posted by eugenen at 7:58 AM on April 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm all for kicking the Republicans in the teeth and fighting dirty in response to their shameful behavior. But honestly, this is just a step too far for me. Why should I care if Palin had a kid, or if she chose (as many women have done before her) to cover for a too-young pregnant daughter by pretending it was her own baby?

Palin is a worthless, lying, nasty, scumbag of a person and politician. I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire. But accusing her of this, and dredging up layers and layers of personal information, to prove that she might have fibbed in order to try and protect her family? I'd rather people went after her in (equally dirty and tough ways) over her asinine policies, her dilettante history, and her lack of truthfulness on all kinds of issues. If she did try and protect her daughter, good for her, and big fucking deal.

I think politics works best when played by old-school mafia rules, where the kids and families are off-limits. I don't care how trashed the Bush girls get at parties, whose baby was whose, or any of that. Honestly, I think that kind of focus goes part and parcel with the overall lowering of the political tone in this country.
posted by Forktine at 8:06 AM on April 16, 2011 [102 favorites]


Why should I care if Palin had a kid...?
Seriously?
Sarah Palin reproducing doesn't scare the willies out of you?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:07 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's a liar and she's lying about the birth. That's a fact. She's also covering for the parents of the child and raising it as her own and thanks to all the suckers out there, she's got the money to make sure the child will never go without. I need to nothing more of the story.

Unless it's something really bee-fucking-zarre because in that case I'm going to fire up the microwave and pop some corn.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:11 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The approach one should be taking here is not whether or not the rumor was true, but whether or not it mattered. When Palin was touted as the nominee, did anyone out there think, "Well, she is certainly the most qualified person for the job unless, of course, she covered up her daughter's unwed pregnancy."? Out of all the rumors (and pretty well documented facts that have been ignored, such as Bush's lack of National Guard service) that have been buried by the "liberal media", this is pretty small potatoes.
posted by Legomancer at 8:12 AM on April 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


The real crime here is that stupid toolbar at the bottom of the page that keeps popping up and down. What the hell?
posted by dirigibleman at 8:15 AM on April 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm not necessarily advancing these arguments as my own, but here are some possible responses that I would consider rational, if not necessarily convincing.

Why should I care if Palin had a kid, or if she chose (as many women have done before her) to cover for a too-young pregnant daughter by pretending it was her own baby?

One argument would be hypocrisy. Palin has often made political hay out of how keeping a fetus with Downs proves her pro-life bona fides. She has similarly used her special needs child as an express route to the moral high ground in debates over the use of the word 'retarded,' funding for special needs programs, and generally showing that she is a compassionate conservative. If Trig is not actually her child, these arguments become tinged with hypocrisy.

Another argument is that if the child isn't actually hers then it should have been properly adopted. The child is being done a disservice by being held out as Palin's without actually getting the legal benefits of being Palin's legal child.

There's also the issues of honesty, forthrightness, and transparency. It should be no great shame to adopt a child, particularly a disabled one.

I don't care how trashed the Bush girls get at parties

Again, the issue here is hypocrisy. It suggests that the talk of individual responsibility, strong family values, and the importance of good parenting was just talk to appeal to the base and not actually something the Bush family lived by themselves.
posted by jedicus at 8:17 AM on April 16, 2011 [23 favorites]


Ever since August of 2008, I have been fascinated by how the U.S. press reacted to the rumor that Palin did not truly give birth to Trig, reportedly born in April 2008, just as I have been fascinated by the claim that Obama was not born in the United States. Both rumors arose around the same time in 2008 (the Palin rumor started in Alaska), but they have had different histories.

The Obama fake-birth-certificate idea (and variants of that) have had no problem getting into the press -- hundreds of stories about whether he is truly qualified to be president have appeared in the nation’s newspapers since the start of 2008, based on a search in the Newspaper Index database.

By contrast, the idea that Palin may have staged a hoax concerning the birth of Trig has essentially become taboo in mainstream media, with only a few stories in the Anchorage Daily News treating the question in a serious way.


This is the only reason I care as well.

Meanwhile the leading Republican candidate as of a poll yesterday is the guy NBC pays millions to to host a reality show that he's now generating free publicity for by running around claiming a black man isn't American. Bravo, media sense of ethics. Bra-fucking-vo.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:26 AM on April 16, 2011 [45 favorites]


Please, no need to keep up with the Joneses, the Left doesn't need birthers just 'cause the right has them.
posted by idiopath at 8:27 AM on April 16, 2011 [14 favorites]


I wish this rumor/story/whatever would just die already. Like Forktine says, I think she's a terrible politician and the thought of her being elected to have any sort of power over my life fills my whole body with fear, but this isn't related to that at all. It's about Trig and it's about another human being who deserves to grow up free from these buzzards circling around his life. If he's her grandchild, her neighbor's kid or an alien from Mars, she's still allowed to care about him and fight for services that help him and people like him. I don't know why anyone would say that's hypocrisy. Raising a child with Down Syndrome is hard, whether she gave birth to him or not.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:29 AM on April 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


The most outrageous and astonishing part of this to me so far is Forktine's characterization of the alleged incident as a "fib."
posted by hermitosis at 8:29 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree. The real story is why Obama's birth certificate is national news while Trig Palin's isn't. Neither is a significant political issue (no matter how much Birthers try to make it one), so why do we keep hearing about one and not the other? Because the rules of the national dialogue always allow the legitimacy of a liberal or a non-white to be questioned, while protecting conservatives (in this, Palin is protected from her femaleness by her arch-conservativeness, since being female is also a good way to ask for a questioning).
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:33 AM on April 16, 2011 [16 favorites]


I dislike Palin personally and professionally. But these stories are profoundly inappropriate. I can't articulate why, but they seem to come from a place of misogyny in the same way that birtherism comes from racism and xenophobia.
posted by bq at 8:35 AM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Only Palin would be dumb and twisted enough to even try to pull off something like this.

I have to agree that the "facts" as we know them just don't hang together and there probably is some mystery about Trig's birth, but one thing does strike me as odd. If Trig is Bristol's and her family really went to such extreme lengths to cover up the story, it blows my mind that she would get pregnant AGAIN immediately afterwards. She didn't learn anything from her first experience?
posted by orange swan at 8:35 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Previous related FPP: Letting It Go, or Not.

And, possibly, the first MeFi comment (made by The Bellman at 10:08 PM on August 29, 2008) about "the rumor."
posted by ericb at 8:37 AM on April 16, 2011


She didn't learn anything from her first experience?

Never underestimate a teenager's power to completely refuse to acquiesce, consciously or otherwise, to parental expectations.
posted by hermitosis at 8:38 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Trig is Bristol's and her family really went to such extreme lengths to cover up the story, it blows my mind that she would get pregnant AGAIN immediately afterwards. She didn't learn anything from her first experience?

Exactly. I'm willing to bet that Trip is Palin's baby and all the weirdness around his birth is just general Palin weirdness. She's seems to gleefully attract that sort of thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:38 AM on April 16, 2011


This can and should be a story because everything in politics can and should be a story. Like it or not, that's the way it is, the way it always was and likely will be. The question presented here is, knowing that's the case, why WASN'T this a story and how? This isn't some piece of yellow journalism blogging, here. It is an academic paper.
posted by willie11 at 8:40 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The reason no one on the left cared is because Palin had already proven that she was a jingoistic self-promoting simpleton leading a circus of vapid familial hangers-on. Given the facts of the political situation, Babygate is a big so what.

Obama's place of birth is such a big deal because a good percentage conservatives so profoundly and personally identify with their political affiliation that it becomes a religion to them. It's no wonder that there is the term "religious right." When a false prophet is worshiped much of the right view it as an attack on their religion/political party/peronsal identity. This affront must be met with holy war.
posted by En0rm0 at 8:41 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The most outrageous and astonishing part of this to me so far is Forktine's characterization of the alleged incident as a "fib."

I was trying for more neutral and non-judgmental language. I think she's a lying sack of shit in every respect; I guess I just see (assuming the story is true) an untruth meant to protect your child and grandchild as being qualitatively very different from her lies about policies.

posted by Forktine at 8:42 AM on April 16, 2011


Yeah, the issue isn't "Leave Sarah alone!", it's "Why did the press leave Sarah alone when there was at least a fair bit of reasonable doubt about the story?"

If it was a hoax, the most ironic part of the whole story is that Palin received invaluable help in pulling it off from the very "lamestream media" she lambasts.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:44 AM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


This kind of strikes me as the Liberal version of WHERES THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE. Can e please keep an eye on trhe issues?
posted by GilloD at 8:45 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was trying for more neutral and non-judgmental language. I think she's a lying sack of shit in every respect; I guess I just see (assuming the story is true) an untruth meant to protect your child and grandchild as being qualitatively very different from her lies about policies.

Yeah, it's similar to Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. Not any of my business, other than curiosity factor.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:46 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I give far more credence to the theory that Palin didn't really want Trig and was privately hoping to miscarry.

aargh... this story made me break my personal rule against media consumption about Sarah Palin. I shall now resume ignoring her in hopes she'll go away.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:49 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Speaking of neutral and non-judgmental language: as the OP, I'd like to back away from my chosen title. I aimed for objective language in the post itself, and while 'The Other Birthers: or, Trig Trutherism' is a cutesy title, it might imply equivalencies that I don't believe exist.)
posted by box at 8:49 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


leading a circus of vapid familial hangers-on

Palin's popularity -- if you can call it that. I've never seen it above 50% -- is largely due to her popularity among middle-aged men. She's never been too popular among women. Here's a poll from 2008 about the issue. The gender-gap has only grown in the last few year.
posted by willie11 at 8:49 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Palin can end the rumors any time she wants by releasing Trig's birth certificate or even by a real statement (not that pre-election nonsense) from her doctor. She chooses not to do this, so here we are.
posted by grounded at 8:53 AM on April 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think politics works best when played by old-school mafia rules, where the kids and families are off-limits.

Clearly Sarah Palin sees things differently, and if the media chooses to step away from talking about the kids and family when she's dragging them into the spotlight to promote herself, then they're letting her control the discourse.

If Trig is Bristol's and her family really went to such extreme lengths to cover up the story, it blows my mind that she would get pregnant AGAIN immediately afterwards.

Doesn't that entire family just blow your mind anyway?
posted by limeonaire at 8:55 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the press left the Palin story alone because it would only have been useful to the left, and the left didn't press it. Because we're not about passing off meaningless, scurrilous rumors as news to promote an agenda. Unlike some people.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:55 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Obama fake-birth-certificate idea (and variants of that) have had no problem getting into the press -- hundreds of stories about whether he is truly qualified to be president have appeared in the nation’s newspapers since the start of 2008, based on a search in the Newspaper Index database.

I have a theory on this.

The birther stuff has gotten a lot of traction not so much because of the press but because people who are rich, powerful, politically connected and with in-roads to the press constantly bring it up. See all the politicians and pundits who have made equivocating statements like "The courts believe he is a citizen, and that's good enough for me," running circles around actually making an affirmative statement that they believe he is a citizen.

With Palin, her detractors have found it much easier to attack her on her ideas and behavior, and would rather not chase a sensational, (and at the moment) unsubstantiated rumor down the rabbit hole.

It's a race to the bottom.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:55 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why should I care if Palin had a kid...?

I live in a small town, and Palin reminds me, to an incredible degree, of a certain type of small-town "big shot" who ends up on the Chamber of Commerce, or the school board, or in another small position of power that mean something more in a small town. The thing about this group of people is that they are, to put it simply, completely full of shit. There's an unbelievable amount of soap opera between them and in their personal lives that directly spills over into their ability to their jobs. They spend a lot of time covering up petty scandals that don't really amount to much. They may do a favor for a lawyer because her husband works at the paper, and might just leave young Johnny's assault charge out of the court reports. There are hundreds of open secrets in this group that are maintained carefully, with "everyone who is anyone" knowing them, and the general public being left in the dark. But these secrets and favors do more to shape policy and decisions for the town than anything else-political campaigns are self-financed, there's one paper that has been known to refuse political ads, there's not really any sort of political organizations to organize voting blocs. Large sections of the county will dislike any given public official, but this group protects their own, and I've heard ridiculous rumors spread quickly about upstarts who aren't playing the game. The thing is, everyone in town is pretty aware of the game, and although they don't like it, it's how things get done locally.

How does this relate to Palin? Well, this is a pretty red area of a pretty red state, and the number of Palin stickers I see on a given day is quite high. People think she's folksy, she reminds them of the local people that deal with daily, which I suppose is comforting. People "get" Sarah Palin's political approach around here, because it's really just small-town politics writ large. Teenage daughter gets knocked up? Oh, that happened to the Pastor over at Smalltown Baptist, no it doesn't matter that he does abstinence programs at the high school. Firing her brother in law? Well the new Sheriff certainly didn't keep the old one's son around, can't expect somebody to keep someone they don't like around. They're willing to overlook any number of personal problems because they understand her experiences and actions in life, because it's at least on a human level that they can understand.

Thing is, there are still certain things that aren't forgiven. It's not always clear beforehand, but you hear that Judge X has done thing Y and you just know that they're, to use a cliche, done in this town. And this Trig scandal, and I'm not saying there's anything to it, has that ring to it, something not even morally wrong, but so full of shit that even a town that loves small-town scandal just won't put up with it. If Palin's influence over the national dialogue is ever going to go away, it won't be because she says something about "targeting" Congresspeople, or doesn't know where Libya is, or any other idiot political move; it's going to come from her doing something that alienates her small-town, REAL AMERICAN supporters so clearly, there's no longer an audience for her bullshit.
posted by Benjy at 8:56 AM on April 16, 2011 [64 favorites]


Who cares? Seriously? Good lord, the right's answer to terrorists killing and torturing and destroying is to kill and torture and destroy - which turn us into the very shitheads we are trying to eradicate. Which means they won't be eradicated, cause we're them. This is the political version of that. To stop the excesses of a nasty bunch of people given to lying and pushing stupid stories that no one should give a shit about into the press, we're going to start lying and a pushing stupid stories that no one should give a shit about into the press.

Don't they get that beating the enemy by turning into the enemy isn't really beating the enemy? And yes, she is the fucking enemy. But not for these stupid, pathetic, who-gives-a-shit reasons.

Pardon my french, but it's like watching an obsessed doctor operate on someone's toes while there's a gaping chest wound that he's ignoring...
posted by umberto at 8:57 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


As someone that follows politics, or at least attempts to follow politics in an adult frame, the most common thing that struck me was the only time I remember hearing about this "rumor" was howling Republicans complaining about the ethics-free left wing.

I just haven't seen anyone offering this weirdo story up as anything relevant or legitimate.
posted by dglynn at 9:00 AM on April 16, 2011


This is birtherism. It's actually worse than birtherism, because the right has a fairy tale that -- if it were true! -- would actually matter, whereas the fairy tale about Trig -- if it were true! -- really wouldn't matter, at all. I cannot prove that either one is a fairy tale, of course, but I believe that they are because the alternative -- raising the proof bar to an impossible place of uncontestable conclusions -- is full-on crazy end times. No more.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:02 AM on April 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I find personal attacts to be completely off the point in politics. If the persons politics suck than attack their politics. I do however remember watching a commercial by Bristol about how if she were poor her child wouldn't have a good life. (So don't make babies like me, all you poor girls without rich mommies to clean up after you!!!)

The message came accross as degrading and filled with hypocracy to me on so many levels. Palin is responsible for REDUCING services for the poor, if I understand correctly.

So the reason all those poor moms can't get such support is that the rich are hoarding the money to give to their own rich daughters when they make a booboo?

What kind of public service message is that? Because Bristols story in indeed used as part of Sarah Palins political message, I think it's fair game to at least look at what is going on with that.

But ultimately, whether or not she is raising one of her daughters children or not---- the important thing to me is the inconsisties inherit in the messages she's projecting about unplanned pregnancy, services to the poor, etc.

If she wants to make sure poor women give birth to the babies they make on accident, she needs to plan to provide community support for such children as she does for her daughter and grandchild(children)
posted by xarnop at 9:05 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I only have one thing to say...

WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG?
posted by Samizdata at 9:08 AM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


My feelings about this are that if this was proven conclusively to be true, few or none of Palin's supporters would support her less, many would support her more due to her enhanced victim status, and all we would have learned is that Sarah Palin is a compulsive liar, which we already know.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:08 AM on April 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


It was Sarah Palin herself who chose to bring out her entire family, every single member of it, as vital to her candidacy and exemplary to what she stands for. Bristol, Willow, First Dude, Levi, and then Trigg. Remember that sorry cast? Sorry, they're fair game. It's nice to be pretending to take the high road by ignoring the serious questions about her alleged pregnancy, but you're not doing anyone a favor. If she's willing to lie about this, what else is she willing to cover up?
posted by monospace at 9:09 AM on April 16, 2011 [14 favorites]


When SHE started using her own family to advance her political career the way Sarah Palin has, she invited the scrutiny of it. I never put much credence in this story because it seems odd that someone with the public profile of the governor of Alaska could suddenly produce a baby out of thin air without immediately before appearing to be pregnant without it creating a stir. A quiet, leave-my-family-out-of-it, this-is-my-personal-life pregnancy seems out of character for Sarah Palin. I think she would have been crowing about it the whole time for political gain.

IMO, the scariest thing about Sarah Palin is that her supporters believe the same qualities that make her incompetent for high public office make her a viable and charismatic leader. She's nothing but an endless fountain of cheap jingoism and conservative platitudes. I'm afraid that "American exceptionalism" might be the first step on the path to the star spangled version of Aryanism and the master race.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:13 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


What drove me crazy was the suggestion that she was covering up for her daughter. The kid had downs syndrome. That's very, very rare with young mothers and very common with mothers in there 40s. If it is someone else's son, then it would most likely be someone about the same age as her. The rumor started before we knew Bristol was pregnant. If it were Bristol's, she would have had to have the children 8.5 months apart, which is basically impossible.
I agree. The real story is why Obama's birth certificate is national news while Trig Palin's isn't. Neither is a significant political issue (no matter how much Birthers try to make it one)
Well, in theory if Obama wasn't a citizen he wouldn't be eligible to be president. The birther's are quite dumb, and don't realize he'd still be a "natural born" citizen even if he were born in Kenya. Also, the birther's are a huge contingent of the republican base, whereas there isn't a huge subculture promoting this story in democratic circles. And why would there be? The republican base is full of racist xenophobes, whereas I don't think there is a huge antipathy among the dem base for adoptive mothers...
posted by delmoi at 9:18 AM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


The real story is why Obama's birth certificate is national news while Trig Palin's isn't.

Because if Obama weren't born in American, he would not be constitutionally qualified to be president, and if a birth certificate turned up that proved he was born in Indonesia or someplace, it would trigger what would probably be a wildly entertaining crisis. It would certainly paralyze the government, which could only be a good thing.
posted by Faze at 9:24 AM on April 16, 2011


The scariest part is that when she confesses to lying to the American people while campaigning for Vice President, she will frame it in such a way that it garners her an approval ratings bump.
posted by BillBishop at 9:25 AM on April 16, 2011


jsavimbi: "She's a liar

True.

and she's lying about the birth. That's a fact."

No, that's an assumption.
posted by zarq at 9:28 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would certainly paralyze the government, which could only be a good thing.

You obviously don't require public transportation to get to work.

As for Palin, this is the least offensive thing about her.

WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG?

Someone who also names kids Willow and Bristol. I don't know whether she wanted a family or a nighttime soap.
posted by jonmc at 9:28 AM on April 16, 2011


Because if Obama weren't born in American, he would not be constitutionally qualified to be president
As I said in another comment, this is wrong. He would still be a "natural born citizen" if he were born in a different country.
posted by delmoi at 9:31 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because if Obama weren't born in American, he would not be constitutionally qualified to be president

No.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 9:31 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


if a birth certificate turned up that proved he was born in Indonesia or someplace, it would trigger what would probably be a wildly entertaining crisis

No more crisis than if we'd elected McCain, who was born in Panama.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:31 AM on April 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG?

Why is your fuck blistering and green? You should get that looked at by someone with surgical gloves.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:32 AM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


What drove me crazy was the suggestion that she was covering up for her daughter. The kid had downs syndrome. That's very, very rare with young mothers and very common with mothers in there 40s.

What drives me crazy is the ceaseless repetition of this statement. Virtually everyone on the planet understands that Down's is rare in a woman under 40. So too is a woman flying for 20 hours when she's hours from giving birth.

The rumor started before we knew Bristol was pregnant. If it were Bristol's, she would have had to have the children 8.5 months apart, which is basically impossible.

The rumor did start before we were told Bristol was pregnant. It doesn't strike you as even slightly odd that Bristol was thrown under the bus, and her pregnancy used as the sole means to disprove the situation? That she was out of school for five consecutive months prior to Palin's alleged birth?

The fact is, we have absolutely no idea the exact date of the child's birth, and thus no substantiated evidence that Bristol would have had to have the children 8.5 months apart. She could very easily have had them 11 months apart, since she was completely off the grid for over 150 days prior to Palin giving birth.

What is insane to me is the notion that simply because there are loose parallels between this story and another (the birther stuff), that this story is impossible. It's fine to examine evidence and find it unsubstantiated or insufficient. It's not fine to refuse to examine evidence and just call something impossible simply because it sort of reminds you of something else.

Or, to put it in a different perspective: dismissing this as tinfoil hat without considering the evidence is kind of like saying, "It's impossible that voter fraud occurred in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court election. Republicans were just warning against Democrats perpetrating voter fraud right before the election, so they couldn't possibly have done it."
posted by Alcibiades. at 9:37 AM on April 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG?

I agree. The name is laughable. "Calc II" would be a better name, but both pale in comparison to "Number Theory".
posted by Legomancer at 9:38 AM on April 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


In the particular case of Obama, it is necessary that he was born in America for him to be born as a citizen and thus constitutionally eligible to be President. (Which, fortunately, he was.)

Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock: ... For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.

Obama's mother turned 14 on November 29, 1956, and Barack was born on August 4th, 1961, less than five years later. The conspiracy theorist's Obama would therefore not be a citizen at birth, and so not a "natural-born citizen" eligible for the presidency.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:40 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm all for kicking the Republicans in the teeth

I doubt it sweetheart.
posted by clavdivs at 9:45 AM on April 16, 2011


THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK


*updates list of Possible Sockpuppet names*
posted by The Whelk at 9:47 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG?

It's an abbreviation of 'Trigger-Happy', obv.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:49 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama's mother turned 14 on November 29, 1956, and Barack was born on August 4th, 1961, less than five years later. The conspiracy theorist's Obama would therefore not be a citizen at birth, and so not a "natural-born citizen" eligible for the presidency.

That language is confusing (or maybe I'm just not caffeinated enough yet), but I read it as meaning the child - not the mother - must be physically present in the U.S. for five years (two after the age of 14).
posted by rtha at 9:51 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


What drives me crazy is the ceaseless repetition of this statement. Virtually everyone on the planet understands that Down's is rare in a woman under 40. So too is a woman flying for 20 hours when she's hours from giving birth.
One rare event does not increase the likelyhood of another rare event.
posted by delmoi at 9:54 AM on April 16, 2011


Why is your fuck blistering and green? You should get that looked at by someone with surgical gloves.

I would suggest a medical professional, instead. I mean, I have surgical gloves, and I don't want to see it.

More to the point, Birthers need to see someone who has some understanding of American citizenship and its rules, stat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:56 AM on April 16, 2011


Forktine has it.

What really interests me, tangentially from this non-story, is the mafia-like silencing of vast hordes of people that have been associated with Palin.

In terms of this birth there are the family doctor and hospital staff and all those that were in contact with SP in the weeks before the birth, not to mention all the school kids etc if the Bristol as secret mum had any validity.

This trail of silence is mystifying, even knowing the kind of behaviour that Todd got up to from the governor's office to settle a score. Either these people do outrageously thorough oppo research on everyone they come in contact with and have excellent blackmailing material on hand for when the heat appears or the Todd has some deeply scary intimidator shtick that he lays on all these people (accompanied perhaps by a fistful of cash).
posted by peacay at 9:56 AM on April 16, 2011


One rare event does not increase the likelyhood of another rare event.

There's a reason there are separate definitions for "rare" and "impossible."
posted by Alcibiades. at 9:58 AM on April 16, 2011


Ironically her second term as presidnt will all about the instalation of the WOMBWATCH remote monitoring system in every uterus, which make this sort of thing harder.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.

Obama's mother turned 14 on November 29, 1956, and Barack was born on August 4th, 1961, less than five years later. The conspiracy theorist's Obama would therefore not be a citizen at birth, and so not a "natural-born citizen" eligible for the presidency.
I'm aware of that but it seems like the point is to prevent adults who grew up in the U.S. but moved to another country from claiming citizenship for their kids. But Stanley Ann Dunham was only 17, she'd lived in the U.S. for the past five years. So it would be sort of an edge case. Seems pretty bizarre to argue that Obama should be held responsible for some random loophole in the law, and something neither he nor his mom had any control over. Especially if it means overturning a presidential election.
posted by delmoi at 10:00 AM on April 16, 2011


More to the point, Birthers need to see someone who has some understanding of American citizenship and its rules, stat.

Actually, I take this back. Because Birhers really come across like particularly annoying rules lawyers in a table-top RPG session, rather than people who don't know the rules.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:02 AM on April 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


There's a reason there are separate definitions for "rare" and "impossible."
What I don't understand is the insistence that the kid is Bristol's. If it's not Sarah's, then it could be anyone's. Yet, the palin-birthers insist that it was Bristol's despite the fact that she was too young to have a Downs Syndrome and she was pregnant with a completely different child.
Actually, I take this back. Because Birhers really come across like particularly annoying rules lawyers in a table-top RPG session, rather than people who don't know the rules.
The other thing, they argue that Obama is pulling some kind of con. But how would he even know? He was clearly back in Hawaii as a small child (there are pictures of him there), so if Ann had take this secret trip to Kenya to give birth which she then kept it secret, why would she tell him? Do these birthers all remember being born?
posted by delmoi at 10:06 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's pro-life, but I believe she did everything in her power not to have this infant. Her water broke in Texas, she did not go to the hospital there, she boarded a plane and flew from Texas to Alaska!! Any other mother presenting at the hospital with this story would - at the minimum, have a social work consult.
posted by TorontoSandy at 10:06 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


That language is confusing (or maybe I'm just not caffeinated enough yet), but I read it as meaning the child - not the mother - must be physically present in the U.S. for five years (two after the age of 14).

I don't think so, but even if you're right he wouldn't have been born a citizen.

Seems pretty bizarre to argue that Obama should be held responsible for some random loophole in the law, and something neither he nor his mom had any control over. Especially if it means overturning a presidential election.

Don't worry about it. Obama was born in the USA, we have multiple forms of documentary proof, end of story.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:08 AM on April 16, 2011


This story brings out all the same ugliness as the birther stuff, for sure. Is there any other context where Metafilter would be okay with making fun of the name of a kid with Down's Syndrome?

The story grew at first because the Palin family was actually hiding a pregnancy and got caught out by people simply looking at pictures. It's like if Obama was hiding that he was born in Hawaii at first and got found out for that.

It was dropped because there is no evidence you will ever find for it, it's extremely unlikely, and there is no big group of people on the left who really care.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:08 AM on April 16, 2011


to sir with millipedes: With Palin, her detractors have found it much easier to attack her on her ideas and behavior, and would rather not chase a sensational, (and at the moment) unsubstantiated rumor down the rabbit hole.

Oh give me a damn break. I hate Palin's presence on the political landscape with a passion, but you aren't going to convince me that her detractors have thoughtfully taken some grand and glorious high road that none of Obama's detractors have taken. These rumors and stories and overfocus on her ridiculous family dramas and her daughter's affair with Levi Johnston (remember him? and remember Air America and other leftie outlets that wanted to plant wet kisses on him and fete him all over the continent when he decided he'd ride the scandal gravy train publicly for as long as it would keep him fed and clothed?) have given the left palpitations for going on 3 years now. And it's been the same here on the blue, no matter how many of us leap up and down and stamp our feet in indignation that the salaciousness is happening in our little insulated hyper-rational debating society.

The more her popularity ebbs, the more these kinds of stories will materialize. She has a huge number of enemies in her own party, most of whom she made herself with gusto because she loves burning bridges, that's how she rolls. And the mainline GOP would love nothing more dearly than for some sordid scandal to gain fire that would doom her chances of ever getting a chance at a nomination. Meanwhile, the so-called "scandal-free" GOP (i.e., the ones who are better-versed at hiding their scandals, like Huckabee and Barbour and even, God help us all, Donald effing Trump) will be the ones who get a free pass from being dragged down the sensational rabbit hole to which you refer, even though God knows that there are enough scandals attached to every last freaking one of these clowns to doom all of their chances in a better political climate.

Faze: It would certainly paralyze the government, which could only be a good thing.

I have no trouble believing that for some people, it would be a very good thing, indeed a treasure of unparalleled glory. Especially the ones who proclaim loudest that it would be.
posted by blucevalo at 10:09 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Virtually everyone on the planet understands that Down's is rare in a woman under 40.

I...seriously doubt that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:09 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


and she's lying about the birth. That's a fact."

No, that's an assumption.


No, that's a fact. She did not enter labor in Texas, fly 20 hours back to her small-town hospital in Wasilla where she can pressure the attending physician, and give birth there - planes will not let you board while you are actively giving birth. The narrative Palin presents is what's impossible. So the question is not whether she's lying, but exactly what she's lying to cover up.

What I don't understand is the insistence that the kid is Bristol's. If it's not Sarah's, then it could be anyone's. Yet, the palin-birthers insist that it was Bristol's despite the fact that she was too young to have a Downs Syndrome and she was pregnant with a completely different child.

You're assuming the rest of the narrative is true, and that there's dispute over only one part of this. Knowing, already, that the circumstances of Trig's gestation and birth were falsified, why do you assume that Tripp's are plain truth?
posted by kafziel at 10:10 AM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think so, but even if you're right he wouldn't have been born a citizen.
Well it's a loophole. Ann Dunham had clearly been in the U.S for 10 years straight, the only reason she hadn't had the 'five over the age of 14' was because she was 17. If Obama had been born overseas he wouldn't have had any trouble naturalizing, so the only question is whether he's a natural born citizen for the purposes of being president. I don't think the court would overturn an election over such a minor technicality.
posted by delmoi at 10:12 AM on April 16, 2011


No, that's a fact. She did not enter labor in Texas, fly 20 hours back to her small-town hospital in Wasilla where she can pressure the attending physician, and give birth there - planes will not let you board while you are actively giving birth. The narrative Palin presents is what's impossible. So the question is not whether she's lying, but exactly what she's lying to cover up.

Still an assumption. You were not there, you cannot *know* what happened. You believe it really hard, but you cannot know it to be fact. I mean, just for example, you assume the staff of the airline knew she was in labor, and then you assume that they would throw the governor of a state off a plane. All she had to say was "I have a migraine" and off she went. It's not like she was in stirrups or walking around with a tiny head peeking out from between her legs.

It might be a lie, it might not. Who cares? It is none of our business.
posted by gjc at 10:21 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, that's an assumption.

I could get with that if I could only ascertain that we will, in fact, find out the whole truth behind the birth of this child. But since I highly doubt that shell be able to come clean due to her fucked up ways and ego, one has to assume that everything a habitual liar says is, in fact, a lie and therefore until proven otherwise through DNA, I'm going to go with the cover-up. I'm simple-minded like that.

Bristol switching high schools back and forth in coincidence with the assumed birth date of Trig, does lead one to wonder what exactly happened, but without evidence of her being pregnant at that time, it's hard to imagine that she'd have Irish twins, especially if the first born did have Down Syndrome, although this has been witnessed by yours truly so I cannot look past it. As far as the frequency of children with Down's born to teenage mothers being less of that with older mothers, I hate to disprove it, but there are two members of my extended family with Down Syndrome, both of whom were born to fifteen-year old mothers. One, my age, who remains an only child, and another born to a reckless teenager who went on to have at least three other children and who never received reproductive counseling due to the fact that her mom, drumroll, was a member of some wacky church of light something or another. Also doesn't believe in insect repellant, but that's another story.

The best scenarios I can come up with, and guide my beliefs on this is that:

1. Mom and Dad sent a pregnant Bristol away to live with her aunt until she had the kid, Mom already planning to adopt the child as her own or deciding to do so in order to give her kid a leg up in life and another chance. Keep in mind that at the time, them Palin's didn't have the money or opportunities to compete on fixed game shows. A flaky story not unheard of, but a decent thing to do for a teenager who obviously needed some help. That being said, Trig is going to be awfully hurt when he finds out and this is the story I don't want to believe due to the repercussions on both mother and child. Neither chose Sarah.

2. Another relative, close friend, church associate, son's girlfriend, surrogate or maybe just someone in need gave birth to the child and Palin stepped in and claimed the kid as her own for whatever reason. It's possible, but highly doubtful due to her insular, selfish nature.

3. Sarah had the kid. I doubt this one as there is no supporting evidence, her version of the events portrays an individual way out of character from the Sarah that we know and the weirdos are suggesting physical violence to those who call it a lie. All of that points to a bullshit cover-up.

When Jane Swift was acting governor of my fair state, a similar job title as Palin's, she gave birth to twins and if I recall correctly, this was widely reported not only as as first female governor but also first female governor to give birth in office, something Sarah would've gone to great lengths to exploit. Yet, she did not. Was she concerned/embarrassed about the nature of the birth as an amniocentesis would've alerted her to the condition of the child or was she hoping for an alternative outcome I cannot say, but what I really wish is that she'd crawl back out of the limelight, if not for our sake, then for her kids'.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:27 AM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It might be a lie, it might not. Who cares? It is none of our business.

It's our business, evidently, that any number of scandals that the tabloid press dreams up about other political figures and public presences are fair game. Why not this one, any less than the others?
posted by blucevalo at 10:29 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how hard it would be to get some of that kids DNA to test? Just get some hair or whatever.
posted by delmoi at 10:33 AM on April 16, 2011


"If it was a hoax, the most ironic part of the whole story is that Palin received invaluable help in pulling it off from the very "lamestream media" she lambasts."

The media are like blacks to a lot of the political elite conservatives — "Well, of course, you're one of the good ones."
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 AM on April 16, 2011


I wonder how hard it would be to get some of that kids DNA to test? Just get some hair or whatever.

Well we could break into their house or bribe a babysitter to get a sample because we are, ya know, insane.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:40 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's plenty which can be excused and legitimized on the basis of examining her character.

Personally, I think there's more than enough out there for anyone to judge her character by without getting into this. If you don't need to fight dirty on Palin, why would you?
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2011


delmoi: "What drove me crazy was the suggestion that she was covering up for her daughter. The kid had downs syndrome. That's very, very rare with young mothers and very common with mothers in there 40s. If it is someone else's son, then it would most likely be someone about the same age as her. "

Sort of:
The risk of Down syndrome increases with the mother’s age (7):

At age 25, the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome is 1 in 1,250.
At age 30, the risk is 1 in 1,000.
At age 35, the risk is 1 in 400.
At age 40, the risk is 1 in 100.
At age 45, the risk is 1 in 30.

Even though the risk is greater as the mother’s age increases, about 80 percent of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under age 35. This is because younger women have more babies than older women (1). (Source: March of Dimes.) It is neither extraordinarily rare in young mothers, nor extraordinarily common in older mothers. It happens. I've never taken the fact that the child has Down Syndrome to mean much of anything about who his actual birth mother might be, really.

kafziel: "No, that's a fact. She did not enter labor in Texas, fly 20 hours back to her small-town hospital in Wasilla where she can pressure the attending physician, and give birth there - planes will not let you board while you are actively giving birth. The narrative Palin presents is what's impossible. So the question is not whether she's lying, but exactly what she's lying to cover up."

Amniotic fluids can rupture - or even just develop a high, slow leak - hours or even days before actual labor begins. If that is what happened with Palin (and we don't know, because we are not privy to the actual details), she could very well have not been in active labor. If the flight crew didn't know that she was leaking amniotic fluid (and how would they unless she told them?), it's very possible that there were no outward signs that delivery could be imminent. *If* she was actually pregnant with her fifth child and got on a plane after she started leaking amniotic fluid, she's dumber than even I assume, but it could have happened.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 10:42 AM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is there any other context where Metafilter would be okay with making fun of the name of a kid with Down's Syndrome?

Who is this "MetaFilter" of which you speak? The one person who brought up the name, and the two people who responded?
The name choice is reflective of the parent, not the kid. People will happily make fun of all her kids' names here, it has nothing to do with Trig's Down's Syndrome.

FWIW, I happen to like her kids' names, Piper in particular. However, I think it's pretty excessive to characterize talking smack about a parent who chooses a wacky name as "MetaFilter being okay" with making fun of a disabled child.

planes will not let you board while you are actively giving birth.

How are the people helping board the plane to know if anyone is actively giving birth if the person in question is not, er, actively giving birth at that moment? This is a serious question.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:42 AM on April 16, 2011


I don't really care whether truth or lie, but I think getting an equivalent Birther movement going would be the start of actually fighting back against a pack of rightwing bullies.

I'm all for fighting back against bullies, and I'm enough of an adult to know that fighting back against bullies doesn't lower me to their level or any kind of nonsense like that.

On the contrary, it signifies an improved measure of self-respect and dignity, to no longer acquiesce to maltreatment at the hands of bullies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Is there any other context where Metafilter would be okay with making fun of the name of a kid with Down's Syndrome?"

Trig didn't name himself and his mom doesn't have Down's.
posted by klangklangston at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


if she promised to drive SCRIBD out of business and use the military to nuke anyone who came up with the brilliant idea to use a flash interface to embed text/images into html, then I'd be all like "HELLS YEAH PALIN 2012!!!"
posted by sexyrobot at 10:50 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Trig didn't name himself

It's not your fault you have a stupid, ridiculous name.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:51 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It kinda is; I fucked up the paypal on my first and second choices, so got stuck with this one.
posted by klangklangston at 11:01 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel weird cribbing from Bill O'Reilly, but to paraphrase him and in regards to Palin: She does enough things that we disagree with that we don't need to go after things like this.
posted by drezdn at 11:06 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how hard it would be to get some of that kids DNA to test? Just get some hair or whatever.

Well we could break into their house or bribe a babysitter to get a sample because we are, ya know, insane.

Unless they keep that kid completely out of contact with all "outsiders" for the rest of his life, someone is going to get a bit of his hair, or a cup he just drank out of, or a discarded diaper. Eventually the truth will out.

2. Another relative, close friend, church associate, son's girlfriend, surrogate or maybe just someone in need gave birth to the child and Palin stepped in and claimed the kid as her own for whatever reason. It's possible, but highly doubtful due to her insular, selfish nature.

Depends on who she'd be covering for. My bet is that the child is either her oldest son's or her husband's with another woman, and that the phantom birth mommy is dead or otherwise incapacitated.

The thing I don't get about the Obama situation is how much of it is beyond his control. Wouldn't the two or three top US secret intelligence agencies do full background checks on the top contenders for POTUS and VPOTUS? If there were undeniable proof that Obama wasn't a US citizen wouldn't the information have been somehow revealed already? Unless Obama is some kind of sleeper agent, I don't see how he and his campaign supporters could have pulled off such a huge scam on their own.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2011



Unless they keep that kid completely out of contact with all "outsiders" for the rest of his life, someone is going to get a bit of his hair, or a cup he just drank out of, or a discarded diaper. Eventually the truth will out.


Will need parental samples too. Bristol's used tampon, Sarah's hairbrush, Levi's jockstrap, etc.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:17 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems to me if the birth/hoax rumors are true, Brad Scharlott will have his career destroyed by the Republican Noise Machine. And if they are false, things will dribble on as usual. The wingers never seem to get outraged about falsehoods beyond mouthing off.

On the other hand, who cares? Palin has cashed her check. She is not now and never has been a serious contender.

If you want to get frothy about Palin and the media, just look at how they soft soaped her husband and the AIP. (NYT link)

Palin didn't break American politics, she simply demonstrated that it is beyond repair. It's still broken and so is the press.
posted by warbaby at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The conservatives are clever. They could fund a DNA study for Trig and Sarah and put out a press release in big bold caps:

100% DNA1 match found.

1. mitochondrial
posted by Bonzai at 11:26 AM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


In fact, any coders want to make a text based adventure game with me?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:26 AM on April 16, 2011


Bristol's used tampon, Sarah's hairbrush, Levi's jockstrap

Careful... you might be giving Palin ideas for future baby names
posted by found missing at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


When the rumor was that she was covering for her daughter's pregnancy, to me it seemed BETTER than the other likelihood - that she was having a high-risk pregnancy and disregarding any effort to protect the fetus. Going out of state by plane to a political speech after labor had begun? That's what you call the Republican Abortion Method. Too bad it didn't work for her.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, that's a fact. She did not enter labor in Texas, fly 20 hours back to her small-town hospital in Wasilla where she can pressure the attending physician, and give birth there - planes will not let you board while you are actively giving birth. The narrative Palin presents is what's impossible. So the question is not whether she's lying, but exactly what she's lying to cover up.

"Being in labor" and "actively giving birth" are two really, really, REALLY different things. Her water broke in Texas; I know plenty of women for whom contractions did not start until hours or days after their water broke. ACOG recommends delivery within 24 hours of the rupture of membranes, but that's just a guideline, and it's one many maternity care providers are willing to bend or ignore if things are going well.

Even if contractions had started, that doesn't mean she was "actively giving birth." With my second child, I had real live labor contractions for a MONTH before I had him, and strong Braxton-Hicks contractions even before that; in fact, come to think of it, I boarded a plane while contracting every 4-5 minutes in late pregnancy, having run across the entire Minneapolis airport pushing a stroller to make a flight. The flight attendants asked me if I was OK, I said "they're Braxton-Hicks, they'll let up once I sit down and have some water," and they ushered me onto the plane and brought me a lot of water. The contractions did settle down and space out, but they did not stop for the entire flight. It may have been unwise for Palin to board a plane after her water broke, but it's hardly impossible.

I've seen photos of Sarah Palin nursing Trig. Now, lactation can be induced, but it's a pain in the ass and it takes a lot of preparation. That she breastfed him is pretty strong evidence that she birthed him, to me. In fact, the whole preponderance of the evidence really, really indicates that Trig is Palin's child, and I think that the people who are insisting he isn't need to stop for a moment and think about exactly what their desired outcome is here.
posted by KathrynT at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


That she breastfed him is pretty strong evidence that she birthed him, to me.

That Trig has Down syndrome is all the evidence anyone should need.

Maternal age at delivery - risk of Down syndrome.
44 - 1/41
18 - 1/1500 or less. They don't even give numbers its so low.

Come on, this isn't rocket science.
posted by Justinian at 11:39 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should say that I don't think anyone should actually need evidence. This isn't our business.
posted by Justinian at 11:48 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, Justinian, by thse figures and my (admittedly shonky) maths, that might leave as many as five hundred Down syndrome babies being born each year to American kids in the relevant age group. I might not buy a lottery ticket myself based on those odds, but I wouldn't be utterly amazed if someone I knew won.

And, just so's we're clear on this, no I don't think Mama Grizzly swapped the cub, and nor do I think it's any of my business.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 11:57 AM on April 16, 2011


I should say that I don't think anyone should actually need evidence. This isn't our business.
posted by Justinian


I say that if she is holding herself out as out as a national leader or someone worthy of helping to shape the debate, path and policies of this country, then it is our business. It goes to credibility. It wasn't too long ago that we were dragged into a war under false pretenses by a lying administration.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:58 AM on April 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, but I have a friend who, at 23, conceived a baby with Trisomy 18. Just because it's unlikely doesn't mean it's impossible. But hot damn, is it unlikely.

And, as you say? Not our business! Sing it with me: women's reproductive choices and the ways in which they choose to build their families are THEIR OWN, nobody else's.
posted by KathrynT at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2011


Just to clarify, I'm talking referring to GWB and Iraq. So many wars lately clarification is in order.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2011


Come on, this isn't rocket science.

If there were 285k live births in the US of mothers aged 18 for the year (see table 2, NCHS data), and the Down's syndrome rate at that maternal age is 1/1500, then there were approximately 190 babies with Down's syndrome born in the year to mothers age 18.

A rocket scientist would probably hesitate to claim that Trig is not one of those babies based on the probability distribution alone.
posted by found missing at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Daddy-O, it's not our business any more than President Clinton's infidelities were. I object strongly to the idea that a woman's reproductive choices have an impact on her ability to lead or govern, and even more strongly to the idea that those choices are subject to public debate or discussion.
posted by KathrynT at 12:02 PM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Data for year == 2009, but my assumption is that there isn't wide variance in recent years.
posted by found missing at 12:02 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, Justinian, by thse figures and my (admittedly shonky) maths, that might leave as many as five hundred Down syndrome babies being born each year to American kids in the relevant age group. I might not buy a lottery ticket myself based on those odds, but I wouldn't be utterly amazed if someone I knew won.

That's not the relevant metric. The relevant metric is, if shown a 44 year old woman with a Down syndrome baby, it is reasonable to put forward the idea that she is lying and an 18 year old woman is the mother instead. It isn't. Is it possible? Yes. It's possible in roughly the same way that many conspiracy theories are possible. As in not outright impossible. But it isn't reasonable.
posted by Justinian at 12:13 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


KathrynT sums up my position. I'm arguing the above as an interesting math/logic problem alone; the actual identities are irrelevant. This sort of gossip is no more relevant than who President Clinton was banging.
posted by Justinian at 12:14 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


A rocket scientist would probably hesitate to claim that Trig is not one of those babies based on the probability distribution alone.

You're leaving out the very relevant piece of data that we have a 44 year old woman who appears to be the mother. This isn't a vacuum. It isn't "given an infant with Down Syndrome, can we say with reasonable certainty that the mother was not 18 years old". We can't say that. The situation is "given an infant with Down Syndrome and a 44 year old woman who to all appearances is the mother, is it reasonable to say the mother is instead an 18 year old woman". That is not reasonable.

It's sort of like the Monty Hall problem. An additional piece of information changes the equation in significant ways.
posted by Justinian at 12:18 PM on April 16, 2011


That's not the relevant metric. The relevant metric is, if shown a 44 year old woman with a Down syndrome baby, it is reasonable to put forward the idea that she is lying and an 18 year old woman is the mother instead. It isn't. Is it possible? Yes. It's possible in roughly the same way that many conspiracy theories are possible. As in not outright impossible. But it isn't reasonable.

All things considered, I don't think it's reasonable either, as I said further up. It isn't solely the probability metrics you quote that lead me to that conclusion, though. It's the far greater unlikelihood of the whole scenario, frankly.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


When the rumor was that she was covering for her daughter's pregnancy, to me it seemed BETTER than the other likelihood - that she was having a high-risk pregnancy and disregarding any effort to protect the fetus. Going out of state by plane to a political speech after labor had begun? That's what you call the Republican Abortion Method. Too bad it didn't work for her.

I always assumed this had to do with the unique localized nativist faction in Alaska (including the group Todd belonged to that flat-out endorsed Alaska becoming its own country). Given that this is likely a minor but potentially significant constituency via-a-vis local Alaska politics, it seems very politically understandable that an Alaskan nativist would feel very compelled to ensure that her child was actually born in Alaska, given that part of the nativist platform is the belief that Alaska should be its own country.

What's weird is that all sounds insane, and it's still epically more logical than the idea that she faked being pregnant while simultaneously hiding her daughter's.

The "wanted a miscarriage" idea is one I refuse to even entertain. First of all, that's just horrible, and second of all, come on. If a right-wing "pro-lifer" wanted an abortion, they would, you know, go get one. They have not, in fact, actually made getting it done in a back alley necessary yet.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


44 year old woman who to all appearances is the mother

It seems that you are working backward from the probability distribution to get to your "to all appearances" conclusion
posted by found missing at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


KathrynT, Honest question: How is this about a woman's reproductive choices? This (and Bill Clinton's infidelities) is about judging someone by their words and actions. It's not about abortion, abstinence, contraception, choosing to bring a disabled baby into the world, or infidelity; it's about deceit.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Samizdata: WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG
Well, I personally think it's acute name...
Legomancer: I agree. The name is laughable. "Calc II" would be a better name, but both pale in comparison to "Number Theory"
Goddammit.
posted by hincandenza at 12:25 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


You see deceit, I see privacy. I respect the desire of a woman -- any woman, even Sarah Palin -- to be private about her reproductive choices. And yes, choosing to raise a child not biologically her own IS a reproductive choice. Jennifer Lopez swears up and down that her kids were conceived with no assistance except from God and prayer, but I have (online) friends who saw her in the fertility clinic every week, and who cares? It's assy to ask "So, are those twins natural?" and it's assy to ask "Is she adopted?" and it's SUPER DUPER ASSY to ask "Did your daughter secretly give birth to that baby and you're raising her as your own to avoid political scandal?"

Just because a woman is a public figure doesn't mean her kids and her uterus are open to public scrutiny, is what I'm saying.
posted by KathrynT at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


This was Palin's fifth time giving birth. She probably (and rightfully) felt perfectly confident deciding for herself whether she was ok to travel and how close to active labor she was after her water broke. I think that because so few women have big families these days, people have the mistaken impression that every birth is like what you see in the movies - a big panicked affair with the mom overwhelmed and dependent on medical intervention at every stage. But in reality, women working on their third or fourth or eighth kid are generally pretty aware and confident about how the whole thing is going to go down. So it seems totally believeable to me that Palin would decide that she really just wanted to be back at her home hospital and that she had plenty of time to do so.
posted by yarly at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


it's about deceit

IMO, it's ok to lie about things that are not anyone's business. For example, someone is free to lie to their friends/employer/parents about the kinky sex they're having, or what drugs they might like to do on the weekends. I think most of us realize _why_ you'd lie about these kinds of things, and it's not at all immoral to do so in my opinion. Same goes with this pregnancy stuff. If it is true and they want to "protect" Bristol, so what? It's not affecting anyone else.

Clinton was admittedly a little different in that he was under oath. Of course, I don't think the situation should have arisen, but lying under oath is obviously different and was the necessary extra for the Republicans to put an (extremely) thin veneer of legitimacy over their attempts to kick him out.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Daddy-O, it's not our business any more than President Clinton's infidelities were.

But the point of the original article was why does the media ignore a story like Palin's, while throwing all of its resources into the question of whether Clinton got his dick sucked by someone who wasn't Hillary.

Regardless of whether you think its our business or not, that seems like a wholly appropriate subject for investigation to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:35 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, there is the fact that kids are involved.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:36 PM on April 16, 2011


Well, except that Clinton pretty famously couldn't keep his hands off anyone in a skirt, and it's LUDICROUS to think that Sarah Palin isn't Trig's mother. It's as ludicrous as the idea that Barack Obama isn't a natural born citizen, and while that story HAS gotten a lot of play, most of the play has been lolbirthers instead of giving the idea any real credence.
posted by KathrynT at 12:37 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Again, the issue here is hypocrisy. It suggests that the talk of individual responsibility, strong family values, and the importance of good parenting was just talk to appeal to the base and not actually something the Bush family lived by themselves.

This, a thousand times this. I don't care about any politician's family or private life until they start dragging it into the debate. If you put it on the table by talking about family values and personal responsibility and so on, then you'd better be able to walk the walk, too.
posted by axiom at 12:38 PM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh for dumb. Doesn't anybody here have anything better to do with their time?
posted by newdaddy at 12:41 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh for dumb. Doesn't anybody here have anything better to do with their time?

Sure they do. Just look at the huge number of people (unlike yourself) who haven't made a comment in the thread.
posted by found missing at 12:52 PM on April 16, 2011


Oh for dumb. Doesn't anybody here have anything better to do with their time?

Of course. I am also looking for virtual potatoes from the Valve Potato Sack.
posted by Justinian at 12:55 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doesn't anybody here have anything better to do with their time?

Well excuse me for taking a break while curing cancer.
posted by rhizome at 12:57 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it's gross that Sarah Palin has used Trig for political gain. It's gross even if she is telling the complete truth.

I don't really care if she's Trig's mother, adoptive mother, or grandmother. I can understand why the media has stayed away from this story, because it's messy, toxic portrait of a family that includes several minors.

Having said this, I feel the need to correct a couple assumptions about Trisomy 21: Down syndrome babies born to young mothers are NOT rare. 80% of babies with Down Syndrome are born to mothers under age 35. The vast, vast majority of people with Down are born to young moms. The likelihood of a Down pregnancy increases with maternal age, but since overall fertility decreases with maternal age, only 1/5 of people with Down Syndrome are born to mothers 35 and older, and less than 10% of people with Down are born to over 40 mothers.

Now that that's out of the way, there is simply no way Sarah Palin is telling the truth about Trig's birth story. A trip from AK to TX that close to the due date of a small, special needs infant? A trip back after membranes have ruptured? No. Even if you are a governor, no doctor is going to lose her license for you. She's lying. I really don't care that she's lying, but I have no doubt that she is.

Even if Sarah Palin lives in an alternate reproductive universe and she's telling the truth, it's gross to use her baby as a political prop.
posted by Leta at 1:04 PM on April 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


KathrynT, thank you for giving me more to think about, there is a lot of validity to the points you make.
posted by Daddy-O at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Trig was born 4 weeks early. I know women who have flown farther later in their pregnancies, and it's unwise but totally possible that she could have flown with her membranes ruptured. How would they stop her? It's ILLEGAL for a doctor to refuse care to a woman in late pregnancy no matter her decisions. . . should her OB have restrained her? Had her arrested? The trip shows exceedingly poor judgment, but that hardly seems out of character for Palin.
posted by KathrynT at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2011


"Who ... names their kid Trig?"


It's a little known fact that Uncle Scrooge had three other nephews named Sine, Cosine, and Tangent.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:20 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The trip shows exceedingly poor judgment, but that hardly seems out of character for Palin.

I'm sorry, but generalities like this are insufficient. Faking a pregnancy and then adopting her own child's down's syndrome baby as her own also shows exceedingly poor judgment. ...,but that hardly seems out of character for Palin.

See what I did there?
posted by Alcibiades. at 1:21 PM on April 16, 2011


If Palin was pregnant she endangered her childs life by flying thousands of miles when she should have been in a hospital and then going to a hospital that didn't have a neo-natal intensive care unit (pretty much a requirement for a woman of her age giving birth).

She is either a lier, or she is stupid with incompetent doctors.
posted by Megafly at 1:21 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


What makes her doctors incompetent? And since when is a NICU a requirement for a woman of her age giving birth?
posted by KathrynT at 1:26 PM on April 16, 2011


I've seen photos of Sarah Palin nursing Trig.

Dunno why I'm wading in on this. I don't honestly understand why the fact she quit her job as governor isn't enough to keep her out of the running/the news/my face, but - I am not convinced by a picture of her nursing. Is it out of the realm of possibility for a nursing baby to latch onto a breast that isn't lactating? (Not to mention the convenience of this photo as "proof" she is the mother.)
posted by Glinn at 1:26 PM on April 16, 2011


Faking a pregnancy and then adopting her own child's down's syndrome baby as her own also shows exceedingly poor judgment. ...,but that hardly seems out of character for Palin.

Uhh, sure, if you see her as a cartoon super-villain.

See what I did there?

*squints* No, not really.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:28 PM on April 16, 2011


Every second we spend talking about this, and every second we spend talking about the birther lies, is a second we're not talking about the Wall Street criminals looting this country. The every existence of this thread is a win for then bad guys.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:31 PM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: The every existence of this thread is a win for then bad guys.
posted by found missing at 1:36 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whoah, what the hell? I think I woke up in October 2008.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:43 PM on April 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Having said this, I feel the need to correct a couple assumptions about Trisomy 21: Down syndrome babies born to young mothers are NOT rare. 80% of babies with Down Syndrome are born to mothers under age 35. The vast, vast majority of people with Down are born to young moms.

This is misleading. I mean, it's true, but it's misleading. Because we're not asking the question "what are the odds that a given baby with Down syndrome was born to a young mother", we're asking the question "given two potential mothers, one of whom is 44 and one of whom is 18, which is much more likely to be the mother of a child with Down syndrome?". And in that case the fact that most people with Down are born to young mothers (because young mothers have far more babies) is irrelevant.

Basically you're taking the Base Rate Fallacy and misapplying it. The base rate fallacy is very important in biostatistics but it isn't applicable here.
posted by Justinian at 1:43 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it out of the realm of possibility for a nursing baby to latch onto a breast that isn't lactating?

No, but it's really really unlikely, and more so in a baby with Down syndrome, where nursing difficulties are the norm. Also she was very public about pumping for when she couldn't nurse him directly. It's POSSIBLE, but it's birther-level unlikely.

Sarah Palin, like every other pregnant woman, is an autonomous human being who is free to make decisions that may harm her unborn child. She can't be compelled not to get on a plane at 36 weeks pregnant, she can't be forced into a hospital after membrane rupture, she can't be shackled into an ambulance and dragged to a hospital with a NICU. She is a free citizen, even if she's pregnant, and her doctors aren't in the position to "let" her do anything.
posted by KathrynT at 1:45 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Essentially you need to separate the concepts of unlikely and rare. It is unlikely that an 18 year old would bear a child with Down syndrome. It does not therefore imply that babies with Down syndrome borne to young mothers are rare. Base rate fallacy.
posted by Justinian at 1:45 PM on April 16, 2011


Of course this is our business. It's the business of every American citizen. Sorry if this is too close to the sacred cow of reproductive rights, but Palin used her family (including minors) as a PR device and a moral wedge to try and win the country's highest office for her team, with her in the second-in-command role.
Any type of active or past fraud in a candidate's personal life is our business and a fair criteria for judhing whether or not they belong in the executive branch of our federal government. Regardless of whether she won or lost, she should be investigated and prosecuted if found to be falsifying her statements during the campaign. If these allegations are true, it's outrageous that she carried out a criminal conspiracy that could have landed her the job of VP.
Conflating this with abortion rights, adoption rights, the rights of the handicapped, etc. is absurd.
posted by BillBishop at 1:46 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"which is much more likely to be the mother of" != "which is the mother of"

That is the mistake you are promoting vigorously
posted by found missing at 1:47 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well we could break into their house or bribe a babysitter to get a sample because we are, ya know, insane.
I think I was clear in my other posts that I think Palin is the mother, but these conspiracy theorists are driving me a little nuts, yes. The 'matter of fact' comments that take it as a given that Palin isn't the mother is pretty weird. Still, a DNA test might be worth it just to shut them all up.

Here's something to think about though: what if Todd isn't the father. That seems a lot more within the realm of possible, and it could be why Sarah doesn't do any tests to prove anything. She also might think all this craziness helps her by making her critics look irrational.
The thing I don't get about the Obama situation is how much of it is beyond his control. Wouldn't the two or three top US secret intelligence agencies do full background checks on the top contenders for POTUS and VPOTUS?
The other candidates do private investigations for stuff they can use in the campaign. If there was some solid evidence that he was born outside of the country I think it might have shown up in the campaign, but I'm not sure. But ultimately that's just for campaign ammo. And background checks typically cover things that you do as an adult, what your parents do while they are pregnant.
Seems to me if the birth/hoax rumors are true, Brad Scharlott will have his career destroyed by the Republican Noise Machine.
They don't want Palin anywhere near the presidency.
Having said this, I feel the need to correct a couple assumptions about Trisomy 21: Down syndrome babies born to young mothers are NOT rare. 80% of babies with Down Syndrome are born to mothers under age 35.
Under the age of 35 not under the age of 17. It gets less and less likely the younger you get. To the point that there are probably only a couple hundred downs kids to 17 year olds each year.

It seems reasonable to think Palin was still sexually active and not using protection, since she had so many other kids.
posted by delmoi at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2011


No one yet mentioned the possibility that trig is todd palin's love child?
posted by empath at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2011


That is the mistake you are promoting vigorously

Sure, if you want to ignore logic and reason it's a mistake. I mean, showing that given two potential mothers (one 44 and one 18) of a baby with Down syndrome, the 44 year old is something on the order of 40x as likely to be the mother is clearly irrelevant.
posted by Justinian at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2011


My mother had eight children, and two of those were home births, one being under a Christmas tree. I, luckily was born in a hospital as my umbilical cord was around my neck. Anyway, by several births in, a lot of times a pregnant women feels a lot more comfortable with the process of both pregnancy and giving birth and may (wrongly or rightly) not be permanently attached to an NICU. So, no, based on personal experience, the fact that she flew on that plan when she did and acted as she would not say that she automatically did not give birth to that child.

Anywho, it's kind of pointless, no? There might be an possibility of all of these theories being true, but not a lot. And that fraction of a doubt is not enough for me to want an investigative report violating a lot of people's privacy to be undertaken.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2011


is clearly irrelevant

Except that I never made anything close to that argument. I'm only asking, on behalf of rocket scientists and others, for you to back of the claim that high probability is equivalent to certainty.
posted by found missing at 1:58 PM on April 16, 2011


Except that I never made anything close to that argument. I'm only asking, on behalf of rocket scientists and others, for you to back of the claim that high probability is equivalent to certainty.
When we say "certainty" we really mean "high probability". It's basically the same thing. You can never be 100% certain about anything, for all we know Sarah Palin is actually a robot, and all of children are grown in vats. That's very unlikely, just like Bristol being the mother is very unlikely, for a number of reasons but including the Downs Syndrome stats.
posted by delmoi at 2:01 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I'd made that claim then I probably would. Well, okay, I wouldn't since there's no such thing as certainty, only confidence intervals. But since I didn't it doesn't matter. What I said was that it isn't reasonable to think otherwise. Reasonable is a different word than certainty.
posted by Justinian at 2:01 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian: That Trig has Down syndrome is all the evidence anyone should need.
posted by found missing at 2:04 PM on April 16, 2011


Yeah, and?

Obama could have been born in Kenya. I mean it's not impossible. But the birth certificate that has been released should likewise be all the evidence anyone should need (if evidence is needed at all which, as in the case, it shouldn't). Would you likewise say that the birth certificate isn't good enough because it doesn't provide absolute certainty?

That's a very Birther argument.
posted by Justinian at 2:06 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, except that Clinton pretty famously couldn't keep his hands off anyone in a skirt, and it's LUDICROUS to think that Sarah Palin isn't Trig's mother.

Wait, so now you're saying it *is* OK to investigate Clinton rumours but not Palin rumours?

And if it's so ludicrous, then it would be really easy to rebut it and put an end to it, right?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:18 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


*If* she was actually pregnant with her fifth child and got on a plane after she started leaking amniotic fluid, she's dumber than even I assume, but it could have happened.

I can't get past this. This is, in fact, exactly what she says happened. (That link goes directly to an audio link which is citation #8 in the reference list of Scharlott's paper)

When she she threw her teenaged daughter into the line of fire during the campaign I was livid and my reaction was "fuck you Sarah Palin. Your daughter is going through something very difficult and isolating at the best of times and you are using her in an effort to preserve your own image. You are a Bad Mother." Hearing - in her own words, no less - that during the seventh month of a high-risk pregnancy she traveled thousands of miles away from her doctor*, began leaking amniotic fluid, waited to give a speech, and then boarded an airplane while having conctractions? This is her story? Fuck you Sarah Palin. You are an irresponsible and selfish person with incredibly poor judgement whom I would not trust even to cast a vote for the presidential office, much less stand for election. Am I really supposed to be reassured that you skipped the conference reception? Livid.

*This is me not even going into the fact that the doctor she was seeing is not an OB-GYN but a family physician who has "delivered lots of babies," because I'm sure there are very good reasons for doing so. During a high risk pregnancy.
Yes, I am judging her. I am far from perfect, but I think she is an overall Bad Person.
posted by Eumachia L F at 2:22 PM on April 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


Look, like I said, I don't care if Sarah Palin is Trig's mom, grandma, or adopter. Really, there's plenty for me to object to without getting into her family life, and I would be in favor a grandparent adoption under lots of circumstances. That wouldn't make me vote for her, but it might make me respect her as a person a little more.

And the padded tummy idea makes me roll my eyes, it's so Flowers in the Attic.

But her birth story is just incredible. I think she's lying. I think this is how the rumors started- her unbelievable birth story, coupled with not releasing Trig's birth certificate made people wonder what she was covering up with her lies.

I honestly have no idea why she's lying about his birth story. Given how she's used this child for political gain, maybe she just engaged in hyperbole because she wanted to talk about her special needs baby as much as possible. Beats me. But I don't believe the wild tale of Trig's birth for a red hot minute.
posted by Leta at 2:23 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, she could be lying about her water breaking before the plane right back to Alaska. That might not have happened at all. Or maybe it happened and she was just really reckless. Who cares?
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on April 16, 2011


Of course this is our business. It's the business of every American citizen. Sorry if this is too close to the sacred cow of reproductive rights, but Palin used her family (including minors) as a PR device and a moral wedge to try and win the country's highest office for her team, with her in the second-in-command role.

.....

It was Sarah Palin herself who chose to bring out her entire family, every single member of it, as vital to her candidacy and exemplary to what she stands for. Bristol, Willow, First Dude, Levi, and then Trigg. Remember that sorry cast? Sorry, they're fair game.

.....

When SHE started using her own family to advance her political career the way Sarah Palin has, she invited the scrutiny of it.


I remain entirely unconvinced by arguments like these. You think conservative Republicans are the only ones who have their families in their campaigns? There have been so few female politicians running for this level of national office (especially pre-menopausal ones) that there's not really a script here. She brings her family along? Then clearly she's using them for political gain and is an unfit mother. She doesn't involve them in her campaign? Then she's a horrible mother who's out in public when she should be home taking care of her newborn, and she probably never wanted to be a mother anyway, and who the hell does she think she is having a big family if she's not going to take care of them? It's okay for a male politician to have his family clustered behind him waving at the crowd. That just proves he's a good family man. But too many of the comments about Palin - including about her getting on a flight when she may have been leaking amniotic fluid - have this creepy overvibe that there's a Right Way to be a good woman and good mother, and she's doing it wrong. One of the sucky thing about being a woman is that everyone thinks it's their business how you do stuff like this, and I find that true for Palin no matter how loathsome I find her politics.

And even if she *did* drag out her family as some kind of proof to the masses that she's a Gosh Darn Real American...I don't care. She doesn't owe me or anyone else birth certificates or DNA records.

I will agree with anyone who says that Palin is an awful politician and bad and wrong for this country. But since this story broke I've been seeing too many comments about how she's also clearly an awful *mother* (including how she clearly tried to give herself a miscarriage, and how mistreated her children were by appearing at the occasional campaign event). And frankly, I find that pretty gross and not a little sexist.
posted by Salieri at 2:28 PM on April 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


I agree that this is off script and sexist, Salieri. No doubt. But I can't help being squicked out by any politician using a special needs child to prove their pro-life bona fides. It just sits wrong with me, at least in part because, being pro-choice, I think it should be a private family matter.
posted by Leta at 2:34 PM on April 16, 2011


Maybe we should let her make that choice for herself.

One thing that weirds me out about the "family values" hypocrisy attacks in all this is that raising your special needs grandchild for your daughter would seem like an exemplary example of having strong commitment to your family.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:45 PM on April 16, 2011


The real issue with this story depends on what you think the truth is: If you think it's 100% as per Palin's word on the matter then it's just that she has amazingly bad judgment, in this case, with the life of her child. It not inconsistent with other observations, so, Occam's razor and all that.

If it's not as per Palin's word, well, then it gets weird. I mean, if I were going to essentially buy someone's Down's syndrome baby as my political prop (the most sinister spin on the whole affair) I'd certainly come up with a better story than this.

For example, I see that Alaska allows "direct entry Midwives" so why not find a licensed midwife (or set up fake credentials for someone you know you can trust) and bring the baby in for it's first physical "a few days" after it was born? At least it makes you look not completely incompetent and hell, might by you some cred among the crowd that's all over things like midwives - at least those who weren't paying attention to everything else you said or did.

If somebody really cared, it's not like we're not all shedding DNA all the time. It would not be that hard to get DNA samples from Sarah, Trig and the First Dude, count chromosomes and markers and crap and figure out if things are as they were marketed. Hell, I'll even make you a thermocycler.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:45 PM on April 16, 2011


That a person managed to reproduce should have nothing to do with a political campaign. The children absolutely shouldn't be involved. It's exploitation and exposes them to all sorts of vile public attention (ahem).

I find speculating about the Palin's marital fidelity pretty unsavory. However if Sarah Palin is raising Todd's love child, that will come out in her campaign. It fits in so well with her "momma grizzly" BARF, excuse me... image. Her die-hard supporters would eat it up. Raising her husband's disabled love child to protect her family? Yeah.

Anyway, this topic is gross and fascinating. I wish her family life was private. That choice was hers and she made it. Her family's going to be discussed. It's just kind of dumb.
posted by polyhedron at 2:49 PM on April 16, 2011


But her birth story is just incredible. I think she's lying. I think this is how the rumors started- her unbelievable birth story, coupled with not releasing Trig's birth certificate made people wonder what she was covering up with her lies.

But his birth story is just incredible. I think he's lying. I think this is how the rumors started- his unbelievable birth story, coupled with not releasing his birth certificate made people wonder what he was covering up with his lies.

You really, really don't see that you sound exactly like a birther talking about Obama's birth certificate?
posted by Justinian at 3:04 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boy, if there's one thing I shouldn't write about, it's a topic that requires empathy, mercy, and compassion for the schoolyard thugs on the Right. You should have seen what I just deleted.
posted by Xoebe at 3:05 PM on April 16, 2011


But too many of the comments about Palin - including about her getting on a flight when she may have been leaking amniotic fluid - have this creepy overvibe that there's a Right Way to be a good woman and good mother, and she's doing it wrong.

I'm pointing out that it appears she perpetrated a conspiracy involving the coercion of multiple people in the course of campaigning for VP. I don't care of she's a good mother or a crappy mother or about any issues related to her reproductive system or rights.
If she conspired to falsify information regarding military service, her record in public office, or ANYTHING, it should be investigated and prosecuted if found to be true.
This goes beyond a little white lie or a misspoken statement. If a US state Governor falsified official state records, coerced people to lie on her behalf, and repeatedly and knowingly lied to the American people in pursuit of high office, that is a serious issue, and the fact that the issue revolves around a birth/baby/handicap is not an excuse for lying nor is it the cause for the need to investigate.
posted by BillBishop at 3:22 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I gotta say I kind of like the name Trig. It is an actual word that mean "neat and trim".
posted by Ad hominem at 3:41 PM on April 16, 2011


I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire.

How rude. I'd piss on her even if she wasn't on fire.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:24 PM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I gotta say I kind of like the name Trig. It is an actual word that mean "neat and trim".

For me, it means "long and boring".
posted by hal_c_on at 4:24 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Palin, when did you stop beating your husband?
posted by mikeh at 4:39 PM on April 16, 2011


I've been out all day, and I wish I wasn't coming in on this 150 comments in.

First, I want to thank KathrynT for being the voice of reason here. Because, culturally, we do way way too much of judging mothers, and this, it seems to me, is just the same thing, on a grander and more tabloid scale.

Note: I hate Sarah Palin with a firey passion. She doesn't stand for me or anything I agree with.

And yet. We could be having a conversation about this woman, a working mother, basically a CEO, and how she found it easy (or hard) to combine working with raising a family. How she was able to bring her baby to work with her and how being in a CEO role made it easier for her to combine those things while (very likely) most women who work for her might have had a harder time, most certainly would be taking some kind of leave, and probably would have had to sort out finding care for this special needs child. There is so much in Palin's story to use as fodder for discussion of the lot of working mothers in America. Because doing what she does - balancing a demanding career (whatever you think of it) and raising five kids (whatever you think of the job she's done) - that's hard work, right there.

But no, we can't use her experience as a launching pad for that. Instead, we just have to talk endlessly about her reproductive choices. Whether its her child at all, whether she's "an irresponsible and selfish person with incredibly poor judgment" for making (or pretending to make) specific choices with her reproductive health.

Ultimately, we should leave this story alone because it doesn't matter. Its prurient, and tells us nothing about her that we didn't already know. Instead of impugning the media for not reporting it, we should applaud them for not wasting their energy on this crap.
posted by anastasiav at 4:45 PM on April 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


If she gives it, she's going to have to take it. Sorry.
posted by found missing at 4:48 PM on April 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


The trouble with Triggles.
posted by telstar at 4:52 PM on April 16, 2011


Wow. Trump/Palin 2012! Maybe they can get Omarosa for Chief of Staff.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:56 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll pitch my tent in the camp that finds this utterly distasteful and not a little insane. Why is it even coming up now?
posted by cj_ at 4:59 PM on April 16, 2011


That's all in the original post above.
posted by found missing at 5:01 PM on April 16, 2011


If she gives it, she's going to have to take it. Sorry.

bullshit
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:09 PM on April 16, 2011


not bullshit; so there
posted by found missing at 5:10 PM on April 16, 2011


The other candidates do private investigations for stuff they can use in the campaign. If there was some solid evidence that he was born outside of the country I think it might have shown up in the campaign, but I'm not sure. But ultimately that's just for campaign ammo. And background checks typically cover things that you do as an adult, what your parents do while they are pregnant.

Yes but I wasn't talking about candidates' investigations for campaign dirty tricks material. I imagine most of the dirt that did come out about Obama came from the Clintons. I meant federal secret intelligence agencies. A presidential candidate might eventually have a lot of governmental power and access to "secret" information, some of which perhaps comes even before they officially assume office. Therefore, one would hope that a couple of those intelligence agencies would be looking deep into the top candidates' backgrounds before they reached the nomination point. Given that Obama's father wasn't a U.S. citizen, one would think Obama's place of birth would have been verified by federal investigation lest a constitutional crisis arise once he got elected.

No one yet mentioned the possibility that trig is todd palin's love child?

Yep, I did earlier in the thread. But the only way I could see that working is if the baby's real mother is dead or otherwise unable to communicate. Sooner or later somebody would talk, especially if they could get paid more than whatever blackmail money the Palins might pay. Sarah Palin taking the love child in would be rather ingenious because no would expect a betrayed wife to do that.

Ordinarily I'd agree that it really isn't anyone's business other than the Palin family's. However, Sarah Palin made it a public issue when she allowed herself to be put up to be a heartbeat away from the presidency; since she herself has used the baby in her political p.r.; and, since she has trotted her daughter out as an exemplary, pro-life, unwed teen mom. Lying about something so fundamental as birthing a baby would seriously undermine her integrity, even if she were covering for her own wayward high schooler who just couldn't seem to grasp the abstinence-only message. Can you imagine what a nuclear bomb-level scandal there would have been if there were even a hint that Obama wasn't the father of one of his kids? He certainly would not have been elected, much less nominated.

Trump/Palin 2012!

Depending on how far this Trump thing goes, I can see him assuming a similar role as Ralph Nader did in 2000. Only he'd be a spoiler on behalf of the left. I think that's why he's going after the tea partiers and the birther vote, to splinter them off from the more mainstream right wingers who'd probably hold Trump in even lower regard than many of them did McCain.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:16 PM on April 16, 2011


I think people who run for office - meaning all people, men, women, working mothers, working fathers, pet owners, church officials, furries, whatever - are fair game for having their decisions questioned. This is not about the reproductive rights of your average middle-class working mother. It's about the practical real-time choices of an elected official. One who wanted to be a John-McCain-heartbeat away from the red button.
posted by Eumachia L F at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree with people who say that families should be off-limits and this is not our business, but it is hard to maintain that when Palin herself has entered her family into the political arena as examples of her family values. When someone brings a personal issue into a platform debate, what are the opponents supposed to do?

Should we be a better parent than Palin is and not point out her hypocrisy and lack of the purported values?

Maybe, yes. I mean, I think that everyone should be a better parent than Palin and cut her kids some slack.
On the other hand, can people just close down all debate over moral issues by bringing their own experience in and say that no one can talk about it now that it is personal?

I think that when personal escapades aren't part of politics and people aren't campaigning on lies, then it shouldn't be ok to bring families etc into the picture, but when politics and personal lives spill into each other as much as Palin has allowed and encouraged them too, it should be ok to call her out on it.
posted by rmless at 5:24 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It's as ludicrous as the idea that Barack Obama isn't a natural born citizen, and while that story HAS gotten a lot of play, most of the play has been lolbirthers instead of giving the idea any real credence."

The leading Republican challenger for 2012 is a vocal proponent of the birther conspiracy.

This is a journalism paper, and it discusses the ways in which the media pursued the story. It does not, at least so far in my reading of it, say that it is probable that Trig is Bristol's child, only that it is possible and that the probability of that being true is at least as large as that of Obama being born abroad, yet the paper is about looking at the different reasons regarding the relative state of play.

I do think that he ignores one that I'll admit comes with a huge amount of bias from my side: That liberals are smarter.

I also think the rumor would have gotten a lot more play if McCain had won — part of the stickiness of the birther rhetoric is that it presents them with a sort of overarching justification for their perception of everything Obama does as illegitimate, similar to the charges over Kennedy buying the election with mob funds. Ultimately, Palin's story lacks that concordance with a popular psychological motive with her opposition.
posted by klangklangston at 5:26 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


For all of you thinking that "our" side should be above "this sort of thing" (yes, multiple scare quotes) I have one thing to say to any of you who may have children or a mortgage in the USA:

Never bring logic to a rhetoric fight.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:26 PM on April 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


hermitosis: “The most outrageous and astonishing part of this to me so far is Forktine's characterization of the alleged incident as a ‘fib.’”

What were you hoping for? "Mortal sin?" If it turned out she lied to protect her kid, would that be the worst thing that anybody has ever done? Frankly, it would make me respect her a tiny bit, which is kind of astounding to me, but there you are.

And in fact I think that, in the unlikely even that the Palin alternate birth theory turns out to be correct, those few weirdly moralist left-wingers who insist on asking about this crap will have a rude awakening and find that this kind of thing will only make her more sympathetic to the American people. Oh look – she lied to protect her kid! She was trying to keep her from getting hurt by society and their judgmentalism and tabloid journalism! How noble!

Does anybody remember how it backfired on the Republicans who pushed for Clinton's impeachment? How his ratings actually went up, because Americans thought it was petty and silly and small for the Republicans to make hay of it?

And, if I may say so, Clinton actually did something wrong. I mean, not only did he lie to the American people, but he cheated on his wife. Now, all that was ephemeral to the running of the country, and it was obnoxious for people to make political hay of it, but... well, Sarah Palin has, amazingly enough, done less wrong in this instance than Bill Clinton did. So how do you think people will react when they discover her secret?

Trust me on this – leave it alone. Even if you win, you lose. Democrats have as many skeletons in their closets as Republicans. If you value the current political system (and everyone in this thread seems to, even if I don't) then you won't waste your time digging into this kind of shit.
posted by koeselitz at 5:51 PM on April 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I personally know one woman under 25 whose child had Downs, and one woman who was under 35. It's not exclusive to older mothers.
posted by jokeefe at 6:09 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Palin can end the rumors any time she wants by releasing Trig's birth certificate or even by a real statement

By not doing so, these rumors stay around. It keeps her name in the news and she can play the victim.

WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG?

Someone who is a god damn idiot, that's who.
posted by marxchivist at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2011


WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG?

Someone whose own mother named him "Track" and who suffers from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome?
posted by cookie-k at 8:42 PM on April 16, 2011


I tend to think this story is true. Because frankly, Sarah covering up for someone else's pregnancy (Bristol's, Todd's love child, whoever's) under these circumstances makes a hell of a lot more sense than acting in the way that she did if she was genuinely pregnant/in labor under these circumstances. If she was covering for someone else's pregnancy, I'd think slightly/somewhat better of her than I do of a woman who is either crazy, a goddamned idiot, or both to hop on a plane while in any sort of labor (and I thought you weren't supposed to be flying at the very end of a pregnancy anyway) to fly to fucking Alaska and get not the world's best medical care there. I don't know if she was deliberately trying to passive-aggressively kill Trig by doing that, or if she's an idiot, or WHAT, but if she genuinely did this? WHAT AN ASSHOLE. She could have gotten the kid or herself or both killed by doing dumb shit like this if something had gone even more wrong. And people let her on a plane? What's wrong with THEM?

It just all smells incredibly fishy. You can't believe any of this. And that's why it's an issue. She's probably a liar, or a total idiot, or up to something.

(And in all honesty, the woman is a small framed woman and she just plain don't look enough pregnant in the photos for me to buy it on her usual size, especially when you look at the photos of previous pregnancies.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:00 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


WHO THE BLISTERING GREEN FUCK NAMES THEIR KID TRIG?

Well there is a "theory" that she named him Trig after the chromosome that causes Downs.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:04 PM on April 16, 2011


(And in all honesty, the woman is a small framed woman and she just plain don't look enough pregnant in the photos for me to buy it on her usual size, especially when you look at the photos of previous pregnancies.)

Or the photos of her two days before she announced her pregnancy. Really ballooned up that weekend.
posted by kafziel at 9:38 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not exclusive to older mothers.

Nobody said it was, they said it was more likely with older mothers.
posted by rhizome at 9:58 PM on April 16, 2011


Nobody said it was, they said it was more likely with older mothers.

Exactly. This is actually a textbook case for Bayesian analysis, which allows us to quantify precisely how this higher likelihood should affect our belief about who's actually the mother. If we think a priori (i.e., before we know the kid has Down's) that Bristol and Sarah are equally likely to be the mom (this assumption, I think, is pretty generous to the conspiracy theorists), then the calculation is very simple: a 25-year-old has a 1/1250 probability of giving birth to a Down's baby. A 45-year-old has a 1/30 probability of giving birth to a Down's baby. A given baby with Down's is therefore about 42 times (1250/30) more likely to have been born to a 45-year-old than a 25-year-old. 1/42 = .02 -- so about a 2% chance that the older woman, i.e. Sarah, is the mom (the age-contingent probabilities are from an earlier comment and are somewhat conservative because Bristol was a teenager, not a 25-year-old, and thus her probability of giving birth to a baby with Down's is even lower).

If you use this calculator you can play around with other prior probabilities. Let's say that a priori you think there's a 90% chance Bristol is the mom. Based on the fact that Trig has Down's, the probability that Sarah is the mom is still 9/10!

So based on the math it's very, very unlikely that Trig is actually Bristol's child.
posted by myeviltwin at 11:16 PM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's not going to work myeviltwin. Somebody will stop pop in repeating the "lots of young women have children with Down syndrome" thing. I tried already.
posted by Justinian at 12:54 AM on April 17, 2011


Hm, well, I guess we'll see. I think once you see that the question is "Which of these two women is more likely to be the mother (given that the baby has Down's)" the math is pretty obvious. But I'm prepared to be wrong about that...
posted by myeviltwin at 1:43 AM on April 17, 2011


Statistics cannot be used to divine truth.
posted by gjc at 5:05 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


You guys are missing the abortion element when you are trying to calculate the Down Syndrome likelihoods.

CVS and amnio tests are routinely offered to pregnant women over 35. Under 35, most OB practices will do it if the woman asks, but the tests won't be offered. Down can be picked up on a U/S, but not until pretty far along in pregnancy when abortion goes from taking a few minutes to a few days and generally moves into nightmarish territory.

90% of pregnancies wherein the woman knows she is pregnant with a Down Syndrome fetus, she chooses to terminate. The woman yes, is more likely to have a DS fetus if she is older, but she is much more likely to know that she is carrying a DS fetus, and therefore, more likely to abort. Thus, older women are much more likely to conceive a DS fetus, but only slightly more likely to give birth to one.

When you see a person with Down Syndrome, there is an 80% chance that the person's mother was under 35 when s/he was born. That's a fact.
posted by Leta at 6:04 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Statistics cannot be used to divine truth.

This. A million times over.
posted by kuanes at 6:04 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think of this in much the same way that I thought of the Lewinsky scandal.

I remember seeing Clinton on TV, saying, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman Miss Lewinsky" when I was 20 years old, and thinking, man, he is a lying dog. I also was an extreme critic of the impeachment. It was ridiculous.

I think that Sarah Palin is lying about Trig's birth story, though I won't go so far as to say I think she's not his natural mother. But I also think it's nobody's business but the Palins, just as I thought Bill's blowjob was nobody's business but the Clintons.

Politicians are liars. I think they have the right to lie about their personal lives, frankly, but that doesn't mean I can't sniff out a lie when one is presented.
posted by Leta at 6:08 AM on April 17, 2011


Forktine: "in order to try and protect her family"

Protect her family from what exactly? The embarrassment of a teenage mother in the family? The embarrassment of a baby out of wedlock? (something Palin herself is "guilty" of). Or far more likely: to spare Sarah from embarrassment and from the resulting damage to her political reputation. And what ever happened to being pro-life? Babies aren't a blessing suddenly? Would the rightwing think her parenting skills were lackluster? What about abstinence and it's abject failure in such a situation? So, you see, her purported lying (if this tale is even true, who knows) means that she's either a gigantic hypocrite or the slimiest of politicians. Both are important facts for deciding on her suitably to run for the #2 job. Maybe it's all hogwash. Mostly I don't care. But I'm in strong disagreement to this meme that she was "protecting her family". (you're not the only one I've heard say this, so I'm not picking on you) If it's all true, she was protecting her own hide. And in my book that's a scoundrel.
posted by readyfreddy at 6:15 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


But her birth story is just incredible. I think she's lying. I think this is how the rumors started- her unbelievable birth story, coupled with not releasing Trig's birth certificate made people wonder what she was covering up with her lies.

But his birth story is just incredible. I think he's lying. I think this is how the rumors started- his unbelievable birth story, coupled with not releasing his birth certificate made people wonder what he was covering up with his lies.

You really, really don't see that you sound exactly like a birther talking about Obama's birth certificate?
posted by Justinian

***
Are you being sarcastic? Because I can't tell.

I am not a "Trig birther". One, as I just said, it's nobody's business but the Palins. Two, if Sarah is not Trig's natural mother, it doesn't create any sort of legal circumstances that disallow her to run for office. Three, I've seen Obama's birth certificate online (do a Google Image search), so I really have no idea what Donald Trump is going on about.

I'm just saying that if the Palins wanted the public to not scrutinize the circumstances of Trig's birth, Sarah should not have told the wild tale of flights and drives and leaking bags of waters, because it makes her sound like a lying nitwit. Not that sounding like a nitwit has stopped her before...
posted by Leta at 6:21 AM on April 17, 2011


Could we please stop giving her attention. Please.
posted by theora55 at 7:00 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The way she has handled this drives me crazy because it seems so contrary to what anyone with common sense would do. I would think the average person would handle it by holding a press conference and announcing, "I'm tired of all the rumors; here is Trig's birth certificate, here are the medical records. I'll answer any of your questions for the next 15 minutes and then I'm done and I don't want to hear any more crap about who Trig's REAL mom is." But I am sure that will never happen-- she will never answer any questions on the subject,

As to the importance. Eh. It says something about the way she rolls-- she is never straight forward, never tells the full truth, it is always lies, half lies and obfuscations. My only concern is if Trig is not her child and was never legally adopted. Perhaps the child is Todd's in which case I guess that legal adoption is unnecessary.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:02 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


She got on a commercial airliner for a cross-continental flight with a premature rupture of membranes. If you need any more information to help you understand the lack of judgment, or parallel severity of narcissism, that she is imbued with, you have blinders on. The list of potential risks to the viabilty of her premature infant are so numerous that considering this a true story really is more cruel and insulting to her than the converse. I'm certain that there's a cover-up, but I really don't care what the details are, because she has no future in politics, and just like a gay man living a lie with his family and wife, whatever quasi-religious and political clusterfuck she caused with her personal ambition and hypocrisy she had to go to ridiculous, and likely very stressful, lengths to do a laughably bad job of accounting for this miraculous pregnancy and delivery.
posted by docpops at 7:08 AM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I would think the average person would handle it by holding a press conference and announcing, "I'm tired of all the rumors; here is Trig's birth certificate, here are the medical records. I'll answer any of your questions for the next 15 minutes and then I'm done and I don't want to hear any more crap about who Trig's REAL mom is."

But it won't stop it. Conspiracy theories by their nature thrive on being impossible to validate. It's a goalpost on rails stretching into infinity. They're not "average" people; they're stubborn assholes who have already decided what the truth is.

Barack Obama released his birth certificate two and a half years ago. A large collective of racists have spent this time finding more ways to pretend that he hasn't, or that it's not good enough. This isn't because they don't actually think Obama isn't a citizen; they think a black Democrat shouldn't be president. Likewise, a bulk of Trig Birthers don't actually believe any of the nonsense about Trig; they think stupid evil idiot Sarah Palin is a bitch and it would be awesome to embarrass her.

The similarity between the two, of course, is in the utter silliness of the conspiracy: in both cases, the capability of fabricating the alleged evidence the accusers desire is trivial. Obama and Palin are both, apparently, Machiavellian deceivers with absolutely no connections to anyone with a remote access to PhotoShop. It's like watching a horror movie where everyone suddenly doesn't have a cell phone.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:31 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


gjc: “Statistics cannot be used to divine truth.”

No, but they're a good test. If someone's going on and on and on about a really ridiculous and silly conspiracy theory, and you show them that it's pretty much highly unlikely that their conspiracy is true, and they still won't shut up about it, it's probably time to stop talking to them.
posted by koeselitz at 8:46 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


When you see a person with Down Syndrome, there is an 80% chance that the person's mother was under 35 when s/he was born. That's a fact.

You really don't understand statistics, do you? You've had this issue explained to you multiple times.
posted by Justinian at 11:58 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hm, well, I guess we'll see. I think once you see that the question is "Which of these two women is more likely to be the mother (given that the baby has Down's)" the math is pretty obvious. But I'm prepared to be wrong about that...

I win! I win! We should have put money on it.
posted by Justinian at 12:02 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, gambling is a good metaphor. You have a high probability of winning, but you may lose. That's the math.
posted by found missing at 12:26 PM on April 17, 2011


Could we please stop giving her attention. Please.

I wasn't paying attention to her when she was governor, and she was a vice presidential candidate. I stopped paying attention after she lost, and she popularized the "death panels" nonsense.

She's not an internet troll. She's a demagogue. They don't go away because you stop paying attention. They amass followers and one day, there they are, filling Congress with Tea Party members, shouting down public forums, and pushing American dialogue toward radical extremists. This is a problem, and no problem was ever solved by wishing it away. As long as she's out there making trouble, we must keep our eyes on her.

The discussion of whether she actually gave birth to Trig or not in nonsense, though. True or not, hypocrisy or not, it's going to sound lunatic, affects nothing, and allows for a false equivalency that the left is just as deranged as the right.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:03 PM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Justinian's statistical argument would be relevant if it were the case that literally all we knew about the situation were the ages of the women and that the child has Down's syndrome. Obviously, we know more about it than that. Indeed, there would be no controversy if it weren't for all the attendant weirdness documented in the linked article. Misapplied mathematics isn't going to get us anywhere in terms of finding the truth.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:07 PM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I win! I win! We should have put money on it.

Ha! Good thing I was prepared to be wrong...must be the result of having so much experience at it.
posted by myeviltwin at 1:38 PM on April 17, 2011


Justinian's statistical argument would be relevant if it were the case that literally all we knew about the situation were the ages of the women and that the child has Down's syndrome. Obviously, we know more about it than that. Indeed, there would be no controversy if it weren't for all the attendant weirdness documented in the linked article. Misapplied mathematics isn't going to get us anywhere in terms of finding the truth.

That is exactly why the "prior probability" is part of the equation. Say that the "attendant weirdness" leads you to believe that there is a 9/10 chance that Bristol is the mom before considering the fact that Trig has Down's (I think you'll agree that this is a very strong conclusion to draw from the facts, but for the sake of argument). Now add the fact that Trig has Down's, and there's still a 9/10 chance that Sarah is actually the mom. You can verify this yourself using the calculator I linked earlier.

This is not a "misapplication" of Bayesian statistics—rather, it's exactly the sort of problem that Bayesian statistics is designed to deal with.
posted by myeviltwin at 1:51 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your model doesn't take into account the third possibility, i.e., that neither Sarah nor Bristol is the biological mother of Trig.

Even if that were not a problem, there's still the problem of choosing the prior probability (always the problem with Bayesian inference). Given the evidence adduced in the article, I would estimate it much higher than 90%. If you want to argue about this, then we're back to arguing about how compelling the evidence is, which is the real issue here.

Why is that the real issue? Well, it's important to keep in mind that statistics apply to a population. Here we're talking about a single instance, the outcome is already determined, and there is a true state of affairs (we just don't know for sure what it is). We're better off investigating the true state of affairs, rather than speculating based on a mathematical model.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:08 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suppose you think that you have a 1/3 of picking the prize whether or not you accept Monty Hall's offer to switch doors...
posted by Justinian at 4:30 PM on April 17, 2011


Can a plane on a treadmill take off if a woman in labor is on board?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:44 PM on April 17, 2011


I suppose you think that you have a 1/3 of picking the prize whether or not you accept Monty Hall's offer to switch doors...

No, actually, I got that one right the first time I heard it. It's obvious, isn't it? You have more information after you're shown the empty room.

No, I just know the difference between abstractions and reality.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:50 PM on April 17, 2011


Or, to put it another way, if I had to choose someone to help me find the truth here, I'd choose an experienced detective over a statistician. There's something seriously hinky going on here, and I don't think your statistical model captures that.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:08 PM on April 17, 2011


When you see a person with Down Syndrome, there is an 80% chance that the person's mother was under 35 when s/he was born. That's a fact.

You really don't understand statistics, do you? You've had this issue explained to you multiple times.
posted by Justinian

***

Your statistical analysis is flawed, because you aren't accounting for abortions. I've explained this before, and you seem pissed now, let's not shit on the thread. If you have more to say to me personally, lets take it to MeMail, okay?
posted by Leta at 5:58 PM on April 17, 2011


I'm not pissed, I'm just frustrated. Read what myeviltwin has posted. But some people are wedded to a counter-factual position in exactly the same way that a lot of folks will continue to claim that Obama has never shown his birth certificate even if you can show them scanned copies of it on the internet.

This seems eminently on-topic to me given the post is looking at just that sort of clinging-to-irrational-beliefs.

While it's true that abortions do change the distribution somewhat, the fraction of live births which are Down syndrome babies is still much higher for older women than younger women. All it does is bring the ratio down from something above like 40x to something around 25x. It's hard to say exactly what that second number should be because the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome when you are 18 years old is so low. People keep repeating that fact that 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers under 35... but remember that the distribution is not even. Of those 80%, the vast majority are to mothers between 30 and 35%. The great majority of the remaining babies are to mothers between 25 and 30. The great majority of the rest are to mothers from 20-25. And so on.
posted by Justinian at 8:43 PM on April 17, 2011


(the majority are to mothers between 30 and 35 is what that should read, of course. The % is an error.)
posted by Justinian at 8:46 PM on April 17, 2011


Your model doesn't take into account the third possibility, i.e., that neither Sarah nor Bristol is the biological mother of Trig.

That right, it doesn't. But no one has given a reason why Palin would want to claim why some third party's baby as her own.

Even if that were not a problem, there's still the problem of choosing the prior probability (always the problem with Bayesian inference). Given the evidence adduced in the article, I would estimate it much higher than 90%. If you want to argue about this, then we're back to arguing about how compelling the evidence is, which is the real issue here.

Choosing the prior at least requires you to put your cards on the table. You've claimed that based on the facts described above (she got on a plane late in the pregnancy, etc.) there's better than a 9/10 chance that she's not the kid's mother and has successfully kept that quiet. I think that's a bit nuts, to be honest, based on the strength of the evidence (or lack thereof), and I'm curious about whether anyone else wants to take that position.

Why is that the real issue? Well, it's important to keep in mind that statistics apply to a population. Here we're talking about a single instance, the outcome is already determined, and there is a true state of affairs (we just don't know for sure what it is). We're better off investigating the true state of affairs, rather than speculating based on a mathematical model.

No, sorry, this is just wrong (read the link I posted earlier). A Bayesian analyses specifies how an ideally rational actor should update his/her beliefs about the world ("the true state of affairs") based on new information. It's a normative (i.e., prescriptive) model about the confidence one should have about "the true state of the world" given the facts one has. How do you propose to investigate the true state of the world in some other way?

At this point, this just seems like a dogmatic refusal to believe anything that contradicts your existing beliefs.
posted by myeviltwin at 10:03 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


That right, it doesn't. But no one has given a reason why Palin would want to claim why some third party's baby as her own.

Political ambition. The pro-life cred of birthing a Downs Syndrome baby, despite the difficulties.
posted by kafziel at 10:09 PM on April 17, 2011


I think he meant a reason a sane person would believe.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:02 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. "Hey, I'm politically ambitious, I think I'll steal a baby with Downs Syndrome and pretend it's mine!" I am no fan of Sarah Palin, nor a great believer in her intelligence, but that is a line of reasoning so ridiculous that even she would never countenance it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:08 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. "Hey, I'm politically ambitious, I think I'll steal a baby with Downs Syndrome and pretend it's mine!"

Yeah, that's right up there with "I'm politically ambitious for my newborn son, so I'll plant fake birth notices in the Honolulu papers." This is crazy talk.
posted by Forktine at 5:52 AM on April 18, 2011


OK, I think I've hit the point of rapidly diminishing returns on this discussion. If you refuse to recognize the limitations of simplistic mathematical models in the face of the refractory nature of reality, then so much the worse for you. As for arguing within your framework, your model's output is subject to GIGO, and the garbage in this case is an artificially low estimate of the prior probability. I don't intend to argue further about how to map the known facts onto an estimate for that parameter, because I'm not interested in the "making up a number" part. Also, I don't care to hear about how "insane", "ridiculous", "irrational", or "dogmatic" I am from you paragons of lofty intellectual discourse. And by the way, I think you're equivocating on the meaning of "normative" to attempt to lend an air of greater authority to your assertions.

How do you propose to investigate the true state of the world in some other way?

In the way that an investigative reporter or a detective would. How else?

Your argument is that your statistical wanking proves that the probability that Bristol is the mother is so low that it's not worth investigating further. Well, there's another knob to tweak. In my opinion, if the probability is 10%, or 5%, or even 2%, it's worth looking into. (Others have made the arguments about why we should care about blatant deception on the part of political figures.) I'll now wait to hear some more about how irrational I am. Have fun.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:45 AM on April 18, 2011


Crabby Appleton: That's quite a few SAT words worth of "you're a wanker and I don't believe you."

I feel like I've (unintentionally) hit a nerve, and I really am sorry if you've taken the discussion personally. I'm not particularly interested in Sarah Palin or her family, but if you want to get up there to Alaska and start gathering evidence, no problem. My only point was that we should base our beliefs on facts, not fantasy. If I've been too snarky in making that point, I sincerly apologize.
posted by myeviltwin at 7:17 AM on April 18, 2011


sincerely, even
posted by myeviltwin at 7:18 AM on April 18, 2011


Crabby Appleton: That's quite a few SAT words worth of "you're a wanker and I don't believe you."

I'd put it this way: you're engaging in academic masturbation and it doesn't carry the weight of the conclusion that the situation is unworthy of further investigation. I think you're entirely sincere in what you've said.

If I've been too snarky in making that point, I sincerly apologize.

I don't think you've been too snarky, certainly not to the point that an apology is in order. Given that, if you still want to apologize, I will, of course, accept it. If you feel insulted by anything I've said, I sincerely apologize for the insult.

My only point was that we should base our beliefs on facts, not fantasy.

I didn't realize that your only point was a platitude. To apply a similar filter, my only point here is that the devil is in the details.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:42 AM on April 18, 2011


Those responsible for the apologies have been sacked.
posted by Justinian at 1:34 PM on April 18, 2011


Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked, have been sacked.
posted by myeviltwin at 1:38 PM on April 18, 2011


By the way: The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science
posted by myeviltwin at 2:06 PM on April 18, 2011


I accept your apology now.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:29 PM on April 18, 2011


myeviltwin: By the way: The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science

Good stuff. Gives me a better understanding of why people are fixated on rejecting any data that doesn't result in high prob = certainty.
posted by found missing at 2:34 PM on April 18, 2011


Really, that's your takeaway?

Sacked!
posted by Justinian at 3:37 PM on April 18, 2011


Do you strongly expect that to be my takeaway? Interesting.
posted by found missing at 3:53 PM on April 18, 2011


You'll need to buy like three dozen for the super saver shipping but I guess that would be worthwhile if you like, only wanted to use them once and then throw them away for sanitary reasons.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:05 AM on April 19, 2011


Trig Trutherism: The definitive debunker.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:14 PM on April 22, 2011


“Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy. She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth,” asserted one chain email that surfaced on the urban legend site Snopes.com in April 2008.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:24 AM on April 23, 2011


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