Monday, May 2, 2011

No, that is not "kerning"

On May 2, 2011 Karl Denninger of posted a youtube video claiming that there is "kerning" on the "long form" birth certificate provided by the White House.   He then asserts that this is evidence that the certificate is a forgery, since typewriters cannot do kerning.   He's correct in the second part.  However his whole premise that there is kerning on the certificate is false, and easy disproven.

Here is the video:

For the discussion below you can access original documents through the "Important Links" on the right.   There are two versions the the Obama long form: the AP scan, and the White House PDF.   There are also three other forms from the same era:  The form for the Nordyke twins, the form for Edith Coats, and the form of someone named "Alan".

The best way to show how absurd his claim of forgery based on his kerning allegation is is to look at the other "long form" Certificates of Live Birth that have been uncovered and documented by investigators.

The first line of attack Denninger takes is to look at the spacing between the "a" and "p" in Kapiolani:

Obama "kerning"

 It does indeed appear that the tip of the "a" is inside the bounding rectangle of the P.  But it's only a misalignment of the "a", or the "p" or both.    There is nothing unusual about it.  In fact the same thing is observable on the long form of the Nordyke twins, who were also born at the Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital:

Note too that that the "ty" in Maternity has the same alleged kerning as the Obama document.   If kerning can't happen, as Denninger asserts, then why is what appears to be kerning present in the Nordyke twin long form?

And why is there another example in the Alan long form?

Alan Long Form "Kerning"

And an example of overlapping characters in the Edith Coats form?

Coats overlap

If you overlay the Obama Long form on to the exact same portion of the right hand Nordyke twin form, and fade animate, you get this:

The are almost exactly the same.  In fact it's hard to argue they were done with a different typewriter.

The little "t"
Denninger then spends some time looking at the "t" in University.  It appears that the "t" infringes into the space of the "y", and Denninger assert that this is evidence of kerning.    Not so.   It is simply evidence that the "t" is misaligned such that is a bit too high and to the right.  We've already seen this once above in the Nordyke form in the word "Maternity".   But look at the entire Obama long form.  The misplaced "t" are common:

Misaligned "t" in Obama long form

Not only that, but the misalignement of "t's" is present in the Nordyke twins long form, the "Alan" long form, and the Coats long form:




You'd almost think they were typed with the same typewriter?

It's very difficult to look at this evidence and conclude that there is any validity to Denninger's claim that there is evidence of kerning on the Obama long form, and that implies it could not have been done with a typewriter.


  1. apart from all this, the font is a monospace font, even if it was made on modern equipment, kerning of a monospace font is senseless and does not happen.

  2. yes Does not happen on a 1951 birth certificate have a good day.