May 18, 2012

Morning Line: The problem Democrats don't want to face

Sam Smith - I don't personally care where Obama was born, especially in an election where his opponent was the penultimate product of Americans born in an Mexican polygamous cult - a far more engaging irrelevant topic to take our minds off the economy.

But the issue is out there and it is having a political impact no matter how much the Democrats and the media choose to ignore it.

For example, a just uncovered 2004 AP story from the Standard of Kenya reported:

"Kenyan-born US Senate hopeful, Barrack Obama, appeared set to take over the Illinois Senate seat after his main rival, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race on Friday night amid a furor over lurid sex club allegations."


And this item from Political Wire:
"Breitbart News reports on a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama's then-literary agency which describes the author as "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii." [Literary agent] Miriam Goderich issued the following statement to Political Wire: 'You're undoubtedly aware of the brouhaha stirred up by Breitbart about the erroneous statement in a client list Acton & Dystel published in 1991 (for circulation within the publishing industry only) that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me -- an agency assistant at the time.  There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii.  I hope you can communicate to your readers that this was a simple mistake and nothing more.' "

Interesting coincidence, nonetheless, when combined with the story from the Standard.

My take is that Barack Obama - whose past has been clearly manipulated in the cause of public relations - may have some loose ends that his handlers thought could be cleverly concealed. In fact, some - including myself - think being born of an American, e.g. his mother, anywhere on this fair earth, entitles him to being considered  a "natural born" citizen as required by the Constitution. But I also know - especially after the right wing media has its day - a majority of Americans may not think so and thus, regardless of the merits, it is an important political issue and one that the pros had better start dealing with.

Back story. . . 



Sam Smith, April 2011 - Dismissing the skeptics of Obama's birthplace with haughty ridicule doesn't help much. In fact, the percentage of doubters seems to be increasing.

This is another example where the media and politicians refuse to deal with real anomalies in a story and, as result, actually encourage greater unsupported speculation.

Here's how the story stands as of now:

There is no substantive evidence that Obama was born anywhere but in Honolulu. Evidence that he was born in Hawaii includes a short form birth certificate and two newspaper announcements at the time. Both the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin published announcements of the birth of a son to Mr and Mrs Barack Obama on August 4, 1961.

The state of Hawaii, even at the request of the new Democratic governor, refuses to release the so-called long form birth certificate, saying that it can only be done at the personal request of the person on the certificate.

Obama, for reasons unknown, has not made such a request. Why does a Harvard lawyer let such a claim continue to fester in public without taking the simple steps necessary to quash it? Possible explanations include:

- An initial attitude of screw-them, which has now transformed into a major political issue from which Obama still doesn't want to back down, perhaps more for reasons of ego than of common sense.

- The lack of Obama's long certificate for reasons unknown. CNN has suggested that the original certificate no longer exists since all such records were discarded in 2001 but the state denies it. Hawaii is, in effect, denying the absence of something it can't or won't produce.

- Some information on the certificate that Obama did not want released, not necessarily having to do with birthplace.

Certainly the way Obama handled the matter during the campaign was strange. FactCheck.org alone was invited to view a hard copy of the original document and later reported:

"FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said."

But why not just tell Hawaii to let a pool of reporters and lawyers view the actual document? After all, in this case FactCheck was hardly the objective observer it pretends to be since it is funded by the Annenberg Foundation, whose Chicago Challenge had as a board member none of other than Barack Obama. One Annenberg fundee clearing another one is not the best way to prove your point.

Further, Governor Abercrombie's effort to resolve the matter has come to naught. According to Abercrombie, he was told by the state attorney general that he can't see the original certificate without the consent of the individual involved.

But this is not new information. This has been the state's legal position all along and Abercrombie presumably knew it from the start. Yet a day earlier, the British Daily Mail had reported:

"Abercrombie said on Tuesday that an investigation had unearthed papers proving Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. He told Honolulu's Star-Advertiser: 'It actually exists in the archives, written down,' he said.

"But it became apparent that what had been discovered was an unspecified listing or notation of Obama's birth that someone had made in the state archives and not a birth certificate.

"And in the same interview Abercrombie suggested that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health. . .

"He acknowledged the birth certificate issue would have 'political implications' for the next presidential election 'that we simply cannot have.'"

The other issue is whether - due to his father's British (not Kenyan) citizenship, Obama is a "natural born American" as described in the Constitution.

Several judges have already rejected cases involving the matter - undoubtedly in part on the unspoken grounds that determining that Obama was not entitled to be president would tear the country apart as never before, especially when the argument is based on something as shaky as his whereabouts during a stage of life when he couldn’t even pee in a toilet, let along speak the mother tongue.

Second, there is quite an interesting history of public figures being similarly challenged and an equally interesting history of nothing much happening as a result including Chester Arthur, Charles Evans Hughes, George Romney, Christian Herter, Barry Goldwater, Lowell Weicker, and John McCain. The definition of a "natural born citizen" has been a topic of a heated debate throughout our history. It wasn't well defined at the time of the Constitution was drafted and it hasn't been since.

It is worth noting, however, that (as reader Weld Henshaw points out) all the above mentioned were Republicans. 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't care where he was born. I think it is un-American to advocate assassination, to carry it out, and to brag about it.

Of course, historically that was the way the country was seized, but somehow, we were imbued with
idealistic values.

Anonymous said...

The truth of Birtherism is that a Kenyan, as much an American as is the UN Secretary-General, should not escape suspicion by blending in with persons above reproach like McCain and George Romney. The Harvard Law degree does not remove suspicion but rather provokes it, and the sheer lack of credentials of a low-level community organizer presents sufficient probable cause for a qualifications challenge. It could be argued that self-made Herman Cain presented acceptable credentials by submitting his personal wealth and corporate sponsorship before the GOP electorate, thought by many to be the only remaining hope for our country. The nuanced legal challenge to the incumbent's qualifications draws from a tradition of successful challenges to voter registration, before Fannie Lou Hamer. [The benighted believe that after Citizens United we're all Fannie Lou Hamer now, except for those who benefit from affirmative action by their adoption into an elite where money measures worth and bestows influence.] Dems will be damned for the rest of history, which may not be that long, because of their abject capitulation to the illegitimate demands of foreign communist-controlled King. Because of the Dems, the security of the nation is now breached at the very highest levels. This clear and present danger to our republic could be averted by the disclosure of just one long form birth certificate. The failure of well-established legal processes to produce this document, requires of us, like the patriots at Boston Harbor, to fight for our freedoms, for traditional marriage and the second amendment, and against contraception and the singling out of successful Americans for punitive taxation.

Anonymous said...

I watched the 9th circuit argument with Orly Taitz and understood the issue to be that impeachment was the exclusive remedy. If Congress wants to impeach him on these grounds such a decision is not likely appealable.

Anonymous said...

This is such an absurd topic
considering that there is no doubt his mother was American, he is
therefore American by birth. Allow
me to address all your "points".

For those of you that think Barack
Obama is not a citizen because his
father was from Kenya during the
time it was a British Commonwealth
and therefore a subject of the Crown;

All babies born in the United States — except those born to enemy aliens in wartime or the children of foreign diplomats—enjoy American citizenship under the Supreme Court’s long-standing interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The amendment states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Attorney General Edward Bates wrote in 1862 that, “... our constitution, in speaking of natural born citizens, uses no affirmative language to make them such, but only recognizes and reaffirms the universal principle, common to all nations, and as old as political society, that the people born in a country do constitute the nation, and, as individuals, are natural members of the body politic.” And also, “I am quite clear in the opinion that children born in the United States of alien parents, who have never been naturalized, are native-born citizens of the United States, and, of course, do not require the formality of naturalization to entitle them to the rights and privileges of such citizenship.”

Anonymous said...

For those who believe that his mother’s time with him in Indonesia, married to an Indonesian National voids his citizenship;

Secretary of State William Learned Marcy also wrote in 1854, ” In reply to the inquiry ... whether "the children of foreign parents born in the United States, but brought to the country of which the father is a subject, and continuing to reside within the jurisdiction of their father's country, are entitled to protection as citizens of the United States," I have to observe that it is presumed that, according to the common law, any person born in the United States, unless he be born in one of the foreign legations therein, may be considered a citizen thereof until he formally renounces his citizenship.”

Also Attorney General Edwards Pierrepont wrote in 1875, “It is equally clear that the son, by birth, has American nationality, and hence he has two nationalities, one natural, the other acquired. .... Young Steinkauler is a native-born American citizen. There is no law of the United States under which his father or any other person can deprive him of his birthright. He can return to America at the age of 21, and in due time, if the people elect, he can become President of the United States..... I am of opinion that when he reaches the age of 21 years he can then elect whether he will return and take the nationality of his birth, with its duties and privileges, or retain the nationality acquired by the act of his father.”

Anonymous said...

For those of you that think this is an issue because you believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya and this is being hidden;

In 1904, Frederick van Dyne (1861-1915), the Assistant Solicitor of the US Department of State (1900-1907) (and subsequently a diplomat), published a textbook, Citizenship of the United States, in which he said, “Every nation determines for itself who shall, and who shall not, be its citizens. ... By the law of the United States, citizenship depends, generally, on the place of birth; nevertheless the children of citizens, born out of the jurisdiction of the United States, are also citizens.”

Anonymous said...

For those of you that believe that the nationality of his father jeopardizes his rights as a citizen;

“If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other parent is not, the child is a citizen if the U.S. citizen parent has been "physically present" in the U.S. before the child's birth for a total period of at least five years, and at least two of those five years were after the U.S. citizen parent's fourteenth birthday.”

The last bit, referring to the duration of his mother’s physical presence in the United States is the only possible point of contention as rules have only been written regarding these specifics in the last century, and this dispute only matters if it can be PROVEN that Obama was born in Kenya and here is why;
Different rules apply for persons born abroad to one U.S. citizen before November 14, 1986. United States law on this subject changed multiple times throughout the twentieth century, and the law is applicable as it existed at the time of the individual's birth.
For persons born between December 24, 1952 and November 14, 1986, a person is a U.S. citizen if all of the following are true (except if born out-of-wedlock)
1. The person's parents were married at the time of birth
2. One of the person's parents was a U.S. citizen when the person was born
3. The citizen parent lived at least ten years in the United States before the child's birth;
4. A minimum of 5 of these 10 years in the United States were after the citizen parent's 14th birthday.

Anonymous said...

Obama’s mother was not yet 19 when he was born in August of ’61, so technically she had lived in the US for less than 5 years after her 14th b-day at the moment of his birth. She did however continue to go to college in the US the following fall in ’61 in Washington state and from there returned to Hawaii in January ’63. This whole time Barack’ father was in the eastern US, pursuing his own post graduate studies.
By the letter of the above law there would seem to be some merit to involving a court to make the call regarding Obama’s citizenship, IF there is proof that he was born in Kenya, however as he and his mother would have, by this scenario, returned to the US immediately and then subsequently divorced the alien father prior to Barack’s 3rd birthday, I find it hard to imagine that any judge would deny citizenship to this American woman’s son.
It should further be noted that by American law, Obama’s parents were never LEGALLY married. When Obama Sr. came to America to pursue his studies, he left behind a pregnant wife in Africa. He told Anne he was divorced but this was not true. According to African law he could have multiple wives and, in fact his 1st wife claims to have permitted the union, but here in the US for his second marriage to be legal, his 1st would have to be dissolved 1st. Therefore by American law, IF Anne was in Kenya when Barack was born you must look at the part of the citizenship law that applies to UNMARRIED American woman abroad and that standard is quite different;
“Title 8 U.S.C. § 1409 paragraph (c) provides that children born abroad after December 24, 1952 to unmarried American mothers are U.S. citizens, as long as the mother has lived in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least one year at any time prior to the birth.”
Therefore, by any measure of American law, Barack Obama II is an American citizen.

Anonymous said...

Really Sam - are you suggesting Romney is Mayan? Or are you really so ignorant of Mormonism that you do not know it began in upstate New York?