03 November 2008


As this ever so critical election day arrives in the United States, I am possessed of family members sending me mailings toeing some right wing party line that Obama can't even be President because he isn't a citizen. So I thought I would share some of my responses.

I apologize for not including what I am replying to here, but suffice to say it was mostly brief as defensive as they slowly realized they had stepped on a land mine and attempted to step away from someone who doesn't back down all that easily. Yeah, I get worked up. Though I am always willing to debate the points with someone who proves that have thought about them before opening their mouth. Especially if our disagreements mean we have alot to talk about.

Amazing what a little research will get you in the face of a desperate effort by republican pundits (of the bad, extremist, if not fundamentalist kind, as opposed to the more sensible and merely fiscally and socially conservative kind) to delegitimize and smear the democratic contender. Finding Obama's place of birth took me 5 seconds.

And amazing that you are working on the assumption that the attempt at defamation by a politically motivated party must carry more weight than and thus cast in to doubt a simple biographical note from a reliable and vetted online source. Here it is:

The nice thing about Wikipedia at a time like this is that all pages that could be used for political purposes are in lock down and require so many layers of approval for posting as valid and correct that it isn't even funny. It is a response to a few elections ago where opposing sides would deface each others Wikipedia pages in order to spread straight out lies and slanders.

Or are you perhaps looking for a reason to be against Obama? Your last response certainly seems to indicate that you don't want to accept his legitimacy and would rather question the record than the accuser. There are many more perfectly valid reasons based on actively disagreeing with his platform, as opposed to trying to discredit him by subterfuge.

But to answer your question ... simple expedience. To prevent every single quack who stands against them, politicians and political teams do not go providing their personal records upon the request of everyone who asks for them. Otherwise they would face people mounting campaigns to drown them in paperwork requests. Having working in state offices, I have seen this tactic used to harass agencies and politicians. (The best part is when you finally cave, they crow triumph, and then find the supposed closet full of skeletons to be quite clean and in order, just like you told them it was all along.) And note that the request is not for a birth certificate, but a very large collection of records. The point of the demand is not to force him to produce these records, but to make people doubt whether he can even legitimately run for office, thus causing those who doubt to be less likely to vote for him.

Come to think of it, I don't go providing that information to everyone who requests it either. And I have less at stake. And don't forget George W's stance on the topic of sharing information with the public.

Though in good news it is not a storm. Well, it is, but it is taking place in a tea pot, which means the rest of the world is simply ignoring it. Though we are looking kind of funny at the people actively rocking their own boat back and forth while they scream about high high the waves are.

Too many people would rather accept the misinformation being fed them than find the information themselves, would rather blindly accept rather than question and learn, would rather accept messages based on fear and divisiveness rather than those based on a unity that would force them to stand as equals with those they don't want to acknowledge as such. This is why you have people at rallies for McCain and Palin actively calling for the lynching of Barack Obama for being a everything from a communist to a muslim to (though they will never admit to this ... black). Hmmm, actually, I shouldn't say never. Certainly, the two teenagers who were arrested while planning on going on a killing spree murdering black school children while wearing pristine white tuxedos (to better show off the blood one supposes) to fight back against Obama running for office were pretty clear on why they were against him.

It is infuriating and makes me embarrassed to be an American. On the other hand, it is a country where I can freely say they are idiots, so no complaints there. Every place has its trade offs.

The point is that almost the entire campaign against Obama has been based on trying to malign and discredit him, as well as actively deceive and misinform voters. We have had people informed by official looking mailings that the day for democrats to vote has been moved to Wednesday, that college students attempting to register to vote in the towns they are attending school in will be arrested and charged with voter fraud, and a whole slew of other exciting goings on by people who think the end always justifies the means as long as their candidate win.

It is in no way, shape, or form a pretty election. And to their credit, both Obama and Biden are doing an amazing job of just shrugging it off. We currently have a campaign that is about what the democrats are going to do (on one side) and why the democrats are evil boogiemen that shouldn't be voted for (on the other). Admittedly, we have had this for a while, the difference this time is that the Rovian tactics are imploding on themselves and accomplishing nothing. They worked well for the past few presidential elections, but they have pushed too far and youth especially are not buying their message of hating those who are different.

The most positive thing I have seen on the republican side recently is Palin pointing out that campaign clothes are stage props not personal property. Tearing down the facade and pointing out that it is pageantry, not reality. Closest thing to calling it like it is I have heard all election. From either side.

Which all in all is a pity. I want to know who it was that forced McCain to toe the party line instead of just letting go and being himself. McCain was an excellent candidate and politician, at least early on, but what his campaign team has turned him into is not the person we were introduced at the beginning of the debacle. And if he can be that easily manipulated by his handlers do we really want him running the country anyway?

So if you want to buy into the half truths designed to sow discord, be my guest, but if you share them with me I will, simply put, throw them in your face. I don't do misdirection and misinformation (except jokes, then I'm all over it). However, if you want to discuss actual politics instead of cc'ing me on the the chicaneries people attempting to slander the opposition candidates, then there would be something to talk about.

Well, from a purely legal standpoint, if it were true, both candidates are statutory citizens, not natural born ones, and thus, if you want to pick nits over words, neither is eligible, which means third most popular candidate, Ralph Nader, gets the office, at least according to the government's own readings of its laws on the topic of citizenship and overseas birth. But a statutory citizen is one who is treated as a natural born citizen even though they technically are not. Thus the word play is obfuscation and not at all useful.

Interestingly the invalidation of the plaintiff's legal claim to those records, or to contest the right for Obama to run, as put forward by his legal staff, is apparently derived from a similar case against McCain, Hollander v. McCain, 2008WL2853250 (D.N.H. 2008), which stated that private citizens do not have standing to challenge the eligibility of candidates to appear on a presidential election ballot. Which, is, of course, it's own can of worms since it implies that the major parties can simply declare their candidate to be a citizen, certainly a boost for Arnie.

But here is the word from factcheck.org, including images of all the documents that are claimed to not exist except when they are being declared to be fakes and forgeries: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html

Of course, the best part is that if you read the Constitution literally, only people who were natural-born citizens "at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution" can hold the office, which means everyone eligible to be President is long dead and we have a problem. The issue in the reading has to do with the placement of the commas, a reading which has perhaps changed over time, but definitely implies something very interesting about that ruling.

However, the people trying to push the issue are muckraking in an attempt to discredit a candidate, not finesse a legal point, and passing their word on without critical commentary discussing the nature of the citation is an excellent way to expand the cloud of doubt, indecision, and uncertainty they are trying to sow. Of course, there are people who have tried to do the same to McCain, but they were also refused. The difference here is that the people behind the purported important question are pushing it in an active attempt to discredit the democratic candidate. Perhaps as a covert way of attacking his genetic heritage of a nice healthy tan? Who can say. They are, however, decidedly not doing it in an idle exercise in legal debate. Claiming that there was no political motivation in your passing it on rings hollow, since it seems you would be aware of the attendant baggage that comes with it. Perhaps not. But then why would you think it a storm? Storms require passion, not something to be found in picking over finer legal points in polite debate.

While exploring this point, I found an interesting bit from a blog that essentially said, if he never took a naturalization oath that he cannot be a citizen, ever (the "ever" bit was important) and every politician who ever supported him, worked with him, or even failed to point this out, should be impeached for treason. From that perspective, and this is the perspective of those trying to make a storm out of this issue, the legal interestingness of the question takes a very deep back seat to the political motivations of those asking the question.

Funny how my mom is the only one who can ever seem to remember to discuss politics gently with me because I have opinions and I am not afraid to express them.

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