Patterico's Pontifications

5/13/2011

BREAKING: Liberals Confused That GOP Not Crazy

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 12:48 pm



[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

Over at HuffPost, political scientist and media critic Brendan Nyhan is trying to figure out Why Did Birther Support Drop So Much?

After the White House released the long-form birth certificate that Obama critics had been asking for  months, Nyhan wrote an initial piece saying that this move would have no effect.

Will Wednesday’s release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate put an end to the birther myth?

The odds aren’t good. The problem is that people can be extremely resistant to unwelcome factual information…

Given how much evidence is already available, it’s hard to see why a long-form birth certificate would suddenly change the minds of people who are predisposed to believe in the myth.

This follows in the long tradition of such piece’s as Salon’s 2008 Why the stories about Obama’s birth certificate will never die.  But lo and behold – polls show him that the issue is dying.  Nyhan is trying to figure out what went wrong.

So why was this correction so effective when others tend to fail? (PDF) The answers aren’t entirely clear yet, but here are some initial thoughts. First, the birth certificate’s release was an unusually definitive debunking that became a major news event, so there was saturation coverage of some very strong corrective information. Second, no prominent elites on the right contested the validity of the birth certificate, which meant that coverage of its release was almost entirely one-sided. Finally, it’s possible that support for the myth was soft because poll respondents didn’t really believe it but were using poll questions about Obama’s religion and place of birth as a way to express disapproval (as some commentators and pollsters have argued).

Although I give Nyhan him props for admitting his mistake, he seemed blinded to the reason he made a mistake in the first place – his initial broad assumption was wrong.  If he’d been open to the idea that Republicans weren’t crazy lunatics making an unreasonable request, then he wouldn’t be so confused by the poll numbers.

 nurse-ratched

This is political analysis by way of  Nurse Ratched, where you calmly and condescendingly explain why the political opposition is not just wrong, but actually certifiably crazy. It’s a way of delegitimizing your opponent’s position on all issues. (By the way, in this One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest analogy, the role of McMurphy will be played by Andrew Breitbart.)

Do you know who I think is NOT confused by these poll numbers? The White House. And I think that’s why they hesitated so long in releasing the long form. The GOP=Crazy narrative works to their advantage so they want to keep it going as long as possible.

– Lee Stranahan

60 Responses to “BREAKING: Liberals Confused That GOP Not Crazy”

  1. Nurse Ratched is a GREAT analogy to Liberals.

    Sponge Bob Square Pants (fccc6f)

  2. Lee – Teh Narrative is mre important than reality. Mr Nyhan has long tried to hold himself out to be some neutral arbiter when he is anything but.

    JD (318f81)

  3. You big bad meanies wanting to deport illegals who don’t look lily white

    /Nyhan

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  4. Same reason why Chrissie Leg-Tingle can’t quit him the Palin and the Bachmann. When you can’t refute the policy positions, any liberal worth his/her salt goes plunging into demonize-your-opponent territory — playing it for all that it’s worth.

    Keep an eye on Larry O’Donnell. Once Romney gets going there’s no way that Lawrence will resist the urge to start spitting out anti-Mormon rants like a Tourette’s patient on speed.

    Icy Texan (6baa4d)

  5. Though I never bought into the idea Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, I thought the fact he was refusing to disclose his long form showed he was hiding something.

    It’s just the natural conclusion, given how hard he fought it, and with a few arguments that weren’t honest (such as the hilarious claim it wasn’t even possible to disclose). People want to know more about their President. It’s not unreasonable. When it’s clear there’s a cover up, they get suspicious.

    That’s all that happened. Once he finally released the long form (which actually had nothing embarrassing on it), people found it very convincing.

    It’s not like the COLB was the same thing. We have a document FROM 1961, with data about the hospital, the doctor, signatures from the day he was born, a tracking number that lines up with reality and could be possible to disprove if a hoax.

    It’s just more convincing than releasing the COLB and refusing to release better evidence. Of course it killed the issue.

    I would like to see yet more about Obama. I’d actually like to see more things about his adult life, and am curious why enterprising journalists don’t know more about his days at Columbia. The hope to learn about important people doesn’t go away. Those who fight it like Obama did wind up looking creepy.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  6. good post.

    reminds me i need to f—ing see one flew over the cuckoo’s nest, though, just so i know what people are talking about when making these references.

    its like the conversation i had years ago with a friend who revealed she had never seen star wars when growing up in jamaica. (This is before the prequels came out)

    me: I have a copy of the trilogy on tape. i’ll bring it in tomorrow. [yes, this was in the VHS days.]

    her: that’s okay. i don’t really like blockbusters.

    me: no, you don’t understand. you have to see it. Its almost something that belongs on the citizenship test. you literally are not going to understand what we are talking about a good chunk of the time without seeing it.

    And she relented and loved it. :-)

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  7. “The problem is that people can be extremely resistant to unwelcome factual information.”

    I’ve never seen a more concise definition of what it means to be a liberal.

    Steve (be07e4)

  8. It’s just more convincing than releasing the COLB and refusing to release better evidence.

    It’s the “evidence” any Hawaiian gets when they seek to get their birth certificate. And in many other states too.

    That’s the part where the right was indeed crazy — the notion of some cover-up simply because Obama didn’t produce more than what he or any other candidate was legally required to produce.

    Kman (5576bf)

  9. I’m pretty sure Kman was a birther back when he supported Hillary.

    I an ignorant of any evidence otherwise.

    Prove me wrong!!!!!!!!!

    /kman logic

    Dustin (c16eca)

  10. I wonder if the possibility that some Republicans fanned the flames of the birther issue as a calculated political strategy, while not necessarily believing any of the actual allegations made by the hard-core birthers themselves, EVER entered into Kman’s consciousness.

    Hmm . . . probably not.

    Icy Texan (6baa4d)

  11. My guess is there will always be Truthers and Birthers, but both groups will become smaller and smaller as time passes.

    It is true that some people just don’t want to hear the truth.

    But most people are really not like that.

    Terrye (7d99e4)

  12. It’s easy to confuse liberals. They get all tied up in rhetorical knots trying to paint us conservatives as uneducated knuckle dragging redneck racists one minute, and as successful millionaire criminal oilmen and big business tycoons who must be taxed into oblivion the next minute, and as warmongering gun toting Gadsden flag waving uberpatriots the next minute. They will never figure it out. Ha.

    elissa (310d0a)

  13. Trump’s most lasting contribution to the 2012 presidential election will turn out to have been his premature (from Obama’s point of view) detonation of this Obama land mine.

    Beldar (7c0dd5)

  14. It’s the “evidence” any Hawaiian gets when they seek to get their birth certificate. And in many other states too.
    Already long ago shown to be a lie.

    That’s the part where the right was indeed crazy — the notion of some cover-up simply because Obama didn’t produce more than what he or any other candidate was legally required to produce.

    Typical of Kman’s behavior of ignoring what the actual arguments are, substituting a confused illogical and incoherent strawman argument, and then matching that strawman with a confused, illogical and incoherent “rebuttal”.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  15. It’s the “evidence” any Hawaiian gets when they seek to get their birth certificate. And in many other states too.

    This was my point. I think that we are going to have full faith and credit problems due to the passage of some of these birther bills. A state should have the right to certify who was born in that statei, and that should have to be good enough for everyone.

    As a side note, I am pleasantly surprised by many many folks behaving logically and dropping it.

    carlitos (1596cc)

  16. the notion of some cover-up simply because Obama didn’t produce more than what he or any other candidate was legally required to produce.

    No, like I said, he fought hard, and wasted the government’s time and money, and one of the defenses was that it’s not possible to release the long form, which was always pretty obviously a lie.

    That led to the obvious conclusion that he’s hiding something.

    This isn’t about what he’s legally required to produce. That’s a dumb straw man. Of course Hawaii always said he was born there. It was a question of whether that’s the truth or not. A document from 1961 with 1961 signatures, and verifiable data like hospital and doctor names is much better than the COLB, because the COLB is just some data someone entered into a computer. We already know Obama working for state government will break the law because of how they treated Joe the Plumber (whom idiots on the left were making a federal case over just because his name wasn’t Joe). Rejecting a mere computer printout as proof when they are hiding the document from 1961 is not crazy.

    The proof these people were actually reasonable is manifest at this point. Those who lied that nothing would convince them and no long form could ever be produced owe some apologies.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  17. We already know Obama working for state government will break the law

    Rather, I meant Obama’s shills who work for state governments, rather than Obama himself.

    Just apply the way they handled Joe the Plumber’s private data with an insistence we just trust state workers.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  18. Things that make you go hummmm.

    The first ALL-CAPS statement appears well to the bottom and somewhat disconnected from Barack Obama’s recently released digital copy of his so-called long form ‘birth certificate,’ (typo or over-ink included). The statement and Hawaii State Registrar Alvin T. Onaka’s signature are incorporated into the rubber stamped image.

    I CERTIFY THIS IS A TRUE COPY OR ABSTRACT OF TXE RECORD ON FILE WITH THE HAWAII STATE DEPARTIMENT OF HEALTH.

    The following statement appears at the bottom and immediately following the information included on a legitimate copy of a Hawaiian long form ‘birth certificate,’ dated 4/14/60, and is an integral part of the document.

    THIS CERTIFIES THAT THE ABOVE IS A TRUE AND CORRECT COPY OF THE ORIGINAL RECORD ON FILE IN THE OFFICE OF HEALTH STATISTICS, HAWAII STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH.

    The typed statement followed by the live-ink signatures of the Director of Health and the Registrar General, the date, and both the statement and the signatures are

    ropelight (7830bf)

  19. The above is yet another premature submission. As you can see it’s incomplete. My laptop is possessed by an evil daemon. Just yesterday I looked at several possible replacements. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    ropelight (7830bf)

  20. #18 continued:

    “… and both the statement and the signatures are…” covered by a raised seal, making forgery difficult.

    If you haven’t grown completely weary of the issue or haven’t yet accepted the bein pensant position, consider the differences in the 2 certification statements and decide for yourself if the question of authenticity is settled to your satisfaction or not.

    But, be prepared, if you think Obama’s so- called “birth certificate’ just might be a fraud, you likely to suffer a few insults.

    ropelight (7830bf)

  21. It’s the “evidence” any Hawaiian gets when they seek to get their birth certificate. And in many other states too.

    This was my point. I think that we are going to have full faith and credit problems due to the passage of some of these birther bills. A state should have the right to certify who was born in that statei, and that should have to be good enough for everyone.

    Why on earth should it? The constitution requires that the president actually be born in the USA, not that a state certify that it was so. Why should any secretary of state, or elector, accept a piece of paper from Hawaii that doesn’t prove he was born there, and pretend that it does? The full faith and credit clause doesn’t require us to be idiots. It doesn’t require us to shut our eyes and pretend something is true when we have no reason to believe it.

    All an abstract such as the “certification” that Obama presented in 2008 purports to prove is that a birth certificate exists; and that information is insufficient to qualify him for the presidency. Without knowing what’s on that certificate we have no basis for deciding whether to trust it. The certified copy of the actual certificate, which he issued recently, does have enough information on it that if it’s authentic one can determine that the event it reports is likely to have actually happened.

    As a layman, I’m content to leave it at that. I have no great personal stake in the matter. But if I were a secretary of state or an elector, and therefore had a constitutional responsibility to ensure that a candidate was eligible, I would demand that a qualified document examiner be shown the original, so he could determine whether it showed signs of tampering or forgery. Because the full faith and credit clause does not require that I trust Hawaii to have adequately verified this for itself.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  22. The following statement appears at the bottom and immediately following the information included on a legitimate copy of a Hawaiian long form ‘birth certificate,’ dated 4/14/60, and is an integral part of the document.

    What’s the date on that one, though? If it was recent, then this is at least enough to raise an eyebrow. But if it was a long time ago then all it means is that the stamp has changed, i.e. nothing significant at all.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  23. Milhouse, the date of the birth is in late May (day blacked out) 1959, a little more than 15 months prior to Obama’s early August birth date. The date on which the copy was certified as ” A TRUE AND CORRECT COPY OF THE ORIGINAL RECORD ON FILE IN THE OFFICE OF HEALTH STATISTICS…” is 4/14/60.

    And, like Obama’s ‘birth certificate” it shows the birth took place at “Kapiolani Mat. & Gyn. Hospital” (spelled out on Obama’s copy) and both are signed by Local Registrar U.K.L. Lee.

    As you noted, the rubber stamp certification on Obama’s April 25, 2011 copy is significantly different from the typed and signed certifications of 1960. Now, Onaka’s rubber stamp certifies the copy as “A TRUE COPY OR ABSTRACT OF TXE RECORD ON FILE WITH THE HAWAII STATE DEPARTIMENT OF HEALTH.”

    Clearly the standard for verification and certification has declined to near insignificance. In 1960 two individuals, the Hawaiian Director of Health and the Registrar General each were required to provide a live-ink signature personally certifying the subject document was a “true and accurate copy of an original record on file…”

    Now, apparently anyone in possession of Onaka’s rubber stamp can single-handedly certify that a facsimile is a “true copy or abstract of txe record on file…”

    Obviously, the standards in Hawaii have deteriorated rather dramatically from what once was a highly specific declaration certified by two different officials who’s signatures indicated personal responsibility for the truth and accuracy of the copy, to what now has been reduced to a rubber stamp in the hands of an unknown and nameless individual.

    While that much is beyond dispute, what remains to be determined is if the standards were changed to conceal a fraud specifically in order to accommodate the needs of a favorite son.

    ropelight (d6d505)

  24. The date on which the copy was certified as ” A TRUE AND CORRECT COPY OF THE ORIGINAL RECORD ON FILE IN THE OFFICE OF HEALTH STATISTICS…” is 4/14/60.

    So why on earth are you surprised that 51 years later the stamp has changed? Why do you think it even slightly suspicious?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  25. Clearly the standard for verification and certification has declined to near insignificance

    Why would you say that? What makes you think the standard has changed at all? Who told you that there used to be a requirement for a hand-signature? Just because that was how the then-registrar did things? That makes no sense. Stamped signatures have certainly been around for a long time, and I’m not aware of any law anywhere that restricts their use, but not everyone uses them. If you see some significance in the fact that the registrar 50 years ago didn’t use one, and today’s registrar does, the onus is on you to show why this is significant. Ditto for the difference in language: “true copy or extract” is the exact language used in the law, so it should be no surprise at all that it’s reflected in the stamp. On the contrary, it’s the most sensible thing in the world.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  26. Ropelight, how many documents do you think the Director of Health and the Registrar General had to sign per day, back in 1960? And how many do you suppose they would have to sign today, if they tried to sign each one by hand? What does that tell you?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  27. Milhouse, the Constitution doesn’t require that the president be born in the US. A child of Americans born abroad, such as McCain, is eligible.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (bbe620)

  28. It’s amazing how many people think that, Fikes. As if – just as an example – your mother prematurely gave birth on vacation in another country – you would be ineligible for the Presidency. It’s illogical. I have an American friend with 3 daughters that were all born in Paris. They are ‘natural born’ US citizens. What the hell else could they be, with 2 American parents?

    carlitos (1596cc)

  29. Milhouse, there was no stamp in use in 1960. That’s why I mentioned, “The typed statement followed by the live-ink signatures of the Director of Health and the Registrar General…”

    As yet, we don’t know when the use a a rubber stamp to verify copies came unto use in Hawaii. That’s an issue currently under examination and one in which Hawaiian officials have been unwilling to provide specific information.

    Now, in response to your questions at #24, I’m not suspicious because a procedure in use over 50 years ago has changed, that doesn’t seem odd or unusual. Improvements in response to increasing paperwork demands seem quite normal and are to be expected in any bureaucracy.

    What I find suspicious is that Hawaii’s certification process which was once so rigorous has apparently devolved to the level of a rubber stamp in the hands of an unidentified individual.

    Now, the use of a rubber stamp incorporating the signature of the responsible office holder is not itself suspicious either. Such devices are currently in wide-spread use, however they routinely have a designated space for the live-ink signature of the employee who personally performed the verification task, an employee who has designated signature authority from the appropriate official and is charged with safeguarding the official stamp.

    So, yes, I’m suspicious of Obama’s copy because the verifying signature and the name of such an individual is missing.

    ropelight (d6d505)

  30. carlitos, so was McCain eligible to become president?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (32f93d)

  31. Milhouse, the Constitution doesn’t require that the president be born in the US. A child of Americans born abroad, such as McCain, is eligible.

    Where on earth did you get such nonsense?

    As if – just as an example – your mother prematurely gave birth on vacation in another country – you would be ineligible for the Presidency.

    Of course you are. Everybody knows that, or knew it until a few years ago.

    It’s illogical. I have an American friend with 3 daughters that were all born in Paris. They are ‘natural born’ US citizens. What the hell else could they be, with 2 American parents?

    Natural-born Frenchwomen, of course. US law, as Congress has currently enacted it, also entitles them to US citizenship, but there’s nothing natural about that, and Congress could change that law tomorrow. Chinese law might also entitle them to Chinese citizenship, but if so that’s equally irrelevant. Why would it even occur to you that they’re natural born citizens and entitled to be president?

    Milhouse, there was no stamp in use in 1960. That’s why I mentioned, “The typed statement followed by the live-ink signatures of the Director of Health and the Registrar General…”

    Even better. What could be more natural than that over the past 50 years, as the volume of work rose, they moved to a rubber stamp? Why would that even begin to arouse suspicion?

    As yet, we don’t know when the use a a rubber stamp to verify copies came unto use in Hawaii. That’s an issue currently under examination and one in which Hawaiian officials have been unwilling to provide specific information.

    “Under investigation”? By whom? And why would the current workers at the office even know exactly when they started using a stamp, let alone bother to research it? Of what possible relevance could it be? Are you also interested in when they first bought a computer? If you found a copy from 1910 with a hand-written endorsement, would you demand to know when they bought a typewriter, and endow this change with ominous significance?!

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  32. was McCain eligible to become president?

    I’m not Carlitos, but I believe he was, not only because he was born on a US military base, where US law applied, but also because his parents were stationed abroad as representatives of the USA, and were therefore in much the same position as ambassadors. Blackstone says the point of “natural born” is that one owes a natural loyalty to the Sovereign whose laws protected one at birth; in McCain’s case that was USA law, but in George Romney’s case it was Mexican law.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  33. Now, the use of a rubber stamp incorporating the signature of the responsible office holder is not itself suspicious either. Such devices are currently in wide-spread use, however they routinely have a designated space for the live-ink signature of the employee who personally performed the verification task, an employee who has designated signature authority from the appropriate official and is charged with safeguarding the official stamp.

    Routinely? Have you really done a survey of all offices where such stamps are in use and determined what percentage incorporate a non-stamped signature?

    I don’t see how the current procedure is less rigorous than the previous on. In neither case was any investigation done; all it involves is finding the document in the file and making a copy. The certification is not that the information is true, but that the copy is true, which doesn’t take much rigor to determine, since the person signing or stamping it is probably the same one who made the copy in the first place.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  34. Milhouse, now you’re just being silly. Honestly, you really “don’t see how the current procedure is less rigorous than the previous on(e).”

    Well, permit me to doubt.

    If you can’t see the difference, it’s because you refuse to look. The previous procedure involved a typed statement unambiguously certifying a true and correct copy of an original document bearing the signatures of the appropriate officials.

    Obama’s rubber stamped copy could have been fabricated by virtually anyone with Internet access and a reasonably current version of Adobe Illustrator.

    Consequently, the previous procedure had built in safeguards and clear lines of responsibility. Obama’s copy lacks those provisions and is thus wide open for fraud. QED

    ropelight (d6d505)

  35. NEWS FLASH! this just in
    Mizzippi River threaten
    m00nbat feverswamp

    ColonelHaiku (37fe8d)

  36. Fikes, I was agreeing with you. My “that” was that people believe you have to be born on US soil to be a ‘natural born’ citizen.

    Apologies for the confusion. Of course McCain was eligible. As was George Romney. I think that Milhouse’s interpretations of sovereignty fall short. Citing Blackstone’s that way reminds me of the “freeman on the land” / “sovereign citizen” movement.

    carlitos (1596cc)

  37. Natural born citizen = born within the jurisdiction of the US to parents both of which are US citizens.

    ropelight (d6d505)

  38. Thanks for explaining that to me, carlitos.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (f658df)

  39. Natural born citizen = born within the jurisdiction of the US to parents both of which are US citizens.

    “Born within the jurisdiction of the US”, yes; that is well-supported, and really I’ve never heard it questioned until 2 years ago. Blackstone is clear on the subject, and he was the major influence on the framers; if they had meant something else they would have said so. “To parents both of which are US citizens”, on the other hand, has almost no basis whatsoever. It does seem consistent with Grotius, but I’m not sure how many of the framers had even read him, let alone how much they were influenced by him. Ropelight, where did you get this idea, and more importantly when did you first hear it? Please explain why you think it’s true. And please explain why, if it is true, Chester Arthur’s enemies, while making up various stories about his own birth, never even tried to bring up his father’s citizenship status.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  40. Citing Blackstone’s that way reminds me of the “freeman on the land” / “sovereign citizen” movement.

    Huh? What on earth do you mean by that?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  41. As George Mason, a delegate from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention so famously remarked, “The common law of England is not the common law of these States.”

    Milhouse, your assertion that Blackstone ” was the major influence on the framers…” is incorrect as it bears on issues of American citizenship.

    I’m not suggesting that Blackstone didn’t influence the development of American common law, he did. However, as James Brown Scott has correctly stated:

    It is therefore to be expected that, when terms of municipal law are found in the Constitution, they are to be understood in the sense in which they were used in Blackstone’s Commentaries; and when the law of nations is referred to, that its principles are to be understood in the sense in which (Emerich) Vattel defined them.

    (Citizenship has always been recognized as a topic that affects United States relations with other nations, and it properly falls under US national law and not under municipal law.)

    At the time of the Constitutional Convention, the
    Founding Fathers had only recently completed a war to free themselves from the constraints of Crown rule and English common law. And, would soon again fight England in 1812 to preserve the distinctions between American citizens and English subjects.

    Blackstone’s support for the arbitrary power of the English King and his Parliament to define and enforce the duties and responsibilities of subjects in a monarchy, was anathema to the Founders and was generally at odds with an emerging American understanding of the protections citizens enjoyed in a representative democracy.

    John Jay, who was to become our first U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, wrote to General George Washington the following letter dated July 25, 1787:

    Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen” (underlying in the original).

    Jay wanted a strong check that would prevent someone with divided loyalties from becoming the Commander in Chief. Consequently, the express definition of natural born Citizen insists that our nation be protected in the strongest possible way from foreign influence in the Office of President and Commander in Chief of our armed forces.

    In this regard, the Framers rejected Blackstone and English common law as inappropriate to the specific needs of the new nation and found the protections they sought in Emerich de Vattel’s “The Law of Nations, or Principles of the Laws of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns”

    ropelight (849f1f)

  42. Ropelight, I’m asking you over and over, what makes you think they did any such thing? Where did you get this idea? Did you first hear of it before or after Obama launched his campaign? And what evidence made you believe it? So far you have not adduced a single item of evidence. How many of the framers had even heard of Vattel?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  43. Milhouse, did you read the quote from James Brown Scott? It’s the first block quote in my #41 above. Check him out, among a good many other things he’s somewhat of an authority on the topic of Vattel’s influence on the Founding Fathers.

    Take a few minutes and have a good look into his bona fides. Type his name into your search engine. There are a few others with the same or similar names, but he’s the only legal scholar of note.

    PS: I’ll have a pithy comment on the Chester Arthur matter tomorrow. Thank you for your continuing interest is this general topic and for the polite debate on a highly divisive issue.

    ropelight (849f1f)

  44. I haven’t been following the blog lately, nor did I pay too much attention to the release of the birth certificate.

    I don’t know what is wrong about the whole affair, but something is. Help me out here, everybody. When the question was raised about Obama’s birth, why didn’t he just release it then and there? He didn’t in order to set-up a political ploy to make the Repubs look stupid? How does that work, unless he has Journolist setting the terms of the national discussion? That in itself would be terribly distressing. I’m not a DA, but as a parent when a child is evasive on something my instinct is to ask, “Why are you being evasive?” Seems to me at least one reporter linked with a major main-stream media outlet would have pushed the question just to have an alternative view to provoke discussion (oh wait, what am I thinking, this is “the one” we’re talking about).

    I don’t have the time or energy to follow the details on ropelight’s concerns, but we know this would not be the first time forged documents from the past were presented to impact presidential politics.

    It seems to me, that in the “best case” scenario Obama was purposefully performing political obfuscation (sorry, couldn’t think of another “p-word”) with the full support of the media. Maybe this is an example of dog-bites-man that we should be accustomed to by now, but it seems to me to be frightening for a president to be able to play the news organizations this way.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  45. #44, MD in Philly asked, “When the question was raised about Obama’s birth, why didn’t he just release it (his long-form Hawaiian birth certificate) then and there?

    Speculation abounds, but the short answer is that Obama knew he didn’t meet the Constitutional natural born citizen qualification under Article II, Section 1. Consequently, by delaying the identification of his birth place, he was able stir up a great deal of controversy, buy time, create an opportunity to ridicule his critics, and to focus attention on the Hawaii/Kenya red herring, all of which served to divert attention away from the duel citizenship he inherited from his father, which of course disqualified him from holding the office of POTUS.

    ropelight (849f1f)

  46. ropelight-

    Thank you for your direct reply to my query. I’m aware of the discussion on the understanding of the phrase “natural born citizen”, but haven’t followed it closely.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  47. The evidence for Emerich Vattel’s profound influence on the Founding Fathers is both widespread and unambiguous. It’s explicit in several of their surviving statements and letters, and it’s implicit in the language of our foundation documents. Following are some examples:

    On December 9th of 1775 Benjamin Franklin wrote to Vattel’s editor, C.G.F. Dumas, “ I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the Law of Nations. Accordingly, that copy which I kept has been continually in the hands of the members of our congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author.”

    Records in the Library Company of Philadelphia show that in addition to Franklin’s copy of Vattel’s English version, he also purchased copies written in the diplomatic language of the day, French. The French edition published in 1775 was considered the most exact reference of Vattel’s Law of Nations.

    Arguing against Blackstone’s contention that King and Parliament alone could alter the social contract, Samuel Adams in 1772 wrote, “Vattel tells us plainly and without hesitation, that `the supreme legislative cannot change the constitution.”

    Then in 1773 during a debate with the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts, John Adams rejected Blackstone in favor of Vattel’s position that parliament does not have the power to change the constitution. Adams wrote in his diary, “The Idea of M. de Vattel indeed, scowling and frowning, haunted me.”

    Later, it was Vattle’s arguments which inspired the clause that specifies how the US Constitution may be amended. The Framers took great pains to spell out exactly who had the right to amend the constitution. Not a King or a Congress alone, but the people acting through their State legislatures.

    In the Federalist Papers number 78, Alexander Hamilton also rejected Blackstone when he cited Vattel, and both of the Adams, when he wrote about a “fundamental principle of republican government, which admits the right of the people to alter or abolish the established Constitution, whenever they find it inconsistent with their happiness.”

    Then in 1784 Hamilton quoted expansively from Vattel’s Law of Nations arguing for the defense in Rutgers v. Waddington. Judge James Duane ruled that Statues passed under the color of English Common Law, must be interpreted from the standpoint of its consistency with the law of nations. Thus the impact of Vattel’s concepts can be said to have resulted in no small measure in the unique creation of our third branch of government, the Judiciary, to insure that Congress could never legislate away the rights and privileges of citizens provided for in the US Constitution.

    In 1794, when President George Washington was faced with the first real threat to his recent Neutrality Proclamation by the Ambassador of France, Citizen Edmond-Charles Genêt, to honor their treaty and support France’s wars with England and Spain. In a rare agreement both Jefferson and Hamilton using Vattel’s Law of Nations were able to provide the legal justification and the international legitimacy Washington needed to resist French efforts to commit the United States to war in 1793. Genêt recognized Vattel’s influence when he wrote to Washington, “you bring forward aphorisms of Vattel, to justify or excuse infractions committed on positive treaties.”

    There can be no reasonable debate that the Founding Fathers considered both Blackstone and Vattel as they worked to frame our Constitution, and in matters of international law they choose Vattel over Blackstone. When it came to questions of the leadership of our nation and as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the Framers specifically included Vattel’s concept of a Natural Born Citizen into Article II, section 1 of the Constitution so that as far as was possible the loyalty of our President could never be claimed by a foreign political power.

    The only political power that can exclusively claim the loyalty of a natural born citizen is that power which governs his birth. Vattel, by including the citizenship of the parents in conjunction with jurisdiction over the place of birth removes, in so far as is reasonably possible, doubt as to where the loyalties of the natural born citizen resides.

    Vattel’s definition excludes the claims of another foreign power on the loyalties of our President and Commander-in-Chief based on conditions of either blood or on soil, and is the only definition that fits with John Jay’s concerns expressed in his letter to George Washington during the Constitutional Convention:

    Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a “natural born Citizen” (underlying in the original).

    (John Jay, was to become our first U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice.)

    ropelight (6c5dfb)

  48. #39, Milhouse raised the curious case of President Chester A Arthur and asked me to explain why “Arthur’s enemies, while making up various stories about his own birth, never even tried to bring up his father’s citizenship status.”

    Largely, the story revolves around the fact that Chester Arthur, like Barack Obama, worked hard to conceal his ineligibility from the press, his political enemies, and from posterity. Although Arthur was indisputably born in the USA to an American born mother, his Irish immigrant father wasn’t naturalized until well after Chester’s birth.

    But, also like Obama, Arthur employed a clever stratagem to divert attention away from his father’s lack of citizenship by focusing suspicion on Arthur himself. Arthur paid accomplices to keep the question of his true place of birth in the public eye. So long as his enemies were kept busy challenging an issue Arthur could easily rebuff, they failed to attack in the one place where he was defenseless.

    One clue we do find to Arthur’s subterfuge resides in the strange decision of SC Justice Horace Gray in his majority opinion to rely on English common law in the Wong Kim Arc case to declare Wong a citizen of the US. In an earlier case, Minor v Happersett, decided by Chief Justice “Mott” Waite in 1875 which was based on Vattel’s concepts of “natural born citizenship” and was thus available as a guide for Justice Grey’s deliberations was largely ignored.

    Speculation as to why Justice Gray ignored natural law, the law of nations, and American common law could be that since it was Chester Arthur who had appointed Gray to the high court, he was loath to publicize reference to a precedent which might expose the fact of Arthur’s ineligibility for both the Vice Presidency and from the Presidency should the true facts of his father’s citizenship status become known. (Before his death, Arthur burned his personal papers to further delay revelations of his deceit.)

    Since the American electorate and the general public was not then aware that Arthur was born to a non-citizen father, Grey’s application of English common law further tended to help obscure Arthur’s ineligibility.

    Again, the work of Barack Obama in the US Senate mirrors Chester Arthur’s similarly motivated efforts in his day. Consider Senate Resolution 511, passed by the Senate on April 30, 2008, to declare Senator John McCain a “natural born Citizen” based on the legal analysis of Theodore Olson (former Solicitor General) and Laurence Tribe (Harvard Law School Professor) on which the U.S. Senate relied to come to its conclusion regarding McCain’s eligibility status (which Senator Leahy later had printed in the Congressional Record).

    Olson and Tribe did not use Vattel’s concepts of one born abroad to citizen parents who were serving “in the armies of the state” as a ground to declare Senator John McCain a “natural born Citizen.”

    Like Gray before them the use of Vattel would have potentially drawn attention to and possibly exposed prospective President Obama’s ineligibility to be President the same as Justice Gray using Vattel could have revealed President Arthur’s ineligibility for the Vice Presidency.

    ropelight (6c5dfb)

  49. When it came to questions of the leadership of our nation and as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the Framers specifically included Vattel’s concept of a Natural Born Citizen into Article II, section 1 of the Constitution

    And your evidence for this assertion? Or did you just pull it out of your innards?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  50. Milhouse, I hoped the provenance of Vattel’s concept of a natural born citizen as it appears in Article II, Section 1, would be reasonably clear from a reading of my comment #47.

    However, since the comment is somewhat lengthy and the evidence from the historical record is contrary to your preferences, perhaps the following brief overview will prove less difficult to apprehend.

    1. The Founding Fathers were familiar with Vattel’s “Laws of Nations” which included his concept of a natural born citizen. (Franklin, S. Adams, J. Adams, Hamilton, Jay, Washington, et al)

    2. John Jay wrote to George Washington while he was presiding over the Constitutional Convention and specifically recommended the inclusion of a provision which would, “declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a “ natural born Citizen” (underlined in the original).

    3. The Framers did include Vattel’s concept of a natural born citizen into Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution.

    Milhouse, the facts are sufficiently clear to indicate it’s simply not reasonable for you to pretend otherwise. I’m certainly willing to continue our debate, but going over and over well plowed ground is unproductive.

    ropelight (33f1cd)

  51. Ropelight, you are simply making it up as you go along. 1. Some of the framers were certainly familiar with Vattel; they were also familiar with Blackstone and other sources. When they wrote “natural born citizen”, what makes you think they had Vattel’s definition in mind? 2. When Jay wrote “natural born citizen”, and underlined “born”, what makes you think he had Vattel’s definition in mind? 3. How do you know the framers included Vattel’s concept? Are we to accept it just because you say so?

    Actually the first English translation of Vattel in which the term “natural born citizen” appears was published in 1795, after the constitution was written. So the term used in the constitution, and in Jay’s letter, could not have come from Vattel. Nor is there any reason it should have, since “natural born subject” is right there in Blackstone.

    Also bear in mind that Vattel specifically noted that his definition was not accepted by the English common law. Since that common law forms the basis of our entire legal system, and all terms used by the framers without further explanation must be understood according to their common law usage, it’s clear that they didn’t mean the European definition that Vattel used.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  52. Poppycock! Milhouse, your claims are not only absurd, they have, for the most part, already been answered above…sometimes more than once. You haven’t yet denied the sun rises in the East, but you’re headed in that direction.

    Taken from the bottom up: The Father of the Bill or Rights, James Mason said, “The common law of England is not the common law of these States.” (paragraph 1, #41 above) Our Founders were well aware of the benefits of English common law as well as it’s shortcomings, and they held firm to the parts which were appropriate to the organization of the affairs of a free people and rejected those parts of English common law which reduced citizens to the status of subjects.

    In the new American nation it was the citizens who were to be the masters, and it was our elected leaders who were to be our servants. As far as our Founders were concerned, in England, and codified in English common law, the proper relationships were up-side-down.

    Additionally, also noted above in #41 and subsequently recommended to you at #43 is the statement of James Brown Scott:

    It is therefore to be expected that, when terms of municipal law are found in the Constitution, they are to be understood in the sense in which they were used in Blackstone’s Commentaries; and when the law of nations is referred to, that its principles are to be understood in the sense in which (Emerich) Vattel defined them.

    Of course Vattel’s definition of a natural born citizen wouldn’t have been accepted by English common law. You make my point. An hereditary monarchy already has a rigid consanguineal system in place which defines who shall be eligible to occupy the throne.

    Consequently, English common law has no need for Vattel’s concepts for identifying which of the monarch’s subjects are best suited to aspire to the Crown. None are eligible, and moreover a public discussion of the mere possibility might well be deemed treasonous.

    That’s but one of the reasons our Founders found Blackstone of such little utility when it came to matters beyond his expertise. Which is not a criticism of Blackstone, it’s a criticism of those who would rack him on a modern Procrustean Bed for nefarious purposes.

    As for the publication dates, Wikipedia reports:

    Vattel’s Law of Nations was translated into English in 1760, based on the French original of 1758. A Dublin translation of 1787 does not include notes from the original nor posthumous notes added to the 1773 French edition. Several other English editions were based on the edition of 1760. However, an English edition from 1793 includes Vattel’s later thoughts, as did the London 1797 edition. The 1797 edition has a detailed table of contents and margin titles for subsections.

    Benjamin Franklin had a copy of Vattel’s English version in 1775 when he ordered 3 additional copies of the French edition (see paragraphs 2 & 3 in #47 above). Nor would the French language have represented a bar for John Jay. His family origins were French Huguenot, and he served both during and after the American Revolution as Ambassador to the First France Republic.

    Obviously, then, your claim is false. The French language posed no insurmountable barriers, Franklin was fluent in French, as were Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, Madison, Monroe, and most of the other Founders.

    Also, (in #41 above, paragraphs 6 & 7) the Founders, once “natural born subjects” of the English Crown themselves, were only too familiar with the unsatisfactory condition of being subjected to the arbitrary will of a potentate. Only recently had they extricated themselves from that unhappy condition by force of arms and were consequently well aware of the unacceptable constraints of subject status, and they were well positioned to ensure the new nation’s foundation documents were free of such repugnant nostrums.

    Milhouse, you have repeatedly attempted to deny that Vattel’s concepts informed and guided our Nation’s founders. Yet the proof of his influence is to be found both in the words of the Founders themselves and in the inclusion of Vattel’s concepts in the US Constitution.

    Blackstone, while significant in his own right, and dominant in his proper sphere, is wholly inappropriate for the task you ascribe to him. While Vattel’s place in the history of political philosophy is and was undeniable until recent events made it necessary for partisans to pretend they just don’t see.

    Consider how Michael D Ramsey, a modern Constitutional scholar, viewed Vattel’s contribution only a few years ago. He described “Laws of Nations” as “unrivaled among such treatises in its influence on the American Founders.” “Laws of Nations as a Constitutional Obligation” (14 Oct 2005) International Colloquium, (Georgetown University Law Center).

    ropelight (deacc4)

  53. James Mason? Never heard of him. Try again.

    Milhouse (a8afa6)

  54. You’re still making things up, Ropelight. What concept of Vattel’s was included in the constitution?

    Milhouse (a8afa6)

  55. You quote James Brown Scott, but you don’t seem to understand the quote. Eligibility requirements for public office are a matter of domestic law, not international law. So are the different classes of citizenship.

    Milhouse (a8afa6)

  56. Yes, Vattel was first translated into English well before the Philadelphia convention; how is that relevant? As I wrote earlier, the first translation in which the term “natural born citizen” appears was published after the convention was over. So the term used in the constitution, and in Jay’s letter, could not have come from Vattel.

    Milhouse (a8afa6)

  57. Really, Milhouse, there’s no call to resort to pissy nitpicking or boring repetition.

    It was George Mason, one of Virginia’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention, not James, my mistake. (I had his name right the first time in the quote that opens the first paragraph in #41 above.)

    As you should be aware by now, Vattel’s natural born citizen was but one of his concepts included in the US Constitution, Article II, Section 1. Another of his concepts (described in paragraphs 5-7, #47 above and by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 79.) S. Adams, J. Adams, and Hamilton all rejected Blackstone’s insistence the King or Parliament could overrule a Constitution. Vattel’s principle the people were sovereign (Declaration of Independence) and acting through their legislatures were the only ones who could alter or amend the Constitution informed and was adopted by the Framers.

    Re #55, since the issue of citizenship, British vs American, was at the root of the War of 1812, and since I addressed this point parenthetically immediately following the initial Scott quote (5th paragraph, #41 above) it should not require additional revisiting. Issues of citizenship can thus be easily seen to fall within both the national and international arenas, citizenship is not exclusive to either one.

    Milstone, the Founders were not dependent on translations for access to Vattel’s concepts. As noted in #47 above (paragraphs 2 & 3), and discussed at some length in #52.

    If you believe there’s a serious point to be made here, one that’s relevant, do it the right way. Otherwise, I’ll have to ask you the same question you asked me at #49 above:

    “And your evidence for this assertion? Or did you just pull it out of your innards?”

    ropelight (e87cec)

  58. As you should be aware by now, Vattel’s natural born citizen was but one of his concepts included in the US Constitution,

    Again, you keep asserting this, but how do you know?

    Milstone, the Founders were not dependent on translations for access to Vattel’s concepts.

    Um, you do know, don’t you, that “natural born citizen” is English, not French? How could they have got it from a book that was in French? And since the English translations available at the time didn’t use that term, what makes you think they used his definition for it?

    It was George Mason, one of Virginia’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention, not James, my mistake.

    And if you look at the context in which he said it, he was lamenting that the American courts don’t consider themselves bound by the English common law, which would restrain the government’s power to make drastic treaties. He certainly wasn’t rejecting the English common law, or saying that America had a better one.

    Milhouse (a8afa6)

  59. Oh, and the War of 1812 was fought (officially) not over natural born citizenship but just the opposite, over the right to renounce that citizenship and become naturalized elsewhere.

    Milhouse (a8afa6)

  60. Milhouse, the answer to your first question is covered in my comment #47 above and again in a short version at #50. It hasn’t changed.

    The following excerpt is from the LONANG Library (on-line) and is identified as an English translation of Vattel’s 1758 “Laws of Nations,” Part 1, Chapter XIX, Section 212.

    § 212. Citizens and natives.

    The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. We shall soon see whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.

    (I added the bold.)

    Clearly, Vettel’s natural born citizen is included. If you have evidence for your contradictory statement in #55, repeated in #58, present it.

    George Mason’s statement was made in the context of a debate on the Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Section 2. Contrary to your claim, he certainly wasn’t “lamenting that the American courts don’t consider themselves bound by the English common law…”

    Mason was responding to George Nicholas’ attempt to support the proposed Constitution by drawing parallels “between the power of a king of Great Britain and that of Congress to make treaties. Nicholas contended that they were on the same foundation and thus represented no unusual new danger.

    Mason disagreed, his objections were so many and of such overarching importance that eventually he rejected the new Constitution (His reasons are listed in his letter of October 1787 “Objections of the Hon. George Mason to the Proposed Federal Constitution; Assigned as his Reasons for Not Signing Same.”

    Mason soon became a leading light in the Anti-Federalist movement and was largely vindicated when many of the protections for individual liberty he sought were later amended to the Constitution as the “Bill of Rights.”

    I offered the example of the War of 1812 to show that contrary to your claim at #55 that citizenship was exclusively a domestic issue, that it could fall within both the domestic and international arenas (4th paragraph, #57 above).

    ropelight (bffffa)


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