A Critique of Your Recent Commentary on the Obama Eligibility Question
Friday, May 28, 2010
by Phil at TheRightSideOfLife.com
Phil (phil at therightsideoflife dot com) writes:
My name is Phil, blogger at TheRightSideOfLife.com. I came across your site less than a week ago and think your content, for the most part, is absolutely fantastic (I'm also an RSS subscriber of it).
However, as one who has been following the Obama eligibility issue since late 2008, I've made a critique of your recent commentary.
Keep up the excellent work, even if some of us agree to disagree.
Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:
I will, below and shortly (not to mention in the interest of fairness), provide the link Phil himself has provided, subject to the following three important caveats:
1. I have no idea whether or not Phil's views represent those of the typical person who might be referred to as a "Birther" or not; I don't want those reading this to think that, by so posting the link to his comments, I am at all considering him to, somehow, now be the "spokesman" for the Birther movement. There is this terrible tendency- when analyzing Politics (as is no less the case with Religion, or even Sports fans!)- to treat most, if not all members of a movement, an ideology or a Party as being as "hard core" as the leadership cadre and/or the most committed members of such a movement, ideology or Party: this is a bias I try my utmost to avoid (have I always been/will I ever be successful is so doing?-- uh-- probably not!) and my so trying- whether I fail or no- is the very reason I started off my most recent Commentary with an anecdote to indicate that, yes, I well know that not all Tea Partiers are Birthers (though many are and, as I indicated in my piece, the Tea Party leadership itself certainly seems to feel a political need to find "unity" with the Birther movement) as well as, further, making clear that [t]o be fair, this does not at all mean that the average, angry-at-Government, run of the mill, everyday rank-and-file Tea Partier is necessarily a Birther sporting a nice new 'Where's the Birth Certificate?' bumper sticker and, in addition, there are more than a few within the leadership of the movement who are genuinely concerned with the possibility that the Birthers will bring down the whole movement.
Simply put: Phil is but one person who, per his link I will be posting below, takes what I would (fairly, I think) call the "Birther" position.
2. Phil identifies himself as a "blogger" for the website RightSideOfLife.com. Since the emergence of the so-called Blogosphere (something that, even in its earliest incarnation, The Green Papers itself was in on oh, so long ago now), different websites have generated different rules as to just what this term might mean in relation to themselves: some bloggers are actually associated with (whether or not they are formally hired, or even paid!) by the website and, therefore, are- at least in theory- just as much speaking for the website as for themselves (these bloggers, thus, are part and parcel of the editorial content of said website); other bloggers are merely those who post comments on a piece posted on a website (it is in this latter sense that one 'elspeth', who posted a comment seen underneath that which will be linked below, is also a "blogger") but there are also bloggers who are allowed, even encouraged, to post fuller-length essays and commentaries on a website without necessarily being at all an integral part of that website (in a way, these last have the same relationship to their website that I myself had to XM Satellite Radio's POTUS08 channel back when I would do 15-20 minutes of banter with the host every Monday during the 2008 Primary/Caucus "season" and, again, on Election Day itself: I was a regular "guest" on POTUS08, but I was never an employee of- nor did I at all speak for- XM, later XM/Sirius) .
I'm not sure which Phil himself is, but I do know the difference between a blogger and those who actually run a website (on The Green Papers, for instance, I am primarily responsible for the editorial content- through what I clearly identify as 'Commentary'- and, rather than allowing blogposting, we post salient comments related to my Commentary [or, for that matter, all manner of arcane political/electoral subject matter] hereon as Vox Populi... nonetheless, in at least one sense [as explained above], I am- effectively- a "blogger", hence this website's slogan: "We were blogging before it was cool"): thus, it should not be assumed that Phil's position is necessarily the position of RightSideOfLife.com per se.
3. I ask- indeed, most strongly urge- that the reader of this page (and also in the interest of fairness) click on the link Phil has provided, as posted below, and read what he has posted before reading my own comments underneath that link. Of course, I am well aware I can't make anyone do this! But, despite getting numerous e-mails each year- ever since The Green Papers first went online now more than a decade ago- suggesting otherwise, I am not out to convert anybody: I am not trying to acquire a following, nor am I attempting to gather disciples (too much hard work-- besides, you always have to keep a rather jaundiced eye on that 12th one! [;-)]), for some political or other agenda.
As Phil himself says "some of us agree to disagree" and, in that very spirit of good old-fashioned (yet "strong beliefs most strongly held") American disagreement- a spirit for which many a person gave their lives (what Abraham Lincoln called "the last full measure of devotion") in the manner which we all, Birther and non-Birther alike, will (or, at least, should) soon well honor this coming Memorial Day weekend- I herewith provide thislink to Phil's CRITIQUE OF MY MOST RECENT COMMENTARY on TheRightSideOfLife.com
Mr. Berg-Andersson now addresses at least some aspects of Phil's critique as linked above:
(Now, did you read what Phil wrote?
If not: one more plea, from me, to have done so before reading any further)
I'll here put aside the obvious insult to both my intelligence and knowledge about affairs constitutional implicit in the heading 'Ignorance Alert' (but, Phil, know it's been duly noted! [;-)]).
Yes, Phil, we do agree to disagree: you write [i]n Mr. Berg-Andersson’s opinion, there may be no difference between “natural born” or “native born” citizens, then you note that [a]t least he knows there’s a difference between the two. Except for one thing: there is no difference between the two!
Phil is here commenting on my own words, where I wrote that "I, for one, happen to be a natural-born American citizen (if we presume that “natural born” here means native born– that is, born in some place that is [or at least was, at the time of birth] legally part of the United States of America)". There was a reason I had so presumed! For I had not, then, yet demonstrated that, indeed, "natural born" actually means "native born" (which I would do with my extended summary of "natural born" subjecthood-become-citizenship under English [Common] on into early American Law later on in that Commentary-- a summary, by the way, Phil chooses not to at all directly address [instead, he dismisses it with but a mere "wave of the hand", as if to say 'who cares what those old fuddy-duddies in wigs and knee-breeches might have actually meant when they finally decided upon their constitutional language?'... well, who cares about Rule of Law, for that matter? ;-)]): rule # 1 in good argument-- never state as "is" something you have yet to show, indeed, "is"! Since I had not yet demonstrated why "natural born" actually means "native born", I couldn't very well do anything but presume it at that particular point in my piece.
In between the two quotations from what Phil wrote I have already included in the preceding paragraph, he notes that I don’t find the verbiage, “native born” in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the US Constitution : it's a shame that Phil isn't all that much interested, as I was, in further examining why (the answer to which question is: because, to the Framers, "natural born" was "native born", as I myself showed in my Commentary!... oh, that's right... I have scads of comments on this site that attribute to the existence of these types of discussions, Phil writes: he then assures us all that such things are, in the end, moot...
unfortunately, there are those of us who [though fools we may be in so doing] ever believe History- in particular, Legal Hermeneutics as applied to the Legislative History of Law- still does have at least some bearing!... in short: we actually "break a sweat" and study the subject matter... but pardon our "ignorance" [;-)]
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good-- 1 Thessalonians 5:21 [KJV])
Now, I don't have the time, nor have I the interest, in pursuing every single thing Phil has written in his "critique", for it is already altogether very clear (assuming that one reading this has already read my Commentary which Phil is so critiquing) that I think the general Birther viewpoint that President Obama is not eligible to serve as President of the United States is flat-out, 14-carat wrong and I also know my opining upon this very position I myself have taken is not at all going (nor did I at all expect it) to change the mind of Phil or any other Birther. If, as a result, Phil- or, for that matter, any other Birther- might wish to think me "ignorant", so be it! I, on the other hand, will happily consider myself otherwise and think that my some four decades or so studying the Constitution of the United States might actually count for something in just such a discussion.
But here's the "cut to the chase"-- again!:
A "natural born"- meaning, again, "native born"- citizen is just that: a "natural born" citizen per the requirements of Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution... case closed!
Phil mentions something about a "third party blog" talking about Obama having "dual citizenship" at birth (this blog- to which Phil provides a link- quotes from Part II, Section 5 of the British Nationality Act of 1948, which provides that a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth [true: if Barack Obama, Sr. was a citizen of Kenya on 4 August 1961 (a time when Kenya was still a British colony), then Barack Obama, Jr. was also- at birth on that date- a citizen of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the successor to the British Empire (note well, however: President Obama was not ever a citizen of Kenya, but- rather- of "the United Kingdom and Colonies", a nicety of language that was essentially dancing around an Empire [which many British subjects, at the time this Act was originally adopted, would not have been happy admitting no longer existed or, at least, would soon no longer exist] becoming 'Commonwealth')]) but such "dual citizenship" is altogether irrelevant to this discussion-- that is: unless Phil wants to freely admit that the legislation of a Foreign Power (said Foreign Power being Britain, fergawdsake!) does, in fact, somehow trump the Constitution of the United States of America itself, the 14th Amendment of which emphatically declares that [a]ll 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. (Now who's calling in those black helicopters? [;-)])
Phil argues that such "dual citizenship" should be enough reason — under any type of circumstance — to fully vet this man’s [that is: Obama's] background. But for the fact that, as I have demonstrated in the preceding paragraph, there really is no "background" to so "vet"!
(or is there?-- wait just a moment here...)
Phil, in addition, seems to take special umbrage at my characterization to the effect of "[i]ndeed, let’s be most blunt here: the Birthers are nothing if not about abject White Racism!"... good!... I hope he's royally pissed off, actually, because it's thoroughly disgusting (thus, I'm already pissed off!). He makes some comment about my having played "the white-guilt race card" followed by a sardonic remark about Obama at least not being Jewish (yes: taken here, by the way, in that obviously and retardedly sarcastic tone [his words] in which it was, indeed, intended). I myself, however, have no so-called "White Guilt" with which to so play!
Fact is, though: no previous President of the United States (none of whom were Black, by the way [I note this here just in case anyone hadn't been paying attention ;-)]) has been so subjected to such ever so serious calls for him to prove his eligibility for the Presidency after he had already proven his eligibility! True, there were rumors about Chester Arthur (though born in Vermont, stories made the rounds that 'Chet' himself had been born in Canada and used a sibling's birth records in order to claim American citizenship [interestingly, Canada- like Kenya- was/is part of the Commonwealth of Nations-formerly-British Empire: guess we've always had this 'thing' about British subjects trying to become President-- haven't healed those old scars from the Revolution yet! ;-)]) but these never gave rise to a whole movement- the Birthers- itself a significant part of an even larger movement- the Tea Partiers (no?-- then why are Birthers so much a necessary part of Tea Party "unity"?)... Arthur, who had succeeded to the Nation's Highest Office upon the death of James Garfield some two and a half months after Garfield's having been shot by Charles Guiteau, did not win nomination by his Republican Party for a full term as President in 1884-- but this had nothing much to do with rumors about Arthur's eligibility for the Presidency based on a presumed lack of citizenship, merely base intraParty Politics.
Thus, race is an issue here, Phil... for, if it be not for race, then what "background" of President Obama's is there to so "vet"? After all, what is Obama's background?!... no, we're assured by such as Phil, surely it doesn't include race (ah, yes: the ol' "I'm not saying, I'm just saying..." gambit)...
or am *I* considered, by Phil, one of those he would call "O-bots": someone amongst those so “in the tank” for this President and, therefore, do not have a mind of their own outside of their own collection of friends (known as “group-think”) or mindlessly cast pejoratives upon those of us who do have the audacity to question this President and, thereby, attempt to make race an issue? The first part of his definition- of course- makes absolutely no sense as applied to me in any event, considering that I have often written on this website about friends of mine with whom I disagree, and, as for the second, I myself have publicly criticized President Obama and have also been most critical of those who claim that every criticism of Obama, his Administration or his policies is- by very definition- one based largely, if not solely, on race (hardly!... for, if this be so, than my criticisms of the Obama Administration are then also based on race [in a universe in which every criticism of Obama is, without even a shadow of a doubt, racially-motivated]). Thus, Phil is here- if only by implication- lumping me in with a group into which I myself do not even fit!
All of this disagreement between me and Phil, however, misses the most relevant point- at least as far as the Mission Statement of The Green Papers be concerned- and that is this (and it was this, as much as anything else, I was trying to convey in my most recent Commentary):
Granted: I think the position taken by those who are referred to as Birthers is but the purest of nonsense most worthy of discard into the nearest gutter.
Barack Hussein Obama- born in the State of Hawaii (even with dual citizenship) and at least 35 years of age, with at least 14 years of legal residency in the United States of America, as of Noon Eastern Time, 20 January 2009- was constitutionally eligible to be elected, and thereafter sworn, as President of the United States... period!... once he was declared elected by the Congress of the United States for the four-year term of the 56th Administration, he was so elected; once he was sworn, he was so sworn, and, thereby, charged with "faithfully execut[ing]" all the powers and duties of the Presidency. It is all, in the main, no different than my much earlier argument on this website (one still unpopular with at least some people, at least some of whom Phil would describe as "O-bots") that George W. Bush was- despite strongest protestations to the contrary by many- legitimately President of the United States as of Noon Eastern Time, 20 January 2001-- why?-- because Congress, in Tabulation Joint Session, said he was!
Yes: people are, as Phil says, certainly free to disagree with me... but there are those with whom I disagree who I still deeply respect despite such disagreement: others?-- not so much!... for *I* am just as free to think some of those who so disagree with me might well be silly at best, nutty at worst.
And this last statement-- that Birthers tend to be, in the main, so well "off their nut"-- makes me wonder the following: assuming that the Republicans are, indeed, poised to do well in this Fall's General Election (though it is still too early to say whether or not the GOP will be able to take control of either house, if not both chambers, of Congress: by the same token, I don't think it would be at all a safe bet, right now, to think that the Democrats are going to be able to at all pad their majorities in either chamber come this November!), then why on Earth is the Grand Old Party all so willing to hitch itself to a Tea Party movement that itself sees it as all too necessary to get into bed with the Birthers?... You lie down with the dogs, you're only going to end up with fleas!
I'm not saying, I'm just saying... ;-)