Tag Archives: Obama

Birther Brilliance

I just want to mention some of the profound ways that not being born in the United States would have affected the quality of Obama’s presidency.  He clearly would not have been able to truly understand the country or be capable of talented, decisive leadership.

My confidence in this knowledge stems from observing my own inabilities brought on by not being born in the US.   It has rendered me an imbecile in regards to all things American.  For example, I sometimes get the words wrong when saying the pledge of allegiance.  Americans even think that I stutter, when really I am just talking like everyone not born in the United States.

I’ll miss the Birther movement.  I find crusades for meaningless truths amusing (or depressing, depending on my mood).  Who could have better publicized the idea that citizenship jus soli (by the soil) is an idiotic idea in the first place?  I remember in 8th grade Social Studies when I found out that an illegal immigrant can have a kid in the US and that kid is automatically a citizen.  I thought my teacher was joking, but apparently dirt has magical properties, at least in America.

At the same time, there is a myth in the missionary kid world that those like me who were not born in the US can’t be President.  From what I can tell this isn’t true.  I did some research for the sake of Obama and I.  Please, correct me if I am wrong.  Article 2 section 1 of the Constitution says this:

“No person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of president.”

Ok.  What is a “natural born citizen”?  In the fourteenth amendment, section 1, it says this:

“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.”

That didn’t really help.  Finally, title 8 of the US Code fills in the gaps in section 1401. It says a couple of things but most importantly for our purposes it gives citizenship at birth to:

“a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person.”

Ok.  This means that I am good to go right?  My mom grew up in Ohio and my Dad in Virginia.  Yay!  I can be president.  What about Obama even if he was born outside the country?  Secion 1401 of title 8 goes on to say that someone is born a citizen if he or she is:

“a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years.”

Shouldn’t this apply to Obama also?  His dad was from Kenya who came to America to study.  His mom was from Kansas where she lived, presumably, more than five years.  What am I missing?

I’ll miss the Birthers.  They were off-base technically (I think Obama would still have been eligible for president), meaningfully (Obama would still have been capable of being president), and factually (Obama was in fact born in the US).   Nonetheless, in March one quarter of all Americans believed Obama was not born in the states, the majority of Republican primary voters believed he was not, and 49% of all Republicans nationwide.  Obama and his advisors must have been wondering when to release the long-form birth certificate. This would have been the best opportunity ever to make your political opponents look dumb.

What do you think?  I think he blew it.  He played his ace prematurely.  If he would have waited, I think he could have painted an abysmal picture of the entire Republican party right before an election (BTW, 83%/12% of Republican birthers viewed Palin favorably compared to 41%/52% of republican non-birthers).  Some Republicans, Karl Rove for instance, did try to discourage this preposterousness, but most leaders, such as John Boehner, did not.  When asked about it on Meet the Press he said, “it’s not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people.”

That’s the sort of inspiring leadership that magic soil is capable of.

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Assassination Rocks!

Most of the world is celebrating Osama bin Laden‘s death.  Some, however, are recoiling from that celebration and mourning the loss of life.  Both groups annoy me, but only if both groups are as single dimensional as my single dimensional description of them.

On the one hand, bringing an end to bin Laden’s exploits is a wonderful thing.  He killed lots of people and would kill more.  It also is a good morale booster and makes the West look and feel less incompetent and idiotic (“Seriously?  This guy walked free for almost 10 years after masterminding the single biggest terrorist attack in world history against the most powerful country in the world?”).  I am happy that we have ended this rallying symbol for Islamic fundamentalism.  However, I regret that we could not have had a trial for him as I think that would have been cathartic for society.  Trials are what separates societal civil justice from street gang vigilantism, and, since street gang vigilantism is no doubt a major goal and modus operandi of Islamic terrorist organizations, it’s too bad we couldn’t nab Osama and be rub-it-in-your-face civil to him.  But assassination is better than nothing.

On the other hand, assassination celebrations are weird things.  As a Christian, I believe that bin Laden was loved by Jesus just as much as me, you, or Mother Theresa.  God’s grace is as offensive as shit.  When Jesus died on the cross, he died for bin Laden.  He thought of bin Laden’s despicable actions, but also how beautiful he was as a human being and how passionately he would pursue his beliefs.  Yes, Osama had good qualities.  He will join the ranks of amazing people who did bad things like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Genghis Kahn, Napoleon, etc.  All these men had incredible talents that are admirable.  Even douche-bags of less grandeur, the local annoying jerk say, has admirable qualities.  He or she has a mother.  He or she is beautiful.

However, I barely have time to mourn for those who have not killed thousands of people indiscriminately out of some crazy religious calling.  I barely have time to mourn child hunger, the African Aids epidemic, or my friend’s problems with depression.  In fact, the only reason that I can see to single out bin Laden’s death as something to mourn is because other people are celebrating it.  In other words, it’s a stellar opportunity to act morally superior.

Finally, as many of you know, I am not a fan of punishment or anyone, especially Christians, who want to deal it out.  Justice is God’s to do, and he does it in the afterlife I’m pretty sure if at all (note “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” and Christ’s parable about the workers in the field).  So, I see Osama’s death as a means to an end and not an end itself.

So, I think our appropriate response to Osama’s death is celebration with a moment or two to pause and say, “Ok, assassination is not ideal.  Ok, God loved bin Laden just as much as he loves me.  Ok, I like his death’s good effects more than just the fact of his death.”  Then we drink a beer (or two), come up with a few cheesy movie lines to use as toasts (e.g. “Hijack this!” and “To the liberation of bearded men everywhere”), and wake up the next day and go about our business in arresting the suffering of others and the depravity of ourselves.

…in other news, Donald Trump called Seth Meyers a stutterer in what appeared to be a somewhat derogatory way.  Of course, I have an opinion, as I am deeply concerned with what Donald Trump thinks of me.


Ron Paul & Republican Reluctance

It looks like Ron Paul is running for President again.  Why not?  There is no way he can actually get elected, so round #2 is another campaign of ideas hoping to repeat and strengthen the success of round #1.

But if your goal is actually to get elected, and you happen to be a Republican, 2012 might be a bad year for presidential campaigning.  Ron Paul notes this point, and it is one I have been thinking about for a while: where are the Republicans?  This time last election cycle we had several major names who had already thrown their hats in.  I think Republicans are wary because even if they get the nomination, I think it is highly unlikely that anyone beats Obama in 2012.  Here’s my 2 main reasons:

1) The economy is doing better.  This point cannot be overstated.  If the economy does better, Tea Partiers are less excited; there are fewer angry people with time on their hands (not that Tea Partiers are all just a bunch of angry people with time on their hands [but not entirely unlike that either]).  If we are on the upswing, people won’t want to mess with that.

2) Obama’s polls don’t reflect his electability.  I would say that there are a good 20% of Democrats, probably more like 30%, that are disgusted with Obama.  They might “disapprove” in polls, but when it comes around time to vote they sure aren’t going to vote for anyone further right.  The truth is that Obama remains a centrist in many ways, and continues to have broad appeal.

Also, keep an eye on Texas this election cycle.  It has always been solidly red, but it’s getting less.  If a Democrat can win Texas while hanging onto California, the two electoral juggernauts, there’s no way they lose.  Why am I talking about this?  Texas picked up 4 electoral votes in the last census, and 89% of the population increase was minority growth, mostly in the hispanic community, which voted 63 to 35 for Obama in 2008.  Now, Mccain won the state by 11 percentage points in 2008, so there is still a long way to go.  Also, there is the question of getting them out to vote.  However, if it becomes competitive, if a Republican presidential nominee has to spend time campaigning there, that will be interesting.  More interesting: if Republicans nominate a northern, business-savy, slick-haired Mormon, or someone else equally un-Texan, we could have a Democratic realignment.

BTW, I’m giving up on Ayn Rand having become thoroughly disenchanted after about 7 hours of listening to her life and ideas.  More to come on that later.

BTW, I got a temp job at Habitat for Humanity until the end of June.  Woohoo!   But that might mean less blogging.


Really Real America

One Republican assertion I consistently hear is a distinction between “real America” and what I guess is less real America.  “Real America” has small towns, it’s more rural, and moves at a slower pace than our cities.  Democrats get upset over this, and some of them who I have tons of respect for, including Jon Stewart and Dan Black : ).  While it bothers me too, I have come to think that Republicans have a little bit of a point here, even if it is often crudely made and upsettingly exclusionary.

The fact is that an important part of our national identity, of any nation’s identity, is a connection to the land.  Those that are more part and parcel with this land will feel, for better or ill, more “purely” American, especially when those less connected to the land seem to disagree with them on a number of important political and religious issues.  For example, you cannot easily separate the Swiss national identity from their mountains.  What is Japan, without the sea and fish?  What is Australia, without their enormous tracts of dry land populated with Kangaroos and dingos?   Likewise, what is America without the rockies, great plains, or the rolling hills of Appalachia?

Our political divide is not between blue states and red states.  Maps of county results for the last several presidential elections shows, with exceptions of course, solid blue cities surrounded by seas of red.  In 2008 for example, plenty of red counties are seen in places like rural New York and California.  Cities like Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta, Cinicinnati, Toledo, Cleveland, and tons more, (look at the Florida cities) are surrounded by red.  Look at the isolation of Lincoln, Nebraska, Kansas City and Wichita.  Look at Virginia, which went for Obama in 2008.  It’s so red!

Republicans have a right to think, in a small way, that their connection to the land entitles them to being automatically an important part of our national identity.  However, America is much much more than our land.  Our collective identity is and should be found more in principles like equality and opportunity, and should depend on all citizens, regardless of where they live.  Those who divide the country between real and fake America are the ones acting un-American as they prove they do not understand the hierarchy of American values.  But I suppose I contradict myself.  I am willing to assert that others are unAmerican, based on what I think is important.  So I guess my point is this:  If you are going to call people un-American, please do so thoughtfully.