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“Not All Birthers Are The Same”: No, Ted Cruz ‘Birthers’ Are Not The Same As Obama Birthers

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday released his birth certificate, seeking to put to rest questions about whether the Canadian-born senator is qualified to run for president in 2016.

Immediately, parallels were drawn to President Obama’s 2011 release of his own birth certificate, which also was meant to end lingering questions about his eligibility to be president.

And for the few in the birther community, they see hypocrisy. Why are the media not denouncing those who question Cruz’s eligibility in the same way they have denounced the so-called “birthers” who continue to question Obama’s?

The reason? Because about the only thing these two situations have in common is that they involve a birth certificate and a presidential candidate.

Questions about Cruz’s eligibility have everything to do with interpretation of the law; the questions about Obama’s eligibility had everything to do with a dispute over the underlying facts — more specifically, conspiracy theories about whether the president was actually born in the United States, as he claimed, and whether he somehow forged a birth certificate that said he was born in Hawaii.

In Cruz’s case, nobody is disputing the underlying facts of the case — that Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and a mother who was a United States citizen. As we wrote back in March, that makes him a U.S. citizen himself, but it’s not 100 percent clear that that is the same thing as a “natural born citizen” — the requirement for becoming president.

Most scholars think it’s the same thing, and the Congressional Research Service said in 2011 that someone like Cruz “most likely” qualifies to run for president. But to this point, there is no final word from the courts, because while foreign-born candidates have run — including George Romney and John McCain — none of them has actually won and had his eligibility challenged.

Obama was also born to a mother who was a U.S. citizen, meaning if he was in fact born outside the United States, the situations might be parallel. But birthers weren’t making a legal argument about Obama; they were arguing the facts about where he was born and accusing him of perpetrating a massive fraud.

Some will accuse the media of instituting a double standard when it comes to these two cases because Cruz is a Republican and Obama is a Democrat. But nobody is accusing Cruz of lying about his past as part of a vast conspiracy to become president.

It’s just not an apples-to-apples comparison.

By: Aaron Blake, The Washington Post, August 19, 2013

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Birthers, Conspiracy Theories | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Batty Birtherville”: Birthers Still Trying To Stop President Obama’s Inauguration

They’re willing to give him a pass on the first time, but if Chief Justice John Roberts swears in President Barack Obama this time around, the birthers are ready for him.

In an op-ed published last week by WND, Craige McMillan says Roberts could be impeached by Congress if he swears in the president, whom McMillan says is not a natural-born citizen.

From McMillan’s op-ed:

If you choose the easy course of ignoring our Constitution, it does not change the fact that Mr. Obama is barred by that same Constitution from acting as president. I am sure that if you turn your judicial mind to the ramifications of this fraud, both foreign and domestic, you will understand that the harm you will have done insures your impeachment and eternal dishonor at some point down the road: If not this House of Representatives, then the next, or the next, or the next.

These things do not end well. One need only look to the aftermath of World War II and the Nuremberg Trials to see what awaits. Illegal wars. Illegal debts. Illegal laws. Will the rest of the Supreme Court’s justices, now knowing they are violating their own oath of office, continue the sham through a second presidential term?

The rant, first brought to our attention by The Huffington Post, goes on to urge Roberts to refuse to administer the oath of office.

But The National Memo, a political newsletter and website, is not having it.

In an op-ed called “Today In Crazy,” the publication writes “the reliably unhinged crazies over at WorldNetDaily” are just being melodramatic.

From The National Memo:

“Too bad this particular trip to Batty Birtherville, despite its darkly turgid undertones, is about as legitimate as all the others. It’s the same old song and dance… they demand to see the birth certificate. They are shown the birth certificate. They claim birth certificate can’t be real. Then they start shrieking that he “refuses” to show the birth certificate. They are again shown the birth certificate. They’re then shown the birth announcement from the local Hawaii newspaper from 1961. So they scream louder, “WHERE’S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE?” because the proof that it exists is overwhelming, and everyone knows that the louder you scream, the more right you are… even in the face of mounting and irrefutable proof that you’re wrong.”

The chief justice doesn’t seem too concerned about the impeachment threats since he’s scheduled to administer the oath both on Sunday, Jan. 20, and Monday, Jan. 21, CBS News reported last week.


By: Abby Rogers, Business Insider, January 10, 2013

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Birthers | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Last Gasp Candidate”: Is Mitt Romney A Real American?

If it’s our ideals and not our origins that make us countrymen, Romney’s tactics suggest that he’s the one whose Americanness should come under question.

Nobody’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. But as someone of Chinese descent I have been asked plenty of times where I’m from — and when I say “Poughkeepsie,” I often get the follow-up question that’s almost a cliché now among Asian Americans: “No, where are you really from?”

It’s always disheartening to get that question, even though I’ve learned to answer it with equanimity and usually take care to make the inquisitor feel not-stupid. But it’s always clarifying, for it reveals the default picture in the minds of some of my fellow Americans about who they are, who we are, and who I am.

That’s why Mitt Romney’s birther-baiting remarks today are, in a way, welcome. Let there be no doubt: He is the candidate for people who think the name Obama must be Muslim and its bearer indelibly foreign. He is also the candidate for the greater number of people who do not initially imagine that someone with my face, my eyes, my skin could be from this country.

Even in one of his home states (Michigan, the site of today’s remarks), Mitt Romney is not some iconic American hero whose patriotism is beyond reproach. The reason no one questions where Romney was born is simply this: he is white. If that’s good enough for you, then you’re good enough for Romney.

But that’s not good enough for America. I have as much a claim to be the image of an American as Romney and his offspring do. So does Barack Obama. So, by the way, does Bobby Jindal or Ted Cruz or Susana Martinez — nonwhites in Romney’s own party who likely have also been asked (no, really) where they are from.

Romney’s implicit pledge of allegiance to the birther movement is as revealing of his character as anything else in his campaign of half-deliberate opacity. He appears to lack a core capacity for empathy. He literally cannot see himself as someone not white, as someone accented or a newcomer.

In fact, Romney’s tactics suggest that he’s the one whose Americanness should come under question. True Americanness is not about how WASPy your surname is, how pale your skin, or how many generations your family has lived here — or how much you can lord those facts over others. Nor is it about how subtly you can stir up secret prejudices against people who could be deemed outsiders.

True Americanness is about fidelity to a creed that by design transcends color or place of family origin. Yes, we as a nation have often subverted that creed, or averted our gaze, but it still stands in timeless judgment, measuring our willingness to deliver on the promise of equal citizenship. True Americans see in a sea of colored faces a chance to bring everyone into the fold, so that the team is stronger and the creed redeemed. Mitt Romney can prance all he wants but his words today were those of a second-rate American.

And the more he plays his Donald Trump card, the more his becomes a last-gasp candidacy: the inarticulate paroxysm of those who still silently believe, as was once permissible to declare in public, that America is a white nation and that the interests, mores, and preferences of whites should predominate.

Romney may yet win in November. But he and this whole odious line of attack are on the losing side of history. The tide of demographics is irresistible, and soon enough it’ll sweep up his birth certificate and mine into a new notion of who is truly from this country.


By: Eric Liu, The Atlantic, August 24, 2012

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Partisanship, Ideology And Race Influence Attitudes Toward Obama

‘Birtherism’ is on the decline following the release of the President’s long form birth certificate. But it is nonetheless instructive to consider how the meme was accepted by so many conservatives. Alan I Abramowitz has what is likely be the definitive data-driven post on the subject up at Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Abramowitz weighs the data regarding the influence of partisanship, ideology and race on formation of the birther meme:

Until now, debates about the influence of racial attitudes on opinions of Obama have been severely hampered by a lack of survey data including relevant questions. However, the availability of a new data set now makes it possible to directly examine the impact of racial attitudes on whites’ evaluations of President Obama.The data used in this article come from the October 2010 wave of the American National Election Study Evaluations of Government and Society Survey (EGSS). The October 2010 survey was the first of several cross-sectional studies being conducted by ANES in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to test new instrumentation and measure public opinion between the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. The surveys are being conducted entirely on the Internet using nationally representative probability samples. Respondents are members of the Knowledge Networks KnowledgePanel, an omnibus panel of respondents recruited using telephone and address-based sampling methods who are provided free Internet access and equipment when necessary.

Evaluations of President Obama were measured by two questions, a five-point scale measuring positive versus negative feelings about the president and a seven-point scale measuring how strongly respondents liked or disliked him. The correlation between these two questions was a very strong .85, so I combined them into a single Obama rating scale with a range from 0 (extremely negative) to 10 (extremely positive). The mean score on this scale was 5.1 with a standard deviation of 3.6. About a third (34%) of respondents gave Obama a rating of 8 through 10 while 31% gave him a rating of 0 through 2. Thus, opinions of Obama were closely divided and highly polarized.

Abramowitz also notes that “Obama’s approval rating averaged 38% for whites compared with 59% for nonwhites including 85% for African Americans.” Turning to the question of ‘birther’ attitudes, Abramowitz examines the data and adds,

…Racial resentment had a strong impact on beliefs about his place of birth. While recent polling indicates that doubts about whether President Obama was born in the United States have diminished since he released his “long form” Hawaiian birth certificate, the “birther” myth has proven stubbornly resistant to evidence. In fact, 58% of white respondents in the EGSS expressed some doubt about whether Barack Obama was born in the United States including 28% who thought that he definitely or probably was not born in the United States.

Abramowitz concludes that “partisanship and ideology were the strongest predictors of overall evaluations of President Obama and opinions about his place of birth among white Americans” and that “regardless of party or ideology, whites who scored high on racial resentment had more negative opinions of Obama and were more likely to harbor doubts about whether he was born in the United States than whites who scored low on racial resentment.”

Given the tenacity of racial bias among a substantial segment of the public, President Obama’s approval ratings are all the more impressive, as is his ability to calmly navigate around the treacherous shoals of race in America.

By: Staff, The Democratic Strategist, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Conservatives, Democracy, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, President Obama, Racism, Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Obama “American” Enough For The Far Right Now?

Now that President Obama and his national security team have proven their mettle in pursuing and finally eliminating the supreme Islamic terrorist, a question arises: Will the not-insignificant chunk of voters who have rejected the president’s basic legitimacy — expressing skepticism about the circumstances of his birth in the face of conclusive proof that he was born here — be more likely to view Obama as “American” now?

On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” over the weekend, Washington Post reporter Nia-Malika Henderson suggested that the birther movement may not be about race. She compared the buzz around the issue to those conspiracy-minded individuals who tied Bill Clinton to the “murder” of Vince Foster in 1993 — an observation that other have made as well. It just seems too easy to describe the ruling passion of those who label President Obama a secret Muslim (or, to recall Mike Huckabee’s infamous slur, a Kenyan revolutionary), as strictly racist. History, though, yields enough clues to suggest that journalists who look for alternative explanations are wrong.

Birtherism has a distinctive history. If you go to the website, you will find a history lesson along with their creed: “The Birthers: Dedicated to the Rebirth of the Constitutional Republic.” Much like the Tea Partiers, birthers have linked themselves to America’s founding fathers. Their fealty to the Constitution is centered on a single phrase in Article II that requires the president to be a “natural born citizen.”

What does the all-important phrase mean? Birthers interpreting Article II say that “the president must above all else be loyal to this nation.” It is a “self-evident” truth that such loyalty is drawn from nature–and they are quite explicit about what that means: “kinship, our most primitive and natural form of citizenship, from blood”; a nativity which comes “from the soil,” or “place of birth.” It is an ideal of kinship that energizes the birther movement—the transmission of civic identity by descent, through bloodlines, from parents to children.

The website also makes it clear that, for birthers, a natural-born president must have natural-born parents, and that civic identity only exists in a homogeneous population. “If the parents were split in their loyalties,” the website declares, “the child would be split in loyalty to America.” Mixed heritage is thus a liability, for it undermines proper patriotic breeding. Indeed, for the birthers, the breeding question is inextricably linked to a person’s genetic vulnerability.

President Obama was raised by his white, midwestern mother, and her parents. But his actual upbringing matters not a bit to birthers. For most of them, Obama is his father’s son, because kinship is measured though the traditional order of the father’s line. To make their claims stick, birthers have had to erase President Obama’s mother from the fanciful narrative of his African birth. Just as Glenn Beck indelicately declared that Obama had an instinctive hatred of white people, birthers divorced him from his mother’s family. The father he hardly knew remains the dominant force in his life; the president cannot be an American because he is loyal to his patriarchal line, that is, to his father’s race.

Not surprisingly, the birthers have the Constitution all wrong. The delegates who attended the convention in Philadelphia in 1787 were not much concerned with the president’s nativity. In establishing the chief executive’s qualifications, the initial proposal focused on age and duration of residency, and said nothing about his being a “natural born citizen.” The founders made no mention of any requirement that the parents of the president be natural born citizens either. Nor, for that matter, did they require the president to be a Christian. Abigail Adams, the wife of the second president, referred to her daughter-in-law, Louisa Catherine, who married John Quincy Adams, as a “half blood”; by this cultural (though not legalistic) designation she meant that one parent was American, the other English. In sum, the founders could easily have specified that the president have “natural born” parents. But they did not. The reason is obvious. Any talk about kinship and bloodlines bore the taint of aristocracy and royalty, a caste system the founders had rejected during the Revolution.

The convention delegates did, however, vigorously debate the requirements for senators and representatives. Some delegates expressed fears of “foreign attachments”; future vice president Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts indulged in some wild conspiracy mongering when he proposed longer residency requirements for House members to prevent the possibility that foreign governments (he meant the British) might send spies to infiltrate the federal government. He hoped that, in the future, only the native-born would be eligible to serve in the House.

Yet even Gerry could never have imagined the 21st-century birther conspiracy, the most extreme versions of which evoked the “Manchurian Candidate,” a plot so cleverly devised that the institution of the presidency could be subverted by placing a secret Muslim in the White House. In fact, the deepest fear the founders expressed had nothing to do with the president’s qualifications. Instead, it was the military powers with which the Constitution endows him. They worried that as commander-in-chief, he might be bought off by a foreign government and drawn into unnecessary wars at the behest of an ally to whom he felt personally indebted. To counteract their fear, the framers insisted that Congress alone be authorized to declare war.

Despite all their efforts, the birther movement cannot look to the founders for its inspiration. Their ideas grow out of a traditional obsession with the legal status of free blacks and mulattos in the decades before the Civil War. When a firestorm of debate flared over Missouri’s admission to the Union in 1819-1820, northern and southern congressmen tangled and principles yielded to racial prejudices. Missouri’s proposed constitution barred blacks from entering the state who were not the legal property of white men. While northerners argued that free blacks were not “aliens or slaves,” but “free citizens,” opposing politicians and jurists twisted the law to justify the argument that native born free black Americans could be denied the same constitutional protections that native-born white Americans claimed. In the years before the South finally seceded, judges issued decisions in which free blacks were described as “our wards” or “strangers to our Constitutions.” Mississippi’s highest court categorized free U.S. residents of African descent as “alien strangers.”

The question of how to define a natural-born citizen reached the Supreme Court in the notorious Dred Scott case of 1857. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (appointed by unapologetic slave-owner Andrew Jackson) argued that free blacks were never contemplated by the founders as part of the national community. Insisting that African Americans were not recognized as citizens in any state, before or after the Revolution, he dismissed all contrary evidence. To Taney, as with the birthers, facts were irrelevant.

Taney’s goal was to restrict citizenship to one of two processes: naturalization or biological inheritance. Blacks had been explicitly excluded from citizenship in the federal Naturalization Act of 1790, he noted. Even more telling, according to constitutional historian James Kettner, Taney wished to ignore “volumes of judicial precedents emphasizing place of birth without regard to ancestry.” Taney thus transformed “natural born citizen” into a racial category.

The birthers have the same idea in mind. Ultimately, they don’t really care what it says on President Obama’s birth certificate, short or long form. For these modern-day Taneyites, Obama’s citizenship is questionable because his civic identity is tainted by descent — he is, unmistakably, the son of an African man. The birthers, like Taney, believe that a natural-born citizen must be possess the right pedigree: he must descend from the same race as the founders, or be born on U.S. soil in the image of the founders. For Taney, the national community was a closed community. Even if they haven’t gone so far as to say so explicitly, for today’s birthers the presidency is an exclusive club.

Their obsession with placing Obama in Africa at the moment of his birth was a means to diminish the influence of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. Republican hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee deliberately circulated the strange story that Obama’s politics can be traced, genetically, to the anti-colonial revolutionary rhetoric that once existed in his father’s homeland.

But what about the equally ridiculous claim that Obama’s paternal grandmother testified to her grandson’s birth in Kenya? Why did that idea capture birthers’ imaginations? Here, historical precedent may again shed light. In 1907, a law was passed in the United States stating that any natural-born female who married an alien automatically lost her citizenship. She was expatriated without her consent. Compare that to the law that prevailed from 1855 to 1922, by which any alien woman who married an American citizen immediately became a citizen, bypassing the normal naturalization process.

It was a longstanding tradition in American history that a wife’s civil and political rights came through her husband. Under the law, marriage made husband and wife “one person.” The argument that citizens cannot have two allegiances was applied to wives: her first allegiance was to her husband. She could not vote or exercise political rights, because she had no independent civic identity. Her husband acted as her political proxy, voting in her stead. Recall that women did to receive the right to vote until 1920.

The birthers, too, in recurring to antiquated racist assumptions, assume that President Obama cannot have dual allegiances. Either he is all-American or else his true loyalty resides elsewhere. Birthers have made Obama’s mother a cipher all over again. Her political identity was subsumed into her African husband’s. In effect, he “voted” for her. Because she is deceased, it has been easy for birthers (not to mention the hubristic Donald Trump) to erase the president’s mother from the picture. She was never able to testify. And her World War II hero father presumably had no need to; his service to his country should have spoken volumes.

At the time of the 1907 law, women who married aliens were considered unpatriotic. Until 1967, interracial marriages could still be considered illegal in most southern states. What matters to birthers, subconsciously or otherwise, is the taint of foreign blood, the taint of African blood, Obama, Sr.’s alien status. Stanley Ann Dunham had made an unnatural and unpatriotic choice of a husband.

The racism of the birther movement, then, is not just a wacko conspiracy. Adherents of this new old cause have a large following because of our country’s troubled history. Of course, Americans are by no means the only culture to rationalize discrimination on racial and gender grounds. It happens on every continent, constantly. In the modern age, anxiety over what makes a “real” American is most often tied to wartime, or “Cold War time”; but in this case, it was the “national emergency” of a person becoming president whose physiognomy tapped into vestigial fears.

Finally, there is the newly hatched probe (thank you, once again, Donald) into the president’s educational pedigree. For hardcore birthers, President Obama cannot possibly deserve his office. There must be a catch somewhere. How, akin to “uppity” free blacks past, did he move into elite circles from which black aspirants were traditionally barred? The world has been turned upside down for birthers.

The term “birther” has always sounded idiotic. If they want a more legitimate-sounding name, they should call themselves “descenters.” For what they really seem to be defending is that every child inherits his nationality from his father, just as he inherits his surname: Barack Hussein Obama II instead of Barry Dunham.

In their campaign to unearth the secret life of President Obama, birthers make descent more important than consent — the republican principle that Americans choose their officeholders by popular election. For them, nature trumps consent. According to their logic, natural-born presidents have natural-born American parents. And by nature, they mean the traits passed down from one’s ancestors to his rightful heirs. We’ve seen this logical construction before: it worked for something known as the “divine right of kings.” Loyalty to the sovereign? Didn’t we, at some point, declare national independence in order to move beyond that sort of thinking?

So maybe those who suggest that it’s not just racism that motivates the birthers really are on to something. Maybe it’s something that really is un-American..

By: Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, Salon War Room, May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Democracy, GOP, Politics, President Obama, Racism, Right Wing, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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