Friday, July 31, 2009

Matt Tully Misinforms His Readers, Again

I don't seek to advance the re-election of U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, but when people in the media like the Star's Matt Tully are framing the political debate in his race, he might just manage to pull off another term in the House of Representatives. Commenting on Burton's co-sponsorship of congressional legislation that would require candidates for president to file proof of their constitutional eligibility to hold that office, Tully writes in his column today, "How else can we explain Burton's decision to jump into the ridiculous and mean-spirited debate over whether President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen?" Tully's assertion is categorically false. Instead of engaging in drive-by political attacks on persons with whom he disagrees, Tully instead should be focused on the real issue at the heart of Burton's legislation: Should a candidate for the highest office of these United States be required to produce evidence that he meets the constitutional requirement of being at least 35 years of age and is a natural born citizen. Oddly, Tully apparently thinks you should be required to produce more evidence when you go down to the BMV branch to get a driver's license than a person should be required to produce when they run for president of the United States.

Like most of the mainstream reporters and others who have offered opinions on this subject, Tully has not bothered to read the U.S. Constitution's eligibility requirement for president of the United States or conduct any research on what the requirement that a candidate be a "natural born citizen" means, let alone pick up the phone and speak to someone who has researched the issue. Repeatedly, pundits like Tully assume that "natural born citizen" means the same as "citizen". I have explained in many previous posts on this blog that the two terms are far from being synonymous to one another, but the drive-by political attackers like Tully would rather trivialize and marginalize persons who have done their homework rather than engage in a serious constitutional debate.

My research of the natural born citizenship requirement leads me to conclude that a person must be born to U.S. citizen parents in order to be considered a natural born citizen. Some argue that children born abroad to U.S. citizens are also natural born citizens. And still others argue that children born on U.S. soil are natural born citizens regardless of one or more of their parents' foreign citizenship. The second category presented a problem for Sen. John McCain, who faced at least two lawsuits last year challenging his natural born status because he was born in Panama. The U.S. Senate approved a non-binding resolution that declared McCain a natural born citizen based on the fact that he was the son of U.S. citizen parents (note the plural). The third category poses a problem for Barack Obama. By his own admission, he was a dual citizen at birth because his father was a citizen of Kenya, which at the time was a part of the British Commonwealth. As the left-leaning wrote during last year's presidential campaign:

"When Barack Obama, Jr. was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom's dwindling empire. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama, Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by the British Nationality Act of 1948. The same act governed the status of Obama, Sr.'s children." assumed that based on Obama's birth in Hawaii, he was a natural born citizen regardless of his parents' citizenship status. The fact is that nobody can state absolutely that Obama would be deemed a natural born citizenship if this were allowed to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never decided this issue directly. Many proponents of Obama's natural born status cite a more than one-hundred year-old case of Wong Kim Ark, a case involving the citizenship status of a person born within the U.S. to permanent resident parents who were citizens of China. Contrary to their assertions, the U.S. Supreme Court did not deem Ark a natural born citizen; rather, it decided he was a U.S. citizen. Justice Horace Gray, writing for the majority, wrote in part, "If born in the country, is as much a citizen as the natural-born child of a citizen…" Justice Gray distinguishes Ark's citizenship status from that of a natural born child of U.S. citizens. The focus in Ark's time pre-dated women obtaining the constitutional right to vote in this country, along with many other important legal rights. Quite clearly the focus at that time of Ark was on the father's citizenship and not the mother's. The Law of Nations, a legal treatise sometimes cited by Justice Antonin Scalia which was written a short time after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, offered this definition of the "natural born citizen" requirement, carefully distinguishing between a citizen and a natural born citizen:

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.
The U.S. Supreme Court stated in dicta that there is doubt that someone like Obama would ever be considered a natural born citizen. In the case of Minor v. Happersett, decided after the adoption of the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court said:

The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their [88 U.S. 162, 168] parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts.
Contrary to the view asserted by many that the 14th Amendment made all persons born within the U.S. natural born citizens regardless of their parents' citizenship status, this opinion suggests the 14th Amendment's application is limited to a person's status as a citizen. Why else would the Court say that "resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that" if the 14th Amendment had any applicability to a person's status as a natural born citizen?

Fellow blogger and retired attorney Leo Donofrio has worked diligently to inform the public as much as he possibly can at his blog, Natural Born Citizen. He filed a suit challenging Obama's natural born status with the U.S. Supreme Court prior to his taking office. Like dozens of other legal challenge, Donofrio's suit was never decided on its merits. Donofrio has gone to great lengths to distinguish his legal arguments from the birth certificate crowd that suggests Obama was not born in Hawaii. Unfortunately, a former Democratic Deputy Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania, Phillip Berg, did great harm when he got out front with a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania making unsubstantiated claims that Obama was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. Reporters and pundits who have discussed the issue lump everyone else in with Berg. Donofrio notes yesterday how the Wall Street Journal recklessly published a patently false analysis of the issue written by James Taranto suggesting that President Ronald Reagan signed a law that would have permitted even a person born overseas to a single U.S. citizen to be considered a natural born citizen. Reagan, as Donofrio points out did no such thing. As Donofrio explains:

Yesterday, American journalism reached a new low when James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal published legal propaganda that appears to blatantly lie to readers. In discussing the issues surrounding Obama’s birth to an alien father, Taranto added text to a US statute which does not contain such text. Here is the offensive passage:

“Someone born overseas and after 1986, but otherwise in identical circumstances to Obama, would be a natural-born citizen thanks to a law signed by President Reagan.”
No such law exists.

The words “natural born citizen” do not appear in the statute discussed by Mr. Taranto. In fact, the words “natural born citizen” do not exist in any US statute. Those words only appear in the Constitution - Article 2 Section 1 – and only as a requirement to be President . . .

The statute does not use the words “natural born citizen”.

Mr. Taranto needs to get back to Hogwarts fast and try a new spell. His magic wand didn’t add new text to the US Code overnight.

Had Mr. Taranto made the focus of his article the issue of whether persons who obtain citizenship at birth by statute are also natural born citizens for purposes of meeting the Presidential requirements of Article 2 Section 1 Clause 5, such a discussion would have been proper. His legal analysis as stated in the article would be wrong, but stating such a question presented and taking a position thereto is a correct form of editorial.

But that’s not what Taranto has done.

Taranto and The Wall Street Journal have done something far more damaging and nefarious than simply mis-analyzing the law. He’s written – and they’ve published – a piece of propaganda here which makes it appear as if the text of the law contains words which are not there.

Let’s call that what it is – propaganda. They weren’t content to ask a legal question and honestly deal with both sides of the argument from a non-partisan and pure journalistic intent. No. This article is an attempt to trick readers into believing laws exist which do not exist.

The statute does not include the words “natural born citizen”. Regardless, those who read Taranto’s article are left with the impression that the statute includes those words.

And that is journalistic evildoing personified.
"Journalist evildoing personified" also aptly describes what Matt Tully did in his column today with this issue. We have reached a sad state of affairs in this country. Our public has been so dumbed down about what so much of our Constitution means that we are in danger of losing the very rights it sought to secure for us. I grew up secure in the belief that the Second Amendment secured Americans the fundamental right to bear arms, notwithstanding the arguments I heard from teachers throughout my public education upbringing. While I was pleased to see our U.S. Supreme Court secure that right for the first time after more than two centuries of this greatest ever experiment in representative democracy, I was shocked that a shift of a single vote on the Court could have altered that outcome and that right. On that note, I leave you with the wise observation of a young Abraham Lincoln:

"Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!" declared Abraham Lincoln in an 1838 address, given when the United States was much smaller, much weaker -- and much freer -- than we are today. "All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

[Editor's Note: My blog posting from earlier today simply disappeared. I'll chalk that up to a Blogger hiccup because there are more than a few of those from time to time. And rest assured that the campaign to silence people like myself on this issue will not succeed. You can seek to trivialize, marginalize and otherwise engage in ad hominem attacks against me. One local Democratic blogger has repeatedly attempted to post comments claiming that my attacks on Obama are racist and anti-Muslim. That's precisely the reason someone like Matt Tully doesn't have the stomach to stick his neck out on an issue like this. I've researced this issue unlike my detractors and the fair weather, go-along-to-get along pols and pundits, and I stand behind my well-reasoned analysis.]


M Theory said...

Matt Tully called Congressman Burton a conspiracy theorist on Abdul's show this morning. In the same segment, Matt Tully admitted that his own college grades weren't so good, essentially admitting Tully is no scholar.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Glad to hear Matt is keeping good company with another misinforming person in the media.

Unknown said...

Burton is a nut and his support of the birthers is more proof. Despite your convoluted analysis, the vast majority of legal scholars reject your opinion. There was never any real issue in most people's minds that Obama met the requirements to be President. People advocate this silliness hurt their own credibility and hurt other Republicans. That is why the Republican Party unequivocally rejects the birthers.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Again, Zirk, I've thought for a long time that it was absolutely absurd to suggest that the Second Amendment did not really mean that U.S. citizens had a fundamental right to bear arms, although liberal advocates kept beating that idea into my head over the years. Surprisingly, a bare majority of Supreme Court justices agreed with my view. I don't call the liberals who advocated for a different interpretation of the Second Amendment than me "conspiracists", "wing nuts", "loons", "Marxists", etc. I do, however, respectfully disagree with their view. Anyone who researches the constitution can only conclude that the issue of what constitutes a natural born citizen remains an open question, at least as much if not more as the issue of Second Amendment rights.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

As Zirk said, "Burton is a nut and his support of the birthers is more proof."

Obama is a "natural born citizen of the US". He carries a US passport. He has a US birth certificate. He was born in the US (he doesn't have to have citizen-parents to be a citizen, you know).

Neither you, Advance Indiana, nor Danny Burton do yourselves (or your party) any favors by acting stupid on this topic.

Gary R. Welsh said...

There you go again, Not Hoosier In The Heartland, dissembling and obfuscating. The question isn't whether Obama is a U.S. citizen. I don't question whether he is a U.S. citizen or whether he was born in the U.S. in asserting a question of whether he is natural born citizen and Burton does not either. You want to dumb down the American people to the point where they know nothing about the words of their constitution and tell them the debate is something different than what it is really about simply to try do put down those raising legitimate questions about Obama's status.

POPA said...

There is this "thing" I can't stand in politics, but it happens all the time now. I can't say I haven't done it myself (though I try not to). I know AI has, too.

Person A takes position A for reason A. Person B also takes position A, BUT for reason B. The opponents of position A select the most ridiculous of supporting reasons, put everybody in the same muffin as if they ALL subscribe to that view, and - voila - now it's a nut muffin!

In response, something understandable happens. The people in the nut muffin who don't hold the outrageous view get upset when their viewpoint is distorted. AI read Tully's implicit characterization of this issue (wacko), and says, (paraphrasing), "What a bunch of crappy journalists - they're trying to make US look stupid."

Well, Tully never mentioned AI, so more than likely, he's talking about the supermajority of conservative and R pundits who suggest Obama is illegit for reason B (birth certificate forgery).

Respectfully, AI, I have followed this "birth eligibility" issue closely on television and on the internet, and only a handful of conservatives/R's are talking about your narrowly-defined legal issue of whether having only ONE American-born parent while being born in America negates your ability to serve as President. Even LOU DOBBS is asking for an ORIGINAL birth certificate! Hell, I couldn't produce an original birth certificate, which is why people are allowed to get copies and those copies are valid as ID for any government purpose. Obama provided his copy. That document has been repeatedly inspected by the media. (Oh, I noticed you forgot to mention's picture of the Barack Obama birth announcement in the Honolulu paper. So, some R's must believe somebody paid for a Hawaii birth announcement back in 1961 though Obama was secretly born in Kenya on the off chance that four decades later little Barry was going to be elected President and his residency was going to be challenged? EVERY aspect of the birth certificate's authenticity that has been challenged has been debunked by people WHO ACTUALLY LOOKED AT IT. And yet, R's nationwide still doubt, and that IS paranoid conspiracy mentality.

I might actually feel bad for you for being thrown into the nut muffin, EXCEPT you aren't innocent.

You may NOW act like all you were interested in was that definition, but early on you ground up the counterfeit birth certificate story mightily.

I have a saying: "Those who churn up the wake don't get to bitch when the water gets murky."

That's you. Welcome to living with what you wrought by helping stir up a bunch conservative/R paranoidos. You've only lately put the definition issue at the forefront. You know why? Because you have the good sense to know when you'll get mocked for holding on to a thoroughly debunked view; the paranoidos don't.

But I also don't feel bad for you because the tone of every post on this issue is that Obama was, is, and always will be illegitimate, even though you ADMIT that YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW IF IT'S TRUE AS A MATTER OF LAW.

In other words, tone down your rhetorical excesses and maybe you'll get your debate. Otherwise, all people will see is somebody who will do or say anything he can to bring down a President he doesn't like.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Well, somehow or another the entire text of my post has disappeared. If I can recover the original text, I will repost it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

If someone has the feed from the original post, send it to me and I'll repost. It has been a long time since one of my posts just disappeared like that.

Unknown said...

This issue is not comparable to the 2nd Amendment issue. That was always and still is an area of disagreement among legitimate scholars. I personally agree with the majority of the Supreme Court that the 2nd Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms that is not restricted to militia. Can you name me one recognized constitutional expert that supports your convoluted view? I used to be a practicing attorney and was on law review and I have never heard such nonsense. You are way out there on this issue.

M Theory said...

Wow....I just refreshed your page and all I see is the title of the post. Weird.

Unknown said...

Until I read the comments, I assumed that you deliberately didn't add any text because the title was sufficient...

Gary R. Welsh said...

I'll rewrite the damn thing from scratch later this evening.

Downtown Indy said...

Matt Tully was in the WIBC chair this afternoon,with guest Brendan O (his last day with the Star).

Interesting - Brendan was pretty blunt about Ballard 'starting strong with the police/fire pension' matter, then came right out to say Ballard has done nothing right whatsoever about the CIB mess. He when on to detail the 'arm twisting' the mayor is doing to get the tax increase through and how none of the councillors are at all onboard. He went on to detail the utter chaos that has become Ballards signature on CIB dealins, flipflopping and total lack of leadership with the legistlature.

I don't know if that's going to be available for web listening at some point.

Brendan pulled no punches (now that he's leaving). Why is the Star's reporting on all this so soft, I wonder?

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

AI: you mention "those raising legitimate questions about Obama's status."

Nope. Neither they nor their 1uestions are "legitimate". Obama's status as a citizen has been verified ad nauseum.

Can you say: red herring?

Your party lost the election, and you can't blame it on Obama's "status". It's due to such idiotic campaigns as this whole birther quest.

There's no constitutional requirement to show a birth certificate to run for political office; methinks there weren't such documents when our nation was founded....

Unknown said...

Wow, this is even worse than the original. First, Scalia never cited the Law of Nations on this issue. Second, these theories have been brought in several frivolous lawsuits and most have already been dismissed. Your argument is not supported at all except by the right wing extremists that are doing nothing but hurting Republicans and the conservative movement. Burton is a nationwide embarrassment. He is ineffective for his district because of his reputation. The common law (which you utilize since the framers of the Constitution did not think it was even necessary to include a definition of natural born citizen)clearly held that a person was a natural born citizen of the country of birth. Common sense interpretation also leads you to the same conclusion. This is just not a serious issue. Proponents of this court should be sanctioned for wasting the court's time.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Zirk, That is your last post on this blog you will make unless you want to reveal your actual identity. I never said Scalia cited that treatise for the natural born issue. The post clearly states that the issue has never been directly decided by the Supreme Court. The fact remains he has cited that treatise on constitutional matters. There has not been a single lawsuit decided on the merits and you know that. You are a lying SOB that is only interested in obfuscating this issue to protec Obama, who has zero respect for the Constitution. This is the same guy who expressed his disapproval of the Supreme Court because it had not engaged in income redistribution. He has a very sad biography. His birth father abandoned him and allowed his step-father to adopt him and make him a citizen of Indonesia. He step-father turned him away eventually and his mother sent him back to live with his white grandparents. He hated his white mother so much that he wrote a book glorifying the man who abandoned her and her infant son to pursue his Harvard education and refused to visit her at her bedside as she lay dying of cancer. It's a pathetic life story, but he has created a big fairytale life as Bill Clinton once said. The news media and an uninformed population fell for the fraud. They are now learning that their country is on the verge of being destroyed, U.S. soveriegnty no doubt is at risk of being washed away in favor of a new world order. The mask is off and now the American people will suffer the retribution he intends to foist upon them.

Downtown Indy said...

Anyone who requires inclusion of '*-er' characterizations (haters, birthers, etc) is immediately and automatically filed in my mental dumpster along with the other trash.

These coined words have established themselves as the Nouvelle Vague of the Obama era. It's no coincidence that the infamous 'N' word is the king of '*-er' words.

It seems to me to be a great idea that Burton is working on. It would eliminate the questions that have surrounded Obama. It's a proactive solution so we don't go through this again. Perhaps the opposers are afraid this might hinder a run for Obama's 2nd term.

There's been a long (and probably will be a neverending) debate thanks to Obama's insistence on thwarting every attempt to independently fact-check him (and I see '' as a real oxymoron).

That's not the signature of a public servant with nothing to hide.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Remember how the liberals obsessed over George W. Bush's national guard records, determined to find a hole in his service to prove he used cocaine? Nobody seemed interested in learning more about Barry's past drug use. When a guy stepped forward claiming he did drugs and had sex with Obama, the whole crowd went ape shit and tried everything possible to suppress his story. Dan Rather even sacrificed his career in search of the "ultimate truth" about W by peddling forged documents of his national guard service.

GlennDL said...

I found it surprising when, during the Clinton administration, Hilary made the remark about a '...vast right wing conspiracy.' against her husband everyone labeled it as paranoia in spite of the fact that millions were spent on raising issues for investigation: Whitewater, Travelgate, Paula Jones, etc., etc. Four years and 40million dollars were spent to prove that a married man would lie about having an affair! Impeachment for perjury was the end result, nothing on the original charges. And here we are again: not a citizen, not a Christian, not a patriot. Non-issues [ps. As an amateur genealogist I can tell you that many Natural Born or otherwise citizens have never had a birth certificate. issued or otherwise.]
While all are not members of the conspiracy, too many buy into the wackiness of the Limbaugh's and 'birthers' and again push us down the path of distraction and disunity, proving that for them it is politics before nation.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Uuhh, Glenn, as I recall, everyone else had to pay the price for the Clinton crimes. The business partners spent time in jail. The former governor/lt. governor did time on home detention. The land appraiser did time. Whitewater was one big fraud from the get go and the only people who escaped responsibility for that fraud were the Clintons. The FBI file thing was no right wing conspiracy. It's funny that despite one Republican after Republican showing up on a list of FBI files requested by the former bar bouncer Hillary hired to work at the White House and rummage through those files, the Democrats thought that was perfectly okay. When someone looked at Barry's passport file, along with Hillary's and McCain's, again, the Democrats went ape shit. Well, who was the one rummaging through those files? Well, it was employees of a State Department contractor, whose CEO just happens to be the man Barry named as his terrorist adviser. While federal investigators were trying to get to the bottom of that breach of security, the D.C. police officer witness wound up being found shot to death in his car outside a church. Hmmm? Will that crime ever be solved. I wonder why Barry's file needed sanitized? Bill Clinton deserved to be impeached. That matter was never about an affair; it was about using the powers of the federal government to thwart a legitimate civil lawsuit brought against him by a former Arkansas employee who he sexually harassed by obstructing justice and commiting perjury. The Clintons insisted all of these women were just making up these stories. As it turns out, they were all true. He lucked out and never got prosecuted for the nursing home administrator he raped and then threatened to yank her license if she didn't keep her mouth shut. All of those scandals were of the Clintons own making. The fact that there are some Americans who believe their elected officials should be held to the same standard as any ordinary American doesn't make them conspiracists.

Covenant60 said...

Burton is the quintessential "bird in the hand". He votes correctly 99% of the time, and is immune to the pressure to "grow" that comes from inside the beltway. I like it that a GOP congressman doesnt give a rats arse what the NY Times or WP thinks.

You can't guarantee that a replacement like Messer will be able to withstand that stuff. Heck, even my congressman, Buyer, voted for the Porkulus bill.

Makes no sense to oppose Burton. You cant count on his voting the right way. Every term. What more do you want, and why risk that?

I don't care if he is bat crazy. We put them in there to vote. That's it.

Covenant60 said...

Correction... you CAN count on him to vote correctly.

Downtown Indy said...

Burton may have some quirks, but I find him on the radio quite often, being interviewed, talking about issues and even taking phone calls from constituents.

That's something I have yet to get from my 'representative' from the 7th.

Burton makes it apparent his stance on issues has been thought through and based on his understanding of issues and constituent input.

On the other hand, my district appears to have its votes dictated solely via phone calls from The Party.

ORealy said...

"Oddly, Tully apparently thinks you should be required to produce more evidence when you go down to the BMV branch to get a driver's license than a person should be required to produce when they run for president of the United States."

A.I. - since you do not dispute the fact that Obama was born in the US exactly what do you pretend would be accomplished by requiring Obama to "produce the document"? Your fantasy / objection seems to center around his father's citizenship - which has never been disputed.