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I don't know why I do it, but sometimes it just seems to happen – I'll be surfing around aimlessly, then suddenly find my browser opened up to, the Internet's skeezy carnival of teabaggery and idiocracy.  It happened again last night, but this time, unlike the usual lurk-through, this reconnaissance actually paid off: I chanced across a revealing Neandercon discussion about the circumstances surrounding the birth of the GOP's newly-anointed Golden Child.

Nobody's denying that Marco Rubio is a citizen under the 14th Amendment, and nobody's saying that his hard-working father, who recently passed on, was worthy of anything less than the elegiac lionization he received.  What the far right has been doing, however, is twisting itself into rhetorical knots trying to explain how the offspring of two parents who don't seem to have ever become US citizens is a different legal entity (for presidential-eligibility purposes) from a child born in the US to a citizen and a non-citizen.

Their hangup seems to be over the phrase "natural-born citizen," which is one of the necessary qualifications for the presidency listed in Article II, Section 1:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President...

Now, I have to confess that although I'm minoring in Teabagger Studies, I'm not such a devotee of their work that I know exactly how their unique vision of the Constitution came to develop.  Luckily, an advanced course in Deep Birtherism isn't necessary in order to spot the pivotal role played by their understanding of the phrase "natural born citizen" in a lot of their work.  Here's part of a comment attached to the Freeper diary that lays out the wingnut dilemma pretty clearly:

The person presently calling himself Barack Hussein Obama II is on public record acknowledging that his father was a citizen of Great Britain at the time of his own birth. Vattel’s Law of Nations used by John Jay and the other authors of the U.S. Constitution defined a natural born citizen as the child of two parents having U.S. citizenship at the time of the child’s birth. Obviously, even he acknowledges that he did not have the requisite two U.S. citizen parents and undivided loyalty to the United States at the time of his birth.

Saturday, November 06, 2010 12:52:21 AM by WhiskeyX

The argument is based upon the idea that the Founders created two classes of citizens, one eligible for the presidency and one not, conditional upon the location of one's birth and what nation's laws had jurisdiction over the parents at the time of birth.  "Natural-born" is viewed pretty strictly: having two parents who were citizens at the time of the child's birth, and sometimes going as far as to require the child being born within the physical borders of the United States.  "Native-born" are children born on US soil, but of parents who are citizens of another country – "anchor babies," in the disgraceful phraseology of the modern Republican.  Since their parents are presumed to have divided loyalties, these "native-born" children ought never be given command of our armed forces, and so must never be allowed to be president.

Depending on how much reductio ad absurdum one wants to apply (and some of the Freepers apply an awful lot), this could have some hilarious repercussions:

  • George Romney, 1968 GOP primary candidate - parents (dad and 3 moms) fled Utah in 1886, after Congress made polygamy illegal, and settled in northern Mexico.  George was born in 1907 in Chihuahua, and while his parents never renounced their citizenship – indeed, they fled back to the 'States during the Mexican Revolution – nothing's ever going to change the fact that the first breath Mitt Romney's father ever drew was of oppression-laden Mexican air.
  • Andrew Jackson - only president born of two immigrant parents, both Irish.  Members of the peoples once known as the 5 Civilized Tribes will be happy to learn that in the teabggerverse, the Trail of Tears presumably never happened, because Jackson's presidency was as illegitimate as his adulterous marriage.
  • Thomas Jefferson - birthbaggers in flyover country will be bummed to learn that the Lousiana Purchase was, in addition to being an outrageous overstretch of executive authority, concluded by a president whose mum was born in England.
  • James Buchanan and Chester Arthur - both had Irish fathers; the status of Arthur's father's citizenship became an issue in the Election of 1880
  • Woodrow Wilson - the man who Glenn Beck claims provides the model for all modern progressives was born of a British mother.
  • Herbert Hoover - probably engineered the Great Depression out of deference to his Canadian mother, the intent being to ruin our country and lay us prostrate before the Brutes of Ottawa, in a manner very similar to the way Barack Obama plans on handing us over to Nairobi.

To the birthbagger, citizenship of the parents is key – anything other than two parents who are US citizens at the time of the child's birth results in a "native-born" citizen-baby who can't grow up to be the President.  This is because a citizen of another country, even one residing in the US, is "subject to the jurisdiction" of another country, the one of which he or she is a citizen.  Being "subject to the jurisdiction" of another country means that a person's loyalty could be coerced into favoring the native land over the United States.  It's convoluted, and flies in the face of the concept of jus soli enshrined in the 14th Amendment, but here's a comment which synopsizes this argument:

The 14th Amendment states, "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."

The Immigration and Nationality Act, Title III, Section 301 (8 U.S.C. 1401), also states, "The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;"

So twice we have seen it stated that birth within the United States alone does not meet the requirement for citizenship, but, one must be "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. The only way that can be determined is by the citizenship held by a child’s parents.

119 posted on Saturday, November 06, 2010 6:51:44 PM by chatter4

Why all the verbal gymnastics?  Because this is how they plan to justify whatever solution they come up with for the "anchor baby" problem.  If citizen-babies can be shown to be ineligible for the presidency, and if only citizens can be elected president, then it would follow (under what passes for teabag logic) that the ineligible babies couldn't have been citizens in the first place.  Voila – no more non-citizen parents gorging themselves at the generous trough of American social welfare programs – but even that would be just icing on the cake of the real reason why we shouldn't be allowing ourselves to be led by anyone whose American roots don't go back at least two generations:

...Why do so many people have a problem understanding and accepting the fundamental idea of natural born U.S. citizens wishing themselves to be governed and led by one of their own natural born Citizens versus a person who may be born and raised with divided loyalties and/or divided sympathies for non U.S. citizens and cultures?
Isn’t it enough that immigrants and the children of immigrants are eligible to serve as the governor of a state while remaining ineligible for the office of President of the United States of America? Is it really too much to ask when trying to safeguard the freedoms and liberties of all U.S. Citizens?

80 posted on Saturday, November 06, 2010 9:04:56 AM by WhiskeyX

Seriously, man – why can't them im'grints just know their place? – u.m.

The Rubio/Jindal Paradox

This talk of non-citizen parents is all well and good, as long as it's Barack Obama whose loyalties are being placed under suspicion – as usual, things work a bit differently if you're a Republican.  Marco Rubio, for example, was born in Florida in 1971, and thus clearly a citizen under the 14th Amendment, but to parents whose citizenship status is a little unclear.  This video, in which Rubio cuts a couple of takes of an interview about his parents (to ensure that the earnestness is getting through), rather noticeably does not include the almost-standard line about how "the proudest day of my father's life was when he, voting as an American citizen for the first time, cast a ballot for his own son."

Rubio, who as a teabagger is likely quite familiar with the minutia of birtherism, seems to avoid discussing the subject of his parents' citizenship, preferring to focus on their hard work and accomplishment of the American Dream.  Fair enough, I suppose: candidate Obama naturally wanted to focus on the obstacles his single mother had overcome rather than on the Kenyan blood coursing through his veins, but it does make one wonder.  (researcher's note: I'm not a Floridian, nor did I follow closely the stories coming out of Florida during the election – could well be that Rubio has clarified the immigration status of his parents at the time of his birth, and has already made available for public inspection every scrap of paper and raised seal related to the process of their becoming citizens.  If so, I'll happily delete the passages which question his generational loyalty to his parents' adoptive country)

Cubans who emigrated after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 have been granted special status by the United States, but they weren't automatically made citizens.  Most are Permanent Residents by virtue of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966; as such, they are not considered citizens and not permitted to vote in elections, but were able to apply for some anti-Commie bennies:

From 1959 to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, more than 200,000 arrived. Flights were suspended after the missile crisis, although some escaped by boat to Florida. In early 1965 Castro indicated that he was interested in renewing the exodus, and when President Johnson signed the new immigration act at the foot of the Statue of Liberty in October, he said that the United States was willing to accept all who desired to leave Castro's communist state. American policymakers believed that accepting refugees would demonstrate the failure of communism in Cuba and also be a humanitarian gesture. Once again the president paroled them. In 1966, Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act that assumed that any Cuban to reach American soil was a refugee from communism and was welcome in the United States. Several hundred thousand Cubans took advantage of the new law, but the flow slowed to a trickle in the early 1970s. In addition, the federal government provided aid for these newcomers, which marked the first time after World War II that the government gave monetary assistance for refugee resettlement.

Since he hasn't answered the question, we have to apply the Obama Standard and assume that Rubio is making a tacit admission of non-eligibility.  Sure, he's a citizen, but since by the Birther Code he isn't the right kind of citizen, he's no more entitled to sit in the Oval Office than Barack Obama.

Things get even worse for the teabaggers when they start looking into Bobby Jindal's ancestry.  Turns out his mother was pregnant with him when she arrived in this country, which means that not only was Bobby's mom still a citizen of India when she welcomed him to the air-breathing world, but that Bobby himself was conceived in that far-off, super-foreign land.  Again, he's a citizen, but of the hybrid variety that hasn't yet proven its generational loyalty to the United States of 'Murica.

Thankfully, the site of conception has not yet become an issue for teabagger assertions of non-citizenship, but it's not outside the realm of possibility – Colorado citizens this year were obligated to vote on a measure that would have defined human life a fertilized egg as a "person," and thus life beginning at the moment of conception.  The measure was soundly defeated, but had it passed, what was originally intended as an anti-abortion measure could, in the hands of a future, smarter Orly Taitz, be fodder for some interesting arguments about citizenship, faith, and the real extent of jus soli.

In fairness, there are those – even on the extreme right – who are fighting the good fight and trying to keep their fellows from plunging into the Abyss of Utter Stupidity.  Hear the plaintive cry of this sensible voice in a wilderness of dumb:

The words about being born here are clear. The "subject to the jurisdiction" means to exclude such foreigners who are here on a diplomatic mission, who have diplomatic immunity. They are not subject to the jurisdiction of the States. If Rubio’s and Jindal’s parents were not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the states in which they were residing, then guess what? All the illegal and legal immigrants in prison for commiting violations of state statutes, such as murder, should be released immediately because a State has no juridiction over them according to this logic.
This brings up the last point. Statutes are construed to avoid absurd results and to be harmonious. There is nothing in the text of the 14th to indicate that the drafters intended to create two diffenent types of citizenships for people who are born here, i.e. ‘naturally born here’ and simply ‘born here’ citizens.
I realize this is going to fall upon deaf ears, but just as people who don’t understand how the body works aren’t able to give a valid opinion on how to perform surgery, people who don’t understand how the law works aren’t able ...

82 posted on Saturday, November 06, 2010 9:35:07 AM by Lou Budvis (Refudiate 0bama '12)

Best of luck to you, Lou.



Immigration is one of those issues over which Republicans are willing to eat their young – the above image was clipped from Michelle Malkin's website in 2006, when she was leading a charge against any shred of amnesty appearing in Bush's immigration policy.  While I'm not generally a big proponent of cannibalism, this is one of those times when the wingnuts ought to be encouraged to pony up to the buffet that our interconnected, global world has provided.  If Barack Obama isn't qualified to be our president, then neither is Bobby Jindal.  Marco Rubio has a better case, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a "native-born" citizen and not a "natural-born" one, so under the strictest of birther definitions, that means he doesn't qualify, either.

For the record, I'm not opposed to either Bobby Jindal or Marco Rubio running for the office of President – if all other things were equal, we would beat them on the field of ideas every time – but I relish the opportunity to ask my teabagging acquaintances to explain why the rigid demands of American presidential purity should be relaxed in the case of a Cuban and an Indian, but not a Kenyan/Brit.  If the initial indications are correct, they'll get a little snippy – this comment was posted in response to the story's use of the name "Mark" instead of "Marco":

People that try to Anglo Marco's name are trying to make him something he is not. Part of the treasure that is Marco Rubio is his heritage, just like my Irish ancestors are so much a part of me.

97 posted on Saturday, November 06, 2010 11:58:43 AM by samantha (The New Media fighting the DBM for our Sanity, Survival ,Soldiers.)

Wonder if she posts the same little reminder whenever a Freeper calls our President "Barry."

Eventually, the complexity of it all will drive them to complete non-sequitor:

Libs just are mean to pretty conservatives because the huge majority of their women are hideous.

58 posted on Saturday, November 06, 2010 5:14:42 AM by No Socialist

It's unclear whether this commenter was suggesting that liberal men are being mean to Rubio because he's an attractive guy, or if it was just meant as a generic swipe against liberal women.  Either way, this is the type of gibberish they can be reduced to after just a few moments' worth of contemplating the consequences of their own words.

The birthbaggers have painted themselves into a corner with their narrow interpretation of citizenship, and imho, we ought not lift a finger to help them out of it.  I'm not suggesting we start some kind of Liberal Birther movement – just that we remember to ask the question every now and again: why is it only okay if you're a Republican?

Originally posted to Unitary Moonbat on Sun Nov 07, 2010 at 06:03 PM PST.

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