December 2008

A Peruvian woman gave birth to a boy on Christmas Day, not anything unusual about that, as there are approximately 200,000 babies born in the world daily.

But this baby is somewhat unique.

LIMA (Reuters) – Virgin Mary, a 20-year-old Peruvian woman, gave birth to a baby boy on Christmas day and named him Jesus, Peru’s state news agency said on Friday.

The baby’s father, Adolfo Jorge Huamani, 24, is a carpenter. Religious Peruvians compared him to Joseph the Carpenter in the Bible.

“Two thousand years later the story of Bethlehem is relived,” read the headline about the birth in El Comercio, the main newspaper in Peru, a predominantly Catholic country.

The mother, Virgen Maria Huarcaya, delivered the 7.7 pound (3.5 kg) boy, Jesus Emanuel, in the early hours of Christmas at the central maternity hospital in Lima, the capital.

“A few days ago we had decided to name my son after a professional soccer player,” the father said. “But thanks to a happy coincidence this is how things ended up.”

Mr. Huamani could have it both ways. HIs son could be Jesus the Soccer Star.

Meanwhile, I am going to Mass this weekend.

You just never know.

The Obama administration-elect, is talking up the possibility of cozying up to the Cuban government, and dropping sanctions:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Five decades after Fidel Castro toppled a U.S.-backed dictator to take power in Cuba, the Cold War rivalry with Washington could be thawing as President-elect Barack Obama looks to ease sanctions against the communist-run island.

Obama has made clear he favors relaxing restrictions on family travel and cash remittances by Cuban Americans to Cuba, which this week marks the 50th anniversary of Castro’s revolution.

Obama could also reverse other steps taken by outgoing President George W. Bush to tighten sanctions on Cuba, such as the prepayment of food imports from the United States, and he is expected to restore migration talks broken off by Bush.

If prepayment of food stops being a requirement, that means that goods will be sold to Cuba on credit.

The administration-elect is not the only one pushing for this easement of sanctions…

In a letter to Obama this month, a coalition of business, agriculture and trade groups called USA*Engage said it was time for a new Cuba policy and proposed lifting all sanctions and allowing American tourists to travel to Cuba.

The coalition –which includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Retail Federation — called for an immediate exemption for the sale of farm machinery and heavy equipment to Cuba.

“We support the complete removal of all trade and travel restrictions on Cuba,” it said. “The United States could engage in bilateral discussions with the Cuban government.”

It further proposed that Obama license direct banking services with Cuba, a major obstacle of the embargo that pushes up the cost of doing business with Cuba.

What’s the hullabaloo about anyway?

Is there really an American economic “blockade” of Cuba?

What is it that these Federations, Associations, and business coalitions want anyway?

Why are they so eager to sell their goods and services to a bankrupt nation?

Dunn and Bradstreet rate Cuba as one of the riskiest economies in the world: only Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Iraq are worse.

There are widespread reports of payment problems with Japan, Spain, France, Britain, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela and others. Citing chronic delinquencies and mounting short-term debts, Moody’s lowered Cuba’s credit rating to Caa1 – “speculative grade, very poor” – in late 2002. For example, Cuba defaulted in October 2002 on a $750 million refinancing agreement with Japan’s private sector after having signed a debt restructuring accord with Tokyo in 1998. Japan, Cuba’s single-largest creditor, had expected to see the first payments in 2003 on part of the $1.7 billion owed to Japan by the Castro regime.

– Cuba suspended all payments in October 2002 on $380 million owed to Bancomext, the Mexican Government’s export financing bank.

– Cuba’s petroleum debt with Venezuela’s State Oil Company, PDVSA, rose to $266 million by May 2003. The Castro regime has fallen behind on payments to PDVSA repeatedly since Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez signed a trade agreement in October 2002. PDVSA supplies approximately 35% of the island’s oil under generous financing terms that amount to a 25% price subsidy over 5 years.

– In 2002, Cuba fell into arrears on $100 million in short-term credit lines from Panamanian banks and trading companies based in the isthmus’s Colon Free Zone.

– In May 2003, Madrid acknowledged in response to a Spanish parliament inquiry that Cuba is Spain’s top foreign debtor government, presently in default on an estimated $816 million.

– France’s export financing agency, COFACE, suspended Cuba’s $175 million credit line after Havana fell more than a year behind on annual loans for the purchase of French agricultural products and capital goods in 2001.

– The Italian Government withdrew a proposed $40 million aid package in early July 2003 in response to Castro’s crackdown on internal dissent. The Cuban Government had already accumulated a short-term debt of $73 million with Italy.

(All amounts are converted to U.S. dollars.)

EUROPE: $10.9 billion. Paris Club creditors (Source: Banco Central de Cuba.) In 1986, Cuba suspended payments of the debt. Despite on-going negotiations, Cuba has yet to service its debt to the Club since issuing a moratorium in 1987.

Eastern Europe: $2.2 billion.

Russia: Estimated at roughly $20 billion.

Canada: $73 million (Excludes short and medium-term commercial debts to Canadian suppliers.)

Japan: $1.7 billion (Japan is Cuba’s principal creditor, excluding the former Soviet Union.)

China: $400 million.

Argentina: $1.58 billion. (Cuba’s second largest creditor behind Japan.)

Mexico: $380 million.

Chile: $20 million.

Venezuela: $266 million. (Mostly in unpaid petroleum purchases, even under highly favorable terms.)

South Africa: $85 million

A few things can be determined from the information above, the most immediately visible one being that Cuba hasn’t stuck the US with one single dollar worth of bad debt in the fifty years that the supposed “blockade” has been in place. The second noticeable fact being that there is no “blockade” in the true sense of the word, but rather a refusal by the US to do extend credit to the Cuban government.

In that sense, the “blockade” has been a resounding success.

Yet the question of why so many US businesses are lobbying in favor of changing this enormously successful policy, so that they can risk not getting paid for their sales to the Cuban government remains unanswered.

Enter the U.S. Export-Import Bank:

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is the official export credit agency of the United States federal government. It was established in 1934 by an executive order, and made an independent agency in the Executive branch by Congress in 1945, for the purposes of financing and insuring foreign purchases of United States goods for customers unable or unwilling to accept credit risk. The mission of the Bank is to create and sustain U.S. jobs by financing sales of U.S. exports to international buyers. The Bank is chartered as a government corporation by the Congress of the United States; it was last chartered for a five year term in 2006.[1] Its Charter spells out the Bank’s authorities and limitations. Among them is the principle that Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private sector lenders, but rather provides financing for transactions that would otherwise not take place because commercial lenders are either unable or unwilling to accept the political or commercial risks inherent in the deal.

To further clarify the role of the Ex-Im Bank, please examine the text below:

Export Credit Insurance from Export-Import Bank of the United States provides insurance policies to U.S. companies and banks to mitigate risks of non-collection from foreign buyers and borrowers. Risks covered include default due to commercial reasons, such as buyer insolvency and cash-flow problems, as well as political risks such as war, civil unrest and currency flow restrictions.

Export Credit Insurance policies can be issued to companies directly exporting, or to banks lending to foreign buyers.

So, in lifting the trade sanctions, US companies get to move their products into Cuba, a known non-payer of her foreign debt, and collect payment from the US taxpayers via the Ex-Im Bank’s Export Credit Insurance program!

In lifting trade sanctions against Cuba, the Administration-elect expands their “spread the wealth” policy to an international level, by giving Cuba access to a credit line guaranteed by the American taxpayer.

The water just got a little warmer folks.

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge—and more.

In perhaps, one of the most inspiring inaugural speeches of the 20th Century, second only to everything that Ronald Reagan ever said, John F. Kennedy challenged the people of the nation to put selfishness aside, and ask themselves what they could do for the country. Today, nearly five decades later, JFK’s last surviving child, inspired by President-elect Obama’s election, is looking to take up politics, and is asking the State of New York to do something for her…fifty-one years of living in the shadow of the whole “ask not what your country can do for you” thing, and little Miss Camelot didn’t get it.

Ms. Kennedy (B.A. from Harvard/Radcliffe, and a J.D. from Columbia Law) was recently interviewed by The Daily News on the subject of her filling the seat left empty by Sen. Clinton in New York, and from reading the interview, one gets the distinct notion that oratorical skills are not genetically transferred from one generation to the next..

Here are her remarks:

I’m really coming into this as somebody who isn’t, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party

I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor.

I’m not as shy as everybody makes me out to be.

Andrew is, you know, highly qualified for this job.

He’s doing a, you know, a great job as attorney general, and we’ve spoken throughout this process.

You know, I think, you know, we’re sort of, uh, sharing some of this experience. And um, as I’ve said, he was a friend, a family member, and um so, and uh obviously, he’s, you know, he’s also had an impressive career in public office.

It’s really, you know, it’s not about just the Kennedy name. It’s about my own work and what I’ve done with those values.I’m starving.

That’s 165 words, peppered with 11 “you knows”, and two “ums”.

Let’s see how that plays with Dad’s earlier speech:

Let the word, you know, go forth from this time and, um, place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been, you know, passed to a new generation of, um, Americans—born in this century, tempered by, you know, war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our, um, ancient heritage—and unwilling to, you know, witness or permit the slow undoing of, you know, those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we, um, are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every, um, nation know, whether it wishes us well or, you know, ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any, you know, hardship, support any friend, oppose any, um, foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of, you know, liberty.

This much we pledge—whatever.

Ok, that wasn’t fair, Caroline hasn’t used “whatever”…yet.

“Esta noche es Noche Buena,
vamos al monte hermanito.
A buscar un arbolito
porque la noche es serena.”

That’s the first Christmas song I ever learned. My mother sung me to sleep with it longer ago than either one of us care to admit.

“Tonight is Christmas Eve,
let’s go to the woods little brother.
To find a little tree
because the night is serene.”

There is an unbroken thread running through my life, stretched out in a thin line running back to the very beginning of my consciousness that reminds me of who I am and what I believe in. It anchors my future by reminding me of the past with the strength of family and tradition.

I have two brothers, one born there as I was, and one born here. They fell asleep to that song as well. I have been thinking about that a lot lately.

In the country where I was born, La Noche Buena is the most significant of our cultural traditions. It is a night for family and a celebration to life; a night when we immerse ourselves in the waters of tradition in a baptism of love and togetherness. And the memories of a land existing only in the hearts of those who left come alive and keep that tradition from fading even today.

Memories of a house on the side of a hill with old, wooden walls, with Grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins and nieces and nephews…………all gathered together under one roof, creating the expected chaos a gathering of that proportion brings about. There were a lot of us then, as I seem to recall, in those Noche Buenas of my boyhood days.

The women preparing the side dishes, the aroma of black beans and rice and garlic filled the air in the house, mingling with the laughter and the happy confusion of several loud conversations being carried simultaneously. There was yucca with tangy “mojo criollo”, fried plantains and sweet, ripe avocados sprinkled with olive oil. Most of all there was love.

We kids seemed to do nothing but get underfoot as we flew through the old house, engaged in a million make-believe games consisting mostly of running around making lots and lots of noise. Most of our games interrupted by a collective shout of “you kids go outside and play!” coming from the general area of the kitchen. We fled to the backyard and the men of the family.

They sat around an open pit where the traditional main course, a well-dressed and better seasoned young hog, sizzled over carefully watched glowing-red embers. The smell of the roasting meat hung in the air and was joined there by the aroma of fine cigars, hand-rolled from good Pinar Del Rio leaves. Loud, good-natured discussions of every theme imaginable carried the conversation, speckled with laughter and old jokes.

Christmas 1967 was the last one celebrated on the Island by my immediate family, there where few of us left there by then. There was no pig roasting over an open pit, no grandparents, few uncles and aunts, fewer kids. Hushed concern permeated our traditionally boisterous celebration as the end was in sight and our departure imminent. It was the last time I would spend Noche Buena in the old house on the side of a hill. The last time I would run my hands over the old wooden walls, the last time I would fly recklessly between the old orange trees in the backyard into my grandfather’s arms. It was to be our farewell to the country which gave us our identity, our good-bye to roots older than the oldest among us.

This year we will gather once again, as we always have, in our celebration of life and love. We will rejoice in the gifts showered on us by the Creator. We will renew the strength of the family and pay homage to all the members departed both here and there.

There will be much activity in my parent’s kitchen as old, familiar smells and sounds will fill the house at the end of the cul de sac in Miami. There will be children, my children, playing games older than time itself with friends and cousins, being told to “run outside and play” from somewhere within that kitchen, a kitchen filled with grandmothers and aunts and mothers happily preparing the traditional fares. They will fly recklessly, happy and carefree, between citrus trees and jump into the open arms of grandfathers and fathers sitting beside an open pit, watching over the main course while smoking good cigars rolled from fine American leaves. There will be love and continuity.

And while we will miss those who have gone on before us, their presence will be felt in our hearts and their voices heard in the sound palm fronds make when the wind runs through them.

On this Noche Buena, this special night, we will once again give thanks to the land that gave us shelter from the storm of oppression and to the good Lord that saw us safely here. We will rejoice in the dreams of freedom that drove us to these shores and pay tribute to the American dream and to the people who welcomed us with open arms.

In hour darkest hour, on that Noche Buena in 1967, we looked to America to find hope. And like so many before us we found a wondrous, magnificent, generous Nation and peoples. We forged a home on fruitful soil and have grown strong; we preserve our traditions with great care and add them to the American Tapestry like so many before us. And we stand willing and able to fight for this, our home, for the Constitution and the everlasting ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers.

We have indeed been blessed and we have much to be thankful for.

Last night, my youngest son was too excited to fall asleep, looking forward to the events being planned for the Christmas Eve celebration, and opening the gifts under the tree. I lay with him and told him stories from my childhood. I placed my hand on his head and softly sang him to sleep with an old familiar carol.

“Esta noche es Noche Buena,
vamos al monte hermanito.
A buscar un arbolito
porque la noche es serena.”

Jerry Jones is the reason for the Dallas Cowboys not having won a playoff game since 1996.

There…I’ve said it.

Sure, Wade Phillips is a mediocre Coach at best, and Jason Garret seems a bit overrated, and to quote ESPN “his stock is in a free fall”; Romo threw 45 times in the loss against the Ravens, and America’s Team (on paper anyway) gained 92 yards on the ground in the team’s last game in Texas Stadium. With legendary Cowboys like Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, and Bob Lilly in attendance, Saturday’s performance went way beyond embarrassing.

It’s Jones that’s been the constant in Dallas however, not Phillips, lover boy, or Tantrum Owens. It’s Jones that was calling the shots in 1996 (the last time the Cowboys won a post-season game), and Jones that’s there today, still calling the shots of what’s shaping up to be the twelfth year that the blue and silver will not make it into the playoffs.

Dallas was picked to win this year’s Superbowl before the team took their first snap of the season, everyone agreeing that the depth of talent in the team would cruise through the season, and right into Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. But Romo appears to be far better at penetrating leggy blond bombshells than tight coverage. T.O. is a loud mouth narcissist who has caused trouble in every team that he’s ever played for, and while possibly possessing the biggest heart in the Cowboys’ offense, Marion Barber is less player than his contract would have you believe.

These lone-star-wearing underachievers lack discipline, heart, passion, and team cohesiveness, all clear indicators of two massive problems within the Cowboys organization: poor coaching, and bad management that consistently hires bad coaches, or worse, hires GOOD coaches and then takes from them the ability to run the team effectively.

All these things can be fixed with the proper leadership, and that leadership MUST come from the top. But can they be fixed by next week, when the Cowboys travel to Philly and face an Eagles team fighting for their own playoff berth?

Jerry Jones is in a tough spot…his team needs to win championships in order to fill the seats of his new, $1.1 billion pro football Cathedral opening next year. Judging from the playoff drought of the past eleven years under the Cowboys’ current management, change in management is needed to bring the franchise back to its former glory, and Jerry Jones, the owner, needs to fire Jerry Jones, the General Manager, and that’s the 500-lb gorilla in the Cowboys board room.

Well Jerry, this long-time Cowboys fan wants you to fire yourself and find a real GM and a real coach for America’s Team, and until you do, I will not spend one tin dime on anything Cowboy related.

No t-shirts, no hats, not NFL Ticket from my cable provider, no Cowboys coffee mugs, boxer shorts, sleeping wear, antenna toppers, bumper stickers, bobbleheads, flags, team logo sneakers, Cowboys toothbrushes…nothing. I won’t even spend the gas to travel to a sports bar to watch games not broadcast by my local TV stations.

The ball’s on your court Jones.

Raul Castro wants to trade prisoners with the US. He made the offer while visiting Brazil:

Answering a reporter’s question about political prisoners in Cuba, Castro said he would consider releasing some as a gesture to opening talks with the new administration.

But he said the U.S. government would need to reciprocate.

“Let’s make a gesture for a gesture,” said Castro, who took over in February from his ailing brother, Fidel. “We will send those prisoners you talk about (to the United States) with their families. But give us back our five heroes.”

The Cuban president referred to the so-called “Cuban Five,” who were convicted in 2001 in Miami on espionage charges and are lionized by the Havana government as heroes.

Bush needs to make this deal before he leaves office.

He can pull this off at the eleventh hour, and have the news covering the release of people like Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and founder of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet by the week before the Inauguration.

The mental image of a newly-sworn in President Obama meeting Biscet (and any number of additional dissidents included in the deal) on the tarmac at Andrews, has “Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Barack Obama” written all over it.

Bush gives up five worthless scumbags, and we get a free Oscar Biscet standing next to W at the press conference welcoming the Human Rights prize winner to America days before the Obamassiah’s ascension?

That’s not a fair exchange.

The GOP needs to own this story.

I just ran across this headline flashing across the ABC News website:

UN Gives OK to Land, Air Attacks on Somali Pirates

Now, I’m no Sun Tzu, but shouldn’t we be attacking pirates on the high seas, not land?

What’s next?

Naval maneuvers to flush the last remaining insurgents from Baghdad?

Jamie Holt over at Best Internet News and Politics weighs in on the decision by Justice Thomas to seek a conference vote on Donofrio v. Wells, and in what has become the norm from the Party of Tolerance and Open-Mindedness®, she brands him an Uncle Tom for doing so.

All Barack Obama had to do was challenge Justice Clarence Thomas in public once, just once, and you had to know he would get a legal challenge out of it.

“I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time, for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the constitution.”

As you can probably imagine, that really infuriated Uncle T(h)om(as) who has spent his entire life ingratiating himself to the powers that be to get to his Supreme Court decision.

I wonder if Ms. Holt has actually ever read the book, or knows a thing about the man who inspired it?

“Uncle Tom”, in one of the fifteen definitions for the term found listed at Urban Dictionary, is described as an “African American male who kisses the white mans ass”, and in another as “…a term used by black people to try to convince other black people that working, education, living well, and setting a good example for their children is selling out.”

So then, who (and what) was ‘Uncle Tom”?

The obvious is that Uncle Tom is the principal character in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly”, a realistic depiction of the “cruel reality” of the South’s “peculiar institution.” Penned by ardent abolitionist and preacher Harriet Beecher Stowe, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” not only became the best selling novel in the world during the 19th Century, but the second best selling book of that same period of time behind The Bible.

The novel is credited with fanning abolitionist fires, and intensifying the conflict leading to the Civil War. On meeting Stowe at the onset of hostilities, President Lincoln is quoted as saying, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.”

In the story, Tom is a man of deep-seated Christian beliefs and steadfast convictions, whose determination and willingness to stand up for his beliefs earns him the begrudging admiration of his enemies. He shares his faith with his masters, and as a result they undergo changes in their attitudes toward slavery. Tom is beaten to death by Simon Legrees’ overseers, for refusing to disclose information about an escaped slave, and in his final act of Christian love, he forgives them. The overseers are so moved by the character of the man they have just killed, that they become Christians themselves.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Tom as a noble hero, a Christian of unwavering faith, not as the weak fool who bows down to whites. That stereotype was propagated by “Tom Shows”, unauthorized stagings of the play that bore little resemblance to the novel. The plays (many of them little more than minstrel shows) were extremely popular during the latter half of the Century, and more Americans of the time became familiar with the story via these unauthorized stage adaptations, than by reading the novel.

Stowe partially based the Tom character on Josiah Henson, an escaped slave who “founded a settlement and laborer’s school for other fugitive slaves” in Canada, whose autobiography was published in 1841, eleven years before the publication of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Ms. Holt does a great disservice to this novel, to the writer, and to the man who inspired it by using the term to denigrate a black man who will not march in step in the rest of the race. Yes…Clarence Thomas is a Conservative, but isn’t it the idea here that individuals are free to form their beliefs, and advance them within our system?

Perhaps it’s time to rethink what constitutes an “Uncle Tom” in our day and age.

The first 16 Black Americans who came to Capitol Hill after the Civil War (two of them Senators) were Republicans…the party of Lincoln. Two decades later, with Democrats back in control of the Southern State legislatures, laws were passed restricting the rights of black Americans to vote, in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment. By the 1960’s, after the passing of the Voting Rights Act, the majority of Black Americans are registered (and vote for) Democrats.

After 43 years of loyalty to the Democratic Party, black Americans continue to have the highest rate of unemployment, the highest arrest rate, and the lowest pay rates. An overwhelming number of black Americans live in the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates, attend the worst schools, and have the lowest median income per household.

Why is this?

Is it those evil Republicans and their house Negroes working against the little people and the poor?

As video blogger Macho Sauce reminds us, the notion that Democrats are for the poor, and Republicans are for the rich, is one of the tools used to fool the American people.

He explains how this works:

If Republicans are for the rich, then they need the rich to keep their power, and if they need the rich to keep their power, then they need to keep the rich RICH in order to stay in power. If that’s the case, and Democrats are for the poor as they claim to be, then that must mean that they need the poor to keep their power, and if they need the poor to keep their power, then they need to keep the poor POOR to stay in power. So far, it appears to be working.

Jamie Holt calls Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom” from within the antebellum confines of the Democrat plantation, where the vast majority of American blacks have been toiling in thankless devotion for nearly half a century. Time will tell Ms. Holt, but if the past is the precursor to the future, we may come to find out that Barack Obama is not the savior you expect, and like in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, “Uncle T(h)om(as)” will achieve more via his faith and unwavering Conservative beliefs, than the Obamessiah ever will.

There is a temptation to call people like Ms. Holt “Uncle Toms”, considering black America’s standing as long-suffering house slaves to their Democratic overseers, but in light of what we know about Mrs. Stowe’s immortal character, the comparison would be an undeserved compliment, and an insult to a fictional character possessed of more substance and moral strength than our current President-elect.

In my previous commentary on the subject of Barack Obama’s Constitutional eligibility to hold the Office of President of The United States, I touched briefly on the subject of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and whether or not it impacts the question of the President-elect meeting the “natural born citizen” standard. To expand on this notion that the XIV Amendment defines the requirement found in Article II, Section 1 of The Constitution, let’s examine the pertinent text:

“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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

So then, all persons born or naturalized are citizens, and no State shall enact laws that abridges their privileges.

The defense of Barack Obama’s eligibility is centered on his being born on US soil (Hawaii), and that neither his dual citizenship, nor his father being a British subject, owing allegiance to the Crown, alter the fact that he meets the Constitutional requirement of “natural born citizen.” Thus the argument that a Birth Certificate showing him being born in Hawaii, settles the issue.

In order for this argument to work, one must then assume that the term “natural born citizen” found in the Constitution, has the exact same meaning as the term “persons born” found in the Amendment.

Let’s work that notion out.

The Fourteenth Amendment clearly states that “persons born” and “naturalized” and subject to the jurisdiction of the nation, are both “citizens of The United States”, so the Amendment creates an equality in the definition of citizen between those who are citizens by accident of birth, and those who become citizens by act of legislature, so long as they are “subject to the the jurisdiction” of the United States.

The Amendment goes on to forbid the States from enacting any laws abridging the “privileges” of citizens of The United States, that we now understand to mean both citizens by birth (persons born), and naturalized citizens. Keeping that definition in mind, and with the understanding that under our system of government, the individual States are Constitutionally charged with conducting elections, and electing the President via the Electoral College, then it stands to reason that it is unconstitutional for the States to not allow a naturalized citizen to run, be elected, and occupy the Office of President of The United States.

This is obviously wrong. It is an unquestionable fact that naturalized citizens are not Constitutionally qualified to hold the Office of President, or Vice-President. Yet, Amendment XIV tells us that “persons born” and persons “naturalized” enjoy equal standing as citizens, whose “privileges and immunities” can not be abridged by the States. This inconsistency forces our attention to be turned to that third “type” of citizen mentioned in the Constitution, the “natural born” citizen. This citizen is unique, enjoying a privilege beyond those equally and Constitutionally protected for “persons born” and “naturalized”…the privilege of serving as Head of the Executive Branch, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

What sets this citizen apart from the rest?

Is the answer to be found under that yet-to-be-discussed qualification of “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”?

The Oath of Citizenship, sworn by naturalized citizens during the Naturalization process, settles the question of jurisdiction to a higher degree than even for “persons born”, as the “naturalized” citizen is required to ”… absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen…”, but a “person born” may in fact posses dual citizenship, and as a result, dual allegiance.

Is the concept of “allegiance” then what differentiates this “natural born” citizen, from the “person born” and the “naturalized” one?

The answer may be found rooted in international law, Common Law, and the commentaries surrounding the ratification of the XIV Amendment.

Emerich de Vatel’s “The Law of Nations”, the 18th century treatise recognized as the foundation of modern international law, states the following on Chapter XIX, paragraph 212:

“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.”

In “Commentaries on the Laws of England”, the seminal work on the Common Law that constitutes the basis of our own Constitution, Sir William Blackstone comments on the subject of allegiance:

”Allegiance, both express and implied, is however distinguished by the law into two sorts or species, the one natural, the other local; the former being also perpetual, the latter temporary. Natural allegiance is such as is due from all men born within the king’s dominions immediately upon their birth.” ~~~ “Local allegiance is such as is due from an alien, or stranger born, for so long time as he continues within the king’s dominion and protection: and it ceases, the instant such stranger transfers himself from this kingdom to another.”

Sir William continues:

”… all children, born out of the king’s ligeance, whose fathers were natural-born subjects, are now natural-born subjects themselves, to all intents and purposes, without any exception.’

This idea is perpetuated in current British Law: 

”British Nationality Act of 1948, Part II, Section 5 (1) — Subject to the provisions of this section, 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.”

How do we apply these concepts to the question of whether or not Barack Obama meets the Constitutional standard of “natural born citizen” found under Article II, Section 1 of our Constitution?

Let’s examine two more pieces of the puzzle.

While relatively sparse debate is on record surrounding the introduction and ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, what records we have give us clues as to both the meaning of “jurisdiction” with the context of the Amendment, and the historical traits which separates the “natural born” citizen, from the “person born” citizen.

When pressed about whether Indians living on reservations would be covered by the clause since they were “most clearly subject to our jurisdiction, both civil and military,” Senator Lyman Trumbull, a key figure in the drafting and adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, responded that “‘subject to the jurisdiction'” of the United States meant subject to its ‘complete’jurisdiction, “[n]ot owing allegiance to anybody else.”

Senator Jacob Howard, who introduced the language of the jurisdiction clause on the floor of the Senate, contended that it should be construed to mean “a full and complete jurisdiction . . . the same jurisdiction in extent and quality as applies to every citizen of the United States now” (i.e., under the 1866 Act).59 That meant that the children of Indians who still “belong[ed] to a tribe” and hence owed allegiance to another sovereign (however dependent the sovereign was) would not qualify for citizenship under the Clause.”

Sen. John Bingham, the man generalized recognized as being the father of the Amendment, had this to say on the subject of the jurisdiction clause: ”Every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen.”

These quotes from the men authoring the Amendment, give a much clearer picture of that quality separating a “person born” from a “natural born” citizen…natural born citizens owe no allegiance to any other country at the time of their birth, nor are they the children of a parent owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty. A natural born citizen is the child of American citizens, born owing allegiance to the United States and no other nation.

In addition, from the words of the auhors of the XIV Amendment themselves, we are able to determine that it does not change the Constitutional requirement to hold office found in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

Barack Obama Sr. was a citizen of Kenya, and as such a British subject, under the temporary jurisdiction of the United States, who transferred his British citizenship to President-elect Barack Obama at birth.

Under the Law of Nations, English Law, and American Constitutional Law, Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States, and as a result, does not meet the Constitutional requirements to hold the office he’s been elected to.

“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.”

Two aspects of this “natural born” debate surrounding the President-elect bother me.

The lack of assurances from Federal and State government election officials that they have done their due diligence on the subject, and the President-elect’s continued refusal to release any and all documentation needed to establish his eligibility.

Shouldn’t someone from the Federal Government confirm that all candidates running for office were fully vetted, and met all Constitutional requirements to hold that office?

Isn’t there ANYONE in charge of making sure that candidates for the highest office in the land meet the heightened standards set by the Constitution?

And what of those “Constitutional requirements”?

Is it really the case that in the 220 year history of this Republic, we haven’t figured out what the authors of the Constitution meant by “natural born citizen”, or why they drew a distinction between “citizen”, and “natural born citizen” in the span of one thirty-one word sentence?

Or is the likely explanation that, in those 220 years, we have forgotten why the distinction was made, and what the Framers had in mind?

My money is on the latter.

In writing the Constitution, the Framers did not provide us with a detailed definition of every term used in the document. This does not mean that we were left to fend for ourselves when establishing what constitute “unreasonable” searches and seizures, or what additional criteria make a punishment “cruel and unusual”. The definition of “due process of law” began to expand before the Constitution’s ink had dried on the parchment.

But what is the right question to ask when deciphering the meaning of these phrases, and where do the correct answers lie?

Instead of trying to decide on our own “what does ‘natural born citizen’ mean?”, one who believes that the Constitution has a “fixed and knowable meaning” established at the time of its drafting” (see “originalism”), should ask instead “what did the Framers mean by ‘natural born citizen’”?

Clues to what the Framers meant are sparse and buried under years of assumptions and erroneous interpretations, but they exist nevertheless.

Where to begin?

Where do we locate the origins of the notion of “natural born” citizenship?

One can start the search by examining what is already known about Constitutional Clauses.

We know, for example, that Constitutional clauses and concepts, such as the “Search and Seizure Clause”, the “Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause”, and even the concept of a “Grand Jury”, are all rooted in the British Common Law. In fact, British Common Law is acknowledged as the basis for U.S. Federal Law, as well as the laws of the individual States (except Louisiana). So it stands to reason that the search for the meaning of the “Natural Born Citizen” clause should begin there, and there is no greater authoritative work on the subject than Blackstone’s “Commentaries on the Laws of England”, which James Madison described as “a book which is in every man’s hand” during the Constitutional ratification debates in Virginia.

So then, what does Blackstone say about “natural born citizens”?

Absolutely nothing…he does however go into a great deal of detail as to what constitutes a “natural born subject”:

“Natural-born subjects are such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England, that is, within the ligeance, or as it is generally called, the allegiance of the king.”

“Natural allegiance is such as is due from all men born within the king’s dominions immediately upon their birth.”

Natural allegiance is therefore a debt of gratitude; which cannot be forfeited, cancelled, or altered, by any change of time, place, or circumstance, nor by any thing but the united concurrence of the legislature. An Englishman who removes to France, or to China, owes the same allegiance to the king of England there as at home, and twenty years hence as well as now.”

“…every man owes natural allegiance where he is born, and cannot owe two such allegiances, or serve two masters, at once.”

As we see, Blackstone defines “natural born subject” as an undivided allegiance between a subject and his prince. He goes on to describe the allegiance as compulsory and unchangeable by anything other than legislative action. Most importantly, Blackstone clearly states that a natural born subject cannot owe his allegiance to two places.

This Common Law notion that birth equals allegiance was part of American Law well past the ratification of the Constitution:

“All persons born in the allegiance of the king are natural born subjects, and all persons born in the allegiance of the United States are natural born citizens. Birth and allegiance go together. Such is the rule of the common law, and it is the common law of this country, as well as of England.” — UNITED STATES v. RHODES Case No. 16,151 Circuit Court, D. Kentucky 27 F. Cas. 785; 1866 U.S. App. LEXIS 330; 1 Abb. 28; 1 Am. Law T. Rep. U.S. Cts. 22 Year: 1866

Also in 1866, during the debate surrounding the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the bill’s primary author, Sen. John Bingham of Ohio, offers proof that nearly one hundred years after the ratification of the Constitution, the term “natural born citizen” still meant exactly what it meant at the time of the document’s composition, and most importantly, that the Fourteenth Amendment was not intended to alter its meaning:

“…find no fault with the introductory clause [S 61 Bill], which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen…” (Congressional Globe, 39th Congress (1866) Id. at 1291)

In 1866, our government still understood what the Framers meant when they established natural born citizenship as a Constitutional requirement for the Presidency. A child of a subject of a foreign nation is NOT a natural born citizen even if the child is born in the United States. In addition, given the Framers’ reliance on British Common Law, any individual born in the United States who owes allegiance to a foreign nation or monarch cannot by virtue of such dual allegiance be a natural born citizen.

President-elect Barack Obama was born a Kenyan citizen, and by extension a British subject, in accordance to The British Nationality Act of 1948 (“…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 their birth.”) By his own admission, he held Kenyan citizenship until 1982.

The Framers distinguish between three classes of citizenship: citizens, naturalized citizens and natural born citizens. The Framers understood the notion of natural born citizen as one born of parents who were both citizens of the United States, and who owed no allegiances to a foreign nation by virtue of dual citizenship.

As one who believes in originalism — the idea that the Constitution has a fixed and knowable meaning established at the time of its drafting I believe that the Framers’ understanding of “natural born citizen” remains valid until the Constitution is amended to change that requirement.

The State Department is quite clear on the subject of statutes defining what constitutes a “natural born” citizen:

“The fact that someone is a natural born citizen pursuant to a statute does not necessarily imply that he or she is such a citizen for Constitutional purposes.”

The 14th Amendment does not mention “natural born” citizenship, so we are left with the original understanding of the Framers, based on British Common Law. Under that understanding, Barack Obama is NOT a natural born citizen, and as such, lacks the required Constitutional qualifications for the Office of the President.

So, where does this leave those of us who believe that this matter should be settled by our highest Court, and in accordance to the original intent of the Framers?

My friend Ed over at Vox Clamantis In Deserto nails it:

“Taking a page straight from the Clinton playbook, Obama’s media worshippers’ preferred ploy for silencing impudent citizens who dare question The One™’s compliance vel non with trivial things like U.S. Constitutional requirements is to dismiss them as cranks, kooks, and tin-foil conspiracy theorists unworthy of response.”

To Michelle Malkin, we’re nothing more than “truthers”, a word coined to describe people who believe that 9/11 was an inside job…delusional tin-foil conspiracy theorists.

If demanding that the Constitution be followed makes me a “truther”, so be it.

I’ll take the denigration and wear my tin foil hat with pride.

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