Saturday, March 01, 2008

Once again, the New York Times doesn't know what it's talking about

From the front page to Paul Krugman's columns, "All the News That's Fit to Print" is filled with such tripe that about all you can consider factual are sports scores. I wouldn't even trust the weather updates.

Last week, the Times launched its first major smear of John McCain. Never mind the recycling of decade-old allegations of lobbyists' ties, and McCain's involvement with Charles Keating: what the Times wanted to imprint upon people's memories was the allegation that McCain had an affair. And what were the sources? "The anonymous kind, Chief." Such "unimpeachable" ones, I suppose, as Dan Rather's sources for the forged Bush memos.

After a week, the story had gone nowhere quickly. So now the Times had to resort to something else. Now they question whether McCain is in fact a natural-born American citizen, because Article II of the Constitution requires that any presidential candidates born after the Constitution's ratification must be natural-born citizens. McCain's parents were both natural-born American citizens, but McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

So? Here's a free clue for the morons at the Times. U.S. naturalization law, specifically Title 8 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 12, subchapter III, part I, § 1403:
(a) Any person born in the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this chapter, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.

(b) Any person born in the Republic of Panama on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this chapter, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States employed by the Government of the United States or by the Panama Railroad Company, or its successor in title, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.
A few liberal blogs are dismissing this, gleeful at any chance to disqualify McCain. Their claim is that such people are made naturalized U.S. citizens, when in fact, no. The law declares that the people are citizens, not that they are made citizens.

If it weren't that obvious, U.S. law provides for "citizenship through derivation": a child born abroad to U.S. citizens can be registered with the State Department and considered a natural-born U.S. citizens. Thus the U.S. primarily practices jus soli (citizenship by birthplace), but also a form of jus sanguinus. I'm personally familiar with this because it applies to me. I was born a U.S. citizen, even though I was born in the Philippines. My U.S. citizenship was derived from my father, who was a natural-born U.S. citizen, and it's documented by my State Department "Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America" FS-240. (So when a certain self-righteous socialist ignoramus threatens to deport me, he'd better think twice about putting his empty words up against the promise of real action.)

Despite the clear fact that John McCain is a U.S. citizen, and therefore qualified under Article II to run for president, the Times has to ignore the facts and muddy the waters. Otherwise, how can it make this non-issue look real?
...a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a "natural-born citizen" can hold the nation's highest office....

...To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states....

...Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University who has studied the issue extensively. "It is not a slam-dunk situation." ....
In fact, it is, per the above portion of United States law. Whoever this Duggin is, like most law professors who claim to "study" the Constitution and constitutional law, she in fact doesn't know what she's talking about.
...Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and one of Mr. McCain's closest allies, said it would be incomprehensible to him if the son of a military member born in a military station could not run for president.

"He was posted there on orders from the United States government," Mr. Graham said of Mr. McCain's father. "If that becomes a problem, we need to tell every military family that your kid can't be president if they take an overseas assignment."
I have no love for the protectionist Graham, but I still wouldn't be surprised if the Times selectively quoted him, in case Graham indicated the real reason he finds it "incomprehensible" is because he knows there's a law about it.
The phrase "natural born" was in early drafts of the Constitution. Scholars say notes of the Constitutional Convention give away little of the intent of the framers. Its origin may be traced to a letter from John Jay to George Washington, with Jay suggesting that to prevent foreigners from becoming commander in chief, the Constitution needed to "declare expressly" that only a natural-born citizen could be president.
If Duggin knew anything about the Constitution or constitutional law, she'd know that this is why Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the power "To establish a uniform rule of naturalization": the Constitution specifies "natural-born," and Congress through law can define just what that means.
Ms. Duggin and others who have explored the arcane subject in depth say legal argument and basic fairness may indeed be on the side of Mr. McCain, a longtime member of Congress from Arizona. But multiple experts and scholarly reviews say the issue has never been definitively resolved by either Congress or the Supreme Court.
What "experts"? Which "scholarly reviews"? And what exactly did they say? As we've already seen, the law is very clear.

But of course the Times won't provide any concrete facts. It can't let an inconvenient thing like truth stand in the way of its story.
Ms. Duggin favors a constitutional amendment to settle the matter. Others have called on Congress to guarantee that Americans born outside the national boundaries can legitimately see themselves as potential contenders for the Oval Office.
Duggin wants a Constitutional amendment because she's ignorant of what the document and Congressional law already laid out.
"They ought to have the same rights," said Don Nickles, a former Republican senator from Oklahoma who in 2004 introduced legislation that would have established that children born abroad to American citizens could harbor presidential ambitions without a legal cloud over their hopes. "There is some ambiguity because there has never been a court case on what 'natural-born citizen' means."
Nickles' very job was to exercise the powers given to Congress per the Constitution, yet he's still ignorant of Constitutional law. Unfortunately, he's a typical Washingtonian who understands little of the document, let alone the concepts behind the document, yet wielded power over the American people as if he did.
Mr. McCain's situation is different from those of the current governors of California and Michigan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jennifer M. Granholm, who were born in other countries and were first citizens of those nations, rendering them naturalized Americans ineligible under current interpretations. The conflict that could conceivably ensnare Mr. McCain goes more to the interpretation of "natural born" when weighed against intent and decades of immigration law.
Irrelevant. These people were born outside the United States as citizens of the other nations. Their parents were also not American citizens.
Mr. McCain is not the first person to find himself in these circumstances. The last Arizona Republican to be a presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater, faced the issue. He was born in the Arizona territory in 1909, three years before it became a state. But Goldwater did not win, and the view at the time was that since he was born in a continental territory that later became a state, he probably met the standard.
This is the Times' Constitutional ignorance at its finest. It didn't matter that Arizona became a state later, only that Goldwater was born in a U.S. possession. Under previous U.S. naturalization law, and clarified with the 14th Amendment, federal jurisdictions counted in the same way as the several States. Otherwise, what about people born in Washington, D.C.? It's never been a state, so are people born there born into some sort of citizenship limbo until they're naturalized? Of course not.
It also surfaced in the 1968 candidacy of George Romney, who was born in Mexico, but again was not tested. The former Connecticut politician Lowell P. Weicker Jr., born in Paris, sought a legal analysis when considering the presidency, an aide said, and was assured he was eligible. Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. was once viewed as a potential successor to his father, but was seen by some as ineligible since he had been born on Campobello Island in Canada. The 21st president, Chester A. Arthur, whose birthplace is Vermont, was rumored to have actually been born in Canada, prompting some to question his eligibility.
Provided that all of these men were born to parents who were already U.S. citizens, and the parents had resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to the child's birth, there would have been no question about natural-born citizenship and hence qualifications to run for president. The Times is throwing out more irrelevancies to making the issue more unnecessarily complicated. Then again, how else would it meet the minimum-length requirement, let alone turn a non-issue into an issue?

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