Natural Born Citizens: The Birfer Post

I have been contemplating whether or not to go ahead with this post all evening.  For one thing, this issue is highly charged and, let’s face it, rife with nutters from all walks of the political spectrum.  For another thing, it’s an old subject that has been beaten to death with a two by four.  For that reason, I’ve never been particularly interested in it.  I try to stay away from reporting on things like conspiracy theories, because if I can’t prove it, I don’t really want to send it to press.  I’m ready to admit though, that the Obama birth certificate mystery officially has me a bit stumped.

Hey, hey, hey!  Stop right there!  Don’t close your browser or email on me in mid-post!  I have always been extremely skeptical of the “birfer” movement, as many call it.  I am still skeptical of it, although I must at this point concede that I can’t explain away all of the circumstantial issues that surround the strange case of Barack Obama’s citizenship – or at least his birth certificate.

The first time I ever really heard anything about the birther movement was on Alex Jones.  Yeah, yeah, I’ve admitted that I watch him sometimes.  Alex Jones is my political equivalent of celebrity gossip: I love it, it’s my thing, let it go.  I know that he’s not always right about everything, but he serves his purpose for me, and that’s entertainment, and sometimes I’ll get a good article lead off of his site.  Take that for what you will.  I enjoy watching people rail against bankers and Justin Bieber.

In any case, I never really heard it mentioned until I was sitting in the GM garage in my hometown on afternoon getting my car fixed.  An old gent sat down next to me and, in typical Midwestern fashion, started talking to me about life, the universe, and everything.  During the course of the conversation, he somehow managed to sneak it in that he didn’t think Obama was really an American citizen.  I smiled and nodded politely, but I didn’t really want to encourage a birther that I’d inadvertently rooted out.  Frankly, I wasn’t interested in hearing some conspiracy theory about how our president isn’t really supposed to be our president.

Fast forward about two and a half years, and here I am, sitting in my chair on a Tuesday night, perusing the Internet for articles to write about and post to Twitter.  I ran across an article about two weeks old concerning Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix/Scottsdale, etc.).  My uncle lives in Scottsdale and used to know Sheriff Joe, way back before he was known for putting inmates in pink underwear and rounding up immigrants for deportation.  Back then, he used to occasionally courier tickets and such for his wife’s travel agency.  He also once asked my uncle if he would like to join a “posse,” which Joe was going to create, should be elected sheriff.  My uncle politely declined, but the posses became a reality.  The point is that I feel a mild, mostly senseless personal connection to Sheriff Joe, and I get a kick out of reading about his freaks and foibles.

I came upon an article about Sheriff Joe saying that he had had his forensics team run an investigation on Obama’s long form birth certificate, which was released last year.  The team also did an analysis on his selective service card.  Sheriff Joe called a press conference to release the findings which were… Well, frankly, I watched the shortened videos, and the conclusion seemed to be that the documents themselves were forgeries.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I don’t exactly have gobs of faith in the Maricopa County sheriff’s office.  Joe Arpaio is a character, and you can take that in a good way or a bad way.  It has worked both directions for him.  He is a highly controversial figure who no doubt has/had good intentions in a lot of respects.  I don’t support all of his methods, but I find him interesting.  I also think that he revels in attention.  He is facing some lawsuits right now, too, and I think this might have been a way to draw media fire away from the lawsuits, since election time is pending in Maricopa County.  Sheriff Arpaio has denied this, but you know, it’s Sheriff Joe.

I read through one of the articles and watched the videos, and it got my curiosity up.  I know virtually nothing about Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop or any of those other digital picture-fixing programs, so don’t take anything I say to be professional analysis.   I barely know one from the other, and God knows I never use them.  Occasionally I will use Adobe to reverse one of my webcam photos so that I can post it on here, and I’m frankly amazed that I figured out how to do that.

The videos point out several interesting features of the birth certificate, as well as a “control” copy that was created as a basis for comparison.  Many of the arguments made about the birth certificate are quite clearly debunked.  The video explains Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and optimization techniques, which some have used to explain the anomalies in the birth certificate.  However, these explanations fall flat, if you take the sheriff’s department analysis as truthful.

I looked up some of the debunking claims that have been posted on sites like Snopes, but I honestly didn’t find any explanations that lived up to my expectations.  I like very thorough, in-depth answers, and I have yet to find an answer that I really like that explains the anomalies on these paperwork items.

My ultimate conclusion is this: someone is lying.  Either the forensics team in Maricopa is lying (quite possible), or Team Obama is lying (again, quite possible).  Something doesn’t smell right here, but it doesn’t just have to do with what’s being said; a lot of it has to do with what’s not being said.

Let’s assume for a moment that the sheriff’s deputies and everyone else who have taken to the Internet are either half-baked or just flat-out lying about the anomalies in this birth certificate.  If that is the case, they are distracting from truly important issues and attempting to destroy the president’s character.  I’m more concerned about the distraction from other issues, like auditing the Fed, the bailouts, the unjust wars, etc.

When it all comes down to it, however, I think that most of the “birthers” have really missed the boat.  They spend all this time fussing about the birth certificates and such, and the answer is in plain view.  According to various legal precedents, Obama technically doesn’t qualify as a “natural born citizen.”

What is a natural born citizen?  According to the traditional ideas of the Framers and natural law, citizenship is inherited from the father, regardless of where that child is born.  Today, we might better view this in that if one parent is not a citizen of the United States, neither is the child.  My husband and I would be a good example of this, as he is a “loyal subject of the Crown” while I am a US citizen.  Our children, according to this rule, would be exempt from ever holding the office of the president.

I guess at the end of the day, I ultimately feel that all of this jibber-jabber and rhetoric about the birth certificate and all is just extraneous.  The real argument is a relatively cut-and-dried legal one, and it stems from the fact that citizenship devolves from the parents.  Stated simply, our Constitution includes the natural birth clause so that individuals seeking office will not have conflicting allegiances.  At the end of the day, considering only the traditional, established definition of natural born citizen, Barack Obama isn’t one.

Am I implying that President Obama has conflicting allegiances?  No.  Just because I don’t think that he legally fits the criterion for holding the office to which he has been elected doesn’t mean that I think he’s out to sell us to Russia or something silly like that.  However, I do think that the respect for our supreme law, the Constitution, has gone completely and utterly out the window.

How is it that a movement can at once be so right and so wrong?  Instead of focusing on the legal precedent, which is easily provable and extremely pertinent, there is a whole movement of people who seem to be focused on turning this thing into a sideshow.  There needs to be a movement towards reason and logic, or the libertarian movement is going to be forever plagued by accusations of lunacy, paranoia, and getting bad reception via those tinfoil hats.

If you want to learn more, check out the links below!

“Natural Born Citizen Defined” – The Federalist Blog

Sheriff Joe’s Full Investigation results, including video

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