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Obama, a foundling?

I was intrigued by a comment left at the Illinois State Journal Register by someone under the name GenieMan. What is the citizenship of a baby that just turns up on the hospital steps, whose mother and father is unknown? The answer is determined by federal statute (US Code Title 8 § 1401). GenieMan invokes this law to counter any uncertainty about Barack Obama’s citizenship. He wrote [excerpt]:

According to federal law (because the US Constitution does not specifically define it), ‘natural born citizen’ can even mean:

‘(f) a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States;’

It is undeniable that before the age of 5, Barak Obama was living in Hawaii, and before the age of 21, no proof was produced suggesting he was born outside the US – hence, by this provision alone, he is considered a natural born US citizen.

It is a novel approach, although I doubt one of any legal significance. Nevertheless, it illuminates the silliness of trying to rewrite the history of Barack Obama’s birth this late in his life. At some point, there has to be some finality.

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27 Responses to Obama, a foundling?

  1. avatar
    Stanislaw February 6, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    That’s pretty fascinating. I wonder which statue that is? I’d love to throw it back in the faces of the random birthers that spam the comments section here (and on other websites).

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 7, 2011 at 12:25 am #

    Stanislaw: That’s pretty fascinating. I wonder which statue that is? I’d love to throw it back in the faces of the random birthers that spam the comments section here (and on other websites).

    US Code Title 8 § 1401. I have also updated the article.

  3. avatar
    Zixi of Ix February 7, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Doesn’t this serve as a fatal blow to the de Vattel theory?

    As I read 8 § 1401, in the case of a foundling, neither of his/her parents would be known to be American citizens, yet the child would be a natural born citizen.

  4. avatar
    The Magic M February 7, 2011 at 3:33 am #

    > Doesn’t this serve as a fatal blow to the de Vattel theory?

    As in “Vattel-fatal”? πŸ˜‰

    The birthers’ counter-argument to this, and I’ve read long birther threads about USC 8 §1401, is that this paragraph is “ordinary law” and as such cannot (re)define terms of the Constitution if that amounts to changing the latter, which is reserved to an Amendment.
    So either these foundlings are already NBCs in the sense of the Constitution, in which case USC 8 §1401 is only declaratory. Or they are not, in which case USC 8 §1401 is moot.

  5. avatar
    Jules February 7, 2011 at 3:51 am #

    Zixi of Ix: Doesn’t this serve as a fatal blow to the de Vattel theory?
    As I read 8 § 1401, in the case of a foundling, neither of his/her parents would be known to be American citizens, yet the child would be a natural born citizen.

    You’re forgetting that the birthers believe that natural born citizenship has a mystical quality of being the sort of American they want their President to be. According to them, simply being born a citizen is not enough.

    They want you to not only have two US citizen parents at the moment of birth, but also to not be claimed as a national by any foreign government. (No birther has yet responded to my query about whether they believe that someone is disqualified from the Presidency if claimed as a citizen by, for example, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the Republic of South Ossetia.)

  6. avatar
    Zixi of Ix February 7, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    The Magic M: (cites the following birther argument): So either these foundlings are already NBCs in the sense of the Constitution, in which case USC 8 §1401 is only declaratory. Or they are not, in which case USC 8 §1401 is moot.

    Birthers just can’t keep it straight, can they?

    The first part (that foundlings are already NBCs) doesn’t really make sense in light of the fact that de Vattelist birthers believe that both parents have to be citizens for the resulting child to be citizens. Since a foundling can’t show a birth certificate with the names of both parents (which is much less information than they want to demand of President Obama), there is no way to prove that they are an NBC.

    That would put the birthers in a position of having foundlings having to prove much less than someone with actual birth records.

    The second part doesn’t make sense either, since many (most?) birthers also argue that Stanley Ann Dunham wasn’t old enough to pass along natural born citizenship since the law at the time was/may have been that the mother had to have spent more than 5 years in the US after the age of 14 (i.e., she had to be over the age of 19).

    Because if Congress can pass a law requiring the mother of an NBC to be an NBC who has herself been in the US for 5 years after the age of 14, certainly they can pass a law that says that foundlings are NBCs.

    It would be simply lovely if birthers could manage at least a teeny bit of internal consistency.

  7. avatar
    The Magic M February 7, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    That’s why they invented the “citizen at birth (native born) is not the same as natural born citizen” idea. Redefining words has been propaganda 101 for centuries.

    (For example, our German Neonazis succeeded in making one statement express opposite things, depending on the audience. By redefining “Nazi” to mean “national zionist” instead of “national socialist”, they can say “I’m not a Nazi” and, at the same time, denounce being a national socialist towards the general public, yet confirm to be a national socialist to their own audience.)

    Birthers redefine words for their audience as well, thus giving their followers the impression that what we sane people say actually reinforces their points instead of refuting them.

    Their quasi-religious stance towards the meanings of words and expressions is akin to Orwell’s 1984 redefinitions of “freedom is slavery” etc.

    And some non-birthers play their game (some on purpose, one might wonder) whenever they say “Obama is a citizen” when indeed they meant to say “Obama is a natural born citizen”. See Boehner. He threw them a touchdown pass when he basically said “it’s enough for me Obama is a citizen” which makes it sound like he doesn’t know what the Constitution requires. I’m not sure if this wasn’t deliberate, but not for the reason the birthers think.

  8. avatar
    Jules February 7, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    Zixi of Ix: The second part doesn’t make sense either, since many (most?) birthers also argue that Stanley Ann Dunham wasn’t old enough to pass along natural born citizenship since the law at the time was/may have been that the mother had to have spent more than 5 years in the US after the age of 14 (i.e., she had to be over the age of 19).

    The birthers who talk about Stanley Ann Dunham’s age and the supposed need for five years’ residence following the age of 14 are either alleging that Obama was born outside the US or are unable to comprehend the statute. Those in the former group demonstrate complete disregard for facts and evidence. Those in the latter group failed to notice that the provision that they cite applied only to those born outside the US and that it is, therefore, completely irrelevant in the context of someone born in the United States.

  9. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 7, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    The Magic M: Their quasi-religious stance towards the meanings of words and expressions is akin to Orwell’s 1984 redefinitions of “freedom is slavery” etc.

    My favorite is “a certification is not a certificate.”

  10. avatar
    The Magic M February 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    > My favorite is “a certification is not a certificate.”

    My favourites are:

    * the Jedi Pauly nutteries of “a citizen and a Citizen are not the same”

    * the “I with sentence stucture a problem have” people who claim “no natural born citizen is a citizen” together with the “set theory challenged” people who claim “a natural born citizen is not a citizen” (themselves a superset (?) of the former)

    * the “Hawaiian officials reinterpreters” who say “a natural born American citizen is not a natural born citizen” (referring to Dr Fukino’s statement)

    Though the latter two arguably don’t redefine terms in the typical sense.

  11. avatar
    Wild Bill H February 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Jules: (No birther has yet responded to my query about whether they believe that someone is disqualified from the Presidency if claimed as a citizen by, for example, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the Republic of South Ossetia.)

    I’ll respond. Your hypothetical is apples and oranges to Obama’s situation. It matters not whether the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the Republic of South Ossetia wants to lay claim to you as a citizen – if neither your mother or your father possess either of those citizenships. That’s the intrinsic difference in your silly hypothetical and Obama’s reality. HE – OBAMA, is claiming that his father was British. Britain didn’t just willy nilly decide to claim Obama as a citizen – his father claimed it for him, and he seems to be in agreement.

    Furthermore – the article is correct and this birther has to wonder why on Earth Obama would cloud the issue with ‘claiming’ his father was Obama Sr, a citizen of Kenya as his father. Why not claim you are a bastard child and therefore the law would then proclaim you as a NBC? AHHHH…perhaps he thought the American people would have never elected a bastard as their President. Perhaps he felt he couldn’t get his base over their mystical quality of being the sort of pedigreed American they want their President to be.

    As far as the bastard child being allowed the title of NBC simply by default – it is usually (although not in Obama’s case) assumed that if you KNOW your heritage that you would be proud to proclaim and acknowledge your dual citizenship, even if it precluded you from being eligible to be POTUS. Seems Obama wants his cake and eat it too – not surprising really.

    And Jules, I think those that subscribe to the 5 year/age rule, actually believe Obama was born outside of the US. So you see, my dear, that makes it quite relevant, but it does leave a question as to your point and understanding of the issue as a whole.

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why you all feel the need to continue to argue on Obama’s behalf.. He is POTUS and I don’t foresee him leaving before his term is up. What’s the point? Unless you, yourselves, believe somethings just don’t add up with Obama. Or, heck, maybe you just like to argue! πŸ™‚

    I believe he was born in the US (so perhaps I’m not a birther!!), but I think there is something or some circumstance surrounding his birth that he would rather not be made public. Personally, I believe he is a NBC – but would rather have people arguing about his NBC status than the issue he prefers to keep under wraps…naaah, I am a birther. Like a magician – you keep people looking at the wrong issue – while you perform your trick in secrecy.

    We all know Obama is a superb liar, I think he is a damn fine magician as well.

  12. avatar
    Sef February 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Wild Bill H: We all know Obama is a superb liar, I think he is a damn fine magician as well.

    Who ees thees “we”, white man?

  13. avatar
    Majority Will February 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Sef:
    Who ees thees “we”, white man?

    The shrill chorus of tiny bigots fighting for attention in a paranoid, pusillanimous pea brain. Evidently, the xenophobes made bail.

  14. avatar
    ballantine February 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Wild Bill H: I’ll respond. Your hypothetical is apples and oranges to Obama’s situation. It matters not whether the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the Republic of South Ossetia wants to lay claim to you as a citizen – if neither your mother or your father possess either of those citizenships. That’s the intrinsic difference in your silly hypothetical and Obama’s reality. HE – OBAMA, is claiming that his father was British. Britain didn’t just willy nilly decide to claim Obama as a citizen – his father claimed it for him, and he seems to be in agreement.

    .

    Countries can award citizenship to anyone they want. There is no rule that parentage matters in any way. England tomorrow could make everyone in America a British subject and only an idiot would think such has any effect on the status of Americans. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court made clear in Wong Kim Ark that duel citizenship was irrelevant, but we know birthers can’t understand such a complex decision.
    .

    Personally, I believe he is a NBC – but would rather have people arguing about his NBC status than the issue he prefers to keep under wraps…naaah, I am a birther. Like a magician – you keep people looking at the wrong issue – while you perform your trick in secrecy. We all know Obama is a superb liar, I think he is a damn fine magician as well.

    .

    If you can prove he was born outside of the US, go for it. If not, the Supreme Court has said he is an NBC. Really no debate for anyone with a legal education. You can speculate all you want that Obama is hiding something. I think Bush was hiding something when he refused to release information on his national guard service and SEC investigation. You are not going to get all the information you want on politicians you oppose. Deal with it.

    We happen to think that people challenging the legitimacy of the President based upon complete BS when we are at war and in crisis is not a good thing. Actually, we think such people are un-American and will continue to ridicule them.

  15. avatar
    Scientist February 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Wild Bill H: Or, heck, maybe you just like to argue!

    I plead guilty.

    So, let me see if I understand your insinuations. The President’s biological father is not Barack Obama, Sr in your opinion? But how would that show up in the original birth records? If a mother names the wrong father, whether knowingly or unknowingly, then that is the name that will appear in all birth records, original and otherwise. The only way to know that the named father is not the actual father is through a paternity suit, which would be a matter of public record.

    Unless you’re saying that Obama Sr and Ms Dunham adopted Obama Jr. Yeah, right. Whether an adoption is public or private, the adoptive parents have to show they have the financial resources to raise the child. And the 2 individuals in question were students who didn’t have 50 cents to rub together. Fail….

    Besides, why hide that you are adopted when running for President? 2 Presidents in the last 40 years were adopted (Ford and Clinton) and nobody cared. So what in the birth records do you think would possibly be embarrasing? If you’re going to come here with rank speculation, then let’s have the whole speculation.

  16. avatar
    Obsolete February 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Wild Bill H proclaims Obama is a superb liar, moments after wondering why Obama didn’t lie about who his father actually was.

  17. avatar
    Jules February 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    Wild Bill H: I’ll respond. Your hypothetical is apples and oranges to Obama’s situation. It matters not whether the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the Republic of South Ossetia wants to lay claim to you as a citizen – if neither your mother or your father possess either of those citizenships. That’s the intrinsic difference in your silly hypothetical and Obama’s reality. HE – OBAMA, is claiming that his father was British. Britain didn’t just willy nilly decide to claim Obama as a citizen – his father claimed it for him, and he seems to be in agreement.

    You are correct that if Obama did possess British nationality, then British law gave him such status as a result of his father’s status. However, you are incorrect when you state that Obama’s father chose British nationality for his son. (The question of whether Obama had British and Kenyan nationality arises due to questions about the validity of his parents’ marriage under the law of the UK and its colonies at the time. The marriage seems to have been sufficiently valid for Hawaii to grant a divorce, but family law is not always consistent between countries. I am not going to bother looking into this, but anyone else is free to research it.)

    If Obama did have British nationality, then it was acquired automatically by operation of British law of the time. There is nothing particularly special about the fact that Obama would have acquired it by descent, as the British Parliament could decide to give British nationality to anyone, or everyone if it so desired. It could go so far as to declare every natural born US citizen to be a British citizen from the moment of birth.

    It is the sovereign right of each nation to decide who its citizens are. The reason why I was asking about whether South Ossetia or Northern Cypriot nationality counted was this: if dual nationality is a bar to Presidential eligibility, then every single foreign government has veto power over eligibility to be President of the United States, as any one of them is capable of making anyone a citizen for any reason or no reason. If foreign governments have this power, then we have to know which authorities count. Sadly, your response did not answer the question.

    Your formulation seems to be that dual nationality is a bar to Presidential eligibility if, but only if, the foreign nationality is acquired by descent. This would still leave Presidential eligibility as a function of foreign law to at least some extent, but it would be less problematic than making all acquisitions of foreign nationality disqualifying. The reason why I reject such a formulation, however, is that it has no basis in US law.

    Wild Bill H: And Jules, I think those that subscribe to the 5 year/age rule, actually believe Obama was born outside of the US. So you see, my dear, that makes it quite relevant, but it does leave a question as to your point and understanding of the issue as a whole.

    I noted that some of those who cite the rule about five years’ residence are people who believe, against all evidence, that he was born outside the United States. There are also some who have argued here and elsewhere that someone must acquire US citizenship both by jus soli and jus sanguinis to be natural born, without realising that this is impossible because US statutes on jus sanguinis explicitly restrict themselves to those born outside the US.

  18. avatar
    misha February 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Wild Bill H: I believe he was born in the US (so perhaps I’m not a birther!!), but I think there is something or some circumstance surrounding his birth that he would rather not be made public.

    I found Obama’s authentic Kenya BC! See for yourself.

  19. avatar
    Jules February 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    misha:
    I found Obama’sauthentic Kenya BC! See for yourself.

    What about his authentic Certificate of Loss of Nationality?

  20. avatar
    Daniel February 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Wild Bill….

    Shouldn’t you be out pretending to ride wild buffalo over a cliff somewhere?

    Pretending Obama isn’t eligible will never impress the ladies enough to get you laid…. but the buffalo thing just might.

  21. avatar
    Daniel February 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Wild Bill H: For the life of me, I cannot understand why you all feel the need to continue to argue on Obama’s behalf.. He is POTUS and I don’t foresee him leaving before his term is up. What’s the point?

    because birthers are a never ending source of amusement.

  22. avatar
    G February 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Wild Bill H: For the life of me, I cannot understand why you all feel the need to continue to argue on Obama’s behalf.. He is POTUS and I don’t foresee him leaving before his term is up. What’s the point? Unless you, yourselves, believe somethings just don’t add up with Obama. Or, heck, maybe you just like to argue!

    I fully agree with the part of your statement where you said “He is POTUS and I don’t foresee him leaving before his term is up. What’s the point?”, but the rest of it you have backwards.

    Well, if there weren’t birthers screaming silly nonsense, then we wouldn’t have to respond.

    From my POV, the election ended 2 years ago and that should have been the end of the matter. People unhappy with it will have their chance to vote for someone else in 2012 and that’s the full extent of it.

    So, the question goes to you birthers – what is the point?

    Sounds like a bunch of sore-loserism masquerading as seditious propoganda to me…

  23. avatar
    Zixi of Ix February 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Wild Bill H:
    For the life of me, I cannot understand why you all feel the need to continue to argue on Obama’s behalf..He is POTUS and I don’t foresee him leaving before his term is up.What’s the point?Unless you, yourselves, believe somethings just don’t add up with Obama. Or, heck, maybe you just like to argue!

    I’m quite upfront about the fact that I’m conservative with strong libertarian-leanings (or maybe I’m libertarian with strong conservative leanings). Either way, I don’t support Obama, haven’t in the past, and won’t in the future. I’m a small-government, pro-freedom type who believes in individual responsibility.

    I do support the truth, though, whatever that is. It bothers me on several levels to see the GOP paying lip service to birthers who claim that Obama can’t be an NBC because he’s black, since blacks became citizens by virtue of the 14th Amendment.

    It bothers me to see prominent birthers trying to “out” their critics, make idiotic arguments (de Vattel is a great example).

    It bothers me to see birthers encouraging commissioned officers to abandon their posts in times of war.

    It bothers me to see birthers saying that Obama probably killed his grandmother to keep her from “spilling the beans”.

    It bothers me to see birthers financially supporting forgers, criminals, and lawyers who say that any judge who disagrees is a traitor who should be prosecuted.

    Now, you can say that not all birthers believe all of the above, and you’d be right. But the silence of birthers who say nothing in the face of racism, criminals, and calling for judges to be thrown out as traitors speaks volumes about what they’re willing to go along with just because they don’t like the guy who got elected.

    So, to use your turn of phrase, for the life of me, I can’t understand why birthers feel the need to support others in their movement who are blatantly racist, conspiracy nuts, criminals, or just plain hateful.

  24. avatar
    Rickey February 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    Wild Bill H:

    this birther has to wonder why on Earth Obama would cloud the issue with claiming’ his father was Obama Sr, a citizen of Kenya as his father.Why not claim you are a bastard child and therefore the law would then proclaim you as a NBC?AHHHH…perhaps he thought the American people would have never elected a bastard as their President.

    The very fact that Obama “claims” that his father is Obama Sr. is strong evidence that Obama Sr. is indeed his father. Your theory is that Obama wouldn’t have claimed to be a bastard child because the American people would not elect a bastard. But you overlook the fact that Obama freely acknowledges that his father was a bigamist. And guess what? 69.5 million voters didn’t care.

  25. avatar
    The Magic M February 8, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    > For the life of me, I cannot understand why you all feel the need to continue to argue on Obama’s behalf.. […] Unless you, yourselves, believe somethings just don’t add up with Obama.

    Sure, that’s why people argue with the idiots who claim Earth is flat or Einstein’s theory of relativity is one huge scientists’ conspiracy: because we “believe some things just don’t add up with spherical Earth”. Right.

    What a cynical argument, to make ridiculous claims and then justify them “ex post” by claiming “if they were ridiculous, they would be ignored” whereas otherwise you would have claimed “if they are ridiculous, why does no-one refute them?”. Catch-22, in other words.

    (Incidentally, the relativity theory conspiracy believers also claim that the conspiracy exists only to “not embarrass Einstein and his early followers”. Doesn’t that remind you of the birthers who claim Obama was “hiding his records” because they would “embarrass him”?)

  26. avatar
    G February 8, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    The Magic M: Sure, that’s why people argue with the idiots who claim Earth is flat or Einstein’s theory of relativity is one huge scientists’ conspiracy: because we “believe some things just don’t add up with spherical Earth”. Right.
    What a cynical argument, to make ridiculous claims and then justify them “ex post” by claiming “if they were ridiculous, they would be ignored” whereas otherwise you would have claimed “if they are ridiculous, why does no-one refute them?”. Catch-22, in other words.
    (Incidentally, the relativity theory conspiracy believers also claim that the conspiracy exists only to “not embarrass Einstein and his early followers”. Doesn’t that remind you of the birthers who claim Obama was “hiding his records” because they would “embarrass him”?)

    Well said! I completely agree.

  27. avatar
    dch February 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    WildB

    Your beliefs like those of al the other birthers are without any basis in reality.
    Back in relaity your side has LOST in 90 out of 90 cases and all of the judges decisions have been upheld by appeals courts. The SCOTUS has ignored the cert requests and denied them without comment. That might be the WORST record for any cause in recent history. No a single fact has emerged to support birth in Kenya.

    LOL