Main Menu

Archive | August, 2013

Investigation wars

Regular readers here know that I have policy against publishing personal information about private individuals. In implementing that policy I have to decide who is a private individual and what personal information is—not always a straightforward determination. One very public individual, Orly Taitz, doesn’t seem to worry about these questions, something apparent in a recent round of articles on her web site.

Orly Taitz

One of the investigative initiatives at the Orly Taitz web site targets a commenter identified as "Jackson" with an IP address in North Carolina. "Jackson," by the way, is an extremely common name in the US. Taitz published the person’s IP address. Allegedly Jackson left an obscene comment on the Taitz blog that also had an interesting tidbit:

Not a [expletive deleted] chance, [expletive deleted]. Now get the [expletive deleted] out of the U.S. You don’t belong here you came here on a (redacted type of a visa) visa You’re nothing but low-life trash without any hopes of ever being anything else.

I deleted the expletives, but Taitz redacted the type of visa. Taitz’ claim is that only someone with access to her private immigration file, someone she says is with the Department of Homeland Security, could know about her visa. Two questions arise: First, why Taitz would redact the type of visa? And the second question is, exactly how private is visa information—would it really be just available to a DHS employee? It was asserted in a comment by "Ray" on an August 7, 2009 article at that the source of the visa information is Taitz herself:

And by her own admission she came to the US on a tourist visa and married a stranger to get a green card.

If true about the visa, that explains both Taitz’ reluctance to publish the type of visa, and how someone could have found out about it. I infer that the type of visa is correct. In an exchange with Jackson [link to Taitz site] back in July Jackson alleges that Taitz came to the US on a tourist visa, and her reply rather than a denial was: "I did not do anything illegal…"


In addition to trying to find out who "Jackson" is, Taitz is also asking for details about some other persons in North Carolina that Taitz thinks might be Jackson, whose names I won’t mention here (since it’s likely that they are innocent bystanders). She wants information about family members and their photos, where they studied and where they worked. She wants to know if they were connected to Bill Ayers, SDS or the Weather underground. Why? Taitz still thinks she can look up somebody’s IP address on the Internet and get the physical address of their computer. You can’t. You’re lucky just to get the right city doing that. Taitz is accusing these individuals of sending her obscene emails. Somebody may be soon accusing her of defamation. Heaven knows, she deserves it.

She’s asking similar questions about Bill (Foggy) Bryan and Fogbow commenter Sterngard Friegen.


Investigating people is not my style. I did track down a commenter here once that used a bunch of aliases, "Dragging Canoe." I found him and his personal web site with photos of his wife and kids. I didn’t publish what I found and never will. It’s personal information and Dragging Canoe is a private individual. That exercise a long time ago was an exception. Thoughts of hiring a detective to find out if Apuzzo is a member of the Klan are pure fantasy. Some anti-birthers have a more curious streak about the public person of Mike Zullo and anti-birther back channels are full of bits of information about employment, real estate and family—none of it particularly interesting I might add. The one question I have about Zullo is simply his work history in law enforcement, a valid question in the light of the claims he makes himself.


The importance of the Xerox 7655 identification

I talked about why so many people get sucked into conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth certificate in my article, “Any fool can see.” I have become somewhat jaundiced in my view of a birther’s ability to evaluate evidence and to change their mind. That view might be biased by the fact that people don’t engage in publicity campaigns to advertise their mistakes. The appearance of discussion of the Xerox 7655 theory in birther web sites is encouraging and the Cold Case Posse’s silence (two months now) is causing suspicion. All that’s missing is a simple-to-understand YouTube video explaining the result, or a high-profile birther with some integrity looking at the evidence and publishing their findings to put a serious cramp in the consensus birther view. (Also see Reality Check’s article Xerox for dummies.)

I think that the real importance of the work of scientist and blogger NBC in debunking birther claims of document forgery is not for the present, but for the future. Conspiracy theories persist long beyond their relation to current events. I think that the identification of the Xerox 7655 as the source of the technical artifacts of the PDF version of the President’s birth certificate effectively removes them from the table and makes it likely that birtherism will have no long-term place in the pantheon of conspiracy theories.


Yeah, Cruz is eligible

While I do not think that Congress can change the definition of “natural born citizen,” I do believe that they can change the status of individuals so that they meet the definition. I don’t see any qualitative difference between legislation adding a new state to the union (and thereby making new US citizens at birth) and Congress making citizens at birth through legislation under their naturalization powers. No one would argue that only people born in the 13 original states can be President, so why should they argue that only people born under the English Common Law provisions governing citizenship in 1789 can be President?

I should point out that the Constitution does not define “natural born citizen.” One has to look elsewhere for the definition. For a definition, I look to the first Congress, who in 1790 by legislation made certain persons natural born citizens who were not natural born citizens before. Those Congressmen, one of whom, James Madison, is recognized as the principal author of the Constitution, decided that they could by legislation create natural born citizens, and the former President of the Constitutional Convention George Washington signed that bill into law. I do not think that the actions of the First Congress and President Washington are easily dismissed, nor are arguments of carelessness on their part credible.

The clear implication of the 1790 Act (and the Oxford English Dictionary) is that to our founders “natural born citizen” meant “citizen at birth.” So the question that remains is whether the Constitution’s naturalization provision gives Congress the power to create citizens at birth (in contrast to the usual understanding of naturalization–making someone a citizen after birth). The Congress has and does create citizens at birth (even in some cases retroactively) and I don’t know of any challenge to them doing that. (Judge Alsup in Robinson v. Bowen even opined that a retroactive act of Congress made John McCain a natural born citizen.) I see no objection to Congress changing membership in the pool of natural born citizens, through its naturalization powers.

If one were to invoke the English Common Law as both defining the term “natural born subject” and limiting which persons meet the definition, then I would point them to the various British acts that create natural born subjects, as argument against that position. That is, in 1789 Americans had a contemporary example of British legislation that expanded the pool of natural born subjects. Or put another way, I think that saying that English Common Law defines membership in the class of natural born subjects is the same mistake as saying that Minor v. Happersett defines membership in the class of natural born citizens–confusing necessary with sufficient conditions.)

Since according to U. S. Law, Canadian-born Ted Cruz was a U. S. citizen at birth, then yeah, he’s eligible to run for President.


Vogon poetry contest

According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (chapter 7) , Vogon poetry is the third worst in the Universe. The example given in the book goes:

Oh freddled gruntbuggly ..
?… thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes.
And booptiously drangle me with crunkly bindlewurdles
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don’t!

So the contest is for the most effective creation of poem in the Vogon style that contains the the character string “zullo.”

Thanks to commenters for the idea.