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Crackpots of the world, unite!

I’ve long been fascinated by conspiracy theories, not for the conspiracies themselves, but by the reasons people believe them. Some of the theories sound downright crazy.

There are people who think that an unseen force causes things to happen in their world, and that their very thoughts are being monitored!

Are such people delusional? The highlighted phrase was carefully crafted to sound delusional, but to literally apply to billions of adherents of the world’s religious. As I noted back in 2009,

The DSM defines a delusion as:

A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.

By this definition people who believe in God are not clinically delusional, and I would argue that neither are conspiracy theorists such as birthers. Through the Internet, subcultures arise easily, and the network of birther web sites gives the illusion of ordinary acceptance.

Birtherism may well have been an engineered conspiracy theory rather than something that arose naturally as an attempt to explain a set of facts. Still it grew, according so some reports, as a chain email. Such emails are passed from contact list to contact list, and so they exist within an existing subculture. It is not some unkempt fellow on the street with a sign saying “Where’s the birth certificate,” but rather a family member, a co-worker, or a social friend passing made up citations from authoritative sources. The mutual support of a community, along with confirmation bias gets these conspiracy theories growing.

I think we can expect phenomena like the birther movement to be common in the future.

(I don’t suggest that all conspiracy theories are false, but I’d bet money that the birthers are wrong.)

39 Responses to Crackpots of the world, unite!

  1. avatar
    Notorial Dissent August 29, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    I think about the best you can do is to determine if they just think someone is reading their minds, or if the voices in their heads told them that someone was reading their minds. Sometimes the dividing line is just that thin. On the other hand, it is always easier to the ego to blame some outside hidden or “supernatural” force for their screwed up lives and view of the universe than it is to simply accept that they are screw ups and that they got themselves in the mess they are in.

  2. avatar
    Scientist August 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    The problem with conspiracy theories is they generally require the participants, who often number in the thousands (like the 9/11 conspiracies) to be:

    1. Highly competent
    2. Able to keep secrets despite the huge rewards that spilling the beans would bring

  3. avatar
    Pastor Charmley August 29, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

    I followed the 9/11 Conspiracists for years, so when the Birther conspiracy started up, I thought I’d see how that played out. And indeed, now that the President that the Birther conspiracy is focused on is coming to the end of his time in office, you have people saying exactly the same things about him as they were about Bush eight years ago, i.e. that he is going to stage an “incident”, declare martial law, and make himself dictator for life.

  4. avatar
    Rickey August 29, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    Scientist:
    The problem with conspiracy theories is they generally require the participants, who often number in the thousands (like the 9/11 conspiracies) to be:

    1. Highly competent
    2. Able to keep secrets despite the huge rewards that spilling the beans would bring

    As Benjamin Franklin wrote 280 years ago, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

    While that isn’t literally true, the point is that the more people who are involved in a conspiracy, the less likely it is that the conspiracy will remain a secret.

  5. avatar
    Scientist August 29, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    Rickey: As Benjamin Franklin wrote 280 years ago, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

    While that isn’t literally true, the point is that the more people who are involved in a conspiracy, the less likely it is that the conspiracy will remain a secret.

    And almost every conspiracy requires a great many. 9/11 requires building inspectors, CIA, investigators, scientists, and so on. Birtherism requires at least one doctor, hospital officials, newspaper editors, Health Dept officials, passport office officials and so on. Total it up and it’s a fairly large number.

  6. avatar
    JD Reed August 29, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Notorial Dissent:
    I think about the best you can do is to determine if they just think someone is reading their minds, or if the voices in their heads told them that someone was reading their minds. Sometimes the dividing line is just that thin. On the other hand, it is always easier to the ego to blame some outside hidden or “supernatural” force for their screwed up lives and view of the universe than it is to simply accept that they are screw ups and that they got themselves in the mess they are in.

    By no means have all the people who believe in far fetched conspiracy theories screwed up their personal lives. Of the people I know —
    One is a popular, highly-regarded, just-retired schoolteacher who is preparing to start a second career as a registered nurse. She and her husband raised two lovely, smart daughters, the oldest of which graduated summa cum laude from college and from medical school with a 4.0 average.
    Yet she (the mother) was, and as far as I know still is, a believer in the Clinton body count. A Trump supporter.
    One is a successful small-businessman, very personable, wonderful family. Insists Obama is a Muslim. Presumably a Trump supporter.
    Another successful small-business guy raised, with his wife, two very bright sons who are now well launched on successful careers of their own. Highly articulate, keeps abreast of current events. But a devotee of the likes of David Barton and Dinesh D’Souza, Obviously hates Hillary, so supports you-know-who.

    I could go on. The greater problem is not that we have so many nut jobs believing outlandish things, but that so many worthy and otherwise reasonable people do. The only solution I can think of is to not let anyone graduate from high school who has not demonstrated thorough knowledge of the pitfalls of confirmation bias.

  7. avatar
    Dave B. August 29, 2016 at 10:12 pm #

    Speaking of crackpots, I came across this from David Farrar today:

    “If Trump doesn’t win, we’ll be overrun by hordes of young Muslims, like Germany and France, raping, killing, violating, desecrating. You can see that. It’s already happening there. If Trump doesn’t win, there will be widespread unrest, civil disobedience, badly divided government. There’ll be no goodwill. No honeymoon because no matter who the U.S. House selects as our next president, s/he will be owned by the U.S. Chamber of Crony Commerce, which is the real end-game of the NeverTrumpesters.”

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/americanthinker/just_what_is_the_end_game_for_nevertrumps/#comment-2864662406

  8. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) August 30, 2016 at 6:35 am #

    Birtherism may well have been an engineered conspiracy theory rather than something that arose naturally

    I do think birtherism was at least partly engineered (though that may be a conspiracy theory, too ;)).

    If you look at 9/11 truthers, there are many different theories floating around (from “there were no planes but holograms” to “the planes were remote-controlled”, from “it was a controlled demolition” to “they set off a small nuclear weapon”; “it was a flase flag = the Bush admin did it” vs. “they allowed it happen” etc.).

    Birtherism OTOH has mostly been a single narrative (“he was born in Mombasa”, not anywhere else in Kenya or the world; etc.), perhaps with the only difference in who the perceived father was.

    Another thing that points to a planned narrative was the sheer number of fallbacks.
    Instead of having plain mutually exclusive theories like with 9/11, every new theory was designed as fallback for the case the former did not pan out.
    * He was born in Kenya
    * But if he wasn’t, he’s not eligible because he needs two citizen parents
    * But if he has them or doesn’t need them, he lost his citizenship when he was adopted
    * But if he didn’t, he lost his citizenship when he traveled on an Indonesian passport
    * But if he didn’t, he’s not eligible because he didn’t register for the draft
    * But if he did, he has a radical black father so nobody will vote for him

    This reads more like a full-blown propaganda strategy than like the random ramblings of many different conspiracy theorists (who usually fight each other over whose theory is the correct one).

  9. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) August 30, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    Notorial Dissent: On the other hand, it is always easier to the ego to blame some outside hidden or “supernatural” force for their screwed up lives and view of the universe than it is to simply accept that they are screw ups and that they got themselves in the mess they are in.

    The main motiviation for adhering to a conspiracy theory is this:

    * Conspiracies are always engineered by a small but almost infinitely powerful group of people.
    * Therefore, if the conspiracy theorist could somehow become a part of that group or harness its ways and means, he could become almost infinitely powerful, too.

    This comes from some people’s inability to accept that there are things too large for humans to control, either for individuals or mankind in general.
    We cannot stop a tsunami, we cannot engineer historic events 100 years in advance, we cannot even say who will top the Billboard charts a month from now.
    This feeling of helplessness then broods inacceptance, which eventually can turn into a conspiracist mindset which is nothing but full-blown denial of the uncontrollability of many events.

    But if tsunamis only exist because someone sets them off, and historic events only happen because someone engineered them, then there is nothing to be afraid of because everything is controllable – definitely a consoling thought for someone faced with the existential angst of being subject to random chance.

  10. avatar
    Scientist August 30, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    The Magic M (not logged in): This comes from some people’s inability to accept that there are things too large for humans to control, either for individuals or mankind in general.

    The Magic M (not logged in): But if tsunamis only exist because someone sets them off, and historic events only happen because someone engineered them, then there is nothing to be afraid of because everything is controllable – definitely a consoling thought for someone faced with the existential angst of being subject to random chance.

    Very perceptive. Of course, some religious people (by no means all) believe that such events are God’s punishment for human misbehavior, which again puts them somewhat under human control. though it’s very hard to pinpoint the particular behavior that causes a disaster to happen here rather than there.

  11. avatar
    Crustacean August 30, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    Let me see if I’m understanding this correctly. If a sufficient number of other members of one’s culture or subculture have the same delusions, they’re not really delusions? I won’t argue with that, as it appears to be some kind of academic definition concocted by people much more intelligent than I. But it always bugs the living you-know-what out of me the way religious people are given special dispensation for their nonsensical beliefs, as long as those nonsensical beliefs aren’t too kooky for the mainstream, true-blue believers of nonsense.

    I offer two scenarios.

    S-1: Dear school board. I will not be vaccinating my child because I think the vaccination program is a conspiracy by the Rothschilds, Illuminati, and Dalton Trumbo’s ghost to make us all Communists. [School Board reply: go pound sand, you’re nutty as a fruitcake].

    S-2: Dear school board. I will not be vaccinating my child because an invisible authoritarian in the sky who can read my thoughts and has me under 24/7 surveillance says it is not necessary. He has a twelve-point plan to fix everything in my life, and He promises to protect my child from harm in return for my undying loyalty and 10% of my income. [School Board reply: thank you for your concern. You may pick up a vaccination waiver form at the school’s administrative office].

    Who was it who said that being an atheist is like being the only sober person in a car full of drunks who refuse to let you drive?

    Dr. Conspiracy: By this* definition people who believe in God are not clinically delusional

    *A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.

  12. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 30, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

    I wouldn’t push back if someone calls a religious person delusional, but they are not clinically delusional. I’m not well-informed on mental health issues, but I understand that the definitions of mental disease take into account ones ability to function in society.

    Conscientious objection to vaccination is a sticky subject because it poses a risk to others.

    Crustacean: I won’t argue with that, as it appears to be some kind of academic definition concocted by people much more intelligent than I.

  13. avatar
    Pastor Charmley August 31, 2016 at 5:40 am #

    The Magic M (not logged in): Another thing that points to a planned narrative was the sheer number of fallbacks.
    Instead of having plain mutually exclusive theories like with 9/11, every new theory was designed as fallback for the case the former did not pan out.

    Alternatively it points to the fact that many of those who embraced Birtherism did so because they wanted a “magic bullet” to end the Obama presidency. Initially the idea of a Kenyan birth provided that, but when it was challenged, and proof proved elusive, it was necessary to fall back on other ideas, usually involving speculation about the law.

    Claims that Obama’s biological father was someone other than Barack Obama Sr., since the alleged father has usually been a US citizen, do not really work as extensions of the original premise that he is not eligible. And then you have the whole “Secret Muslim” idea, which is not completely disconnected, but starts with the premise that he is an enemy of the US, and whatever his citizenship status, is not really American.

  14. avatar
    Pastor Charmley August 31, 2016 at 5:53 am #

    The Conspiracy Theory often functions as a worldview for the person who holds it – especially when it is a metanarrative like the Central Banking Conspiracy Theory, or the various iterations of the Illuminati. That means the central tenets of the theory cannot be wrong, only one’s understanding of the application of that theory. As a result, if an element of the particular application is proved wrong, well, that does not affect the central tenets. So if you begin with the presupposition that Barack Hussein Obama is not eligible to be President of the US as your central tenet, you may embrace initially the idea that it is because he was born in Kenya. When that is challenged, one may either ignore the challenge, or “correct” the claim accordingly to say that either he is ineligible because his father was not a US citizen, or that he must have surrendered his citizenship at some point.

    It’s rather like a certain 9/11 Truther I engaged before the 2008 election. He was one of those adamant that Bush would carry out a false-flag attack and cancel the election, and after that was proved wrong, he insisted Bush would carry out a false-flag attack and Obama would not be sworn in. The day of the swearing-in, I challenged him that there had been no false-flag attack. His response, “Obama is the false flag.”

    Of course, we’re seeing the Birthers preparing for what happens next already. Some are (amusingly from my perspective) sounding just like many Truthers eight years ago. Others embrace silly ideas about a ‘legal’ way for Obama to have a third time, such as that Obama could have Hillary indicted after the election, and that would mean he would remain in the White House (it wouldn’t), or that he has engineered the election so that both elderly candidates will keel over, meaning he remains President. Still others say that Hillary is his proxy, and others talk about rigged elections or Trump being assassinated (a few think Trump is is cahoots with Hillary, but they are a minority).

  15. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 31, 2016 at 7:11 am #

    “And I wouldn’t put it past Obama to be plotting right now how to serve beyond 2016.”

    — Rush Limbaugh (2012)

    Pastor Charmley: thers embrace silly ideas about a ‘legal’ way for Obama to have a third time, such as that Obama could have Hillary indicted after the election, and that would mean he would remain in the White House (it wouldn’t), or that he has engineered the election so that both elderly candidates will keel over, meaning he remains President. Still others say that Hillary is his proxy, and others talk about rigged elections or Trump being assassinated (a few think Trump is is cahoots with Hillary, but they are a minority).

  16. avatar
    Cody Robert Judy August 31, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    Anti-Birthers are the biggest conspiracy kooks I’ve ever seen.

    The premise begins with Law for Birthers with a real case consideration where the SCOTUS acknowledged in Minor v. Happersett ( no conspiracy exist for those born in the Country to its Citizens for the others Conspiracy exist)

    The conspiracy begins with non transparency. No conspiracy exist where there is proof positive or transparency.

    Doubt is where conspiracy gains traction, and that is provided by non transparency.

    @Bob maintains a conspiracy about my not filling out a forma pauperis Motion correctly rather then presume corruption in the SCOTUS dispute evidence I filled out and passed the Motion by two lower Courts on the same case, and 3 other Court’s in the SCOTUS 12-5276 Case of Judy v. Obama.

    Obama has a host of Records he’s not been transparent with and his own non transparency served up your own complaints about conspiracy. Duh?

    College Records, Marital Records, Divorce Records these are things Obama himself “used’ to get elected.

    Making those applications relevant for others but exempting ones self from them is why Obama is the Birther King.

  17. avatar
    Scientist August 31, 2016 at 10:39 am #

    Cody Robert Judy: College Records, Marital Records, Divorce Records these are things Obama himself “used’ to get elected.

    Making those applications relevant for others but exempting ones self from them is why Obama is the Birther King.

    Who the hell ever asked for any of those from any other candidate? All anyone has ever asked for are tax returns from Drumpf, something every candidate in the last 50 years has provided.

  18. avatar
    Cody Robert Judy August 31, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    Scientist: Who the hell ever asked for any of those from any other candidate?

    Maybe you could point out to all of us the last POTUS that had a foreign father who was not a [Citizen] at the time of the Adoption of the Constitution?

    Maybe you could point out to us why 8 attempts to change the Qualification for Pres failed since 2003 and what exactly they were proposing be changed in the first instance?

    Maybe you could point out that in any investigation more than one fact is desired to support a conclusion…? It’s called Calloborating Evidence and wanting it does not make a conspiracy it actually points to exactly the opposite ‘no reasonable doubt”.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corroborating_evidence
    Corroborating evidence (or corroboration) is evidence that tends to support a proposition that is already supported by some initial evidence, therefore confirming the proposition. For example, W, a witness, testifies that she saw X drive his automobile into a green car. Meanwhile, Y, another witness, testifies that when he examined X’s car, later that day, he noticed green paint on its fender. There can also be corroborating evidence related to a certain source, such as what makes an author think a certain way due to the evidence that was supplied by witnesses or objects.

    This is exactly what Minor v. Happersett pointed out no doubt exist with those born in the Country to its Citizens to the others there are doubts.

    You must ask Obama about the divorce records opened up on his opponent Jack Ryan

    His 2004 campaign for the Senate, against Barack Obama, received widespread media attention for the disclosure of sealed custody documents stemming from his divorce from actress Jeri Ryan. The unsealing of those documents, detailing allegations that Ryan had pressured his wife to perform sexual acts in public, led to Ryan’s withdrawal from the campaign.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corroborating_evidence

    So the short answer to your question is “Obama”

  19. avatar
    Scientist August 31, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    Cody Robert Judy: Maybe you could point out to all of us the last POTUS that had a foreign father who was not a [Citizen] at the time of the Adoption of the Constitution?

    Chester Arthur. But Obama admitted his father was a foreigner. I believe he even wrote a best-selling book about that very fact. So what would you glean about his father from the records?

    Cody Robert Judy: Maybe you could point out to us why 8 attempts to change the Qualification for Pres failed since 2003 and what exactly they were proposing be changed in the first instance?

    Why they failed? I’m not in Congress and can’t say. The proposed amendments had to do with allowing naturalized citizens to become President after 20 years or some such period. Barack Obama is not a naturalized citizen so they are not relevant to him.

    Cody Robert Judy: You must ask Obama about the divorce records opened up on his opponent Jack Ryan

    His 2004 campaign for the Senate, against Barack Obama, received widespread media attention for the disclosure of sealed custody documents stemming from his divorce from actress Jeri Ryan. The unsealing of those documents, detailing allegations that Ryan had pressured his wife to perform sexual acts in public, led to Ryan’s withdrawal from the campaign.

    It wasn’t Obama who got those records disclosed, it was the media, including the Chicago Tribune, and Ryan’s GOP primary opponents. And Obama has no divorce records to release, does he???

  20. avatar
    gorefan August 31, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    Cody Robert Judy: Maybe you could point out to all of us the last POTUS that had a foreign father who was not a [Citizen] at the time of the Adoption of the Constitution?

    You should consider the case of Charles Evan Hughes. He was the Republican presidential candidate in 1916 against Democrat Woodrow Wilson. It was a well-known fact that his father was not a US citizen at the time of his birth. He was a British subject. And yet the Republicans nominated him as their candidate.

    In the election, Hughes lost California by 3000 votes out of 1 million cast. Had he won California, he would have beaten Wilson.

    In 1916 the Republicans did not believe in the two-citizen parent rule. So can you tell us specifically when it changed?

  21. avatar
    Arthur B. August 31, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    gorefan: In 1916 the Republicans did not believe in the two-citizen parent rule. So can you tell us specifically when it changed?

    This is one of my favorite questions to put to birthers!

    Today, among judges, lawyers, and scholars, there is essentially unanimous agreement that there is no two-citizen-parent rule. But the birthers insist that there is strong evidence that there was, that it’s what they were taught as schoolchildren.

    And I like to ask, where’s the historical record of reactions to the fact that an essential feature of our political system had made a 180° turn? Didn’t all those judges, lawyers, and scholars even notice that what they had been taught earlier in their lives had been flipped onto its head?

  22. avatar
    Dave B. August 31, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    I’ve got a Chas. E. Hughes for President pin sitting in front of my monitor. Kind of like the guy. For somebody who wouldn’t pass muster by birther law, he sure had a distinguished record of public service to the American people.
    It cracks me up when birthers try to cite to Hughes’ opinion in Perkins v. Elg as if it supports them.

    gorefan: You should consider the case of Charles Evan Hughes.He was the Republican presidential candidate in 1916 against Democrat Woodrow Wilson.It was a well-known fact that his father was not a US citizen at the time of his birth.He was a British subject.And yet the Republicans nominated him as their candidate.

    In the election, Hughes lost California by 3000 votes out of 1 million cast.Had he won California, he would have beaten Wilson.

    In 1916 the Republicans did not believe in the two-citizen parent rule.So can you tell us specifically when it changed?

  23. avatar
    Dave B. August 31, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    As far as I know Obama doesn’t have any records sealed by court order, which that court could then unseal.

    Scientist: It wasn’t Obama who got those records disclosed, it was the media, including the Chicago Tribune, and Ryan’s GOP primary opponents. And Obama has no divorce records to release, does he???

  24. avatar
    Scientist August 31, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    Dave B.: As far as I know Obama doesn’t have any records sealed by court order, which that court could then unseal.

    None. To be fair, Trump’s tax returns aren’t sealed either, except by his lying, cheating, crooked self.

  25. avatar
    Cody August 31, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    Scientist: Barack Obama is not a naturalized citizen so they are not relevant to him.

    Obama’s ‘naturalization’ is covered by the powers of ‘naturalization’ given to Congress to define ‘adoption’ rather than ‘natural born Citizen’ which Congress was not given powers to define as it is defined by nature and natures God. That is why you will not see ‘born in the U.S. to Citizen Parents’ in the NATIONALS and CITIZENS at BIRTH TITLE (which is a ACT of Naturalization given Congress by and under the powers of the Constitution)

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1401

    8 U.S. Code § 1401 – Nationals and citizens of United States at birth

    (a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
    (e) a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents [one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person];

    This is where Hillary Clinton, in my opinion, knew as a ‘Birther’ being a co-sponsor of U.S. Sen. Res. 511 that if the matter actually went to Trial, McCain would lose, and by that same admission Obama as (inherited parental citizenship) as well as (Place-soil) was understood to be necessary.

    Reference:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/us/politics/18web-hulse.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0

    [The sponsors include both Democrats vying to be Mr. McCain’s opponent, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, as well as Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma.

    Of course, the authors acknowledge the resolution would have little real influence were the matter of Mr. McCain’s eligibility hanging by a legal thread. ]

    You can call it a paraphrase if you’d like, but in general she knew it was non-binding and did not hold legal weight. This might be the most notorious accomplishment of Hillary Clinton as a senator abrogating to ‘change’ what had been intensely debated.

    AND as I’ve referred to many times CONGRESS Conducted Hearings in 2000 hearing witnesses and testimony on the matter and flatly rejected changing it. Here are excerpts regarding the Hearings held before the House Judiciary Committee:

    2000
    CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO ALLOW FOREIGN-BORN CITIZENS TO BE PRESIDENT

    HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
    SECOND SESSION
    ON
    H.J.Res. 88
    JULY 24, 2000
    Serial No. 108
    Excerpt 1
    ”. . . it will require other talents and a different kind of merit to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of president of the United States”—thus writes Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No.68. Indeed, the ”chief magistrate” who is also Commander-in-Chief has to grow from the soil.
    Excerpt 2
    I came to this Country in 1959, and became a citizen in 1964. During my formative years in Hungary, I read as much American literature as American students might have in the high schools of yore. In my second year of residence, I married a native-born American, and henceforth spoke English exclusively in my home. Before and after taking the oath of citizenship, I have made continuous and extensive efforts to become American, not only in the administrative sense of the word. In the course of my life, spent mostly as a performing artist and academic, I had the opportunity to start a small corporation and run for elective office—both of which are indispensable for the comprehension of America.

    My interest in, and commitment to, the principles upon which this Nation was founded prompted me to establish a small Think Tank—called Center for the American Founding—that connects today’s issues with those principles. I write a regular column, and have published a book about American political philosophy. My fellow Americans honor me frequently in word and deed very much as one of their own.

    Yet, Mr. Chairman, I wish to state unequivocally that, despite all of the above, I would not consider myself eligible to the office of president of the United States.

    The people of this land are possessed of a unique brand of tolerance, a balanced temperament, and a natural goodwill toward the world. While such persons may be found everywhere, they constitute an overwhelming majority among Americans. One of the inexplicable miracles of America is the transformation that occurs within one generation, no matter how different the customs and mores of the new arrivals.

    Excerpt 3
    In addition, liberty is not simply a blessing guaranteed by the Constitution, but an inner state of being, again separating Americans from most others. An overwhelming majority of immigrants arrive on these shores looking, as they had always done, to government as a source of benefits, and an authority to obey.
    Excerpt 4
    Those who favor the proposed amendment will no doubt point to exceptional persons of their acquaintance who, in their view, would fulfill any and all expectations with regard to the office of president, though being of foreign birth. Yet the laws of this country never have been written with the exceptions in mind. Among other things, the Framers of the Constitution distinguished themselves by writing few laws, and employing language at once broad and concise, so as to be applicable to all circumstances at all times
    Excerpt 5
    The original Constitution contemplated a relatively weak presidency, but the office has become the most powerful in the world, and safeguards surrounding it are therefore more indispensable than ever. The one area of presidential authority that is virtually unchecked and uncheckable (despite the War Powers Act and similar efforts) is the president’s power as commander in chief. Can that power be safely entrusted to a foreign-born citizen? John Jay didn’t think so; nor do I; nor I suspect do the vast majority of Americans.

    Let us consider a few scenarios. Start with an extreme example. The espionage agencies of a number of countries, doubtless including the United States, have sometimes employed what in the spy novel is called an agent under deep cover. A young person is thoroughly trained and indoctrinated before being sent to an enemy country, where he or she becomes a citizen and an exemplar of respectable behavior. This goes on for years, even decades, until the parent agency determines that it is time to activate the agent. It is not difficult to imagine such a person obtaining an office of great trust. But a Senator is one of 100, and a Representative is one of 435. What check is there on the president who is one of one, except for the constitutional restriction?

    Should that seem too remote a possibility, consider a more likely case. A person comes to America from country ”X” as a young man, takes out citizenship, become thoroughly Americanized, and is as loyal to his adopted country as can be. Nonetheless, in dealing with his original country he is bound to be influenced by his nativity, whether in the form of hostility or favoritism. Even should he prove able to rise above his prejudices and deal with the old country objectively, he would still be widely regarded as prejudiced, and the media would fan such suspicions. As commander in chief, it is not enough to be above reproach, one must be above the suspicion of reproach.

    Let me cite a more tangible example, one closer to recent experience. We all know a number of Cuban-Americans. They are loyal to our country, now their country too. They are pillars of their communities and are more fiercely patriotic than most natural born Americans. And yet, as the recent to-do over Elian Gonzalez demonstrated, few of them are able to regard Cuba dispassionately or treat relations with Castro’s Cuba with equanimity. Suppose we had had a Cuban-born president in the White House at the time of the Gonzalez controversy. Would that president have been able to retain objectivity and, as importantly, any shred of credibility under the circumstances?

    In conclusion let me say that on this as on other constitutional questions, we are best guided by the wisdom and prudence of the Founding Fathers. The amendment process is not to be taken lightly, nor should it be used for political or electioneering purposes. The structure created by the Constitution has stood the test of time and continues to stand as the truest foundation for our freedom
    Excerpt 6
    Mr. VAZSONYI. I would not only agree in general, I would also cite a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, I believe, in 1820, in which he says very clearly that all confidence must be in the American people, who are the only repositories of a safe future.

    But I also believe that political events can be influenced, and it is not unthinkable for a foreign power, especially for a foreign power, perhaps I am going to cite China, a country with an extremely long-term view of history, to arrange things perhaps on a 50-year plan to install someone on American soil and really hope to be able to run for that office and put the necessary strength behind it.

    End

    I mean you can call Birthers whatever you want, but ultimately as far as the Legislature goes, there’s been no change to the qualification being ‘born in the U.S. to Citizen Parents’ as a definitive of [natural born Citizen]

    July 9, 2008

    Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 08-14

    Abstract:
    Senator McCain was born in 1936 in the Canal Zone to U.S. citizen parents. The Canal Zone was territory controlled by the United States, but it was not incorporated into the Union. As requested by Senator McCain’s campaign, distinguished constitutional lawyers Laurence Tribe and Theodore Olson examined the law and issued a detailed opinion offering two reasons that Senator McCain was a natural born citizen. Neither is sound under current law. The Tribe-Olson Opinion suggests that the Canal Zone, then under exclusive U.S. jurisdiction, may have been covered by the Fourteenth Amendment’s grant of citizenship to “all persons born . . . in the United States.” However, in the Insular Cases, the Supreme Court held that “unincorporated territories” were not part of the United States for constitutional purposes. Accordingly, many decisions hold that persons born in unincorporated territories are not Fourteenth Amendment citizens. The Tribe-Olson Opinion also suggests that Senator McCain obtained citizenship by statute. However, the only statute in effect in 1936 did not cover the Canal Zone. Recognizing the gap, in 1937, Congress passed a citizenship law applicable only to the Canal Zone, granting Senator McCain citizenship, but eleven months too late for him to be a citizen at birth. Because Senator John McCain was not a citizen at birth, he is not a “natural born Citizen” and thus is not “eligible to the Office of President” under the Constitution.

    Keywords: John McCain, Canal Zone, citizenship, naturalization, natural born citizen, president, presidential eligibility
    JEL Classifications: K33
    Working Paper Series

    You know I had forgotten that Obama had assisted Tribe as a Clerk at Harvard, but that is true. Of course Tribe’s Paper was an assist for Obama and Tribe was the Democratic Part of the supposed bi-partisan paper McCain got to stump for him.

    https://constitutionallyspeaking.wordpress.com/a-congressional-natural-born-citizen-parts-i-ii-iii/

    The “Congressional” Natural Born Citizen Part I : A ‘Tribe’-ute to DC Liberal Activism … Laurence Tribe is the co-founder of the liberal activist “American Constitution Society”, … While studying at Harvard, Obama became a research assistant to Tribe on his … Recognizing that John Sidney McCain, III, is a natural born citizen.

    While studying at Harvard, Obama became a research assistant to Tribe on his book – “Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes” (1990) and in turn, during Obama’s candidacy, Tribe did a political commercial congratulating Obama and publicly supporting the Obama campaign.

  26. avatar
    Scientist August 31, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

    Cody: ‘natural born Citizen’ which Congress was not given powers to define as it is defined by nature and natures God.

    There is no citizenship in nature. I went to Canada last week and saw birds flying back and forth across the border with no passports at all. And no one even tried to stop them.

  27. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy August 31, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

    Chester A. Arthur. Father Irish.

    Cody Robert Judy: Maybe you could point out to all of us the last POTUS that had a foreign father who was not a [Citizen] at the time of the Adoption of the Constitution.

  28. avatar
    Steve August 31, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

    Scientist:
    The problem with conspiracy theories is they generally require the participants, who often number in the thousands (like the 9/11 conspiracies) to be:

    1. Highly competent
    2. Able to keep secrets despite the huge rewards that spilling the beans would bring

    When I bring that up, conspiracy buffs bring up two things:
    1) Operation Northwoods
    and
    2). The Manhattan Project.

    The first one never got off the ground.
    The second one involved carefully vetted professionals working in the middle of nowhere decades before the internet and once the bombs were dropped on Japan, there was no need to keep it secret anymore. Nobody had to take it to their grave.

  29. avatar
    Scientist August 31, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    Steve: When I bring that up, conspiracy buffs bring up two things:
    1) Operation Northwoods
    and
    2). The Manhattan Project.

    The first one never got off the ground.
    The second one involved carefully vetted professionals working in the middle of nowhere decades before the internet and once the bombs were dropped on Japan, there was no need to keep it secret anymore. Nobody had to take it to their grave.

    I’m not familiar with Operation Northwoods

    As for the Manhattan Project, that wasn’t a conspiracy. It was wartime and many of the people involved were refugees from fascism who had a very large personal stake in its success. Passing secrets would have been a crime potentially punishable by death, whereas spilling the beans on 9/11 or faking a birth certificate would be whistleblowing and not a crime at all. Of course, in the Cold War period many secrets were passed to the Soviets.

  30. avatar
    Steve August 31, 2016 at 10:55 pm #

    Scientist: I’m not familiar with Operation Northwoods

    I think they cite the Manhattan Project simply as “proof” that if there is strong enough incentive to keep quiet, a large group of people can keep a secret. While I think it’s true for a finite amount of time, it can’t last forever.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northwoods

    I think the point conspiracy theorists think they’re making with Operation Northwoods is that the government isn’t above this sort of thing. Maybe that’s true, but it’s far more relevant that it never happened and someone probably would have found out about it had it happened.

  31. avatar
    Cody Robert Judy September 1, 2016 at 1:54 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Chester A. Arthur. Father Irish.

    Yes, Doc.. we’ve discussed that before, (Smile) , I was waiting for that one.

    http://codyjudy.blogspot.com/2015/10/breaking-report-natural-born-citizen.html?m=1

    Chester Arthur 1881-1885 [never was elected as President], but he was next in line as President Garfield was assassinated.

    Arthur [warded off offense to his not being qualified by lying about his family origins]. Recent revelations of a 2008 investigation indicate his father did not naturalize as a U.S. Citizen until Arthur was 14 years old.

    And, that lying category is probably not the one Obama would like to be tied to, but we’ll do it the way you’d prefer.

  32. avatar
    Scientist September 1, 2016 at 7:00 am #

    Cody Robert Judy: And, that lying category is probably not the one Obama would like to be tied to, but we’ll do it the way you’d prefer.

    You accuse Chester Arthur of lying. Can you point to a single untrue statement he made regarding his father? Can you point to a single untrue statement Obama made about his father?

  33. avatar
    Scientist September 1, 2016 at 7:16 am #

    Steve: I think they cite the Manhattan Project simply as “proof” that if there is strong enough incentive to keep quiet, a large group of people can keep a secret. While I think it’s true for a finite amount of time, it can’t last forever.

    The situations are quite different, though. Spilling the beans on the Manhattan Project in wartime would have got you shot; spilling the beans on 9/11 being faked would get you a permanent seat on the talk shows and a fat book deal. Or you would have had to elude the FBI and the MPs and somehow make it out of the country, and then you would be aiding an enemy that in many cases was trying to kill you and your family.

    The counterexample is Snowden. The stuff he divulged was top, top secret and he hasn’t been killed. There is little doubt a 9/11 or Obama b.c. whistleblower would find a welcome in Moscow, as Snowden has. Oliver Stone has a movie about him coming out this month.

  34. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 1, 2016 at 8:19 am #

    I don’t recall you using the word “elected” in your question, so Arthur is a correct response.

    As for Arthur lying, that was a smear from Leo Donofrio to cover up the fact that Arthur blew apart his theories on presidential eligibility. The biggest lie Arthur told (if it was intentional) was to say he was a year younger than he actually was.

    I’ve been all over the newspaper accounts of Arthur’s statements during the election, and there is nothing whatever that would have remotely suggested Arthur was trying to mislead anyone about his father’s naturalization.

    You claim that the naturalization of Arthur’s father was only discovered in 2008, but in fact Teddy Roosevelt mentioned it in a book he wrote.

    The liars are modern birthers.

    Cody Robert Judy: Chester Arthur 1881-1885 [never was elected as President], but he was next in line as President Garfield was assassinated.

    Arthur [warded off offense to his not being qualified by lying about his family origins]. Recent revelations of a 2008 investigation indicate his father did not naturalize as a U.S. Citizen until Arthur was 14 years old.

  35. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) September 1, 2016 at 10:03 am #

    Cody Robert Judy: Maybe you could point out to us why 8 attempts to change the Qualification for Pres failed since 2003 and what exactly they were proposing be changed in the first instance?

    Mostly by Republicans in an attempt to make Arnold Schwarzenegger eligible for the presidency.
    Your conspiracy theory still requires belief in the nonsense that only someone with at least one foreign parent was willing to assume the role of President in the way The Conspiracy demanded.

    And really, after Obama’s term is nearly over, what nefarious things has he accomplished that Hillary wouldn’t do? And if Hillary had been willing, why the need in 2003 (!) to change the Constitution to make way for Obama?

  36. avatar
    W. Kevin Vicklund September 1, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    The Magic M (not logged in): Mostly by Republicans in an attempt to make Arnold Schwarzenegger eligible for the presidency.

    And by a number of Democrats to make Jennifer Granholm eligible.

  37. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG September 1, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Another day, another conversation where Cody gets owned.

  38. avatar
    Rickey September 1, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

    Andrew Vrba, PmG:
    Another day, another conversation where Cody gets owned.

    At least he is on topic this time.

  39. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG September 1, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

    Rickey: At least he is on topic this time.

    Guess we gotta take the miracles we get.