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Leo Donofrio: Natural born conspiracy theorist

I came across Leo C. Donofrio first in connection with his Obama and McCain eligibility lawsuit in New Jersey, Donofrio v. Wells. My short biographical page on him was published in December of 2008; there would be many more articles to follow. Donofrio is known famously, or perhaps infamously, as the inventor of a new meaning for the constitutional term “natural born citizen,” the proposition that US Presidents must be born in the country to two citizen parents.

Donofrio showed a conspiracist bent right from the first with his novel claim that US President Chester A. Arthur conspired to keep his father’s naturalization status  (Irish) a secret by lying about his age and burning his papers just before he died. In truth, his father’s nationality was known, but not widely discussed because that was before Donofrio came up with a theory where it mattered.

photo at right by Carlos De Deios © Filminco Productions 2011.) In addition to being a lawyer, a professional poker player and rock musician, Donofrio is also a filmmaker working under the pseudonym Jet Wintzer. To his credit is a film titled Towers, about a post apocalyptic world where most people have been destroyed by radiation from cell phone towers. Donofrio plays a survivor named “DJSpectacle” (photo at right by Carlos De Deios © Filminco Productions 2011). Donofrio’s other film credits include Colourfly (2012) and The Art of Forced Collaboration (2013).

Donofrio’s new film,  NASA NOT SOUND, according to its YouTube trailer, promotes the claim that Moon landing video footage from NASA is fake because one can hear sounds allegedly transmitted through the vacuum.

I have never decided in my own mind whether Donofrio believes any of the stuff, or if he is just trying to prove how smart he is by fooling other people.

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Teddy Roosevelt on dual nationality


On any list of America’s greatest Presidents one will invariably find Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1915 during the First World War a man from New Orleans wrote the US Department of State with a question: He had been born in the United States in 1880 to a father of French nationality and had lived his entire life in the United States. Now he contemplated a trip to France on business, but was concerned that should he go there, he might be conscripted into the French Army. The Department of State considered the facts of his case, cited the 14th Amendment and the French Civil Code, and replied:

It thus appears that you were born with a dual nationality, and the Department cannot therefore give you any assurance that you would not be held liable for the performance of military service in France should you voluntarily place yourself within French jurisdiction.

This reply did not sit well with former President Theodore Roosevelt. It disturbed him to the extent he devoted an entire chapter of his book, Fear God and Take Your Own Part, to the State Department’s position in this case. Roosevelt concluded:

The United States cannot with self-respect permit its organic and fundamental law to be overridden by the laws of a foreign country. It cannot acknowledge any such theory as this of "a dual nationality"-which, incidentally, is a self-evident absurdity. (p 291)

Of special interest to us are the examples of US Presidents who would be born “dual citizens” under the conflicting laws of the United States and other countries. Despite claims from Leo Donofrio, parroted by birthers ever since, that President Chester A. Arthur’s dual-citizen birth was a great secret only discovered in 2008, President Roosevelt certainly knew about it, listing Arthur among the examples of prominent Americans would could in theory be conscripted into foreign armies:

Let me point out a few of the possible applications of the doctrines thus laid down by the Department of State. If Colonel Goethals went to Holland he would be liable to be shipped out for military service in Sumatra. If Admirals Osterhaus and Schroeder had gone to Germany they could have been forced to served under Admiral von Tirpitz in the Germany navy. If General Barry should visit England he could be seized and sent to the trenches in France. If my neighbor Messrs. Peter Dunne and Mark Sullivan, and my friends Judge O’Brien and James Conolly and Charles Conolly went to England they could be impressed into the British army for service in Flanders or Ireland. If the sons of Jacob Riis went to Denmark they could be retined in the Danish forces. If the son of the great war correspondent McCahan whose mother was a Russian lady, went to Russia, he could be sent to serve in the Carpatians. President Andrew Jackson on this theory could have been impressed for military service in the English army against which he fought at New Orleans if he had ever happened to visit England; and President Arthur would have been in the same plight.

The ultimate insult

I don’t dabble in collecting coins and I totally missed the release of the Chester A. Arthur $1 coin last January 5. There has to be a wonderful irony to our first post-founding-generation US President born to a British subject being commemorated on US coinage the same year that our second US President born to a British subject father is running for re-election. You can see the story below and click the image to go to the US Mint web site (where you can learn about other coins in the Presidential $1 Series).



The only reason I found this was that I was researching what forms the second part of the one-two punch from the government, this time what has to be  the ultimate insult to the birthers. The story flashed by in one of those below screen scrolling things on CNN (that I have running in a window on the computer monitor) and I turned up the volume in time to catch the story. It appears that there has been a leak of information from the Treasury about a coin that wasn’t supposed to be announced until Summer.

Image of $2 coin showing Australian aboriginee and USACNN reports that the US Mint has already been minting and stockpiling the new $2 coin that features the White House on the front and the face of a “generic” African-featured male on the back. The design is by Randall E. Pershall, who has designed several other US coins as well as coins for Australia and New Zealand.  A Congressional task force that began work in 2005 recommended the coin as the best way to commemorate the contribution of Africans slave labor in the construction of the federal city. According to the Associated Press:

Slaves were the largest labor pool when Congress in 1790 decided to create a new national capital along the Potomac surrounded by the two slave-owning states of Maryland and Virginia.

Over the next decade, local farmers rented out their slaves for an average of $55 a year to help build the Capitol, the White House, the Treasury Department and the streets laid out by city planner Pierre L’Enfant.

CNN says the Treasury will issue an NPRM for a new regulation to require mandatory acceptance of the $2 in all vending machines by June 30, 2016, so I guess this is not a one-time souvenir. A press conference is scheduled for Monday morning at 10 AM at the Treasury.

I flipped over to Fox news and they were almost apoplectic in their denunciation of what they called a “transparent pandering to shore up weakening African-American  and other minority support in the 2012 election.”  Remind me to keep all the radios off when Limbaugh comes on Monday.

Personally, I’m all for this. When I traveled to Peru they had coins that were worth enough to actually buy something. You could go down to the convenience store and get a bottle of water and a sandwich and not have to dig out your wallet. The guys down there all have leather coin purses on their belts. I was a big fan of the US $1 coin, but merchants kept looking at me funny when I tried to use them.

The birthers are going to hate it. Now every time they get change, they will be reminded of the country’s first African-American President.

I’m starting a contest for the best “nickname” for the new coin.

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Gentleman Boss

President’s Day is nearing its close, but I don’t want to let it pass unnoticed. The title of this article is the name of the definitive biography by Thomas C. Reeves of one American President, Chester Alan Arthur.

With many of our presidents, their term of office begins with high hopes and then realism sets in. There are no magic solutions to our problems, and sometimes the President is the scapegoat. Some of our Presidents were pretty crummy, while some still inspire us to this day.

Chester Arthur is one of these rare presidents who, while not great, exceeded expectations. It has been said of Arthur: “He would leave office with more respect than when he entered it.”

In the 19th century, machine politics ran much of American government. In this system a political boss doled out government jobs (patronage) in exchange for the office holders working to keep the boss and his machine in power. Viewed as a product of the New York City Republican Machine, Arthur was expected to reward his cronies, but once in office he worked to end corruption and begin to dismantle the spoils system and political patronage by aggressively filling vacancies on the Civil Service system and supporting reform.

Arthur is also credited with the revitalization of a crumbling US Navy. So I offer this tribute to Chester A. Arthur, a President who did a lot better than folks expected.

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There are just some things in the world that are discouraging: the number of unemployed, the number of children hungry, the number of people dying of preventable diseases, war, pain and birthers.

On a bad day it feels like the inmates are running the asylum. One can hardly find a political forum without birthers dumping stupid stuff on it. It appears that the Republican party is now the Republican Birther Party based on polls that indicate that more than half of them are birthers. That idiot Donald Trump flies around in his private 727 saying ridiculous and false things about Obama’s origins. Jerome Corsi, who is nothing but a hack propagandist, will most likely have yet another a best-selling book out shortly spreading misinformation about Obama and, I learned today, Chester A. Arthur. That’s right; he’s going to dig up the body of President Arthur and assassinate him.

Even if Barack Obama were to release his long form birth certificate, and the Supreme Court were to declare him a natural born citizen, it would make no difference.

It all just erodes my faith in my fellow countrymen. I understand a little better why Lincoln went to the theater so much — to escape the insanity.

Hannity v Farah

Sean Hannity and Joseph Farah discuss the birth certificate. Radio interview:

Also includes clips from Chris Matthews and Donald Trump.

Farah is just plain wrong when he says that John McCain was forced to produce his birth certificate during the Senate hearings.