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Faux quote challenge

Here’s a contest that I announce with just a little trepidation. The idea is to come up with a “quotation” that you attribute to a historical figure, only it has to be fake.

If you need examples, you probably need go no further than your email inbox, or Facebook—or you could also visit the Orly Taitz blog:

imageThe first and third are bogus. I think the second is questionable—widely quoted, but never with a source. I wrote about them in my article “Apocryphal quotes on Taitz web site.”

My fear is that one of the better entries may some day find itself in my email inbox.

100% verified

Mike Zullo, head of the Maricopa County, Arizona, volunteer Cold Case Posse, has made all sorts of claims about his activities arising from his attempts to discredit Barack Obama’s citizenship. Now in a recent interview, he say that all of the Cold Case Posse findings have been “verified.” He never says how they were verified, nor who verified them, leaving it to a matter of trusting Zullo’s word.

Around here, Mike Zullo’s credibility stands at somewhere to the south of zero after he was caught fabricating evidence in the form of a fake vital records coding manual and then lying about it. Has Zullo gotten any better?

In the same broadcast [link to podcast] where Zullo said he had “verified” the Cold Case Posse findings, he also related a story of a visit to George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, and a tour guide telling him that Barack Obama was the only President who had not visited Mt. Vernon. In a fine piece of investigative journalism, Reality Check has found that this isn’t true at all; lots of President’s haven’t visited there. (Good job, Rick!)

We don’t know if Zullo made up the story of the tour guide, whether he altered the story, or whether he just passed on information as fact that he didn’t check out. The end result is the same: It has been 100% verified that Mike Zullo is not a trustworthy source of information.

The return of the McInnish

Hugh McInnish of Alabama is joined by Keith Goode in a lawsuit against Secretary of State Beth Chapman filed October 11. The suit in the form of a petition for writ of mandamus seeks to compel Chapman to verify the eligibility of all the candidates running for President in Alabama. What makes this case notable is that plaintiffs are represented by attorney Larry Klayman along with local counsel L. Dean Johnson. Klayman comes off a string of defeats in birther cases.

McInnish had sued Chapman previously in the Alabama Supreme Court. This is the case with the infamous birther-friendly concurring opinion by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Parker. Parker wrote:

McInnish has attached certain documentation to his mandamus petition, which, if presented to the appropriate forum as part of a proper evidentiary presentation, would raise serious questions about the authenticity of both the “short form” and the “long form” birth certificates of President Barack Hussein Obama that have been made public.

The previous case was dismissed because the Court said that there is no original jurisdiction to hear a Writ of Mandamus petition at the Alabama Supreme Court. That mistake is avoided this time by filing the petition in the Montgomery Circuit Court. McInnish claims:

  • Obama’s long form birth certificate is a forgery
  • Obama is ineligible because his father was not a US Citizen

and attaches exhibits (fewer than the previous case):

  • Affidavit of Sheriff Joe Arpaio
  • Affidavit of Jerome Corsi
  • Article on George Washington’s overdue library book (Vattel’s Law of Nations)
  • Article: Book Selections of the Founding Fathers

Klayman moved for summary judgment (apparently too soon).  The Alabama Democratic Party petitioned for leave to intervene, including in their filing the order from Florida dismissing the similar Voeltz case (also prosecuted by Klayman). The motion for summary judgment was opposed by the Alabama Secretary of State through her counsel James W. Davis of the Attorney General’s office, assisted by Margaret L. Fleming. Defendants objections may be briefly stated:

  • The motion for summary judgment was filed too soon
  • There is no statutory requirement for the Alabama Secretary of State to verify eligibility of candidates
  • Only Congress may determine a President’s qualifications (citing Robinson v. Bowen)
  • Plaintiffs failed to join necessary parties (i.e. Barack Obama)
  • The claim was filed too late (voting has already begun).

Given the late date, I would assume that this case was filed solely for publicity value right before the election. However, birther cases are no longer news.

This lawsuit is:


Was George Washington a Natural Born Citizen?

Portrait of George WashingtonHappy Birthday to our first President, George Washington. There are quite a few articles on this web site tagged George Washington.  I wrote an article, tongue in cheek, titled “George Washington, first in war, first in peace, and first presidential usurper” in my first month here. The article was bit of silliness, but there is a real question apart from whether or not Washington was eligible and that was whether or not he was a natural born citizen.

I wrote a more serious article about this question in April of 2010, titled George Washington – Natural Born Citizen. The reason I bring up the question again is that Birthers consistently decline to answer it.

John Jay wrote Washington suggesting that none but a natural born citizen be Commander in Chief. There is no qualification offered1.

James Madison, speaking before Congress in defense of the eligibility of Representative William Smith, said:

I conceive that every person who owed this primary allegiance to the particular community in which he was born, retained his right of birth, as a member of a new community; that he was absolved from a secondary allegiance that he had owed to a British sovereign.

By this principle George Washington, born in Virginia, was a natural born citizen of the United States provided parentage has no effect. Washington’s father, on the other hand, died a British Subject before the American Revolution. So if parental citizenship matters, then George Washington was not a natural born citizen, and as such, he would have been excluded by Jay from the office of Commander in Chief of the United States. Can anyone think of a more absurd exclusion?2

1One birther actually did attempt to take on the argument, but he asserted that John Jay must have implicitly known that the Constitutional Convention would create an exception for those who were citizens at the time of adoption. This view is essentially impossible due to the pledge of secrecy taken by the members of the Convention and it ignores what Jay actually wrote. In typical birther fashion, this commenter made up history to support his position.

2The argument form in this paragraph is essentially modus tolendo tolens (by denying deny) or as mathematicians would label it, reductio ad absurdum (reduced to an absurdity).

Natural born citizenship primer

The historical consensus

Prior to 2008, no American authority in history ever denied the universal consensus that anyone born a citizen of the United States within one of the 50 states qualifies as a natural born citizen and, meeting the additional requirements of age and residency, is eligible to run for President of the United States. The Framers of the Constitution had very little to say on the subject, but other contemporary authorities such as William Rawle, appointed by George Washington as District Attorney for Pennsylvania, wrote in 1825:

…he who was subsequently born a citizen of a state became at the moment of his birth a citizen of the United States Therefore every person born within the United States its territories or districts whether the parents are citizens or aliens is a natural born citizen in the sense of the Constitution and entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining to that capacity Continue Reading →

Was George Washington really born in America?

The official story is that George Washington was born, February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County, Colony of Virginia, which later became part of the United States; however, there were tales circulating that Washington was really born in England.

This is not, of course, an eligibility story since the Constitution did not require those of Washington’s era to be natural born citizens. It is, however, a smear. This little-known story is recounted by David Kolb, former editorial page editor of the Muskegon Chronicle, in an article at, titled President Obama is in some good company in Birther Land. Kolb quotes Washington’s grandson, George Washington Parke Custis Esq.:

Lord Byron wrote of an age of bronze, but we live in an age of brass; for surely the idea that Washington was born in England is too monstrous an absurdity to be brazened to the world in the nineteenth century.

When I first read the above mentioned article, I thought it might be a spoof; however the rumors that Washington was born in England are real, as evidenced by the following from Notes and Queries, 1857.

New England Historical and Genealogical Register – January 1857 No. 1:

Yes, there were persistent and various rumors that George Washington was born in England, and that his Virgina mother went to England to birth her son, and RUSHED BACK TO AMERICA just in time to have the future president baptized in Virginia and so his false place of birth recorded in the Washington family Bible. Who knows what we would be thinking of the Father of our Country if there had been an Internet in 1776?

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