Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why I Believe Obama is a Natural-Born Citizen

Buried in the comments section of a Jay Bookman blog post at, I've had a conversation with one fellow who asked me why I believe Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen. When he didn't like my first answer enough, here's what I wrote:


I’m going to do it kinda bullet-point style, to keep things relatively short. So here goes. These first several assume birth in Hawaii, and all take into account the 'two-citizen-parent' theory of natural-born citizenship; I will deal with the Kenyan birth allegations further down.

- I have a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary in front of me. It defines “natural born citizen” as “A person born within the jurisdiction of a national government.” It then defines “naturalized citizen” as being “A foreign-born person who attains citizenship by law.” It does not list any other kinds of citizen, only by birth or naturalization. It does not require two citizen parents. This points to the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen.

- I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a law degree. Everything I learned in school, both undergraduate and graduate, points to the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen, and nothing I learned suggests otherwise.

- Two hundred plus years of electoral precedent and the public understanding of what constitutes a natural-born citizen (for instance, see WWI draft cards), and the lack of any prior eligibility challenges akin to the one made against Obama (and there have been other Presidential candidates who were not born to two citizen parents) supports the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen.

- The consensus opinion of the legal scholarly community as to the meaning of “natural-born citizen” supports the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen. Whereas there are essentially zero legal scholars who have given support to the ‘two-citizen-parent’ theory, which suggests that it is a fringe and wholly Constitutionally unsupported theory.

- Obama faced seven opponents in the Democratic primary, in addition to Republican opponent John McCain. All of them had election lawyers. Out of those eight, precisely zero of them ever so much as accused him of being ineligible for not being a natural-born citizen. Even Hillary, who refused to concede until the eleventh hour and who would have been the automatic Democratic nominee if he had been declared ineligible, never even suggested that he was ineligible. This supports the conclusion that he is a natural-born citizen.

So assuming a birth in Hawaii, my belief that Obama is a natural-born citizen is supported by the preeminent legal dictionary, my own legal and political education, two centuries of precedent, the legal scholarly community, and everyone who had a personal stake in Obama’s eligibility status.

As for why I believe he was born in Hawaii:

- The Certification of Live Birth says Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. The newspaper birth announcements say he was born in Hawaii. The director of the Hawaii State Department of Health has said “Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii.” Obama has consistently said, for 48 years, that he was born in Hawaii.

- There was never *any* doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii until spring 2008, four years after his name started getting mentioned as a Presidential contender, and over a year after he started his campaign. And the claims that he was born outside Hawaii were started and spread by anonymous and pseudonymous folks online, without any sources to back up their claims that ‘I heard that his mother had gone to Kenya…’ And in the year and a half since those initial rumors started being written online, not a single bit of evidence has turned up that the rumor-authors could have been relying on.

- Evidence ’supporting’ a Kenyan birth has consistently proven to be falsified, manipulated, grossly exaggerated, or non-existent. Meanwhile, the ‘experts’ who claimed that the Hawaii evidence was faked or forged consistently turned out to be liars and frauds themselves.

- And as obvious as this seems, I feel I should say it anyway: the notion that Ann Dunham traveled from Hawaii to Kenya to give birth is really, really stupid. I could mince words here, but I’m not. It’s just absurd on its face, and it’s barely even internally coherent. It’s a 10,000 mile plane trip from a first-world nation to a third-world nation, with no direct flights in-between. (By contrast, Joe Biden was born just a 200-mile car trip from Toronto, but no one claims he could’ve been born in Canada, even though it’s 1/50 the distance and could be driven in a few hours.) Until spring 2008, there had never been so much as the suggestion that Ann Dunham had ever set foot in Kenya during her lifetime, much less while she was pregnant. There is still no actual evidence that she ever traveled to Kenya. She knew no one there, and didn’t speak the language. And for her to obtain a birth registration by August 8, which said that her son was born in Honolulu, would have required a considerable amount of deception and fraud (which of course raises the internal consistency problem of: why go to Kenya in the first place to give birth if you want your child’s vital records to say he was born in Hawaii, and want it so hard that you’re willing to commit fraud?)

So there’s a lot of credible evidence to support a Hawaiian birth, as opposed to a lot of speculation and non-credible evidence to dispute a Hawaiian birth or support a birth anywhere else. There is no more credible reason to doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii than there is to doubt that Joe Biden was born in Pennsylvania, or that Bill Clinton was born in Arkansas, or that Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois. There is simply no reason to demand extraordinary birthplace evidence from Obama that was not demanded of previous candidates or Presidents.

Finally, to preempt any questions as to where my political loyalties lie, I am not a Democrat. I regularly vote Libertarian, and I have rarely voted Democratic for a federal office. I have never voted for a Democrat for President, and I did not vote for Obama last November. Rather, I voted for, and strongly supported, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr. And I fully stand by my choice, because I continue to oppose much of what Obama has done in office. But despite that, I can’t abide denialism, so I find myself forced to defend his eligibility against unsourced, unsubstantiated, and unsupported allegations. It’s something of a Golden Rule thing, really.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lucas Smith is Back

Back in July, I helped expose Lucas Smith, the BS artist who was auctioning on eBay a supposed Kenyan birth certificate for Obama. Smith disappeared for a while, but reemerged in mid-August in a series of WorldNetDaily articles. Amusingly, WND has simultaneously run headlining articles publicizing Smith's claims alongside separate articles declaring that his claims are bogus. Thus, they position themselves to help spread lies and falsehoods while positioning themselves to be able to deny any responsibility for spreading those same lies and falsehoods.

Anyhow, after releasing a couple of incredibly poorly shot videos, Smith has submitted an unsworn declaration in Orly's latest case of Barnett v. Obama. It's not an affidavit, because it is neither sworn nor notarized, but it's a form of federal declaration that is given equal consideration to an affidavit.

So let's consider some of the things Smith as to say in this declaration:
1. My name is Lucas Daniel Smith. I am over 18 years old, am of sound mind and free of any mental disease or psychological impairment of any kind or condition.

2. I am a citizen of the United States of America, I am 29 years old and I was born and raised in the state of Iowa.

Given that Orly is involved with this declaration, it's not terribly surprising that its content is already odd. Including "born and raised" information in a declaration is terribly irrelevant to the subject at hand. On the other hand, not including any information about where Mr. Smith can presently be found is an atypical omission for a declaration of this type. The court, after all, has no clue who "Lucas Daniel Smith" is, or how to locate him.
4. On February 19, 2009 I visited the Coast General hospital in Mombasa, Kenya.

In contrast to this claim in the declaration, back in late June/early July, Smith said "This spring I traveled through Kenya and it's capital Nairobi." Now instead of "this spring," he says he was in Kenya in February.
5. I visited the hospital accompanied by one more person, a natural born citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as “Zaire” and before independence as the “Belgian Congo”).

I see two things in this item worth noting, one questionable, and one just odd. The odd one is the inclusion of the political history of the Congo. Why that belongs in the declaration is beyond me; it's as relevant as the state of Smith's birth.

The other is the mention of Smith's associate, a "natural born citizen" (funny how that phrase makes it in) of the Congo. Based on previous postings by Smith, that person is "Andylenny." Here is a photo of Smith (left) and Andylenny (right):

I don't know the man, and I've never seen him in person, but "Andylenny," to me, looks hardly more like a Congolese citizen than I do. And I have five bucks that says the airport in that photo isn't even on the same continent as Kenya.
6. I traveled to Kenya and Mombasa in particular with the intent to obtain the original birth certificate of Barack Hussein Obama, as I was told previously that it was on file in the hospital and under seal, due to the fact that the prime minister of Kenya Raela Odinga is Barack Hussein Obama's cousin.

A lot to unpack here:

First, there's the matter of Smith's intent. Here he claims he went to Kenya intending to get the birth certificate, having been told previously it was at a Mombasa hospital. Back in June, Smith said that he was in Kenya simply on travel, and that he first started hearing talk about a Kenyan birth certificate when he was already in Kenya.

Second, Smith says he was "told previously" that there was a birth certificate on file with the hospital. Back in June all he said that was he "delved and found" that a birth certificate was on file at the hospital. No substantive difference, but Smith's source both times remains unstated. If he learned it by calling the hospital or contacting the state, you think he'd say so. But given his subsequent claim that he had to pay off a military official to get at the physical document, why would the hospital or the state be so open on the phone? On the other hand, who else in Nairobi would even be able to tell him decisively that he should make a 200+ mile trip to Mombasa? And why is that information not relevant to share while the history of Congo's name-changes is?

Third, Smith repeats the outright lie that Obama and Odinga are cousins. Putting a proven false statement in a court declaration isn't very smart, and it certainly doesn't encourage the reader to trust all of his less-verifiable claims.
7. I had to pay a cash “consideration” to a Kenyan military officer on duty to look the other way, while I obtained the copy of the birth certificate of Barack Hussein Obama.

8. The copy was signed by the hospital administrator.

9. The copy contain the embossed seal.

Kenya had a military officer in the hospital? In the records office? One that he simply slipped a few bucks, which not only allowed him to look at the records, or photograph them, but to walk away with a sealed document that was stamped and signed by the hospital administrator? Seriously?

Then there's the document itself:

There are some aspects of the document I find odd and curious (e.g., the lack of a birthday for Barack Sr.; the complete lack of a residence line for the father; ), but nothing that I can firmly state is hard evidence that it's a fake. But one feature stands out to me as the strongest evidence of fakery: the seal. Not only is it not a government seal for either Kenya or Mombasa, but it's terribly generic. It just says "SEAL" in the center, as though it was a bottom-level embossed sealmaker, bought from an office supplies dealer for about $25.

All in all, nothing totally concrete, but we have a combination of questionable and unsupported assertions along with some statements that are rather inconsistent with claims that Smith himself has previously made. Above I said that I'd put five bucks on the line that the photo of Smith and Andylenny wasn't taken in Kenya. I'd put another five bucks on the line to say that Smith hasn't so much as stepped foot in Kenya in 2009.