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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Logical Extension of Cutting NPRs Funding Due to Juan William's Firing

The way a significant number of the argument for defunding NPR after the firing Juan William's go something like this: "NPR receives federal funds and therefore violated Juan William's First Amendment Rights by firing him for his comments." Essentially saying that because NPR receives some federal funding, they are a quasi government entity and therefore must follow government personel rules. One website even went on to analyis NPR funding down to what it is indirectly receiving through tax exempt contributions.

It is harder to fire people in the government because there is the fear of politically motivated terminations that would have a chilling effect on government employees. Most private employment is at will and terminations can be for almost any reason. My question is: What if we started treating any entity that receives federal funding as a quasi governmental organization? General Motors? Citibank? Chase? What about Government contractors? Lockheed? Boeing? Worse yet, if you follow WND's analysis of indirect funding through tax benefits, this probably extends to any number of companies including all of Big Oil and Big Ag. Should all of these company be restricted in their ability to fire people because they receive federal funding either directly or indirectly?

This seems to me the logical extension of treating NPR like a quasi governmental organization because it receives federal funding and tax exemptions. To scream for the defunding of NPR because it fired someone over comments made to another media outlet could lead to the exact opposite of what Republicans profess to want. It would severily restrict private industry's ability to conduct its business.

If you want to defund NPR because you think the government should be in the media business that is understandable, but do not use NPR's business decision to fire Juan Williams as an excuse. It could lead down a road that no reasonable person would want.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mr. Donofri's view on Natural Born Citizens

This post is in response to Leo Donofrio's article on World Net Daily last week regarding Natural Born Citizenship. Based on my reading of the underlying case law, Mr. Donofrio's discussion of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) in support of the notion that children born of foreign nationals is not entirely accurate.

He selectively quotes part of a paragraph from what is an extremely long and detailed decision.
Mr. Donofrio's selection:

That neither Mr. Justice Miller nor any of the justices who took part in the decision of The Slaughterhouse Cases understood the court to be committed to the view that all children born in the United States of citizens or subjects of foreign States were excluded from the operation of the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment is manifest from a unanimous judgment of the Court, delivered but two years later, while all those judges but Chief Justice Chase were still on the bench, in which Chief Justice Waite said: "Allegiance and protection are, in this connection (that is, in relation to citizenship), reciprocal obligations. The one is a compensation for the other: allegiance for protection, and protection for allegiance. ... At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children, born in a country of parents who were its citizens, became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens. ..."

The paragraph as it appears on Lexis:

That neither Mr. Justice Miller, nor any of the justices who took part in the decision of The Slaughterhouse Cases, understood the court to be committed to the view that all children born in the United States of citizens or subjects of foreign States were excluded from the operation of the first sentence of the
Fourteenth Amendment, is manifest from a unanimous judgment of the court, delivered but two years later, while all those judges but Chief Justice Chase were still on the bench, in which Chief Justice Waite said: "Allegiance and protection are, in this connection" (that is, in relation to citizenship,) "reciprocal obligations. The one is a compensation for the other: allegiance for protection, and protection for allegiance." "At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children, born in a country, of [*680] parents who were its citizens, became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or [***902] natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction, without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts. It is sufficient, for everything we have now to consider, that all children, born of citizen parents within the jurisdiction, are [**469] themselves citizens." Minor v. Happersett, (1874) 21 Wall. 162, 166-168. The decision in that case was that a woman born of citizen parents within the United States was a citizen of the United States, although not entitled to vote, the right to the elective franchise not being essential to citizenship.

The court did not define "natural born citizen" as only children born in the US of US Citizens. It states that is has never been in question, but that there have been questions whether children born of forereign parents in the US are natural born citizens. The court also states they are not resolving that question.

The court states earlier that at Common Law in effect at the time the adoption of our Constitution, children born of foreign parents were considered natural born subjects/citizens, and that as of this desion, that common law rule continued to prevail:

It thus clearly appears that by the law of England for the last three centuries, beginning before the settlement of this country, and continuing to the present day, aliens, while residing in the dominions possessed by the Crown of England, were within the allegiance, the obedience, the faith or loyalty, the protection, the power, the jurisdiction, of the English Sovereign; and therefore every child born in England of alien parents was a natural-born subject, unless the child of an ambassador or other diplomatic agent of a foreign State, or of an alien enemy in hostile occupation of the place where the child was born.

III. The same rule was in force in all the English Colonies upon this continent down to the time of the Declaration of Independence, and in the United States afterwards, and continued to prevail under the Constitution as originally established. 169 U.S. 649 at 658.
Further, at 674-675, the court states:
Passing by questions once earnestly controverted, [**467] but finally put at rest by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, it is beyond doubt that, before the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 or the adoption of the Constitutional [*675] Amendment, all white persons, at least, born within the sovereignty of the United States, whether children of citizens or of foreigners, excepting only children of ambassadors or public ministers of a foreign government, were native-born citizens of the United States.
V. In the fore front, both of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, and of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the fundamental principle of citizenship by birth within the dominion was reaffirmed in the most explicit and comprehensive terms.

The Common Law of England was the law of our nation at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and has only been changed through legislative action and subsequent court decisions. It is should be noted that though the Court does not explicitly say that Ark was a natural born citizen, nor does it explicitly state that natural born citizens are limited to those born in US of US citizens. It merely states children born of foreigners within the bounds of the US are citizens. The questions of "natural-born citizenship" was not before the Court. Neither Minor or Ark state only children born in the US of US citizens are natural born citizens. However, the court in Ark seems to imply that at Common Law in place at the time of decision and the signing of the Constitution granted natural-born status to children born in the US to foreigners.

With regards to the translation of Mr. Vattel's "Law of Nations" stating that "The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens." The Ark court specifically addressed the belief that the citizenship of children follow their parents. At pg 666-667, the Court specifically found that there was not such a law of nations at the time of the adoption of the constitution or the 14th Amendment: "There is, therefore, little ground for the theory that, at the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, there was any settled and definite rule of international law, generally recognized by civilized nations, inconsistent with the ancient rule of citizenship by birth within the dominion." It is up to individual nations to determine their citizenship rules, so Mr. Vattel's statement has little bearing. I would also note that Mr. Donofrio's reliance on Chief Justice Marshall's adoption of Mr. Vattel's language in The Venus, 12 U.S. 253, 289 (1814), is perhaps misplaced as the Chief Justice was writing in concurrence, and his adoption of Mr. Vattel's language was not the decision of the court, a fact that is not noted. Mr. Vattel is also mentioned by the dissenting Justice in Ark, not by the majority.

The arguments in Mr. Donofrio's article are weak and a complete mischaracterization of the decisions in Minor, Ark, and The Venus. None of these cases stand for the proposition that a child born in the US of foreign parents is not a natural born citizen and raise good arguments for the opposite proposition, that any child born in the US, regardless of parentage, is a natural born citizen of the United States.

Friday, May 29, 2009

National Popular Vote Update

Ok, today has just turned into revisit old postings.  It is not like President Obama named his choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court this week or anything.

Back in 2008 I had a discussion about the National Popular Vote Movement.  

For a quick review: this is basically a movement towards a popular vote system without amending the Constitution.  Individual states pass laws that require their electoral votes to be given to the winner of the national popular vote for President.  Once this has passed in the number of states equallying 270 electoral votes, it will effectively make the Electoral College meaningless.  Click here for a link to the website.

Current Status:
5 States have passed a measure into law. (Total of 60 Electoral Votes)
5 Have passed it in both houses of the legislature.
8 Have passed it in one house of the legislature
7 Have passed committee 
8 Have had hearings
15 Have introduced bills
2 Are currently drafting bills

We will see what happens.  I still am not sure whether this is the best idea, but I believe the constitutional implications of enough states passing measures like this will be unique.

Why we have National Parks...again

Well, back in 2007, I posted this about National Parks.  I have been doing some more traveling since then and here are some more beautiful shots of lands we have decided are worth protecting from development and resource exploitations:

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park from Angel's Landing

Canyon Lands National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park

If you have the chance, I highly sugggest checking them out.  All of them have some great back country hiking (I can speak directly to Bryce and Zion), but all can also be seen with day hikes or even from the parking lots.  

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is he a natural born citizen?

That is the question that the extreme right continues to ask, especially the people over at Worldnetdaily.

Basically, it really comes down to is either (a) Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen, is ineligible to be President, and got a number of assorted officials to go along with it; or (b) He and his guys are even sharper than we thought and have managed to keep the extreme right really distracted on basically a nothing issue.

Apparently, having a printed birth certificate certified by the state of Hawaii isn't enough for them.  I have to say, if there is another issue to get some of your adversaries to focus on, this is it.  Bravo.  This has been a headline in one form or another over at Worldnetdaily and other right wing websites since almost as long as I have been checking them out.  I am willing to bet that the people on Team O have a brand spanking new "long form" (whatever the hell that is, the one shown looks like a Hawiian version of my birth certificate) birth certificate and are laughing their way all the way to carbon emission caps and universal healthcare.  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Soda Tax

This is an interesting idea that Governor Patterson is suggesting: An 18% tax on sugary drinks to raise some money to help the NYS Budget.  There are obvious questions as to what would constitute a taxable drink, but the op-ed brought up some stuff that I had never really thought about; like how for hunger purposes, your body treats soda like water, so after drinking this high calorie drink, you are still hungry and proceed to go eat that high calorie meal.  This is what makes soda slightly different than Twinkies or whoppers.  It also references the fact that smoking really didn't start dying out until a tax was put on it and that for every 10% tax on cigarettes, there was  3% drop in smoking and 7% drop among teens.  

Walk into your child's high school;  Is there a vending machine with Twinkies?  Is there a Burger King?  Is there a Pepsi or Coke Machine?  10 years ago, when I was in High School, the answers were No, No, Yes.  I can't imagine that has really changed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Burn Out

Like a lot of people, I am buuuuurrrrnnnnneeeed out from the election, so it is break time from Blogging. I will be back soon with such highlights as the Bush Administrations parting gifts.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voter Turn Out

So I am glad to hear that there is huge turnout around the country. I am saddened to hear that a lot of polling places in previously low turn out districts are under staffed and having problems with their machines, including not having enough of them. But no matter what, it is incredible that so many people are coming out. It does surprise me in my neighborhood. I live in the most densly populated county in the country and when I went to the polls, only about 10 people had voted in my district as of 2pm. Great for me, short wait, but hopefully it comes up as the afternoon goes on.

Forgive me for my Keith Olbermann moment, but I do have to comment on these reports of people handing out fliers saying things like: "Becuase of such high voter turnout, [Party A]are voting on Tuesday and [Party B] are voting on Wednesday." and "If you (as a student) register to vote at college, you will lose your financial aid" and "If you have unpaid parking tickets, you can't vote." If tell people things like that, or print and hand out fliers saying things like that, you are a Fascist. I don't use that word lightly. In fact I have only ever described one person I know as a Fascist, but if you are going out of your way to convince people that they cannot or should not vote, then you are un-American, un-Democratic, and a Fascist. If you believe that it is better for our country that certain people do not vote, you are a Fascist. If you believe that the otherside has nothing constructive to bring to the debate and to the government, you are a Fascist.

I believe in my point of view and, right now, think it is the correct one. However, I welcome your reasoned and intelligent arguments as to why your point of view is correct. I want you to vote for the people you think are best so that when I vote for the people I think are best, they get to Washington, or Albany, or Sacramento, or Richmond and have reasoned debate to come up with what the Goverment is going to do, for better or for worse. As soon as you start thinking the American people, all of the American people, shouldn't be helping to make the decision on who will help lead this country, you have abandoned the Democratic Ideals that are the basis of our Republican form of government.

If you need any reminder of who we are and where we come from, read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, Democracy in America, The Gettysburg Address. If you haven't read those (at least the first two and last one), it just goes further to show what is wrong with our Education System. Read them, discuss them, respect other points of view, don't discourage people you disagree from voting, encourage those people to vote and discuss their views with them. That is how this country will move forward, how we will move beyond the diversity that has infected this country for the last 30 years, and how we will regain our standing in the world as a leader in democracy, free thought, cooperation, and innovation.

So if you haven't voted yet, your time is running out. Remember, if you don't vote, Anne Coulter and Kieth Olbermann are making your decision for you.

Don't Forget To Vote!!!

That is all.