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Thursday, January 31, 2008

For Real, Is John McCain Eligible?

I know others have written about this, but...

Article II, Section I, Clause 5 of the Constitution does state: “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the same time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

John McCain was born in 1936 to American parents stationed at the Coco Solo air Base, an American base in the Panama Canal Zone. Wikipedia calls it an "air" base in one place and a "submarine" base in another place. Was it a navy air base? At any rate, the base was inside of the Panama Canal Zone. As best as I can understand the Panama Canal Zone was never considered to be American soil, and was always a kind of rented property in the nation of Panama itself run by the Panama Canal Company.

So, McCain was born on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone. Has there ever been a court decision or legislative act that says directly that American military bases are American soil as pertains to matters or citizenship? Yes, children born to American parents on a US military base are citizens, but that is only one part of the total picture. Are children of non citizens born on military bases considered citizens? If a pregnant person who is a citizen of another country were to be visiting a friend on an American military base, and if she were to go into emergency labor, and have a child on the base, would that child be an American citizen? If not then American bases are not the same as American soil as pertains to citizenship.

But citizenship per se is not the question here.

The Naturalization Act of 1790 addresses the question of who exactly is a citizen. Unfortunately the act rules includes racial restrictions, restrictions which have finally been eliminated over time. But the part of that act germane to the question of John McCain is the part that involves citizenship for Americans born "abroad." As the Act states, "the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens." This Act was replaced by The Naturalization Act of 1795, but the provision quoted above was not changed, including the phrase "natural born citizen." The Act determined that children of Americans born abroad were Americans, but this not necessarily make them eligible to be president.

The Fourteenth Amendment also has language regarding citizenship, but does not speak directly to John McCain's situation. It says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

There have been a couple of court cases which touch on the issue tangentially, but never one which has addressed the matter directly. It seems that according to the wording of the Article II, Section I, Clause 5 of the Constitution that John McCain may not be eligible. An "Act" such as the Naturalization Act of 1790 does not carry the authority of a constitutional amendment, does it? I am not a lawyer obviously.

Mitt Romney's father George Romney, who ran for the Republican nomination for President in 1968 (losing to Richard Nixon) was born in Mexico. I am not aware of his eligibility having been challenged.

So, it seems to me that John McCain's status is questionable. I don't think it should be, but I think that it is. I wonder if anyone has a plan to go to court over his eligibility if he wins the nomination? It would be scummy thing to do but who knows?

This interests and concerns me because I was highly involved in the candidacy of Charles "Pug" Ravenel for Governor of SC in 1974. He won the Democratic nomination only to be ruled ineligible later by the state supreme court by virtue of not meeting a residency requirement. Though he had lived out of state he had kept property in SC and considered it his home state. It was his Democratic opponents that did him in. The Democratic Party did not recover and the Republican candidate won the nomination.

Despite the wording of the Naturalization Act of 1790, it seems to me that the non amended wording of the Constitution itself could be a problem for McCain. Is someone out there just waiting to pull this card, either before or after the nomination?

I would like to see us amend this part of our constitution, maybe as suggested by Orin Hatch in 2003:


SECTION 1. A person who is a citizen of the United States, who has been for 20 years a citizen of the United States, and who is otherwise eligible to the Office of President, is not ineligible to that Office by reason of not being a native born citizen of the United States.


SECTION 2. This article shall not take effect unless it has been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States not later than 7 years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress (CITE).


Hatch’s proposal never got any traction but it seems worthy of consideration to me.

For the record, though I am not a big John McCain fan, I think that if he isn't eligible to be president no one should be. But there is that pesky constitution...

Some Scenes from South Elm




Wednesday, January 30, 2008

South Elm on a January Afternoon


Looking north from outside The Guilford Building, 301 S Elm, Greensboro, NC. For more photos of Greensboro and Guilford County look here.

200 Years and Climbing

I saw a billboard on the way to the office today that said something about the 200 year anniversary coming up. It inspired several reflections.

1. The decision even to have a Greensboro was one born out of significant political upheaval on the county level. Whenever we think things today are just not as civil as they used to be, well, we need to read our history. I think the opposite is true.

2. Being downtown I would say that I have more of a heart for this city than I have had in my 18 years here. But I find this to be a bit of a puzzling town in many ways.

a. I think that for a county seat and a "planned" city especially, the manner in which Greensboro was originally laid out was really poor from a practical and aesthetic standpoint. I think this is because so few people were really invested in the new city. It was brought into being simply and purely to have a central location for a courthouse. Most of the people lived in other communities. So what did they care.

b. I've driven quite a lot the last two years through small southern towns that are county seats, and there is definitely a common pattern of a square containing the courthouse with streets on all sides providing for the possibility for shops and businesses and the like. Many of these old squares are making a revival. They are often quite beautiful. Our forbears put our courthouse in the middle of an intersection.

c. In addition, there was little to no provision for wide streets, open spaces, churches, or cemeteries, those things which tend to make many downtowns more pleasant. It is hard for me not to think of my home city and how wonderfully well laid out it was and is - but it was a state capital. Oh Columbia.

3. If it had not been for John Morehead's political acumen in getting the railroad to travel through Greensboro, I think Greensboro would to this day be little more than a Wentworth, and Guilford County more like Rockingham or Caswell County economically. Because of the railroad, Greensboro came to prosper, and yet that prosperity was built, as it were, on top of a city not well planned for prosperity and growth.

4. Which brings me to the present. This city has paid the price for a lack of planning, but does it need to continue in its old patterns. Given its rather extreme sprawl and chaotic exurban growth, it seems that planning is more important than ever. Is it too late? I don't think so. But if we're going to "plan" can we not stick to our plans?

5. Given everything working against downtown prospering, it is especially pleasing to me to be down here and watch the renewal take place, a little here, a little there, every day. I may not be a native son, but I'm pulling for you Greensboro.

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's Been a While

Wow, I can't believe it. I am actually typing in a Blogger text editor! It's been a while.

I write from my new perch on the fifth floor of the Guilford Building, looking north out of my window at the brightly sunlit JP and Wachovia buildings a few blocks north, listening to Jackson Browne's "These Days" and typing on my new Dell "Vostro" laptop. It's not too bad a gig that I have really.

Any other bloggers down this way? Maybe we could have coffee or play pool over at The Green Bean.

Comments machine gun style here - probably just repeating comments of others.

Thank you Joe Guarino for your excellent article on abortion in the News and Record. I think you were 100% on target. I appreciate the kind and respectful way you have of addressing a very hard and divisive issue. And thank you to the News and Record for printing a piece which I suspect the editorial staff would not agree with.

Wow, huge thanks to David Craft and all the others who helped raise public interest in the Haw River State Park project. I am grateful to all the parties who worked out the deal, but don't think any of it would have happened without all the signs and all the letters and e-mails. The people still have power. Go people!

I'm trying to feel sad about Terry Grier leaving, but I'm not. I don't know him. It's not personal. I'm glad the "drama" is ending. Now why is it that we continued to employ a person we knew was looking for a bigger/better job? I am hoping the School Board can take back the reins. I wish we could put an end to EOG focused teaching.

And I wish the federal government would get out of the education business. I think education is one of the few issues where everything works better the more local the decision making is. I wish we could redivide our huge county wide district into smaller and more local districts, along different lines than before the merger maybe. We could divide the tax revenues evenly but have smaller districts for decision making. I wish. A pipe dream.

I've been amused by all the hoopla surrounding John Edwards' comments about the homeless veterans, and Bill O'Reilly's replies. My personal experiences from working with homeless people in another place and time, talking to people who work with the homeless now, and reading about the issue, have all led me to believe that the vast majority of homeless people do in fact suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. I hate to see these neighbors "used" by any politician or journalist. I also don't think it is any more tragic for a veteran to be homeless than anybody else. The bottom line is that these people are human beings, they are our neighbors, and most of them are not going to get better. Good economy, bad economy, they, the homeless, these dear people, will always be with us. And regardless of mental illness or alcohol or drug abuse or both, these neighbors need friendship, need to know someone who cares about them and that someone cares about them, need to know someone who will miss them if they die, need someone who will help them find a warm dry place to sleep and a hot meal to eat. And that "someone" is you, and me - all of us really. I wish we could come together and support a few more people full time to care for and advocate for the homeless, not to absolve the rest of us, but to help us.

I am so tired of Bill Clinton. I wish he and Hillary would just go away. He, they, are demeaning not just the office, but even the process of obtaining the office. It's embarrassing.

Because of the abortion issue I don't know if I could ever vote for Obama, but I like him very much, and respect his candidacy. He is inspiring to me. The speech after the Iowa win - wow! We need an inspiring president. It would also be nice to have a president who can speak a complete sentence. It's hard to get excited about any of the Republicans right now.

I saw several movies over the holidays that I liked a lot. We rented a movie called "Once." If you like music, you just might like a movie about how music happens. This is a cool movie. You'll end up buying the soundtrack, so keep that in mind. There is a fair bit of Irish street language, but that is what it is. We also rented and really very much liked "Reign Over Me." I am a huge Don Cheadle fan, and this movie was interesting and engaging at many levels. When the similarly entitled song played at the end I almost wept, because it is one of my favorite songs of all time, and was such a perfect ending for the movie. The title explains the movie pretty much. I like Adam Sandler more and more. We rented "The Kingdom." I had seen it already but liked it even more the second time. Despite the bad aim of the Islamic radical dudes, I think the movie is deeply thought provoking and moving. I saw "Dan in Real Life." Great flick. Very intriguing love story, and family story. Steve Carrell was perfect. I went to see "No Country for Old Men" with my brother and a few of the older kids over Thanksgiving. It's dark, violent, funny in places, creepy, and generally not a real inspiration. Thus I liked it. The bad guy is seriously bad. Tommy Lee Jones is his usual excellent self. Finally, we rented and saw "Bridge to Terabithia." Wow. Great flick. Just keep tissues handy!

Go Ringo.

Well, better get back to work.

Joel