Friday, February 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I was unaware that the Portuguese word “lula” meant “squid.”

This is, of course, relevant as it is the nickname of the current president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (and indeed, since 1982, legally part of his name).

I never was aware of the meaning of the nickname, but now I am and I thought I’d share, whether you wanted me to or not.1

  1. Which is the Blogger’s Creed, I think. []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Via MSNBC: Some Texas Republicans to vote for Obama

As many as a tenth of the Texans voting in the Democratic contests could be Republicans, and overwhelmingly they favor Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, the polls show.

Well, given that a) the GOP race is noncompetitive, and b) one suspects that many votes who normally identify with the Republican Party prefer Obama to Clinton, this is hardly a shock.

However, as I continue to point out, people can call themselves whatever they like, but if they vote in the Democratic primary, they are Democratic voters by any definition of significance. Texas does not have partisan registration (i.e., the primaries are open, effectively meaning that party registration, if one wishes to utilize the term, takes place by the act of voting in a given party’s primary), so voters prior to making their choice on primary day aren’t, technically, anything in terms of partisan affiliation. yes, they have self-identities and past voting records, but that does not specifically define them for what happens now and into the future. Voters are free to make these decisions on a contest-by-contest, and even office-by-office process.

I would note, that even in states in which registration is required, voters don’t take lie detector tests, nor do they have to affirm that in their hearts that they are really Reps/Dems/Greens/whatever when they register. Indeed, even in states with closed primaries, there are always some voters who switch away from the party they most identify with to vote in the other party’s primary for any number of reasons.

As such, this constant drumbeat in the media about “Republicans” and “Independents” sullying Democratic processes exaggerates what these labels mean.

And yes: it is quite possible that many of the “Republicans” who decide on March 4th to be Democrats for that contest may vote for McCain in November. By the same token, many of the “Democrats” who vote on March 4th may change their minds and not vote Democratic in the general–does that mean, retroactively, that they weren’t “Democrats” on March 4th?

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Thursday, February 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Earlier today I noted an NYT story about the whether McCain’s birth in the Panama Canal Zone was a problem for the Constitutional provision that the President be a “natural born citizen.” The more I think about it, the more absurd the notion is that a person such as McCain would be anything other than a “natural born citizen” of the United States.

First off, there are only be two possible categories of citizens: those who are citizens by birth and those who become citizens sometime after their birth, i.e., naturalized citizens. There are no other possibilities.

Second, the question therefore becomes how do people become citizens by birth? There are again two ways. The easiest to define is by being born on US soil, as per the 14th Amendment (known as the right of soil). The second is by having a parent who is an American citizen (i.e., via right of blood) as defined by statute as the Constitution does not spell out citizenship via parentage. The relevant statute, btw, is USC 8.12.III.1 Section 1401, which states, among quite a few other things:

a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person;

As such, it is pretty clear that McCain’s citizenship was never an issue, and that indeed it came to him via his birth. I am not sure how one can be any more a “natural born citizen” than that.

Update: Here’s an example of someone who argues that McCain is ineligible.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Hilarious: click.

h/t: The Monkey Cage.

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By Steven L. Taylor

John Cole:

I swear to goodness that when I checked Memeorandum and saw the headline “McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out”I thought it meant something about his mother’s birth canal and a c-section birth and said to myself WTF.

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By Steven L. Taylor

I fully recognize that on one level, the utterance of a candidate’s middle name is of little ultimate consequence and that one can get overly hysterical on the subject. Further, people have every right to say whatever they like. However, following from that last point, it is also noteworthy that likewise one has the right to comment upon what others say, and to further question the purpose and motives behind given utterances.

I am of the opinion that many opponents of Barack Obama use his middle name for no other reason that to appeal to the baser natures of some voters. I certainly find radio commentator Bill Cunningham’s usage at a recent McCain rally, as well on his radio show and in other media appearances to be a knowing attempt to stoke irrational bigoted fears of things foreign and especially things Muslim.

If the year was 1942 and a candidate for office had a middle name of “Adolph” or “Tojo” and the opponent of said candidate continually stressed said middle name, the charge would be clear: the candidate with the funny middle name can’t be trusted, and might even be a traitor–with the basis for that “argument” being nothing more than the sounds formed by the letters of a middle name that may, or may not, reflect one’s ancestry, or just the taste of one’s parents.

As such, this is more than just taunts or, as Cunningham has claimed, “red meat” for the party faithful.

Along these line, Eric Zorn, blogging at the Chicago Tribune‘s Change of Subject, does an excellent job of summarizing this issue Middle-name calling is way over the line:

The only reason to say “Barack Hussein Obama,” as radio talk show host Bill Cunningham did repeatedly Tuesday in warming up a John McCain campaign rally in Cincinnati, is to try to excite anti-Muslim, anti-Arab prejudices (though Obama is neither Muslim nor of Arab descent) and not so subtly suggest that Obama’s actually a slippery foreigner.

Indeed, as Zorn notes, this is pretty obvious and not just to the punditocracy. He notes in his piece that Alan Keyes, who among other things, called Obama a “hard-line Marxists” and in favor of infanticide when campaigning against Obama for the Senate in 2024, didn’t evoke the middle name. Indeed

Pascoe [ Keyes' former campaign manager] told me [Zorn] he and former top Keyes consultant Dan Proft had steered him away with the admonishment that such a gambit would be “rude, uncivil, needlessly provocative and incendiary.”

Further, Karl Rove, who has a reputation for hardball politics, has advised Reps to not “Hussein” Obama because:

Rove said that the use of “Barack Hussein Obama” would perpetuate the notion that Republicans were bigoted and would hurt the party.

So, it isn’t just the PC police who see what is going on here.

Here’s some video of Cunningham on Hannity and Colmes, including a clip from the rally.

If there is doubt about Cunningham’s motivation, he calls Obama a “Manchurian”/”stealth” candidate in the clip. He also continued to repeat Obama’s full name over and over, obviously to get attention to himself like a little kid who keeps saying things he knows will annoy his parents.

Along the lines of names, I would recommend Juan Cole’s essay on the subject.

Update: James Joyner comments as well, and deals with the “red meat” issue.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Wowie (via the AFP): Blind Irishman sees with the aid of son’s tooth in his eye.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out

Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.

Almost since those words were written in 1787 with scant explanation, their precise meaning has been the stuff of confusion, law school review articles, whisper campaigns and civics class debates over whether only those delivered on American soil can be truly natural born. To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states.

While I will allow that I am not a conlaw scholar, this strikes me as a non-issue. The child of US citizens is a citizen, regardless of where he or she was born. As such, someone like McCain was a citizen by virtue of birth, not via naturalization, and hence he is a “natural born citizen.” Any other interpretation seems ludicrous on its face, to me.

Indeed, the First Congress seemed to understand this:

Quickly recognizing confusion over the evolving nature of citizenship, the First Congress in 1790 passed a measure that did define children of citizens “born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States to be natural born.” But that law is still seen as potentially unconstitutional and was overtaken by subsequent legislation that omitted the “natural-born” phrase.


Mr. McCain’s citizenship was established by statutes covering the offspring of Americans abroad and laws specific to the Canal Zone as Congress realized that Americans would be living and working in the area for extended periods.


Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University who has studied the issue extensively [says] “It is not a slam-dunk situation.”

And, former Representative Don Nickles notes:

“There is some ambiguity because there has never been a court case on what ‘natural-born citizen’ means.”

The text in question from Article II, section 1 is as follows:

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President

And, of course, the purpose of the provision was to stop a foreigner from becoming president and subverting the new republic. Somehow, I don’t think that that is McCain’s goal. Although, maybe he is a Manchurian candidate secretly programmed by birth by the Panamanians who will, once in power, get back at the US for forcing Panamanian independence from Colombia in the early days of the 20th Century and for stereotyping their people with that ridiculous Panama Jack line of products…

Regardless, I can’t imagine that this is anything more than the basis for an interesting story, not something that could possibly be a real issue.

By the same token, I would favor amending the Constitution to allow naturalized citizens to become president after a set period of time as a citizen.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

But I find this rather amusing.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN: McCain apology angers conservative host

In his first public comment since Tuesday’s event, Cunningham defended his use of Hussein, which he called “a proud Muslim name.”

“I have nothing but respect for my Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said. “The ones who oppose that particular name, they’re the ones with the problem, not me. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”

See, he was just extolling Obama’s Muslim parentage, because he respects it so. It has nothing to do with trying to incite islamophobia about Obama or to stir the pot on ridiculous Manchurian candidate theories. Nope, just respect for Muslims, you know, like Obama (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).1

And, of course, it is normal to stress the middle names of candidates, and there is not on iota of an attempt to stress “Hussein”. You know, we are always talking about Hillary Diane Clinton, and John Sidney McCain. And I remember that poignant moment in the 1988 race wherein Vice President Bush said that he always loved Michael Stanley Dukakis’ middle name because he had once had a puppy of the same name.

  1. And for the sarcasm impaired, I am aware that Obama is not a Muslim. []
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