Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Point at which I stopped giving Barry O the benefit of the doubt

As quoted by Greg Sargent:

I am fierce advocate for equality for gay and — well, let me start by talking about my own views. I think it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something I have been consistent on and something I intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency.

As Edith Keeler once noted, “A lie is a very poor way to say ‘hello.'”

The next four years will be an improvement. But, as John Aravosis notes:

Great, then where are the racists, Mr. Obama? We don’t see you embracing too many of them in the name of learning to agree to disagree. Or does your desire to create a new “atmosphere,” and reach out to our enemies, stop when it’s your own people, your own children, you’d be betraying? Funny how you only reach across the aisle when it’s someone else’s family, gay families in particular, getting the shaft.

Nationality Act of 1940: Nipping wingnut memes in the bud

by Bruce Webb

Right Wingnuttia is ablaze. Time for some cold water.

There are a couple of lawsuits floating around concerning Obama’s alleged non-citizenship. One is Berg v. Obama which was dismissed due to lack of standing on October 24. Berg has appealed that to the Supreme Court which has not to my knowledge taken it up at all. The other case is Donofrio v. Wells which was thrown out at the NJ State Supreme Court. Donofrio applied for a stay to the US Supreme Court, which application was denied by Justice Souter and then for whatever reason referred to the full court by Justice Thomas. These two court cases seem to have been blended together in the fever swamps of the Right and it is time to sort them out a little.

Summary version: they got nothing. Nothing on the substance and nothing on the law. Those with a taste for bizaare conspiracy theories and debunking of same can follow me below the fold. Or you can do something more productive like grab a beer and watch football. Your choice.

Although Donofrio v. Wells is in some sense actually before the Supreme Court it almost certainly isn’t going anywhere. First there is no longer any serious question about where Obama was born, his office has a certified and sealed official copy of his birth certificate. has clear photos (~2 meg jpgs) showing this in much better detail than the scanned version normally circulating the web. Born in the USA. Second it would appear that even if Donofrio v. Wells was somehow upheld it would only apply to New Jersey. And third the NJ Attorney General seems to have throughly thrashed the legal reasoning. So much so that even the wingnuts have mostly moved on to Berg v. Obama.

Now while Berg v. Obama was dismissed in October due to lack of standing, the judge didn’t rule on the substance. Berg v. Obama asserts that Obama’s mother and hence Obama lost citizenship when she married Soetoro and moved to Indonesia. Now there is a lot more stuff revolving around this, claims of adoption, that Obama went by the name Barack Soetoro while in Indonesia, talk about Obama travelling to Pakistan on an Indonesian passport at age 20. But due to a lot of hard work by an Obama supporter running a reality constrained website called What’s your evidence we can see that the whole case falls apart both on substance and by mis-citing the statutes. Berg cited the 1940 Act, but it simply doesn’t support his claim to start with.

From and after the effective date of this Act, a woman, who was a citizen of the United States at birth, and who has or is believed to have lost her United States citizenship solely by reason of her marriage prior to September 22, 1922, to an alien, and whose marital status with such alien has or shall have terminated, if no other nationality was acquired by affirmative act other than such marriage,shall, from and after the taking of the oath of allegiance prescribed by subsection (b) of section 335 of this Act, be deemed to be a citizen of the United States to the same extent as though her marriage to said alien had taken place on or after September 22, 1922.

Sec 317(b) Nationality Act of 1940 (pdf)
Okay it would appear from this that women who married a foreign citizen before Sept 1922 by that act lost citizenship. This act provides an easy way to regain it. But Obama’s mother didn’t marry anyone prior to that date, she was not even born, meaning this part of the act doesn’t even pertain. Not that it would matter.

Sec 401: A person who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by: (a) Obtaining naturalization in a foreign state, either upon his own application or through the naturalization of a parent having legal custody of such person: Provided, however, That nationality not be lost as the result of the naturalization of a parent unless and until the child shall have attained the age of twenty-three years without acquiring permanent residence in the United States:

Even if Obama’s mother had somehow naturalized as an Indonesian (by effect of law or application) and so equally naturalized her minor son, that son could still regain U.S. citizenship by acquiring permanent residence by the age of 23. Which Obama of course did. But even that only matters a little. Because the Nationality Act of 1940 cited by Berg is not even the right one to apply in this case. Instead you would want to look at the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

From and after the effective date of this Act a person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by — (1) obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application, upon an application filed in his behalf by a parent, or duly authorized agent, or through the naturalization of a parent having legal custody of such person: Provided, That nationality shall not be lost by any person under this section as the result of the naturalization of a parent or parents while such person is under the age of twenty-one years, or as the result of naturalization obtained on behalf of a person under twenty-one years of age by a parent, guardian, or duly authorized agent, unless such person shall fail to enter the United States to establish a permanent residence prior to his twenty-fifth birthday:

Which not only adds two years to the window shows that Mr. Berg isn’t even citing the right statute.

People who wish can explore the questions of whether Obama’s step-father adopted him, whether or not he attended school under the name Barack Soetoro, or whether his identification card described him as ‘Indonesian’. Or further you could examine the claims that he travelled to Pakistan at age 20 under an Indonesian passport. Some of the evidence of these matters is pretty sketchy and the rest apparently non-existent but none of that matters. As a minor under the age of 21 it doesn’t appear that any act by Obama’s parents could have caused him to permanently lose his citizenship as long as he relocated in the United States by age 25.

Meaning a whole bunch of frothing happening as we speak over on the other side of the blogosphere is kind of a waste. The Acts of 1940 and 1952 effectively acted as reset buttons.

Obama, is he or isn’t he … real?

by: Divorced one like Bush

As we watch the “team” Obama is putting together and the discussions regarding how reflective of progressive ideas they are vs same old, same old, I thought I would add to the hunt for Obama’s true identity. These are comments from his policy positions regarding development of our living environment and the economic relationship. I was keyed to these via a notice I receive from the Smart Growth movement.

Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities: Over the longer term, we know that the amount of fuel we will use is directly related to our land use decisions and development patterns, much of which have been organized around the principle of cheap gasoline. Barack Obama believes that we must move beyond our simple fixation of investing so many of our transportation dollars in serving drivers and that we must make more investments that make it easier for us to walk, bicycle and access transportation alternatives.
Level Employer Incentives for Driving and Public Transit: The federal tax code rewards driving to work by allowing employers to provide parking benefits of $205 per month tax free to their employees. The tax code provides employers with commuting benefits for transit, carpooling or vanpooling capped at $105 per month. This gives drivers a nearly 2:1 advantage over transit users. Obama will reform the tax code to make benefits for driving and public transit or ridesharing equal.

The top 100 metro areas generate two-thirds of our jobs, nearly 80% of patents, and handle 75% of all seaport tonnage. In fact, 42 of our metro areas now rank among the world’s 100 largest economies. “To seize the possibility of this moment, we need to promote strong cities as the backbone of regional growth. And yet, Washington remains trapped in an earlier era, wedded to an outdated ‘urban’ agenda that focuses exclusively on the problems in our cities, and ignores our growing metro areas. Strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, and strong regions are essential for a strong America….that is the new metropolitan reality and we need a new strategy that reflects it . . .

Obama furthers his argument that type of transportation is important in the overall picture of our living arrangements which relates to the overall quality of our economy.
Responding to Transportation for America’s petition:

We need our next president to lead an initiative to invest in public transit, high-speed trains, places to bike and walk, and green innovation. We need a president with a plan that can put millions to work in jobs that can’t be outsourced, bring down the costs of travel, and create a sustainable infrastructure that will keep America on the cutting edge.

Obama answers:

And I think you’ve identified an important part of the answer as well. Our economy is slowing down, we need to stimulate it. Jobs are disappearing; we need to create new ones. At the same time, our infrastructure is crumbling and we need to rebuild it.
I had already proposed creating a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank, funded with $60 billion over 10 years, to expand and enhance, not replace, existing federal transportation investments.
I will invest $150 billion over the next decade in renewable sources of energy to create five million new, green jobs – jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and fuel- efficient cars;…
I support Amtrak funding and the development of high-speed freight and passenger rail networks across the country.
As you know, all of these measures will have significant environmental and metropolitan planning advantages and help diversify our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Everyone benefits if we canleave our cars, walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. I agree that we can stop wasteful spending and save Americans money, and as president, I will re- evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.

So, he talked the lingo of progressive minded people. Do these statements suggest that the ideology behind his pragmatism is progressive?

If the change we wanted was not to be bull shitted anymore, and the one I’m listening to is talking “change” using lingo, presenting policy plans of what I want, was I wrong to think they were talking no more bull shit? Are those talking like Glen Greenwald correct in that people should not be surprised with Obama’s appointments? Maybe, but then based on the above Obama words, that would mean we (you and I) just plain have to approach our relationship with governing as suspect until proven otherwise. Unfortunately, that means we will always be a day late and a dollar short having never known at the time of the decision if we made the correct one because you can not go by what is said.

Hey, I posted about Goolsbee and even asked if bringing in Jason Furman was a concession to the Clinton/blue dogs, did it mean the DLC kept control of the money issues. Does this mean that the non blog savy voter can not rely on what Obama said? Do you understand what the answer of “yes” means? Are those informing us that we should have known better, also saying that knowing the talk of “change” by Mc Cain et al was bull shit were not real in our understanding of what Obama was saying?

Come-on already! This is like blamming people for the down economy because of their consuming in an economy that is 75% consumption. We’re progressives, for christ sake… We Trust.

Do you know what happens to a person when they can never get a straight, no hidden agenda answer from one they count on? They go nuts.

Pull Quote of the Day from a National Review loyalist

Wick Allison, editor-in-chief of D Magazine and who succeeded William Rusher as the publisher of the National Review says what I’ve been saying for months about Barack Obama.

But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world.

He continues:

Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Read the whole thing. Somehow, I doubt it will be mirrored at the magazine’s current site.

Simple Answers to Stupid Questions (Obama and Infrastructure Edition)

Stephen Karlson, who must have eaten some bad clams or something, points to a bit of infrastructure frothing-at-the-mouth from greater Wingnuttia. Dan Riehl found Obama saying this at a campaign appearance:

“Their ports, their train systems, their airports are vastly superior to us now, which means if you are a corporation deciding where to do business you’re starting to think, “Beijing looks like a pretty good option. Why aren’t we doing the same thing?”

Riehl asks:

Did Obama Just Lose The Election?


He writes:

Obama is either incredibly naive, terribly misinformed, a communist, just flat out dumb or all of the above to be caught on tape making a statement like that.

Contrast George W. Bush, caught on a government website saying:

My view of China is, is that it’s a great nation that’s growing like mad.

So IOKIYAR. Bonus from the same (April 2005) appearance:

I will tell you with $55 oil we don’t need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives. What we need is to put a strategy in place that will help this country over time become less dependent.

At that point, Bush had only about 18 months of single-party rule to put a strategy in place. “Drill here and drill now” Republicans are clearly just covering up for their own lack of action when it was obvious more than three years ago that action was needed!

Meanwhile, Possession of “listening comprehension” makes it obvious that the antecedent of Obama’s “same thing” is “investing massively in infrastructure.” Now, lots of China’s infrastructure actually is not so advanced, as Karlson tells the rail-minded and some of Riehl’s commenters state more plainly. However, China is still developing, is poor on average, and dirt poor where it’s poor. The U.S. is advanced, rich on average (by global standards), and extremely rich where it’s rich. So if we’re going to use China as a yardstick for our accomplishments, it should be China at its most advanced, not its least. There, but for our own fecklessness and lack of thrift, we should be able to go.

The myth of the argument is in the conflation

By: Divorced one like Bush

I am responding to a post put up at Crooks and Liars: The McCain campaign small business myth.

It presents that the myth is found in the number of small businesses in existance and what percentage of them earns $250,000 or more. I love C and L, but this is just totally missing the ship (notice I did not say boat).

The lie to the McCain position on Obama’s tax plan is not in the number of small business in existence or in the number of small business making over $250,000/yr.

The lie to the McCain position is in the conflating of business income with personal income. An S corp or a solo proprietorship business or any other similar configuration that is paying income tax on $250,000 is paying income tax on that money not because the business made that income and is keeping it because the business had plans for it. No, no, nooooooooo. It is the owner of the income generator that made that income and they made it as personal income. It is the amount of money remaining AFTER the business did it’s complete business thing for the year. It is the money remaining AFTER the business spent on expanding jobs, or buying more equipment, or marketing, or adding new facilities, or expanding to China, or hedging its energy costs or PAYING IT’s BUSINESS RELATED TAXES. It is the money that the owner of the income generator walked out the door with at the end of the year and then proceeded to use on their personal needs like: food, housing, transportation, oil futures, corn futures, GE, Haliburton stocks, boats, collectable cars, art, entertainment, lawn care, maid services, tuitions, security systems, etc.

In fact, anyone who has started a business has experienced that moment when their accountant calls them up and says: “You owe income taxes.” The rest of the conversation goes something like this: But, but, but, but, but…how can I owe taxes when I have no money left? “Well” responds your accountant, “did you buy food?”. Why yes I did, but I have nothing left. “Then the money you bought food with is the income your business paid you and now you owe Uncle Sam”. At that moment your stomach is getting ready to pay Uncle Sam as your legs are giving out. Later on, when you are humming along and you are taking $250,000 out of your S corp because you had no more expenses the true nature of you spirituality shows through. Either you think your taxes are too high, or you understand the benefits of paying taxes but think that spending more than the rest of the world combined on military is crazy.

Why the pundit’s on the Obama side have not pointed this conflation out, I do not know. Do they not believe in education? But, focusing on the number of businesses when the issue is personal income only allows the presentation on taxation and income to continue in the same vein as it has been continuing since Reagan. It is a continuation of the same argument that has allowed us to accept that Walmart cheap is the same as more money in your pay check; or that the increased cost of your benefits are the same as more money in your paycheck; or that the rising share of income going to pay all your taxes owed is the results of some waste and greed and civil service unions and teacher unions and not the results of less income earned from your labor; or taking a pension fund away is OK because it was not money earned but money gifted.

Yes, I’m an S corp, I was a sole proprietorship and the other business is an S corp.

If we don’t stop watching the shells we will never win the game of find the pea.