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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March 6, 1836

Eight score and sixteen years ago, our fathers brought forth in this state a new republic, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and are not subject to the dictates of despots.

Sound familiar?

Though it is a poor pedestrian paraphrasing of Lincoln’s historic and unforgettable Gettysburg Address, it addresses the fact that on March 6 one hundred and seventy-six years ago, a diverse band of 189 determined patriots died in an effort to free Texas from the iron grip of the dictator, Santa Anna.

Now, everyone knows of William Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett, but what about the others? Just how diverse was this ragtag army?

General scholarship erroneously suggests the defenders were professional soldiers and Anglos resentful of Santa Anna.

Not so according to Richard Lindley III of the University of Texas. In fact, most of the men at the Alamo were farmers in their twenties. Not all were Anglos. Some were from the Hispanic population of San Antonio and Laredo. Many were from other states. In addition to Crockett’s Tennesseans, some came from as far away as New York and Pennsylvania.

I’d often wondered just why a New Yorker or Pennsylvanian would journey so far to take part in something that did not affect him, but Lindley explained that perhaps the revolution in Texas evoked feelings much like that of the War for Independence had only fifty years earlier in the east.

The largest group of defenders, not counting those from Texas, hailed from Louisiana. Then came Crockett’s Tennesseans and their next-door neighbors from Kentucky.

Of the ninety-five Texans at the Alamo, forty came from Gonzales, thirty-two of whom boldly rode through the Mexican lines under cover of darkness after the siege had begun.

Eleven of the defenders came from San Antonio, among them James Bowie, who had become a Mexican citizen a few years earlier upon marrying the daughter of the vice=governor of the province. Nacogdoches and Brazoria Counties were each represented by ten patriots.

According to Dr. Lindley, the Alamo defenders were not mercenaries, but a legitimate army with assigned ranks made up of men desiring freedom from a dictatorial ruler who had declared martial law and abolished all power of the states of Mexico. The small man commanded such immense power that he single-handedly struck down the democracy of Mexico and replaced it with his dictatorship.

The fuse that would ignite the Alamo had been set almost fifteen years earlier when Moses Austin approached Spanish authorities for a large tract of Texas land to sell to American pioneers.

Only 3,500 native Mexicans had so far settled in Texas, which at the time was northern part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas.

The Spanish government welcomed the idea for two reasons; to provide a buffer against illegal U.S. settlers who were creating problems in East Texas and to help develop the land.

Mexico placed two conditions on land ownership: settlers had to become Mexican citizens, and they had to convert to Roman Catholicism. Americans eager for land had no compunction or conscience in accepting the conditions.

By 1830, 16,000 Americans had settled in Texas, forming a 4-to-1 majority in the northern section of Coahuila y Tejas. As the Anglo population grew, Mexican authorities became concerned over the American presence. Differences in language and culture created problems between the settlers and the native citizens.

Colonists refused to learn Spanish; they maintained their own schools; they conducted most of their trade with the United States. This streak of independence worried the Mexican government, so in an effort to reassert its authority over Texas, the government reiterated its stand against slavery; set up a chain of military posts occupied by convict soldiers; restricted trade with the U.S.; and decreed an end to further American immigration.

Colonists tolerated the domination, much as U.S. colonists had so many decades earlier tolerated Britain’s iron rule. Eventually, it became too oppressive, so in 1835, the settlers adopted a constitution and organized a temporary government, but they voted dramatically against declaring independence.

They hoped to depose Santa Anna peacefully using legal means and restore power to the state governments per the Mexican constitution of 1824. Perhaps, they hoped, even achieving a separate state of Texas.

But time had run out. In the autumn of 1835, Texas riflemen captured Mexico’s military headquarter in San Antonio. The revolution had begun.

Word reached Santa Anna, and soon rumors spread through Texas that the dictator was on the move with 7,000 soldiers, a wildly inflated number.

His army was made up of fresh recruits and Indian troops the latter of whom spoke or understood little Spanish. When Houston learned Santa Anna was headed for San Antonio, he ordered the city abandoned.

One hundred-fifty rebels disobeyed, deciding instead to defend the city from the protection of the Alamo. Travis, Bowie, and Crockett led them.

Santa Anna lay siege on the presidio. One night, thirty-two men from Gonzales slipped through the Mexican lines.

The story goes that on March 5, Travis drew a line in the sand with his sword and announced only those willing to die for Texas independence cross the line. All except one crossed. Bowie, confined to his bunk, insisted on being carried across.

At 5 a.m. next morning, Mexican troops hurled a massive attack at the garrison. By 8 a.m., all defenders lay dead. Rumor says seven defenders surrendered but were immediately executed. Twelve to fifteen women and children survived.

Mexican troops soaked the dead in oil, stacked them like cordwood, and burned them.

The number of Mexican troops slain varies widely from 250 to 1500. The former number is the Mexican count, the last, the Texian count.

Though a defeat, the Alamo gave the Texas army a psychological boost as did the treacherous murders at Goliad on Palm Sunday a few weeks later.

‘Remember the Alamo’ and ‘Remember Goliad’ were battle cries that lifted men from diverse walks of life and various cultures to achieve the shocking defeat of Santa Anna a few weeks later at San Jacinto.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Natural Citizen Revisited!

To my surprise, and delight, I picked up a few comments regarding the column a couple weeks back on the definition of a ‘Natural Citizen.’

Surprised because I really didn’t see too much to quarrel about regarding the subject. Delighted because that meant at least a handful of folks read the article.

I always welcome comments. Unfortunately, it seems that only those very knowledgeable actually read, which is why they are so well-informed. Those who really need to know never bother to read beyond the comics, which naturally is why they never learn.

But I’m grateful to all who do. I like hearing what other folks think, especially if they disagree with me.

But back to the subject at hand.

Two of the comments were critiques of a sort; another was a follow up on the column; one referred me to the Congressional Research Service report on Presidential Eligibility; and the last was a compliment. (at least, that’s how I’m looking at it)

The one who suggested I check my facts about President Obama’s alleged social security number asked specifically what state issued it.

The remarks to which this gentleman referred were as follows: “A state licensed PI hired to look into Obama’s background discovered the SS number he used in 1979 was fraudulent. The number showed the card owner was born in 1890. That same number came up with addresses in Illinois, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts. The latter was a surprise for according to testimony, the year it was used in Massachusetts, Obama was living in Hawaii.”

Snopes disputed this. Statement.”

Okay, the details of the sotry are that Jean Paul Ludwig was born in Germany and immigrated to the U.S, and was issued a social security number in Connecticut in 1977. His number was 042-68-4425. The 042 is supposedly reserved for that state, which I did not verify, and since Obama never lived in Connecticut, there was no opportunity for him to have such a number.

This is the argument Snopes used to dispute the allegation. I had no problem with their findings although I didn’t state such specifically.

Then a very perceptive reader took me to task on the expression ‘sitting president’.

He replied, and I quote: “Actually, this issue doesn't affect the sitting president. He remains in office and can continue sitting there until his term ends.

The ballot and election is to decide who the NEXT president is. That is to say, everything starts from scratch at each election. It may be someone else or the same person. Just because someone holds an office does not mean they have any special right to keep it beyond their elected term.”

All candidates are on an equal basis at each election. No one should have a special right to be on the ballot if they cannot qualify. Already occupying an office is not a qualification.”

Granted, incumbents have a psychological advantage. But it should never be forgotten that an office holder has no special rights to stay there.”

The gent’s right. Mea maxima culpa. (although I don’t really know why I’m mea maxima culpaing, it just seems like the thing to do)

My third message was from a friend who keeps me honest. I respect the heck out of the guy. I just wish he’d see the light.

Anyway, he referred me to a recent article by Bill Rankin in the ‘Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding the outcome of the trial of which I had written.

“President Barack Obama’s name will remain on the Georgia primary ballot after a state law judge flatly rejected legal challenges that contend he cannot be a candidate.”

In a ten-page order, Judge Michael Malihi dismissed challenges to the Hawaiian birth certificate; the fraudulent social security number; and the invalid U.S. identification papers.

He turned back the claim Obama is ineligible because his father was not a citizen.

In a nutshell, as I read it, all the ‘birther’ challenges brought before the court were tossed out.

The next comment came from a very sincere individual who stated that, “in addition to Obama’s father not being a U.S. citizen, his mother wasn’t old enough under the Constitution to confer citizenship to him.”

I can find nothing to substantiate the under-age claim.

As I pointed out previously, I’ve yet to see a definitive decision of a ‘Natural Citizen’, one parent or two. And I’ve never seen any requirement stating the age of a parent is part of that decision.

Anther reader directed me to The Congressional Research Service and its statement of presidential eligibility. It states that ‘any child born in the U.S., other than to foreign diplomats serving their country; the children of US citizens born abroad; and those born abroad of one citizen parent who has met US residency requirements are natural born citizens.

The CRS is Congress’s ‘ThinkTank’, a highly respected group of 900 pretty smart folks. As I earlier stated, I have all the respect in the world for the CRS, but this definition is nothing more than their interpretation of ‘Natural Citizen’, not the law.

Many of our current ‘laws’ are the result of decisions made over the years, whether justified or not. That’s why I will always argue that babies born in the U.S. of aliens here illegally are not citizens.

All you have to do is read and understand the first sentence of Section I of Article 14 of the Constitution. “Jurisdiction thereof” are the key words.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pristine Politics? No Way!

I’m dating myself, but remember when you were in grade school and the class was electing officers? Like most youngsters back then, if your name was in nomination, you probably always voted for your opponent.

That’s the way it was done back in the days before Super PACs and the nine gods on the Supreme Court. Today’s elections don’t cover issues as much as they do the trash in a candidate’s life.

He’s a Fascist; he’s a communist; he’s an adulterer; he’s too religious; he’s a bigot; he’s a racist; and much, much worse. Obviously, candidates today believe the only way they can win election is by trampling the good name of an opponent, even if the accusation is or is not true.

Herman Cain comes to mind as does many others. Heck, just recently, accusations have been hurled at JFK for indiscretions almost fifty years old.

It’s like we’re saying, “To heck with issues, let’s sling mud, and lots of it.”

But before you lay a gypsy curse on the modern political system, take a look at the political bloodbaths during past campaigns.

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson accused the sitting president, John Adams of being a ‘repulsive pedant’ and a ‘hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.’

Davy Crockett claimed that Martin Van Buren wore women’s corsets. Makes you wonder how old Davy knew that little tidbit.

And poor old James Buchanan who had a congenital condition that tilted his head to the left was accused of attempting, but failing to hang himself.

Even Abraham Lincoln caught his share of the mud when he was accused of the dastardly deed of having ‘stinky’ feet.

One of the most vehement in my estimation was between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. To the latter’s chagrin after a bitterly fought campaign, Adams won the presidency in the House of Representatives in 1824.

Even before the inauguration, Jackson and his supporters set out to destroy Adams.

Seems like Adams was the secretary to the American envoy to Russia when he was a teenager. Jackson’s supporters spread the rumor that Adams, while in Russia, had procured American girls for the sexual services of the Russian czar. They even called Adams a pimp and that procuring women was the reason for his great success as a diplomat.

He was also accused of having a billiard table in the White House and allegedly charging the government for it. He produced receipts that he had paid for it himself out of his own funds.

Adam’s supporters were every bit as vicious as Jackson’s, attacking his wife Rachel as a bigamist who deserted her husband to live in sin with Jackson.

Jackson explained that they thought the divorce was finalized, but they were vilified nevertheless.

And then there was a Whig effort in 1844 to discredit Democrat James Polk by claiming Polk’s slaves were branded with his initials. It was untrue of course, but the accusations did cut into his votes. Topping that dirty tactic, the Whigs printed up phony ballot on which the names of Democratic and Whig electors were mixed up so to confuse the voters.

After the Civil War, dirty tricks became even more malicious and insidious. ‘The Truth’, a New York scandal sheet published a letter James Garfield had supposedly written endorsing the right of corporations to hire the cheapest labor available, obviously taking advantage of great influx of Chinese labor at the time.

He answered the forged attempt to disenfranchise the middle and lower classes by releasing an example of his own cursive script, proving the published letter was a forgery.

The Twentieth Century must have ushered in the ‘rodent era’ for in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt, decked out in a sombrero and smoking a cigar, referred to William Howard Taft, the current president and his former vice-president as ‘a rat in a corner.’

Some years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt picked up on Teddy’s gambit by calling Alf Landon, his 1936 opponent ‘The White Mouse who want to live in the White House.’

Seems like in the last few decades, the media has taken more of a hand in ferreting out ‘sensational truths’ in the name of investigative reporting.

One such hatchet job was done on John McCain in 2000 when the New York Times released a story that accused McCain of a romantic liaison with a woman lobbyist thirty years younger than him.

During the recent South Carolina primary, phony emails made to appear from CNN (they did not) reported that Newt Gingrich had pressured his ex-wife, Marianne, to have an abortion.

Whoever was responsible must have been the jerk who sent out flyers alleging that Rick Santorum’s wife had once had a relationship with a doctor who performed abortions.

The list goes on and on.

And the seeming anonymity offered by the Internet offers encouragement to those sickos, who might be surprised to learn that everything that goes through your computer stays there, even if you delete it.

So if you’re one of those brain-dead reprobates who thrive on slandering others, and decide you want to hide the evidence, then you’re only hope is to make the platters on your drive unspinnable.

That, you can figure out yourself.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Third Grade Valentine

I’ve told this story years back, but every year around Valentine’s Day, those memories from sixty-five years back flood my thoughts.

I returned to elementary school in Wheeler, Texas in the middle of the third grade, having spent the first couple years following Dad around the country wherever the U.S. Navy sent him. In 1943, they shipped him out to South America, and we returned to Wheeler.

Having left Wheeler when I was about four or five, I knew very few of the kids in school. I’ll never forget that first year for it was the one that I didn’t receive any cards on Valentine’s Day.

Looking back, the problem was more mine than anyone else’s. A new kid coming in during the middle of the year had a tough time fitting in. He was usually an outsider until someone felt sorry for him and invited him into their little exclusive set of playmates.

I was always a little belligerent, I suppose, for instead of trying to fit in, I ignored them, going my own way and pretending I was content with my own company. I let no slight pass, which meant, I usually stayed busy at recess giving and taking punches from first one hard-headed little boy, and then, at the next recess, another. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost.

I’ll tell you, working on the farm made some of those old country boys mean and tough.

As a result of my propensity for fighting, I saw a lot more of the principal and his hardwood paddle than I wanted. And when I got home that evening, Mom was waiting with a hickory switch.

Consequently, I became quite the connoisseur of switches from the whippy willows that wrapped around your leg three or four times to the almost unbreakable hickory branches that left indelible imprints on your behind.

Now, even at that age, I had vague idea of Valentine’s. I knew that the month of February was somehow connected to girls and romance. I was sort of puzzled why it was observed at school, but when I learned that cake and punch accompanied the Valentine cards, I figured it was a great idea.

You see, the way it worked was that the teacher decorated a box about a week ahead of time into which each student would drop Valentines for others in his class. Each day, different classmates would sidle up to the box and with an embarrassed giggle or sly wink, drop in a card.

All I cared about was the cake and punch. They could have their cards.

A couple days before Valentine’s is when I took part in ‘The Big Fight.’

She whipped me.

That’s right. She whipped me.

Back then, third grade girls could be mighty snippy. Dela Fay was snippy personified. When she told me at recess I was mean and ugly, I responded, ‘Oh yeah. You’re uglier.”

That’s when she slapped me.

Now if she’d been a boy, the war would have been on, but she was girl. Confused as to my next step, I just stared at her. Kids gathered around, giggling at me. My ears burned. I had to do something, so I pushed her shoulder, and she slapped me again. The kids giggled louder. I shoved, and she slapped.

Fortunately after several more exchanges, the teacher stopped us. I went to the principal, got paddled, went home. Mom switched me. Dad came home and took his belt to me.

And the next day was Valentine’s.

I didn’t have a single one. Kids were staring at me and whispering.

Mrs. Fields must have seen what was going on for she fumbled in her desk, then hurried to the box and looked inside. She held up a card. “Here’s yours, Kent. I must have overlooked it.”

Never in my life have I been so grateful to anyone.

I had learned my lesson.

The next year was different. I had more cards than anyone.

My secret?

Well, my best friend, Jerry, accused me of putting them in the box myself. Naturally, I denied it. I would never do such a dastardly thing. Ha, ha.

But, I had more than anyone.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Who or What is a Natural Citizen?

A case much of the media has ignored took place in a Georgia court the last week in January. Judge Michael M. Malihi subpoenaed President Obama to appear in his court to determine whether or not the president was indeed eligible to be on Georgia’s November presidential ballot. To appear on the ballot, one must be a natural citizen.

Now, this ‘natural citizen’ thing has been around over 220 years in Section I, Article II of the constitution. And I might add, for over 220 years, its exact meaning has never been defined.

Obama isn’t the first sitting president to face this question. Chester Arthur faced it. Having been born in Panama Canal Zone, John McCain’s natural born citizenship was questioned as has been current hopeful, Mitt Romney, because his father was born in Mexico.

So it is nothing new.

Craig Andresen reported in the ‘National Patriot’ that the Georgia case involved whether or not Obama was a natural citizen under the articles of the Constitution. If not, his name would not be on the Georgia ballot this coming November.

I’m no constitutional scholar. In fact, I do well to even spell ‘constitution’, but in reading the applicable section of that article, I have a feeling the Georgia court is really just whistling into the wind.

The germane section reads “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—“ It goes on to mention the fourteen years residency and thirty-five age requirements.

So, Judge Michael M. Malihi subpoenaed the president, a move itself unusual, but legal.

Promptly at nine o’clock the day of the trial, the judge, wrote Andresen, called the attorneys into his chambers. Obama’s attorney, Michael Jablonski of Atlanta, did not show up, nor did his client, the president himself.

Seems like when Obama received the subpoena, he told his attorney, Michael Jablonski of Atlanta, to take care of it. Jablonski, make several efforts to shut down the case, from asking it to be dismissed to arguing the state could not determine who would or would not be on a ballot.

The court dismissed the arguments, so Jablonski wrote the Georgia Secretary of State stating the case was not to be heard and neither he nor the president would show up.

Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State, replied that Jablonsi was free to do as he wished, but he would do so at his ‘client’s peril.’

So, they did not appear, and so the court was called to order.

Obama’s birth certificate was entered into evidence as well as his father’s birthplace, Kenya East Africa. Evidence confirmed his father’s passport had been revoked and that he was a non-citizen of the United States.

So far, this is nothing new.

But then came testimony regarding the definition of ‘Natural Born Citizen’ from a Supreme Court opinion in 1875, Minor v Happersett.

At that time, the attorney pointed out that the 14th Amendment does not alter the definition of the meaning ‘natural born’. The point is, says the attorney, to be a natural born citizen, one must have two parents who at the time of birth, are citizens.

Now this last statement does not appear (at least I couldn’t find it) in Minor vs Happersett. That case was about a woman, Minor, wanting the right to vote.

So, what is a Natural Citizen, one parent or two? I can’t find a definitive answer anywhere.

What did the framers of the constitution have in mind? (which is no grounds for any kind of decision)

Hstory will give us a hint.

In 1787, John Jay suggested to George Washington, presiding officer of the Convention, that ‘we should provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our government and declare the Commander-in-Chief shall be held only by a natural born citizen.”

You see, we had just won our independence and Jay wanted to be sure no outside influence would put us back under English rule.

Various opinions have been offered regarding the expression’s meaning. The Congressional Research Service has stated that ‘any child born in the U.S., other than to foreign diplomats serving their country; the children of US citizens born abroad; and those born abroad of one citizen parent who has met US residency requirements are natural born citizens.’

The Congressional Research Service is Congress’s ‘think tank’, composed of 900 individuals or various disciplines.

No question, Obama’s mother was a citizen. That seems to satisfy the ‘one citizen parent’ in the CRS’s statement, but, the fact CRS made the interpretation does not make it law.

There is no law defining natural citizen.

It’ll be interesting to see if indeed Obama’s name will be on the Georgia ballot, but whether it is or not, information that turned up during testimony made me do a double take until I started double-checking. (never accept words as gospel)

A state licensed PI hired to look into Obama’s background discovered the SS number he used in 1979 was fraudulent. The number showed the card owner was born in 1890. That same number came up with addresses in Illinois, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts. The latter was a surprise for according to testimony, the year it was issued in Massachusetts, Obama was living in Hawaii.

Snopes disputed this.

The testimony goes on and on from out-of-sequence serial numbers on birth certificates to different verification signatures on certificates at the time of his birth.

This was also disputed by Snopes, yet I’ve even read where Snopes has been disputed as the right hand of George Soros, but Snopes disputed that also.

Talk about crazy! How nice would it be to have the capability of disputing your own indictment, whether justified or not?

The next witness, an expert on information technology and photoshop, testified the birth certificate Obama provided is layered. This indicates that different parts of the certificate have been lifted from more than one document.

I could find nothing disputing the previous paragraph. Not even on Snopes.

This trial caused several knee jerks among various states. Alabama, Massachusetts, and Obama’s own state, Illinois are blocking his name on the ballot until they get some kind of verification of his citizenship.

I’ve no idea what comes next, but it’ll be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

You tell me, what would happen if a state refused to put a sitting president on its ballot?