The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What you know that ain't so

Anyone who has been to political web sites these days must have come across people desperately posting about Obama not being a "natural born citizen." Even if he was born in Kenya to an American mother, it looks probable that he would be declared "natural born" (as McCain was, born to American citizens in Panama). But there seems plenty of evidence that he was born in Hawaii. Can you imagine the circus if this one went to the Supreme Court? Or what would happen if they gave it to McCain on such a charge? Wow! That would be one hell of a novel, wouldn't it?


"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
-- Mark Twain

I don't know about you, but over the course of my life, peeling away the lies I've told myself...or been told by others...has been a crucial part of my self-discovery. From first grade, when I was placed in the slow reading group on the basis of my skin color, to my martial arts practice, where I had to deal with a deeply-rooted belief that I was small and weak, to my relationship history, where I believed that human relationships are infinitely negotiable (yes, I'm being deliberately vague)...much of my maturation process has been a matter of discovering what the lies were, what purpose they served, and under what circumstances would my subconscious be willing to release them.

This is tough. According to Hawaiian Huna teachings, a prime directive of the unconscious mind is to protect the body. It is easy to imagine that other directives function to protect the ego identity, or to protect from emotional pain. I take the position that our natural self-expression would be health, success, and love. Anything less than this could well be interpreted as an internal blockage designed to produce a primary result (safety) that has a secondary effect (poverty, overweight, relationship dysfunction, etc.) and that until and unless you address those primary results, those hidden belief patterns, your efforts will be for NOTHING.

Over the last weekend, I encountered a friend of mine who has struggled with weight for years. Inevitably, she will EITHER control diet OR exercise. Never will she do both. And her position is: "well, it's better than nothing..."

Actually, I'm not sure. Since she has tried this approach for over a decade, and just gotten heavier, I think that her approach has been to put a band-aid on a cancer sore. She has distracted herself from the work that needs desperately to be done. "I'm trying," she can say to husband and friends. Nonsense. What she's doing is anesthetizing herself. She is WAY smarter than that, and the self-destructive cycle she has fallen into would be best addressed by asking herself what the underlying reasons for her "need" to stay heavy, the unconscious pay-off. Until she deals with that..? She will surround herself with people who have similar wounds: people afraid of success or relationships, who tell themselves similar lies, and run in similar circles.

"I've lost five pounds!" she always says. Yes. The same five pounds, over and over again, for fifteen years. It is so very sad.


Every day. Morning and night, slow your breathing, listen to your heartbeat, visualize a triangle. In the center of that triangle, visualize the end point of the goals you wish to attain in about three months, and see those goals as an ongoing part of your self development. Or, if you have already achieved balance, just fill your body with light, then condense it down to a single precious embryo within you, floating in your psychic womb. If you do this correctly, the light can be blinding, and healing, and exquisitely beautiful. And before a light such as that, no lie can survive.


Anonymous said...

> Or what would happen if they gave it to McCain on such a charge? <

For what it's worth, the SC could not give it to McCain on such grounds. If Obama (or anyone) were declared by the SC uneligable for POTUS before they were sworn in then the Electoral College (composed pretty much entirely of Hard-Core-My-Party-For-Life types) would then select someone else from their Party instead, almost certainly the VP candidate.

Anonymous said...

I think that what Mike Ralls wrote is correct. However, since Obama's mother was a US Citizen, her child, no matter when he was born, would be a US citizen. I think this question came up 40+ years ago for George Romney, and was settled then. These people who are filing these law suits are kooks.

Losing the same 5 lbs could be a good thing. I used to lose the same 5 lbs, and held my weight to where it should be. About 20 years ago a doctor took me to task for doing this, saying I was ruining my health. I believed him. Guess what: I gained many more 5 lbs that I did not lose. My body habits and my mental habits seem to have forgotten how to lose weight. I read your blog, and work to get myself moving, and it is slowing working.

Josh Jasper said...

The nice thing about the Obama speculation is that, like impeaching Bush, no one is really going to bother with it anymore. It'd be a nuclear option.

As for your friend who's dieting, there's a difference between "going on a diet" and making major changes in her eating habits permanently. If she's moderately active, a positive change in eating habits is a good idea of she's got bad ones. As long as it's a permanent change. Eating healthy is a good idea no matter how much of a workout you get.

Frank said...

This is absurd. Obama is a US citizen. Obama is eligible to be President and he will be our 44th President.

And we don't need anymore crackpots. We've had enough of them attempting to illegitimatize the Presidency over the last 16 years.

Steve Perry said...

I like the variation on the Sophie Tucker line: "I've been fat and I've been fit; believe me, Honey, fit is better ..."

Rationalizations are what keep the world going ...

Nancy Lebovitz said...

What's your evidence that overweight is generally an emotional problem? It's at least possible that your friend resists restricting calories and exercising at the same time because she's underfed that way.

Ted said...

Folks, this is NOT rocket science.
Since the Constitution’s Article II requires our President to be a “natural born citizen” (not merely a “citizen” as allowed for those living when the Constitution was enacted), meaning both parents were US “citizens” when the child was born (altho parents need not be “natural born” citizens), there’s NO WAY Obama can be President — regardless of being born in Kenya OR Hawaii — that is, to be “natural born citizen” (as opposed to being a “citizen”) being born on American soil is insufficient unless both parents are “citizens”. Obama’s dad was NOT an American citizen. He was a citizen of the UK (administering Kenya at the time).
Case closed.

Josh Jasper said...

A healthy balanced diet, and a reasonable workout plan are good for you when combined. Better for you physically and psychologically.

You don't have to go overboard with it, and focusing on the weight aspect is not for everyone. But at least try it for a few months and see what the results are.

Marty S said...

I know several people who have lost, forty, fifty and more pounds. They have done this by both going on diets and changing their diets. In every case they eventually regained the weight they lost. My brother in-law has done this several times, about two months ago he went vegetarian in his latest weight losing venture. This pattern of weight loss/gain is common because there is an underlying reason for the person being heavy in the first place and its not as simple as just deciding to exercise more and eat less or different.

Josh Jasper said...

Regardless of how much weight comes and goes, eating well, and eating in proportion to your exertion is good for you in general. Eating vegetarian is not going to make you healthy. You can eat pizza all day and still eat vegetarian. Heck, even eating vegan (no animal products at all) can still be unhealthy in your eating habits and relationship with food.

Unknown said...

@Ted: This is indeed NOT rocket science, but you still manage to get it wrong. (What? You think that Hillary, with her law degree and her ambition, would have overlooked an easy and obvious way of disqualifying her chief primary rival?)


"In many circumstances, even though a child is born outside the United States, if at least one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child's birth, the child automatically "acquires citizenship""

(Emphasis added by me.)

"4. December 24, 1952 to November 13, 1986
If, at the time of your birth, both your parents were U.S. citizens and at least one had a prior residence in the United States, you automatically acquired U.S. citizenship with no conditions for retaining it.

If only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth, that parent must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16."

1) Obama was born between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986.

2) His mother was a US citizen.

3) His mother had, at the time of Obama's birth, resided in the US for her entire life - a life which extended more than ten years, and included more than five years before she was 16.


Anonymous said...

Obama's mother was a young college student when she conceived, so the 5 year rule doesn't apply. *16 +5= 21*. My understanding is that as long as he was born in Hawaii, it's all good. IF he was NOT born in Hawaii, then we'd have a problem of EPIC proportions on our hands... Surely this drama will soon die.

Unknown said...

Ah, oops, I missed the "after" there and thought it was before. You're right, salina. I still think, though, that, even if he hadn't been born in Hawaii (which of course he was), the fact that his mother was a US citizen who had lived in this country her entire life would qualify him. Obviously she was too young to have lived at all for 5 years beyond age 16, but she'd lived in the US for all the years she had available to live, all 18 of them, and was legally unquestionably American.

Unknown said...

Certainly it's never been the case that you have to have both parents be US citizens to be a citizen. My oldest brother was born when my father was not yet naturalized, my parents recently married, similar to Obama's parents, and my mother, at the time, only slightly older. My brother has always been recognized as a US citizen, has never required naturalization, and his citizenship has never been questioned when, for example, he needed a security clearance - despite his never having gone through any naturalization proceedings. Many, many US citizens have one parent who was a foreign citizen at the time of their birth, and are recognized as citizens without needing to be naturalized.

Unknown said...

Also, though Dad was very probably a naturalized US citizen by the time I was born (and certainly was so eventually), I never bothered to ask when he got naturalized, and when I applied for my own security clearance, with an application that clearly indicated that only one of my parents was a natural born US citizen, nobody asked me to prove that Dad was a citizen by the time I was born; everyone reviewing my application presumed that I was born American and didn't need naturalization. And I was born the same year as Obama. So my personal experience is that Ted is dead wrong.

Unknown said...

Sorry for so many comments, but independent of the political implications of this, an argument which would make a large chunk of my American family (I also have nephews and nieces whose citizenship could be questioned if Ted were right) not American pisses me off. We're as American as any of you, and as natural born American as any of you.

Unknown said...

Oh! Even better! Here's the US immigration page that describes the actual current law:

You're a citizen if you're:

"(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" (There's Obama, on count 1, that he was in fact born in Hawaii.)


"(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided, That any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or periods of employment with the United States Government or with an international organization as that term is defined in section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669; 22 U.S.C. 288) by such citizen parent, or any periods during which such citizen parent is physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person (A) honorably serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, or (B) employed by the United States Government or an international organization as defined in section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act, may be included in order to satisfy the physical-presence requirement of this paragraph. This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952, to the same extent as if it had become effective in its present form on that date; and"

That means that, even though the law in effect at Obama's birth had the five years after the age of 16 requirement mentioned, and even if you could find a court unreasonable enough to say that rule applied to an 18-year-old who had never lived outside the country (rather than, more rationally, going by what must have been the intent - to exclude people who were the children of people who hadn't lived in the US since a very young age, rather than excluding children of teen mothers), it would still be the case that Obama would be a natural born citizen, because when the law was last changed, the new rule was made to apply to everyone born after 1952. Obama was born after 1952, and his mother was a citizen who had lived in the US for at least five years, at least two of which were after she was fourteen.

Q.E.D. If you want him to not be a natural born citizen, you both need a bizarre conspiracy theory that makes his Hawaiian birth certificate forged and need to ignore legislation that plainly says his mother's citizenship makes him a citizen even if she had done the bizarre thing of picking up and travelling to Kenya, while pregnant, to get away from her parents and make sure he was born there rather than in Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

thanks Lynn for the info.
THis whole story is making me ill, and i voted for McKinney. Still, the ill-intention of those folk who are INTENT on making sure Obama never steps in the white house is DIZZYING. I'm disgusted at Alan Keyes and Clarence Thomas, not that I expected much from them, for their part in this. Clarence convincing the Supreme Court to even CONSIDER this. As I said, I just HOPE HOPE HOPE that Obama was born in Hawaii. These people are demanding that the Hawaiian govt. produce the documents... this is just crazy.

Unknown said...

I see no excuse for Alan Keyes' behavior here, but Clarence Thomas (though he's not exactly my favorite guy in general) may be off the hook; legal scholar Eugene Volokh, of UCLA, says that most petitioners seeking stays of impending events get their cases forwarded to the whole court, and more than 90% of the time (he crunched the numbers), such petitions don't in fact get taken up by the Supreme Court. So I'm hopeful that Thomas just figured it was better to have the whole court dismiss the thing than for him to do it alone.

Steven Barnes said...

"What's your evidence that overweight is generally an emotional problem? It's at least possible that your friend resists restricting calories and exercising at the same time because she's underfed that way."
Perfectly reasonable question. I started with the theory that people told the truth about their weight problems, and then observed them lying: deleting info about how much they ate, what they ate, how much they exercised, etc. When forced to ACTUALLY stick with their programs, they lost. Having dozens of former heavy folks admit that they only lost after making hard decisions, and that they had lied to themselves and others about their circumstances, was more suggestive. Listening to people talking about wanting to hide their sexuality, not feeling "seen" in a room when they were skinnier, etc...was pretty much the last straw. Changed my basic theory. And since I've changed it, I've had zero problem understanding that aspect of the people I encounter: by that, I mean that I'm never surprised by what they do in that arena, whereas when I bought the "it's my body" story, I was constantly confused when the story didn't match the evidence. I trust my senses more than I trust what others say. People lie.

Steve Perry said...

I spent five years working as a PA-C at a Family Practice Clinic. None of my doctors knew squat about diet and I became the default expert because I knew a little bit about it. So I got to talk to the folks who wanted to lose weight.

In that time, counseling hundreds of folks who were obese or sometimes morbidly obese, I cannot recall one who was happy with his or her condition. Many were depressed, many were suffering from obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure or osteo-arthritis or kidney problems, on medications, and not happy about that.

Anecdotal evidence? Sure. But I am speaking from direct experience and I know what I know.

If the question is which came first, the chicken or the egg, i.e., did the obesity cause the emotional flux or was it the other way around, that's difficult to say. But I never met the jolly fat man -- or woman -- who was at peace with his or her body.

I met a lot of folks who had built up pretty good rationalizations and defenses. They were quick to make fat jokes, and I saw that as a way to beat somebody else to it and take some of the sting out.

The sociology of obesity is changing as the "norm" changes. Maybe someday, the old standards of Reubenesque forms will come round again, but last time I saw one of those preference surveys, even people who are obese find non-obese people more attractive on a physical level. There is still a disconnect there.

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david said...

Thanks Steven for the "not so gentle" reminder. Anyone that doens't realize that we lie to ourselves doesn't spend enough time in silence ! Once we restrain our egos, and stuff a sock in its constantly moving mouth, we can observe not only the lies but where they originated.
While your in there why not ask yourself where we obtained this "body image" of our selves in the first place ? Most likely from someone trying to sell us something! Letting go of our own unreasonable expectations of ourselves, as well as of others ain't easy ! Meditate to observe a more honest relationship with yourself and others / purge your toxic thoughts. Fast to release the toxins stored away in our bodys from nutritionally deficient food, less than pure water and just as importantly our own toxic thought patterns (changing your thinking will change your life!) and figure out how to love yourself so you can eventually love someone else! God knows the world needs more love. A great philosipher put it plainly, "Make that change"..."with the man in the mirror", Do that and everything else might just take care of it's self ? With Love,

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