published Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Embarrassing lawmakers

As Tennesseans who have followed our state lawmakers know by now, the shenanigans of our legislators occasionally make them appear either excessively partisan or flatly ignorant— if not maliciously deceitful — regarding the issues they pretend to address. State Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Rick Womick, both Murfreesboro Republicans, have just demonstrated that anew by filing a bill that would draw the Legislature into the fantasy land of the so-called “birthers” — the group of conspiracy theorists who are again raising the notion that President Obama is not an American citizen qualified to hold the presidency.

Their bill, similar to one introduced in the Arizona Legislature by Republican state Rep. Judy Burges in early February, would require U.S. presidential candidates to prove they were born in the United States to qualify for the presidential ballot in Tennessee. It is aimed directly at Obama’s re-election plans despite the fact that under the United States Constitution, he is a natural-born American citizen by virtue of his birth to an American mother in Hawaii two years after it became the 50th state of the union.

Regardless, Ketron, apparently infused with the birthers’ anti-Obama conspiracy fantasy, told the Associated Press that he thinks Obama is hiding the so-called fact that he was born in another country.

Republican leaders have generally coddled this group on the grounds that any foe of Obama is a potential voter and friend of theirs. Most national Republican leaders, including Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, have refused to refute the birthers’ claim when they have been asked about it. Instead, they coyly say that, well, Americans have the right to make up their own mind about Obama’s citizenship and that they’re not going to tell these people what to believe — at least not on that issue.

Never mind that Hawaii’s Health Department confirmed early in 2008 that Obama was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in a Honolulu hospital; or that the Obama team scanned and made available a copy of his birth certificate. The conspiracy theorists continue to ignore the proof. They just claim the facsimile of the certificate is a fake and keep up their anti-Obama chant. For many, it fits with their broader conspiracy theory that Obama’s not a Christian either, as he proclaims, but is secretly a Muslim who is engaged in a bigger conspiracy to undermine America and impose Sharia law. Their tripe is as endless as it is unfounded.

The “birthers,” to be sure, were far less concerned about Sen. John McCain when he was running for the presidency in 2008. He really was born in another country — Panama, where his father, a Navy officer, was stationed at the time. Nor was the question of birth raised with regard to another GOP presidential contender in 2008, Mitt Romney, who was born in Mexico.

Apparently the fact that the parents of McCain and Romney were Americans — as was Obama’s mother — satisfied the birthers that the Republican candidates’ status as “natural-born citizens” was assured, at least for candidates who shared their partisan views. That probably explains why birther types would have approved Barry Goldwater’s presidential bid had he been elected, though when he was born in 1909 the Arizona territory had not yet become a state.

Constitutional scholars have long discounted the notion that the Constitution’s presidential criteria for “a natural born citizen” means that a citizen actually must be born in America. U.S. statutes guarantee inherent natural-born citizenship to children of Americans under a number of conditions, including those born outside the United States.

Obama’s birth to an American mother in the state of Hawaii more than qualifies him as a natural born American citizen. Tennessee’s Legislature shouldn’t demean our state by kowtowing to nutty partisan fantasies and wing-nut groups that seek only to impugn an honorable and freely elected American president. Our lawmakers should be above such partisan slime.

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acerigger said...

Well, thanks to some of Tennessee’s more ludicrous legislators, the state is once again a national laughingstock. State Senator Bill Ketron and House Rep. Judd Matheny have a bill that would send anyone practicing Sharia Law to jail for up to 15 years,Yes, the scourge that is the halal meat market is surely a threat to our way of life. House of Kabob, you are put on notice. I am sick of you people making me ashamed of where I live. This nonsense is just the cherry on top a sundae of legislative foolishness: a bill forcing teachers to frame subjects like evolution and global warming as “controversial”, a bill that would ban discussion of homosexuality in schools, a bill that would exempt CCW holders from background checks. Have you not noticed that our unemployment rate is still 9.4%? As of December 2010, Coffee and Warren Counties, Metheny’s district, have unemployment well over 10%. Ketron’s district fares even worse: Maury County unemployment was 13.5%, Marshall County was 15.6%.And to the people in your districts who keep voting these clowns into office: don’t you think you deserve better? Is there no one in Marshall, Maury, Lincoln, or Rutherford counties who can do a better job at the legislature? Is there no one able to focus on real problems in these counties? Stuff that people really care about? Is this the best your districts have to offer?

I mean really, I’m almost at a place where I feel like it serves you right. You vote these jokers into office year after year after year -- Ketron and Metheny have been in office since, what, 2004? -- and what you get is 15% unemployment and stupid bills banning Sharia law instead of positive initiatives to bring economic development to rural counties. Maybe they're not the best folks the job, ya think?Once again Tennessee is the poster child for backasswards ignorance. Thanks a lot.(ht;sou.beale)

March 1, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.
bookworm said...

Are our so-called state legislators working for the benefit of Tennesseans? Ergo, they spend all the state's time passing laws to allow concealed weapons in bars and now they sit around smoking cigars, jawing how much they hate American Muslims and hate Obama. Point is, is if I really could vote for some decent chaps from Kenya to replace the wiedos in Nashville we have now, well, I would gladly do it! For shame. Maybe we need another Scope's monkey trial, but this time to have the jury rule if these bozo's are monkeys or not.

March 1, 2011 at 12:03 p.m.
Walden said...

I agree totally. We should stop focusing on where the guy was born. Afterall, that is the least of things which disqualifies him from holding the office of President.

March 1, 2011 at 12:53 p.m.
ITguy said...

Ace, you are my new hero!

March 1, 2011 at 8:11 p.m.
yaffay said...

These guys just want attention. They are not interested in trying to solve the real problems that face our state.

March 1, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

Are conservatives just nuts or just imbibed with unbelievable ignorance. The level of stupidity coming from the right in the last couple of years is just breathtaking.

Some of the rhetoric coming from the right would be at home in the National Enquirer or in a remake of the McCarthy years. The dumbing down of people by conservatives, with their faithful braying in acceptance, is a sad thing to behold.

March 1, 2011 at 11:11 p.m.
EaTn said...

I think we should have a Tennessee law requiring anyone running for state level office to prove they have an IQ above a certain minimum level.

March 2, 2011 at 6:05 a.m.
hambone said...

The fact that nut jobs like Ketron and Womick got elected in the first place doesn't say much for the ability of those that ran against them!

March 2, 2011 at 8:34 a.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Libertarians4Freedom said: "how come the south is full of industry and great global companies like Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota and Mercedes? We're obviously cool to them."

L4F, you seem to be forgetting that the State of Tennessee morphed into this "pro hate and anti-foreigner" right wing extremist tea party relatively recently. If things continue on like this, I suspect it will have an economic impact. Clearly, if I were a foreign tourist and/or a business owner, I would think twice before going to a state or a country known to hate foreigners.

March 2, 2011 at 12:46 p.m.
EaTn said...

Regarding comments on reasons for foreign companies relocations to mid-south: my observations as follows: big state funded incentives, good labor supply/wages, centrally located for cheaper transportation, less uninterrupted weather (draw a line at the edge of the hurricane belt at the south and the snow belt at the north). Large foreign corporations really are just large international corporations whose individual site locations are more dictated by the bottom profit line more than politics.

March 2, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

"Yes EaTn, profit is a great motivator, in fact, would you keep going to work if your boss didn't pay you a salary? Ask the President of the Red Cross, she works for a "non-profit" yet she makes $500,000 a year."

As I understand it, this organization (which is near the top when it comes to compensating its execs) must attract people whose talents and credentials would qualify them for salaries much, much higher in the business arena. That $500,000 seems a bit excessive IMHO, it could not be much lower before they would have difficulty finding someone who can oversee an organization of that size and type.

March 2, 2011 at 2:47 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

"and think PARENTS should be the ones teaching sexuality and not the state."

If they actually would. But they don't, and all of us pay when young people don't understand their own sexuality and become pregnant or transmit STD's. Sorry, but it is the responsibility of the public schools to provide comprehensive sex education as long as there is ONE parent that says "just don't" or even less.

March 2, 2011 at 2:50 p.m.

Libertarians4Freedom maybe I missed it earlier. What is it you do for a living? I am a union A/C tech. and a proud Southerner.

March 2, 2011 at 10:42 p.m.
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