Birth Certificates

1.  You can’t get on your child’s birth certificate in this state unless you can prove you’re here legally.  So much about this pisses me off, I can’t even tell you.  For one thing, we have all this bullshit rhetoric about how men need to step up and be dads to their children.  And here we are making it harder for them to take legal responsibility for those kids.  What a nice contradiction that is!  And I can’t wait for the anti-immigration folks to go on about how illegal immigrants come to this country and burden us with their children, since we, here in Tennessee, make it impossible for them to to otherwise.

Second, these men are just here illegally.  There is no other crime that, if you wanted to be on the birth certificate and the mother wanted you on the birth certificate, could keep you off.  But to me, this looks like part of a larger effort to deny legal personhood to undocumented immigrants.  It’s as if we are shifting from an argument of “They don’t belong here” to “It’s as if they’re not real people here.”

Isn’t it obvious what a bad idea it is to say “Well, there’s this group of people who, if they can’t produced the right papers, can’t be legally recognized as a parent?”

No one in the whole fucking state legislature sat back even for a second and thought “Gosh, isn’t it problematic that we’re saying ‘These men can never be legal fathers of their biological children?  They have no rights when it comes to their own children.”

And what about these kids?  US citizens and residents of Tennessee?  Are they just a bunch of legal Aphrodites?  Sprung from the foam of the sea?  All this bullshit about protecting kids and we won’t even let these kids have dads.

Where are the Fathers’ Rights Activists about this?

2.  Every once in a while someone will send me an email or ask me in person why I’m not nicer to the folks on their side.  Why I just can’t engage respectfully in a dialogue with any of the more flamboyantly conservative bloggers in the state.  I try to point out that, in spite of our vast, vast differences, I learn a lot from Say Uncle and find his posts challenging and engaging.  But for some reason, folks like Uncle, Coble, and Sarcastro don’t seem to count.  Maybe if I got them some feather boas to wear around or something…

My strategy lately has just been to ignore what I cannot not seethe about.

But this post is so incredibly stupid and vapid and, I think, disingenuous, I want to point it out as an example of why there’s never going to be some Kumbaya moment where I walk hand in hand with the Conservative Tennessee Blogosphere, even on the rare occassion when we share goals.

I call this move the “Controversial Non-Controversy.”  See, Terry Frank is not a stupid person.  And so she knows that a person doesn’t just “release” their birth certificate, the same way a candidate releases their tax returns.  There’s no mechanism in place for a county government to open one birth certificae to public scrutiny, when all others must be legally kept private and she knows damn well that any birth certificate released by the Obama camp would still be suspect to the “he’s got a fake birth certificate!” crowd.

And, in fact, in her own post, she herself says “The St. Petersburg Times in Florida addresses some of the issues regarding a Kenyan letter that states Barry O’s name also includes that of Muhammed.  They can’t find any evidence to substantiate that, though again, the Barry O campaign won’t release the certificate.”

and “Joe wonders about Barry’s citizenship, though I don’t have any reason to doubt that Barry is a citizen.  I do however have to wonder why Barack just won’t produce the certificate.  What’s the problem?”

So, see, in a post in which she repeatedly, coyly, says “I don’t see any reason to doubt”, “No one can find any evidence of wrong-doing,” she still goes on and on about it as if there’s any validity to him not being a citizen or him having some mysterious middle name.

So, why doesn’t Obama just whip out his birth certificate?

Because it’s stupid.  It’s so stupid the fact that it can get up off the ground and move around, even to slither through Frank’s blog is like some anti-miracle.

Obama has a passport, you jackasses.  You have to produce a birth certificate to get a passport and the name on the passport has to match the name on the birth certificate unless you have some paperwork to prove that you legally changed your name.  Does Obama’s passport say “Barack Hussein Muhommad Adoph Pol Pot Beelzebub Stalin Nero Obama?”

You don’t think anybody in the whole history of the TSA would have noticed if the name on his passport were different than the name he was giving the world?


This kind of shit is embarrassing.  I mean, come the fuck on.  If you’re going to sit over there engaging in woo-woo giant Muslim conspiracies to take over our country with the help of Democrats (who, I might remind you, produce much of the decadent Western culture conservative Muslims [oh, and Christians] hate so damn much), could you try just a little harder to make it reasonable?

Do you really want to advertise to the rest of the country that we’re too damn stupid to come up with something more shocking to say about Obama than “He’s got a funny name?” A conspiracy deeper than “He’s got a funny name and he’s hiding the fact that it’s funnier?”

25 thoughts on “Birth Certificates

  1. i’m confused about why birth certificates seem to be treated like such holy writ in this country anyway. i mean, what exactly does a birth certificate prove? even if J. Random Person displayed a birth certificate and claimed it was his own, what would that tell you exactly, and to what level of certainty?

    the gold standard in identity documents, the world over, is your passport. that is supposed to prove, in every instance, not only who you are but that you have citizenship in a given country. that’s why countries do not issue passports lightly or on the spot, they’re supposed to do whatever investigation they can to assure those things are really true. if Obama has a U.S. passport, that’s as good as identification ever gets; there’s no further verification regular citizens could do by looking at his birth certificate — or some piece of paper claiming to be a birth certificate purported to be Barack Obama’s — that hasn’t already gone into issuing his passport, along with a good deal more.

    okay, there’s one more thing you can’t tell by looking at a passport alone — whether he’s a natural-born or a naturalized citizen. for that, you contact CIS (formerly INS) and/or the passport agency; both of them would know. but if there’s any way to get your name on the presidential ballot without a phone call being placed to one or both of those agencies, then we have a problem that no birth certificate can fix in any event.

  2. Do you really want to advertise to the rest of the country that we’re too damn stupid to come up with something more shocking to say about Obama than “He’s got a funny name?”

    That is exactly what I’ve been thinking since the very beginning of this campaign year. The big negatives against Obama have been his funny name, is wife being proud that America has come far enough to make her husband a viable candidate, his pastor saying a few of offensive things over the course of 20 years, and getting his picture taken in the traditional garb of a country he was visiting. I know there is an army of folks trying to dig up shit on him, and if that’s the best they can find, then I feel pretty good about the guy.

  3. Where was he born? I’m not sure about other states, but in TN anyone can get a copy of any birth certificate issued by the state. You just have to provide enough info for them to dig it up.

    BTW, you need to go back to Terry and read her comment in response to your post.

  4. W., no they can’t. As I learned the hard way (long story, not important). The only people the state can hand a copy of your birth certificate over to (unless you’re dead, I believe) are you, your parents, and a select few other legal representatives.

    In other states, like where I was born, this isn’t even coordinated on a state level. You have to go to the county where you were born, because that’s where the records are held.

    I don’t know if I can bring myself to go over and read it. I’m sure she’s in a dead faint about my potty mouth.

  5. Terry Frank is kind of cute, if you think about it. She’s like a 14-year-old girl saying, “well, I called this guy by a nickname I made up and he didn’t answer me, and I teased him about his family background and he ignored it all, and I keep calling his house and telling his mom he needs to tell me why he’s ignoring me but he doesn’t call me back! Why doesn’t he like me?”

    I mean, in what not-teenage universe is Obama obliged to respond to this sort of nonsense?

  6. Actually, I’m a bit surprised that you can’t get the basic info off someone’s birth certificate as a matter of public record. People used to be able to pull birth certificates – that’s how they went about doing identity theft back in the olden days. Maybe they’ve tightened up.

    According to one internet bio he was born in Hawaii – so what’s all this palaver about citizenship?

    It’s McCain who’s got doubts about his eligibility to run for the highest office in the land. (He was born in Panama and there seems to have been a mess-up with his birth registration at the consulate) There are lawsuits outstanding. I don’t like McCain, but I hope it comes out in his favor. My American citizen son was also born abroad – and a ruling for McCain would also settle Buddy’s eligibility once and for all. (Not that I want him to be president, but it’d be nice to have the option)

  7. nm, i said something similar on Terry’s blog, though perhaps a smidgen more politely stated. doesn’t seem to have showed up, however.

  8. Vol Abroad, I completely agree. This nonsense about McCain not being eligible to run for president is just that, nonsense. A person who is born an American citizen should be able to be president.

    But as for Obama, supposedly he was secretly born in Kenya (at least, I think that’s what they’re getting at).

  9. Personally, I think this is stupid. Then again, those folks who were saying that John McCain wasn’t elegible because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone were also stupid.

    It’s the stupid season, and will be until November.

    In mean, in what not-teenage universe is Obama obliged to respond to this sort of nonsense?

    If I were him, I’d let this bubble up for a few more day, then with exaperation provide a copy, and turn the tables on his adversaries, how it is so disappointing he even had to do this.

    This has backfire written all over it for those seriously pushing this.

  10. The sad part is, they aren’t even trying to find anything wrong with him anymore, they’re just making shit up and demanding that he defend against it.

    “I think Obama is secretly the fictional Austin Powers character, Dr. Evil, and I demand that he produce evidence that’s he’s not!!”


  11. Lee has a point. Make people defend coming up with garbage ‘issues’ and ‘controversies’ of this type.

  12. I’ll never understand why its so important to be born here to be considered for president.

    Tim McVey: Born here.

    Jim Carrey: Not born here.

    Besides the “Ace Ventura, When Nature Calls”, which one was more dangerous?

    Actually, that might be too close to call.

  13. Seriously B? Back when my wife was just my lady friend I got her birth cert and they never batted an eye or asked who I was. The form that you use to request a copy asks what the requestors relationship is to the person and I think I just put ‘friend’.

    They didn’t ask for proof of parenthood when I got certs for the dynamic duo either.

  14. Holy cow! Well, I don’t doubt you, and maybe I just looked more like someone who needed to be troubled about stuff, but that’s what they told me and that’s what the website says.

    I wonder what the law says. Or if it says anything. Let me look.

  15. My guess would be things have been tightened up as a result of all the problems caused by identity theft. A birth certificate would be very useful in that regard.

  16. Yeah, look at 68-3-205 E–“The state registrar and other custodians of vital records authorized by the state registrar to issue certified copies shall, upon receipt of an application, issue a certified copy of a vital record in the registrar’s or custodian’s custody, or a part of the vital record to the registrant, the registrant’s spouse, children, parents, or guardian, or their respective authorized representative. Others may be authorized to obtain certified copies when they demonstrate that the records are needed for the determination or protection of their personal or property rights.”

    So, W., as penance, I’m afraid you have to put on some Judas Priest and listen to “Breakin’ the Law” on your way home from work today.

  17. I’ll never understand why its so important to be born here to be considered for president.

    It was a vestige of the times of the people who wrote the Constitution. There were several reasons for the birth clause.

    1. Separation of Church and State

    Many of the European Empires that were created were done so at the hands of the Catholic Church. Because the Pope was always foreign-born, the birth citizen clause would prevent the Pope from asserting leadership over the U.S. and subsuming the nation into Empire.

    2. Kings

    The framers were very much against kingship. The line of kings was all about blood right to the throne. You had to be of royal lineage to rule in Europe. By writing a clause in the constitution that said you had to be born here, the framers did two things. They basically said a resounding “fuck you” to the people who all thought they were so special and entitled to rule in Europe. They also effectively froze them out. You may be of the line of Tudors or Windsors or Merovingians and be hot shit in France or England, but here the same accident of birth that made you Mack Daddy France means that you simply cannot wield executive power in the United States.

    So while the Birth Citizen Clause seems dated and mundane to us 225 years later, it was one of the biggest governmental kiss-offs ever put to paper, and a revolutionary step for Freehold self-rule.

  18. Great history lesson, Kat.

    For a goofy anecdote: I’m not clear why (I was a kid at the time), but my application for my first passport involved my mother holding up her right hand and swearing before an official that I was the same person she had squirted out her loins X years before. We both thought that was pretty funny.

  19. I’m also pretty sure that most of the framers enjoyed the idea that Hamilton could never become president.

    The birth certificate thing seems really sad to me; reminds me of the mother in Bastard out of Carolina and her efforts to get her daughter a ‘clean’ birth certificate. Making policy on the backs of children is one of the evilest things a gov’t can do.

  20. I might pay to see Sarcastro and Uncle in feather boas.

    I wouldn’t pay to see Coble in one, she’d just be too perfect. Clara Bow was photographed in many feather boas too.

  21. My two cents here, to build on what Kat said. The Constitution was also written by the so-called “provincial gentlemen.” Provincials — those born in the hinterlands of the empire rather than on the island — were considered (by the biological wisdom of the time) to be inherently inferior in intellect and limited in their taste and abilities compared to those born in “civilized” places. The well-educated American man believed that by dint of relentless effort and education, he might overcome in some measure the deficiencies of birth, but within the imperial system, he would never rise to the highest offices. Hence the American obsession with self-improvement — anxieties about their deportment, refinement, taste, economic status…that started in the colonial period, trying to make up for their inconvenient birth.

    While colonial legislatures had been dominated by a dense network of elite families (in places like CT, the three or four “River Families” held 75%-90% of the elective positions in the colony…VA had a passle of Tidewater Lees and Henrys, Carolina had their Lowcountry barons), the highest executive positions were appointed by the King. The governors were typically second-tier lords and as the tensions mounted in the 1760s, the governors were increasingly reassigned from the “rebellious provinces” — so someone like Lord Dunmore of Virginia had been in Scotland and the Caribbean prior to his assignment in Williamsburg. Likewise, Gov. Tyron of SC (who was despised by poor white men during the Regulator Revolt) was reassigned to NY to try to stem the Patriot insurgency immediately prior to the Revolution. These guys were exceptionally unpopular, but they owned an awful lot of land and had a lot of power and experience. The birth clause was meant to restrict executive leadership to the locally-born population of “worthy men” even if the population might have been inclined to vote for people they had been schooled since birth to believe were their “betters.”

    Just goes to show you that a lot of what was really revolutionary about the American Revolution happened after the shooting stopped.

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