Birthright Citizenship

Photo of me by Wesley Abney
Photo of me by Wesley Abney

Since 2015, the idea of ending birthright citizenship has been on my radar. Those favoring anti-immigration, view the bestowal of citizenship on children of foreign citizens as a problem. In their mind, pregnant women are invading the United States specifically to have children and force the country to keep the parents. (It may delay, but the parents are still deported and the children either go with them or stay with a relative in the US.) I guess they think of birthright citizenship as a loophole to encouraging or allowing undesirable immigration.

I am thinking about it because of the PotUS talking yet again about ending birthright citizenship through an executive order. Well, he’s probably echoing Stephen Miller again. The 14th amendment’s section 1 is what created it.

Amendment XIV
Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The original intent was to make African-Americans citizens in a way that could not be legislated away by the Southern states. Prior to this, we were in the North but not in the South. It established across the board that we are.

The legal principle is called jus soli which means “right of the soil.” It primarily is something that exists in Western countries only restricting it from people who are working for a foreign government. The US Supreme Court allows the denying of it to foreign diplomats or enemy forces occupying our territory. The current issue has not been tested, so I wonder if this executive order is really to set up that test with a court more friendly to the idea of ending it.

The alternative is jus sanguinis which means “right of blood.” Citizenship is determined by the nationality of one or both parents (or permanent residency). This is what got the paranoid-schizophrenic diabetic man deported to Iraq where he had never lived. He was born in Greece who did not have birthright citizenship, so his was Iraqi. He grew up in the US, so he only spoke English. When the US deported him, he was sent to Iraq where he knew no one, had no access to medication, and soon died. Countries are moving towards restricted birthright citizenship to solve this problem of statelessness.

There is also restricted jus soli where a child born of a permanent resident for some time gains citizenship at birth or at a certain age. The United Kingdom, for example, has jus sanguinis but allows the children of legal immigrant settlers to become citizens at birth or upon the 10th birthday. Greece now allows the acquisition of citizenship by children if they attend school in the country for several years, but only 22% of applications are approved.

I guess this last is something to worry about in that whatever the new system is designed to be, the Devil is in the details. As it is, the rumored executive order is either FUD to open immigration advocates or a blessing to anti-immigration advocates.

Why do we restrict the use of nuclear technology?

The Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis story seems like something people are likely to overlook. The story is about:

Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns that Saudi Arabia could develop nuclear weapons if the U.S. technology were transferred without proper safeguards.

But, why?

  1. The Middle East turmoil is in part over what kind of Islam will prevail. Iran is controlled by Shi’a sect clerics (Baptist) while Saudi Arabia is controlled by followers of the Sunni (Catholic) sect.
  2. Both countries manipulate others in the region. Much of the fighting in the region is proxy fighting. Yemen has a Saudi-backed government. The opposition forces that almost took over are backed by Iran. Syria has an Iranian-backed government. Some of the opposition forces are backed by the Saudis.
  3. Saudi Arabia wants the potential capability of nuclear weapons because Iran is far ahead of them towards that.
  4. The Atomic Energy Act section 123 stipulates how the US may cooperatively work with other countries to have safeguards to prevent the development of weapons from nuclear reactors.
  5. The United States (and Europe) helped Iran with the start of nuclear reactors in the 70s. See, the Shah was our friend. The conflict has to do with him being overthrown and the clerics taking charge. The current government HATES us.

Sure, the plan is to build nuclear reactors, not weapons, but the normal deal includes safeguards to prevent the development of nuclear weapons from them. This Middle East Marshall Plan is also interesting given the Saudis extract so much oil, but realize these fossil fuels face lowering demand as people switch.

I get it. The Saudis are our allies (like the Shah was). But, the current decision maker, MSM is just as bad as the Shah was. He locks up people for speaking bad about him. A woman publicly drove a car before he was ready to allow women to do so. He had her imprisoned for it, let his sister do it, and still has the first woman locked up years later.

We’ve been here before. We gave nuclear technologies to Israel who exacerbates the Middle East turmoil. Everyone is worried Pakistan and India the clash in Kashmir is going to result in a nuclear exchange. China is still peeved at us giving the tech to Taiwan who it considers its territory. Our choices to help countries have this technology embroils already tense situations. The safeguards are supposed to make it more palatable to the world, so giving it to Saudi Arabia without them is an open provocation.

Dream: Corporate VP of Junk

I dreamt I was called into a meeting without knowing why I was there. (That is typical.) The meeting was about a company VP being in the hospital with a heart attack so they were going to make me the acting. Which was confusing because I have no idea who that guy was, what was his portfolio, or even how things are done there.

I leave the meeting and learn he sells junk on eBay and Amazon. Literal junk. The company’s other areas hand over broken or unusable objects. We list and sell them and write off the loss.

America’s experiment in democracy

A friend mentioned the above phrase General Mad-Dog Mattis often uses in posting about the death of the badass Cryptologic Technician. This happened on Facebook and it being Facebook, it spurred a troll who completely misunderstood the phrase. He took it to mean the United States attempting nation building.

Here is an example of Mattis’ usage in a paper on the national defense strategy:

“Increasing the lethality of our troops, supported by our defense civilians, requires us to reshape our approach that managing our outstanding talent, reinvigorating our military education and honing civilian workforce expertise.

“The creativity and talent of the department is our deepest wellspring of strength, and one that warrants greater investment.

“And to those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy, they must know: If you challenge us it will be your longest and your worst day. Work with our diplomats; you don’t want to fight the Department of Defense.”

He is using the phrase to talk about attacking the United States. Not Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or Yemen.

Mattis, having read far more about history, the founding of the US, and Constitutional scholarship uses this phrase to indicate that the democracy we have is pretty fragile. Democracies can fail. The United States has somehow lasted over two centuries as a republic, but it is still possible for our country to fail. We have to protect it. We have to be wise in our choices. Or we might find ourselves beholden to Putin-like totalitarianism. He viewed his job as more than just protecting the country, but as protecting something special in the world that deserves to survive.

And, that is why he had to go. His loyalty was primarily to democracy, not the Commander-in-Chief who demanded personal loyalty.

Read more about how democracies fall into totalitarianism:

Facebook should honor those privacy notice hoaxes

I’ve seen several friends post the new variant of the notice saying that in order to have privacy, you have to post the note that does not give Facebook permission to use your photos or status updates.

Here is the thing. Taking away that permission makes Facebook unusable as no one can see them even people you want to see them. If Facebook cannot use them, then it cannot show them to others on your behalf.

I think Facebook should start:

  1. Programmatically look to see if these statuses are posted by a user.
  2. Disable access to photos and status updates for any user who has posted it and not allow them to make new ones.
  3. Let them see the posts of others who have not posted it.
  4. Highlight to the user that no one can see their stuff due to having that post. Give them the option of deleting the post to restore access.

My guess is if Facebook did this, then these posts would disappear from Facebook pretty quickly.

Book Review Backlash

It started with a tweet about how a new Congresswoman is dressed. There was a backlash on Twitter. I’ve seen several stories about that.

Less noticed, it seems to me, is the tweeter promotes his book on Twitter.

People clicked over to Amazon to give the book 1-star reviews. You can see that when he posted it, the grab from Amazon showed 21 reviews with an average of around 4-stars. Now, it has an average of 2.7-stars with 36 reviews. He basically tanked his own book by his behavior on his own marketing tool.

How can he help me?

Got an email subject of “How can I help you?” from my U.S. Senator. This is a first in the over 3 years of emails I have from his office. Most communicate his party’s stance on an issue. Some are advisory like “Preparing For Hurricane Irma”. The closest to this seemingly change in approach is the one email just days after the 2016 election disclosing mobile office locations about 2 hour drives from me.

So, I checked Ballotpedia and noticed he was elected in 2014. Add 6 and he will be up for re-election in 2020. Guess that means there is no reprieve from the 2018 election. The campaign for the next one has already started.

Good guy with a gun

I’ve seen security kick plenty of people out of bars. They sometimes come back wanting to start something with security. In this case, one shot at security from outside who returned fire and apprehended one of them and held him at gunpoint for authorities. A police officer who showed up killed the security guard.

When I was an “emergency coordinator”, we once had a session about what to do during an active shooter situation. Guns were not allowed then. (Unclear now.) It was the Hide, Run, Fight philosophy which was hole up in a secure room if you can, get out if you can, fight back as only a last resort. The trainer’s point was when a police officer shows up, if you are armed, then you might get shot because they will not know who is a good vs bad. They see a weapon and might shoot before they know.

Same Day Registration

Same Day Registration (SDR) gives voters the opportunity to register to vote or update their registration when voting early and on Election Day. Voter turnout in states with SDR was seven points higher than non-SDR states.

Somehow I missed this for the Quasi-Mandatory Voting post. If you achieve automatic registration, then you don’t need SDR because it ought to already be handled. But, maybe a voter got the license on the day prior to the election and the automatic process takes up to a week, so SDR would help someone vote.

 

 

Politics as storytelling

Two decades ago, during my biweekly game in Berkeley, the black, white, and Latino players engaged in a series of long, heated debates about O.J. Simpson’s guilt or innocence. We didn’t necessarily change each other’s opinions about the case, but we gained a far deeper understanding of each other—and our respective group’s experiences—in the process. This surely affected our political perspectives too.

I’ve been mulling this scene. I think the reason I like to discuss politics with people of all perspectives is peeking under the onion layers. Prod someone into talking about something they are passionate about, and they tell stories. They describe how something makes them feel by talking about how it relates to a past event.

Okay, some people are going to be purely factual about a position. That is boring to the human brain. A story engages us. So people eventually fall into telling stories that make their point.

Most people fall near the center of a spectrum on a random issue. And, how they are asked about something can influence how they respond. Ask about abortion and someone is either for or against. Ask about different types and some people who are against turn out to be okay with allowing some types. Tell different stories about a certain type and depending on the details some people can flip their stance depending on the elements it contains.

We do this without really being aware. And I love to notice people not being aware of these inconsistencies.

And these stories reveal far more about them than just the stance. The stories we tell reflect an attempt at shaping how a person wants to be perceived. We instinctively leave out the parts that we don’t want others to know, but others who have experienced the same event know those details. Those omissions also over time get lost as we forget them.