Not USMC. USAF, Nat’l Guard & Civilians Stopped Terrorist on Train.

Dedicated to making guff out of even the most basic facts of a story, The Bull Elephant reports that it was United States Marines who thwarted a one-man terrorist attack on a European train today. Easy to understand why they got it wrong (again): their source was Breitbart.


As credible media is reporting, the heroes were a member of the United States Air Force, a member of the National Guard, and two civilians. Great work by brave men. But an absolutely classic example of what happens when a good story ends up being reported by wrap-everything-in-the-flag conservatives: if American service members tackled a bad guy, then it had to be the Marines.

We note, by the way, that all of the men who stopped this guy (armed with a pistol and an AK-47) were unarmed. Waiting already for the first person who says this is another case where things would have gone better if all the passengers had their own pistols. Can’t you just picture the obvious advantages to panicked people all firing at anyone else they see with a gun? Yeah. Me neither.

Birthright citizenship IS guaranteed by the Constitution

Forgive me for the all-caps word in the title of this post; I am not one who likes to make his points by emphasis instead of reason. But, the pleasant folks over at The Bull Elephant like it that way, so I’m following suit as this is a response to Steve Albertson’s post there entitled, “Birthright citizenship is NOT guaranteed by the Constitution.”

For the TLDRs out there: He’s wrong, it is.


For those who had the patience to read his post, and want more details, maybe you’ll read this post too. Albertson cites three sources of law in his discussion: the Fourteenth Amendment; a Supreme Court decision known as “The Slaughter-House Cases;” and the Supreme Court decision in “U.S v. Wong Kim Ark.” In short, here’s Albertson’s take: 14A grants citizenship to people born in the United States, but only upon the qualification that those people be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; The Slaughter-House Cases opinion includes the statement, “…‘subject to its jurisdiction’ was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States.”; and that the Wong decision held that birth in the United States granted citizenship, but the decision was about parents legally within the United States, so the grant of citizenship to children of parents illegally in the United States was not addressed.

Well he’s wrong, for a few complicated reasons, and one really simple one. Let’s do complicated first. If Albertson were right, that “Slaughter-House” excluded “citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States” from 14A’s citizenship by birth, the question of whether or not theparents of the newborn were legally or illegally within the United States would make no difference. Anyone a citizen or subject of a foreign state would simply not be a United States citizen, end of story. So how could Wong, who was born in California to two Chinese parents who were not citizens of the United States be a citizen, given that “Slaughter-House” appears unequivocally to have declared him ineligible? Albertson seems to have read the decision in Wong, so he knows. Here’s what he knew, but left out of his post at TBE:

Mr. Justice Miller, indeed, while discussing [in the Slaughter-House decision] the causes which led to the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, made this remark: ‘The phrase ‘subject to its jurisdiction’ was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign states, born within the United States.’ 16 Wall. 73. This was wholly aside from the question in judgment, and from the course of reasoning bearing upon that question. It was unsupported by any argument, or by any reference to authorities; and that it was not formulated with the same care and exactness as if the case before the court had called for an exact definition of the phrase is apparent from its classing foreign ministers and consuls together; whereas it was then well settled law, as has since been recognized in a judgment of this court in which Mr. Justice Miller concurred, that consuls, as such, and unless expressly invested with a diplomatic character in addition to their ordinary powers, are not considered as intrusted with authority to represent their sovereign in his intercourse with foreign states, or to vindicate his prerogatives, or entitled by the law of nations to the privileges and immunities of ambassadors or public ministers, but are subject to the jurisdiction, civil and criminal, of the courts of the country in which they reside. 1 Kent, Comm. 44; Story, Confl. Laws, § 48; Wheat. Int. Law (8th Ed.) § 249; The Anne (1818) 3 Wheat. 435, 445, 446; Gittings v. Crawford (1838) Taney, 1, 10, Fed. Cas. No. 5,465; In re Baiz (1890) 135 U. S. 403, 424, 10 Sup. Ct. 854.

In weighing a remark uttered under such circumstances, it is well to bear in mind the often-quoted words of Chief Justice Marshall: ‘It is a maxim, not to be disregarded, that general expressions, in every opinion, are to be taken in connection with the case in which those expressions are used. If they go beyond the case, they may be respected, but ought not to control the judgment in a subsequent suit when the very point is presented for decision. The reason of this maxim is obvious. The question actually before the court is investigated with care, and considered in its full extent. Other principles which may serve to illustrate it are considered in their relation to the case decided, but their possible bearing on all other cases is seldom completely investigated.’

In other words, what “Slaughter-House” said about foreign nationals not being granted citizenship by birth was what lawyers call “dictum,” and dictum is not law. In Wong, the court clearly and directly looked at the statement Albertson relies upon, and ruled with certainty that it was incorrect. To the extent that it was ever authoritative, Wong reversed it. Moreover, Albertson’s claim that Wong held that the children of legal residents were citizens (and thus leaves open the question of children of illegal residents) is simply incorrect. The residency status of Wong’s parents is never addressed. Here, at (alas) full-length, is what the Supreme Court said were the operant facts:

The facts of this case, as agreed by the parties, are as follows: Wong Kim Ark was born in 1873, in the city of San Francisco, in the state of California and United States of America, and was and is a laborer. His father and mother were persons of Chinese descent, and subjects of the emperor of China. They were at the time of his birth domiciled residents of the United States, having previously established and are still enjoying a permanent domicile and residence therein at San Francisco. They continued to reside and remain in the United States until 1890, when they departed for China; and, during all the time of their residence in the United States, they were engaged in business, and were never employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the emperor of China. Wong Kim Ark, ever since his birth, has had but one residence, to wit, in California, within the United States and has there resided, claiming to be a citizen of the United States, and has never lost or changed that residence, or gained or acquired another residence; and neither he, nor his parents acting for him, ever renounced his allegiance to the United States, or did or committed any act or thing to exclude him therefrom.

That’s it. No reference whatsoever to the legality (or lack thereof) of the residency of Wong’s parents. He was born here, subject to United States jurisdiction. That makes him a citizen, Justice Miller’s erroneous dictum in “Slaughter-House” notwithstanding.

Now, before I get to the simple reason Albertson is wrong, I’ll offer a tip to wannabe constitutional scholars, one given to me when I was in law school by a real constitutional scholar: when you are looking at cases involving the Bill of Rights and the Civil War Amendments, particularly 14A, beware of anything much older than the 20th century’s civil-rights era. “Slaughter-House” was decided in 1873. Wong was 1898. Sure, old law is often still good law. Marbury v. Madison, from 1803, endures, although a lot of conservative thinkers still say it was wrongly decided, so maybe they wouldn’t use that one to defend otherwise venerable decisions. But, if you want to stand on firmer ground, you want to find something a little more recent, and something that doesn’t just give you dictum to uphold you.

So here’s the simple reason: That birth in the United States confers citizenship to the child of parents illegally residing here was declared unequivocally, and not in dictum, by the Supreme Court in 1985:

Respondents, a married couple, are natives and citizens of Mexico… [They] paid a professional smuggler $450 to transport them into this country, entering the United States without inspection through the smuggler’s efforts… INS then instituted deportation proceedings against both respondents. By that time, respondent wife had given birth to a child, who, born in the United States, was a citizen of this country. INS v. Rios-Pineda, 471 US 444

Pretty plain, isn’t it? A direct ruling that the child of illegal residents was a citizen of the United States, solely by virtue of being born in the United States. And it’s not dictum, because the couple argued specifically that the citizenship of their children (there were eventually two, when, in the wording of the court, “respondent wife gave birth to a second citizen child”) was a relevant issue to their claim of hardship. The court accepted their children as citizens and conducted its hardship analysis on that basis.

Rios-Pineda was a unanimous decision (8-0, one Justice recusing himself), including that well knownflaming lefty, William H. Rehnquist.

So there it is. The dictum in “Slaughter-House” was rejected in Wong, which did not even consider the residency status of the parents when it found that birth in the United States confers citizenship on the child (unless the parents are under diplomatic jurisdiction), with citizenship by birth unanimously accepted by the court, about a hundred years later.

The question of whether or not anyone born in the United States should be a citizen thereby is, perhaps, a legitimate one. The question of whether or not the constitution currently grants citizenship on that basis, however, is not. It does, and anyone who wants it otherwise will need a new amendment to make it so.

(If you want something even more up to date, there’s a great little briefing on the subject, prepared in 2012 by the Congressional Research Service. I’d say you should always go to something like that for guidance on the law, and not to The Bull Elephant, but that would just be dictum.)

Noble’s Supporters Show Desperation In Closing Days

In about 48 hours the Loudoun County Republican campaign for sheriff will be done, but over the past 12 hours Eric Noble’s supporters have been caught in laughable acts of desperation. Beginning with an attempt to reclaim a “Tea Party” pedigree, of all things, and continuing with a humiliating smack-down by the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC), these daft moves may or may not reflect the Noble campaign’s internal assessment of the race in its closing days.

Is Eric Noble’s campaign this incompetent? While it seems to have been run pretty darn well up until yesterday, something like the email below, sent right before the convention, suggests otherwise.

LCRC Eric Noble correction
A devastating official reprimand: Today’s LCRC email says one of two dishonest acts occurred, both of which point to ethical lapses by the Noble campaign (click for larger image).
According to this official LCRC statement, the email that went out yesterday to certain LCRC delegates points to a major ethical lapse by Noble’s campaign. Either the campaign itself sent out a dishonest message, or the campaign gave the delegate list to someone who sent out the message. In either case, according to the LCRC, Eric Noble’s campaign is responsible.

The offending email was received this morning. Framed as an official LCRC communication, it contains registration instructions for Saturday’s convention – along with an endorsement of Eric Noble, right in the body of the text just before the time and location, and two attachments which are Noble campaign materials.

The email is nothing less than a breathtaking act of political deceit, and an attempt to manipulate the vote by claiming party sanction of one for the candidates.

Less legally dubious, and much more humorous: Yesterday afternoon a blogger who co-owns the Republican site The Bull Elephant tried to claim that certain “Tea Party” endorsements are more bona fide than others. Anyone who knows anything about so-called Tea Party groups knows that your dog and cat can form a “Tea Party.”

Continue reading “Noble’s Supporters Show Desperation In Closing Days”

Politics and Hyperbole in the Loudoun Sheriff’s Nomination Contest

One of Eric Noble’s key supporters, Sterling Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, employed some “hyperbole” on Twitter in comparing Sheriff Mike Chapman to Saddam Hussein

Having earned a record 91.5% public approval rating, and with the crime rate down 18%, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office under Mike Chapman would seem headed into the 2015 election season on a high note. And by all accounts, among county residents, that is the case.

But within the local political party it’s a different story, and Chapman faces a nomination contest prior to the November elections. Instead of anything resembling smooth sailing, Chapman’s potential path to re-election will be turbulent. He must overcome a Republican faction bearing overheated rhetoric – and taunting Chapman to quit the party – and an opponent leading a mini-rebellion from within the agency (which actually began about the time Chapman took office) who also happens to have the backing of a Republican-turned-Independent, turned-Republican, former sheriff (who always seemed to hold substantial Republican support). And there is a subplot, with sock puppets.

Party politics is about nothing if not chest-thumping, temporary loyalty, brandished in a bellicose spree of righteousness and situational ethics, where a careful observer can almost always pinpoint the irony.

This introduction is the first in a series of articles between now and the May 2 Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) convention, in which we’ll cover some of the complexities of the race for the nomination for sheriff.

Continue reading “Politics and Hyperbole in the Loudoun Sheriff’s Nomination Contest”

GOP Blog Touts York, Chapman Indy Runs

Donald Trump and Scott York
Loudoun Chair Scott York, shown at a recent event with Donald Trump, will likely run as an Independent in 2015, according to The Bull Elephant blog.

Northern Virginia’s main Republican Party insider blog, The Bull Elephant, yesterday capped a series of increasingly bold assertions by predicting Loudoun Supervisor Scott York (R-At Large) will run for re-election as an Independent this fall. York has said he is not running for office at all.

Previous Bull Elephant articles have in effect shown Sheriff Mike Chapman the door out of the GOP in suggesting his own run as an Independent, with York’s recent endorsement of Chapman boosting The Bull Elephant’s contention that “Loudoun’s Chairman of the Board and the Sheriff are likely to team up and run as Independents.”

Read the whole story at The Bull Elephant.

Jack Tiwari Already Has The Elephant Scared

The amazingly well named blog, “The Bull Elephant” shows how fearful the Republicans are of losing David Ramadan’s seat to Jack Tiwari. The best way to know when some on their side are scared is when they start lying about their opponents, and it’s already begun there.

Jack’s looking at every issue affecting Virginia. A big one for most of us is education. TBE quoted this from the Times-Mirror story on Jack’s entry to the race:

‘Our schools are overcrowded, Loudoun has still not instituted full day kindergarten, and teacher pay is still below the national average,’ he said in a prepared statement. ‘We need to prioritize education in the General Assembly, particularly early childhood education.’

That’s all true, but it’s right after that that the lies begin, with TBE declaring:

The statement is not accurate. Our teacher pay in Loudoun is well above the national average. According to the NEA, the average salary for a starting teacher in the US is $36,141 and the average salary in Virginia is $37,848.

The statement is accurate. Jack didn’t say “starting pay.” He said, “teacher pay.” Virginia’s teacher pay averages $48,869, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s well below the national average of $56,383. Note also that TBE says, “pay in Loudoun is well above the national average.” But, again, that’s not what Jack said. The excerpt from the Times-Mirror story makes it look that way, but TBE didn’t bother (and/or doesn’t want you to bother) with Jack’s actual statement. Here it is:

Our area is experiencing population growth at a level higher
than almost anywhere else in the country. It has put stress
on our schools, creating the largest class sizes in the
area. Our schools have had to resort to "trailers" out back
and there are teachers who must take their supplies from
classroom to classroom. My children will attend Virginia
public schools in the near future and I want them and every
student to attend world-class schools. I will fight to
create an environment where all children have the same
opportunity to succeed in school, no matter their economic
Virginia needs to hire and retain the best teachers with
better pay in Virginia. We continue to be well below the
national average and risk losing teachers to DC and Maryland
if we don’t offer competitive salaries.
Loudoun County is only one of the three counties in the
Commonwealth not offering a full day kindergarten and is
actively floating a plan to charge parents. I strongly
support full day kindergarten and oppose any extra charges
to the family. We already pay enough property tax to cover
this and Loudoun County needs to prioritize early childhood
I want our higher education system to be second to none. This
means ensuring everyone has access to a college education,
and the best way to do that is to lower tuition costs.
Virginia should be open to the proposal from President Obama
for free community college, and we must also work to reduce
tuition at our four-year institutions.
I also support job training and continuing education programs
for adults that provide the skills needed to compete for new
well-paying jobs.

Let’s check that part about pay out again:

Virginia needs to hire and retain the best teachers with
better pay in Virginia. We continue to be well below the
national average and risk losing teachers to DC and Maryland
if we don’t offer competitive salaries.

It’s true. What TBE says is just a lie.

Going on, TBE adds this response:

The House of Delegates does not determine if Loudoun has all day kindergarten, that’s a local issue.

Really? Then why did Ramadan, Tag Greason, and nearly every other Republican vote in favor of allowing localities to charge for full-day kindergarten? (Thank you, Del. Minchew, for knowing better, even if you did mistakenly vote the wrong way.)

TBE didn’t bother to respond to what Jack really said, so their lies are understandable, if not forgivable. But, their inability to speak the truth is probably a good reason why you go to newspapers to get your news, and you go to bull elephants to get your bull.

Hollingshead Declared Debate Winner By Conservative Blog

Stephen Hollingshead
Candidate for Republican nomination in 10th District contest, Stephen Hollingshead

Stephen Hollingshead, one of several Republicans battling for the party’s nomination to replace retiring Congressman Frank Wolf in November’s elections, was declated winner of last night’s GOP debate by conservative blog The Bull Elephant.

Even Comstock supporters said positive things about him, such as “I still support Barbara, but I really like that guy”. Other activists from Loudoun said “he’s just who we need”, “he’ll be a great candidate for us”, “he’s our future”. The response to him was overwhelmingly positive.

It’s always exciting when a truly new face emerges on the local political scene, so new in this case that he is still identified as “Stephen Hollingsworth” in the article’s headline. But name recognition doesn’t come about overnight.