Scott Hardie | October 12, 2003
Sixty-four percent of Americans would oppose a constitutional amendment to allow a U.S. citizen born in another country, like Schwarzenegger, to be elected president (29 percent would favor such an amendment). ...So says Newsweek.

This disappoints me, since that rule has always been my little Constitutional pet peeve (as some of you have no doubt already heard if you've talked to me on the subject). Is it not discriminatory by definition to say that someone born overseas can never be President? Like your gender or your skin color, where you were born is something that you can never change. The other conditions are fair because anyone can possibly meet them with time. If our problem is that we don't want someone born overseas to become President, well then let's not vote for him when he runs. Like with the Texas sodomy law, I'm tired of some things being illegal simply because people don't like them.

Matthew Preston | October 12, 2003
I think the biggest fear is someone from a large foreign country would somehow be voted in. I don't doubt that if this were recsinded, there would be nominees from Afghanistan, China, North Korea, Cuba, and Iraq every single election period. Trusting a foreigner not to be faithful to their home country is not a chance we need to take. I know it seems far fetched that a foreigner from some communist or dictatorship country would be voted in, but why allow them to run in the first place? They have their own country to run for office (if applicable) and allowing any individual from outside of the U.S. to run for president could be a problem of national security. Could you imagine someone like Fidel Castro attempting to campaign on our grounds? There are plenty of people to choose from in the United States and it should remain that way.

Scott Hardie | October 12, 2003
Well, yeah, but don't forget that the person has to be a U.S. resident for at least fourteen years before s/he can be eligible. Is that not sufficient protection from a foreign dictator? And besides, is there not a better way to protect against foreign dictators than with a rule that excludes plenty of people who might make good presidents? This rule does more harm than good, imo. (Btw, I would change "resident" to "citizen" if I were writing the amendment.)

Anna Gregoline | October 13, 2003
It does seem a bit backwards, considering America's "melting pot" theory.

Jackie Mason | October 13, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | October 13, 2003
You don't need to be a foreign citizen to f*ck up the country! Look at Bush! =)

Mike Eberhart | October 15, 2003
First of all, the country is not f*ucked up!!! Second of all, if you have a 401K or an IRA you'd notice that things are starting to turn around for the better. My investments are all up significantly in the past 6 months or so. Third, I think Bush has done a great job, and I'd vote for him again.

Mike Eberhart | October 15, 2003
As for a foreigner eventually becoming president. I believe the law should still stand. Some of these other countries could send operatives over here under the ruse of trying to become Americans, and then after the allotted time, start running for gov. offices and eventually trying to become president just to try and use that power to help out their true country. This is something we do not need. I'm one who thinks that his "melting pot" needs to shut down it's borders for awhile until we have a better screening process for people coming into the country.

Scott Hardie | October 15, 2003
Well, let me ask you guys this. Joe Lieberman was born in Connecticut, and has obviously been a U.S. resident for more than 14 years. Yet some people (32% of young people, to be precise) fear he might go too easy on Israel if he were elected president, just because he's Jewish. I ask: A) Do you agree that he would? and B) If he did, would that be such a terrible thing?

Anna Gregoline | October 15, 2003
Wow, I don't agree with anything Mike says. The conservative side of T.C. rises again!I think Joe Lieberman would never be elected regardless - he sounds too wimpy. I don't know enough about him to say how he would act in certain foreign arenas. I don't think that being Jewish would hinder tough decisions regarding Israel. It might even help to have that background, something to relate to their leaders on.

Erik Bates | October 16, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | October 16, 2003
I'm surprised at the "shutting down our borders" comments. Doesn't this run contrary to everything we've been taught about what makes America great? This is the great contridiction I've been hearing for the past few years, as well as, don't say anything about our leaders unless it's favorable. That to me is NOT democracy. It makes me ashamed. P.S. I accidentily typed, "democrazy." That feels so apt.

Jackie Mason | October 16, 2003
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Erik Bates | October 16, 2003
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Erik Bates | October 16, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | October 16, 2003
I don't agree with calling Bush Hitler, but has performed quite a few atrocities against several races of people. And those are actions, not attributes.

Matthew Preston | October 17, 2003
While I am not an economist, and it's been a while since I've been forced to sit in front of an economy textbook, I don't see the economy as a whole, doing poorly... or rather, the economy doing poorly as a result of one man or economic plan.
Prior to Bush being elected into office, much of the technology industry was beginning to slip as "phantom" companies were being created and making money on word of mouth of their websites and a shitload of stocks and bonds. These inevitably crashed and much of what people were investing in, crashed. This is just my personal experience of course, as all of my jobs and experience have been in the technology industry. Myself and most of my friends were / are unemployed and we scrambled to find jobs in the wake of the crash. We all saw it coming, and it really had nothing to do with any presidential economic plans. But outside of my profession, I am a bit ignorant. Can anyone provide examples of how our economy is doing poorly. I am not trying to put anyone on the spot, but I would like to be enlightened as to just what it is I am missing here. Times are hard now, and unemployment rates are only recently beginning to drop, but much of it had to do with a large technology crash and September 11th. The service industry also took a big hit as a lot of people were afraid to travel after 9/11.

Jackie Mason | October 17, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | October 17, 2003
I only have two friends my age who are employed. Everyone else is struggling to find work that will pay enough to support them. That is why the economy is bad to me, too.

Scott Hardie | October 18, 2003
Glad to see the return of a conservative voice here, as currently spoken by three authors. I remarked to Matt yesterday that it helps me open my mind. I tend to read liberal columnists and discuss news/politics with other liberals, so after a while I get that mindset stuck in my head. For instance, it begins to seem like a fact, not an opinion, that George W. Bush is a very bad man. Talking to people who disagree with me is a great reminder that the world is painted in shades of gray. It won't change my mind, but it will teach me to discuss such things more politely. I desire for TC to remain a forum for us to express ourselves in peace, without being flamed or bashed in response.

Anyway, here's some stuff I've been too busy to write:

- As for the original point of this discussion, the Constitutional rule that presidents must be U.S.-born, the consensus seems to be that it's a way to prevent foreign nationals from taking over our country as a way to benefit their own. I want to ask again (it's not a rhetorical question) whether that scenario isn't too unlikely to be of concern, in light of the fact that the rule also denies eligibility to some people who would make some pretty good U.S. presidents. In other words, isn't the rule doing more harm than good?

- I can't say whether President Lieberman would have a tough time being fair when it came to Israel (he probably would), but his election would be bad for another reason: The other half of the Muslim world, the half that's willing to give us the benefit of the doubt, would be lost to us. America is already seen as being a pawn of some global Jewish conspiracy (silly as that notion is), and I can only imagine how it would look if we elected a defiant Jew to our highest office. I'm not saying that Lieberman should never be elected because of that fact (if it's not yet clear, I'm against banning anyone from office because of a single trait), but it's something we must consider if we're going to take him seriously as a candidate... which, fortunately or unfortunately, nobody is really doing yet. :-)

- Erik and Mike, are you against bad people coming into this country and living here illegally, or only against them becoming citizens? It's fairly easy to prevent the latter. The former is the problem, and it seems like that's what you're against, but I wanted to be clear. However, just as with the presidential eligibility rule, I have to wonder whether "shutting down our borders" wouldn't do more harm than good. For every one terrorist or other undesirable, aren't there hundreds of immigrants who would make this country a better place? Cultural diversity aside, the labor-class Mexicans who come into our country in droves are a good thing for our economy. They do the maintenance-level jobs without unionizing or demanding better conditions like we do (and they spend their income), allowing corporations to have more money and hire us American-born white folks to better jobs. Isn't our tremendous influx of willing laborers from other nations one of the main reasons why America became the global superpower in under 200 years? Besides, staying homogenous is the cultural equivalent of inbreeding; it cannot be a good thing for us in the long run.

- While I agree that the economy is in a bad state right now (I'm one of those still-unemployed recent college grads), I don't blame Bush much for it. Like Matt, I always thought the president got a little too much credit for the ecomony, good or bad. However, the president is obligated to try to improve it, and while from my perspective Bush has done a lousy job, for the time being I will reserve judgment on his economic policies. The time for that will be the first Tuesday in November 2004.

- Erik, why does Israel need a wake-up bitch slap right now? Their military actions against the Palestinians are an effort to stop deadly terrorism on their own land. Isn't one of the great things about President Bush that he's willing to pursue our terrorists all over the world? If we're going to pat Bush on the back for keeping us safe, then I think we should condone Sharon's actions as well, unless you see a significant difference. Our mutual enemy is not Muslims in general, but terrorists in specific.

Erik Bates | October 18, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | October 18, 2003
You guys should read Reefer Madness It's a good picture of illegal immigration in this country (as well as drugs and pornography). I had no idea the extent of illegals working here, especially in California. It makes me feel a little guilty about eating strawberries (an important crop, almost entirely picked and grown by illegals).

Jackie Mason | October 19, 2003
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Mike Eberhart | October 20, 2003
Sorry for the long delay in my response, I was away from the computer this weekend. This is a great debate going here, I didn't think it would take off like that. Anyway, back to the topic. To answer Scott's questions, I still think that not electing a citizen that wasn't born here will not cause more harm than good. I'm sure that there are plenty of U.S. born citizens that are great candidates, but they just don't want to run. That's their choice, and I'd rather have it that way. As for the Lieberman question, I wouldn't vote for him just because I don't agree with a lot of what he says. It's not because he's a Jew. Yes, I do believe he would be easy on Israel, and that would cause us a lot more problems with the terrorist fanatical groups. For shutting down the borders, I didn't say permanently. I think it needs to be done for a little while until this country can fix it's immigration process. Too many people are finding holes in the system to slip through and make their way into the country unaccounted for. This is the problem. As for Jackie and Anna's comments, I would have to just say that we will have to continue to just disagree. Not too many liberal democrats agree with much that I believe in. That may be because of my military background, but that's just the way I am. Sorry. Great discussion though, Keep it up.....

Scott Hardie | October 20, 2003
Pardon my abruptness, but what Israeli terrorists? Israelis fight with tanks and soldiers; they're a nation. That would be like us ordinary American civilians going into Iraq ourselves to blow things up... we leave it to the troops, thank you. I have searched the news for any mentions of terrorist attacks or suicide bombings by Israelis, and I can't find any. Say what you want about their improper use of military force or their unwillingness to negotiate peace honestly, but when it comes to terrorism, Israelis are the victims.

What you said reminded me of an old friend, Jackie. His uncle was very patriotic and refused to spend money on any product that was not made in America. But his options got more and more limited over the years, especially since he erred on the side of caution when he wasn't sure, so eventually his Christmas gifts to his nephew were reduced to dollar bills in an envelope. :-)

Fair enough, Mike. I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to any temporary shut-down of the immigration process, if it were guaranteed to be temporary by law. The most redeemable feature of the Patriot Act was its sunset clause: As much as we worried about our civil rights being revoked, it was a temporary measure guaranteed to elapse after... Wait, what's that about Congress wanting to abolish the sunset clause after the law has passed?

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