Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 26, 2010

BEWARE OF TERRORIST BABIES.... The right's campaign against birthright citizenship has been intensifying of late, but leave it to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) to take the campaign to entirely new depths.

By now, the argument is likely pretty familiar -- the 14th Amendment says, in effect, that if you're born in the United States, you're a natural-born American. There's very little wiggle room in the language, and Supreme Court precedents are clear. Conservatives don't care for this, in large part because of immigration -- if a couple is in the U.S. illegally and have a baby, that couple's child is an American citizen. Many on the right have even called for a constitutional amendment to address this.

But for Gohmert, the issue isn't just related to immigration; it's also a national security issue.

Walid Zafar reports that Gohmert appeared on the House floor on Thursday, and presented the following case: "I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system. And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, 20, 30 years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life. 'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get setup in a position to destroy our way of life."

Let's pause to appreciate the irony of Louie Gohmert lecturing us about "how stupid we are being."

Is there any credible evidence that terrorists are using birthright-citizenship as part of attack plots scheduled for the year 2040? Not even a little. Gohmert appears to be making this up, in the hopes that he can use a ridiculous scenario to scare people into doing what he wants to do anyway.

Look, there's a genuine terrorist threat in this country, and one might even be able to make a plausible case that there's a credible link between border security and counter-terrorism. But the last serious terrorist plot involved some schmuck with exploding underwear. We should be afraid of a plot involving infants? Because Louie Gohmert says so?


Steve Benen 8:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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More power to them if this law had existed in the late nighties we would never had to watch John McCain run for president.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on June 26, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Is it possible that Kaiser Wilhelm sent German sleeper agents to America in the late 19th century with instructions that they should have a pinheaded great-grandson and get him elected to Congress? Rep. Gohmert should look into that sinister plot.

Posted by: alkali on June 26, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Because Muslims are allowed multiple wives, one terrorist could impregnate many women, passing on his terrorist jeans.

Posted by: Al on June 26, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Correct my fading memory, please: The 9/11 terrorists were American citizens, who came into this country on U.S. passports, correct?

-Because everyone knows how HARD it is to enter this country as an illegal adult. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 26, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

It becomes clearer and clearer that for a substantial percentage of the Republican party as is, their ultimate political goal is ethnic cleansing of the U.S.

Posted by: JMG on June 26, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Forty-five years from now -- the Mesopotamian Candidate!! Since Obama's mother's plan to fake his birth certificate in the 1960's has been discovered, clearly a more foolproof method needed to be found. And Frank Sinatra is already long gone! Who will save us?

Posted by: MW on June 26, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

They could procreate, train, , raise, educate, indoctrinate, and then wean the little buggers, send them here and blow us all up real good. Planning is always the best way to go. Or they could use an already grown-up zealot and just have them walk in from Canada through some section of unguarded woodland, or up through Mexico through some unguarded desert, by camel one would assume.

Louie is in the wrong line of work. he should be writing comedy irony for Louis Black.

That the fence hasn't,as yet, been erected around Texas is a much more worrisome to clear thinkers than the possibility of terrorist babies. A bigger danger would be to allow Texans to roam freely around the Eastern seaboard, packing heat and no brains...

Posted by: stevio on June 26, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

The birthright-citizenship concept was featured in one of Harlan Coben's books; I think it was in his Myron Bolitar series. Very entertaining work by an excellent author. Maybe Gohmert is lifting his material from Mr. Coben.

Posted by: mvonalt on June 26, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

And here I was, thinking they were torturing storks to force them to deliver little Arab babies to the US so they could be raised on farms in terrorist cell cabbage patches.
Don't laugh. That's about as credible a theory as Gohmert Pyle of S.H.I.T.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 26, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

The sole support for his argument is the word of a single unidentified, retired FBI agent. What more do you need?

Posted by: Jose Padilla on June 26, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

"But the last serious terrorist plot involved some schmuck with exploding underwear."

Um, the last credible terrorist plot was a radicalized US citizen who tried to set off a car full of explosives in Times Square.

If you're trying to make the point that being worried about US citizens committing acts of terrorism, I think this is a mistake you don't want to make.

Posted by: Vondo on June 26, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

"I talked to a retired FBI agent who said...."

Yes, I'm sure you did. In the old folks' home, drooling and rambling with dementia.

Posted by: g on June 26, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Wanna bet the retired FBI Agent was G Gordon Liddy?

Posted by: martin on June 26, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Poor brain-dead Louie...he gives "Gomer" a bad name.

Posted by: ckelly on June 26, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Jon Stewart should be proud.

Gohmert ripped this off from a Daily Show bit about Obama's birth certificate.


Posted by: 2Manchu on June 26, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think he stole it from an older source than The Daily Show. Remember the hysteria about Satanic ritual child abuse, back in the '80's? There were so many children claiming (after marathon "interrogation" sessions by "experts" on Satanic abuse) to have witnessed the human sacrifice of babies that inevitably a few skeptics asked why there weren't more reports of missing babies. The self-styled experts then explained that truly dedicated Satanists would give birth to "altar babies" whose births they would not register, so that there would be no record of their existence to raise suspicions. Hey, in the Reagan era, people were quite willing to believe all that and more if it proved that women who put their children in day care centers were evil, selfish creatures who were destroying the family.

Posted by: T-Rex on June 26, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

For God's sake you idiot. I was kidding when I told you that story! Jees, you'll believe anything.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on June 26, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Looks as though Goemert has been taking Harlan Coben's "Long Lost" a little too seriously.

However, if they do pass such a law, could they have it be retroactive and apply to children born in the US from parents working here on Work Permits? I'm sure Michelle Malkin would approve of her being sent back to Manilla.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 26, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I kind of remember those stories. Of course back then I was into Satanic stuff like Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkien, and Ozzy Ozbourne, so who was to judge?

Posted by: 2Manchu on June 26, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

The terrorists I worry about the most are white and inbred. Gohmert is at the top of the list.

Posted by: bdop4 on June 26, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

I feel safe enough if I watch out for smoking shoes, smoking cars (I was at the famous corner of 44th and Broadway the evening before) and smoking crotches. If this is the best the bad guys can do (cf. an article in the new Atlantic Monthly also...according to it occasionally Taliban with explosives attached for suicide bombing give each other a "manly hug" and blow each other up...sweet shades of Monty Python!) then we are OK. It must be hard to get serious training while dodging Predator drones, especially if you are illiterate to begin with. (However, Afghans with rifles on their own turf are to be taken very seriously: just ask the Russians.)

Louie Gohmert and Michelle Bachmann and Obtuse Angle are considerably more dangerous, IMO.

Posted by: jrosen on June 26, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Al, you are surely a satirist. "jeans", my man? Would that be Levis or Dockers? Or perhaps you mean "genes", in which case your own racist "jeans" are showing. Have a nice day.

Posted by: jrosen on June 26, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that Gomert is ascribing more power to the Ay-rabs than to us good ol' murricans. Like their 40+-year plan to put Obama into power, they are planning for future terror attacks, with children who will be born and raised in the most corrupting-to-muslims society, modern prosperous Christianoid America -- and emerge at the end, 20-30 years from now, still radicalized and ready to attack.

If they can do that, we might as well just sue for peace.

I guess the right-whingers are pissing-their-pants afeared of the wily mohammedan and his secret plots -- if Islam is so damned powerful, and the Muslim ability to plot against us so sneaky they can plan for attacks some 20-30 years from now, we can just kiss it all good-bye. Set off our arsenal of nuclear weapons every 100 miles across the US, and take 'em with us, 'cause we can't compete with super-powers like that.

These clowns make me sick.


Posted by: Ed Drone on June 26, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

This makes perfect sense. The Obama's planned for the Kenyan born Obama to become president 50 years ago by planting all those false birth announcements in the Hawaiian newspapers.... It flows naturally in the alternate universe in witch the right wing lives.

Posted by: GOP SUX on June 26, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Please! You people are just not taking this seriously enough. You've been lulled into a false sense of security by the failure of the underwear bomber to succeed in his mission.

I have it on the best of authority (my sister's nephews wife works for a guy who knows things we only have nightmares about), and I understand that there are already terrorist babies packing their panties with C4 and heading for the good old USA. They know that we have those new machines that can see everything, and you can't hide a full load anymore. But who's going to check out that solid mass around a baby's bottom? Didn't think of that, did you?

He also said that there are a lot of very short Iranians getting plastic surgery to look like they are only two years old. You just can't underestimate the planning and perseverance that those Iranians are capable of.

So, kudos to you, Mr. Gohmert, for recognizing the serious threat of three year olds to the security of the USA. God Bless You for keeping us safe.

Posted by: rwgate on June 26, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Hay,,, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) ---

Life doesn't always have to feel like a bad acid trip.
Help is available for the chronically depressed & delusional.

Posted by: cwolf on June 26, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

The world will always be a dangerous place for fools like Gohmert, but you can't go around handcuffing everyone just to feel safe. What paranoid fantasy as if such an idea would make any difference at all to anyone wanting to harm America. Overall it would be such a meaningless trite threat that it's not even worth mentioning much less wasting time and energy on the House floor. To think we pay salary for such stupidity...sounds like a Palin tweet.

I like the idea of building a fence around Texas though,allowing no one in or our without papers and a pass. We'd all feel much safer. Ironic that one of the stupidest welfare states in the union is the major influence on textbooks used in public schools. Makes no sense to anyone with a brain.

Posted by: bjobotts on June 26, 2010 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Wanna bet the retired FBI Agent was G Gordon Liddy?"
Posted by: martin on June 26, 2010 at 9:43 AM

You'd win that bet. Glad you mentioned it. Puts it in perspective doesn't it.

Posted by: bjobotts on June 26, 2010 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm trying to think through the logistics of this terrorist baby threat. In the crib: a mobile made of jets and skyscrapers. On Halloween: a ski mask and a machete. In Home-Ec: how to make your own suicide vest. ... Nope, can't do it.

Posted by: Danny on June 26, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from what certain people are trying to do, take the issue on its own merits: if a tourist couple has a baby in the US, that baby should be a US citizen? Does that make sense? And we've surpassed the Constitution enough anyway, might as well include A-14 in the "evolving standards" machinery.

Posted by: Neil B 23 on June 26, 2010 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Gohmert? Sounds like a furriner. Where's this guy from?

Posted by: J on June 26, 2010 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

SteveB sez: "Look, there's a genuine terrorist threat in this country...". There is also a genuine possibility that I will be struck by lightening or choke on a dorito or be attacked in my home by crazed lunatics or be killed during an earthquake or drown in a boating accident or get food poisoning at MacDonalds or be blown up and a plane by crazed lunatic. The word "genuine" does not translate to the "realm of a significant possibility". I can hear Gohmert or any other rightwing wacko prefacing any lunatic assertion with this line. Please get real!

Posted by: mickster on June 26, 2010 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

"...if a tourist couple has a baby in the US, that baby should be a US citizen?" Neil B 23 @ 5:43 PM.

No. The tourist couple will have passports. The passports will tell which country they are from. The record of their child's birth will be forwarded to their embassy/consulate and then transmitted to their home country. There the child will be registered as a citizen of THAT country with the place of birth listed as U.S.
Of course, the entire article was about the children born in the US of ILLEGAL immigrants being citizens and the stupid reaction to that of some people...

Posted by: Doug on June 26, 2010 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should point out to Louie that no one has to go to the logistic nightmare of getting pregnant women into the U.S. to give birth. It would be much easier just to kidnap some toddlers and raise them as Muslims.

The Byzantines operated for centuries with slave armies essentially operated much that way. Damned good armies, too. Janissaries.

Oh God! Conservatives! Hide your toddlers!!

Posted by: Rick B on June 26, 2010 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

As I recall, Neil B 23, the 14th Amendment states:

"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."

Your tourist's baby would not be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and would not reside in any state, therefore not fulfilling the requirements of the 14th Amendment. The child of an illegal immigrant would fulfill both requirements, as the parents and the child would be withing the jurisdiction of the US and living in a state.

Posted by: rwgate on June 26, 2010 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

The tourist is subject to US jurisdiction. It's not like they can commit a crime and avoid punishment. Nor is it like someone can commit a crime against them and it doesn't account.

Legal jurisdiction extends to anyone inside the legal boundaries of the US.

what does it take to reside in a state? I'd say that being born there is prima facia evidence of being a resident.

Posted by: Rick B on June 26, 2010 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

In practice, the only people excluded under the clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" are diplomatic personell of foreign countries.

Posted by: tanstaafl on June 27, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Many of you miss the point: not "if" a tourist babies or I.I. babies "are" US citizens, but should they be. And the bickering over the question just goes to show it isn't properly settled, and it needs to be.

Posted by: neil b 23 on June 27, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Who the fuck is "Louie Gohmert"? Were his parents related by marriage or birth?

Posted by: Timpanist on June 27, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I picture this kid getting singled out for special terrorist training just because he's an American citizen.

Ever seen kids rebel against their parents?

I just can't see such a thing going according to plan without some kind of hiccup.

Carry on, Private Pyle.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on July 6, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK



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