The purpose is to inject the poison into the system

The news has been full of this nonsense about how Kamala Harris may not be a US citizen, prompted by a terrible op-ed in Newsweek. It’s a shitty argument made with absurd confidence/arrogance by a guy installed in a sinecure in a right-wing think tank.

Eastman’s Newsweek article rehashes an argument he has made for years: that American-born children of immigrants only acquire birthright citizenship if their parents were lawful permanent residents at the time of birth. According to Eastman, the children of immigrants who entered the U.S. without authorization, or on a temporary permit, are not American citizens. Rather, they constitute an underclass of (mostly stateless) aliens subject to deportation and denied the rights and privileges of American citizenship. His article is titled “Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility”—he’s just asking questions!—because he believes her citizenship turns on the immigration status of her parents when she was born. If her parents were “temporary visitors, perhaps on student visas,” Eastman wrote, then Harris lacks American citizenship. Eastman has never fully explained how he intends to strip millions of Americans of their citizenship, though he does suggest that, at a minimum, Harris might need to be expelled from her Senate seat.

That’s garbage, but mission accomplished: the author has successfully made a ludicrous idea a topic of conversation, and it really doesn’t matter that most of the conversation is about how stupid and wrong it is, as long as everyone is talking about it. Like this post.

The real question is how the media willingly swallow this poison in the first place.

Why, then, do outlets like Newsweek and the Washington Post keep publishing articles that promote this lie? A coterie of racists based at the Claremont Institute hope that if they repeat it enough, they can leave the door open for a mass expatriation of second-generation Americans, most of them minorities. Indeed, there are few if any supporters of this falsehood who lack connections to the Claremont Institute. Eastman is a senior fellow at Claremont and the founding director of its Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. Josh Hammer, the Newsweek editor who commissioned the piece, is a former fellow at the institute. Michael Anton, who manipulated the text of a quote from the Senate debate over the 14th Amendment in a Washington Post op-ed to make this lie seem more credible, is a senior fellow there. (Anton may be best known as the author of “The Flight 93 Election,” published in the Claremont Review of Books, which condemned “ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners.”) Claremont “scholar” Edward J. Erler wrote a book arguing that the American-born children of Mexican immigrants have no right to U.S. citizenship, giving the idea greater exposure.

The Claremont Institute masquerades as an intellectual salon of the right, but it is really just a racist fever swamp with deep connections to the conspiratorial alt-right. It even granted a fellowship to Jack Posobiec, who helped promote the notorious Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Claremont’s resident bigots offer deranged fantasies of violently expelling Americans from their home country because of their ethnic backgrounds. Their work deserves the intellectual weight given to that of David Duke and his Nazi-loving fellow travelers.

Sounds about right. The right-wing has set up all these empty ‘institutions’ with hoity-toity names to create a cadre of assholes with false authority, and these gullible media sites accept that as meaningful. Oh, he’s a Fellow of an Institute. Must be clever and important. Sure, publish him, even if it’s garbage, it must be thoughtful and representative of a legitimate, informed opinion. So it gets out there. The purpose of the think tank is accomplished.

The solution is to treat an association with organizations like the Claremont Institute as the equivalent of a fake diploma, the possession of which ought to automatically disqualify you.


  1. wzrd1 says

    The fly in his ointment is, established case law goes back to 1830, in regards to birthright citizenship. So, they’re arguing that which was argued under common law, something settled even before the 14th amendment was even thought of. Since the 14th amendment was ratified, there were around a half dozen cases, some arguing his very non-point and the courts pointed at a long train of established case law that said he’s not only not right, he’s not even wrong – he’s playing football on a baseball diamond.
    What really floored me was that Newsweek published an OpEd to the effect of that very same drivel, as apparently, these days, anyone can publish anything without a fact check or any form of quality control.
    As for repeating something and somehow, it becomes true, wishcraft isn’t a real thing. If I keep saying that I’m God, thousands of times per day, I’ll still be unable to whammy someone and my smite remains limited to my ability to trip someone with my cane – even if 325 million Americans say the same idiotic thing. We’re stuck with reality, where if you wish in one hand and shit in the other, we all know which hand will be filled first and which one will remain as empty as a campaign promise.

  2. says

    This Eastman, his long term goal for decades has been to redefine American Citizenship. Yeah, he’s one of those “ban the anchor baby” assholes. He’s another prick trying to redefine American citizenship to ban the awful/dangerous/oh-so-scary “Others”. Too bad that would take a constitutional amendment. I don’t understand how a POS like Eastman can call himself a “lawyer” when he spouts blatantly obvious BS like this. I’m no lawyer, but I paid attention in high school civics and I know that.

  3. billseymour says

    We’re not entirely without hope. Last night, NBC News flat-out called it a “lie” (IIRC, it was Andrea Mitchell who said that). I don’t recall hearing “lie” on PBS Newshour (they often bend over backwards to show “both sides”), but they did state unequivocally that Harris is “qualified” to be president. I don’t remember Washington Week paying any attention to the claim at all, but it could be that I just forgot.

  4. bcwebb says

    John Eastman is also a lawyer a past president for NOM (National Organization for Marriage – a misnomer) in their attacks on LGBT people and gay marriage with a recent focus on attacking trans people. He’s a multifaceted bigot.

  5. says

    I looked up the Claremont Institute and they aren’t even associated with a college- they are in an office park in Upland, CA, just up the block from a WalMart! Seems fishily low budget to me. Probably not related, but this isn’t too far from the old headquarters of the Jack Chick Bible Tract headquarters.

  6. wzrd1 says

    @Ray Ceeya, what amazes me is that no state bar hasn’t revoked these bastards license to practice law, given how wrong that they are.

    CNN also tagged that as bullshit. The problem is, they need to go farther and explain that there are a fair number of court decisions that say that being born in the US, save if one is staff at an embassy or an ambassador, one is a US citizen. That case law started in 1830, some 38 years before the 14th amendment was passed and there are a half dozen cases that settled the matter under the 14th amendment.
    That horse is so dead, it’s actually fossilized.

  7. stroppy says

    Yeah, Andrea Mitchell calling out the birther lie was the highlight of the night, imo. Hopefully there’s a trend where the press rediscovers its spine and grows back some teeth (or at least gets some nice, sturdy dental implants– sharp ones.)

  8. says

    Well, since at some point nobody’s parents could be legal residents of the USA, I guess nobody is eligible. I don’t doubt that about all the people making that argument have at least one person in their ancestry who does not fit their own criteria…

  9. bodach says

    wzrd1@1 Great points but I got stuck on the word you used: wishcraft. I am so using that at least three times a day (easy to do in these parlous times). Thanks.

  10. dstatton says

    From the Wikipedia article on Chapman School of Law:
    John C. Eastman, Constitutional law scholar, notable for promoting discredited and baseless birtherism theories about the 2020 Democratic nominee for Vice President, Kamala Harris.[23] He has recently caused great embarrassment for this former third tier law school school that had been rising nationally in respectability. However after Eastman published a legally unsubstantiated claim that many view as a racist tropes. Newsweek has received heavy criticism for even publishing the article.

    Hugh Hewitt is also on the faculty.

  11. says

    “The Claremont Institute masquerades as an intellectual salon of the right, but it is really just a racist fever swamp with deep connections to the conspiratorial alt-right.”

    The thing is that those are actually the same thing viewed from different angles.

  12. andrewpang says

    The right-wing has set up all these empty ‘institutions’ with hoity-toity names to create a cadre of assholes with false authority

    In other words, wingnut welfare.

  13. kome says

    Gee, remember all the fury that Republicans unleashed against Ted Cruz – who was born in Canada – when he decided to run for president? No? Oh, because there was none? Well, I guess they only reserve their “no true American” JAQing off for people of color. Shocking, I know.

  14. says

    @drstatton #11
    LOL. While obviously the work of a rogue editor, I was really amused by the edit history. The first sentence, at least, was approved by multiple editors. First someone added the sentence in. Then another editor added a citation to it. Then a third editor removed the word “racist” from that sentence because the citation didn’t support that particular claim.

  15. Ian R says

    “ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners.”
    Gotta give his movement some credit for consistency. They’re working really hard to turn the US into a third world hellhole, so no importation will be needed.

  16. nomdeplume says

    Setting up right wing store fronts, with fancy names, purporting to be institutions of research and learning has also been a technique in Australia. As well as injecting poison into public discourse (the ones here have never seen a progressive idea they don’t want to destroy) they serve two other purposes. When the media is trying to create yet another “both sides” debate, these places have photogenic talking heads in fancy suits ready to go at a moment’s notice. And second, having been given media presence and respectability (our public broadcaster, constantly facing phoney charges of “left-wing bias”, bent over backwards to insert these people into debates and have them constantly in front of the cameras) in this way, they then start moving into politics. It has been very effective in Australia. And America.

  17. wanderingelf says

    Now if only Newsweek would address the long-standing controversies regarding the shape of the Earth by publishing an opinion piece from someone associated with the prestigious Flat Earth Society.

  18. says

    Fake institutions and their grand titles can sometimes be useful. Several years ago a bunch of vandals masquerading as a state government decided to shut down a major museum that had served public education for almost 120 years. I was bought in to recover the museum collections which are a significant part of the state’s geological heritage. Part of of this involved recovering correspondence related to the collections. One of the more unusual ones was a complaint signed by a “Lord” which had arrived via a government minister. The writer was complaining about the actions of the commercial trust which briefly ran the museum before its closure. Before the trust (an oxymoron of the highest level) took over the museum had acquired one of the most significant private mineral collections in Australia at a bargain price using taxpayer funds. It was one of the major attractions of the museum. The complaint was that the trust in order to raise money had moved the collection into its function room where it could only be accessed for an extra fee or by special invitation to corporate functions held there. This of course was outrageous given that public money had purchased it. The management was understandably in a tizzy until one of the museum vounteers who had an interest in peerages pointed out that the Lordship was bestowed by Prince Leonard of Hutt, a phony kingdom set up by a renegade West Australian farmer who was locked in a dispute over his taxes. The letter had the desired result however because public access was quickly restored.

  19. Ichthyic says

    they are in an office park in Upland, CA, just up the block from a WalMart!

    why not just destroy the place? why are you all TOLERATING these lies? do you not see you are slowly but surely losing this fight?

    how many more must die before you fight back?