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Crazy to Believe?

Here follows an email exchange occasioned by my article Obama’s Vain Beginning . I thought it might be of interest.

January 24, 2009

Dear Dr. Keyes,

just read your commentary, Obama’s vain beginning. No wonder you can’t get elected to ANYTHING. Please do keep speaking on behalf of right wing and Republican causes.



PS: How are you doing with your latest birth certificate court case? With your sore record of failure, I’m not surprised you want a piece of this highly unlikely action. Oh, I know, suddenly defense of the Constitution is the morally correct position to take. . . (I don’t recall any outrage from you during the 8 years that Mr. Bush trampled upon the Constitution)


January 24, 2009


My thanks for your carefully thought out and reasoned response to my article. It has much in common with the speeches of the man you admire and obviously seek to imitate. By the way, long before I ever heard of Obama I was speaking out against the dangers of a cavalier attitude toward the Constitution. (see, for instance the WND article “The dangers of Physical Safety”, June 17 2002 http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=14266, and on the same theme the article entitled Taking Advantage, December 1, 2001 http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=11860) Your information is clearly on a par with your careful consideration of the arguments I made in Obama’s Vain Beginning. It may come as a shock, but some of us care more for truth than for party or political success.

Alan Keyes


January 25, 2009

Yes Dr. Keyes, the truth is so important to you. Is that why you are willing to accept as true anything Christianity or Catholicism proclaim as “the truth” without offering one single shred of evidence? This is why people cannot take you seriously. As rightfully reasoned and logical as you are on many issues, your insistence that your religious views are true, providing neither empirical evidence nor sound logical footing leaves you sounding, well, kinda crazy. But, as I’ve requested in my earlier e-mail, please do continue to speak out for right wing, Republican AND evangelical causes. Thanking you in advance, XXXXXX


January 25, 2009

Dear Mr. XXXXX,

Do you mean to say that the mere fact that I am a Christian and a Catholic allows you to conclude that I believe things that are untrue? Is truth confined to what can be empirically proven? What is the empirical basis for the assertion of human equality? What is the empirical evidence for the notion that it is unjust to enslave others, or to kill them in order to take their property? Science cannot, on its own terms, establish the truth of any moral precepts, yet without them decent human life cannot be sustained. Is it crazy to believe there is a difference beyond right and wrong, though science cannot empirically establish what it is? What is unreasonable is the notion that we must limit the claim of truth to what science can establish, when science cannot establish the basis even for the simple assertion that every human life has intrinsic worth, a fact that few if any human beings deny when their own life is threatened with extinction.

Moreover, from a scientific point of view, nothing we say about the past can be established with scientific certainty. Did Julius Caesar actually exist? All we have as proof is human testimony, and what this testimony says is the residue of his existence (coins, statues, etc.) But similar testimony, and similar residue would prove the existence of the goddess Venus. In the strict sense, science deals only with data gathered under rigorously controlled conditions, and recorded with scrupulous integrity. But until very recently (in historical terms) people had very little conception of such data, much less the instruments needed to record and report it with integrity. Is it unreasonable and crazy, therefore, to form convictions based on historical evidence?

Even in what some people regard as the scientific realm, conclusions owe more to imaginative speculation than to scientifically established facts. Did dinosaurs walk the earth? What we have as proof is a residue that imagination works upon in order to reconstruct the form, shape and likely composition of creatures no one has actually observed. Is the belief in dinosaurs crazy, or is it a reasonable conviction? But if the existence of dinosaurs can be accepted as somehow rational despite the imaginative reasoning involved in asserting that fossils are evidence of their existence, then it is reasonable to look at the world around us and reach conclusions based on the fact that we can reasonably assume that objects as we observe them now are related to objects in the past by a structure that relates cause and effect, form and substance in some way that corresponds to the rules that govern our perception and understanding. We can assume, for instance , that the size, shape and material strength of a bone indicate and limit its probable function in the body of a creature we know only from its fossilized remains.

If such rational inference is reasonable in the context of fossils, of archaeological and geological evidence, what then of the evidence we see all around us in structures more complex than any humanly fashioned constructions. The archaeologist unearths what appear to be artificial constructions. Based on the assumption that they were produced by beings with a level of intelligence that corresponds to their complexity, and the harmony of form and function he observes in them, he posits the existence of an ancient civilization, inhabited by intelligent beings with a certain level of knowledge.

If what the archaeologist does is not crazy, but falls somewhere in the realm of acceptable scientific activity, why is it crazy to observe a world filled with objects of unfathomed complexity, where form and function are in harmony to a degree that each advance of our strictly scientific knowledge consistently confirms, and reach the conclusion that a being exists whose intelligence corresponds to the nature of the world we thus experience? If this is crazy, then the whole endeavor of science itself is also crazy, with nothing more to justify its truth than the perishable little benefits we may momentarily derive from the gadgets that are the side effects of its discoveries.

In the end it is unscientific to believe that science explains everything, or even the most important things.

By the way, I haven’t been a Republican for some time, ever since the Party’s leadership proved beyond doubt that they have no respect for the principles they claim to uphold. I belong now to America’s Independent Party. You can check it out at www.AIPnews.com.

Alan Keyes

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Mark Meincke July 8, 2010, 2:21 pm

    Great ideas, and great truths are ALWAYS met with scepticism, sarcasm, and out-rite attacks.

    The world isn’t flat, earth is not the center of the solar system, slavery can and did end, British empire did fall, men can fly, sound barrier can be broken, 4 minute mile can be breached, men can explore space, and women can vote, and lead nations.

    All of the above was met by scores of mindless skeptics, railed against, and the proponants were ALL villified and demeaned.

    Dr. Keyes, although I understand the reasons for your position, I don’t believe the “birth cirtificate” issue is worthy of your attention.

    The coming global ecconomic collapse is far more important, than a technicality, and isn’t the “hot button” topic that needs focus right now. The martial law in the Gulf Coast, the shaking New Madrid fault line, and the Dollar Collapse are far more important issues to shed light on.

    God bless and keep you for speaking your mind, and not bowing to the mindless skeptics.

    Mark Meincke

  • Let us move forward February 4, 2009, 10:53 pm

    Dr. Keyes,

    I saw on another blog, that Barack Obama admitted to you on C-Span that he was not a natural born citizen about 2001. Is that true? If so, would there be a way to find a videotape of the exchange?

    Thank you.


  • Craig January 28, 2009, 8:52 pm

    Dr. Keyes,

    I share your prayer. Hopefully, the justices will indeed have the courage to at least hear one of the cases brought before the SCOTUS as it seems they may keep coming. If they don’t then perhaps the “court of public opinion” will eventually know the truth and judge Obama and the 2008 election accordingly, either way. Maybe we will find a courageous opponent prior to 2012 that will successfully challenge Obama to confront the controversy.

    I greatly appreciate your analysis and the clarification of your position.


  • Alan Keyes January 28, 2009, 3:50 pm

    As I said in my last response regarding the cases I thought relevant to the discussion of Obama’s “natural born” status, “none of them deal directly with the meaning of the term as it affects eligibility for the Presidency of the United States.” In that respect I do not disagree with Mr. Donofrio. I believe, however, that in the present situation (i.e., facing a determined majority whose will may be overturned) the argument that avoids any imputation of political motives is the one that establishes the fact that Obama had at birth no legal claim to citizenship. Can someone assert that he is a “natural born” citizen when he has, under existing law, no legal claim to citizenship? In this way, his failure to establish NBC status, arises from facts that put him in the same boat as many others who have failed to qualify for U.S. citizenship. If we adopt an approach that parses the issue more precisely, eventually we reach a level of argument at which all reference to practice and even statute law must fall away. In that context the phrase “natural born” refers us to the standard of nature, i.e., to the natural law, reasonably ascertained and construed.

    The phrase “natural born” refers by analogy (the use of the a word in one context that implies its similarity to another) to the natural method whereby one generation directly transmits characteristics to the next. This method depends on biology, not human decision. By analogy, the transmission of citizenship would depend upon the biological connection, without regard to convention or positive law, including those that establish a nation’s boundaries. If citizenship is transmitted by analogy with the biological mechanism, then when both parents are held to be citizens, the child derives citizenship from its biological relationship with them. One could argue that citizenship so derived has a natural claim superior to geography, because (with one possible exception) the boundaries of nations are not established by nature but by human convention.

    If the father is a citizen and the mother is not, the child may be a citizen. But in the state of nature, factual confirmation of the father’s relationship to the child depends on the mother’s testimony. Therefore in the context of the natural law, one could argue that the mother’s status takes precedence, because in the state of nature the mother’s biological relationship with the child can be established without regard to the testimony of the father. Such an argument as this is open to numerous objections, of course, but this line of reasoning is both plausible and reasonable.

    In Obama’s case, there is no question about the mother’s citizenship, but Congress interposed a permeable legal barrier or screen regulating transmission of this characteristic from her to her child. We know that for good and proper reasons related to the common good, government may regulate outcomes otherwise sanctioned by nature (such as speech, for example). Does the same hold true with respect to citizenship? Or does the natural standard take precedence?

    These are precisely the issues the Supreme Court now has a duty to address. I have not taken the position that I am certain that Obama is not eligible. I have taken the position that the Constitution requires that his eligibility be established, and that until it is the Executive power of the U.S. government has not lawfully passed to him. The Constitution is worded so that the positive fact must be established (“No person except a natural born Citizen…shall be eligible… etc.” Even a slight change in the wording (e.g., “No person who is not…” etc.) would shift the shift the burden of proof to the negative, but the words as they stand make positive proof the prerequisite.

    I do not think responsible officials, sworn to uphold the Constitution, can justify leaving the Executive power of the U.S. government in a parlous condition. That condition has been aggravated by Obama’s foolish and irresponsible unwillingness to face up to the issue honestly. Despite his defect of courage and competence, the nation needs a definitive response, reasonably argued and authoritatively presented. Not everyone will agree with it, one way or the other, but I believe respect for the Constitution requires the end of irresolution and uncertainty on this critical question, not the end of debate. I continue to pray God that the justices of the Supreme Court will find the courage Obama lacks.

    Alan Keyes

  • Craig January 28, 2009, 7:47 am

    Dr. Keyes,

    I (and others) would be very interested in your analysis of Donofrio’s argument presented in his post yesterday which is repeated below:


    You have not correctly understood the cases you cite in your recent discussion at your blog on the “natural born citizen” issue. You are confusing the standards to be a “Citizen” with the Constitutional standard required for one to become President of the US. For example, nowhere in Wong Kim Ark does it say the person was a “Natural born citizen” just because he was born in the US. Justice Gray’s analysis of “natural born citizen” quoted directly from the Minor case which said that there have always been “doubts” as to whether such a person is a “natural born citizen”… but since the court was only concerned with whether Wong Kim Ark was an ordinary “citizen” they didn’t need to reach a decision on whether he was a “natural born citizen” so they avoided that issue and held that he was a “citizen”, native born.
    The issue before the SCOTUS in Donofrio v. Wells and Wrotnowski v. Bysiewicz asked the Court to uphold the difference between the requirement in the Constitution for persons to be Senators and Congressman – where it is only required they be a “Citizen” – and the requirement in the Constitution for the President to be a “Natural Born Citizen”.
    This distinction is also present in the grandfather clause of Article 2, section 1, Clause 5 wherein the President is required to be a “Natural Born Citizen” or a “Citizen at the time of the adoption of this Constitution”.
    The Constitution makes three different distinctions between “Citizens” and “Natural Born Citizens”. These distinctions have NEVER been settled by SCOTUS. Unfortunately your statements are not correct and do damage to the truth. Such damage causes confusion where clarity is needed.
    The issue is not whether Obama is a “Citizen”, the issue is whether Obama is a “Natural Born Citizen”.
    Reliance on the cases listed to explain your answer to readers is misplaced. The cases you cited above do NOT state that a person who is born in the United States is a natural born citizen. They do NOT say that sir.
    The cases you’ve cited also do NOT state that a person born abroad to two US citizen parents is a Natural Born Citizen.
    When we examine all of the evidence available, especially the comments of men like Bingham who drafted the 14th Amendment, the most logical definition is that a “Natural Born Citizen” is a person born in the US to two citizen parents. Such citizenship is the most natural having no ties by soil (Jus Soli) or blood (Jus Sanguinis) to other nations.
    Persons with such foreign ties can of course go far in the US with their status as being “Citizen”. They can be Senators but to be President the Constitution requires a higher standard. And this is to protect us all from the possibility of foreign influence in the office of commander in chief. The Framers in their wisdom sought two generations of loyalty ties to this country and who could argue with the wisdom in that?
    The confusion on this issue has been immense. Please don’t add to it by leaving your erroneous statements uncorrected.
    There are no quotes from these cases which support your opinion. It’s important that people receive accurate information on this issue. The mistaken opinions about Wong Kim Ark have caused great damage to the truth of the law. The case does not stand for what you say it does. I would ask you to please correct yourself so as not to damage the intensive work I and others have done to correct the public record on this issue.
    Please read my thorough analysis on this issue:
    Furthermore, I suggest you look up the official US Department of State manual which addresses the issue of a whether a person born abroad to two citizen parents (McCain) is a natural born citizen. I will leave you with a quote therefrom:
    7 FAM 1131.6-2 Eligibility for Presidency
    a. It has never been determined definitively by a court whether a person who acquired U.S. citizenship by birth abroad to U.S. citizens is a naturalborn citizen within the meaning of Article II of the Constitution and, therefore, eligible for the Presidency. ]



  • Cordial January 27, 2009, 1:31 am

    Dr. Keyes,

    Firstly, I’d like to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and listening to your thoughts on the politics and God’s place in our society and heritage. I was so happy during this past election to be able to support an individual who formed his arguments not on political expedience or a misguided sense of pragmatism but rather on our common Godly heritage and founding documents.

    I find Mr. XXXX’s arguments quite typical of one who has deified human reason and empiricism. Your refutation was beautiful and I’m going to use your line of thinking the next time I this issue comes up in one of my theology courses.

    I’m a college sophomore at Notre Dame and am interested in what influenced your personal and political beliefs. Did you have an influential professor, a favorite author, or is it simply the result of your life’s experiences? I’m always looking for something good to read and would appreciate any suggestions you might have that could help me develop my knowledge of Conservatism.

    I’ve been listening to the recordings of AIP’s conference calls for a while and will try to join y’all here soon. ND is fairly (at least on the moral issues) conservative as far as college campuses go and I think AIP’s platform would be well received. I’ve been thinking of trying to form a “College Conservatives” student organization to serve as a means for truly conservative political activism on campus. I’d be appreciative of any advice/direction you could offer on this matter.

    God Bless,
    Brendan Cordial

  • Dr. Conspiracy January 27, 2009, 12:30 am

    So you say “Obama would be eligible no matter who his father was, except that he wasn’t born in the United States” while Donofrio and his followers say “Obama was born in Hawaii but he’s ineligible no matter where he was born because his father was a British citizen.”

    Well I think you’re both half right.

  • Alan Keyes January 26, 2009, 11:10 pm

    See United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898)(http://supreme.justia.com/us/169/649/case.html😉 Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325(1939)(http://supreme.justia.com/us/307/325/case.html😉 Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815(1971)(http://supreme.justia.com/us/401/815/case.html😉 Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253(1967)(http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=387&invol=253😉 Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420(1998)(http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=523&invol=420😉 These cases shed light on the meaning and history of the phrase "natural born citizen", and the status at birth of children born in the U.S. or abroad under varying circumstances. Of course none of them deal directly with the meaning of the term as it affects eligibility for the Presidency of the United States. See also, as an example of prevailing practice in this area, the U.S. Department of States guidance regarding "Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship By a Child Born abroad. (http://travel.state.gov/law/info/info_609.html).
    As I reviewed my response to you, I realized that I used the term 'diplomat' in its last paragraph imprecisely (a hangover from my days in the foreign service.) I refer to foreign nationals employed at embassies and consulates in the U.S., but not to those (e.g., ministers, consuls) who have formal diplomatic status, and therefore enjoy diplomatic immunity. The latter are not considered to be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States as required by the Fourteenth amendment..
    Alan Keyes

  • Craig January 26, 2009, 9:16 pm

    Dr. Keyes,

    Thank you for the prompt reply. I really appreciate it. Please excuse my ignorance as I’m not an attorney or constitutional scholar. Could you cite specific case law that supports your statement below?
    “…the relevant definition of natural born is the one that has been applied by US Courts under relevant US statutes at the time of Obama’s birth.”
    I’ve not found or heard of any statute or case law that specifically defines NBC as you have implied or otherwise.



  • Alan Keyes January 26, 2009, 10:10 am


    Though Vattel’s work, and other theoretical treatises, certainly influenced the Framers as they devised and debated the Constitution, they did not necessarily follow them in all respects. If they had, they would not for example, have placed such emphasis on election by the people as the basis for access to legislative and executive power. For present purposes (that is, determining whether Obama is eligible to serve as President) the relevant definition of natural born is the one that has been applied by US Courts under relevant US statutes at the time of Obama’s birth. It would be imprudent and decried as unfair to ask that sworn officials depart from established practice in order to thwart the will of the majority of voters that determined the outcome of the 2008 election. It is not unfair, however, to demand that the same understanding of the law that has been applied to others be followed for Obama. US Statute law has long provided for citizenship to be transmitted to children born outside the United States to US citizen parents. But where the mother is a US citizen, and the father the citizen of another country (the case of Obama) Congress has by law set terms and conditions on her ability to transmit US citizenship to her child when the birth takes place outside US jurisdiction. In 1961, the relevant law required that the mother have lived at least 10 years in the US, five of them after her 14th birthday. (Note that the foreign allegiance of the father did not interfere with transmission.) This means that the woman had to be at least 19 years of age. Obama’s mother was 18. If, as the testimony of his relatives from Kenya suggests, he was born there (under British or other foreign jurisdiction) he did not at birth have a claim to US citizenship. Since others have been denied NBC status on this basis, equal justice demands the same treatment for Obama. He must establish that he was born under US jurisdiction, or else he is not eligible to serve, and is not now President of the US.

    If Obama was born in the US, acquisition of citizenship by those born under US jurisdiction has generally been recognized by US courts even when both parents owe allegiance to a foreign power (the children of foreign diplomats born in US hospitals, for example.) Practically speaking, I think the arguments based on the foreign allegiance of Obama’s father stand at best on shaky ground.

    Alan Keyes

  • Craig January 26, 2009, 7:51 am

    Dr. Keyes,

    I just listened to your Sunday, 1/25/09 interview with John Anderson and found interesting your comments concerning Obama’s eligibility and specifically what is meant by “natural born citizen” (NBC) in the Constitution. You explained that a NBC is either one that is born on the land or born of two citizen (in the case of being born abroad.) Could you please explain the source of this definition since others explain that both are required (i.e. “of the blood” AND of “the land.”) Many who believe this definition reference De Vattel’s The Law of Nations (1758), which guided many of the Constitution’s elements. Natural born citizen is defined very clearly by Vattel in:
    § 212. Citizens and natives
    “The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.

    I’ve also seen referenced Representative John Bingham (Ohio) who was the chief framer of the 14th Amendment. This quotatioin contains his definition of natural born citizen:
    “[I] find no fault with the introductory clause [of S 61 Bill], which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen…”

    Your response to this question will be appreciated.



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