King George II

When I lived in Morocco, I used to joke that I preferred my current king (Mohammed VI) to my former one in the US. As with all humor, it has the grain of truth- in this case a healthy boulder of it. George Bush repeatedly asserted his authority under the Unitary Presidential Theory that Cheney invented, which stated basically that a President can do whatever he wants, because his oath of office to defend the country outweighs the constitution. (If you recognize this idea from the Frost/Nixon movie, congratulate yourself on pulling together current affairs and film. Cheney came up with this idea back when he was working for Nixon.) After the 2000 elections, and everything George II did after that, many of us were unsure if he would go quietly into that good night; if he wouldn't find some sneaky way of claiming he had a right to stay in office. We were overjoyed when it actually worked, and he stepped down from power.

Overjoyed too soon, it would seem.

For it now turns out that Bush had another card up his sleeve. Although he asserted signing statements to reinterpret congressional laws (and incidentally the meaning of "executive" and "legislative") and executive privilege to a ridiculous degree, a hundred-fold any previous President, no one expected him to continue to do so after he stepped down. But indeed, he now has. For before he was ousted, he told Karl Rove to ignore any subpoenas from Congress. This is unheard of. Evidently, Bush feels he is still royalty, and can continue to issue decrees for anything that might happen in the future!

Keep in mind, asserting executive privilege does not have the force of law. It isn't as if Bush created a law that must be followed or overturned by congress. Nor is his assertion of privilege without controversy. Indeed, the vast majority of constitutional lawyers (with the significant exception of those who worked for Bush) think he overasserted himself in his continual decree that his supporters did not have to be interviewed by congress.

How we would love to move on. How we would love to stop pointing out the acts of injustice by the Bush administration, and focus on changing this country and the world under Obama. But Bush refuses to allow us to do so. One wonders what would happen if Obama directs Rove to honor the subpoena. Would Rove argue that his commitment was to the former President, regardless, and he must obey him? Or would Rove actually give the sitting President Presidential authority? After all, that was what Bush/Cheney argued for continuously- the President has absolute authority. Or when they said that, did they just mean Bush/Cheney?


CNN, Get Over It!!!

If you haven't heard, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (yes, the one put in place by Bush II though he really didn't have the pedigree of the other justices) flubbed the Oath of Office on Inauguration Day. Not seriously- he basically misplaced the word "faithfully", and said "you" when he should have said "I". But the Obama administration was well aware of the tendency of the conservative blogosphere to come up with outrageous conspiracies- like, "He's not really President because the adjective by the conservative justice was in the wrong place." So, just to be safe and preclude that kind of thing, they had a second swearing in today.

But no, the press, and principally CNN, wouldn't let it lie. They stated that the President has done a second swearing in three times in the past. Actually, according to CNN itself, those previous two cases were something different. Upon the death of the President, his replacement was sworn in by someone who wasn't the Supreme Court Justice, so the swearing in was redone- though it wasn't deemed to be legally necessary. At no time in the past has swearing in been redone because of a mistake in the oath- even when Chief Justice Taft messed up Hoover's swearing in. But Obama, knowing how wacko many of the extreme right can get, figured better to be safe than sorry. He wasn't counting on CNN to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

CNN is now loudly stating, ad nausea, that it was wrong for the press not to be invited to the second meaningless swearing in, as this was a moment in history that the public had a right to observe (according to Wolf Blitzer). But there was press there- it's just they were the lowly print press, and there was only a photo taken, supplied by the white house. Evidently, CNN wanted video there.

However, this was not a meaningful event, and much of the public really doesn't give a rip about it, unlike CNN. One has to wonder if CNN would only be happy if they had 24/7 security video cams in the Oval Office, to catch every irrelevant moment of the Presidency? But someone should remind Blitzer that the Presidency is not The Truman Show.

How do I know that this second swearing in was meaningless? As stated above, history clearly indicates that a misplaced word (or even, in the case of Hoover, an added word) does not require a redo. CNN seems to be caught up in extreme conservative legalism, thinking that every word matters in this video age. They need to go back and consider that, in the last 200+ years, most of the time that swearing in hasn't been recorded. What are the odds that there were other small mistakes from time to time, that people didn't care about because there was no video camera? But the primary reason why I know the second swearing in was meaningless- the President becomes President at 12:00 on the 20th. He is required constitutionally to be sworn in, but the 20th Ammendment superscedes that and makes him President at the stroke of noon. How do I know this? Because I was told this on Inauguration Day- by CNN.

Obama's Speech

As I predicted, a great speech, and imo, one of the best inauguration speeches ever. Not quite as good as Lincoln II, but better by a long shot than Lincoln I (where he came out in favor of continuing slavery).

But as I reflect on it, all of the focus, before and after, was on if it would be a great speech, or only a mediocre speech. Would it be as good as Lincoln's Second Inaugural, or only as good as his First?

Where was the discussion of the speech itself- of how it impacted us individually, and how it changed us? After all, that is the point of a speech. Not to get up there and win an award, but to persuade and change people. Was his only goal to get up there and live up to expectations? Or was it to lay out something new, and begin to move the ball forward? That was his goal, but I think so many pundits were focused on the pure rhetoric, that they missed the purity.

I challenge you now, if you haven't done so before, to go back and listen to the short 18 minute speech, and truly listen to it, and allow yourself to be impacted.

This was what I was most moved by, and most impressed by:

"We reject as false, the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to ensure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedient's sake. And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village in which my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman, & child who seeks a future of peace & dignity, and we are ready to lead once more."


Say it with me. President Obama.

This article posted on election day, but few read it, and it seems appropriate to repost now.

George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Harrison
James Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses Grant
Rutherford Hayes
James Garfield
Chester Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
John Kennedy
Lyndon Johnson
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
George Herbert Bush
Bill Clinton
George Walker Bush
Barack Obama

Praise God, that I now live in a country with a black man as President. Who would have thought it possible, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even 5 years ago? I had thought I'd be old and gray before I'd live to see this day. I'd have thought we'd have to wait till we are a minority-white nation in 2055. Instead, we may be the first majority-white nation in modern history to elect a person of colour.

Truly now, all things are made new. We will now speak of President Obama, a President with an African and Arab name. We will now look to our leader as a person of colour, one with connections for the first time with the 2/3rds World. Children of colour across this country will now look up and see that they can do anything. Other nations will look on us and realize this is a nation they can relate to. They will realize that, now, we truly are the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Oh brave new world, that has such people in it.


Obama, I'm disappointed in you.

I've been waiting. I've been thinking, "There's still some time for him to say something. He's biding his time." I've been believing him when he says there can only be one President at a time. Then he spoke out on the economy during the transition, and I believed him when he said, "Especially on foreign affairs, there can only be one President at a time." That makes sense. Sure, he spoke out against the terrorists in Mumbai, but that was more of an expression of sadness for those who lost their lives, as the terrorist action was relatively short. I could justify that. And there were so many others who were already speaking out against the atrocity better than I could.

Then Obama, while still President Elect, began speaking on foreign policy, letting it be known he'd negotiate with Hamas, and would be closing the Guantanamo Prison. Yet, still, nothing. Nothing from the man who ran on the principle that he's for justice, because his Lord is for justice. Nothing on the man who spoke of equality, and bringing righteousness back to American foreign policy.

So President Obama, I ask you, if you do not speak out when 1,000 people are murdered by a foreign power in only three weeks, when at least 50% and probably 70% of them are civilians, when the population of the area is 50% below the age of 15 and 75% of the population is below the age of 25, leading to a high percentage of those killed being children, when that population is refused the right to leave the small, concentrated area that's being bombed, so that we can not refer to this in any other way than to say it is localized ethnic cleansing- if you do not speak out now, Obama, then when? We now know you actually do speak out on foreign policy issues, even when you are still only the President-Designate. Where is your voice? What are you waiting for?

For if you wait too long you face the same situation that Martin Neimoller experienced:
In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me -
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
How long will you wait, President Obama? For we are starting to get the sinking impression, that you are not actually waiting, but instead, will not bring the change we hope for- you will do the same as nearly every President before you, and support the actions of Israel, no matter what they do.

Or is there actually something Israel could do that you would disapprove of? Or will you surprise us all in your inauguration speech, and finally speak out against the apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Ghaza? Give me hope again, Obama.