Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's all the hubub, Bub???

Controversy of the week, President-Elect Barack Obama's choice to invite conservative pastor Rick Warren of the evangelical megachurch, Saddleback Church, in Lake Forest, California, to give the invocation at the inauguration.

This issue is particularly causing an uproar among the gay community because in addition to his generally conservative ideology, Rick Warren advocated for the Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California and has even gone so far as to compare same-sex marriage to incest. Considering Warren's ideology, the fact that a progressive like President-Elect Obama (who was often described as the most liberal senator in the United States Senate) has invited him to the inauguration has left most folks scratching their heads wondering WTF?

Many have voiced the proposition that, to give a platform to a man like Rick Warren is to legitimize or provide a public endorsement to what pastor Warren stands for: namely anti-gay sentiment. Others have seen that this is a centrist move by Obama to reach across the aisle to those of differing viewpoints. I submit that when considering an issue it's always important to look at the facts.

First, Pastor Warren invited John McCain and Barack Obama to his church in California where he hosted the Presidential Civil Forum Discussion that effectively provided America with the first Presidential debate between the two candidates.

Second, Obama has consistently characterized his administration as one taking a 180 degree departure from the Bush Administration's policy of refusing to talk to or work with any and all people who think differently from the administration.

Third, Rick Warren is not being offered a cabinet position, is not being asked to swear Obama into office (that job goes to conservative Chief Justice Roberts), and he is not being invited to share his ideology to the crowd that will be assembled on Inauguration Day.

That being said, I submit that the controversy over Rick Warren, while understandable, is misplaced. Inviting Pastor Rick Warren to give an invocation is not an endorsement of this person's views anymore than Columbia University could be accused of hating America for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak.

I futher submit that in America, we pride ourselves on our diversity of thought and as such, should excercise tolerance (not to be confused with acceptance) towards those who think differently from ourselves. Should Obama's inauguration only involve those who Obama agrees with? There's a party going on, and Warren is invited to give an invocation and sit his ass down. No more, no less. To attribute much more to his invitation is to confuse his invitation with an endorsement of his beliefs.

People have every right to protest Warren on the basis of his ideology but I would challenge everybody to distinguish between accepting his ideology and his right to have his ideology unto himself as he commingles with the rest of us.

Most importantly, Obama said he was going to do this thing differently from the Bush administration, so let him do it. Doing things differently from the Bush administration means NOT firing U.S. Attorneys who belong to a different party than your own, NOT hiring people on the basis of whether they share your party affiliation, and NOT surrounding yourself with yes-men who think, believe, and act exactly the same way as you do.

But this whole controversy speaks to an underlying point which I think we're going to have to come to terms with which is the fact that there will be times when Obama's administration will have to do something that will be unpopular with the Democrats/Black Community/Minority Community/Liberals/etc. I, for one, am ok with that as long as our interests are being looked out for. I don't expect Obama to make every executive decision from the viewpoint of the black community. That's ok. But I can guarantee that there will be many folks within the black community, democratic community, etc. who will be up in arms over the next 4 years over some issue when an Obama policy departs from what WE think he should do just because he's black or because he's a Dem or because he's a liberal, etc. I think some people's expectations are a little unrealistic and dismissive of the fact that Obama is the President of whole United States, not just the Black states, not just the Liberal states, and not just the Democratic states.

So in the great words of the Rolling Stones "you can't always get what you want...but if you try sometimes, you get what you need."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Conspiracy Theory #314,159,265: Obama Is Not a U.S. Citizen

A few notes ago I wrote a piece on what happens when you drop seeds of fear and hate into people in a post-9/11 American society. Well, behold as one of those seeds has come into fruition in the form of a lawsuit seeking to stop Obama from becoming the 44th President of the United States on the basis of his citizenship. Yes it is true, somebody actually went there.

Article II of the Constitution defines the Presidency. In the first section of Article II it states:

"No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States."

So in order to be President you gotta be (a) born here; (b) be 35 or older; and (c) have lived here for 14 years.

As we all know, on November 4th of this year Barack Obama became the new President-Elect of the United States by a decisive 365 to 173 electoral vote victory, earning the largest popular vote in U.S history with 66.8 million votes to McCain's 58.3 million. As we also know, the President-Elect does not officially become the President until the BCS-like electoral college physically reports each state's electoral votes to Congress allowing the President-Elect to then be officially sworn in on January 20th.

That being said, Obama opponents see the gap between the election and the inauguration as an opportunity to achieve in the court room what they were unable to achieve on election day. In a very Terminator 2 type fashion, if they can somehow invalidate Obama in the courts before he officially becomes the President then it will be as if Obama never existed, and if he doesn't exist then he can't lead the rebellion against the machines in the future. Sweet!

In order to achieve this goal, Skynet has sent two types of lawsuits through the time portal: (i) lawsuits that allege Obama was not born in America; and (ii) lawsuits that allege that even though Obama was born in America, he is not a citizen because he lived abroad.

A lawyer from the Dirty Jersey by the name of Leo Donofrio filed a law suit of the second flavor against the NJ Secretary of State entitled Donofrio v. Wells. It made its way to the United States Supreme Court which, as of this morning, officially denied Certiorari to the case (refused to hear the case).

But they don't stop there. There are a number of other suits filed against Obama as we speak that are working their ways up the appellate ladder. There are two other cases at the Supreme Court right now, however neither of them have been scheduled for consideration yet. The case most talked about on the conspiracy theorist blogs was filed by Philip J. Berg of Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania. Even though Hawaii state officials have confirmed Obama's birth certificate and citizenship, Berg's lawsuit argues that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. In the alternative, Berg's lawsuit argues that Obama may have renounced his citizenship as a boy in Indonesia, where he lived for a time with his mother and stepfather.

You couldn't make this stuff up.

Let us hope that the Supreme Court's action today sends a clear message to these and other conspiracy theorists that it refuses to even entertain these types of arguments. Let us further hope that it can maintain this position until January 20th, lest we undo the votes of 66.8 million people in the nation that proclaims that every vote counts. Nevertheless, if this is any indication of the resolve of those who just can't stomach an Obama Presidency then you can bet your sub-prime mortgage that it's only a matter of days before these same folks will try to impeach him once he takes office. You heard it here first folks.