Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Oath: Is Barack Obama Really the President?

In a word: "Yes."

And as an immediate follow up to that word: "You friggin idiots!"

On January 20th, 2009, in Washington D.C., America ushered in a new era in world history as it inaugurated its first African American President. This ceremony held a special significance for this country because the same person who we all saw sworn in as the President under Article II of the Constitution last weekend was, at one time in this nation's history, considered 3/5 of a man under Article I of the very same Constitution. Thus, by going from slavery to the Presidency, it is difficult to overstate the significance of the progress made here not only by African Americans but by America herself. Good job, America.

But it would seem that even when 99.99999% of any group of people are in full accord about the goodness of a thing, there must, by nature, exist that unwavering .00001% who must cast aspersion upon it as if their very lives depended upon its demise. I submit to you, exhibit A from Fox News:

Yes, Chris Wallace of Fox News said, with a straight face no doubt, that he was "not sure if Barack Obama really is the President of the United States..." because of the gaff that took place during the oath of office administered by Chief Justice John Roberts.

So what happened exactly?

Well, first things first, let us consult the text of the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution defines the Presidency. Article II, section 1 requires that before the President can take office, he or she must say the following 35 words:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The important word to hone in on here is the word "faithfully." Roberts, who actually has a solid reputation as one of the sharpest legal minds on the Court, perhaps a bit nervous in the presence of over 2 million people, mistakenly transposed the word "faithfully" from its rightful position before the word "execute" as it appears in the Constitution above, and placed it after the first part of the entire sentence. So in stead of saying "faithfully execute the Office..." as the Constitution calls for, Roberts said "execute the Office...faithfully."

Barack Obama, also a sharp legal mind and a Constitutional Law professor himself, knew what the Oath was supposed to sound like and so he paused to allow Roberts to say it again correctly. From a lay person's view, this probably appeared as if Obama messed up the Oath, when in fact, it was Roberts who actually messed up the Oath. Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit Exhibit B, the Oath:

So what does this mean? Well seeing as how there is literally ZERO case law on Chief Justices botching up Presidential Oaths with respect to whether or not a person actually becomes the President, we really cannot say what, if any, legal effect the Oath that was administered on January 20, 2009 had. So to avoid any confusion, and to spare us from hearing friggin idiots like Chris Wallace on Fox News drone on about how Obama is not the "real" president, on the following day, January 21st, 2009, Chief Justice Roberts and President Obama decided to administer the Presidential Oath again in the Map room of the White House.

So everything is good right?

Of course not or I wouldn't be blogging. Just when you thought that even the most Chris Wallace of right-wing bloggers would be satisfied with this "doubling up" of the Oath, out comes a new conspiracy theory on why Obama is not really the President: the second Oath wasn't taken on the Bible. [GASP]

Well it's a good thing that Article II of the United States Constitution makes no such requirement for a Bible to be used, now isn't it? Sometimes I really wonder about these people. And even if there were such a requirement, which there is not, he actually did swear in on the Bible at the inauguration on January 20th. But I suppose the counterargument to that fact is to point out that the entire January 20th swearing in is null and void, so the only one that counts is the January 21st swearing in that failed to use a Bible. Nevertheless, the text of the Constitution does not call for a Bible to be used at all. In fact, it doesn't even require the President to swear on anything at all; alternatively, he or she could "affirm" the 35 words of the Oath if he or she were so inclined.

Again, to Barack Obama the President of the United States? Yes. Two Times!!! And as a caveat to any right-wing bloggers out there who are thinking about arguing otherwise over the next four years, you should consider this: if you insist upon indulging this conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was never officially sworn in as President in 2009, and Obama is re-elected in 2012 (which is very possible), and he is then sworn in at the 2013 inauguration, you therefore must concede that he didn't become President for the first time until 2013; and if you concede that he didn't become President for the first time until 2013 then you must also concede that after those four years end in 2016 he gets to run again for his "second" term. So after carefully considering the prospect of 12 years with Obama in the White House, are you sure you still want to argue that Obama is not our current President because he was not officially sworn in last week?

No, I didn't think so.

Oh and, by the way, no matter what was said or not said on inauguration day, the 20th Amendment automatically makes the President-Elect become the President at noon on that day.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Can't Get Right: The Jena 6 Chronicles Continue

This one almost has me at a loss of words, which is pretty bad considering I usually have at least 2 cents to weigh in on these type of debacles.

We all remember the Jena 6 right? If you happened to sleep through 2007, or your memory is a little hazy, the Jena 6 were 6 young black male high school students in Jena, Louisiana who beat up a white high school student in the midst of racial tensions at the high school stemming from a noose which was hung from a tree in the courtyard of the school. The white prosecutor, Reed Walters, initially charged the black students with attempted second degree murder, citing the students' tennis shoes as "dangerous weapons." He also attempted to charge the boys as adults, although the judge later denied that move. Meanwhile, the black public defender effectively walked the boys down the aisle and failed to call so much as a single defense witness on their behalf. The Michael Baisden show heard about the case and brought it into the public spotlight, which in turn, attracted America's favorite Poverty Pimps, Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr, who assumed their natural positions in front of the cameras on every possible photo op. They were even so gracious as to allow the actual Jena 6 students to get in a few.

So now you remember the case right? Right.

So what ever happened to those 6 guys after all the TV crews, news media, and civil rights "leaders" packed up all their stuff and left? Well the charges against Carwin Jones, Theo Shaw, Bryant Purvis, and Robert Bailey Jr. were all reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and the trial has yet to take place for those charges. Jesse Rae Beard was placed on house arrest. Michael Bell, who was the main point of interest for the prosecutor, was eventually tried as a juvenile for battery and placed on probation. Bell then violated his probation and was returned to custody of the state. He later plead guilty to battery and was credited with time served.

Normally, this would be the end of the story. Common sense dictates that after you narrowly escape getting hit by the train, you usually don't get back on the tracks. But that would be too easy. Can't get right strikes again.

On Christmas Eve, Michael Bell, yes that Michael Bell, was caught and arrested for shoplifting from Dillards, resisting arrest, and simple assault. Then, a few days later he shot himself in the chest with a .22 caliber pistol. He was either trying to clean the gun and it went off, or he was trying to take his own life. In either case, the young man is clearly in need of some guidance.

Which brings me to my point...

...when all the people in the above featured pic saw fit to march on Jena, Louisiana, what were they really marching for? To help fight injustice against 6 young black men, or was it simply to be seen on TV? Because if it was the former, then how is it that Michael Bell is even in a position today to be shoplifting in the first place??? At no point did any of the 1000's that descended upon Jena ever take a moment to think to themselves that maybe, just maybe, these young brothers needed some mentoring more than they needed TV exposure? Michael Bell had a criminal record long before the Jena 6 incident. Be it from a parent, a high school teacher, a coach, a neighbor, a family member, whatever...there needed to be some intervention long before it escalated to the level where the Jena 6 became a household name.

Don't get me wrong, we have to call out injustice whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head, and the prosecutor in this case should have been brought before the bar to have his license removed for even bringing the initial charges of attempted second degree murder with a straight face. Attempted murder? With a shoe? Give me a break. Two times.

But I'm not giving Al or Jesse a pass on this one. I guess taking a photo op is a lot easier than actually volunteering for say, an Upward Bound program or something that would actually effect the lives of our young people in the black community.