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Monday, January 21, 2013

Constitution: Obama is not President

According to the Constitution:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"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."

Okay, if you allow the exclusion of the parenthetical "(or affirm)" then Obama met these terms. So he is President. The addition of "so help me God" at the end obviously doesn't negate the required oath it followed, but there is still something very wrong:

An unsuccessful lawsuit attempted to "enjoin Defendant Roberts ... from altering the constitutionally-prescribed text of the presidential oath of office while administering that oath to the President-elect ...."

There is nothing legally wrong with the President voluntarily saying "so help me God" or "just kidding" or even reciting "jabberwocky" following the oath, but for anything to be added to the oath by the official administering it at the very least undermines the Constitutional provision of Article II, Section 1, clause eight, in which the oath itself is explicitly specified.

By adding those specific words, however, Roberts violates more than just Article II Section 1 of the Constitution. Article VI specifically states that:

...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Requiring the recitation of an oath affirming some aspect of one's religion is very definition of religious test! The courts have upheld state-lead recition of pledge of allegiance, altered to include the phrase "under God," on the grounds that recitation of the pledge is not compulsory, but this oath is compulsory!

The lawsuit also claims the violation of rights guaranteed under the First Amendment as well as the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Those arguments are less clear to me. They hinge on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A state-sanctioned religious ceremony implies some disrespect for the First Amendment, but that decision was made a long time ago, and the secularists lost.

We became a Christian nation in the 1950s when, after a 150 year battle, that portion of the First Amendment was  revoked. Though the text still stands as a meaningless vestige, its interpretation is so weak as to be worthless in the protection of any minority against the establishment of a religious preference by the government -- while it could no doubt be effectively applied in the protection of the religious majority, it is not necessary to do so since political pressure protects them already.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How Dems Got a "Good Deal" on Fiscal Cliff

If it seems like Democrats got a "good deal" on the fiscal cliff negotiations, there are two reasons for that:

(1) To some degree, it seems better in comparison to the bad deal Obama offered two weeks earlier. Lucky for Democrats, they rejected it.

More importantly,

(2) As I explained in my previous post, going over the cliff would give the GOP a bloody face, and every day they stood firm would do long-lasting damage to the Republican brand and give Democrats a better negotiating position. Two weeks ago, the GOP leadership was nowhere near even that worse deal Obama offered, but a few hours after going over the cliff, the GOP leadership allowed Democrats a deal one might not have expected for another week after going over the cliff. Why? Saving face! If the talking points we hear from Republicans today sounds at all like credible arguments from a team that just lost a couple of games rather than hallucinatory ramblings of a fanatic, it's because they were allowed to avoid showing the nation what the fiscal cliff really was and how weak their position really was.

If it seems that Democrats extracted concessions from Republicans without giving up much in return, it's because they did give up something more abstract, but huge nonetheless: instead of giving the right wing the bloody face they had coming and gutting the Tea Party, Democrats took some favorable policy and allowed the GOP base to continue holding on to the fantasy that they are serious, responsible fiscal conservatives rather than delusional fools.