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Random Thoughts for an Inauguration Day

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When I was five years old, my mother sat me down in front of the television on a cold January Chicago day and made me watch the inauguration of John Kennedy. I remember the power of his speech, although had I not heard it over and over in the years since, I probably would not have remembered its content.  But it didn’t matter. What did matter was that it was an historic moments. A defining speech for a step into the unknown for my parents generation. Kennedy talked of space and sputnik; of service and of dreams, of freedom and its challenges. The times have changed, the mission is slightly altered but the essence of Kennedy’s words still resonates.                                                                                                                Today at noon comes another moment in history.  I can sense it; I can hear and see it. I can’t remember the last time people waited with such excitement and anticipation for the inauguration of a new president. Personally, I feel like one HG Wells’ Time Machine  Eloi, who having lived in the dark for years, finally emerge into the sunlight of a new day. Eight years of arrogant hubris, of “my way or the highway;” of “you’re with us or against us.” Eight years of a president and an administration, that believes that the Constitution of this great country is fungible upon the whim of an imperial presidency by executive fiat;  that confuse disagreement and debate with disloyalty and betrayal. That patriotism equals blind acquiescence.

More than year ago, I wrote my prescription for the next US President (although I have to confess, I was not supporting Obama at the time):

“We need a president who will help us regain our standing amongst nations; who will renew our status as the shining light of freedom; who will enable us to lead, not with our might, but with our spirit; not with our power, but by our vision and creativity.” But ”one who carries in his brief case a (practical and implementable) plan to make that vision come alive. A person who will inspire the children and young adults of a new generation to reach beyond themselves; to instill a sense of engagement with government (their government); but, at the same time, have the street smarts and common sense to make things happen. Not by fear; not through manipulation of the facts; not by fraud and lies. But through honesty, transparency, creativity, and the hard work of bi-partisanship.”

Undoubtedly, as Obama takes the Oath of Office this noon, tears will fill my eyes. As they already have each time someone stops by my office to talk about the inauguration festivities that EVERYONE seems to be watching in a truly shared American experience. Make no mistake. When we wake up tomorrow morning and the next, and the next after that, very little of substance will have changed. The economy will still be in free-fall; terrorism will still loom large; the world will remain on the brink of serious and irreparable climate change; we will still be engaged in two wars. This won’t be easy; but for the first time in eight years, I feel we have a fighting chance.  

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    The Presidential oath of office having been “flubbed,” President Obama took it again privately “Just to make sure” and thereby to avoid any subsequent arguments that the flubbed oath might cast doubt on his presidency. This strikes me as the right and proper thing for him to have done.

    I am curious, however, about why comparable steps were not taken to obviate any lingering questions about his Constitutional qualification for the office based on status as a natural born U.S. citizen. These questions, even if a bunch of nonsense as some contend, seem almost certain to come up again and again until they are finally resolved, in a context where the questioner has standing to raise them.

    It seems likely that any person directly and adversely affected by an act which only the President can Constitutionally perform will have the requisite direct interest. For example, someone tried under a Federal criminal statute signed into law by the President would seem to have a direct interest and therefore standing.

    These questions could easily have been put to rest — as were any questions arising from the flubbed oath of office — by dealing proactively with them quite some time ago. They could still be dealt with now, proactively, before the are raised in court. The whole question may not seem important, but even facially unimportant things often take on a life of their own with unfortunate consequences.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Baronius

    Dan, that reminds me of something I’ve always wondered about. The District of Columbia has a vote in the House. Isn’t that unconstitutional? And doesn’t that make all laws passed by the House invalid?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    As I understand the situation, the District of Columbia has only a nonvoting representative in the House. Ms. Norton can vote in committee but not otherwise have a say on whether legislation is enacted. Legislation has been introduced to change this, most recently this month. It may pass, but since the District is not a State, Constitutional problems seem likely, including the one you raise.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Baronius

    See, dude, this is why I ask. Thanks for the info. The Hawaii birth has been verified to the satisfaction of everyone but the craziest Paul and Hillary supporters, as far as I know.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    I don’t know what the “facts” are, but the questions are many. That they may have been asked by a bunch of raving lunatics does not mean that they have no basis. Even some folks who suffer from extreme paranoia can be in real danger. Here, as Robert Frost wrote,

    We dance around in a ring and suppose,
    While the secret sits in the middle and knows.

    The questions could probably have been answered just as easily and satisfactorily as the proper oath was retaken; no big deal. My concern is that when the questions are presented in a context where standing is not the main issue, big problems may arise. When big problems can be dealt with through very little effort, that seems to me to be the best course.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Clavos

    Great Frost quote, Dan(Miller)!

    Thanks!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Warrantless searches – interestingly, not in the Constitution.

    Wrong, Baronius. The Fourth Amendment expressly prohibits warrantless searches.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius -

    I guess I must have closed the browser before I posted the preview of my reply. Too bad – its only fault was the length, for I showed your error in every case.

    Elections – they are won by a majority electoral vote count…but these electoral votes are awarded (in some cases proportionally) by the MAJORITY VOTE in their respective states. (and I note you didn’t want to touch the ‘voter suppression’ thing….)

    Coulter – Her freedom of speech isn’t unconstitutional…but she IS influential among conservatives, and by her own words she is against suffrage for women.

    Freedom of Speech – Try Googling ‘banned books’ – the Wikipedia’s got a decent list – and you’ll see that almost ALL were banned because they offended this or that conservative ‘value’, whether for sexual content, patriotic, whatever. The SOLE exception I could find was ‘Huckleberry Finn’, which liberals tried to ban for racist content (and most liberals are AGAINST such a ban).

    Warrantless searches – As Doc pointed out, it’s in the Fourth Amendment…and do you really need for me to point out how the Bush administration imprisoned even an American citizen in almost total solitary confinement for nearly six years without trial? Look up Jose Padilla – and whatever you may think of his crime, he was and IS still an American citizen.

    Freedom of religion – Baronius, you’re not stupid. You know full well that I’m referring to how much the Republicans distrust and even hate Muslims, because they ASSUME that Islam is a violent religion. That’s what my entire post was about! If the Republicans had their way, well…watch The Handmaid’s Tale.

    Cheney and the Executive Branch – Yes, the VEEP has legislative duties – but so does the president! Does this mean that the president is ALSO not part of the executive branch? Before Cheney made this ridiculous claim (as you well know, to hide his crimes), can you really imagine ANY Republican trying to make such a claim? And what would the Republicans have said if Al Gore had said that????

    Baronius, the Republicans have screwed up big time. I recommend that you, like SJ, violate Republican dogma by standing up and saying loudly and proudly just how badly screwed up they really are…for the Republican Party can never know how to improve itself if it refuses to hear where it is wrong.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc,

    Close but no cigar; a cigarette, perhaps. The Fourth Amendment provides,

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.(emphasis added)

    Reasonable searches are frequently permitted without a warrant when it would be difficult, impossible or even dangerous to secure a warrant prior to the search. For example, a policeman in the course of an arrest can lawfully search the person being arrested for weapons which might be used to harm him or someone else. Stuff other than weapons found in the legitimate course of such a search (e.g, prohibited substances in the guy’s pocket where a gun might have been but wasn’t found) is admissible in evidence.

    Bottom line, some searches without a warrant are OK and some are not. Ditto some searches pursuant to a warrant. A lot depends on the circumstances.

    Dan(Milelr)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Indeed, Dan, but I do wonder if that was the original intent, considering the etymology of the words reason and warrant – the latter as used today in the words warranted and unwarranted.

    The use of the words unreasonable and warrant in the same run-on sentence*, without any distinction, is what makes me wonder.

    * Even taking into consideration 18th Century Man’s love of verbosity.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc,

    Original intent? What’s that? Is it like original sin?

    Even more seriously, the word “warrants” in the Fourteenth Amendment appears to be a plural noun: “no warrants shall issue. . . .” rather than a verb, an adjective or even adverb. This suggests that the verb “to warrant” was not in the minds of the Intelligent Designers of the Constitution.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Dan, I had a lot more fun studying conract law than con law. Contract law was all about people – screwees and screwors. Con law appears to be about lofty principles – which is why it is such a con! It’s all about the ugly exercise of power!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Ruvy, Contract law was all about people – screwees and screwors. So how is that different from con law?

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Dan, did you mean “con law” as in how to con people (you know, like Con Ed) or did you mean Constitutional Law, which was the con I was referring to?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Ruvy,

    I meant it the same way you did.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Well now that you’ve clarified that major legal issue, Dan, the screwors who screw people over in the name of a government have a whole pack of armed goons to back them (the government); when some Haim swindles Yankel, on the other hand, it’s basically between the two of them. The funnest cases for me are the one sided contracts that corporations try to inflict on people, though. Guess there ain’t that much of a difference after all….