Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The first right-wing conspiracy theory of the Obama administration

I guarantee you that right-wingers will claim that Obama isn't really the president because Justice Roberts messed up the language of the oath:

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.

Roberts moved "faithfully" to follow "States", and Obama paused but then he said it as Roberts had said.

Follow-up: In a comment on the Volokh Conspiracy post on this topic, DailyRich says something I agree with: "Eh, Bush nailed the oath and flubbed everything else, I'll gladly take the trade-off."

More follow-up: The Constitution says the new president takes office at noon without stating any qualification or requirement about the oath. And, at the luncheon immediately following, apparently Justice Roberts took the blame and apologized.

Final follow-up: The Prez and Chief, as expected, had a do-over. So if someone says he's not President because he botched the oath, they're double crazy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vive l'union!

The next time you whine about "lazy union members", please remind yourself: everyone involved in Thursday's rescue from a crippled airliner belonged to a union.

Bob Corker and Richard Shelby like to claim that union labor is a failed business model. But I haven't heard much about Bob Corker and Richard Shelby saving 155 people's lives.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Repos promote Repo ideas; Dems promote ... Repo ideas

Digby is talking about Guantanamo and torture, but she could be describing any of a half-dozen political topics:

As Greenwald discusses today, Obama is doing what all Democrats in my adult lifetime have always done --- he is working as hard as he can to prove that he isn't captive to his left. (You would think that the fact that the left is the law and order faction on this issue would at least make some of them scratch their heads.) And he seems to be doing a good job of it --- even Pat Buchanan is effusive in his praise of Obama for making sure that everyone knows he isn't "Reverend Wright's man."

But I'm not sure that's what's required right now. The nation is confused and scared about their economic security. They are embarrassed and angry at what the Republicans did. In fact, it seems that I heard somebody recently talking about how they desperately wanted ... change. I guess that's a word that's open to interpretation, but it seems to me that it's at least possible that they meant they wanted Obama to change the policies of the Bush administration.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Live-blogging the Fiesta Bowl, sort of

Ohio State just scored to make it 17-15 (failed 2-point try), and I just had these thoughts:

  • When the hell are referees going to start flagging coaches for being too far out on the field or for protesting calls in an unsporting fashion or both?! Both Tressel and Brown have been out as far as the numbers tonight, which should be a penalty even if they're being polite—and they weren't!
  • The pass by Boeckman to Young for the TD was not just a great call; it was also satisfying, because Boeckman deserves a lot of success for the classy way he has carried himself this season.
  • USC easily beat Ohio State this year, and after seeing a few Texas games this year I'm convinced we could beat them just as easily.

A pacifist supports Israel

I almost never agree with Clifford May, and I can't remember ever linking to the National Review Online before. But May's op-ed about Gaza is right in many respects. If you ignore his hyperbole, and throw out the self-serving hypothetical at the end, his thesis is correct: Hamas is to blame for this war, and Israel is right to fight it.

Israel pulled out of Gaza years ago, leaving the residents there with no legitimate complaint about Israeli occupation or persecution (not that that prevented anyone from complaining about the 'persecution' of not being given charity or of not being allowed to come and go in and out of Israel). And for some months now, both Hamas and Israel have refrained from military conflict.

But that wasn't good enough for Hamas, which decided to start shelling Israel. Every democracy has the right and obligation, when attacked by military action, to respond with force.

Many critics of Israel are calling its military actions "unjustified," which prompts the question of what would be a justified response to artillery assaults. Others, including even people who should be relatively neutral in this conflict such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights use the word "disproportionate" because more Gazans are being hurt than Israelis. The L.A. Times reports that "[Hamas's] homemade rockets are wildly inaccurate and rarely cause serious casualties; three Israeli civilians have been killed by rocket fire" in the past two weeks. (I'm quoting the article as printed in the Contra Costa Times this morning; the online version reads differently.) The "only" that is strongly implied here is ridiculous; it suggests that, if a man starts shooting at you but is such a poor marksman that only one in ten bullets hits, you should shoot to wound him rather than to kill.

Israel is doing what it should, and the damage in Gaza—no matter how tragic and undesireable—is Hamas's fault. The Times quotes an Oxfam executive saying that "trying to fight a military campaign in the densely populated streets and alleys of the Gaza Strip will inevitably lead to civilian casualties." Well, yes. That's exactly Hamas's point and purpose. They decided it would be in their best interests to trade Gazan lives for Israeli ones. Israel is in the right to enter Gaza seeking to destroy people who would make such a calculation.

Usually I disagree with what I see as the American government's knee-jerk support of Israeli policy. And I believe that terrorism is best defeated through law-enforcement measures, not military ones. But organized military action by a governing authority is not terrorism; in this case, the U.S. government is correct to support Israel's actions and announcements.

Update: Naturally, I realized later that this post held a few invisible shorthands—things I was thinking but didn't write, such as the idea that deciding what is "proportionate" must include some component of evaluating "effective". Rather than try to back-fill them all, let me merely point out the inadequacy of this venue for actually solving; it's just a musing point, of course. Far better musing is here and also here.