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Stateside: Parlor games

Stateside With Rosalea Baker

Parlor games

On Face the Nation this morning, host Bob Schieffer’s commentary began “Let the parlor games begin!” He was referring to the guessing games that go on during a transition: “that time of high hopes and great speculations about who is going to do what.” So, here’s my off-the-wall predictions.

::Justice Clinton and Peace Secretary Lee::
Forget Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, she’ll stay in the Senate until President Obama nominates her to the Supreme Court. The Constitution sets out no qualifications for Supreme Court Justices, and it’s entirely feasible that the price extracted for the application of the Clinton campaign machinery to Obama’s election effort would be something this long lasting and influential.

And he’ll create a Department of Peace, but instead of getting Dennis Kucinich to head it—after all, it was the Ohio Rep’s idea in the first place—Obama will appoint Rep. Barbara Lee. In the afterword for her book Renegade for Peace and Justice, Lee talks about the aims of legislation designed to create such a Cabinet-level department, and she was an early supporter of Obama’s candidacy. Kucinich, on the other hand, wants to do messy things like try to impeach Bush and Cheney.

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::President Biden::
Then again, perhaps Obama won’t be President, and maybe we shouldn’t believe the media stories that Obama is meeting with McCain on Monday to discuss Senate-White House relations. Those two share something that has long been the topic of discussion out on the lunatic fringes but might now come into the mainstream spotlight: both are charged with not actually meeting the qualifications the Constitution sets out for a President.

Of course, it doesn’t matter now that McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, but a case was brought to the Superior Court of California last Thursday that will have to be taken seriously as a challenge to Obama’s eligibility because it was brought by another presidential candidate: Alan Keyes. He was on the CA ballot as candidate for the American Independent Party. His vice presidential running mate and the sole AIP presidential elector for California are co-petitioners on the writ.

The respondents named in the case are the California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Senator Barack Obama, Senator Joe Biden, all the California presidential electors, and DOES 1-100. The legal basis for the case is that Senator Barack Obama has failed to demonstrate that he is a “natural born citizen.” Debate has long raged over whether a Hawaiian Certificate of Live Birth constitutes an actual birth certificate and Obama’s failure to produce nothing other than a COLB is what this case is based on.

Keyes et al are charging that the SoS used a lower standard of proof of presidential candidates’ “natural born”-ness than is used for proof that people applying for a CA drivers’ license reside in the state. Obama should produce the “long version” copy of the certificate, the petition says, and if it shows he is not a natural born citizen, then—per the Constitution—it is the Vice President-elect who will become President.

(Notwithstanding my own sins in the punctuation department, I would be remiss not to point out that the petition misquotes what it calls the “pertinent part” of Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. It leaves out a comma.)

::Parlor games in Oakland::
If Barbara Lee takes a Cabinet position, the successor to her CA District 9 seat in the House of Representatives will be decided in a special election. Her protege, Sandre Swanson, will run and be elected. His seat in the Assembly will then be up for grabs, and whoever is his protege will win it. That’s how elections go in the United States of America. (Barbara Lee was Ron Dellums’ protege, and was elected to his CA-9 seat in a 1998 special election.)

Which explains why the former Green Party member Rebecca Kaplan was so firmly tucked into the Democratic fold so that she could win the At-Large seat on the Oakland City Council on November 4. In the event of a special election for Swanson’s Assembly seat, Kaplan won’t be able to run for it as a Green.

If you doubt that elections in the U.S. are so finely managed, you need only read the section in Lee’s book in which she talks about what she plans to accomplish in the 111th Congress. Writing after Obama had the Democratic presidential nomination sewn up, but before the General Election in November, Lee doesn’t even bother to preface her plans with the words “If I’m re-elected,...”.



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