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Editor, The Konformist
Friday, January 23, 2009
The Strange Case of Barack Obama's Oath of Office
"At Mr. Obama's second swearing-in on Wednesday...(t)he photo
released by the White House had been taken by its own photographer."
(NY Times, Jan. 23, p. A16).
A Cryptogram from the Cryptocracy?
Michael Hoffman investigates
"For a couple of smooth-talking constitutional experts, Chief Justice
John G. Roberts Jr. and President-elect Barack Obama sure had a hard
time getting through the constitutional oath of office...The chief
justice seemed to say 'to' rather than 'of,' but that was not the
main problem. The main problem was that the word 'faithfully' had
floated upstream...Mr. Obama seemed to realize this, pausing
quizzically after saying 'that I will execute '
"The chief justice gave it another go, getting closer but still not
quite right: "faithfully the office of president of the United
States." This time, he omitted the word 'execute.' Mr. Obama now
repeated the chief justice's initial error of putting 'faithfully' at
the end of the phrase. Starting where he had abruptly paused, he
said: 'the office of the president of the United States faithfully."
("I Do Solemnly Swear (Line, Please?," NY Times, Jan. 20, 2009)
Yes, indeed these two "smooth-talking constitutional experts"
couldn't manage to recite the brief oath as it was written. This was
largely Chief Justice Roberts' fault. We can believe that this flub
was due to human fallibility and that may very well be the case, or
we can also wonder whether the very intelligent Chief Justice
deliberately mishandled the oath so that it would be administered a
second time, under very different circumstances.
Here's how the media reported the second rite: ...After a day's worth
of chatter over whether the president had been properly sworn into
office...(i)n 25 seconds, President Obama became president again.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. re-administered the oath to Mr.
Obama on Wednesday evening, one day after the two men stumbled over
each other's words during the inauguration ceremony at the Capitol.
For their do-over, the two men convened in the White House Map Room
at 7:35 p.m. for a brief proceeding that was not announced until it
was completed successfully...Only hours after aides told reporters
there was no reason to administer the oath again, they concluded it
was easier to do it on the first day, rather than have someone
challenge the legitimacy of his presidency...Mr. Obama raised his
right hand and did not use a Bible....only nine people witnessed the
do-over. There were four aides, four reporters and a White House
photographer..." (NY Times, Jan. 22, 2009).
This second-time-around doppelganger oath was the real oath, since
the flawed first one, done in the sight of millions and upon the
Bible of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln was a "challenge (to)
the legitimacy of his presidency..."
There was no Bible the second time and with Obama having been
compared to John F. Kennedy during the campaign, and with all of the
macabre parallels between Kennedy and Lincoln (Lincoln was killed in
Ford's theatre, Kennedy was killed in a Ford automobile; Lincoln's
secretary was named Kennedy, Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln;
Lincoln and Kennedy were both succeeded by vice-presidents named
Johnson, etc.), I'm not sure that if I were Barack Obama I would have
wanted to step into the middle of such a highly charged symbol
palimpsest -- unless of course the first inaugural oath-taking was
little more more than shadow-play.
What appears to be the authentic inauguration took place in a
basement, and was an elite rather than a populist rite, with just
nine witnesses. It occurred in former President Franklin Roosevelt's
secretive, war-era "map room." Before FDR, under presidents from
Chester Arthur through Wilson and Coolidge, it was reputedly used to
play the game of billiards.
The omission of the Bible is not invalidating since the father of our
country did not use one at his inauguration and Lyndon Johnson, on
the plane to Washington after's Kennedy's killing, used a Roman
Catholic mass book ("missal"), rather than a Bible. Hence, the
absence of a Bible per se does not invalidate the oath, but the peek-
a-boo nature of the inaugural Bible may be deliberate, in that its
momentous presence at the botched inauguration is all the more
glaring in its inexplicable absence at the real inauguration.
If symbolism is a language, what is being signaled by this apparently
Another equally striking aspect of the second oath are the
photographs of the ceremony, which feature the looming presence of a
vintage portrait above the mantle on the wall behind the president
and the chief justice.
The oath is a ritual and this ritual has an icon hovering over it, as
if by way of spiritual benediction and patronage. As of this writing,
in all the prominent photos of the second oath which this writer has
seen, no caption has been provided by the establishment media that
identifies the enigmatic man in the portrait. Yet, symbolically, he
is the "genius loci," the presiding spirit of the authentic inaugural
ceremony of Barack Obama as President. Like the omission of the Bible
after so much was made of its presence at the first oath-taking, the
omission of any identification of the figure in the painting at the
second oath-taking would seem to be significant.
Let us recall that the second oath was performed in secret: "...the
two men convened in the White House Map Room at 7:35 p.m. for a brief
proceeding that was not announced until it was completed..."
In Freemasonry the god of the secret societies is covertly
substituted for the One True God. This false god is identified in the
masonic lodges as "the Great Architect."
The mysterious man in the portrait who silently presides over the
authentic inauguration of Barack Obama as Commander and Chief, is
Benjamin Latrobe, the great architect of the U.S. Capitol.
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved
Michael Hoffman's latest book is Judaism Discovered, now in its
second printing; available from www.RevisionistHistory.org
Labels: Barack Obama, billiard games, Chief Justice John Roberts,
cryptocracy, Freemasonry, Inauguration, Latrobe, Map Room, masonic
symbolism, occult, shadow plays
Magic C Howard sets NBA All-Star voting record
By Tim Reynolds, AP Sports Writer
ORLANDO, Florida Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard -- leading the
NBA in rebounds, blocked shots and double-doubles -- became the first
player to receive 3 million votes from fans to lead this season's All-
He got 3,150,181 votes when the count was released on Thursday,
easily topping the previous record of 2,558,278 votes collected by
Houston's Yao Ming four years ago.
The Feb. 15 game in Phoenix will mark the third All-Star trip for
Howard, who'll be starting for the second time.
"Wow, what a blessing," said Howard, the 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter)
center who dressed in full Superman regalia, cape and all, on the way
to winning last year's slam dunk competition. "That is what I took it
as, a blessing from God and then the fans. It's just a great honor
and I was surprised, but like always I thank the fans for everything
they have done for us."
The final results of fan balloting didn't exactly bring any major
Miami's Dwyane Wade (2,741,413) and Detroit's Allen Iverson
(1,804,649) will be in the Eastern Conference backcourt, alongside
reigning All-Star MVP LeBron James of Cleveland (2,940,823) and
Boston's Kevin Garnett (2,066,833), who beat New Jersey's Yi Jianlian
for the starting nod by 253,004 votes.
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers (2,805,397) was the Western
Conference's top vote-getter, and will be joined at guard by New
Orleans' Chris Paul (2,134,798). At center, Yao (2,532,958) will
start for the sixth time, along with forwards Tim Duncan of San
Antonio (2,578,168) and Amare Stoudemire of Phoenix (1,460,429).
"When I first heard I was leading in votes, I was shocked, to be
honest with you," Howard said. "I really didn't expect anything
considering you have guys like Kobe, LeBron and Dwyane."
Howard entered Thursday averaging 20.2 points, 14.1 rebounds and 3.2
blocks for the Magic.
For Garnett, it's his 12th All-Star selection -- second-most among
active players behind Shaquille O'Neal's 14 trips. O'Neal could see
that total increase by one; he could easily be announced as a reserve
when coaches' balloting to fill out the seven remaining spots on each
roster are announced next week.
Much like the East, the West voting was a bit predictable.
Stoudemire's spot turned out to be the most vulnerable; he nipped San
Antonio's Bruce Bowen -- who wasn't even starting for the Spurs right
now -- in the starters' balloting by 68,031 votes.
In all, five players (Howard, James, Bryant, Wade and Duncan) all
topped Yao's previous record vote mark.
"It's always an unbelievable honor, because there's so many great
players in this league and so many young guys coming in, when you get
named a starter from the fans," Wade said.
Politics on the pitch: When Gaza and Sports Collide
By Dave Zirin
In January 2008, Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Aboutreika followed a
goal by raising his shirt to reveal the slogan "Sympathise with
Gaza". His actions were meant to put a spotlight onto the economic
embargo that Israel had imposed on Palestinians in Gaza after the
election of the Hamas government.
Days before the ceasefire halted the carnage in Gaza city this month,
history repeated as Sevilla (Spain) striker Fredi Kanoute raised his
shirt after scoring a goal to reveal a shirt that said "Palestine" in
multiple languages. Kanoute is not an obscure player. In 2007, he was
named African player of the year, even though he was born in France
(his family is from Mali).
After earning a £3,000 fine for his political gesture, famed
Barcelona coach, Jose Guardiola stood up for him, saying: "The fine
is absolutely excessive. If they always banned these type of things,
then journalists would not be able to write columns. ... Every war is
absurd, and too many innocent people have died for us to be fining
people for things like this."
Welcome to 2009, when Israel's offensive on Gaza, ceasefire or no, is
finding expression in the sports world. It's a development that
should give supporters of Israel's actions in Gaza a great deal of
Kanoute's actions come on the heels of an event in Ankara, Turkey
when the Israeli basketball team, Bnei Hasharon, had to flee the
court from what the Associated Press described as "hundreds of fist-
pumping, chanting Turkish fans".
Before the game could begin, angry chants of "Israeli killers!" came
down from the crowd, as Palestinian flags appeared in their hands.
Then, in a scene that would look familiar to George Bush, off came
the shoes, and footwear rained down from the stands (the shoes didn't
hit any players).
A melee then began between 1,500 police officers and Turkish fans, as
the fans advanced toward the court. Both Hasharon and the Turkish
team Turk Telecom were hurried to the locker rooms where they
remained for two hours.
Hasharon forfeited the contest. It says something that Israel found
reckoning on the basketball court long before any kind of
International Criminal Court.
According to sports historians, a sporting event hasn't been actually
stopped in such a manner - with fans turning the stands into a site
of protest - since 25 July 1981, when South Africa's Springbok rugby
team had to cancel a game in New Zealand when fans occupied the field
of play to protest apartheid.
Israel has historically been adamant that any comparisons between the
Israeli state and South Africa are absolutely false and even
antisemitic. Jimmy Carter provoked their outrage of course when he
published his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.
But this parallel, when related to sports, should not be taken
lightly. One of the most effective tools against apartheid South
Africa was the South African Non-Racialised Olympic Committee, which
attempted to use sports as a way to highlight and broadcast the
inequities of the South African government. Sports can bring a
political spotlight and unwanted attention onto a society like few
other forces in the international community, galvanising, attention,
passion and, as we saw in Turkey, anger.
Israel hasn't helped itself in this regard by making sports a target
in the war. On 9 January, the IDF bombed Gaza's Palestine National
Stadium. The stadium was also the head of the Palestinian Football
Association. The structure was built in 2005 partially with funds
from Fifa. The facility will now need to be rebuilt again (in 2006 it
was also bombed). It was meant to be a symbol of a Palestinian state,
something that united the West Bank and Gaza as an expression of
unity. Now it is rubble.
In addition, perhaps fearing a repeat of Ankara, the Israel Football
Federation is preventing any club matches from being played in
Palestinian towns. As Jimmy Johnson, who works in Jerusalem for the
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions told me: "These are not
Palestinian clubs from the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Gaza, but for
Palestinian citizens of Israel, sometimes called Arab Israelis, who
are almost 20% of the population, vote in Israeli elections, etc."
This has gotten little press in the US, but in the soccer-mad Middle
East, it is altogether insult on top of injury.
Sports, which we are told repeatedly represent a sacredly apolitical
space, a place to flee the headaches of the real world, has now been
thrust into the heart of a conflict raw with politics in a way we
haven't seen in quite some time. Protests against Israeli actions in
Gaza are sure to continue in sporting events outside the US. But the
ramifications could very easily be felt inside our borders, as
political leaders come to the White House and tell the new
administration tales of sports fans gone wild.
Dave Zirin is the author of the book: A People's History of Sports in
the United States. You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every
week by going to dave@.... Contact him at
X Games mark the spot
Once renegade events, action sports are deserving of Olympic status
Story by Scott Willoughby
The Denver Post
ASPEN It seems strange to think about the Winter X Games in terms
of tradition. The event, after all, is founded on progression,
innovation and invention. But that foundation turns 13 this week on
the now-renowned slopes of Buttermilk Mountain. That's three Olympic
cycles' worth of cutting-edge snowboarding and skiing, with Vancouver
2010 looming only 13 months away.
That may not quite qualify as a full-blown institution, but it's
certainly time to establish a trend or two. Case in point: the
tradition of X Games events moving from the action sports arena to
the international stage that is the Winter Olympic Games.
Few imagined during the early "knuckle-dragging" era of snowboard
halfpipe that was the Winter X Games at Big Bear, Calif., in 1997
that the evolution would not only land snowboarding in the Olympics
but create international stars the likes of Shaun White and Gretchen
The 1998 addition of snowboarding competition to the Olympic schedule
eventually grew to include snowboardcross racing another X Games
staple at Turin 2006. In Vancouver, skicross takes its turn on the
"The International Olympic Committee is looking for sports that are
relevant. They want exciting television and a young demographic,"
said Bill Marolt, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard
Association (USSA), the domestic liaison to the Olympics for skiing
and snowboarding. "Any of these sports, all you have to do is be
creative, figure out formats and create things people are excited
For several years, the logical progression of snowboard and ski
events transcending the X Games to the Olympics has pointed to skiing
superpipe as the encore to the snowboard event. And for several
years, the burgeoning sport has been denied. To date, the closest it
has come is a current attempt to finance a demonstration event at the
Vancouver Games while holding out hope for a shot at Sochi 2014.
Meanwhile, there are the X Games.
"This is definitely like the Olympics for us at this point. It's the
biggest event of the year and definitely the most influential event,"
said Jess Cumming, 25, a Copper Mountain team rider from Edwards
competing in her fourth Winter X skipipe. "The push is for 2014. I
think the momentum is catching on, but in order for it to get to the
Olympics, it has to go through every country's national ski
"That's where we've been kind of lacking in the support. And that's
where more support needs to come through to get it into the
Cumming and the other seven women competing in the superpipe at
Winter X tonight may have found a new friend in Marolt, who appears
to be offering just the support they seek.
Looking for new heroes
In an effort to increase American medal tallies at the Winter
Olympics, Marolt has become a vocal advocate for the addition of many
of the so-called "new school" sports the X Games are known for.
"Skipipe, slopestyle snowboarding those things are on the table,"
Marolt said. "My personal thought is when you evaluate a sport, you
have to look at critical mass. How many people do you really have
involved in it? That will determine the talent level. That will
determine the marketing potential. In my mind, skipipe is definitely
high on that list.
"Every resort has a pipe. Tons of kids are twin-tipping and riding in
the pipe. The heroes are already created. That seems to me the most
likely place to go."
USSA and its international governing body at the International Skiing
Federation (FIS) have established a World Cup circuit for superpipe
skiing, a necessary step toward Olympic inclusion, with the first
World Cup competition in the United States taking place next week in
Deer Valley, Utah.
With minimal purses and a scarcity of media attention, World Cup
competition has been slow to catch on among the sport's heaviest
hitters. While the Winter X Games have created careers for athletes
like Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont since pipe skiing was introduced in
2002, there has been little incentive to compete in World Cup
competition without the Olympic payoff.
Others are willing to put in their time in hopes of reaping benefits
down the road.
"I do all the World Cups and have for years," said two-time defending
women's skipipe gold medalist Sarah Burke of Whistler, British
Columbia. "The (World Cup) field is there for the women. It's 100
percent X Games athletes. The guys a little less, but five of the
guys who are always at all the World Cups qualified for the men's
Among them is Xavier Bertoni of France, who upset the men's superpipe
skiing field to win his first Winter X Games gold medal over Hall
(second) and Dumont (third) Thursday night. The win marked the first
time since Candide Thovex's 2003 victory that anyone other than Hall
or Dumont has won the event. Thovex and Bertoni both come from La
"It's crazy. I can't believe it," said Bertoni, who used back-to-back
900s and a 1260 with amplitude pushing above 20 feet for the top
score of 93.66. "I'm really stoked."
The reintroduction of an international champ to Winter X could
enhance the image of World Cup competition by bringing some X Games
clout to the field in the future.
And that could translate to a continued tradition.
"Here there are the best skiers in the world, so I prefer to win the
X Games than a World Cup," Bertoni said. "I want to do a World Cup
with Simon, with Tanner. It will be really good for the sport,
because we are not yet in the Olympic Games, but with the level going
up in the World Cup, I think that will help the sport to go to the
Olympic Games. That's also a dream for me."
Scott Willoughby: 303-954-1993 or swilloughby@...
Grateful Dead Song of the Week:
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing
Your rain falls like crazy fingers
Peals of fragile thunder keeping time
Recall the days that still are to come
Some sing blue
Hang your heart on laughing willow
Stray down to the water
Deep Sea of Love
Beneath the sweet calm face of the sea
Life may be sweeter for this, I don't know
See how it feels in the end
May Lady Lullaby sing plainly for you
Soft, strong, sweet and true
Cloud hands reaching from a rainbow
Tapping at the window touch your hair
So swift and bright
Strange figures of light
Float in air
Who can stop what must arrive now?
Something new is waiting to be born
Dark as the night
You're still by my side
Gone are the days we stopped to decide
Where we should go
We just ride
Gone are the broken eyes we saw through in dreams
Gone - both dream and lie
Life may be sweeter for this I don't know
Feels like it might be alright
While Lady Lullaby sings plainly for you
Love still rings true
Midnight on a carousel ride
Reaching for the gold ring down inside
Never could reach
It just slips away but I try