I Swear This Country Drives Me Crazy Sometimes

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A councilman in the Florida town of Tequesta refuses to take a standard oath of office–the Korean War vet Basil Dalack's adamant opposition to the Iraq War makes him leery about pledging to "support, protect, and defend" the government right now because he thinks it implies blanket support for policies he can't abide. And why shouldn't you be able to hold down a local government job without such a pledge? And what constitutes such support, protection, and defense–unquestioned support toward every policy, or a larger support for principles or the Constitution? If the latter is the case, certainly a great deal of what the U.S. government does now deserves no such support, protection, and defense.

Dalack is trying to sue over the whole mess, alas–the proper way to handle this, I daresay the American way (in the best vision of America), in our spirit of on-the-fly Yankee-Doodle can-doism and open-hearted adjustment to eccentrics and opposing views, would have been to quietly allow him to take office without reciting that part of the oath. Then everyone involved should have played a pick-up softball game and quaffed some lemonade. I guess those days are gone.

NEXT: Don't Call It A Comeback, He's Blogged Here For Years

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  1. Well, I RTFA, and another source, and this guy sounds like he just wants to make trouble.

    From nbc4.com

    Dalack took the Oath of Office before — in 1999, when he was first elected to the City Council. However, he said he wasn’t aware of the wording then.

    I suppose, to borrow a quote from Mr. Doherty, “the proper way to handle this” would have been to not run for re-election, but instead this guy wanted to grandstand.

    FWIW, I agree with him in his views, but being a douchebag and dragging the city into court at taxpayer expense because he has a bug up his ass is bullshit.

  2. I presume that the wording he balks at is what’s in the Florida Constitution:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the state; and that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of ?(title of office)? on which I am now about to enter. So help me God.”

    I would assume (without knowing for certain) that the “and government” was inserted after the Civil War, to make sure that public officials committed themselves not to overthrowing the U. S. government. That is not the same as agreeing with every government policy.

    If the guy can’t bring himself to promise that, then he shouldn’t hold the office.

  3. Milton:

    I’d seen that exact phrasing of the oath, but it was from something called theconservativevoice.com or some such thing, so I didn’t want to use it and was too lazy to look up the Florida Constitution. Thanks for adding that.

  4. Well I for one have my faith in humanity restored to learn that there is one elected politician in this country that actually takes his oath of office seriously. Better a bug up his ass than deceit in his heart.

  5. Florida- we’re still number one in weirdos!

  6. It is quite clear that this councilman hates America… and freedom…

  7. Couldn’t he just take the oath, swear to do the stuff he doesn’t want to do, and then flagrantly refuse to do any of it upon taking office?

    Isn’t that how it works in Congress?

  8. Reminds me of below I read recently:
    “You put your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn’t put your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”

    I hope this grievance snowballs and puts an end to all swearing and pledging shit.
    Mainly it’s all just rude.
    Ask Miss Manners.

  9. I’d say get the Doctor on his ass. He’s always done well against the Dalacks.

    [ducking rotten fruits and veggies]

  10. If you don’t want to support, protect and defend the government of the United States, why do you want to work in the government of the United States?

    I concur with the previous individual who says that Mr. Dalack is doing nothing other than to try to cause trouble.

  11. It’s just stupid to complain about his lawsuit. If oaths matter, and if you don’t believe he should be forced to swear to the portions under dispute in order to hold office on the City Council, then why would anyone here advocate denying him his right to seek redress through the necessary means?

    Those who think he’s “just making trouble,” of course, are in no position whatsoever to comment on whether he should have a right to sue.

    By the way, a city council is not part of the United States government. Just so you know.

  12. This is lame; if he is all pissed off about the Iraq war or wiretapping or something, he should take the oath and then, when he makes speeches against Bush’s policies or passes laws that go against federal policy or whatever, say that he is defending the Constitution from Bush, like he promised to do in the oath.

    Unless he is so pissed off that he is now going to try to overthrow the Republic; then he had better not take that oath.

  13. I would be amenable to Mitch’s suggestion, but there is simply a problem with the oath. It says “Constitution and government.” But a constitution is not synonymous with a government. The oath in fact asks the person who swears it to accept the assumption that the government will always be consistent with the constitution.

    Does Mitch mean to say that we should actually interpret the oath as giving the person who subscribes to it the freedom to decide which–the constitution or the government–is to be followed in cases where such an individual is convinced they do not coincide? That would be an interesting finding, but I am not sure it is supported by the text.

  14. Put me in the “this is stupid” camp. As far as I can see, no one but this weirdo has ever thought that swearing to support the government of the USA was synonymous with swearing to support the current administration.

  15. It’s a job requirement to swear to defend the government (by which all sane people understand as our republican system) from those pesky monarchists, theocrats, and pro-dictatorship types that crop up here and there throughout the history of our country. Long before such forces get to the point of being serious trouble, they’ve made themselves known to (and probably seriously annoyed) local government who are encouraged by the oath to make life hard for our little hitlers in training.

    I’m not of the opinion that this is innocent or merely stupid. It’s an attempt to reduce the effectiveness of one facet of our manifold defenses against tyranny and this makes it wrong and worthy of condemnation. This isn’t a big thing in practice but the principle stinks.

  16. George W Peron swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.” What can we learn from this?

  17. I’d say get the Doctor on his ass. He’s always done well against the Dalacks.

    As of Epesode 6, at least one Dalek has been rehabilitated. http://www.cbc.ca/doctorwho/seasonone/index.html#

  18. Here’s something I long for at the swearing in of a new federal department head…

    Judge:

    “Do solemnly swear or affirm that you will support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America?”

    Appointee:

    “Yes I do and that’s why I’m abolishing this department”

  19. If you don’t want to support, protect and defend the government of the United States, why do you want to work in the government of the United States?

    In this case, a chance for self-righteous partisan holier-than-thou grandstanding, followed by a juicy pension.

  20. I’m reminded of a tactic that Irish candidates for the Westminster Parliament have used, including current day members of Sinn F?in. When asked to swear allegiance to the British Monarch, or to an Irish Free State that was explicitly a part of the Empire, they refused and did not take their seats. Of course, the SFers who would not be MPs back in 1918 set themselves up as TDs in an Irish asaembly, D?il ?ireann . I don’t think Mr. Dallack is planning on starting a rival council.

    Winning an election and refusing to be seated would be a perfect strategy for a member of an Anarchist Party, I suppose.

    Kevin

  21. Isn’t a “Dalak” one of those funny looking metal monsters from the Dr. Who series?

  22. Gotta’ love hyphenated words… “can-doism” was my fav.

  23. Lawsuit? Well, hey, that IS the American way now isn’t it?

  24. I make a distinction between “government” and current office holders or administrations. Mr. Daleck, like any other American citizen, has a legitimate right to oppose the Bush administration and the GOP Congress in any legal way; taking the oath does not prevent that; the oath is not to Bush or any other office holder or official. Refusing to take the oath suggests that Mr. Daleck thinks the form of government of the United States is somehow illegitimate or should be destroyed, or that Florida should secede.

    I don’t really think Mr. Daleck wants to overthrow the Republic or lead Florida in a war of independence, so I think his refusal to swear the oath is a lame publcity stunt. A better publicity stunt would be to play at being Cato the Elder, and say, “President Bush must be impeached” after every speech he gives in the Council. Or to just do what lots of politicians and journalists and regular citizens are already doing; spending time and money trying to convince people to support impeachment of the President and/or an electoral defeat for the GOP.

  25. Like I suspected, the “and government” was added to the state Constitution after the Civil War. In the Civil War, people in Florida who had promised to uphold the Constitution of the United States believed that the constitution allowed secession, so they had a clear conscience about joining the Confederacy. To plug that loophole, a specific pledge to support the *government* a well as the Constitution of the US was added to the oath/affirmation. So as long as Mr. Dalek doesn’t try to have Florida secede from the Union, he would probably be OK.

  26. The Dalek Song

    (To the tune of Come Out and Play)

    In our metal contraptions
    We kill whomever we please
    Our big proboscis, sure to get a reaction
    Wasting people with laser beams
    ?
    We destroy creatures from every locale
    And if we catch the Doctor then it’s all over pal
    ?
    We’re stone cold killers, we ain’t no hicks
    We’re gonna zap you up, zap you up,zap you up,zap you up,

    Hey -, The Daleks reign supreme
    Take them out
    They all must be exterminated
    – Hey -, it is no use to scream
    -Take them out –
    They all must be exterminated
    ?
    The Doctor’s companions ? we’re not blind —
    They’re all under 18, they get younger every time

    EXTERMINATE!
    ?
    By the time the alarm sounds
    It’s already too late
    We murder you while you weep and wail
    Our victims are fried or at least they are baked
    ?
    We kill millions and millions, it’s almost a bore
    Only the Doctor is smarter
    We must face him once more
    ?
    Our never ending spree of death and violence and hate
    Is gonna kill of your hopes, kill off your hopes, kill off your . . .
    ?
    – Hey -, is that the Doctor that we see?
    – Take him out –
    He must be exterminated
    Hey -, he’s gonna stop our killing spree!
    – Take him out –
    He must be exterminated
    ?
    Hey ? don’t pay him no mind
    He beat us once again, but we’ll exterminate him next time
    EXTERMINATE!

  27. “The Government”, meaning those who hold current office, especially executive power, is British usage, not American. We call that “The Administration.” When USAers say “the government”, we mean the entire system of Federal and State constitutions and all the structures – executive, legislative, judicial, bureaucratic, etc. – that are established by them.

    N.B.: If your browser can’t read the s?neadh fada in my Irish spellings above, switch your font to Unicode.

    Kevin

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