Wednesday, January 21, 2009

InauguPorn IX

InauguPorn VIII

InauguPorn VII

InauguPorn VI

InauguPorn V

InauguPorn IV

InauguPorn III

Team Obama

A pretty cool slideshow of the new power players in Washington, courtesy of New York Times Magazine

InauguPorn II

A satellite pic of the inauguration. Those swarms of ants are people gathered around jumbotrons. Click here for full size and better res.

InauguPorn I

A collection of front pages from around the world. 

A Fitting Send Off

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

12 Hours And Counting…

The Team

Track the status of the new cabinet-to-be here.

Imminent Front

"The American Revolution did not end when British guns fell silent. It remains an ongoing struggle in the minds and hearts of the American people, to live up to our creed." —President-Elect Barack Obama

I Have A Dream Today

It's nearly impossible to be unmoved by this almost unbearably eloquent speech.

A sampling of the lesser known passages:
Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And, of course, the climax:
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Making Racists Squirm

Contra the spirit of unity which is pulsing through the country in anticipation of tomorrow's swearing in, I offer this little vignette courtesy of Ta-Nehisi and his wife. Enjoy the schadenfreude: 
From the annals of Ultra-Racial America
When I was kid, I always thought it was weird how much white racism, basically, revolved around keeping white women from having sex with black men. I'd be reading some book on black history, where people would be devoting [sic], say, the right of black people to vote. And, inevitably, some white segregationists would say something like "If we let them vote, they'll be marrying your daughters!!! And they'll take over the country!!!" And I think, "Whaaa??" Talk about your non-sequitur.

But then I was talking about this with Kenyatta this morning, and it all suddenly made sense. She nodded to Barack Obama and laughingly noted, "They were right."

President-Elect Obama

My god, I can't get enough of that phrase. Sends the tingle right up my leg… 

So, I'm sitting here on the couch skimming articles with the tv on in the background. A stupid show comes on, so I start surfing and come across a CSpan2/BookTV rerun of Obama speaking about his memoir in Nov. 2004. 

I start watching and notice that while his cadence is the same, his timbre is slightly different, less dramatic. 

Then I get hooked into what he saying. He's describing the overall themes of his book at great length in these long sentences with subordinate clauses and parenthetical asides. Suddenly, he shifts gears and starts talking about the basics of the book: his father, his upbringing, the story's structure. And I realize, here's this guy, a politician(!), who's just discussed his book on multiple levels and from different angles. And it was interesting. 

He then starts talking politics and his views on policy, our poisonous political discourse and assorted other things. Again multi-layered thinking, thoughtful language, long sentences. Surprisingly interesting content. 

During the Q & A, he gives equally thoughtful, and often funny, answers. His humor, by the way, is even drier than it is now. 

While he's signing books he takes the time to ask book owners their names and what they do, where are they from, etc. He looks them in the eyes and thanks them for being there. And there's not a trace of insincerity about the guy. He's respectful (especially of the elderly ones), kind, and unbelievably gracious. 


More times than I can count, he spoke of ideas and issues in such a way that had me wanting to video tape them and show everyone. I mean, he not only oozes authenticity, he has the right takes on things, and speaks our language.  I'm shaking my head wondering who the fuck is this guy? I mean, politicians don't speak and act this way. It's like he's one of us (but smarter)! Is this dude for real? 

And I'm thinking, how did this happen? How the hell did this country just elect this guy? How did a country that values thuggishness, watches American Idol, and elects Bush find the good sense or luck to elect a smart, caring, thoughtful, funny, liberal former law professor? 

What the fuck?!?

All I know is, I feel lucky, relieved, and proud that this guy is going to be our president. It's ridiculous, I know, but I am filled with joy at the prospect. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Goodbye, Tara

We're two days away from the big day—the finest transfer of power in our lifetimes. In all likelihood, it's an event on the magnitude of Buchanan-to-Lincoln or Hoover-to-FDR. (Even as I read that last sentence I find myself torn between my sense of excitement and possibility and my wariness of grandiose pronouncements. And yet I leave it there because this is, by any objective measure, a big historical moment.) But before the celebrations end and the heavy lifting begins I thought I'd take some time to share a few thoughts about what's happening from my narrow historical perspective. 

We're about to be led as a nation by a man who is, among other things:
• African American (yes, we can stop right here, but I'll go on)
• an intellectual / constitutional scholar
• rooted in the liberal political tradition (albeit with a moderate/conservative temperament)
• a writer
• an urban dweller (the first non-"rural" president in nearly a century)
• isn't not afraid to speak extemporaneously and in complete sentences
• is politically shrewd 
• is emotionally intelligent
• is from the midwest / is not from the South/West
Think about that for a second. Just let it sink in. 

Now, all of that is great enough. And I don't want to take anything away from Obama and his/our victory. But we've had a smart, kinda liberal guy in the White House before. And we remember how that went. (In fairness, Clinton probably did the best he could given we were still in the thick of a conservative political era—not to mention his lack of discipline and sabotage-inducing appetites.)

What makes this moment doubly exciting is what else has gone on. This most recent conservative era that we've lived through—suffered under—has clearly come to an end and we're on the cusp of a new era in American politics (a period Michael Lind posits will be a Fourth Republic). 

In addition to being exciting for its own sake as a large historical event, it's amazing to me as a) a liberal, b) a coastal dweller from the midwest, c) a sane person. For the first time since I was a zygote, this country will not be dominated by Jacksonian, Southern culture and its retrograde mores. For the past 40 years or so Jacksonian politicians have controlled the levers of federal power and dominated the political playing field (even as they lost ground in popular culture, thank you, Hollywood*). Delay, Gingrich, Bush, Cheney, et al were merely the apotheosis (nadir?) of this virulent political strain. It's as if they took the old confederate mantra "the South will rise again" as a prime directive. 

And rise it did. But instead of a civil war they got elected (or not) and waged a culture war. We've lived with the repercussions since. 

And it has finally, finally played out. Ding, dong. The goddamn witch is dead.


All of which isn't to say we're entering a golden era of butterflies and rainbows and kumbaya. It's merely an opportunity. An opportunity to remake the country according to our highest visions, instead of complaining about the injustices caused by the other guys. Whether the opportunity is squandered or utilized remains to be seen.

Because power will be fought over as it always is. Nasty, evil shit will still happen in the country and the world. New factions and new divisions will form. Liberals will have to hold Obama's feet to the fire, lest countervailing pressures push him backwards. There will be failures alongside the wins.

We don't know what this new era will be called or what it will bring. But the emphasis and overall direction is shifting—has already shifted. And all of the energy and momentum right now is with progressive ideas and proposals. This is our moment. Let's enjoy it.

* Never thought I'd write those words.