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The Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama – A Political Odyssey January 21, 2009

Posted by Robert in inauguration, Music, Not Political, Politics, Travel.
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We woke well before dawn, determined to be on one of the first metro trains out of Silver Spring station.   Our plan was to get to the National Mall before 5am so that we could have great placement for the swearing in ceremony of our 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama.   We were on a mission, one we were determined to complete no matter what stood in our way.  And between the trains, people, gates, police, automobiles and the bitter cold,  it was clear very early in the day that this wasn’t going to be a walk in a national park.

Democracy gets up early.

Good Bloggers Never Sleep

The snags started almost as soon as our train pulled out of the station.   Our operator came over the PA system and pleaded with us to make sure that we didn’t block any of the doors on the DC Metro as the doors do not operate like elevator doors.  That is, they do not re-open completely if something gets in their way while closing.  They just open back up a tiny bit and then close again.  If someone repeatedly stops them from closing, the train has to be completely shut down and all passengers have to be off loaded and get on the next train.  Our operator informed us that the train directly before ours had to be off loaded because there were to many people holding the doors.   After a few minutes stopped on the tracks, he came back on and said that another train in front of us had to be off loaded as well, and we were going to be receiving all the passengers from both these trains.

Strap-hangers... or pole-grabbers as it were.

You can probably guess what happened next.   When we arrived at our next stop, not one person got off.  Instead about 3 times as many people as were already on the train attempted to board.  We were quickly filled to capacity but more still attempted to enter and proceeded to, you guessed it, block the doors.   This was the first time I realized that these strangers around us might actually be capable of getting a bit violent.  When the people who were blocking the doors refused to get off and wait till the next train, a few people shouted at them angrily.  One man said “If this train get shut down, i’m gonna knock you the (expletive deleted) out!”

Gladly, the doors did eventually close and the train began moving.  We arrived in DC a few minutes later, greeted by the most crowded station i’ve ever seen at 5 in the morning.    We made it through the throngs of people and up to the surface, greeted by the beautiful site of the Capital Building.

The Capital Before Dawn

It never even seemed like we made a conscious decisions as to which side of the capital to walk.  We just went to the right.  I now realize that the day could have turned out completely differently if we had chosen the other path.   In choosing the north side of The Mall as our entrance, we were told by several different police officers that they wouldn’t be opening the   gates into the mall until 7am.  We fount a large crowd of people waiting to walk through the tunnel onto the National Mall at 3rd and Indiana.

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So there we waited, convinced that we were in the perfect spot to get on the mall in a good spot.  Boy were we mistaken.  After 7am rolled around and nothing happened, people started getting antsy.   We should have been suspicious when we couldn’t get onto The Mall  as soon as we arrived.  Everything we read from the official inauguration webpages said that the mall was open at 4am.

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We stayed at that entrance until about 7:45, when we were told that they were going to begin letting people in 50 at a time.  By then there had to have been a crowd of at least 10,000 people and that might be a gross under-estimate.  After doing the math and getting almost trampled by people trying to leave the giant group of people, we decided to adjust our strategy and make our way to the south side of the National Mall.

It was a long walk around The Capital made longer by the fact that so many streets were closed to pedestrian traffic.   Then began the pattern of being told by the police that the entrance was only a few blocks away.  First it was 4th and Independence,  then 7th, then 10th, then 12th.  When we got to 14th and Independence things got very tight.  It’s a very unnerving feeling to  be on a public street that would under normal circumstances be completely open and airy and have that street become so crowded with humanity that you can only move by shuffling your feet.  Couple that with the collective desire of the entire crowd being only to get to a place where they can truly feel like they would bear witness to this historic event.    People were getting frustrated because the lack of information coming from those in uniform was surprising.  They began hoping over the barriers to the National Mall.  Some guards tried to stop them, but when there are thousands of people trying to get somewhere, there’s little you can do without coming off as overbearing. It was clear that Washington DC wanted to present an atmosphere of tight security that didn’t cross-over into something resembling marital law.

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The streets became so engorged with humanity that for a second I wondered if all this trouble was worth it if we were never even going to make it into The Mall.  That’s when the crowds finally opened up and we were for the first time all day, able to see people actually being able to enter The Mall freely.  People were literally running out of the crowded streets toward the Washington Monument.  It was a moving and surreal sight.

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No, you're not.

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We entered the mall over 5 hours after we had set foot in DC and immediately walked to the base of the Washington Monument.  We hung around there for a bit taking photos and marveling at the sheer number of people gathered.  It became clear that we weren’t going to get a great view of any of the large screens that had been set up, so we decided to move a little further towards the front of the World War 2 Memorial.  There we stayed for the length of the inauguration ceremony.

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There was plenty of love from our neighbor to the north.Many moments of the swearing in were particularly moving or memorable for me.

Any time that Barack, Michelle or either of their girls were shown on screen, the crowd would go wild.

When President Bush was mentioned or shown on the screens, the crowd would break into choruses of “Nah Nah Nah Nah. Nah Nah Nah Nah. Hey Hey Hey. Goodbye!” or “Hit The Road Jack.” Perhaps a tad juvenile yes, but still an incredible thing to witness.

Rick Warren’s invocation was heartfelt and moving in my opinion.  I was very curious to how the crowd would receive him as the decision to have him deliver the blessing was not met with overwhelming approval especially from the homosexual community.   But the crowd seemed cordial if not genuinely appreciative of his blessing.

But the main event did not disappoint.   President Obama’s oath of office was short, sweet and very moving.  Even if the secretary choose not to read the oath but recite if from memory.  The president paused several times because the secretary was incorrectly reciting the oath for him to repeat.  But it felt like a touch of imperfect humanity, something that has permeated throughout this campaign, thankfully.  It’s nice to know that  for a town that likes to take itself so seriously, events can still show their beautiful imperfections.

Obama’s speech came in at about 18 minutes.  It was very well received with the crowd, especially the parts about not sacrificing civil liberties for temporary safety or our standing as a world leader for   I’m paraphrasing of course, but it was all in there and it was nice to hear the words coming out the mouth of the president for once and not just those whom some would label as defeatist or apologist.   It really seemed like our leader’s ideals were in line with our own. At least it did for myself and those around me in The National Mall today.

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

Yes, we can. Yes, we have. Yes, we will. November 5, 2008

Posted by Robert in Election 08, Not Political, Politics, Social Commentary.
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3 comments

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Congratulations to Barack Obama, the 44th President of The United State of America.   I had the privilege of watching the results from Rockefeller Plaza in Mid-town Manhattan.   It was absolutely packed to the gills with humanity.  Yes, it was overwhelmingly a Democratic and Pro-Obama crowd, but if you were there it seemed like more than that.  The word catharsis comes to mind.

Congratulations to John McCain, who ran a strong race and gave a moving and unifying concession speech.  He gave me hope that the John McCain that I grew to love and admire 4 years ago is still in there somewhere and will hopefully reemerge as a stalwart of the senate that all Americans can look to for a cool head and an honest opinion.   His party did not let him be himself during this election, but now that it’s over, I hope he goes back to answering only to himself.   That’s the McCain I loved.

Tonight, my wish was granted.  Now lets see if we, the American People, can stand up and answer my prayer.

In closing…

Top 5 songs for when Obama Wins (and 5 for if he doesn’t) November 4, 2008

Posted by Robert in Election 08, Humor, Politics, Social Commentary.
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highfidelity460

So depending on when you’re reading this,  Barack Obama may have been elected as the next president of The United States of America.   Or, John McCain may have defied all the odds and pulled this out.

If Obama has pulled this out and secured the presidency, then I give you my top 5 songs to celebrate an Obama victory.

1.  The Times They Are A Changin’ – Bob Dylan

This song is just as relevant as it was decades ago when Dylan wrote it.  Sadly the times didn’t exactly a’change as quickly as the song promised.  But, now that our country has elected the first African American president, hopeful some real change is headed our way.

2.  Growing On Me – The Darkness

This gem from the short lived neo-arena rockers The Darkness is a perfect song for those that didn’t vote for Barack, but soon realize that he’s everything they’ve ever wanted in a president.   Don’t be afraid McCain voters, he won’t bite.

3.  Black President – Nas

Um… Really? Do you need an explanation for this one?

4.  Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake

This one is for all of the Haters you will no doubt hear that say an Obama presidency will be the end of this country as we know it.  Only the chorus is relevant, so I recommend you put that part on loop, crank up your system and drive around anyone’s house that still has their McCain/Palin sign in their front yard.

5. A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

People get ready.  Yes We Can has become Yes We Did.  Love it or hate it, change is on it’s way.

That is, unless…

John McCain has won.   If he has, you will need these 5 songs to get you through the next administration.

5.  B.Y.O.B. – System of a Down

“Why don’t president’s fight the war? Why do we always send the poor?”  Good questions that deserve answers.

4.  Take the Power Back – Rage Against The Machine

These next 4 years might seem like a long time, but you can make sure your voice is heard long before the 2012 elections.  If you disagree with policy, let your voice be heard.  Demonstrate, protest and make sure those in power know that they work at your pleasure, not the other way around.

3.  Push – Pharoahe Monch

“Sometime you might fall down, but you get back up.”  “If you represent the struggle than PUSH”

2.  Fight The Power – Public Enemy

“Our Freedom of Speech, is Freedoem, or Death”

1.  List of Demands – Saul Williams

“I ain’t afraid of you.  I’m just a victim of your fear”   Don’t let them scare you into submission.  Fear is the first weapon used to get people to fall in line en-masse.  Fear is what got this country behind a false war.  Don’t let it happen again.


Well there you have it.  Good music to play no matter how things turn out today.

On The Eve of The Election: An American Prayer November 4, 2008

Posted by Robert in Election 08, Not Political, Politics, Social Commentary.
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3 comments

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Good Day America.   I write this post not as an amateur political pundit or an avid supporter of Senator Obama’s Candidacy or a wack-job, bed-wetting liberal.  Although I know that depending on who is reading this, you will inevitably group me into one of these 3 categories.

I write this as an American, in prayer.   Not a hypothetical “prayer” either.  An actual prayer that I will be praying tonight to the being that I call God.   The Catholic God of my childhood if you want details.   The same God that I’ve prayed to thousands of times before, be it the night before a spelling test in 3rd grade or for the recovery of an ailing loved-one or for a friend that I knew was going to be in harms way for a while.

I won’t be praying for the victory of a particular candidate,  God knows who I’d prefer to see win the Presidency and he knows that I feel very passionate about it (if you’re offended by my referring to the Judeo-Christian God as “He” my apologies.  Feel free to replace it with whatever 3rd person pronoun you prefer).  My prayer tonight will be for my country.  A country that I know will be in desperate need of some long overdue healing come Wednesday morning (at the very earliest).  My prayer will be very simple and very short.

Despite what you think about  the way this country has been handled in the days, months and years since George W. Bush was elected by electoral vote,  you would be hard pressed to point to a president that will leave office with a more divided country.    People are angry.  They are angry because they see a country that deem it unnecessary to provide equal and adequate health-care to all citizens.  They are angry because they see a country that allows women to terminate their pregnancies for reasons legally.   They are angry because to them, large sections of the country do not seem to have enough pride in our nation’s military.  They are angry because they see a country that is capable of rigging elections.

Whether or not any of these concerns are well-founded is up for debate.  What is not, is how bad this country needs to heal.   I don’t care if you live in Birmingham, Alabama or The Upper West Side of Manhattan Island,  you’ve undoubtedly overheard people talking about this election and what they plan on doing if the person they don’t want to win, wins.  You’ll hear everything from “I’m moving to Mexico” to “Well the Republicans/Democrats are already cheating so it doesn’t matter.”

I’ll be honest,  I am worried about what will happen to this country if Barack Obama loses.   I am in stark disagreement with Senator McCain on most issues and I haven’t exactly been vague in my criticism of his choice for his running-mate. To be brutally honest, she scares the ever-living hell out of me.   But what worries me more is the prospect that no matter which candidate wins, this country is going to continue to hate half (give or take) of itself.

Therefore, tonight I invite you whomever you are to join me.   Before you fall asleep tonight I hope that you will take a moment and say a prayer or wish upon a star or talk to yourself.   Just give a thought for this country and remember that even if the side you want to win doesn’t, that doesn’t mean this country is incapable of bettering itself.

In case you’re wondering, my prayer is only one word long.

Unity.

What do Jeremiah Wright and Voldemort Have In Common? October 30, 2008

Posted by Robert in Election 08, Humor, Politics.
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1 comment so far

Apparantly both cannot be named.  Watch this guy squirm.

Grow a pair, McCain surrogate.

Can you imagine being married to this? October 23, 2008

Posted by Robert in Election 08, Politics, Social Commentary.
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2 comments

My. Sweet. Lord.

How do these people think for a second that this kind of hatred and bigotry can hold up to biblical scrutiny.   If nothing else, Christianity is supposed to represent forgiveness and charity, not this neo-christian brand of hatred and fear mongering.

This woman represents everything that is wrong with this country.  She needs to be reminded that there are Muslim-American citizens who are fighting and dying for this country.   Her close minded/open mouthed attitude is scary, but useless as a weapon against the sweeping referendum that is coming to our country.  

Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan.

This photo is part of a photo essay by photographer, Platon. Orignally printed in The New Yorker.  Source.

During his endorsement of Barack Obama for President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell mentioned how foolish it is that some American’s think that Obama is a Muslim and how foolish it would be to fault him even if he was (which again, he is not).   Soldiers like Kareem R. Khan gave their lives to protect this country.  Anytime these philistines claim that there is something wrong with being Muslim, they’re not only making themselves looks stupid, they’re besmirching the entire Armed Forces, this country and it’s Constitution.

Shame on you Ugly Woman on Youtube who’s name I can’t locate.

Shame.

McCain Campaign Muzzles Muslim McCain Supporter October 21, 2008

Posted by Robert in Election 08, Humor, Politics.
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Meet Daniel Zubairi, a grassroots organizer for the McCain/Palin Campaign.   Above you’ll see Daniel bravely speak out against the hatred being spewed by one of a bunch of bad apples that have been making the McCain rallies sound a lot like some other rallies that you can find in old news reels. 

Daniel confronts 2 people that are handing out stickers and spewing lies about Barack Obama being connected to radical Islam and Communism.  As an Muslim and a McCain campaign organizer, Daniel really sticks it to them and says in no uncertain terms that they do not represent the views of the campaign and the campaign does not condone their actions.

Wonderful!  This is just the kind of straight-talk that I would expect from the McCain campaign.  The only problem is, the campaign is not allowing Daniel to speak to the press. 

Wow.  Just when they get a chance to allow an official representative of the campaign to speak out against hatred, fear and lies as a campaign tactic, they muzzle him.

I thought McCain said he was proud of the people at his rallies? I agree that it’s foolish to judge a candidate based on the lowest of his supporters.  I’m sure that Obama has radical Islamic supporters just like McCain has White Supremacist supporters.  But I’m positive that if the press wanted to interview an official member of the Obama campaign that confronted a group of radical Islamics at an Obama rally, they would be allowed.   Why is the McCain campaign extending it’s theme of press black-outs?  It hasn’t worked with Sarah Palin, and it’s certainly not going to work with a like-able character like Daniel.

Let Daniel Speak!

Debate #3 – A good day to be a plumber. October 16, 2008

Posted by Robert in Election 08, Humor, Politics, Television.
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3 comments
Joe the Plumber

Joe the Plumber

Well, the third and last Presidential Debate has come and gone.   Only 20 short days till Americans across the country will file into tiny closets with curtains and little switches and decide the fate of the free world.   We’re in the most trying economic time in our country since men with curly mustaches were jumping out of windows in the thirties.   We continue to lose lives of our finest and bravest citizens in deserts half a world away.   Osama Bin Laden is still breathing.  We can’t seem to figure out how to provide fair and comprehensive healthcare to all our citizens.

But what subject seemed to be on the minds of the 2 candidates more than any other during the debates tonight?

This guy.

The bald guy on the left, not the handsome black guy on the left.

Joe is the bald guy on the right, not the handsome black guy on the left.

That’s right.  Joe is f’ng famous for asking Barack Obama about his tax policy about a week ago.   He is now a household name.  Well, a household first name and then a profession.  But you really have to give it to Barack.  Maybe Joe is not voting for him still, but Barack took 5 minutes and answered his question in a clear, concise manner that did not pander to him or insult his intelligence.

Here is a short impression of Joe when he first heard his name mentioned tonight.

Joe was mentioned by John McCain no less than 24 times and by Barack Obama 4 times.   I really hope that’s enough.  Because I really can’t make a decision about a candidates position until the 34th or 35th time they run something into the ground.

If you want to score this debate, I’d call it a clean sweep by Obama.  Sure McCain got in a really good line about Barack tying him to Bush.  Even I gave him style points when he said “If you wanted to run against Bush you should have ran 4 years ago”.  But still, Obama remained his calm, cool and collected self.  McCain still looked creepy when he smiled or laughed.  And frankly Obama won the I look and act presidential contest.

Again, both candidates performances I’m sure really sat well with their bases.  But the independents are simply not going to go for a guy they don’t want to look at for the next 4-8 years.  It’s sad, but true.  No matter what their stance on the issues, Barack looks like a president and John looks like that uncle you avoid at parties.

John McCain is old and blah blah blah… and HOLY CRAP THE PHILLIES ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!! October 16, 2008

Posted by Robert in Not Political.
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It will be a cold day in hell before I acknowledge the new logo.

It will be a cold day in hell before I acknowledge the new logo.

For the first time in 15 years the Phildadelphia Phillies are going to the World Series.  Those who know me, know that I gave my heart to the Yankees sometime in college after meeting a large man with a big forhead.  But I’ve never stopped loving the Phils and I am absolutely beside myself with happiness that they’re going to the Fall Classic.

My only worry is that Mitch Williams will find a way to ruin this again.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again.  God-damn Mitch Williams.

The Exact Moment That Decided This Election October 8, 2008

Posted by Robert in Election 08, Humor, Politics, Television.
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2 comments
Both candidates have these same expressions right now.

Both candidates have these same expressions right now.

There have been many gaffes during this campaign.  Both Republicans and Democrats have put their feet in their collective mouths  more times than one blog can cover.

But McCain managed, in 3 short seconds, to (at least in my humble estimation) loose his last remaining chance at winning this election and the last remaining shred of respect that I had for him.

Here’s what he did.

Oh. My. Rude. Senator.

I really can’t think of a time where I’ve had such an appalled reaction while watching television.  Well, maybe season 2 of HEROES.   But my wife, myself and I’m sure a great many American’s all shared a collective “WTF” moment when the Arizona senator referred to his opponent as “That One”.

I mean good Lord.  Barack Obama has a title, sir.  It is “Senator”.  Just like yours is.  You could have probably gotten away with “my opponent”, “Barack” or even “Barack-man Turner Overdrive”.  But “That One”?  Hell ta’ tha’ no.

I will now offer at no charge a retort for Senator Obama to use during the 3rd and final debate.

Who was it that voted with the Bush Administration over 90% of the time? Who was having cake with Bush while people drowned en masse in the wake of Katrina?  Who can’t smile without it looking really, really creepy?  You may not be able to guess, but it’s “Gramps” over there.

Use it in good health, Senator Obama and feel free to thank me later after your inauguration.