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Jan 20

1.20.09

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Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

- Martin Luther King Jr.

We are one people; We are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in America’s story.
- President-Elect Barack Obama

The weekend horoscoop* will return next Thursday at its regularly scheduled time, but in between it being freezing cold right now in Manhattan (um, 14 degrees) and me being giddy with joy at the fact that we’re so close to Inauguration Day, this weekend’s column is completely consumed with the events of Tuesday January 20. And it’s for those of all astrological signs, religions, nationalities, races, sexes, and like that. So here’s 12 ways to get your groove on in regards to our new President.

1. On Monday, Jan. 19, to celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President-Elect Obama asks us to summon a new spirit of service and make an enduring commitment to the neighborhoods we live in. As Americans we have a responsibility to help our communities and fellow citizens. Volunteer for the King Day of Service Monday. Gandhi famously said, You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Find or host an event here.

2. Check the Countdown Clock on Backwards Bush here. This site has a clock that gives you the exact days, hours, minutes and seconds until Obama is sworn in as President on Tuesday. You can also download a free screensaver, and widgets and gadgets up the wazoo in order to mark the last remaining moments before the regime change.

3. Note to self: purchase the special issue of Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man Comic (#583) which was published earlier this week. Obama is on the cover and the storyline is about him meeting up with Spider-Man to fight crime and save the world, one would think. Actually I am not sure what kind of mayhem they get up to after they meet but it sounds like something they should be doing. There’s even a fist bump between the two superheroes. Apparently, Obama is a longtime comic book aficionado and Marvel Comics stated, “This is not so much a pro-Obama statement but a tip of the hat to having a Spider-Man fan in the White House.”

4. If you’re one of the many millions of folks heading to our nation’s capital for the festivities, check out the Opening Ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial that kicks off the entire week Sunday, January 18 at 2:30pm. It’s free, free, free. Musical performers include Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am, Stevie Wonder and more. Historical passages will be read by Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington. More performers will continue to be added and it will be broadcast live on HBO and repeated twice later that night. HBO is unblocking their signal to all cable providers, so you don’t have to be a subscriber to watch this event.

5. The swearing-in ceremony begins at 11:30AM on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday January 20 and it will be telecast live on just about every TV station in the world. If you want to go and you don’t have a ticket, you will be able to go to the National Mall and watch and hear the broadcast on large screens. Get there early is all I can say. The Presidential Inaugural Parade will follow along Pennsylvania Avenue starting at 2:30pm. My guess is no one will be throwing rotten fruit at any of the cars like they did last time. Guide to inaugural events here. YouTube Inauguration Channel here.

6. If you’re not making it to D.C., you can watch Obama take the oath of office amongst a happy throng of people celebrating at any number of places; in New York you can watch at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd at 135th St.) or Trinity Church (89 Broadway at Wall Street) or BAM (30 Lafayette Ave between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn). Check this site out for a list of events near you. Or host one!

7. If you are in D.C. next Tuesday you can swing out sister with the Dresden Dolls (among others) at the 9:30 Club starting at 8pm. If you’re not going to one of those exclusive inaugural balls, this is the place to be for sure. To quote Dolls Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione, let’s start this new chapter of american - and world - history in style and with rock love. Tickets are $50.

8. New Yorkers can say goodbye to Bush at the Boom Boom Beauty Bar between now and next Tuesday. They’re offering 25% off bikini waxing (ranging from $20 to $49). The location is 35 Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets. Call for more info at 212 229 2666. According to the proprietors, Let’s have our own personal party in our pants and rejoice that we still have the right to choose a landing strip, Bermuda triangle or skinny dipper. We hope this will also help welcome the ‘Big O.’

9. Wake Up World comes to DC this weekend! 2 shows only, Friday Jan. 16 and Saturday Jan. 17 at the Arlington Cinema n’ Drafthouse. Wanna see how wacky these folks can be? Check out their Joe Biden Commemorative Plate video. Rachel Maddow said of them: “Best thing I’ve seen in a million years.” Wake Up World is a satirical wrap-up of the week’s news from Daily Show Co-creator Lizz Winstead. A live sketch comedy show that gives us the world as seen by fictional producers and on-air talent at the worst morning news show in America. The results are both a hilarious and scathing view of both newsmakers and the news media that molds them. Tickets here.

10. If you’re in Times Square on Tuesday night, Jan. 20 you can celebrate the end of the last 8 years of soft shoe shuffling and shoe ducking by President #43 at the Goodbye Bush Bash at the Latitude Bar & Grill (783 Eighth Ave between 47th and 48th Streets). Bush-themed drink specials and a quote wall of the most idiotic lines uttered by GWB will be featured. Sometime around 10pm the organizers of this event will lead the party outside for – literally – dancing in the streets. RSVP here. And for the last time I’m quoting #43: If you don’t stand for anything, you don’t stand for anything! (November 2, 2000 at Bellevue Community College)

11. If I hadn’t maxed out all my credit cards I’d be heading right now to the Presidential Inaugural Store right now to buy these fabulous limited edition items. Buttons, stickers, glassware, coins, tote bags, t-shirts, scarves, cufflinks, coloring books, fleece jackets, coasters, onesies, hats, wristbands, key rings, messenger bags, even a wooden train for kids imprinted with Obama Biden / Renewing America’s Promise and the inaugural seal.

12. Look ahead to the next chapter of our lives on Wednesday January 21 at 8pm at the 92nd Street Y in New York City when Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, moderates a discussion on The Year Ahead in politics and culture on the day after the inauguration. She will be joined by HuffPost bloggers Nora Ephron, Erica Jong, Barbara Ehrenreich, Trey Ellis, and Paul Rieckhoff. More info and tickets here. And remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life. (By the way you are a child of the universe and you have a right to be here)

I am bone tired. It’s like I just finished watching a marathon of American Idol five nights a week for over a year, voting furiously with my cellphone, becoming intimately involved with every detail of the show, obsessed almost to the brink of madness. Let’s take this scenario a bit further; Paula as Palin Simon as McCain with a British accent – and, obviously, Randy as…you know who.

Ya know, I just have to say that one of the more miraculous things about this great country of ours is that when you walk into that voting booth, your vote is just as valuable as that of Warren Buffet….Bill O’Reilly….Jon StewartParis Hilton, for godsake. We’re all the same in that booth. One person, one vote. Huzzah!

So now it’s over, the finale of finales aired Tuesday night, and the entire world literally danced in the streets as the 44th President of the United States was decided by such a landslide vote that absolutely no one could dream of contesting it. The Dark Lords could not steal this one; it was by no means close. The old maps are obsolete. The red is the blue. The blue is the purple.

I felt a frisson as Pennsylvania was called. That’s when I knew in my heart of hearts that it was going to happen, but of course I was still trepidatious, just in case. And then they fell like dominoes - Ohio?! Virginia!!  Florida???  Colorado! Wisconsin! Iowa? -

And then 11pm came. And the world stopped. And then began again.

A wise woman said to me the other night, ‘you must allow yourself to relax into the joy.’ For extreme joy is the outcome here, no matter who we voted for on Tuesday, we all got a golden ticket to the Land of Hope & Dreams (“Faith will be rewarded” – Bruce Springsteen). There has been a seismic shift – you can practically feel history sifting through the air like very fine snowflakes.

Yes, I know Obama inherits a complete shitstorm from hell; we’re heading into a recession; our health insurance is bankrupting us; we’re foreclosed and broke and we’re losing our jobs. But for a few days, let’s hold onto the fact that we really did change the world.

Wednesday morning I stumbled outside with my eyes still red from a night of little sleep to go buy the newspapers. I kept waking up and turning on the TV to make sure I hadn’t dreamed it all. Did we really get what we wanted and worked for so hard for so long?

As I walked to my corner deli, I saw a black father walking down the street with his son aged about three years old, and it suddenly hit me like a train; yesterday the world was different. Today that child can become whatever he wants to be. It was like those old-fashioned scenes in movies where a page is shown turning in a book. Like a fairy tale ending where good triumphs over evil. Right now it has the tinge of magical realism but as the days march on, it will be our new reality.

From my beloved godson Paul, studying for his masters in England: For the first time in years, I am proud of my country and proud to call myself a citizen of it. There is no more hiding in the shadows and no more need to hang your head in shame. Every morning from now on is different from every morning before it. Goodbye yesterday, Hello tomorrow. I finally cannot wait for tomorrow and I will hold onto that for a long time.

At Grant Park, our new President said: If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

The son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, Barack Hussein Obama, has been chosen by an overwhelming majority of Americans to represent us to the world. His visage is far more that of the real America than any other we’ve ever had. He wants to unite us, not divide us.

His presidency will no doubt be as carefully planned as his campaign – which even detractors grudgingly admit was incredible. Already there are rumblings of a bipartisan cabinet. We will learn what it is like to have a real leader in the Oval Office for the first time in many years. We’ll learn what it is like to have people from other countries not recoil from us when we say we are American. We won’t have to apologize any more for being a citizen of the United States. No more shame.

Many years ago, a little mixed race boy in Jakarta dreamed of bigger and better things, making it possible for all children everywhere to know on November 6, 2008 and for all time, no matter their background or skin color, that their dreams really can come true.

I don’t know about you, but I can feel a sea change taking place. I feel the whole country waking up and participating in a real democracy for perhaps the first time since this country was founded (and women couldn’t even vote then, much less non-whites).

The stories are pouring in;
- a voter driving all night in Virginia to get to the polls (“My friends told me I was crazy, my parents told me I was crazy…but to have missed this election without my vote would have been crazy. I told them it was my civic duty. I didn’t want to look back in 20 years and regret not voting for Barack Obama.”)
- a Utah voter hears people talking in line as he’s waiting to vote (“terrorists will attack us, your guns will be taken away from you, and a rush of Mexicans will flood in from the south . . . all within moments of Obama winning.”)
- the 97 year old black man in a wheelchair who voted for the first time in his entire life today in Southern Maryland, who asked if anyone had an Obama button outside after he’d voted, and a fellow voter gave him hers (“There were none left at the Democrat’s booth so I gave him mine. He was so proud and I started crying. He looked at me and said, “why are you crying? this is a day for glory.” I am still crying.”)

I ran into a pollworker taking a lunch break around 1pm, who told me that 50% of the registered voters in his assigned polling station had already voted by noon. Voter turnout is at record numbers. People are waiting in lines for hours. Yes, machines are breaking down, names are being questioned, computer glitches are being discovered. Because our country has never before actually acted as a democracy. Yeah, I am not kidding. We’re running around the world starting wars and forcing democracy down people’s throats, but we don’t know the first thing about really enacting a democracy in our own country.

Did you know the United States comes in at 139 out of 172 countries generally in voter turnout? Check out the list. Italy comes in first at 92.5%, followed by the Seychelles, Cambodia, then Iceland.

Did you know what people go through in other countries to vote? Intimidation, threats, waiting in line all night, these are all de rigueur in certain Central American countries.

I feel the world changing, the air trembling around us, the long march of hours and days and months and years finally reaching a resolution. We’ll be able to have a real leader again, someone who can inspire us, someone who can unite us. Not the herky-jerky cartoon character currently residing in the White House who has turned the opinion of the world’s population against the United States, but someone we can deeply respect.

This is a moment we will remember the rest of our lives, the day we changed the world and valiantly attempted to prevent unimaginable disaster both in the natural world and beyond. The next president will have the toughest of roads to hoe, but we’ll be united behind him and we’ll be inspired by him and we’ll be proud to have him represent us to the world. It’s a concept that seems inconceivable, doesn’t it?

World without end amen.

Punk rock innovators the Ramones made a joyful racket, but offstage they were rarely in tune.

Band members were known to feud about everything, from their song list to politics. Guitarist Johnny Ramone was a conservative, while singer Joey Ramone was a liberal.

Johnny and Joey are both dead now, but their feud lives on in the presidential race.

You see, Johnny’s widow Linda, using the Ramone moniker, has been campaigning for Republican John McCain, and Joey’s estate is none too happy about that.

“I just want it to be clear that Linda Cummings does not represent the political views of the Ramones,” said Mickey Leigh, the president of Ramones Productions who is also Joey’s brother.

“As for Joey Ramone, the only Ramones song he would sing at a Republican event would be ‘Glad to See You Go,’” Leigh said in a press release.

It’s not the first time Linda has created dischord among the Ramones. She dated Joey but eventually married Johnny, causing the two band members not speak to each other for years, even as they continued to tour and make records.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

posted by Andy Sullivan at Tales from the Trail

America, our moment is now. Now is our chance to turn the page. Now is our chance to write a new chapter.

I am in this race because I don’t want to see us spend the next year re-fighting the Washington battles of the 1990s. I don’t want to pit Blue America against Red America, I want to lead a United States of America. I don’t want this election to be about the past, because if it’s about the future, we all win. If this election is about whether or not to end this war, or pass universal health care, or make more college affordable, it won’t just be a Democratic victory; it will be an American victory.

That’s the victory this country needs right now. This election and this moment are too important to settle for what we already know. The time has come to reach for what we know is possible.

I am not running for this office to fulfill any long-held plans or because I believe it is somehow owed to me. I never expected to be here, and I always knew the journey would be improbable. I’ve never been on one that wasn’t.

I am running because of what Dr. King called “the fierce urgency of now.” I am running because I do believe there’s such a thing as being too late. And that hour is almost here.

I’m running because I don’t want to wake up one morning four years from now, and turn on one of those cable talk shows, and see that Washington is still stuck in the same food fight it’s been in for over a decade. I don’t want to see that more Americans lost their health care and fell into bankruptcy because we let the insurance industry spend millions to stop us for yet another year. I don’t want to see that.

I don’t want to see that the oceans rose another few inches and the planet has reached the point of no return because we couldn’t find a way to stop ourselves from buying oil from dictators. I don’t want to see that.

I don’t want to see that we risked more American lives in another misguided war because no one had the judgment to ask the tough questions before we sent our troops to fight. I don’t want to see that.

I don’t want to see homeless veterans on the street. I don’t want to send another generation of children through corridors of shame. I don’t want this future for my daughters and I do not accept this future for America. It is time to turn the page.

I run for the presidency for the same reason I drove halfway across the country over two decades ago to bring jobs to the jobless and hope to the hopeless on the streets of Chicago; for the same reason I stood up for justice and equality as a civil rights lawyer; for the same reason I’ve fought for Illinois families for over a decade. Because I will never forget that the only reason I am standing here today is because someone, somewhere stood up when it wasn’t popular, when it was risky; when it was hard. And because that someone stood up, a few more did. And then a few thousand. And then a few million. And together, they changed the world.

That’s why I run in this election. I run to give my children and their children the same chances that someone, somewhere gave me. I run so that a year from today, there is a chance that the world will look at America differently, and that America will look at itself differently. And I run to keep the promise of the United States of America alive for all those who still hunger for opportunity and thirst for equality and long to believe again.

That is the change that’s possible in this election. That is the moment I want to seize as President. And I ask you all to join me in this journey. Thank you.

Senator Barack Obama, November 3, 2007, Spartanburg, S.C.
(partial text of speech. Full text here)

Nov 01

one voice

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One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world.
Your voice can change the world
- Barack Obama

your voice can change the world

Alaska

Well, doggone it, the shee-it has finally hit the fan. Little Miss Trustworthy, AKA The Spitfire from Seward’s Folly, is now the subject of a report by an Alaska legislative panel regarding the dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. Monegan told the panel that he was fired because he refused to dismiss Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, state trooper Mike Wooten, after undue pressure from Mr. Sarah Palin and Palin’s staff.

This news hit the wires last night around 8pm Eastern time and has the potential to be a real gamechanger in the final days before Americans cast their ballots for President of the United States. The bipartisan panel (10 Republicans, 4 Democrats) stated in no uncertain terms that Palin abused her power as governor in the Monegan situation. She was found to be in violation of a state ethics law against officials using a public office for personal gain.

Let me state for the record that the dismissal of Monegan was not the problem; it was that Palin violated a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act by having her husband become a veritable attack dog using her office and her advisors in trying to have Wooten fired. Monegan reported that he was contacted 36 times in this regard over a period of 19 months.

Dear Readers, I thought I was pretty much done with the Palinisms and was ready to move on with my life, but this news just - shall we say - tickled my fancy to the extent that I had to weigh in on it. I mean, here’s the GOP’s VP Candidate telling crowds that Obama is consorting with terrorists and inferring that he is unpatriotic and un-American. And meanwhile she’s got a scandal brewing that sets all that trumped-up malarkey to shame for good and all. You betcha!

Now on the subject of McPain; who among us didn’t wince during last week’s debate as he doddered around the perimeter of the stage like a - forgive me - crazy old man? I mean do you seriously want this guy to be in charge? This guy hired for the most difficult job in the world? And, ouch, what was that weird moment where he lashed out at Tom Brokaw in that snide way he has, “Not you, Tom.”

McShame and his aide-de-camp La Barracuda have knowingly fanned the fires of racism, hate, and violence with their negative campaigning and attack ads. Rather than campaign on the issues - which they can’t do - they sling the mud over and over again and imply that Obama is both a Washington insider elite Harvard type argula-eater and also an outsider, as un-American as it is possible to be. Plus his skin is black. Oh the horror!

At a rally last night, McCain actually was forced in the position of having to defend Obama as someone Americans do not need to be frightened of when a man stood up and said he was afraid for the life of his unborn child if the Illinois Democrat became President. At the same rally, a woman in the audience told him that Obama was an Arab, and McCain actually took the mike away from her and said this was not true, that Senator Obama is a decent, family man with whom he disagrees on many fundamental issues.

This is rich! McFeign and Que Sera, Sarah created this atmosphere and now McCain, at least, is backing off because he suddenly seems to realize that it’s about to blow up in his face. Rile up unhappy broke people at your peril, sir. They’re looking for anyone to blame. And they’ve been shouting heinous epithets like ‘Kill him!’ and ‘He’s a terrorist!‘ at rallies this entire week. Thanks to you and your nefarious McCampaign.

Yes, Senator John Sidney McCain III, we do need a steady hand at the tiller. But yours is most definitely not steady. And Palin’s hand should be nowhere near the tiller. God only knows in which direction she would steer the boat.

++++++++++++++++++++

More Palinizations from Snoop* Du Jour:

Post-Debate Palintological Observations (10.6.08)

In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire, Hurricanes Hardly Happen (10.1.08)

There’s No Place Like Nome…There’s No Place Like Nome (9.28.08)

Welcome to the Palindrome (9.24.08)

Que Sera, Sarah? (9.19.08)

Baked Alaska (Ruminations on McPalin) (9.15.08)

…One of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism. The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America. So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.

~ Barack Obama, August 28 2008, Denver, Colorado ~

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.
~ Senator Barack Obama, June 3, 2008