Thursday, January 29, 2009

No comment required...

As the headline suggests, no comment required, but a relief to have these characters cashiered...courtesy of Jack Ohman in Tuesday's Oregonian.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Daily Show's Bit on Fox


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Images of the Inauguration

From the Boston Globe - some tremendous shots from DC & around the world here.

From the Washington Post, here.

Forgot about Chief Roberts!

Mr. Cavett also had an opinion about the Chief Justice and the mangled recitation of the oath:

"As with all good entertainments, there was unintended comic relief.

Not since Robert Goulet forgot the words to the national anthem has there been a moment to rival the chief justice’s blowing his lines, turning The Oath of Office into an Abbott & Costello “Who’s-on first?” routine.

The giggling schoolboy side of me thought it laughable as hell. What would the funny man do next? Drop the Lincoln bible on his foot?

Yet the increasingly curmudgeonly side of me frowned and found it inexcusable. It isn’t as if some tipsy, third-rate actor did it. It was the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States!

And he was playing to perhaps the largest audience in world history.

Nerves? Stage fright?

How nervous could a man in his position possibly be? As one of the dozen remaining people in the country with job security — and for life — oughtn’t he be at least relatively calm?"

Like I said, a national treasure!

More from Dick(thankfully, Cavett)

The inimitable Dick Cavett was watching the Inaugural along with the rest of the world on Tuesday and wrote down his impressions for today's New York Times. He's such a treat, I thought I should share some of his thoughts with anyone who didn't see the article.

On 43's exit...

I felt bad when George Bush was booed.

But only briefly. My sympathy for that man has a half-life of about four seconds.

There was a surprising number of outpourings of sympathy for his having to sit there and, as it was too-often described, “take it on the chin.” Was there ever a chin more deserving of taking it?

“You have to feel sorry for him,” someone cooed. “No. You do not!” I shouted at the screen. I know he “tried” and he “did what he thought was right.” But so does the incompetent surgeon.

What does that excuse?

His brief discomfort 'sitting there' can’t have been less endurable than the discomfort of the young soldier describing on the news how he watched helplessly as his gut-shot buddy bled to death on the sands the smirking Texan sent him to."

And regarding the departure of that other Dick...

" a hearty sayonara to that other fellow.

Do freshman philosophy classes nowadays debate updated versions of the age-old questions? Like, how could a merciful God allow AIDS, childhood cancers, tsunamis and Dick Cheney?"

That last one is a great question, isn't it?

Dick Cavett is a national treasure--three cheers!

Friday, January 23, 2009


With so much energy focused on the inauguration I haven't blogged on the most recent renewal of Israeli-Palestinian madness. Among the many stories of insanity in this latest round is one that sticks out in my mind. It happened as part of last Friday's attack on Khan Yunis. During the attack, a Land Rover holding Mohammed Shurrab, 60, and two of his sons, Ibrahim and Kassab, was shot at on a Gaza road near their family-owned farm.

Mohammed Shurrab described the scene as a sudden attack, a hail of bullets from a group of Israeli soldiers who had been hiding 30 yards away in a house along the road. The trio made it out of the car, but Kassab was shot and killed almost immediately. Mohammed and Ibrahim were both wounded, but able to hide behind the car, away from Kassab. Each time Mohammed moved toward his dead son, soldiers shot in the air and yelled that they would kill him if he didn't stay still. His other son, shot in the leg, needed medical attention. Mohammed begged for help, even using his cell phone to call anyone he could think of to send an ambulance.

But an ambulance near the scene was held back by the soldiers, who refused to let one reach the family until 11am the next morning. During those 20 hours Mohammed watched his 18 year old son Ibrahim bleed to death. One reason this story has gotten out over so many others is that Mohammed reached his son, Amer Shurrab, who was in the US. Amer and friends frantically called any and all they could think of, from CNN to the Red Cross, trying to get an ambulance for Ibrahim.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's Nice to Be Back in the US

After eight years spent in a country I could barely recognize at times, it is a relief to be back in the promise of greatness that is the United States. To be proud of who we are as a nation once again. To know that the long nightmare of Bush/Cheney is over. We survived and witnessed today an enthusiasm for the future and the nation that has at times seemed lost forever. To be in a nation that can hold its head up high and once again lead by example, not by weaponry. Today a sea of two million people braved the city's frigid temperatures to celebrate this transition. Is there anyone who looked upon that mass of humanity standing side by side on the mall, waving American flags, who was untouched by the drama, the reality of this wonderful moment, this fabulous day?

What a day

He stayd in the car by us, so Dev & I decided to run along the route to follow in case he got out. Fun dodging crowds up 15th. Finally they got out & we jumped up & down waving & screaming at them. He waved at us!! Lost rest of our group. Going home. Cold & tired. But worth it.


LaPo says they are in cars heading down. FINALLY!!! I can't feel my feet.

We Love CVS

Their 13th st. store is open, space to get warm & buy something to eat. Should sell hand warmers. Hard to get back to spot though. Guys holding it for me but so many people!

Parade! Parade!

LaPo says Kennedy collapsd @ lunch? Is that why parade is late?

i know now

i will never be warm again.

ok ready now

where's the parade?


Shoulder to shoulder cops between us & street. Cars go by couple of times, cops & black vans. wonder who the van people are. Nice to have street to yourself guys. Kid somewhere crying. Heard some chanting, now just keeping warm. All focus on keeping warm.

Where they going?

Mall folks going home? Spot here as crowded as can get. Will people from mall go 2 parade? No room for them. Speech looked good, lots of stream lag, missed parts. Could hear cheers on mall. Is getting colder & colder. Parade already!

One of Those Things That Speaks Volumes

The White House site now. It is a wonderful moment and a fabulous day.

Hail to the Chief

It's unbelievably exciting to realize that as that song is playing now, this is the LAST time it will be played for that fool from Texas. What a long, long, long wait it has been. Just 20 more minutes. I'm feeling absolutely giddy!


June is a good month for this thing. Jan is cold! Streemg cnn sluggsh. Found spot @ 13-Penn. Lots people jumpg up &down in place to keep warm. No room 4 more but more coming. 5 deep here & people standg in behnd us now. So wait now. Where is guy with hot peanuts? Need him here. Or Handwarmrs.

They're In!

Updates - Mark just called. Cell phone access is pretty shaky today. His group has made it down to the parade route. Apparently got there in time to just miss the motorcade going by. They're going to try and watch the speech on a laptop stream, but seem to have a fairly decent spot for the parade.

Smithsonian's Natural History (and probably a few others on the mall) are operating as triage centers right now, warming up folks who have been on the mall for hours and are to the point of freezing. News says that the woman at metro had fallen on the tracks (no surprise there given the crowds) and was not hit by a train. Red line is moving again, but if you're at that point, you're not going to be able to get into any space on mall or parade route by now. Not sure if we'll get any photos from Mark at this point.

Updates from local news

Elderly woman was one hit by train at Gallery Place. Stories of a woman who has collapsed & getting medical service (i.e., ambulance called) south side of mall on 7th & Madison. Also of a child who was hurt by a falling barrier. Stories now of people who are just now getting to metro and turning around & going home because it's such a horror show. I think Mark & crew got in just under the radar. Thinking of all those who figured they could get up and leave now for a 2pm parade and now don't have a prayer of getting in. This is one heck of a crowd, and one heck of a mess. Hopefully the crowd can keep its patience and sense of excitement and hope.

And if you haven't left by now - Mall will be full by the time you get there. WaPo is updating their map of best places to get into the parade area (I've been using it to guide Mark). Find it here.

sooo cold

running helped warm us up, crowd is good for warmth. but wind blowing too cold now. phone cutting in/out. not sending pics now

Gallery Place from Traffic Cams

DC Traffic camera on Gallery Place metro entrance. As you can see, the response is massive.

14th Street bridge is now closed to pedestrians according to news.

Mark just called, line to get in on 14th street near G & H is moving pretty well. Not sure how others are going, but this one seems to be a good spot.

Gallery Place Metro Closed!

Someone was hit by a train there. Red Line about to come to almost a full stop - if you're on it, get off and walk.

Still mvg

Big crwd but keeps moving. Runng when we can, but mostly too crowdd to run. Jst crowsd Vermont

7th & Penn NW - from traffic cam

As you can see, Penn ave where the parade will go by is NOT yet crowded at all. I think everyone is stuck at the entrance points.

Doing My Best

Trying to check out traffic cameras & look at news to get Mark & his folks into the parade area. What traffic cams show is that Penn Ave is NOT crowded at all. The crowds are 1) capitol hill; 2) on the mall; and 3) check points to get to parade route. So hopefully once people get past the check points they can get onto the parade route.

14 & G

not 15. Hard to hear LaPo on phone. Direct us well!

getting in

Heading for 15 &H to get in. hear can make it there.

Ok, so we're late

Access up ahead somewhere. LaPo this is the not crowded one?!

From Mark's Metro Trip

Yeah, apparently there were a few people on the train this morning.

This Will be Interesting

Just got a call from Mark. He's with a group of people who are heading to the parade in the crowds. Thanks to the news I've been able to direct him to a metro stop that isn't as wild as some (avoid L'Enfant Plaza - head for Farragut). But they'll have some walking to do. News reporting that the check in points are mostly very crowded, am listening for those that seem not as bad (7th street apparently VERY BAD).

People People Everywhere

Out later than wanted. Had 4 hrs sleep. Am 5 min from red line. will write in as go. told cell svc may be hard today & not to send big pics. Will try anyway.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Note from the hinterlands...

I've been watching all the inaugural coverage I can out here in the sticks, from Mark's pictorial updates to MSNBC to CNN to C-SPAN--i've been pretty ecumenical about this, except that i haven't tuned into fox news, which is no surprise since i NEVER tune in to fox news. Why start now?!

What all of this reminds me of is the Kennedy funeral of l963, which virtually everyone in the country gathered around the tv set to watch. That was the closest thing to national unanimity I have seen--until now. There are huge differences, of course--people are coming together in joy, rather than mourning, and we're not all watching CBS or NBC. There's no gatekeeper to coverage now, so you're free to watch with talking heads, without talking heads, with or without sound, with or without soundtrack, however you'd like. And there's something called the internet, now, if i remember correctly, so you can watch realtime or later. Lots of ways to's pretty decentralized.

But what impresses is the sense that everyone's watching, everyone's enjoying the pageant, everyone's experiencing the dawn of a new day, and in a lot of cases, reveling in the inclusion of people who used to be out there in the cold--read, Gene Robinson, the Washington Gay Men's chorus, legions of African-Americans. They've all finally been acknowledged and invited to the national banquet, so to speak. This inaugural runup has now trumped even the Kennedy funeral for that feeling of national consensus and unity, and that's saying something after 8 years of the Decider and his relentless divide-and-conquer m.o.

Three cheers for President Barack! I have a hard time finding the words to convey on this Inauguration Eve my awe, joy, elation,_____________(insert your preferred emotion here).

Pop Culture Inaugural Fun

In today's New York Times, Roger Cohen offers a new version of Billy Joel's 60's meditation, "We didn't start the fire," updated to reflect the life and times of Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States. Take some of that inaugural time off and check it out here.

Attending the Inaugural

Scroll down and you'll find a few posts here about planning for attending the inaugural, including what you can't bring, DC metro station closings, DC traffic &street webcams (where are the crowds & what's going on), and some parade info.

But here's a reminder & update attending tomorrow. You really have two options. Getting there early is critical for both. If you've got a ticket to the swearing in, you can get in, but might end up sitting behind a tree). If you are at the swearing in, you WILL NOT have an option of getting to a good spot along the parade route. It just isn't going to be physically possible. So it's a choice. Swearing in or parade. Unless you pick option #3 - park yourself on the mall or someplace with a jumbotron and watch both that way.

Why is getting there early important? We learned that yesterday from Mark & others going to the concert. If you got there early enough, you made it through the check point. If you didn't, there were too many people in the area already & check points closed down, and nobody else got in.

Some people have tickets to the parade. If you don't, it just means you don't get to sit in the bleachers. Even if you have a ticket, if you don't get there early, then you may not get in at all. Having a ticket does NOT = getting past security entrances if they've decided the area is full.

This is the Post's parade route & info map. It can be found here at their site, or click for a blow up of the image in the blog. The tiny purple circles are the entrance points. Check to see how crowded that area is on DC's traffic map here if you want before heading down. Nobody knows where or when our new Prez might get out of the car to walk the route, but going by history, odds are best in the 7th to 10th street blocks. Remember that the odds will be good you're going to be standing on the sidewalk behind folks who are at least 3-4" taller than you, no matter how tall you are. So be prepared for lots of peering through shoulders and holding cameras up over your head for shots of the parade.

But for all the craziness, inconvience and chance that you won't even see Obama, you will have been there, been part of it, and nobody can take that away from you. So dress warmly, be patient, be prepared, and have fun. This will be a day to remember.

Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

It has been over 2900 days of life on this earth under the Bush administration. Eight long, hard, depressing years. At noon tomorrow night will turn into day and this wretched national eclipse and horror show will be over. Do you remember this line? A promise "to build a single nation of justice and opportunity." Or the pledge that "America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility?" Both came from Bush's first inaugural speech. Not that we expected the best, but how many expected it to be this bad? I will give Bush this. He has a good record on dealing with AIDS in Africa. And if all he had been was the head of an international aid agency, that would be enough. But the man was the president of the US.

As he leaves office, even a man who lives with his head as deeply rooted in the sand as Bush does can not help but notice that he is hated, has been dismissed as incompetent, and has a base of support that barely exceeds family & employees. Certainly aware of this, how reflective has Bush been about his presidency in the past weeks? There have been disappointments and mistakes, but apparently few or none were actually his (has anyone actually heard him say "I made a mistake? I was wrong?"). I can't help feeling that Bush sees the biggest mistake of his presidency as being unable to convince all of us that he was right. Denial at that level is amazing.

There are many, many things I won't miss about W & his toadies. Here are just a few.
An invasion and war on a country that did NOT attack us
A Veep who makes the Devil look like a good Samaritan
Guantánamo Bay
Definitions of torture that seem to exclude only murder (although given this administration I wouldn't be surprised to read a "tell all" book down the road about how that line was crossed more than once).
Shredding of the US constitution (Habeas Corpus and warrantless wiretapping to just name two)
A man who understands that his mistake during Katrina did not involve where he landed with Air Force 1 and when
Abstinence Only as the answer to teen pregnancy
Rejecting scientific findings that don't support personal ideologies
Daily presidential wrestling matches with the English language

I am looking forward to:
Quality people in positions of power (instead of people who are asked about their support to Bush during a job interview)
Competency - what a concept!
Working with nations of the world to a greater good
Creating policy and operating from a sense of optimism, not anger and hatred

Unfortunately, Bush & his cohorts have been busy doing their best to sabotage our future. From burrowing in (political appointees moving into federal job slots to keep them in place under Obama) to last minute or "midnight" regulations aimed at keeping Bush policies in place after he leaves. Proving again that the concept of "conservative" being anti big government is one of the biggest lies of our time, Bush will have enacted more than 70 pieces of major regulatory changes before he slinks out of office. Among them:
  • allowing concealed weapons in some national parks
  • forbidding medical facilities that get federal money from discriminating against doctors and nurses who refuse, on religious grounds, to assist with abortions
  • relaxing protections for endangered species
  • allowing uranium mining near the Grand Canyon
  • making it easier for coal companies to dump mining debris in nearby streams and valleys
  • allow increased emissions from older power plants while also rolling back existing air quality regulations for national parks and wilderness areas
  • Change how occupational safety agencies calculate job-risk for miners, despite opposition from health and safety groups, which said it would "undermine" health rules
  • make dramatic changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act - weakening accessibility standards and reducing enforcement efforts
  • restrict outpatient hospital services Medicaid would cover
  • expand by 10-percent the number of hours a truck driver can drive without adequate rest
Bush & Co., doing their best to screw over the nation as best they can before they leave - a moment that can't come soon enough.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A couple more shots

Only took me 3x as much time to get home as it did to get down to the mall. If you don't know how to use metro or metro cards, please stand to the outside of the metro until the rest of us have gone through. Other than that, a couple more pics. the boos for bush in helicopter (group decided that's who was in it). Guys with better view than I had, and guarding the streets.

Getting home?

Now everyone leaves at once. Getting home won't be easy. Worth it. Unbelievable feeling in crowd. If I got choked up I would be now. But home, hot shower and lots of coffee.

less biden

more bruuuuce. or mary j or u2 or usher. neck going to be sore tonight from watching jumbotron almost above my head instead of stage.


Obama here!

We debated is he at end or start. Here he is. Anthem about to start. Thanks to jumbotrons.

Thanks Ellen deG, but

thinking of George Clooney isn't going to keep either of us warm. nice try. U2 video played to keep crowd happy. someone said helicopters that flew over were bush, big round of boos from our crowd at that. bush go home, good chant.

fired up ready to go

the chant that won't die. beats 99 bottles of beer on the wall. heard that too. Folks rehersing, here bits of tom hanks, denzel, jamie foxx, where's the boss? only actors now?

Photos from Mark - Sunday

seemed easier than the poor guy trying to upload them from on the mall. So here's what he's sent me so far.

Eagle has landed

Got a spot & not moving ever. Who brings babies to this thing? Stupid. Wisc. guys next to me laugh at the weather but let me lean by them to take pic. They got here hour ago for their spot. Mine not so good. Ice in reflectg pool. Natnl Anthm playing on sound system. testing testing? Now wait and wait.


Metro was ok crowded & tons of folks buying farecards. Suckers. Walked down from Farragut Sq. Upbeat crowd. Looking for a spot by reflct pool. People chanting & singing. Freezing out!!!!! Band playing, testing system? Natl guard & cops everywhere but some streets empty. Freaky.

Sunday Concert

Getting ready to head down to the Lincoln Memorial for the concert. I'm late, should have left an hour ago, so short blog. Will check in when I get down there.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

And the children could, and should, lead them!

A couple days ago, The New York Times published some letters of advice to Barack Obama from a few of his youngest constituents. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Dear President/Mr. Obama,

The best thing about living in the White House would be running around like a maniac. The thing I would like least is the work.

— Holly Wong, age 9, San Francisco

I personally would love running the White House halls and behaving like a maniac...but on a more pragmatic note,

Dear President Obama,

Here is a list of the first 10 things you should do as president:

1. Fly to the White House in a helicopter.
2. Walk in.
3. Wipe feet.
4. Walk to the Oval Office.
5. Sit down in a chair.
6. Put hand-sanitizer on hands.
7. Enjoy moment.
8. Get up.
9. Get in car.
10. Go to the dog pound.

— Chandler Browne, age 12, Chicago

...this kid has his priorities absolutely in order. The First Dog ought to be the first order of business! Wasn't it Truman who said if want a friend in Washington, get a canine?!

Inaugural top ten list

My top ten personal, highly idiosyncratic reasons Barack Obama’s Inauguration is the best thing since sliced bread:

I won’t have to scrunch my shoulders and shrink into my backpack any more when handing over my US passport at border crossings, anticipating hostile stares and/or remarks. I've gotten both on many occasions over the past 8 years.

I won’t have to sit and listen to people shout at me over the Wheatabix at European B and Bs, e.g., “when are you bloody Yanks going to join the rest of the world!”

No one in the household will have to risk tripping or throwing out his back any longer, trying to get to the remote and the “mute” button when the President appears on TV and opens his mouth.

The dogz are together on the couch in a rare moment of camaraderie, waiting eagerly to see the First Dog emerge from among their canine comrades. There is peace in the house today, and there will be at least until Tuesday.

I can bask in the warmth and reflected glory of a fellow citizen and President who is not just respected and admired everywhere, but has become a beloved worldwide cultural icon. You can feel the love…

I can go on being amazed—a great feeling-- that the rest of the country actually chose MY GUY!! They NEVER want the people I want, which always makes me feel like some kind of permanent alien. A real kumbaya moment here.

All the people abroad who do not wish us well, who do nothing but remind us of all our shortcomings—“you people are imperialistbabykillerwarmongeringmoneygrubbingtorturingrogues”-- will have to shut up temporarily. Nothing bigger, more historically significant, has happened here in many a year. I will enjoy the silence coming from the CCC, carping critics’corner.

All the radio talk show Neanderthals are on the verge of apoplexy at the sight of all these people having such a good time at this man’s inauguration. This is a black radical alien Muslim terrorist-lover in their universe, and all this adulation is proof that the country is going straight down the toilet. Maybe they will emigrate to Georgia or India, probably the only two countries who unabashedly loved Their President. We can only hope.

We are going to have two kidz in the White House. Kidz hold the promise of creating all kinds of mischief and chaos. Maybe they will improve on Quentin Roosevelt and bring the pony(or even the dog, if it's a rabble-rousing lab or Water Spaniel) past the elevator and directly into the East Room into the middle of the receiving line at the first State Dinner. I will be cheering them on.

BarackiscoolBarackiscoolBarackiscool. “Nuff said!!

Have a Ball

So you didn't get invited to one of the official balls, and you don't feel like settling for an unofficial one - you can always stand around outside & take your chances on catching a peek at someone more interesting than us.

There are 10 Official Balls: (i.e., the ones Obama will be attending at some point in the evening)

Washington Hilton:
Youth Inaugural Ball -- Young Americans aged 18-35

The Convention Center:
Obama Home States Inaugural Ball -- Illinois and Hawaii
Biden Home States Inaugural Ball -- Delaware and Pennsylvania
Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball -- MD, VA, DC, NY, NJ, and WV
Midwest Inaugural Ball -- KS, IN, IA, MI, MN, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI, and MO
Western Inaugural Ball -- AK, CA, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY, AZ, CO, NV, NM, UT, OK, GUAM/AS
Neighborhood Inaugural Ball
-- D.C. residents

Union Station:
Eastern Inaugural Ball -- CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT, PR, and USVI invited guests

National Guard Armory:
Southern Inaugural Ball -- AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, and TX

National Building Museum:
Commander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball -- Enlisted active duty and reserve military

What They Won't Let You Bring and Where

Oh man, how complicated can this get! Don't say we didn't warn you.

Forbidden Everywhere:
No firearms (real or simulated)
No mace or pepper spray
No fireworks or other explosives
No animals other than service animals
No knives, blades or sharp objects
No pocket or hand tools such as the “Leatherman”
Security screeners have the power to prohibit any items that may pose a threat to the security of the event.

Not Allowed on the Mall:
No tents and no camping out
No glass bottles
No alcohol

Not Allowed on Metro Trains or Buses:
No bicycles for the entire inauguration weekend
No signs or placards more than 18 inches by 18 inches
No signs or placards affixed to a pole
No using metro bathrooms -- they will be closed for security purposes
No parking at Greenbelt, Van Dorn Street or Morgan Boulevard stations
No plastic or checks for Metro parking -- cash only

Not Allowed at Sunday's Concert, Along the Parade Route on Tuesday or the Balls (although why someone would be taking a cooler to a ball is beyond me):
No bicycles
No backpacks, large bags, suitcases or duffel bags. Bags smaller than 8 inches by 6 inches by 4 inches are allowed.
No aerosol cans, which could include silly string
No coolers
No thermal or glass containers
No chairs (except at opening concert) or strollers
Walkers and other devices for those with special needs are permitted.
Signs are allowed, ONLY if they are no more than 3 feet in length, 20 feet wide or a quarter inch thick. They must be made out of poster board, cardboard or cloth.
Cameras ok; tripods and camera bags are not

Not Allowed on Capitol Grounds:
No strollers
No laser pointers
No umbrellas
No posters
No food or beverages, but small snacks are allowed
No thermoses or coolers
No backpacks, large bags, suitcases or duffel bags

Good grief!

Metro Station Updates

Smithsonian and Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter subway stops closed Jan. 20

Mt. Vernon Square station closes at 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 20

Judiciary Square station closes at 4 p.m. on Jan. 20

Federal Triangle, Federal Center SW, Farragut West, Capitol South and McPherson Square stations exit-only from 4 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Other downtown stations will have a designated entrance, while its other outlets will be exit-only

Metro's inaugural info page can be found here.

Some DC Webcams

Keep an eye on what's going on from the comfort of your warm & comfy home.

WaPo Inaugural Web Cam

DC Traffic Cam - take your pick of camera angle and spot

Capitol Cam

What? Nobody's Swimming to the Inaugural?

From the WaPo - an article on some of the interesting ways folks are thinking up to get to the inaugural on Tuesday:
Nathan Nahikian had what he thought was a brilliant plan to get from his Arlington house to downtown Washington to see Barack Obama sworn in as president. . . . He was going to break out the kayak and paddle across the Potomac.

Stephanie Morrisette, a wetlands biologist/professional roller derbyist who is flying in for the inauguration from Northern California, checked out the city maps and secure zone restrictions online and saw nothing about good old-fashioned roller skates. "I'm not worried about getting around people or through people, because I deal with that all the time with the crowd at bouts," she said. Her partner, John Henry Dale, will be riding his skateboard to keep up.
The Coast Guard is shutting down the river, so Nahikian's paddling plan isn't going to work. But I love the creativity.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Only the Best for Our Inaugural Guests

Among the various notices that festively cover poles and trees across the city are official notices (usually along parking areas to let folks know that if they leave their car there during certain hours, it will be towed). To make sure that we offer the best possible city experience for our guests over the next week, bright red/orange signs have been posted on poles in certain areas of downtown that declare the space a "Prostitution Free Zone." According to DC law, "while a Prostitution Free Zone is in effect, it is unlawful for a group of two or more persons to congregate in a public space or property in that area for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or prostitution-related offenses." I'll leave the bigger issue of doesn't such a posting suggest that normal these areas condone prostitution to others and another day.

But what, you might ask, about all those uggy homeless folks who haven't pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made something of themselves, preferring instead to sleep in freezing cold weather and eat in soup kitchens or grab sandwiches handed out of trucks. How can we stop them from spoiling the ambiance of the moment? Well never fear! DC & the Feds have let the homeless people who have made their homes down around the mall or Capitol hill that they're going to have to find someplace else to try not to freeze to death. But hey, after they've been pushed out so the area can be secured, they can come back in on Tuesday morning with anyone else who wants to get into the area to watch the parade. But they can't take much with them, so they get to choose between all of their belongings or going back to where they've been living. But hey, it'll be worth it to make sure that they don't spoil any camera shots or precious moments for visitors. As Traci Hughes, the DC police spokesperson said, "We're not discouraging people from attending." Of course not, I wouldn't be the least big discouraged about attending an event in my building after getting kicked out and then told I can only come back if I don't bring my stuff with me. I would find that comforting and encouraging. So much so that I'd probably go hang out in the Prostitute Free Zones to celebrate.

The city's homeless population is estimated at about 6,000. There are just over 2,000 beds available for homeless in the city Monday night. So that's only about 4,000 folks who will get to celebrate the inaugural by trying extra hard not to die. Good luck on that guys, and thanks for your part in making DC look good for the guests!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inaugural Timetable

Saturday - Obamas arrive at Union Station by train
[?] Obama speaks in Phily, then boards train to Wilmington
[?] – Biden gets on the train – which procedes to Baltimore
[?] – Obama & Biden speak at Baltimore – train proceeds to DC
[?] – Train arrives at Union Station Saturday evening

Sunday 2-3:30 Lincoln Memorial -- concert (see info below)
Sunday evening - a few scattered unofficial inaugural balls (unofficial, i.e., Obama not scheduled to attend)

Monday - MLK Day - Day of public service
Evening - Concert at the Verizon Center (Metro Center metro stop). Free and open to the public but tickets are required.

Tuesday - Inaugural Day - the big Kahuna

8:00 AM Capitol Hill - for swearing in & speech. Gates open for ticketed attendees. Get there at 9 and be square (and left struggling to get in). Here is where getting there early starts.

10:00 AM Capitol Hill - Preliminary festivities begin, including music by The United States Marine Band, The San Francisco Boys Chorus, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus.

Noon Capitol Hill - Swearing in

12:10 or so - The Speech. Followed by:
Poem: Elizabeth Alexander
Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters"

1–2 pm Lunch - US Capitol Bldg., and no, we’re not invited. Menu includes Seafood stew, pheasant and duck, molasses sweet potatoes, sour cherry chutney and apple cinnamon sponge cake.

And it's good that you're not invited to the lunch, because you'll need that time to try and get to the parade route. Although honestly, if you're trying to get to the parade route this late, you won't be seeing much.

2:00 PM (approx)
Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. If you have tickets, you need to be in your seats by 1:00 PM.

Evening - the Balls. If you're invited, you've got your info and have fun. If you're not invited, try hanging out around the DC Convention Center, home to most of the balls, and who knows, you might see someone famous :).

Wednesday - 21
Sleep in

DC's Inaugural webpage can be found here.

Get There Early - Inaugural Parade

The theme for everything Inaugural is going to be GET THERE EARLY.

Sunday's concert. There's a whole lot of interesting folk being lined up for the Sunday concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Scheduled for 2-3:30pm the Sunday before the inauguration. Performers will include singers and actors in a variety of song and spoken word tributes. You'll have a chance to hear from Beyonce, Shakira, Usher, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Herbie Hancock, James Taylor, Heather Headley, Sheryl Crow,, Josh Groban, Renée Fleming, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, U2. Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington and Queen Latifah. Quite the line up, eh?

If you don't want to be the one standing so close to the reflecting pool that one enthusiastic clap from the group will send you into the frigid and rather vile water, get there early.

For the Parade -

From today's WaPo: "Security officials will count the number of spectators arriving for the inaugural parade, and when the crowd reaches capacity, they will turn people away. Officials warned that could happen well before the parade begins between 2:30 and 3 p.m. "Once the sidewalks on the north and south side of Pennsylvania Avenue reach capacity, at that point we will close our checkpoints so no more folks can get onto the parade route," said Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service. He declined to say how many people would have to arrive to reach capacity. But according to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment, capacity is expected to be between 280,000 and 300,000. That number will include only those people standing on the sidewalks; it does not include the 5,000 people who have tickets to sit on bleachers along the parade route.

if you're hoping to get anywhere near the parade area, get there early. Again, from WaPo, "Officials said police at parade checkpoints will count each of the spectators, who might arrive as early as 7 a.m. to snag a good spot. The Metrorail system will open at 4 a.m."

If you actually want to SEE the parade, get there before early. Trust me, when all the tall folks end up at the sidewalk next to the street, that leaves yards and yards of space directly behind them of people who can't see anything except the tall folks' heads. It will be cold, but from what they're saying at this point, 30s cold, not teens cold. That's something.

WaPo is offering text messages to help alert folks to best ways to get around. To receive text messages, text "INAUG" to WPOST (97678). You'll get up to 30 messages on inauguration day. Twitter users can get live transportation and traffic alerts here.

A couple more metro station closings for inaugural day have popped up. In addition to the Smithsonian (orange/blue line) they are:

Mount Vernon Square (yellow/green line) - closed 7:30am 1/20 - 5am 1/21.
Judiciary Square (red line) - closed 4pm 1/20 - 5am 1/21
Archives-Navy Memorial (yellow/green line) - closed all day 1/20 (it's right on the parade route).

If you're taking Metro anywhere during Inaugural days, especially for big events like concerts, balls or the parade, be prepared to line up outside the stop for a while without getting in. Only so many people can fit inside the station at one time, so they will stop folks from going in until that thins out.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Great to be part of the team

I don't suppose I'll be doing much around here except some inaugural posts during the weekend & early next week. I'll let you know what's going on where I am, if it's at all interesting. And what I'm seeing. It may be the next best thing to being there. Or it may be just a big yawn. No promises.

Introducing Mark

You may have noticed Mark's comments here from time to time. I have invited him on as a special Inaugural correspondent. A devoted Obama supporter, Mark will be doing his best to make as many different events as he can, having not been invited to any of the official balls, and will be keeping us up to date on what he sees and hears.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Surviving the Inaugural

For those who are going to give it a shot - here's some help in surviving the inaugural. There is a nice pdf map showing the routes & entry points here. Among the bits shown on the map are "vendor locations" - the whole vendor thing has got local folks in an uproar. Instead of letting the guys and gals who hold down these spots day after day rain or heat the rest of the year, spots were put up for lottery, allowing folks from out of town just here to make a quick buck to compete with locals for those spots. Ah well, DC locals usually don't come out that well when the city is turned into a national spotlight.

Schedule as of today - January 20th
  • 4 a.m. -- Metro opens (at rush-hour service and fare levels).
  • 5 a.m. -- Monday extended alcohol service for bars and nightclubs ends; they can remain open 24 hours through Jan. 21.
  • 8 a.m. -- Security gates open for ticketed guests
  • 9 a.m. -- Ceremony gates open.
  • 10 a.m. -- Musical prelude.
  • Noon -- Ceremony ends, followed by the inaugural address, luncheon, departure of President Bush (CHEERS!!!!) and parade.
  • 7 p.m. -- Rush-hour Metro service levels end.
  • 2 a.m. -- Metro closes.
  • 5 a.m. -- Tuesday extended alcohol service for bars and nightclubs ends.
Smithsonian and Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter metros will be closed all day on the 20th. The rest of the system is going to be full, full, full. Metro opens at 4 a.m. on Jan. 20, operating at rush hour service levels (and corresponding fares) until 7 p.m. It will close at 2 a.m. on Jan. 21. Metro has a spot to sign up for transportation alerts during the inauguration here.

Street and bridge closings:

Main Roads and Bridges on Jan. 20, 4 a.m.-7 p.m.
-- 14th Street Bridge restricted to Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only.
-- Roosevelt Bridge restricted to Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only.
-- Memorial Bridge restricted to Pedestrians and Emergency Vehicles Only.
-- Key Bridge restricted to Mass Transit Only.
-- Chain Bridge restricted to Authorized Vehicles and Mass Transit Only, no charter buses.
-- South Capitol Street Bridge restricted to Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only.
-- Southeast/Southwest Freeway restricted to Emergency Vehicles Only.
-- Rock Creek Parkway open to traffic from Beach Drive to Virginia Avenue NW. (Holiday traffic schedule in effect throughout the park.)
-- Clara Barton Parkway will have two-way traffic all day.
-- 11th Street Bridges restricted to Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only.
-- Sousa Bridge open to all traffic from east of the river to a security checkpoint in Capitol Hill.
-- Barney Circle closed to all vehicles.
-- East Capitol Street open to all traffic, but roadways around RFK will be filled
with tour buses.
-- Benning Road open to all traffic.
-- New York Avenue open to all traffic.
-- 3rd Street Tunnel closed to all vehicular traffic and restricted to pedestrian use

Virginia's representatives are bitching and moaning about the bridge closings. I'll try and feel sorry for them later.

Street closings - oh let's face it, there are going to be so many of them, there's not enough room to start listing them here. Basically anything south of K street; and anything between Foggy Bottom and a few streets east of the Capitol are going to be closed or hard to get to.

If you're going to the swearing in at the Capitol, or just about any other event, in fact if you're just going to be wandering around - be prepared for stops / search / confiscation if you're carrying laser pointers, coolers, backpacks or bags, glass containers or camera bags (cameras ok, camera bags, not so much). Adding to the fun is that different things are prohibited in different areas. What might be ok along the route isn't ok on Capitol grounds and so on.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association plans to provide free bike valet parking sites north and south of the mall on Inauguration Day. Two locations are known for sure at this point -16th St NW just south of K street, and one in the south side parking lot of the Jefferson Memorial. The bike valet service is going to be operating from 7am-5pm. Check back here for updates.

Oh yeah, and have fun :). It will be a glorious day.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The latest sign of America's decline

Word has just reached me that John McCain's icon of ordinary Americanness, Joe the Plumber, has gotten a gig reporting on the Middle East conflict for some right-wing website. The idea is to provide reportage and commentary on the Gaza conflict from an "average Joe."

I wonder by what stretch of the imagination any media outlet in America requires the "commentary" of someone who knows no middle eastern languages, has taken no courses in Middle East history and probably can't even locate the countries in question on a map? Try as I might, I just can't understand this new addition to our internet information empire--it must be more evidence that the less you know, the more desirable you are(see: the Sarah Palin phenomenon).

What is happening to this country?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Feeling Better Already

Mrs. Obama and the kids got here a little early, the President Elect showed up this evening. The family, staying at Hay Adams, a wonderful old world hotel on the other side of Lafayette Park from the White House. I can't quite explain it, but the city feels . . . well better . . . tonight.

By their heroes ye shall know them...

I know that Israel has invaded Gaza, that Pakistan is moving troops towards the border with India and that there has been a spate of suicide bombings in Iraq(what else is new?). All that will be waiting for President Obama in the oval office even before the Inaugural euphoria has worn off on January 20. But let's not forget l/6th of the world's surface...the Black Hole, the Twilight Zone, RUSSIA(!). They aren't going to be any less of a challenge, if you take into account their recent ranking of top Russian historical figures. You can read quite a lot into these choices...

3. J.V. Stalin. He needs no introduction--he's the man who said you have to break eggs to make an omelet, and then broke tens of millions. Some people said all they could see at the end were broken shells, but nevermind. He built the Soviet Union we all knew, the superpower, with coercion and terror. A real colossus of violence.

2. Petr Stolypin. This one is probably going to go by you if you aren't on a first-name basis with Russian history. He was an adviser to Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, and worked hard to establish a regime that was rich and prosperous while brooking no dissent and inflicting severe punishments on critics and revolutionaries. A kind of proto-Pinochet, or perhaps Putin, if you will. He ordered the deaths of so many accused revolutionaries that the nooses became known as "Stolypin neckties."

1. Prince Alexander Nevskii. This was the man who took on the NATO expanders of his day, the Teutonic Knights, on Lake Chud near Novgorod in l240. Then as now, what passed for a Russian army was ragtag and easily counted out, but they rallied under flinty-eyed Prince Alexander and routed the enemy. In the Eisenstein film of the same name, the Teutonic Knights were inhuman violence machines who wore buckets with evil-looking grilles on their faces and burned babies. Alex Nevskii was kind of a cross between John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

If you accept that a nation's choice of heroes or top leaders is an accurate reading of its mood, then you could say this incarnation of Russia believes strongly that the end justifies the means, that it can enjoy economic prosperity while severely curtailing personal freedoms and that it will push back aggressively against the west whenever and however it feels threatened. A far cry from the halcyon days of US-Soviet friendship under Gorbachev and Yeltsin and absolutely a test for President Obama, who believes he can get beyond established patterns between peoples and nations...we'll see if he can work some magic with this belligerent, categorical Russia.

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