Tuesday, January 20, 2009


At the inauguration today, the crowd around us was at least half if not more, African-American. It was interesting and fun that loud cheers would go up for black politicians, entertainers, etc. But..............when they showed a close up of Clarence Thomas coming in with the Court. Silence.

A Chilly Inauguration

(Author's note: if you click on any of the above photo's, they get bigger...)

Obama's speeck was great. Moved me to tears. I loved the poet who spoke after Obama's speech. Loved the benediction. The minister who gave the prayer had the the expression: "beating our tanks into tractors", instead of the oft used "beating swords into plowshares". The "controversial" minister from the megachurch gave an invocation that was more or less ok, in my humble opionion. Very patriarchal and Christian, most of which seemed to be the Lord's Prayer. I don't have anything particulary bad about the Lord's Prayer, but it's been around for a while......So didn't find that particularly moving or controversial. Just boring.

Julia and I had been standing in roughly the same spot for several hourswatching a replay of the Sunday concert from the Lincolm Memorial on the JUMBOTRON, which was fun. We had to rely on the big screen to watch the concert (and the Inauguration) because the Capitol was much too far in the distance.

So, detractors might say that we should have watched the "show" from Julia's comfy living room. But being in the crowd, about 50% African-American, was incredible. The excitement was goose bumpy. Of course, it was cold, too! But the goose bumps were not from the cold. Before Obama was sworn in, there was a seemingly endless procession into the area where all the important people sit, up by the podium behind bullet proof glass. The crowd would cheer for this celebrity or politician as they entered the area. Ophrah got a big cheer. The Clintons got big cheers. "W" got heavily booed. Joe Lieberman also got booed by the crowd. Chency, in a wheel chair, also received as many boos as Bush. I booed Nancy Pelosi. Perhaps booing is inappropriate, especially for a Quaker like myself, but the crowd was full of emotions and some of the booing (and cheering) had to do, certainly, with their feelings about the "leaders" of the past 8 years.

Barack's speech was excellent. He challenged Americans of all colors,creeds, etc to work together to bring out their best. To let the world know that we want to be friends again. Or words to that effect. Much of it I'd heard before on the campaign trail, but this felt different in THIS moment. His voice broke several times.

Concerns: I was happy that he plans to "hand over Iraq to the Iraqi's" but focus on "winning" the war in Afghanistan. The latter ahs always been hard for me to hear coming from him. Like I expected better. But of the many things I don't control, this is one of them. I wondered how Muslims felt hearing this. And I wondered, again, why he said nothing of the invasion of Gaza by Israel. Sigh.

But his speech WAS riveting. During the speech, the crowd of one million plus was silent, with occasional cheering at various points, of course; at the beginning and end as well. I could hear AND feel the crowd's silence and as I glanced around me, it was clear that the silence came not from disappointment of any kind, but from listening INTENTLY to what Obama was saying. So intently that I could hear his voice echoing off the buildings lining the mall. Like this was/is a dream that has come true. At last.

It is moving to me that so many people are PAYING ATTENTION. And they may not and certainly will not agree with everything Obama proposes. But they are paying attention and there's a palpable readiness, now that Bush is gone, to really DO SOME GOOD in our country and the world. I think Obama "gets" this readiness. I am not so sure that the Democratic leadership in Congress get it, but so it goes. Overall, I was thrilled. Cold, but thrilled. I won't forget this day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

DeSnubbed: Robinson Prayer Will Air Tomorrow

from the Atlantic Online
19 Jan 2009 05:33 pm

It's our bad.

Barack Obama's inaugural committee is taking for the blame for a scheduling miscue that left gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer out of HBO's live broadcast of yesterday's inaugural megaconcert.

Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican church bishop, called Obama's selection of conservative Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation a "slap in the face."

So observers noticed immediately when Robinson's prayer wasn't broadcast by HBO.

Conspiracy theories abound.

An inaugural committee aide calls it a "simple mistake."

"We'd always intended him to be in the televised portion of the program -- but there was an obvious miscommunication between the planners and executers on this one." HBO went live at 2:30 pm ET; Robinson invoked at around 2:25.

Live TV being what it is, it's not a mistake that is easily or quickly fixed.

Tomorrow, before an audience of 2 million people on the Mall, the inaugural committee will broadcast an edited version of the program on Jumboscreens that includes his prayer.

It was, the aide says, "[a]n honest, unfortunate mistake in executing the program that for which we take responsibility."

The team has apologized to Robinson.

Note: The text of the Bishop's prayer is presented in the previous post. I still don't understand the selling of the "concert" to HBO, a cable network that is probably unavailable to the majority of Americans, although I don't have data to back that up! Perhaps I was ticked because I was one of those Americans with no access to HBO. However, I'm happy it will be broadcast to those of us on the Mall. I was moved by the prayer.

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Inaugural Opening Ceremonies

We didn't go to the Inauguration "opening ceremonies" at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday. It was a hectic, full day, so we decided to watch on TV. Much to my surprise and annoyance, We were unable to find, on any of the "major" or less major networks, any close coverage of the speakers and musicians that performed. Julia found it on the computer and we listened on NPR. The computer showed still frames rather than video while the NPR broadcast was in "real time". I enjoyed the festivites but was troubled that the "rights" to the musical and speaking portions had been sold to an unnamed network. Someone said it was HBO. I had read that Obama was planning an "open" presidency, that would use the internet and media to reach the people and be transparent. Selling the rights to the opening ceremonies does not bode well. But at least we found it on the computer. And evey American has one of those, right?

Slumdogs and Miserables

Had the opportunity to see the movie Slumdog Millionaire and a staging of the musical Les Miserables. I highly recommend both. It's interesting to see two features that deal with people in poverty and hopelessness threaded together with love and revenge. Both looking at social justice from different angles, in different cultures. The muscial was brilliant and performed in a small theater, so we sat very close.

Slumdog Millionaire is at times almost ovewhelming. Showing the poverty that is almost surreal, exept it is real, in India. Matched against the prosperity of contemporary India. How can anyone ever geto out of the slums? Unlike in Les Miserables, revolution does not seem an option. Leaving through "working", as a thug or a prostitute is one "way" out. Sort of. The main character in Slumdog finds a way out by a means I would have never imagined. But is he really "out"? Please see this movie.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Inauguration: Sweet Rewards

Last night Julia and I went to a dessert party at the home of one of her friends. As the title of this post suggests, it was a celbration of a new President after 8 years of..............(insert word(s)here, there are so many).

The hostess and her sisters and mother had made some incredible desserts. I'm pretty sure I won't need to eat for several days, although I will still require coffee (mug at my side as I wrie).

A huge table was filled with desserts. All had cute names such as:

Pie we can believe in (a cherry pie that was sensational)

Yes we candy

The audacity of meringue

Dreams from my poppy (lemmon poppyseed cake)

Secretary of State balls (truffles)

Great Expectations (All American apple pie)

The mutt (marble cheesecake: black, white and loved all over; my personal faovrite)

Caribou Barbie: Half-baked Alaska, White Russian filling; a Tina Feyvorite (this dessert included the baked Alaska mounded up with a Barbie figure stuck in the top, wearing silly Sara Palin type glasses. Someone had taken the time to "style" the hair as Palin used to wear hers. The baked Alaska ended up looking like a Ball dress)

Sour Grapes: Republicans, Fox, Rush Limbaugh--the whole bunch.

The Mavericks: got whipped. Very bitter. Feel like shooting a mousse.

At this party, some people WERE wearing tuxedos. All I had were my Dockers and a large Obama button, so I didn't feel out of place.

At one point, the crowd "trapped" me against the enourmous spread of desserts for what seemed like an eternity. I was forced to eat more dessert. The horror.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Inaugural Fantasy

I started into thinking up an Inaugural fantasy this afternoon.

I'm in the crowd, waiting for the big moment. There's a delay. Obama has not appeared at the podium to take The Oath. Suddenly, a voice booms over the speakers: "Is there a veterinarian in the crowd?" I wriggle my way to the fence. A Capitol police officer asks for my veterinary license. I show him, he nods and two tall guys wearing sunglasses and little plastic thingies in their ears ease me into a black car. We race off towards the Capitol. I'm ushered into a quiet room, past numerous guards and paintings of pompous old men. In the room are the Obama's. The girls are in tears. Mrs Obama is wringing her hands. Mr Obama has a concerned look on his face, trying to reason with his girls. "Kids, I've GOT to go out there, I'm sorry, but I'm going to become the president! I promise that we will take Ralphie to the vet as SOON as I'm done out there". The secret service guy says "Um, Mr Almost President, we've found a veterinarian." The whole family looks at me. Ralphie the Standard Poodle puppy looks at me. I take a quick history. Just some puppy diarrhea. I tell them not to worry and how to treat the diarrhea. Ralphie licks my hand. He's fine. The Almost President shakes mine and says "Follow me". I walk out the door behind him and am ushered into a chair. I look out onto the Mall below and see millions and millions of people who really care. Who love life. And I DO feel hopeful.

Inaugural Strategies

Saturday, 17 January. 4pm

Some of Julia's friends have came over for lunch. Everyone was so excited and discussing strategies for how to get to the Inauguration, where to stand, how close can you get, will there be enough PortaPotties, etc. Do we take the bus to the bridge and walk? One bus goes over the bridge from VA, where I'm stayinng. Do we take that? What if we walked the entire way?

I remember talking with a white woman a couple years ago who was in DC for the March on Washington in 1963, when she was 12. She described her strong memory of seeing family after family, almost all black, walking to the Memorial. She noted they were all dressed as if for church, in their finest clothes. She noted that they were beautiful to her. It was as if she was watching a dream.

I don't know how this Inauguration compares to that March. Maybe there's not real similarity. So I have an image of crowds of people, black and white and all shades in between, walking together to the Inauguration.

It's supposed to be cold and snow on Inauguration Day. We may have to stand a long time. Someone worries that there might be a terrorist attack. We discuss how to survive in a stampeding crowd. A moment of worry creeps in. Then back to planning. Talking about all the good this new person might nurture. And all the challenges he (and we) face. It's fun. Exciting.

Inaugural Express

To the Inauguration

Friday, 16 January, 2009

Noon. Dane County Airport. Folks are gathering for our flight to DC. It is obvious from overhearing their conversations that they are all going to the Inauguration. It is also obvious that they all have tickets and I don’t. A brief moment of envy creeps in. I get up and walk over to an older black couple and strike up a conversation. They are from Rockford, IL. The man worked with Obama doing community work. They know him. They show me on the map of the crowd where they will sit.. They have tickets for seats. They are directly in front of the podium where Obama will be sworn in. She shows me how they will get there, what subway they will take. They are so happy. I look at the map more carefully and see where I will stand. In the gray area, far away. But I’ll be there. I get goose bumps.

A bit later, several people ask if I will take a group photo. They all cluster together. Black and white, smiling, filled with hopes, dreams and fears. Most of the other people who have tickets worked on Obama’s campaign. One person I talked with said he ‘just got lucky”. Yet another young man said he worked in Representative Tammy Baldwin’s office.

The boarding call for the “Inaugural Express” rings out. We all file into the plane. The pilot accomplishes a smooth takeoff. Then turns fof the engines and we float to DC.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Three Hours

I heard this morning that Israel paused it's "war" in Gaza for three hours to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Wow, that's compassionate.

Meanwhile, doctors gathered in Egypt are not being allowed to cross into Gaza. Then someone fired four rockets from Lebanon into norther Israel. Wow, that's helpful.

Sounds like hell on earth.

The Rug

As most people know, the four surviving presidents met at the White House yesterday. I listened to a report on NPR which dubbed the meeting as "historic". Then they had a couple of the presidents comment on the meeting. The rug in the oval office came up. Apparently, the new president is allowed to put in his own rug. W's rug was made by his wife Laura. The story noted that the Bush rug will go into storage since it is "government property". ? Then a quote from Bill Clinton about his rug: " I REALLY liked that rug", he said. I wondered exactly why since I have a somewhat sordid imagination. Was Monica listening?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gaza Invasion

Regarding the international response to the Gaza invasion, this quote came to me:

"How can you not all be on fire?"

--Susan B. Anthony to a group of apathetic younger women.

History repeats. Over and over and over. I'm dizzy again. Maybe it's my heart.