Saturday, January 31, 2009

Inauguration Post Round-Up

To make blogroll linking easier, I am gathering the most substantive of my posts from the Inauguration into this index. (If you’re a regular reader, there’s probably nothing new here; it’s just for easier archiving.) There are a few other, smaller posts you can find if you click on the "inauguration" tab at the bottom of each post. These are listed in the order they happened rather than the order they were posted:

Saturday the 17th: Meeting Don King at the Inauguration

Sunday the 18th: I Was the Last Person Allowed in at the Lincoln Memorial

Sunday the 18th: Pictures and Videos from the Lincoln Memorial Concert

Monday the 19th: Avoiding Metro Like the Plague

Tuesday the 20th: Riding the Metro on Inauguration Day

Tuesday the 20th: Inauguration Pictures and Videos

Wednesday the 21st: A Good Travel Experience and an Interesting Conversation at BWI

Wednesday the 21st: +Gene Robinson: Rushing Back from DC to Put the Diocese First

Friday, January 30, 2009

Jim Wallis on the economic crisis

Jim Wallis writes on the Sojourner's God's Politics blog:
Every morning when I wake up in Davos, I turn on my television to CNN in my hotel room. And every morning, there is the same reporter interviewing a bundled-up CEO with the snowy “magic mountain” of Davos in the background. The question is always the same: “When will this crisis be over?” They actually have a “white board” where they make the CEO mark his answer: 2009…2010…2011…later.

But it’s the wrong question. Of course it’s a question we all want to know the answer to, but there is a much more important one. We should be asking, “How will this crisis change us?” How will it change the way we think, act, and decide things — how we live, and how we do business? Yes, this is a structural crisis, and one that clearly calls for new social regulation. But it is also a spiritual crisis, and one that calls for new self-regulation. We seem to have lost some things and forgotten some things — such as our values.

We have trusted in “the invisible hand” to make everything turn out all right, believing that it wasn’t necessary for us to bring virtue to bear on our decisions. But things haven’t turned out all right and the invisible hand has let go of some things, such as “the common good.” The common good hasn’t been very common in our economic decision-making for some time now. And things have spun out of control. Gandhi’s seven deadly social sins seem an accurate diagnosis for some of the causes of this crisis: “politics without principle, wealth without work, commerce without morality, pleasure without conscience, education without character, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.”

If we learn nothing from this crisis, all the pain and suffering it is causing will be in vain. But we can learn new habits of the heart, perhaps that suffering can even turn out to be redemptive. If we can regain a moral compass and find new metrics by which to evaluate our success, this crisis could become our opportunity to change.

More here. Maybe these guys will actually get the memo this time. Or not.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Judd Gregg to Commerce?

Blue Hampshire has the story that Barack Obama might tap Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) as his Secretary of Commerce, the one remaining Cabinet vacancy. If this happens, our Governor, John Lynch (D), would pick Gregg's replacement. It sounds pretty legit: Gregg answered a question about Commerce, "I am not at liberty to discuss that," and his staffers are "under a hard no comment" rule.

I hope this for real - it would mean 60 Democratic senators (Maybe Governor Lynch would appoint Steve Marchand? That'd be cool - and wow, what a fast way for Jeanne Shaheen to become the senior senator.) and a third Republican in the Cabinet. Yay NH politics, yay serious cooperative bipartisanship, yay Democratic senators, yay the second and third yays on my list conflicting with one another.

H/T my friend Kaili.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pictures from the national Episcopal college student gathering

Last month, I attended the Episcopal Church's quadrennial national gathering of college students in Estes Park, Colorado("Gather," themed "Seek, Embrace, and Embody (S.E.E.) the Light"), and then blogged quite a bit about it earlier this month. The one thing I left out were the pictures... so here they are! It took so long to get these up because they're all stolen from other people on Facebook. I have a grand total of 72 pics from Gather uploaded to, including many more of snowshoeing and the beautiful scenery. This is but a small sample. Click to enlarge; proper credit is given to the photographers at Flickr.

The view from the YMCA of the Rockies

The chapel at the YMCA of the Rockies

Hanging out with cool people at lunch (guess which one I am)

Snowshoeing at Bear Lake (me in the brown Carhartt jacket)

A 22-player game of Apples-to-Apples

One of the rare photos of Doug not in his West Point uniform

The New Year's Eve Eucharist

New Year's Eve Banquet

My roommate Mario and my friend Amanda at the New Year's Eve dance party

Monday, January 26, 2009

Musical Mondays: Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor, James Taylor

My goal at Wayward is to post at least once a day. Sometimes I post two and on rare ocassions even three times a day, and a little more often I don't post at all. My hope is that the one-post a day will be something substantive, but in life a blog with 70 unique viewers a day isn't all that high a priority, so sometimes I have to put things on the backburner for a day or two.

To help with that backburner, I am declaring the first weekday of each week "Musical Monday," in which, barring a major news story I am just dying to write about, all I will post is a YouTube music video. This will happen other days as well of course, but on Mondays it will be by design. Today, I give you Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer, and James Taylor playing Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More." I've heard several covers of the song, and this one is my favorite.

Speaking of music videos, the idiots at Pearl Records claimed copyright infringement on my YouTube video of Garth Brooks at the Inaugural Lincoln Memorial concert. Never mind that this was a free public event carried live on HBO and NPR before 400,000 people gathered on the National Mall, that it was not arranged by Pearl Records, or that Pearl Records recieved no monetary proceeds from the event and certainly lost no money over my home video. If this was a Brooks concert or ripped from one of his CDs, I'd be a little more sympathetic. I once had a video from a George Strait concert taken down for copyright laws, and I respect that. BUT, this was not a Brooks concert in a private venue, he just happened to be there. No, the executives at Pearl Records are greedy jerks asserting I'm breaking a law when in fact I am not, but they know they can get away with it because they know the paperwork for me to file a protest with YouTube is too much of a headache for me to bother with. Pearl Records, my message to you is unprintable on a blog possibly read by potential employers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The five most remarkable people I know

Here is a list of the five most remarkable and/or inspiring people in my life, excluding my parents, both amazing people who have been through quite a lot. These are people I know or with whom have at least had extended contact, so it doesn't include personal heroes like Oscar Romero or Robert Kennedy. The list is in alphabetical order by first name and is in no other particular order. (I wanted to make a list of ten people, but this was put together fairly quickly. As such, I do have a question for one of my regular readers: Mom, who am I forgetting?)

And an honorable mention: I would add Vice President Joe Biden to this list, but I have not interacted with him enough to be able to claim I really know him personally. There may have been a time when he would have recognized my face, but never my name, and even that time is long past. Still, his life story and his enduring values are both remarkable and inspiring.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Inauguration Pictures and Videos

This will probably be my final substantive post about the Inauguration. This post includes anecdotes, pictures, and videos from the swearing-in on Tuesday morning. The video of Obama’s Oath is at the end of the post. For even more homemade videos, visit my YouTube channel, and for more pictures, visit my Flickr page.

I watched the main event with my friend Max. Our day started with the Metro ride discussed in a previous post. After that harrowing experience, we proceeded to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, where the nearest gate for silver ticket holders was located. The line was about a mile long, crossing itself multiple time and stretching past Virginia Avenue. Just when you thought you’d found the end of it, you’d round a block and discover even more. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait through it all – the line just sort of dispersed into multiple little lines heading towards several gates.

The crowd at our gate was thick as thieves, and getting in was very slow since most of the attendees had to be searched by hand. There was lots of pushing and even more confusion since most of us couldn’t see over the crowd and had no clue what was going on. It took a couple hours, but we eventually got in. Things weren’t so smooth elsewhere – you may have heard about the Purple of Doom. I know four people who were stuck in it; two Congressional staffers were kept from the Inauguration, but two of Max’s other friends figured out what was going on and got out in time to cut in line elsewhere.

The crowd was something else. We were at the very back of the silver ticketed area near Fourth Street, as you can see on this map. We could have moved up further, but the crowd would have gotten more dense and we had a good enough view of the Capitol and a Jumbotron, as you can see from these pictures. About 240,000 people were in front of us, so another 1.6 million stood behind us. Girl and Boy Scouts had passed out around 300,000 American flags, and it was really cool to see them all waving like crazy. Here is a video I took of the crowd as the first President Bush and President Clinton were brought out to the dias. Bush's recepetion is lukewarm, Clinton's much louder:

As you can hear Max saying, the temperature wasn't all that bad - maybe mid-20s? Just a few days before, I'd been waiting for a bus in -14 weather. The temperature did plummet, however, right at the end of the Inauguration - as one friend joked, when Obama left the stage he took his warmth with him.

I was disappointed, although not surprised, when the crowd booed the second President Bush. While I would boo him at any rally or speech, this was a national event about looking forward rather than backwards. I have too much respect for the office and for the man’s personal heart and patriotism to boo him at an event like this, so just gave him a golf clap and kept my mouth shut. I did, however, join hundreds of thousands of others in singing, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye!”

(Here is one of my photos of Bush’s helicopter taking off; you can find two more on Flickr.) Although most of my regular commenters feel differently, I did not disapprove of Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to give the opening invocation. Yes, his activism on Proposition 8 and his position on homosexuality in general is abhorrent, and I am rather ticked at him for meddling in internal Episcopal Church affairs. That said, as evangelicals go, he really is a superstar. The difference between him and other popular conservative evangelical leaders is that these positions are not his focus. His focus is on fighting poverty, stopping AIDS, and lifting up children in the third world. We cannot cast out a third of this country just because we find them intolerant in some regards, for they are still Americans. What we must do is find the rational leaders and common ground that do exist and learn how we can work together now as we wait for the more tolerant younger generation to take over. Rick Warren is that rational leader, if nothing else. His inclusion is an excellent way to bring in that third of America and make this a truly national event. When Pastor Rick invited Senator Obama to Saddleback several years ago to talk about AIDS, many influential voices in his congregation howled and said “But he’s pro-choice!” Warren said “So what? I’m not asking him here to talk about abortion.” On that same note, the Inauguration wasn’t about homosexuality, but about unity in a historical moment.

Though it’s a little hard to tell from this video, the crowd got very quiet for the President’s Oath – at the very least, all the chanting and cheering paused. Here is Chief Justice John Roberts swearing in Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. The camera goes crazy when Max tackles me and starts dancing around. When he saw the video on Facebook he said, “I think that's the happiest I’ve ever seen myself.”

I started jumping up and down like crazy after my main man Joe Biden’s oath, and fourth young black women ran up and said to me and Max, “Hey, we saw y’all jumping and we wanted to jump too!” so we all jumped up and down together. Then they asked us if we had tickets, and when we said we did, they got worried looks on their faces – they’d somehow accidentally snuck in! I hear there was a lot of that, though much of it not so-accidental. As for the President's speech itself, I don't really have a lot to say about it - it was a good one, but without the soaring rhetoric we have come to expect from him, and I doubt it will go down in the annals of Inaugural speech history alongside JFK's or Lincoln's second. The message of overcoming tough times and seeking justice was a good one, though, and I especially appreciated one passage in particular:

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Although NBC’s Chuck Todd said there was only one portapotty for every 6000 people, things weren’t nearly so bad in my ticketed area. If that was the ratio and we had it that easy, I’m guessing it must have been absolute bladder hell on the public portion of the Mall. I missed the poet laureate and the closing benediction because Max was anxious to get to the Metro (I was able to make him stick around the area long enough to watch Bush’s helicopter leave), although as saw the crowds we changed our mind and headed to a friend’s apartment to wait out the next couple hours and board a less-crowded train later. This picture is of the crowd exiting south of the Capitol, mostly headed towards the Capitol South Metro station on the House side. My Flickr page also has photos of the 140 tons of trash left behind and of knocked-over security barriers.

For more video including Vice President Biden’s oath, visit my YouTube channel. For more pictures, including insane crowds at Union Station the day before the Inauguration, visit my Flickr page.

Google: Behind the political times

Guess what I noticed last night.

Google the words "George W. Bush." What's the first website that pops up? Ok, so now Google "Barack Obama." What site is nowhere to be found on the first page of hits?

That's right - as of this writing, is the thirty-third Google result (fourth page!) for "Barack Obama." I guess Google didn't get the message about change yet. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Riding the Metro on Inauguration Day

This will probably be my next-to-last substantive post about the Inauguration. I’ve got one more coming about the Swearing-In ceremony itself; tonight I just want to share some anecdotes, pictures, and videos from Washington DC’s Metrorail system the morning of the Inauguration.

Now that President Obama has gotten the important business of Guantanamo Bay and other such things out of the way, I believe his next official act should be to give the Presidential Medal of Freedom to every employee of Washington DC’s Metro system for the amazing patience and professionalism they displayed all week long. You guys rock. My day began with a packed Metro (subway) ride to the Mall. The Green line train from Fort Totten to L’Enfant Plaza was absolutely packed. Fortunately my friend and I were in the very back of the train, so when crowds started to exit downtown we were able to grab a bench and ebb the claustrophobia. The train with its elbow-to-stomach stopped several times while underground, not the best recipe for avoiding panic attacks. When we finally arrived at L’Enfant Plaza, it took us almost forty minutes to get out of the station, a walk that would usually only take two. To speed up the process, Metro quit charging its riders and just waved everyone through open turnstyles. MSNBC explains this was all because of a medical emergency and broken escalator issues, but according to the Washington Post’s transportation blog, things didn’t let up at L’Enfant until about 5pm. Here are two short videos of that crowd around 9:20 am, right after the medical issue:

Some folks managed to make light of the whole thing, as you can see from this cell phone pic of kids jumping and chanting Obama’s name.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the day was Metro’s busiest ever: 1,120,000 separate trips. The previous record had been set only the day before with 866,681 riders. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured. The only serious injury occurred when a 68yo woman fell onto the Red Line tracks at 9:30am in front of an oncoming train at the downtown station Gallery Place-Chinatown. A quick-thinking Houston subway police officer (woo Houston!!!) working in DC for the week reached down, pushed her under the platform (I didn’t even know there was room down there), and told her to stay down. The station, as well as nearby Metro Center, was only closed for 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the Red Line is DC’s busiest and Gallery Place and Metro Center the most important transfer stations, so that caused delays for hours. The Washington Post reports that several people were trampled and had to be rescued by emergency crews, but none were seriously injured. Still, though, over a million rides and just a handful of injuries with no arrests? Not bad at all.

I had heard about this woman through the grapevine, but as is only typical with the rumor mill, what I heard was that she was hit and killed by the train and the entire Red Line was closed following the Inauguration. Thankfully this was not the case. What’s remarkable is that this happened at 9:30am, and had nothing to do with my own train delays at 7am. That was apparently caused by a train break-down at Anacostia station earlier in the day.

Another, more humorous story I heard through the grapevine from a friend who was there that I later confirmed in a newspaper article (but can’t find now) was that the woman on the tracks forced one train to reroute from the Mall all the way to Pentagon City. People got off the train to wait, and when the crowds grew restless, a few folks started running up the down escalator and down the up escalator and were soon joined by a large crowd chanting, “YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!” as befuddled police looked on.

I’ve also heard stories about passengers “mutinying” on a Metro bus and of nearly-empty streets thanks to drivers heeding traffic warnings. This Washington Post story on the Metro, this WaPo story on the crowds in general, and this live blog of amusing anecdotes from around the city are good reads. For even more Metro video, visit my YouTube channel. For even more pictures, visit my Flickr page.

I want to close with this quote from the Post’s Robert Thomson saluting the professional Metro workers:
The attitude of the officials on the streets and the platforms and of the travelers had a lot to do with whatever successes we had. Time after time, I saw situations that could have turned out differently had one side or the other not been determined to make things work. They occurred at intersections, on sidewalks, on Metro platforms, on escalators and on buses…

Here's one scene: After the swearing-in ceremony, people heading from the trains to the Mall were waved toward a fare gate by a Metro employee. After going through the gate, they walked to an escalator bank, where another Metro employee told them the esclators were now for entering passengers only, and they should go back and tell that to the other Metro employee.

Which they did. Without any hassle. The first Metro employee opened the swinging gate and let them back into the mezzanine, so they could find another way out. That wasn't so easy. At the exit for Maryland Avenue and Seventh Street SW, one escalator was under repair, another was for incoming passengers and the third was stopped so it could serve as a stairway for exiting passengers.

Paterson picks Dartmouth

It looks like New York Governor David Paterson (D) has selected Rep. Kristen Gillibrand (D) to fill former Senator Hillary Clinton's seat. In my humble and inconsequential opinion, this is great news. I haven't blogged about the Kennedy-Clinton-Paterson soap opera before because I'm not a New York resident, but I have been pulling for Gillibrand the whole time. I just didn't think she'd ever get it.

Gillibrand is a Dartmouth alum. I had the chance to meet her this past spring along with several other Dartmouth students then-interning in Washington. I'm still waiting for the group picture to be e-mailed out - my requests for it have gone unanswered. Anyways, we spent close to an hour in Gillibrand's office. She discussed her previous career in business, her status as a woman in politics (she was very pregnant at the time of our meeting), took our questions - mine was about the role faith plays in her life, since I saw a small Bible sitting on one of her endtables - and made a point to encourage us to run for office and be involved in civic life. She very much struck me as ambitious up-and-comer - and indeed, there was a story in Politico not long ago about how her ambitiousness has ticked off Speaker Pelosi - but also one who was focused on policy. She was very proud of her work on the House Armed Services Committee where she has pushed to make mental care for vets a more high-profile issue.

Much of the story around Gillibrand's appointment is focusing on Caroline Kennedy, who withdrew from the selection process on Wednesday night. Regardless of what you think of her qualifications - and although I've been pulling for Gillibrand all along, I was never hostile towards Kennedy - there is no excuse for the way Paterson is treating her. She's already out of the picture, yet his aides are trashing her to the New York Post, spreading personal information about her marriage and the like. There is no valid excuse for that. This is absolute rubbish behavior coming from an office of city-slicker slimeballs. Shame on the Governor and his aides.

As for Gillibrand, some are questioning the political sense of her selection. Even though she's a woman from upstate, her selection in no way guarantees a smooth road for Democrats. According to NBC's First Read,

Gillibrand, who won her congressional seat in 2006 due in large part to the Democratic wave and a last-minute news report alleging that the wife of her Republican opponent (the incumbent Rep. John Sweeney) had called police to complain that he was “knocking her around.” Can she raise the money needed to hold on to the Senate seat? (Remember, she will not only have to run in 2010, but also in 2012, when Clinton’s term is up.) Can she avoid a Democratic primary? (It doesn't look like it. The New York Times reports that Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy says she is prepared to run against Gillibrand due to Gillibrand’s pro-gun views.) Also, by picking Gillibrand, has Paterson given Republicans an opportunity to pick up her Upstate congressional seat?

I don't care. Policy and character must come before politics, and I'm sticking behind my fellow Dartmouth alum.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pictures and videos from the Lincoln Memorial concert

Here are some photos and videos I took at the “We Are One” pre-Inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. For more photos, see my Flickr page; for more videos, see my YouTube channel. Tomorrow I’ll post Metro and Inauguration anecdotes, photos, and videos. For my written description of the concert, read this previous post.

The gathering crowds:

They closed security right behind me, I was one of the last in!

People sitting on top of porta-potties to see:

Bishop Robinson’s Invocation:

President-elect Barack Obama:


Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, and Tao-Rodriguez Seeger:

An art vendor depicted Obama as Che. Pretty disgusting:

Garth Brooks stealing the show (video):

James Taylor with John Legend and Jennifer Nettles singing "Shower the People" (video):

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gene Robinson: Rushing back from DC to put the diocese first

Barack Obama is now President and Madelyn Betz is now a priest. How do you like ‘dem apples?

I hate to make three posts in a day, particularly three in one day, but as my mother says, one should always strike while the iron is hot. You can scroll down for today's earlier posts about the policy actions President Obama has already taken and my travel experiences at BWI while coming home from the Inauguration.

Here is some helpful advice: always hold the door open for people, because not only is it the right and polite thing to do, you never know who it will be. Earlier this evening I saw a man approaching my church carrying large bundles in his arms and raced ahead to open the door for him; when I heard him say “Thank you,” I realized it was none other than the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson. He and I had both just raced back to Hanover, NH from Washington, DC for the ordination of the curate at St. Thomas Episcopal Church. I had the chance to interview him last fall; this is from that exchange:

Me: Do you get tired of talking about Lambeth, homosexuality, or Anglican conflicts?

GR: …No, I usually don’t get tired of it at all, because it’s just so important, and I feel so blessed to be able to play this role and use God in this way. But, like everyone else, I have my days and times when I just get really tired. Having the diocese to take care of really saves me from that, because as the bishop of a diocese, I cannot be a one-issue person. [WE: emphasis added]

+Gene has always insisted that he puts the diocese first, and he certainly did tonight. Barely 72 hours earlier, he was praying before hundreds of thousands at the Lincoln Memorial. 30 hours earlier, that prayer was played before millions on the National Mall jumbotrons. And just 26 hours earlier, he was sitting with the President of the United States, watching the inaugural parade together. Yet this evening, here he was in our tiny town of 10,000, lifting up another servant of God to help lead the body of Christ.

He did not preach, which is a shame as he is one of the best preachers I’ve ever heard. I did get to speak with him briefly after the service, however. I told him that half the Mall could not hear his inaugural prayer because of a broken speaker and that the other half could not hear him because the first half was chanting “WE CAN’T HEAR! WE CAN’T HEAR!” He gave a great belly laugh at that, as he had heard the chants but couldn’t understand them. (Update: +Gene kept a blog during the Lambeth Conference, and for the first time since August, has made several new posts on that blog to reflect on the Inauguration and the Inaugural concert prayer. Do check it out and read through. H/T James.)

Then, on a liturgical note, I asked him why he kneeled during the final blessing of the ordination service. He said it is something he does during ordinations to show the newly consecrated that all of us, including bishops, are blessed by their ministry. Orders – bishops, priests, deacons, laity – are about jobs and roles, not about worth and hierarchy.

Finally, as I am writing about an ordination, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you what a beautiful service it was – not just because of the smells and bells (and I do love incense!), but also because of who it was being ordained. Madelyn+ has been a wonderful deacon and curate, and will be just as wonderful a priest. As the rector – who is elated at the fact that his mid-week Eucharist load was just split in half – said, she brings warmth to a very cold state. She lives upstairs at the campus ministry, and though I was initially afraid of what a constant adult presence could do to the social dynamics of the ministry, she has struck a wonderful balance of mother, sister, and friend. She is also an expert musician. Madelyn+, we are thankful for and look forward to your ministry.

Without further ado, here is +Gene’s interview with Jon Stewart last night. If you’re short on time, at least watch the first 50 seconds:

A good travel experience at BWI

I am now back in New Hampshire, one of fifty states where there is no longer a president-elect but there is a black president - unbelievable.

I will make multiple posts with pictures, anecdotes, and even home videos of the inauguration in the next couple days, probably starting tonight. For now, I just want to pass along a huge thank you to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) airport. You guys are AMAZING. The security line this morning was one of the longest I’d ever seen, certainly for an airport of that size. Yet, it moved along so quickly, it barely took more time than a regular line. Every agent I saw or dealt with was professional and courteous. The bureaucrats in charge of the TSA come up with some absolutely inept policies, but the men and women on the ground manage to rise above that. I tip my hat to them today in appreciation for their service.

After passing through security, I went to the BWI Silver Diner, a restaurant with which I am becoming all too familiar. (Why they were planning Christmas music today, I will never know.) An older black gentleman sat down next to me at the bar, and we watched the reply of Obama’s speech on C-SPAN. I turned to him and asked, “Did you ever think you would see the day?” He was silent for a moment, then said no. We were both on the Mall yesterday, and compared our experiences – he showed me his purple ticket and various black-tie gala programs, and I talked about the nightmare Metro crowds he had managed to avoid.

Then he said, bringing to mind the 105-year-old black woman who sat on the Mall, “We’ve come a long way since I was turned away from restaurants. When I was in the Air Force in the sixties, they stationed me in Texas. The restaurants wouldn’t even serve me. So to see a man go through the front door of the White House… It’s very special.”

I asked him what he does for a living, and he said he has his own carbon-capture business in the Los Angeles area. After some more discussion, I said I found it ironic: I’m from Texas, the state that wouldn’t serve him, and yet decades later, here he is working to save my planet. We shook hands and I went to board my plane.

Change has already come

You work for years and years toiling on certain policy goals and campaigns, when what it really takes is an election. Sometimes nothing more than the snap of a finger from the right person is enough to get the job done. We are just 28 hours into the new administration, and yet it is already a new country. The right person is now snapping those fingers, and in just 28 hours we have seen changes in civil rights, secrecy, torture, Iraq, the culture of DC, and our reputation abroad.

Just 28 hours in, the symbols of torture are crumbling and civil rights like due process and habeus corpus are back:
The new Obama administration circulated a draft executive order Wednesday that calls for closing the controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay within a year and halting any war crimes trials in the meantime... The order circulated as the judge in one war crimes case agreed to Obama's request to suspend proceedings pending a 120-day review.

Concerning anti-democratic secrecy, the Ashcroft memo is already gone:
In an attempt to deliver on pledges of a transparent government, Obama said he would change the way the federal government interprets the Freedom of Information Act. He said he was directing agencies that vet requests for information to err on the side of making information public — not to look for reasons to legally withhold it — an alteration to the traditional standard of evaluation. Just because a government agency has the legal power to keep information private does not mean that it should, Obama said.

The culture of DC, at least on one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, is also changing:
President Barack Obama's first public act in office Wednesday was to institute new limits on lobbyists in his White House and to freeze the salaries of high-paid aides, in a nod to the country's economic turmoil... "Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington," said the new president... Obama's new lobbying rules will not only ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted. The rules also ban lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to any member of his administration.

Now if only Congress could act like that. Next, EX-PRESIDENT Bush said last week that the United States enjoys a good reputation abroad - but that's not up to him. It's up to those abroad. Our reputation has been in tatters, but already, in less than 28 hours, it is improving:
Obama has an opportunity to reverse this trend. Sixty-one percent of French voters, 55 percent of Germans and 51 percent of Britons believe Obama will improve trans-Atlantic relations, according to the GMF survey. A skilled communicator, Obama has shown he can address sensitive issues with unusual grace and complexity. “He speaks like us,” declared the Swiss minister of foreign affairs. Moreover, Obama’s personal story appeals to European publics and reminds them of ideals they share with Americans.

And finally, looking to the future if not the past day, the "war on science" is about to end:
President Barack Obama pledged a return to science in his inaugural address on Tuesday... Obama is also widely expected to quickly reverse Bush's executive order that has had the effect of limiting embryonic stem cell research.

Obama's logo is a rising sun. Indeed, it's been a long and lonely winter - but seasons always change. Spring may not always be what you want it to be - we tend to forget about mud when our mind is on flowers and birds - but it still sure beats the heck out of winter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brief update from the Inauguration

Today was/is insane. I am back in Silver Spring, MD. The inauguration was amazing, but the Metro a nightmare - it took me thirty minutes just to get out of the L'Enfant Plaza station after I was off the train, and leaving a station usually takes two minutes. Here's a picture from the Metro and one of my view from the mall. I'll have lots of great (and scary!) videos and photos later this week once I can upload my real camera.

I'll post more of a real update later tonight, but I am sooo tired right now. I'm going to have some Spaghetti-O's and watch the rest of the Inaugural parade on TV. Also, pray for Ted Kennedy.

Jill Biden makes an oops, and I'll see you tonight

Today is the Inauguration. I'll be in DC away from my computer all day, and may not post my eyewitness-to-history account until as late as tomorrow afternoon. Until then, wow, take a look at this bombshell news:

The Obama administration denied this, but of course Joe didn't deny it during the interview itself - so there's that.

What do you think? Which job would you take if you were Biden? How would you feel after hearing this if you were Hillary Clinton? Which do you believe, Jill Biden's implication or the following communications "clarification"?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Avoiding Metro like the plague

I’m taking it easy in Maryland for the rest of the day – it’s a madhouse out there. I went to Capitol Hill to pick up my Inauguration tickets and have lunch with a friend at Union Station at noon, and was appalled by the scene. I was thinking about going to the American Indian museum to see the exhibits I missed in the summer, but it occurred to me that all of the three million tourists who didn’t arrive over the weekend are arriving today, and today is the day they’ll all be doing their tourist thing at museums and attractions around the city.

I know Union Station pretty well; as the Senate-side Hill Metro stop, lunch destination, liquor store, free WiFi hotspot (in places), closest movie theater to my summer apartment, and train station to BWI, it was the center of my universe for about five months. I barely recognized the place today – dozens of new kiosks had been set up inside the station (especially in the food court), and dozens of unlicensed vendors hocking cheap Obama gear outside. There were plenty of Obama gear vendors here this summer, but for every one summer vendor there are at least four now. I chose to get all my stuff from the more legit official websites, like these rock glasses from the Inaugural committee. The worst piece of vendor merchandise I’ve seen was a Che Guevera-style painting of Obama complete with red background, beard, and beret. I’ll have a picture of it once I’m back in NH and can upload my digital camera. All the pictures in this post are cell phone shots of today’s Union Station. I also have better camera pictures of today coming once I'm in NH.

I’m watching the National Mall crowds on MSNBC from my friend’s Maryland apartment. It might be fun to see all that live and experience it myself, but it just isn’t worth trying to get around DC. It’s not the public crowds or porta-potties that scare me, but the transportation snares. I never left Union Station or Columbus Circle so didn’t get to experience the inner-city Metro stations, but things on the opposite side of the platform looked pretty crazy. According to about an hour ago, “There are long lines at the ticket kiosks at Metro's Union Station stop, with people standing 10 deep. The trains are crowded almost as bad as rush hour, reports the Post's Mary Beth Sheridan.” Also, from another WaPo post: “Metro says yesterday's crowd for the inaugural welcoming ceremony and concert at the Lincoln Memorial set a Sunday ridership record of 616,324 trips, surpassing July 4, 1999 which had 540,945 trips. And the event went relatively smoothly, with no major malfunctions and no accidents.” Four of those trips were mine – if I weren’t here, it would have been 616,324. And of course, tomorrow they’ll have millions.

The problem is that so many of these folks are new to DC. Technically speaking I am a tourist myself right now, but having lived here I know how things work and don’t need to triple-check myself to get around. That can’t be said of 90% of the other folks here. I spent 15 minutes waiting in line at a Metro ticket machine behind just three people, but finished purchasing my own ticket in just 30 seconds. (Man, how I wish I hadn’t forgotten my SmarTrip card in NH.)

Tomorrow is going to be a zoo. I’m going to Metro in around 7am and not touch the subway again until I’m ready to leave. I’ll try not to transfer lines, but I don’t know how I can do that coming in. We’ll see. In fact, it must be getting worse out there as I type, as I just got an unexpected text message announcing the unscheduled closure of the Judiciary Square Metro F St entrance.

One thing I've noticed about the crowds is this, and keep in mind it's all anecdotal: the crowd seems to be a mix of younger white people and all ages of black people. The friend I'm staying with agrees, and offers this analysis: younger people are more able to travel then older people, hence the lack of middle-aged white folks, and if you're black and you or your parents lived through segregation and oppression, there's no way you're staying away from this. The subway crowd is a little bit more of a mix than the ground-level mobs, but not by too much.

The one thing everyone is worried about but me is the weather. Yes, 35 degrees is very cold, but for me it’s a tropical vacation – waiting for the bus in New Hampshire on Saturday morning, it was 14 below. This is 50 degrees warmer for me, just like jumping from 30 to 80. The inch of snow they’re expecting tonight, though, could complicate the already complicated traffic and road closures. (This picture, btw, is of the Union State main hall central restaurant getting ready for a fancy bipartisan dinner with Obama honoring Joe Biden tonight.)

In light of all these crowds, I’m staying “home” for the rest of the night. Not sure what I would do otherwise anyways, as I already considered and decided against the official Youth Ball, the NH/SC-sponsored Grits and Granite ball, and the Netroots Nation and Junior Statesman Foundation parties. All were cheap compared to the real balls, but still too much for me. There are no other official events open to the public today except the RFK Stadium soldier care-package service event, but it’s too tough to get out there. Speaking of servicemen, though, I tip my hat to the tens of thousands of police officers, National Guardsmen, FBI officers, and Secret Service agents in town. This has to be an even worse weekend for them than it is for the retail clerks and Metro workers, but so far they have all been polite and out-of-the way. Thank you, guys! Stay safe!

And one last note: MSNBC Just announced that Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester will be riding horses in the Inaugural parade. The lady anchor mispronounced the Governor’s name, calling him “Shweat-zer.” I just don't comprehend the crowds behind them on the Mall... there's nothing going on, and yet hundreds of thousands of folks are there!!

I'll close with a homemade video a friend found of Bishop Robinson's prayer from yesterday's Lincoln Memorial concert. The Inaugural Committee scheduled the prayer ten minutes before the HBO broadcast started and the speakers on my side of the Reflecting Pool were temporarily down so I missed this - my own bishop and I missed it! - so I am grateful that the right-side speakers worked and someone put it on YouTube. Also, the Diocese of Washington's communications director writes at Episcopal Cafe that +Gene will sit with the new President for the parade and that his prayer will be replayed on the Jumbotrons before the swearing-in tomorrow. That should make up for any Rick Warren envy, eh? I'm further grateful that I'll get to see +Gene in New Hampshire on Wednesday evening for an ordination - busy week for him!

I was the last person allowed in at the Lincoln Memorial concert

Ok, so not exactly – but of the 400,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial today, I was one of the last 25. All in all, from the Inaugural kick-off concert to Metro insanity, it was a pretty epic day.

I went with friends to today’s free "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial – talk about the experience of a lifetime. In addition to speeches from Barack Obama and Joe Biden, we heard music from Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Pete Seeger, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Beyonce, and more, and spoken word performances and/or speeches from Martin Luther King III, Tom Hanks, Tiger Woods, Denzel Washington, George Lopez, Jack Black, Jamie Foxx, Steve Carrell, and more. USA Today has the complete rundown as a live blog here. I was most excited about Brooks, Springsteen, and Seeger(!!!). I’ve got lots of pictures and amateur videos but no UBS cord, so everything here is from news photos and YouTube. I’ll post my own once I’m back in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

I arrived around 1:30 and spent 45 minutes winding my way through the security line. I got in at 2:15 and they closed the gates right behind me – I was one of the last 25 people let in! If I had left my friend’s house just five minutes later, had I caught the next Metro train, I wouldn’t have made it. (Pictured: U2.)

My bishop, Gene Robinson, gave the opening prayer, but unfortunately the sound system wasn’t working – we could see him on the Jumbotrons but not hear him. Any chance of hearing even a squeak of his voice was eliminated by the 400,000 people chanting, “WE CAN’T HEAR! WE CAN’T HEAR!” It was quite disappointing not to be able to hear one of my own bishops. I’m also told HBO didn’t carry the prayer, which makes sense – it came at about 2:20, ten minutes before the official start time. The text of his prayer is, however, available at the diocesan website.

Everyone I’ve talked to said that Garth Brooks was the highlight – a classic-rock loving friend from Dartmouth, the hip-hop fans I’m staying with, the Biden campaign alums I had dinner with, and my mom listening on NPR all agreed his performance was amazing. He came out and surprised the crowd with Don McLean’s “American Pie” and, of all things, “Shout,” followed by the one song I was anticipating, “We Shall Be Free.” He has always been known as an energetic performer. (A video of his performance is below.) Springsteen performed twice, the first time playing “The Rising” and later singing a duet with Pete Seeger on “This Land is Your Land.” Brooks was my favorite singer for most of my childhood, and Springsteen is one of my long-standing all-time faves. I wouldn’t quite call Seeger a favorite, but no matter how you spin it he’s an amazingly talented legend and a true American hero. It’s been a dream of mine to see him for years, and his teaming with the Boss and his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (go Mammals!) on a Woody Guthrie song was something else. That video is at the end of this post; here's Brooks:

By the end of the concert, I had worked my way up to the front of the left side of the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool, under all the trees. I didn’t have a clear view of any of the Jumbotrons, but I could see just about everything on stage. The crowd was around 400,000 people. My favorite part of it all was that people sat atop the porta-potties for the first forty minutes or so – hundreds and hundreds of people on top of porta-potties, a hilarious site until the cops chased them down (and rightly so).

Getting out of there was hell, though, that’s for sure. The concert wrapped up at about 4:30. Around 5pm, I started towards St. Paul’s K Street for Evensong at 6, the best part of last year’s six months here in DC. The line to get into the Smithsonian Metro station stretched for a good 50 yards outside the station, and the Federal Triangle Metro station up the road wasn’t much better. I had no trouble getting on a train at Metro Station, but each station we passed through was a zoo. We were crammed into that train so hard that the only body part I could move was my left elbow – it was like Navy Yard station after a Nationals game, but at every single station. Today probably set new ridership records, records that will only be smashed six times over on Tuesday.

I was so relieved to finally squeeze out of the train at Foggy Bottom. I’ll say more about St. Paul’s in another post, hopefully later this week. That was one of the “Sunday Morning at...” church reviews I never got around to making this summer. It is such a beautiful church with one of the most breathtaking choirs, and after that Metro havoc, I found the service so quiet, so calming and filling. By 7pm the Metro was a lot calmer, so I headed into Virginia for dinner with some Biden campaign vets. (Pictured: Bruce Springsteen and Martin Luther King, III.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Meeting Don King at the Inauguration

My first Inaugural update: Had dinner at Union Station last night just as Obama's train was arriving. He didn't come through the main terminal; they somehow got his motorcade into the concourse between the trains and the main building. It was still pretty cool, though, to be sitting upstairs at Uno's looking at CNN and realizing that the background and massive crowder behind the reporter was just 100 yards away, and if I turned around and looked over the balcony... wow, there's CNN!

It happened again after dinner, too, when I met boxing promoter Don King. You know, the guy with the crazy hair. I was showing a friend from school on his first trip here around Capitol Hill and the National Mall at about 9pm when we saw some network cameras and interview chairs near the Washington Monument. We wandered over to check it out, saw that it was CNN, and that one of the interviewees looked like, no wait a minute, really was Don King. When the interview was over we said hello. The man is as crazy off camera as he is on, but has lost quite a bit of hair so looks a tad less ridiculous. According to Wikipedia, he calls himself a "Republicrat," having supported Bush in '04 and Obama in '08. I overheard him talking to the other guy interviewed, a young black Republican, about African-American Michael Steele's campaign to be RNC Chair. He also hollered at the camera about how our nation needs to get past thinking of black people as 3/5 persons, and then complained about the camera wires everywhere. A lot of fun. Here are some grainy cell phone pictures:

On another note, here's something that worries me about Tuesday. I'll have to cut back on the coffee - NBC's Chuck Todd told Jay Leno the other night, "They're talking about one porta-potty per 6,000 people. ... That scares me a little bit."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A fitting way to mark the Inauguration

I went to the bank yesterday to get a roll of quarters (love that laundry), and wouldn't you know it but they were all Hawai'i state quarters. Appropriate, no?

In transit to DC today to witness history myself and head back to New Hampshire on Wednesday. I'll try to blog regularly, but don't know how much time/Internet access I will have. Three posts is my realistic goal: one about the Sunday Lincoln Memorial concert, one about the Inauguration itself, and one about Rick Warren. Maybe some others about political ongoings, St. Paul's K Street (one of my favorite DC parishes), and general city craziness. I won't be attending any balls or formal parties - I thought about the official Youth Ball, the NH/SC-sponsored Grits and Granite ball, or Netroots Nation, but didn't want to shell out the cash.

Friday, January 16, 2009

NYT on Native Americans' complex relationship with Obama

Yesterday's New York Times had an interesting article about American Indian support for Barack Obama. In sum: Indians have been railroaded and slammed by politicians of all stripes for centuries, yet are mostly setting aside their cynicism for Obama. The article quotes notables like Spokane/Coeur d'Alene author Sherman Alexie, NCAI president Joe Garcia, and Navajo Nation president Joe Shirley. Read the whole thing.

In less than a week’s time, the Great White Father will be black. Amidst the euphoria and stirring of fresh ideas, there remains some suspicion. “He’s still a politician and I’m still an Indian,” said Sherman Alexie, the National Book Award-winning writer, a Spokane and Coeur d’Alene native.

“They all look like treaty-makers to me,” said Alexie, paraphrasing the native musician, John Trudell. “I guess that’s the puzzling and I suppose lovely thing about Indians’ love of Obama. Many have suspended their natural suspicion of politicians for him.” ...

The epic struggle for natives has been to avoid getting washed away by the flood of dominant culture, where Indians make up less than 2 percent of more than 300 million Americans. That, and the physical toll that losing this big land has taken on them. Indians die younger than most other Americans, suffer from higher rates of suicide, alcoholism, debilitating dietary problems...

Presidents come and go. They promise to uphold treaty rights and appoint somebody to oversee Indian affairs who understands that history did not end when Custer fell to his hubris. It’s ho-hum, usually, with a mournful shrug on the reservations. But on the most recent Election Day, on the Navajo Rez, which spills into three states and is the size of West Virginia, high school kids held up Obama signs at intersections in the town of Window Rock, and cheered themselves hoarse as returns came in.

Read the whole thing. The article mostly quotes Indians on Obama; the only quote from Obama about Indians is in reference to immigration and doesn't actually address federal Indian policy. For that side of the story, see an Op-Ed by Obama himself in Indian Country Today that focuses mostly on appointments and trust management (sadly nothing on jurisdiction issues), and my own previous post on Obama's Interior Secretary announcement. Indian Country Today has also had extensive coverage of Indian support for Obama; see this pre-election article, this post-election article, and one by former GOP Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell on McCain's downfall with Natives.

Tester press release says one thing, vote says another [UPDATED AND EXPLAINED]

Let me be clear: Jon Tester, Democrat from Montana, is one of my favorite politicians. The guy is amazing. While interning for Montana's other senator last spring, I had the chance to meet Tester twice and watch him interact with lobbyists and other politicians. His personality, memory, and values are all exactly what you want in a United States Senator. The members of his staff whom I had occasion to work with were also professional and impressive.

But, something troubles me. According to NBC's daily First Read newsletter, nine Democratic senators voted for a resolution that would deny Barack Obama's request for access to the second half of the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry. They were: Evan Bayh, Maria Cantwell, Byron Dorgan, Russ Feingold, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Jeanne Shaheen, Bernie Sanders (technically an Independent), and Ron Wyden. Notice, Jon Tester is not on that list. I checked the vote's official roll call to see for myself, and sure enough, those nine, and only those nine among Democrats, voted against releasing the bailout money. Two other senators - Tester and Republican of Utah Orrin Hatch - voted "present" rather than aye or nay.

A present vote is rare, so I checked Tester's website to see if he had an explanation. Sure enough, there was a press release, but it didn't explain his "present" vote. In fact, it claimed he voted another way entirely. [UPDATE 5:11pm: As I suspected and implied in this post, it turns out there was a valid explanation for this contradiction. The problem was not with Tester's vote but with the wording of his press release. Read on, but be sure to read the new last paragraph. End Update.]
Tester says NO to more bailout money: Senator calls for ‘more jobs, not more bailouts’

Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after voting against releasing the second half of the $700 billion bailout for Wall Street.

“Montana and America need more jobs, not more bailouts. I voted against the Wall Street bailout because I had major concerns about the unprecedented cost to taxpayers and the lack of accountability. I’m still concerned.

“It’s time to rebuild our economy from the ground up by investing in jobs and long-term infrastructure that will repay us for generations to come. I look forward to working with the new President and the new Congress to get the job done.”

Perhaps, for the purposes of this vote, "present" was procedurally the same as or similar to an "aye" vote (the resolution would prevent the release of funds, so voting "aye" was saying nay). Maybe Tester changed his mind on how to vote without informing his press person, and a pre-written press release didn't get the kibosh. Or perhaps, still in his freshman term, Tester made some sort of technical mistake when casting his vote and meant to vote "aye" rather than "present" - it's happened before, albeit more often in the House than in the Senate. There are a number of possible explanations, and Tester is as honest and impressive as they come. I'm not going to try to judge him over this just yet, and even if it is an intentional contradiction, it's not enough to tar him in my eyes. Nevertheless, all I know is that his press release says he voted "aye," but the vote was recorded as "present."

Update 5:11pm Several commenters have explained the reason for Tester's vote: he and Sen. Hatch made an agreement with Senators Brown and Kennedy, who wanted to vote against the resolution but could not attend the vote. To accomodate their nays, Tester and Hatch switched their ayes to presents. That makes sense - as I said, Tester's a good guy who wouldn't lie in a press release, and of course a good guy would also help his colleagues. Had it occured to me to check the news reports rather than just the official assumedly-trustworthy statements, I would have realized that before making this post. I'll still say this, though: while it may not be a problem worthy of a blog post, it was an awkwardly-written press release as it did imply Tester voted aye. This kind of explanation should be available from Tester's office, not just the AP.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My favorite covers of Amazing Grace

The images are ok, but the music is why I post this. It's one of my favorite versions of Amazing Grace.

Here's another, featuring an amazing array of country stars - Clint Black, Reba McEntire (that woman is AMAZING; she is my Oprah), Waylon Jennings, Suzy Bogguss, John Michael Montgomery, Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Eddie Rabbitt, and even James Garner and Mel Gibson (whom I watched just last night in "Lethal Weapon," LOVE that movie).

Monday, January 12, 2009

+Gene to pray at the inauguration

I just read this from Politico:

BREAKING: The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who became the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop in 2003 and last year entered into a civil union with his gay partner, will deliver the invocation for Sunday's kickoff inaugural event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with President-elect Obama in attendance. The event is free and open to the public. An Obama source: 'Robinson was in the plans before the complaints about Rick Warren. Many skeptics will read this as a direct reaction to the Warren criticism - but it's just not so.' Robinson has been referred to as 'the most controversial Christian in the world.' A Sewanee graduate!

That's my bishop!

Our World: Shift Happens

People get ready. Scary stuff. H/T my mom.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grace on the Gridiron

Although this story is a couple weeks old now, it's still worth passing along. Last November, a Texas high school football game took an odd turn of events when half the parents from Grapevine Faith started rooting for the team from Gainesville State School. The Gainesville State players and coaches had never before felt so blessed or been so moved. And why not?

Because Gainesville State is a maximum security prison for male juveniles.

From my favorite sports columnist, ESPN's Rick Reilly:

This all started when Faith's head coach, Kris Hogan, wanted to do something kind for the Gainesville team. Faith had never played Gainesville, but he already knew the score. After all, Faith was 7-2 going into the game, Gainesville 0-8 with 2 TDs all year. Faith has 70 kids, 11 coaches, the latest equipment and involved parents. Gainesville has a lot of kids with convictions for drugs, assault and robbery—many of whose families had disowned them—wearing seven-year-old shoulder pads and ancient helmets.

So Hogan had this idea. What if half of our fans—for one night only—cheered for the other team? He sent out an email asking the Faithful to do just that. "Here's the message I want you to send:" Hogan wrote. "You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth."

Some people were naturally confused. One Faith player walked into Hogan's office and asked, "Coach, why are we doing this?"

And Hogan said, "Imagine if you didn't have a home life. Imagine if everybody had pretty much given up on you. Now imagine what it would mean for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you."

Next thing you know, the Gainesville Tornadoes were turning around on their bench to see something they never had before. Hundreds of fans. And actual cheerleaders!...

It was a strange experience for boys who most people cross the street to avoid. "We can tell people are a little afraid of us when we come to the games," says Gerald, a lineman who will wind up doing more than three years. "You can see it in their eyes. They're lookin' at us like we're criminals. But these people, they were yellin' for us! By our names!"...

The Gainesville coach saw Hogan, grabbed him hard by the shoulders and said, "You'll never know what your people did for these kids tonight. You'll never, ever know."

I shared this story in Colorado at the National Episcopal college student conference. I was attending a discussion with the semi-keynote speaker, Fr. Michael Battle, who said we should seek out active ways to promote and implement non-violence rather than just not being violent. This story, which I first saw that morning in an e-mail from my birth mother, came to mind as a wonderful approach to prison reform. Read the whole thing at The Waco Tribune has a similar story. It is without a doubt one of the most inspirational things I've come across in a long, long time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

St. Luke's, Coeur d'Alene buried in snow

I returned to Hanover, NH from Coeur d'Alene, ID last Sunday, getting out just before 40+ degree temperatures began to melt our record over-70 inches of snow. I'd never heard of an "urban flooding" warning before, but there it was. The snow melt may make ugly black slush piles and be bad news for drivers and low-laying homes, but it's good news for the deer. Last Saturday night, my younger brother told me he herded about 20 deer for over a mile with his truck because the plow berms were too high for them to jump over.

To remember our friend the dearly-departed snow, I'd like to reach back a few weeks and post these pictures of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Coeur d'Alene. They were taken by parish member and photographer extroadinare Robert Peterson shortly after Christmas. He's the one standing by the eight-foot plow berm in the last shot. Click for larger versions.

For more snow pictures, see my earlier posts on the storm.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Obama Disses Dean

I try not to post twice a day and I certainly hate to make two posts in a row ragging on the president-elect, as I did vote for him twice and do think he will be a good leader, but this story from Politico's Jonathan Martin really has me torked. How dare he:

The conspicuous absence of Howard Dean from Thursday’s press conference announcing Tim Kaine’s appointment as Democratic National Committee chair was no accident, according to Dean loyalists. Rather, they say, it was a reflection of the lack of respect accorded to the outgoing party chairman by the Obama team.

Despite leading the party in consecutive triumphant election cycles – as well as through off-year races like when Kaine was elected Virginia governor in 2005 – Dean has become all but invisible since Election Day, passed over for the Cabinet position he coveted and apparently not in line for another administration post...

Dean’s reward for the party recapturing the White House, House, Senate, and taking control of seven governor’s mansions and eight state legislatures on his watch? So far, nothing.

A physician by training who devoted much of his time as Vermont governor to health care, Dean had his eye on becoming Secretary of Health and Human Services. But the post went to Obama ally and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. The fact that Dean wasn’t even included in Thursday’s ceremonial — and very public — transfer of power from him to Kaine only underscored his isolation.

"The snub today was no accident," said one Dean ally. “I guarantee you he would have rescheduled his trip if asked to attend. It’s easy to [screw] over people when you are riding high in the polls, let's see how many people are singing his praises in six months."

Asked about Dean’s absence, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt noted that the chairman was out of town and pointed to the president-elect’s praise in prepared remarks: “He launched a 50-state strategy that made Democrats competitive in places they had not been in years, working with my chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to give Democrats a majority in the House for the first time in over a decade,” Obama said of the Vermonter.

The AP further reports that not only was Dean not invited, he was specifically asked not to come.

This is unacceptable. Barack Obama owes Dr. Dean almost everything. Dean was the architect of the 50-state strategy that Obama's campaign perfected, helping him win in places like North Carolina and Indiana; that same strategy is what gave Obama large rather than slim Congressional majorities as allies; Dean's own presidential campaign pioneered activist and Internet tactics that were at the core of Obama's campaign; and Dean, again in his role as a 2004 candidate, infused the party with a spine on Iraq and brought health care to the fore after 12 years of silence, helping set the stage for a candidate like Obama. I cannot for the life of me figure out why Obama would hold him in such low regard.

I'm ok with the fact that Dean isn't the HHS Secretary. I was hoping either he or Daschle would get the job, and I got my wish. Leaving him out of official DNC ceremonies, however, and lumping his campaign successes in with those of his arch-rival Rahm Emanuel is beyond the pale.

If "change" still means a new post-partisan era and the return of competence, great, count me in. But if change means instead poor relations with Democrats in Congress and now in the grassroots, count me out. Snubbing those who crossed your allies in previous cycles no matter how important they are to the nation and the party is bad karma and I want no part of it. Obama holds a lot of promise, but it sure wasn't on display this week.