City of Blinding Lights

I have no words for how happy and hopeful I am on this day. As Barak Obama, 44th President of the United States of America took his oath of office, I cut off the black wristband I have worn in mourning and protest every day since Inauguration Day 2005. I have an art piece planned for it.

And I cheered as the outgoing Criminal-In-Chief took his leave. Yes, Dubya -- we survived you and your disastrous reign, because we are a greater nation than even your evil regime could tear down. We have shaken you off at last, and look ahead with hope and renewed purpose as your rotted administration crumples to the ground.

Good riddance, you incompetent, arrogant, selfish bastard. May you rot in hell.

I watched the entirety of the day's festivities, from the official start at 7 AM PST to the last of the parade around 4:30 this evening. In the parade, I saw the Crow Nation Horse Mounted Unit from Crow Agency, Montana -- the reservation some 70 miles north of my hometown of Sheridan -- and Shoshone and Arapahoe representatives from Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, all three tribes in full native regalia, march past our new President and First Lady. There were 11 Native American tribes represented in the parade. After 8 years of being ignored and insulted by the Bush Administration, tribal elders from Native American nations across the country are the most hopeful they've ever been that the President will work with them for a better future for their people. Our people.

Members of the AFL-CIO marched, too. Men and women of all backgrounds and colors and creeds marched together in matching blue jackets with the yellow emblems of the "Change to Win" movement, carrying uniform banners that said things like "An Economy that Works for All" and "Great Public Schools" and "Good Jobs, Green Jobs" and "Health Care for All". They pushed strollers with children bundled for the weather, everyone grinning from ear to ear, greeted by the enthusiastic smiles and waves of our new President and First Lady. These are my people, too. My tribe.

The living members of the Tuskegee Airmen were there, too. They were saluted by all those watching in the President's viewing platform. And marching bands from high schools and colleges and military academies across the country played their hearts out in freezing temperatures, traveling hundreds and thousands of miles and waiting patiently for their turn to shine, smiles wide and heads held high while the President and First Lady looked on, watching and waving to every single group that passed by their box. President Obama's high school was represented by the school's marching band, the first time they had ever been invited anywhere to march. They traveled more than 6,000 miles to be there.

Satellite photos of the Washington Mall show millions -- millions -- of people come to watch and celebrate. The vast majority could not see or hear anything of the events, knowing to cheer only as the wave of cheers from the crowds before them rolled in their direction. There were more people gathered in the Mall, and along the parade route from the Capitol to the White House, than the entire populations of 25 U.N. nations.

America celebrated today, and the world celebrated with us. It's a new day, everyone.


President Obama

It's the dawn of a new day. Hope is here.

Hope is on the way

Hope is on the way.

That was the motto of the 2004 Democratic ticket. An election that broke my already-broken heart. I've thought of that motto so much in the last 6 months, and if you've been emailing with me about political stuff, you've seen that little phrase throughout.

Hope is on the way. I want so much to believe that I can hardly stand it. I'm optimistic in spite of myself, and my secret fear that tomorrow is going to be like that Wednesday 8 years ago, when I got up only long enough to check that it really wasn't just a bad dream, then spent the rest of the day in bed, and for the time I was asleep, I lived in a world that hadn't completely lost its damn mind. I feel good about this election, and I think tomorrow, I'm going to wake up with tears of joy instead of utter sorrow, but still...I remember the hope I had 4 years ago....

But I'm all in. We had to submit our bets last night for our Election Day Betting Pools and I bet my money on the most optimistic outcome I can foresee. Here's the electoral map I predicted:

It's wildly optimistic. Delusional, even. I'm going to lose everything I bet, in all the pools, because I went all in on every one -- the number of electoral votes, the percentage, the Senate seats, the House seats, all of it. The polls are saying somewhere between 330-something and 360-something for electoral votes, and god, if that happened, it'd be fantastic. But still...still...I keep thinking, "hope is on the way", and I see the pictures of 100,000 at rallies, and the lines of people for early voting, and all the inspirational stories of first-time voters, and switching voters, and die-hard voters. Hope is on the way, I think, and I decided that my 411 electoral votes are incredibly unlikely, but how can I possibly hedge that bet? Hope is on the way, you guys. I'm all in.


Game over, man. Game over.

I know, I'm Posty McPostsALot tonight, apparently. But since a friend requested my post-debate reaction, how could I say no?

Well, this was probably McCain's strongest debate of the three. Which is probably the best thing I can say for his performance tonight. He started out weird with the "voters are hurting and angry and they're angry and I understand that and they're hurting and they're angry and hurting" thing that had me telling my television "someone please bump the record player, the needle's stuck". What the hell was that?

He was hateful and negative, which he clearly can't control because he has to know it's hurting his candidacy and yet he's still doing it. That fake smile he has plastered on is so obvious it makes the skin crawl. And he continues to lie, lie, lie, and oh yeah, lie. In fact, he'd told so many lies in the first two minutes -- THE FINANCIAL CRISIS HAS NOT BEEN CAUSED BY FANNIE AND FREDDIE YOU LYING SACK OF SHIT -- that I actually had to switch the channel for a second to keep from hyperventilating.

And his contempt and arrogance and condescension were on full display tonight. He is pissed off that he even has to campaign for a job that he feels is his rightful due, and having to be on the same stage with that black guy that everyone likes better is an insult. What a jerk.

But really, the hands-down best moment was the when Barak smacked down McCain's lie that Obama would fine businesses for not providing healthcare plans. I couldn't believe the look on McCain's face, and it just kept going and going and I thought maybe it'd finally happened, that maybe Obama had finally vaporlocked him. I've never seen anything like it in a presidential debate, and I've seen every presidential debate since Reagan vs. Carter (when I was 7...my dorkitude began at a very early age).

And what the hell with the blinking??? Christ, hook his eyelids up to a generator and you could probably light Las Vegas.

Barak was, as ever, the definition of cool and self-possessed. He's smart and his rhetoric is a thing of beauty. His command of facts and policy is practically savant-like. (And btw -- wtf with McCain continually equating Down's Syndrom with autism??) He doesn't get rattled, doesn't get thrown off track, doesn't lose his temper. The contrast is devastating and I think that under all the analysis, it's been the contrast in demeanor that's hurt McCain in the debates more than anything else. Obama exudes Presidential, and he's calmly and patiently made his case.

I think it's safe to say that the election is now over and all that's left is the counting. (Which doesn't mean we should rest. We should, in fact, press even harder...we want this election to be a landslide, to blow it out of the water and leave the GOP completely broken.)

Fun with teh internets

To balance the reading assignment I gave you earlier today, here are two fun activities:

First a hilarious timewaster called Palin As President -- I love stuff like this where you just click random stuff to see what it does. I think I've found everything...see if you can, too! And be sure to click on things multiple times -- many of them do several things.

Second, an ad that had my husband rolling from across the table within the first few seconds, even though he couldn't even see the screen. It's that good.

ETA: Oh, and Heroes may be sucking right now, but Claire still has her priorities straight.

See more Hayden Panettiere videos at Funny or Die

One the perks of being a liberal is that we have all the awesome creative people on our side. :)

Reading assignment

Your assignment for today: a must-read essay by Tim Wallis (reproduced on Dark Christianity) that nails a concept to the door that I think we all recognize, but struggle to articulate. What he has to say is challenging, and draws on some generalizations to make his point (in other words, it's not meant to be precise, nor to say that all people that belong to a group or category are as he describes them), and it's the kind of thing that when you finish reading it, you say to yourself, "If only I could make everyone read this!"

Well, I can't make everyone read it, but I can ask you guys to read it. :)

His essay is called This is How Fascism Comes: Reflections on the Cost of Silence, and it's a take on Sinclair Lewis' famous quote: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."


Correcting the record

Watching the debate last night redlined my Rant-O-Meter yet again, and there were so many half-truths and outright lies spewing from McCain's rubbery lips that it would be akin to Factology Whack-A-Mole trying to correct them all.


I just wanted to be sure that we're all clear on one big lie McCain tried to push, and he said it in passing so that it wasn't even the main point of the larger lie he was telling. Which was that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were the cause of the current crisis. No, no, and oh hay-ell no.

Daniel Gross says it so I don't have to:

These arguments are generally made by people who read the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and ignore the rest of the paper—economic know-nothings whose opinions are informed mostly by ideology and, occasionally, by prejudice. Let's be honest. Fannie and Freddie, which didn't make subprime loans but did buy subprime loans made by others, were part of the problem. Poor Congressional oversight was part of the problem. Banks that sought to meet CRA requirements by indiscriminately doling out loans to minorities may have been part of the problem. But none of these issues is the cause of the problem. Not by a long shot. From the beginning, subprime has been a symptom, not a cause. And the notion that the Community Reinvestment Act is somehow responsible for poor lending decisions is absurd.[...]

The Community Reinvestment Act applies to depository banks. But many of the institutions that spurred the massive growth of the subprime market weren't regulated banks. They were outfits such as Argent and American Home Mortgage, which were generally not regulated by the Federal Reserve or other entities that monitored compliance with CRA. These institutions worked hand in glove with Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, entities to which the CRA likewise didn't apply. There's much more. As Barry Ritholtz notes in this fine rant, the CRA didn't force mortgage companies to offer loans for no money down, or to throw underwriting standards out the window, or to encourage mortgage brokers to aggressively seek out new markets. Nor did the CRA force the credit-rating agencies to slap high-grade ratings on packages of subprime debt.[...]

Lending money to poor people and minorities isn't inherently risky. There's plenty of evidence that in fact it's not that risky at all. That's what we've learned from several decades of microlending programs, at home and abroad, with their very high repayment rates. And as the New York Times recently reported, Nehemiah Homes, a long-running initiative to build homes and sell them to the working poor in subprime areas of New York's outer boroughs, has a repayment rate that lenders in Greenwich, Conn., would envy. In 27 years, there have been fewer than 10 defaults on the project's 3,900 homes. That's a rate of 0.25 percent.

On the other hand, lending money recklessly to obscenely rich white guys, such as Richard Fuld of Lehman Bros. or Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns, can be really risky. In fact, it's even more risky, since they have a lot more borrowing capacity. And here, again, it's difficult to imagine how Jimmy Carter could be responsible for the supremely poor decision-making seen in the financial system. I await the Krauthammer column in which he points out the specific provision of the Community Reinvestment Act that forced Bear Stearns to run with an absurd leverage ratio of 33 to 1, which instructed Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers to blow up hundreds of millions of their clients' money, and that required its septuagenarian CEO to play bridge while his company ran into trouble. Perhaps Neil Cavuto knows which CRA clause required Lehman Bros. to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars in short-term debt in the capital markets and then buy tens of billions of dollars of commercial real estate at the top of the market. I can't find it.[...]

Lending money to poor people doesn't make you poor. Lending money poorly to rich people does.

This wasn't the worst or biggest lie McCain told during that debate. But it's exactly the kind of thing that because it was of just middling error in comparison, infiltrates the public conversation as fact and the next thing you know, it becomes accepted as common knowledge, like the myth that Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet. Once it becomes entrenched like that, it's impossible to budge.

[Also? The fucking "That one" comment?? Holy hopping fuck on a goldfish fucking cracker does that make me want to kick some shriveled old man ass every time I see it replayed. I am still boggled that he actually said it. DIAF you racist patronizing asshole.]


And the hits just keep on comin'...

Well, the good news is that the American people are pretty pissed off about this whole bailout deal and will probably go medieval on pretty much any politician who actually votes for it. Which doesn't mean Democrats won't still be suckered -- they are, as has been famously said, experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory -- but perhaps there's hope.

The latest developments:

  • People have gotten suspicious about the timing and the push to get the bailout approved. Turns out there might be even more reason to be outraged. For one thing, apparently this plan was put together months ago. Kind of puts the lie to the whole "this is an emergency" notion, huh?
  • The bailout included not just banks in trouble, but banks that aren't in any trouble and are, in fact, quite flush. And, as if that weren't already ::headdesk::-worthy, it included foreign banks. That sound you heard was the collective "WHAT THE HOLY HOPPING FUCK?" voiced 'round the world.
  • Paulson told Congress that of course they want oversight! Despite the, you know, article in their proposed bailout that said expressly the opposite. In other news, Happy Opposite Day!
Some quick reads about why this entire "crisis" could very well be manufactured:


More financial crisis reading

It's like a car wreck -- I can't turn away.

A lot of those people will have to sell their homes, they're going to cut back on the private jets and the vacations. They may even have to take their kids out of private school," said Frank. "It's a total reworking of their lifestyle."

He added that it's going to be no easy task.

"It's going to be very hard psychologically for these people," Frank said. "I talked to one guy who had to give up his private jet recently. And he said of all the trials in his life, giving that up was the hardest thing he's ever done.

What an appalling lack of self-awareness these people display.

  • But even in their tragedy, they've got their eyes on the prize; they're making demands that any lightening of the draconian bankruptcy changes passed a few years ago will be a deal breaker. Charming, no? -- Finance industry lobbyists get to work
And on the subject of taxes and which candidate's plan is going to affect yours, here's a handy widget the non-partisan Tax Policy Center put together to get an idea of whether your taxes will go up or down under either Obama's plan or McCain's plan. (With all the usual caveats about it being a basic information tool, specifics are different, more complicated, yada yada.) I played around with it a bit and it's interesting to note that the bracket at which your taxes go up instead of down under Obama's plan? Somehwhere between the $200,000 and the $500,000 income bracket. Which eliminates -- you guessed it -- about 95% of taxpayers.

Lastly, just because I thought it was incredibly insightful, a comment posted on a Political Animal post about healthcare:

this election is a watershed moment that was on the horizon since the foundation of the republic. America will have a choice for president between a bafoon and a supremely intelligent candidate who happens to be African-American.

And the country will be forced to stake its future on one of its two founding principles, meritocracy or racism.


This morning:

Paulson said that "it pains me tremendously to have the American taxpayer put in this position but it is better than the alternative."

Both Paulson and President Bush have argued that the alternative would be credit markets that remain frozen, meaning that businesses will fail because they can't get the loans they need to operate and the economy will grind to a halt because consumers won't be able to get loans to make the purchases that keep the economy moving forward."

So basically, "Our economy is so fucked up that it depends entirely on everyone spending money they don't have, so to make sure this house of cards doesn't come crashing down, we need to remove cards from the bottom and balance it all on a single card. Then turn on a fan."