Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2009 Inaugural Address - President Barack Obama

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC.
January 20th, 2009

“My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

“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.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gene Robinson's Prayer Kicks off Inaugural Events

Seeing as how Gene Robinson's Prayer didn't get the play it probably should've on the HBO live broadcast:

christianitytodaymag sez:
Gene Robinson gives the invocation at the "We Are One" concert, which kicked off inaugural ceremonies. Video shot by Sarah Pulliam for Christianity Today magazine. Posted at Politics | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Here is the text of his invocation:

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.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The History of America's Inaugural Prayers - WSJ.com

With a h/t to that guy @ his blog (he gets unbelievably touchy when anyone makes mention of the same piece of internet that he did over at his place. -- And this time, I actually did see it there, first), I offer The History of America's Inaugural Prayers, by Steve Waldman.

I'll post the opening paragraphs, but I urge everyone to read the whole thing:

In 1949, the year of Harry S. Truman's inauguration ceremony, America was a much less tolerant and diverse place. It would be another decade before Americans would be comfortable electing a Catholic president. Jews were still excluded from the upper echelons of government and business. The levers of power were held by Protestants, who made up the vast majority of the population.

But there on the podium with Harry Truman, to deliver prayers, were a Protestant minister, a Catholic priest and a rabbi.

Flash forward to 2001. America is a much more diverse nation. Protestants make up barely half the population. We've had a Catholic president and numerous Catholic Supreme Court justices. Jewish politicians and businessmen have risen to the highest levels of government and finance, and increasingly Islam is being treated as a mainstream American religion.

Yet at that inauguration, of George W. Bush, there were two clergymen, both Protestants, and they both preached with enthusiastically Christian language. Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell prayed in "the name that's above all other names, Jesus the Christ." And Rev. Franklin Graham asked the American people to "acknowledge You alone as our Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer. We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit."

In fact, if one looks at the roster of clergy and the prayers they gave over the past 70 years, it appears that America has actually become less inclusive and pluralistic over time.

From there Mr Waldman goes on to discuss the history of elected officials and religion, and traces the changes that got us from:

- no invocation of religion at Presidential swearing-in ceremonies,

- to several celebrants on the podeum, representing the major religions in America (the "religious-diversity" model, 1937 - 1985),

- to one celebrant, who took care to recognize that we were a country of many faiths, and offered words that were inclusive of as many people as possible (the "America's pastor" model, 1989, 1993),

- to the latest, "Protestant only" model, where diversity is not taken into account, and the prayers speak of Jesus as Lord of us all, without regard for those who might be personally or religiously offended by such statements (Jews, Muslims, atheists, Hindus...)

Mr Waldman believes that unlike the prior two models (or the period with no religious invocation at all), this current way of doing things offends the spirit, if not the actual words, of our Constitution, as it "giv[es] clear preference to Christianity by having only clergy who pray in Christ's name."

After some discussion of where some atheists stand on these prayers (hint: they're opposed), and more about religious expression by our earliest Presidents, Mr Waldman concludes the essay with the following:

As Messrs. Warren and Lowery take the inaugural stage next week, they'll be trying to achieve two different missions. They are Christian ministers and need to stay true to their faith. But they are the only clergy on the podium and therefore must represent all Americans. If they can't restore the proper balance that existed before 2001, then their prayers will -- and should -- increase the drumbeat to get rid of inaugural prayers entirely.

Before anyone decides that Mr Waldman is just another crazy nihilist or atheist (while these terms may be interchangeable in some circles, they in fact have different meanings), please read his bio:

Steven Waldman is editor in chief and co-founder of Beliefnet.com, and author of "Founding Faith: Providence, Politics and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America." There is an archive of inaugural prayers since 1937 on his Beliefnet blog.

While I would personally prefer to see Presidents go back to either the "religious diversity" or "America's pastor" models discussed in the article, I believe that ultimately, it is the President's day, and I can "overlook" the use of celebrant[s] from his own faith, and messages that reflect his own beliefs, rather than the whole country's.

Contrary to many, on both sides of the political spectrum aparently, I wouldn't want to lose the inaugural invocation &/or benediction based on what naysayers in the public have to say about a particular President-elect's choices of celebrant or prayer. Who they choose & what is said tells us something about the leaders they intend to be, of course, and I have no problem with anyone expressing their opinion of either, but those decisions should ultimately be the President's, rather than ours...

If there ever comes a time when we go back to having no religious invocation, I want it to be because the President-elect in question wanted it that way, and not because a whiney public didn't approve of his chosen celebrant(s), or the message they planned on offering.

I believe the inauguration is the President's day, more in keeping with a wedding than a government function. In both cases, we're invited to attend the ceremony, but we don't get to pick the preacher or the vows... ...though we are free to express our opinions & otherwise kibitz amongst ourselves about both.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gay Butt-licking titillates Rightwing Blogosphere

TRUTH 101 said...

No offense to the guys I generally side with, but gang, this is hilarious. When will we ever see a University Professor do a post about gang buttlicking in a hotel conference room. And even add pictures. For a long time I thought I would hate it if one of my kids was stuck in a classroom with this stuck up blowhard. (Nothing tawdry meant by the word "blowhard" Don.) But now I see him for the fun loving guy he is. Bottoms up Professor!

January 15, 2009 8:14 PM

Truth ain't just whistlin' Dixie...

All across Right Blogistan, clear-eyed, moral, tradition-loving conservatives are posting photos and descriptions of gay sex acts, after this one single website--Americans for Truth (about homosexuality)--alleged that an organization was promoting a "pig sex" event for homosexual "leather boys," (if you don't know about "pig sex" or "leather boys," you'll have to use the google, or ask one of the Cons listed below.) taking place at a DC hotel the weekend of the inauguration. That's right, there might be gay sex taking place in Washington while Barrack Obama is in the same city!!! As Steve Doocy would say, "this. is. HUGE!!!" at least if one is to go by the reaction of some on the winged-N-nutty side the blogosphere.

Just a smattering of the Cons seemingly gettin' a happy from having an excuse to be licentious, and share it with their closest wingnut friends:

(As I said, all of these blogs take their cues from the same one unsubstantiated story on the same one website, and seem to enjoy the naughtiness of posting the pix & descriptions of this shocking behavior. These people need lives... or perhaps sex partners who ain't named "righty" or "lefty".)

American Power: Gay Activists Plan Obama Inaugural Celebrations

‘Pig sex’ orgy set for inaugural week - Say Anything: Reader Blogs

Inaugural Pig Sex - Giovanni’s World

Facta, Non Verba "Deeds, Not Words" Conservative Blog: Homosexuals Plan "Pig Sex" Orgy for Obama Inauguration to Celebrate the 'Election' of the Most Pro-Gay President Ever

Homosexuals To Celebrate Obama’s Inaguration With Sex Orgy - Aphiemi’s Weblog

And perhaps my favorite (Don't get jealous, Donald):

Big lick news: Sick, Sick, Sick!! Doubetree hotel in Washinton DC is allowing a "Pig party" in thier conference rooms as gay men "cheer" Obama's inauguation

(Great... An outfit called "Big Lick News" is going to explain why rimming is sick... Anyone else find that as funny as I do? And for extra Doocy-HUGE bonus laughs, check out the picture of the guy--perhaps ol' "Big Lick," himself--wearing the "Rimming... It's the shit" tee-shirt. Yikes!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Myth of Bigotry

When did it become almost impossible to disagree with an individual, a group, or a government without being labeled a bigot?

Many of those who didn't support Hillary in the 2008 election (or later, for Secretary of State) were labeled "sexist." Question whether we want a man named to the Senate by a potential criminal, and you just may be a "racist." Disagree with anything Israel has ever done, and you're obviously "anti-Semitic."

Can I call bullshit, now?

In the same way as some on the right trivialize the awful acts of Stalin & some on the left trivialize the awful acts of Hitler by carelessly using the terms "Stalinist" & "Nazi" to describe the parties & people with which they don't agree politically, this intentional and foolish misuse of the terms of bigotry trivializes real gender, racial, & religious bigotry and those who suffered under them.

Yes, just as there are still real Nazis, there are real sexists, racists, and anti-Semites, and yes, I've little doubt that a few (at least) were/are opposed to Hillary, Roland Burris, and Israel's recent actions in Gaza. But there are also many reasonable, intelligent people who're opposed to these same people or activities for reasons that have nothing to do with gender, race, or religion, and it's a pretty safe bet that these folks, whether right or wrong on the issue itself, far outnumber the bigots.

Don't be fooled by those who so easily play the bigotry card. They are cowering behind these hateful terms in an effort to avoid having to make a substantive argument, trying to shame you away from your well-thought-out position (unless you actually are a bigot, of course), and in the process, trivializing those who really have suffered from religious, racial or gender bigotry. It's a cheap trick, and those who choose to engage in it are generally just as aware of it as you & I.