Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama Effect on Test Scores?

That's right! In less than three months Obama has reformed schools and raised black test scores!!!

I mean, really? REALLY. Let's break this down quickly.

First things first, there is a stereotype threat. Basically when told or reminded that one belongs to a certain group, said person ends up doing worse than they normally would have done. Example, if a black test taker is reminded that he/she is black prior to the test beginning they do worse than if they are asked what race they are after the test. Here's some more on it:
That gap reflects, in part, what psychologists call “stereotype threat”. In this now well-established phenomenon, being reminded that you belong to a group that, according to prevailing stereotypes, isn’t good at something causes you to do worse on a test of that something than if you were not so reminded. Similarly, if you are told that you are being assessed on something that stereotypes say your group is not good at (“girls can’t do math”) you do worse than it you’re told the test does not... When girls who are about to take a math test are reminded of their sex (basically they just check M or F on a line asking their gender), or when African-Americans about to take a standardized test such as the SAT are reminded of their race, or even when white males take a test that they’re told Asians excel on, they do worse than otherwise.
Okay, so this exists. It's real. And now some guy wants to tell us it doesn't exist with black students any more because of Obama.
Before the convention and in early October, the performance gap was as wide as ever: white students got a median score of 12.1 compared to blacks’ 8.8 before the convention; the scores were 12.9 and 8.4, respectively, in early October. But just after Obama’s convention speech, and just after election day, “when Obama’s stereotype-defying accomplishments garnered national attention,” as the researchers put it, there was a remarkable effect. Among students who watched Obama’s speech, blacks’ and whites’ scores were statistically equal (10.3 vs. 12.1) after the acceptance speech and 9.8 vs. 11.1 after election day.
Okay... by electing a black President we have managed to erase the ENTIRE WORLD HISTORY and treatment of blacks. And here's the kicker, because of this IT PROVES THAT OBAMA HAS BROKEN THE STEREOTYPE THREAT!




I mean come on... But here is the real kicker:
"The difference is considered statistically insignificant--that is, likely due to chance."


Are you kidding me? Not only are they wasting my time writing about this study that has NO STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE but well, I started that sentence poorly.

But I wanted to point out that the Newsweek editors are morons and Sharon Begley should never ever have wasted our time.

The moral: If someone brings this up at a cocktail party, call them an idiot and tell them that the study was statistically insignificant and if it is real, we won't know about it for years.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oh, I almost forgot

Let's give it up to the media!

You know what I could use after the Blago media tour? A little Drew Peterson!

Hey media? Why don't you not book Blago and Drew Peterson for every TV show in the country. You're just feeding into their egos... so you call them disgusting, only, well you, umm, feed into them! You give them the platform for them to promote their disgustingness! And then call them disgusting!

So who's the disgusting one again?

Blagojevich Now an Ex-Governor


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Should the U.S. Postal Service have a monopoly?

This little piece in the Atlantic this month is a perfect example at how difficult and complicated public policy can be. This seems like a pretty straight forward issue in the U.S. since we have a capitalist economy and have traditionally been a strong proponent of free markets and trade.

From time to time you'll hear that the U.S. Postal Service should not have a monopoly on mail delivery (packages, on the other hand, can be delivered by private companies, FedEx and UPS being the most famous). When one takes a step back and thinks about it, it is a bit odd that only the Postal Service delivers mail.
By law, the U.S. Postal Service has had a monopoly on delivering mail to mailboxes since 1934. Should private couriers like FedEx be able to compete? That could be a big mistake: the government’s highly trained mailmen work with the FBI and other agencies to weed out suspicious packages, prevent identity theft, and alert the public to consumer fraud—a layer of security that could be compromised by opening our mailboxes to hordes of private carriers.
This is a good case of why public policy decisions can be tough. In theory you want competition so that citizens can get the lowest price possible to send their mail. However, it becomes a security issue because if the U.S. Postal Service holds a monopoly over mail delivery it is easier for the government to gain information about suspicious activities. The downside of course, is that it costs 42 cents to send a letter to anyone in the country (with competition it may even be cheaper).

So what does a policy maker do? What is more important—national security or the economic well being of the American citizen?

Personally, I think this is a case where the cost is already so low (if you look hard enough during the day you'll find the 42 cents to buy a stamp) that allowing the U.S. Postal Service to hold their monopoly makes sense. But in other matters it isn't as cut and dry a case.

An interesting case and a good example of how policy works in the world. And here is more from the Rand Corporation on their findings.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Three Greatest Moments of the Bush Presidency (That's George W. mind you...)

Notice none of these are about policy...

3) Dodging the shoe

Frankly, it's hilarious—some journalist in Iraq decides that he's had enough of Bush and he throws a shoe at him. Straight up, Austin Powers style.

What's amazing is that Bush easily gets away from the shoe-missile, and then when the second shoe is launched, he once again dodges it with ease. And he's unfazed by all of this... the bring it on mentality is in full force during this 'attack'. Bush wants the shoe to be headed straight at him just so he can show his agility and cool, calm demeanor in a pressure situation.

In other words, this was the anti-"My Pet Goat" moment of his Presidency.

2) Throwing a strike during the 2001 World Series

Let's break this down, Hubie Brown style:
Okay, so you're George Bush. You're in New York. You're in Yankee Stadium. Millions of people are watching you on TV. It's just a few weeks after 9/11, people love you right now. LOVE YOU. So you're asked to throw out the first pitch, but being the President, you've got to wear a bullet proof jacket. These things are big, they're heavy, they aren't comfortable. They don't feel natural.

So what do you do?

That's right, you throw a strike down the middle.

That my friends, is pretty cool.

1) The Bullhorn speech
Without a doubt, no matter what you think of W. and his policies or his politics, Bush represented on September 14, 2001 with his "bullhorn" speech:

I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people -- and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!

It was the perfect thing to say on that day. American wanted to be sure that we had someone who could hear us and who would, in turn, make sure the world heard us. It was off the cuff, it was inspirational, it was a great moment in American history.

Sadly, Bush didn't hear most of us in the end. He would waste all the support he gathered and manage to divide the country despite the unity that the country so wanted.

And what's even a bigger bummer for me is the Bush's policy achievements are lacking... domestically they have been a disaster and his foreign policy—to be nice—is incomplete. None of the things on this list have to do with policy... two of them are just sort of fun, or cool moments. They aren't symbolic, they aren't anything thing other than a youtube clip. And while the his greatest moments is truly a great moment, if that is the only thing worth a damn from eight years in office, well... I'm not sure what to say other than what a waste it's been.

Friday, January 23, 2009

If Mr. Easterbrook Didn't Live in D.C., maybe he'd know how bad things actually are

Today, we're gonna give the treatment to Gregg Easterbrook. Easterbrook's day job is at Brookings and his night job? columnist during the NFL season. For the most part, I like Mr. Easterbrook but...

If Teenagers Borrowed to Spend the Way Washington Borrows to Spend, Adults Would Call Them Irresponsible:

This is true.

Since the taboo against serious deficit spending in peacetime was shattered under Ronald Reagan, presidents and Congress have borrowed lavishly to give constituent groups and special interests whatever they want -- then handed the debt to our children and grandchildren, all the while wagging their fingers about how somebody else must do something about the federal deficit.

Yes, yes, tell me more! I'm one of those children! What happened next? Will the next sentence be as long as the first? I'm at the edge of my seat here.

George W. Bush added the wrinkle of simultaneously cutting taxes and borrowing to increase spending, all the while wagging his finger about the deficit. The result was that the national debt nearly doubled in eight years. But Bush will never have to deal with that, since he will be retired when the bill comes due. Bush took the easiest possible path, cutting taxes and increasing spending... Tax cuts and spending increases are candy.

I agree! I agree! This is right! I like candy also! And tax cuts! And spending! Why can't this work? So what if W was a cut revenue and increase spending President! No one said anything for years and year, so why are we pointing this out now?

Barack Obama was right last week to call Bush's handling of the country's finances "profound irresponsibility," though, of course, Democrats in Congress went along with it.

What? No. Not really. See the GOP controlled both the Senate and House from 2002-2006. It wasn't until 2007 when the Bush spending spree was some what slowed, thanks mainly to the Democrats taking control of Congress. And then 2008 came around and we had to spend.

The soaring debt is worrisome for many reasons, not least because it represents headlong borrowing when there is no national emergency.

Interesting... where is he going with this?

Terrorism is a concern, but not an emergency.

Good way of putting it.

The economy is a concern, but recessions are cyclical and all previous postwar recessions cured themselves.

WHAT? The economy is just a concern? Did Mr. Easterbrook miss September and October? Did he not realize that the credit markets came to a stand still and we were looking at the economic abyss? I know is was only, THREE MONTHS AGO, but the entire system almost broke. And when I say broke, I mean it in the 'people weren't going to get paid' kind of way. The economy is more than a concern and what happened back in the fall wasn't going to correct itself. This wasn't 1992 or 2002. This was 1929/1930, and pretty much every economist agrees with me.

Though life is mainly normal, we're borrowing as if the whole world were at war. If the United States borrows like mad even when things are under control, what's in reserve for a genuine emergency?

Point taken, only life isn't mainly normal. Life may be normal in the L.A. of the East (D.C. is FantasyWorld to L.A.'s FantasyLand), but for most of American—New York, the Midwest, California—things are pretty bad.

Considering the slack economy, some short-term deficit spending may be a lesser evil...

May be? May be a lesser evil? That's an understatement. When banks aren't lending money that's kind of, sort of, a major problem.

Obama said last week, "We're going to have to stop talking about budget reform and totally embrace it" in order to "make a change in the way Washington does business" on the budget. Genuine budget reform will require either deep spending and benefits cuts, or tax increases, or both.


Little of the federal budget is discretionary; most is entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid), defense and payments on the debt. If you ended agriculture subsidies, shut down the National Park Service, abolished NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency, stopped all federal support for education, and canceled all pending Pentagon weapons programs, there would still be federal deficits.

Yawn... So what?

There just isn't any way out of the debt mess that does not involve long-term tax increases;

Falling asleep... Everyone knows this.

or Social Security cuts (perhaps eliminating benefits to any senior whose household income is above $50,000 annually);

Yeah, yeah, only that doesn't matter since Social Security is really just a Ponzi scheme with transparency. Birth rates rise and fall. In 30 years, with just a few tweaks, we could even lower the Social Security threshold.

or Medicare reduction (perhaps requiring seniors to pay for half their care).

Okay, Medicare is a problem. But no one wants to do anything about it. Why? Because old people vote and for many of them it's the only way they can get health insurance. What private company is going to insure an eight-one year old male with a long list of problems? With private health insurance, there are going to be some losers—children and the elderly in this case.

The question should be about cutting Medicare, it should be how to we reduce medical costs on the whole? That would save billions.

Someone in Congress should introduce the Future Dramatic Spending Cuts Act, which would require big spending cuts, but only once everyone who voted for the bill has left office.

The jokes write themselves people! The joke write themselves... sigh.

With each passing year that the United States refuses to deal with its deficit, the problem gets worse, owing to the compounding of interest... For the past three George W. Bush budgets and at least the first Obama budget, the country is borrowing, borrowing, borrowing as if tomorrow will never come.

And with this he goes back to the N.F.L. Look, part of the reason the U.S. is able to borrow, borrow, borrow is because the U.S.A. has more assets than anyone else. To compare it to the financial crisis is flat out wrong. What happened there was that people with few assets were given homes or credit lines they couldn't afford. What's happening with the federal government is much different. Should we be concerned with government spending? By all means yes, but it doesn't work the way Mr. Easterbrook wants it to work. The Federal government can borrow because Americans and non-Americans want to lend their money to the U.S. And when these people buy Treasury bonds, the U.S. usually don't lose too much money (if any) on the deal because interest rates on those bonds are so low.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

And in the 5th District...

Hopefully 538 will get all over this race since they live in the district (or blocks away), but I'm interested in it since well. A former professor of mine is running for the Congressional seat—Charlie Wheelan (full disclosure: not only did I have Charlie as a professor, I've volunteered at the campaign a bit).

The race is for Rahm's (and Blago's... and Rosty's...) old seat. It is wide open at the moment—thanks to Blago forcing every elected Illinois politician to keep their mouth shut due to the political climate. Thus the Cook County Dems haven't gotten behind anyone... so everyone and their brother is running at the moment.

But back to Dr. Wheelan... Charlie is a policy guy, which I like, and has an econ background. In a time like this that might come in handy. Bellow is a nice video of Charlie on the campaign trail.

Who else is running? Illinois state representatives Sara Feigenholtz and John Fritchey, Chicago Alderman Patrick O'Connor and Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley are the main Democrats in the race. But all, despite what they say, have some sort of connection—at some level—to the Chicago Machine. The same Machine which gave us Blago, Jessie Jackson, Jr., and over course Mayor "Olympics or Bust, even if it means crime goes up and the schools fail" Richie W. Daley.

ESPN does Obama better than MSNBC

I think what's interesting about the entire Obama Era (well the last year of it), is that D.C.—as always—missed the point. The TV heads and hacks on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox always seemed to talk about Obama and his politics and ideas or lack there of and so on and so forth. They see that Obama inspires people, but they can't tell us why.

But most of us, even us Policy Wonks, didn't really focus on Obama the politician. He always was BIGGER than social issues or health care or even—eventually—the economy. The Obama Era is a phenomena, not in a political sense, but rather in a cultural arena. Yet the Beltway types always missed this. The newspapers once in a while came close, but since Obama is an Arts feature that happens to be on the front page, they never nailed it.

News is constant and instantaneous in the 21st century, the need for information isn't as great—we don't have to watch the 5 o'clock news to see what happened during the day—we already know. But TV news hasn't changed, it continues to give us the same story over and over and over again until something new happens (TV news is, after all, completely reactionary; thus I personally find it boring). Newspapers have somewhat changed in that it gives us context of what happened and attempts to look to the future (because we already know what happened). But newspapers are stuck because they are being pulled between the Old Guard and it's 'what happened' and the newer guard attempting to look at what will be.

The media talk of Obama only as a politician, what he did and what he hopes to. This is necessary, but it also misses what people in bars and on the bus are talking about. Obama has transcended the political realm... as I said, he's an arts feature that happens to be front page news every day. And in all that I've read, all that I've heard, all that I've watched... the best conversation or piece on Obama and what he is and means just happens to be on

Crazy I know, but the conversation between Bill Simmons and J.A. Adande about Obama is fantastic. They capture what he means to the general public, not some 'pretend to know it all' hack on TV inside the Beltway. Those types are treating Obama like they treated Clinton—but that's the wrong way of looking, studying, and reporting on Obama.

Anyway, here is the conversation/podcast, they kick off talking about the NBA but about 20 or 25 mins in they switch to Obama and it's fantastic (the podcast is on the right hand side of the page, download or play from there).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I'm beat from yesterday and even threw up the Roberts GOAT post last night so I'm taking today off.

But if you loved yesterday so much... well then, why not read all about it again?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

John Roberts GOAT

If today's inauguration was a big sporting event—and it's not a crazy comparison—then what happened today during the oath of office has to be one of the biggest choke jobs of all time.

John Roberts totally botched the short oath. What's the sports comparison to this? At first thought I've got to go with Bill Buckner in Game Six of the 1986 World Series. I mean this was a total choke job by Roberts.

1) He seemed to have cut off Obama as he was repeating his name. Though Obama may have jumped the gun, but Roberts did oddly pause... Obama started in and then Roberts suddenly is talking over him... I'm putting the blame on the Chief Justice. Roberts should have let Obama finish saying his name.
2) Roberts completely and totally misplaced the word faithfully, which then threw of Obama a bit, which then forced Roberts to repeat what he was saying... and well it sounded weird and uncomfortable and anything but Presidential or honorable.

I'm sure most people will over look this... but if this was sports? Roberts would be on the front page of every paper, he'd be ripped on the radio and every single columnist... sadly, the hacks will over look this, maybe a joke here or there. But come on, Roberts should be absolutely grilled by the media on this. It's not like repeating the oath of office is a long, complicated thing to do.

The result was that this was pretty unsmooth and played horribly on TV.

Here is how it went according to Reuters:

ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama…

OBAMA: I, Barack…

ROBERTS: … do solemnly swear…

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…

ROBERTS: … that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…

OBAMA: … that I will execute…

ROBERTS: … faithfully the office of president of the United States…

OBAMA: … the office of president of the United States faithfully…

ROBERTS: … and will to the best of my ability…

OBAMA: … and will to the best of my ability…

ROBERTS: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

OBAMA: … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

ROBERTS: So help you God?

OBAMA: So help me God.

Inauguration -- Live Blog -- Part V

3:52p.m. -- I need a break... be back in an hour or so if things are still going on... but over all a very very very fun and interesting day.

3:10p.m. --
The crowd has gone to another level. The cold and wind? THIS IS NOTHING FOR THE OBAMA'S! 30 degrees and a wind chill in the teens! This is nothing compared to what we go though in Chicago. Anyway, they just made Obama go back into the car as they pass the Old Post Office Building (which is a bad food court if you're wondering, but a decent view of DC if you go to the top of the tower). There is a weird O-BA-MA chant going.

3:07p.m. --
In 2001 at about 9:30p.m. I did this very same walk. The street was empty, just a few homeless guys trying to sleep and a ton of garbage and protest signs, and I walked up Pennsylvania Ave since the street was still blocked off to cars. It's a huge street with these large, but not tall, buildings lining the street. It's just so cool to watch them walk down this street.

-- The Obama's just got out of the car and are walking up Pennsylvania Ave. Very very very cool. This, my friends, is how a democracy should be.

Inauguration -- Live Blog -- Part IV

2:55p.m. -- This parade isn't that interesting. The Obama's are in a car. It is moving slowly. People are cheering and taking pictures and waving flags. The moment today was his speech... but stay with me to see what continues to transpire.

2:46p.m. -- Every person the reporters interview in the crowd is black and they ask them their name, where they're from, and if they'd ever live to see the day of a black President. And Al Roker went insane... I think... he just said that he won't crack. Um Okay.

2:36p.m. --
It looks as if Obama will not be walking... just a slow not even 5mph roll down Penn Ave. Lots of cheers but that's about it...

2:34p.m. --
The parade has finally started... I think...

2:26p.m. --
Brian Williams with the line of the day:
"I imagine President Obama was jonesing for a piece of nicorette gum after that lunch."

2:19p.m. --
Parade starting, the military guys are saluting Obama as they walk/march by. Pretty cool.

2:15p.m. --
So this isn't Inauguration coverage any more... this is Ted Kennedy coverage. But let's compare this to Sunday night when Willis McGhee was almost killed in the AFC Championship Game.

Players immediately gather around, many start praying, a hush comes over the crowd (however, P.A. is blaring CCR for some reason), get away from the player and let the medical staff take care of everything, hold hands with fellow players in prayer, look concerned but with a relief that it isn't you that was almost killed, once the player is put on the stretcher go over and give him a affectionate touch on the shoulder, then on the first play after the hit everyone goes at about 10% speed of the previous play.

Finish lunch, go get coat, talk to media in a somber voice, pretend you really really care and are worried, praise the staff and security, keep Kennedy in your prayers, act like you don't know anything but say that everyone was very helpful, act like you don't want to talk to the media but never walk away from the camera, mention how bittersweet this moment is.

2:07p.m. --
Sen. Kennedy's emergency has got the TV Heads talking again... these guys love this stuff just so they can drop some personal anecdotes about Ted Kennedy. BTW, only in D.C. would people react so ho-hum, did you hear about Kennedy, what a bizarre town. It's like L.A. only more important and even flakier—for example I would assume that 79% of the people at this lunch will not tip the coat check.

This is just crazy. Byrd apparently might have had an emergency too but no one knows.

1:57p.m. --
Byrd is fine. It's Sen. Ted Kennedy who got sick or had some sort of medical emergency, just to clear up the 1:46p.m. update. I'm sure the news sites will have something on that sooner rather than later. The NBC reporter, Kelly something, keeps saying Obama had nothing to do with this... NO SHIT. Stop trying to blame the black man!

1:55p.m. --
Obama gives the it's not about me stuff... but I'm wondering this: Where is Blago? Is he in Springfield? Watching this on the Northwest side of Chicago? Would you be shocked to see him in the crowd along the parade route? Is there a chance that he's trying to crash one of these events tonight? And you know what? I'm rooting for Blago to some how cause a scene today...

1:51p.m. --
Obama is speaking now. He drops Teddy, but NBC just said Byrd was the one who got sick. So I don't know what's going on. Then Barack gives a shout out to the wait service, a nice touch. This has been a long day and it's about 25% of the way over.

1:46p.m. --
NBC is showing this lunch and they're giving Obama a crystal bowl. It isn't interesting. At all. I think they should start talking about if Obama is going to be a post-modern President or if he's to be the first President who fully understands irony and the Ironic Age we live in. After all, Obama did call out cynics today... (and TPB didn't feel at all bad or guilty).

And now Harry Reid, officially the Dumbest Man in D.C., as of this second is giving a speech. They are interrupting his speech to report... Sen. Byrd had a medical emergency and they don't know the details. Obama was not involved. Apparently, everyone blamed the only black man in the room...

1:29p.m. --
Today is D.C.'s day to shine and I've got to say... they don't do that good of a job do they? Everything looks nice, but D.C., being D.C., nothing looks all that genuine.

1:15p.m. --
Talk of the economy and Obama and we're just waiting for him to finish lunch.

1:07p.m. --
Everyone is waiting for Obama to finish lunch...

12:45p.m. --
Last I checked, the DOW is down 187 points (2.2%) on the day... just sayin'.

-- Two things I can't get over:
1) John Roberts messing up the oath of office.
2) Not canceling the stupid classic music song so that at noon Obama is being sworn in. I mean REALLY?
Knowing we're running late, no one can say, screw the song that no one cares about so we're swearing in Obama at the time he becomes President?

-- It's weird seeing Barack and Michelle Obama enter the room for this lunch... which is a sea of white people. They stick out. It also shows how far we still need to go as a country.

Inauguration -- Live Blog -- Part III

12:00p.m. (c.s.t) -- I'm going to make lunch, be back in a few...

11:57a.m. --
And this is it for W. We won't see him for a long time. W is about to get on the helicopter that will take him to Andrews and then on to Dallas. An ending to a Presidency we've never really seen, this isn't like Nixon—he left in disgrace and odd circumstances. W leaves differently... unpopular, yet some how revealed. History has yet to judge him and will probably be unkind to him, and at the moment no one is really sad to see him go.

But as W. hugs Obama and gets on the helicopter, he disappears, maybe forever since if history is unkind to him, no one will want his opinion.

The Bush Era is over. That's it. It's finally over.
The helicopter lifts off... what an odd moment. Just like that he's off.

George W. Bush is leaving Washington, D.C.

-- If you want to read some more on what I've said about this movement that Obama has started and what he means... check this out from another blog.

11:46a.m. -- NBC for a moment speaks of Harold Washington... I fully believe that without Washington, Obama isn't up there right now. Obama came to Chicago during Washington's tenure as mayor of this great city. But it was such a racially charged time in this city, just over twenty years ago, but Washington over came that, he won, and the young Obama realized and understood what it meant—if Harold could do it then I can do it.

11:42a.m. --
People are leaving as the ceremony ends... but what a country. What a fucking country. Where else in the world could a viable minority be ELECTED as the leader of the country?

I know, I know, we have a long way to go still. And we haven't elected a woman President... but were in Europe could a black or yellow or brown or red or blue or green man be elected President directly?

11:28a.m. --
This is a speech to the country asking—even demanding—us to be responsible and calling us to service. Government isn't the problem, but it can't save us on its own. We are all in this together, and sitting back and waiting for something to happen isn't enough. And with that, he wraps up. Not a long speech, short and simple, to the point, and he asks very little. He asks us to be realistic, to be responsible, to give, and not to take, that we are one, the United States of America, and to hurt one of us it to hurt all of us.

There wasn't a JFK or FDR moment, I didn't hear a timeless one liner, but it was a hell of a speech. Conservatives can't complain, if anyone should be upset by this address, it's the leftists since Obama's message is about individual sacrifice and responsibility... something we that was never asked from us during the Bush years. We're all in this together.

11:23a.m. --
Addresses the Muslim world and then dictators and the Third World and finally the First World... "the world has changed and we must change with it"... he has spoken of the American spirit a few times now, it's a striking image. Obama goes on to say that the government will be there, but you—America—are those who will really save us all and undertake it with the American spirit.

11:19a.m. --
Obama calls for new energy plans and better schools and says we will do it... "the question isn't if our government is too big or too small, it is if it works." And he says that the government will be held accountable. I'm not saying this because I have a policy degree, but this is truly the first President who has an idea of public policy, an understanding of economics, and the power of statistics... a shot of W. he looks distant, as if he isn't too upset that he's leaving D.C.... "We are ready to lead once more" and the crowd cheers... Obama is basically saying that Bush's foreign policy was wrongheaded... to the terrorists: "you cannot out last us and we will defeat you."

11:14a.m. --
NBC's cameras continue to show blacks in the crowd... "we must pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and begin remaking America."

11:10a.m. --
Obama speaks of confidence—and a lack there of—in America. Calling the challenges real and we will meet them. He's going after Bush's policies... and calls for unity as a country. "The time has come..."

-- Obama starts his Inauguration Address. Has the hype and expectations for a speech ever been so high? If he doesn't hit a grand slam it will be a disappointment. That's pressure, my fellow Americans.

Inauguration -- Live Blog -- Part II

11:07a.m. -- A shot of New York for some reason. Gots to love the media.

11:05a.m. --
It's go time... Chief Justice John Roberts and President Barack Obama recite the oath... and it couldn't go worse. Obama's stepping on Roberts, Roberts isn't pausing... it's amateur hour in D.C. for some reason. But he's sworn in. EVEN THOUGH HE WAS ALREADY PRESIDENT.

11:04a.m. --

11:03a.m. --
This is beyond lame. Obama is officially President since it's after noon eastern. Yet he hasn't been sworn in. Nice job U.S. Government. This song was totally worth it.

11:02a.m. --
Well it's about to happen folks... after this song by John Williams. REALLY? THIS IS WHAT WE'RE DOING? A SONG??? Who is putting on this inauguration, some sports exec at NBC? The production is out of hand... just swear in Barack already. I mean we're not in a recession or anything, it's not like we could use this money on something useful... no one in America cares about this.

10:58a.m. --
Joe Biden is sworn in as Vice President. The Bush/Biden Presidency has begun!

10:53a.m. --
A lot is being made of the White House and U.S. Capitol being built by slaves, and while the metaphor of Obama and the slaves is striking, but...

Obama's ancestors were not American slaves. He is not a decedent of American slaves. So it's sort of weird to point out every time that they show a picture of the Capitol that it was built by slaves.
It's not factually incorrect, but it feels forced at the same time. I'm doing a poor job at articulating this, but the achievement gap between the decedents of former slaves and blacks of Caribbean or African parents who immigrated in, say the 20th century, is huge.

My point: We still have a long way to go. And it took time for those decedents of slaves to accept Barack as their own in this election cycle...

10:48a.m. --
We are praying to the Christian God who is a male... as a Roman Catholic I take issue with this on two levels:
1) God probably is genderless

This prayer sort of sucks.

10:45a.m. --
The crowd is going crazy. Not Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series crazy, but crazy non-the-less. Let's get this inauguration rolling...

10:43a.m. --
The Mall is packed. The TV Heads won't shut up. The morons of the Democratic party are trotted out. This day is so over the top... it should be about the President but the little guys need their moment in the sun to fill their ego...

And here he comes...

10:40a.m. --
And here comes Barack... He looks poised and at peace.

It might get a little dusty here in Hyde Park... where is Jim Nantz to say, "What a moment!"

10:36a.m. --
W is introduced as President of the United States for the last time. No one cries. Everyone lets out a deep breath. The question should be... can he mess this inauguration up too or is it too little too late?

10:34a.m. --
The other big news of the day? Kaka is not moving to Man City. I know I know. But this is huge. Man City was going to drop 91 million pounds ($127) on Kaka! Wow.

10:29a.m. --
Obama's daughters come on out... in a way they're the most interesting people today. Think about it... they're 10 and 8 (iirc) and they're dad is becoming the President of the United States. What's going on in their little minds? They know what's going on... but what is it like to be a little kid and your dad, who already is larger than life, actually becomes larger than life to pretty much every human on Earth? Has to be a weird thought/feeling.

Anyway, it's cool to have little kids in the White House. Nothing bad can come of that right?

Oh, and Brian Williams said that people around the Mall are pissed because of security... I told you so!

10:24a.m. --
Moving vans are moving the Bush's out of the house!!! It's happening folks!! The worst policy President of the last 80 years is leaving the White House!

10:21a.m. --
And here comes Bill Clinton!!! Everyone has a soft spot for Bill because... well... we still want him to be President deep down. Admit it, you liked the 90s, you loved the 90s, you NEED the 90s. And Bill Clinton is the 90s.

Bill was perfect, he's the first (and only) post-modern President, who was totally aware of what he was doing and what he wanted back in the 90s. I miss Bill even if I don't really care for his policies.

-- As the old Presidents gather round and get ready to go out there, I post another song... by Dylan and sung by Mason Jennings.

Inauguration -- Live Blog -- Part I

10:14a.m. -- What a song...

10:05a.m. -- As a veteran of an inauguration (2001), I can't tell you how insane the security is. There are marines with guns, cops every five feet, checkpoints a few blocks from the Mall and lines that stretch blocks long to go though. It's crazy. And I can't imagine what it's like today.

There were a lot of people out there in 2001 supporting or protesting Bush... but by all accounts this blows that day out of the water in terms of numbers. I can't imagine what it's like. I can't imagine why people want to go other than just to say they were there. The amount of security really takes away from the event. This is a peaceful transition, but the security is something out of the Third World. Maybe I'm a sucker for the old stories about Andrew Jackson and what democracy should be about (the people and the free moment of people). It's a fine line between freedom and security and I can't tell you were that line is. But in 2001 I thought it was too much.

Anyway here is a bit of what I wrote back in 2001 and I'm not sure why I was so angry:
"So I ask this, what is so peaceful about this event? This was not peaceful! This was like some third world country. There is nothing peaceful about men with guns and in riot gear trying to 'control' the crowd. Okay so they weren't standing on every corner with a big ole' AK-47, but they were intimating. It made you think twice about anything and everything. Just the fact that it was so freakin' hard to get any were pissed me off. Anyone that wanted to get on the parade rote was searched. It's not like you could walk up there, they checked your bags, and it seemed like they were doing a little pad down work too. There were cops everywhere, and there were a ton of military people too. I saw like 200 marines just marching down the street like it was no big deal. And the fencing! It was like they were expecting a billion dogs with out owners to show up. Everything was fenced. The sidewalk was fenced from the parkway which was fenced from the street. It was like a jail, because you couldn't go any were with out someone stopping you. This was not peaceful this was intimidation. If this was truly peaceful then all the fencing and officers and military people would not be necessary. Now I'm not saying there should be no security, I just think that this was a little too much. What was the point? I'll tell you, to scare the hell out of people and make it hard for them to do get around." -- REO, Jan. 20, 2001

9:48 a.m. -- W and Obama come out and get in the limo. Cheers go up (W probably doesn't think they're for him right?) What do these two talk about? My bets are on John Danks, who Bush said is his favorite baseball player and Danks just happens to pitch for Obama's favorite team, the White Sox. So I"m going to go with a five minute discussion on the maturation of John Danks over the 2008 baseball season.

Anyway, the motorcade is off. It really isn't that interesting. So just imagine what Bush and Obama are talking about...

9:46a.m. -- Cheney is in a wheelchair... the Dr. Evil joke is too easy right?

9:44a.m. -- A Barbara Bush sighting!! Not H.W.'s wife, but rather W's daughter who picked up and left for New York about three years ago and was rumored to be a pill popper/party who loved the Georgetown area! Why no one has done a feature on her, I'm not sure...

9:42a.m. -- This has nothing to do with the inauguration, but a nice feature on Charles Wheelan who is running for Congress for Rahm's old seat (the 5th here in Illinois). Here is his website.

(Note: Charlie was our professor at U of C over the last two years).

9:35a.m. -- I'm flipping between ESPN, NBC, and MSNBC (full disclosure, I owe 6 shares of G.E. stock). NBC has former CUA student, Brian Williams; MSNBC features Olbermann (more on him later), and ESPN is LIVE talking about the Cowboys!!!

Other blogs:
L.A. Times
Chicago Tribune

9:25a.m. -- John Cusack sighting on NBC!!!! Is there a quasi-Chicago event he doesn't show up at? I love John as much as the next girl, but after his "I'm a Sox fan" routine in 2005... Die Cusack, die.

9:05a.m. -- A few over bets to get out there:
** Over/under **
Number of times "Change is Gonna Come" today on the radio: 1,387
Number of times the TV heads say John F. Kennedy: 937
Number of times the TV heads say Abraham Lincoln: 3,498
Number of times the TV heads say Martin Luther THE King: 2,974

More to come as the day progresses.

8:55a.m. (c.s.t) -- We are coming to you LIVE from Hyde Park—two blocks from Obama's barber and six blocks from Obama's house—here on a not that cold, snowy Chicago, Illinois!!! Obama just got out of the limo and took a picture with W. and then walked into the White House.

Stay with me today as I live blog the shit out of this inauguration. Who needs the NYTimes or the WashPost attempting to make Obama their own when I've got TV crews a block from my house?

Monday, January 19, 2009


I'm back... starting tomorrow... where I'll be living blogging the last hours of George W. Bush and the first hours of the LeBron James of politics.