Monday, January 26, 2009

REMARKS OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA




Inaugural Address
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Washington, D.C.
**EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY**
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.
###
EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY
January 20, 2009
Contact: PIC Communications Office, 202-203-1700

A Pictures Worth a Thousand Words..........

Vertie Hodge, 74, weeps during an Inauguration Day party near Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Houston on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 after President Barack Obama delivered his speech after taking the oath of office, becoming the first black president in the United States. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Mayra Beltran) #


Friday, January 23, 2009

Post Inauguration Celebration at 4th Fridays at the 50

Join the Brothers from Bronzeville for a Post Inauguration Celebration as we salute the 44th President of the United States of America, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA!

It has been an amazing week. I am so overwhelmed. See you tonight.



Host: Tommie and Orlando
Location: The 50 Yard Line
69 E 75th Street
Chicago, IL 60619 US
View Map
When: Friday, January 23, 6

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chicago, America's most segregated big city



Racial lines were drawn over the city's history and remain entrenched by people's choice, economics
By Azam Ahmed and Darnell Little | Tribune reporters
December 26, 2008
(Left) Whites make up about 28 percent of Chicago's population and are largely located on the North Side. Slivers of the population live on the South Side. (Right) Blacks make up about 35 percent of the city's population and are largely concentrated on the South and West Sides. (Tribune photos by Chris Walker / December 10, 2008)

First of three parts

The paths taken by Colin Lampark and Rosalyn Bates help illustrate why Chicago is the most racially segregated big city in America.

Both are young professionals with handsome earning potential. Both moved to the city a few years ago—Lampark, 28, to Lincoln Park; Bates, 31, to Bronzeville. And both chose neighborhoods reflecting their race, a practice common in Chicago.

Their personal stories, and many others, explain why blacks in Chicago are the most isolated racial group in the nation's 20 largest cities, according to a Tribune analysis of 2008 population estimates. To truly integrate Chicago, 84 percent of the black or white population would need to change neighborhoods, the data show.
The calculations paint a starkly different picture from the ones broadcast across the nation during Barack Obama's Election Night rally last month, when his hometown looked like one unified, harmonious city.

The fact is, racial patterns that took root in the 1800s are not easy to reverse. Racial steering, discriminatory business practices and prejudice spawned segregation in Chicago, and now personal preferences and economics fuel it.

"Once institutions exist, they tend to persist, and it requires some act of force to get them to change," said Douglas Massey of Princeton University, an expert on segregation.

For Lampark, who is white, the move last year to Lincoln Park from Minneapolis came because he had friends there. It wasn't a racially motivated decision, he said. Lampark, an engineer, just doesn't know anyone on the South Side.

Bates, who is black, settled in Bronzeville for similar reasons.

"It put us closer to friends," she said.

She, however, may pay more dearly for her decision. Segregated African-American neighborhoods have less access to health care, quality education and employment opportunities than white areas, the research shows. Black homeowners can expect to receive 18 percent less value for their homes, according to one study—a tax the researcher attributed primarily to segregation.

James Hamilton, 50, a deckhand from Woodlawn, can live with that. In his experience, which includes 30 years on the South Side, he doesn't think that whites would welcome him to their neighborhood.

"It ain't never been us," he said. "It's always been [whites]—just don't want to be around us."

The research shows he may not be entirely wrong. While whites are willing to vote for Obama, they aren't nearly as interested in living in neighborhoods rich in color.

Blacks make up about 35 percent of Chicago's population of nearly 3 million and are largely concentrated on the South and West Sides. Whites make up nearly 28 percent, largely located to the north and in slivers of the South Side, while Hispanics, about 30 percent of the population, are scattered to the Northwest and Southwest Sides of the city center.

Dating back to the late 19th Century, blacks were confined to certain neighborhoods in Chicago by pen and sword, with legal restrictions and real estate practices ensuring whatever bombs and batons did not.

During the Great Migration in the early 20th Century, hundreds of thousands of blacks followed those patterns of settlement, creating densely populated communities on the South Side that hardened racial fault lines.

Real estate agents showing people homes only in certain neighborhoods and restrictive covenants guaranteed that blacks did not spread across the city or into the suburbs. Redlining ensured that black areas received less financing and investment.

Slum clearance and urban renewal in the 1940s and '50s displaced more blacks. Most found housing in the deeper South Side, in areas rapidly turning over with the onset of white flight. The poorest moved into public housing, which transformed into housing largely for blacks.

The city decided to build high-rises for public-housing residents, a move that would prove fatal to hopes for integration. White aldermen refused to place the high-rises in their wards, so nearly all were placed in black areas.


"By the time civil rights comes along, the die has already been cast," said Arnold Hirsch, a historian at the University of New Orleans and author of "Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960."

"It's no longer how you set up something, but how do you uproot something that's already taken hold," Hirsch said.

More recently, income differences between racial groups have helped further entrench separation, clustering lower-income minorities into urban ghettos that beget further isolation.

But perhaps the most controversial driver of segregation today in cities such as Chicago is personal taste: People tend to select areas where their own color has a large presence or they have some familiarity.



Related links
Chicago is the most racially segregated big city in America Graphic
"It plays a huge role because the neighborhoods have been firmly established, and Chicago has had a greater history of racial segregation than other cities," said William Julius Wilson, professor of sociology and public policy at Harvard University.

Chicago's history meant that churches and family networks for whites and blacks developed in separate areas.

Those connections prompted Reginald Halbert's move to Kenwood 10 years ago. Halbert, who had been living in the suburbs, considered the North Side but decided to build his gated home on the South Side, where he grew up.

"We wanted to be in close proximity to all the things that matter to us," said Halbert, 44. "Our work, our family and our religious institutions."

Some studies show that blacks tend to prefer a more diverse neighborhood, something closer to a 50-50 split of blacks and whites, but those tend not to exist in a city as old as Chicago.

Research indicates that whites tend to have a lower tolerance for blacks and other minorities. A 2000 study found that whites prefer neighborhoods where they are nearly 60 percent of the population and blacks represent about 17 percent.

One theory posits that whites associate black neighborhoods with high crime and poor-quality schools. A recent study conducted in the Chicago and Detroit areas by the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Michigan found that whites consistently rate a neighborhood higher when its residents are white regardless of the physical quality of the neighborhood.

Not only do the studies show a white reluctance to move into black neighborhoods, research shows that the share of whites who say they would leave a neighborhood grows as the proportion of black residents increases. That has proved true in Chicago.

"Chicago is a very, very large city with a large population of Hispanics and blacks and a declining white population," said Harvard's Wilson. "But it's still a city in which people can find housing in other areas, and as long as there are areas to which whites can retreat, it will be difficult to reduce the overall segregation."

Cities with smaller black populations, such as Tucson, Ariz., or Seattle, show greater integration. Chicago's large black population would exceed most white thresholds, experts say.

Another factor that separates Chicago from other places is its age. Older cities in the Midwest and Northeast were established before restrictive housing policies were outlawed. Experts say more newly developed cities—such as Austin, Texas; San Jose, Calif.; and Charlotte, N.C.—are likely to see higher levels of integration.

Said Jacob Vigdor, an economist at Duke University: "What integration requires is the presence of blank slates."

Even then, federal studies of equally matched black and white couples show that unequal racial treatment for both renters and buyers still exists.

"We live in a country where we think people should be able to move freely, so we don't have a lot of policies or laws that either encourage or constrain people's residential choices," said Mary Pattillo, a professor at Northwestern University. "Our laws that are supposed to defend against discrimination put the burden on the individual."

A final factor often cited as a reason that segregation persists is economics. Poor end up living with poor, and because blacks maintain the lowest place on the socioeconomic food chain, they are often lumped together.

But research shows that blacks largely remain segregated from whites across income levels, though to a lesser extent than 30 years ago.

Many higher-income African-Americans who could afford to live anywhere in the city choose to live among blacks, even at the expense of wealth accumulation in their homes.

"It provides a certain comfort for middle-class African-Americans who may work in a corporate environment where they are minorities to live in a neighborhood where they aren't a minority," said Richard Pierce, chairman of the Africana studies department at the University of Notre Dame.

Bates, of Bronzeville, might fit into that category. A clinical therapist, she and her attorney sister canvassed much of the city before selecting a neighborhood.

"There is a comfort level being among people of your own race," she said. "I don't think that there was any intention of segregation behind that."

aahmed@tribune.com

dlittle@tribune.com

Cheryl at the Inauguration in DC..

I spoke with Cheryl yesterday, and I could hear the excitment in her voice,as she prepares to attend the parade and the Inaugral ball.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Roland Martin: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich

It is total hypocrisy for the naysayers of embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to assert that he didn't have the legal right to appoint Roland Burris to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

According to the Illinois Constitution, the governor of the state has the sole discretion of appointing the replacement. Has Blagojevich resigned or been impeached? Nope. If you call Springfield, Ill., and ask for the governor's office, they'll tell you that Blagojevich's name is still on the door.

It seems a lot of folks are excited and happy that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White took a stand by refusing to sign the paperwork certifying Burris as the Senate appointee. Yet what these same folks somehow refuse to recognize is that Blagojevich isn't some guy sitting around in his office, twiddling his fingers, flipping through the cable channels with a remote, and waiting to get impeached. He still is carrying out his duties as governor.

Did you know that since his arrest in early December, Blagojevich has pardoned 22 people? I haven't heard a huge outcry over this tainted governor setting folks free.

Did you know that Blagojevich continues to sign bills that were passed by the General Assembly? U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald cited a pending bill on the governor's desk related to horse racing as a reason for arresting him, but Blagojevich still can sign any bill he so chooses.

Did you know that earlier this week, Blagojevich, as determined by state law, set March 3 as the primary date and April 7 as the general election date to fill the U.S. House seat of Rahm Emanuel, who resigned after agreeing to become Obama's chief of staff? By the way, guess who signed the certification of that election? Jesse White!

The law says Blagojevich can set a special election to fill a congressional seat, so doesn't the same law state that he can fill a U.S. Senate seat?

Yes, Blagojevich's appointment of a Senate seat is easily seen as being tainted because of what has been described by federal law enforcement officials in their criminal complaint against him. But the reality is that Blagojevich hasn't been indicted, convicted or impeached. And whether we like it or not, no matter how smelly it looks, he still maintains the absolute right to do the job he was elected to do.

I was one of the many voices who said that in light of what he was arrested for, Blagojevich should resign his seat because his presence paralyzes the state government.

And I still believe that.

But we are way beyond that now. He chose not to do so, which is his right.

Then the Illinois General Assembly had the authority to strip Blagojevich of the right to choose the Senate replacement, but the Democratic-controlled body got greedy and chose not to. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is also chairman of the state Democratic Party, had a bill in committee to do so and had signaled that he was going to pass the bill. But Democrats were scared that a Republican could win a special election, and they didn't want to risk it. I'm sure they also were banking on a Blagojevich resignation.

So in the end, could the spectacle of Burris being turned away at the door of the U.S. Senate have been avoided? Yep. But Democrats chose not to do so, and now they look like fools for leading this circus.

But let's go back to Blagojevich and the law. Critics contend that Blagojevich doesn't have the right to appoint anyone to the seat. Yet even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid conceded that according to their rules, and not law, Blagojevich has the right to walk on the floor of the U.S. Senate and talk with Senate members.

Think about that for a second. Senate Democrats are objecting to Blagojevich's appointment, saying they will reject Burris and not allow him to walk on the floor, but the guy who appointed Burris has floor privileges? Have we gotten to the point that we are picking and choosing what rules and laws with which Blagojevich must comply?

It's worth noting that Sen. Larry Craig was arrested in an airport bathroom and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct yet got to keep his seat and focus on his job. Sen. Ted Stevens was arrested on corruption charges, tried and convicted, but he was still able to carry out his official duties. So if Craig, Stevens and any number of other House members who have been arrested were allowed to continue doing their jobs even after being arrested on state or federal charges, should the rules be different for Blagojevich?

We have moved beyond what we all think Blagojevich should do. Folks wanted him to resign; he didn't. Others wanted him not to appoint a Senate replacement; he did. All we are left with is the real question, and that is whether Blagojevich had the legal right to do what he did, and the fact is yes, he did.

It may not look right, feel right or smell right, but when it comes to the law, it's crystal clear. And if you don't like it, change the law.



To reach Roland S. Martin:
roland@rolandsmartin.com

To read Roland S. Martin's blog:
www.rolandsmartin.com/blog
If you want to listen to other podcasts of Roland S. Martin, click here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Planning to attend the presidential inauguration this month

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- in Washington? Expect a fortress-like city bursting at the seams.


Inauguration preparations at the Capitol began before the Thanksgiving holiday.

1 of 2 An influx of nearly 2 million people is expected to hit the streets of the nation's capital alongside an unprecedented security presence for the swearing in of the nation's first African-American president.

Police will be shutting bridges across the Potomac River into Washington, along with a huge chunk of downtown D.C.

Security officials are investigating any and all potential security threats to Barack Obama.

Homeland Security officials said they have no credible reports indicating that there's any terrorist threat to the inauguration, and there are no adjustments being made to the nation's threat level.

But officials also see the celebration as a potential target because it's highly symbolic and highly visible and will bring hundreds of VIPs -- including foreign leaders -- into the city.

Of particular concern: the possibility of a lone wolf gunman, improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers. The FBI and Homeland Security have issued a threat assessment to law enforcement and other law enforcement officials nationwide. Watch more on Obama's new fortress-like limo »

Preparations and logistics for the inauguration ramped into high gear shortly after the election. Initially, city officials estimated that nearly 4 million could be expected to attend the inauguration, but they later scaled back that number.

For John Aravosis, who runs AmericaBlog.com and is a D.C. resident, the need for security is tantamount -- but it comes with a price for those trying to witness history.

"The problem here is, I don't mind the need for security. But it's increasingly looking like none of us can attend," he said. "I've got friends talking about renting $250 limos for the day to get them to places."

And then there's the traffic woes that tourists and residents alike will face. Watch more on inauguration plans »

Two of the major routes coming into the city, Interstates 395 and 66, will be closed to inbound traffic, at least for private vehicles.

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And for those coming from Virginia, all of the bridges between the state and Washington are going to be shut. In order to get in: walk or take public transport, such as the metro area's subway system.

But as for getting around easily underground? Aravosis said, "good luck."

"I have no idea how I'm going to get there or get home. The Metro?" he said, laughing. "You can't take the metro on the Fourth of July! When we have half a million, you can't take the Metro, and you walk home, and it's not 15 degrees. And it's not 3 miles away." Interactive: Secret Service details traffic, security plans (PDF)

But there is some good news for travelers.

Amtrak says that it has increased the number -- and length -- of trains running to Washington on inauguration day and that tickets are still available but are going fast.

Amtrak can accommodate 5,600 inbound passengers on a normal weekday but will accommodate 8,200 to 8,300 on Inauguration Day, Chief Operating Officer William Crosbie said.

"I don't think in the (37-year) history of Amtrak, we've put on this much capacity," he added.

Security officials also say charter buses, taxis and car services will be another option for those attending.

WTOP radio's Adam Tuss offers sage advice on his blog.

"Note to Self: Take the car keys and hang them on the key rack on Jan. 19. Another Note to Self: Stay at home, if at all possible on Jan. 20," he wrote January 6.

Frank Guerrero said city residents like himself should just stay home and watch Obama's swearing-in on television or the Web.

"Take the day off, stay home, don't deal with the traffic, and all will be fine, and if you're so inclined, walk down to the Mall with the masses and stand there in the cold, where you will probably see nothing," he said.

And it's not just going to be really tough for those who live in the capital area but for those working on Inauguration Day.

One top Senate aide involved in inauguration activities, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she's going to hunker down in her office and sleep on an air mattress. She said many Congress staffers will also hold Capitol Hill office slumber parties.

"If we're lucky, we'll be able to come home near midnight the next day after they reopen the bridges to Virginia," she said. "It's going to be a long 24-hours, and that's why I'm bringing my [Nintendo] Wii."

And another concern for some tourists and residents: crime.

"D.C. isn't the kind of town that is really safe to walk by yourself at one o'clock in the morning in most neighborhoods. I don't know what people are going to do. ... This place isn't safe past 1 in the morning," Aravosis said.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Does anyone know where George W. Bush is?


Add Up the Damage
By BOB HERBERT
Published: December 29, 2008
Does anyone know where George W. Bush is?

Skip to next paragraph



Go to Columnist Page » Readers' Comments
Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
Read All Comments (702) »You don’t hear much from him anymore. The last image most of us remember is of the president ducking a pair of size 10s that were hurled at him in Baghdad.

We’re still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel is thrashing the Palestinians in Gaza. And the U.S. economy is about as vibrant as the 0-16 Detroit Lions.

But hardly a peep have we heard from George, the 43rd.

When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country.

This is the man who gave us the war in Iraq and Guantánamo and torture and rendition; who turned the Clinton economy and the budget surplus into fool’s gold; who dithered while New Orleans drowned; who trampled our civil liberties at home and ruined our reputation abroad; who let Dick Cheney run hog wild and thought Brownie was doing a heckuva job.

The Bush administration specialized in deceit. How else could you get the public (and a feckless Congress) to go along with an invasion of Iraq as an absolutely essential response to the Sept. 11 attacks, when Iraq had had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks?

Exploiting the public’s understandable fears, Mr. Bush made it sound as if Iraq was about to nuke us: “We cannot wait,” he said, “for the final proof — the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

He then set the blaze that has continued to rage for nearly six years, consuming more than 4,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. (A car bomb over the weekend killed two dozen more Iraqis, many of them religious pilgrims.) The financial cost to the U.S. will eventually reach $3 trillion or more, according to the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz.

A year into the war Mr. Bush was cracking jokes about it at the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association. He displayed a series of photos that showed him searching the Oval Office, peering behind curtains and looking under the furniture. A mock caption had Mr. Bush saying: “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.”

And then there’s the Bush economy, another disaster, a trapdoor through which middle-class Americans can plunge toward the bracing experiences normally reserved for the poor and the destitute.

Mr. Bush traveled the country in the early days of his presidency, promoting his tax cut plans as hugely beneficial to small-business people and families of modest means. This was more deceit. The tax cuts would go overwhelmingly to the very rich.

The president would give the wealthy and the powerful virtually everything they wanted. He would throw sand into the regulatory apparatus and help foster the most extreme income disparities since the years leading up to the Great Depression. Once again he was lighting a fire. This time the flames would engulf the economy and, as with Iraq, bring catastrophe.

If the U.S. were a product line, it would be seen now as deeply damaged goods, subject to recall.

There seemed to be no end to Mr. Bush’s talent for destruction. He tried to hand the piggy bank known as Social Security over to the marauders of the financial sector, but saner heads prevailed.

In New Orleans, the president failed to intervene swiftly and decisively to aid the tens of thousands of poor people who were very publicly suffering and, in many cases, dying. He then compounded this colossal failure of leadership by traveling to New Orleans and promising, in a dramatic, floodlit appearance, to spare no effort in rebuilding the flood-torn region and the wrecked lives of the victims.

He went further, vowing to confront the issue of poverty in America “with bold action.”

It was all nonsense, of course. He did nothing of the kind.

The catalog of his transgressions against the nation’s interests — sins of commission and omission — would keep Mr. Bush in a confessional for the rest of his life. Don’t hold your breath. He’s hardly the contrite sort.

He told ABC’s Charlie Gibson: “I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it.”

The president chuckled, thinking — as he did when he made his jokes about the missing weapons of mass destruction — that there was something funny going on.

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