MyDD Interview with Nancy Pelosi

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On Wednesday morning, January 21, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to talk about Barack Obama's inauguration, as well as the outlook for the 111th Congress.

The Speaker evinced a real understanding and vision for what needs to be done in the next two years. At the same time, she showed deference to and respect for President Obama, whom she was still clearly excited to have seen be sworn into office the day before, asking us to "let him lead," and to "make judgments at the end of a Congress, at the end of a term, but not on the day today."

During our conversation in her office in the Capitol, the Speaker expressed an amazement at what she called the "eloquence" of the crowd at the inauguration, while also making clear a determination to find out why a small, yet significant portion of those ticketed for the event were unfortunately unable to get in. We covered a wide range of issues, from the recovery package to healthcare to immigration to tax policy - which she indicated would be better approached holistically than in a piecemeal manner, perhaps indicating a desire for tax reform.

You can listen to the interview below, download it as an mp3, or read the rush transcript.

Jonathan Singer: How did you feel, both as the first inauguration of your speakership as well as just this historic moment in general?

Nancy Pelosi: We all knew it would be an emotional moment to see the first African-American sworn in as President of the United States. We all knew it would be great because of who he is and what a powerful intellect he has and [his] great vision for America.

It was pretty exciting, though, to see the crowd. He was eloquent, but the eloquence of that many people turning out in that low temperature and the attention that they paid... it was just sensational.

I loved the speech. It was really a document of vision and values for our country, commitment and courage to tell it the way it was. "These are our challenges."

Singer:"The era of responsibility" really stuck out to me. We can have times where we shirk our responsibilities, but this isn't that time.

Pelosi: It's a crisis. Shirking responsibility is a luxury we can rarely ever afford, but certainly not now.


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Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye

The elation I felt at the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th president yesterday was, of course, due in no small part to the man who was being sworn in. For many reasons, both real and symbolic, the inauguration of Barack Obama was historic and worthy of much celebration. But I for one could not fully separate the joy I felt at his taking over the presidency from the genuine and deep relief and satisfaction I felt over who was leaving it. For 8 years George W Bush has led an assault on my values, has called me unpatriotic and elitist and has not once indicated that he had any interest in being my president. So when George W. Bush was introduced yesterday, I was among those who let out a loud "Booo!" My first question to someone who had watched it on TV: "could you hear the boos?" The answer, happily, was "Yes."

Watch it:

Perhaps even more satisfying than having the opportunity to jeer the president though was being able to watch the helicopter carrying the Bushes fly away over the Mall. Here is some video I took of the ex-president's exit and you can hear the crowd's glee as well as my own parting words for him.

But there is a far more substantial way in which former President Bush (ah, that sounds nice) is being bid adieu: by the Obama administration's blocking of Bush's last minute regulations.

President Barack Obama's new administration ordered all federal agencies and departments on Tuesday to stop any pending regulations until they can be reviewed by incoming staff, halting last-minute Bush orders in their tracks.

"This afternoon, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signed a memorandum sent to all agencies and departments to stop all pending regulations until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the Obama administration," the White House said in a statement issued just hours after Obama took office. [...]

Controversial late rules by the outgoing Bush administration include allowing the carrying of concealed weapons in some national parks and prohibiting medical facilities from receiving federal money for discriminating against doctors and nurses who refuse to assist with abortions or dispense contraceptives based on religious grounds.

This is just one step of many toward undoing the damage wreaked by Bush over the past eight years and I look forward to many more such Presidential orders from the Obama administration to come.

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As Main Street rejoices, Wall Street is a basket case

Cross-posted at River Twice Research.

If you were not one of the 2 million people watching the inauguration on the Mall in Washington, you could watch the spectacle on any number of television channels. Flipping between ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS would have yielded different commentary but largely the same mood: euphoria, awe at the magnitude of electing the first African-American president, and somber urgency about what confronts our financial system and the world. Yet, even as Obama warned of a difficult road, the crowds were wildly enthusiastic, and millions were moved. Main Street has turned a corner.

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VERSUS celebrates the inauguration, in (serious) musical parody

VERSUS celebrates the inauguration of President Barack Obama with "AMAZING RACE" ... a serious parody of "Amazing Grace."

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Security FAIL

My friends and I, armed with Silver tickets to the swearing-in, got in the "silver ticket" line at about 8:15am, having left my friend's apartment in Adams Morgan before 7am AND having caught a miracle cab down to the Capitol. We were in line for more than 2 hours by the time the line finally was moving and the "silver gate" was in sight. But then the line seemed stuck and people began to flow in the opposite direction as the crowd chanted "Let us in! Let us in!" silver tickets raised above their heads. The rumor we heard from those bailing from the line: when the gate opened at 9am, people without tickets rushed the gate and the silver section was filled to capacity so people without tickets couldn't get in. Well, that apparently was not true, as eventually, close to 11am, the line was moving and we made it past a police line -- barely -- to get through to the mall. It was such a relief to get onto the Mall to see the ceremony -- albeit from a good distance -- but as I've spoken to people the more I've heard the security horror stories of the day.

CNN is reporting that many Silver ticket holders were blocked from entering the Mall. In addition, friends who had purple tickets had serious problems getting in and a Hill staffer friend of mine with a coveted blue ticket did not even get in. Apparently, blue ticket holders who were there as early as 630am did not get in. And did you see all the empty seats on the parade route? People paid for those tickets and didn't even make it in because of delays at the security checkpoints. A friend noted that if the military had been tasked with managing crowds (or even Disney, even) rather than DC police, this would have gone far more smoothly. Something went very very wrong. Yes, the crowds were unprecedented but they were also completely anticipated. What the hell happened today? Not that the security problems diminished the greatness of the day, but really, what the hell happened?

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Diaries

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