A Nation of Laws.

Shortly after he declared our long national nightmare to be over, Gerald Ford asserted that his arrival in the Oval Office, unelected, on the heels of the worst political criminal this country had ever known, was proof that these United States are "a nation of laws, not of men". On its face, the remark seems at best ironic, and at worst downright deceptive. But it turned out to be true. For two years, Mr. Ford functioned, if not brilliantly, then competently, as our chief executive, and then peaceably handed the reins to someone else when he failed to convince the electorate to let him continue. Gerald Ford may not have been our greatest President, but he was an honest one.

As the remainder of the Bush presidency can now be measured in minutes -- 76 of them, as I write -- rather than days, weeks, months, or years, I am put in mind of that moment. The orderly transfer of power is something that we in America are used to; it is about to happen for either the 44th or 26th consecutive time, depending on one's reckoning: at any rate, for nearly 150 years, every time the electors have spoken, one man has given the titanic opportunities and duties of the Presidency to the next, without a shot fired in anger. This has happened when the parties disagreed vehemently, when, perhaps, they hated one another, when their ideologies were massively opposed; even, once, when it seemed that the man who was taking office had effectively stolen that office from the direct deputy of the man who was leaving it.

It's something of a miracle, don't you think? In most places on this Earth, to this very day it is the norm for one person or group of people to seize power and weild it until it is wrested forcibly from their fingers. It is so in the world's largest nation, it is so in some of its smallest, it is so in some of our closest neighbors, it was so for our own ancestors and perhaps some of our relatives. Even in parlimentary monarchies -- notably the British Commonwealth -- the head of state, however neutered his or her powers might have become in recent centuries, gives up power only in death.

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You Can Be Whatever You Want To Be?

     With today's historic inauguration of President Barack Obama as the nation's first black President I wanted to try and put into words what it meant to me as a black man in America. I also wanted to try and put it into an historical content for myself and other black children who grew up during the civil rights era of this country. However, as I began to contemplate the enormity of the event and the history I realized that I was overcome with so many conflicting emotions that I would not be able to present them in any coherent manner and still stay within the constraints of this medium. So I decided to take one aspect and try to focus in on it.

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Heading To The Big Show

I'm about to head down to the swearing in. A friend got me a ticket in the silver section, which appears to be a standing section at the front part of the mall. We're probably going to opt for a 45 minute walk rather than even try to get a cab (if one comes along, we'll certainly take it, but good luck with that) or take the Metro. The Metro has been crazy this week with long lines to even get into the stations let alone to get tickets or make your way through the turnstiles. People who have lived here for years tell me it's like nothing they've ever seen.

I may blog from my friend's iPhone, otherwise you can follow my inaugural adventures on Twitter HERE.

Follow along in the comments. Most of you will have a much better view...

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One MyDDer's Inauguration

I'll be blogging about my experience throughout inauguration week.  Stay tuned. My inauguration week started Sunday at the airport bar at in Fort Lauderdale International Airport - yes, international, they have flights to Jamaica - killing time and watching a woman a few years younger than me throw back tequila shots with the kind of speed that would make Usain Bolt jealous.  It's Sunday, January 18th and I'm about to fly home to DC for a day I've waited a very long time for, the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. I turn to my libationionally-gifted neighbor and say "nervous flier, huh?" 

"Not particularly," she answers.

"Like tequila?" I query.

"It tastes awful."

I won't be defeated, and reply "burgeoning alcoholic?"

Exasperated, she turns to me to says "this week is going to be a shit show with all you Obama people everywhere in DC, I hate that I have to be there for class and I would give anything to be anywhere else."

An auspicious start to my inauguration week.

Baggage claim at Reagan National Airport in Virginia was surprisingly calm, like being in the eye of a hurricane, with a glance to the taxi stand revealing the chaos and destruction ahead.

The "We Are One" with everyone from Bono to Beyonce, happened while I was in the air, but I got home in time to watch the re-broadcast on HBO.

At the end of the concert, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen sang "This Land Is Your Land." I grew up in Upstate NY, a short drive from where Pete Seeger lives.  He's the man who looked at an impossibly polluted Hudson River and said, yes we can...clean it up, more than 40 years ago, and started the Clearwater movement.  He heard Bob Dylan go electric and took an ax to the sound system - okay, nobody's perfect.  Still, hearing Pete singing this progressive ode to America - "In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple, near the relief office, I see my people" - moved me to song and tears.

 

And I wasn't the only one loving my country with the kind of passion usually reserved for bad reality television.  A friend assures me that at the exclusive hotel The Hay Adams, where Obama stayed last week, the entire bar sang along.  It took a diverse group of the fabulously wealthy - every rich color of the rich rainbow - and 400,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial joining in song to get me in the proper state of mind to celebrate this moment in history, the inauguration of Barack Obama and the end of the reign of error, 8 years of Bush/Cheney.

 

My next stop was the Florida Obama Campaign staff party.  I worked on the Obama campaign in Orlando, Florida for a month and  stepping into that party was like being back on election night.  The collective exuberance was still there.  As progressives, we want to change out country for the better.  But as campaigners, we want to win and there is no feeling like winning.  We won in Florida, so Katherine Harris, consider it recounted.

 

The last stop of the night was a friend's Hawaiian-themed inauguration house party.  There is one iron-clad rule of house parties: when the booze runs out the party is over.  I showed up, posse in tow, at 1am and you could hear the party down the street. We soon ended up on the packed dance floor, with TI pumping and the whole room dancing and shouting along.  The most amazing part, it was 1 in the morning and the alcohol had run out an hour ago.  But everyone in the room was dancing, laughing and calling their friends to tell them to come over.  A complete stranger turned to me and said "this is awesome," and I don't know if he was talking about the party or the inauguration, but I couldn't agree more.

 

What keeps a party going when the tap runs dry: hope.  Now I'm ready to celebrate this inauguration.

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Netroots Nation "Yes We Can" Inaugural Bash

I'll be at Netroots Nation's "Yes We Can" inaugural bash in a bit, as will others from the MyDD crew, which is a co-host for the event. Who else will be there?

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Diaries

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