The rest of the inauguration day story

The group of us that went down (my sister and I, plus two of our friends), secured our spot on The National Mall (close to 12th St NW and Madison Drive) before 9 AM.  They replayed some of the concert from Sunday while we stood or sat in the cold and waited.  What you may not have caught on TV was the big laugh we in the crowd made the first time an announcer told everyone to take their seats.  The other bit the broadcasts may not have shared was the booing from the crowd when George W. Bush was announced.

Getting out of DC took us longer than getting in.  The police and National Guard personnel were not very helpful at all.  We spent a lot of time stuck in a confused crowd at L’Enfant Plaza because they decided to change one of the entry points to exit only and didn’t tell anyone.  We saw uniformed National Guardsmen standing on top of escalators who did and said nothing.  I still haven’t figured out how all that law enforcement managed to not have a single bullhorn or PA system to direct crowds.  The four of us managed to find our way to the other L’Enfant Plaza entrance by worming our way through the crowd.  We might have seen it sooner, were it not for the fleet of tour buses parked on D Street.  They were tall enough to block the other entrance from view, even when I got a chance to stand on a low wall.  The commingling of people trying to get on tour buses and those of us trying to get into the Metro station (each of us going in different directions) contributed to a lot of gridlock.  There was at least one ambulance trying to get through part of the crowd we were stuck in, and they weren’t having much luck.

The Metrorail folks definitely get an A for today’s performance.  We didn’t wait more than a minute or two for a train the entire day.  They had enough cars that we didn’t have to let a single train pass in order for all four of us to get on.  Law enforcement in the L’Enfant Plaza area gets a D.  No crowd direction or control, no information or conflicting information.

Even with these minor hassles, I’m glad I went down there.  I had great company with me and a good time as a result.

On the train to downtown

We got on the train at Wheaton around 6:40am. There was a bit of a crowd on the platform, but we all got on the train with no problem. Once we got to Silver Spring Station, the train was packed (even with 8 cars).

By 7:06, we got to New York Avenue Station, the last time I could post before we went underground (and out of reach of the AT & T network).

Headed downtown

Of course it’s crazy for me to brave the cold and the crowds to see Obama’s inauguration on a jumbrotron far from the actual swearing-in–but I’m still going to do it.  He’s the first (and only) candidate I ever donated money to, so I’ve got to be at least somewhere in the vicinity.  I’ve got my route picked out, my wake-up time, cold-weather gear, pocket-friendly food, and enough memory cards for the camera to last all day.

It’s morning again in America

The U.S. is certainly a different place today than it was yesterday.  The commentary I’ve seen that sums up best just how different things are is this Tom Toles cartoon of Obama walking into the White House beneath these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

Yesterday, America proved that we really believe this.

Election Day

I got in line a little over 30 minutes after the polls opened. According to the poll worker who came out to see how everyone is doing, the line was out the door by 6 am (1 hour before the polls officially opened).

My first clue as to how long this would take was the amount of cars parked everywhere. Every spot that isn’t marked handicapped is full. Every curb is full. People are double-parked. The loading dock on the side of the school even has cars and SUVs in it.

Update: Around 90 minutes after I got in line, I finally got to vote.  The line was still outside of the school when I left.

A More Perfect Union

Barack Obama spoke at length yesterday on the issue of race in general and his former pastor in particular.  If you haven’t already seen and heard the speech, or read the transcript, I encourage you to do so.  There is no soundbite that can do justice to the importance and brilliance of his message.  If there was ever a politician who could legitimately argue that he’s a uniter and not a divider, it is Barack Obama.  I only hope it helps him win in Pennsylvania.

Richard Stallman on Software Patents

I came across this opinion on software patents via the programming reddit.  It makes a great for why software patents are a problem without even mentioning Microsoft’s foray into patent trolling.

Stallman makes an interesting proposal for a new software-only form of intellectual property (IP) at the end of the piece.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it would survive the gauntlet of legislators (and lobbyists) to become law.

Bush’s Latest Appointment: Harriet Miers

Trying to find some information about Bush’s latest appointee to the Supreme Court, I found two comments especially troubling:

“The reaction of many conservatives today will be that the president has made possibly the most unqualified choice since Abe Fortas who had been the president’s lawyer. The nomination of a nominee with no judicial record is a significant failure for the advisers that the White House gathered around it. However, the president deserves the benefit of a doubt, the nominee deserves the benefit of hearings, and every nominee deserves an up or down vote.”
— Manuel Miranda, chairman of the conservative Third Branch Conference

“This is a smart move. You try to pick a nominee that Democrats won’t be able to criticize as much because they are a woman or minority. This is a classic Clarence Thomas strategy.”

— Artemus Ward, Northern Illinois University political science professor.

For other reactions, see the full version of the article (free registration required).

They are minority opinions to be sure, the bulk of the comments so far range from polite to unalloyed praise for Harriet Miers. Still, I shudder at the mention of Clarence Thomas in connection to anything at all. Few things in politics have made me more angry than his nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall’s record as a lawyer, his tenure as judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals (none of his 98 majority decisions was ever reversed), and his record as solicitor general of the United States (winning 14 of 19 cases he argued before the Supreme Court), stand in stark contrast to Thomas’ brief and unremarkable tenure as an appeals court judge. Thomas was notable only for being a black conservative (and his alleged conduct while head of the EEOC). To replace a lion of civil rights like Thurgood Marshall with someone so opposed to what he’d fought his whole life for was has always disappointed me.

What’s sad is that Artemus Ward is probably correct. Miers won’t have enough of a paper trail for anyone to effectively oppose her–unless a significant amount of conservative reaction falls along the lines of Mr. Miranda’s commentary.