Inauguration Day

Quote of the Day:     “Free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don’t attack each other. Free nations don’t develop weapons of mass destruction.”     –former President George W. Bush (blank stare)

Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States a few moments ago. A black man, or even a half-black man as President is an event TB never thought I would see, even as recently as a few months ago. It proves that anyone, though the odds be long, in America, can rise to the highest office in the land. I expect we’re close to unique in that respect. As always on these days, I am also struck by the beauty of the manner in which we Americans peacefully transfer such power.

I have been thinking about the George W. Bush legacy. On this day, I choose to accentuate the positive. In furtherance of that, I thought I’d list all of the positive things accomplished under his regime. I honestly can’t name many, so I’d like you readers to add what you believe he’s done well down in the comments. First, Bush deserves credit for the fact that we have suffered no foreign terrorist attack on American soil since 9-11. I also credit him for rallying the country in the immediate aftermath of that attack. I am thankful for his leadership in the damage done to the Taliban, particularly in the years following their attacks. I applaud his dividend tax cut which I believe encourages companies to return more of their profits to ordinary shareholders, and I favor his reduction of the estate tax by raising the exemption substantially. That’s all I’ve got.

TB is reflective today. I have high hopes for the Obama Presidency. Since his appearance on the national stage, Obama has demonstrated that he is a man of integrity, persistence and intellectual honesty and curiosity. If he is able to retain these traits while surrounded by the chaos of high office, I will remain on his side and remain confident of the direction he takes our country. I’ll be watching his administration carefully on these points.

Obama takes over a country that is a mess. I blame Bush for leaving this mess, but I also know he didn’t do it alone. Our foreign policy problems can be tracked all the way back to Woodrow Wilson. On the economy, I believe Bush simply continued many of the harmful policies pursued by all Presidents and both parties in Congress since the Reagan election. That is to diminish the power of the civil justice system, reduce efficient oversight of business by government agencies and allowing multinational corporations to dictate our domestic agenda. It is my hope that the Obama administration will reverse course on these trends. For me, that would signal real change. It is also my hope and belief that during the Obama era Americans will raise the collective importance of service and the common good above that of self interest and greed. In our history, there have been short periods where this was the case. The trust busting era of Teddy Roosevelt, World War II, and the Civil Rights era come to mind as brief moments in time where our culture was drastically changed and advanced when Americans came together for the greater good. I believe we are on the cusp of another such era. I hope Obama lives up to his promise, even more than his promises. And with the passing of years, I have learned that though hope and belief are usually unrewarded, not only is there no shame in believing and hoping, with awareness, but without reservation, there is no joy without them.

Quote of Tomorrow:     “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.”     —Barack Obama’s Inauguration Address

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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44 Responses to Inauguration Day

  1. serendipity hopeful says:

    Congratulations to President Obama and the people of the US of A.

    As a foreigner who wants good things to happen in any and all parts of the world, I wish Americans will work more in harmony with their president. How successful Obama can be as American president will depend on how well his fellow-Americans can rein in their demands for their expectations to be satisfied.

    Keep the hopes alive.

  2. supercynic says:

    We didn’t agree this much when we shared rent. I’ll have more to say (who cares?) when I get a minute. Great post.

  3. I used to be a lot more cynical.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Kennedy just got taken out on a stretcher. What symbolism

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sen Byrd was carted out. What irony

  6. Did Byrd really fall out too? Wow. Who else is really old? They might want to go ahead and call their doc.

  7. Zeek says:

    Well, he’s in now, so I will support him as my President,as any good red blooded American should. I hope he does do great things, it can only help me and other Americans if he does, that is my take; more power to ya. Just hope all the promised “change” isn’t for the worse, because that is possible,ya know.

  8. sweet says:

    Anon was me being your roving reporter above. They screwed up the oath and two Sens went down during lunch. Hope it smooths out from here on

  9. JessieLou says:

    I dare say the poor guy was nervous – he might even change his mind about taking the office if his wife was not towering beside him. Just Kidding but she does kind of scare me sometimes! That said – I, for one, hope that he does well – wishing him anything other than success means we will all do poorly in the end. Last time I checked the poop still rolled down hill. I noted in his address that he stressed responsibility and work by ALL of us. Obama also said that he would get rid of programs that no longer worked. I think if he is successful in that endeavor alone you will see the color change in those who have supported him to this point. I have heard him make some Cosbyesque comments in the past and being one of their own Obama can get away with it like no white person before him. I wish him success and it is my hope that no harms comes to him like it did to Reagan, If and when someone does try to do him harm, it is my fervent prayer that they are not from Mississippi or from the South.

    According to MSN – Sen. Byrd just chose to leave the luncheon early and there was nothing wrong with him.

  10. Stone says:

    The peaceful transfer of power is cool and it is intimidating to our enemies. You might out live and/or outlast a US President as a two bit dictator but you will never out live or out last the Office of the President.

    Our institutions are very strong and enduring. Our system, as flawed as it can be, is the best the world has ever known.

  11. Madd Dawg says:

    Former KKK member Senator Byrd had to leave the immediate area during the inauguration of Obama in order to check and see whether or not pigs were flying and/or whether not hell had frozen over in accordance with predictions that he had made on numerous occasions as to other events that might be going on in the world at the point in time in which a non-white individual would be elected President of the United States.

  12. JessieLou says:

    Very good assumption MD.

  13. smilyj says:

    Real change would be if he can bring compromise within the two parties. I am actually approving of many of his appointments so far. He seems to be open to listening to what the other side says. Unlike Pelosi or Reid. And Bush/Cheney. I truly believe that is the best thing that could happen. I hope it ain’t just fluff.

  14. Madd Dawg says:

    The economy goes up and down in a capitalist system. It is down now, and it will go back up no matter what the government does.

    One of main behaviors that got us into this mess was too much borrowing and spending by government, business and especially consumers. I don’t agree with the Bush/Obama economic theory that says we should spend (ie. borrow from our kids) trillions of dollars now to “save” us when too much borrowing and spending was the root cause of the problem in the first place. That is like a counselor telling a drug addict that he should do more drugs to solve his problems. I just don’t get it.

    We gave some banks billions, and they are in trouble again. We gave GM and Chrysler billions, and they will be broke again in a few weeks. We are just prolonging the pain by throwing our kids’ money at the problem.

    How about this: Let the weak companies file bankruptcy to keep their creditors away and give them a chance to reorganize and come out on the back end a lean mean fighting machine (“Stripes” reference).

  15. Madd Dawg says:

    The Obama presidency: Here comes socialism
    By Dick Morris
    Posted: 01/20/09 06:12 PM [ET]

    2009-2010 will rank with 1913-14, 1933-36, 1964-65 and 1981-82 as years that will permanently change our government, politics and lives. Just as the stars were aligned for Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson and Reagan, they are aligned for Obama. Simply put, we enter his administration as free-enterprise, market-dominated, laissez-faire America. We will shortly become like Germany, France, the United Kingdom, or Sweden — a socialist democracy in which the government dominates the economy, determines private-sector priorities and offers a vastly expanded range of services to many more people at much higher taxes.

    Obama will accomplish his agenda of “reform” under the rubric of “recovery.” Using the electoral mandate bestowed on a Democratic Congress by restless voters and the economic power given his administration by terrified Americans, he will change our country fundamentally in the name of lifting the depression. His stimulus packages won’t do much to shorten the downturn — although they will make it less painful — but they will do a great deal to change our nation.

    In implementing his agenda, Barack Obama will emulate the example of Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Not the liberal mythology of the New Deal, but the actuality of what it accomplished.) When FDR took office, he was enormously successful in averting a total collapse of the banking system and the economy. But his New Deal measures only succeeded in lowering the unemployment rate from 23 percent in 1933, when he took office, to 13 percent in the summer of 1937. It never went lower. And his policies of over-regulation generated such business uncertainty that they triggered a second-term recession. Unemployment in 1938 rose to 17 percent and, in 1940, on the verge of the war-driven recovery, stood at 15 percent. (These data and the real story of Hoover’s and Roosevelt’s missteps, uncolored by ideology, are available in The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes, copyright 2007.)

    Obama’s record will be similar, although less wise and more destructive. He will begin by passing every program for which liberals have lusted for decades, from alternative-energy sources to school renovations, infrastructure repairs and technology enhancements. These are all good programs, but they normally would be stretched out for years. But freed of any constraint on the deficit — indeed, empowered by a mandate to raise it as high as possible — Obama will do them all rather quickly.

    But it is not his spending that will transform our political system, it is his tax and welfare policies. In the name of short-term stimulus, he will give every American family (who makes less than $200,000) a welfare check of $1,000 euphemistically called a refundable tax credit. And he will so sharply cut taxes on the middle class and the poor that the number of Americans who pay no federal income tax will rise from the current one-third of all households to more than half. In the process, he will create a permanent electoral majority that does not pay taxes, but counts on ever-expanding welfare checks from the government. The dependency on the dole, formerly limited in pre-Clinton days to 14 million women and children on Aid to Families with Dependent Children, will now grow to a clear majority of the American population.

    Will he raise taxes? Why should he? With a congressional mandate to run the deficit up as high as need be, there is no reason to raise taxes now and risk aggravating the depression. Instead, Obama will follow the opposite of the Reagan strategy. Reagan cut taxes and increased the deficit so that liberals could not increase spending. Obama will raise spending and increase the deficit so that conservatives cannot cut taxes. And, when the economy is restored, he will raise taxes with impunity, since the only people who will have to pay them would be rich Republicans.

    In the name of stabilizing the banking system, Obama will nationalize it. Using Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to write generous checks to needy financial institutions, his administration will demand preferred stock in exchange. Preferred stock gets dividends before common stockholders do. With the massive debt these companies will owe to the government, they will only be able to afford dividends for preferred stockholders — the government, not private investors. So who will buy common stock? And the government will demand that its bills be paid before any profits that might materialize are reinvested in the financial institution, so how will the value of the stocks ever grow? Devoid of private investors, these institutions will fall ever more under government control.

    Obama will begin the process by limiting executive compensation. Then he will urge restructuring and lowering of home mortgages in danger of default (as the feds have already done with Citibank).

    Then will come guidance on the loans to make and government instructions on the types of enterprises to favor. God grant that some Blagojevich type is not in charge of the program, using his power to line his pockets. The United States will find itself with an economic system comparable to that of Japan, where the all-powerful bureaucracy at MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) manages the economy, often making mistakes like giving mainframe computers priority over the development of laptops.

    But it is the healthcare system that will experience the most dramatic and traumatic of changes. The current debate between erecting a Medicare-like governmental single payer or channeling coverage through private insurance misses the essential point. Without a lot more doctors, nurses, clinics, equipment and hospital beds, health resources will be strained to the breaking point. The people and equipment that now serve 250 million Americans and largely neglect all but the emergency needs of the other 50 million will now have to serve everyone. And, as government imposes ever more Draconian price controls and income limits on doctors, the supply of practitioners and equipment will decline as the demand escalates. Price increases will be out of the question, so the government will impose healthcare rationing, denying the older and sicker among us the care they need and even barring them from paying for it themselves. (Rationing based on income and price will be seen as immoral.)

    And Obama will move to change permanently the partisan balance in America. He will move quickly to legalize all those who have been in America for five years, albeit illegally, and to smooth their paths to citizenship and voting. He will weaken border controls in an attempt to hike the Latino vote as high as he can in order to make red states like Texas into blue states like California. By the time he is finished, Latinos and African-Americans will cast a combined 30 percent of the vote. If they go by top-heavy margins for the Democrats, as they did in 2008, it will assure Democratic domination (until they move up the economic ladder and become good Republicans).

    And he will enact the check-off card system for determining labor union representation, repealing the secret ballot in union elections. The result will be to raise the proportion of the labor force in unions up to the high teens from the current level of about 12 percent.

    Finally, he will use the expansive powers of the Federal Communications Commission to impose “local” control and ownership of radio stations and to impose the “fairness doctrine” on talk radio. The effect will be to drive talk radio to the Internet, fundamentally change its economics, and retard its growth for years hence.

    But none of these changes will cure the depression. It will end when the private sector works through the high debt levels that triggered the collapse in the first place. And, then, the large stimulus package deficits will likely lead to rapid inflation, probably necessitating a second recession to cure it.

    So Obama’s name will be mud by 2012 and probably by 2010 as well. And the Republican Party will make big gains and regain much of its lost power.

    But it will be too late to reverse the socialism of much of the economy, the demographic change in the electorate, the rationing of healthcare by the government, the surge of unionization and the crippling of talk radio.

  16. Let’s be clear on one thing. It wasn’t just Bush who borrowed and spent like a fool for the last 8 years. Virtually every Republican in Congress was equally culpable. Most of the pop culture right wing talkers and pundits supported their every move. So maybe, maybe “conservative” theory is right about how to handle the economy, but we’ll never know because there are no financial conservatives in DC. When there is someone running for office who backs up their talk with action, let me know and I’ll consider listening to what they rightie pundits have to say. At the rate the Republicans are resigning from Congress, the right will have a chance to put up some new people for office that may prove worthy of credibility. For now, I’m willing to see what going the opposite direction will do.

    The argument is not should we spend and borrow or should we cut spending and quit borrowing. It is only where we should spend the money we are borrowing.

    PS, Obama has promised in vague terms to do away with spending programs that have proved ineffective. I don’t know whether he will be able to deliver on this, but it will be interesting to watch. I was impressed with the new White House Ethics orders he issued yesterday and impressed with the mostly symbolic effort to freeze salaries for White House staff.

  17. Jessie Lou says:

    I thought that was very impressive as well. You heard the same part of the speech I did about the programs and I’ll be interested to see what he does.

  18. Madd Dawg says:

    I will support Obama 100% in his alleged efforts to end ineffective government programs (as nearly every Presidental candidate for the last 50 years has promised to do with almost zero success) because I know that any intelligent and fair-minded person, after serious study of all government programs, would have to conclude that the vast majority of them should be shut down.

    TB, why did you not mention the Dems actions in Congress? Didn’t the Dems control Congress for most of the last 8 years and always push for more and more spending increases? The small number of Republicans in the Congress could not have done much without the party which held the majority of Congressional seats—the Dems. But they get no blame from you for some reason.

    Obviously there are conservative Republicans and bad Republicans, just like there are bad Democrats and horrible Democrats.

  19. MD, are you serious? The Dems controlled Congress for most of Bush’s term? That’s completely inaccurate. They took over at year 6. Maybe I just missed your joke. Until the Dems took the majority in year 6, Bush issued exactly ZERO vetoes. The deficit was non-existent when he took over-there was a surplus. All Republicans created a huge deficit. The national debt was around 1 trillion when he took over. On inauguration day it was 5 trillion. That’s Republican fiscal discipline for you. As I said, the argument in America is not whether to borrow and spend, its how much to borrow and where to spend it.

    As for what’s going on now, the stimulus package does not look good from what I can find out about it so far. Way too much long term spending commitments instead of one time projects and not nearly enough progress in the renewable energy area. I haven’t read details of the bill, just articles online, but I’m not encouraged by what I’m reading. If it is a boondoggle, I will place blame squarely on the Dems, because, you see, I am intellectually honest and consistent. The Dems are faced with making chicken soup from chicken crap thanks to the right, and its a tough job. But if their actions only serve to increase the load of crap, I’m not scared to call them out. I am for a big spending bill, but it should be smart investments.

  20. Madd Dawg says:

    my bad on the facts there—I was thinking that the Dems took over the House and Senate much earlier than they actually did. Have Pelosi and Reid really only been in charge for the last two years? wow, it felt like about 10.

  21. Smilyj says:


  22. coachteajay says:

    You wanna stimulate the economy? heres my plan,,,NO STIMULUS PACKAGE, NO BAIL OUTS!!!!..if your company needs a bailout, then you have a done a piss poor job of running your company, we already have a bailout system, its called chapter 11 or whatever they are calling bankruptcy these days. Corporations will then trim the fat or go under, but if government is goin to bail you out, then why should they cut salarys, or bonuses.. As for stimulus, heres what you do, no individual pays Federal income tax for six months, people will spend the extra cash, thats what Americans do. JMHO

  23. Madd Dawg says:

    Bush and the new Reps came into power in Janaury of 2001, so the first budget they prepared was the one for 2002. The average annual budget deficit for the 6 years from 2002 through 2007 (inclusive) was $520.25 billion.

    Pelosi/Reid took over in Janaury of 2007, so the Dems are responsible for 2008 and 2009. The average annual budget deficit for 2008 and 2009 (projected) is $1.1 trillion.

  24. and most of that is Bush’s bailout (700 Billion) and war. take responsibility, that’s all I want to see. Isn’t that a mantra of the right? At any rate, I think your statistics support my main point.

  25. Madd Dawg says:

    The “Bush Bailout”? So I guess the complete collpase of the world economy and almost every major financial institution, and a few non-financial entities, around the world is ALL his fault?? TB, you need to put down the Obama Kool-Aid for a just a moment and reflect on the implications of that obviously incorrect viewpoint.

    I don’t want to rehash the entire debate that we have already had on where fault lies for the meltdown (including, but not limited to, the blocking of efforts to reform out of control Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae by your buddy Barney Frank and other Dems), but I think that there is plenty of blame to go around in the public and private sector. Are you seriously unwilling to assign any blame to the Dems?

  26. Bush presided over the biggest socializing of our economy in modern times (since WWII). True or false?

    I am not on the “kool-aid”. In fact, it is a continual source of irritation for me, which I hate to say because I know how much that will please you, that you and others like you won’t admit some measure of failure of the Republican Party this century.

    The Dems are taking over now. I have already said I don’t like the way the stimulus package is heading. However, before I engage in harsher criticism, I am going to let it play out. If it fails, I will hold them accountable, the same way I hold the Republicans accountable who I voted for up until 2004. If, however, the Dems get the economy going again, I will give them credit.

    The debate has once again veered off course. So I will repeat once again–REPUBLICANS ARE MONEY WASTERS. SO ARE DEMOCRATS. The debate is how you want the money spent, not IF. It is going to be spent, so I find support for one political party based upon fiscal responsibility to be possible only by ignoring the facts. There are other places where the parties differ. If you want to support the Republicans for those positions, I may/will disagree, but at least I will concede the differences actually exist.

  27. Jessie Lou says:

    How I wish this whole debate was televised just so I could watch your expressions.

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  28. Jessie Lou says:

    Facial expressions would be helpful to see.

  29. Smilyj says:

    Dems have to admit that all of their ideas are not right just because they are Dems. Reps have to admit that all of their ideas are not right just because they are reps. Vice versa for blame. There are many times that it is probably better to be conservative and many times when it is better to be more liberal. Not extremist, crazy, hate the opposite point of view, not listen to noone conservative or liberal which is what seems to be the prevailing attitudes of people in power. Give a little, get a little. Right now dems are in power because people are sick of that type attitude from the past eight years. People will also get sick of that type attitude from the current administration/congress if it becomes prevalent.

    My facial expressioin is one of stern and stoic handsomeness with a granite jaw.

  30. sweet says:

    I can attest to that last comment

  31. Madd Dawg says:

    This is just great:
    Hill Republican: Stimulus aids illegal immigrants

    Jan 29 12:02 PM US/Eastern
    Associated Press Writer 332 Comments

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The $800 billion-plus economic stimulus measure making its way through Congress could steer government checks to illegal immigrants, a top Republican congressional official asserted Thursday.

  32. can you or the writer give me cite to that part of the law, because until I read it myself, I don’t believe it. Using this as a political talking point is like saying we shouldn’t have roads because illegal immigrants will use them to travel around our country and take jobs.

    Here’s what Fox News says:

    Senate Republicans Warn Stimulus Rebates Could Pay Illegal Immigrants
    Republicans find that tax rebates in the stimulus bill would allow eligible recipients to use taxpayer identification numbers, which illegal aliens can obtain, instead of Social Security numbers to identify themselves.
    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    In the version that passed the House Wednesday, eligible recipients would be allowed to use taxpayer identification numbers, which illegal aliens can obtain, instead of Social Security numbers, to identify themselves for the tax rebates.

    The legislation, which would send tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple, expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens, but the absence of a Social Security number requirement could create a problem.

  33. smilyj says:

    This bill is sort of ridiculous for thye present time. I actually think much of the bill has some good things in it but they need to be addressed at a later time. Seems like they just took a shot at seeing if they could sneek something past the people. It’s a little dissappointing for the new administration. I was hoping for better. Though probably not the last version of the final bill, it still seems as if they believe we are all stupid.(As did the old administration).

  34. Jessie Lou says:

    Smileyj – I always thought your smile was your best feature (hence your nickname I guess), I never got to the granite jaw. I was stopped by the pretty, white teeth.

  35. smilyj says:

    You are probably making Sweet and TB jealous.

  36. sweet says:

    actually I like looking down at the top of your bald head better

  37. Zeek says:

    I bet those big juicy lips are nice too.

  38. smilyj says:

    I’m feeling a little uncomfortable with Zeek’s comment.

  39. quail09 says:

    As you should

  40. Zeek says:

    Yes, you should.

  41. Jessie Lou says:

    I’m sorry I missed this back and forth love fest. Making anyone jealous was never my forte Smileyj!

  42. I left a long-winded comment, but it went off to the nether regions. (We’re probably all the better for it.)

    By the way, this is the old supercynic, but I’m now blogging at

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