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The Renaming of Bush Street

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 1:28 PM EST

obamastreet.jpg
I've long fantasized about doing something like this to the street signs for Bush Street in downtown San Francisco. But apparently local artist Alex Zecca beat me to it. He escaped jail, according to the SF Bay Guardian's blog, but had to take all the stickers down—alas.

Flickr photo courtesy LaughingSquid.com

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Welcome, 44*

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 1:20 PM EST

It's official, we can all sigh a breath of relief and hope, and George Bush can go crawl back under his Texas rock and be forgotten, or prosecuted, or whatever. Here's the full text of President Obama's (how sweet the sound) inaugural address.

*One quibble, one that is trivial, but important for historical accuracy (and judging by my last post on this you are all going to rip into me for focusing on what doesn't matter in such trying times). Obama said this toward the beginning of his address:

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath...."

But, dear President, only 43 Americans have taken the presidential oath. In ordinal terms there have been 44 presidents, but as far as cardinal numbers go, how many presidents we've had in total, Obama is number 43. Why? Because Grover Cleveland was president in two non-consecutive terms.

Again, this is not a game-changer but at such a historic moment why not be totally true to what's transpired in our centuries of history? We've endured eight years of misinformation and misunderestimation, and more importantly, we've endured centuries of, let's call it like it is, white, male presidents. I concede that the time that this has been the case is the most important thing, that it took this long for a change is more significant than the number of men who shaped it, so moving forward what's matters is this day and this moment, but I'm still thankful that it only took 42 men before him, and that the real 43 is someone to be proud of.


Footnote: Here in San Francisco some clever cat went out and changed all the "Bush" street signs to read "Obama" this morning (pic). Maybe the city can make it official?

Onward and upward, 44.

MoJo Video: Goodbye, Bush

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 1:19 PM EST

I think it's now safe to show the Bush video featuring our Riff columnist and resident DJ, Party Ben. Below, his take on Bush's departure:

Welcome, 44!

Inauguration 3

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 12:50 PM EST

INAUGURATION 3....In Washington DC, Barack Obama takes the stage. In Irvine, California, I watch on my TV.

Inauguration 2

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 12:42 PM EST

INAUGURATION 2....From Josh Marshall:

As some of you have seen, Vice President Cheney is getting pushed around today in a wheelchair. Thankfully, it's no serious medical issue. He hurt his back lugging books while moving out of the old digs. But it's iconic. There's no escaping the symbolism of the tired and enfeebled old guard hobbling off the stage. On so many fronts the stage setting, the unpredictable coincidences, perhaps just the fates seem to be conspiring to give us a dose of hyper-reality, not just the truth of the moment but a scaffolding of trappings and symbolic exclamation points to make sure we're paying attention.

Feeling It

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 12:13 PM EST

FEELING IT....Even though Barack Obama is a liberal, Jonah Goldberg says today that conservatives ought to celebrate the election of our first African-American president. "Any political movement that is joyless about what this represents risks succumbing to bitter political crankery," he warns. Then he gets down to cases:

For instance, you will not soon see a German chancellor of Turkish descent. Nor will a child of North African immigrants soon take the reins of power in France. It will be a long time before a Pakistani or Indian last name appears on the mailbox at 10 Downing St. And yet these countries bubble over with haughty finger-waggers eager to lecture backward and provincial America about race and tolerance. Why not enjoy rubbing Barack Obama in their faces?

Can you feel the joy?

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Fiat and Chrysler

| Mon Jan. 19, 2009 10:57 PM EST

FIAT AND CHRYSLER....Today's news reports say that Fiat is planning to establish a "partnership" with Chrysler:

Under terms of a pact that is being hammered out, Fiat is likely to take a 35% stake in Chrysler by the middle of this year. It would have the option of increasing that to as much as 55%, these people said.

Fiat wouldn't immediately put cash into Chrysler, but would obtain its stake mainly in exchange for covering the cost of retooling a Chrysler plant to produce one or more Fiat models to be sold in the U.S., these people said. Fiat would also provide engine and transmission technology to help Chrysler introduce new, fuel-efficient small cars, they said.

My first thought when I read this was, how did Chrysler manage to find someone dumb enough to want a stake in their company? But then I read a little more closely. Fiat isn't actually buying anything. Chrysler is apparently going to fork over a 35% stake to them in return for Fiat taking over one of its factories. It's true that that 35% stake is probably worth nothing, but unless I'm reading this wrong, Fiat is basically getting the use of a Chrysler plant for free. I guess that's not a bad deal for them.

And for Chrysler? Beats me. It's hard to believe they're really all that desperate for Fiat's engine and transmission technology, but maybe it's worth it to them just to save themselves the cost of shuttering a plant. Or something. But in any case, nobody would be dumb enough to actually invest in Chrysler, would they?

Obama Inspires Black Iraqis

| Mon Jan. 19, 2009 4:58 PM EST

Didn't know they existed, did you? They do, and in substantial numbers. They are still commonly referred to as "abed," which means "slave" in Arabic. A valuable report from CNN:

Text version here.

Waiting for Obama

| Mon Jan. 19, 2009 4:00 PM EST

WAITING FOR OBAMA....I'm waiting. You're waiting. The country is waiting. The world is waiting.

We Win!: The Inaugural Celebration Caps a Victory in the Political Cultural War

| Mon Jan. 19, 2009 3:43 PM EST

It was a moment of victory in the political cultural war that has gripped the United States since the tumultuous days of the 1960s. It came in the middle of the inauguration celebration held at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. And its bearer was Garth Brooks. The man who has epitomized country music, the official music of Red-State America, was hailing the election of a man who represents what many people with a Red-State mentality oppose: an America that embraces liberal attitudes of diversity and tolerance, that does not equate Ivy League-style education with effete elitism, and that does not hold on to traditions to block social change and progress. True, Brooks is no rock-ribbed redneck. His 1992 song, "We Shall Be Free." essentially endorsed gay marriage. But when he performed the old Isley Brothers soul classic, "Shout," before a massive crowd of Obama supporters, you could almost hear some Red-Staters wail, "They've turned our Garth into a black guy!" When he finished, Brooks doffed his cowboy hat toward President-elect Barack Obama, who sat with his family to the side of the stage.

The show at the Lincoln Memorial contained other moments signaling that the cultural civil war that began with the civil rights crusade, the movement against the Vietnam War, and the rise of hippie-dom was done—at least for now—and that the libs had won. Toward the end of the HBO-aired event, Bruce Springsteen, once a greaser-rocker, brought out folk music hero and activist Pete Seeger, once derided by conservatives as a commie, and Seeger led the crowd in "This Land Is Your Land." This song is the liberal national anthem, written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 as a populist-minded response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," which was too rah-rah for Guthrie's liking. (Beyoncé then hit the stage and belted out "God Bless America.")

Earlier in the day, minutes before HBO threw the on-switch for its taping, gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson delivered an invocation that probably would be considered heretical by many fundamentalists. He began: