Inaugural roundup

Here’s some quick hits and links that will stand in for a real post:

  • Can someone do this to SE Bush Street in Portland, too? Especially around where it intersects with SE Clinton Street, please. Better yet, how do we start the process for formally renaming it?
  • Didja catch the shout-out from President Obama (I am so incredibly happy to finally say that) to non-believers in his speech?

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

    Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

    We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

    For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

    My emphasis.

    I was not the only one watching that who gave a yelp of surprise and cheered.

  • Amanda Marcotte praises the President for explicitly mentioning us godless ones; when non-believers are invisible it makes it easier for people to accept all the freakin’ religious references from our political leaders.

    “One might safely infer that the sudden shift towards more aggressive, activist-oriented atheism and skepticism has been working. Which of course is why it’s so strongly resisted. Complaints about big meanie atheism from Richard Dawkins or Bill Maher are stemming mostly from a fear that big meanie atheism is effective. I think that among secularists, the issue of raising non-believer visibility has been a troubling one, because we don’t necessarily see the purpose of it. After all, our government institutions should be secular as a matter of principle, and for the benefit of believers as well as non-believers. So, why should we have to raise atheist visibility?

    But politics isn’t just a matter of rational arguments. If people contextualize this country as being one that has multiple faiths but not that many faithless, people are going to have a hard time seeing the harm and unfairness of all this god talk coming from government institutions and other issues like faith-based funding. People aren’t going to see the harm so long as all references to god and faith are generic enough. But if you can point to a group of people who are still being excluded, no matter how generic the references, then people might have a better idea why the only fair solution to the issue of religious diversity is to keep religion private and make government spaces secular.”

    Read the whole thing, and the comments, too. Seriously. I didn’t want to cut any of it.

  • Penn Jillette disagrees and thinks that the small inclusion was a sop compared to all the prayer and God.
  • My atheist nephew texted me: “Why is religion so involved in American politics?” I replied: “Because some people haven’t yet put aside childish things, as the Bible teaches us.”
  • To put today’s ceremony into terms that a gamer would understand, Obama unlocked an achievement today, after crushing the Republicans, taking the head of John McCain and Sarah Palin, and winning the Electoral College.
  • I love the fact that, precisely at noon Eastern time yesterday, the time specified by the Constitution for the transfer of power, was switched over to include the President’s new blog and plenty of policy positions and agenda items. These people are tech-y and fucking with it.
  • If you’re geeky, you’ll smile at the fact that the Robots.txt file for went from almost 2400 lines of exclusions to just two lines, including all search engines. If you’re not geeky, it means you couldn’t Google the site under #43 but now the whole thing is Google-able. If that means nothing to you, hang on; one of President Obama’s goals is to get you folks up to speed with the rest of us.
  • From now on, I’m going to simply refer to our former president (damn, I like saying that almost as much as I like saying “President Obama”!) as #43. That’s snarky but still with a tinge of respect. Right?
  • I had to add the words “Barack” and “Obama” to the spell-check dictionary on my computers today. Got tired of the red squiggly line for MY PRESIDENT.
  • This is my new wallpaper (replacing a satellite image of all the freaking snow in December). It shows the crowds in D.C. this morning from space.
  • So much more I could say but I’m almost overwhelmed. When I got a text from the Obama Inauguration team last night asking me to text back my wishes for President Obama, I thought for a bit to condense my thoughts, hopes, wishes and, yes, fears, into 160 characters, and sent this:

    “Congrats! We are the power and the promise; you are our symbol and leader.”

    Obama has been clear that it’s not about him; it’s about us, all of us, together. Yes, we can.

  • Finally, my hopes and wishes go out to Senator Ted Kennedy, who collapsed yesterday during the inaugural lunch. Speedy recovery, Senator.