Saturday, January 17, 2009

Post No. 73: An Opportunity Lost (Well, Sorta)

Copyright 2009, The Institute for Applied Common Sense


This one is a tad tricky for us.

Then again, we should all have some degree of ambivalence about the positions we take in life.

It permits us to be open to other views, and allows us to gracefully modify our views, and change course.

And thus grow.

Quite frankly, all the hoopla about this inauguration bothers us.

Sure, this is an historic event, of which the country should be proud.

But why couldn't we, during this time of economic hardship, simply conduct this event in the office of a local mid-western justice of the peace, followed by a dinner with the President-Elect's closest friends at the local Olive Garden.

We don't have a problem with broadcasting it throughout the globe via the latest media outlets.

But why spend the money, even if it is privately funded?

Does it send the wrong message at this time?

We've never been fans of big, expensive, catered weddings. What a less productive utilization of funds and human time. Or grand graduation ceremonies.

But then again, some folks obviously think that there is some value to such staged events.

The Logistician often tells the story about how he never marched in his graduation ceremonies after high school (where he was forced to do so since his Mother rented the cap and gown), thinking them to be frivolous. Same with the graduation ring.

Following his Mother's death, he spoke to one of her close friends, who confided that his Mother was disappointed that she was not able to attend those undergraduate and graduate school ceremonies upon his graduation.

He tells of his response to the effect that he did not consider the events to be of value to him.

The response of his Mother's friend was to the effect that those events are not for the children.

But for the parents.

Sorta put a whole new light on the issue.

So what are we saying that Obama should have done here?

The events are already planned, including the elaborate balls and parties. However, we still believe that this will be a missed opportunity to send a very simple message to the citizens of this country, and the world.

Just seems to us that frugality, or something vaguely akin to it, should rule, at least for some period of time going forward.

As the President-Elect has often said, we should all plan to make some sacrifices going forward.


Copyright 2009, The Institute for Applied Common Sense



48 comments:

  1. I have read some of your posts and would like to revisit.

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  2. Pomp and circumstance, my friend. Though I, too, would have liked to see a more austere inauguration I do understand the positive effect of one with great celebration attached. While this an historic occasion for one reason, it should not be. This first of his race to be president thing simply reminds us that it was not considered possible or viable in the past. It is a reminder of what we were and may still be (if you think about it) if we must make a fuss about it.

    I worry about overdone celebration for inaugurations because they start to look like coronations. There was a time when presidents routinely met with citizens who came to the White House and knocked on the door. And the president might wander out for a walk and a chat with said citizen. That no longer happens, of course, and we could never return to those days. But we seem to be building toward seeing each succeeding president as a new Caesar of this modern day Rome. And that truly worries me.

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  3. well on the other side of the coin, how many times can you be inaugurated? history lessons tell me just twice. And being one of only 44 other men in the history of this nation it deserves a bit of celebration

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  4. I heard a humorous tid bit on Tonight show. Jay was talking about Obama’s ‘100 ft limousine set to take him to the inauguration’. Hugh Laurie (TV show House) piped up in his snotty British accent and said he thought that “Obama would surely be riding on his magic unicorn to the affair.’

    Cracked me up.

    I agree with both Douglas and Neo. I think we need celebrate…in fact I think more celebrations would do a major good for whole of the U.S. I also think we’re ALL just SO GLAD to get rid of Bush- anyone (even McCain!!)would get a gala celebration via the tax payers of the U.S.

    And shame on your for not marching down the aisle on your graduation day, Logistician! What a brat you must have been.
    Vikki

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  5. Well Brenda, we may yet get that "long hard recession or depression" to which you previously referred in the posts on your blog.

    We substantially agree with you that our priorities have become rather warped. (Perhaps most significantly in the realm of education in terms of how we treat our public school teachers.)

    We further agree with you that we, as a society, have become obsessesed with "things." The Logistician spent many years running back and forth between Canada and the US, and often commented how relatively comfortable life was in Canada for its citizens, and yet they did not seem to be as connected with "things" as their American counterparts.

    BTW, we believe that there is always good reason to read ANYTHING, whether previously read, and despite whether we agree or disagree with the premise.

    We have often referred to the concept of "discretionary thinking" or to certain economic groups having the "free time to think about the plight of others." The important thing is that we all behave as thinking individuals, and not resort to emotion to assist us in "muddling through."

    We enjoyed our visit to your site. With your permission, we would like to add it to our blog roll as recommended reading for others. Just let us know.

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  6. Welcome to our site Naval. Thanks for the compliments regarding our work. We'll visit your site shortly. Do visit often.

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  7. Douglas, Neo, and Vikki:

    What a minute! You folks mean to tell us that this type of celebration can be justified during a time of economic hardship? Wouldn't it have been better to have taken those private funds and used them for some worthy cause, let's say the patent application on a new drug or a new invention that would benefit society? Or perhaps a scholarship program for aspiring science teachers? Or perhaps food for malnourished children?

    Remember having our cake and eating it too is one factor which has contributed to our current condition. By the way, one of the tools used by the Roman Empire to control its masses was the masterful use of celebrations and holidays, along with "sporting events."

    Anyone else out there willing to address this extravagant use of funds during this economic crisis? Despite the purported use of private funds, will there be some cost to government, even if it is simply the clean-up following the event? At what point should we start exercising restraint?

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  8. C'mon, Logie. An astute student of free market economics such as you surely understands the absolute economic BOOM to DC that will result. Restaurants, street vendors, clothing stores convenience stores, the beer, wine and spirits sales are sure to break records.

    Americans spend billions of dollars making crappy movies and TV shows in Hollywood, pay millions to crappy country-western singers prepackaged in American Idol contests, millions to prima dona athletes. None of the private dollars spent on any of that provides our society with any redeeming social value.

    Watching TV tonight, I caught a glimpse of the faces waiting at Union Station. More youth and color than in our prior 232 years worth of inaugurations.

    I also attended the swearing in of our three new district court judges in Greensboro last week. Three young to middle-aged black women. I don't know if they will make great or even good judges, but we had a 200 year old white men monopoly on judgeships and some of them definitely sucked. With these three joining Patrice Hinnant and Teresa Vincent, there is a black female plurality on the 18th judicial circuit district court bench. A new day has dawned. I didn't grow up here, but a black friend who did once described to me the excitement and the electricity in the air in the city when he was a boy mimeographing leaflets and running them around town in the early days of the sit-in movement and civil rights activism in Greensboro. I think the electricity he felt came from a vibe that he knew he was helping to shape history - in his own small way. This president and these judges mark another step in the fruition of that effort.

    History was made in a big way on November 2, 2008. The occasion demands a big celebration. Barack has also said that while the "haves" party on, he intends to include the "have-nots." I await with great interest his approach in recognizing that larger part of DC that thinks "black tie" is a form of police torture. I do not recall W ever venturing into the hardscrabble parts of town. I think his window into the world of the "have nots" was opened by Ms. Katrina. He didn't really want to look, did he?

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  9. Log, I think you misunderstood my point. By quite a bot... except when you began to talk about the use of celebrations and events (the coliseum was a great diversion) Think "bread and circuses".

    Steve, I ask you to think back over the last 40 years. A period when great advances have been made in civil rights, in equality of employment, the increase in minorities and women in judicial appointments. Have these things improved our society in terms of reduced prison populations, reductions in crime, justice in the courts?

    I am not saying they are the cause of problems increasing in these areas and I think the advances in civil rights and equality were long overdue. I am only asking what other rewards has society had as a result?

    As for the incoming president, he has had no effect whatsoever on those three black women becoming district judges in your area. They were elected, in races they ran. A good sign in itself. But I found this to be interesting:

    "This is the first time there will be six African American judges serving in the district court and eleven out of 14 judges are women."

    It seems that the changes have been going on for some time.

    Did you know that Bush appointed the first black Secretary of State and then the first black woman Secretary of State. In fact, if you would look objectively at the outgoing administration's record on civil rights and equality, you will likely find it better than JFK's, LBJ's, Jimmy Carter's, and even Clinton's. Yet, you won't read that brought up in the media. No, you will read about the failure of the federal government in New Orleans. You won't read much about the City of New Orleans failing to utilize the school buses to evacuate people from the city, or about its failure to provide adequate food, water, and security at the Superdome. No, you'll hear about the federal government's failures. Even though they managed to pull some 30,000 people out in the first two days after the storm. People who were left behind by the lack of planning and preparation by city, county, and state governments.

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  10. TO ALL: Check out C-Span2 Book TV right now, 11pm EST, for a presentation by the author of a book on the anticipated Obama economic policies: http://www.booktv.org/program.aspx?ProgramId=9728&SectionName=Politics&PlayMedia=No

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  11. Steve, welcome back.

    We are sure that some businesses will benefit economically from the inauguration. Arguably, an analysis could have been performed prior to planning of this event, to determine whether the benefits derived (economic impact on the local and national economy) justified and exceeded the amount of the funds spent, resulting in a net profit. Arguably, a comparative analysis could have also been performed to determine whether the dollars spent, in some alternate fashion, could have yielded a better result (higher yield) for the nation.

    We perform this type of analysis in the private business world. Why not perform the same type of analysis in the governmental sphere?

    As you aware, we here at the Institute generally do not care about where one ends up in terms of the conclusion reached. (After all, reasonable people can differ.) However, we do believe that responsible management requires consistency in approach, and that the decision makers be required to justify and explain the process by which they arrived at the chosen course of action.

    When it comes to money, we generally require that quantifiable and measurable factors be taken into consideration, not emotional or intangible ones. We as a society, should be able to explain to the those at the low end of the economic totem pole, why the expenditure of these funds for this "celebration," could not be better spent meeting the necessities of life for those at the bottom, or advancing our societal interests in some other measurable fashion.

    The best way that we as citizens can send a message to the powers that be, that we are dissatisfied with the ordering of the priorities, is to stop watching the movies and TV shows to which you referred, and discontinue watching the prima dona athletes plays their games.

    Quite frankly, although somewhat incapable of quantification, and intangible in nature, we strongly suspect that the spiritual and emotional component which drives a society may be more powerful at the end of the day than all the financial resources and material wealth of that nation possesses.

    However, citizens do not make spiritual payments to the IRS. When we spend our hard earned money, we expect to see a tangible return on our investment.

    We are concerned about the loosy goosy, ad hoc manner in which the expenditure of funds in the public/governmental sector is approached. Such an approach smacks of arbitrariness, and as you are well aware, arbitrary conduct frequently translates into disparate and unequal treatment.

    Earlier today, we saw the President-Elect at a whistle-stop train rally in Baltimore. It was interesting to observe the faces in the crowd, and their reaction to our next leader. Something was qualitatively different than the mood of the crowds assembled during most of the past 8 years. There clearly was a palpable air of optimism.

    Still we say, a message could have been sent.

    BTW, in the event that you are still in contact with your friend who mimeographed the leaflets during the civil rights movement, please touch base with him. We'd like to interview him for a podcast in the coming months.

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  12. Douglas: If a government is committed to spending funds (from whatever source) for the benefit of its society, it is difficult to justify spending the funds for celebrations when far more important, measurable needs of society have not been addressed. From a management perspective, our leaders can not say it's okay sometimes when we choose to do so, and it's inappropriate other times when we choose not to do so. Where's the consistency?

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  13. Log, I agree with that concept. One of the dichotomies of this country is we see our elected government officials as both "servants of the people" and "leaders" simultaneously. We want them to lead us, to show us a new way perhaps to solve problems and promote prosperity but we also want them to follow the will of the people. A will that is often quite fragmented and disunited.
    More consistency would be nice but consistency in what form? More liberal? More conservative? More progressive or more traditional?
    To get back to celebrations; I think they are needed. It is important to have them. Your mother made a good point about graduation rites, they are more for the parents than the child. Inaugurations should be more for the people than the candidate who won. Over our history, that seems to be changing. As I said, they are becoming more like coronations and that is not the path this country started on. We already have political "royalty" where certain family names provide a decided advantage to a candidate. For a country based on individual rights and supremacy, that shouldn't be. We don't need a noble class and we shouldn't encourage the establishment of such.

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  14. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words. You have an interesting blog which I added to "my following blogs" list.

    http://musingsfromthehill.blogspot.com

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  15. I would deem it an honor to be added to your blog roll. Thank you sincerely. Know however that I always call'em as I see'em.

    I very much enjoy your site, but this old dame is having some vision problems. Could you increase the size of your font please? BB

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  16. Now in answer to your post: I have been critical of all the hoopla and excess at these inaugural affairs in the past, but as an old civil rights marcher who was privileged to meet Mr. King in a small Colored church in back woods Tennessee, I feel this one should be as big a celebration as it seems to be promising to be. I don't believe anyone back then would have dreamed that a Black man would be President of the United States so soon.

    That said, I did not vote for Barack Obama and he scares the beegeeze out of me. I have blogged often about what my fears are so won't rehash here, but I intend to watch closely and pray a whole lot for my country. BB

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  17. Brenda, you can increase the size of the font on any website by simple holding the CRTL key down while thumbing the Scroll wheel on the mouse in an upward direction. If you do not have a scroll wheel on your mouse, it is also possible to do it within the options of your browser. This of course, varies with the browser.

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  18. Douglas: As you are aware, we here at the Institute for Applied Common Sense do not wish to be viewed as engaging in "trickle down" discussions, as if we have some superior point of view or position based on our research and study.

    This is a forum for the promiscuous exchange and sharing of ideas with the hope that we can all craft innovative approaches to societal issues.

    You sent us a gem today, and for that we must THANK YOU. What better crystallization of a concept than your statement to the effect that, "[o]ne of the dichotomies of this country is [that] we see our elected government officials as both 'servants of the people' and 'leaders' simultaneously. We want them to lead us, to show us a new way perhaps to solve problems and promote prosperity[,] but we also want them to follow the will of the people."

    Man, you got us to re-think of our complaints against our elected officials, and consider them in a whole new light. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

    That being said, you still haven't convinced us that elected officials should dress up in expensive clothing, celebrate, dance, sing, and eat well in the face of citizens who are economically strapped. (Smile.)

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  19. Thanks much LYNN for joining us on our site. We went to your profile and gained a better appreciation for your intestinal fortitude. We're trying to get better organized right now after a computer failure, but we now have a new one along with a video camera for purposes of generating video blogs and podcasts.

    Please keep in touch with us, since we would like to interview you in the not too distant future about "coming back." Thanks.

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  20. Thank you Douglas. I keep learning everyday about these new fangled machines you youngsters just naturally take to. It works and now I don't have to squint and try to guess what is being written here. BB

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  21. Welcome Brenda. We're not afraid of people calling them as they see them. All civil discourse has value and potentially expands the realm of possibilities.

    Check out the adjusted font. By the way, thanks for contacting us regarding this issue. We want more readers, not fewer.

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  22. Brenda: Thanks for your comment. We acknowledge that an argument in support of a celebration, at least by a certain segment of our population, could be advanced with adequate justification. This is a momentous event.

    However, government and management theoretically should be about consistency, shouldn't it? As an old civil right marcher, doesn't it concern you that various ones of us support the celebration in this instance, but not in others? Isn't inconsistency in application one definition of arbitrariness? "We apply it when we want to."

    We should have all been praying for the entirety of last year, regardless of who won the election. Now that Obama has won, we should continue to do so.

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  23. Thanks Douglas for your font size increase tip.

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  24. First I would like to say that most people love a party especially to mark an important occasion and these celebrations are for America to celebrate the 44th time we have peacefully transferred power and the FIRST time we will have a person of color in the highest office of the land. That is kind of a big deal. Even in hard times celebration is in order unless you are going to tell me that forgoing the celebrations would restore the economy and balance the books.

    Then to specifically answer this paragraph: "What a minute! You folks mean to tell us that this type of celebration can be justified during a time of economic hardship? Wouldn't it have been better to have taken those private funds and used them for some worthy cause, let's say the patent application on a new drug or a new invention that would benefit society? Or perhaps a scholarship program for aspiring science teachers? Or perhaps food for malnourished children?"
    My first response is that sounds an awdul lot like Judas who was the keeper of the purse. When a woman came to Jesus with an alabaster box filled with precious ointment an poured it on his head there was indignation saying To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it he said to them Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrote a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For un that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also be this that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
    Now I am not saying Barack Obama is the second coming of Jesus nor that these celebrations are a preparation for his demise but I am saying that we still have ample opportunity to fund worthy causes be they for the nourishment and education of poor children, the support of cutting edge research and development or the care of the elderly and the infirm. What we won't have is another 44th President making this moment special indeed.

    PS Your mothers friend was 100 percent correct. Not to mention the fact that in later years people often view those things differently and understand that there is something good about marking milestones.

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  25. Government is people and therefore subject to all the glory and flaws in the nature of people.
    Therefore government is not now, and has never been, consistent in it's management and treatment of those governed. It has forever arbitrarily favored those who support those in the position of doing the governing. Good or bad those in power determine who will be granted a share of the spoils. "We apply it when we want to." is the touchstone of government. One can work towards and hope to level the playing field, but true equality and the consistent application of fairness to all groups will never be achieved. As an old civil rights marcher I have had to learn and accept this fact. BB

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  26. I want to go back to what Logie said about voting with one's feet if one doesn't like what Hollywood is putting out, or what pro sports are broadcast. This is (mostly) a privately funded party. Those who don't care to participate, don't have to go to DC or turn on the TV. The private people or groups funding it are, economically speaking, doing what all free enterprise participants do, paying for the production for the enjoyment of whomever. Maybe the more troubling aspect is they pay to get to play with the new administration.

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  27. Log, I am with you on the toning down of the celebration. Even in boom times. You might reread my comments carefully. I only said I understand why these happen. It is human nature. And I do not argue with human (or Mother) nature. I would prefer a simple ceremony, untelevised, and right to work. I eschewed service anniversaries when I worked. I don't celebrate birthdays.

    One other comment on the ostentatiousness of the occasion. Look at the commentary in the media about this inauguration vs what was written Bush's 4 years ago. And then compare the money spent on each.

    Brenda,"youngsters"?? Why do you think I found out about that enlarge the font trick?

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  28. Welcome back June, it has been a while. Your views are always welcome here.

    There is no question that we all love a party at some point, and that this is a "big deal." Of course the anticipated $150 million will not restore the economy or balance the books. However, is that the construct to be used by governmental officials handling money in determining whether to spend badly needed funds on a party?

    Are you suggesting that whoever is in charge, when they have $150 million in either public or private funds available to them, if they consider their potential use to be a big deal for which a party might be appropriate, they should spend it for the party?

    Let's think about some other events which might be labeled as "big deals," arguably from the point of view of a larger segment of the population, for which one might consider a party.

    (a) The peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;

    (b) The discovery of a cure for cancer; or

    (c) The signing of a treaty eliminating nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

    Would you suggest parties be held at a cost of $150 million assuming the same economic situation that we currently have?

    How about viewing this from a different perspective. Consider the following "big deals," and apply the same construct which you have implicitly suggested:

    (a) The first member of the KKK, perhaps a David Duke type character, is elected to President;

    (b) Al Qaeda is successful in eliminating the current princes, kings, and despots of all mid-eastern countries, and announces that it will turn over all of the oil wealth in those countries to the common citizen, and thus their battle against the Great Satan will be terminated; or

    (c) The CIA successfully assassinates all of the leaders of the countries constituting the Axis of Evil, and more friendly leaders are elected in each country.

    These are all "big deals," but perhaps not big deals with which a certain segment of the population might feel comfortble.

    Once again, the issue, as we see it, is whether whoever is in charge (irrespective of the party) should get to pick and chose when it wants to spend a substantial amount of money PARTYING, during a time of economic hardship.

    Does anyone think that it would be more appropriate to conduct this event in the office of a Justice of the Peace, with a dinner at Olive Garden being held thereafter?

    MORE IMPORTANTLY, couldn't the President-Elect gain some good PR and send a strong message that we should not be spending money on arguably frivilous events when people are hurting in society? Do you all consider this event to be a "necessity?"

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  29. "a) The peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;

    (b) The discovery of a cure for cancer; or

    (c) The signing of a treaty eliminating nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

    Would you suggest parties be held at a cost of $150 million assuming the same economic situation that we currently have?"

    Each and every one of them would be worthy but who would be the center of the celebration? The second three are big deals but mostly in a very negative way. The election of a David Duke clone would have me literally packing my bags and asking for shelter in almost any English speaking country that would have me.
    Al Qaeda will never consider the fight against the Great Satan to be over until Western Civilization is a footnote in history so that one is kind of a non-issue. CIA assassinations of political leaders would be more a cause for criminal trials than civil celebrations.

    I am not saying that spending 150 million dollars is essential to making this a special celebration but surely the doing it in an almost secret furtive fashion would make it seem that we Americans are ashamed of this election, of this man.
    ========================================
    Perhaps we could look to the inauguration of George Washington. After all our economy was in shambles after a protected and costly war of independence. So George and the people would want something small ad sensible, right?

    His journey to New York City took seven days and was transformed into a triumphal procession by the crowds and local officials who greeted the new President along the way. Celebrations erupted at numerous towns along his route including Alexandria, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia and Trenton. Washington arrived at Elizabeth Town, NJ on April 23 where a ceremonial barge awaited to take him across the river to Manhattan.

    Rudolph Von Dorsten was the Secretary of the Dutch Legation in New York City and describes Washington's entrance into the city:

    "President George Washington made his entry into New York on Thursday, April 23d. On the previous day a barge left this city. The barge was built expressly by the citizens of New York, and was rowed by thirteen pilots, all dressed in white. A committee of three Senators and five Representatives on behalf of Congress, and three of the first officers on behalf of New York, went to Elizabethtown in New Jersey, to welcome the President, and to await his arrival there. His Excellency was also accompanied by some well-equipped sloops and by a multitude of small craft with citizens of New Jersey and New York on board.

    A Spanish royal packet-boat, happening to be anchored at the entrance of the harbor, at sight of the barge, on board of which was
    Washington crosses to New York
    the President, fired a signal-shot, whereupon that vessel was dressed at once with the flags of all nations. When the presidential barge passed, the Spanish vessel saluted his Excellency by firing thirteen guns, which was repeated by the Battery, and again thirteen guns were fired by the fort when the President landed.

    His Excellency was received by Governor George Clinton, the mayor of the city and other officers, and, after a procession had formed, consisting of some companies of uniformed citizens and the merchants and other citizens of the city, the President walked with his escort and, Governor Clinton at his side, to the house prepared by Congress for his use."

    Taking the Oath of Office

    Washington remained at his New York residence for a week while the House and the Senate ironed out their differences over how the formal inauguration should be conducted. Finally, on April 30, Washington was escorted to Federal Hall on Wall Street and into the Senate Chamber. Washington, Vice President John Adams, the Senators and Representatives stepped out of the chamber onto a balcony overlooking the street filled with a cheering crowd. As there were as yet no Supreme Court Justices, the Oath of Office was administered by Chancellor Robert R. Livingstone - New York's highest ranking judge. After taking the oath, Washington and the others returned to the Senate Chamber where the new President gave a short speech.

    William Maclay was a farmer, a lawyer and one of Pennsylvania's Senators. He kept a diary of his experiences. We pick up his story as Washington arrives at the Senate Chamber:

    "The President advanced between the Senate and Representatives, bowing to each. He was placed in the chair by the Vice-President; the Senate with their president on the right, the Speaker and the Representatives on his left. The Vice-President rose and addressed a short sentence to him. The import of it was that he should now take the oath of office as President. He seemed to have forgot half what he was to say, for he made a dead pause and stood for some time, to appearance, in a vacant mood. He finished with a formal bow, and the President was conducted out of the middle window into the gallery, and the
    Washington takes the oath
    oath was administered by the Chancellor. Notice that the business done was communicated to the crowd by proclamation, etc., who gave three cheers, and repeated it on the President bowing to them.

    As the company returned into the Senate chamber, the President took the, chair and the Senators and Representatives, their seats. He rose, and all arose also, and addressed them. This great man was agitated and embarrassed more than ever he was by the leveled cannon or pointed musket. He trembled, and several times could scarce make out to read, though it must be supposed he had often read it before.

    He put part of the fingers of his left hand into the side of what I think the tailors call the faIl of the breeches (corresponding to the modern side-pocket), changing the paper into his left (right) hand. After some time he then did the same with some of the fingers of his right hand.

    When he came to the words all the world, he made a flourish with his right hand, which left rather an ungainly impression. I sincerely, for my part, wished all set ceremony in the hands of the dancing-masters, and that this first of men had read off his address in the plainest manner, without ever taking his eyes from the paper, for I felt hurt that he was not first in everything.

    He was dressed in deep brown, with metal buttons, with an eagle on them, white stockings, a. bag, and sword."
    ===========================================
    No 150 million nor its' equal in currency of the day was spent but a very great deal was made with all deliberate ceremony as it should have been and as it should be now.

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  30. See what happen when you don't do a spellcheck before tossing of a remark? I meant a PROTRACTED war not PROTECTED. Yikes! I won't bother trying to correct any other typos ....

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  31. Brenda: Ah hah, the newcomer to our discussion goes straight to the heart of the matter: the application of the old "We Apply It When We Want to Doctrine."

    Now this is a concept around which we can at least wrap our arms (even though we not support it), because it is honest and pure. Like we've often said, we don't generally care about the result reached, just that intellectual honesty be employed and that we understand the underlying thought process.

    Two related examples. The Logistician was once in a world class tourist resort city and there were beautiful women coming and going all around him and his best friend. H watched as his best friend critiqued and evaluated every beautiful women who passed them. At some point out of frustration, The Logistician asked his friend what made him think that he was entitled to have a world class beauty on his arm.

    His friend's response was simple: "It's not about what I'm entitled to or deserve. It's about what I want."

    Second related story: Affirmative Action. We have argued with many of our black friends that the concept of affirmative action is conceptually flawed because it is amounts to reverse discrimination, and perverts the concept of evaluation based on merit.

    A very frequent response: We don't care. Others had theirs. We want ours if we can get it, no matter what the means.

    We do believe in the consistent application of principles, and that fairness can ultimately be achieved. Otherwise, we run the risk of no longing pursuing the goal of equality, or turning into just another competitive animal fighting for our definition of "survival."

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  32. stever: You correctly focused on the private funding sources for this event. That is most definitely a factor, and an important one.

    However, couldn't the President-Elect have sent a powerful symbolic message by not participating in an event which smacks of extravagance which will be viewed by all, many of whom are struggling economically?

    And YES, we are certain that the private contributors have "some" expectations. As a general rule, folks don't part with their money unless they expect some form of a return on their investment.

    Someone tell us the subliminal message.

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  33. Douglas: Finally someone who agrees that it could be toned down. In fact, Olive Garden might be too fancy in the eyes of some. (We suspect that many have never been to a restaurant of the caliber of an Olive Garden.) Perhaps Denny's would be more appropriate.

    Thanks.

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  34. June, before we respond fully to your most recent responsive comment, let us say that we are glad that we met you last year, and that you take the time to visit us, and provide insightful comments.

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  35. Just one last question. With a population of 300 million more or less. How about a nickel a piece, would that work for you?

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  36. Back to the substance of your recent comment June: You acknowledge that the first three events are worthy, but that there is no individual who would be honored during the celebration. Hmmmmm.

    As for the second three, you again acknowledge that they are "big deals," but in mostly negative way. Does that mean that progressives would have been justified in suggesting a scaled down party in the event that McCain and Palin won? (By the way, we in no way consider their potential election to be as negative in degree as the KKK/ Great Satan/ Axix of Evil trilogy.)


    We're not suggesting the event be conducted in a surreptitious manner. Just how about $500 instead of $150 million?

    In reading the description of George Washington's inauguration, for which we thank you, what occurred to us was something on which Douglas touched. Based on the description, our "sense" is that it was an event that evolved as a result of the sentiments of the people. It appeared to have a "grassroots" tone to it, along with a common person participatory element.

    We may be wrong, but we do not get the sense that it was an orchestrated "show."

    Take that expensive food and feed the needy and the hungry!

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  37. I'm not sure what "progressives" would have said but I would have been happy if McCain had a nice inaugural celebration. If only he could have gotten rid of Palin. Believe me that the prospect of her a heartbeat away from the Presidency with an older gentleman like McCain in the top slot scared a good number of people away from voting McCain. Once again I don't think 150 million dollars would have been necessary as 150 million isn't even really necessary for Obama but I also doubt that there would have been an outpouring of money nor that celebratory feeling on the part of the general population. If you wonder how grassroots this all is I suggest you look at what is happening in D.C. Not only is every hotel,motel and guest house full but a huge number of relatives and friends have descended on people living in the metro DC area, all in the hopes that they may participate in some way in this event. I heard of people who have rented out their homes in Georgetown for as much as 2,000 a night. Kind of a mini stimulus package if you live in the area. Also a pain in the maximus glutamus if you have to go anywhere for the next couple of days and you live there.

    You are right. Some of Washington's inauguration celebration was impromptu but not all. There was definitely some pomp and circumstance. Some pageantry. Some deliberation. Should the Obama celebration have been scaled down? Maybe. But you live in a nation that really likes this sort of thing and as the next for years are likely to be very grim indeed we might as well enjoy the pretty dresses and the streamers.

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  38. Ah June, you're so sharp. We've been waiting for someone to suggest the "50 cent resolution." (Of course, the administrative expense associated with distributing the half-dollars would be prohibitive.)

    And we're not original in our thinking in this regard. We've seen many an analysis of how much more corporate employees would make if the salary of the CEO were divided equally amongst the employees.

    Actually, it's not the money per se, but rather the symbolic message. It's a missed opportunity.

    $500 is our suggested budget. Denny's.

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  39. Thanks June. What is perhaps instructive is the fact that not one single person participating in this discussion suggested that it be significantly minimized or scaled down. We must conclude that "The People" have spoken and they say, "Let's Party."

    There is something different going on out there. We first sensed it the night of the election watching the eyes of the kids downtown as they watched the victory speech. We saw it again yesterday amongst the crowd who attended the whistle-stop train rally in Baltimore.

    There was something "intangible" about the previous administration that did not instill confidence or make the constituency feel very secure. We suspect that it was something other than the threat of terrorism.

    That "ummph" just wasn't there. The President's demeanor and gestures in his farewell speeches said it all. It was a troubling period. Not matter how one tries to justify it.

    The Logistician often describes a period in his life several years ago when he was in daily pain and did not have his customary energy. He describes waking up one day after roughly 5 regimens of anti-biotics, and feeling as though months of lethargy had suddenly disappeared. Perhaps this is the political analogy.

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  40. We've been asking ourselves for the past few hours, "What have we learned from this exchange about the staging of a ceremony of this extravagance during a period of economic uncertainty?" We also received input from others throughout the evening, and all of the responses were the same.

    One conclusion at which an observer might arrive is that the goal of consistency in application of principles need not be pursued, because in the long run, the "other side" will do whatever necessary to advance their interests, without taking into consideration fairness and equal application.

    In other words, "They got theirs when they had the opportunity; we should take advantage of our opportunity to get ours."

    Much has been written about the conditions in a society leading to corruption in government. As a general rule, it appears that the poorer a society, and the less capable the government to meet basic societal needs, the more likely the existence of corruption.

    Is that where we're going as a society? Or are have we been there all along. If so, then the quest for equal treatment and equal application of the law might as well be abandoned? Yes?

    We imagine that this is a recognition of the importance of EI, or emotional intelligence, i.e., figuring out how to function and survive in the world.

    It should be a course in grade school for the youth of America.

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  41. June, you stated, "If only he could have gotten rid of Palin. Believe me that the prospect of her a heartbeat away from the Presidency with an older gentleman like McCain in the top slot scared a good number of people away from voting McCain."

    Sarah Palin brought Sen. McCain far more votes than she lost him. (information from voter exit polls) As for her being a heart beat away from the Oval Office, well the man we are now seeing put there has far less experience governing than does Palin. What is more important however is that there was no doubt in anyone's mind where Sarah Palin stood on the issues. Obama was all rhetoric and it is only by examining his past associations and comments that one is able to understand his motivations. Obama terrifies me! Please keep a sharp watch on him and the Democratic leadership and you too will come to this realization.

    One of the first things his administration will try to accomplish and Senator, soon to be Vice President, Biden is already putting into motion is a closer relationship with the United Nations.

    "....forcing the U.S. to join the U.N.’s International Criminal Court (ICC).

    The ICC is an international entity that could prosecute American citizens and soldiers for “war crimes” and other offenses, in violation of U.S. Constitutional protections.

    The ICC treaty was signed by President Clinton, who expressed concern about some of its provisions, but under President Bush it was “unsigned” by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton in what he called his “happiest moment” at the State Department.

    In response to the possibility of the ICC prosecuting American soldiers, the Congress in 2002 passed the American Service members Protection Act, in order to protect U.S. soldiers from the jurisdiction of the court." source: http://www.aim.org/aim-column/soros-flunky-runs-obamas-pro-u.n.-policy/ I offer this one source as it was handy but there are many more articles on this subject...use google. And there are many other issues that if you understand Obama's past you will see is part of his agenda for our country's future.

    Now for Log: Your statement, "Affirmative Action. We have argued with many of our black friends that the concept of affirmative action is conceptually flawed because it is amounts to reverse discrimination, and perverts the concept of evaluation based on merit.

    A very frequent response: We don't care. Others had theirs. We want ours if we can get it, no matter what the means.

    We do believe in the consistent application of principles, and that fairness can ultimately be achieved. Otherwise, we run the risk of no longing pursuing the goal of equality, or turning into just another competitive animal fighting for our definition of "survival."

    Yes, your first statement is true, but Affirmative Action was a must! It was necessary not to give Blacks a hand up because they received very good educations in those segregated schools even with the hand me down text books as witnessed by the number of scholars, astute business people and innovators who have come from those schools. So Affirmative Action was not needed to give these "poor undereducated Blacks" a foot in the door so they could be brought up to the Whites standards as is so often stated! Affirmative Action was needed to force employers most of whom were White to employ these capable Blacks and move out of their safe haven of employing the known rather than the chance of employing what "everyone" knew were less prepared Blacks. Unfortunately it was the Black women who walked thru the opened doors and not the Black men. Why? Because the Black women were no threat to the White men. But regardless, Affirmative Action was be given a chance to take root. For a generation then the line up was White men and Black Women with Black men and White women just about on the same footing where respect and employment was concerned.

    This is, I believe, what lead the current generation in their 40's and older to the anger driven, "We don't care. Others had theirs. We want ours if we can get it, no matter what the means." and the "we run the risk of no longing pursuing the goal of equality, or turning into just another competitive animal fighting for our definition of "survival." that has been the norm for many years.

    This is especially so among Black politicians where "fairness" has given way to taking every advantage possible whether "clean" or "dirty". And these unfair tactics have been permitted to succeed by the White majority. An example would be the Black Caucus seen in government on the state and federal levels. A similar White Caucus openly forming would immediate bring out the outrage of the NAACP (run by 40+ year old Blacks. Bruce Gordon's Leaving NAACP Presidency a Tragedy for All Blacks).

    I am not seeing this attitude in the 30's and under Blacks. I am reading their blogs and seeing the lack of anger and aggressiveness towards Whites. I am seeing instead the aggressiveness towards the very unfairness and inequality that you mention. And more important a focus on the problems that need solved in society for ALL people regardless of color. I am seeing the younger Blacks impatience with the older Blacks militancy. This is why I feel it is time to repeal the Affirmative Action laws and level the playing field especially for the professions.

    Now comes another and much more serious problem: the legion of young Black men who are lounging on our streets and unemployable due to a lack of even a basic education in the INTEGRATED schools because of the attitude that getting an education was "Acting White". These are in the main young people who came from one parent families (see Senator Patrick Moynihan 1965+ forecasting of this social problem created by government, or more specifically, Johnson's Great Society.

    Affirmative Action laws will not help these young men because getting in the door is not the problem so much having the ability to stay there once in. So instead we see these young Black men bleeding out their lives on our streets or living hideous soul shattering existences in our prisons.

    The only possible solution I see to this problem is bringing back the military draft and once these young people, both men and women, are in effect a "captured audience" they can be force fed an education and training that would allow them to survive without the criminal actions.

    Aw Log. Sorry to get so far off topic but just could not allow these "cast-out statements" to stand unchallenged.

    LOL When I was teaching this was one of my greatest problems. And what's more my students knew it too. Even in elementary school my third graders knew they could lob a ball out in left field and Mrs. B would run off on a tangent that was far more interesting than the lesson at hand. Imagine then the "games" my university students played with me!

    Forgive an old school marm? BB

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  42. Fortunately, although no one in the universe (except The Optimizer, on whose behalf The Logistician reluctantly advanced the argument) seems to think that extravagant partying during a period of economic hardship potentially sends an inappropriate message and thus constitutes a lost opportunity, it appears that the President-Elect's PR team is at least sensitive to the issue.

    We just heard a few minutes ago that Obama people want it to be understand that this event is as much about celebration as it is about work. In a very smart PR and pragmatic move, they plan to have vehicles ready to shuttle new administration workers DIRECTLY to their respective work locations immediately following the event, to begin work on the same day.

    Now that's a message worth sending.

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  43. Thanks much Brenda for weighing again. We need folks to challenge the assertions of us all. It keeps us all honest. That type of input is always welcome in this forum.

    You clearly raised the theoretical concern about one specific U.N. department, namely the International Criminal Court, and how it might impact our service people serving in war time. However, it was unclear whether you were simultaneously advancing an argument that development of a "closer relationship with the United Nations" would be a positive or negative event.

    Moving to the affirmative action issues, you are correct about the high quality education received by many black kids in segregated schools. Many of them were top notch.

    However, the term "affirmative action" is a complex term from an historical perspective, and in terms of the manner in which it was applied. Some would suggest that there were at least 4 or 5 different variations of the policy, some more defensible conceptually than others.

    You argue that affirmative action was a "must." One definition of "must" might be "necessity," or a lack of other options.

    And then you refer to the need to "force employers... to employ capable Blacks and move out of their safe haven of employing the known...." What other things should we force our citizens to do in this day and time?

    We agree with you regarding the black youth of today having different issues than those black youth of comparable age during the 1950's, and thus a different approach needs to be employed. One of our arguments to the black politicians currently in office, and the black ministers, is that the utilization of principles, practices, and assumptions that were used in the 1940s and 1950s, will not work for this group. A different approach needs to be employed.

    As for going off on a tangent, don't be too concerned. We often encourage it, if not instigate it here ourselves, with some frequency. In the exchange of ideas, there are no clearly defined lines about what can and can not be discussed. All aspects of the human condition are related to all others in some way.

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  44. You know, I'm still amazed that everyone who participated in this discussion felt that this party was justified, even though at perhaps a lower cost. It just occurred to me that we're all reasonably well educated and middle class. Do you think that citizens at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum would feel similarly to such an extent?

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  45. You know, I'm still amazed that everyone who participated in this discussion felt that this party was justified, even though at perhaps a lower cost. It just occurred to me that we're all reasonably well educated and middle class. Do you think that citizens at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum would feel similarly to such an extent?

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  46. Log, I agree with that concept. One of the dichotomies of this country is we see our elected government officials as both "servants of the people" and "leaders" simultaneously. We want them to lead us, to show us a new way perhaps to solve problems and promote prosperity but we also want them to follow the will of the people. A will that is often quite fragmented and disunited.
    More consistency would be nice but consistency in what form? More liberal? More conservative? More progressive or more traditional?
    To get back to celebrations; I think they are needed. It is important to have them. Your mother made a good point about graduation rites, they are more for the parents than the child. Inaugurations should be more for the people than the candidate who won. Over our history, that seems to be changing. As I said, they are becoming more like coronations and that is not the path this country started on. We already have political "royalty" where certain family names provide a decided advantage to a candidate. For a country based on individual rights and supremacy, that shouldn't be. We don't need a noble class and we shouldn't encourage the establishment of such.

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  47. First I would like to say that most people love a party especially to mark an important occasion and these celebrations are for America to celebrate the 44th time we have peacefully transferred power and the FIRST time we will have a person of color in the highest office of the land. That is kind of a big deal. Even in hard times celebration is in order unless you are going to tell me that forgoing the celebrations would restore the economy and balance the books.

    Then to specifically answer this paragraph: "What a minute! You folks mean to tell us that this type of celebration can be justified during a time of economic hardship? Wouldn't it have been better to have taken those private funds and used them for some worthy cause, let's say the patent application on a new drug or a new invention that would benefit society? Or perhaps a scholarship program for aspiring science teachers? Or perhaps food for malnourished children?"
    My first response is that sounds an awdul lot like Judas who was the keeper of the purse. When a woman came to Jesus with an alabaster box filled with precious ointment an poured it on his head there was indignation saying To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it he said to them Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrote a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For un that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also be this that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
    Now I am not saying Barack Obama is the second coming of Jesus nor that these celebrations are a preparation for his demise but I am saying that we still have ample opportunity to fund worthy causes be they for the nourishment and education of poor children, the support of cutting edge research and development or the care of the elderly and the infirm. What we won't have is another 44th President making this moment special indeed.

    PS Your mothers friend was 100 percent correct. Not to mention the fact that in later years people often view those things differently and understand that there is something good about marking milestones.

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  48. Douglas: As you are aware, we here at the Institute for Applied Common Sense do not wish to be viewed as engaging in "trickle down" discussions, as if we have some superior point of view or position based on our research and study.

    This is a forum for the promiscuous exchange and sharing of ideas with the hope that we can all craft innovative approaches to societal issues.

    You sent us a gem today, and for that we must THANK YOU. What better crystallization of a concept than your statement to the effect that, "[o]ne of the dichotomies of this country is [that] we see our elected government officials as both 'servants of the people' and 'leaders' simultaneously. We want them to lead us, to show us a new way perhaps to solve problems and promote prosperity[,] but we also want them to follow the will of the people."

    Man, you got us to re-think of our complaints against our elected officials, and consider them in a whole new light. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

    That being said, you still haven't convinced us that elected officials should dress up in expensive clothing, celebrate, dance, sing, and eat well in the face of citizens who are economically strapped. (Smile.)

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