I don't know why, but I really like this video.
Today, once again, I feel proud to be an American. Not that I wasn't proud since the 5th of November, but I am prouder than I have ever been before and that will continue into tomorrow when Guantanamo Bay is closed for good, and more impending changes are made reality within the next four years. Never have I seen a president of this country inspire more hope, more passion, and raise more awareness on the people that run our country. You could say Bush Jr. played a part in that, but we the Democrats, the asses, knew from the beginning that America was wrong to choose him; yet it was all part of the plan in the end, for we received this wonderful gift of an educated president that will lead us to the top of the mountain. And because I've never had the chance to enjoy a presidential speech (I was too young to comprehend Clinton's), here is one that will be hard to forget, and truly made history.
"My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
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.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
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 non-believers. 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.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
-President Barack Hussein Obama at his Inauguration as 44th President of the United States.
Taken from Associated Press
When I was younger, my mother told me this was why we (Sunni Muslims) were different from Shi'a. I knew it was true, but she could have told me the whole truth.
It is now 2009. We got through Bush's final year as president, and now he has a little over 2 weeks left. Finally.
What does 2009 have to look forward to?
Obama's Presidency: 18 days from now, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the shiny new black President of the United States of America. A lot of America has faith (forbidden, religion-tied word I will never use in my blog again, but I include myself in this statement) in his leadership, and we are positive he will pull us out of this financial rut.
Low Gas Prices: Last week, while driving in New Jersey (cheaper than New York City!) I discovered gas prices at $1.47 a gallon. Down from roughly $4 a gallon in August. Wow. I am still a bike advocate though.
Ending the Iraq War?: Even though the US and Iraq negotiators agreed on a full withdrawal by 2011, I think our new president will make a smarter decision.
The Beginning of Health Care Reform: Why is every word longer than three letters capitalized in bold? I don't know. Right, health care reform for the US, because everyone needs it. We won't have to pay thousands of dollars a year to attain health care! Capitalism is screwed in that aspect.
Bon Iver's New EP: Okay, not as important as the last four, but still exciting.
I can't think of anything else, because a lot of it factors into our new president. It truly is a great thing.
As the Specials say, it's the Dawning of a New Era.
On Monday, December 8th, New School President Bob Kerrey wrote an announcement to students, telling them that the university's Provost, Dr. Joseph Westphal, stepped down. Originally, Dr. Westphal was supposed to be absent for two weeks to work on Obama's transition team, but Kerrey either made him step down or he fired him. As a result, Kerrey took over as both Provost and President until the university finds an interim provost.
There is a vast difference between the duties of a President and the duties of a Provost. The President is more like the chief fundraiser and face of the university whereas the Provost is the chief academic advisor.
Yesterday, the faculty senate held a meeting (it was a regularly scheduled meeting, but very timely at that) to discuss Kerrey's recent decision. Kerrey was in attendance at the end, but that was a very important element from the meeting. The faculty basically discussed the next steps for Kerrey, and asked him to strongly think about having Dr. Westphal return.
Today, at 2 PM, there was a senior and senate faculty meeting. The senate, along with non-senators and non-senior members, voted "no confidence" in Kerrey and Jim Murtha, the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the university. The vote was unanimous for Murtha, and 74-2 with one abstention for Kerrey, according to a document given to me by David Howell, chair for the faculty senate and Milano professor.
Ten minutes after the senate meeting (around 3:30 or so), there was a meeting with the Board of Trustees. Outside of the building the meeting was held (55 West 13th St), Students for Democratic Society, a radical student group, was protesting. Their reason was for the treasurer Robert B. Millard, a man who allegedly has ties to war profiteering in Iraq because he serves as the chairman for L3 Communications. The argument from SDS is that students' investments in the university goes to paying for war.
That, of course, made the security level higher which ultimately disallowed any sort of press entrance to the second floor of the building. We tried to sneak onto the floor by taking the back stairwell, but failed because an alarm was set off on the floor above us. So we sat and waited in the lobby, along with the protestors who sat on the floor and remained a fire hazard.
As trustees trailed out, including Eugene M. Lang and Millard, things got a little more exciting. Of course, no trustees wanted to talk, and most of them said nothing was going on. In truth, nothing did go on. The reception came first, and that was all that happened until those who decided to leave, left. Then, there was a closed meeting, in which trustees can talk about whether Kerrey and Murtha should stay or go. Both are staying, of course.
The most interesting part of the night was when Millard came out. He did not speak to any reporters, but as he got into his car, protestors flocked toward him, throwing themselves at the window and screaming "shame." It was like looking those poorly made films when cavemen are dancing around a fire, wondering what the hell they just did.
Well, what the hell did those protestors just do? They made themselves lose credibility more than anyone else. Why? Because they hate this university, they hate the president, they can't stand it anymore so they go about protesting against the university. I like that these students have an opinion, and want to have their voices heard, but this is not the way to do it. The University Student Senate was created for this very reason, and fighting with security guards and police officers doesn't give them a voice, it silences them more. By doing this, they make me want to ask SDS more and more, "Why do any of you go here?"
I tried writing a post about two place in the world that recently experienced tragedy, but it's so hard because there is more than one place in the world experiencing such tragedy. Last night, Mumbai experienced multiple, simultaneous terrorist attacks that killed over 100 people. This morning, Afghanistan was attacked by a suicide car bomber. The conflict with the Somali pirate hostage situation is still going on, with two Western journalists recently kidnapped.
I could sit here and blog about all the major problems going on in the world right now, but that would take up the whole day. It puts a damper on my day (especially today) that the world can't experience at least one hour or half hour of peace. If only the Yes Men's New York Times were true.