- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2009

The moment looms

There are about 2,880 minutes left until Inauguration Day dawns. The real one. A certain inaugural dread lingers among those who must make myriad events happen despite heavy logistics and security — or get to work, have a baby, take the dog to the vet, visit the mother-in-law, etc., etc., etc.

Life goes on for the locals.

But for the record, everyone — most of the planet, essentially — wants the 24-hour inaugural period to be safe, inclusive, of good cheer and heavy on the decorum befitting a historic occasion.

It is a singular historic occasion.

“Few would deny that when Barack Obama is inaugurated it will be an indelible moment made possible by every African-American who ever refused to accept the diminished roles once ascribed to us. It belongs to every African-American who put asunder the restrictive bonds of racism, injustice and inequality to defy the odds and achieve something lasting and great,” says Earl G. Graves Sr., founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine.

“But let us be clear. The presidential inauguration of Obama is not just about one, world-changing moment. For African-Americans, it marks the birth of a new movement, one with a simple defining creed: No more excuses. To our young black men, too many of whom have been allowed to embrace the sin of low expectation: No more excuses. To black professionals lamenting racism on the job while worshipping daily at the altar of personal mediocrity: No more excuses,” Mr. Graves continued.

“To those obsessed with the trappings of wealth yet who refuse to invest in their own financial education or to exercise fiscal discipline: No more excuses. To those who complain about the ills of our community but are unwilling to invest their time, money or energy to bring about solutions: No more excuses. The election of Obama to the Oval Office proves once and for all that we can achieve anything as African-Americans. The question is no longer whether anything is possible, the question is whether we are committed to doing what needs to be done.”

Days of yore

On this day in 1803, Thomas Jefferson requested funding from Congress to finance the Lewis and Clark expedition — a whopping $2,500 for the 50-member “Corps of Discovery” that surveyed territory that would ultimately comprise the Louisiana Purchase.

“Babs” has been crooning for Democrats for a long time. On this day in 1965, Barbra Streisand and Bobby Darin sang for Lyndon Johnson’s presidential inauguration.

George S. McGovern launched his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination 37 years ago today, vowing in a TV appearance to bring all U.S. soldiers home from Vietnam if elected. Mr. McGovern won the nomination but was defeated by incumbent Richard Nixon.

Uh-oh. Today also marks the 18th anniversary of Marion Barry’s arrest for drug possession during an FBI sting. Mr. Barry, who was mayor of Washington at the time, was convinced he was “set up” and convicted of a misdemeanor.

Icons of the age

How to commemorate the Inauguration — let us count the ways. Bobbleheads, boxer shorts, champagne glasses — and why not a nice Inaugural Lava Lamp for the groovier moments?

“We believe this lamp captures Mr. Obama’s charisma and optimism, which are reinforced with the words ‘Yes We Can’ on the back of the lamp,” said Larry Gutkin, CEO of manufacturer Lava Lite. “This will be a collector’s item for years to come.”

The resin base features stars, stripes and bunting in a patriotic red, white and blue, not to mention a beaming Mr. Obama. The “distinctive” globe features glowing blue goo; it’s $39.99 and will arrive at select retailers in a few weeks. Buy it online now at www.lavalite.com, or call 630/315-3300.

And if a lava light isn’t enough, consider these swanky and delectable Obama Inauguration Cupcakes, from Mrs. Beasley’s — Hollywood’s baker to the stars. The cupcakes are six for $29.95 and can be purchased online at www.mrsbeasleys.com, or at 800-710-7742.

Quotes of note

“Obama inauguration to air in movie theaters.” — Hollywood Reporter headline.

“Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me.” — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to Esquire magazine.

“I don’t think journalists should be allowed anywhere near war.” — Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber,” to PJTV.

“It’s not so much about training the dog, it’s about training the humans. Because whatever breed you bring into the White House, they don’t know they’re coming to the White House.” — “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan, on the future Obama family puppy.

By the numbers

64 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites say President-elect Barack Obama’s victory represents progress for all blacks in America.

22 percent of blacks and 20 percent of whites say the victory represents no broader progress.

55 percent of blacks and 32 percent of whites say Mr. Obama’s election makes them “proud” to be an American.

43 percent of blacks and 63 percent of whites say his election does not affect their feelings.

75 percent of blacks and 55 percent of whites say the Obama presidency will help race relations in America.

51 percent of blacks and 87 percent of whites say they think of themselves as an American first, then as a member of a specific race.

38 percent of blacks and 34 percent of whites admit they have some feelings of racial prejudice.

Source: An ABC News survey of 1,146 adults conducted Dec. 19, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085

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