In classic Washington fashion, the biggest political spectacle of the year was staged and had no tangible effect whatsoever. The president told the nation that its citizens have shed their "skepticism of central authority," which rang particularly true with all those people stockpiling guns. And we couldn't help but think that in an alternate universe, President Romney would be thanking Pat Boone for his stirring rendition of the National Anthem before heading to the Ice Cream Social Ball. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, January 21st, 2013:
BIRTHERS, SANE PEOPLE IN AGREEMENT: PRESIDENT OBAMA FAKE INAUGURATED - The commander-in-chief took his lefty vitamins this morning. From his inaugural address: "Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers. Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life's worst hazards and misfortune. Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society's ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character...We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. (Applause.) They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. (Applause.) "
Sam Stein scrutinizes: "The president, who has spent the first four years navigating Washington as much as shaping it, used his platform on Monday to announce that his next four years will be marked by a more assertive approach... The president talked about protecting entitlement programs upon which the elderly and the most vulnerable in society depend...Obama also gave a nod to items further down on the conventional list of top priorities: climate change and election reform included. The underlying theme was altogether consistent: it is time for the country's reasonable majority to wrest back the agenda." [HuffPost]
@jonward11 If you watched the CSPAN feed you could hear him say "I want to look out one more time because I'll never see this again"
OBAMA SPIKES FOOTBALL ON PAUL RYAN'S FACE - President Obama took direct aim in his inaugural address at the Randian rhetoric that animates the politics of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his conservative followers in the House and around the country, arguing that the United States is "not a nation of takers." For Ryan, the country is divided between "takers" and "makers." He generally puts the number of the former at around a third, with the remainder in the producing category. The dichotomy has been a regular part of his rhetorical repertoire for years, and was elevated during the presidential campaign as Ryan sought the vice presidency. Ryan argues that social insurance programs that are central to Western welfare states sap the citizenry of ambition. Obama took direct aim at that contention on Monday. "The commitments we make to each other -- through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security -- these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great," he said. [HuffPost
BOO BIRDS OUT FOR RYAN - What a bad day for that guy. Nick Wing: "If things had gone differently in November, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) might have departed the Capitol on Monday as the vice president of the United States. Instead, he faced a chorus of boos as he left the building to attend President Barack Obama's second inauguration ceremony. Ryan announced last week that he would be present for Obama's public swearing in at the Capitol, calling it his 'obligation.'" HuffPost
Read the whole speech here.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - In almost every major speech during his first term, President Barack Obama has lamented that the American Dream -- in his view, the promise of a good life in return for hard work -- is under threat. In his second inauguration speech on Monday, Obama evoked the threat by pointing to income inequality, tying the woes of the middle class to the gains of the super rich. "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it," the president said. "We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class." Incomes grew 275 percent for the richest 1 percent of Americans from 1979 until 2007, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and less than 40 percent for the middle class. It's the issue that launched the Occupy Wall Street protest movement in 2011, and it's exactly the kind of talk that makes Republicans cry "class warfare." [HuffPost]
Fans of gay rights -- and not to mention alliteration -- were pleased: "President Obama made history today when he mentioned both the Stonewall uprising and gay and lesbian people being treated "like anyone else under the law" during his second inauguration speech. 'We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall...' he said." [HuffPost]
Once again, Antonin Scalia was dressed like he was attending the Vatican Council: "Top hats were for decades mainstays of presidential inaugurations, petering out with Lyndon Johnson, who did not wear one. If you're looking for truly weird, once-every-four-years head gear, look no further than the justices of the Supreme Court. Some of the justices, such as Antonin Scalia did in 2009, don silk or wool skullcaps with peaked corners. The justices are generally seen together in public outside of the court and in their robes only once a year at the State of the Union address or the inauguration." [ABC News]
Mitch McConnell, really getting into the bipartisan nature of the day: "The President's second term represents a fresh start when it comes to dealing with the great challenges of our day; particularly, the transcendent challenge of unsustainable federal spending and debt. Republicans are eager to work with the President on achieving this common goal, and we firmly believe that divided government provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Together, there is much we can achieve."
HOUSE TO VOTE ON DEBT CEILING WEDNESDAY - AP: "Republican officials say the House will vote Wednesday on an increase in the nation's debt limit, a move designed to prevent a first-ever government default. The vote marks a change in strategy for House Republicans who run the chamber and who remain adamant about reducing government spending but decided not to use the debt limit to trigger a confrontation with President Barack Obama. Instead, they have said the debt increase measure will require the House and Senate to approve budgets that call for spending cuts, with pay withheld for lawmakers in either house that failed to do so. The current debt limit is $16.4 trillion. Aides said they didn't know how big an increase would be contained in the legislation, but it is expected to accommodate borrowing for three months." [AP]
WE CAN'T EVEN TWEET ABOUT OUR LACK OF WIFI! - Life is hard. Politico: "Scores of Inauguration goers trying to tweet and text from the National Mall on Monday hit an apparent wall with spotty wireless service -- even though the carriers themselves said there wasn't much of a problem. Most attendees later expressed their frustrations online -- that is, once they could find a healthy signal. But the sense from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint was that their networks performed as well as they could have given the heavy demand...It's hardly a shock that a well-attended event like the Inauguration would cause considerable congestion. The sheer number of attendees, many of whom are trying to share pictures and more with friends and family back home, create a strain on the finite system of airwaves that power an ever-increasing number of smartphones and tablets." [Politico]
God might bless America, but after this He is probably a little miffed with it: "It's said that the Twitter messages actually thumbed by President Barack Obama @BarackObama are signed 'BO.' The one this morning came from St. John's, the church across Lafayette Park from the White House, where the first family went this morning on the chilly and overcast day of the public inauguration ceremonies: 'I'm honored and grateful that we have a chance to finish what we started. Our work begins today. Let's go. -bo'" [Bloomberg]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - This laundry-catching cat doesn't care about the peaceful transfer of power.
We Report, You Decide Just How Much Of Your Time Was Wasted By Listening. Fox News: "After President Obama's public oath of office Monday, the focus will quickly shift from the speeches and what Michelle is wearing to the food. The menu is an exclusive surf and turf that includes lobster in clam chowder sauce, grilled bison and apple cake with homemade ice cream. The meal's three courses, if you eat the whole thing, clocks in at 3027 calories, minus the booze. While it still contains less than the whopping 3,120 calories in The Cheesecake Factory's heart-stopping Bistro Shrimp Pasta that won this year's Xtreme Eating Awards, the decadence of the Inaugural Luncheon has raised a few eyebrows." [Fox News]
- As much as cats hate water, their terror doesn't even come close to the awe-inspiring power of tinfoil. [http://huff.to/WRaUD7]
- To commemorate its fifth birthday, Flickr compiled its most popular public domain images. [http://bit.ly/Vx9PUf]
- According to some marketers who studied psychology in college, today is the most depressing day of the year. [http://bit.ly/UcsUuV]
- We don't usually post SNL skits, but we have to salute any television show that uses its platform to go after single-serving home coffee makers. [http://bit.ly/VGPlby]
- A list of everyone attending Davos this year. [http://bit.ly/WwGBDa]
@pourmecoffee: If Lincoln were alive to see this, he would be all, "Who is this invisible sorceress Siri, and why is everyone asking her where to eat?"
@BuzzFeedAndrew: On Earth 2, Newt is being inaugurated today: "Together we can restore American greatness, together we can build the Moon base."
@Philip_Elliott: I just ousted @petermeister as the mayor of NRA Federal Affairs on @foursquare! 4sq.com/NObNrM
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