I and several thousand other people are here early in McCormick Center, waiting for President Obama. We’re listening the warm-up act of Eddie Vedder and the Chicago Children’s Choir, followed by BJ the Chicago Kid with the national anthem. They all rocked the house—though in fairness it wasn’t the toughest crowd I’ve ever seen….
I am sitting in the press pen, sneaking into a spot nominally reserved for NBC News. I’m about 25 feet from Anderson Cooper. A gentleman, Mr. Cooper graciously let me take his picture. At least he would have, had I not nervously screwed up my fancy camera. He has a better seat. Still, I’m here with my White House press pass, my three cameras, a laptop. A tripod I don’t have permission to set up. I’ve hit the big time.
This is a poignant moment, the end of a sweet journey for many here. My own journey began 9 ½ years ago, when a friend invited me to a small Chicago party on behalf of Senator Barack Obama’s unlikely presidential campaign…. A man I hadn’t heard of, David Plouffe, was the headliner of this small party. He was there to talk campaign strategy. He got hard questions from a skeptical small crowd. Senator Obama was thirty points down in the polls. He was way behind in money. and in name recognition. He was a black guy with a…well you know the list…
I don’t for a moment believe President Obama has been the perfect president or the perfect steward of the Democratic Party. He was still very good. With virtually zero Republican help, his policies pulled our nation out of the deepest recession in generations. He rescued the auto industry. He brought health insurance to twenty million people. His soldiers killed bin Laden. He avoided war with Iran. He did many less noticeable things, too, such as building a Justice Department we can be proud of for its work on civil rights and disability.
He is one of the most worthy men ever to assume the presidency. The Obamas represent our country with such grace, humanity, and integrity. The contrast between President Obama and the grifting demagogue who will replace him defies belief.
President Obama has been the best and the classiest President of my lifetime. I’ve never regretted for one second the thousands of hours I’ve spent supporting his efforts.
Like millions of others, I just ache to see him go.
More here, from my piece at the Huffington Post.
Tim Jost and I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times today: “Seven questions about health reform.”
We offer many questions about what Republicans plan to do in their “repeal and replace” or “repeal and delay” approach to the ACA. The single most important point in our essay is simple: Congress should not repeal ACA until they have submitted their specific replacement proposal for analysis by nonpartisan authorities such as the Congressional Budget Office and the Tax Policy Center to determine how the repeal will affect health insurance coverage, state and federal finances, and individual tax burdens. That practice was followed in the long debate leading to the ACA. It should be followed now.
Bonus Washington sunrise pictures below
One degree Chicago sunrise. Wow it was cold.
Kris Welch interviewed me about civil disobedience in the age of Trump. I thought it was a nice conversation, despite my embarrassing prattling on and on and on and on.
I generally react badly to those heartwarming viral videos about kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities or related challenges. So many of these videos are really designed to elicit pity by reminding us of what a child can’t do rather than showing a genuine, realistic achievement. I’ve seen maybe fifty variants of the high school student with Down syndrome, manager of the basketball team, who is allowed to take a freebie shot that falls through the bucket. It’s great to give a kid that experience…but yeah. So many inspiring videos are implicitly about the inspiring caregiver, or about the random non-disabled person who does something basically kind, such as the football star who joined a boy who lives with autism [typo fixed] for lunch.
Kaylee Rodgers attends the Killard House School in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland. She lives with autism. And as you can hear: Wow, she can really sing. It doesn’t hurt that she’s singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.(h/t New York Post.)
And yeah, for many of us this song will always be bittersweet….
Rep Trent Franks (R-AZ): “If Russia succeeded in giving the American people information that was accurate, then they merely did what the media should have done.”
I find this disgraceful.
Rep Franks:"If Russia succeeded in giving...info that was accurate...they merely did what the media should've done" https://t.co/NSZqUJz81Q
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) December 29, 2016
Birds are annoyingly nimble. Their aerial combat maneuvers resemble a CGI kung-fu action scene. I took an embarrassing number of rejects to get three or four good shots. Photography is a bit like golf. Its consuming challenges are stress-reducing and stress-inducing in almost equal measure. The grey winter morning background gave these otherwise rather drab birds an impressive look.