Tagged : politics

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

On January 20th 2009, two million people, including myself, were in Washington DC to witness one of the most historic US presidential inaugurations ever… The inauguration of Barack Obama. Since it’s been four years, I’ve been thinking about what to write about this truly historic event. Truth to be told, I don’t know.

Maybe a story about the great ‘We Are One’ concert of Bono, Bruce Springsteen and other celebrities will do? Or what about the strategic location I choose to see the inauguration and parade… I could talk about this for hours! No? A horror story about the ‘Purple Gate of Doom’ perhaps? Wait! It’s a party. No horror stories today…

I believe the story of an African American pastor from Chicago is great. While waiting for Obama, he told me about the moment when he met President Bill Clinton (in the 90s). One day, this pastor traveled with Clinton’s motorcade when the president decided to get some fastfood. He directed the entire motorcade to the nearest fastfood chain and used the drive through to order food for everyone… True story.

Or wait, I met this other great guy from New York. He told me about the unprecedented security measures in his nephews office, which is located next to the parade route at Pennsylvania Avenue. Or is it more interesting to tell the story about George W. Bush? I was near the White House when he arrived there for the last time while being president. That was quite something. We (the NY-guy and me) knew that president Bush’ helicopter, Marine One, would land on the South Lawn. But we didn’t expect three identical helicopters. All three approached the White House from the south. But George W. Bush was in just one of these presidential helicopters. I guess these three helicopters did the ultimate (real-life) shell game. It took us until the third helicopter to figure out in which one George Bush travelled. Speaking of people from Texas, our section of the parade route was secured by Texan police officers. How sad is that, being a republican police officer from Texas who’s deployed in the nations capital on that particular day. That’s a true ‘being in the belly of the beast’ situation. But I have to admit… we, including the Texans, had lots of fun together. Which is good, because it was an extremely cold and long wait…

Which leaves us with the last story to be told… which is the inauguration of Obama itself. During those days, the message of hope and change sounded throughout the United States. Everyone hoped for better times, which could easily be seen on the faces of the people attending the inauguration. It simply was unbelievable and something I’ve never seen before. And… the sound of two million people shouting Barack Obama’s name and going wild after he took the oath of office… That was quite something!

Well, I don’t know which story I should pick. But perhaps I don’t have to. Instead, I created a new OneMinute video (see above). It’s the inauguration (and preceding days) in just one minute. Enjoy!

Barack Obama’s motorcade

Exactly four years ago, on January 17th 2009, I was in Washington DC. It’s three days before the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States takes place. An event I was looking forward to for a very long time already. In fact, this trip was planned (and paid for) about four months earlier, in September 2008. Barack Obama and John McCain were still in campaign mode and the election was two months away. At that time, I didn’t realize I was about to experience an historic inauguration. An inauguration attended by two million people in Washington DC and billions (!) more via television.

Anyway, I finally arrived in Washington DC. After a tour inside the US Capitol and a visit to the National Mall, I walked to Lafayette Square, which is a public park in front of the White House. All I wanted was to cross the street and make some pictures of the White House… but a nervous security guard stopped me. He ordered me to wait for a few minutes. It didn’t take that long before a helicopter positioned itself right above us. Also, in the far distance, there was the (increasing) sound of many police cars… It’s the motorcade of Barack Obama! Immediately, I grabbed my camera and shot this video (see above).

Three days later, Obama was sworn in as 44th President of the United States.

Too close to call?

For some reason, every self respecting journalist believes the race between Obama and Romney is very close or maybe even too close to call. But is this really the case?

Some national polls predict Obama will be the winner, some say Romney has the upper hand. And all major news outlets claim these national polls really matter… But it doesn’t take long for the very same news outlets to change their mind and state that national polls don’t matter at all. Why not? Well, obviously it’s all about the twelve swing states, or were there only nine? No wait, there’re just five. How could I be wrong about that!

This means there’s only one fact left… it’s all about Ohio.

Right?!

Nope, that’s not the case either. It turns out Obama has a solid 5% lead in this state.

Most people know it’s virtually impossible for Mitt Romney to get to the needed 270 electoral votes without Ohio. This means… wait for it… I can now officially project Barack Obama to win the 2012 elections and continue to be president of the United States.

two houses in front of european parliament brussels

Europe and its two houses

The European Parliament is situated in the center of the European Quarter in Brussels. Adjacent to the main entrance are several steel framed EU office buildings clad in aluminum and glass. On a rainy day, this will look depressing for sure. But today, the sun reflects in the glass facade and leaves beautiful shadows on the boulevard, which runs from the north to the south. On the other side of the parliament building, a beautiful park, Parc Leopold, is situated. There is a small lake with century old trees around it. When we look towards the west, we see more trees and the oval shaped glass and steel structure of the European Parliament. This building majestically rises from its surroundings. Whether you like the architecture style of the parliament or not (I happen not to like it), you can see the grandeur-ish style architects had in mind. Let’s go on. Just in front of this side of the parliament, we see two smaller buildings. They look like houses. And they look not so well-maintained either. In fact they are not so well-maintained houses…

What?!

Houses?!

Yep. To my surprise, two almost neglected houses are located several meters (!) away from the European Parliament. Must be a joke right? These houses must be old and architecturally unique, used for expositions or anything else except being used by actual families?

Nope.

These houses are not so old, not so well maintained and still used as family houses today. My question is: Why spend hundreds of millions of euros building the European Parliament without buying out these two families… Or are these two family houses symbol for Europe as we know it today? Europe: A want-to-be worldwide power which just isn’t…

Note: I snapped this picture last year (May 2010) during my first visit to Brussels, Belgium. At that time, I just couldn’t believe what you now see on this picture (above). Last week I was reminded of this picture again because of my second visit to Brussels.

Inside the European Parliament Brussels

European Parliament

Just got back from Brussels, Belgium. I joined a group of (mostly) students to visit the capital of Europe. We were invited by Esther de Lange, Dutch member of the European Parliament. Obviously we visited the hemicycle (plenary hall) of the parliament (see photo above). Perhaps most interesting, we spoke with two members of parliament, their staff and some lobbyists. During the course of two days, four staffers of Esther de Lange joined us everywhere we went.