Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hate in a Time of Cholera

Water sustainer of life is also the conduit of cholera deaths in Zimbabwe. Complicating the ever increasing numbers of deaths is tyrant extraordinaire Robert Mugabe claiming no problem. A person has to hate and loathe its people to deny a problem and proffered help from aid organizations or NGO's. Almost 10,000 cases with 412 confirmed deaths to date plus the spread into neighboring Botswana and South Africa screams bloody murder for a lack of urban public health infrastructure containment and fast action on part of Zimbabwe's inept government. Shades of George Bush in America's dénouement during Katrina, but weirdly juxtaposed against Africa policy being one of his singular net positive achievements.

Hygiene is a matter of life and death while the midst of a crisis is not an opportune time for educating the people. Out of necessity, Zimbabwe's citizenry is getting a crash course along with buckets, soap and water treatment tablets. Don't use the water and that goes double for the cities. Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, remains politically aflame amidst contested election results and a mountain of constitutional amendments meant to secure powers for Mugabe against rival Morgan Tsvangirai. Rural

UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) spokeswoman Veronique Taveau said that unlike previous outbreaks that mainly affected rural areas, the current epidemic is affecting densely-populated urban centres, "which leads to itsrapid expansion and makes it harder to fight against the disease."

Jean-Philippe Chauzy of the International Organization for Migration said Zimbabweans fleeing deprivation in their country were contributing to spreading the disease.

Zimbabwe belatedly changed its tune Thursday and asked for international help to fight the outbreak after long insisting that the
situation was under control.

"With the coming of the rainy season, the situation could get worse," said deputy health minister Edwin Muguti. "Our problems are quite simple. We need to be helped."
With a belated invite, the International Committee of the Red Cross and a plethora of United Nations agencies are rushing to put their fingers in the dikes as hordes collapse in a dam of humanity. People providing care to victims are starving and others are spreading the disease crossing the borders into neighboring nations. Inflation was so bad Zimbabwe's bankrupt treasury had to issue a 10,000,000,000 bill as prices for bread, gas and clean bottled water went up hourly. Day to day survival left little time for the niceties of proper hygiene in the middle of the slums or in rural areas where supply chains are figments of imagination. Yet, Zimbabwe is a bountiful country blessed with a Mosi-oa-Tunya UNESCO designation since the late 1980s for Victoria Falls which should facilitate tourism that would make a less corrupt government solvent under competent leadership.
"Some of the staff workingin the clinics have not received a salary for weeks, and they cannot keep working if we do not get them food," ICRC spokeswoman Anna Schaaf said.

The agency said on
Thursday it was doubling the budget of its Zimbabwe office to nearly 13 million Swiss francs ($11 million) in 2009. "The situation in hospitals is catastrophic," ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger told Reuters.

Zimbabwe's inflation is more than 230 million percent. Its economic crisis has caused many public hospitals to close, and most towns suffer from only intermittent water supplies, broken sewers, and uncollected garbage.
A dire situation is playing out as a UN mandated power sharing governance model between Zunu-PF (Team Mugabe) versus Movement for Democratic Change (the opposition) suffers the tortures of the diseased as resources trickle in to the hardest hit areas in Eastern Zimbabwe. The rainy season starts in late November and lasts until April. Western nations were accused of enjoying what they see coming from the mandated sanctions by Mugabe loyalists like the utterly failed Deputy Health Minister, Edwin Muguti. Memo to M2, Mugabe and Mufuti - sanctions rendered unnecessary where democracy flourishes and Human Rights receive all due respect.

A story with heart that goes deep inside the cultural mores and restrictions that form life in Zimbabwe as told by a journalist with skin in the game, Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir. Newlywed white man with African American wife gets a detailed education in African politics as told in autobiographical format from Neely Tucker.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Art, Architecture and Arabia

I M Pei's architectural pedigree scales the heavens of all types of art on the world's most populated continents. A mix of cultural form and function wrapped in glass, steel and stone gives iconic meaning to some of the world's most prestigious museums, Louvre's inverted pyramid, Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the National Gallery of Art or the Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM) in Luxembourg, all containing priceless works on display. At the age of ninety one, Ieoh Ming Pei, Pritzker Prize winner and a multicultural phenom put his imprimatur in Doha, Qatar on the newly opened Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). The magnificent spare no expense building sits astride one of the famed man-made islands as a modern wonder paying homage to the past. Showcasing the art pieces on two floors the curator paid attention to a span of a thousand years, across geography from the ancient Persia to a jade pendant from India to a multitude of art materials. Exhibits are exquisite after the impressive eye candy the symmetrical museum makes upon arrival with reflecting pools, a geometric main staircase hall with the Zen of an Islamic garden. It was a cool enough event that Robert De Niro attended the museum opening amongst the Gulf region's pantheon of royalty.

Ten years ago, this started with the Emir H H Sheikj Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thanki and Sheikh Hassan Al Thani family concentrating on the procurement of Islamic artifacts amidst Europe's established auction houses. London's art scene saw an influx of capital dedicated to filling a museum that was but an idea on a draft board as the final crown jewel in the stellar architectural career of I M Pei. Five stories of wonder encapsulating 382,000 square feet with a price tag of $300 million is the entry fee to establish Doha as a cultural destination for Arabian and Western tourism and pride of place in the hoity-toity art world. The collection features a $73 million dollar Mark Rothko abstract painting as well as the best of art from other cultures while featuring the works of little known Islamic masters. (Picture: Maher Attar)
Not long ago, the idea of culture being a reason to visit the Gulf would have made other Arabs laugh. No longer.

The Syrian cultural historian Rana Kabbani sees a political element to the museum, putting Doha on the cultural map.

"I think all the rulers in the Gulf see what they really lack isculture on a grand scale, as a kind of imperial identity. It's a political-cultural lack. They have the means, and they're going for it."
That's why along the coast, two museums are planned for Abu Dhabi - branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim.
Art in the Islamic world is taking a new resonance as the museum of the millennium opens and Saudi Arabia holds more gallery exhibitions albeit in embassies. To inaugurate the museum there is an exhibit and a conference Beyond Boundaries - Islamic Art Across Cultures. There was a Sunday special panel featuring the architect of the decade, I M, Pei on Islamic Architecture from Tradition to Modernity.

Women are painting, sculpting and creating their own art behind the veils and scrolled walls in Saudi society. A public showing is a cultural possibility with embassy exhibits more prevalent in the realm of the possible and where chances increase the art's exposure. The colors and compositions are arresting, more so because of who the people are that are trying new mediums are garnering attention for their sophisticated works. The Kingdom pledged to sponsor the best are culled from a competition in their own embassies as a furtherance of showcasing their people's talents with clay, camera or paintbrush.

One artist took advantage of the venue to hang an abstract painting of a woman, with one breast clearly depicted — a hint of nudity still taboo outside the diplomatic confines of the embassy, where Saudi Arabia's religious police cannot enter.

The Wednesday night showing in a small hall was packed with expatriates and, more significantly Saudis, whose presence was a reflection of the surge of interest in the arts in the kingdom in the past few years. Local artsshows have been on the rise, more Saudi artists are participating in overseas exhibits, and more universities and schools are offering arts degrees.

The first non-governmental arts society was established a year ago, with four women on its 10-member board. Saudis have become more accepting of abstract art, which, only a few years ago, was the subject of ridicule. And in many Arab cities, Saudi collectors are snapping up works by local artists, some of whom get special orders from their rich clients.

So many beautiful works to page through in Islamic Art and Culture: A Visual History. It was important to me to find a book written by an eminent Islamic scholar. Professor Nasser D. Khalili presents the full range of art possibilities and the meaning behind each selected piece. Great coffee table book sure to cause cultural discussion.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Musical Chair Derby to Audition for Transition

The White House is the scene of the best braggarts and brightest burblers competing to get one of the last seats before the dramatic Gothic music stops. The scramble is fierce. The players have the arrogance of elitists, use dumb seeking minions to sharpen their wits upon and find any means necessary to wipe out, trip or just outright legally slit the throats of their fellow professionals. Out of the mêlée comes sanguine victors who join the legions of cube rates across corporate America for a chance to sit and work in the Brady Briefing Room located in the West Wing. The latest journalistic perk is getting senior in front of the words White House reporter.

Confinement to little sections of the White House with special security passes and an itsy bitsy workspace with wifi was worth all of the professional rivalry, hidden hand backstabbing of a new administration and pontificating that goes on in millions of workplaces around the globe. But this is the White House. Barack Obama will be running the historic show. Hidden from public view is the transition to see which millionaire TV journalists and their less well paid print counterparts get to be assigned to stand outside the White House when the mosquitoes bite or the snow piles up around their ears to cover the most closely watched presidential transition in world history. Yet, because the White House during the Bush locusts and famine years was pretty much like a GOP convention - a surfeit of non-French vanilla with an arresting rare chocolate or butterscotch sprinkle for spice, more media enterprises feel a sudden need to diversify their reporting pool. Will the miracles that just the advent of a President-Elect Barack Obama can do never cease...

While The New York Times has yet to announce its White House team, sources tell Politico that it will include Liberian-born journalist Helene Cooper, previously a diplomatic correspondent. Cooper has something in common with the president-elect — her own highly acclaimed memoir delving into her familial ties in Africa, published earlier this

But simply wanting to cover the White House isn't as easy as just showing up. Longtime correspondents tightly hold onto the best seats in the small work space in the basement. Coveted hard passes can take months to obtain through the Secret Service.

"I think people who haven't covered the White House will be surprised how rigid they are about rules," said Julie Mason, White House correspondent for the Washington Examiner, mentioning the assigned seating as a particular sticking point among veterans.

DC journalists notoriously protected privilege and access to their bottom line detriment. Many political bloggers, especially on the left, just moved into the wide open space left by many journalists. Scooter Libby's trial transcripts put the punctuation marks ^%#$(^ of how in the tank many top journalists were for republican agendas after their almost total meek acceptance of all things Bush led to the travesty, the Iraq War. So now people see an opening and the editors and producers have to decide who is going to get the crown jewel of a WH spot to cover this presidency. Do they keep the same people in place or shake things up? Obama decided in-house bloggers were going to get an official White House stamp of approval.

Also getting under way is a new team of official White House bloggers. One, prominent liberal blogger Michael Lux, joined the transition team this week.

He's expected to be joined by bloggers assigned to specific Obama initiatives, such as overhauling health care and conserving energy.

At the same time, McClatchy Newspapers has learned that Obama's Internet army, which is in the course of moving from his campaign communications Web site to his transition site,, may be asked to move again in January. (AFP)

Some media conglomerates are seeking to add more reporters to cover this White House. Just a whiff of drama is catnip to the reporters who strangely enough tell the news on Tv in virtually the same order night after night. Newspapers are hiring their own bloggers while former print magazines are folding shop and becoming web only operations. Newsrooms have a high degree of anxiety over what January 20, 2009 will bring. Media staffing decisions are fraught with peril because they have no control over how an Obama Administration plans to set up or upset current traditions the press deems dear.

Dishing the dirt and taking no guff from press or presidents is the Iron Lady of the Beltway. An eighty year plus feisty woman who famously gave JFK tough questions and every president since. Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Failed the Public, is her book outlining the press and its epic failures to fulfill their purpose of being the People's representative, not their corporations. Waves hi to the Mouse, a Lightbulb and assorted other corporate brands bringing the tarted up "news".

Part of the Transition Series.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Norway Top, Iran Near Bottom on Gender

The constitutional monarchy of Norway and home of the Nobel Prize stewards leads the world with the smallest gender gap. Iran is a dark ages basement dweller at 116 out of 130 on gender equality for the 18th largest sized country on Earth. The world's number one super power democracy is solidly behind Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and New Zealand coming in at #27. Sadly, that's an improvement over last year. Persian and Iranian civilization has been around in some form since before 4000 BC. The USA only gave suffrage to women in 1920 with a constitutional amendment passing by one vote. Since the 21st millennium began, Norway had a firm grip on the top spot in human development with an enlightened universal Scandinavian welfare model. Just to get to the top spot Norway had to move up just two places on their Nordic neighbors.
The UK came 13th and slipped from 11th place last year while France was among those countries whose ranking rose sharply, from 51st to 15th place helped by gains in economic participation and political empowerment.
Syria, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia all fell in the ranking and showed a drop in overall scores. Progress in closing the gap is not only "possible" but can be achieved in a relatively short space of time said the forum.
The index surveyed economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival.
Women in senior leadership roles in government, business and other organization needs to happen in more nations but the bugaboo of diversifying escapes rational discussion and implementation year after year. Looks bleak in the United Kingdom as the pay gap widens as the UK falls two places to number 13 on the World Economic Forum's Flobal Gender gap index, especially for women with the top job in a business. Canada took a greased toboggan down Mount Robson sliding to an ungainly stop 13 spots down from their prior perch. Turkey considered by those in Bush's state department as the most moderate Muslim nation sparkles in infamy at 123 out of 130 as the formerly secular nation grows ever more rigidly conservative in it politics. Don't hold your breath for the Bush guys to mention that out loud either as Turkey's air space is a vital American interest.
Women in the US still have trouble reaching equal status and equal pay. In Missouri, three female anchors are suing their former television station for tossing them off the air while their balder, fatter and squinting male counterparts got to stay on the tube. Gender bias shows up in a multitude of areas while significant accomplishments receive noteworthy attention. The United States military broke the so-called brass ceiling pinning a fourth star on General Ann E. Dunwoody's dress uniform. The 55 year old is the top commander of the Army Matériel Command unit which supplies all soldiers with weapons and gear. She is a master jumper and which led to her creds as the 82nd Airborne's first female battalion commander at Fort Bragg.
"It was clear to me that my Army experience was just going to be a two-year detour en route to my fitness profession," she added. "So when asked, `Ann, did you ever think you were going to be a general officer, to say nothing about a four-star?' I say, `Not in my wildest dreams.'

"There is no one more surprised than I — except, of course, my husband. You know what they say, `Behind every successful woman there is an astonished man.'"

Too bad that is has such the ring of truth - still in the USA and everywhere else...

In a story of intolerance from a temperate religion comes the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She fought against the cultural norms on three continents suffering horrible deprivations along the way. While I may not agree with all of her political views, her courage and intellect are diamonds of the first water and her story is the beginning of her legend. She titled the book strongly, Infidel. A Great Read!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

GSA: First Stop to An Obama Administration

On July 1, 1949 the GSA was born as part of the legacy of alphabet agencies from another three letter president, FDR. Everything in the government seems to boil down to an acronym to the point of needing a translator. It comes from the time of the deepest agonies arising from the Depression as a young energetic cousin of a former president took the reigns of power in March of 1932. To get America back on its feet again a plethora of agencies under a Work Projects Administration (WPA) came from Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Bill Clinton did an awkward version of this called a New Covenant with the public for the most part allowing it to die of a natural political cause, a distinct lack of interest.

GSA or the General Services Administration is tasked with the responsibility of finding the components needed to house and sustain the inner workings of government down to procuring the erasure on the desk up to completing a renovation of the White House from the inside out under President Truman's direction. Today, GSA is an civil servant army of 12,000 strong as they incorporate the quadrennial need for an inauguration into their regular duties of facilities
management for 8,300 grayish nondescript hut outposts to the White House complex, procurement and contracts, the governments formal internet communication platforms and just under a quarter of a million vehicles.

Everything is transparent for the 2008-2009 Presidential Transition Resources as they list this website to see who does what and when if one is selected to serve in an Obama Administration. This site lists the branches of government in a PDF file to explaining the most commonly overused acronyms in an attempt to make it comprehensible. It breaks it down by office, roles and responsibilities and disclosure forms in text or PDF formats compiled by the GPO or Government Printing Office. For those in the know, the Plum Book, a listing of all the jobs available ought to be a big download in the coming weeks.
Senate Report 106-348 clarifies that the directory is intended to "assist in navigating the many responsibilities that fall on a new administration" that is "confronted by an overwhelming amount of material."

The Presidential Transition Act of 2000 amended the Presidential Transition Act of 1963. It authorizes the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop and deliver orientation activities for key prospective Presidential appointees, and requires GSA, in consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration, to develop a transition directory.

The GSA has already turned over the secured offices near the White House in NW Washington to the Obama team. The exact address is 450 5th St, according to this source. The entire 11 story building or 482, 130 square feet is dedicated to the Obama Transition and they metaphorically got the keys and fancy cards on Wednesday. It's kind of cool symmetry that the economy is in the crapper and the location of the building is the former home of the Security & Exchange Commission - charged with regulating Wall Street. Hopefully, the SEC panhandled into a smaller place as nobody was minding the store during the Bush years as Wall Street binged and purged. The GSA has a budget of just under 5,000,000 USD to ensure the lights are on, the copiers work, the phones are secure with people cleared to use them, and the president-elect has a place to start the filing system and archives that will one day be part of his presidential papers in an Obama Presidential Library. This building will be the place tens of thousands a quarter million resumes electronically invade and many final job interviews will take place. There is a transition office in Chicago too, but the one in DC is the "secure" one meaning the FBI reports, the phones are there en masse. High-powered John Podesta is Obama's point man on the transparent transition who painted a pale red target on lobbyists' ambitions to serve in the transition.
As odd as the setting seemed, the process of presidential transition is even stranger. Obama, Podesta and their team must build a government in just 77 days, if you count both New Year's and Christmas. At the first briefing about this process Tuesday, Podesta said that he expects to spend about $12 million on the effort, most of which will be paid for by private donations from individuals who are not registered lobbyists in sums of $5,000 or less. (Congress kicks in $5.2 million to the effort.) All that money will pay for about 450 staff in Chicago and D.C. offices to do reviews of the major federal agencies, create dossiers on potential appointments, and otherwise set up the personnel for the future of the U.S. government, which included in 2004, 15 secretaries, 24 deputy secretaries, more than 275 assistant secretaries and more than 2,500 additional presidential appointees not subject to Senate confirmation.
Since there is only one president at a time, one is packing up their White House bric-a-brac contemplating what being a civilian is again as the other is packing up a private life to step into the harsh glare of the world's spotlight as Commander In Chief on a federal holiday dedicated to him, January 20, 2009. Maybe, that is why George Bush teared up as he expressed the sentiment to make this the smoothest transition in a time of war ever because terrorists were watching. Power is a visceral thing in DC. How and by whom it is wielded is the thing that consumes Washingtonians waking hours. That includes an obsessed media, Obama's professional stalkers, will watch the doors to see who goes in and out and how long they stayed. Who at the Washington Post will have the guts to say or print in one of their notorious What or Who is In/Out as administrations Change editions, Eugene Robinson In, Bob Woodward Out.

The Transition's formal website for Team Obama is called appropriately enough but without O's campaign in mind, Change with a message from President- Elect Obama.
Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.
Course Correction is burgeoning as being an American and knowing how the country operates is cool once again. The most important Obama website for the next few weeks is set up by the GSA, general service administration, to list and inform about all things related for the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. It is the must go to place for a job or data on the upcoming 44th presidency. To know how tightly interwoven it all is Obama's limited edition T-shirts use the insignia from the official government change site. Hint, Barack Obama and crew will post inaugural details at this site as well. CSPAN will become the most powerful news organization as it will provide no punditry, just an unfiltered lens to show the House of Representatives, Senate Chambers and the presidency foibles and fabulous alike. Barack Obama has steeped himself in economic details of the transition and made mention of his requests during his first and last Oval Office meeting before becoming president himself.

Presidential transitions are studied in great detail by preeminent presidential scholars as it is the foundation of how a president sets up an administration to operate the US government. As we approach the bicentennial of Lincoln, it provides a number of helpful clues for the incoming Obama Administration as perilous times escalated out of control into a Civil War. Abraham Lincoln, President Elect: The Four Critical Months from Election to Inauguration from Larry D. Mansch is about how Lincoln coped with building a government in the midst of secessions while keeping his world view of American unity.

This is part of The Transition Series to the presidency of Barack Obama

(posts at the link above are stored by date) Please leave some hints about other topics to explore through the transition!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Future First Family & A White House Transition

Monday, November 10th is a day of historical significance and import. Michelle Obama will ride with her future president in a chauffeur-driven armored limousine onto the curved drive of State Pl NW to the South Portico of the Executive Mansion. President-Elect & Mrs. Obama will be greeted by the current renters as visiting (pre) heads of state and enter through the Diplomatic Entrance. Cameras galore will memorialize the shot of the first African American woman to enter the White House as a future First Lady and CEO of the East Wing. Already in front of the White House the foundation of the presidential review stand for the parade for the 44th presidency is under construction.

The next formal appearance by Mrs. Obama to the White House is pre-scheduled. She will arrive on the North Portico from Blair House for a sip of tea (calm the stomach) and a ladylike bite (no lipstick messups) of a piece of delish pastry (stay away from anything jelly, crumbly or creme filled). On 20 January, 2009 at about 10:30ish she will get in the backseat of another limo for a ride with Mrs. Bush (who is leaving the White House for the last time as First Lady) to go to her husband's last job site, The United States Capitol. Federal Law says the lawyerly Obamas have to arrive Cinderella-like at least one minute before noon or there is some sort of Constitutional pumpkin crisis.

Michelle, or as her best friend calls her, Meesh, will try to visit or speak with at least three head of elite (in the educational excellence meaning as well as the tony) DC area private schools, stratospheric uppercrust Maret, crayons to ivy league bound seniors Georgetown Day School and Chelsea Clinton's alma mater, Sidwell Friends in DC. My sympathies Malia, (pretty sure the Sorting Hat would say she's a Ravenclaw), there is not a Dumbledore in sight as none of the schools would rank above Hogwarts. She will be just like Harry Potter on the first day of school, all alone, and so famous its eyepopping to the student gawkers. EXPECTO PATRONUM! Heads up, it came right in the end for that Harry chap, even when he continuously made the front page of The Daily Prophet for his legendary indiscretions and exploits. Like Mrs. Weasley, Michelle Obama is weirding out as she participates in the "O" Order while trying to shield her children from the bogarts, dementors and Death Eaters ahead. Wands at the ready!

President Bush & President-Elect Obama will walk across the West Colonnade, (an innovation by
Thomas Jefferson as an elegant way to cover up the stables), and enter the West Wing. Along the route are French doors and windows that lead into a Cabinet Room and the personal secretaries office. The Rose Garden will be on the left and further out on the South Lawn is where Marine One lands to get the president to his even bigger plane or the lush cabins at Camp David. The last time Senator Obama was in the White House was during the early days of the government's financial collapse and a tightly choreographed tableau took place to keep Bush, McCain & Obama from being in the same frame for the pool cameras. The now President-Elect Obama is way on the end. A certain somebody is in his chair now. The discussion about being president should be really great or kind of like the angry moments produced after this image was taken.
There's the White House meeting between the outgoing and incoming commander in chief, usually accompanied by a parallel confab between their spouses. This time it's taking place much sooner than is typical, on Monday, less than a week after Election Day.
What White House spokesman Tony Fratto called "a very special meeting in our democracy" brings the new guy to the White House in a way he never has visited before. Obama will be treated to a tour of his new home and office with the eyes of someone about to move in, and with the man holding the secrets known by only the small club of presidents as his guide.
In other words, Obama will get to hear and see the good stuff: maybe the weapons cache hidden in the West Wing or classified communications capabilities or the instructions for summoning a cup of coffee. The president-elect gets to, in that hackneyed cliche of campaigns, actually measure the drapes.
By the way Barack, the secret is the president always sits in the same chair. Let's pick the Cabinet Room per se. Under the table, where POTUS (President of the United States) sits is a special button that you press and the White House Staff will bring anything from the iced green tea youcrave to an arugula heavy salad. Other folks have to win the big enchilada election to get that kind of service. Pssst, the "mess", run by the Navy, has a secret door to bring dinner if you are in the Sit Room ordering a four star flag officer to, cough, complete a phased withdrawal from Iraq. The one thing Barack will not hear on Monday is the four Ruffles and Flourishes - Highest honor - until he hears Hail to The Chief played just for him on Inauguration Day. President Ford sometimes had his little band, The President's Own, United States Marine Band play the University of Michigan's fight song instead. President-Elect Obama went to mostly brainiac universities, but his love of basketball allows him to use the Chicago Bulls announcer if he wants - .... and NOW 6' 2 ..... give it up for ..... President Barack OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH - baaaaaaaa - mmmmmmaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!! This visit will help work out the details.

Michelle's transition may be the most difficult
out of everybody's in the Land of Obama. At the end
of the potential 10 years she will invest in America & Barack Obama as president. It is she who will have tomake the most adjustments. Her resistance is seen in the little microscopic details that shall become overblown without her even trying. Michelle already is into the politics of Barack's career for two years worth of hugs, tears, questioning her patriotism, that one major fashion miss with the god-awful designer dress she wore election night and the fierce protection she lovingly provides for her rewards in this life, her little girls.

The next eight years will weigh heavily as the demands of her volunteer role eat at her time. Michelle has a legacy to bequeath, not just for her daughters, but millions of women with her pigmentation and those of other hues from the palest to the darkest. What she chooses to devote her talents to should last well beyond their time in White House as an enduring testament to the nation as something her girls can admire for the rest of their lives, Mommy as role model and modeling in Vogue. Hillary Clinton has set the bar Heaven high with her life post White House. Michelle's influence as First Lady is huge. She will be more photographed than Princess Diana in the coming months, more talked about for her fashion choices and cultural themes for state occasions with no let up. It's important that she is at the White House today to prepare a brief for her immediate life ahead. She's going to need those lucky charms she wears.

Oh and Michelle, there's a little matter of this rug that has to be custom ordered to match the colors inside the Oval Office. Former president's are usually kind enough to leave the old one behind (Bush's is rather muted in a pastel blah southwestern colors starburst) until the one of a kind rug is ready to go atop a beautiful wooden floor in the Obama Oval. Please note that the bald eagle is facing the laurel leaves and not the arrows of war. There's a couple of couches and two chairs that will be on every nightly news program that have to be selected too.

A dress that will be worn only once and end up in an exhibit at the Smithsonian is the First Lady's Inaugural gown. The designer will be chased down for details as soon as The First Lady in Waiting's Press Secretary and Social Secretary (once hired) release the information. Talk about pressure. Add that getting dressed for the event will be the first time the family will have spent any extended time in the Residence of the Executive Mansion. Good thing there's a beauty salon of sorts in the place. Even though Bill Clinton called it, the Crown Jewel of the American Penal System as the Secret Service has rules for everybody, family and guest alike, it is important to understand the budget and the details to running a residence and a White House social agenda. Add a puppy, kids needing a rescue as they get lost in the place in a raucous game of hide and seek, Hannah Montana premiers in the White House theatre and its the continuance of a great American story starring the wonderful Obamas.

Sasha's first impromptu press conference ought to be a hoot. After all, Caroline Kennedy gave hers when she was 5. Besides Sasha, as a smaller tyke when her father was being sworn into the US senate with her mom looking on, got Dick Cheney to high-five her in the old senate chamber.

Already, Michelle has a Chief Usher hired by the ultra efficient Secret Service. She will receive a Giant book that allows her and the girls to choose suites of antique to more modern furniture for Sasha & Malia's rooms as well as the private spaces in the residences. The antiques in the state rooms are priceless. After her tour a sense of history and about 100,000 more square feet of space than she is accustomed to plus the enormity of the details and a lack of time will have her focused on this move. Will the girls bedrooms be on the same floor as her and Barack's or will they be upstairs near the Solarium where they can let loose? Michelle's Mom's choice of where to live in DC will weigh heavily in that decision. The dog will get loose at some point too - See Barney and his latest snippy interaction with the nosy petting press. A new tradition comes to the White House, but first they have to see how to run the place before its all official next year.

The First Couple, Renegade & Renaissance, will walk into the pages of History, together.

A great book, America's First Families: An inside View of 200 Years of Private Life in the White House, is from the quintessential historical chronicler of First Ladies, Carl Sferrazza Anthony. Their stories are one of a kind, yet uniquely American. They get the best of America's treasures as a president's offspring or spouse and then it all magically disappears like clockwork at the incoming administration's next inauguration as part of our Democracy.

This post is part of Mind Sorbet's Transition Series - for Barack Obama's presidency. Hi Mom, hope you are enjoying!
(Posts are chronological)