Late Night Open Thread: Pay It Forward (Inauguration Edition)

The Washington Post on how “The 2009 People’s Inaugural Ball changed lives“:

Somewhere in the crowd that night stood homeless people, wounded service members, flood survivors. If you looked into the ballroom, it would have been hard to distinguish the millionaires from the people who had only pennies in their pockets. They would dine on lobster and steak, nibble on white chocolate. They would shake hands with celebrities and dance until night moved into day. No one would know that a ripple of change was making its way through the crowd that night, and that the People’s Inaugural Ball, celebrating the first African American president in U.S. history, would transform lives one by one….

As they walked down 14th Street, Emily Miller and Elaine Webber might as well have been floating. Emily Miller carried an elegant hot-pink satin gown. Elaine Webber held a chocolate-and-cream designer dress with delicate hand-sewn crystals.

Nobody watching the women as they made their way toward the JW Marriott Hotel that January night in 2009 would have known that, not long ago, they had been living on the streets, addicted and homeless….

At the Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the host of the ball, Fairfax County philanthropist Earl W. Stafford, waited in a black tuxedo. About two weeks before, the millionaire had sold Unitech, a simulation technology company he had founded in 1988, to Lockheed Martin for an undisclosed amount…

The inspiration to throw the ball had come during the 2008 primaries before he knew Obama would be president.

“I … bought the presidential suite at the Hay-Adams six months ahead of time because I thought I would have some underserved homeless there to watch the parade, have some food and go home,” he said. But something told him that would be too little.

So, he paid $2 million for hotel rooms, transportation, food, gowns and tuxes, and invited 450 for a night beyond their most outlandish dreams….

Read the whole thing, you cynical insomniacs, before you come back to explain how bad I sukk at editing.

48 replies
  1. 1
    John M. Burt says:

    Glad that Gun Appreciation Day is over.

    Now we are free to observe MLK Day / Obama’s Second Inauguration, otherwise known as Target Appreciation Day.

  2. 2
    sharl says:

    Via the FB site they shared, here’s an obituary on Gex’s Kate.
    Again, please accept my condolences Gex.

  3. 3
    gene108 says:

    After today, President Obama will join FDR as the only other President to be sworn into office four times.

    Since I had to have it explained to me, in 2009 in there was swearing in #1, then the Roberts-oopsie-#1-redo for #2, #3 was yesterday and #4 will be today.

  4. 4
    NotMax says:


    (nitpick mode engaged)

    Technically, he and FDR are the only presidents administered the oath 4 times.

    No matter how many times one is given the oath, he/she can be officially sworn in only once each term.

    So FDR was sworn in 4 times; Obama was sworn in twice (once during the 2nd oath in 2009, as there was a minor question of whether or not the flubbing by Roberts constituted a duly to the letter swearing in, and once Sunday).

    /nitpick mode

  5. 5
    sharl says:

    Noted for no reason in particular…

    I love BBC’s Hardtalk. Just heard (most of) an interview with (I think) Pascal Lamy, who is in his final months as WTO Director. Paraphrasing interviewer Stephen Sackur: ‘As a proponent of increased multilateral trade and reduced trade barriers, you have failed! Nations are instead conducting bilateral agreements, and generally fleeing in the opposite direction from your stated goals…’

    Now that’s some questionatin’!

    I don’t know why people go on that show voluntarily, but glad they do. And the ones who go on with the intent to be fully upfront and open can provide some great interviews, like actor Rupert Everett.

    Only complaint is lack of diligence in maintaining the schedule. The main website directs those interested to the show’s Twitter site for announcements of upcoming interviews, but that thing doesn’t appear to be updated with sufficient regularity.

  6. 6
    amk says:

    Condolences gex. May she rest in peace.

  7. 7
    Ben Cisco says:


    My sincerest condolences on your loss. May she rest in peace, and may you be granted the strength to carry on.

  8. 8
    amk says:

    Thanks AL. That was a great read.

  9. 9
    sharl says:

    Yup, what amk @8 said; a lovely story you posted, AL.

  10. 10
    amk says:

    @sharl: Me too loves hard talk. Especially when Sackur is the one doing the grilling. He comes fully prepared with his research and is not afraid to bluntly call out the usual bs from pols. And no shouting matches. A prefect political interviewer.

  11. 11
    Raven says:

    Jesus H Christ on a kiddy car. Super asshole frat boy has his loafers and no socks while he gleefully holds up the times article about what a horrible “manager” Obama is.

  12. 12
    JPL says:

    @Raven: Are you watching Joe again? The feel good story is the one Anne linked to.
    btw I’m not watching the super bowl.. ugh..

  13. 13
    Raven says:

    @JPL: Yes. Our only party is the superbowl. A reason for our largely uninterested friends to come over. I’m going to go full force with tamales and possible thaw out the giant redfish filets and dazzle the fans with the dramatic blackening!

  14. 14
    Raven says:

    Every time I refresh I get a fucking Nordstrom popup page!

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Josie says:

    @Raven: I was constantly getting that Nordstrom page yesterday. Really irritating.

  17. 17
    raven says:

    Mika the scold is having a shot of vodka at 6:45.

  18. 18
    Josie says:

    @jeffreyw: How did it go with Kate yesterday? Has Homer decided to accept her?

  19. 19
    raven says:

    @Josie: I was using FF, I switched to Chrome and it seems to be gone.

  20. 20
    A Humble Lurker says:

    What’s the meat there? I can’t identify it. It all looks scrumptious, though.

  21. 21
    raven says:

    Joe and Mika are learning that gun control is going no-fuooking-where.

  22. 22
    jeffreyw says:

    @Josie: Still early days. The cats have her on probation. Jack snapped at her when she tried to join him abed. Buddy and Annie don’t have a problem. She’s still very shy.

  23. 23
    jeffreyw says:

    @A Humble Lurker: That’s some of my own garlic pepper sausage. Lots of minced garlic, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Touch of smoked paprika.

  24. 24
    Josie says:

    @jeffreyw: Shy is probably good at this point. That way she won’t push her luck. Hope it all goes smoothly.

  25. 25
    A Humble Lurker says:

    *Looks at cold cereal that is my breakfast* I hate you, w. So much.

  26. 26
    Josie says:

    @raven: I’m on FF also. Happily, it seems to be gone today – maybe just a one day phenomenon. Now they are trying to sell me a destination wedding.

  27. 27
    jeffreyw says:

    @Josie: Yeah, Homer crept in for a closer look last evening, she didn’t move a muscle.

  28. 28
    Ramalama says:

    gex, sorry to read your sucky news. I hope you’re not losing your shared home soon or any of the other ugliness that can happen when the partners are not legally considered to be family of the deceased.

  29. 29
    Aimai says:

    Hex, she sounds like an incredible woman. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  30. 30
    JPL says:

    @raven: I’m surprised that Mika is not using drugs. Sitting next to Joe every morning would cause anyone to drink.

  31. 31
    Josie says:

    @jeffreyw: What a great picture. Thanks for the morning smile.

  32. 32
    Anya says:

    Sorry for your loss, Gex. I hope you are comforted by the memories you shared with Kate.

  33. 33
    Punchy says:

    Say hello to the Super Baugh. Both teams led by bigger dicks than DDiggler.

  34. 34
    Anya says:

    @Raven: I guess the knives are out for Valerie Jarrett.

    The “Obama sucks as a manager” will be the new he’s “aloof”. It’s amazing how determined the liberal media is of refusing to acknowledge the president’s many accomplishments in his first term.

    As for the missteps, via Kay, Messina has a better grasp of the reasons:

    We played too much of an inside game in 2009 and 2010 and got away from what we’re good at.

  35. 35
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Gex, if you’re reading this, I wish the best to you and yours. Peace and condolences.

  36. 36
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    You know, it would be nice if these people could STFU on this one day of his presidency to acknowledge that democracy once again worked (mostly) as planned, and the union lives on.

    And re: the People’s Ball, that story was very touching. Does anyone know if they’re doing another one of those?

  37. 37
    Closeted epistemic (formerly Lojasmo) says:

    Gex; Terribly sorry for your loss. Stay strong (but take time to grieve)

  38. 38
    NotMax says:

    Paging Mr. Romney. Mr. Mitt Romney.


    Never mind.

  39. 39
    HRA says:

    My condolences to you Gex and to the family.

  40. 40
    mai naem says:

    Condolences to Gex. Kate seems like she was a brave woman.

    OT – small criticism of the Obamas. Sasha was dressed appropriately in a “special event” dress. Why was Malia wearing this knitwear fabric outfit with leggings? Yeah, I know she’s a teenager but seriously this is her dad’s swearing in pic that is going to be viewed by people decades from now. Michelle couldn’t get Malia to dress is more of a “special event” outfit. And jeezus, Joe Scarbo can’t freaking dress in a suit for the inauguration? And he’s got loafers on without socks. Seriously? Does he think he’s there for the inauguration for the president of the Bahamas or something? Dumbass.

  41. 41
    chopper says:

    Aw Jesus, I’m so sorry Gex.

  42. 42
    Ash Can says:

    To Gex, deepest sympathies.. May friends and family support you throughout this supremely difficult time.

  43. 43
    emma says:

    Dear Gex after reading that story it occurs to me how lucky Kate was to have you at her side throughout this terrible time and what amazing love carried you through. My condolence and admiration.

  44. 44
    Schlemizel says:

    Oh god. Turns out I had seen Kate perform here, she was funny. I had no idea we lived in the same area. It sounds like Gex will have the support of a lot of friends going through this, at least there is that.

    They are holding a benefit to help defray the medical expenses (I can’t even imagine, my little c adventure included over $80k in treatment after surgery). If you would like to help maybe you could buy a ticket or two:

  45. 45
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @mai naem: Totally agree with you about Joe Scar — as long as the accepted dress for men is suit, tie, SOCKS and shoes, then he should show respect by wearing the uniform. But personally, I though Malia looked just fine in the swearing-in photo. And I think the picture people are more likely to be looking at decades from now will be the one taken at high noon today at the Capitol.

  46. 46
    Gwangung says:

    As, condolences. I hope you find a little comfort from the outpouring of sympathy here….

  47. 47
    xian says:

    Gex, sending thoughts and prayers your way.

  48. 48
    mclaren says:

    So where are these homeless people today, four years later?

    I’ll tell you where — they’re starving and freezing on the street because Obama’s “Grand Bargain” cemented in the Bush tax cuts for zillionaires while aiding & abetting the slashing of the social safety net.

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