Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Next President of the United States - Barack Obama

******* *******
Barack Obama speech
November 4, 2008
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics -- you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to -- it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington -- it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America -- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek -- it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
To let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers -- in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House -- a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn -- I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world -- our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down -- we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security -- we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright --tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America -- that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing -- Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time -- to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth -- that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Voter turnout best in generations, maybe a century
By SETH BORENSTEIN – 06 Nov.2008 http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i34ao3tow5yhj2v7v24HM_wbT8JQD948LJRG0
WASHINGTON (AP) — America voted in record numbers, standing in lines that snaked around blocks and in some places in pouring rain. Voters who queued up Tuesday and the millions who balloted early propelled 2008 to what one expert said was the highest turnout in a century.
It looks like 136.6 million Americans will have voted for president this election, based on 88 percent of the country's precincts tallied and projections for absentee ballots, said Michael McDonald of George Mason University. Using his methods, that would give 2008 a 64.1 percent turnout rate.
"That would be the highest turnout rate that we've seen since 1908," which was 65.7 percent, McDonald said early Wednesday. It also would beat the old post World War II high of 63.8 percent in the famed 1960 John F. Kennedy-Richard Nixon squeaker. The 1908 race elected William Howard Taft over William Jennings Bryan.
The total voting in 2008 easily outdistanced 2004's 122.3 million, which had been the highest grand total of voters before.
But another expert disagrees with McDonald's calculations and only puts 2008 as the best in 40 years. Different experts calculate turnout rates in different ways based on whom they consider eligible voters.
Curtis Gans, director of the nonpartisan Committee for the Study of the American Electorate at American University and dean of turnout experts, said his early numbers show 2008 to be about equal to or better than 1964, but not higher than 1960. He said it looks like total votes, once absentees are tallied (which could take a day or so), will be "somewhere between 134 and 135 million."
What's most interesting about early results is not just how many people voted but the shifting demographic of American voters, said Stephen Ansolabehere, a political science professor at Harvard and MIT.
Using exit polling data, Ansolabehere determined that whites made up 74 percent of the 2008 electorate. That's down considerably from 81 percent in 2000 because of increase in black and Hispanic voting, he said.
"That's a big shift in terms of demographic composition of the electorate," Ansolabehere said early Wednesday.
Breakdown by party voting also shows that Republican turnout rates are down quite a bit, while Democratic turnout rates are up, Gans said.
Republican states, such as Wyoming and South Dakota, saw turnout drop. "I think they were discouraged," Gans said.
Experts pointed to a weak economy and a lively campaign that promised a history-making result for the high turnout.
North Carolina set a record for its highest turnout rate of eligible voters, because of close presidential, Senate and gubernatorial races, Gans said. Other states where turnout increased were Indiana, Delaware, Virginia and Alabama. The District of Columbia also set a record, he said.
Ansolabehere said young voters didn't show up in the advertised wave, but others disagreed.
"Young voters have dispelled the notion of an apathetic generation and proved the pundits, reporters and political parties wrong by voting in record numbers today," said Heather Smith, the executive director of Rock the Vote. "The Millennial generation is making their mark on politics and shaping our future."
Wayne State University nursing student Audrey Glenn, 19, spent four hours waiting to cast her vote in Michigan, in part because Southfield election officials couldn't find her name on their lists. "But it was all worth it," she said.
Ann Canales, a 47-year-old single mother, emerged from her Texas polling place with a wide grin, accompanied by her 16-year-old son.
"I've just been waiting for this day," said Canales, who voted for Barack Obama.
Norma Storms, a 78-year-old resident of Raytown, Mo., said her driveway was filled with cars left by voters who couldn't get into nearby parking lots.
"I have never seen anything like this in all my born days," she said. "I am just astounded."
In some places the wait lasted hours, and lines stretched for half a mile.
"Well, I think I feel somehow strong and energized to stand here even without food and water," said Alexandria, Va., resident Ahmed Bowling, facing a very long line. "What matters is to cast my vote."
2008 Election Map
Obama Counts on Text Messages to Drive Turnout of Youth, Blacks
By Christopher Stern
Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama's campaign is counting on a potent new weapon for Election Day: the humble cell-phone text message.
Texting -- an obsession of the young and a necessity for lower-income voters -- may do for the Democratic presidential candidate what arm-twisting precinct captains did in years past: prod millions to get out and vote. The Obama campaign plans to use the millions of cell-phone numbers it has amassed over the past 22 months to blast its supporters with that message today.
"Barack Obama is reaching a generation that is trying to change the world in 160 characters or less,'' said David All, a political consultant who advises Republicans on Internet strategy.
That is the aspiration. The biggest concern for the Obama campaign is getting young people -- who have registered in record numbers and shown unprecedented interest in surveys -- to turn out. In 2004, only 45 percent of those under 30 showed up to vote, according to Census data, making them just 16 percent of the electorate that year.
Getting these 44 million eligible voters who represent one- quarter of the electorate to the polls today will be particularly important because there have been reports that this group hasn't turned out for early voting at the same increased rate as other Obama supporters, such as blacks.
YouTube VideosFor almost two years, Obama, 47, has dominated the politics of the Internet, where his YouTube videos have been watched 90 million times, his social-networking site has recruited 8 million volunteers and he has more than 2 million supporters on Facebook.
The power of technology has been made clear by Obama's advantage over the Republican nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain, in terms of raising money and building an army of volunteers; the election will test whether that effort also delivers actual votes.
All, a Republican, said he admires the Illinois senator's success in using the Internet to exploit every technological advantage.
Studies show that texting is among the most effective and cheapest ways of getting supporters, particularly blacks, Hispanics and younger voters, to the voting booth.
Effective in 2006During the 2006 midterm elections, young voters who were texted on Election Day were 4 percent more likely to cast a ballot, according to a study conducted by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Michigan.
The cost of each vote was $1.56 compared with $32 for leafleting, which increases voting by 1.2 percent, the study said.
"We are targeting our base, inner-city minority communities who are lower on the income scale with less predictability about where they live,'' said Thomas Gensemer, managing partner of Washington-based Blue State Digital, a consulting company that managed Obama's online campaign.
The Obama campaign has been preparing for today's text- messaging offensive for more than a year. In August, it promised anyone who provided a phone number that they would get first notice of the vice-presidential pick.
Press reports ultimately scooped the text announcement that Delaware Senator Joe Biden was the choice. And the announcement was bungled as many of those who registered with the campaign failed to get their text until hours after it was made public.
New Contacts
The effort, however, was a success because it resulted in 3 million people registering their phones, said Andrew Rasiej, a founder of TechPresident.com, a Web site that has been tracking the influence of technology on the election.
The Republican National Committee also is using texting, though not on the same scale as the Obama campaign.
"We are sending targeted text messages throughout our targeted states,'' said Cyrus Krohn, director of the RNC's eCampaign.
Overall, the McCain campaign has failed to build as strong a presence on the Internet. Obama raised more than $600 million, much of it from online donations, compared with McCain's $217 million. Obama has more than 2 million friends on the social- networking site Facebook, compared with 560,000 for McCain. The Democrat's campaign videos have been viewed 92 million times, more than triple the number for McCain, 72.
`Started Late'"The problem with the McCain campaign has been that it started late and there wasn't a culture of belief in technology,'' Rasiej said.
McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds didn't respond to queries about its outreach effort.
All said he signed up to receive text messages from the Republican National Committee in June and has yet to receive any.
"To my knowledge, there is no way to sign up for McCain text messages,'' All said in an e-mail.
The silence from the Republican camp is in sharp contrast to the tech-savvy Obama campaign, All said. As an example, he pointed to an iPhone application the Democrat unveiled Oct. 2.
The "Obama 08'' application effectively turns the users' phone into a database for the campaign. It creates a new address book that highlights contacts the user has in swing states such as Colorado, Virginia or North Carolina, and feeds the information back to the campaign.
If the user asks for more information about an issue, the phone provides details on Obama's position on more than 18 topics. Using the phone's GPS service, the application also provides lists of dozens of local Obama events and driving directions to get there.
"I love it,'' All said. The application is "perhaps the best empowerment tool that has ever existed.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Stern in Washington at Cstern3@bloomberg.net.
What Next for Obama's Text-Messaging Database?
By Jose Antonio Vargas
Obama's campaign a template to study
By Tim Harper
Texts You Can Believe In
By Farhad Manjoo
How Historic will an Obama Presidency be?By Allan Wall
January 18, 2009
The scheduled inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the U.S.A. is only a few days away. The beginning of the Obama era is seen by his supporters (including much of the mainstream media) as a marvelous event which will usher in a sort of golden age. Indeed, the cult-like fervor of his supporters is itself a cause of concern.
Much of the hoopla revolves around the issue of race. We’ve already heard again and again how historic it is for the U.S. to finally have an African-American president.
But even that claim requires some qualification. Certainly, Obama identifies himself as black, and received the vote of 96% of the black electorate. Actually though, he is a bi-racial mulatto, with a white mother and a black father. Genetically, Obama is just as much white as he is black.
Not only that, but Barack Obama was raised by white people, after his black father abandoned the family. This seems to have caused a sort of identity crisis for young Barry who was constantly looking for a father figure, and wound up finding one in anti-white preacher Jeremiah Wright. And notice the contrast. Obama publicly dissed his maternal grandmother, who had done so much to care for him when he was younger, as a “typical white person.” On the other hand, Barack’s bigamous father who ditched him was honored in the title of his book Dreams from my Father.
Obama’s biological father, of course, was Kenyan. That means Obama is not descended from the historic black American community. Obama is not descended from American slaves. Not only that, but Kenya is in East Africa, whereas American blacks are descended from West Africans.
Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate had the first black man elected U.S. president been a real American black, preferably one who had already accomplished something in the business world, in sports, entertainment or the military? And, just as an historical note, it’s possible that we’ve already had a president who was part black. Warren Gamaliel Harding, president from 1921 to 1923, was believed by some to have some African ancestry. Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge. Obama is set to take the oath of office. We already know Obama wants a more active government role in the economy. But it’s not like that’s a total turnaround, is it? Our current president George W. Bush, has already increased the government’s role in the economy. Government spending skyrocketed under Bush, and his disastrous mortgage social engineering policies have helped to bring about the present crisis. Obama supported those policies too (both parties did), which makes his criticism of Bush on the economy rather hypocritical. But,that’s politics.
Big Government President Obama can be expected to expand on policies already in place under Big Government President Bush. Despite all the rhetoric about “hope” and “change,” the overall difference may be more in style than substance.
However, as I have argued previously, there is a potential silver lining to an Obama administration. With George W. Bush out of the way, could Republicans actually be provoked to stand up for their supposed principles? One can hope.
There are some signs of that already in the Congress. But whether it amounts to something in the long term, we’ll just have to wait and see. It may not happen. But, to utilize a phrase Obama himself is fond of, I have “the audacity of hope” to suppose that it could happen!
Uphold and Defend the What?

Recognizing this moment in history
By Henry Lamb
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Most of the world is giddy about the inauguration of the first black president of the United States. The media has invested unprecedented air time to transform this man into a modern messiah. The celebration is not because he is black. Far better qualified black candidates, such as Condoleezza Rice, Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell would not be celebrated, nor even welcomed as president. In fact, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, both black Secretaries of State, were ridiculed as “Uncle Tom” and “Aunt Jemima” by many of the same people who celebrate Obama.
Obama’s color may be a bonus, but it is his philosophy that much of the world celebrates.
Much of the world sees Obama not simply as the first black president, but as the first president to accept global governance to be more important than U.S. governance. His Berlin speech last July promised “a new global partnership” and a new “global commitment” to “save the planet.” To implement his commitment to global governance, Obama has nominated Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State. In addition to her book, “It takes a village,” Hillary is on record in support of the World Federalist Association’s efforts to establish a world government, and publically applauded Walter Cronkite’s receipt of the WFA “Global Governance” award.
Obama has named Carol Browner to the new position of Energy Czar. This woman, until last week, was a Commissioner for the Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society. Browner’s new position requires no confirmation and is beyond Congressional oversight. She will be empowered to administratively implement Obama’s philosophy across all federal agencies.
Obama chose Erick Schwartz to coordinate his transition team’s interface with agencies that deal with the United Nations. Schwartz is, among other things, the person in the Clinton administration who “managed the White House review that resulted in the U.S. signature of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” In an effort to influence the Obama administration’s global governance agenda, Citizens for Global Solutions set up a conference call with the transition team. These organizations are advocates of global governance and are deeply embedded throughout the Obama administration.
Obama’s inauguration is a major, historic event. Many black people – and some whites - will weep because they have lived to see a black man elected president. Many white people – and some blacks - will weep because they have lived to see an American president who apparently puts global interests above the interests of the United States of America. Expect Obama’s global agenda to embrace the U.N.’s global warming program. The world is giddy about his inauguration because the world expects Obama to sign and support whatever the U.N. designs as a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol. The U.N.’s answer to global warming is substantial reduction in the use of fossil fuel in developed nations while allowing developing nations to do whatever they wish. Expect new energy taxes at the international, national, and state levels. Expect new tax-paid subsidies for alternative energy operations and new, punitive tax-increases for fossil fuel users. Expect Obama’s U.N.-inspired energy policy to be a ball-and-chain on the American economy.
Expect Obama to re-sign the U.N.’s International Criminal Court Statute to demonstrate to the world that the United States is, indeed, a new member in the world community. Never mind that the document gives the ICC the power to prosecute U.S. military and private citizens for whatever the Court defines to be “crimes against humanity.” For years, U.N. delegates have accused the United States of “crimes against humanity” for refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
With Obama’s support, expect to see John Kerry, the new Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduce a line of U.N. treaties that have been stalled for years. The Convention on the Law of the Sea will be a high priority. This treaty declares that: “Sovereignty over the territorial sea is exercised subject to this Convention and to other rules of international law “ (Article II(3)). Advocates of this treaty willingly surrender national sovereignty over territorial seas to the U.N.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, another treaty waiting in the wings for U.S. ratification, will effectively remove authority for raising children from parents and bestow that authority upon government.
Watch for CEDAW, the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women. Phyllis Schlafly says this treaty would require a rewrite of U.S. laws to conform to the fantasies of international feminists.
There are many more U.N. treaties waiting to be ratified, and still more under construction. This is the essence of global governance championed by Barack Obama and those he brings to power. His inauguration is far more than the celebration of the first black president. It should be recognized as the last step on the journey to global governance.

What Recession? The $170 Million Inauguration
Obama's Inauguration Has Been Financed Partially by Bailed-Out Wall Street Executives
By Scott Mayerowitz ABC NEWS Business Unit
Jan. 19, 2009
The country is in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, which isn't stopping rich donors and the government from spending $170 million, or more, on the inauguration of Barack Obama .
The actual swearing-in ceremony will cost $1.24 million, according to Carole Florman, spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
It's the security, parties and countless Porta-a-Potty rentals that really run up the bill.
The federal government estimates that it will spend roughly $49 million on the inaugural weekend. Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland have requested another $75 million from the federal government to help pay for their share of police, fire and medical services.
And then there is the party bill.
"We have a budget of roughly $45 million, maybe a little bit more," said Linda Douglass, spokeswoman for the inaugural committee.
That's more than the $42.3 million in private funds spent by President Bush's committee in 2005 or the $33 million spent for Bill Clinton's first inaugural in 1993.
Douglass said that this will be the "most open and accessible inauguration in history," with members of the general public able to participate on a greater scale than ever before.
"The money is going toward providing events which we hope are going to connect people, make them feel like we are all in this together and reinforce the notion that when we pull together, we're stronger," Douglass said. "And we need to pull together to face the challenges that are before us today."
Among the expenses: a Bruce Springsteen concert, the parade, large-screen TV rentals for all-free viewing on the national Mall, $700,000 to the Smithsonian Institution to stay open and, of course, the balls, including three that are being pitched as free or low cost for the public.
But there are plenty of rich donors willing to pick up the tab.
"They are not the $20 and $50 donors who helped propel Obama through Election Day," said Massie Ritsch, communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics. "These are people giving mostly $50,000 apiece. They tend to be corporate executives, celebrities, the elite of the elite."
Best Seats in the House
The biggest group of donors were none other than the recently bailed-out Wall Street executives and employees.
"The finance sector is well represented, despite its recent troubles," Ritsch said. "Those who worked in finance still managed to pull together nearly $7 million for the inauguration."
The donors will get some of the best seats in the house for the inauguration, as well as admittance to some of the best balls and other events.
"I don't think that they're going to get a whole lot of face time with the new president himself," Ritsch said, "but they are certainly establishing themselves from day one as his biggest financial supporters. And if there's something they need or to tell him down the road, they will have an easier time doing that than everyone else."
Besides Wall Street firms, a large chunk of the money came from employees at companies such as Microsoft, Google and DreamWorks Animation, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer and his wife, Connie, each gave $50,000. So did Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda.
DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn, each gave $50,000. Filmmaker and DreamWorks co-founder Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate, both also gave $50,000. And DreamWorks employees gave a total of $275,000.
Billionaire investor George Soros and his family contributed $250,000 to the inauguration, and Google co-founder Larry Page and CEO Eric Schmidt each donated $25,000.
Other big-name donors who gave $50,000 include filmmaker George Lucas, artist Dale Chihuly, Los Angeles Dodgers President Jamie McCourt. Citigroup managing director Raymond J. McGuire; Oracle President Charles E. Phillips Jr.; actresses Halle Berry and Sharon Stone; and Melvin Simon, co-founder of Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the United States. Despite all the donations, Obama's team has made donations much more restrictive than in the past.
Obama capped donations at $50,000 per person, which is still more than 10 times what individuals could give to his campaign, but a lot less than the $250,000 cap President Bush had at his last inauguration. Contributions from corporations, labor unions, political action committees and registered lobbyists are not being accepted by Obama.
The Real MoneyFor Bill Clinton's second inaugural in 1997, contributions were capped to $100. But that committee had some leftover money from the previous inauguration and charged people up to $3,000 for inaugural tickets.
"We have the broadest fundraising restrictions in inaugural history," Douglas said.
The inauguration team is also posting all donations of $200 or more on the Internet almost as quickly as they are coming in. The law only requires it to disclose the information 90 days after the actual swearing-in.
"The transparency of this inaugural fundraising effort is unprecedented as far as we can remember," Ritsch said. "We see that as a positive step and hope it's an indication that President Obama will use technology to make government more responsive and transparent to people."
That's all the play money. The bulk of cash will actually be spent on security and logistics.
In a letter to members of Congress, the governors of Maryland and Virginia, and the mayor of Washington said that their combined costs could exceed $75 million. That's on top of the $49 million the federal government is spending, again mostly for security.
"The historical significance of inaugurating the first African-American president of the United States alone makes the event unprecedented," they wrote. "Given its political significance, we expect that the event will be attended by hundreds, if not thousands, of elected U.S. government officials and foreign dignitaries. Turnout by the general public for the swearing-in ceremony alone is likely to exceed 2 million. Transportation officials estimate that roughly 10,000 charter buses will enter the District with approximately 500,000 riders alone, a number which nearly matches the city's population."
The emergency managers for the three jurisdictions said they expect this to be the most complex and challenging inaugural in history.
"The mass of attendees expected will challenge fire, law enforcement, emergency medical and mass transit capabilities," the governors and mayor wrote. "Moreover, the high volume of buses/traffic, weather factor and other threats will create additional demands."
With reporting from ABC News' Nick Tucker.