Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weekly President YouTube









Bush in photos...

A fascinating slideshow and interview with photographers follow the Presidency of W. Some are iconic, like the infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech. Some show W in typical Yale-cowboy mode. But many reveal raw emotion and are disturbing intimate... it's worth a look. VIEW THE PHOTOS.

Photos –– Top: Bush being told of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center while in a classroom, Sep 2001. Bottom: Bush looking wrought, preparing to say goodbye to his staff, Jan 2009.










Friday, January 30, 2009

SHOCKER! GOP pick black man to lead them too!

First there was Hilary Clinton. She was so popular that she nearly became the Democratic candidate for President.

Days later, the GOP is looking to appear fresh and vital... get a little bit of the progressive edge to not make them look like a bunch of old white guys for a party mostly of old white guys. And so...

SARAH PALIN IS BORN! Skirt! Heels! Vagina! Estrogen! Surely this shows they can be every bit as forward thinking as those liberals.

Alas, their "Hilary-lite" choice had more star-power than political acumen, and was soon discredited by the majority of informed voters.

Well, at least the GOP learned a lesson. Never again would they cynically pick a leader in a desperate attempt to appear progressive. Surely they would reform themselves now, and base their decisions based on a true desire to dig deep and figure out what they truly have to offer the country in the 21st century.

WRONG!

Michael Steele will be the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, after being endorsed by Ken Blackwell (the guy who helped Karl Rove rip off votes in Ohio during the 2004 election.) Black! Dark skinned! Black! Like Obama! Did we mention he was BLACK?

WOW! How progressive! How forward thinking.

WILL THEY EVER LEARN???

Don't bother answering that. As a funny aside, the other guy in the running just had to quit a whites-only country club. I guess since he lost, he can rejoin now. Whew.









Thursday, January 29, 2009

For all those who were laid off this week...









Iraq shows Bush their... SOLE?

By CLEMENTE LISI.
A sofa-sized shoe monument was unveiled today in Tikrit - the hometown of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein - in honor of the Iraqi journalist who threw his footwear at Bush last month during a Baghdad new conference.

Iraqi artist Laith al-Amari told Britain's Sky News that his copper and fiberglass sculpture is an homage to the pride of the Iraqi people and "not a political work."

He also said journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi serves as "a source of pride for all Iraqis."

The sculpture also includes a poem dedicated to al-Zeidi and mentions the virtues of being "able to tell the truth out loud."

Al-Zeidi shouted in Arabic on Dec. 14 as he pulled off his shoes and heaved them at Bush.

"This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq," screamed al-Zeidi, who was working for an Egyptian TV station.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.







The Audacity of Pope

From Agence France-Presse:
"Pope Benedict XVI, drawing fire over allowing a Holocaust denier into his flock, has found himself in similar hot water with Muslims, native Indians, Poles, gays and even scientists during his nearly four years as pontiff.

This week, the German-born Pope is struggling to mollify Jews after he brought a breakaway ultra-conservative faction back into the fold of the Roman Catholic Church by rescinding the excommunication of four bishops, including one who insists that no one died in Nazi gas chambers."
I'm not much of a Papal issues guy, but don't we have Iranians already denying the Holocaust? Can't we agree that the Nazi's were really good at killing, did it well, did it often, and call it a day?

I guess when the pews start getting empty, you start looking for replacements from the crazy edges. Even the Battlestar Galactica fleet is hanging out with Cylons these days. At least they are blonde... and not sworn to celibacy.

Whole silly story.







After billions of dollars in concessions to the GOP... a party line vote.

It still passed, yet not a single Republican voted for it.

Redonkulous.

Can we tell them to fuck off now? I hope Obama gets a shot at strengthening the package back to full strength before it gets signed into law, cause I don't buy that this watered-down bill would do jack.

OKAY.... I'm calming down...

Here is a great link to sooth my worry: "Obama Versus the Republicans: Chill Out, He's Got This" by Bob Cesca.









Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why the GOP is dying... and why we should let them.

"SadieGirl", on a recent posting on Huff, sums up my thoughts nicely.
"I am so sick of the Republicans talking about 'conservative values'. What a bunch of hypocrits. For 8 years they have never once considered their constituants, gave Bush a blank check for everything he wanted, have totally wiped out our job industry and failed every single American. And NOW they want to talk their conservative values cheap speak. They don't want Obama to succeed, they don't want American to succeed - unless it's under their watch.

They, like Limbaugh are traitors. They have plundered this country for 8 years and they are willing to sacrafice our country for another 4 years by playing party politics while America falls one job at a time.

Well, the whole world and everyone in America is watching. And their are a lot of House seats up for grabs in 2010. The way the GOP base is shrinking, and more so everyday with all Americans watching their behavior, that party is dying out quickly. They can meet all the want to try and rectify that party, however they are too selfish and greedy so they will never make a comeback.

Minorities on on the rise and all the old white folks will soon be gone - and so will the Republicans. I look forward to waving goodbye."
We continue to see groupthink from the GOP. As they desperately try to rebrand themselves as the economically responsible party, they have acheived one major coup: everyone is talking about them again (even us a-hole bloggers). They have so very few cards left to play, so they will continue to do what they do best; confuse, distract, and deny. And pray to Jesus that Obama is blow it.

The GOP is tired. Bush tossed a match into the ammo-shed and blew the entire wad. Now they are a smoldering shell. With luck, they will burn out completely, and get a new opposition party that was contrast the revived Democrats with more than bad rhetoric and fear mongering, the only tools they seem to have left.

People who call themselves Republican is at a 20 year low.

FURTHER READING.







Congressman temporarily gets a set, then forced to apologize to Limbaugh, kiss pinky ring, and wear girly underwear over his suit


Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) apologized Wednesday to “my fellow conservatives” for comments critical of talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh. In an attempt to defend his GOP leadership from Limbaugh's critiques.

The sacrilage came in the form of some uncommon honesty:
“I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party.You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell"
The next day, Gingrey "clarified" his statement. His tounge firmly planted in Rush's anus:
“I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives... Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans—myself included—turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination.”
Gingrey also released a statement to GOP backers which assured "I am one of you," adding "In fact, in 2008 The National Journal ranked me the #1 most conservative Member of the House of Representatives."

Goes to show you the pressure under these people to maintain the status quo and the ideology that underlies it. In short, tow the line or we'll crush you. PATHETIC.

Read the whole sad tale.







On the GOP and their push for small business tax breaks


I have been hearing a lot from the GOP on tax breaks for small business, and how it needs to be in the stimulus package.

Well, I AM a small businessman. I have been for 10 years. It is my family's sole income. I DO NOT WANT A TAX BREAK. It would be all nice and fine, but in the end it won't help.

What I want is the structure of the economy to be repaired. I won't have anything to tax if I have no clients. I'd rather make sure the taxes I do pay are used correctly. Additionally, we will need those taxes to renovate health care, social security and medicare.

So let's stop harping on tax-breaks. I got 'em when you people were in charge. They are a drop in the bucket for anyone making over 50K. Let those below that have something to buy food with. Give me the chance to make my own money.







Some sick bastard is going to be doing unspeakable acts in these poor shoes (besides Sarah Palin).


"ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A pair of shoes allegedly worn by Gov. Sarah Palin during her campaign for vice president netted $2,025 in an online auction early Tuesday morning.

The pair of red, Naughty Monkey Double-Dare pumps were sold in an eBay auction that ended at midnight Tuesday.

The shoes normally go for about $100.

Someone calling herself Palin's niece was selling the red shoes she said the governor gave to her, according to the auction site. She claims the shoes were purchased, not by the Republican National Committee, but by the governor herself at a Juneau store.

Autographed pictures of the governor wearing the shoes were also included in the auction, as well as a Sharpie pen Palin used for autographs during the campaign.

As part of the purchase agreement, the governor is supposed to autograph the shoes for the winning bidder, whose identity was not revealed on the eBay site."







Here's a thought, Mr. President


Hey Mr. President... hell of a nice thing you did today, making nice with the GOP and all. Real bipartisan. Love that whole concept. It's clear you are trying.

That said, you'll have a better chance at getting North Korea to negotiate in earnest than getting these people to play ball. I realize that the GOP feels "out of the loop" in forming this package and all, but hey... they LOST. Since they obviously have no ideas besides "cut more taxes", and had just completed failed years of iron-fist rule, perhaps it's time for them to SIT-DOWN. Or be told to sit down. By you, the President.

The GOP with NEVER EVER want you to create a NEW New Deal, because they have spent the last 60 years trying to tear down the OLD Old Deal. They mean well, I'm sure. They are just unable to come up with anything new except contradict themselves, site reports that do not exist, or stonewall.

You must know this. You have clearly proven yourself a great strategist. I trust you on this. Most of the country does. As you can see by the image above, millions of people think you are the best thing since kittens and rainbows.

Now go get that thing passed, Mr. President. I'd love a real bipartisan moment too, but I don't think it's possible, and time is short. Despite some jugheads saying you can take your time on this, we may not have any jobs left next week.

But you know this all ready. You live in the real world, at least up until a week ago. But it's still here, and we're bleeding cash, but we believe in you.

Your friend in Democracy,
Jay







Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oba-MAD


LOL







Tip of the hat to 70's television Sci-Fi

This is simply AMAZING. Can you name them all? This is what made growing up in the 1970s a blast.

See the whole thing!







Conservative old guy, supposedly smart, appears to support Obama plan.


I don't read long articles — I'll wait for the movie thank you very much — but people I know do, and someone recently posted this on facebook. The guy that posted it seems smart, so I'll go with it. Here are some excerpts:

More to It Than Meets the Eye
The hidden coherence of Obama's recovery plan.
by Irwin M. Stelzer
"It grieves me to say so, but President Obama's conservative critics just don't get it. The new president has put forward a plan for economic recovery that is more coherent than they are willing to admit. Start with the stimulus package of some $825 billion. A lot of money, more even than George W. Bush's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, but not much more as money is counted these days, especially as Obama's will be spent over two or three years. Critics complain that stimulus spending will add to the swollen federal debt. True: President Bush did leave his successor a $1.2 trillion annual deficit. To which Obama will add about $400 billion per year. Query: What empirical evidence is there that deficits of $1.6 trillion are more harmful during a period of economic recession than deficits."
Read the whole thing... if your into that kind of time-sucking investment. I need to update my facebook status to "Jay is posting old guy economic crap."







Global warming victim: Trees?


A newly discovered casualty of global warming may be the Northern pacific whitebark pine tree, which has been taken a hit due to lack of rain and snow pack. This in turn affects animals that need the tree (grizzly bears eat the tree's nuts). So just a little good Tuesday news... sorry about that folks. At least we aren't ignoring the problem anymore.









Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama administration may or may not be transparent, but at least it's less pixelated


As Cheney leaves office, Google Earth map magically de-pixelates

From Gizmodo via Valleywag:
Google Maps' satellite imagery has shown us clear shots of the White House, the Capitol and even the Pentagon. But one thing it never displayed properly was Dick Cheney's house.

The Vice President's quarters, located at the Naval Observatory since 1974, have been pixelated ever since Google has given the public an easy way to check them out—coincidentally ever since Dick Cheney has lived there. This censorship wasn't by Google but those supplying Google the source images, the U.S. Geological Survey.
It always pissed me off the Cheney had the audacity to order that. He was way too secretive as it was. And, of course, a total dick.

As a sidenote, the user comments from Gizmodo's article on this were absolutely priceless... here are some theories on why the images were pixelated:
"Cheney is so dark and evil his very presence distorts light."

"Probably trying to hide his baby-raping factory."

"He doesn't want Google to catch him shooting a friend in the face."

"Cheney actually gives off a powerful electromagnetic field, sort of like Magneto from X-Men but more evil. The result is significant enough to interfere with imaging satellites and makes him unreachable by phone and thus unaccountable for anything."
Here is a link to some history on the VP's digs.







Krugman's advice to Obama on opponents of stimulus package: Fuck 'em.

From the Huffington Post

Krugman: Obama Should Ignore "Huffing And Puffing" Stimulus Opponents

Economist Paul Krugman has been somewhat critical of President Obama's stimulus plan. But today in the New York Times he defends the proposal:
"As the debate over President Obama's economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan's opponents aren't arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don't want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don't want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending."
Krugman goes on to debunk some of the arguments against the plan -- particularly the idea that tax cuts are inherently superior to new spending. But, he concludes, the critics don't matter much: "Most Americans aren't listening. The most encouraging thing I've heard lately is Mr. Obama's reported response to Republican objections to a spending-oriented economic plan: "I won." Indeed he did -- and he should disregard the huffing and puffing of those who lost."

READ THE WHOLE COLUMN







Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Environment: Ahhhnold and Obama and now officially BFFs

The New York TImes reports President Obama will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday evening.

You may remember last year that the Governator wanted to set higher standards for California, but the W Administration shot it down, but it appears that is yet another Bush reversal we can be thankful for. And Schwarzenegger, a Republican, continues to lead the country in environmental action. I hope he runs for Senate when his final term is up.







GOP big shots looking out for themselves, blocking Obama, and putting the country LAST.

For the past 8 years, the Republican Party got just about everything they ever wanted — and now are desperately trying to avoid taking the blame for it. Diplomatic, economic, and ethical disasters should fall soundly on those who caused them — yet rather than reform their party, they continue to turn to the same old "look out for Number One" agenda.

Here is the recap and related links to all things firmly rooted in the NOT HELPFUL category. Clockwise from the top left...
1. House Minority Leader John Boehner and other Republican leaders are attacking the stimulus package with while promoting their own version featuring their favorite fix all — tax-cuts. Maybe further stock market deregulation would help to!

Do these people still believe they have ANY expertise at fixing the economy?READ AT Huffington Post.

2. Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State (The one who helped Karl Rove steal the 2004 election results in Ohio) bluntly stated that conservatives should vote against the stimulus package, because the plans success would mean more people vote Democrat, thus making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House. — READ at Think Progress.

3. Rush Limbaugh decides to put country last and oppose the stimulus plan out of fear it's success will prevent GOP wins in future elections. — READ AT Think Progress.

4. Karl Rove, unable to admit defeat, takes his magical misery tour to a Miami university lecture hall and tells attendees that Obama won't be able to close Gitmo. But at least he did wish Obama success. — READ AT the Miami Hurricane website

5. John McCain, along with the other GOP leadership, has threatened to vote against it unless major changes are made (like adding those tax cuts the GOP loves). This is probably because the fundamentals of the economy are STILL strong. Senator I thought you were better than this... then I remember your presidential campaign. — READ AT Huffington Post.

6. Kathie Olsen,once at the forefront of Bush's systematic denial of the human causes of global warming, has "borrowed-in" to a protected job within the Obama government. And Obama may not be able to do much about it. Many such former Bushies have done so in recent weeks, but she is one of the more higher profile cases. — READ AT talkingpointsmemo.com.








Apple at 25


Wow. From this to the iPhone in 25 years. We live in a blessed time (despite what I usually bitch about on this site!)

Story







Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama's Weely Message Topic: Stimulus Package



Transcript is here. You can read the stimulus plan here (and summaries).

The GOP response is here. I note some intentional inaccuracies, but read for yourself.

The website on the stimulus Obama speaks of is here. http://www.recovery.gov/. I'm loving this. He knows how to work the web.







Should Obama have William Lynn for Defense?

It's taken me a lot of research to decide that it's not an issue and Obama is well aware of the conflict and that it requires special ongoing attention from him. It seems Obama feels his advantages greatly outweigh the risks. That said, let's talk it through for those less obsessed than I...

A story being followed among the politically preoccupied is Obama's pick of William Lynn for Deputy Secretary of Defense (read a recent bio). He seems to have strong experience and is well thought of, but he does have a large caveat — he has recently been lobbying for Raytheon. In the Bush administration, this wouldn't have been big news, but in light of The President's new ethics reforms, it gets complicated.

As stated in a previous post, Obama's ethics reform order is meant to keep lobbyists at an arms length from Presidential Administrations, not allowing them to work for a lobby two years before joining an Administration. Furthermore, after leaving the job, they are not allowed to lobby the administration.

Written into the order is a procedure for creating a waiver in special cases. It seems clear that Obama had this in mind for Lynn. His transition team, which voluntarily disclosed Lynn's lobbying activities, said Lynn's talents made him worth the apparent exception to the spirit of Obama's anti-lobbyists policy. It said it will work with Lynn to maintain Obama's high ethics standards.*

This has proven controversial. From John McCain (this article has some great background) to CNN's "No Bull" Campbell Brown, Obama (and his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs) criticism over the double standard seems to be growing.

But is this warranted? Are we being too tough on Obama? Does the reality of the day mean it is essential to make some concessions? Are we so cynical by 8 years of W that we can't trust anyone?

Or, are we simply holding Obama to the ideals he exposed in his address?

It will be difficult for Lynn to avoid defense issues related to Raytheon, said James Thurber, who teaches lobbying at American University.

"I think it's impossible in our system not to have people that have been in the advocacy system," he said. "They're the people who know the issues and have the expertise." The key is for the administration to disclose those connections and avoid financial conflicts, he said.*

Some comments from around the blogosphere on the issue include the following::
"Lynn is not indispensable, look for equivalent expertise along with an ability to satisfy the new lobbying guidelines."

"Mr Lynn is an excellent choice. IN my days at the Pentagon he was veiwed as smart objective and fair - all qualitities need to harnass that place. His recent experience with the defense industry only adds to his capability to make the changes needed. Does not taint him as previous comment implies. Would that same level of competence were evident in selections announced to lead the intelligence community."

"Obama should be criticized for this pick. There must be someone who is qualified and isn't in bed with corporations."

"[Lynn is] legit, he's mostly worked in the government and for think tanks. Very well respected when he was comptroller of Pentagon under Clinton."

"This is a sham Obama. I really thought that you were sincere in your pledge about lobbyists. This is not change - it's business as usual in DC."

"Will this be another fox guarding the henhouse? I was hoping Obama would stay away from defense contractors to get appointees. They all have been raping our treasury, and are war profiteers. I hope they vetted this guy and nothing comes up later regarding contracts. My fingers are crossed but I'm not confident."

"You can not throw a rock in Washington without hitting someone that is a lobbyist. Almost anyone with experience has worked in a lobbyist position. So I think it will be hard to find candidates for post that have no lobbyist ties, but Obama may want to look a little harder or build a better case. John McCain is right to call Obama out on this at least to keep him honest."

"'I don't take a dime of their [lobbyist] money, and when I am president, they won't find a job in my White House.' -Barack Obama"'
Here's a link to a Politico article on why Lynn is worth Obama taking a hit on.







Friday, January 23, 2009

Inauguration at 1,474 megapixels... you have to see this.

Amazing...You can manipulate the image and zoom in and out. For example, in the zoom below, Dubbya doesn't look too happy at what Barry just said:


The photographer, David Bergman explains the process:
My final photo is made up of 220 Canon G10 images and the file is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels. It took more than six and a half hours for the Gigapan software to put together all of the images on my Macbook Pro and the completed TIF file is almost 2 gigabytes.
Play with the image at: How I Made a 1,474-Megapixel Photo During President Obama’s Inaugural Address

Thanks to Bob Cesca's Blog for this awesome link.








ATTACK OF THE DRONES: Obama spills first blood of his Presidency. (Not counting John McCain, of course.)


It official, folks. The President killed his first people... hopefully they were the Al Queda kind.

Huffington Reports:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Suspected U.S. missiles killed 18 people on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border Friday, security officials said, the first attacks on the al-Qaida stronghold since President Barack Obama took office.

At least five foreign militants were among those killed in the strikes by unmanned aircraft in two parts of the frontier region, an intelligence official said without naming them. There was no information on the identities of the others.

Pakistan's leaders had expressed hope Obama might halt the strikes, but few observers expected he would end a tactic that U.S. officials say has killed several top al-Qaida operatives and is denying the terrorist network a long-held safe haven.
I don't love that this is going on, but with Pakistan being what it is (basically the mountains seems pretty lawless) and the disarray in their government, we don't have many options. I don't think the State Department is going to solve it with diplomacy. Plus, it allows the Pakistani government to officially protest these actions while secretly giving it the green light. That's my guess. This was started under the Bush administration and still seems the most logical way to go.







Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Daily Dick: John Thain, CEO of Merrill Lynch


Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain spent over $1 million to redecorate his office while his company collapsed and his employees were getting laid off.
Less than one month into his new gig at the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain resigned today after it was revealed that he doled out executive bonuses a month ahead of schedule and just days before his struggling Merrill Lynch firm was acquired by the Bank of America.

Although no reason was given for his resignation, a spokesman for Bank of America, which acquired Merrill Lynch at the beginning of this year in a government-negotiated deal to save it from collapse, issued a statement saying: "(BofA Chairman and CEO) Ken Lewis flew to New York today to talk to John Thain. And it was mutually agreed that his situation was not working out and he would resign."
What the hell can I say? I got nothin.

Read the rest on ABC News, or Daily Beast (who's writer broke the story).

UPDATE 1/26: Thain has come forward and announced he will pay back all the money spent on the renovations. He apologized, explaining this was done a year ago. It was still an extravagant symbol of what is wrong with corporate America, but he's trying to reform, at least for now.

UPDATE 1/27: He's still a total dick. According to NY Post: Recently eating at a restaurant, he loudly told the waiter, for all to hear, "under the circumstances with this tough economy, I think I'll have tap water." He then ran up a $130+ bill and left a lousey tip.







Will Obama's new Pentagon pick be a victim of his new ethics rules?


Yesterday Obama unveiled a executive order to ban lobbyists from working in executive branch jobs related to the work of their former employers. Moreover, it would force appointees to recuse themselves from any business their former employers might have an interest.

Well... he may have forgotten about his choice for the Pentagon's second-in-command, currently a lobbyist for a defense giant Raytheon.

Oooopsies.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday in his first big presser that "even the toughest rules require reasonable exceptions," and that Lynn was "uniquely qualified. . . to serve the public interest in these critical times."

Double Oooopsies.

I think the issue here is that Obama is setting the bar higher than what is practical, given the massive amount of experienced people who have been involved in lobbying. It may have been a poor choice to announce this new rule now before all his staff is in place. We'll need to wait for him to make a persuasive statement on this. Having his Press Boy do it won't cut the political mustard.

Additionally, this goes to show that Obama may be as awesome as fresh warm rolls and kitten kisses, but WE CAN NOT STOP BEING INFORMED AND INVOLVED. If he messes up, we should call him on it. If he's truly as good as we all hope, he'll respond by being a better President.

UPDATE: Campbell Brown took a swipe at Obama for this:









What, no WiFi??? Obama's crew struggles with the low-tech White House


"It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of his new digs.

Cut phone lines, old software, and a jumble of other technological restrictions have taken the Obama high tech crew by surprise.

Anne E. Kornblut of the Washington Post reports:
One member of the White House new-media team came to work on Tuesday, right after the swearing-in ceremony, only to discover that it was impossible to know which programs could be updated, or even which computers could be used for which purposes. The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing. The team was left struggling to put closed captions on online videos.

If the Obama campaign represented a sleek, new iPhone kind of future, the first day of the Obama administration looked more like the rotary-dial past.
If I was used to a shiny new MacBook Pro and had to leave it at home so I could work on a Dell 386 running Windows ME, I don't know if I could bear it. These people must be in serious withdrawal.

Read the whole article.







Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oath me once, oath me twice...

Due to the odd flubbing of yesterday's presidential oath, Obama and Chief Justice Roberts did a safety do over. It has no effect on his authenticity as President, as by law he took office at noon yesterday regardless.

Regardless, today a small group convened the White House Map Room for the do-over.

"We decided that because it was so much fun ...," Obama joked to reporters who followed press secretary Robert Gibbs into the room. A few of Obama's closest aides were there, along with a White House photographer.

"Are you ready to take the oath?" Chief Roberts asked.

"Yes, I am," Obama said. "And we're going to do it very slowly."

AP goes into detail of the flub:
It happened when Obama interrupted Roberts midway through the opening line, in which the president repeats his name and solemnly swears.

Next in the oath is the phrase " ... that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States." But Roberts rearranged the order of the words, not saying "faithfully" until after "president of the United States."

That appeared to throw Obama off. He stopped abruptly at the word "execute."

Recognizing something was off, Roberts then repeated the phrase, putting "faithfully" in the right place but without repeating "execute."

But Obama then repeated Roberts' original, incorrect version: "... the office of president of the United States faithfully."



This retaking of the oath has happened twice in the past: Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur.







URGENT: Service Resumed


Dear World:

We, the United States of America , your top-quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service.

The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4. Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come.

We thank you for your patience and understanding,

Sincerely,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



Thanks for sending this Molly! :-)







GeoEye Satellite view of the Inauguration

Seems like it may have been taken an hour or so before the oath. Click for zoom.





Apparently, about 2 million made it in to see it, and there were no arrests.  That may be because out of the 2 million, 1.5 million were secret service agents!  :-)

Coutesy PopSci.com







Video: Bush booed at Inauguration

Courtesy of iReports. I don't know how I feel about this. I'm very torn. It's well earned (and protected by our right to free speech) but is it the appropriate place? In an online discussion, I attributed this to 8 years of people feeling like the President wasn't listening to them. When that happens, and they finally get the chance to speak their mind directly, it's not pretty. On the other hand, it's not exactly the bipartisan way of moving forward. Still...









Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It begins: Rahm Emmanuel halts Bush's final legislation


MSNBC has reported that Rahm Emanuel, just 6 hours into the Presidency of Obama, halted all the legislation Bush tried to push through in the final weeks of his Administration.

I was hoping this could be done within 4 hours, but I guess 6 is okay.







Geekspeak: Obama's Inaugural speech in tag cloud format.



http://www.wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/453163/_Obama_Inauguration_Speech







WhiteHouse.gov is up and not pulling punches.


New White House it is up. Looks as robust and new media saavy as his campaign sites. http://www.whitehouse.gov

It also has teeth. Politico notes that the Katrina section states:
Under the “agenda” portion of the site regarding Katrina, it reads: “President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.”

“President Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina,” the statement on the site continues. “Citing the Bush Administration’s ‘unconscionable ineptitude’ in responding to Hurricane Katrina, then-Senator Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims.”
Between this and the statements in his speech, it's clear Obama isn't afraid of calling it like he sees it.









Transcript of Obama's Inauguration Speech



My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. 

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. 

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. 

The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. 

All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.








In all the joy and celebration, thank god someone remembered to bring the inflatable Spider-Man.









Monday, January 19, 2009

Seems like them socialists sure like that boy with all the big collidge words.......









Don't worry, Rush, it's going to all be okay...


Above: Rush telling Tom Delay where to stab him before the Inauguration.

Some notable quotes:
"On his radio show last week, Rush Limbaugh railed against "people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, 'Well, I hope he succeeds. We have to give him a chance.'"

"Why?" Limbaugh demanded. "They didn't give Bush a chance in 2000."

We also have a little nugget from the ever evil/trying to stay relevant Tom Delay:
If Obama were "serious" about changing Washington, DeLay said, "He would announce to the world: 'We are in crisis, we are at war, people are losing jobs; we are not going to have this party. Instead, I'm going to get sworn in at the White House. I'm going to have a nice little chicken dinner, and we'll save the $125 million.'"

Tom DeLay being concerned about saving tax-payers money is like a Jack Bauer being worried about wasting bullets.

'Nuff said about these a-holes. At least it seems Newt is keeping his mouth shut and plots his machinations in private.







Protesters lob shoes toward White House on Bush's last day



Awesome...
President Bush was given an Iraqi-journalist-style sendoff on his last full day in office Monday, as tourists and demonstrators lobbed shoes, pumps, boots, sandals and Crocs from Pennsylvania Avenue onto the White House lawn.

Before launching the operation live, the shoe-chuckers took target practice in Dupont Circle on a 20-foot-tall blow up doll of the outgoing president, decked out in the flight suit he wore aboard the "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier.]

The target practice on the giant Bush doll began around 11:00 in the morning and was still going five hours later, as thousands of people walking through the circle stopped to pick up a shoe and wing it at the outgoing president. Some threw fastballs like al-Zaidi. Others tied several together in an attempt to land them on Bush's long Pinocchio-esque nose. Children took part. ("Okay. One more shoe, kids," said one parent.) Some folks simply walked up to the doll and kicked it in the shins. It fell over at one point and people rushed it, beating it with shoes.

Marching down Connecticut Avenue with handfuls of footwear, the group of about a hundred was on the receiving end of enthusiastic honks, thumbs-up and waves from people in the street.

"It's not that I hate [Bush]," one protestor clarified. "I don't hate him personally. I hate what he has done to this country."

Once all the shoes had been tossed onto the White House lawn, the officers collected them and piled them into the back of a small truck. "The next person who throws them gets arrested," said one, though the entire pile had already been thrown.

As the protesters headed back toward Dupont Circle, a Secret Service agent left them with a parting observation.

"You all won," he said.

FULL STORY: HUFF







Saturday, January 17, 2009

Parting Shots: Uncanny Valley


I finally figured out what was bugging me about her.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_Valley

Don't worry Laura, your secret is safe with me.







Friday, January 16, 2009

Bye Bye Bush!


In celebration of the end of the "Bush" era, a New York spa is giving 40% off on Brazilian waxing.


This should sent W's approval rating up a few points!

Laura, the line forms to the left. Get it? Left? I'm awesome.







Dude, you're a hero!

Congrats to the first pilot to crash-land an airplane on water without fatalities. The Force is strong with this one.



Chesley B. Sullenberger







Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thoughts on "The United States has gone seven years without a terrorist attack on our soil."


George Bush gave his farewell address tonight.  Most of it was you may expect; a listing of what his perceived successes were, some examples of inspirational people, and some parting words of American strength and courage through his eyes.

Most notably, in his list of accomplishes, he notes "The United States has gone seven years without a terrorist attack on our soil."

I've heard this time and time again in the past few weeks.  Every TV and radio talk show has been doing Bush recaps, and these shows invariably have two "experts": 
  1. An angry "liberal type" painfully recalling every blunder Bush has made in great detail.

  2. A tired-sounding, accepting "conservative type" who doesn't argue the blunders much, but says "Well, yeah, but the United States has gone seven years without a terrorist attack on our soil."
I think the intention is that should be the argument killer.  It implies that he has prevented many other such attacks, secretly intercepted and silently neutralized, while we slept, never to be mentioned in public.  The means may not have been pretty, but it's all justified because he kept you safe in the end.  If we disagree with his methods, it's just because we just don't know the classified horrors that he saved us from.  

If we did know all this, we'd see what a savior he was, and wouldn't we all feel like assholes for giving him a hard time?

Additionally, it makes W come off as a martyr who was heroically willing to toss himself on the fire of history to save us all.  We hate him, but he loves us, and is willing to pay the price of our 70% disapproval rating if it means America is safe.

The problem is this doesn't appear to hold up to deep thought.
  1. If there were instances of large scale, imminent attacks that Bush's people had thwarted, wouldn't we have heard something of them?  With the amount of leaks in this Administration, it seems that good news would have surely come out, especially in light of the miserable approval rating Bush has seen consistently.

  2. While attacks on American soil have indeed been nil since 9/11, that event in itself was on Bush's watch, and it is known that he was warned of the attack, but did not respond to it. This is a bit like claiming credit for not having another levee failure in a metropolitan area since Katrina.

  3. Terrorist attacks have proliferated throughout the world, we are keeping the homeland secure, but at the expense of the rest of the world, which has been under attack from London to Spain to India. 
But what I don't hear much of is what I consider most important:

Bin Laden clearly stated his tactical mission was to "bleed America to the point of bankruptcy," citing that "We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupted and was forced to withdraw in defeat." In this context, another Al Queda attack isn't necessary even if they could, as the $500,000 investment they made for perpetrating 9/11 is still yielding profits.  

His first attack is still in progress.

By the way, Bush did admit to some small fault in his speech.  He said "There are things I would have done differently, if given the chance."

Indeed.  Now get out.





Further reading: 










Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two legends of Science Fiction have left us. Sniffles, everyone, sniffles.

Ricardo Montalban dies at 88 (1920 - 2009)


Montalban's son-in-law Gilbert Smith tells PEOPLE that Montalban had been in declining health for months and died from "complications of advancing age."

"He was in peace," said Smith, who said that the actor was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. "He will be missed." Montalban was proceeded in death by one year by his wife of 63 years, Gorgiana Young, the younger sister of his frequent co-star Loretta Young.

"[She is] the only love of my life," the actor said in 2004.

------

Patrick McGoohan "Number Six" Dies in LA


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Patrick McGoohan, an Emmy-winning actor who created and starred in the cult classic television show "The Prisoner," has died. He was 80.
McGoohan died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a short illness, his son-in-law, film producer Cleve Landsberg, said Wednesday.

McGoohan won two Emmys for his work on the Peter Falk detective drama "Columbo," and more recently appeared as King Edward Longshanks in the 1995 Mel Gibson film "Braveheart."

But he was best known as the title character Number Six in "The Prisoner," a surreal 1960s British series in which a former spy is held captive in a small village and constantly tries to escape.









Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The stolen 2004 election? Investigation into Karl Rove's IT hacker suspicious death continues...


Under-reported but important, investigations into the suspicious death of Mike Connell still continue. As mentioned in a previous post (LINK) Mike Connell was a top Republican party Internet strategist who was under investigation on allegations that he was involved in possible tampering with the counting of Ohio ballots in the 2004 presidential election. He died in a plane crash on Dec. 19 after multiple sources reported that his life was in danger from Karl Rove, the alleged architect of the election grab, after it was clear Connell was ready to start talking to authorities.

Cliff Arnebeck, the Ohio investigator who took Connell's original deposition and is investigating the crash spoke to news site Between The Lines:
...we believe that the criminal activity that we've identified and we have plenty of evidence to support it. You know, it starts not with the Republican Party, it starts with Karl Rove. The first target of this conspiracy is John McCain's campaign in South Carolina in the 2000 primary. So it's really a criminal enterprise, rather than a Republican enterprise.

I'd encourage any readers to get acquainted with this story, as it doesn't appear to be on the radar of corporate media services as it should be. As it involves the direct theft of votes that decided the 2004 election, it is critical we flush out this situation and either bring the guilty to justice or prove it false and trash it. Either way, it needs to be presented to the public.

Read the transcript, listen to Real Audio or MP3 of the interview.

More Links:
In-depth interview with Cliff Arneback, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Dec. 29, 2008

Rolling Stone: Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

Video from Michael Connell Plane Crash

Velvet Underground: 1/7/09: Connell Investigation Intensifies








Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama appears to listen to opposing viewpoints... goddamn socialist.

After two Bush stories which drip with his arrogance and lack of humility, I have an Obama story which illustrates the opposite...

As you may know, Barry-O has been running around Washington trying to get members of Congress to sign on for his stimulus package. This isn't an easy sell, cause Congress has been catching hell for being stupid enough to expect the money they all ready handed to Bush would be spent appropriately (or at least could be tracked in some way).

So Obama has been laying out his plan, and has encountered some criticism. Notably, Paul Krugman (who I think is super – read Conscience of a Liberal) wrote quite a rebuke of the plan last week in The New York Times in an article called The Obama Gap:
"Mr. Obama’s prescription doesn’t live up to his diagnosis. The economic plan he’s offering isn’t as strong as his language about the economic threat. In fact, it falls well short of what’s needed."
Rather than ignore his critics, Obama issued a statement looking to talk to Krugman: 
"I want this to work," said the president-elect. "This is not an intellectual exercise, and there's no pride of authorship. If somebody has an idea for a tax cut that's better than we've proposed, then we'll embrace it... If Paul Krugman has a good idea, in terms of how to spend money efficiently and effectively to jump-start the economy, then we're going to do it."
Say what?  

And Krugman took him up on the statement in his latest column: Ideas for Obama.

How un-Bushian!  How Obama-rific!  Here is Jon Stewart being mystified by all of this:



And if you think that this blog is little more than an Obama lovefest/circle-jerk... you're right.  Until I hear different, I think this dude is an answer to the country's prayers.  

And, it should be noted that I am a cynical son-of-a-bitch.