January 30, 2009

Moonbama trend continues

     See MSNBC, Saturday night special: Biggest full moon of ‘09: Moon will be nearly full, rising earlier Friday night and later Sunday night, from a little while back but still exciting,

     If skies are clear Saturday, go out at sunset and look for the giant moon rising in the east. It will be the biggest and brightest one of 2009, sure to wow even seasoned observers. …
     It will appear about 14 percent bigger in our sky and 30 percent brighter than some other full moons during 2009, according to NASA. (A similar setup occurred in December, making that month’s full moon the largest of 2008.) …
     A full moon rises right around sunset, no matter where you are. That’s because of the celestial mechanics that produce a full moon: The moon and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth, so that sunlight hits the full face of the moon and bounces back to our eyes.
     At moonrise, the moon will appear even larger than it will later in the night when it’s higher in the sky. This is an illusion that scientists can’t fully explain. Some think it has to do with our perception of things on the horizon vs. stuff overhead. …

More lunacy
     If you have other plans for Saturday night, take heart: You can see all this on each night surrounding the full moon, too, because the moon will be nearly full, rising earlier Friday night and later Sunday night. …

     All this continuing the tradition of our earlier posts Stars are right for Obama’s New Year, Moon forms giant “O” for Obama, and Moon, Jupiter and Venus conjoin to amuse us…and fete Obama??. Stay tuned, there may be photos…

Filed under: Uncategorized, astronomy | Posted by: at 8:40 pm | 0 Comments

Should Obama pardon Iraq War deserters?

(Cross-posted from Daily Kos)

     One suspects maybe not, actually: Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam draft evaders–in his first day in office!, cf. from above link

     …The following actions shall be taken to facilitate Presidential Proclamation of Pardon of January 21, 1977:

     1. The Attorney General shall cause to be dismissed with prejudice to the government all pending indictments for violations of the Military Selective Service Act alleged to have occurred between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973….


     but draft evaders aren’t the same as deserters.
     And we haven’t had a draft for a while.

     Then again, the Iraq War sux.
     So, what should Mr. O do? If anything. Opine.

Filed under: Iraq | Posted by: at 12:15 am | 0 Comments

January 28, 2009

Back Track Barack; or, Obama slacks off on Osama

     Riffing off our previous Osama vs. Obama!! New tape released: see those London Times from a little back, Barack Obama: it is no longer essential to kill Osama bin Laden,

     Barack Obama suggested last night that removing Osama bin Laden from the battlefield was no longer essential and that America’s security goals could be achieved merely by keeping al-Qaeda “on the run”.
     “My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him,” he said. “But if we have so tightened the noose that he’s in a cave somewhere and can’t even communicate with his operatives then we will meet our goal of protecting America.”
     His comments, in a CBS interview, represent a significant watering down of the “dead or alive” policy pursued by President Bush since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. They also appear to contradict Mr Obama’s own statements made in the election campaign.
     As recently as October 7, in a presidential debate, Mr Obama said: “We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.” …
     A new audio tape thought to be from bin Laden was broadcast yesterday, taunting President Bush for leaving his successor “with a heavy inheritance” that would force Mr Obama to choose between military defeat or drowning in economic crisis. …

     OBAMA backtracking on tracking OSAMA? “For shame”!! !

Filed under: Uncategorized | Posted by: at 2:25 pm | 0 Comments

Feingold wasting our time: axe Electoral College instead

(Cross-posted and edited from Daily Kos)

     Everyone loves her (him) some Russ, but yesterday’s blast from Feingold about “”empowering the people”" is enough. Or more than enough.
     I wasn’t super happy about Blagoburrisbrand and all, but it seems there are even more pressing matters than 17th Amendment reform…especially since the Fein senator didn’t even bother to do something really important like officially censuring Bush or Cheney before they left office, say. (Will there be prosecutions? Don’t bet your mortgage on it.)
     Or, if Russ must have his way, let the “popular election of replacement Senators” be just the tip of a good iceberg, e.g., the far more significant/needed electoral reform of abolishing the Electoral College. (Yes, I know that reform is not politically easy, but it’s still far more crucial than the replacement-Senator stuff.)

     Or as musing85’s diary Change we shouldn’t believe in brutally but “nicely” puts it,

     I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone tried to make a little political hay out of the political mess that is Illinois politics right now. …

     I am not impressed by what Russ is doing, especially at this busy juncture with stimulus, Afghanistan, tailpipe emissions, torture, etc. all on the table. …If he thinks this waste of time will help him replace Reid as Senate Maj Leader, he might wanna think again.
     Or if he HAS to pull this stunt, let him make it clear that it is only as a preliminary to the much more vital work of getting rid of the Electoral College. Now THAT would be “necessary electoral reform”, and “empowering” ALL the American people.

     But don’t just think about the issue, do let him know; you can mail Russ’s chief of staff Mary Irvine at Mary_Irvine@Feingold.senate.gov, with this (adaptable sample) script:

[e-mail subject line: "Axe Electoral College, not 17th Amendment"]

Dear Russ Feingold:

     Instead of wasting time with “17th Amendment reform” as in your Daily Kos diary, please concentrate on more important issues such as abolishing the Electoral College and achieving direct election of Presidents; not to mention accountability for government torture/illegal wiretapping, and other truly crucial issues.
     Thank you,

[your name]

     Or phone him too, at (202) 224-5323.
     Russ is a good guy on the whole, but he is a politician and a human being, subject to error etc. Feel free to guide him in a better path than the one he is cutting right now. Thanks.

Filed under: censure | Posted by: at 1:45 am | 0 Comments

January 26, 2009

Obama dances the merry tailpipe with California and friends

     See, e.g., the coolly named blog “It’s Getting Hot In Here: Dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement”, BREAKING: Obama Lets California and 13 States Regulate Global Warming Pollution from Cars and Trucks,

     BREAKING NEWS: President Barack Obama will grant California and 13 other states the authority to regulate global warming pollution from cars and light trucks, setting standards that would require cars and trucks sold in those states to achieve higher fuel efficiency. …
     …as the Post reports, the waiver allowing California and 13 other states to move forward with regulations on CO2 emissions from cars and trucks may do more to accelerate increased vehicle fuel economy than the federal CAFE standards….

, and CBS News, California Cheers Obama’s Emissions Push–CBS Evening News: State That Pioneered Battle With Auto Industry Chimes In On President Obama’s Proposals,

     In its drive to crack down on air pollution, California has waged a four-year battle with Washington and the auto industry. Now, it just might win, CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports.
     “For too many years Washington has been asleep at the wheel. Now we have an ally.” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger [sic--apparent omission]
     California has wanted permission to set the most stringent standard in the nation on tailpipe emissions to reduce pollution. …

     I can hear the polar bears cheering already.

Filed under: Uncategorized, auto industry, environment | Posted by: at 8:44 pm | 0 Comments

January 25, 2009

Getting high on Obama, or, hero and heroin, or, Hope and Dope, or, white horse and White House

     See the Smoking Gun, The Audacity Of Dope–Cops: New York dealers sold heroin branded with president’s name,

    Add heroin to the scores of products that have been branded with President Barack Obama’s name. Cops in upstate New York this week broke up a drug ring that allegedly sold heroin under several brand names, including “Obama.” …the president’s surname was stamped in red ink on small glassine wrappers that were peddled by street dealers. Investigators arrested five suspects for their alleged roles in the narcotics distribution activity. The branding of illicit drugs is a favorite of pushers, who have previously sold bin Laden heroin, Harry Potter Ecstasy, bricks of Teletubbies cocaine, and green-tinted crack in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day.

     Osama heroin AND Obama heroin. I tell ya.

Filed under: Osama, Uncategorized | Posted by: at 4:47 pm | 0 Comments

January 24, 2009

Electro Prez, or chief of White House keeps BlackBerry (BarackBerry)

     Ecce “Electronic Executive” Obama; for background, see, e.g., Wired, Obama: My BlackBerry Is Coming With Me,

     President Barack Obama is determined to bring his BlackBerry with him to the White House, whether his subordinates like it or not. …
     Typically, the U.S. Secret Service prohibits the president from carrying any sort of cellphone in order to minimize security risks. And by law, all the president’s e-mails must be recorded and made available to the public if requested. …
     Many agree that stripping Obama of his BlackBerry would make his transition into office extremely rough. Obama is recognized as the most tech-savvy president to date. Using the internet as a fundraising and organizing tool, Obama’s presidential campaign was the most digitally sophisticated organizing apparatus of any presidential campaign in history. …
     The decision on Obama’s BlackBerry is awaiting final approval, but the president has received support from John Podesta, co-chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.
     “An off-line Obama isn’t just bad for Barack,” Podesta said in an opinion column published in LA Times. “It’s bad for all of us. The president’s ability to reach outside his inner circle gives him access to fresh ideas and constructive critics; it underscores the difference between political “victories” and actual solutions; and it brings the American people into a battle we can only win by working together.” …

; and for update, see CBC News.ca, Obama’s BlackBerry victory raises security questions,

     U.S. President Barack Obama was able to persuade his security staff to let him keep using his BlackBerry handheld device. But what’s not clear yet is how, exactly, the device might be modified to ensure extra security.
     White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday a compromise had been reached allowing Obama to keep in touch with a select group of staff and friends through the device, for which he had famously developed an addiction.
     “I won the fight but I don’t think it’s up and running yet,” Obama said Thursday. …

     So the staff been Berry Berry good to Barack. So to speak.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Posted by: at 8:29 pm | 0 Comments

January 23, 2009

Obama day uno: no mo Gitmo, “ghost prisons” busted

     Or day dos maybe. See, e.g, LA Times via the Business Mirror, Obama Orders Guantanamo Closure, Interrogation Changes,

     Moving to claim what he described as “the moral high ground,” President Barack Obama took a series of steps Thursday to dismantle the most widely condemned components of the Bush administration’s war on terror.
     Obama issued executive orders to shutter the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp within a year, close the CIA’s network of secret overseas prisons and end the agency’s use of interrogation techniques that critics describe as torture. …

     (He was supposed to close it on his FIRST day, but…)

     No more “ghost prisons” to be spirited away to. Does that make Obama the Ghostbuster in Chief, or just “the Executive Exorcist”?

     –And if you like wordplay, see also Congressman Murtha over at H-Po, Gone-tanamo Bay: the Right Decision.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Posted by: at 11:58 pm | 0 Comments

UK Telegraph: Obama inaug speech “’sh-t’”. But was it that bad?

     We use the single and double quotation marks since, fortunately, Alex Spillius in the Telegraph does not himself in Barack Obama inauguration: his worst speech call the speech “sh-t”, though someone he quotes does,

     …Obama got where he is by speechifying, but this effort would not have won him many votes. It was his worst on a grand stage, though still better than most politicians could muster.
     The delivery, as ever, was first class, but the message was wasn’t [sic] clear enough and the language not insufficiently [sic] inspiring.
     As soon as the applause had died down, an African American standing man near me on the Mall said to his friend: “I thought the speech was shit.” Another woman said, correctly, that “we had heard it all before at other events”. …
     Jon Favreau, his co-writer, recently admitted that he had been pouring [sic] over previous inaugural speeches. That might have been a bad idea. Obama seemed weighed down by the past, and failed to seize the moment.

     Actually, one may not go as far as “sh-t”, but…

     I found the speech likable but not as uplifting as it should have been, maybe. Compare, and try not to gag about comparing, some parts of the Bush 2nd Inaugural speech we quoted previously,

     …After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire. …
     Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
     All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you. …
     …By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world. …

, which was not badly written and had some world-transformative ambitions, not all bad ones either.

     As for the Obama speech, e.g., the ABC capture,


     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.

Gracious hat tip to jersey #43. …Storm theme to be completed by Ob later on. (Cf. Classics IV on Wik, the creators of “Stormy”. RIP Dennis Yost 12/7/08)

     We remain a young nation

is, as some other commentator noted, not that true when you think of all the other nations that are mor recent; but Obama is young himself so maybe he gets a pass for trying to evoke youthiness;


the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things

has a nice music to it, even if it almost sounds a little Marlboro Man rather than just homo faber;


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

Cf. Tikkun olam;


     We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders … 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.

The first sentence sounds very dorky; the second is not as bad (scans well, and is environmentalist); the third says “new age”! Help!
     The fourth and the fifth sentences, those assertions, are a little hubristic and should be followed by “God willing”, maybe;


     The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works

Very nicely put. Much better put than Reagan’s “Government is the problem”, a pronouncement Reagan followed by trying to make it true (out-of-control defense spending and waste, Iran-Contra, Michael “Evil’ Deaver”, etc.);


     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

O.k. chief, but careful with those “rights of man [sic]“! I hear women have rights too…


     …our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead,…our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

One of the best parts of the speech. “Humility and restraint”, after the Bush administration? Who knew??


     We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

Scenery-chewing, and actually much less elegant than some of the Bush speech above. Still, it shows “resolve”, so no one can call him “Obambi” after this;


     For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. …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; …

In my ideas for a novel that I’d been planning to write for a long, long time, there is a President (white as toast, rich as Croesus, and evil as h-ll) who says that “diversity is a weakness”!!! So it was nice to see a real-life president refuting that idea;


     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.

“hand…fist”. Good enough for movie dialogue, almost.
     –Not much said about Gaza here, but a lack of specificity may be forgivable in a time-limited speech;


     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.

Nice idealism, and nice condemnation of lack of idealism. As for “the world has changed”, cf. Elvish.org, “Dialogs in FotR [Fellowship of the Ring]“, first entry;


     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. …

Praiseworthy tip of the hat to our soldiers/servicepeople, and also a reference to JFK’s “Ask not what your country…”


     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. … 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.

“Manful”, this sort of thing used to be called, but in light of what’s said above about “rights of man [sic]“, we’ll just call it adult.
     …Old values, taking up duties. What is this guy, a conservative? (heh);


     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.

A suitable mention of the extraordinary and overdue occurrence of a black man as the American President;


     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.

Repeating/completing the “storms” theme from the beginning of the speech. …The rest is a little greeting-cardy and anti-climactic, but could be worse.

     (Frankly, the ending of Bush’s 2nd Inaug was much better:

     We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. … History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.
     When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, “It rang as if it meant something.” In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.
     May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.


     –One does not have the link for the Reuters poll a few days where one saw people giving ratings of, roughly, “good” or “average” for the Obama speech about as much as they gave ratings of “spectacular”; but this author is not surprised the poll said that, seeing the criticisms above.

     Actually, though, the speech has gotten a little better the more one has looked at it; not the greatest speech ever, but serviceable, in an age of “service”: a “toolbox” of a speech with many valuable things to drag out of the box and repair America with.
     And the speech was certainly not “sh-t”, pace Alex Spillius’ overheard observation. So even if Obama’s second inaugural speech in 2013 doesn’t improve on this one, that means it still won’t be too bad…

Filed under: Obama inauguration, Uncategorized | Posted by: at 4:07 pm | 0 Comments

Osama vs. Obama!! New tape released

     This from slightly back (one has been busy), but is still worth it: see CBS News.com, Bin Laden: U.S. Decline Fueled Gaza Attack–CBS News: Israel Attacked Because Of America’s Fading Dominance, End Of Bush Mandate, Al Qaeda Boss Says,

     Al Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden says the decline of America’s dominance on the world stage was one of the main factors which prompted Israel to launch its offensive in Gaza. …
     Bin Laden goes on to say President Bush “drowned” the American people in economic woes and “left his successor a difficult legacy, and left him one of two bitter choices… The worst heritage is when a man inherits a long guerrilla warfare with a persevering, patient enemy - a war that is funded by usury. If he (Obama) withdraws from the war, that would be a military defeat, and if he goes on with it, he’ll drown in economic crisis.” …
     Also in the address, bin Laden predicts that Mr. Obama will be unable to solve the economic problems facing America.
     Quoting Mr. Obama’s vice-presidential pick, Joe Biden, bin Laden says, “Here’s Biden, the deputy of the newly elected president, saying: ‘The crisis is even worse than we expected, and the entire American economy is in peril.’”
     It was the latest attack on Mr. Obama by an al Qaeda figurehead. Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, accused Mr. Obama of standing behind the “massacre of Gaza” in an audio released earlier this month. …

     “Os v. Ob”!! Look out everybody!!

Filed under: Uncategorized | Posted by: at 12:14 am | 0 Comments