Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Great Obama Debate at Notre Dame


Students on what they think.

First Bird Feeds White House Robin Family

The robins are nested outside the briefing room, where Robert Gibbs gives his daily briefing and answers press questions. If you missed the birds hatching, check it out here.

Tom DeLay Says Obama Will Bring Down America

Can these guys get any further out into space? What a bunch of nut jobs. The whole lot of them. The GOP shouldn't be criticizing anyone until they can figure out how to come back down to Earth.

GOP's Plan for a New America

First town hall is on Saturday. I wonder if the tea baggers will show.


Michelle Obama Speaks at United Nations May 5

Michelle Obama at the Sojourner Truth event.

Update 5-5: Michelle visits Sesame Street and speaks at the UN (transcript here)
Michelle Obama will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with an event on Monday, May 4 and then meet up with United Nations ambassador Susan Rice May 5 in New York. They will both speak, according to the Swamp. In the eve, she'll attend Time's 100 Most Influential gala.

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden Work the Food Bank

First lady Michelle Obama kept her promise to actively volunteer in the Washington area Wednesday, bagging lunches for hungry children at a local food bank on her husband's 100th day in office.

Mrs. Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined more than 100 congressional spouses at the Capital Area Food Bank on Wednesday, passing out packages of wheat pasta and cans of pineapple as volunteers bagged meals for low-income kids in the area.

The bags of food are expected to feed 1,000 children as part of a program that serves bagged to-go lunches to families on the weekends in lieu of free lunches at school. Each bag includes a variety of healthy foods and a recipe book and is designed to feed a child for five meals. MSNBC

GOP Wear the Same Hats Just Not Same Way

Steele's unique view on the hat-wearing GOP:

Gingrich on Steele and the friction inside the GOP:

Obama Pushes Military Procurement Reform

John McCain is helping out on this one.

Obama Aide's Family May Have H1N1 (Swine Flu)

The individual, not named, was the "lead advance" in Mexico for energy secretary Steven Chu. He came home April 18 and likely spread the virus to some of his family--wife, son and nephew. Robert Gibbs says the individuals have RECOVERED and ARE FINE. Read the White House memo here.

Ahmadinejad and GOP Borrow From Obama

Yes we can?

Here's Eric Cantor talking about town halls and taking it to the people. This will be a conversation, Cantor says. Hmmmm. I've heard this all before. This is the right track for the GOP, if indeed they really do listen and have a conversation. Read more about the GOP revamp here and here:

Obama Speaks on Chrysler Video

Chrysler will get a "new lease on life," Obama says. Chrysler has filed for bankruptcy while Chrysler teams up with Fiat. Obama says Chrysler and Fiat have a "strong chance of success."
Obama gets mad, slamming a group of investors and hedge funds for pushing Chrysler to bankruptcy. He says they were waiting for a government-funded bailout instead of making sacrifices as others have. (Slime)
"I don't stand with them," Obama said.

U.S. officials had offered Chrysler's secured lenders $2.25 billion in cash if they would agree to writedown the $6.9 billion in secured debt that the company owed. But a small group of hedge funds refused the 11th-hour deal.

An administration official this morning expressed disappointment, saying the holdouts had failed to "do the right thing," but that "their failure to act in either their own economic interest or the national interest does not diminish the accomplishments made by Chrysler, Fiat and its stakeholders, nor will it impede the new opportunity Chrysler now has to restructure and emerge stronger going forward."

"I don't stand with those who held out when everybody else is making sacrifices," Obama said at the White House today. WaPo
GMAC will finance new Chrysler sales. If you decide to buy a car, I hope it will be an American car, Obama said.
It's interesting to note, Obama once owned a Chrysler 300.

More perspective on the handful of slimy hedge funds and investors from Congressman Gary Peters of Michigan:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rahm Emanuel Talks to Katie Couric

Obama News Conference Video April 29

The highlight: Obama answers: surprised, troubled, enchanted, humbled.

First 100 Day Photos 2

Some of my faves from the first 100 days.












Obama Administration Aims to End Sentencing Disparity for Crack and Powder Cocaine

Right now, if you have a little crack, you go to prison for a long time. It takes 100 times more powder cocaine to get the same jail time.
The Obama administration is also focused on lesser sentences and more treatment, which is exactly what's needed. We can't continue to throw people in jail for drug addictions.

The Obama administration joined a federal judge Wednesday in urging Congress to end a racial disparity by equalizing prison sentences for dealing and using crack versus powdered cocaine.

"Jails are loaded with people who look like me," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, an African-American, told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the administration believes Congress' goal "should be to completely eliminate the disparity" between the two forms of cocaine. "A growing number of citizens view it as fundamentally unfair," Breuer testified.

It takes 100 times more powdered cocaine than crack cocaine to trigger the same harsh mandatory minimum sentences.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, said, "Under current law, mere possession of five grams of crack — the weight of five packets of sweetener — carries the same sentence as distribution of half a kilogram of powder or 500 packets of sweetener."

Durbin said more than 81 percent of those convicted for crack offenses in 2007 were African-American, although only about 25 percent of crack cocaine users are African Americans.

Congress enacted the disparity during an epidemic of crack cocaine in the 1980s, but the senator said lawmakers erred in assuming that violence would be greater among those using crack. Read the rest at MSNBC
Now, the number of white people going to jail for drugs is on the rise and the number of black people going to jail for drugs is shrinking but there still are a disproportionate number of black people sentenced than white people:
For the first time since crack cocaine sparked a war on drugs 20 years ago, the number of black Americans in state prisons for drug offenses has fallen sharply, while the number of white prisoners convicted for drug crimes has increased, according to a report released yesterday.

The D.C.-based Sentencing Project reported that the number of black inmates in state prisons for drug offenses had fallen from 145,000 in 1999 to 113,500 in 2005, a 22 percent decline. In that period, the number of white drug offenders rose steadily, from about 50,000 to more than 72,000, a 43 percent increase. The number of Latino drug offenders was virtually unchanged at about 51,000.
It looks as though meth could be the cause for the increase in drug sentencing for white people:
African American drug offenders, who have been convicted most often for dealing and possessing crack cocaine, still made up a disproportionate share of drug offenders in state prisons, 45 percent in 2005. That was down from nearly 58 percent in 1999. Black Americans make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population.

The number of white drug offenders in state prisons rose from 20 percent to 29 percent, and Latino prisoners made up 20 percent of such inmates.

"I have no doubt that crystal meth explains some of the white increase, but I'm not ready to say it's the reason for all of the white increase," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which opposes stiff penalties for nonviolent drug crimes. "It's also hard to imagine that [drug courts] are not having some effect. Most drug courts are in urban areas where African Americans live." Read the whole story at WaPo

Conservatives Go From Joe the Plumber to Miss USA

I found it funny that people were up in arms about Miss USA, a beauty contestant, who spoke her mind on gay marriage. She's a BEAUTY contestant in a BEAUTY pageant. She parades on a stage in a bikini and evening wear. Come on. Who cares what she thinks.
Frankly, I didn't know people still watched beauty pageants. I suppose some people probably watch it for the same reasons they listen to Rush-- because they love to hate it.
Anyway, conservatives have themselves another winner, continuing their winning ways:

CNN: Carrie Prejean, the Miss USA contestant from California who famously declared her opposition to same sex marriage on the pageant stage, will star in a new $1.5 million ad campaign funded by the National Organization for Marriage.

Prejean was roasted by same-sex marriage advocates after she stood up for what she called "opposite marriage" (marriage between a man and a woman) when responding to a question from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton during the pageant. But she's also become a fresh-faced standard-bearer for the same-sex marriage opponents, who have rallied to her defense.

Obama Missouri Town Hall April 29 Video

Full video (if you're looking for the news conference on April 29, that's here)

Transcript
In this clip, Obama pokes fun at the tea baggers, saying he's ready to have a serious conversation. The key word is serious. Tea baggers have a great disdain for Obama. They don't like government and they're being misinformed, used and prodded by the likes of Fox and that ilk. They're also a very hateful bunch of people, which is why you can't have a serious conversation with them. I call them the Tea Party, the new GOP.

Axelrod Hoping to Get a Little Bo Time

Romer on Shrinking Economy

Christina Romer says the economy retracted sharply in the first quarter. Half of that decline is from shrinking inventories, which could be an upside if people start demanding more goods and companies start producing, she said. Unemployment won't start going down until GDP starts growing. GDP for the first quarter shrunk 6.1%.

Obama: Air Force One Doesn't Need New Photo

The flight cost more than $300,000. A similar photo shoot has been cancelled. What were they thinking? I guess we'll soon find out.

Gibbs Press Briefing April 28

Newt Gingrich Speaks on Specter

Gingrich thinks the American people are stupid, that we like Obama and not his policies. Go away. Just go away Gingrich.
We like Obama and his policies. We voted for his policies. Obama's not creating "big" government. He's creating efficient government, government that works. He's fixing the mess of the Bush-Cheney administration, whose lack of leadership and inability to chew gum and walk at the same time, caused the complete collapse of our economy. We didn't vote for Obama because he was a "novelty." Republicans, the ones that are left, can't seem to get over their own biases. Serious denial. They need to shut their pie holes and work on their own party.


Valerie Jarrett on Gingrich and Specter:

Obama Speaks on Specter and Swine Flu

Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties and is now a democrat. Obama calls him a "tough hombre." Sounds like Specter will help on healthcare reform.

Obama says he doesn't want anyone in Congress to be a "rubber stamp."
On swine flu, a child in Texas has died because of swine flu. (The child traveled from Mexico to Texas to get medical treatment).
Schools with confirmed cases should close immediately, he said. Parents need to think about childcare options now in the event that schools are closed. Obama has requested $1.5 billion for swine flu preparation.
Take the steps that you would take if you had any flu, he said.

CDC's Richard Besser on the child's death:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Obama Congratulates Sebelius Quickly Sworn in

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was confirmed and quickly sworn in today, following much dithering by the republicans, worried that Sebelius was too much of an advocate for Obama's healthcare plan and not anti-abortion.

Obama Shoots Hoops With Huskies

Napolitano Announces Task Force to Stop Flu Spread


Meanwhile, CDC says U.S. swine flu deaths likely. But Sanjay Gupta says swine flu is easing (I'm with Gupta):

Federal officials warned on Tuesday that swine-flu related deaths were likely in the United States as the disease that killed scores in Mexico continued to spread across the world and governments intensified steps to battle the outbreak.

The number of confirmed cases in the United States was raised to 68, but states and cities were reporting more suspected cases. In New York, the city’s health commissioner said “many hundreds” of schoolchildren were ill at a school where some students had confirmed cases.

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.5 billion in emergency funds to fight the fast-spreading disease. MSNBC

Michelle Obama Pays Tribute to Sojourner Truth

Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, even John Boehner and Mitch McConnell paid tribute to Sojourner Truth today.
Michelle said to rousing applause: "I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the First Lady of the United States of America"

Obama Speaks on Teacher of the Year

A former NYPD officer and current Greenwich teacher was honored today at the White House by President Barack Obama as National Teacher of the Year.

Anthony Mullen works at an alternative high school in Greenwich.

Obama introduced Mullen in the White House Rose Garden. He said the nation doesn't do enough to honor its teachers, who go to work for so much more than a paycheck.

Obama said his administration stands with those educators because the greatest barometer for success is a student's educational background.

Mullen earned his master's degree in 2001 and retired as a captain with the New York City Police Department. He now teaches at the Arch School in Greenwich. WTNH

Schieffer: Obama's Done So Much

Bob Schieffer's got it right. Obama's done a lot in his first 100 days. Just read this blog backward.

Michael Steele Says Good Riddance to Specter

Steele says he's not surprised. Specter stepped on republican toes and republicans weren't happy with him. Steele says Specter's jump is about political survival. Well, yeah. So what does that mean? It means that the GOP is becoming more irrelevant.
Steele says good riddance:

Republicans react. Mitch McConnell calls Specter's switch a threat to the country. Again, the democratic party, from it's conservative Blue Dogs to its New Democrat Coalition, is more reflective of the nation. No threat, only progress.

Steele gives a very lame explanation of why republicans voted against pandemic flu funding:

Specter Speaks on Switching Parties

Sen. Arlen Specter's switch signifies the democratic umbrella is getting larger and more diverse and the GOP's umbrella is shrinking. Specter seems to be a barometer for changing political winds. Check out the second video, where a younger Specter explains why he switched in 1965 from a democrat to a republican.

Arlen Specter speaks on changing from a democrat to republican in 1965.

Pete Souza's First 100 Day Photos






White House photographer Pete Souza shows one of his faves, the Obama girls sledding. Souza says he's still trying to figure out how to get personal photos without crossing the line. See the slideshow here. 



All Americans Are Culpable for Torture

I've been making this point but Naomi Wolf says it so well -- we are all culpable. I knew the Bush administration was torturing. I mean, look at Cheney. Outside of a government setting, he could've been a full-blown criminal. I knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, but as a nation, we weren't then what we are today. Today, we all know better. We all know we were misled. We chose to be bury our heads. Some of us didn't even vote when Bush was running for a second term. We can't blame Bush forever. The left needs to stop being so self-righteous because that's what the right wing does best. Let them fall by the wayside. We can only make the changes that need to be made and move forward:

Republicans have now accused Democrats in Congress of having "blood on your hands too" in relation to the escalating calls to investigate. I would go further: not only do Congressional Democrats have blood on their hands – but so do we, the American people. And CIA agents may be about to be sacrificed to assuage their – and our – actual and associative guilt.

The suddenly urgent calls by our Congressional Democratic leaders, and even by many of the American people, to prosecute CIA operatives, military men and women and contractors who were certainly involved with, colluded in or turned a blind eye to torture are not only the height of hypocrisy, they are a form of unconscionable scapegoating. The scapegoating is political on the part of Congressional leaders, and psychological on the part of many Americans who are now "shocked" at what was done in their name.

Hello America, were you asleep for the past seven years? The fact that the Bush administration used torture has been the furthest thing from a secret. When the political winds were with the last administration, which framed qualms about torture as being soft on "the war on terror", just about every Congressional Democrat fell right into line to accept it, if not cheer it on. Even Hillary Clinton supported torture – right up through her presidential run. Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the torture in closed-door meetings. When activist groups and citizens called for a special prosecutor, all we heard from Congressional Democrats was how they did not wish to spend the political capital. Read the rest at the Guardian

Specter to Change Parties

Obama welcomes Specter


Update: Specter says the GOP outlook is "bleak." Specter seems to be motivated mostly by getting reelected. But his switch points to the big picture-- the democratic umbrella is getting bigger and the GOP is getting smaller.
Update: Obama calls Sen. Arlen Specter to tell him he's "thrilled."
CNN: A Specter party switch would give Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60 seats if Al Franken holds his current lead in the disputed Minnesota Senate race.

Specter, a five-term Senate veteran, was expected to face a very tough primary challenge in 2010 from former Rep. Pat Toomey, who nearly defeated Specter in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary in 2004.
I'm not getting too excited about this (see Sen. Arlen Specter's statement below), but the less input republicans have, the better.
I know they don't like all the spending and taxes but it seems investment on the front end will pay off in the long run.
If our economy actually turns into a green economy as some envision, that's going to mean jobs, inventions, exports, energy savings and a more sustainable economy. Obama doesn't seem interested in "big government," only active and smart government. If we're going to have government at all, we need it to run well and I think that's Obama's aim.
Mostly, republicans are serving as a roadblock to progress as they sort through their own internal issues. They aren't offering any solutions, except lower taxes and no spending.
While their vocal grassroots minority is spewing not much more than hate. I understand opposition, but when it turns into calling the president a communist, a terrorist and all the rest, then their views have little value.
The GOP's primary belief is government is bad, so what's the point of them of even bothering? Just get out of the way.
The spectrum of views within the democratic party -- from the conservative Blue Dogs to the New Democrat Coalition-- seems to be representative of the nation as it is today. The GOP in its current form represents a minority.
Sen. Specter's statement:
I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.

I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank specially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania’s economy.

I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle. Read the rest at Salon
Olympia Snowe calls the move "devastating for GOP." The water is warm Sen. Snowe.

Obama Speaks to the FBI

FBI director Robert Mueller gives Obama an FBI cap (Obama put it on for a moment to big applause) and tries to recruit Malia and Sasha as future FBI agents. Mueller said he's not above taking the moment to recruit agents. Need a job?
Malia and Sasha also got FBI teddy bears.
As soon as Obama began speaking, someone fainted. The crowd seemed to love Obama, who was there to give them a morale boost.
"So much has changed in the last 100 years," he said. Obama talked about the transformation of the FBI to keep pace with the changing world of terrorism and cyberterrorism.
"In the end it's your hard work that makes the difference.... you have the thanks of a grateful nation."
He talked about the false choices between our ideals and our security. "I have no illusions that this is simple or easy."
The U.S. upholds its values and ideals not just when it's easy but when it's hard. Now is a critical time, he said. The FBI will continue to adapt to new dangers and will be critical in leading the way. There is much to celebrate in the FBI's 100 days, he said.
"We're calling on you again."
The end. It was a short and sweet speech, maybe 5 minutes. Then he shook hands with the crowd.

Gibbs Press Briefing April 27

Obama to Expand Housing Plan

The Obama administration is expected to announce Tuesday that it is expanding its plan to stem the housing crisis by offering mortgage lenders incentives to lower borrowers' bills on second mortgages.

During the housing boom, lenders readily gave out "piggyback" second loans that allowed consumers to make small down payments or avoid fees entirely. While home prices soared, such mortgages were even extended to borrowers with poor credit scores and people who didn't provide proof of their incomes.

But those loans, which are attached to about half of all troubled mortgages, have proved an obstacle to efforts to alleviate the housing crisis. That's because borrowers who are trying to get their primary mortgage modified at a lower monthly payment need the permission of the company holding the second mortgage.

The new plan aims to get rid of that roadblock, said two senior administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the details were not yet public.
Read the rest at MSNBC

Monday, April 27, 2009

Man Who Shook Obama's Hand Didn't Die of Swine Flu

Rumor control. Felipe Solis, who shook Obama's hand, didn't die of swine flu contrary to this story floating rumors. See White House statement below. 

A man who shook Barack Obama's hand in Mexico died the next day from symptoms similar to those of swine flu.

The White House insisted the President's health was not in any danger, but he was said to be taking the threat of an epidemic 'very seriously'.

The President's health advisers were already concerned about his visit south of the border after learning the contagious virus first struck in Mexico City on April 13 - three days before Mr Obama flew in to meet government officials.

Their alarm grew after learning that Felipe Solis, director of the National Anthropology Museum, had died from pneumonia. Daily Mail
From the White House:
Statement from Ricardo Alday, Spokesman for the Mexican Embassy to the United States of America:

"Mr. Felipe Solís, Director of Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum died on April 23rd, a week after he welcomed Presidents Obama and Calderón at the Museum. He died of complications of a preexisting condition and not of swine flu."

Most Americans Don't Want Torture Probe

Torture is wrong even if Mole Man claims it works. There are better ways to get information. King Abdullah had a smart suggestion for getting information.
But I think we're all culpable for the torture that went on. We were an unconscious nation, not paying much attention. We all heard about torture before Bush's first term was up and we elected him again. People were scared, thanks to the administration's successful fear mongering.
Our elected officials surely knew-- both democrats and republicans. Nancy Pelosi can say she didn't know anything but that just makes her ignorant because I knew and I don't even work in Washington.
Though, I do think Cheney probably deserves jail time.

CBS: According to the poll, sixty-two percent of Americans do not think Congress should hold hearings to investigate the administration’s treatment of detainees. Only a third of Americans thinks Congress should investigate. That's the same proportion as thought so in February.

Republicans overwhelming oppose Congress holding such hearings, and sixty percent of independents agree. Democrats - much like Democratic representatives in Congress -- are more divided. Forty-six percent say Congress should hold hearings, while fifty-one percent say they are not necessary.

Air Force One's Photo Op?

Update: Obama says it won't happen again:

Update: Apparently, Obama was furious. Louis Caldera, who approved the mission, was called into the office with Rahm Emanuel. Deputy chief of staff Jim Messina was also there but I'm sure Emanuel didn't need any backing up.
Original post
What a boneheaded move this was.
It scared New Yorkers. Mayor Bloomberg didn't even know about it and is madder than a hornet, and I'm sure it cost a bunch of money to send up two airplanes-- for a photo op? Doesn't sound like belt tightening to me. (update on tax dollars here)

An administration official says a presidential Boeing 747 and a fighter jet flew low near ground zero in New York City Monday because the White House Military Office wanted to update its file photo of the president's plane near the Statue of Liberty.
This official said the White House Military Office told the Federal Aviation Administration that it periodically updates file photos of Air Force One near national landmarks, like the statute in New York harbor and the Grand Canyon. AP


Obama's Speech at National Academy of Sciences

Full speech:

Obama announced his President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) team--I've shortened their bios to just their current work but you can read the full bios here.

Rosina Bierbaum, a widely-recognized expert in climate-change science and ecology, is Dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.

Christine Cassel is President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Christopher Chyba is Professor of Astrophysical Sciences and International Affairs at Princeton University and a member of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Academy of Sciences.

S. James Gates Jr. is the John S. Toll Professor of Physics and Director of the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland, College Park.

John Holdren is serving as co-chair of PCAST in addition to his duties as Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology.

Shirley Ann Jackson is the President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former Chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995-1999).

Eric Lander is serving as a co-chair of PCAST. He is the Director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Professor of Biology at MIT, Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Richard Levin has served as President of Yale University since 1993 and is a distinguished economist.

Chad Mirkin is Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, and Medicine at Northwestern University, as well as Director of Northwestern's International Institute of Nanotechnology.

Mario Molina is a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, as well as Director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environment in Mexico City.

Ernest J. Moniz is a Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, Director of the Energy Initiative, and Director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment at MIT.

Craig Mundie is Chief Research and Strategy Officer at Microsoft Corporation.

William Press is Professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, has wide-ranging expertise in computer science, astrophysics, and international security.

Maxine Savitz is retired general manager of Technology Partnerships at Honeywell, Inc.

Barbara Schaal is Professor of Biology at Washington University in St Louis.

Eric Schmidt is Chairman and CEO of Google Inc. and a member of the Board of Directors of Apple Inc.

Daniel Schrag is the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University and Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is also Director
of the Harvard University-wide Center for Environment.

David E. Shaw is the chief scientist of D. E. Shaw Research, where he leads an interdisciplinary research group in the field of computational biochemistry.

Harold Varmus is the President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and co-chair of PCAST.

Ahmed Zewail is Professor of Chemistry and Physics at Caltech and Director of the Physical Biology Center.

Obama Honors University of Connecticut Huskies

Obama honors the NCAA Women's Basketball Champions, the University of Connecticut Huskies.

Then Obama invited the team to walk down the drive to his basketball court -- he in his blue suit and tie and most of them in sundresses and sandals.

Out of sight of reporters covering the event, the president reportedly took a few shots and possibly even played a game of some kind. After ten or fifteen minutes of occasional cheering, the president went back to work and the players headed back to the portico.

Who won? Point guard Renee Montgomery offered the only report.

"He did!" she said. "The president can shoot!" Swamp

Fox Will Air Lie to Me Instead of Obama's Press Conference


Well, Fox is the right wing advocate, so it makes sense. How appropriate that it's showing Lie to Me, whatever that is.

AP: The network is turning down the president's request to show his prime-time news conference on Wednesday. The news conference marks Obama's 100th day in office. Instead of the president, Fox viewers will see an episode of the Tim Roth drama "Lie to Me."

Obama Says Swine Flu No Cause for Alarm

Keep in mind that antibiotics are killing the flu. Obama spoke this morning at the National Academy of Sciences. Other than calming flu worries, he spoke on science research:

Politico: Made the case for public-sector investments in basic research, pledging to spend 3 percent of GDP on R&D, and announcing the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), modeled on DARPA, to perform high-risk, high-reward research.
- Won huge applause with his standard line about separating politics from science. Says that is one of John Holdren's biggest tasks.
- Pledged a major investment in math and science education: "[S]tates making strong commitments and progress in math and science education will be eligible to compete later this fall for additional funds under the Secretary of Education's $5 billion Race to the Top program."
Here's part of the speech. I'll post the rest of the video when it's up.

Staff:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

GOP Going the Way of the Dinosaur Says Republican

Former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt, next to Obama's David Plouffe.

More from Plouffe, whose first question is: what happened in New Hampshire? Plouffe, by the way, is working on a book.

Gibbs Press Briefing April 26

A special Sunday briefing on swine flu.

Joe Biden on 60 Minutes

Joe's the best, gaffes and all. Jill Biden's awesome too.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Lieberman Impressed With Obama

Iran's President Speaks to George

Keep in mind, Ahmadinejad isn't the ruler of Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the supreme ruler. Though Ahmadinejad and Khamenei agree on things such as denying the Holocaust. Kind of reminds me of our own deniers and conspiracists. People with certain ideologies will do whatever it takes to make the facts fit their ideologies. Witness the Bush administration and weapons of mass destruction and torture. George S does a good job interviewing him:

Part 2

Obama Gets in Some Golf With Commerce and Trade

The motorcade pulled up to the golf courses at 9:28. The president, in tan shirt and tan shorts and golf saddle shoes walked a short distance from his cart and greeted a group on a practice putting green that had been shooting him with their camera phones. Among the president's golfing guests were Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, trade representative Ron Kirk and White House staffer Marvin Nicholson. An entourage of 14 golf carts entered the South Course at about 9:45. The president's cart was driven by the general manager of the course, Mike Thomas, a civilian. Read the rest at Lynn Sweet's blog

The Rise of the Tea Party

The GOP is being pulled in two directions, the Tea Party direction, where irrational hate and fear thrive, and the progressive direction, where reasonable republicans want to be more inclusive and find a way to update the party.

I'd say the Tea Party is the minority within the GOP, but it is the most vocal and active. The Tea Party hates government and they have a visceral hate of Obama because he's the polar opposite of what these people stand for. Tea Party members are largely uninformed. You can plainly see that if you check out any of the tea party videos.

They despise the republican party because they believe republicans have sold out their values.

I would also say the Tea Party attracts racists and bigots, who hate gay people, who hate liberals, who hate immigrants, who hate anyone who isn't like them. These are people who largely hate out of fear. I'd bet 100% call themselves Christians, ironically.

They are the same people we saw come out in droves to Sarah Palin's rallies during the campaign.

Not everyone who attended a tea party has those persuasions but I'm convinced that the essence of the rising Tea Party is fear and hate. 
Politico touches on the GOP rebellion today:

But outside Washington, the reality is very different. Rank-and-file Republicans remain, by all indications, staunchly conservative, and they appear to have no desire to moderate their views. GOP activists and operatives say they hear intense anger at the White House and at the party’s own leaders on familiar issues – taxes, homosexuality, and immigration. Within the party, conservative groups have grown stronger absent the emergence of any organized moderate faction.

There is little appetite for compromise on what many see as core issues, and the road to the presidential nomination lies – as always – through a series of states where the conservative base holds sway, and where the anger appears to be, if anything, particularly intense.

"There is a sense of rebellion brewing," said Katon Dawson, the outgoing South Carolina Republican Party chairman, who cited unexpectedly high attendance at anti-tax “tea parties” last week. 
Who are the Tea Partiers? Remember these people:

Schieffer: Obama Really Loves Bo


John McCain Says Torture and Torture Prosecutions Wrong

Torture is wrong and has made it easier for terrorists to recruit, McCain said.
But you can't prosecute people for bad legal advice. I agree with McCain, though I'd like to see more details on the role of Cheney and the rest of the higher ups.
I know many people are arguing that it's not just bad advice, it was lawbreaking advice but there again, Bush's lawyers made it legal. They were horribly wrong about most things. But we need to forget about the idea of prosecutions. All of Congress was responsible. Not just Bush-Cheney and the republicans. Americans are responsible too. We elected Bush-twice. We knew the Bush administration was lying through its teeth but we were a fearful nation then.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont wants a truth commission, of which Obama is opposed:

Rick Perry Asks for Federal Help With Swine Flu

Oh, this is what taxes pay for!
Texas governor Rick Perry, who starred at a recent tea party, saying Texas might want to go it alone, now wants federal help with swine flu.
The latest:

Gibbs Says Torture Prosecutions Not Obama's Decision

The president doesn't make the decision on prosecutions, Gibbs said on Meet the Press. Justice does. It's clear, though, that Obama wants to look forward. Eric Holder has already said that he has no intention of prosecuting CIA agents.
Gibbs said the torture memos were released because of a legal case (by the ACLU), which required the release of the memos.
He says if a review of torture is to take place, it should take place within the senate intelligence committee, which is where an investigation is already underway.
Obama doesn't favor a truth commission.
Personally, I think if there was a truth commission, they'd find everyone in Congress culpable, even Nancy Pelosi, who says she wasn't informed that people were being tortured. It's her job to know.

Historian Kearns on Obama's First 100 Days

Doris Kearns Goodwin knows Obama better than most. Newsweek's John Meacham makes an important point -- the notion that Obama is doing to many things is silly.

48% of Americans Support Torture

America really has lost its moral compass.
This must be just run off from the Bush administration. This is why morals and ethics are more important than religion. I used to think morals and religion went hand and hand.
I can't imagine people who support torture have really thought about it much. They haven't considered the ramifications. Why not just torture alleged criminals to get information instead of having trials?
It doesn't matter if torture works. It's the wrong way (morally and ethically) to get information and it's not the best way to get information. I'll give my paying the bills analogy. If robbing a bank helps me pay the bills with money left over, does that mean I should rob the bank? No. Because there are better ways (morally and ethically) for me to get money. For those who think torture is moral and ethical, well, I guess I feel sorry for them.

King Abdullah Calls Torture Pandora's Box

There are smarter ways to get information, King Abdullah said.
He's right. The argument that torture produces "high-value" information is simply a bogus argument for dull people.
Did Cheney-Bush even consider the ramifications of torture. The answer is obviously no. I bet Cheney was the ringleader, judging by the way he is strongly defending himself. I bet Cheney did it for revenge and gratification, not information. He seems to be that kind of guy. What does anyone really know about Cheney? During 8 years, I don't recall him acting human in any way. The FBI said that any information that was needed from the terrorists already came out before the torture. 

Abdullah on Obama: We had a meeting of the minds.

The image of the U.S. in the Middle East is "fantastic" says Abdullah.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Obama's Plan for National Day of Prayer?

Update 5-6: CNN has a story here.
Update 5-9: His plan: a proclamation.
National Day of Prayer is May 7 this year and it's a time when people gather to pray for the country.
Usually, the evangelicals have the run of the day. I can't imagine that Obama would follow Bush tradition by letting the event be led by the likes of Focus on the Family types.
Focus on the Family has been hateful and very un-Christian like. We need more representation on a day of prayer, people of different faiths, which I know, can be hard for faux Christians to handle.

Every year since 2001, then-President George W. Bush's calendar had been cleared on the first Thursday in May to mark the National Day of Prayer in the White House East Room with prominent evangelicals.

Now the Obama White House is facing questions of inside-the-Beltway etiquette: Should President Obama maintain the open door to conservative critics like James and Shirley Dobson, and if so, should they accept?

Or, will the White House have an official observance at all? Read the rest at WaPo
The Dobsons haven't heard a peep. Whew:
With those questions unanswered less than two weeks before the annual observance, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, headed by Shirley Dobson, is moving ahead with other plans.

"We're not the coordinators of that event," said Brian Toon, vice chairman of the task force. "That's controlled completely by the White House. We have been honored to be guests at the event in the past, but we have not heard a peep from them."

Congressman Tries Slamming Obama to Appease

This video, out for a few days, shows the depths of the anger of the tea partiers.
Congressman Gresham Barrett, a conservative republican from South Carolina tries slamming Obama to suck up to an unruly crowd at a tea party. But not even that works. They scream at him for five minutes to "go home." They turn their backs. Apparently, they were mad because Barrett voted for the stimulus.
Barrett doesn't realize that the Tea Party crowd is not just a bunch of conservatives.
This is an ultra-conservative and foul people who despise Obama and government altogether. Under Bush-Cheney, these people bred and Obama prompted them to spring to life. I'm pretty convinced Cheney is of the Tea Party. I happen to think Bush, for the time of his presidency, was largely a misguided soul in shoes too big.

Hillary: U.S. Will Not Abandon Iraq

New Book About White House Dog Bo

A deal has already been done to publish “Bo America’s Commander In Leash”, a children’s book that is due to be released next week.

According to Mascot Books, the publisher, the book will follow “Bo on an exciting adventure as he learns all about the White House and experiences the traditions that make it such a special place.”

The book will feature guest appearances by Mr Obama, his wife Michelle Obama, Senator Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden the Vice President. It has been written by Naren Aryal, founder of Mascot Books, and illustrated by Danny Moore, one of its employees.
Mr Aryal told the New York Times he and Mr Moore had been working on the project for about two months, leaving space for pictures of the dog, once it was chosen. He added that the Obamas’ two daughters Sasha and Malia are not named in the book because he wanted to protect their privacy. Bo Obama blog

8 Confirmed Swine Flu Cases in U.S.

Update 4-26: The strain found in NY is the same as the strain in Mexico. Visit pandemicflu.gov for the latest. 
Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Richard Besser talks about the possibility of a pandemic. What is a pandemic, aside from being a media magnet?

"A pandemic is basically a global epidemic -- an epidemic that spreads to more than one continent," says Dan Epstein, a spokesman for the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization.

Influenza pandemics have struck about three times every century since the 1500s, or roughly every 10-50 years. There was one in 1957-1958 and one in 1968-1969. The most infamous pandemic flu of the 20th century, however, was that of 1918-1919. An estimated 40 million people died in less than a year, and what made it so different from seasonal flu epidemics is that it killed primarily young people, those aged 20-45. WebMD
Tamaflu has proven effective in beating the virus, so perhaps talk of a pandemic is hype at this point. There are 6 cases in California and 2 in Texas. The best thing you can do is wash your hands regularly. No, you can't get it from eating bacon. 
Here's a story that looks at how this virus may have started. Makes sense to me.

Here's more from the CDC.
Obama monitoring swine flu: