30 January 2009

End-of-the-Week Levity, Part 2

CNN's Anderson Cooper, the day after President Obama's inauguration, drunker than a gay sailor on shore leave...

End-of-the-Week Levity

This is brilliant, actually. "Star Wars," as told by someone who hasn't seen it...

Changing Minds

With their economy in major collapse (we're talking full-on depression), the citizens of Iceland demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Geir Haarde and got it. His government called it a day earlier this week. Taking over is Johanna Sigurdardottir, who becomes the first openly gay leader in the world.
"Now we need a strong government that works with the people," she told reporters, adding that her new administration was likely to be sworn in on Saturday. Her appointment marks a historic milestone for the gay and lesbian community worldwide. She lives with a journalist, Jonina Leosdottir, with whom she was joined in a 2002 civil partnership, and has two sons from a previous marriage.

Going Bat Shit

The right-wing fascists at the "American Family Association" have their panties in a wad over the subject matter in a new Pepsi ad. The American Family Association is calling for a boycott of the soft drink here in America over this TV ad that is currently airing ... in Britain.

Seriously, people. Get a life.

Tounge In Cheek

Quote of the Day:
Nancy Pelosi is handing out a trillion dollars' worth of STD-ridden condoms to illegal immigrants for gay sex while the earth enters a new ice age. Did I miss anything?
-Andrew Sullivan, taking on the right-wing blogosphere, who have gone absolutely bat shit over the fact that they are no longer in charge.

Obama Signs Equal Pay Bill

For the life of me, I've never understood how it is that a woman can makes less than a man for equal work or position, and how all three branches of American government refuse to do anything about it.

That is, until now:
President Obama signed his first bill into law on Thursday, approving equal-pay legislation that he said would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody.

Mr. Obama was surrounded by a group of beaming lawmakers...in the East Room of the White House as he affixed his signature to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law named for an Alabama woman who at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory complained that she had been paid less than men.

After a Supreme Court ruling against her, Congress approved the legislation that expands workers’ rights to sue in this kind of case, relaxing the statute of limitations.

He said was signing the bill not only in honor of Ms. Ledbetter — who stood behind him, shaking her head and clasping her hands in seeming disbelief — but in honor of his own grandmother, “who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up again” and for his daughters, “because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams.”
Previous versions of the bill were vetoed by President Bush.

29 January 2009

Blagojevich Out

The Illinois State Senate has voted 59 - 0 to remove Rod Blagojevich from office. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn will take the oath of office shortly.

Memo to the President

Dear Mr. President:

After compromising on many aspects of the stimulus bill (less spending, more tax cuts...because...you know...that's worked so well in the past), and after meeting in person with House Republicans before the bill went to the floor, the fact that they gave you not one vote in support of the measure should give you pause.

The Fascist-Republicans in the House of Representatives obviously have no interest in getting this economy out of the shitter. They are blind to the fact that their form of economic stewardship (tax cuts and mountainous debt) have brought us to this precipice. In my mind we spent the last eight years turning their economic philosophy into policy, and the result has been a deep, earth-shattering collapse of America's financial house. That collapse led to a decisive election in which the opposition was put back in power, and the failed, irresponsibility of Republican government rejected soundly.

So, Mr. President...I say forget about reaching out to the GOP.

Their thoughts on matters related to the economy are no longer valid. After eight years of trying it their way only to wind up in our current situation, it's time to try something new. Their willingness to poke you in the eye, after a good faith effort on your part to make the bill appealing to them, proves they have no intention of working with you on anything. Their obvious deafness to the results of the last two election cycles will, more than likely, relegate them to political wilderness for a long time.

So, again, with all due respect...leave them in the dust.

Ask the Senate to reformulate their version of the stimulus bill. Reduce the tax cuts a wee-bit (I understand you ran on a promise of tax cuts so they shouldn't be removed fully), get rid of any unneeded pork that congressional members may have put in there, and increase the outlays for infrastructure repairs and green-collar jobs.

Bridges and highways don't repair themselves, trains don't drive themselves, and wind farms and hybrid car factories don't build themselves. Such projects require American workers (who are in a pretty precarious spot at the moment), who would then put their earnings in the banks (that aren't exactly flush with cash at the moment) or use them to buy things. I mean, really...it's a win-win.

Let the know-nothings on the right rail against such a bill. The truth is you don't need them. If even a few of them had accepted your original concessions and voted for this bill I'd be slightly more willing to let it proceed. But not a single Republican voted for this bill and it passed easily anyway.

So...fuck them.

Mr. President...I urge you to make this bill the one you really want. The people of this great country handed you a mandate last November. So, be bold. If the powerless Fascist-Republicans are going to bitch and moan about it anyway, why not reconfigure the bill?

Warmest Regards,

(Photo: President Obama and Vice-President Biden meet in the Oval Office with Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and members of the President's economic team. By Pete Souza/White House.)

What a Dick

28 January 2009

Republicans to America: Screw You

I am at the office late tonight and only just now found out about passage of the economic stimulus package.

It passed the House of Representatives this evening by a vote of 243 to 189. Not one Republican voted for the bill, yet they sit there and wonder why they've been relegated to minority status. Last November, Americans voted overwhelmingly for a government that will step up to the plate and do whatever it takes to repair an economy on life support. Apparently the Republicans didn't quite get the message.

I understand that the Republican members of congress may not have agreed with everything in this bill, and I understand that it was never going to get hearty Republican support...but not one single solitary vote?

So... now one has to wonder if tonight's result in the House will encourage some rogue Republican in the Senate to filibuster their version of the bill in that chamber, and whether the Democrats can muster up the necessary two or three Republican votes to end such a move.

Whatever the case, one thing is for sure. Tonight, the Republicans in the House proved they are not all interested in the plight of the American economy and, by extension, Americans. After eight years of mismanagement on their watch, they don't understand that the country has asked the other side to clean things up.


While the Democrats work overtime to set things right, the GOP can stomp and whine and cry. And when the 2010 elections roll around and the Republican Party find themselves losing a third consecutive cycle...well...maybe...MAYBE then they'll understand.

Mid-Week Brain Break

This week's playlist begins with classic songs from Neneh Cherry and Michael Stipe, EZ Rollers, and the Beatles. A superb Cole Medina remix of the Bee Gees' #1 hit "Love You Inside Out" follows, along with brand new tracks from U2, Duncan Sheik, and the Bird and the Bee. Also included: top-notch tracks from Supreme Beings of Leisure, Saint Entienne, and Rufus featuring Chaka Kahn.

Press play, sit back, and enjoy...

Trout - Neneh Cherry/Michael Stipe
Tough at the Top - EZ Rollers
Octopus's Garden (from "Love") - The Beatles
Love You Inside Out (Cole Medina Remix) - Bee Gees
Get On Your Boots - U2
Spiralling - Keane
We're Here to Tell You - Duncan Sheik
Ride (Brilliant Tide Remix) - Supreme Beings of Leisure
Couleurs - M83
Lose That Girl - Saint Etienne
Meteor - The Bird and the Bee
Hollywood - Rufus feat. Chaka Kahn

Hump-Day Levity

Coffee Table Collectibles from the fascist folks at the Washington Times:
Here’s your chance to be one of the very first to own this compelling coffee table styled book about an extraordinary president in turbulent times. "W" is packed with gripping pictures and stories all beautifully presented in this historical keepsake presentation of all eight years of the Presidency of George W. Bush. Be the first to own this memorable book and be proud to share it with your friends and family.

$24.99 (+ $6.00 shipping)

Final U.S. House Election Numbers

The final vote totals from the 435 races for the United States House of Representatives have been tallied, and the Democrats won a tremendous landslide:
Democratic Candidates
257 seats won

Republican Candidates
178 seats won

Third party, independent, and write-in candidates won the remaining share.
Barack Obama had some pretty impressive coat tails! When you look at all of the presidential, congressional, and senatorial races of the last 28 years, you have to go all the way back to 1984 to find such a landslide. Not even the Republican take-over in 1994 resulted in such an ass-kicking.

Yet the Republicans remain deaf to the mandate the American people handed President Obama and the Democratic Party. As they try to block the much needed change this country needs in order to put her fiscal house back in order, the GOP keep countering with the stale old policy proposals of yesterday - proposals, it would do them well to remember, that got us into this mess in the first place.

Republicans Target Reid

Marking him as a ripe target in the 2010 election cycle, the Republican Party in Nevada have already started running ads against Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate.

I think this guy is vulnerable, but not because of GOP complaints that he backs the bail out and economic stimulus packages (Nevada went overwhelmingly for Obama in November, so voters there expect what's coming in those bills). Reid is vulnerable because he's the king of capitulation. This man has absolutely no cajones (Joe Lieberman, anyone?). If the Democrats want to save this seat in 2010, they'd do well to draft a primary challenger with balls of steel.

And I'd be all for it. Reid is a sorry, hapless sap.

File Under "Oh, Sweetie"

Jason Wu, the 26-year-old fashion designer who made a name for himself last week when First Lady Michelle Obama wore one his gowns to the inaugural balls, is in a big ol' tizzy because, he says, the New York Times "outed" him.

Because...you know...he's so "fuckin'-A" butch!

From a recent profile piece in the Times:
Minutes before Jason Wu was to become famous as the 26-year-old designer of Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown, he ordered a pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Domino’s at his apartment in Midtown, then sat down with his boyfriend, Gustavo Rangel, and a neighbor to watch the festivities on television.
Dan Savage responds:
Reporters these days operate under the assumption that men with boyfriends — particularly men in New York City, particularly male fashion designers — are out of the closet.

So the New York Times really shouldn't be faulted for "outing" designer Jason Wu to his extended family... Wu outed himself to and through the New York Times [by introducing his boyfriend as his boyfriend during the interview]. The lesson here: If you're making a secret of your homosexuality it's your responsibility to keep it secret. It's not the New York Times' responsibility.
CNN interviewed Wu during the Obama inaugural ball tour, and all I can say is "giirrrrrrrl."

I report. You decide.

Rhymes With "Witch"

Gov. Sarah Palin (Fascist-AK)

Bailed Out Banks Work Against Labor Bill

From the Huffington Post:
Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the [Employee Free Choice Act], the U.S. labor community’s top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call — including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG — were urged to persuade their clients to send “large contributions” to groups working against EFCA, as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.
I've about had it with this crap. Using bail out money to refurbish your office, hand out billions in bonuses, to purchase a fancy corporate jet from France. And now they're using funds to sucker-punch American workers when they're already down and out?

Fuck these guys. No more bailout money. Not another cent. Let them go under. They don't deserve to be in business.

Eye Candy

Colton Ford's ex...the absolutely dreamy Blake Harper.

27 January 2009

Threw Up In My Mouth A Little Bit

Quote from last week:
We’re being told we have to bend over and grab the ankles.
-Right-wing radio fascist Rush Limbaugh, to Fox's resident nut job Sean Hannity, having a fit over the inauguration of President Obama last week.

Uhhh...Rush...believe me when I say there is no one...not a soul...not one human being on planet Earth...not even Larry Craig...who want you to do anything close to bending over and grabbing your ankles.


Common Sense Returns to the White House

California hearts President Obama.

Update: Apparently I was channeling our former president earlier this morning, when I spelled "common" with one "m." The headline is now "fixiated." Heh heh!

The Gayest Thing You'll See All Week

Meet "Dean," a "straight man" who "has sex" with men "for money."

Butt he doesn't like it, so those hard-ons you see...those don't mean anything. He really likes women and has a "girlfriend."

So there!

Rove Subpoenaed

Rep. John Conyers (Democrat-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, subpoenaed former White House adviser Karl Rove on Monday to testify about the Bush administration's firing of nine U.S. attorneys and its prosecution of a former Democratic governor.

On two previous occasions, then-president George W. Bush instructed Rove not to honor the subpoenas, citing "executive privilege." And the Democrats in the House, in their usual display of haplessness, capitulated.

Well, Bush is gone, the Democrats have a strengthened majority, and you know sure as hell that had the tables been reversed, a Republican-led House would have made sure, come hell or high water, that an adviser to a Democratic administration honor such a subpoena.

Turd Blossom ain't got Little Boy George to protect him this time. He would do well to show up.

Club Four Oh

Quote of the Day:
Time marches on and sooner or later you realize it is marchin' across your face!
-Dolly Parton, as Truvy, in "Steel Magnolias."

Yet as he enters Club 40, Gil still looks fanTABulous!

Happy Birthday, mi amigo.

No On 8: "We Messed Up"

Geoff Kors, Executive Director of the "No on 8" campaign, at a January 24 "what do we do now" event in Los Angeles, admitting the campaigns major flaws:
When I look at what was the biggest mistake, when I lie awake at night prepping my e-mails I'm going to send to all of you and I think about the biggest mistake that we made, it's that we've turned everything over to political experts and political consultants. ...we should have been in the strategy room and part of those (consultants') conversations, and that was a huge mistake.
Gee...ya think!

So these guys essentially out-sourced the running on this campaign to people who didn't want to inject the words "gay" or "constitution" into the process, and then sat back and rested on their laurels. With the final result being 52% to 48% in favor of the proposition, one can only imagine how easily it could have been reversed if only in competent hands.

I almost feel like asking for my money back.

The Republicans Look to 2012

Well, President Obama has been in office for a week and already the Republicans are starting to position themselves for 2012. (Never mind that on November 4th voters essentially told them to lay low for a while.)

Dick Kempthorne, the former secretary of the interior, former U.S. senator from Idaho, and the former governor of that state, has started to consult with close political colleagues on the possibility of a presidential run in 2012.

You've probably never heard of Kempthorne before, so let me give you a little primer:
Last fall, during his last months as Bush's interior secretary, Kempthorne spent $236,000 of taxpayer money to renovate the bathroom in his office.
Yup...I said the bathroom.
The newly minted shitter included a new shower, a refrigerator and freezer and wainscot wood panelling.

When asked why the secretary needed a refrigerator in his bathroom, spokesman Shane Wolf said "Interior secretaries hold meetings in the office and could potentially serve guests a cold beverage, such as Diet Coke. That seems reasonable."
Uhh...no it doesn't.
And, when leaving office last week, Mr. Kempthorne rounded up the employees of his office for a big ol' goodbye party and....

...slide show.

Yup...slides...600 of them
...each and every one containing a picture of Kempthorne.

“Slide after slide after slide," groaned one very bored employee. "It was special. That’s all I should say.”
And finally, there seems to be a mistress problem.

As McJoan said over at DailyKos:
Imagine Bush's lack of curiosity, Palin's vacuousness and knack for self-promotion, and Romney's perfect hair all rolled up into one, and you get Kempthorne.
I hope that after George W. Bush, it will be a long, long time before we vote another imbecile into the White House.

26 January 2009

On a Technicality...40

Born at 1:20am in Baghdad on January 27, 1969, a very good friend of mine (practically a brother) enters "Club 40" this week. And while we are just under eight hours from the big day here in San Francisco, you can't ignore Father Time nor the world clock.

1:20am tomorrow morning in Baghdad is 2:20pm today here in California.

I promised him I wouldn't call him at zero hour, and I won't. But blogging? Well...that's a different story all together. 8^)

Happy Birthday, Shawirma-Master!

Remembering Smokey

He departed this world for eternal slumber on Saturday evening. Brent, myself, and Smokey's pal Chloe hold his family heavy in our thoughts today. We ask that you do the same. Their hearts are breaking.

The West Wing


Excellent Start

By the end of last week, after four days on the job in which President Obama issued a flurry of executive orders designed to let the world know the Bush administration was no longer in power and that the grown ups were back at the helm, Americans give the new president a tremendously impressive 68% job approval rating. Only one other president (Kennedy) had a higher approval number at the end of his first week.

An excellent start, Mr. President.

Well done.

Clinically Delusional

In an interview broadcast on the Sunday edition of NBC's Today Show, Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Democrat-IL) compared himself to human rights heros Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

I shit you not.

Amend the Constitution?

Sen. Russell Feingold (Democrat-WI) plans to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, if ratified, would end appointments to the Senate by state governors and require special elections in the event of a Senate seat vacancy.

Following the debacles in Illinois and New York, I can see why the amendment would be needed. More over, such an amendment would bring the Senate in line with the House, where special elections are held for mid-term vacancies.

Amending the Constitution isn't easy. It requires a 2/3 vote in each house of congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures (38 states). But this is the perfect example of an issue for which the Constitution should be amended, as opposed to say, fascist-filled hate.

23 January 2009

The Ultimate Flip Off

Even the Washington Monument was happy to see Bush go...

End-of-the-Week Levity

A few select clips from Tuesday night's brilliant edition of "The Daily Show"...

Ending the War on Terror?

Yesterday's actions by President Obama lead MSNBC to make the call that the United States has essentially ended George W. Bush's war against terrorism. What did Mr. Obama do?
With the stroke of his pen on several executive orders, he halted the notion that a president can circumvent long-standing U.S. laws simply by declaring war;

He nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001, thus closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, restoring habeas corpus and due process, and ending the practice of extraordinary rendition (making American citizens "disappear" by sending them to prisons in far away countries on little evidence and then torturing them while there).
The end of the war on terror? I've always been dubious of applying that term to this fight. How exactly does one go to war against a noun? ("An alliance of adjectives and adverbs beat back the enemy in a major battle today...") But, I digress...

What the President did yesterday was return the rule of law to the process. By doing so, he has started to piece back together the shredded Constitution our previous administration left behind; and (just as important) he let the world know that the lawlessness of the Bush years is gone, that the grown ups are back in charge and that the America they once knew is back.

But the fight itself still goes on. In fact, our moral standing to wage it just got stronger as a result of Obama's actions yesterday.

Update: Transcribed comments and video from yesterday...
The individuals who are standing behind me, represent Flag Officers who came to both Joe and myself, and all the candidates, and made a passionate plea that we restore the standards of due process and the core Constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism. They made an extraordinary impression on me. They are outstanding Americans who have fought and defended this country, and for them to fight on behalf of our Constitutional ideals and values, I think is exceptional, so I wanted to make sure that they were here to witness the signing of this Executive Order.

... to improve intelligence gathering "as well as promote safe and humane treatment of individuals in U.S. custody ... assures compliance with treaty obligations of the U.S., including the Geneva Conventions ... effectively insures that anybody detained by the U.S.," will be interrogated abiding by the Army Field Manual. "We can abide by a rule that says 'We don't torture,'"

The message that we are sending around the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism, and we are going to do so vigilantly, we are going to do so effectively, and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals ... We think that it is precisely our ideals that give us the strength and the moral high ground to be able to effectively deal with the unthinking violence that we see emanating from terrorist organizations around the world. We intend to win this fight and we're going to win it on our terms.
Video of the President's signing ceremony and his comments can be seen by clicking here.

Madam Secretary, Part 3

With the enthusiasm of innocents being released from the dungeon after eight long years, the State Department cheered heartily the arrival of their new leader...

Like Mr. Bush's departure from D.C. on Tuesday, when a crowd of millions in the streets of the Capitol sang, "na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye" as the former president's helicopter flew overhead, Hillary Clinton's reception as she arrived on her first day at State reflected a tremendous relief that the incompetence of the last eight years is finally over.

Not even the governments of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter were as reviled as Bush/Cheney's.

F.D.A. Approves Stem Cell Trial

With the start of the Obama administration brings a renewed focus on the industry of science:
In a research milestone, the federal government will allow the world’s first test in people of a therapy derived from human embryonic stem cells. The clearance of the clinical trial — of a treatment for spinal cord injury — is to be announced Friday by Geron, the biotechnology company that first applied to the Food and Drug Administration to conduct the trial last March. The F.D.A. had first said no, [but reversed their decision yesterday].
One of Mr. Bush's first actions in 2001 was to halt research that utilized stem cells. It was a shout out to his uber-conservative supporters who seemed to think that microscopic goo is tantamount to a new born baby and therefore, by extension, utilizing them for medical purposes was "murder."

Reason and the appreciation of science have returned. Cooler, more reflective heads now prevail.

Senator Kristen Gillibrand?

Word around the "inter-web" this morning is that Gov. David Paterson (Democrat-NY) will appoint Rep. Kristen Gillibrand (Democrat-NY) to the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Gillibrand, a second term congresswoman from upstate New York, doesn't sound like the most ideal candidate (she was endorsed by the NRA last year), but she isn't a Kennedy or a Cuomo.

And in my book, that's a good thing.

22 January 2009

Thinking of Smokey

Larry and Trevor's boy is pretty sick...problems with liver function as well as a couple of masses. Smokey is currently at the vet's office getting fluids and nourishment. The guys will be able to pick him up later today at which point they plan to "make him as comfortable as possible and to shower him with even more love."

Brent and I (and Smokey's buddy, Chloe, of course) are sending a whole bunch of love and healing thoughts Smokey's way. And big hugs to his dads.

Oscar Nominations

Nominations in the six key categories...

Best Picture
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers

Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers

Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers

“The Reader”
Nominees to be determined

“Slumdog Millionaire”
Christian Colson, Producer
Best Actress:
Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie in “Changeling”
Melissa Leo in “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep in “Doubt”
Kate Winslet in “The Reader”
Best Actor:
Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor”
Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn in “Milk”
Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”
Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams in “Doubt”
Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Viola Davis in “Doubt”
Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”
Best Supporting Actor:
Josh Brolin in “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt”
Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road”
Best Director:
David Fincher for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Ron Howard for "Frost/Nixon"
Gus Van Sant for "Milk"
Stephen Daldry for "The Reader"
Danny Boyle for "Slumdog Millionaire"
The complete list of nominees can be seen here.

The awards ceremony will be held Sunday, February 22 on ABC.

Heh !

Changing Minds

The Gayest Thing You'll See All Week

A...uhh....hmmm...how do you say...

...a "RE-TELLING"...that's it...a "re-telling" of the story of Adam and Eve...

(Shout out: Gil and Duane, from a few months back.)

Rhymes With "Witch"

CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

21 January 2009

Obama Retakes Oath of Office

Here's one for the history books: President Obama retook the oath of office in the Map Room of the White House this evening with John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States, administering once again.

Word is it went off without a hitch this time.

Legal scholars agree that Mr. Obama constitutionally became President at exactly noon yesterday, and that the hiccup in the oath was just that...a hiccup.

But this was more than likely done to shut the mouths of the fascist wing nuts who were going to try to use yesterday's flub to argue that the President really wasn't the President.

Sigh...how nice to have a President who crosses his T's and dots his I's.

Update: The New York Times reports:
For their do-over, the two men convened in the White House Map Room at 7:35 p.m. for a brief proceeding that was not announced until it was completed successfully.

“Are you ready to take the oath?” Chief Justice Roberts said.

“I am,” Mr. Obama replied. “And we’re going to do it very slowly.”

Caroline Kennedy Out?

The New York Times is reporting that Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president and niece of Sen. Ted Kennedy (Democrat-MA), has asked Gov. David Paterson (Democrat-NY) to take her name off the list of potential replacements for Hillary Clinton's senate seat.

I guess that pushes Andrew Cuomo, NY Attorney General and son of the former New York governor, to the top of the list.

Update: Kennedy family sources say the report is false.


Update #2: Ms. Kennedy made it official, releasing this official statement around midnight:
I informed Governor Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate.
OH. MY. GAWD. Contender or not, consideration of Kennedy to fill Secretary of State Clinton's seat should not be made. The drama surrounding her potential appointment is an unneeded distraction.

Madam Secretary, Part 2

Hillary Clinton took the oath of office in her Capitol Hill office shortly after being confirmed by the Senate.

I'm glad she's Secretary of State, don't get me wrong...but why couldn't she do this at the White House?

Getting Started, Part 2

Before the swearing in of his White House staff earlier today, President Obama...
Issued a pay freeze for all White House staff members who make more than $100,000 a year;

Signed an executive order banning all White House staffers from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted. The President's order also bans lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to any member of his administration;

And announced new Executive Branch rules restricting how the White House withholds information from the American people. The Prez:
Information will not be withheld just because I say so. It will be withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well grounded in the Constitution. Let me say it as simply as I can, transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.

Madam Secretary

By a vote of 94 to 2, Hillary Clinton was confirmed as President Obama's Secretary of State by her fellow senators late this afternoon. She is set to be sworn in between now and Friday.

The two Senators voting no? Republicans David Vitter, the hooker-loving fascist from Louisiana, and Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

Said DeMint:
We have to have a remnant of the Republican Party who are recognizable as freedom fighters. What I'm looking to do as a conservative leader in the Senate is to identify those Republicans, and even some Democrats, and put together a consensus of people who can help stop this slide toward socialism.
Because...you know...that argument went SO well for the Republicans last November.

Getting Started

That's a nice shot, isn't it? President Obama arrived in the Oval Office just after 8:30am this morning and got right to work. After reading the letter left for him by former president Bush, Obama met with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel regarding the day's schedule, placed phone calls to leaders in the Middle East, and then drafted an executive order that will close the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Church services with Vice-President Biden, former president Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton followed. Later this afternoon the President will officiate the swearing-in of his White House staff, followed by a meeting with his national security and economic teams.

As Paul Begala said on CNN last night, after eight years of frat-boy incompetence, our new government are going to "put on their big boy pants" and get right to work.

Amen to that!

Mid-Week Brain Break

The international reaction to the election and inauguration of President Barack Obama is a tremendous first step in repairing our global reputation. In celebration, your Mid-Week Brain Break is an absolutely breathtaking video from Playing For Change, a group of artists who have come together to connect the world through music. In this clip, the producers traveled to several locations around the globe, recording various musicians as they performed the Ben E. King classic, "Stand By Me." The final result will give you goosebumps...

The Peaceful Transfer of Power: Bush to Obama


Fully aware that George W. Bush was leaving office with the lowest approval rating of any president (22% according to a CBS News poll), and of the decisiveness of his own victory last November, President Obama, in a back-handed sort of way and in the context of how he will approach his presidency, used parts of his inaugural speech to criticize the Bush administration for their incompetence and failure...while Bush sat right there!

Some highlights:
-We will restore science to its rightful place...

-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.

-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...

-As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

-Our founding fathers, faced with perils that 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 we are ready to lead once more.

-Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.

They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that 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.
Behold the peaceful transfer of power, from a stale and failed administration to one full of promise and competence...

Prosecute the Bush Team

Before leaving the White House, former president Bush did not issue last minute pardons to members of his administration, including himself, for war crimes committed on their watch. Either he knew such a move would have indirectly proven guilt, or he is so over-the-top clinical that he really believes all he did was legal.

Either way, he's left a tremendous opening for the Obama administration to investigate and prosecute. Anything short of that will keep us from moving forward, and America's global reputation might well remain in tatters.

Keith Olbermann's superb commentary on the issue...

Mr. President...there really is only one path to take here. And in your heart of hearts you know what you need to do. Don't flake out on us now...not on this most important issue.

"She's Gonna Need A Locker For That Hat"

A little bit more wind and that turbine she was wearing would have generated electricity...

20 January 2009

The Obama Six

Six of President Obama's cabinet choices were unanimously confirmed in the United States Senate today by voice vote:
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Erick Shinseki
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu
Hillary Clinton's confirmation for Secretary of State was to be included, but Sen. John Cronyn (Fascist-TX) objected to including her nomination, citing ethical questions surrounding donors to former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation, which has in the past accepted donations from foreign governments.

Never mind that the donor question was pretty much addressed during confirmation hearings last week, now that a Democrat is in the White House again, Cronyn and his Fascist-Republican pals apparently feel the need to fight the partisan wars of the 1990s. If there's a Clinton to kick around, they'll do it.


Cronyn's objection simply moves Sen. Clinton's nomination to a roll call vote tomorrow, where she is expected to sail through without much a problem. This is just another example of the Republican Party wasting America's precious time with ridiculous partisan temper-tantrums. Keep it up guys, and 2010 will look an awful lot like 2006 and 2008.

Heh !

San Francisco's infamous Bush Street got a makeover today by local artist Alex Zecca. He managed to change the name on all of the street signs from the Presidio to Grant Street...before the cops stopped him and made him change them back.

Meanwhile, Back on the Ranch...

Not even the fine folks of Midland, Texas want Bush back.

The Presidential Oath of Office

It's only 35 words long: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States" (the "so help me God" part isn't constitutionally mandated)...yet Chief Justice John Roberts managed to screw it up, instructing Obama to say "that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully." That's wrong in two places - the "to" and the placement of "faithfully."

Although the oath was written on card that he held in his hand, Roberts decided that he'd administer it from memory.

Whoops! Nice way to ruin the moment, Mr. Chief Justice.

So, think about it...you know sure as the sun will come up tomorrow that the right-wing nuttery will use the flub to make a case that Barack Obama isn't really president. If the courts even go there (and I doubt they will), the problem is easily solved by having the President repeat the oath.

The moment, below.

Update: Fox News (go figure) went there.

The President of the United States

The Vice-President of the United States

Hey...Joe the Plumber...meet Joe the Vice-President...


Finally...it's over.


This morning, at the White House...

The Peaceful Transfer of Power: Carter to Reagan

The transition from President Carter to Ronald Reagan was uniquely dramatic, not just because of the page turning moment it provided, but also because it presented the world with the perfect example of how our constitutionally mandated transfer of power works.

Mr. Carter lost his bid for a second term in 1980 due to his hapless and impotent handling of the Iran hostage crisis. By the time Inauguration Day rolled around, the hostages had been held captive for 444 days. However, during his last days in office, in an effort to salvage his presidency, Mr. Carter stepped up his efforts to secure their release. In fact, on January 19, 1981, the President stayed up all night negotiating on behalf of the hostages, working the phones up until the moment he had to leave the Oval Office to get dressed for the inauguration of Mr. Reagan.

I remember the day very well. Media outlets were following the inaugural events of the morning while at the same time giving updates on the status of the hostages.

As Carter and Reagan made their way to the platform at the Capitol, the hostages were placed on a plane, where they sat for the next half hour. And then, at the moment Reagan put his hand on the Bible and took the oath of office, at the moment Carter's presidency was officially over, the Iranians allowed the plane to take off.

It was a stab in the eye to the outgoing president, but it also shined the spotlight on our form of government. Carter was President of the United States until 12 noon on January 20th, and he worked his ass off until the last possible moment in order to bring 52 Americans back home.

While they weren't technically released until Mr. Reagan had become president, it was Carter who had worked non-stop for days at making sure it happened.

Part 1 of the Reagan inaugural below...

Part 2, here and part 3 here.

Thinking of Russert

He would be in absolute awe of what is taking place here in America today.

The Post-Presidency

It seems Mr. Bush has accepted a post-presidential position with American Standard...

Fuck You and Goodbye

An appropriate send off to the soon to be former president...the worst in U.S. history...

"Fellow Countrymen"

Much has been made these last few days of President Lincoln's second inaugural. As we approach the hour at which Barack Obama becomes the nation's 44th chief executive, I post that 1865 address here, in full:
Fellow Countrymen:

At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'.

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

19 January 2009

The Peaceful Transfer of Power: Ford to Carter

In the 1976 election, the first following the Nixon-Watergate scandal, American voters, by a slim 2-point margin, opted to remove the Republicans from the White House. The Democratic candidate was a little known former governor from Georgia, a peanut farmer and born-again christian, who ran on a platform of honesty and integrity. His name was Jimmy Carter.

Behold our awesome Constitution at work...the peaceful transfer of power, from a political party caught up in dirty dealings, to the opposition...

President Carter's inaugural speech can be viewed here.

Exit, Stage Right

Without a doubt, George W. Bush leaves office at noon on Tuesday forever marked as the worst president in United States history to date - his terms in office marked by two failed wars; America's global reputation in tatters; her financial house in ruin, with record-setting debt that will cripple future generations for decades to come; and let's not forget the lawlessness with which Mr. Bush and his administration ruled the country, essentially using the Constitution as toilet paper before shredding it to pieces.

Many would argue that other chief executives deserve the distinction of "worst president" much more than Mr. Bush: James Buchanan for his unwillingness to confront southern states who threatened to secede from the Union following the election of Abraham Lincoln...Herbert Hoover for his paralysis during the early years of the Great Depression...Lyndon Johnson for his mismanagement of the Vietnam War...Richard Nixon over Watergate...Jimmy Carter for his impotence on economic matters and the Iran hostage crisis.

All valid options, each of those men among the bottom tier of presidents. But the difference, in my opinion, is that none of those other presidents had the distinction of failing at every level, on just about every issue. The other members of that lower tier can at least point to some successes somewhere in their presidencies. Whether it be on the domestic front (Johnson's civil rights legislation) or in foreign policy (Carter's Camp David accords), not everything they touched turned to shit.

George W. Bush, on the other hand...

It started with his campaign and the election of 2000. Running as a "compassionate conservative," Mr. Bush promised to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done in D.C., and to bridge the partisan divide that poisoned the waters of government during the Clinton years.

I, for one, didn't believe Mr. Bush. I didn't trust his frat-boy personality, and beneath the prerequisite centrist campaign veneer I sensed an uber-conservative partisanship that was too dangerous for America in the 21st century. Not to mention the fact that it was Bush's Republican Party that started the partisan warfare of the 90s in the first place, refusing to accept Bill Clinton's presidency as legitimate, and working to derail it from day one.

How ironic then that Mr. Bush's election in 2000 came at the hands of a Supreme Court ruling that pulled the battered Republican ticket over the finish line in the Electoral College (giving it 271 votes, 1 more than needed), despite a half-million vote loss in the national popular vote. That result is much closer to the definition of "illegitimate" than Mr. Clinton's 43% showing in 1992. (Clinton, for the record, won the popular vote in a three-way race. More over, in 1968 Richard Nixon also won the presidency with 43% of the vote in a three-way race, yet Republicans never called his election "illegitimate.")

Many thought the haywire election of 2000 would force Bush to uphold his campaign promise to govern from the center and to include Democrats in his cabinet. Indeed, a true patriot would have done just that. But Mr. Bush and his Vice-President, Dick Cheney, didn't even think about it. They took their popular vote loss and proceeded to rule as if they were handed a 20-point win, lurching a country that so obviously voted for centrist rule into a hard right trajectory.

And that wasn't the only way the new president said "fuck you" to the American voters. Shortly after being named president, Mr. Bush plucked two incumbent Senators from the ash-pile of the 2000 elections. After losing a re-election bid to a dead guy, Sen. John Ashcroft was named Attorney General; and following a narrow loss to his Democratic opponent, Sen. Spencer Abraham was named Energy Secretary.

Doris Kearns Goodwin famously wrote of Abraham Lincoln's "team of rivals." Well...with two losing Senatorial candidates joining the popular vote-losing president in the White House, one could easily call the Bush administration a "team of losers."

Talk about a symbolic beginning to an eight-year run of incompetence and failure!

To be sure, as we approached Election Day in 2000, I argued passionately that George W. Bush was nowhere near ready to take on the duties of the presidency. And today, as we look back over the last eight years, we find that I was right. The end of the Bush era finds America on her knees, battered, bruised, and bankrupt; a direct result of his incompetence, combined with a Fascist style of right-wing governance that has crippled the Republican Party for a generation.

At this point I had planned to lay out, point-by-point, the misdeeds and failures that led me to assess Mr. Bush as the worst president ever. Alas, I've blathered on and on way too much already. Thus, I post below Keith Olbermann's recent essay that showcases the last eight miserable years in eight concise minutes. He covers just about everything. Give it a look, and then I'll conclude this post below.

In his final press conference last week, Mr. Bush refused to accept responsibility for decisions made on his watch that led America to its current state. Little Boy George is still the spoiled brat who drives the family car into a tree and then refuses to accept responsibility for it, instead blaming everyone else for the accident he caused. (Eight years later, he still tries to blame shit on Clinton!)

And so, it is with a great deal of anger over the shit storm he's steered our great nation into, combined with a great deal of relief that his term in office is coming to a close, that I say goodbye to this failed chief executive. He should have never been president to begin with, let alone "re"-elected. (And don't even get me started over the fact that he was never impeached or charged with war crimes.)

The United States and the rest of the globe can now take a long overdue sigh of relief. On Monday we can celebrate the last full day of the Bush presidency and on Tuesday, the inauguration of Barack Obama. But then...the long, hard journey of righting the wrongs of the worst president in history begins in earnest.

18 January 2009

After Eight Long Years...

...we have our country back.

The Peaceful Transfer of Power: Nixon to Ford

Although it doesn't always involve a change in political party (1865 being the sole exception - Republican Lincoln's V.P. was a Democrat], the ascension of a vice-president to the presidency in the middle of a presidential term is always a highly dramatic event. Not just because such an event is the result of the death or resignation of the sitting president, but also because such a transition proves beyond a doubt that our Constitution works.

In 1973 Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigned following federal criminal charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy related to his days as Governor of Maryland. President Nixon, as instructed by the 25th Amendment, appointed Gerald Ford (at the time the House Minority Leader) to replace Agnew. In August of 1974, under the threat of impeachment over his involvement in the Watergate scandal, Mr. Nixon resigned the presidency, thus elevating Ford to the nation's top office.

The result: A man whose name never appeared on the Republican ballot line in the 1972 election, became President of the United States, peacefully and without incident, as laid out in the Constitution of the United States.

As I mentioned yesterday, there are a number of countries around the globe where such instability would prompt military action and coupe attempts. But not here in the United States. Our system works. And the majesty of that system should put a lump in your throat.

Nixon's resignation was effective August 9, 1974 at 12 noon, ET. While he had already said his goodbyes and was in the air well before then, he was technically still the President until that hour, when Mr. Ford took the oath of office...

17 January 2009

The Peaceful Transfer of Power: Bush to Clinton

Quote of the Day:
...Inaugurations have taken place during times of war and peace; in Depression and prosperity. Our democracy has undergone many changes, and our people have taken many steps in pursuit of a more perfect union. What has always endured is this peaceful and orderly transition of power.

For us, it is easy to take this central aspect of our democracy for granted. But we must remember that our nation was founded at a time of Kings and Queens, and even today billions of people around the world cannot imagine their leaders giving up power without strife or bloodshed.
-President-elect Barack Obama, in his weekly radio address this morning, on the ritual "that goes to the heart of our greatness as a nation."

As we approach the inauguration of Barack Obama, USW will, over the course of the next few days, celebrate peaceful transfers of power from the recent past. It's that transfer of power, dramatic in its peaceful order, that makes America so great. Each new leader comes to power, not at gun-point or coupe, but by request of the American people via state elections.

First up, Bill Clinton's first inaugural from January 20, 1993. After twelve years of Republican rule - two terms from Ronald Reagan and one term from George H.W. Bush - the Democrats were able to win the White House following a slight economic downturn brought on by rising budget deficits and a Hoover-like resistance by Mr. Bush to put forth policies that would help the country pull out of it.

It is those inaugurations where a sitting president is defeated for a second term in which our system of government is especially dramatic. The opposition won the election, and the sitting government, respecting the majesty of American democracy, accepts their decision and takes part in the swearing in of the new chief executive before departing the White House. There aren't many countries where such a transition isn't done by coupe or military battle.

And so, behold as the presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush, Republican, comes to an end at 11:59:59 on January 20, 1993, and the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton, Democrat, begins at 12 noon...

16 January 2009

End-of-the-Week Levity II

A new condom ad...

And two behind-the-scenes blooper clips...

Biden Yields the Floor

From the floor of the Senate, Joe Biden bid his Senate colleagues farewell yesterday. He will be sworn in as Vice-President of the United States on Tuesday.

And after a long, solid career in the upper body of Congress, I look forward to seeing what this guy can do as Mr. Obama's right hand man.

Turning the Page

Attorney General-designate Eric Holder confirmed to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday that waterboarding is torture and that the prison at Gitmo will be closed.

Thus, on January 20th, competence and the rule of law return to the White House. And the Justice Department will be run by a man with impeccable credentials. For the record, Bush's first AG was appointed to that post only after losing a Senate re-election contest to a dead man. (No...really.) His second AG was nowhere near qualified for the post. And the current guy is essentially a lap dog.

Rachel Maddow's report on yesterday's confirmation hearing...

End-of-the-Week Levity

The perfect weight-loss plan of the 1970s...

Sen. Roland Burris (Democrat-IL)

So it's done, and the Senate can now move on to address the business of running our nation. But between now and the end of the year, Sen. Burris should opt not to run for a full term in the 2010 election. If he does, I would highly suggest a health primary challenge (Burris seems to have trouble winning Democratic primaries). Short of that, this seat could very well fall into Republican hands.

Side note: Dick Cheney asking someone if they'll swear to uphold the Constitution?? [Insert the slapping of my hand against my forehead here.]

Give The Guy a Medal

The pilot of the US Airway jet that crash-landed into the Hudson River yesterday achieved the first ever non-fatal emergency water landing. This was a textbook case of perfect emergency water landing. Capt. Sullenberger and his crew did everything exactly right.