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Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

Bill Moyers, a former advisor to President Lyndon Johnson, who in April, 2010, will retire from his weekly televison program, “Bill Moyers Journal,” on the parallels between Johnson’s decision to escalate the war in Vietnam War and the decision facing Barack Obama in Afghanistan:

“Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we’re fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.

“Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be there or what it means to win. Once again, the government we are trying to help is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.

“And once again, a President pushing for critical change at home is being pressured to stop dithering, be tough, show he’s got the guts, by sending young people seven thousand miles from home to fight and die, while their own country is coming apart.

“And once again, the loudest case for enlarging the war is being made by those who will not have to fight it, who will be safely in their beds while the war grinds on. And once again, a small circle of advisers debates the course of action, but one man will make the decision.

“We will never know what would have happened if Lyndon Johnson had said no to more war. We know what happened because he said yes.” (more @ The Nation)

Related: Bill Moyers Journal (November 20, 2009)

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Mustard“What kind of a man eats his hamburger without ketchup? That was the big question yesterday on talk radio, after President Obama visited an Arlington, Virginia, hamburger place on Tuesday and ordered his burger with spicy mustard.”

Apparently Texans and Republicans also prefer mustard to ketchup as their condiment of choice:

In Texas:

“Texans traditionally eat hamburgers with mustard or with mayonnaise (or with both), but without ketchup. This is simply called a ‘hamburger’ in Texas, but is sometimes called a ‘Cowboy Burger’ or a ‘Texas Burger’ outside of Texas. 

“A hamburger with ketchup is sometimes called a ‘Yankee Burger.’ A hamburger with mayonnaise is sometimes called a ‘Sissy Burger.'” . . .

As for the GOP:

“A 2000 survey of members of Congress by the National Hot Dog Council found that 73% of Republican lawmakers preferred mustard to ketchup, as opposed to 47% of Democratic lawmakers.”

(via New Majority.com)

Related: The Ketchup Conundrum

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kindle“The Amazon Kindle, an electronic reader, has been lavished with praise by hopeful newspaper and book executives who say they believe it has the potential to do for newspapers and books what the iPod did for music.

“But if the Kindle, which not only displays the news but also speaks it with a computerized voice, is ever to be the savior of print media, it needs to bone up on its pronunciation.

“In particular, the voice of the Kindle mispronounces two important words that show up often in the pages of newspapers: ‘Barack’ (the device rhymes it with ‘black’) and ‘Obama’ (sounds like ‘Alabama’).” (more @ NY Times)

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cheney-panicAndrew Sullivan wonders, “Is Cheney Panicking?”:

“The one thing you saw most plainly in the Plame affair is how obsessed Dick Cheney is with public image, the chattering classes and spinning stories that might reflect poorly on him. The act is the elder statesman, authoritatively reviewing the world scene, soberly making judgments, calmly explaining it later to those pesky people who are required to elect you every four years. The reality is a man who lost it on 9/11, leapt immediately to apocalyptic conclusions, and then, as the dust cleared, was unable to go back on the war crimes he had authorized and so dug in ever more deeply to justify them. I don’t think anyone begrudges that kind of misjudgment at the beginning, although one would have hoped for calmer heads in a crisis, but the attempt to institutionalize the torture of first resort into an entire program of black sites, torture manuals, Orwellian euphemisms, and legal fantasy was bound, like the institutionalization of Gitmo, to collapse under any successor who actually wanted to return the US to the rule of law and the world of civilized nations.

“Did Cheney believe he could hide all this for ever?

“Did he believe that hundreds of randomly seized human beings could be consigned to the black hole of Gitmo for ever? And was he really going to launch this kind of appalling attacks on his successors whenever they tried to move past this stuff or be forced, by the law itself and the Geneva Conventions, to investigate and prosecute violations of core human rights?

“The ratcheting up of the rhetoric – ‘I think you have to be very careful. The world outside there — both our friends and our foes — will be quick to take advantage of a situation if they think they’re dealing with a weak president or one who’s not going to stand up and aggressively defend America’s interests’ – is particularly Weimar. He’s lashing out now, and using his surrogates to write chilling op-eds defending all of it. I see this as a sign of weakness, not strength. Obama draws these people out like moths to the flame.

“That flame is the truth. Let us see it all.”

Related

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“On inauguration day, Tom Brokaw was moved to compare Barack Obama’s election to Czechoslovakia’s 1989 Velvet Revolution. At the eye of each storm, of course, was an icon who merged the political and the aesthetic–Václav Havel, the rock-star poet and prophet, and Barack Obama, the post-soul master of his own story. Both struck down eras of monocultural repression with their pens.

“Artists played a largely unheralded role in Obama’s victory. But they had been tugging the national unconscious forward for decades, from the multiculturalist avant-gardes of the 1970s and ’80s to the hip-hop rebels of the ’90s and 2000s, plying a fearless, sometimes even unruly kind of polyculturalism. By the final months of the election season, these artists had secured Obama as the waking image of change.

“Every moment of major social change requires a collective leap of imagination. Political transformation must be accompanied not just by spontaneous and organized expressions of unrest and risk but by an explosion of mass creativity. Little wonder that two of the most maligned jobs during the forty years after Richard Nixon’s 1968 election sealed the backlash of the ‘silent majority‘ were community organizer and artist.

“Obama was both. So why haven’t community organizers and artists been offered a greater role in the national recovery?” (cont’d @ The Nation)

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evesedgwickEve Kosofsky Sedgwick died in New York yesterday, at the age of fifty-nine, following a long battle with breast cancer. The literary critic, who taught most recently at the CUNY Graduate Center, is best known for her formative work in the field of queer theory (in the books ‘Between Men’ and ‘Epistemology of the Closet’), including a number of provocative — and often scandalous — readings of classic literary texts. In the nineteen-eighties and nineties, her visibility as a member of Duke University’s English Department placed her at the forefront of the culture wars, but her largely symbolic role in those conflicts meant that criticism of her work seldom did justice to the subtlety and searing wit of her writing, nor to her sensitivity to the social and sexual bonds that tie us to each other and to the world.” (more @ The New Yorker)

RelatedEve Kosofsky Sedgwick, a Pioneer of Gay Studies and a Literary Theorist, Dies at 58

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Walgreens has announced that the commander in chief will not sprout a Chia Afro on its shelves. . . .

“We decided to pull the product because it didn’t fit with our corporate image,” [Robert Elfinger, a spokesman for Walgreens] said in a company statement. “We also didn’t want to be subject to any misinterpretation over the product. People could interpret it through a political viewpoint or other viewpoints and we want to avoid that situation.” . . .

“News of Walgreens’ removal of the presidential planter has led at least one enterprising Internet seller to offer the Chia Obama for $50—more than double the $19.99 shelf price.” (more @ Chicago Tribune)

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jackjohnson1“Sen. John McCain said Wednesday he’s sure that President Barack Obama ‘will be more than eager’ to pardon the late black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, who was sent to prison nearly a century ago because of his romantic ties with a white woman.

“Appearing with three of Johnson’s family members and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., McCain unveiled a resolution urging a presidential pardon for Johnson, who was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for immoral purposes. The law has since been heavily amended, but has not been repealed. (more @ ESPN)

[Jack Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion in 1908, defeating then-champion Tommy Burns from Australia; Johnson reigned until 1915, losing his title to Jess Willard in a controversial fight in Havana, Cuba. Best remembered for spawning a search for a “great white hope,” Johnson’s story has been chronicled in both stage and film productions of “The Great White Hope” and in “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson,” a PBS documentary by Ken Burns. Two particularly fine studies of Johnson’s cultural significance written by prominent sports historians are Bad Nigger!: The National Impact of Jack Johnson (Al-Tony Gilmore, 1975) and Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes (Randy Roberts, 1983).]

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cuba_postcard“Roughly a year after Fidel Castro stepped aside and handed much of the responsibility for leading Cuba to his brother Raúl, there is new momentum in Washington for eliminating the ban on most U.S. travel to the island nation and for reexamining the severe limitations on U.S.-Cuban economic exchanges.

“At a Capitol Hill news conference scheduled for tomorrow, a wide array of senators and interest groups — including Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.); Banking Committee Chairman  Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.); Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Human Rights Watch — will rally around a potentially historic bill to lift the travel ban.” (more @ Washington Post)

Update

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moneylightsCornell University economist Robert H. Frank on “Finding new opportunities amid the economic wreckage”: 

“The economic bonfire fueled mostly by consumption in recent years has ended. As we have watched the familiar statistics plummet, with credit cards maxed out and home-equity loans a thing of the past, the reality has slowly become clear: We won’t return to the economic world of 2007 anytime soon, if ever.

“But would we want to? In the boosterish world of CNBC, life without an ever-rising Dow Jones average and year-to-year gains in holiday-sales figures would self-evidently forecast protracted misery. Yet matters are less hopeless than they seem. There is an easily attainable future in which we consume less than at the peak of the boom and yet still enjoy far better opportunities to construct a fulfilling life for ourselves.” (more @ The American Prospect)

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DEU Obama Fingers“Sprehe, a company that has all manner of frozen delicacies on offer, has come up with a new product it calls ‘Obama Fingers.’ Far from being real digits, though, the ‘fingers’ in question are ‘tender, juicy pieces of chicken breast, coated and fried,’ as the product packaging claims. . . .

“‘We noticed that American products and the American way of eating are trendy at the moment,’ Judith Witting, sales manager for Sprehe, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. ‘Americans are more relaxed. Not like us stiff Germans, like (Chancellor Angela) Merkel.’ . . .

“For Americans in Germany, though, there is a risk that the product might be seen as racially insensitive. Fried chicken has long been associated with African-Americans in the US — naming strips of fried chicken after the first black president could cause some furrowing of brows.

“Witting told SPIEGEL ONLINE the connection never even occurred to her. ‘It was supposed to be a homage to the American lifestyle and the new US president.’ she said.” (more @ Spiegel Online; via Newser)

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obama-bushFrom an opinion piece by Jackson Diehl, deputy editor of The Washington Post‘s editorial page, suggesting that Obama may be more comparable to George W. Bush than Franklin Roosevelt:

“So Obama hasn’t strayed far from Karl Rove’s playbook for routing the opposition. But surely, you say, he’s planning nothing as divisive or as risky as the Iraq war? Well, that’s where the health-care plan comes in: a $634 billion (to begin) ‘historic commitment,’ as Obama calls it, that (like the removal of Saddam Hussein) has lurked in the background of the national agenda for years.”

[Forgive me, but I’m having a little trouble accepting a comparison between an illegal war that continues to cost countless billions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of lives, both American and Iraqi, with plans to reform the U.S. health care system, no matter how expensive. There’s more to fume about in Diehl’s piece but I think this gets my point across.]

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Obama 2008“Joe the Plumber” is suing former Ohio officials for violating his privacy, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Employees of the state’s family services department (since resigned) checked Samuel Wurzelbacher for unpaid child support obligations, after Sen. John McCain elevated him to prominence. “You shouldn’t have to regret asking a reasonable question in a public forum of a presidential candidate,’ says the head of the group representing Wurzelbacher.

“Wurzelbacher says this is just one example of how the campaign caused long-term damage to his reputation. ‘I can no longer actually work as a plumber,’ he told the Washington Post. That’s because anything he does—like break a pipe—would become national news. ‘I’ve spoken to some of my plumbing buddies in town and no one really wants to touch me right now.'” (via Newser)

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Obama Sushi

obamasushi

Russian Writers Cookies: Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol


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Blagojevich MoneyGlenn Selig, a publicist for Rod Blagojevich, says the recently impeached former Illinois governor signed a six-figure deal on Monday to write a book “exposing the dark side of politics.” (via The Huffington Post)

Update: (3/9) BLAGOJEBOOK

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obamunism“Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.

“As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the ‘U.S.S.A.’ (as the bumper sticker says, under the words ‘Comrade Obama’).

“It seems that ‘socialist’ has supplanted ‘liberal’ as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as ‘Clinton’ was in the 1990s and ‘Pelosi’ is today.” (more @ NY Times)

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spockvulcanMaureen Dowd on President Obama’s Mr. Spock-like cool:

“Mr. Obama has a bit of Mr. Spock in him (and not just the funny ears). He has a Vulcan-like logic and detachment. Any mere mortal who had to tell liberals that our obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan are far from over and tell Republicans that he has a $3.6 trillion budget would probably have tears running down his face.”

Related: Obama is Spock: It’s quite logical

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Obama GOP ReactionFrom TPM, evidence that the story told Tuesday night by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal during his GOP response to President Obama’s speech to Congress — “about how he backed a tough-talking sheriff’s efforts to rescue Katrina victims, government red-tape be damed [sic]” — was not true.

The full text of Governor Jindal’s speech can be found here.

obamacongressMeanwhile, Peggy Noonan saw Obama’s speech as a defining moment:

“A mysterious thing happened in that speech Tuesday night. By the end of it Barack Obama had become president. Every president has a moment when suddenly he becomes what he meant [sic] to be, or knows what he is, and those moments aren’t always public. . . .

“So with Mr. Obama, about four-fifths of the way through the speech. He was looking from the prompters to the congressmen and senators, and suddenly he was engaging on what seemed a deeper level. His voice took on inflection. He wasn’t detached, as if he was wondering how he was doing. He seemed equal to the moment and then, in some new way, in command of it.” (via Wall Street Journal)

A transcript of President Obama’s Address to Congress can be found here.

[As for that other influential GOP spokesperson, a video of “Joe the Plumber”‘s response to Obama’s speech can be found here.]

Update: (2/27) Jindal Admits Katrina Story Was False

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watermelon

What’s up with California Republicans and all the Obama-watermelon references?

Dean Grose, the white, Republican mayor of Los Alamitos, California, has apologized to a local black businesswoman, Keyanus Price, to whom he sent an email depicting the White House lawn planted with watermelons. The picture included the caption, “No Easter egg hunt this year.” (via The Huffington Post)

obama-bucks

And let’s not forget the “Obama Bucks” pictured in a newsletter mailed by a California Republican women’s organization on the eve of the November election.

Maybe it was more than just policy differences that had California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger considering a switch in parties.

Update

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    richrain“One of the most persistent cultural tics of the early 21st century is Americans’ reluctance to absorb, let alone prepare for, bad news. We are plugged into more information sources than anyone could have imagined even 15 years ago. The cruel ambush of 9/11 supposedly ‘changed everything,’ slapping us back to reality. Yet we are constantly shocked, shocked by the foreseeable.” (via NY Times)

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