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Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ tag

Right Wing Credibility Gone Fishin

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Another crazy Obama smear circulating the frothosphere1.

Sometimes A Fish(erman) needs a Bicycle

After Robert Montgomery wrote in an ESPNOutdoors.com column that the federal government had a strategy in the works that “could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation’s oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters,” it was only a matter of time before the conservative media took the bait — hook, line, and sinker. Easily made puns aside, the story was tailor-made for “conservative journalism.” After all, Montgomery had no evidence for his claims.

Another week, another wild, right-wing-media-driven conspiracy theory centered on the Obama administration.

Conservative blogs led the charge in advancing the dubious story, posting their own spin under headlines like “Obama: The Will Of The People Be Damned – I’LL Decide Who Can Go Fishing” in the case of RedState.com and “Obama’s war on fishing?!?!?!” from the queen of right-wing blogging and bellyaching, Michelle Malkin. It mattered little that the story was complete bunk — unsupported by a shred of proof.

It wasn’t long before Fox News’ Glenn Beck, a regular purveyor of ridiculous Obama-centric conspiracy theories, took up the yarn. In classic Beck fashion, the crew-cut host told his audience, “I told you a year ago this would happen. I’m not some prophet by any stretch of the imaginations. … People are losing their rights. Who’s more important: the fish or you?”

Beck aside, no smear of the Obama White House would be complete without an assist from Rush Limbaugh, the granddaddy of the conservative media. On back-to-back shows, El Rushbo laid it on thick, one day saying that “fishing is about to become a privilege controlled by Barack Obama,” and the next, speaking as if he were Obama: “[Y]ou can’t touch me. … I can stop you from going fishing wherever you want. … I can do whatever I want to do.”

In perhaps the strangest turn of events surrounding the story, FoxNews.com ended up debunking Fox News, with the conservative outlet’s reporter Joshua Rhett Miller writing that government documents didn’t contain “language pertaining to a potential ban on recreational fishing, as some reports had previously asserted.” Of course, some of those “reports” included the Fox Nation website, Fox Business Network, and the previously mentioned Beck.

Ultimately, an ESPNOutdoors.com editor acknowledged “errors” in the handling of the piece and its lack of “balance,” but you can expect this one, like so many others, to end up in some chain email from your Fox News-loving uncle in the coming weeks.

[Click to continue reading Gone fishin’: Right-wing media hook another dubious Obama conspiracy theory | Media Matters for America]

Sable And Fisheads

Laughable if it wasn’t so serious a topic, and such a perfect illustration of how facts are silly things to the Republican right.

Footnotes:
  1. I just made this word up – I think – referring to the frothing-at-the-mouth conservative sector of the country. The Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh brigade, in all of their paranoid glory []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 13th, 2010 at 8:06 am

Obstructionists As the World Burns

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Jeff Goodell wrote, back in January, 2010

Motion is Life

Our collective response to the emerging catastrophe verges on suicidal. World leaders have been talking about tackling climate change for nearly 20 years now — yet carbon emissions keep going up and up. “We are in a race against time,” says Rep. Jay Inslee, a Democrat from Washington who has fought for sharp reductions in planet-warming pollution. “Mother Nature isn’t sitting around waiting for us to get our political act together.” In fact, our failure to confront global warming is more than simply political incompetence. Over the past year, the corporations and special interests most responsible for climate change waged an all-out war to prevent Congress from cracking down on carbon pollution in time for Copenhagen. The oil and coal industries deployed an unprecedented army of lobbyists, spent millions on misleading studies and engaged in outright deception to derail climate legislation. “It was the most aggressive and corrupt lobbying campaign I’ve ever seen,” says Paul Begala, a veteran Democratic consultant.

[well, until the banking lobby got ramped up]

By preventing meaningful action in Copenhagen, the battle to kill the climate bill provided the world’s biggest polluters with a lucrative victory — one that comes at the rest of the world’s expense. “In the long term, the fossil-fuel industry is going to lose this war,” says Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But in the short term, they are doing everything they can to delay the revolution. For them, what this fight is really about is buying precious time to maximize profits from carbon sources. It’s really no more complicated than that.”

[Click to continue reading As the World Burns : Rolling Stone]

and by focusing more energy on healthcare reform, the climate bill didn’t get passed either. What will happen in 2010? The U.S. Senate has dozens of high profile bills sitting on its agenda, bills that passed the US House, but the Senators seem more interested in cheap showmanship and posturing. I guess that isn’t new, but it is frustrating.

The Republican Party1 is slurping up energy lobby dollars of course, and predictably are opposed to any change to the status quo.

Tales of the Towering Dead

The most credible analysis of the bill2, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, found that the measure would cost most families no more than $175 a year — the equivalent of “about a postage stamp a day,” Markey says. But the Heritage Foundation is nothing if not a big, well-greased disinformation machine. “We noticed that every time a constituent came in to talk to us about the bill, they would be quoting the same numbers,” says one congressional staffer. “We knew they were a lie, but they were everywhere.”

Energy lobbyists found a willing ally in the Republican Party, which had decided to deny any legislative victory to President Obama — even if it meant cooking the planet in the process. Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas who had been replaced by Waxman as chair of the House energy committee, pledged to launch “crafty” attacks on the climate bill, comparing the GOP’s battle plan to “guerrilla warfare.”

Gah, we need a new political party, one that believes in science, in civil liberties, and the will of the people. Not going to happen in my lifetime unfortunately, and not unless there are drastic changes to how elections are paid for.

Shrieks and Secrets

While Big Oil and Big Coal worked to whip up public hysteria, their Republican allies moved to block the climate bill in the Senate. The most unexpected and influential voice proved to be John McCain, who had long been a champion of climate legislation. The Arizona senator was highly respected by environmental and business leaders for his grasp of both the science and economics of global warming. Even while he was busy selling his soul to the far right during the presidential campaign, he called climate change “a test of foresight, of political courage and of the unselfish concern that one generation owes to the next.” But when the opportunity to show some political courage of his own arrived, McCain executed a bizarre about-face. The industry-friendly bill passed by the House, he now declared — a measure modeled on the cap-and-trade bill he had co-sponsored with Joe Lieberman — was “the worst example of legislation I’ve seen in a long time.”

Senate veterans were stunned. “McCain is still licking his wounds from the election,” says one insider who recently met with the senator. “He may eventually do something on this, but he wants Obama to come to him and ask for help.”

As they had in the House, Republicans in the Senate decided to obstruct the climate bill at every turn. Leading the charge was Sen. James Inhofe, the former chair of the Senate environment committee, who has not let the fact that the Arctic is melting before our very eyes stop him from continuing to proclaim that global warming is a “hoax.” When Boxer, the committee’s new chair, tried to advance the climate bill, Inhofe launched a number of procedural maneuvers designed to stall the bill, such as calling for more analysis from the EPA. “We all knew it was a game,” says one Senate staffer. When Boxer finally forced a vote on the bill in November, Inhofe and his fellow Republicans on the committee didn’t even bother to show up.

Democrats from energy-producing states — including Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Jim Webb of Virginia and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas — also tried to put the brakes on climate legislation, siding with Republicans who demanded that the bill earn a 60-vote supermajority for passage. By last fall, the Obama administration was forced to acknowledge that the battle was lost. “Obviously, we’d like to be through the process,” Browner, the new climate czar, conceded in October. “But that’s not going to happen. We will go to Copenhagen with whatever we have.” Inhofe put it even more bluntly. “We won, you lost,” he boasted to Boxer’s face. “Get a life.”

The Senate’s failure to act helped torpedo the talks in Copenhagen, which not only failed to produce a binding treaty but postponed meaningful action until 2015. It has also left Obama with no clear strategy of how to move forward.

Footnotes:
  1. and some short-sighted Democrats as well []
  2. H.R. 2454 – American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 23rd, 2010 at 8:08 am

Do Nothing Senate

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LBJ, for all his faults, was a forceful leader of the Senate, and was able to push his legislation through. Harry Reid is like an anti-LBJ


“Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. 3 (Vintage)” (Robert A. Caro)

The historian Alan Brinkley has observed that we will soon enter the fourth decade in which Congress — and therefore government as a whole — has failed to deal with any major national problem, from infrastructure to education. The gridlock isn’t only a function of polarized politics and special interests. There’s also been a gaping leadership deficit.

In Obama’s speech, he kept circling back to a Senate where both parties are dysfunctional. The obstructionist Republicans, he observed, will say no to every single bill “just because they can.” But no less culpable are the Democrats, who maintain “the largest majority in decades” even after losing Teddy Kennedy’s seat — and yet would rather “run for the hills” than accomplish anything.

What does strong Senate leadership look like? That would be L.B.J. in the pre-Kennedy era. Operating with the narrowest of majorities and under an opposition president, he was able to transform a sleepy, seniority-hobbled, regionally polarized debating society into an often-progressive legislative factory. As Robert Caro tells the story in his book “Master of the Senate,” this Senate leader had determination, “a gift for grand strategy,” and a sixth sense for grabbing opportunities for action before they vanished for good. He could recognize “the key that might suddenly unlock votes that had seemed locked forever away” and turn it quickly. The horse trading with recalcitrant senators was often crude and cynical, but the job got done. L.B.J. knew how to reward — and how to punish.

We keep hearing that they just don’t make legislative giants like that anymore. In truth, the long drought has led us to forget what they look like and to define senatorial leadership down. L.B.J.’s current successor, Harry Reid, could be found yawning on camera Wednesday night. He might as well have just taken the whole nap. Here was this leader’s pronouncement last week on the future of the president and his party’s No. 1 priority: “We’re not on health care now. We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.” Yes, a lot of talk — a year’s worth, in fact — with nothing to show for it.

[Click to continue reading Frank Rich – The State of the Union Is Comatose – NYTimes.com]

Biggest majority in decades, yet still just as dysfunctional as when the Democratic Party was in the minority. Why do we elect these people anyway?

Evening cluster-rush sans

The only reason I can think of is that the Republican Party is worse. Much worse.

McCain was sneering at Obama because of the Beltway’s newest unquestioned cliché: one year after a new president takes office he is required to stop blaming his predecessor for the calamities left behind. Who dreamed up that canard — Alito? F.D.R. never followed it. In an October 1936 speech1, nearly four years after Hoover, Roosevelt was still railing against the “hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing government” he had inherited. He reminded unemployed and destitute radio listeners that there had been “nine crazy years at the ticker” and “nine mad years of mirage” followed by three long years of bread lines and despair. F.D.R. soon won re-election in the greatest landslide the country had seen.

Footnotes:
  1. includes audio of FDR []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 31st, 2010 at 10:01 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Is the Vietnam War an echo of the Afghanistan War?

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Bill Moyers wonders, as we all do, if Obama’s escalation of the Afghanistan War is a repetition of LBJ’s escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964.

War Memories

Our country wonders this weekend what is on President Obama’s mind. He is apparently, about to bring months of deliberation to a close and answer General Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan. When he finally announces how many, why, and at what cost, he will most likely have defined his presidency, for the consequences will be far-reaching and unpredictable. As I read and listen and wait with all of you for answers, I have been thinking about the mind of another president, Lyndon B. Johnson.

I was 30 years old, a White House Assistant, working on politics and domestic policy. I watched and listened as LBJ made his fateful decisions about Vietnam. He had been thrust into office by the murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963– 46 years ago this weekend. And within hours of taking the oath of office was told that the situation in South Vietnam was far worse than he knew.

Less than four weeks before Kennedy’s death, the South Vietnamese president had himself been assassinated in a coup by his generals, a coup the Kennedy Administration had encouraged.

South Vietnam was in chaos, and even as President Johnson tried to calm our own grieving country, in those first weeks in office, he received one briefing after another about the deteriorating situation in Southeast Asia.

Lyndon Johnson secretly recorded many of the phone calls and conversations he had in the White House. In this broadcast, you’re going to hear excerpts that reveal how he wrestled over what to do in Vietnam. There are hours of tapes and the audio quality is not the best, but I’ve chosen a few to give you an insight into the mind of one president facing the choice of whether or not to send more and more American soldiers to fight in a far-away and strange place.

Granted, Barack Obama is not Lyndon Johnson, Afghanistan is not Vietnam and this is now, not then. But listen and you will hear echoes and refrains that resonate today.

[Click to continue reading Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS]

Transcript here, and video here

The exact circumstances are different, but what the fuck is Obama doing? What’s the end game of escalation of the war? Will the Taliban ever throw their hands up and walk away? No, they will not, and even if they do, there is a thousand other offshoots of fundamentalists willing to step into the breach and fight The Great Satan. Are we as a country committed to staying permanently in Afghanistan? In Iraq? In Pakistan? At what cost? Can we afford to piss away trillions of dollars of our national budget protecting the interests of a few? What benefit to our nation does continuing the Afghanistan conflict actually accomplish?

As LBJ repeatedly says, sometimes you have to let the dominoes fall.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 26th, 2009 at 8:18 pm

One Million Dollars Per Soldier Per Year

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Reducing human bodies to a sum of financial calculations is perhaps part of a cynical equation to end the war, but our society values debating costs for items as mundane as Hollywood films, so why not? How much is a 19 year old from Yazoo City, Mississippi or Rantoul, Illinois worth anyway?

2^2^2^2^2

The budget implications of President Obama’s decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan are adding pressure to limit the commitment, officials say.

The latest internal government estimates place the cost of adding 40,000 American troops and sharply expanding the Afghan security forces, as favored by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, at $40 billion to $54 billion a year, the officials said.

Even if fewer troops are sent, or their mission is modified, the rough formula used by the White House, of about $1 million per soldier a year, appears almost constant. [Click to continue reading High Costs Weigh on Troop Debate for Afghan War]

The thing is, the soldiers themselves are not earning but a fraction of that – so where is the rest of the $1,000,000 going? To KBR? To Boeing? Seems outrageously expensive, doesn’t it? For a legacy war?

And this tidbit is horrifying:

And the overall military budget could rise to as much as $734 billion, or 10 percent more than the peak of $667 billion under the Bush administration.

Ten percent higher of a Pentagon budget than the budget created by war-monger Republicans? Scary. Obama had better not listen to his military advisors then, if he wants a second term in office. Aren’t there more important items we could spend money on besides the Pentagon?

Seven Memories

Written by Seth Anderson

November 15th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Fox News vs Obama Administration

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Fox News versus the truth, really, since the partisan hacks who populate Fox News have no compulsion against lying to make political points.

You Lie

Attacking the news media is a time-honored White House tactic but to an unusual degree, the Obama administration has narrowed its sights to one specific organization, the Fox News Channel, calling it, in essence, part of the political opposition.

“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” said Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, in a telephone interview on Sunday. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

[Click to continue reading A Volley Between Fox News and Obama Administration – NYTimes.com]

What would be interesting is if the FCC investigated why Fox News is entitled to the public airwaves. Why not reclaim the broadcast spectrum that Rupert Murdoch stole from the public he hates so intensely? If Fox News really wants to broadcast their lies, they are welcome to, but why should taxpayer largesse subsidize the attack?

And we’ve always been at war with Eurasia, by the way…

Written by Seth Anderson

October 11th, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize 2009

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Unexpected news; Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

“for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”

[Click to continue reading Peace 2009]

Not sure why exactly President Obama won, only nine months into his first term, seems perhaps a bit premature. Did he win for being Not-Bush?

Full press release:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

Perhaps the Nobel Committee noticed President Obama’s attempts1 at bipartisanship? Maybe it was his statement about wanting to eliminate nuclear weapons? Regardless, congratulations to the President.

Even the White House was taken by surprise:

The announcement stunned people from Norway to the White House. “There has been no discussion, nothing at all,” said Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, in a brief telephone interview.

Mr. Obama, who made United States history by becoming the first African-American president, made repairing the fractured relations between the United States and the rest of the world a major theme of his campaign for the presidency. Since taking office as president he has pursued a range of policies intended to fulfill that goal. He has vowed to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, as he did in a speech in Prague earlier this year; reached out to the Muslim world, delivering a major speech in Cairo in June; and sought to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the committee said in its citation. “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

But while Mr. Obama has generated considerable good will overseas — his foreign counterparts are eager to meet with him, and polls show he is hugely popular around the world — many of his policy efforts have yet to bear fruit, or are only just beginning to do so. North Korea has defied him with missile tests; Iran, however, recently agreed to restart nuclear talks, which Mr. Obama has called “a constructive beginning.”

[Click to continue reading In Surprise, Nobel Peace Prize to Obama for Diplomacy – NYTimes.com]

remarks from the President this morning:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, “Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday!” And then Sasha added, “Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.” So it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
    
These challenges can’t be met by any one leader or any one nation. And that’s why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek. We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. And that’s why we’ve begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children — sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities. And that’s why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.

We can’t allow the differences between peoples to define the way that we see one another, and that’s why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.

We can’t accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for — the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won’t have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.

And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today. I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that’s responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies. I’m also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people.

Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration — it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world.

And that’s why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity — for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace.

That has always been the cause of America. That’s why the world has always looked to America. And that’s why I believe America will continue to lead.

[Click to continue reading The White House – Press Office – Remarks by the President on Winning the Nobel Peace Prize]

Footnotes:
  1. constantly thwarted by the Republicans, but still he continues to try []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 9th, 2009 at 7:34 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

Rio Wins 2016 Olympic Games

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I’m with Andrew Huff of GapersBlock1, the Olympics games were not going to be a panacea for all the problems Chicago faces.

Went to Brazil

Not everyone was displeased. “My hope is that we’ll get back to paying attention to the problems that are facing the city on an ongoing basis,” said Andrew Huff, editor and publisher of Gaper’s Block, an independent Web site that covers local Chicago news. “We can concentrate on 2009 and 2010 instead of 2016. There are so many things we should be paying attention to rather than whether we’re going to host an event in the future.”

[Click to continue reading Rio Wins 2016 Olympic Games – WSJ.com]

Eric Zorn and Dennis Byrne expressed similar sentiments: funnel all the cash that would have been spent preparing for a two week event seven years from now into lasting improvements for the city right now.

Now that the U.S. Olympic Committee has killed Chicago’s fledgling bid for the 2016 Summer games, we’re free from all the fuss, headaches and financial risks of that event.

While Los Angeles stews and spends for the next 30 months until the International Olympic Committee choose a host city, Chicago can get on with the business of building and improving this region for people who live here rather than in preparation for a momentary burst of tourists, athletes and reporters nine summers from now.

an insider wrote into Talking Points Memo, one possible reason for Chicago not being chosen, the bad reputation the US Immigration policies have:

Id prefer to not have my name published if you post any of this, but I wanted to give you some inside perspective on the Olympic planning as I had the privilege to work and help with some of the architecture and planning proposal for Chicago’s Bid.
Mainly, this is just an email to say that regardless of the headline on Drudge, and your comment that the IOC might not enjoy being “big-footed” by Obama, that is not the case. In fact, it was probably helpful, even though we were voted out in the first round. Almost every other country has their leader making personal appearances in support of major international architecture and planning endeavors, but the American president. There have been a number of projects, New Mariinsky Theater in St Petersberg, Russia (for example), where all the finalists, were supported by the leader of their country in having a call placed to the committee, however, the US architect/planner never receives that level of support or interest from the President. So it can only be refreshing to have the President support its country in these types of selections.

A few months ago, (getting back to the Olympic selection) it was made clear to us that Chicago was going to have some difficulty in gaining the selection for a number of reasons including that we have had a large percentage of games hosted here, but most importantly, that we do not have the best international reputation at this time, and it is well known that it is a frustrating and difficult process compared to the other host countries for travelers to gain admittance into the US. There was not a lot that could be done with our planning about this, but it was still brought up as an unofficial “official” concern of the IOC. I think Obama’s visit was prob in some effort to help remove this concern from the selection committee. I would say from knowledge of work on this bid, as well as having produced work to assist with London’s planning effort for Foreign Office Architects in London (before starting my own practice in Chicago) that there was little chance that the decision would be able to be changed this late in the game, and that at this point (the last week), most of the IOC already knows their rankings, and are just discussing the top two. So, again, regardless of Obama’s influence (or lack of), at best, all he would have been able to do was help push over the top, or slightly hurt, but not much more. The decision was most likely already made that Chicago would not host it a few weeks ago by the IOC.

[Click to continue reading Not Their Kinda Town | Talking Points Memo]

Chicago 2016 Olympic

I hope Rio has a great Olympic games, I’ve always wanted to visit there actually.

Footnotes:
  1. notice a link to them over on my sidebar? []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 2nd, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Mayor Daley Places Olympian Bet on Chicago 2016

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Mayor Daley has famously only lost four votes in the City Hall rubber-stamp room called the City Council, but the residents of Chicago are less sanguine about the economic benefits of hosting the Olympics.

Heart versus Head

The Second City is weary after months of recession and Illinois corruption scandals, and angry about everything from rising taxes to deepening potholes. The city is especially skeptical of Mr. Daley’s Olympic push: After pledging Chicago wouldn’t pay a cent should the Games lose money, the mayor later said Chicago would cover any potential shortfall.

Mr. Daley, re-elected in 2007 with more than 71% of the vote, now has a career-low approval rating of 35%, according to a recent Chicago Tribune poll. In public meetings, citizens rail that he has become isolated, thin-skinned and autocratic. Only 47% of Chicagoans support hosting the Games.

Mr. Daley, asked about his falling approval ratings and concerns over cost overruns and corruption, shakes his head.

“You have to have vision,” the 67-year-old mayor said in an interview this month as he shuttled between appearances in the back seat of his black sedan. “You can’t start second-guessing yourself.”

Mr. Daley says the Games will transform Chicago and update its international image from a meat-and-manufacturing hub to the Paris on the Prairie its planners envisioned. Chicago’s Olympic committee has said the Games will generate tens of thousands of jobs and a $13.7 billion economic boost for Chicago. Last week, Anderson Economic Group LLC estimated that spending in Chicago would be more modest, around $4.4 billion.

University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson is more skeptical still. “When you say the word ‘billions,’ special-interest groups start salivating,” he said. “This is Chicago, so yeah, I expect some cost overruns.”

[Click to continue reading Mayor Places Olympian Bet on Chicago’s Bid for Games – WSJ.com]

The Olympics last for what, two weeks? But preparation has to start seven years in advance? Yikes.

Apparently, Chicago has integrated without much notice:

As other Midwestern cities emptied, Chicago grew. In the past 10 years, it added parks and trees, luxury residential skyscrapers and 36 million square feet of commercial development — nearly twice as much as Los Angeles. Between 1989 and 2008, Chicago’s median household income rose 2.7%, in 2008 dollars. Over the same period, incomes in Rust Belt cities Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis shrunk 11% or more.

By 2008, Chicago had become the eighth-most integrated global city in the world, according to Foreign Policy magazine, behind Singapore and ahead of Seoul.

Mind Detergent

And Obama is going to personally persuade IOC officials in Copenhagen after all, for some reason.

Less than two weeks ago, President Obama lamented that he was too busy to go to Denmark to lobby for Chicago’s bid to host the Olympics. “I would make the case in Copenhagen personally,” he said, “if I weren’t so firmly committed to making real the promise of quality, affordable health care for every American.”

Evidently, his commitment to health care is no longer quite so time consuming. Mr. Obama announced Monday that he would fly to Copenhagen this week after all to lobby the International Olympic Committee for the 2016 Summer Games.

Mr. Obama changed his mind and decided to take a gamble no other American president has taken at the urging of his close friend and senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, who has been deeply involved in promoting Chicago’s bid. He hopes to trump the presence in Copenhagen of his counterparts from rival countries seeking the games — Brazil, Japan and Spain — and duplicate the success that Tony Blair of Britain and Vladimir V. Putin of Russia have had in recent years by personally lobbying for their nations’ bids.

Moreover, aides noted that it would be a relatively small time investment. Mr. Obama will leave Thursday evening and fly overnight, arriving in Copenhagen just in time to join Chicago’s final presentation Friday morning, when he and the first lady will address the committee. He returns to Washington on Friday afternoon.

[Click to continue reading White House Memo – In Pitch for Games, a Gamble for Obama – NYTimes.com]

I don’t buy the argument that the President can only perform one task in a day. Maybe GWB was limited that way, but most modern politicians are adept enough to chew gum and walk at the same time. Still, I question whether the Olympic Games are worth wasting a President’s limited agenda upon.

Click here for some other posts discussing the 2016 games

Written by Seth Anderson

September 30th, 2009 at 8:17 am

Obama and the Chicago Olympics

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Notice Obama isn’t actually going to Copenhagen: the bid is not worth wasting the power of the presidency on. The Olympics might end up in Brazil, after all.

Gotta Support the Team!!

With 16 days left until the International Olympic Committee chooses a host city for the 2016 Olympics, President Barack Obama stood on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday and made a pitch for Chicago’s bid to win those Summer Games. He promised that if the I.O.C. chose Chicago, the city would make the United States — and the world — proud.

“Chicago is ready,” Obama said during an event featuring Olympians, Paralympians and local schoolchildren. “The American people are ready. We want these Games.”

“I promise you, we are fired up about this,” he said of the possibility of the Games being awarded to Chicago, where he lived for nearly 25 years before moving into the White House.

[Click to continue reading Obama Says Chicago Is ‘Ready’ to Win Bid to Hold 2016 Games – NYTimes.com]

Division Street Bridge
Here’s what the City of Chicago needs to spend money on instead: this is the Division Street Bridge, seemingly rusted nearly to collapse. Why don’t we spend money fixing our infrastructure and mass transit first?

Ms. Obama loves to publicly tease the President:

Michelle Obama, a lifelong Chicagoan, will lead the United States contingent at the meetings. On Wednesday, she showed the crowd charisma that just may win over some I.O.C. members.

After taking to the podium, she encouraged the audience to cheer and show its Olympic spirit. She then poked fun at her husband’s attempt at a few of the Olympic sports that were on hand, causing the crowd to roar with laughter.

“You should have seen the president in there fencing,” she said of her husband, who said he had always wanted to try the sport. “It was pathetic.”

and not sure how relevant the Chicago Cubs attendance records are to funding Olympics:

Michelle Obama said Chicago was the “ideal home for the 2016 Games,” not just for its landscape, infrastructure or resources, but also for its people and their love of sports.

“You know, you have to admit, even White Sox fans are impressed by the fact that even though the Cubs haven’t won a World Series in centuries, Cubs games sell out,” she said. “Everybody’s there. It doesn’t matter. Win or lose, we are going to watch the Cubs.”

because the White Sox don’t always sell out, just the Cubs.

I still haven’t heard anyone give a good reason as to why Chicago should even host the Olympics, much less fund the damn things.

Click here for some other posts discussing the 2016 games

Written by Seth Anderson

September 17th, 2009 at 7:57 am

Fifty Million Dollars Just to Sit At the Table

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From my vantage point, $50,000,000 is a lot of cheese just to be one of the four finalists for the 2016 Olympic Games. Especially if this money was provided by the City of Chicago, and not private largesse1

One of these Things is Not Like the Other

[Anti-Olympic Fever! Catch It!2 ]

After spending $50 million showing off Chicago and circling the globe to hobnob with the world’s sporting potentates, civic boosters pursuing the 2016 Olympic Games are fretting over one last detail: Will Chicago’s First Citizen, President Barack Obama, travel to Europe next month to make the final pitch to the International Olympic Committee?

Chicago’s rivals plan to send their own heavyweights to Copenhagen for the Oct. 2 vote: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for Rio de Janeiro; King Juan Carlos for Madrid; and Japan’s crown prince and princess for Tokyo.

Mayor Richard Daley has led Chicago’s charge for 2016, but an appearance by Mr. Obama in Copenhagen would be the trump card. The White House “certainly knows that we would like him to come,” says Patrick Ryan, founder of Aon Corp. and leader of the bid committee.

[Click to continue reading For 2016 Olympic Contenders, the Games Have Now Begun – WSJ.com]

previous bids have been derailed by blabbing politicians:

In the weeks leading up to the decision, Paris was the presumed favorite over London and New York City. But [Prime Minister Tony] Blair arrived for the final IOC session in Singapore three days early, and proceeded to receive a phalanx of IOC members. [French President Jacques] Chirac arrived fashionably late.…

London won by four votes over Paris; New York was eliminated in an earlier round. The voting is secret, but a number of IOC members later said Mr. Blair’s lobbying was likely decisive.

Mr. Chirac also might have lost votes when, in the company of fellow world leaders, he took a Gallic swipe at British cuisine: “After Finland,” he said, “it’s the country with the worst food.”

Finland had two members on the IOC during that host city election — perhaps the votes that pushed London over the top.

Loose lips also might have damaged Toronto’s pitch to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. Toronto was thought to be a robust candidate for the Games, until the city’s mayor, speaking before a trip to Africa, said he feared ending up in a pot of boiling water, surrounded by dancing natives. Instead, he was likely scalded by the IOC’s African members, who often provide swing votes in host-city elections, as the continent itself rarely puts forth a bid.

Chicago 2016 Olympic

I have decidedly mixed feelings about Chicago’s bid to host the Games. I suspect a lot of debt will be incurred in the name of taxpayers, and for what? Crowds of international tourists, above and beyond the crowds of international tourists we already have? Money not spent on parks, bridges and schools, but instead spent building infrequently used sport stadiums, on land owned by friends of Mayor Daley? Of course, we, the citizens of Chicago, have decidedly not been asked our opinion, because we are skeptical of the actual practical benefits of being an Olympic City.

Update: Click here for some other posts discussing the 2016 games

Footnotes:
  1. I actually don’t know the answer to this question: is this money taxpayer dollars? or private? []
  2. the guy’s sign reads No Money; No Jobs; No Green Games; No Community Benefit; No Pride; They Play You Pay []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 2nd, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Media, Hillary and Sarah Palin

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“Why Obama Won: The Making of a President 2008” (Greg Mitchell)

I thought this was a big turning point in the 2008 election as well:

worst mccain photo

Greg Mitchell writes:

But I believe that a true turning point — though rarely noted — actually came in the summer, at the Democratic convention in Denver. No, it was not the general good vibes about Obama, the ringing speeches by Teddy, Michelle, Bill and Hill, and by the candidate himself.

Rather, it was the electronic media’s overblown coverage of the allegedly widespread threat by female Hillary delegates, and other Clinton fans, to bolt Obama in favor of McCain.

As you recall, the dissidents, known as “PUMAS,” got massive face time on TV and, it was said, they represented just the tip of the iceberg. And it was said (by commentators, not just by the new pro-Hillary media stars), that women, particularly older ones and suburban/blue-collar types who had voted for Hillary in the primaries, would likely abandon the Democrats in November.

There was no firm evidence for this, of course – and few pundits, on TV and in print, seemed to notice that the same few disgruntled Hillary delegates appeared on all of the shows. No matter. Obama’s possible defeat because of the possible defections was widely predicted.

Why did this matter, since the mass defections never happened? Especially since here and elsewhere at liberal political blogs no one ever took the threats seriously?

Because John McCain and his people bought it, hook, line and sinker, as I explain in my book Why Obama Won. This explains the sudden (though often ill-explained) rise of Sarah Palin to the top of their VP list. The McCainites saw an opening – which really wasn’t there – and went completely overboard. Not only did a female VP suddenly look like a great idea, but one who would have extra appeal to the particular type of Hillary primary voters so hyped by the media.

[Click to continue reading Greg Mitchell: One Year Ago, A Turning Point in 2008 Campaign: The Media, Hillary and Sarah Palin]

Too busy/lazy to look right now, but while the television yammers were seemingly fixated on the Public-Unity-My-Ass story, the blogs were a lot more skeptical of the Hillary-brigade.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 24th, 2009 at 9:21 am

LBJ Birthed Canada’s Superior Health Care System

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Interesting historical factoid

No Reason at All
[Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce]

As the health care establishment appears to be once again able to block any reasonable changes to America’s sick health care system, it’s important to note that, ironically, the “father” of Canada’s universal, single-payer health care system was late President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1964, his plan caused Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson to rush the same health care scheme into existence so that Ottawa was not beaten by the Americans, as was the case in 1934 with Social Security. As things turned out, LBJ compromised with the Republicans and scaled back his plan to a co-payer insurance for senior citizens, or Medicare. So it’s hardly surprising that, again, a popular President cannot win out against the nasty tactics and enormous wealth of the medical vested interests.

And yet, today Canada’s system is not only as good as America’s, but better medically speaking, according to the World Health Organization. Even more dramatic, it is between 30 and 60% cheaper for procedures, medications and hospital stays. Despite compelling evidence, the status quo remains south of the border and American voters/media appear to be unaware of the need for change. There are billions in profits being made at the expense of Americans and the country’s economy.

[Click to continue reading Diane Francis: LBJ Created Canada’s Superior Health Care System]

and sad to witness the power of the right wing in American politics. Even though the Republicans are the minority party in both the Senate and the House, they continue to control the national dialogue, whipping up the furies of their hell-hounds to snarl at Town Halls, yadda yadda. Of course, Obama’s minions aren’t exactly shaking vials of anthrax at General Assembly of the U.N., and I guess that is, on balance, a good thing. Unfortunately, too many Americans reject rationality and reasonableness, preferring to get their talking points from drug-addled Jabba the Huts.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 19th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

The Humor of Obama

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President Obama’s cynical, quirky style of humor is one of his most endearing characteristics. I can relate to that kind of joking: it is the kind of language I might use myself.

Speaking to U.S.

Matt Bai writes about the original Skip Gates press conference question where Obama remarked

But perhaps the more jarring if overlooked moment in Obama’s answer came just before that, when he endeavored to cast himself in the place of his friend Henry Louis Gates Jr., whose trouble began when he needed to break into his own home. “I mean, if I was trying to jigger into — well, I guess this is my house now, so it probably wouldn’t happen,” the president said. Then he flashed a mischievous grin and added, “Here I’d get shot.” [view YouTube clip]

It’s hard to imagine an edgier joke than this — the nation’s president, its first black president at that, teasing about being gunned down in the White House foyer. Had Obama not gone on to malign a cop, it almost certainly would have dominated the next day’s punditry. And yet the moment was in keeping with what we have learned about Obama in the months since his inauguration. The president, it turns out, is quite funny — and sometimes a little reckless. Obama had to make his first apology just days after being elected president, for joking about Nancy Reagan’s séances. He ran into trouble with advocates for the handicapped in March, when he suggested to Jay Leno that his bowling on the campaign trail belonged in the Special Olympics. And before the Super Bowl, he angered fans of the singer Jessica Simpson by appearing to make light of her supposedly ballooning weight. (Fortunately for Obama, fewer than a dozen of those fans are old enough to vote.) You have to have a pretty determined sense of aggrievement — or just a dim view of the president generally — to take genuine offense at such throwaway one-liners. And yet they tend to obscure, if only for a day, Obama’s more serious objectives, undermining the comedian in chief’s reputation as an innately disciplined politician.

More recently, Obama sounded mystified by plans for a new presidential helicopter. “The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me,” he remarked dryly. “Of course, I’ve never had a helicopter before, you know? Maybe I’ve been deprived and I didn’t know it.” Other presidents mastered the telling of the canned political joke. Obama’s shtick is that he finds such stagecraft, the falsity and pomposity of modern politics, to be as laughable as we do.

Such a perspective is entirely new in the White House, born perhaps of the same deconstructionist ethos that gave us “The Simpsons” and The Onion — self-aware acts of ridicule that would have seemed wholly out of place in the age of “All in the Family.”

[Click to continue reading The Way We Live Now – Funny How? – NYTimes.com]

Refreshing, and a welcome contrast to the smug frat boy humor of the previous resident of The White House.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 9th, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Posted in humor,politics

Tagged with , , ,

Yes We Cannabis

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Remember that photo of Obama that looked like he was maybe smoking a joint? You know, this photo

of a jaunty, young Barack Obama? (Published as part of a Time Magazine photo essay after the 2008 election)

Well the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has appropriated the photo, without permission of the photographer, and made an amusing poster.

The folks at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws got there first. For their annual conference poster, they took an old photo of cool-dude college freshman Obama puffing away — on a regular cigarette, mind you — and tweaked it just ever so slightly to fit their message: “Yes We Cannabis.”

Think it might be a problem for the president (who opposes legalization)? It’s really a problem for the photographer. Lisa Jack, an Obama classmate at Occidental College, snapped the image in 1980, one in a series of photos that never saw the light of day until she debuted them in Time’s 2008 Person of the Year issue. She had no idea her photo had been appropriated by NORML until we told her Tuesday.

“They do not have my permission,” said Jack, a psychology professor in Minnesota. These photos “are absolutely not to be used in this way. … I really made a grand effort to do this properly, and I’m very irritated. If I’d wanted these to be used for political purposes, I’d have sold them to Hillary years ago.”

NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre cheerfully acknowledged the lift by artist Sonia Sanchez, who summoned the psychedelic aesthetic of ’60s rock posters. “With very little adulteration, she placed what appears to be a cannabis cigarette” in the president’s hand, St. Pierre said. But she made few other changes: Obama “almost made the photograph for us.”

Everyone who attends the September conference in San Francisco will get a poster; NORML is also selling them on the Web ($25 for an 18-by-24-inch with St. Pierre’s autograph, $15 without). Can they do that? St. Pierre admits they didn’t get permission, but “our lawyers thought it was adulterated enough to comply with the fair use laws.”

[Click to continue reading Reliable Source – Furor Over an Obama Puff Piece ]

So is this kind of parody of a public figure that US copyright law allows? It isn’t quite as clear cut at the famous Larry Flynt -Hustler Magazine lawsuit with Jerry Falwell, but seeing as President Obama is on record as being against cannabis legalization, perhaps it is.

Nancy Reagan - Just Say Yo

The Wall Street Journal Law blog wonders:

But is it “adulterated enough to comply with the fair use laws?” The standard, a copyright lawyer tells us, is whether there was a “transformative use.” And that doesn’t necessarily mean the image has to be transformed — an image can remain exactly the same and satisfy fair use if the picture is framed in a way that sends a message. In other words, its “use” is transformed. “For example, a Nancy Reagan picture on the poster would send a parodic message,” he says. “This one is a closer call.”

[Click to continue reading The Best Fair-Use Controversy Ever? – Law Blog – WSJ]

Via Disarranging Mine1

Fist Bumps

Footnotes:
  1. well, via Marie’s twitter feed, actually, but twitter is down at the moment []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 6th, 2009 at 8:15 am