So, apparently Obama really IS the antichrist..?

Well, the logic is a bit ‘backwards’… I think it will take a bit more than that to convince any sane person..

From Raw Story:

People who think President Obama is the anti-Christ say they hear things like “serve Satan” when they play his speeches backwards. Rachel Maddow takes a look at what other things might be learned by playing other people’s speeches backwards.

Rachel Maddow really is hilarious in how she deals with this.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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The first urban president?

Well, maybe not the “first” but certainly the first one in recent memory to be obviously urban (and urbane). Nate Silver, of (and Baseball Prospectus, which is the gold standard for stat-loving baseball fans and analysts), makes a great case that Barack Obama’s election marks a sea change in how Americans vote and where they vote from. If Republicans could learn real self-awareness, they might take note that the “Real America” and shit-kicking aw shucks “All hat and no horse” sales pitch may be a thing of the past. Since one of Nate Silver’s gifts is the ability to render statistics into something vaguely resembling English, it’s well worth reading the entire Esquire article.

Like many incoming presidents, Barack Obama was elected partly in reaction to the failures of the previous one, a president who was dogmatic, insecure, white-bread, and — at least ostensibly — rural. By contrast, Obama is unmistakably urban: pragmatic, superior, hip, stubborn, multicultural. But Obama’s election may also represent something more — if not a sign that America’s psyche has changed then at least that its demographics are on the move. We may still romanticize some of the more familiar, rurally oriented narratives of presidents past: the Ronald Reagan frontiersman caricature (which both Sarah Palin and John McCain tried to co-opt at various times) or the Bill Clinton born-in-a-small-town shtick (see also: Edwards, John; Huckabee, Mike). Fewer and fewer of us, however, have actually lived those experiences. In 1992, when Bill Clinton won his first term, 35 percent of American voters were identified as rural according to that year’s national exit polls, and 24 percent as urban. This year, however, the percentage of rural voters has dropped to 21 percent, while that of urban voters has climbed to 30. The suburbs, meanwhile, have been booming: 41 percent of America’s electorate in 1992, they represent 49 percent now (see chart).

In other words, if you are going to pit big cities against small towns, it is probably a mistake to end up on the rural side of the ledger. Last year, Obama accumulated a margin of victory of approximately 10.5 million votes in urban areas (see chart), far bettering John Kerry’s 3.6 million. Obama improved his performance not only among black and Latino voters but also among urban whites, with whom he performed 9 points better than Kerry. Obama also won each of the seventeen most densely populated states, a list that includes such nontraditional battlegrounds as Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana. (One hidden advantage of urban areas: They’re easier to canvass to get the vote out.) By contrast, for all their bluster about small towns, John McCain and Sarah Palin beat Obama by just 2.4 million votes in rural areas, actually a bit worse than the 4.3-million-vote margin that Bush racked up in 2004.

About that terrible pardon . . .

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The Right has been bloviating about the dangers of the Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder, since his name first surfaced after the election. The National Review was horrified about his “leftist” views:

He is convinced justice in America needs to be “established” rather than enforced; he’s excited about hate crimes and enthusiastic about the constitutionally dubious Violence Against Women Act; he’s a supporter of affirmative action and a practitioner of the statistical voodoo that makes it possible to burden police departments with accusations of racial profiling and the states with charges of racially skewed death-penalty enforcement; he’s more likely to be animated by a touchy-feely Reno-esque agenda than traditional enforcement against crimes; he’s in favor of ending the detentions of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay and favors income redistribution to address the supposed root causes of crime.

Well, that’s pretty scary all right. One can see why the Right would be concerned. Since no one else is likely to be worried,  however, they bring up the really really bad thing he did. And if Dick Morris says it’s bad, it must be really super bad.

You may not always agree with his political analysis but Dick Morris, perhaps better than anyone willing to talk about it, knows his Clinton-ology. Morris reminded us that Eric Holder played a leading role in one of the most infamous events of a presidency filled with infamy: the pardon of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich. Morris dubbed candidate Obama’s decision to select Holder as one of three people charged with vice-presidential vetting his “first clear, serious mistake.”

Rich, of course, was the commodities trader who fled the country in 1983 to escape prosecution for tax evasion, racketeering, and trading with the enemy. Rich’s attorneys circumvented normal procedures, took the pardon to the White House attorneys, and gained pardon for their client, whose wife just happened to be a friend and major donor to the Clinton library, the Democratic Party, and Clinton’s legal defense fund. A firestorm ensued as did congressional investigations in which Democrats as well as Republicans excoriated the Clintons’ conduct.

Continue reading

Obama Names Eric Lander for Science Council


Eric Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute.

I worked for Eric Lander (and MIT) on the Human Genome Project for 3 years in the late 90’s.
Mr. Lander is brilliant, and not only am I proud to have worked for him, I am also proud that President Elect Obama is looking to *real* scientists to advise him. 

It’s a great feeling, hope. I feel that when I think of these men.

Fly me to the moon – Not so fast – How much is it?

Ares I - concept picture

Ares I - concept picture

President-elect Obama pledged during the campaign, that he would have a line-by-line look at the budget and cut wasteful spending:

“We cannot sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of a politician, lobbyist or interest group”

Obamas transition team stays true to his message, much to the chagrin of NASA director Mike Griffin, who engaged in a shouting match with transition team representative Lori Garver over the scrutiny on  NASA’s Constellation program.

Nearly four years ago, President Bush brought in Griffin to implement a plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 as a prelude to going to Mars. Griffin and his team selected Constellation, with its NASA-designed Ares I rocket and Orion capsule, as cheaper and safer than existing rockets. Constellation – especially Ares 1 — is the center of what Griffin sees as his legacy to return humans to the frontiers of space.

The program, however,  is over budget and facing technical problems. That makes it a target for the Obama transition team:

Over the past few weeks review panels have been dispatched by Mr Obama to scrutinise government agencies. Though sent to smooth the transition between administrations, they have come with long lists of questions as they look to root out wasteful or over budget programmes.

Cutting all that pork from the budget is not going to be easy, but obviously the Obama transition team is prepared to step on toes to bring it about.

Send Bush to jail (and throw away the key)

I wrote in an earlier post, that one of my wishes for the Obama Presidency was signature and ratification of the Rome Statute which constitutes the International Criminal Court in The Hague. I still believe this should be done to restore the trust of the world in American politics by accepting accountability to international standards.  Initially my idea was to find a way to hold President Bush accountable and try him for his crimes in a court of law. However, after some research, I doubt that end would be achieved by joining in the ICC. The Rome Statute states explicitly that it’s rules apply to the signatory states only after the ratification unless it’s jurisdiction was approved retroactively by the signing state.  At least that is how I understood the text.  There may be lawyers among you who know better than me and I would very much appreciate to learn more from you.

I do think it is possible that an Obama Administration signs the statute (or re-signs it, it has already been signed by the Clinton Administration, but the Bush Administration “un-signed” it) and the Democratic Congress ratifies it. I don’t believe it would be made retroactive though, because that would amount to handing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and some more to The Hague. Barack Obama, among other things, has stressed bi-partisanship and just imagine the Republican’s and their voters’ reaction.

So where does that leave you? You will have to go it alone. And the Bush Administration must be held accountable for their actions. There is a number of crimes that have been assembled by the National Lawyers Guild in an attempt to impeach Bush. In November Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote an article in MWCnews saying:

I want President Obama soon after taking office to go on television and announce the formation of a special group of outstanding jurists and attorneys to make a recommendation whether or not the US Justice Department should bring criminal charges against George W. Bush.  Based on earlier analyses, including work by the American Bar Association, I have no doubt they will recommend indictment.

I could not agree more. The documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side” ran on a German tv-channel yesterday and it brought back the atrocities of the “War on Terror”. And yes, I would like to see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Yoo and some more held accountable for these crimes and more in a court of law.

Is “Giving back” coming back?

In one of the most remarkable stories about the upcoming inauguration, a Virginia businessman is spending more than $1.5 million to bring this historic event to the people. He will be throwing an Inaugural Ball for 1,000 people and putting up 300 of them in a swank hotel for three nights. The guests won’t be lobbyists or fundraisers and the wealthy.

Hundreds of people living on the margins of American society – the homeless, battered women, disabled soldiers, the terminally ill – are to be invited to the ball. For three days, they will be pampered, staying free-of-charge at a luxury hotel close to the White House.

Earl Stafford actually bought the $1 million package before the election, but the results from November 4 really have given a special touch to the gesture.

Stafford, who runs a charitable foundation, will invite 1,000 people to his ball at the Marriott Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. At least a third of them will be from a poor background, he said. They will be chosen by grassroots organisations throughout the US that help fight deprivation.

The 300 will stay at the hotel for three days, with all meals provided. On January 19, Martin Luther King Day, Stafford is to host a prayer breakfast for 1,000 and a lunch on the same day for 1,000. On inauguration day, they can watch from the hotel terrace the inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue before attending the ball.

The Marriott package cost $1,000,000. Stafford didn’t stop there. He’s spending an additional $600,000 for the breakfasts and the ball.

The beneficiaries have yet to be selected. There are no details yet, but Mr. Stafford wants them to represent a cross-section of society and to come from across the country, from suburbs to slums.

With the help of organizations like the National Urban League, he is reaching out to hospitals, homeless shelters and other social agencies to find those who are under-served but who also represent hope and change. Afterward, he said, he hopes his guests will go out and help others.

I have to wonder how this would have played out in the dreadful event that the McCain/Palin campaign had succeeded, but under the circumstances there is real poignancy and perfect timing in Stafford’s gesture. What an amazing man!