Dec 22 2008

A Strange Trip: Washington DC, Airport “Security,” and Houston Snow

Category: History,Pictures/Graphics,PoliticsTim @ 12:07 pm

Recently, I experienced a truly unique trip to Washing DC. I guess the interesting points came on the way back home, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Washington DC is a great place to visit. For those of us who are history and government people, DC is our Disneyland. Even in early December, the sights of DC are impressive and I rarely miss the opportunity to take in the sites; always making time to visit Abe and see what he has to say:

Lincoln Memorial Night
Other highlights my evening stroll was the World War II Memorial (too cold for the fountains, but still an impressive sight)

World War II Memorial at Night

And the ellipse-side of the White House with holiday decorations.

White House At Night Christmas

A note to the brave, warm clothes and good shows are a must when strolling the Mall. Also, if you see a many with no shirt at night singing and dancing in the center of the Mall, avoid making eye-contact and get out of the way when the Capital Police come racing by.

At the conclusion of my visit, it was time to head home. By this point, the temperature in DC was a balmy 50 degrees and with a short taxi ride, I arrived at Washington National Airport (DCA for the airport geeks in the house) in plenty of time to make it through security and get a bite to eat before takeoff.

Security: Shoes off, pockets empty, jacket off, bag open, laptop out, keys out, no nail clippers, no liquids, boarding pass, ID, don’t even think about making a joke, and get dressed again as quickly as possible while watching those selected for “more extensive” screening sweat it out.

There is always a sense of relief with the airport screeners in behind you; especially when you have plenty of time before your flight. I was in that position, so I stopped in what passed for a restaurant  in DCA, ordered a sandwich and a draught of Yuengling. After all, as my waitress said, “You’re not driving.” Besides, Yuengling is a fantastic brew and it is only available on the east coast. In no time, the waitress was back saying, “The nurse is here with your medicine” and I was set. That’s when I noticed what she brought with the sandwich; a long sharp plastic knife.

DCA Airport Knife

Wait a minute, I can’t bring nail clippers on the plane but we give travelers this instrument of dismemberment with their meals? Does that seem right to you? Look at the thickness of the plastic and the serrated edge! This thing is designed for one purpose, to cut meat! OK, so I was having a bit of fun, but it was sharp.

After a longer than normal flight back home facing stiff head winds, we landed in Houston. My first thought was, it will be nice to not need the jacket anymore and good to be back in more temperate weather. That’s about the point I looked out the window and saw the snow flakes falling. Yes, show in Houston. I’ve lived here almost 19 years and this marks the 4th time I’ve seen snow in my town. Being the fully converted southerner, I took a picture of the snow.

Houston Snow Tahoe

Yes, I admit this is lame, but for us it’s cool. Too cool.

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Nov 26 2008

MTV to Host Obama Inauguration Event: “Be the Change Inaugural Ball”:

Category: Entertainment,PoliticsTim @ 9:00 am

MTV knows a good party when they see one. The network has decided to throw a Ball for the Obama inauguration:

The network announced Tuesday that it will host the “Be the Change Inaugural Ball” at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington on Jan. 20. The event will be televised live across MTV’s many channels and platforms, including MTV and MTV.com.

Why is MTV throwing the ball? Here is what they say on their press release:

The event will celebrate the massive youth-voter turnout in this month’s presidential election and an active commitment from America’s youth to impart positive social change through volunteer service. ServiceNation is an organization that campaigns to increase support for expanding national service programs like the Peace Corps and Americorps. In September, it hosted a forum with Obama and Senator John McCain, in which both presidential candidates agreed on the importance of community involvement.

A record 24 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2008 presidential election, accounting for 18 percent of the 133.3 million voters who hit the polls. It marked the third major election in a row with increased youth-voter numbers, and for the first time in 20 years, the number of young voters surpassed the number of voters over the age of 65.

One can bet the line-up for this event will read like a Hollywood who-s-who. One thing is certain, after her comments, Lindsay Lohan’s invitation will be lost in the mail.

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Nov 21 2008

Video: Attorney General Mukasey Collapses During Speech

Category: Politics,VideoTim @ 7:12 am

Attorney General Mukasey collapsed last night while giving a speech:

Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey was rushed to the hospital Thursday night after collapsing and losing consciousness during a speech on the war on terrorism, a Justice Department official said.

Mukasey slumped to the floor near the conclusion of his remarks before the Federalist Society’s annual dinner at a northwest Washington hotel, said Peter A. Carr, chief spokesman for the department.

Here is the video of his collapse and it is a bit disturbing:

The latest word on Mukasey is he seems to be OK, but they are keeping an eye on him:

Justice Department officials including Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip gathered at the hospital. In a formal statement released near midnight, department spokesman Peter Carr said: “The Attorney General is conscious, conversant and alert. He is receiving excellent care and appreciates all of the good wishes and prayers he has received. The doctors will keep him overnight for further observations.”

Hopefully, Mukasey will be fine and this will all be something we laugh about in the late night talk shows or Saturday Night Live in the weeks to come.


Nov 21 2008

Barack Obama’s Cell Phone Records Breached by Verizon Employees

Category: Politics,Sci/TechTim @ 5:30 am

In a lesson for those who have access to personal data, Barack Obama’s cell phone records were apparently breached:

Records from a cell phone used by President-elect Obama were improperly breached, apparently by employees of the cell phone company, his transition team said Thursday.
An Obama spokesman said the transition team was told employees at Verizon Wireless looked through billing records.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the team was notified Wednesday by Verizon Wireless that it appears an employee improperly went through billing records for the phone, which Gibbs said Obama no longer uses.

In an internal company e-mail obtained by CNN, Verizon Wireless President and CEO Lowell McAdam disclosed Wednesday that “the personal wireless account of President-elect Barack Obama had been accessed by employees not authorized to do so” in recent months.

This goes to show you that everyone is susceptible to a breach of personal information. You take someone with the “rock star” status of Barack Obama and the temptation for employees is just too great. It’s in our nature to be curious, but it is unforgivable to invade someone’s privacy like this. Here is another example of our voyeuristic society.

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Nov 19 2008

Obama Selects Daschle to Head Health and Human Services

Category: Health,PoliticsTim @ 1:22 pm

News out of Washington today on another Obama cabinet choice:

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s offer to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Democratic officials said Wednesday.

The appointment has not been announced, but these officials said the job is Daschle’s barring an unforeseen problem as Obama’s team reviews the background of the South Dakota Democrat. One area of review will include the lobbying connections of his wife, Linda Hall Daschle, who has done representation mostly on behalf of airline-related companies over the years. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorize to discuss the matter publicly.

What does the choice of Daschle indicate about the Obama Administration?

As Health and Human Services chief, Daschle will be responsible for helping set health care policy. He supports a government-funded insurance program for the nation’s uninsured.

Daschle has also been the head of the health care working group in the Obama transition team. Democratic officials shied away from a term some are throwing around — “health care czar” — but say Daschle “is likely to play a leading role in the passage of health care reform and the strategy to implement it.”

Other sources lay out substantial work being done by the incoming administration to enable health care reform, all of which indicates Obama does intend to move on this issue in spite of the monumental difficulties, including financial obstacles.

Get ready for some serious change in the health care industry. Goodness knows, we need it.

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Nov 19 2008

Al-Qaida Uses Racial Slur Referring to Obama as “House Negro”

Category: PoliticsTim @ 9:29 am

The number 2 man in Al-Qaida has the first public Al-Qaida response to Barack Obama’s presidential victory:

CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri has criticized President-elect Barack Obama, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that Obama is a black American who does the bidding of whites.

In an audio message which appeared on militant Web sites Wednesday, al-Zawahri said that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X. He called Obama a “house negro.”

He added that Obama’s plan to shift troops to Afghanistan is doomed to failure, because Afghans will resist.

Oh boy, you had to expect this type of insult from Al-Qaida. It makes no sense to anger the American people with such a stupid comment. Bottom line, these are people who simply hate. They hate everyone but themselves and I don’t think they are especially pleased with themselves.

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Nov 14 2008

Obama Considering Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State

Category: PoliticsTim @ 7:02 am

As Barack Obama continues to build-out his cabinet, Hillary Clinton is emerging as a candidate for Secretary of State:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US president-elect Barack Obama is considering naming former first lady Hillary Clinton — his onetime rival for the White House — as his secretary of state, US news media reported on Friday.

Two unnamed Obama advisers told NBC News network that Clinton, now a senator for New York, “is under consideration” for the post.

According to NBC, Clinton flew to Chicago — where Obama is based — on Thursday, but an adviser said it was on personal business.

Obama sources confirmed to CNN that Clinton was being considered, but her spokesperson Philippe Reines was non-committal when asked.

If Clinton is chosen, the decision will have a major impact on foreign policy:

Her selection as top U.S. diplomat could also mean a more hawkish foreign policy than that advocated by Obama during his presidential campaign. On the campaign trail, Clinton was more reluctant than Obama to commit to a firm timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

But both Obama and Clinton were adamant about improving the image of the United States abroad and correcting what they considered the “failed policies” of the outgoing Bush administration.

It’s no surprise that Clinton will play a major role in the Obama Administration. Both Hillary and Bill provided significant and meaningful support in the late stages of the campaign and were a significant factor in Obama’s election. In the world of Washington politics, support comes with a price tag. Perhaps the price was one of the most coveted cabinet positions, Secretary of State.

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Nov 13 2008

Senator Palin, Not So Fast: Begich Leading Stevens Now

Category: 2008 Election,PoliticsTim @ 5:17 pm

The race for one of Alaska’s two Senate seats is getting tighter.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the Republican incumbent who was convicted of corruption two weeks ago, fell behind Democratic opponent and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich in the latest vote tally in their neck-and-neck race.

After counting 60,000 absentee, provisional and early ballots on Wednesday, Begich grabbed an 814-vote lead over Stevens, the U.S. Senate’s longest-serving Republican. Stevens had held a 3,257-vote lead after a count of regular ballots cast on Election Day.

There are nearly 40,000 uncounted ballots, with a large portion classified as provisional “questioned” ballots, said Gail Fenumiai, director of Alaska’s Division of Elections.

The intriguing part would be the consequences of Stevens somehow manages to win reelection:

But the more dramatic impact is on Sarah Palin’s presidential hopes. The presumed scenario was that Stevens would be elected, then expelled from the Senate as a convicted felon – perhaps pardoned by George Bush – triggering a special election that would send Palin to Washington as Senator for Alaska. It now seems evident that is not going to happen. Since no newly elected incumbent is likely to surrender a cherished Senate seat to Sarah Palin, that will leave her to serve out her term as Governor of Alaska.

Keep your eyes up to the northwest a little longer (you know, that place just outside the windows of Russia) to see what happens next.

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Nov 13 2008

Breaking News: Sun Times Reporting Obama Will Resign His Senate Seat on Sunday

Category: 2008 Election,PoliticsTim @ 1:52 pm

The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that Barack Obama will be stepping-down from his Senate seat this weekend:

WASHINGTON–Barack Obama will step down from his U.S. senate seat on Sunday, the president-elect said on Thursday.

That’s all the site has, but it is an interesting development. I’ll post an update when we know more.

Update

It’s official, Obama will resign this weekend.

Under state law, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich will name Obama’s replacement for the remaining two years of his term. Blagojevich has said he expects to make a decision by year’s end, and has ruled out appointing himself. Obama, elected in 2004, is the only black senator.

Blagojevich’s appointee would serve until the next national election in 2010.

That makes it tighter for Democrats; especially if you count Joe Lieberman in the Democratic cacus.

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Nov 13 2008

Could Sarah Palin’s Path to 2012 Be As Senator Palin?

Category: PoliticsTim @ 7:08 am

Sarah Palin continues to make headlines and is not hiding the fact that she seems to want more out of her political career than being the governor of the 49th state:

She was speaking before her starring role at a conference of Republican governors in Miami where she was to discuss future policies in a move seen as building her national profile and possibly setting up a run for the presidency in 2012.

“‘I believe I have a contract with Alaskans to serve. I have two more years in my term at this point … as Governor,” she said. “If something changed dramatically and if it were acknowledged up there that I could be better put to use for my state in the US Senate, I would certainly consider it.”

The Senate route worked for Barack Obama. In fact, all the candidates in the past election were senators except Palin. It would appear she is already laying the groundwork for 2012:

She told FOX News over the weekend that she’d be delighted to “serve in a greater capacity.”

She said she’d “plow through that door” in 2012 if the opportunity presented itself.

And on Wednesday at the Republican Governors Association conference in Miami, she said a woman would be good for the 2012 Republican ticket, adding, “I would be happy to get to do whatever is asked of me to help progress this nation.”

Palin’s Thursday address could amount to her first public step toward re-building her profile ahead of a 2012 presidential run.

You have to admire Palin’s determination. Most people would crumble under the weight of criticism and scrutiny she had endured over the past few months. One thing is certain; Sarah Palin is not going away.

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