Friday, November 30, 2012

Mitt Romney Has Lunch at White House


Well, Mitt Romney made it to the White House - as a lunch guest.

Washington Post
On Thursday, the defeated Republican presidential candidate was driven up in a black sport-utility vehicle, greeted outside the gate by a heckler who yelled at him through the passenger-side window. Romney opened his own door. He dis­appeared into the West Wing through a side entrance.

. . . There was no pomp and little ­circumstance, at least publicly, with reporters and photographers barred from the hour-long event.
. . . The White House press corps had other ideas, intent on documenting a moment that Carney had touted just a day earlier as a symbol of the nation’s peaceful democratic electoral process.
Reporters staking out Romney could barely see his arrival, kept 100 yards away near the North Lawn. Photographers, standing on ladders to get a view over a row of shoulder-high shrubs, captured only grainy images through their high-powered zoom lenses.

In the afternoon, people took the one official photograph from the Oval Office and ran with it to Photoshop:

source: arresteddemocracy tumblr

source: odinsblog on tumblr

source: moikl on Twitter

source: con_tem-plate on tumblr

source: volumenometry on tumblr

Going Down the "Fiscal Slope" in January


What is the Fiscal Cliff?  Or is it more of a Gentle Slope?

Source: San Francisco Chronicle
The term refers to the tax cuts that would expire and the automatic spending cuts that would take effect if Congress fails to act by year's end.

Why the deadline? Congress created it to compel action if a so-called supercommittee failed to find common ground on deficit reduction. It failed.

Tax increases: Expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, along with a scheduled increase in the payroll tax, would raise taxes on all Americans by several percentage points.

Spending cuts: Federal spending would be trimmed by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. The few exempted areas include Social Security, Medicaid, military pay and veterans benefits.

Unemployment: About 2 million Americans will lose jobless benefits if the extended safety net program expires on Dec. 29.

Source: The Economist

What has Obama offered the Republicans so far? 
He sent Tim Geitner to Capitol Hill with this plan:

From Huff Post
Geithner's offer would delay the sequester -- automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon and social programs -- for a year, and effectively eliminates the congressional requirement to lift the debt ceiling in perpetuity. The offer included an extension of unemployment insurance, the payroll tax and even money to help homeowners modify mortgages and invest in infrastructure. "I think there was a leprechaun in there somewhere, too," quipped one GOP aide.
The proposal is based on a two-step plan that would decouple the high-end tax and capital gains rates from the middle-class rates, extending only those for the middle class. It would revert estate taxes to their higher 2009 level, and raise an additional $600 billion in taxes elsewhere, according to the GOP summary. It then proposes tax reform required to raise at least as much as the tax hikes, and entitlement reform that would trim $400 billion from the programs.

Are Republicans really going to reject all offers to deal with Obama?
Will they remain loyal to the Tea Party and Grover Norquist?
Most sources behind the scenes say the smart people among them know taxes have to go up and they have to deal. Speaker Boehner seems to be holding to the Tea Party talking points, but interestingly his back-up team are getting the word out, so we can assume he is probably posturing for the camera.

Oklahoma Senator Tom Cole on NPR's All Things Considered:
SIEGEL: . . . a surprise from one of the top Republicans in the House. He broke ranks with his GOP colleagues. While they are holding out for an extension of all Bush-era tax cuts, Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole told members of the leadership team yesterday that they should hurry up and extend tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of taxpayers.

BLOCK: As for the top 2 percent, Cole argues, Congress can worry about them later. NPR's David Welna caught up with Cole today and has this report.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole just got re-elected to a sixth term in the House. He serves there as the GOP majority's deputy whip, and he's a close friend of Speaker John Boehner, which is why a lot of his colleagues were surprised when Politico first reported that Cole urged his colleagues in a closed-door meeting to approve an extension this year of all the expiring tax cuts except those that affect only the top 2 percent.

REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS JEFFERY COLE: We have an opportunity to make sure that the tax rates for 98 percent of the American people don't go up. I think we should do that sooner rather than later.

WELNA: That's Cole this afternoon.

COLE: I'm not trying to persuade anybody. I was asked: In my opinion, what's the best position for us to take? You know, what's in the best interest of the American people? What's in the best interest politically? I think that position that I outlined - that is, making sure that 98 percent of the American people have tax security, so to speak, and then continuing to fight on the other issues, and it doesn't mean giving in to rate increases. I don't believe in that. That's the right thing to do.

Senator John Thune (R-SD) on Fox News via ThinkProgress
MARTHA MAcCALLUM (HOST): What I’m asking you is are Republicans willing to hold the line, to say to the President, I am sorry, we will never agree to a deal that involves an increase in taxes? Are they?

THUNE: I think any deal that passes up here that raises taxes and raises taxes as I mentioned earlier on small businesses, Martha, is not going to enjoy Republican support. Now, there may be enough Republicans who would vote for something like that to pass it in the House of Representatives, they need to get to 218 votes.

MAcCALLUM: Then it would be done, right?

THUNE: We’ll see about that. We don’t know what that. We don’t know what the contours of a final deal might look at this point. Everybody right now is sort of in their corners and doing the posturing.

What happens if Congress does nothing? 
This article has a good explanation of what would probably happen:

Guardian UK
. . . all this discussion about a fiscal cliff is a bit of a misnomer – a cliff suggests a precipitous fall to a likely demise. But in reality, this cliff is more of a slope, or a slow but steady decline, down the road of fiscal austerity. Yes, tax and spending policies will shift after 1 January: taxes will go up and spending cuts mandated by law will begin to go in effect. But these are changes that will unfold over many months, and even years. Indeed, the immediate impact of the "fiscal cliff" will be relatively minor. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities noted recently:

"A relatively brief implementation of the tax and spending changes required by current law should cause little short-term damage to the economy as a whole."

This isn't to say that markets won't have a collective freakout or that confidence in Congress to actually do its job will decline further, but those are manageable issues, particularly because, once Washington goes over the cliff, it becomes much easier to quickly reach a deal between Republicans and Democrats.

. . . Let the tax cuts expire on 1 January, with taxes going up on every American. Then, Congress can quickly pass a massive tax cut for those making less than $250,000, retroactive to 1 January. Neither side will want to wait long and force Americans to pay higher taxes, but especially Republicans won't – as they will likely be blamed if no deal is swiftly reached. To do so would mean that all sides are politically satisfied: President Obama can say he stuck to his word about raising taxes on rich Americans, and taxes will have gone up without Republicans having to cast a vote; and both parties can reap the political benefit and claim credit for having cut taxes for the middle class.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Joe Biden Shops at Costco

This is priceless! :) Joe Biden mingling with voters at Costco.

Buzzfeed Picture Essay Here

What did he buy?

Talking Points Memo:
Biden's shopping cart was filled with, among other things, "children's' books, fire logs, a 32 inch Panasonic TV and a big apple pie."

It's unclear whether the vice president bought a watch:

Unknown if he bought a watch, though he spent considerable time at the counter looking at them, including a $1,200 one, and put in a call to his daughter, Ashley, saying he needed to "get some guidance."

Biden turned down new tires. "Hey man, I don't need tires," he said. "I don't drive anymore."

Biden also appeared to enjoy the food samples, the pool report says.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Video ~ Nate Silver Orders Breakfast


No offense to the "real" Nate Silver, but this parody from ThePitNYC is hilarious. And it's just another homage to a statistician who often seems super-human to the rest of us who are math-challenged. Also, I posted as counterpoint a little poke at Karl Rove who set himself up as the Fox News Math Fail guy on election night - "caught in a landslide, no escape from reality." I never get tired of that!

Warning: Some adult language content.

Voter Suppression was Goal in Florida


The only thing surprising about Republicans plotting to suppress the vote in Florida is that some of their own are willing to admit the truth. And we know the same thing happened in Ohio where diminished early voting hours caused long lines. Luckily in both Florida and Ohio, the sheer numbers of voters who turned out to vote for Obama defeated their evil schemes. But this should never happen again! As President Obama said, we need to "fix that."

From Palm Beach Post
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.

“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”

Greer is now under indictment, accused of stealing $200,000 from the party through a phony campaign fundraising operation. He, in turn, has sued the party, saying GOP leaders knew what he was doing and voiced no objection.

. . . Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal.
“In the races I was involved in in 2008, when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines. And in 2008, it didn’t have the impact that we were afraid of. It got close, but it wasn’t the impact that they had this election cycle,” Bertsch said, referring to the fact that Democrats picked up seven legislative seats in Florida in 2012 despite the early voting limitations.

This confirms what ex-Governor Charlie Crist had said earlier:

from Huffington Post
"The only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression," he said.

Crist added, "People have fought and died for our right to vote, and unfortunately our legislature and this governor have decided they want to make early voting less available to Floridians rather than more available ... It's hard for me as an American to comprehend why you don't make democracy as easy as possible to exercise for the people of our state. It's frankly unconscionable."

Benghazi-Gate Imploding for GOP


Using Benghazi as a Republican talking point is imploding for the Right.

First it had no effect on the election, except to make Mitt Romney look like an idiot.
Then John McCain and Lindsey Graham tried to get themselves a new committee in the Senate to investigate Benghazi, but Harry Reid put the kibosh on that.
They spent days attacking Susan Rice, which only made them seem petty and hypocritical.
Now McCain is back-peddling as fast as he can, even scheduling a meeting with Rice and the acting head of the CIA.
And Fox News is under fire for blowing it all out of proportion in the first place.

From CBS News
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice will meet with senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday to answer questions about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya. CBS News has learned her appearance will include a morning meeting with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has been among her biggest critics since her initial remarks on the attack.

. . . Rice will be accompanied by acting CIA Director Mike Morell while Graham and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., will also attend Rice's meeting with McCain, which was requested by Rice's office following the Republicans' criticism. On November 14, President Obama defended Rice from the criticism from GOP senators, saying that "If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham want to go after somebody, they should go after me." He added that to "besmirch her reputation is outrageous."

In the video below, the Fox anchor gives the spiel about "four people died" and that makes Benghazi significant. But journalist Tom Ricks puts it in perspective. After all, the four who died must have know the risk factors of their jobs in Benghazi. Weren't they probably briefed that such a thing could happen in a volatile country like Libya? Get real. Oh, and the GOP cut funding for security at consulates, so for that they are to blame. Sh** happens in a war zone.

Transcript under the video:

Transcript via Media Matters

JON SCOTT (co-host): Pressure mounting on the Obama administration over its response to the deadly attack on our consulate in Benghazi, as [Fox News correspondent] Catherine Herridge reported just minutes ago. Several top GOP lawmakers are backing off their criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, instead focusing on the White House. Two senators even expressing concerns about a possible White House cover-up. Let's talk about it with Tom Ricks. He is author of The Generals. He has spent decades covering our military. He joins us now.

Senator John McCain said in the past he would block any attempt to nominate Susan Rice to become U.N. -- I'm sorry, secretary of state. She's currently the U.N. ambassador. He seems to be backing away from that. What do you make of it?

RICKS: I think that Benghazi generally was hyped, by this network especially, and that now that the campaign is over, I think he's backing off a little bit. They're not going to stop Susan Rice from being secretary of state.

SCOTT: When you have four people dead, including the first dead U.N. ambassador -- U.S. ambassador in more than 30 years, how do you call that hype?

RICKS: How many security contractors died in Iraq, do you know?

SCOTT: I don't.

RICKS: No. Nobody does, because nobody cared. We know that several hundred died, but there was never an official count done of security contractors dead in Iraq. So when I see this focus on what was essentially a small firefight, I think, number one, I've covered a lot of firefights. It's impossible to figure out what happens in them sometimes. And second, I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of Republican Party.

SCOTT: All right. Tom Ricks, thanks very much for joining us today.

RICKS: You're welcome.

Click. End of interview. The truth hurts.

Grover Norquist: Delusions of Oz

source: buzzfeed

The curtain is finally being pulled back on the little man named Grover Norquist. For years he has terrorized the Cowardly Lions and Tin Men of the Republican Right, warning that if they don't play his game his way and sign his absolutist "No Tax" pledge, the Tea Party money will dry up and they will not get re-elected.

But things are changing.

Jena McGregor on Washing Post writes:
Yet the leader who has the most to lose by the cracks in the Norquist pledge is not any representative who stands up against it and risks offending some voters, but the man who started it in the first place. Norquist’s power base, after all, has always been shaky. All it will take is a few powerful Republicans to actually break the pledge, and the wall will come tumbling down. The pledge’s strength—and Norquist’s power—lies in its universal acceptance among powerful Republicans. If that falls, so does Norquist.

Yes, once the Great and Powerful Oz is shown to be just a little man who doesn't do anything except yell "Boo!" unfortunately can't get anyone to drink his Emerald City Kool-Aid anymore.

Grover is in denial, like the rest of his tribe in the GOP, but he needs to realize that every day new Republicans are going to defect and mutiny from the Pledge not to Raise Taxes that Norquist strong-armed them into signing.

Today my Senator, Bob Corker R-TN, said he wasn't going to honor his tax pledge to Grover Norquist. Of course, I did NOT vote for Corker  - or even his Democratic opponent who was a Tea Partier in disguise - I voted for the Green candidate - but I do feel a sense of pride that a Tennessean is getting out of Grover's clutches ahead of the crowd. And I've said it before, but Corker is not as far-right-right as he pretends to be. He's just a business guy who was Mayor of Chattanooga, and actually had a pretty good reputation for working on all sorts of group projects here. He's a consensus guy, not a stonewaller, and even Norquist knows that (see interview below in which he calls Corker a "moderate"). But no Republican gets elected in TN without adhering to the Party Line, and in the past that has meant signing on with scum like Norquist. But everything is changing fast:

“I’m not obligated on the pledge,” Corker told CBS’s Charlie Rose on Monday morning. “I made Tennesseans aware, I was just elected, the only thing I’m honoring is the oath I take when I serve, when I’m sworn in this January.”

Good to know that, Bob. It would have been more courageous never to sign it in the first place, but I'm glad the scales have fallen from your eyes, or at least that Lindsey Graham has given you permission to follow him in standing up to Norquist in order to possibly save your party.

But Grover isn't going to go down that easily. In fact, he is calling out anyone who opposes him, including Bob Corker, making veiled threats towards some type of retaliation towards anyone who defies him, accusing them of "impure thoughts" as if he has delusions of god-hood as an omniscient deity. But hey - we always knew he felt that way.

He also says over and over that none of these guys opposing him would have been elected in their states without signing his pledge. Oh really? Some of these Republicans were basically running unopposed thanks to weak candidates from the Dems - TN for instance -  and Democrats and Independents also voted for them in most states. That Pledge doesn't matter to those people who aren't very political and just see Corker as the first name on the ballot.

Grover believes he is a kingmaker - and the Great and Powerful Oz - but it was never true. He just had the ability to spin the illusion of power in the form of money. But like the Koch fortune that was supposed to win the Presidency for Mitt Romney, it is turning out to be fool's gold.

You can see his attitude in the following interview from Fox News today (my transcript)

Neil Cavuto: Fairly or not, Grover, you've been seen as this "Wizard of Oz" character who has been able to keep Republicans in lock-step with your thinking, and with more bolting, especially with prominent members bolting, it says something about what is in peril for you.
. . . I don't want to liken you to Tony Soprano, but are you saying you're going to remember these guys who are turning on you?

Grover Norquist: Okay, nobody's turning on me. I understand why Harry Reid is trying to personalize it as "Grover" but what Harry Reid doesn't want to say is that the American People don't want their taxes raised. They've elected a Republican Congress opposed to raising taxes, and I, Harry Reid, am at odds with the American people.

Neil Cavuto: They are going to raise taxes, Grover. They are - they're looking like they are. So -- is that a repudiation of you? Or recognition of the election? Or what?

Grover Norquist: Okay, first of all, the promise on the pledge is to the American People. What I have accomplished with Americans for Tax Reform is to make it easy through the pledge for elected officials, candidates and incumbents, to credibly commit that they won't raise taxes.
Corker was elected to the Senate because he took the pledge. People had thought he was too moderate, maybe he wouldn't make it, but he made that written commitment to the people of Tennessee. He would not be a Senator today if he hadn't made that commitment. If he breaks it, he's going to have to have a conversation with the people from Tennessee about his . . . keeping his word. And the same thing about other people who were elected because they made that written commitment to the people of their state.

Neil Cavuto: That sounds like a threat.

Norquist: No -- look, I vote in Washington D.C. The people that Corker promised or (Saxby) Chambliss (R-GA) promised or (Lindsey) Graham (R-SC) promised are in their state. They haven't promised me anything. They promised the voters of their state that they would go to Washington and reform government, not raise taxes to pay for Obama's bigger government. They need to focus on reforming government, not raising taxes to pay for bigger government each year. And it's a lot of work - it's not easy! But throwing up your hands and saying 'Maybe I'll raise taxes' instead of governing is not the way to go.

By tonight, Grover was getting more rattled and had a hissy fit on Piers Morgan, attacking Peter King R-NY, and comparing breaking the Tax Pledge to breaking a Marriage Vow???  Hey, Stupid - your pledge isn't legally or spiritually binding. Get over yourself!!!!!!!!!

Story via Mediaite
During a rather tense interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan this evening, conservative activist Grover Norquist blasted the various prominent Republican lawmakers who have expressed a willingness to break his long-standing anti-tax pledge in the name of achieving a compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” In particular, Norquist took a shot at Rep. Peter King (R-NY), accusing the congressman of trying to “weasel” out of a career-long commitment to the pledge.

. . . Norquist fired back with a pointed stab at King: “The pledge is not for life … [but] Peter King, who tried to weasel out of it, shame on him as the New York Sun said today. I hope his wife understands that commitments last a little longer than two years or something.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Morgan shouted. “Hang on. That was a bit below the belt, Grover.”

“The commitment for the pledge, as Peter King well knows when he signed, is that as long as you’re in Congress you will rein in spending and reform government not raise taxes,” Norquist responded. “It’s only as long as you’re in the House or Senate. If he stayed too long, that’s his problem. But you don’t tell the bank, ‘Oh, the mortgage. Wasn’t that a long time ago?’”

He concluded: “If you make a commitment, you keep it.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Snark for Christmas


Here are some quotes to cheer you through the rest of the holidays, or at least let you know that you are not alone in this joyful, yet irritating, season. And if you are depressed, maybe something here will make you smile.


Christmas: A holiday that originally was supposed to be for the birth of Christ, but after all these years, its just nothing but commercials, sales, and stress. What does a fat guy who hauls gifts down into your lifing room, and then flies away on a sleigh have to do with Jesus Christ? Jack squat.
~ Urban Dictionary

Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.
~ G.K. Chesterton

Santa Claus is poor this year, just like everybody else.
~ Olivia Walton (Patricia Neal) in "The Homecoming"

“Mistletoe," said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry's head. He jumped out from under it.
"Good thinking," said Luna seriously. "It's often infested with nargles.”
― from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Ralph Herdman: What did she says the play is called?
Leroy Herdman: "Christmas Pageant."
Ollie Herdman: That's no name. That's what it is.
Gladys Herdman: I know a name. I'd call it "Revenge at Bethlehem."
~ from "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"
~ Charlie Brown, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”


Look, Charlie, let's face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It's run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.
~ Lucy Van Pelt in "A Charlie Brown Christmas"


Mary: (reading Christmas card) The crystal bells of Christmas bring love and cheer tonight, to wish for you--
Lou Grant: Nah, nah --
Mary: (opens card and takes out a check) Oh, Mr. Grant! I really can't--
Lou Grant: I don't know what to buy a girl. Just get yourself somethin'.
Mary: Mr. Grant, I can't accept this.
Lou Grant: Sure you can!
Mary: But a blank check!
Lou Grant: What? Huh? (surprised, he grabs check) It's a mistake. (taps pen on desk while thinking about amount)
Mary: Uh, why don't I just wait outside while you--
Lou Grant: No, no! All I have to do is fill in an amount here. (stares into space thinking while biting his lip)
(Mary stares at him, then smiles and Lou smiles back. He starts filling out check.)
Lou Grant: (while writing) Can I have the card back please?
(Mary hands him the card, which he holds under the desk so she can't see the check.
Mary: Here (Mary hands him the envelope.)
Lou Grant: If you don't mind. (Putting the card into the envelope, then he licks the envelope, puts it on the desk and taps it shut with his fist)
Lou Grant: Merry Christmas! (hands card to Mary)
Mary: Thank you, Mr. Grant. (she leaves the room)
Lou Grant: Uh, Mary! (picks up his coat and hat and follows her out). It's none of my business why you're working for Fred on Christmas Eve but--
Mary: It's your business - you're head of the News Room.
Lou Grant: I don't want it to be my business! Because if it is, then I have to feel responsible for you being here all alone.
Mary: Oh, Mr. Grant, thank you, but I'm not going to be alone. The cleaning crew will be coming around.
Lou Grant: No, they won't - they don't work on Christmas Eve.
Mary: Well, uh, then there's the night watchman.
Lou Grant: Uh uh, there's only one man on duty tonight and he has to stay downstairs in the lobby.
Mary: Well, it's, uh, comforting to know that someone else will be only twelve floors away.

Its easier to feel a little more spiritual with a couple of bucks in your pocket.
~ Craig Ferguson

Ah, come on, dad, this could be the miracle that saves The Simpsons Christmas! If TV has taught me anything, its that miracles always happens to poor kids at Christmas. It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to The Smurfs, and it's gonna happen to us!"
~ Bart Simpson

Yet as I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.”
~ Philip Yancey

The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.
~ Johnny Carson

This is the worst Christmas ever. I had thought it was the one when our parents bought us hamsters and forgot to poke holes in the boxes, but at least that had a moment of suspense.
~ Brian in "Wings"

Clark Griswold: "Before we begin, since this is Aunt Bethany's 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of grace."
Aunt Bethany: "What dear?"
Noah Griswold: "Grace!"
Aunt Bethany: "Grace? She passed away 30 years ago."
Uncle Lewis: "They want you to say grace. The blesssssing."
Aunt Bethany (after everyone has bowed heads for the blessing): "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands/ One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Clark: "Amen."
~ National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation"


Why did Santa spell Christmas N-O-E?
Because the angel had said,"No L!"
What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?
What do you do if Santa gets stuck in your chimney?
Pour Santa flush on him.
What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
~ Jokes via

Even before Christmas has said Hello, it's saying 'Buy Buy'.
~ Robert Paul

Season's Greetings, everybody, from KBHR, the heart and soul of Cicely, Alaska. This is Chris In The Morning. From where I'm sitting, I've got a great view of all the yuletide decorations going up all over town. That's right, everywhere I turn my head I see ebony birds roosting for the holidays. You know, twinkling colored lights are nice, and so are plastic Santas and reindeers and manger scenes, but I'll tell you something, friends... nothing like the sight of beautiful black-as-pitch raven to get you in the Christmas spirit.
~ Chris-in-the-Morning on "Northern Exposure"

That's the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me."
~ Jerry Seinfeld

There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.
~ Erma Bombeck (I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression)

It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!"... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"
~ Dr. Seuss (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)

Roses are reddish
Violets are bluish
If it weren't for Christmas
We'd all be Jewish.
~ Benny Hill

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.
~ Garrison Keillor

PhotobucketChristmas is awesome. First of all you get to spend time with people you love. Secondly, you can get drunk and no one can say anything. Third, you give presents. What’s better than giving presents? And fourth, getting presents. So, four things. Not bad for one day. It’s really the greatest day of all time.
~ Michael Scott on The Office


Dwight Schrute: Merry Christmas! [lays dead goose on Pam's desk]
Pam Beesley: Merry Christm-- No! Why... why did you bring that here?!
Dwight Schrute: Don't worry she's dead. Oh wait, ['checks'] he's dead.
Pam Beesley: Dwight, Wha-
Dwight Schrute: I accidentally ran over it. It's a Christmas miracle.
~ The Office

SpongeBob: [to Squidward, who is disguised as Santa Claus] I knew you would come, Santa! Hey, Santa, where's your big, round belly?
Squidward: Uh, that is a part of, um, undersea pressure on my body.
SpongeBob: Where's your reindeer and your big flying machine?
Squidward: Uh, I loaned them to the Easter bunny.


SpongeBob: Hey, Santa, where's your big nose? [pulls down Squidward's nose] I knew you were supposed to have a big one, but that thing's gigantic! [laughs]
Squidward: [holds his nose] Alright, alright, I'm Santa!
SpongeBob: Santa! This is the greatest gift you could have given me. Thank you, for bringing Christmas to Bikini Bottom.
Squidward: I didn't bring Christmas to Bikini Bottom, Spongebob. You did. [pats Spongebob]
SpongeBob: I...did? Ohhh... [faints, he is taken back home by Gary]
. . .
[After "Santa" Squidward gives away all his possessions]
Squidward: What was I thinking? I gave away all of my stuff, just so Spongebob wouldn't be sad. Am I insane?
[A knock sounds on the door]
Squidward: You might as well take the door. That's all that's left.

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.
~ Dave Barry

I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.
~ Bernard Manning


From Seinfeld episode "The Strike"
Frank Costanza: “Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.”
Cosmo Kramer: “What happened to the doll?”
Frank Costanza: “It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!”
Cosmo Kramer: That must've been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.
Kramer: Is there a tree?
Frank: No. Instead, there's a pole. Requires no decoration. I find tinsel distracting.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

R.I.P. Larry Hagman


Larry Hagman has died at the age of 81. What a great unforgettable actor, first playing an astronaut in the romantic sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie," then becoming one of the best TV villains of all time, sharp-witted and predatory, as J.R. Ewing of "Dallas." He will be missed.

From the LA Times
Larry Hagman, who as J.R. Ewing was famously shot but survived to finish 14 seasons and 357 episodes of "Dallas" and who rose again to lie and scheme in this year's successful revival, died Friday in Dallas, just down I-30 from Fort Worth, where he was born 81 years ago.

The son of musical-comedy star Mary Martin, Hagman worked on the New York stage through the 1950s, on and off-Broadway, then moved into movie and TV roles. But it was as the star of "I Dream of Jeannie" that he first became widely known, a good-looking, easygoing, dark-haired leading man in the mold of contemporaries like Jim Hutton and James Garner.


Huffington Post
Linda Gray, who played J.R.'s long-suffering wife, Sue Ellen, was with Hagman in Dallas when he died, the actress' spokesman, Jeffrey Lane, said in an email.

"Larry Hagman was my best friend for 35 years," Gray said in a statement. "He was the Pied Piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew. He was creative, funny, loving and talented, and I will miss him enormously."

Hagman's mother was stage and movie star Mary Martin and he became a star himself in 1965 on "I Dream of Jeannie," a popular television sitcom in which he played Major Anthony Nelson, an astronaut who discovers a beautiful genie in a bottle.

"Dallas," which made its premiere on the CBS network in 1978, made Hagman a superstar. The show quickly became one of the network's top-rated programs, built an international following and inspired a spin-off, imitators and a revival in 2012.
"Dallas" was the night-time soap-opera story of a Texas family, fabulously wealthy from oil and cattle, and its plot brimmed with back-stabbing, double-dealing, family feuds, violence, adultery and other bad behavior.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ten Ways Romney/Ryan Helped Obama Win


The Obama Diary has a great post called "Ten Steps to Victory" showcasing the various speeches and debates that helped the President win reelection.

I've been wanting to do something similar, but from the point of view that Romney/Ryan helped Obama win just by being themselves. So here are my top ten ways, and really I could do so many more:

1. Mitt Romney was the most awkward candidate of all time.

2. Romney has a tendency to brag about his status as a super-rich guy which merely alienated him from most Americans. The Obama campaign was able to use this fact in countless ads about Bain and Cayman Islands offshore accounts, and Comedy Central and SNL took up the slack. Romney played right into it by refusing to release his tax returns for more than one year.

3. Romney's World Tour was known by the hashtag "Romneyshambles" on Twitter. Traveling abroad, he managed to tick-off all our allies plus the press corp, whom he kept locked on the bus most of the time. And when they did ask a question, Romney's aide told them to "kiss my a$$." Very un-Presidential. And definitely not worldly-wise.

4. Trust us, we're rich! Ann Romney had a tendency to use the phrase "You People" when talking about the media and people who watch the media - yeah, voters. Her smug condescending comments reminded many of Marie Antoinette saying "Let them eat cake!" reaffirming her husband's 1% status, which certainly didn't help the campaign.

5. Clint Eastwood's Empty Chair Moment upstaged Romney at the RNC. Later it was the only thing anyone could remember.

6. The 47% Video was a bombshell that showed the "Real Romney" at a fundraiser speaking frankly while dismissing half of America as people who were lazy moochers who wouldn't take "personal responsibility" for their lives. It confirmed every bad stereotype associated with Romney and the 1%.

7. Paul Ryan seemed rather sentimental in Florida, talking about his mother and grandmother needing Medicare and Social Security. But then he promised to cut both programs for "anyone under 55," which scared the crap out of middle-aged people everywhere (including me). And why did he think that other mothers and grandmothers would want him to screw over future generations in the name of Ayn Rand? He should have gotten a clue when he was booed by AARP.

8. Romney had the worst campaign team in history, a veritable clown car of ineptitude. From Eric "Etch-A-Sketch" Fehrnstrom to the hapless Andrea Saul who was called a "moron" in a vicious attack by Ann Coulter, they remained consistantly shamble-tastic till the end of the election.

9. Mitt Romney avoided talking about the War on Women or standing up to Rush Limbaugh, although he did slam Planned Parenthood and threatened to "repeal Obamacare." In one of the Presidential debates, Romney was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair-Pay Act, and instead of answering the question Mitt rambled on about needing "binders of women" in order to get them hired. And women said "What???" And Tumblr went crazy with pictures. And Twitter exploded with jokes. And . . . did I mention the whole "binders" thing was a fib?

10. Horses and Bayonets ~ Romney's weak showing in the final Presidential Debate left him open to several zingers from Obama, including the famous lines about "horses and bayonets" and "sink your battleship." Romney had won the first battle in Debate One, but Obama won the "war" with a flourish on this night.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope all my readers, you happy few, had a great Thanksgiving! We Democrats have so much to be thankful for this year.

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Businessmen Backpeddling on Obamacare Threats


Some blabber-mouth business people in the restaurant world have been in the news threatening to raise prices, cut employee hours, and somehow weasel out of giving their workers health insurance promised to them by Obamacare. But after a backlash in the media and at the grassroots level, they are starting to eat their words.

CBS News
Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter wrote Tuesday that the media had it all wrong in its reporting on his comments on how the national health care law known widely as "Obamacare" will negatively impact his business.

"Many in the media reported that I said Papa John's is going to close stores and cut jobs because of Obamacare," he wrote in the Huffington Post. "I never said that. The fact is we are going to open over hundreds of stores this year and next and increase employment by over 5,000 jobs worldwide. And, we have no plans to cut team hours as a result of the Affordable Care Act."

Schnatter, who supported and fundraised for Mitt Romney in the presidential election, went on to say that while his company is still researching the impact of the law, "we will honor this law, as we do all laws, and continue to offer 100% of Papa John's corporate employees and workers in company-owned stores health insurance as we have since the company was founded in 1984."

. . . Not addressed in the post are Schnatter's reported comments on a conference call that "Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis."

"If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders best interests," he reportedly added.

Huffington Post
Don't expect to hear more about an Obamacare surcharge from Denny's franchisee John Metz.

Denny's chief executive John Miller privately reached out to Metz to express his "disappointment" with the Florida franchisee's controversial statements about Obamacare, which sparked a wave of backlash for the national restaurant chain over the past few days. Metz released a statement Monday night expressing "regret" over his statements.

"We recognize his right to speak on issues, but registered our disappointment that his comments have been interpreted as the company’s position," Miller said in an email to The Huffington Post.

Miller is rushing to put out the fire sparked by Metz's controversial proposal to charge restaurant customers a 5 percent Obamacare fee. "Customers have two choices: They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server," Metz told HuffPost in an interview last week.

Some Denny's franchisees have since dealt with angry customers, calls for a boycott and declining sales. A spokeswoman for Metz said he will not conduct more interviews.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Sound and the Fury of Secessionist Idiots Signifies Nothing


Obama got elected by a landslide a few weeks ago, and a vocal minority in the southern states rushed to show just how stupid, ignorant and backward they are by signing a multitude of petitions asking the newly elected President to allow their states to secede.

See examples here on my other blog:

Snark Amendment: To Secede or Merely Succeed, that is the Question
Snark Amendment: Secession Wars!

I would compare this to a political version of the Jackass movies or the Darwin Awards. We stand watching with our mouths open while some poor fool attaches a rocket to his car like Wile E. Coyote before flying off into the side of a cliff. You can't talk these people out of their stupid ways. These folks are a few tea bags shy of a load. They are rowing with both oars out of the water. They are just not all there. There is no there there.

For anyone reading this who is unacquainted with the real South as it really is, and not the parody on TV, you have no idea how embarrassing such petitions are to the vast majority of people in the red states, even those who voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney. Let me assure you, even most Republicans do not want to re-fight the Civil War, thank you very much. Frankly, most Southerners never wanted to fight it in the first place.

The Democrats trapped inside these red states merely do a collective facepalm and point out the cognitive dissonance of people who hypothetically have a brother on SSI, a sister on food stamps, an uncle who works for TVA, a parent on disability, and a Grandma who gets Medicaid for nursing home care . . . yet they are vowing to secede from the government who pays for all that. You've got millions of people in red states who drive the interstate highways, hunt and fish in National Forests, benefit from Obama tax cuts, benefit from Obamacare (or soon will), and never give a thought to where those things come from.

In begging to secede, they are figuratively cutting off their nose to spite their face in the name of . . . spite, or anger, or outrage that a black man has once again been legally elected by a majority of the citizens of the United States. Secession-minded people will swear up and down they are not racist because how dare anyone call them that since they know and work with black people, go to school together, and are even friends with some of them! (*sigh* - yes people really say that stuff)

But of course they don't like it that people of color have just as much right to be President as a white person - and that's the problem. They are stuck in the Jim Crow days, and hate it that Karl Rove couldn't steal the election for them. And it doesn't help that they are hopped up on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh talking points.

It's racism. There is no other explanation for the knee-jerk reaction of this secessionist crowd. You can call it "bad-sportsmanship" over the election if you are a really nice person and have on your rose-colored glasses, but that is the understatement of the year.

The idiots signing these petitions are not representative of their states and they are the last ones to care that they reinforce the uneducated racist stereotype of white people in the South. They don't even think about what they are doing or how it might seem to others. Like their heroes Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, they are simultaneously selfish political narcissists and intellectual cretins. Probably everyone they know feels the same way, so they have no empathy for another view, and no respect for Democrats. It's not about thinking - prejudice is an emotion to them. They learn it at the feet of their parents, or from their grandparents, or worse - their pastors and coaches and even teachers. It's like a genetic disease passed from generation to generation in some communities - and the main sympton is rank stupidity.

Let's call this the "Sound and the Fury" crowd to quote both Mississippi author William Faulkner and his inspiration, William Shakespeare.

Macbeth: To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Exactly - signifying nothing, because nothing is really going to happen. As soon as people on Twitter began making jokes about the secessionist petitions, and someone made a petition to Deport anyone asking to secede, they suddenly got all defensive. They didn't REALLY want to secede, but merely to send a "message" to Obama. What message? That they hate the President? Why? Didn't you accept Bill Clinton when he was elected? The only answer that makes sense is that Obama is black and doesn't fit their world view of what a "real" American President should look like.

No one understood the "Confederate" crowd clinging to the not-so-glorious past more than author Faulkner:

"The past is never dead, it's not even past."

But Faulkner also said:

"To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow."

It would be nice if they would think about that in Mississippi, or Texas, or Tennessee, or Alabama, etc., and if some of these idiots would think twice before rushing to the internet to show their ignorant racist side once again.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

President Obama Gives Thanksgiving Pardon to Cobbler and Gobbler


President Obama got in what seemed to be a jab at Mitt Romney at the annual ceremony to pardon the White House turkey - actually plural because this year he pardoned two turkeys named "Cobbler" and "Gobbler" - best turkey names ever, LOL. He not only snarked about giving the turkeys a "gift" in the "spirit of the season," poking fun at Romney's complaint that Obama won by handing out presents to voters, but also joked about Nate Silver predicting the outcome.

“Now, I joke, but — but for the first time in our history, the winners of the White House turkey pardon were chosen through a highly competitive online vote. And once again, Nate Silver completely nailed it. The guy’s amazing. He predicted these guys would win.”

Huffington Post
"They say that life is all about second chances," Obama said to laughter, his daughters, Sasha and Malia at his side. "And this November, I could not agree more. So in the spirit of the season, I have one more gift to give, and it goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler."

. . . On a conference call with donors last week, Romney said that the president was reelected because of "gifts" to Latinos, African Americans and young voters.

"The president's campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift," Romney said during the call. "He made a big effort on small things."

Romney's comment drew criticism not only from the administration, but from members of his own party.

Campaign 2012 ~ Defining Hometown

Downtown Janesville, Wisconsin

For years Republicans have enjoyed pointing out that if Al Gore had won his home state of Tennessee in the presidential election, he wouldn't have needed Florida, and the vote wouldn't have been decided by the Supreme Court in favor of George W. Bush.

Let's ignore the fact that Gore was much more a citizen of Washington D.C. than Nashville, plus the fact the he knew he seemed further to the left than Bill Clinton on most issues so Tennesseans wouldn't vote for him. He never had an illusions of sweeping all areas of the country, and some would say that Gore actually won Florida, but moving on . . .

This year, Obama won not only his birth-state of Hawaii, but his adopted home state of Illinois. Hawaii matters because of the crazy birthers who seem to forget that Hawaii IS a state of the union, but also because it is a diverse state reflecting the demographic changes that are coming for the rest of the country.

Romney lost Michigan, his birthplace, where he bragged no one needed to ask for his birth certificate. He can blame it on his previous statement that "Detroit should go bankrupt," but the fact remains that he made multiple trips to Michigan and named-dropped his father George, who was once Governor of Michigan, yet it did him absolutely no good.

Romney lost Massachusetts where he was governor once back in his "moderate left-leaning" days. Once Romney swung far to the left and began rubbing elbows with Donald Trump and quoting Rush Limbaugh, he was never going to win the Bay State.

Romney lost New Hampshire where he has the "lake house" even though he campaigned hard there and never took it out of his equation to get to 270 electoral votes.

Romney lost California where the cars in his special elevator garage live. But obviously - he was never going to win there in Blue Land.

He did win Utah, where he graduated summa cum laude from Brigham Young University and "saved the Olympics" as they say. But seriously - any Republican on the ticket was going to win Utah, a solidly red state full of Mormons. Did I mention Romney is a Mormon? So yeah, he won Utah.

But his running mate Paul Ryan had even more trouble connecting with the hometown crowd, if that's possible.

Part of Ryan's stump speech for months - and really for all of his career - was "I'm from the small-town of Janesville, Wisconsin, where my family has lived for decades," or something of that nature. He said it in every interview, in every town-hall meeting, in every speech. His wife and kids live in Janesville instead of Washington and I suspect part of that is so his children can grow up there and use it in their own campaign speeches someday.

But on election night, Janesville said "thanks but no thanks" to Paul Ryan. He not only didn't win the town of Janesville, he didn't win the district, or the state of Wisconsin.

Yet in post-election interviews Ryan is blaming the "urban" voters for his loss, which is ridiculous. Janesville isn't "urban" and I assume most of the town is as white as Paul Ryan. He can't accept that he is out of step with his own hometown.

The L.A. Times Story
. . . the Romney-Ryan ticket didn’t exactly connect with the voters back in Janesville, either.

A struggling blue-collar manufacturing town of 63,575, Janesville lies on the eastern edge of Rock County, Wis., and unofficial election tabulations from the county clerk there show that only 37% of Ryan’s hometown neighbors voted for him and his running mate. Meanwhile, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden got 62% of the Janesville vote.

The results were even slightly worse for Ryan from his own polling place at the Hedberg Public Library. Out of 1,428 votes cast there, 65% went for Obama-Biden and just 34% for Romney-Ryan.

. . . in Janesville proper, Ryan fared only a little better in his congressional run than he did in the vice presidential one. Zerban grabbed 54% of the Janesville vote to 44% for Ryan. And at the Hedberg library polling spot, Ryan was the choice of just 41% of voters to 58% for Zerban.

Ryan explained it this way, admitting he lost Janesville due to being too far right, but coming back to this "urban" thesis to explain it away (I guess he is talking about Milwawkee?. Whatever - the truth hurts.

Huffington Post
"Well, as you know, Janesville is a very Democratic town, but I'm a Republican," Ryan said in an interview with Janesville radio station WCLO. "But I've always done very well here, because more people saw me not as a Republican but just as a Janesville guy."

"When you join a national ticket for a party, you become more seen as a Republican guy than necessarily a Janesville guy," he continued. "So I think my image, or the thought people had in their minds of me once I joined the Republican ticket, was more 'Paul Ryan, Republican,' than 'Paul Ryan, Janesville guy.'"

At 11.5 points, Ryan's congressional victory margin in the state was the smallest of his eight House campaigns.

During the interview, Ryan also admitted that President Barack Obama's reelection team ran a better campaign than the Romney/Ryan folks, chalking the Democrats' win up to their ability to mobilize the "urban" vote.

"What the president and his campaign excelled at doing is mobilizing turnout in their critical base areas, and they expanded the turnout above the norms," he said. "They had record turnout in urban areas and all of our polling did not project that kind of turnout, and that's why we thought we had a very good chance at winning this race going into election day."

Cease Fire in Gaza


The world can be thankful for this today:

via LA Times
Egypt announced a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas effective Wednesday evening local time, the Associated Press reported.

In details of the agreement obtained by news agency, Israel will cease all military activity against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip at 9 p.m. local time (11 a.m. PST) and Palestinian militants will cease rocket attacks into Israel. After 24 hours of quiet, Gaza's border crossings with Israel will be opened further to allow freer movement of goods and people.

The announcement by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton followed talks in Cairo between Clinton and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nate Silver Mentioned in Doonesbury


To quote Chris Matthews: HA!

Nate Silver's 538 Blog


Via Political Carnival

Got a Fever for MORE Lincoln?


If you've seen the Lincoln movie and crave more Lincoln, you can read the book on which the movie is based Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin gives behind-the-scenes details about the White House of President Abraham Lincoln.

Or you can hang out with all the inspired Lincoln fans on Tumblr


Did you know you can follow Lincoln on Twitter?

And he has daily insight into our political system today:

The man behind the twitter account is Geoff Elliott who runs a blog he describes as "All Lincoln, All the Time."
The Abraham Lincoln Blog


Finally, Director Stephen Spielberg gave the keynote address at the 149th Dedication Day in honor of Lincoln's Gettysburg address. Great speech from the man who says he now has "Daniel Day-Lewis on speed-dial, LOL."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

President Obama in Burma ~ UPDATE: Political Prisoners Freed


Recap of entire trip from Alex Wagoner on MSNBC:

UPDATE: Good news - the government of Burma (Myanmar) is releasing dozens of unfairly accused political prisoners during President Obama's visit.

Myanmar's government began releasing dozens of political prisoners on Monday as Barack Obama arrived for the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to the former dictatorship.

Sixty-six prisoners were scheduled to be freed, two-thirds of them dissidents, according to prison officials and activists.

They included prominent figures such as Myint Aye, a senior Prison Department official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A third of those released were former military intelligence personnel who fell afoul of the junta, according to the 88 Generation Students political group.

Myint Aye is arguably the most prominent dissident left in Myanmar's gulag. He was one of dozens of activists arrested on what Amnesty International says were trumped-up charges and convicted in secret courts on flimsy evidence or confessions extracted under torture.

His plane landed in the former capital Yangon, where he will meet President Thein Sein, a former junta member who has spearheaded reforms since taking office in March 2011, and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the struggle against military rule and, like Obama, is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She is now a lawmaker.

. . . Speaking in Thailand on the eve of his landmark visit to the former pariah state, Obama denied he was going there to offer his "endorsement" or that his trip was premature.

Instead, he insisted his intention was to acknowledge that Myanmar, also known as Burma, had opened the door to democratic change but there was still much more to do.

"I don't think anybody is under the illusion that Burma's arrived, that they're where they need to be," Obama told a news conference as he began a three-country Asian tour, his first trip abroad since winning a second term.

"On the other hand, if we waited to engage until they had achieved a perfect democracy, my suspicion is we'd be waiting an awful long time," he said.

Gov. Chris Christie on SNL


LOL - Chris Christie could easily do comedy if politics gets old.

Israel Hammers Gaza


It seems to me that Israel Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's only skill is to make war instead of peace. And unfortunately the people in Gaza are sitting ducks, and when they fight back he blames them and punishes them even more. Now the violence is spreading into Syria and Egypt, which is dangerous. Interestingly, Reuters is reporting a massive hacking attack directed at the Israeli Government.

NBC News Story
Updated at 5:14 p.m. ET: TEL AVIV, Israel - Israel was prepared to substantially broaden its operation in the Gaza strip, the country's prime minister said on Sunday as its military planes continued to bomb targets in Gaza City.

"The Israel Defense Forces have attacked more than 1,000 terror targets in the Gaza Strip," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting. "We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the terrorist organizations and the Israel Defense Forces are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation."

. . . Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said he fully supported Israel's right to defend itself but cautioned against a ground offensive.

"If this can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that is preferable," Obama said. "That's not just preferable for the people of Gaza, it's also preferable for Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they're much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded."

More than 44 million hacking attempts have been made on Israeli government web sites since Wednesday when Israel began its Gaza air strikes, the government said on Sunday. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said just one hacking attempt was successful on a site he did not want to name, but it was up and running after 10 minutes of downtime.

Typically, there are a few hundred hacking attempts a day on Israeli sites, the ministry said. Attempts on defence-related sites have been the highest, while 10 million attempts have been made on the site of Israel's president, 7 million on the Foreign Ministry and 3 million on the site of the prime minister.

A ministry spokesman said while the attacks have come from around the world, most have been from Israel and the Palestinian territories.

"The ministry's computer division will continue to block the millions of cyber attacks," Steinitz said. "We are enjoying the fruits of our investment in recent years in developing computerized defence systems." Steinitz has instructed his ministry to operate in emergency mode to counter attempts to undermine government sites.

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