November 7, 2008 archive

Going into the future backwards

You’ve all seen the movie, “Back to the Future”, well, Obama is going into the future backwards.

We started hearing reports of who is being asked to do what; Rahm Emmanual for CoS, etc.

Well, we are getting more word now…

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports As Job losses soar, the unemployment rate rises to a 14-Year high. “The U.S. economy shed 240,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate jumped sharply to 6.5 percent, a worse-than-expected showing that highlights one of the top issues President-elect Barack Obama faces when he meets with his economic advisers later today.”

    More than 10 million people are now jobless, actively seeking work but unable to find it, a number that has spiked by 2.8 million over the past year.

    In his first press conference after being elected, the LA Times reports Obama calls for quick economic relief. He said “he will rely heavily on his economic advisers to help with several rescue efforts, including an extension of unemployment benefits and an emphasis on job growth.” He also said “he supports Congress’ plan to give billions to help the ailing auto industry.”

    Or as The Onion explains “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job“.

    African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation’s broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind.

  2. Newsweek reports that the Obama and McCain computers were ‘hacked’ during election campaign.

    The computer systems of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were victims of a sophisticated cyberattack by an unknown “foreign entity,” prompting a federal investigation…

    At the Obama headquarters in midsummer, technology experts detected what they initially thought was a computer virus-a case of “phishing,” a form of hacking often employed to steal passwords or credit-card numbers.

    But by the next day, both the FBI and the Secret Service came to the campaign with an ominous warning: “You have a problem way bigger than what you understand,” an agent told Obama’s team. “You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system.”

    The following day, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe heard from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, to the same effect: “You have a real problem … and you have to deal with it.” The Feds told Obama’s aides in late August that the McCain campaign’s computer system had been similarly compromised…

    The Feds assured the Obama team that it had not been hacked by its political opponents.

    The Guardian adds that experts speculate the hackers originated from China. “US officials said they discovered that the cyber attacks originated in China but do not yet know if they were government-sponsored or from an unaffiliated source.”

    As an aside, this is precisely why the U.S. should not be outsourcing software engineering and computer engineering and manufacturing to other countries.

Four at Four continues with another attack on Pakistan, Habeas Corpus, and a bonus look at Africa’s reaction to Obama’s election.

How do we take Appalachia for a Progressive Change Coalition?

Cross-posted from Burning the Midnight Oil

Well, Modular Pumped Hydro and Bio-Coal, I reckon.

And, yes, this is about winning friends and influencing people.

Bio-coal … the technology is just about ready for prime time, but we do not have the feedstock. Define soil-conserving and soil-building perennial production techniques, make sure that coppice production is in there, and establish strong soil husbandry income to entice Appalachia into coppice wood production.

Unlike subsidies on the product side, soil husbandry payments can explicitly discriminate in favor of production on degraded sites and against any production that involves breaking ground in old-growth forests. It is, indeed, mostly a matter of enforcing the common sense and defending it against nonsense modification.

And corresponding capital subsidies for the establishment of decentralized bio-coal production in areas with depressed labor markets and substantial perennial bio-mass production … that money will zero in on Appalachia like a laser beam.

Veterans Day – Tuesday 11-11-08

We all know we have a change coming, and it would be great if it happened yesterday, but it will be happening soon enough. That change is in a New President and His Administration who ran on “Change” and bringing along with him a change in the Peoples Representation in both houses of Congress.

The new President, Barack Obama, was not brought into this job of the Countries President by a political parties leaders but by The People who rallied behind him, from the primaries to the Nov 8th National Election Day, and those people, Us, have to continue in what happens, for just one person and the administration nor the peoples representatives can bring about the “Change” that is so desperately needed now after these detructive years on so many fronts by themselves, we must stay engaged!

Behind the Scenes Photos of Obama on Election Night

The Obama campaign has updated their flickr account with behind-the-scenes photographs of Barack and his family on election night. These are intimate photographs of the senator as he shares the moments before he becomes the president-elect.

As The Guardian reports these pictures show the Obama family as their lives are changed forever.

He and his family can be seen, tensely watching television from a hotel room as the results gradually come in.

For a man known for his deep-seated calmness, the beautiful behind the scenes images, taken by his official campaign photographer, David Katz, show the anxious moments before the results are declared.

A Progressive/Liberal Agenda

Folks here seem to be clamoring for a list. Somewhere to spell out and prioritize the many issues facing us and our new President. This is critically important for many reasons, among them being the outside shot we still have at a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, AND a Mandate for Change. Thus we have the chance to actually pass Progressive legislation. What will that legislation be, and with what priorities? What do we fight tooth and nail for and what do we compromise on?

A clear agenda is important as well with the opening of a new era of internet citizen participation in our government, represented by (theoretically!)the launch of, President Obama’s website for citizen input into our government.

From the opening page:

Open Government

It’s Your America: Share Your Ideas

The story of the campaign and this historic moment has been your story. Share your story and your ideas, and be part of bringing positive lasting change to this country.

In the sidebar, there is a box labeled The Agenda:

Revitalizing the Economy

Ending the War in Iraq

Providing Health Care for All

Protecting America

Renewing American Global Leadership

That was all I could find in a cursory view of the site. Certainly our list is a bit longer!

The idea here being that we make up our list, TRY to get some consensus on prioritization and submit it to the site. As well as posting it other places on the internet for input and reaction. My list (though I have yet to get to domestic policy, coming soon!) is pretty much contained in the The Vision Thing series.

So….what are YOUR priorities? What is your list? Consider this a preliminary sounding board, throw some stuff out there (or really go for it, if you so choose!) and we will refine it from here. Let’s start there and see where we get to! I am going to put a rec button on this so we can keep it up as long as possible to allow as many folks to participate as possible. Suggestions as to how to prioritize, categorization, format, etc. are all welcome as well. This is YOUR project, your agenda, so go to it!


We’ve had our little R&R period. It’s time to get busy.

Now that we’ve had a couple days to rest up from the long presidential campaign, it’s time to get busy again.  President-elect Obama is not going to govern from the left, or even that mythological “middle” everyone seems content to obsess over – he’ll govern from the hard right, only subtly, as Bill Clinton did.  Those who thought to use him as a springboard to enacting progressive policy failed to understand that Obama is a user, not someone who lets himself be used.  Let’s begin the work of making that fanciful notion so many of us held a reality.

I’ve done my criticism, and I’ll continue to criticize, because I take Theodore’s admonition regarding presidents to heart.  But this entry is about offering up ideas and starting points; future ones shall be along this line of argument.  We absolutely must organize, unite, and apply pressure before the tiny window of opportunity between now and January closes.  We cannot afford a repeat of the Clinton years.

A good first step is in redirecting oil policy away from the industry and more toward independence – alternative, renewable sources of energy, naturally, but in other areas as well.  The September-October issue of Science Illustrated contained a piece on bioplastics, that is, plastics made with chemicals derived from plant-based chemicals instead of petroleum.  I wasn’t able to find a direct link to the magazine article, unfortunately, but I did locate links pertaining to the subject.…


From the first link:

Scientists are one step closer to replacing crude oil as the main source for plastic, fuels and scores of other industrial and household chemicals with inexpensive, non-polluting renewable plant matter (Science, vol. 316. no. 5831, pp. 1597-1600, June 15, 2007). “What we have done that no one else has been able to do is convert glucose directly in high yields to a primary building block for fuel and polyesters,” says Z. Conrad Zhang, senior author who led the research and a scientist with the PNNL-based Institute for Interfacial Catalysis (UC; That building block is hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a chemical derived from carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose and that is viewed as a promising surrogate for petroleumbased chemicals.

Glucose, in plant starch and cellulose, is nature’s most abundant sugar. “But getting a commercially viable yield of HMF from glucose has been very challenging,” says Zhang. “In addition to low yield, until now, we always generated many different byproducts,” including levulinic acid, making product purification expensive and uncompetitive with petroleum-based chemicals.

Zhang, lead author and former post doc Haibo Zhao, and colleagues John Holladay and Heather Brown, all from PNNL, were able to coax HMF yields upward of 70% from glucose and nearly 90% from fructose, while leaving only traces of acid impurities. To achieve this, they experimented with a novel nonacidic catalytic system containing metal chloride catalysts in an ionic liquid capable of dissolving cellulose. The ionic liquid, enabled the metal chlorides to convert the sugars to HMF.

What this means is that scientists are making glucose-derived plastics a viable alternative to the petroleum-based variety we commonly use.  As the first step toward moving away from reliance on fossil fuels, funding and regulations could be implemented so as to grow the bioplastics industry.  Glucose can be gotten from straw and saw dust – waste products generated by the agricultural and wood industries – for example, meaning freeing up more farmland for food production.

Combined with passing laws raising fuel efficiency standards, improving public transportation, and creating advertising campaigns to promote carpooling and energy efficiency, pushing bioplastics may be used to start us on the road to energy independence.  With fossil fuels dwindling, and wars to obtain control over sources increasing in frequency and intensity, this is a matter of genuine pragmatism and economic sensibility.  It’s also something to press our elected officials over.  President Obama will not be so stupid as to oppose his own political party if it passes progressive legislation.

The Chestnut Tree

Originally posted on ePluribus Media.

Mumsie passed away last year, on the cusp of December 18th and 19th.  Next week is Wifey’s birthday; a little more than one month later is the first anniversary of her mother’s passing.

Today, Wifey ran across the following video — it is a sweet, special memory of the special bond between a mother and daughter called "The Chestnut Tree."

It reduced her to tears.

I thought I’d share it with all of you.  Below the fold, other pieces I’ve written in memory and honor of Mumsie and the caretaking journey we all took together.

Open Thread


Good threads are hard to find.

What Is Happening?

it just hit me: Krugman for Treasury Sec’y

I was reading his column today, The Obama Agenda and it hit me: kaBoom! why shouldn’t this guy, better than any one in Washington at reading the economic tea leaves, get tapped to serve in Washington.

cross posted at Daily Kos

Docudharma Times Friday November 7


Hit Each Other With The Shinkansen

That’s Gotta Hurt

Friday’s Headlines:

A Butler Well Served by This Election

Record opium harvest in Afghanistan threatens new heroin crisis in Britain

Mustafa the movie divides Turkey with a portrait of the ‘real’ Ataturk

Tutsi rebels in Congo accused of murdering civilians

Robert Mugabe bank accused of stealing aid cash

In a desert camp, Iraqis find aid and zone of trust

Obama victory alters tenor of Iraqi politics

China’s ‘action plan’ on human rights met with skepticism

Malaysia blogger to be released

In Colombia, Army acknowledges civilian killings

Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question


Published: November 6, 2008

TBILISI, Georgia – Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.

The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West.

Emanuel to Be Chief of Staff

Obama’s Choice Could Signal Rapid Succession of Cabinet Picks

By Anne E. Kornblut and Karen DeYoung

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, November 7, 2008; Page A01

President-elect Barack Obama made the first appointment of his new administration yesterday, choosing Rep. Rahm Emanuel to serve as White House chief of staff when he takes office in January.

The selection of the fellow Illinois Democrat, a close Obama friend who embraces a sharp-edged approach to politics, could signal a rapid succession of appointments. Obama is expected to announce in the coming days that he will place two senior campaign aides, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, in key roles.



Retailers Report a Sales Collapse


Published: November 6, 2008

Sales at the nation’s largest retailers fell off a cliff in October, casting fresh doubt on the survival of some chains and signaling that this will probably be the weakest Christmas shopping season in decades.The remarkable slowdown hit luxury chains that sell $5,000 designer dresses as badly as stores that offer $18 packs of underwear, suggesting that consumers at all income levels are snapping their wallets shut.

Sales at Neiman Marcus, the luxury department store, dropped nearly 28 percent in October compared with the same month last year.

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