Archives for category: ObamaBits

The backs of my hands are covered with freckles from the decades they spent at 10 o’ clock and 2 o’ clock on the steering wheels of cars in very sunny places. When I was in California last month visiting family and friends, they got even more fried, as I covered over 800 miles in my little red Kia rental. My carbon footprint was more like a carbon stomp all over the southern part of the state… I admit it.

One of the problems, as you know, is that Americans don’t have the luxurious, efficient and environmentally friendly public transport options the French do. They’ll never kick their driving habit till they do. I can get to the south of France (about 410 miles) in the TGV bullet train in half the time it would take me to drive from San Diego to San Francisco (about 460 miles), a drive I’ve made a lot in my day. And then you factor in the comfort and the fact that you can stay on the ground (which I’d much prefer to do). I say yes to trains.

You may have heard that Obama wants you to have nice fast trains in the States too. Here’s the map of the administration’s vision for high-speed rail. That San Diego-to-San Francisco leg is very appealing to me.


But they’re not built yet. Obama has some pretty ideas, but his performance is less than stellar in other areas. Not attending the racism conference, not prosecuting the torturers (although Holder is now considering prosecuting those in the Bush administration who OKd the torture, but like the trains, it hasn’t happened yet), leaving Bush’s domestic spying program in place, pouring money into the hands of the greedy bastards who got us into this economic mess, and refusing to entertain the notion that putting band-aids on the free market system might not be the answer. To name a few.

He’s looking like kind of a pussy, in fact. Let’s hope he finds the balls he’s apparently misplaced.

The day after the inauguration, it was the cover story on the New York Times site as you would expect. And out of the whole inaugural address, which phrase did the NYT choose to highlight?

The one that pissed me off the most: “We will not apologize for our way of life.”


Well, YOU SHOULD. You are 5% of the world’s population and you guzzle up 25% of its resources. Apologize right now, and give it back. Or you’ll be grounded for life. I mean it

I was cold to lukewarm during Obama’s inaugural speech. Rarely hot. He didn’t go far enough. Maybe it wasn’t the time or place. But I fear when it comes right down to it, he will not go far enough. (That’s why I voted for Kucinich in the primary.)

I’m not one of those Democrats who’s going to sit back and stop paying attention just because Bush is gone. Sorry. So I may as well dive right in. Here’s what I was thinking during the inaugural speech:


I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. [Faithful to those ideals? Our forbears, the ones who wrote the founding documents, were largely atheists and they were guided by the principles of The Enlightenment, hardly a glimmer of which remains in America today.]

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. [This sounds like "the war on terrorism." I thought the left had pretty much agreed that you can't go to war with a concept. We are actually at war with two countries where we have no business being.] Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices [Exactly. Like taxing gas, socializing medicine, oh, any number of things I can think of.] and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. [Duh. But you need to be more specific, talk at a 6th-grade level, and actually do something about it.]
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights. [Duh. It is inevitable. You'll go down and take the rest of the world with you. My grandchildren will probably never see an orangutan.]

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we [The 47% who voted for McCain/Palin are not included in this "we."] come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, [Fuck that.] the time has come to set aside childish things. [I said the same thing and it works just fine without quoting The Bible.] The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given [Fuck that.] promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts [America is SO ALL ABOUT SHORTCUTS.] or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. [Except maybe since the middle of the last century.] Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America [Good. Can't wait for the details.]

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, [Yeah! Does this mean no more nonsense about creationism vs. evolution in schools?] and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. [Technology will not fix everything. Technology will not lower the cost of health care. Only changing the model will.] We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. [Yeah, well, read this. You'd better start harnessing fast.] And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do. [Note to self: blog about "it must be done, therefore it can be done."]

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, [I don't get that there's a lot of that in America, unless it's "common purpose=obtain stuff."] and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. [Well, that question should be before you. The rest of the world is sure debating it. And you need to tune in and catch up.] Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more. [I only hope this will be true. Will we be re-Enlightened?]

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. [Or, in other words, covert actions.] They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. [I have yet to see this realization creep across the rather dim and confused face of America.] Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint [And covert actions. And "prudent use" means what exactly? Overthrowing elected leaders to prop up fascist dictators just to keep a corporation running smoothly (Allende/Pinochet/Chile/United Fruit Company)? Scooping up all the Nazi scientists to build your bombs? Arming the Taliban so they could fight the Russians? Arming Iran in Iran Contra?... Prudent. Right.]

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, [We can only hope for a Re-Enlightenment.] we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. [Yessss.] With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, [Uh, WRONG.] and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. [Thank you. THANK YOU. We are here! We are here! We are here!] We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace [What a lovely sentiment. Wouldn't it be nice? Things certainly seem to be going in the opposite direction, though.]

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. [Very nice. Wishful thinking, but I hope it comes true.]

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. [Getting warmer! We Are the World!] And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it. [YES! WOO HOO!! (Now let's see you do something about it.) And who is America to tell the other wealthy nations to get it together? You do mean the nations that DID sign Kyoto, don't you? Or the ones that DIDN'T block the recent UN cease-fire resolution for Gaza? You're telling THEM how to behave?]

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. [Sheep. History proves you can convince people that whatever they're fighting for is good. Plenty of those soldiers in Iraq thought they were defending America, not SUV sales. The important thing is to teach them to THINK FOR THEMSELVES. Enlightened people are in a better position to determine what the greater good really is.]

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. [Good luck with that.] It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, [Haven't seen a lot of that in America lately either.] loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. [Beautiful. Where do I sign up?]

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. [Yes, in the old days, when kids were still taught Civics, they grew up learning that the other half of "take" was "give." Time to get that concept back into the curriculum.]

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny [Enough with the God thing already. And the source of your confidence is your wealth and the oceans and benign country that protect you from the rest of the world.]

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. [MAGNIFICENT. BEAUTIFUL. (Except for the "sacred" bit.)]

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon [You got me! I can feel it! Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!...] and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations. [And you lost me. Oh well.]

~ President B.Obama, 1/20/2009 Inaugural Speech


What a night.

Yes Obama won. Yes we spent most of the night in a Parisian palace, where there was an endless supply of champagne (though we didn’t have any till nearly dawn). And yes, we were on live TV, billed as “the Geeks in Love, a Franco-American blogging couple.”

senat1.jpg All of that would have been magical enough. But I must say that the most extraordinary thing about this night for me was that I got to spend it with my son in California.

(Outside the Sénat at 2:00 am. More behind-the-scenes pictures.)

Caroline, the host of Parlons blogs ! told us we’d be popping in every hour on the hour for a few minutes. She asked us to touch on the role of the Internet in the election and to give our take on what was happening across the pond. Vincent had the special assignment of doing some live Geeks In Love drawings during the course of the show.

So for five hours, we had a bunch of sites on our screens and several Twitter feeds up so we could track the buzz from all over the world. I had all my IM programs open (four of them) and exchanged occasional comments with friends, family (including Vincent’s mother and step-dad, who were watching us on the Web) and total strangers, while history happened.

We got there at 2:00 am and the show started at 3:00. In the brief opening segment, we were just introduced and had to smile nice for the camera, no talking. Then we had 50 minutes to kill.

A few minutes later, a chat window popped up with a “Bonjour momma!

My boy. I had e-mailed him the day before and asked him to open his IM program if he was around so we could talk during the show.

natca2.jpgI sent him the link to the live feed so he could watch. I asked him about his voting experience. He told me he was wearing his NATCA t-shirt (the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union he recently joined, which endorsed Obama). He took it off and sent me this picture while we were talking.

We talked about the results as they came in, about the girl he’d met at a party a couple Fridays ago, he said Melissa and Jordain (high-school pals) said “Hi” (obviously chatting with them too). He’d told his co-workers his mom was going to be on TV in France and they didn’t really believe him. He got the video feed up. “The blond girl’s cute,” he said. “She’s right in front of me!” I responded. I told him when we’d be on next . He watched. His comment: “Vincent looks as unshaven and laid back as usual.” Yep.


And it was like that, as natural as can be, hanging out and shooting the breeze virtually with my millennial son, thousands of miles away.

It was he who told me that McCain was conceding, so I flipped to the screen with the news. We watched that together. Not long afterwards, Obama started talking. We watched that together, I with tears in my eyes. Vincent took a picture…


After McCain conceded, Caroline told us we had to have champagne to celebrate. We complied, willingly. We had only one more spot to do at that point, even though it turned out to be an hour late because of the speeches. (That just meant more time for champagne…)

After Obama’s speech, my son and I talked some more. He was moved. He told me he could hear fireworks and car horns honking outside, he said he had felt a weight fall from his shoulders, that he didn’t think he could yet grasp how truly big this moment was. He was feeling hope, he was seeing history. I was there with him and he was with me.

A few minutes later, Natacha Quester-Séméon (whom I think of as the Web Fairy of Paris) and her brother Sacha interviewed me for their news site Of course, I talked about how happy I was to be sharing the experience with my son over the Internet. Natacha and Sacha, being millennials themselves, totally got the beauty of the thing.

When we’d done our last spot, a little after 10:00 pm my son’s time, he said he had to go to bed. I was surprised because it was so early. “I have to control airplanes in the morning,” he said.

I’m so proud.

Once the show was over, once I’d said goodnight to my son, Vincent and I walked arm-in-arm and mostly silent through the rainy dawn of a new day to the métro station.

Like I said. What a night.


This is the picture that ran on the front page of France’s leftiest newspaper’s site yesterday. And it’s all over the Internet.

Oh, the shame.

And you wonder why the rest of the world thinks America is absurd.

Many people have interpreted the original Night of the Living Dead as being a commentary on racism, but evidently the makers of the film say it wasn’t intentional.

Nonetheless, it was a reasonable interpretation. And the comparison with the movie seems particularly apt on more than one level at the moment.

This election “pits the dead against the living in a struggle for survival!

Who do you pick to run the United States of America: the strong, resourceful, persevering (and other admirable adjectives) young hero, or the zombie?

I do have to pity that poor old man. I’m not heartless. But he has no business running for president. He’s in the checkout line.



It was a slip of the tongue, people. You know how the brain works. It only came out that way because Palin’s “pitbull/lipstick” comment was close by, in poor Barack’s recently viewed files. When smart people are talking, you know, their next thoughts are already being formulated before the last one makes it out of their mouths and, sometimes, The Subconscious will slip a little something special in there when they’re not looking… Hasn’t that ever happened to you?

True, it was mildly unfortunate that the animal Barack’s subconscious chose was a pig. And that it was lipstick and not, say, a hat… He could just as easily have said “You can put silk boxers on a turkey; it’s still a turkey…” But then people would have said he was referring to his opponent.

I can’t imagine why it came out the way it did.


Every other liberal blogger on the planet has already done a fine job of making a laughingstock of the vulgar, gun-totin’, moose-dressin’, god-fearin’, book-bannin’, Adam ‘n’ Eve believin’, climate change denyin’, choice-hatin’, trailer-park bimbo psychobitch who’s left the good ol’ US of A only once in her life and thinks the Iraq war is her god’s plan.

So I won’t bother.

The sad thing is, she may get the last laugh. There sometimes seem to be more of them than there are of us.

[Added Sept. 11: OK, evidently "lipstick on a pig" is a common expression in Illinois (hey, I'm from California, how am I supposed to know?). Check out smooth Barack on Letterman talking about the faux pas that wasn't a faux pas.]


Considering that Bush, at one of his fancy dinners for rich people way back when, was caught on tape laughing and saying that his “base” was “the haves and the have mores,” I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the addlepated and clueless McCain actually did say, at one of his fancy dinners the other day, that “people who make under $80,000 a year are too stupid to understand taxes.” But I can’t find a reliable source. Only a smattering of liberal blogs mention it. And in the eyes of many, that automatically makes it untrue.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t said. It took about 48 hours for American mainstream media to even mention Kucinich’s recent impeachment proposal, while it had been front-page news in the rest of the world for two days, and all over the blogosphere. We checked constantly to see when (or if) it would make it to American news sites. A comment like this is the kind of thing the media wouldn’t touch unless they were forced by bloggers and foreign press to do so. They’re as spineless as our Democratic Congress.

Somebody was taping that dinner. Somebody was dishing out the caviar. Can we get a witness?

I do have some sources for the chart below, which was published by the Washington Post using data from the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Obama’s tax plan gives the don’t have that muches and the barely haves and the have nots a much bigger break. McCain makes sure the rich get even richer and does jack for the rest. Duh.


It’s truly unfortunate that the less-informed Republican have nots simply accept it when the they’re told that voting Democrat means tax increases. There is such a strong tendency in Americans to swallow the sound bite and look no further, thanks to nearly 90 years of conditioning.

This trait, in conjunction with the generalized paranoia, intolerance, and religious fanaticism in that country, will probably get you John McCain as your next president.

So sad.

If you ask me, the tax thing is probably barely even a factor, though. It’s a crutch. It’s just probably easier to say you’re voting Republican because the Democrats will tax you than to say you hate gays and brown people and anybody who doesn’t love Jesus as much as you do.

Vincent offered an alternative theory: he says that all Americans believe they’re going to get rich, so they’re actually voting with their own glorious futures in mind. Interesting idea, and not so far fetched, I think.

I’m sure it’s a combination of all of the above.

If you know anyone who is too stupid to understand taxes, or who suffers from those uniquely American ills I’ve described, do them a favor and share the pretty picture above with them.

As if it will do any good.

(Tip from sknob via DMiessler via Reddit)

[Added Aug 29th: Calculate your tax break under Obama's plan.]


The Sierra Club is backing Obama.

According to Carl Pope, the Sierra Club executive director, Obama supports the “strongest set of positions that any candidate has ever offered” on the environment.

Mr. Obama favors a cap and trade system aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the United States to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. He has also called for 25 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.

(Source: New York Times via Obama Campaign blog)