Saturday, December 13, 2008

Obama's Weekly Web/Radio Address

Ice Storm Photos

Pine tree boughs after landing on my neighbor's roof and fence

The pine covered with ice

The decimated pine after the sun came out

An icy tree

More Ice Storm Videos

From the Worcester Telegram

Princeton, Mass., from the Metrowest News

Driving through Holden



A Modest Proposal

From John Cole:

A Bailout Plan the GOP Can Support

We need to invade Michigan and rebuild the state from the ground up. We will be greeted as liberators, we have clear supply lines, and we can easily rebuild the auto industry with the kind of money we spend on other countries we invade. Hell, our new Secretary of State, Hillary of Clinton, spent the better part of the past year fighting for the rights of average folks from Michigan, so think of the good will we have with the public. This is very doable. Just tell Congress we will give KBR no-bid contracts to fix Detroit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Amazing Ice Storm

In Worcester, a mess

Boston Globe Photo Gallery: Ice storm slams region

I am one of the few people in my town today with power as 350,000 in Massachusetts lost power last night in a huge ice storm. My friend L has a tree limb on her car and the windshield is smashed; her boyfriend's car's rear windshield got taken out by a limb, too. They couldn't even get to the cars to remove the limbs because of downed power lines. My next door neighbor had a tree limb fall on his roof. It sounded like a shooting gallery this morning with all the limbs breaking off and crashing with all their ice to the ground. I drove in to the Craft Center in Worcester late this afternoon and had to take 4 detours to navigate the mile between my house and Route 190. Saw cars without windows sitting in driveways, trees in front yards, and tree lined roads that looked like they had been decorated with boughs of evergreen from all the cleaned-up branches stacked in the ditches. Plus limbs are still falling off the trees as you drive along the roads, and random tree branches stick out into roadways, so it's quite scary out there. Power will not be restored completely until next week. The grocery stores and gas stations are all closed.

Video of a branch snapping while filming a TV interview:

Good News in Minnesota

From an email from the Franken campaign:

The state canvassing board has soundly rejected the Coleman campaign's attempt to disenfranchise 133 voters in Minneapolis whose ballots were lost during the recount, unanimously deciding to count those votes. In addition, they urged Minnesota's 87 counties to identify, open, and count absentee ballots that were wrongly rejected.

This is a huge win for us, because our position has always been the simple principle that every lawful vote should be counted.

TPM: Franken Gets Big Win At Canvass Board

Al Franken's chances of winning the Minnesota recount may have just gone up astronomically.

The state canvassing board just voted unanimously that absentee ballots that were initially rejected because of clerical errors -- and the current estimate from the hearing is that there could be nearly 1,600 of them, based on some extrapolation -- should be counted, probably the single biggest issue that the Franken campaign has been hammering ever since this recount began, and which really seemed up in the air going into this hearing.

The board can't directly order the county officials to do the counting, only making a formal request to go back and count the votes and then submit amended totals. But many counties have already begun or finished the process of sorting the rejected absentees at the board's request, and board members did castigate any election officials who wouldn't do so, with some of them even leaving open the option of seeking a court order if necessary.

Because of all that, it seems very likely that the vast majority of these ballots will be counted before this is over -- and it could possibly seal the deal for Franken.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Count Every Vote in Minnesota

Great video from the Al Franken campaign:

In the closest Senate race in Minnesota history, every vote should be counted fairly.

But there are Minnesotans who had their votes thrown out, even though they did nothing wrong.

They voted absentee, but their ballots were improperly rejected because of someone elses mistake.

And in the closest Senate race in Minnesota history, their votes remain uncounted.

Participatory Democracy

Obama's transition site,, has a new section for submitting questions to the administration and voting on the questions submitted by others. Check it out:

Open for Questions

The #1 question currently is:

"What will you do to establish transparency and safeguards against waste with the rest of the Wall Street bailout money?"
Diane, New Jersy

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tthe Blagojevich Indictment

My friend J who lives in Chicago points out that corruption in the Illinois Governor's mansion is the rule rather than the exception:
I believe the national incarceration rate in the United States is something like 1%. Compare to Illinois governors since 1961:

Otto Kerner (1961 to 1968). Go to jail? YES

Sam Shapiro (1968-1969). Go to jail? No.

Richard Ogilvie (1969 to 1973) Go to jail? No

Dan Walker (1973 to 1977) Go to jail? YES

James Thompson (1977 to 1991) Go to jail? No

James Edgar (1991 to 1999) Go to jail? No

George Ryan (1999 to 2003) Go to jail? YES

Rod Blagojevich (2003 to present) Go to Jail? NOT YET

In any event, if you are in Springfield, Illinois and see the governor's mansion, I would suggest walking on the other side of the street.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

We Love Lists

My #1 Video of the Campaign

Time: Top Ten Campaign Video Moments

A weird list. The Palin-Couric interviews get #1, that's justifiable, but "Joe Biden's One-Word Debate Answer" and Hillary Clinton's "Soprano's Video" beating's "Yes We Can" video is ridiculous.

My top five:

1. John McCain "The Fundamentals of Our Economy Are Strong" (see above)
2. "Yes We Can"
3. Tina Fey "I Can See Russia From My House"
4. Sarah Palin "In What Respect, Charlie?"
5. Sarah Palin "Putin Rears His Head"

Giving Blood

Life: A view of a poster urging people to donate blood to help wounded soldiers., London, United Kingdom, 1939, Photographer William Vandivert

Nothing to write about, really. I can't get worked up about politics or the economy. We got the right choice in the Presidential race so I feel safe in relaxing a bit. What to rail/write about when I am calm? My life, I guess.

I gave platelets for the first time yesterday. I've been giving blood for the past two years, and this summer the Red Cross sent me a letter saying I have a high platelet level and am eligible to give platelets. (I also have Type A blood, and while Type O is a universal donor for whole blood, Type A is the universal donor for platelets.) Did you know that while whole blood can be stored for up to two months, platelets have a shelf life of six days? And platelets are very important to people being treated for leukemia.

I was a bit nervous about it, surveyed several people about what it was like, and even asked my doctor at my annual physical whether she thought that frequent platelet donation could damage my veins (her answer: no, your veins heal and as long as there is no infection involved, your veins will not be overly scarred.)

So I presented myself at the Red Cross's Worcester Pheresis Center yesterday afternoon. Went through the typical pre-donation questionnaire, checks of blood pressure (132/78), iron level (13, 12.5 is the minimum to donate) and then got into the donation chair/chaise. This is what it looked like:

Both arms have to be still for the whole procedure, as there is a needle in both. One needle is taking out the blood, and the blood is returned (along with a little saline) through the other needle. So you can't move, you can't bend your arm, and you can't itch any scratches. The nurse told me that they would itch for me, that's part of the job. Luckily I was able to quell any itching urges. The chair had a built-in heating element on the back, and they covered me with a blanket and gave me a handwarmer for the hand that wasn't squeezing the little ball to make the blood flow, but it was still a little chilly. I had tingling around my mouth and they gave me Tums to up my calcium levels, and advised that the next time I donate I should eat a yogurt beforehand.

There were three movies to choose from, and I chose Made of Honor, figuring that even if I wasn't paying any attention to it, I could still enjoy very handsome Patrick Dempsey. The movie was terrible, and I was way too distracted to follow it at all, so it was OK that I was finished long before the movie ended. The procedure itself took less than an hour. I had juice and cookies and headed home feeling none the worse for the weather. The nurse told me that the entire procedure harvests about 1 teaspoon worth of platelets -- but that is the equivalent of the amount of platelets in 6 pints of whole blood. (This blogger says that 70% of your blood goes through the machine roundtrip during the donation. Ewww.)

You can donate platelets every six days, but I can't imagine doing it that often. I'm going to aim for once a month, which is about twice as often as you can give whole blood. I'm the only person in my family eligible to give blood, as my mom takes several medications, and my brothers and sister all spent more than 3 months in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, so they're disqualified.

I'm not a great lover of the Red Cross as an organization, and I have to question how blood that is donated for free is charged at $600 to $700 a pint to patients in hospitals, but that's a macro question. On a micro level I will continue to give blood to help those that need it, and to build up karma points on my agnostics scorecard (in case there is a heaven).

One of my father's teaching jokes was the Agnostic's Prayer:

Oh God, if there is a God
Save my soul, if I have a soul.

Just in case points.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Best Christmas Albums

I am a collector of many things, among them Christmas CDs. Which makes me look up at the title of this post and realize that I have carbon-dated myself by writing "albums". That's how music came when I was a kid and that's how my brain will continue to refer to CDs unless I really think hard about it.

And of course I love lists. I just compiled a list to post on this post by dooce asking for Christmas music recommendations. So here goes. From my years of collecting and listening to Christmas music, here's my top six list of Christmas CDs/albums:

1. Mixed Nuts Soundtrack. My personal all-time favorite Christmas CD. The best tracks are Fats Domino's "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby"

2. Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas. The classic.

3. Bullseye Blues Christmas. Best track, "Five Pound Box of Money" by Michelle "Evil Gal" Willson

4. The Alligator Records Christmas Collection. Best track, Tinsley Ellis's "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'"

5. The Platters A Christmas Album,

6. and last but not least, The Brian Setzer Orchestra Boogie Woogie Christmas

Trust But Verify

yahoo: President-elect Barack Obama (L) introduces retired General Eric K. Shinseki as nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary during a news conference in Chicago, December 7, 2008.
REUTERS/John Gress

Barack Obama was elected little more than a month ago. He won't take office for another month and a half. He has run one of the quickest and smoothest transitions ever, rolling out appointees and being essentially a shadow government (for the nonfunctioning Bush bunker White House) in waiting.

So what's the problem? Liberals don't like his cabinet choices. Where are the liberals? Rather than appointing the economists who predicted the meltdown of the mortgage and credit markets, Obama has appointed people who were part of the Wall Street posse that got us into this mess. Apparently sensitive to the criticism, Obama has his deputy Steve Hildebrand post on Huffington Post asking liberals to, essentially, STFU.

Me, I'm still rather sanguine about the whole thing. It's not like FDR appointed a bunch of raging liberals to his Cabinet, and from that group we got the New Deal. (FDR did appoint one raging liberal: Frances Perkins, the first woman ever to hold a Cabinet position, and the longest-serving-ever Secretary of Labor. Obama still needs a Frances Perkins type in his Cabinet.)

But, jeez, he hasn't even taken office yet. Cabinet appointments haven't all been made. He hasn't even announced his Secretary of Labor yet. I am willing to give Obama a little slack here. The people aren't the policies. And while I may not agree with all his appointments (Larry Summers, chauvinist pig, grrrrrr) I'm going to hold my fire for now. I'll wait until actual policy making is done. Patience, people, patience.

Speaking of Cabinet appointments, I was very happy to see that General Eric Shinseki - the guy who told Donald Rumsfeld that his Iraq plan was a crock and got forced out for his truth-telling -- has been named Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Winter Break

For your offseason/holiday season pleasure, Sawxheads has audio of Jerry Remy singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Sleigh Ride.

Like Jerry Remy's dancing, they are both wonderful, awful and hilarious.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Economic Shot in the Arm

Barack Obama concentrates on a shot at Schultzie’s, a bar in South Charleston, W. Va., last May. It’s among the photos by Brooklyn photographer Scout Tufankjian in the book 'Yes We Can,' on sale Monday, Dec. 8.

NYDailyNews: On the road with Obama: An NYC photographer's exclusive

One place where the economy is not failing is Obama merchandise. Vendors in DC are doing a brisk business selling Obama t-shirts, hats, pins and other ephemera. I keep seeing TV ads for Obama plates and coins. And there will be plenty of coffee table books like this one.

It's not like anyone out there is clamoring for the George W. Bush coffee table books, anyway.