Democrats are being spineless weasels again

Republicans faked Benghazi e-mails to make the Obama administration look bad. But Democrats aren’t going on the attack. What’s their problem? One commenter at TPM says this:

The Democratic Party at the national level looks to Obama and his White House for everything. His Cabinet members (Defense apart) have no policy autonomy; Democratic Senators and Congressmen loyal to the President are also dependent on him and his team for everything from legislative initiatives to daily talking points. The closest thing to Democratic voices independent of the Obama White House are former (and future) campaign consultants on the talk shows.

Obama has chosen not to push back hard against doctored Benghazi leaks that even the tame broadcast media objected to. So no Democrats in Washington is either. Hostility to the opposition, as an organizing principle, is much more deeply established in the Republican Party. This is why real and imagined Democratic scandals inspire so much more indignation (real and pretend) among GOP officials in DC.

This is going to be a continuing problem for national Democrats as Obama’s second term proceeds. It may be a chronic problem until they have a Clinton campaign and White House to tell them what to do, say and think.

They just don’t seem to understand that if they don’t fight back, the GOP is going to kill them.


Mother’s Day cards from the White House

They don’t drip with sentimentality, but they get the point across:

For military moms:

mothersday_joiningforcesAnd for healthy moms:

mothersday_affordablecareactHappy Mother’s Day.

Time machine: Inauguration 1913

Barack Obama will be sworn in today at noon for his second term as president as required by law. The elaborate ceremony, though will be tomorrow.

So, who was being sworn in as president 100 years ago?

That’s Woodrow Wilson who’d just finished up as governor of New Jersey. (His inauguration was actually in March 1913, but it’s practically a century ago.)

And his was one of the significant presidencies in American history, as the following PBS documentary shows:

White House nixes Death Star

The second Death Star under construction in Re...

The second Death Star under construction in Return of the Jedi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bunch of people petitioned the White House to build a Death Star.

As in Galactic Empire, blow-up-Alderaan Death Star.

When the White House receives a certain number of signatures on a petition, it responds.

So, here goes:

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

That’s a pretty good answer. And this is why building one is a waste of money:

(Remember, the rebels didn’t just destroy one. They destroyed two.)

Is now the time to talk about gun control?

The flag over the White House was at half staff last night. The flags around the Washington Monument were at half staff last night.

Because a psychopath walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and killed 26 people, 20 of them children. The gunman killed his mother at their home before the rampage. And when he was done, he killed himself. Some reports indicate the guns were registered in his mother’s name because he was too young to buy them himself.

The national response is horror. Like it was this year, when the gunman entered a mall theater in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” set off gas canisters and opened fire, killing 12. Like it was last year, when Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and at least 17 others were shot Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Ms. Giffords was meeting with constituents. Like it was in 2009, when 13 soldiers and civilians were killed and more than two dozen wounded when a gunman walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, and opened fire. Like it was in 2007, when an outburst of gunfire at a Virginia Tech dormitory, followed two hours later by a ruthless string of attacks at a classroom building, killed 32 students, faculty and staff and left about 30 others injured yesterday in the deadliest shooting rampage in the nation’s history.

The sentences above contain the words various media organizations used to describe the horror.

In the past 50 years, 11 of the 20 worst mass shootings in the world have happened in the U.S., and of those 11 massacres, five have happened since 2007.

We can react like Republican Mike Huckabee on Fox News and say something stupid like:

We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?

Or we can react like Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actually address the issue:

With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.

There’s a petition at the White House Web site that says this:

Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.

The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths.

Powerful lobbying groups allow the ownership of guns to reach beyond the Constitution’s intended purpose of the right to bear arms. Therefore, Congress must act on what is stated law, and face the reality that access to firearms reaches beyond what the Second Amendment intends to achieve.

The signatures on this petition represent a collective demand for a bipartisan discussion resulting in a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.

When I last looked, there were more than 75,000 signatures on it.

We as citizens can’t make laws limiting the availability of guns. Congress and state legislatures are busy passing laws that make it easier to get a gun. Those elected officials have to change those laws or be voted out of office.

But our legislators have shown they don’t have the backbone to stand up to the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment fetishists. And now, despite the demands over the years to address gun violence, have 20 dead elementary school children.

Will we finally end the discussion below this time and actually do something?


Two people who are not impressed

The U.S. gymnastics team visited the White House this week, and McKayla Maroney brought her game face:

OK, that’s actually her, “I didn’t win the gold medal face.”

So, what’s a president to do?

Now, that’s called team spirit.


The White House Rose Garden

There really isn’t that much to the White House Rose Garden:

That’s it.

In your imagination, you think of an explosion of huge flowering multicolor rose bushes, like in the Merchant Ivory movies about life in rural England. In my imagination, it was supposed to be as elaborate as the garden that surrounded our house when we lived in England. Like this:

Our garden in England

But the White House gardens were kind of a let down. There are lots of trees, but lots of open space. You’d think the Park Service could do something a little more elaborate with the grounds. After all, we’re supposed to impress our foreign visitors.

But I guess when you have to land a helicopter in your backyard every day or so, there’s no point in trying to put together a decent garden area?

Oh yeah, why am I even near the Rose Garden?

Well, today and yesterday the White House gardens were open to the public. Normally, in order to get on the grounds, you have to get your congressman to vouch for you so you can take a tour of the inside. But thanks to Pat Nixon, the grounds of the presidential palace are open two weekends a year, one in Spring, the other in Fall, so that regular folk can just walk in, stay off the grass, and gawk at the majesty (of lack thereof) of it all.

Nah, really, it’s so folks can take their photo in front of the White House doors. That was mostly it, and you could tell by all the smiling faces that people were having a great time. I was. But you had to get there really early to avoid the mob. First you had to stand in line to get free tickets to enter the property. Then you had to stand in line to go onto the property. My line time Saturday was about an hour and a half. I arrived at 7:30 a.m. and got in for the first tour at 9.

But despite the letdown of the Rose Garden, there was plenty to see. There were photos all over the place of former presidents planting trees (George Bush the Smarter sure planted a lot of them) and a chart of the birds you’d typically see on the grounds.

The Marine Corps Band was on the grounds playing various Sousa marches and Broadway show tunes. Here they are going through the overture to “The Sound of Music.”

The Marine Corps Band

And actually the most impressive garden on the grounds is the one Michelle Obama planted on the south part of the property looking toward the Washington Monument. That’s growing very nicely, and will keep the first family in veggies through the season.

I might not have been overly impressed, but during the fall, I hope to take the family with me so we can be unimpressed together.