Blogs

Bush's Last-Minute Land Grab Halted

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 4:08 PM EST

This weekend, a last-minute Bush maneuver that would have made more than 110,000 acres of federal land available to oil and gas exploration was halted by a temporary restraining order issued by a District Court judge, reports the Los Angeles Times. As we wrote in our September/October 2008 issue, environmentalists say the recent attempts to free up public lands for oil and gas companies were "parting gifts" to the energy industry by Bush's Interior Department. Made official in mid-December, the move would have given oil and gas companies the right to begin drilling in sensitive riparian areas and key wildlife corridors throughout Utah. Several environmental groups, including the NRDC and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, filed suit against the government to stop the Interior Department from leasing the lands. In his decision this weekend, Judge Ricardo Urbina found that the groups' logic held, and that any energy development would be "...far outweighed by the public interest in avoiding irreparable damage to public lands and the environment." Some of the leased lands, which included parts of Canyonlands National Park and Dinosaur National Monument, contained ancient rock art and other sensitive cultural resources. However, though Judge Urbina's ruling keeps Utah's public lands safe pending a decision by the Obama administration, it doesn't help the land in five other states that have also been slated for increased drilling by the Bush administration.

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Change You Can Click On

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 4:07 PM EST

The 44th president's official website was apparently "fired up and ready to go" before he took office. At precisely 12:01 pm EST, the White House web page that greeted Americans for most of the 21st century was no more. In its place was a very change.gov-esque replacement:

whitehouse-dot-gov-600x300.jpg

Users of barackobama.com or change.gov will immediately recognize those sites in the new WhiteHouse.gov. The new site features the latest in Obama-style web design: lots of white space, lots of logos, lots of small caps, and lots of Gotham, the font that his campaign made famous. It also includes a sexy front-page slide show to display multiple top stories (just like MotherJones.com!), a front-page blog (with an RSS feed!), and a promise that "WhiteHouse.gov will be a central part of President Obama's pledge to make his the most transparent and accountable administration in American history."

Economy Down, Military Recruitment Up

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 3:19 PM EST

army.jpg With the ranks of the jobless increasing in droves it's not surprising that Americans are joining the ranks of a ready and willing employer, the Armed Forces. The Pentagon announced yesterday that all active duty and reserve components, and the Army National Guard, met or exceeded their goals for the first time since 2004, the year that violence intensified in Iraq.

This includes our beleaguered Army, which is plastering its ads (like this one to the right) with dollar signs. Still, let's not forget we are involved in two wars, and while the new GI Bill is a good thing, we still want more career choices all around. Because otherwise we'll continue to have what's akin to an economic draft, further forcing those without financial means into military service.

A People's History of Obama's Inauguration and MLK Day

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 3:06 PM EST

This morning, while taking the kids to school, I regaled them with tales of how they, too, could someday be president, since Obama was "taking the Oval Office" today. ("Oath of Office" got no traction with them.)

My 5-year-old daughter started to cry. "I don't wanna be president!"

Why?

"Cuz then I'd have to wear boy clothes. I'll look ugly! WAAAAAA!"

Yeah, feminism has outlived its usefulness.

My 7-year-old was crying because, during the morning shakedown, I busted him trying to smuggle a whole buncha Bionicles in his book bag. This has gotten him in much trouble before. (Why shouldn't he play with them during lectures since they're right there?)

Me: "Honey. This isn't a new rule. Mommy couldn't take toys to school when I was little either."

7-year-old: "But black people couldn't have toys back then. WAAAAAA!"

Later, I watched the inauguration ceremony with a friend. We spent quite a bit of time discussing Aretha Franklin's.....hat? Infected contusion? (My mom just called to offer that Aretha knew she wouldn't be taking that hat off without a hairdresser nearby, lest her wig come off with it. MEOW!) We sat trading bitchy quips (all at Bush and Cheney's expense). When the poet came on, as one, we rose, looked at each other and asked, "Cigarette?"

Out on the porch, I could see most of my neighbors heading for their cars. Chagrined, each admitted that the poet was their signal to finally get to work.

OK, here's my best quip from the ceremony. When Michelle Obama kissed W goodbye at the helicopter, my friend said, "Bet that's the first black woman he's ever kissed."

What else could I say?

"Probably. But not the first one he's ever fucked."

Happy inauguration!

Auto Bailout Watch

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 2:39 PM EST

AUTO BAILOUT WATCH....The French government plans to bail out Renault and Peugeot-Citroen to the tune of $7-8 billion or so. By the time this is all over, will there be a car company in the world that hasn't hoovered up a few billion taxpayer dollars?

Quote of the Day - 01.20.09

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 2:06 PM EST

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From Barack Obama, signing the papers to put himself on the government payroll:

"I'm a lefty. Get used to it."

That's for my sister. Though, honestly, after 20 years of lefties in the past 28 years there's not much to get used to, is there?

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Inauguration 6

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 1:58 PM EST

INAUGURATION 6....I know this isn't quite in keeping with our shiny new postpartisan spirit, but watching Marine Executive One take off almost brought tears to my eyes.

Inauguration 5

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 1:28 PM EST

INAUGURATION 5....Light glints off Barack Obama's lapel pin as he delivers his inaugural address.

The Renaming of Bush Street

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 1:28 PM EST

obamastreet.jpg
I've long fantasized about doing something like this to the street signs for Bush Street in downtown San Francisco. But apparently local artist Alex Zecca beat me to it. He escaped jail, according to the SF Bay Guardian's blog, but had to take all the stickers down—alas.

Flickr photo courtesy LaughingSquid.com

Welcome, 44*

| Tue Jan. 20, 2009 1:20 PM EST

It's official, we can all sigh a breath of relief and hope, and George Bush can go crawl back under his Texas rock and be forgotten, or prosecuted, or whatever. Here's the full text of President Obama's (how sweet the sound) inaugural address.

*One quibble, one that is trivial, but important for historical accuracy (and judging by my last post on this you are all going to rip into me for focusing on what doesn't matter in such trying times). Obama said this toward the beginning of his address:

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath...."

But, dear President, only 43 Americans have taken the presidential oath. In ordinal terms there have been 44 presidents, but as far as cardinal numbers go, how many presidents we've had in total, Obama is number 43. Why? Because Grover Cleveland was president in two non-consecutive terms.

Again, this is not a game-changer but at such a historic moment why not be totally true to what's transpired in our centuries of history? We've endured eight years of misinformation and misunderestimation, and more importantly, we've endured centuries of, let's call it like it is, white, male presidents. I concede that the time that this has been the case is the most important thing, that it took this long for a change is more significant than the number of men who shaped it, so moving forward what's matters is this day and this moment, but I'm still thankful that it only took 42 men before him, and that the real 43 is someone to be proud of.


Footnote: Here in San Francisco some clever cat went out and changed all the "Bush" street signs to read "Obama" this morning (pic). Maybe the city can make it official?

Onward and upward, 44.