Hopefully he won’t point to the economy you all broke and say “this is why we can’t have nice things”. But back to the Death Star; as we’ve seen before, the White House has a petitioning system with one simple rule: if a petition garners 25,000 signatures within 30 days, the government has to explain why it’s still not going to do it — because that’s what it’s said to all of them so far. But probably the best petition ever has just joined the ranks of those that must be answered:
Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.
By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.
It gathered 26,650 signatures in 30 days. Go ‘merica!
From The White House, via C-NET and Slashdot
Cute video, following the Obamas’ dog, Bo, through the Christmas-laden White House:
From YouTube, via Laughing Squid
Obama and McKayla
For the unwashed, that’s the McKayla that’s not impressed.
That’s what the people at Bad Lip Reading figured out, and then they made this awesome video, which proves it while lip smacking the Presidential debates:
“It’s party time, chumps!”
From YouTube, via Neatorama
An Esquire/Yahoo! poll has Obama taking Romney in a fist fight by 58% to 22%, with another 20% having no opinion. The poll also asked who would win the election, and the numbers were similar: 57% for Obama, 30% for Romney, and 13% couldn’t be bothered to guess. It did not ask people if they were racist and simply thought that the black guy was always tougher than the Mormon. It also seems to have been the first time the question was formally polled, so there’s no way to tell if there’s a correlation between the winner of the fist fight and the winner of the election. However, if you think about the last 30 years:
- Obama would’ve beat McCain bloody
- W would’ve easily taken Kerry
- W vs Gore is a hard one, because Gore is a softie, but he’s also a big guy who might have a temper
- Clinton would’ve easily beat up old, one-armed Bob Dole
- Clinton would’ve had trouble with the original Bush though, who had a sort of spit-and-nails quality about him.
- The original Bush would’ve been all over Dukakis
- Reagan would’ve probably lost to Mondale though, but of the two, Mondale would’ve probably been the one driven to tears — by Reagan’s wit
- Reagan vs Carter is hard to call, because it’s hard to imagine either of them actually getting into a fight, but Carter had a big age advantage
- Same with Carter vs Ford: they would most likely just work it out without ever resorting to fists. But if they absolutely had to fight, Carter probably had a little more ganas.
- And of course, Nixon would take pretty much anyone except Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt.
For more in the same vein, there’s a Reddit thread about a mass knife fight to the death between every president. And if you want to try your hand at presidential combat, there’s an iOS app for that, called Vote!!!.
From Esquire, via Politico and Tom
If you don’t get it, then you haven’t seen Clint Eastwood’s speech (below) at the Republican National Convention, in which he starts talking to an invisible Barack Obama, who is sitting in an apparently empty chair and loves telling people to shut up and asking them to violate themselves. Of course, the Internet is all over the whole empty chair thing, and there’s already a t-shirt:
From Lester Aponte and Busted Tees
A major showdown between two of the greatest mages of our time has ended in Mitt Romney’s favor. Hurricane Isaac, designed by president Obama to devastate the Republican National Convention in Tampa and seriously call into question Mitt Romney’s abilities, has failed. Instead, it has been diverted by the Republican nominee to the Democratic stronghold of New Orleans, a city revered by the left wing after the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the 2010 premiere of the hit HBO show Treme.
Early in the bout, most meteorologists predicted Obama’s unexpected move would succeed, as the nascent tropical storm making its way toward Tampa was poised to become the first hurricane to hit the city in almost a century. But in the end, Romney and his Republican party proved themselves a force to be reckoned with, as the storm not only failed to make its way to the convention, but also to achieve hurricane strength by the appointed time, instead arriving in New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina. The miscalculation of Romney’s obviously significant power was a costly one for the sitting President, and a retaliatory move on Obama’s home base of Hawaii cannot be counted out at this time.
Obama’s father was born in Kenya and his mother in Kansas, so no one ever thought that he had any genetic ties to American slavery. But the people at ancestry.com did some research over two years which revealed that not only did he have a slave ancestor, but the very first black slave in America may be that ancestor. First, they performed DNA tests and found that his mother’s lineage contains DNA that indicates African origin. Then they looked through property records and traced her ancestry to the mulatto Bunch family in Virginia in the 1600s.
President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, in her yearbook in 1960
The Bunches were not white at first, but were free because of an interracial relationship between a free white woman and John Punch, an African indentured servant who eventually became enslaved for life — the first person this happened to, in America. The Bunches of Virginia, from which Obama’s mother was descended, continued to marry white people, and eventually looked completely white. Her ancestors moved to Tennessee, then to Kansas in 1834, where she was eventually born some hundred years later. She died without knowing she had a black ancestor, and in fact, one of her other ancestors fought for the South in the Civil War.
The connection between John Punch and Barrack Obama is not iron-clad, because some records have been lost over the centuries. But there is enough evidence to make it very likely that the first black president comes from the first black slave, through his white ancestors.
From Ancestry.com, via The New York Times and NPR
The White House held its second science fair yesterday — the first was in 2010 — and for it, an 8th grader made an air cannon that shoots marshmallows. That’s an odd science fair project, right? Maybe he was trying to figure out if the laws of physics are still a thing. Anyway, Obama liked the air cannon and asked the kid to shoot it, which he was more than happy to oblige. The whole thing took place in the White House’s State Dining Room.
Via Laughing Squid
- For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.” And bin Laden is dead.
- The military focuses on the mission at hand and the rest of us should follow their example. Our mission: “An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”
- American story of success: “the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.”
- Outsourcing and automation has led to loss of jobs and stagnation of income, except for the rich.
- Mortgage crisis caused the Great Recession, during which 8 million jobs were lost; but 3 million jobs were added last year. The manufacturing sector is creating jobs for the first time since the ’90s.
- “Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.”
- Obama refused to let the auto industry die and thanks to government intervention, GM is once again the #1 automaker in the world, Chrysler is rapidly growing, and the industry added 160,000 jobs.
- Master Lock is bringing jobs back to America and other companies should follow suit.
- To bring jobs back, we should change the tax code: no tax deductions for companies that outsource, minimum tax on multinational companies, tax breaks for domestic manufacturers and help with factories, equipment and job training.
- In the third year of a five year plan to double US exports, we are ahead of schedule.
- Obama is tough on unfair trading practices: twice the rate of trade cases against China than Bush. New Trade Enforcement Unit to stop counterfeit and unsafe goods from China.
- Job training: there are twice as many science and technology openings as there are applicants. Obama wants community colleges to retrain two million Americans, with skills that are in demand.
In the awful Star Wars prequels, the Trade Federation was led by thinly-veiled Chinese
- The administration got nearly every state to raise their education standards
- Teachers matter for individuals and the economy; Obama wants the best teachers rewarded, he wants them to have flexibility and not have to teach for standardized tests, and to have bad teachers replaced.
- States should require that all students stay in school until they graduate high school or turn 18
- Congress should stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July, extend tuition tax credits, and double the number of work-study jobs
- States, colleges and universities need to keep tuition prices in check. “Higher education can’t be a luxury – it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
- We need to keep the immigrants we educate, so they can innovate here
- Obama increased border security personnel and now there are fewer illegal border crossings than when he took office
- We need immigration reform, but we should at least keep the highly skilled immigrants here
Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, was born in Russia and came to the US at the age of six
- “…we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.”
- “Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses.” These business should be given relief from red tape and taxes.
- Congress should fund more research to promote innovation
- Obama expanded domestic oil and gas exploration and is still doing so
- We don’t have enough domestic oil to meet our energy needs, but we do have a lot of natural gas (hehe)
- Natural gas is cleaner and cheaper, and extraction from shale rock is the product of government-funded research
- Clean energy: America is the leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Renewable energy use has doubled, and created thousands of new jobs.
- Obama is committed to subsidizing clean energy companies and stop subsidies to oil companies: he will allow development of clean energy on public lands and move the Department of Defense to clean energy.
- Energy use should be more efficient
The Great Recession
- The recession is, like the Great Depression was, an opportunity to use public dollars to improve the public infrastructure and create jobs
- The funds formerly used for the Iraq war should be used for “some nation-building right here at home.”
- Obama wants a plan to help everyone refinance their mortgages at low interest rates, and have it funded by a tax on big banks
- “It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.”
- “… we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior.”
- Obama has reformed a lot of poor regulations that will save businesses money. “We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill – because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.”
- Obama will not back down from good safety, health and financial regulations
- Big banks are now required to have a “living will” that will outline how they will pay their debts if they fail
- Banks are no longer allowed to sign people up for debt they can’t afford, and there’s a new consumer watchdog to ensure that
- Financial fraud and abuse will be enforced and prosecuted more than it has been in the past
- Congress should pass the payroll tax cut
- Tax breaks for the wealthy should end immediately
- “I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.”
- “Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.”
- “On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up.”
- “When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford it”
Milk spill from a milk truck crash in Lithuania
- “The greatest blow to our confidence in our economy last year didn’t come from events beyond our control. It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not.”
- Congressional corruption: “Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa – an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.”
- Congress is broken and needs a rule to require a simple majority to allow or deny judicial and public service nominations within 90 days
- The hierarchy of the Executive branch is outdated and inefficient and should be overhauled
- “I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.”
- “That’s why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and States. That’s why we’re getting rid of regulations that don’t work. That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a Government program.”
- We need more bi-partisan cooperation. “…when we act together, there is nothing the United States of America can’t achieve.”
- The Iraq War is over and Al Qaida is in ruins
- The Afghanistan War is ending
- The Arab Spring has transformed the Muslim world
- “We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.”
- Iran: “Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.”
- “The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe.” … “America is back”
- “Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
- “America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs – and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way.”
- Obama has increased annual spending for the Veterans Administration every year in office
- New tax breaks and incentives for people who hire veterans have been passed
Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
A transcript of the entire speech is available on NPR’s website, and the video is on YouTube.