President Obama’s 100 Days By The Numbers

Some fun facts as we observe the 100th day of President Obama’s time in the White House.

KNOLLER’S NUGGETS — CBS News’ Mark Knoller gives the first 100 days, by the numbers: “News Conferences: 16 — of which two were formal prime time news sessions. Most of the others were joint press availabilities with foreign leaders at home and abroad. … Speeches: 115 (at least 47 using a Teleprompter) … Cabinet Meetings: 1 … Bill Signings: 12 (bill signing ceremonies: 6) … Visits to the Capitol: 8 … Visits to Camp David: 4 (all or part of 9 days) … Visits Home To Chicago: 1 (all or part of 4 days) .. Foreign Travel: 3 trips; 9 nations … Meetings with Foreign Leaders: 34 one on one sit down meetings with heads of state and government (plus casual greetings with 24 leaders at the G20 Summit in London and 33 at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago) …

“Flights on Marine One: 46 (plus 4 flights today) … Flights on Air Force One: 34 (plus 2 flights today … Night Outings: 8 (dinners, parties, theater, sport) … States Visited: 11 (plus Missouri today) … Proclamations: 17 … National Debt: $11.2-trillion (up $563-billion on Obama’s watch … Golf Outings: … School Visits: 4 (for policy events) … Sports Events: At least 10 (includes White House visits by championship teams and players and one visit to a pro basketball game: Wizards v. Bulls, Feb. 27).”

I Grade President Obama “A” After 100 Days

There is more to President Obama than just being a Democrat.  I say that to dissuade readers from thinking I grade the first 100 days of his time in the White House with some type of reflexive response.  I do not grade politicians on a curve.  They are either on the side of the future hopes and struggles of society, or they are not.  That is the test.  President Obama has proved his place on the political divide, and as such I grade his first 100 days with an ‘A”.

President Obama is smart, curious, capable, reasoned, reflective, and spirited.  He has shown in 100 days not what only leadership looks like, but what moral leadership is all about.  In spite of the economic storm that the international community finds itself,  I have long thought foreign policy is actually more important a barometer to judge President Obama by during his first 100 days.  It is there that he has used his power to show that our national ideals are important to re-establish for the whole world to witness. 

On August 8, 2008 I wrote the following.

When the United States government is dismissive of the Geneva Conventions, and believes that the prison at Guantanamo is justified, it proves to the watching world that moral leadership is lacking from the nation that once was viewed around the globe as the ‘good guys’.  While the neoconservatives have constructed a foreign policy of fear for political gains at home, the rest of the world is moving in a new direction.  The economic engines of China have been turned on high, and South American alliances have formed that run counter to our interests. 

The sad use of unilateralism as a foreign policy will be one of history’s harshest condemnations of President Bush.  It will be very important that Barack Obama as President build credibility with our allies, and open lines of discussion with those who oppose us, as a way to again show that we are not an arrogant country, but mindful that we are a part of the global family.  Iran is but one nation that we need to open up lines of communications with.  Obama understands that Syria must also be brought into the larger Middle East discussions.  It is only through a complete new beginning of international understanding and bridge building that the slippage our nation has experienced on the world stage can be stopped, and then reversed.

The start of the closing of Guantanamo, the process of ending the Iraq War, the release of the torture memos,  (though I had hoped Obama would be more insistent on punishing past crimes), and reaching out to the Middle East and Muslim world all have been correct and powerful foundations that he can build his presidency upon. 

I had hoped for a nationalization of the banks for a period of time to see what corrosive assets they had, and also to allow the government to insure that credit flowed quicker through the economy.  However I am delighted at the stimulus bill that passed, though I would have had more funds for school construction, and health care, but those were the limits Congress imposed.  I very much applaud, and support the budget as proposed by the White House.  It is gutsy, and not timid about the need to address a multitude of issues from green technology to health care now, as opposed to some point in the future.   We pay our presidents to work, and I admire the fact Obama is tackling a broad array of issues all at once.

Leadership is not something a politician should talk about.  It is something a politician does.  And thankfully President Obama understands that idea of governing.  His stand on the side of science, and his understanding for the need to explore stem cell research is perhaps one of his finest moments as our leader.

America is ready for the next 100 days!

Must Read: William F. Buckley, Pat Buckley As Seen By Son Christopher Buckley

After making a high-carb, calorie-loaded health drink far too late last evening, I found myself wired and alert for far too long. It was then that I turned to my trusty ever-present pile of reading material, and pulled out one of the top selections.  If the drink had not put me into over-drive, the remarkable read would have.  I wish each of my readers to slow down long enough to enjoy the richness of the writing  in the article linked to below.  To craft words in the fashion Christopher Buckley does is remarkable.  In this case the leaf did not fall far from the tree, but as you will read the tree did not always think the leaf worthy of praise.  To read Christopher’s words is to be lifted up out of the ordinary hodge-podge of ordinary sentences, and tortured meanings, and feel the power of real writing.

Christopher, the son of William F. Buckley and Pat Buckley, shares a reflective, witty, and sometimes somber assessment of what it was like to be around his parents; two power-packed personalities.   I started enjoying the intellectual nature of William’s words as a teenager, but also loved his big infectious smile that radiated so many things all at once.  After reading this article it again confirms why my reading pile never moves until I have read the articles, and then am able to dispose of them.   Portions of the read are below, the full text can be found here.

My only consolation now was that I had finally stopped lobbing feckless, well-worded catapult-balls over Mum’s parapets. I didn’t even say anything to her about the Incident of July 2006. On that occasion, my daughter, Caitlin, Mum’s only granddaughter, went out to Stamford from New York for the night, taking with her her best friend, Kate Kennedy. I know, I know — but there is simply no way to tell this story without using real names.

Cat and Kate look like Irish twins. They have been soul mates since kindergarten. Kate is beautiful, vivacious, bright, witty and very naughty — a Kennedy through and through, nicknamed Kick after her great-aunt. The friendship between these two colleens is perhaps unusual given that their paternal grandfathers, Robert F. Kennedy and William F. Buckley Jr., were on opposite sides of the old political spectrum.

At any rate, here were two enchanting young ladies at a grandparental country manse on a summer night. An occasion for joy, affection, de­lighted conversation. You might . . . sigh . . . suppose. I was not — praise the gods — in attendance, inasmuch as Mum and I were not speaking at the time, owing to a previous disgrace of hers, a real beaut even by her standards. The general mood at the dinner table that night was not leavened by the continued — indeed, persistent — presence of a British aristocrat lady friend of Mum’s, who arrived for a visit 10 days before. Now, nearly a fortnight into her encampment, she showed no signs of leaving. Pup’s graciousness as a host was legendary, but it had limits. The poor man was reduced to japery. So, your ladyship, you must be getting jolly homesick for Merry Olde England by now, eh? Ho, ho, ho. . . . But her ladyship showed no sign of homesickness for Old Blighty. Indeed, she had fastened onto our house with the tenacity of a monomaniacal abalone.

Now, on Day 10 of Pup Held Hostage, his mood had congealed from sullenness to smoldering resentment. Meanwhile, Mum’s protracted, vinous afternoons of gin rummy with her ladyship had her by dinnertime in what might be called the spring-loaded position. In such moods, Mum was capable of wheeling on, say, Neil Armstrong to inform him that he knew nothing — nothing what-so-ever — about astrophysics or lunar landing. No hostess in history has ever set a better dinner table than my mother, but on such evenings, I would rather have supped with al Qaeda in a guano-strewn cave.

At some point, Mum turned to — on might be the more exact preposition — Kate, informing her that she (Mum) had been an alternate juror in the murder trial of Kate’s father’s first cousin Michael Skakel. Skakel, nephew of Ethel Kennedy, Kate’s grandmother, was (as you might be aware) the defendant in a sensational murder trial in Stamford several years before, for the 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley. Having presented this astonishing and perfectly untrue credential, Mum then proceeded to launch into a protracted lecture on the villainy of Kate’s relative.

Leave aside the issue of Skakel’s culpability, for which he is, at any rate, currently serving a 20-years-to-life sentence. Over the years, I heard Mum utter whoppers that would make Pinocchio look button-nosed, but this one really took the prize, in several categories, the first being Manners. Why on earth would you inflict a jeremiad on an innocent 18-year-old girl, your own granddaughter’s best friend? The mind — as Mum herself used to put it — boggles.

This supper-table donnybrook I learned about over the phone, from breathless, reeling Cat and Kate once they reached the sanctuary of the pool after dinner, along with a much-needed bottle of wine. All I could say to poor Kate was a WASP variation on oy vey. By the time I put down the phone, my blood reached Fahrenheit 451, the temperature at which it starts spurting out your ears.

I breathed into a paper bag for a few days and then called Pup. “Well,” I said, “that sounded like a fun dinner. Sorry to miss it.” He feigned ignorance of the Skakel episode; perhaps he had excused himself early and gone upstairs to short-sheet her ladyship’s bed. He was, anyway, past caring at this, my 500th howl about Mum’s behavior. He tried to wave it away with a spuriously subjunctive, “But why would she say something like that if she weren’t a juror at the trial?” (Pup would have made a superb defense attorney) and changed the subject back to what kind of explosives work best for dislodging aristocratic British houseguests.

I remember the time I first caught Mum in some preposterous untruth, as she called it. It, too, featured British aristos. She grew up a debutante in a grand house in Vancouver, British Columbia, the kind of house that even has a name: Shannon. Grand, but Vancouver-grand, which is to say, provincial.

So one night, when I was 6 or so, sitting with the grown-ups at the dinner table, I heard Mum announce that “the king and queen always stayed with us when they were in Vancouver.” By “king and queen” she meant the parents of the current queen of England. My little antennae went twing? I’d never heard my grandparents refer to a royal visit, which is a pretty big deal. I looked at Mum and realized — twang! —that she was telling an untruth. A big untruth. And I remember thinking in that instant how thrilling and grown-up it must be to say something so completely untrue — as opposed to the little amateur fibs I was already practiced at, horrid little apprentice sinner that I was, like the ones about how you’d already said your prayers or washed under the fingernails. Yes, I was impressed. This was my introduction to a lifetime of mendacity. I, too, must learn to say these gorgeous untruths. Imaginary kings and queens will be my houseguests when I am older!

When Mum was in full prevarication, Pup would assume an expression somewhere between a Jack Bennystare and the stoic grimace of a 13th-century saint being burned at the stake. He knew very well that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth did not routinely decamp at Shannon. The funny thing was that he rarely challenged her when she was in the midst of one of her glorious confections. For that matter, no one did. They wouldn’t have dared. Mum had a regal way about her that did not brook contradiction. The only time she ever threatened to spank me was when I told her, in front of others, following one of her more absurd claims, “Oh, come off it!” Her fluent mendacity, combined with adamantine confidence, made her really indomitable. As awful as it often was, thinking back on it now, I’m filled with a sort of perverse pride in her. She was really, really good at it. She would have made a fantastic spy. Really, she would have made a fantastic anything. She was beautiful, theatrical, bright as a diamond, the wittiest woman I have ever known. (Whatever talent I possess as a “humorist” — dreadful word — I owe to her.) She could have done anything; instead, she devoted herself, heart, soul and body, to being Mrs. William F. Buckley Jr. (A full-time job.)

Tell Me This Is A Joke About Brett Favre


I just can’t stand Brett Favre.  I have never liked him, even when most were fawning over him.  And to have to hear endless stories about his future plans again…….let him just go away.  Please.

OK, so we don’t want to get everyone all fired up about this, because it could be nothing. That said …

If Brett Favre wants to go play for the Minnesota Vikings in 2009 — and no one here is saying that he does … yet — the former Green Bay Packers quarterback is one step closer to that possibility after reportedly being released by the New York Jets Tuesday, making him a free agent.

Yes, that means that the stipulation the Packers put in the August 2008 trade that sent Favre to the Jets — that the Jets would owe them three first-round draft picks if they traded Favre to an NFC North team — is null and void.

And Favre, who turns 40 in October, can join the Vikings if the Packers’ archrivals decide to pursue him

Vinyl Records Making Comeback At Best Buy

I feel younger again just reading this. 


Vinyl records have begun to make a slight resurgence, or at least enough of one to warrant a little shelf space in Best Buy.  It turns out that while CD sales have dropped about 20-percent in the last few years, vinyl sales have only increased.  According to the numbers, vinyl record sales increased 15-percent in 2007, 89-percent in 2008 and are expected to increase even more this year.  I know this sounds strange, after all, many geeks feel that the CD is dead, much less vinyl.  However, in 2008 there were 1.9 million vinyl records sold, and already 670,000 in 2009.  It turns out that these numbers are enough to show Best Buy that people still want vinyl and they have begun a pilot program.

The program is planned to begin at 100 stores across the US.  It was noted that the vinyl section would be about 8 square feet of space and contain about 200 albums.  That compares to the total 16-20 square feet of space dedicated to music, which generally includes about 8,000 CDs.  Assuming the test goes well, then Best Buy has plans to add a vinyl section to each of their stores.  And just in case you were wondering how much a vinyl album goes for these days—roughly $22.95. 

Roy Acuff would not understand that price, but…….

Michael Steele In Need Of Medication After Senator Specter Changes Parties

The rhetoric today has been really amusing to hear, as the charged remarks from the Republican Party pile up like wet unusable cord wood in the back yard following Senator Arlen Specter’s decision to align himself with the Democratic Party.  The most bombastic words came from the man who may not have his job very much longer, the current National Republican Party Chairperson,  Michael Steele.  It is after all Steele’s job to broaden the party, not see it shrink even further.  (Less we forget the special congressional election the GOP lost in New York last week on top of today’s shocking news.)  The fact Steele is not moving in the correct direction as party chair makes his words ring hollow.  As such he should have used a more restrained manner when commenting on the big political news today.  But there is not much reasonable maturity in the GOP anymore.  What we witnessed today is as good as they have to offer.

How do you spell GOP?  W-H-I-G

A heated Michael Steele told CNN Tuesday longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter essentially “flipped the bird” at the GOP leadership with his decision to bolt from the party he has been a member of for more than four decades.

Speaking to CNN’s Gloria Borger and Kyra Philips, the Republican National Committee Chairman said it was “not only disrespectful, but downright rude” of Specter to make this decision after the national party made it clear it would stand behind him in a contentious primary fight.

“[National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John] Cornyn went out on the line for this man,” he said. “For the senator to flip the bird back to Senator Cornyn and the Republican Senate Leadership, a team that stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004, to save his hide is not only disrespectful but down right rude,”

“I’m sure his mama didn’t raise him this way,” Steele added.

Steele, who said Specter had not given the party leadership a heads up about his decision, also expressed confidence the Pennsylvania senator would either lose a Democratic primary in his home state or the general election to the eventual Republican candidate.

“I seriously doubt he’ll have a scot-free ride on the Democratic side no matter what kind of deal the trial lawyers and Democratic Party have made,” Steele said. “[Pennsylvania] Gov. Ed Rendell may not run for the U.S. Senate, but a lot of congressmen will look at that seat — this is an open seat for the Democrats.”

“If Sen. Specter survives in the fall — get ready to go to the mat, baby, because we’re coming after you and taking you out,” added Steele.

Holy Cow! Sen. Arlen Specter Now A Democrat

This was rumored, but I never thought it to be more than a wish.

Veteran Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter told colleagues Tuesday that he switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party, Sen. Harry Reid says.

The fact is that the Republican Party is becoming a more smaller, and even more  anally-retentive conservative group that plays to the meaner and more narrow-minded in the nation.  Where the GOP goes to find a majority again is a mystery.  Arlen Specter could not abide that type of party any longer.

The Specter party switch would give Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60 seats if Al Franken holds his current lead in the disputed Minnesota Senate race.

“Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right,” Specter said in a statement posted by his office on

“Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”

Specter, a five-term Senate veteran, was greeted by a loud, sustained round of applause by dozens of constituents outside his Washington office shortly after the news broke.

Welcome to the Democratic Party, Arlen.

Craigslist Killer Philip Markoff “Was A Traditionalist”

Normally I do not post about such things on my blog, but the story about Philip Markoff, the ‘Craigslist killer’, is really different, and also truly disturbing.  Yesterday as James and I walked in a bookstore the image of Markoff was on the cover of a national magazine.  We stopped, and both remarked that he was young, good-looking, upward bound as a medical student, and also now about to be sent away for life on a charge of murder.  I guess it is natural to wonder how the image of perfection is unhinged by the disorders of the mind. 

Today The New York TImes provides more details into the past life of the ‘Craigslist killer’.

Later, at the University at Albany, Mr. Markoff was a member of the College Republicans, and traveled to Washington in 2004 to hear speeches by Ann Coulter and Karl Rove.

“We were surrounded by such a left-wing student body, and he was more like me: he didn’t really share those sentiments,” said one classmate, Jonathan Zierler, who said he had accompanied Mr. Markoff on the trip. “He was a traditionalist as far as things like men and women’s roles in society. He was a throwback from a more conservative era.”

Pressed for details of his character, friends and acquaintances have described a young man who was competitive but not cutthroat, politically opinionated but not confrontational, nerdy but not painfully so.

The next paragraph is where is gets weird, and also more interesting in relation to the murder.  I think there are a number of folks who will read this, and think the same thing.

Mr. Zierler could not remember Mr. Markoff’s ever having a girlfriend until he met Ms. McAllister in his sophomore year at Albany, when they volunteered in an emergency room.

But while Mr. Markoff’s seemingly normal life has crumbled in the week since his arrest on charges of killing one woman and robbing another at gunpoint after meeting them through Craigslist, hints have been slow to emerge as to why he might have committed the crimes.