Barack Obama on Etch-A-Sketch

Obama portrait drawn on an Etch-A-Sketch

This portrait of President Barack Obama was created by artist George Vlosich using an Etch-A-Sketch toy. The picture took 80 hours to draw using the two dials in one, unbroken line. In addition to this piece, the artist has created several more portraits that are equally impressive, although trying to duplicate them might take some work.



Afghanistan: We Need Focus, Not Surges

NOTE: Also posted at Huffington Post Your comments there would be appreciated. Huff has a habit of submerging posts in rapid fashion and has done so with this.


Focus, not surges, is what is needed in Afghanistan.

Surges is what Joe Lieberman is proposing, in a widely praised speech given at the Brookings Institution. READ IT HERE

The first surge that Lieberman proposes is in coherence. The final reason that the Senator gives for all his surges is that Afghanistan is the center of global Islamic terrorism. And that we must overcome it there.

There are several problens with Lieberman’s approach besides the fact that terrorism has no geographical limits and that it is more a mindset than the province of any group or religion.

1. We cannot defeat the Taliban militarily. Lieberman suggests we could, with a coherent strategy. We can no more beat the Taliban than we could beat the willing suicide soldiers of Ho Chi Minh. We need to talk, not merely to the Taliban but all terrorists.

President Obama has been doing this in his own utterances.

The battle against “Islamic terrorism” is a code word for unilateral military conquest.In reality, terrorism is a mindset that has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with an exit from tolerable civil behavior, wherever it occurs.

2. We cannot ensure that the coming elections in Afghanistan will go our way, whatever that might be. A fight with the Taliban to ensure “fair” elections assumes that Afghanistan is a functioning democratic state that can exercise central control over its disparate centers of leadership. Karzai with his corrupt associations has demonstrated the weakness of an effort that is completely reactive to the Taliban.

3. We cannot “nice” our way to any good end in Afghanistan. The notion that a benevolent approach would result in sowing love where there is now resentment is as fatuous as assuming that Iraq will operate on anything other than the conflicting self-interests of its various factions.

What then is an honest answer for Afghanistan?

Talk to the Taliban.

Make the quest for Al Queda, which is itself fraught with ironical dangers when it comes to preventing even more terrorist activity, dependent on an invitation from Pakistan.

Figure out an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

If we are going to play an active role in a global effort to counter terrorism and genocide, do it through acceptable channels.

The Lieberman route is the neocon route and violates every Niebuhrian caution in the book. The only protection against this is the instincts of Barack Obama and of the military observers who are not afraid to utter the word quagmire.

We do not need the Lieberman surges. We need sage disengagement coupled with a tough assault on terrorism, where and when we are invited to do so. Not an an Islamic phenomenon, but as the unacceptable action of any group or individual who believes they have the right to take innocent lives to further political ends.


Mitch Stewart Is on The Case

This will probably appear on the Obama Blog soon.

Stephen —

Sign up to host a house meeting Last year, America lost 2.6 million jobs. This week, some of our biggest companies announced plans to cut tens of thousands more.

The economic crisis is deepening, but President Obama and members of Congress have proposed a recovery plan that will put more than 3 million Americans back to work.

You can learn more about how the plan will help your community by organizing an Economic Recovery House Meeting.

Join thousands of people across the country who are coming together to watch a special video about the recovery plan. Invite your friends and neighbors to watch the video with you and have a conversation about your community’s economic situation.

The economic crisis can seem overwhelming and complex, but you can help the people you know connect the recovery plan to their lives and learn more about why it’s so important.

Sign up to host an Economic Recovery House Meeting the weekend of Friday, February 6th.

The President’s plan passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. But if it’s going to move forward, we need to avoid the usual partisan games.

That’s why supporters are opening their homes to talk with neighbors and friends about how the plan will work — and what it means for their community.

The video will outline the basics of the plan and how it will impact working families. It will also include answers to questions from folks across the country. Invite your friends and family to watch the video, discuss the plan, and help build support for it.

Don’t worry if you’ve never hosted a house meeting before — we’ll make sure you have everything you need to make it a success.

Take the first step right now by signing up to host an Economic Recovery House Meeting:


Time and again, you’ve demonstrated your commitment to change. Now you can help America move in an important new direction.

Please forward this email to your friends and family, and encourage them to get involved as well.

Thank you for your hard work,


Mitch Stewart
Organizing for America


Bonus Watch — 1

I am not sure how long I will continue this series. But we should have some info on the depth and scope of the bonus issue. President Obama has deemed the Wall Street bonuses shameful.

How prevalent were they and who got them? Here from Forbes, the first installment.

Study Says 80% Of Wall Street Got 2008 Bonus
Maurna Desmond, 01.28.09, 06:40 PM EST
Merrill’s John Thain wasn’t the only one handing out the checks last year.

Recently axed Merrill Lynch chief John Thain is getting lynched for handing out some $3 to $4 billion in bonuses to employees just before the firm merged with Bank of America. But Thain wasn’t the only one handing our checks last year.

While 2008 was a devastating time for investors, 79% of Wall Street workers received bonuses, according to a study by employment Web site efinancialcareers.com.

“Following one of the most tumultuous years in financial history, smart people who did good work deserve to be recognized,” said John Benson, the site’s founder. “The future of the financial services industry may be opaque, but the industry has a vital role to play in the global economy–and that requires talent.”

Of the talented masters of the universe surveyed, a little less than half, or 46%, took home the same or more than the previous year. The jump in compensation most frequently rose less than 10% year-over-year, while those who made less than they did in 2007 usually took a hit between 31% and 50%. Keep in mind, the S&P index fell 38.5% under their watchful eye last year.

Last year’s bonuses only satisfied 26% of respondents, and 46% were “at a minimum dissatisfied with their bonus.” Of those expressing their great displeasure, nearly nine in 10 had been on Wall Street for five years or less.

It gets worse. More than half of respondents said they’d be job hunting this year; 20% said they are unhappy in their role and 10% say their jobs are likely to be eliminated altogether. Not surprisingly, 39% said they’d be “open to a better opportunity.”

Better than getting paid to lose other people’s money? Try spending it. The federal government is hiring.



Obama for America Is Now Organizing for America

If you go back to the beginning of the proddings here after the election, you will understand how delighted I am that the transition that will tell the tale is now taking place. It is not the transition to Obama governance. That is only the fruit of our effort so far and it is obvious that the President agrees.

It looks very much as though the entire Obama for America apparatus — that is to say US — will be moving to Organizing for America, which will be within the DNC. I cannot help thinking of those who have passed on who are sitting up in their graves and applauding. It reminds me a bit of how the initial Franciscans managed to function within the body of Roman Catholicism.

And it looks ti me as though David Plouffe is not going to be the front man for either the DNC or OFA. I suspect he will remain his resolute, but somewhat reticent, self and mastermind the entire thing, being half in the mind of the President and half in the mind of the people and knowing that in symbiosis lies the secret. The one the MSM did not get until the strength of the Obama ground game was proved. The one the MSM (even the sympathetic MSM) does not fully grasp yet.

The bottom line of this is that decency in politics will amount to the victory formula for some time to come. This is what the Republicans do not yet understand as they flip around in their emptying aquarium. They will, however, come to see that a truly issue-centered politics, where sides taken lead not to division but to better solutions, is on the way.

The bottom line is that we are not here for a quick 100 day fix. We are here for an eight to sixteen year makeover that is going to do exactly what President Obama has been saying and hinting at from the very beginning.

To see the name change go HERE and look at the graphic title at the top of the page. While there, sign up if you are not already involved. I predict we are looking at a doubling of the Obama constituency in the next few months as this great news gets out.


More on Nuclear Power from Atomic Insights

OK. Here first is Al Gore’s recent testimony as it touches on nuclear power:

Now on nuclear, I used to represent Oak Ridge, as you do now, where my constituents were in those years immune to the impacts of radiation, so I was very enthusiastic about nuclear power. And I came to the Congress in 1976 as a very strong supporter of nuclear power. I have grown skeptical about the degree to which it will expand. I’m not opposed to it, but there is now in the industry absolutely zero ability to predict with any confidence what the cost of construction is. The nuclear waste storage problem will undoubtedly be solved, but there are other problems. They only come in one size, extra-large.

And here is Bob Adams’ immediate reply:

Let me stop for a moment and ask all of you to help me remind the politicians that they need to have good researchers on their staffs that can help them avoid silly statements. Gore has made this “extra-large” comment many times in the past, even though nuclear plants have always come in a variety of sizes, even commercially.

I would say that the case for nuclear is at least serious and perhaps crucial and since, today, I am suggesting that President Obama line up his talking points for a jeremiad plus a vision of the new economy, to be done this weekend and given as a speech next week, I think reading the entire piece about Al Gore is a good idea.

CLICK HERE FOR ATOMIC INSIGHTS BLOG’S If the Planet is in Peril – Why Are the Biggest Doomsayers So Focused on the “Cost” of Nuclear Power?

Let me stop for a moment and ask all of you to help me remind the politicians that they need to have good researchers on their staffs that can help them avoid silly statements. Gore has made this “extra-large” comment many times in the past, even though nuclear plants have always come in a variety of sizes, even commercially.