Tag Archives: Barack Obama

If only whales could vote …

UPDATE, Nov. 13, 2012
We still don’t know much about the methods that campaigns use to persuade voters, including the mining of Facebook data. But ProPublica brings us some information in an article titled “Everything We Know (So Far) About Obama’s Big Data Tactics.” While this doesn’t have much to do with water issues, it certainly ties into the email that Susan Berta received on election day.

Earlier today, Susan Berta of Orca Network received what appears to be a computer-generated email from President Obama’s campaign headquarters. The email, probably part of a final push for votes, has generated some election-day levity.

Here’s the message:

“Hey Susan — don’t wait a moment.
“Share this on Facebook with Lolita and xxxx — and tell them to vote today. They live in battleground states where, even at this time on Election Day, this is still anybody’s race. They’re more likely to vote if you remind them — and when the polls close, you’ll know you gave President Obama a nice last-minute lift.”

Lolita, of course, is the killer whale from Puget Sound who has spent most of her life in a tank in Miami’s Seaquarium. (See Water Ways, Oct. 24.) Florida is indeed a battleground state where both President Obama and Mitt Romney are looking for every vote they can get.

Susan probably received the message based on her personal Facebook page, where she is signed up as friends with numerous advocates who would like to bring Lolita back home to Puget Sound. Some people use the word “Lolita” in the name of their Facebook page dedicated to the whale. No doubt some computer made the connection between Susan and her “friend” Lolita, who is old enough to vote … if only she were human.

Susan told me she didn’t want to post anything political on Orca Network’s Facebook page, but she couldn’t resist sharing this email with a wider audience. I told her this isn’t political; it’s just funny.

Now, if whales were given the power of the ballot, what kind of voting block would they become? And how would candidates appeal to this minority group?

Norm Dicks is dealt a new hand to play

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks summed up his place in the next Congress by quoting former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox:

“You have to play the hand you are dealt.”

Norm Dicks

Norm Dicks, the Belfair Democrat, is well known for bringing home federal dollars to restore streams and estuaries throughout Puget Sound. Everywhere he goes, he’s patted on the back for the many restoration projects that seem to be improving conditions for fish and wildlife. After last week’s election, everyone from shellfish growers to Gov. Chris Gregoire must be wondering what will happen next to Puget Sound funding.

Norm told me after the election that he has always worked well with Republicans on the Interior and Defense appropriations subcommittees, the two bodies where he has recently served as chairman. (See my story in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun.) Before 2006, as ranking minority member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, he helped launch an initiative to restore facilities in rundown national parks, an effort that continues to today.

Maybe Norm’s 34 years in the House gives him a special perspective, but he seems undaunted by House Republicans, who appear to be in no mood for major spending on programs like the national parks. To me, it looks like we’re going to have gridlock between the House, controlled by Republicans, and the Senate, controlled by Democrats.

Dicks wishes more voters nationwide would have recognized how many jobs were created by the federal stimulus package. He doesn’t think cutting taxes, as Republicans propose, will create many new jobs. And reducing the federal budget will cause layoffs — at least in government — with ripple effects in the economy.

On “60 Minutes” (9:42 into Part 1), correspondent Steve Kroft asked President Obama, “What can you do to create jobs that hasn’t already been done?”

Obama’s answer was not surprising:
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Amusing Monday: Get ready for a new breed of political humor

I enjoy political humor, and I look forward to the “change” we can anticipate with a shift in political party and power.

Can we expect Barack Obama to supply us the raw material for political humor to get us through the next four years? YES WE CAN!

I tend to favor humor that turns issues on their sides and upside down, giving us a surprising perspective on familiar and expected events. I’m uncomfortable with the harsh ridicule of politicians.

With Obama’s inaugural this week, I turned to The Onion and You Tube to celebrate this event.

The first video below is a congressional debate over a ceremonial dance to be held at the inaugural. The second dwells on the remarkable swoon over Obama’s candidacy and successful election. The third satirizes the expectations for an Obama presidency, with a final poke at the verbal foibles of President Bush.

We all want Obama to succeed in these serious times, but let’s try not to become bogged down in the nation’s problems. Laughter has a strange way of lightening our load. I hope we can laugh with Obama and even at him over the next four years, because he is not Superman and we don’t wish him to be.

Are you ready for renewed debate over Arctic drilling?

Although presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama are both opposed to drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it appears this decades-old debate over Arctic oil is beginning to warm up again.

Higher gasoline prices and the outspoken support of McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, seems to have opened the door to new discussions about drilling anywhere in the United States — especially Alaska.

So, as an environmental reporter in the state closest to Alaska, I’m beginning to think about how and when to cover this story. A lot has been written about this issue through the years. I can dust off my old files, track down recent reports about drilling technology and begin to consider the political forces at work. Let’s see how the upcoming election shapes the debate.

In the meantime, here are some recent columns and stories I found interesting:

David Shukman of the British Broadcasting Corporation wrote a cursory story about the issue yesterday, complete with a video fly-over of Alaskan oil fields. It serves as a quick refresher on the debate.

Rick Steiner, a University Alaska professor, took Palin to task for what he sees as her willingness to sacrifice Alaska’s environment. His column was published in Sunday’s Seattle PI.

Lars Laestadius of the World Resources Institute suggests that a prerequisite to drilling in the Arctic should be “public monitoring” of oil exploration and development like nothing that’s ever been done before.

If anyone comes upon an interesting story about drilling — in the Arctic or anywhere else — feel free to pass along a link as a comment on this entry.

Amusing Monday: President Bush and his e-mail

I’ll preface this entry by saying that Jon Stewart often over-simplifies what the Bush administration is doing (now there’s a setup for a punchline), but you have to admit that this issue involving the e-mail from EPA was pretty amusing.I think Stewart must be dreading the day that Bush leaves office. But I don’t think anyone has to worry that the fun will come to an end. Both John McCain and Barack Obama are far from immune to errors in their speech or actions. I found a couple of videos that I can show you that point out recent gaffes they have made.

On a somewhat serious note, out of dozens of amateur videos on the Internet about the candidates, it was hard to find some that poked fun or held them up to ridicule without crossing the line in hatefulness. I was disturbed at the level of anger that some people have against a candidate they oppose. I probably won’t be wasting any more time searching for appropriate political humor in the vast video wasteland.