The White House Christmas Tree 2012 arrives at The White House by horse drawn carriage (Click Image To Enlarge)
On Friday, November 23, 2012, The White House Christmas Tree arrives by horse drawn carriage. The First Lady Michelle Obama is presented with the White House Christmas Tree, which will be displayed in the Blue Room of the White House, a tradition ince 1966. The White House Christmas tree is a 19-foot Fraser fir and was grown and harvested by Peak Farms in Jefferson, N.C., which is owned by Rusty and Beau Estes.
First Lady Michele Obama talks about the spirit of Christmas 2012 and how hundreds of volunteers participated in decorating The White House so that it sparkles during the Christmas holidays.
Time-lapse video of The White House Christmas Tree for 2012 being decorated.
First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes military families, including Gold Star and Blue Star parents, spouses and children, to the White House for the first viewing of the 2012 holiday decorations.
In this video, Bo the First Dog and Obama family pet inspects the White House decorations and Christmas Tree, including a paper mache statue of himself.
COMMENTARY: I hope you enjoyed The White House Christmas Tree 2012.
The U.S. may have had secret plans to detonate an atomic bomb on the moon at the height of the Cold War (Click Image To Enlarge)
A story that surfaced over a decade ago is making the rounds again this week, as some media outlets are reporting that the U.S. considered detonating an atomic bomb on the moon in an effort to intimidate the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.
On Sunday,the Daily Mail revived the story, citing a 12-year-old interview with physicist Leonard Reiffel, formerly of the U.S. military-backed Armour Research Foundation and later a deputy director of NASA. Celebrated astronomer Carl Sagan also was said to have been involved with the secret project, which reportedly was known as "A Study of Lunar Research Flights" or "Project A119." Sagan died in 1996.
In the interview, Reiffel reportedly said the plan had been to launch a rocket that would deliver a small nuclear device to the moon's surface, where it would detonate.
Reiffel, now 85, is believed to be the only official to have publicly confirmed his association with the project. However, a 190-page document called "A Study of Lunar Research Flights, Volume I" dated June 19, 1959 is available online through the Information for the Defense Community database. The document, available in PDF format, is credited to Reiffel and bears the heading of Air Force Special Weapons Center and the Air Research and Development Command based at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
Click Image To Enlarge
The abstract reads:
Nuclear detonations in the vicinity of the moon are considered in this report along with scientific information which might be obtained from such explosions. The military aspect is aided by investigation of space environment, detection of nuclear device testing, and capability of weapons in space. A study was conducted of various theories of the moon's structure and origin, and a description of the probable nature of the lunar surface is given. The areas discussed in some detail are optical lunar studies, seismic observations, lunar surface and magnetic fields, plasma and magneti3 field effects, and organic matter on the moon.
Military officials abandoned the idea, Reiffel said, in part because of the danger it posed to people on Earth if the mission failed. Scientists also were concerned about contaminating the moon with radioactive material.
In a new interview with The Huffington Post, Richard Rhodes, a Pulitzer-prize-winning author and an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, said he was unfamiliar with Project A119. If there had been a plan to send a nuclear missile to the moon in the 1950s, he said, it would have been hard-pressed to advance past the study stage. The first Soviet craft crash-landed on the moon in 1959, followed three years later by the American craft Ranger 4, reports National Geographic.
"I doubt we had any rockets that would have had the power to leave earth's orbit and hit the moon," Rhodes said. "It takes a lot of power to take things out of earth's gravitational pull, much more than to just put something in orbit."
If there had been a secret plan, the show of U.S. technological prowess would have been meant as a counter to Sputnik, Rhodes added.
Though nuking the moon sounds far-fetched, Rhodes said some of the projects that grew out of Cold War tensions were far from funny.
"One of the craziest things we ever did was develop and deploy nuclear tipped anti-aircraft missiles, plane to plane. That's always seemed like insanity," he said. Once miniaturized nuclear weapons were created, "as all the services wanted their share--so they had to think of some use for these things, and their uses were marginally insane," at least by today's risk-reward standards, he said.
When asked about the project, the U.S. Air Force declined to comment, the Associated Press reported in 2000.
COMMENTARY: What a crazy, idiotic idea to bomb the Moon, just to demonstrate our machismo and flex our nuclear muscles just to intimidate the U.S.S.R. Growing up during the height of the Cold War, I can clearly remember the air raid warning alarms and nuclear bomb safety tests that the schools used to conduct. The teachers would get the students in their classes to crawl under their desks and pretend there was a nuclear bomb attack. These tests would've done absolutely zero to protect us in the event of a real nuclear attac.
The whole idea of arming ourselves with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the World 100 times over on the theory that our enemies would never use their nukes is pure lunacy. If you ask me, all of this is done just to keep the Military Industrial Complex in business making weapons of mass destruction and the latest in tech weaponry.
Courtesy of an article dated November 28, 2012 appearing in The Huffington Post and an article dated November 28, 2012 appearing in CNN.com
The 2012 General Election is now officially over and in the history books. Florida finished counting its 2012 General Election votes and as everybody had already predicted two days ago, President Barack Obama won the State of Florida's 29 electoral votes with 49.9% of the total votes, and former Massahusetts Governor Mitt Romney winning only 49.3%. President Obama also won the popular vote with 50.5% or 61.164 million votes versus 48.0% or 58.159 million votes,
AN ELECTION DAY INFOGRAPHIC TALLIES UP THE MONEY DRIVING BOTH CAMPAIGNS, ILLUSTRATING THE VAST DIFFERENTIAL BETWEEN 2012 AND EVERY OTHER ELECTION YEAR.
Well, the day is finally here. Whether you voted early or are running to the polls today, it’s going to be a tough one to sit through. We all know infographics are a noted cure for anxiety (and a leading cause of distraction), so here’s one more 2012 election graphic from Best Degree Programs to keep you busy until you can go home and park yourself in front of the TV.
This election cycle has been dominated by stories about money: the candidates’ own money. The candidates’ plans for America’s money. The money (or lack thereof) of their supporters. Theexorbitant sums of money given by unseen interest groups. Theexorbitant sums of money each campaign will have spent by the closing of polls today.
Click The Infographic To Enlarge
But then, it seems like every election in living memory has been the subject of campaign finance controversy. Were this year’s fundraising tallies really so astronomical? According to this inflation-adjusted comparison of every election since 1860, yes. Yes, they were. In 2011 money, Obama and Romney have outspent every presidential candidate since Lincoln defeated Douglas (Lincoln would have spent $2.8 million total had he run this year) by several hundred million dollars.
There are some other interesting insights to be had, too, if your delicate constitution can handle the over-the-top graphic design. For one, a comparison of who gave what to each campaign reveals that most of Obama’s donations came in small sums. Obama raised $354 million of his campaign funds in individual donations under $200, while Romney only received $78 million in donations under the same amount. Romney made up the difference in donations over $2,000, which contributed $170 million to his campaign.Meanwhile, Obama’s big spenders contributed a paltry $92 million. The huge disparities in these numbers speak both to the Obama campaign’s deft outreach strategy (Rufus Gifford, you sly son of a gun) and to the income brackets of Obama and Romney supporters.
Unsurprisingly, conservative super PACs have outspent their democratic rivals by more than $200 million. Restore Our Future, a Romney super PAC, will have spent $142 million over the past year. The largest democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action, will have spent less than half of that. The story is much the same when it comes to partisan committee raising, with the RNC outdoing the DNC by roughly $100 million.
In other words: The popular little-guy-versus-big-guy narrative is largely true when you compare the finances of each campaign. But when it comes to a historical reading of this year’s fundraising, both candidates are big guys.
If you want to go deeper (and ditch the graphics), check out the New York Times’ excellent interactive tally here. Infographic via Business Insider.
COMMENTARY: It's remarkable just how funds U.S. Presidential candidates need to run their election campaigns. Although President Obama out-raised Romney in individual donations, he lost by a huge margin when it came to Super-Pacs contributions. Romney can thank former President George W. Bush and a majority Congress and Senate for passing legislation making unlimited Super-Pac contributions.
The morale of this story is that money DOES NOT buy elections, and in the final analysis, President Barack Obama won because he was true to principles, positions and campaign pledges. Romney was all over the place and changed his political positions constantly. Romney alienated minorities, hispanics, young voters, and the poor with his "47%" comment during a fund raiing event, and his comment about "binders of women"
With his re-election all-but-confirmed, President Barack Obama took to Twitter to thank his supporters in a series of tweets. First with a "This happened because of you. Thank you.", "We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you. -bo" and then simply a "Four more years." with a picture of the first couple hugging.
Around 11:15 pm EST, just as the networks were beginning to call the race in his favor, Obama took to Twitter to proclaim himself the winner over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
"This happened because of you. Thank you."
That the president would take his message to Twitter before taking the stage in Chicago underscored the tremendous role social media platforms like Twitter played in the 2012 election.
Minutes later, with the race called in his favor, Obama tweeted again.
"We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you. -bo."
Through the course of a long and bitter presidential campaign, Twitter often served as the new first rough draft of history.
Top campaign aides used the Internet tool to snipe at each other, the candidates used it to get out their messages and political reporters used it to inform and entertain.
On Election Night, the tweets were flowing.
By 10 p.m. EST, with the race still up for grabs, Twitter announced it had broken records.
There were more than 31 million election-related tweets on Tuesday night, making Election Night Twitter spokeswoman Rachael Horwitz. Between 6 p.m. and midnight EST, said that there were more than 23 million tweets. She said.
"This was the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history."
Horwitz noted the previous record was 10 million, during the first presidential debate on October 3.
"Twitter brought people closer to almost every aspect of the election this year. From breaking news, to sharing the experience of watching the debates, to interacting directly with the candidates, Twitter became a kind of nationwide caucus."
In the moments following Obama's win, Twitter was in a frenzy, with a peak of 327,000 tweets a minute.
Another tweet from Obama, one that read: "Four more years" and showed a picture of him hugging his wife, became the most retweeted tweet in the history of the site.
'FIRST TWITTER ELECTION'
Love it or hate it, Twitter and its role in politics appears to be here to stay.
For Rob Johnson, campaign manager for Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry's failed presidential run, had this to say.
"Twitter changed the dynamic this cycle and will continue to play a bigger role in years to come. We no longer click refresh on websites or wait for the paper boy to throw the news on our porch. We go to Twitter and learn the facts before others read it."
The 2012 race was the first where Twitter played such an important role. Top campaign advisers like Romney's Eric Fehrnstrom and Obama's David Axelrod engaged in Twitter battles through the year.
With many political reporters and campaign staff on Twitter and Facebook, social media websites were often the first place news broke. Some top news stories were kept alive or thrust into the headlines after becoming hot topics on Twitter.
Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said in an email.
"It was one heckuva echo chamber."
Johnson said Twitter was the driving force behind some of the year's biggest political news stories.
"The twitterverse shapes the news and public opinion. The Internet is truly a real and powerful tool in politics."
In future elections, candidates and their campaign staffs will have to include social media as another battleground, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said.
"This was the first Twitter election and social media is now fully a part of our election mechanics. Going forward candidates must have an aggressive social media strategy if they want to win."
COMMENTARY: President Obama also announced his re-election Facebook, but for some reaon neglected to post anything on Google+, so I took the initiative.
Courtesy of an article dated November 7, 2012 appearing in Reuters
COMMENTARY: As of Wednesday evening, November 7, 2012, President Barack Obama had 49.87 percent of the statewide vote versus 49.27 percent for Romney, with just 49,963 votes separating them, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Officials throughout the state blamed an unexpectedly high number of absentee ballots and the length of the ballots, which included 11 proposed state constitutional amendments, for long lines at polling places and delays in tallying final results.
But Republican Governor Rick Scott's decision not to extend early voting ahead of Election Day, after it was cut back from 14 to eight days by Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature, was also cited as causing exceedingly long voter lines at many precincts on Tuesday.
Democrats have said repeatedly that the cutback was a part of an unsuccessful attempt to blunt turnout in Florida by Obama supporters.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez apologized for the long lines in his county on Wednesday, after acknowledging that some voters had been forced to wait up to six hours to cast their ballots.
Gimenez, whose county accounts for about 10 percent of Florida's nearly 12 million registered voters said.
"That should not have happened. We had a very long ballot. It was the longest ballot in Florida history."
The final margin of victory in Florida may be less than a percentage point.
Some political pundits say the delays highlight Florida's seeming inability to hold elections that are free of controversy and public mockery.
Seth Gordon, a former political consultant based in Miami said.
"There are so many different potential sources of interference and conscious efforts to muck it up, we won't know for a while yet who to point the finger at. We could have been there in the bulls-eye of the whole works looking idiotic just like last time," he said, referring to 2000, when George Bush won Florida by 537 and captured the White House. We may be just as idiotic this time, but it doesn't matter because no one is watching. Last time, we held up the entire country."
As of 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 7, 2012, all of Florida's votes still had not been counted. However, preliminary totals are available as follows:
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As you can readily see, President Barack Obama is ahead of Governor Mitt Romney by about 47,000 votes, but according to several election analysts, the final Florida vote count lead is not likely to change much, but increase in favor of President Obama, because the remaining uncounted ballots are from voters in heavily Democratic Dade and Broward counties.
The latest electoral college map for the 2012 presidential election shows North Carolina's 15 electoral votes back as a toss up, as both President Barack Obama (Democratic Party) and Republican candidate Willard Mitt Romney are registered in a tie for the state, according to a Public Policy Polling Survey.
Real Clear Politis has now moved the state back into the toss up category, resulting in Obama leading in predicted Electoral College votes 201 to 191, according to RCP. That leaves 146 electoral votes as undecided still.
Electoral College Map on October 26, 2012 - Clear Politics (Click Image To Enlarge)
Just last week RCP had moved North Carolina as a "Leans Romney" state, but that "lean" now appears to be wiped out, and the state is still anyone's to call.
Some sources still maintain, however, that Romney will ultimately take the state; FiveThirtyEight has given the Republican candidate an 81 percent chance of winning the 15 electoral votes available there.
North Carolina has historically been a Republican leaning state, and in 2008 it was in fact the first time the Democrats had won the state since 1976.
Meanwhile Virginia is also an extremely tight contest, according to new polls. That state also was a Republican stronghold until the 2008 presidential election. President Obama won Virginia for the Democrats for the first time since 1964. At present a number of polls has Romney very marginally ahead of Obama in Virginia, but it's still too close to call confidently.
COMMENTARY: This is how Real Clear Politics sees the 2012 Presidential Race between President Barack Obama and Willard Mitt Romney as of October 26, 2012. RCP shows that the odds favor President Obama. RCP predicts that Obama ahead of Romney without Toss Up States: 201 to 191. Counting Toss Up States, Obama wins the Electoral College vote 290 to 248.
Click Image To Enlarge
In the key Battleground States of Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado and Iowa, President Obama has low single-digit leads over Romney. Obama has a slight lead in Ohio (48.2 vs 46.3 or +1.9), New Hampshire (48.6 vs 47.2 or +1.4) and Iowa (49 vs 46.7 or +2.3). Romney has slight leads over President Obama slightly in Florida (48.9 vs 47.1 or +1.8). Both President Obama and Romney are in a virtual tie in Virginia (47.8 to 47.8) and Colorado (47.8 to 47.8).
The 2012 election is going right down to the wire. It could be as close as it was in 2000 when George W. Bush squeeked by Al Gore when Florida took him over the top. That margin of victory in Florida was by less than 1,000 votes after several recounts. There was so much controversy during the 2000 Presidential Election, that the final decision regarding Florida went to the U.S. Supreme Court where the conservative judges voted straight across the board for Bush, 5 to 4. I have hated Bush ever since then.
Let's hope that there is not a 269 to 269 tie in the Electoral College. That could be a disaster for the country, because then the House of Representatives would vote for President. That would not take place until after the new House of Representatives is sworn into office in January 2013. What a mess that would be. Each state would count as one vote depending on how the congressmen in each state voted. This means that New Hampshire would have as much weight as California. It is also possible that some of the representatives could cross-over and vote against their party line. Since there are more Red states than Blue States, it is very likely that Romney would win the House vote.
We’re just a few weeks away from the 2012 U.S. presidential elections, and social media has played an enormously important role in what is arguably the first time a digital election strategy has been employed by both candidates.
Did you know that, on average, President Barack Obama’s Twitter followers grow three times faster than his Facebook fans? Or that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s engagement rate is eighteen times higher on Facebook than on Twitter?
This, and other key matchup data, can be found in this infographic from Socialakers, which takes a closer look at how the presidential race is playing out on Twitter and Facebook.
Click Image To Enlarge
COMMENTARY: President Obama was the first U.S. Presidential candidate to make full utilization of social media as a way to communicate his "Yes we can" mission statement and political positions from women's rights to income taxes. As you can clearly see, President Obama leads in the number of total fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Mitt Romney is piling up faster rates of growth in fans and followers and engagement, but this is only because President Obama is starting from a larger fan or follower base.
So who has the most electoral votes so far?
According to a HuffPost Pollster's latest averages of state-wide and national opinion polls of registered voters, POTUS Barack Obama would win 332 electoral votes versus only 191 for Willard Mitt Romney if the election were held TODAY.
Everything may hinge on how well POTUS Obama and Willard perform during the upcoming debates. Willard could kick Obie's ass during the debate, but many pollsters now believe that voters favorable towards POTUS Obama are doing so because they believe that Willard does not represent 47% of the population, is generally dishonest, looks out mostly for the interests of the richest Americans, and would try to destroy everything POTUS Obama has accomplished during his first term.
Click To View An Interactive U.S. Presidential Electoral Map and see how each state is leaning towards
Courtesy of an article dated October 1, 2012 appearing in MediaBistro
Willard says, "Believe in America," but he "Invests in the Caymans"
The more everyone finds out about Mitt Romney's finances, the more questions they have. Perhaps that's why he's hiding as much as he thinks he can get away with.
Today, The Boston Globe reported that Romney was still running Bain Capital two years after he claims he left the firm, directly contradicting his campaign's denial that he was involved in deals that led to layoffs, bankruptcies, and American jobs getting shipped overseas.
It's a pattern of secrecy, and this is just the latest example of him trying to hide the truth from voters. There are a number of issues in play right now -- and voters deserve answers:
Mitt Romney refuses to release multiple years of taxes, ignoring decades of precedent.
He won't disclose his "bundlers," the people raising millions for his campaign.
He is the sole owner of a questionable shell corporation in Bermuda.
Until recently, Romney kept cash in a Swiss bank account.
According to The Boston Globe, he hasn't been honest about when he was running Bain Capital, even though legal documents refute his claims.
Share this graphic to help get the facts out (and, if you haven't already, join the Truth Team).
COMMENTARY: I think it's time that Willard Mitt Romney came clean with the American people about his past. Releasing one year's tax returns (2010 only) is not enough. I want to know more. I want to know his sources of income for the past five years. I want to know why he had that Swiss Bank account. Why does he have so many investments in foreign countries and refusing to provide details about those investments? I wrote about this in a previous blog post. Is Willard deliberately trying to avoid paying income taxes? God, I hope not. I want to know who his donors are, don't you? Now The Boston Globe is reporting that Willard was still running Bain Capital for two years longer than he claimed. We deserve a POTUS that is honest, don't you think?