Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category

The Great Wall

With Obama’s trip to the Great Wall of China, I thought this would be an appropriate time to recycle and old post about Nixon’s visit to the wall.

From my sister:

I had to send you this quotation, which I got from the book I am teaching tomorrow, a book of poems by Yunte Huang called _Cribs_. It appears in a footnote to the poem. “Note–When Richard Nixon went to China in 1972, his Chinese hosts took him to see the Great Wall. The first thing Nixon said upon arrival was: ‘What a great wall.”

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Well, it was easy: What does Glenn Greenwald think? I’ve really appreciated the fact that Greenwald since January has continued to criticize both Obama’s policies and continuation of policies which contradict Obama’s promises during the election. While I agree with Greenwald that there is still time to right the wrongs of the Bush Administration, I too am troubled by how slow we are going about doing so. The column is a must read.

Update: An LOL quote from Jake Tapper:

apparently the standards are more exacting for an ASU honorary degree these days

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One of the things that really pissed me off during the election was the widely stated belief that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had it so easy, because he was black and she was a woman. The same was said about Justice Sotomayor. This belief is generally spoken by older white males. Quite honestly, how the fuck would they know?

I would just like to present some of the ridiculous things that President Barack Obama has had to put up with. I argue that all of these accusations are in some way related to the fact that he is black. These are things that he would never have to put up with if he were a white man.

1. That he has deep-seated racism for white people.

2. That he doesn’t wear a jacket in the oval office and is thus disrespectful. Somehow, no one said a thing when white guys did it.

3. He was asked if he ever dealt drugs.

4. That he is going to indoctrinate children with socialist values. Again, no one made a peep when white guys did it.

5. That he’s a secret Muslim.

6. That he’s not a U.S. citizen.

And so on and so forth.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jon Stewart vs. the “birthers”“, posted with vodpod

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Here’s a great photo from the Whitehouse Flickr photostream of Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki and Barack Obama. Via the Slog.

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Picture of the day

Just what could the Duke of Edinburgh be thinking right now? I’d love to know.

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A few selections were revealed on Tuesday. Initially an underdog for the nation’s highest office, the president went with favorites in his Final Four picks. No. 1 seeds Louisville, North Carolina and Pittsburgh will join No. 2 Memphis in Detroit April 4-6 if the president is correct.

More including a video at ESPN.

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This week several people were laid off at my work. I was spared. While I would like to think that it is because I am a good skilled worker and that my company would be unable to do without me, I know that that is not entirely true. There was to be certain an element of getting rid of low performers; however, not everyone who was eliminated fit that category. For instance, my closest colleague to be laid off was not a low performer at all.

My father says that he feels for my generation being thrust into the worst job market in decades, but I disagree. In the immediate aftermath the youth, and when I say that I mean under 40, are much better equipped to deal with the situation at hand. Who I worry about are my colleagues that were eliminated that gave 20 plus years to my company. The people whose skills are now almost entirely comprised of institutional knowledge that will do them little good elsewhere. What happens to them if they are too young (as many of them are) to retire? Where do they go? How do they begin again?

H1B Visas

And yet I do worry about the youth. This week I read Andrew Sullivan, a journalist who I suspect has never worked in the corporate world that so many of us are familiar with, talk about how the H1B Visa that allows foreign skilled workers to get green cards to work in the United States should be given out more generously rather than the Obama administration’s slight reduction. He further said that every foreign student who graduates from a American university should automatically be given permission to work in the U.S. Excuse me for saying this, but what an idiot. Here he quotes the Economist.

Chinese and Indian immigrants founded more than half of all high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. Immigrants co-founded Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. Immigrants contributed to more than a quarter of US global patent applications. Immigrant-founded companies employed 450,000 workers in 2006 and generated $52 billion in revenue.

Instead of trying to restrict the supply of H1B visas, why not increase it massively, starting by giving any foreigner who graduates from an American university the right to a visa. That might be exactly the long-term stimulus that the economy needs.

This is a rather rose colored view of what is happening. I suspect that these people have never had their jobs in danger of being taken by a foreign worker. If a green card was guaranteed by attendance at an American university I believe we would see a sharp increase in foreign student slots in our universities and foreign workers in our workforce.

The so-called “undesirable” jobs

When George W. Bush brought up immigration reform his speeches were colored with talk of immigrants accepting jobs that Americans did not want. I am sure there are many jobs that a typical American does not want, but I am sure a large element of why the jobs are not desirable is the amount of pay that a corporation is willing to offer. Given the expense of living in the U.S. and purchasing your own health insurance which these “undesirable” jobs no doubt require you to do, it is no wonder that many Americans do not want these jobs.

But while he touted the undesirable jobs, the real meat of his proposal was increasing the skilled H1B visas. These are jobs that Americans do want. These are jobs that a Computer Science college graduate would kill for. These are the jobs that are instead going to foreign workers while our college graduates become baristas at the nearest Starbucks.

I think the H1B visa is largely about keeping wages low. The H1B visa requires that any foreign worker make the same amount as their American citizen counterparts. Yet when you increase your job pool by two-fold the wages are not going to be as high.

The desirability of the foreign tech worker

There is no doubt that foreign workers are highly desirable for a reason. Let’s take the educational system in India and China (the largest recipients of H1B visas). These countries are churning out skilled tech industry workers who are ready to begin on day one. I presume (and I could be wrong) that their education is more practical and less theoretical than an American education in computer science. I once met a computer science major here who didn’t even know that the file extension of the code I was writing was significant.

America should be modeling our educational system on the education found in India and China, at least in technology, so that we can guarantee our youth also will be able to be part of the American dream. That they can become skilled laborers too and share the wealth.

Should we eliminate the H1B visas entirely? I think we all know that the H1B visa workers contribute amazingly to this country. Any mass elimination would be highly detrimental. And yet, I think that reducing the number of skilled foreign workers – especially in a time of mass unemployment – is the right move to make. I think an investment in our educational systems and a focus on boosting the skills of the American worker has to be our priority over increasing limits on H1B visas.

I welcome any respectful opposing arguments to the above. Feel free to tell me your story.

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Has anyone interviewed him for his opinion on the tax problems with three Obama nominees. I think he have some choice words right now. I did find this column in the San Jose Mercury News interesting:

“(T)here is a completely understandable, absolutely acceptable and rational explanation for what happened here.” No, that is not motorists explaining to the CHP why they were driving 75 mph in 55 mph zone, or library patrons trying to get out of late fees, it’s Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., explaining away Daschle’s failure to pay $120,000 in taxes. Give him a pass, right? Not so fast.

Call it “selective memory.” Daschle admitted so much in redressing his taxes during his nomination hearings. He told his accountant, in a moment of taxpaying epiphany, that there might be an earned-income issue with the free car and driver he had been “given” for those two years in question.

Yes, Sen. Daschle, large gifts are considered income, just like when you were in the Senate. Should we go back and check those years, too?

For his part, Geithner admitted signing a letter from the International Monetary Fund — his employer during his days tax-dodge days — that stated he was responsible for his Social Security withholding and other tax responsibilities even though he was working outside the country.

Funny, we don’t see IRS agents lining up to talk to these absent-minded citizens or to dig deeper in their taxpaying past.

Actor Wesley Snipes didn’t have a prayer using the defense of “poor judgment” when convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to three years in federal prison last year; nor did the first TV `Survivor’ winner Richard Hatch, who was convicted and sentenced four years in federal prison for not paying taxes on his $1 million winnings. And of course in the classic example of selective zero-tolerance from the feds when it comes to taxes, see Al Capone.

Citizens who play games with their taxes receive very little mercy from the IRS or sympathy from the public.

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Many of you have read about my conversations with my mother regarding Barack Obama and the state of our country here and here. In particular I have spoken about how it pains me to hear my mother, a Thai woman once married to a white American man, talk about her doubts about Barack Obama because of the color of his skin. While it pains me to hear her words, I applaud her for her honesty. We can’t get beyond where we are now without honestly reflecting on our prejudices.

In the days before the election, I thought that I was gaining ground with her. I thought that I may be able to convince her to vote for Barack Obama to “give it a try” as I said. If she wasn’t satisfied she could vote for someone else in 2012. She admitted to me that she could not vote for John McCain given the last 8 years of Republican rule, and so I naively thought that the step to vote for Obama would not be that big of one. I thought to myself that if I couldn’t get my mother, an intelligent woman greatly disillusioned with the Republicans, to vote for Obama, what hope did I have that anyone would vote for him? In the end, she didn’t vote for President at all.

After four days of knocking on doors for the Obama campaign in Colorado, I was in the ballroom of the Sheraton hotel on election night along with thousands of people as we all heard the election declared for Obama. At that moment, I still had hope that my mother had voted for Obama and I briefly contemplated giving her a call in my happiness. The noise in the room prevented me from doing so.

The next day I flew back to Seattle and I called my mother as soon as I got back. I was elated after my hard week of working for the campaign. When I got her on the phone, her voice was bitter. “You may think that this person will solve all your problems, but you are wrong. And it doesn’t matter that everyone likes him in the rest of the world. The world loved Kennedy, but in America he was not well liked.” The conversation was not what I expected.

This past week, these wounds have been reopened. I spoke to my dad who was bemoaning the stimulus package talking about how this was debt I would be paying for the rest of my life. Don’t I know it, I thought.  But I told him that he and every Republican lacked any credibility whatsoever in this argument. The Republicans were responsible for needlessly increasing the debt which he somehow never cared about before, and they themselves were responsible for the removal of the regulations that would have prevented a collapse in the financial industry that resulted in the need for a bailout in the first place. My mom has been making comments about how Democrats love to spend. That’s what they are all about, she says.

It struck me this morning as I woke up, that even they cannot ruin this day for me. I am sure they must be completely flabbergasted at the spectacle that is this inauguration. This inauguration is surely unprecedented in its national importance not just in my life but in theirs. The crowds, how can they be this big, they may be thinking. I suppose when your confidence and respect for your country has been systematically chipped away at for the last eight years, you will be elated at the possibility of restoring its image. And this is the thing that the Republicans seem not to understand. People want Obama to succeed. People want to hope that there is something better around the corner. Any obstruction the Republicans create will be taken badly. It’s a difficult position that they are in though I can’t feel sorry for them considering it is one of their own creation.

It’s a changing of the guards. We are weary of bitterness and division. We want to hope. We want to have something to believe in. We want Obama to succeed. I don’t know what the next four years will bring. Despite my hope, I am a realist and I know that there is the potential for Obama to fail in my estimation. I worry about my job and my life and what this recession will bring. Nonetheless I hope for the best, and I have faith in the man who will lead our country in the next four years.

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Check out TDLphoto’s photostream on Flickr.com. He’s a pro so I can’t show a sample. So instead below is an image from WhippedBakeshop.

From CNN:

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True, I’m not that old but this has never happened in my lifetime.

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I’m sure I’m not the only one to have this thought. While race was certainly prevalent on people’s minds during the election, I never had as much of a sensation that Barack Obama was out of place than I had looking at this photograph. Even in a fairly white city like Seattle, there is enough diversity that Barack Obama would fit in just fine. At the debates, he looked like he fit in. On the stump, he looked like he fit in. Our nation no matter how you slice it is pretty diverse and certainly does not match the racial (and gender) ratio of the picture above. It’s startling.

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Via Gawker.

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Previously I posted about attending the Dina Martina Christmas Show. One of the shticks of Dina Martina is mispronounce words on purpose. Gifts are “jifts” for instance. Dina admits that giving “jifts” is so much more fun than giving “gifts.”

Here also is a quote from an interview in today’s Seattle Times where she gets the expression wrong — another tendency of hers.

However, there’s a certain je ne sais pas about your moist region that is undeniable.

I was immediately intrigued by this strange phenomenon as it reminds me very much of my father’s inclination to mispronounce things. What’s more, it’s a phenomenon that I don’t think anyone has every openly discussed before despite being widespread. Why do people do this?

As children, we used  to shop at Mervyn’s but my dad would always say “Merlins” instead. We also used to eat ice cream at “Phipp’s” though to my dad it was always “Pipp’s.” I know he did this on purpose because as children we would harp on and on about how  the words were really supposed to be said. And it didn’t stop there. In the last few years, he’s gotten into the practice of pronouncing the L in salmon.

I think at some level my father knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s like he wants to irk other people in an extremely innocuous but nonetheless annoying way. My dad is from Texas and George W. Bush is from Texas. We all know that George W. Bush looooves mispronouncing nuclear as “nuculor,” and his father before him loved to mispronounce Sadaam Hussein though that was probably for other reasons.

Does anyone have some examples to share?

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Via the BBC:

US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thought she was being hoaxed when a man who sounded a lot like Barack Obama called her – so she hung up on him.

In fact, the man at the other end of the line was indeed President-elect Obama himself.

It took two further phone-calls before Ms Ros-Lehtinen was convinced that the telephone call was genuine.

Mr Obama was calling to congratulate her on her re-election, and to say that he looked forward to working with her in her role as the most senior Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee.

After a minute or so, Ms Ros-Lehtinen cut Mr Obama off, telling him she was not fooled by the hoax and that he was a better Obama impersonator than Fred Armisen, the man who does an impression of Mr Obama on the TV comedy show Saturday Night Live.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel called Ms Ros-Lehtinen back to persuade her to take the call, but she hung up on him as well.

It was only when Howard Berman, a fellow member of her committee, called her that she was persuaded to take the call.

It must be difficult after eight years of the Bush presidency to believe that a president-elect would actually make a polite phone call to a member of the opposition party.

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A great interview on Salon.

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According to Rep. Paul Broun (R) from Georgia that’s what Obama is. It’s quite brilliant to get that two-in-one combination to work out logically.

A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.”It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he’s the one who proposed this national security force,” Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. “I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may—may not, I hope not—but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism.”

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

“That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did,” Broun said. “When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.”

Thanks Paul, but I’m afraid your first statement was right. It does sound a little bit crazy and off base. Just a little.

Are there any Republicans left who actually know what Marxism is?

Photo via superbastards.com.

Update: In case you were confused as to how one could be both fascist and communist, here’s another mindbender from Broun for you.

“The point I tried to make is that he is extremely liberal, he has promoted a lot of socialistic ideas, and it just makes me concerned,” Broun said Tuesday.

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The Set Up

After canvassing for three days we had a list of people who needed rides to and from the polls. I and a few other people came up with a dispatch operation where we would bring everyone to the same polling place to make the drops and the pickups so that they would run more smoothly. When our lead coordinator got wind of the idea, she asked me if I could be a “runner” since I was going to already be stationed at the polling location. She put my name and number on a flow chart sheet with “runner” next to it. Not two minutes later, a person came up and told me that they heard I was a runner and asked if I recruit and send volunteers to a staging area three blocks from the polls. Then another person came up to me and said they too heard I was runner. Five minutes later a volunteer came up to me and said “so I hear your the lead polling coordinator.” I was moving up the ladder quite quickly.

I was stationed at Fletcher Elementary School 100 feet away from the polls per law. I had a table and Barack Obama swag along with some informative flyers about other polling locations. The most common query I got was that a person was at the wrong location and they needed to know the correct place to go. For that I would have to call someone at our office in order to look up the information. There were lots of other volunteers with me. Some from the Obama group and some not. I won’t dwell on it, but it was extremely chaotic. Lots of emotionally charged, sleep-deprived, well-meaning volunteers can be a bit much. What you really need is one reallly calm person to give answers.

Voter Demographic

The neighborhood where Fletcher Elementary is located is in a lower income neighborhood. Many people who live in the area work multiple jobs. Canvassing, I would notice an equally high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics with a small minority of Caucasians. As it turned out it was not a demographic that favored John McCain. While canvassing I ran in to a few McCain supporters but I only saw one at the polls — at least so far as I could tell.

I made a point to ask voters “how it went” as they were exiting. There were a lot of provisional ballots which we believed was due to bad training of the poll worker who looks up a person’s name on the rolls. Apparently this person would send people straight to the provisional line without troubleshooting. Of course this is hearsay since I wasn’t inside the polls to confirm.

Many of the African Americans I talked to were first time voters and there were children everywhere. They wanted stickers and posters and signs — basically anything Obama. I told a group of three kids that they could pull some of the yard signs out of the ground and take those home if they wanted. They screamed and ran directly to the signs to pull them out. Not ten minutes later another kid came by and after a couple of minutes of small talk got to the point that he heard I had yard signs. By that time I was out of swag so I asked the office to send some more over. At the end of the night a SUV pulled up and a woman told me she’d heard I had signs. They were a hit.

There is something quite special about the enthusiasm of the voters that day. I really need to say this. Barack Obama is greatly indebted to the Hispanic voters of Colorado. I don’t mean to diminish the African American support Obama receives. That of course is great but it is well known. I did not know how much support he had from Hispanics. They were proud to vote Obama. They were proud to vote Democrat in fact. One man came up to me and pointed to the Obama sign. You a democrat, he asked. Yes I said. Do you have a list of everyone I should vote for, he asked. For the initiatives I directed him to a volunteer from Vote Colorado who had a flyer, but I told him if he wanted to vote for candidates that were Democrat to check the box next to Democrat on each person’s name. He said “yes that’s all I want. Only Democrats.” Karl Rove, you have your work cut out for you.

I actually saw people whose doors I had knocked on in previous days. I made a point to tell them that I was glad they made it out. Maybe they would have come anyway even if I hadn’t knocked on their doors but it felt great thinking that I made have been responsible for a vote.


I read today some speculation that one of Obama and Pelosi’s top priorities is to pass legislation favoring unions. Here’s what I have to say to that. Obama is greatly indebted to unions also. I have never in my life seen people work so hard for a political organization. We volunteers would knock on maybe 100 doors a day. The union folk: 400. They are machines with clear objectives and systems to accomplish those objectives. I may not be pro-union on everything, but there is no doubt in my mind that unions protect workers rights and more importantly they force employers to provide health insurance to their employees — something that would not happen in some jobs without unions. I guess what I’m saying is that unions are a good thing and we shouldn’t begrudge unions from benefiting from an Obama administration. They deserve it.

We closed up shop at 7:00pm and within two hours Colorado was called for Obama. I’m glad it’s over.

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Today was a big day for me. I started out doing some data entry, but I had some free time in the afternoon so I went to see Michelle Obama’s last rally before the election. We were a little late. After the auditorium had reached capacity people were ushered to an outside area where speakers were set up. I was thinking that I didn’t want to stay if I wasn’t going to be able to see the speech when a volunteer told me that Barack and Michelle always greet the overflow folks first before starting their speeches. I didn’t know that. These aren’t the best pictures, but my camera ran out of batteries at the opportune moment. These are a friends.

Today will be a busy day. I’ll be acting as a sort of dispatch for people who need rides to the polls. I’m looking forward to being home in Seattle tomorrow.

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So I’ve read a couple of things about McCain volunteers in Colorado. Here’s one from CNN today. Usa Today says that Aurora, the place I’m working out of for Obama, is the new bell weather for the election.

Aurora is a suburb of Denver. On my first day we were visiting Obama supporters making sure they have all the information they need to vote. Many of the supporters we visit have already taken advantage of early voting. We tick them off the list so that we don’t visit them again. It’s hard to compare our ground game to the McCain supporters. We haven’t run in to any of them yet despite seeing them on a local news program. I have come across a few McCain flyers, but there is definately more material out there for Obama. As I said earlier we initially targeted Obama-leaning or Obama supporters. We’ve been so effective at getting them out to vote that we actually had to open up our territory to persuadable voters meaning people who could be supporting McCain.

Yesterday I woke up a man who told me he’d already voted for McCain. He told me he couldn’t wait until the election was over. I said many of us feel the same way. Today we’re driving a few people to the DMV to turn in their mail-in ballots, and we’ll probably be driving a few in to the polls tomorrow.

My only complaint about this trip — the  guys I’m working with don’t really seem to know how to have fun. It’s really hard to find out when/if people are going out. There doesn’t seem to be any consensus on what we’re doing on Tuesday night either. I tell you I’m dreaming about all the pubs on Capitol Hill in Seattle having election night drinking binges. Maybe I should try and crash a Republican party. Maybe Seattleites are just alcoholics. Maybe I’m just an alcoholic, but come on guys, all work and no play does not make Jack happy. Or whatever the quote is.

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No one said knocking on doors was going to be easy. And it isn’t. Our objective: get Obama elected President — and while that may seem like a tall order for people knocking on doors in suburban Denver, that is what we do.
At this point, we are knocking on the doors of Obama leaning voters and telling them what they need to do to get their vote counted. If they have Mail-In ballots we tell them where to turn them in. If they are going to the polls on Tuesday we make sure they know where the polls are. We also offer to give them a ride if they need it. So far, I think I’ve encountered a couple of McCain voters. The small number is due to the fact that we are not knocking on the doors of known McCain supporters. That would be a waste of time.

One man told us he was thinking of doing a write-in for Ron Paul, but he would vote for Obama if it were close. He then closed the door on us. As we were walking away he reopened the door and yelled out that he didn’t want to vote for Obama because Obama would be assassinated. We thanked him for his trouble and then left.

There were some “cool” teenagers that saw us walking down the street. I heard “oh no, Obama supporters” which made me laugh. Truly, we all wish it were over. In the morning our neighborhood was predominantly African American. They were optimistic and excited. For many, this is the first election they will vote in. The kids in the neighborhood are very excited too. Zak, who I picture below, told me he brought some Obama stickers and posters to this neighborhood in the morning. After one kid got stickers, a pack of kids descended upon him. He said he felt like the ice cream man. Zak and I found out we both went to U.C. Santa Cruz. A happy coincidence. Go banana slugs!

1. Zak is an arborist. He drove all the way to Mississipi after hurricane Katrina to volunteer.

2. Lots of prairie dogs in the suburbs of Denver.

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I’m in Denver today set to begin my volunteer work for the Obama campaign. I’ll be working through Tuesday. So far Denver is pretty cool. Hopefully I’ll manage to get some photos in, but I’m not sure what the internet situation will be like.

Why Colorado? At the time I booked my ticket it was more of a toss-up.

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My husband’s sense of humor makes a little more sense to me after reading this. Check out these excerpts from the BBC about the joint meeting yesterday between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

As they were walked towards the lecturn there was a lot of touching, as is common in a new relationship. All evening they were attentive to each other. An arm across a shoulder, a little touch on the arm, a full embrace.

Barack Obama is a natural toucher. An arm around Mahmoud Abbas. An arm around Sarkozy. The arm is outstrectched because he is consensus man who believes that his warmth, his magic can cross any divide. (The only time I have seen him recoil was when he was leaving the Elysee and Sarkozy tried to kiss him goodbye. As Sarkozy stood on his toes Obama turned his head.) But last night touching, embracing was in.

Bill Clinton was neither coy nor coded.

Afterwards came the full embrace, the hug, their arms lingering around each other.

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The best photographers show us the moments that we can’t see in moving pictures. Earlier I wrote about how pictures of Obama’s family reminded me how in the end he is just a father, a husband, a man, and a human being.

Lola has some great photos of children and Obama which you can find at the Chawed Rosin. Today, I found some more great photos.You can see more photos from the set below at Callie Shell’s Digital Journal which also include the photographer’s captions. I highly recommend you check them out.

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