Thursday, March 20, 2008

Breaking News: 2 Fired Over Obama Passport File Breach

This unequivocally appears to be a politically motivated move by the grossly incompetent and arrogant Bush administration.

NBC News

Two contract employees of the State Department were fired and a third person was disciplined for accessing passport records of Sen. Barack Obama "without a need to do so," State Department officials confirmed to NBC News.

The three people who had access to Obama's passport records were contract employees of the department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, NBC News has learned. The unauthorized activity concerning Obama's passport information occurred in January.

"A monitoring system was tripped when an employee accessed the records of a high-profile individual,” a department official told NBC News. "When the monitoring system is tripped, we immediately seek an explanation for the records access. If the explanation is not satisfactory, the supervisor is notified."

Explaining why the contractors had access to the files, the official said: "The State Department uses cleared contractors to design, build and maintain our systems and cleared contract employees provide support to government employees and several steps of passport processing including data entry, file searches, customer service and quality control.

"Each time an employee logs on, he or she acknowledges the records are protected by the privacy act and that they are only available on a need-to-know basis," the official added.

Taylor Marsh and MSNBC Misquote Barack Obama

Sometimes there are people who are so busy looking for smoking guns they see ghosts. Taylor Marsh is one of those people. Taylor Marsh is so upset that Hillary Clinton will lose to Barack Obama that she stoops to misquoting Senator Obama.

Barack appeared on a popular radio show called "Angelo Cataldi"

If you see the show's website , it glowingly praises Senator Obama, writing:

Philadelphia's Angelo Cataldi interviewed Barack Obama this morning on Philadelphia's Sports Radio, WIP-AM 610.

Cataldi, a wildly popular sports personality in Philadelphia, did a great interview, which you can listen to here. According to local listener Eric Schmeltzer:

Cataldi and his crew were raving about Obama for two hours after his interview was done. Guys were calling in saying they didn't know who they were going to vote for, until Obama called in, and that cinched it for them. Cataldi was saying he's going to do everything to elect him, and was getting his tux ready for the inaugural ball.

Another Philadelphia talk radio host, Michael Smerconish, who was in the audience for Obama's speech, had nothing but glowing praise for it and its message when he appeared on the the Today Show this morning. Smerconish's praise was notable, because his radio show caters to a right wing audience. Since appearing on the Today Show, Smerconish's listeners apparently have driven him to couch his praise of Obama. But its really too late now, as he's already spoken. It looks like even right wing radio talk show hosts like Obama!

One of the questions posed by Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball was how he was going to get the regular beer drinking guys working day jobs to vote for him.

Obama seems to be doing just fine in this area. It looks like a pretty good move on his part to go on Sports Radio, especially for a guy that has some other moves of his own like this left handed layup.....

But Taylor Marsh can't stand that, so she prints this misquote of what Senator Obama said on the interview:

The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn't. But she is a typical white person who, uh, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know there's a reaction that's been been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way and that's just the nature of race in our society. We have to break through it..."

But that's not exactly what he said. Obama said this:

"The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn't. But she is the typical White person, who uh, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know. You know, There's a reaction that it's been bread into our experiences that don't go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way, and that's just the nature of race in our society we have to break through it. And what makes me optimistic is you see each generation being a little less like that, and that's powerful stuff"

The radio host didn't flinch at that, and gave Obama a glowing review.

Maybe some people aren't ready for straight talk about race. It seems Taylor Marsh is not.

March Madness To Cost $1.7 Billion In Lost Work

This staggering figure will only lend to the current economic turmoil surfacing throughout the United States.

BOSTON (CBS) ― A newly released report estimates that $1.7 billion will be lost in productivity during the two weeks of March Madness.

March Madness is when the NCAA holds its men's college basketball championship tournament, and an estimated 37.3 million workers participate in office pools. The report prepared by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., says the annual distraction could cost as much as $1.7 billion in wasted work time when the tournament starts on Monday and ends April 7.

Up to 1.5 million workers are expected to watch games online from their desks.

The report is based on the number of people expected to participate in office pools, the amount of money they earn and the amount of work time in March Madness related activities, such as tournament conversation at work and watching live videos of the games during business hours.

Be part of the solution: Patience is a virtue

Obama's Misunderstood speech in Philadelphia wasn't about race, it was about the fundamental Christian virtue of forgiveness. Color-based prejudice shaped the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and he obviously made some over-the-top statements during some sermons, but the message is much broader than race.

We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. But we can learn. It is short-sighted to assume the mistakes are the person, and Obama is using this opportunity not just to showcase his diplomacy in dealing with the delicate, potentially divisive issues of color-oriented prejudice, but also to remind us of the cornerstone of his philosophy: We must forgive. We must distinguish the person from their actions. We must dare to hope that they can learn, and grow, and change for the better.

Though in context Reverend Wright's words are not so outrageous as the soundbites made it seem, Obama was right to point out the errors in Wright's thinking, and statements; he remains righteous in his willingness to nonetheless embrace the man.

Barack Obama Rules YouTube After Historic Speech

On the heels of what many have called one of the greatest speeches in history, Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama's video of the speech has been seen over 4 million times and as of this writing dominates YouTube. Early this morning it was the number one video with just over 2 million views, but also there were different copies of the same video posted on YouTube by different channel owners.

Five of the top ten videos this morning were the Obama speech, and a whooping 15 of the top 20 in the "News and Politics" section of YouTube were all the same speech. As of this writing, Obama still rules the News and Politics section of YouTube with 9 of the top 20 videos and if one counts the Iraq Speech video, 10 of the top 20 on YouTube's News and Politics section were Obama videos.

I've not seen this kind of video view performance by a candidate since Ron Paul and that wasn't one speech, it was a combination of supporter-made videos and appearance videos. This, for Obama, is all for one speech, his presentation called "A More Perfect Union".

Now, one would think that the number of videos of the same Obama speech on YouTube would stop there, but not so. I clicked over to the second page of top-viewed videos in the News and Politics section, and saw that another 11 of the top 20 most-seen videos on the second page of the "News and Politics" section were the Obama "A More Perfect Union" Speech. That means of the top 40 videos as of 11:43 AM, PST on March 20th, 2008, 22 of the top 40 videos in the News and Poltics Section were of the Obama speech.

That's amazing.

It means not only that there's a hunger to see the speech, but to see it repeatedly and for people who did not have a chance to see the orginal telecast to view it for the first time. The speech is drawing so many views that we should start looking at it as a television show unto itself, with a nielsen rating. That rating today, starting from 2 AM to now, would be about a "5" share because I estimate that about 5 million people have seen this on YouTube alone. And that does not count the Barack Obama website or any other video distribution company that has a file of the video in its system. So we could safely say that the speech ranks a "6" overall. Not bad for an online version of a 37 minute speech.

Plus, that does not include the ratings for the actual television version of the speech.

But it also means that Senator Obama's message is out and that it's being warmly received. From this perspective, it must be reported that Senator Obama objective of causing a new level of dialog about race has been achieved and with rousing success.