Daily Archives: December 1, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Daughters Kick Off Christmas at White House

Posted by Audiegrl

Receives 18½-foot Douglas fir tree from West Virginia


First lady Michelle Obama, with her daughters Sasha and Malia, as they stand with the White House Christmas tree as it is delivered to the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009.

First lady Michelle Obama, with her daughters Sasha and Malia, as they stand with the White House Christmas tree as it is delivered to the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009.

AP/—The White House is open for Christmas.

A day after celebrating Thanksgiving, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha received the official White House Christmas tree: an 18½-foot Douglas fir delivered from a farm in Shepherdstown, W.Va., by traditional horse-drawn carriage.

Growers Eric and Gloria Sundback officially presented the tree to the Obamas on Friday.

It’s the fourth time one of their trees has become the official White House tree.

Malia, Michelle, and Sasha Obama welcome Mark Steelhammer, left, and Eric and Gloria Sundback to the White House.

Malia, Michelle, and Sasha Obama welcome Mark Steelhammer, left, and Eric and Gloria Sundback to the White House.

It’s big enough for Sasha to climb in, I think,” Sundback joked after the Obamas walked from the North Portico of the White House to the driveway where the tree was tied up and lying in the carriage, pulled up the driveway from Pennsylvania Avenue by a pair of Belgian draft horses with red Christmas bows tied to their tails. A sign affixed to the side of the carriage said “White House Christmas Tree 2009.

We’re excited,” Mrs. Obama told the Sundbacks.

Asked by reporters whether the tree was the biggest she ever had, the first lady said: “Yeah, I think this wins.”

The 12-foot-wide tree is destined for the oval-shaped Blue Room on the State Floor of the White House, where scores of volunteers will decorate it. The tree is the star attraction of Christmas at the White House, and will be oohed and aahed over by the thousands of people who will stream through in December for holiday parties and public tours of the executive mansion.

The tree, which the Sundbacks planted in 1996, was hand-picked on Oct. 20 on a visit to the Sundback’s farm by retired Rear Adm. Stephen Rochon, the White House chief usher, and Dale Haney, superintendent of the White House grounds.

It was cut down on Wednesday. Besides the official tree, more than a dozen smaller trees from the Sundback farm will decorate other rooms in the White House, including the Oval Office.

The Sundbacks, both in their 80s, earned the honor by winning the National Christmas Tree Association’s national contest this year for the fourth time. A tree from the winner’s farm is then chosen as the official White House tree, an annual tradition that dates to 1966.

Their trees were displayed twice when Ronald Reagan held office and once under Jimmy Carter.

The Sundbacks have grown Christmas trees since 1956 and were thrilled by the opportunity to meet their fourth first lady.

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Video Replay Pending: The First Lady Previews the Holidays at the White House

December 02, 2009 12:00 PM EST

The First Lady Receives the White House Christmas Tree

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Filed under Barack Obama, Change, Children, Christmas, Christmas at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama, History, Holidays, Politics, Pop Culture, Pres. Barack Obama, United States, Video/YouTube, Washington, DC, West Virginia

44-D’s Twenty-five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 2nd)

The Christmas Song Performed by Christina Aguilera

The Christmas Song” (1944), commonly referred to as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire“ or “Merry Christmas to You”, is a classic Christmas song, written by vocalist Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool,” the most-performed (according to BMI) Christmas song was born.

I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil,” Tormé recalled. “They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob (Wells, co-writer) didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.

Lyrics

Ooh, hmm, oh yeah
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Will help to make the season bright
And tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight, night

They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two, ooh yeah
Though its been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you, ooh oh yeah, ooh oh yeah

They know that Santa’s on his way, he’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is going to spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two, yeah oh
Although its been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas, yeah
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas, oh
Oh yeah, oh yeah ooh
Oh yeah to you
(Hum, hum, hum…)
Merry Christmas…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Replay: President Obama Speaks on Afghanistan Policy


President Obama outlines his strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. December 1, 2009

Replay

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Live Stream Video, Military, News, Obama Administration, Pakistan, Pres. Barack Obama, Terrorism, Uncategorized, War

Obama’s Afghanistan surge: building an exit ramp–

“This can’t be nation-building. It can’t be an open-ended commitment.”— Obama wants Afghan war over in 3 years


Update:
Overall goal in war is defeat of al-Qaida

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President Barack Obama says the core U.S. goal in Afghanistan remains the defeat of al-Qaida’s terror network.

Speaking Tuesday night at the U.S. Military Academy, Obama laid out several objectives that he says are part of that overall goal.

Obama says U.S. forces and allies want to deny al-Qaida safe haven in Afghanistan, while reversing the momentum of the Taliban insurgency.

The president says the U.S. will also seek to strengthen Afghanistan’s own security forces to eventually take over the fight.

Obama says the military strategy he presented Tuesday is aimed at breaking the Taliban’s momentum over the next 18 months

from:


8 U.S. allies committing 5,000 additional troops
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, the first as early as Christmas, on an accelerated timetable with an endgame in sight, The Associated Press has learned. In his prime-time speech to the nation Tuesday night at West Point, Obama also will lay out a rough timeframe, including some dates, for when the main U.S. military mission will end, said a senior administration official who spoke on grounds of anonymity.

The main role of the new troops will be to reverse Taliban gains and secure population centers in the volatile south and east parts of the country.

The 30,000 new troops will bring the total in Afghanistan to more than 100,000 U.S. forces.

New infusions of U.S. Marines will begin moving into Afghanistan almost as soon as President Barack Obama announces a redrawn battle strategy. All of the new troops are expected to be in place by next summer.
read more detail here:


Gibbs on New Afghan Strategy
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From CNN: Where will the new troops go?
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On Obama’s War in Afghanistan: — More Loans, Fewer Drones

blogpost by Ogenec

I am looking forward to hearing Obama’s speech tonight. I do hope, however, that we don’t get the kind of speech he is so adept at giving: the one where he impresses us with his mastery of nuance and ability to understand all sides of a multi-faceted issue. At this point, even his detractors are prepared to concede him that point. The question is not his capacity for reflection, but his capacity for conviction. If he believes the war is worth fighting, he must convince us of that. More to the point, he must convince us we need to sacrifice for the effort. If, however, he does not believe this war is worth fighting in the long term, then he must also convince us of that.

And here I’ll digress to state my own opinion. I think that the term “war” is not the right one, and it just distorts the analysis to look at it from that perspective. We are not at “war” with Afghanistan. But we should do whatever it takes to deny the Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuary. Not just because of Af-Pak, although Pakistan is tremendously important: ISI, nukes, Kashmir, and all that. In my own opinion, the problem is what a time series would show: that Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and metastizing, from the Middle East into Asia, Europe, and even sub-Saharan Africa. It will take a concerted, global effort to reverse this trend, and it behooves all countries to get involved, and to stop playing geo-political games with the issue.  Russia is learning that lesson the hard way.   They imagined that they could use Iran as a pawn in their geopolitical chess match with the  United States.   But the recent terrorist attack in Russia demonstrates the limits of that strategy: Russia can make nice with the Iranian theocrats all it wants, but that will not deter the fundamentalists from their vision of a Caliphate that spans Asia, Europe and Africa. By whatever means necessary.

Similarly, pacifists, progressives, liberals (or whatever they want to call themselves) should recognize the limits of their strategy.  Repudiating Bush’s silly pre-emptive war doctrine does not mean that we should end the effort in Afghanistan, and “just bring the troops home.”  Again, that view severely misapprehends the existential nature of the threat. That said, I do agree that there is something to the “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle” argument: that by intervening militarily in Afghanistan, we perpetuate the disaffection that leads to the very fundamentalism we are trying to prevent.  I get that.  But that does not mean we abandon the endeavor: it means that we transform it. We should not make the mistake with Karzai that Bush made with Musharraf, and prop up a corrupt administration with divided loyalties. Rather, we should help the local populace with economic alternatives: more micro loans, less drones, to coin a phrase. So the focus on troop numbers misses the point in my view. The question is, what is the purpose of the troops? This is what I want to hear from Obama tonight. Tell me that the troops are a means to an end, not the end in and of themselves.

And, while you’re at it, tell me how we are going to pay for it. Make this a national call to action, and Americans will be happy to do their share. But you’ve gotta make the case.  My vote: WaPo’s prescription of a gasoline tax.

Related discussion:
Tom Ricks C-span interview: What’s next in Afghanistan? 12/1/2009

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Filed under Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Military, Opinions, Pakistan, Russia, Uncategorized, United States

Zombie Reagan Raised From Grave To Lead GOP (via The Onion)

Lacking an effective spokesperson, the GOP has put their faith in the reanimated corpse of Ronald Reagan. According to this video from The Onion, Zombie Reagan is a face that Republicans can trust. “When he moans at them, they’re going to listen.” As long as he hasn’t eaten their ears yet.

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44-D’s Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 1st)

Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?

This was a charity single organized by Bob Geldof, who was the lead singer of The Boomtown Rats. He got the idea after watching a BBC documentary on famine in Ethiopia. Geldof wrote the lyrics and Midge Ure from the band Ultravox wrote the music and produced the track, which was no easy task since so many voices were involved.

The single raised $14 million for famine relief in Africa. Geldof is Irish, so he cannot be knighted, but he did receive a KBE, which is equivalent and is popularly known as Sir or Saint Bob.

In the UK, this became the best-selling single ever. Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind ’97” currently holds that record.

The performers who sang verses were, in order: Paul Young, Boy George, George Michael, Simon Le Bon, and Bono. The chorus included David Bowie, Phil Collins, Paul McCartney, Geldof, Ure and many other artists who weren’t given a verse but sang the “Feed The World” part and lent their images to the effort by appearing in the promotional photo.

(Performers: Adam Clayton (U2), Phil Collins (Genesis, Solo), Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats), Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet), Chris Cross (Ultravox), John Taylor (Duran Duran), Paul Young, Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet), Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran), Simon Crowe (Boomtown Rats), Marilyn, Keren Woodward (Bananarama), Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Jody Watley (Shalamar), Bono (U2), Paul Weller (The Style Council), James ‘J.T.’ Taylor (Kool & The Gang), George Michael (Wham!), Midge Ure (Ultravox), Martyn Ware (Heaven 17), John Keeble (Spandau Ballet), Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Roger Taylor (Duran Duran), Sarah Dallin (Bananarama), Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), Pete Briquette (Boomtown Rats), Francis Rossi (Status Quo), Robert ‘Kool’ Bell (Kool & The Gang), Dennis J. T. Thomas (Kool & The Gang), Andy Taylor (Duran Duran), Jon Moss (Culture Club), Sting (The Police), Rick Parfitt (Status Quo), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Johnny Fingers (Boomtown Rats), David Bowie, Boy George (Culture Club), Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes To Hollywood), Paul Mccartney, Stuart Adamson (Big Country), Bruce Watson (Big Country), Tony Butler (Big Country), Mark Brzezicki (Big Country))

Lyrics

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade

And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy!
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time

But say a prayer – pray for the other ones
At Christmas time, it’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dreaded fear
Where the only water flowing is a bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom

Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life

Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Here’s to you
Raise your glass for everyone
Here’s to them
Underneath that burning sun

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time and
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time and
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time and
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time and
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time and
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time
I hope you like this song even though its not Christmas!

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Filed under Art, Charity, Children, Christmas, Holidays, Music, Video/YouTube