Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
GQ has a profile of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs — like all White House press secretaries, a professional liar — and the “communications problem” of the White House, which is basically the definition of a meaningless journalistic frame. (The White House has a “communications problem” because the nation has an “unemployment problem” and the legislative branch has a “functioning problem.”) But! The profile is still good and interesting and we learn a little bit about the workings of the White House and the people in it.
Gibbs, like Obama, hates the press. Which is fair enough, because the arm of the press they have to deal with — the Beltway political media — is fairly awful! But despite his hatred for the press, Barack Obama does respect certain members of the commentariat.
Relations, in any event, are not good. Obama incessantly refers to “the cable chatter” with palpable disdain, and he frequently grumbles to his aides about the media’s coverage of his presidency. His press conferences are fewer than Clinton’s (though more than Bush’s) at the same stage of their presidencies—and, says Clinton’s former press secretary Mike McCurry, “I feel sometimes when I watch Obama do these that he looks like he’d rather be having a root canal.” Obama does reserve a certain respect for opinion writers such as Tom Friedman and David Brooks of The New York Times, Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal, E. J. Dionne of The Washington Post, and Joe Klein of Time. “My impression is that he reads a lot of columnists,” says Brooks, “and therefore he sort of cares about what they say.”
The White House’s affection for David Brooks is, I think, well-documented, and sort of understandable: Here’s the world’s most “reasonable” conservative! Barack Obama name-checked Edmund Burke one day and Brooks fell in love. Brooks is the fusty, non-threatening, absent-minded Wodehouse-character version of the Republicans Barack Obama has to deal with in real life.
Brooks is a mushy thinker who’s made a living on lazy generalities and wholly invented “observations” describing nonexistent trends. But he’s still not as awful as Thomas Friedman, our foremost authority on what incredibly stupid but inexplicably powerful people think about the world at large.
Friedman’s Golden Books prose, recycled grandpa jokes, and ruthlessly mixed metaphors have endeared him to airport bookstore-frequenting CEOs across this great nation, but I can’t understand how a supposed book-smart guy like the president can read him with a straight face. (Especially considering that in addition to being a mindless cheerleader of globalization, Friedman is also an unapologetic warmonger.)
E.J. Dionne is an unoffensive old liberal. Joe Klein is guilty of various heinous crimes against journalism and retains his cushy job only because of inertia. Gerald Seib is a reliable purveyor of Washington conventional wisdom for an increasingly dishonestly edited Murdoch paper. Anyone who reads these (old, white) men to understand politics will come away with very limited and distorted understanding of the world.
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @pareeneMore Alex Pareene.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.