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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Photo Gallery

Ever seen a shooting star -- from above?

NASA Perseid Meteor Shower 8-13-11 over China

Everybody's been so busy on these hot August days monitoring the political atmosphere of Iowa, of all places, and South Carolina and New Hampshire for ascending or descending politicians.

Many of us forgot to look up.

This is the time of year every year when Earth, hustling along through space at about 8,000 miles an hour on its normal orbit of the sun, zips through the debris field from the Perseid Meteor.NASA US astronaut Ron Garan

Those little and sometimes not-so-little pieces were shed probably around the time of the first Crusades 1,000 years or more ago and have themselves been flying through the vacuum of space ever since.

Summoned by Earth's giant tractor beam (OK it's gravity), these chunks of primeval ice and rock hit the atmosphere at immense speeds and incinerate themselves in a streaking blaze of light.

Down below, they are called shooting stars.

Up above, say, 220 miles up above in the International Space Station, they are called, "Oh, that was a little close."

U.S. astronaut Ron Garan was flying over China a few nights ago watching out the window, which astronauts say is a spellbinding experience since at 17,000 miles an hour they witness a sunrise or a sunset every 45 minutes.

Garan has a good eye for pictures. We've published his stuff here before.

That night he caught this unique view of a shooting star from above. He put it out on his Twitter account: @Astro_Ron

Now, we're putting it out on our Twitter page too: @latimestot  Thanks, Ron.

RELATED:

What's it really like to be in space?

NASA's Juno begins its long trip to Jupiter (video)

Historic view of space shuttle Atlantis returning to Earth -- as seen from space

-- Andrew Malcolm

For refreshing commentary on politics, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Ron Garan / NASA

For Perry, Romney and Bachmann, it's all about the hands -- and eyes

Tim Pawlenty shakes an Iowan's hand as he passes by, AP5-11

Photographs can communicate a telling story, not always the story, but a story.

Take a look at these assorted campaign photographs, the candidates' eyes, posture and body language.Michele Bachmann Reaches Out along an Iowa parade route

Can you make any kind of observation about the politician's style or connection with voters?

Tim Pawlenty was expected to be a frontrunner in the competition for the 2012 Republican nomination.

He's likable, had appropriately conservative positions and accomplishments to cite from his two terms governing a blue state.

But he dropped out Sunday after a distant third place straw poll finish behind Michele Bachmann.

He'll be ancient history by Friday and released a farewell message late Monday. But analysts have been attempting to discern why the former Minnesota governor got no traction with the media or voters. Rick Perry Listens to Iowa Voters 8-15-11

Why Pawlenty didn't make that invisible emotional connection with in dividuals that some politicians like Barack Obama once did and Sarah Palin so obviously still does.

They each have their own campaign styles. Some are as phony as a campaigning congressman, pretending to chat while looking over the voter's shoulder at who's next to greet.

Others are intensely present for each person they talk with, an impression that voter shares with many others over time. At least that's the hope.

Perhaps you can spot some of those skills in these photos.Rick Perry talks with a senior Iowan 8-15-11

Michele Bachmann impressed viewers with her first debate performance in June and has been enthusiastically campaigning ever since, much like a rock star, protected by her entourage from too much public contact, often tardy to ask waiting crowds for their votes.

Mitt Romney hasn't really stopped campaigning since John McCain conceded and didn't let Sarah Palin speak back on that dark November night in 2008.

Romney's a veteran of a gubernatorial campaign, a U.S. Senate campaign and now two presidential campaigns. If handshakes were worth a dollar apiece, he'd be a multi-millionaire.Mitt Romney Shakes a hand in New Hampshire 6-11

So Romney knows the ropes and routines of campaigns and has looked the most comfortable on the pressurized stages of the two most recent GOP debates where competitors display that forced camaraderie.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest to join the Republican fray.

Saturday in Charleston, S.C. he was so eager to get going he charged toward the stage at the RedState Gathering before his introduction was complete.

"Let's get this show on the road," he muttered.

As soon as he finished his candidacy speech (full text right here), Perry plunged into the crowd with a noticeable enthusiasm before dashing off to New Hampshire and then Iowa where he spoke Sunday at a Lincoln dinner in Waterloo, Bachmann's hometown.Jon Huntsman campaigns in South Carolina 6-11

Perry cannily showed up early at the dinner. Quiet then. And no competition for attention.

He moved from table to table to sit and chat with each group of Republican diners for a few minutes each, as NBC's sharp-eyed First Read team noted.

Bachmann arrived late, as usual, and did not hear Perry's remarks.

He sat politely listening to hers, then slipped out the back to his new bus and headed for Des Moines. Monday the nation's longest-serving governor worked the Iowa State Fair, as if it was rural Texas instead of rural Iowa.

What kind of impression would you get from these photographs of him talking with individual Iowans?

Rick Perry talks with an Iowa state fair goer 8-15-11

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Rick Perry is all in: 'We cannot afford 4 more years of this rudderless leadership'

-- Andrew Malcolm

For unpredictable commentary on politics, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press (Pawlenty); Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press (Bachmann); Jim Young / Reuters (Perry listens to Iowa voters); Jim Young / Reuters (Perry talks with a senior Iowan); Alexander Cohn / Associated Press (Romney in New Hampshire); Brett Flashnick / Associated Press (Huntsman campaigns in South Carolina); Charles Dharapak / Associated Press (Perry talks with an Iowa State Fairgoer).

Michelle Obama's magical family tour of Africa

Michelle Obama, her mother, friends and family arrive in Botswana Friday 6-24-11

We haven't seen First Lady Michelle Obama gardening or giving speeches at fundraisers this week.

Michelle Obama kicks a soccer ball around in a Cape Town gym 6-23-11Michelle Obama confronts a traditional dancer in Botswana 6-24-11That's because she's on a weeklong summer tour of Africa with her mother, daughters, friends and other family members.

In the photo above, the entourage has just arrived Friday in Botswana on a U.S. government plane and was greeted by some traditional dancers.

One of the male dancers  then got up close (right), to the delight of Mrs. Obama, although apparently not so much to her mother, Marian Robinson (on the left).

In Cape Town, Obama (above left) kicked a soccer ball around with some youngsters.

During their three-day South Africa trip, Obama and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, read to some children in Johannesburg (below).

The family entourage will now disappear for a day on a private safari experience.

The first lady is due back in Washington on Sunday.

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South Africa's president snubs Mrs. Obama

Michelle Malia and Sasha Obama read to annesburg Johchildren 6-21-11

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Michelle Obama, her mother, daughters, friends and family arrive in Botswana and are greeted by traditional dancers. Credit: Charles Dharapak / AFP/Getty Images; Obama kicks a soccer ball around in a Cape Town gym. Credit: Rodger Bosch / AFP/Getty Images; The Obamas read to children in Johannesburg. Credit: Charles Dharapak / AFP/Getty Images

Obama warns White House party crowd: 'You do not want to be between Michelle and a tamale'

some of the food for the Obama White House Cinco de Mayo party 5-5-11

El president Obama meant it as a joke for his latest White House party tonight, one to mark Cinco de Mayo.

The crowd laughed.

But Mr. Obama may pay for this public quip later tonight up in their private quarters. Since Primera Esposa Michelle Obama has been talking healthy eating and combating obesity for muchos meses, Even as her husband continues to be photographed downing junk food at most any opportunity..

No 'Cinco de Cuatro' gaffe this year. Obama learned his lesson two years ago; you can read this year's version in full by scrolling down. Americans politicians and many of their constituents mark May 5 as a celebration of Mexican-Americans and their heritage, especially the year before an election. In parts of Mexico the fest actually has more to do with a thumping they gave French soldiers 149 years ago (and not in soccer).

The president was clearly in a jolly mood despite a somber day of 9/11 wreath-laying at New York's ground zero. He promised the crowd a short speech and sort of delivered (11 minutes), unless you were hungry.

He thanked the usual long list of attendees, who can never get enough POTUS shoutouts. And he also thanked "my band," although the musicians on hand actually belong to the United States Marine Corps.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Celebrate any holiday by following The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

President Obama's Cinco de Mayo remarks, as provided by the White House

THE PRESIDENT:  Gracias, gracias. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you. Gracias. Buenas noches. (Applause.) Bienvenidos. Welcome to the Cinco de Mayo at the White House.  (Applause.)   

Nothing ruins a good fiesta like a long speech from a politician. (Laughter.) So I'm going to keep it short.

MRS. OBAMA: Keep it short.(Laughter.) 

THE PRESIDENT:  Keep it short. I just want to acknowledge a few proud Latinos and friends of Latinos who are here with us tonight:  A great friend to me and to the United States, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan is here, from Mexico, with his lovely wife Verónica.  (Applause.)  Interior....

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Two views of troubled Egypt: Up close and not so

NASA nighttime over North Africa

Hello and welcome back to all eight of our readers in Egypt.

With Internet connections reportedly restored, Egyptians can now browse the Web and get caught up on what the world has been saying they've been saying.

You may have heard a little something on the news, anti-government demonstrations by millions have rocked the country of about 80 million, up significantly from the 3 million inhabitants living there when Napoleon invaded in 1798. However, just like the 18th century, the overwhelming majority of Egyptians still live clustered along the Nile River.

In the photo above taken from the International Space Station, you can see from the lights the fabled waterway snaking its way across northern Africa and the immense surrounding dark desert areas where Egyptians aren't.

Things look a lot more peaceful from space than in the photo below from Wednesday night which....

Egypt 2-2-11 Fighting in Cairo between protestors and protestors of protestors

....shows Cairo protesters and protesters of protesters fighting over continuing the protests against President Hosni Mubarak, who's promised to leave office but not soon enough apparently. Reports early today of four dead.

Related Item:

Obama to Egypt: An orderly transition must be meaningful, peaceful and begin now

-- Andrew Malcolm

Click here to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: NASA; Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

Gabrielle Giffords first photos from her hospital room

Due to the overwhelming sympathetic response from the public following the near-fatal shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson on Saturday, her office tonight released two photos from her hospital room in the University Medical Center.

Given the severity of her head injuries, neither picture shows the face of the congresswoman, who is breathing on her own now. Doctors issued a promising prognosis for her recovery on Tuesday. 

The first new photo shows her left hand being held by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

The hands of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly 1-9-11 in her Tucson hospital room

Click on the photo to enlarge. To see other photos, click Continue Reading here ...

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Ticket pics of the week: How we look from out there

NASA Europe at night from space 11-8-10

The Obama administration has whacked U.S-launched manned space operations after the final shuttle mission early this year. But we still have these magnificent photos taken by U.S. Astronaut Douglas Wheelock late in 2010 from the International Space Station.

Can you recognize the terrain in this midnight photo above?

It's western Europe taken as Wheelock passed over northern Africa. The dark at the bottom is the Mediterranean Sea with the southern coast of France. The cluster of light just above the center is the City of Light -- Paris. And the larger light cluster continuing to the upper left across the darkness of the English Channel is London.

But, wait! There's more. See the strip of green light across the upper left? That's the Northern Lights over the Arctic, the mystical curtains of nighttime light that Sarah Palin can see from her house -- as can every other Arctic resident.

Surely you recognize the photo just below:

NASA Nighttime over North America

No, it's not a map of everywhere Obama held a healthcare town hall.

It's North America all the way down into the Caribbean and central America and all the way up to our geographic attic, where the limited lights reveal that three-out-of-four Canadians are huddled along the U.S. border for warmth.

One more bonus shot for New Year's Day 2011:

NASA nighttime over North Africa

If you guessed Australia, you're incorrect.

It's the eastern Mediterranean with Egypt -- and the vast Sahara Desert -- center-stage. Judging from the ribbon of lights slashing into the sands, do you think maybe the Nile River still plays a major economic and social role in life there?

Speaking of life, Happy New Year to everyone out there on this planet from everyone back here at The Ticket -- meaning just me.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Click here to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Douglas Wheelock / NASA; NASA.

White House photographer Pete Souza collects his favorite pictures of 2010

White House photographer Pete Souza has one of the more enviable jobs in the world. He follows President Obama everywhere that he goes to document his every move. Aboard Air Force One, in the top-secret situation room, in the well of Congress before a State of the Union address or in the frigid Rose Garden as the president plays in the snow with his daughters, Souza does an excellent job of not merely recording history but adding an artistic flair into his photos.

ObamaSpecifically, Souza is the chief official White House photographer and also holds the title of director of the White House photo office. Before Obama tapped him for the job, Souza was an associate professor of photojournalism at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication. No stranger to the White House, Souza was previously the official White House photographer for President Reagan.

"I think creating a good photographic archive for history is the most important part of my job ... creating this archive that will live on" Souza told National Geographic last month during its special "The President's Photographer: 50 Years in the Oval Office".

Souza and his staff produce about 20,000 photographs a week, he said. "The job of presidential photographer is all about access and trust, and if you have both of those you're going to make interesting, historic pictures," Souza said.

With this year-end collection, Souza wrote on the White House blog that he was attempting a balance:

I tried to include photographs that show President Obama in a variety of behind-the-scenes situations and ones that also represent the successes and challenges he faced during the year. A few playful moments, some with his family, are also included. I wrote first-person captions to accompany each photograph to hopefully give the viewer some added context where needed. Taken together, the slide show will hopefully provide people with a window into the Obama presidency from 2010.

Souza and Obama have been relatively groundbreaking in their use of Flickr to allow people access to and use of official White House photographs. Some of the best of Souza's 2010 presidential photos can be seen in the slide show above or here on Flickr.

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: President Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office on May 8, 2009. The youngster wanted to see whether the president's haircut felt like his own. Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Bill Clinton retakes the White House from Obama: Full photo coverage

LOOK WHO'S HERE TO HELP THE LESS POPULAR DEMOCRAT SELL TAX CUTS

Former president Bill Clinton visits the White House 12-10-10

 During the last year or so former President Bill Clinton has become the Norm Abram of politics, traveling around the country from this old house to that old house, helping restore some political candidacies, launch others and doing what he loves doing best -- campaigning.

In the end Clinton's campaign assistance, repairs and political errands for Barack Obama didn't always succeed: Think Joe Sestak, Blanche Lincoln, Kendrick Meek, et al. In fact, Sarah Palin, another former governor, did better. But she didn't have the onerous burden of being a Democrat in a year when even some of George W. Bush's favorable poll ratings crept above Obama's, if you can believe such a thing after less than two years of failed economic policies.

Nonetheless, all the exposure combined with a decade's distance from his own White House problems, helped launch Clinton's recent poll approval into the 60's, way above both of his successors. Something about his strong economy and seemingly peaceful 2,922 White House days, pre-9/11.

So, it wasn't surprising Friday when Obama, who's enduring a political revolt among his own party in Congress and perhaps beyond, invited Dr. Clinton to make a political house call. What was surprising was, after their private talk, Obama appearing in the Briefing Room with Clinton in tow. Ill-advised.

You know what actors say about going onstage with children or dogs: Don't ever do it. Same goes for troubled ex-state senators walking to a podium next to an old pro like Clinton, clearly relishing his time back in the big house.

Remember back in the summer of 2008 the unsourced Obama camp leaks about why he couldn't possibly pick Hillary Clinton as his VP partner, revolving mainly on concerns that her hubby would hang around the White House like a spare president, messing things up? Obama clearly forgot his own leaks.

After a brief introduction (see full transcript below) Obama turned the microphone over to Clinton, expecting an endorsement of his embattled tax cut deal with Republicans. Obama got that sure enough. But he got so much more.

Clinton simply took over the place with his powerful presence, sucking out all the oxygen. And he began talking. And talking. And talking. Obama had said he might leave and let the former president take a question or two. Clinton sure did. And he talked. And talked.

After what seemed like a very uncomfortable hour but wasn't, Obama tired of standing there like an irrelevant visitor in his own house. He fled, citing being tardy to join his wife; you know the Obamas and their parties. Clinton skipped not a beat. It was a fascinating moment, unless you're the Obama aide who suggested your boss go onstage with the no longer has-been and allow a non-fortuitous comparison.

To help Ticket readers grasp the full comedic context we have thoughtfully provided hypothetical photo captions to chronicle the event.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Remarks by Presidents Clinton and Obama, as provided by the White House

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Hey, everybody. I thought it was a slow day, so I’ve --

Q    Slow news day, huh?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  -- bring the other guy in. Obviously, there’s a big debate going on about taxes, and about the need to grow the economy and to create jobs.  And just about every day this week, I’ve been making an argument as to why the agreement that we’ve struck to provide billions of dollars in payroll tax cuts that can immediately help rejuvenate the economy, as well as tax cuts for middle-class families, unemployment insurance for folks who desperately need it, credits for college, Child Tax Credits, as well as a range of business investments credits are so important to make sure that we keep this recovery moving.

I just had a terrific meeting with the former President, President Bill Clinton. And we just happened to have this as a topic of conversation.  And I thought, given the fact that he presided over as good an economy as we’ve seen in our lifetimes, that it might be useful for him to share some of his thoughts.

I’m going to let him speak very briefly. And then I’ve actually got to go over and....

BILL'S BACK AND AGREED TO SAY A FEW WORDS

Former president Bill Clinton and Obama 12-10-10

....do some -- just one more Christmas party. So he may decide he wants to take some questions, but I want to make sure that you guys hear it from him directly.

FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President. First of all, I feel awkward being here, and now you’re going to leave me all by myself. (Laughter.) Let me just say a couple of things. First of all, I still spend....

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Ticket pic of the week: His mother thought he was cute

A Squidworm

Much talk in the news now and then about species possibly disappearing from the Earth. Fewer words about those appearing.

Like this one.

Called a squidworm, it recently was discovered in the depths of the Celebes Sea between Indonesia and the Philippines.

It is nearly 4 inches long (nearly 10 cm.) and moves through the water vertically by paddling rhythmically with the wispy wands that protrude in body-length rows.

Good thing it lives way down deep. Otherwise, Japanese factory ships would be harvesting it by the ton to sell as a dining delicacy in Tokyo's sushi bars.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Click here to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. If you support Brandy, click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons below to share any item with family and friends.

Photo credit: Laurence Madin / AFP-Getty Images

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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