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Obama woos Masters of the (Tech) Universe

Back of Steve Jobs' head caught on film

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Every US president has his photo moment: JFK's was the Cuban Missile Crisis, Reagan's the Berlin Wall, and Bush II the unfortunate Mission Accomplished. Or was it the Katrina flyover?

The White House's latest resident has chosen a moment with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, whose company is busy Hoovering-up the personal information of a generation.

Barack Obama's White House staff have posted on Flickr two photos from a micro trip to Silicon Valley this week, which saw the President eat out with some of tech's biggest Republicans leaders.

During the trip Intel chief executive Paul Otellini was named as a member of Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, announced in January. The council's goal is to get Americans back to work and is chaired by General Electric CEO and chairman Jeff Immelt.

Obama and Mark Zuckerberg, Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Leader of the free world, and the US president

Intel also announced a $5bn chip manufacturing plant in Chandler, Arizona, which will create 4,000 new jobs. Construction will start in the middle of this year and be finished by 2013.

Otellini was missing at Obama's Silicon Valley dinner, but attending the event in in the ritzy suburb of Woodside, California, were Apple CEO Steve Jobs – on a medical leave of absence – Cisco's John Chambers, Oracle's Larry Ellison, Google's Eric Schmidt, and Yahoo!'s Carol Bartz, among others.

Significantly, the White House chose to release a supposedly candid and informal moment with Zuckerberg, presumably to prove it "gets" Web 2.0 and it "understands" shamelessly exposing people's personal information to third parties in return for massive business valuations.

The shot captures the leader of the free world, in relaxed and expansive mode, with a wide-eyed and slightly open-mouthed Zuckerberg in full-on deer-in-headlights mode.

The White House's second shot shows Obama and Silicon Valley's powerful and soon-to-be not-so-powerful chiefs cheering each other over dinner. You can analyze the seating and draw your own conclusions. Here's ours: this a Mac-luvvin' White House that digs on Facebooking with registered voters, as Obama sits between Zuckerberg and Jobs.

Obama clearly sits in firm opposition to the aggressive, acquisitive Repubican-style tactics of big software and networking, with Ellison and Chambers positioned opposite, while Bartz and Schmidt are there in name only, being stuck awkwardly at opposite end of the table.

Google screwed up royally by slipping one of its own, Andrew McLaughlin, into the White House as US deputy CTO, who then threw himself into the privacy briar of Google Buzz to marry open government with Web 2.0. when Buzz exposed people's most frequent Gmail contacts.

And as for Yahoo!'s Bartz: well, what exactly is it her company does these days?

Obama and Silicon Valley dinner, Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Cheers to our big-government-high-tech-hard-left-pseudo-right take over!

Wingnuts on the righteous right of US politics will read the dinner seating plan in a different way, of course. Fox News' Glenn Beck this week woke up to the creepiness of Google knowing everything about you, but promptly booked a one-way ticket to the United States of Crazy: according to Beck, Google fomented the Egyptian revolution, is in bed with financier and philanthropist George Soros, and donated money to a range of "hard-left" causes. Draw your own conclusions about what this all means. Beck has.

Beck, though, is not worried about Google reading your email or handing your data to the spooks at the National Security Agency. Rather, it's Google's backing of net neutrality (Huh? Didn't he pick up on Google's net-neut carve-up with Verizon last year?) and funding of "hard left" groups like, er, tiny Moveon.org that has Beck worried about the Chocolate Factory's direction.

"I'm not sure I want my search engine involved in government overthrows – good or bad. What I want from my search engine is good search results," Beck reckons.

The White House releasing of a photo of the leaders of the tech heartily cheering a closet Muslim, socialist, Nazi, Kenyan Democratic president will likely serve new fodder to Beck and related pinheads, that the White House isn't just working with Google on a big-brother conspiracy to invade our thoughts and lives. It's working with the whole tech sector. ®

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