Lt. Col. Vindman ended his opening statement with a stirring plea that had some spectators wiping away tears: “Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.”
Thursday, June 30, 2011
"EIGHT MYTHS TO CHILL AN OLD SCHOOL REPUBLICAN SOUL:
When Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., quit the (no longer) bipartisan deficit-reduction talks last week, it was not exactly a "Profiles in Courage" moment.
Serious deficit reduction can't be — and shouldn't be —accomplished without tax increases and broad elimination of tax expenditures, which would have the effect of raising taxes. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform last year acknowledged that.
But tax increases, in whatever guise, fail the current Republican purity laws. Mr. Cantor, who will be running for reelection next year, understands that very well. So does Mr. Kyl, who won't seek reelection in 2012 — though he's generously offered himself as a vice presidential nominee.
It's sad to see what has happened to the Party of Lincoln, and for that matter, the party of lesser mortals like George H.W. Bush of Texas, Bob Dole of Kansas and Jack Danforth of Missouri. No one ever would mistake them for liberals, but they were statesmen who put country before party.
Today we have the spectacle of smart, patriotic men and women putting their brains and integrity on ice to please a party dominated by anti-intellectual social Darwinists and the plutocrats who finance and mislead them.
Consider the mythology that makes up GOP orthodoxy today. Imagine the contortions that cramp the brains and souls of men and women of intelligence and compassion who seek state and national office under the Republican banner.
• They must believe, despite the evidence of the 2008 financial collapse, that unregulated — or at most, lightly regulated —financial markets are good for America and the world.
• They must believe in the brilliantly cast conceit known as the "pro-growth agenda," in which economic growth can be attained only by reducing corporate and individual tax rates, especially among the investor class, and by freeing business from environmental rules that have cleaned up America's air and water and labor regulations that helped create America's middle class.
• Though rising health care costs are pillaging the economy, and even though health care in America is now a matter of what you can afford, Republican candidates for office must deny that health care is a basic right and resist a real attempt to change and improve the system.
• GOP candidates must scoff at scientific consensus about global warming. Blame it on human activity? Bad. Cite Noah's Ark as evidence? Good. They must express at least some doubt about the science of evolution.
• They must insist, statistics and evidence to the contrary, that most of the nation's energy needs can be met safely with more domestic oil drilling, "clean-coal" technology and greater reliance on perfectly safe nuclear power plants.
• They must believe that all 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States can be rounded up, detained, tried, repatriated and kept from returning at a reasonable cost.
• Even though there are more than four unemployed persons for every available job, GOP candidates should at least hint that unemployment benefits keep people from seeking jobs.
• They must believe that the Founding Fathers wanted to guarantee individuals the absolute right to own high-capacity, rapid-fire weapons that did not exist in the late 18th century.
By no means is this list complete. It almost makes you feel sorry for the people who pretend to believe this stuff.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
BACHMANN IN HER OWN WORDS:
"I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?" -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, calling for a new McCarthyism, Oct. 2008
"If we took away the minimum wage -- if conceivably it was gone -- we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level." Michele Bachmann, Jan. 2005
"Something that I think sometimes people don’t like to hear is that secular people can be sometimes even more dogmatic in beliefs than people who are not secular. ... In some ways, to believe in evolution is almost like a following; a cult following — if you don’t believe in evolution, you’re considered completely backward. That seems to me very indicative of bias as well." - Michele Bachmann quoted in the Stillwater Gazette, September 29, 2003.
"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, on the 1976 Swine Flu outbreak that happened when Gerald Ford, a Republican, was president, April 28, 2009
"There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, Oct. 2006
"Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas." -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, April, 2009, In 2008, a Stanford scientist revealed “direct links” between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and “increases in human mortality” — globally, he found that as many as “20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to this greenhouse gas.
"That's why people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress, and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions." -Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a pro-lifer who completely missed the irony of using the same slogan as the pro-choice movement in arguing against health care reform
"Does that mean that someone's 13-year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus? That night, mom and dad are never the wiser." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, on health care reform's potential to dupe parents, October 2009
BACHMANN SUGGESTED GAY SINGER SHOULD REPENT AFTER GETTING CANCER: Bachmann saw Melissa Etheridge’s cancer as a teachable moment: “Unfortunately she is now suffering from breast cancer, so keep her in your prayers,” she said in November 2004. “This may be an opportunity for her now to be open to some spiritual things, now that she is suffering with that physical disease. She is a lesbian.”
"This is a ticking time bomb and there is a very real threat that an Activist Judge Strike down DOMA this year"--Sen Michele Bachmann, Interview with Jan Markell, Olive Tree Ministries.
"I look at the Scripture and I read it and I take it for what it is. I give more credence in the Scripture as being kind of a timeless word of God to mankind, and I take it for what it is. And I don't think I give as much credence to my own mind, because I see myself as being very limited and very flawed, and lacking in knowledge, and wisdom and understanding. So, I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist. I'm not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I'm not a scientist." - Michele Bachmann interviewing with Todd Fiel at KKMS as quoted in the Stillwater Gazette, September 29, 2003.
BACHMANN CLAIMED THAT GLENN BECK COULD SOLVE THE DEBT CRISIS: During a February trip to South Carolina, Bachmann told a South Carolina audience, “I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this [the national debt].”
From Matt Taibi's article in Rolling Stone:
"...Michele entered one of the most ridiculous learning institutions in the Western Hemisphere, a sort of highway rest area with legal accreditation called the O.W. Coburn School of Law; Michele was a member of its inaugural class in 1979.
Originally a division of Oral Roberts University, this august academy, dedicated to the teaching of "the law from a biblical worldview," has gone through no fewer than three names — including the Christian Broadcasting Network School of Law. Those familiar with the darker chapters in George W. Bush's presidency might recognize the school's current name, the Regent University School of Law. Yes, this was the tiny educational outhouse that, despite being the 136th-ranked law school in the country, where 60 percent of graduates flunked the bar, produced a flood of entrants into the Bush Justice Department."
"One member of Michele's entourage talked about how he had visions, and that God spoke to him directly," recalled Denise Stephens, a parent who was opposed to the religious curriculum at New Heights. "He told us that as Christians we had to lay our lives down for it. I remember getting in the car with my husband afterward and telling him, 'This is a cult.'"
Under pressure from parents, Bachmann resigned from New Heights. But the experience left her with a hang-up about the role of the state in public education. She was soon mobilizing against an educational-standards program called Profile of Learning, an early precursor to No Child Left Behind. Under the program, state educators and local businesses teamed up to craft a curriculum that would help young people prepare for the work force — but Bachmann saw through their devious scheme. "She thought it was a socialist plot to turn our children into little worker-automatons," says Bill Prendergast, a Stillwater resident who wrote for the town's newspaper and has documented every step of Bachmann's career." --Matt Taibi, Rolling Stone
I'm posting on this because of the double standard going on here. Robertson harangs his audience about the passage of legislation in New York and warns that the god he and his millions of viewers believes in will destroy America because of it.
That is damnation.
Pat Robertson damned America.
Remember how the conservatives were all over Mr. Obama for attending a church where the Rev. Wright damned America? I wonder who, on the right, will be the first to denounce Robertson for doing the very same thing?
From The Raw Story:
"Television evangelist Pat Robertson responded to New York’s decision to legalize same sex marriage by warning Monday that the result would be America’s destruction.
“I think we need to remember the term sodomy came from a town known as Sodom and Sodom was destroyed by God Almighty and the thing that they practiced was homosexual activity and even they tried to rape angels who came down there, so that’s the kind of people they were,” Robertson said. God “sent an angel down there and He said to Lot and his family, ‘get out now because I’m gonna destroy this whole area.’”
“We’re heading that way as a nation. In history there’s never been a civilization ever in history that has embraced homosexuality and turned away from traditional fidelity, traditional marriage, traditional child-rearing, and has survived. There isn’t one single civilization that has survived that openly embraced homosexuality. So you say, ‘what’s going to happen to America?” Well if history is any guide, the same thing’s going to happen to us,’” he predicted.
Robertson also admitted that Jesus “didn’t say anything about the homosexuality.”
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Another victory in the civil rights campaign to treat all Americans equally under the law!
This is wonderful news for our LGBT citizens and for all of us!
Thank you New York for doing the right thing.
From The New York Times:
"Supporters of the same-sex marriage bill danced in the streets of the West Village after the State Senate approved it on Friday night.
Crowds gathered, screamed and embraced in Sheridan Square near the Stonewall Inn, where the gay-rights movement began more than 40 years ago. Many stood on park benches to get a better view. Gay and lesbian bars in the neighborhood were packed with patrons, and the neighborhood had the feel of jubilant celebration.
“Equality is what this means; this is our right as people,” said John Huls, 52, standing in the Stonewall with his partner, Jay Hoff, 50. “It’ll be our same relationship. We’re the same people as when we met, except now it’s proper in the eyes of the state, and I’ll be able to look at people and say, ‘This is my husband.’ ”
"New York joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia in allowing gays to wed. A court challenge to a 2008 amendment to the California state constitution that banned gay marriage after a state Supreme Court ruling made it legal there is wending its way through the federal appeals court process. If marriage-equality proponents succeed in the Golden State, 23.3 percent of Americans will live in states where gay couples can legally wed."Greg Sargent says it best:
"This is another major defeat for those self-described “conservatives” who hate government except when it’s enforcing a form of legalized discrimination that comports with their prejudices. But this isn’t about them. It’s about everyone but them.
What just happened in New York is not just a big legal breakthrough; it’s an important chapter in a larger story. For the first time this year, majorities of Americans support legalized gay marriage, which means majorities of Americans are not prepared to assign subpar status to the intimate relationships of gays and lesbians. Majorities of Americans no longer think it’s acceptable to tell people they have no right to partake in a basic human ritual that is viewed by the religious as sacred — or viewed by the nonreligious as merely fundamental to life as we live it — on the basis of sexual orientation alone."
I am thrilled to see this country maturing and moving away from the imposition of religious prejudices and hatreds on our citizens by way of unConstitutional laws. The party that loves to shout FREEDOM! and LIBERTY! has tried to obstruct and challenge the freedom and liberty of our gay and lesbian citizens. State by state, this will no longer stand.
*Yankees not included.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Big news here in Boston. Fugitive Boston mobster, James "Whitey" Bulger, was arrested in Santa Monica, California.
"Fugitive South Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, wanted for 19 murders, was captured last night in Southern California, the result of a tip from FBI television spots that began airing this week. His capture ended a 16-year manhunt that spanned the globe.
Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, and Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, released a statement this morning confirming that FBI agents had arrested the fugitive, who was on the bureau's Ten Most Wanted list, and his companion, Catherine Greig, in California. Neither resisted arrest. Cash and guns were found hidden in the apartment, police confirmed.
"Recent publicity produced a tip that led agents to a residence in Santa Monica, California, where they located Bulger and Greig Wednesday evening," the statement said.
The arrests of Bulger, 81, and Greig, 60, were initially announced by FBI headquarters on Twitter.
The arrest is a long-sought victory for the FBI, whose reputation was sullied by its connection to the mobster and whose fruitless efforts to find the fugitive had been regarded by some with suspicion.
Bulger did not appear to be in good health, an official said.
"I don't think he's in a position to be fighting anybody," the official said, adding, "They got a confession from him."
Bulger's brother, former president of the state Senate William M. Bulger, had little to say this morning when a reporter knocked on the door of his South Boston home.
"No comment," said William Bulger, who answered the door in his T-shirt. Informed that his brother had been arrested, Bulger said, "Thank you."
Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly, part of the prosecution team that brought the federal charges against Whitey Bulger, said this morning, "It's a long time coming and we're glad he's finally in custody."
Bulger fled just before his federal racketeering indictment in January 1995. It was later revealed in federal court in Boston that he was a longtime FBI informant who had been warned by his corrupt handler, former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., that he was about to be arrested.
Betrayed by the revelation that Bulger was an informant, several of his former associates began cooperating against him, leading to the discovery of secret graves of his victims in the Boston area and additional charges that Bulger murdered 19 people.
According to the Los Angeles Times, authorities had investigated two possible Bulger sightings in Southern California. In 2000, a tipster reported seeing Greig having her hair done at a salon in Fountain Valley, the newspaper reported. In 2005, the FBI investigated whether Bulger may have been the elderly man who robbed three Orange County banks.
But ultimately, the trail appeared to grow cold and no link was made to the mobster.
On Monday, the FBI announced that after years of focusing on Bulger, it was launching a new initiative aimed at daytime TV viewers.
It began airing a 30-second public service announcement in 14 cities across the United States urging people to be on the lookout for Greig, a dental hygienist who was devoted to her appearance, had plastic surgery in the past, and frequently had her hair cut and teeth cleaned. The spots aired during daytime shows, including, "Ellen," "The View," and "Live with Regis & Kelly."
A woman who answered the door at the South Boston home of Greig's sister, Margaret McCusker, was told of the arrest by a Globe reporter this morning. "They found him? Finally," she said. "I want my sister to come home."
Travis Andersen and Andrew Ryan of the Globe staff contributed to this report."
Bulger was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson's character, Frank Costello, in Martin Scorcese's "The Departed" -- particularly because of his time in the 1970s as an FBI informant.
In 1999, Bulger was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, met with Nobel Peace Prize winner and past president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela:
Mrs. Obama did NOT meet with the present president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma; and I am happy that she didn't. Mr. Zuma has a troubling past [Accused of rape, but was not found guilty. How many American politicians could run for and be elected to public office with that in their past?]
Mr. Zuma has also been accused of corruption charges, fathering a "love child," and in his background, was once an avowed Communist. Imagine how the right wing media would have played up Mrs. Obama meeting with a head of state who was once a member of the Communist Party. Remember how the wingers ravished Van Jones for his association with a Marxist group?
But having ties to Communists isn't the only dubious part of Zuma's background. Zuma is also blatantly and unapologetically anti-gay.
Remarks on same-sex marriage
"Zuma was criticised by gay and lesbian groups after he criticised same-sex marriage at a Heritage Day celebration on 24 September 2006 in Stanger, saying that same-sex marriage was "a disgrace to the nation and to God": "When I was growing up, an ungqingili (a homosexual) would not have stood in front of me. I would knock him out."
Some rightwing bloggers are crowing over the fact that President Zuma did not meet with Mrs. Obama, but those same wingers would have savagely criticized her for shaking hands with a former Commie and homophobe. They can't be consistent because there's no rationality in their hatred for this FLOTUS, who BTW is admired and very popular with the American people.
And no wonder:
June 22, 2011
A healthy-looking Nelson Mandela met with Michelle Obama and her daughters Tuesday, an unexpected encounter between the first lady and the former South African president and anti-apartheid icon who largely has retired from public life.
A photo provided by the Nelson Mandela Foundation showed the 92-year-old Mandela sitting on a couch next to Mrs. Obama, pen in hand to sign an advance copy of his new book, “Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorized Quotations Book.” Mandela was wearing one of his trademark shirts, richly patterned and buttoned at the neck.
Mrs. Obama, daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 10, and her mother, Marian Robinson, were viewing some of Mandela’s personal papers at his foundation when he sent word that he wanted to meet them at his home in a leafy Johannesburg neighborhood. It was the first meeting between America’s first black first lady and the political prisoner who later became his country’s first black president
Mrs. Obama’s family spent about 20 minutes with Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, who is a former first lady of Mozambique.
Mandela, who stepped down in 1999 after serving one term as president, rarely is seen in public anymore. At age 92, he is in fragile health and was hospitalized briefly in January with an acute respiratory infection.
His condition has been improving steadily, and he apparently felt well enough Tuesday to invite the Obama family to visit."
Monday, June 20, 2011
The following is only a partial list of impressive accomplishments President Obama has completed in the 2 years 4 months he's been in office, despite the most uncooperative opposition party any president has had to deal with in modern times.
That he was able to achieve this much is a tribute to his skill as a chief executive in this very divided country.
The opposition has lied (and will continue to do so--it's their only weapon against this president's success) about Mr. Obama's record. So if you're reading on some rightwing blog that Mr. Obama has accomplished nothing, you're reading more rightwing propaganda and disinformation. This list attests to what President Obama has accomplished, and shows that the rightwingers lie about it.
The opposition can have their own opinions, but not their own facts. And here are the facts:
Despite the characterizations of some, Obama’s success rate in winning congressional votes on issues was an unprecedented 96.7% for his first year in office. Though he is often cited as superior to Obama, President Lyndon Johnson’s success rate in 1965 was only 93%.
Within days after taking office, he signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse. http://1.usa.gov/dUvbu5
Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money. http://n.pr/hcgBn1
On his first full day, he froze White House salaries. http://on.msnbc.com/ewJUIx
He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending. http://www.cio.gov
He committed to phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems, and also signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to stop waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system. http://bit.ly/hOw1t1 http://bit.ly/fz8GAd
Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. http://bit.ly/hwKhKa
Improving the Economy, Preventing Depression
He pushed through and signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as “the stimulus package,” despite the fact that not one Republican voted for that bill. In addition, he launched recovery.gov, so that taxpayers could track spending from the Act. http://1.usa.gov/ibiFSs http://1.usa.gov/e3BJMk
In his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy 3.5%. http://reut.rs/i46CEE
He completed the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, and recovered virtually all of its costs. http://1.usa.gov/eA5jVS http://bit.ly/eCNrD6
He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan. http://1.usa.gov/goy6zl
He oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years. http://bit.ly/hrrnjY
He also doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency. http://bit.ly/eYD4nf
He signed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act giving the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud in every corner of the financial system. It also created a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial fraud that led to the economic meltdown. http://abcn.ws/g18Fe7
He signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which was designed to to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices. http://1.usa.gov/gIaNcS
He signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, expanding on the Making Home Affordable Program to help millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures. The bill also provided $2.2 billion to help combat homelessness, and to stabilize the housing market. http://bit.ly/eEpLFn
Through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he and Congressional Democrats provided tax credits to first-time home buyers, which helped the U.S. housing market recovery. http://bit.ly/dZgXXw http://bit.ly/gORYfL
He initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses. http://1.usa.gov/eu0u0b
He created a $60 billion bank to fund infrastructure improvements such as roads and bridges. http://bit.ly/e1SSaQ
He implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs. http://bit.ly/ibhpxr
Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest. http://bit.ly/gj7mt5
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost. http://1.usa.gov/ez30Dc
Provided funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police and firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession. http://bit.ly/g0IKWR
Wall Street Reforms and Consumer Protection
Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money. http://huff.to/eAi9Qq
He pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression. http://bit.ly/hWCPg0 http://bit.ly/geHpcD
He made it so that banks could no longer use YOUR money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers’ interests. http://bit.ly/fnTayj
He wholly endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes. http://bit.ly/esOdfB http://bit.ly/eG4DPM
He made a deal with Swiss banks that permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and tax evaders. http://bit.ly/htfDgw
He established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses. http://bit.ly/fnTayj
Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination
He advocated for and signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made it a federal crime to assault anyone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. http://bit.ly/gsMSJ7
He pushed through and signed a repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that forced soldiers to lie to fight for their country, and put our troops at risk by disqualifying many qualified soldiers from helping. http://bit.ly/fdahuH
He appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. http://1.usa.gov/fi5IY0
He extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. http://1.usa.gov/g2RLCj
He’s appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history. http://bit.ly/g1lA7D
He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. This was after the GOP blocked the bill in 2007. Only 5 Republican Senators voted for the bill. http://bit.ly/fT3Cxg
He expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act. http://1.usa.gov/dSbI0x
He provided a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). http://nyti.ms/gfLqyM
He signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs. http://wapo.st/eWECA8
He improved Foreign Relations and American Status Abroad
He visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president during his first six months in office. http://bit.ly/hZycda
As he promised, he gave a speech at a major Islamic forum in Cairo early in his administration. http://nyti.ms/dKvY4g
He re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues. http://1.usa.gov/e7QuDj
He established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. http://1.usa.gov/eX28DP
He established new, more reasonable policies in our relations with Cuba, such as allowing Cuban-Americans to visit their families and send money to support them. http://n.pr/hY3Kwa http://nyti.ms/emQBde
He ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and a smattering of Democrats) who prevented him from following through. http://bit.ly/eW6CVF
Ordered a review of our detention and interrogation policy, and prohibited the use of torture, or what Bush called “enhanced interrogation.” He ordered interrogators to limit their actions to the Army Field manual. http://bit.ly/g6MTuC
He ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed. http://bbc.in/h6N9ax
He released the Bush torture memos. http://bit.ly/hWJ5z0
On his second day in office, he signed a detailed Executive Order that banned torture, reversed all Bush torture policies, and put the United States in compliance with the Geneva Convention. http://1.usa.gov/dL6Zve http://nyti.ms/hzWWys
Better Approach to “Defense”
Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat. http://1.usa.gov/gDX1nE
He authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010. http://1.usa.gov/gLFZl2
He restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush. http://lat.ms/gkcl3i
He signed and pushed to ratification a new SALT Treaty. http://bit.ly/f3JVtw
He created and executed a plan to end our involvement in Iraq in a responsible manner, and followed through. http://nyti.ms/fHTfrJ
Through the Defense Authorization Act, he reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq. http://bit.ly/hk73OJ
He developed the first comprehensive strategy with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan designed to facilitate the defeat of al Qaeda and the withdrawal of most troops, as well as the rebuilding of Afghanistan. http://wapo.st/ee4Xcs
Treating Soldiers and Veterans with Respect
He made sure that families of fallen soldiers could be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB, by providing funding for it. He also ended the media blackout on coverage of the return of fallen soldiers. http://nyti.ms/glqN66 http://bbc.in/gWSSkA
He funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services. http://1.usa.gov/huhqfo
He provided the troops with better body armor. http://bit.ly/hzSv2h
He created the Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order to improve the quality of their medical care. http://1.usa.gov/f4yaxW
He supported and signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which made more money available to enable better medical care for veterans. http://1.usa.gov/fN4ur1
He ushered through the largest spending increase in 30 years for the Department of Veterans Affairs for improved medical facilities, and to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities. http://1.usa.gov/gY8O3x
He created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs. http://bit.ly/epwUQY
He oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals. http://bit.ly/gjzTxX
He has repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process. http://bit.ly/gYWd30 http://bit.ly/e9c7Dr http://bit.ly/eEzTNq
Completely reformed the student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate. http://nyti.ms/dMvHOt
He passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds. http://1.usa.gov/dQvtUe
Greater Transparency and Better Government
He signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the Executive Branch. http://bit.ly/fsBACN
He signed an order banning anyone from working in an agency they had lobbied in previous years. He also put strict limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House. http://nyti.ms/gOrznV
He held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public. http://bit.ly/gVNSgX
The Obama White House became the first to stream every White House event, live. http://1.usa.gov/kAgOP5
He established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities. http://www.serve.gov
He provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history. http://1.usa.gov/hQ7ttV
He crafted an Executive Order on Presidential Records, which restored the 30-day time frame for former presidents to review records, and eliminated the right for the vice president or family members of former presidents to do the reviews. This will provide the public with greater access to historic White House documents, and severely curtails the ability to use executive privilege to shield them. http://1.usa.gov/gUetLb
He improved aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, and issued new guidelines to make FOIA more open and transparent in the processing of FOIA requests. http://1.usa.gov/gjrnp2
National Safety and Security
He’s restored federal agencies such as FEMA to the point that they have been able to manage a huge number of natural disasters successfully. http://bit.ly/h8Xj7z
Has repeatedly beefed up border security http://bit.ly/mMYB4i
Killed Osama bin Laden. http://bit.ly/jChpgw
Science, Technology and Health Care
He created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making. http://1.usa.gov/g2SDuw
He opened up the process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects. http://bit.ly/j0KV2U
He eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. He also provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research. http://bit.ly/h36SSO http://ti.me/edezge
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs. http://nyti.ms/fTs9t7
He signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis. http://bit.ly/fOi2rb
Provided financial support for private sector space programs. http://bit.ly/fn8ucr
He oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use. http://bit.ly/dNTRyP
He ushered through a bill that authorized the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products. http://on.msnbc.com/fiKViB As a result, the FDA has Ordered Tobacco Companies to Disclose Cigarette Ingredients and banned sale of cigarettes falsely labeled as “light.”
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he provided $500 million for Health Professions Training Programs. http://bit.ly/ecQSgA
He also increased funding for community-based prevention programs. http://bit.ly/frMPG3
He oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors. http://bit.ly/e5b1iq http://1.usa.gov/fVNkt9
He eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price. http://bit.ly/fOkG5b
Two weeks after taking office, he signed the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which increased the number of children covered by health insurance by 4 million. http://bit.ly/fDEzGv
He held a quick press conference, and urged Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross for raising premiums 39% without explanation. Rep. Waxman responded by launching a probe, and Anthem Blue Cross put the increase on hold for two months. http://yhoo.it/e8Tj9C
Ushered through and signed the Affordable Health Care Act, which expanded health insurance coverage to 30 million more people, and ended many common insurance company practices that are often detrimental to those with coverage. He also established http://www.healthcare.gov/
Through the Affordable Health Care Act, he allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26. http://nyti.ms/fNB26V
Through the Affordable Health Care Act, he provided tax breaks to allow 3.5 million small business to provide health insurance to their employees, and 29 million people will receive tax breaks to help them afford health insurance. http://nyti.ms/fNB26V
Through the Affordable Health Care Act, he expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level. http://nyti.ms/ekMWpo
Through the Affordable Health Care Act, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care. http://nyti.ms/fNB26V
Strengthening the Middle Class and Families
He worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families. http://bit.ly/fNfidS
He cracked down on companies that were previously denying sick pay, vacation and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare tax payments through abuse of the employee classification of independent contractor. http://nyti.ms/fOGLcj
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , he cut taxes for 95% of America’s working families. http://bit.ly/eSEI4F
Under Obama, tax rates for average working families are the lowest they’ve been since 1950. http://bit.ly/f74pD8
He extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years. http://bit.ly/eFeSdP
He extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s extended unemployment benefits several times. http://aol.it/evtVxD http://nyti.ms/emrqKJ http://bit.ly/hOtIpg http://bit.ly/fTT7kz
Environment and Energy
He fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact federal fuel efficiency standards that were above federal standards. http://nyti.ms/e8e94x
He fast-tracked increased fuel economy standards for vehicles beginning with the 2011 model year. It was the first time such standards had been increased in a decade. http://politi.co/hiaPKM
He oversaw the establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, which creates more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies. http://bit.ly/lZp73y
He ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances. http://1.usa.gov/g3MTbu
He ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021. http://reut.rs/fV155p (As you can see, Republicans are trying hard to kill it.)
He oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers. http://bit.ly/mjnq2R
Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions. http://bit.ly/froaP5
He doubled federal spending on clean energy research. http://bit.ly/iN0sCE
He pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars. http://bit.ly/j8UP5Y
He created a program to develop renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that will produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents. http://1.usa.gov/fgfRWq
He reengaged in the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions agreements talks, and even proposed one himself. He also addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference, officially reversing the Bush era stance that climate change was a “hoax.” http://bit.ly/dX6Vj3 http://bit.ly/fE2PxK http://nyti.ms/hfeqvv
He fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide. http://bit.ly/eJ6QOO
He required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption. http://bit.ly/lBhk7P
Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars. http://bit.ly/glCukV
Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles. http://bit.ly/h5KZqy http://1.usa.gov/fLWq5c http://1.usa.gov/hmUSbk
He strengthened the Endangered Species Act. http://bit.ly/hscjsH
Through the EPA, he took steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans. http://bit.ly/fBuWd2
He increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10% http://bit.ly/fbJPjY
He has expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA. http://bit.ly/etznpY
He oversaw funding of the design of a new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, which is scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015. He protected the funding during the recent budget negotiations. http://on.fb.me/fD0EVO http://bit.ly/ff5Luv
Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. http://bit.ly/dFb8qF
He nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Justice in the court’s history, and the women represent only the third and fourth women to serve on the court, out of a total of 112 justices. http://huff.to/eOChg6 http://bit.ly/i02wgP
He appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president. http://bit.ly/dX6vNB
He eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and he rescinded the global gag rule. http://bit.ly/eCFAI1 http://bit.ly/f92drF
He loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference. http://huff.to/eQfa7j
Ushered through and signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program. http://bit.ly/idgQH5
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.
Juneteenth Festivities and Food
A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.
Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.
Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish. Meats such as lamb, pork and beef which not available everyday were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebrations left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next.
Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition's roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former 'masters'.
Juneteenth In Modern Times
Today, Juneteenth is enjoying a phenomenal growth rate within communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of local and national Juneteenth organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations - all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.
Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.
The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed, brightens our future - and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth."
And a Happy Fathers' Day to all the wonderful fathers out there.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Senator David Vitter [R-LA]* gives kudos to Rep. Anthony Weiner for manning up and having the decency [at long last] to resign from his public office after disgracing himself and his family.
*NEW ORLEANS — New allegations tie Sen. David Vitter to a high-priced brothel in his hometown, one day after he publicly apologized for his connection to an alleged prostitution ring in Washington, D.C.
On Monday, Vitter acknowledged being involved with the so-called D.C. Madam. A day later, new revelations linked him to a former madam in New Orleans and old allegations that he frequented a former prostitute resurfaced, further clouding his political future.
Jeanette Maier on Tuesday said Vitter was once a client of the Canal Street brothel. She pleaded guilty to running the operation in 2002. Vitter won his seat in the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
We're a hockey family.
Boston hasn't possessed the Stanley Cup since 1972--the Bobby Orr years!
Boston's sports teams have delivered 4 world championship in 6 years:
2005 New England Patriots win their 3rd Super Bowl
2007 Boston Red Sox win their second World Series.
2008 Boston Celtics win their 17th Basketball Championship
2011 Boston Bruins win their 6th Stanley Cup Championship
Congrats to our beloved BROONZ!
Each of these candidates tries to out-Tea Party the others, pandering to the fringes of the GOP.
Tim Pawlenty is the worst. His sound-bite should disqualify him for dog-catcher!
Happily, I missed the show because of a little game going on at the Baaahstin Gaaahdin involving some black and gold bears!
Fact-checking on what the GOPers claimed in the Monday night debate: [h/t ThinkProgress]
CLAIM 1 FROM BACHMANN: The Congressional Budget Office said the Affordable Care Act will kill 800,000 jobs. FACT: The CBO actually found that some people would leave the workforce or work less because they can find affordable health coverage elsewhere. This is a reduction in the supply of labor, not a reduction in the supply of jobs.
CLAIM 2 FROM BACHMANN: Obamacare took $500 billion out of Medicare, shifted it to build a new entitlement for young people. FACT: The health law does not cut the current Medicare budget; it slows the growth in the program by removing $500 billion from future spending over the next 10 years. The cuts help stabilize Medicare by eliminating overpayments and slowly phasing in payment adjustments that encourage greater efficiency. As a result, the law extends the life of the Medicare trust fund by nine years and allows seniors to retain all of their guaranteed Medicare benefits.
CLAIM 3 FROM ROMNEY: I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. FACT: The executive branch and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) don’t have the authority to grant blanket waivers — those powers are reserved for Congress.
CLAIM 4 FROM PAWLENTY: Medicare is not financially solvent. FACT: Medicare is fully solvent until 2024. After 2024, the hospital fund will still be able to meet “90 percent” of its commitments.
CLAIM 5 FROM SANTORUM: Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan is “identical to what seniors already have” — Medicare Part D. FACT: It’s not. The government pays 74 percent of costs in Medicare Part D and grows that support at the rate of program costs. “Ryan’s plan covers about a third of beneficiary costs, and that support grows at the rate of inflation — so much more slowly than the rest of the program, or than Medicare Part D.”
CLAIM 6 FROM SANTORUM: The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will ration care to seniors beginning in 2014. FACT: The IPAB kicks in if health care spending goes beyond a certain threshold and is statutorily prohibited from rationing benefits or increasing co-pays. In fact, Paul Ryan even supported a more aggressive IPAB-type reform in 2009.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Read it here:
"At what point did our political system become decadent? The moment when the United States collectively abdicated its responsibilities in self-government was when the American people accepted the notion that John McCain believed that Sarah Palin was qualified to serve as President of the United States. The fact that the media continues to legitimize the political viability of an individual who never gave a press conference and demonstrates zero ability to recognize what she does not know, is appalling. The fact that 45.7% of the American people in 2008 gave an affirmative answer to the very simple question: "Is Sarah Palin qualified to be President of the United States?" is telling in and of itself.
[T]he introduction of Sarah Palin and her perverse relationship with the American media has been the singularly most toxic element in American politics in the post-Cold War period.
I continue to be astonished that someone can post a blatant lie on a Facebook page, have the media report on it as factual news and a real policy prescription, and permanently poison the political well. We need not go past the healthcare debate to see ample evidence of this phenomenon.
We should not be deluded that even if Sarah Palin does not run for the Presidency that she will not have a profound impact on the Republican nomination process. She and her Christianist tendencies will enjoy a de facto veto over any candidate that fails to tap into her revanchist version of history - resentments against virtually all portions of American society. She is a constituency of one and the most important constituency in the Republican Party, which will result in a candidate who has no viable policy programs, but just might get elected due to economic circumstances.
The media, the American people, and most importantly the Republican Party, should forcefully tell Palin that she either needs to declare her candidacy or be shunned to a life of political insignificance. We know this is not going to happen. She is the mainstream media's favorite politician. She is the spiritual and political leader of the Republican Party. For Democrats, she is a politician who should be cajoled into running to optimize Obama's chances of reelection, under the false and dangerous conventional wisdom that she is unelectable.
American politics has always enjoyed a good sex scandal, yet in the end has been able to more or less function as a governable nation. Palin's style of politics and our ability to ignore it has resulted in our inability to extricate ourselves from three foreign wars; have an honest discussion about the impact of debt, revenue, and entitlements on the sustainability of a decent quality of life for most Americans; and permit a natural generational shift of values to occur on equal rights for all Americans."
Sunday, June 12, 2011
And the Baby Jesus wept:
"In its most recent bulletin, St. Cecilia Parish said that it had planned a “liturgy to commemorate Boston Pride 2011’’ for later this month.h/t Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish
“The Rainbow Ministry of St. Cecilia Parish invites all friends and supporters of the LGBT community to a Mass in celebration of Boston’s Pride Month,’’ the bulletin said. “The theme of the liturgy, ‘All Are Welcome,’ honors Christ’s message of hope and salvation to all people. We will also celebrate the diverse community that finds its home at St. Cecilia.’’
But after protests from conservative church members, the archdiocese intervened.
“The wording and placement of a bulletin notice announcing that the St. Cecilia Rainbow Ministry will be joining the parish at a Mass on June 19 may have given the unintended impression that the Mass is in support of Gay Pride Week; it is not,’’ said Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese. “The pastor will clarify this issue at the Masses this coming weekend.’’
The pastor of the church, the Rev. John J. Unni, did not return calls. Donilon said that he spoke for the parish and that the decision was made by senior officials at the archdiocese.
Donilon declined to answer questions about the apparent contradiction of the church’s bulletin and his statement. He said, however, that there would be a Mass in the future to welcome the community, but not specifically gays and lesbians.
Burke of DignityUSA called on the parish community to “resist the calls for canceling’’ and possibly move the event to a different location. “What kind of message does this send to the gays and lesbians in that parish?’’ she asked.
Susan Donnelly, a member of the parish council of St. Cecilia Parish, said the scheduled Mass had not sparked controversy at St. Cecilia’s. She said the criticism has come from outside."
How any member of the LGBT community can belong to the conservative movement is a mystery to me. When will the Log Cabin Republicans understand that a majority of religious conservatives do not like them or want them in their communities?
Dan Savage talks about the silent complicity of liberal Christians: