#129 Imagine This (2005)

All Rights Reserved © 2005 Thomas W. Day

This strange . . .  parable(?) was sent to me several months ago by a Kansas family member.  I hung on to it for weeks, considering sending a "reply to all" as a correction to the many logical flaws in this irrational rant, but decided that the Rat is a better place to "publish" my response.  The "letter" is highlighted by lines beginning with ">" and my response is found in the bits without that weird punctuation.
  • Imagine this happening to you...
  • One Sunday morning during service, a 2,000 member congregation was
  • surprised to see two men enter, both covered from head to toe in black
  • and carrying submachine guns.  One of the men proclaimed,
  • "Anyone willing to take a bullet for Christ remain where you are."
  • Immediately, the choir fled...
  • the deacons fled...
  • and most of the congregation fled....
  • out of the 2,000 there only remained around 20.
  • The man who had spoken took off his hood...
  • He then looked at the preacher and said "Okay Pastor, I got rid of all
  • the hypocrites... Now you may begin your service. Have a nice
  • day!"
  • And the two men turned and walked out.
This foolishness was described as heavy" by the sender.  Heavy was once a hip term that described an idea requiring considerable contemplation for understanding.  This message is considerably below the hip standard.  Usually, my email filters catch this crap and auto-deletes it.  When that fails, I figure it out pretty quickly and delete it, manually.  That day, it just tripped a trigger and I couldn't let it pass without comment.  This whacked-out author asks us to believe in the judgment of the 20 dimwitted, terrified, or petrified folks who were convinced that two jerks with machine guns would represent God.  Why would anyone expect holy inspiration from any one who OWNS an automatic weapon, let alone hauls one to church?  Is there something that conveys sanctity when gun-toting clowns add black masks to their costume?  If that's true, I wonder why we all aren't bowing and scraping when Islamic women parade by in their black tent suits?
  • Funny how simple it is for people to trash God ...
  • and then wonder why the world is in the condition it is today....

Funny how a powerful majority religion can be so paranoid about its status in a country that it clearly rules with fear and repression.  Even non-believers are afraid to express disagreement in the current climate.  Like Islamic fundamentalists in Iran or Saudi Arabia, neo-con Christians continue to push their agenda on everyone who thinks like or unlike them.  When anyone questions their ethics, honesty, fantasies, or superstitions, they cry "persecution!" and act like "freedom from religion" is the worst crime Jefferson perpetrated against humanity. 

Even worse than owning slaves. A psychologist might diagnose this as either paranoia or megalomania.  From my perspective, it seems more like the kind of insecurity that has driven religious despots since the beginning of human communities.  Vicious historic actions like witch hunts, the Inquisition, England's purge of all churches other than the Church of England (not long before the American Revolution attempted to separate politics from such oppression), and Hitler's purge of Jews and other non-white, non-Christian citizens in 1945 are examples of this insecurity in action. I'm unconvinced that a significant number of people in any culture "trash God."  However, it's obvious that all people do not believe in the same gods.  Or the same ideals from a shared God.  If that's trashing God, I guess my last paragraph explains this statement.  If the writer hopes to create a unified human mind, she's living a drug-addled superstitious fantasy.
  • Funny how we believe what the newspapers say...but question what the Bible says...
Again, it's not like Christianity is a consistent source of information.  There are almost as many bibles as there are countries.  Counting the versions of the bibles from the variations of religions, there might be as many bibles as there are newspapers.  From about 800AD we've been blessed with the Wyclif Bible, Luther's German New Testament,  William Tyndale, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Taverner's, The Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Bishops' Bible, Douay-Rheims, King James, William Whiston's Primitive New Testament, John Wesley's New Testament, Griesbach's 2nd Greek New Testament, Griesbach's last Greek New Testament, the Apocryphal New Testament, Young's Literal Translation of the Bible, Tischendorf's 4th Greek New Testament, Tregelles' Greek New Testament, Alford's New Testament for English Readers, Rotherham's English translation of Tregelles' text, Eberhard Nestle's Greek New Testament, the American Standard Version, the First edition of Weymouth's New Testament, and the Twentieth Century New Testament which takes us to the beginning of the last century, when biblical editions really exploded.  From then on, a version of the Bible appeared practically every two years for the next 100 years.  This site lists 100+ versions of the Bible (http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Scriptures/), pick one that makes you happy. 

 The history of this often-edited book is anything but clear and unambiguous.  Which makes it easy to pick and choose what you want from the version that most suits the crime you want to commit.  Depending on the section and the edition it's not difficult to find arguments for "loving your neighbor" or "killing the heretics."  The argument you choose probably says more about you than it says about your faith.  Aside from Christianity, we have the Book of Mormon, the Koran, the Torah, the sacred documents of 60-some Indian (not Native Americans, India Indians, you dolt) religions, the Buddhist Bible, and only the gods know how many other religious documents exist. 

There is no shortage of gods to celebrate and everyone seems to think the believers of other gods are heretics.  Personally, I don't have time to sort out who's right.  Living in the here and now is tough enough without inventing and justifying the "next life."  People of faith have used the Bible and other famous religious books to justify slavery, genocide, infanticide, homicide and assassinations, war, theft, greed, selfishness, and every other human fault.  How, exactly, do you know when a person is acting in good faith or in self-interest? 

 Obviously, Christians are not particularly good at making that determination, since they picked a marginally recovered drunk and drug addict who swindled his home city for his share of the $7.5 million dollar debt for a publicly financed baseball stadium.  Choosing a man who executed 250+ people, while claiming to be "pro-life" is equally inconsistent.  Bush's list of un-Christian acts would go on for pages and pages, but he's just one piece of evidence that life is, apparently, more complex than defining the hereafter.  As for the claim that "we believe what the newspapers say," most people rarely believe much that newspapers say.  The press has a credibility rating that is considerably beneath used car salespeople.  Maybe that's because so much of the press is dominated and owned by the same folks who want us all to bow to the same religion?  Rupert Murdoch and Sun Myung Moon own right wing newspapers that are regularly quoted as "unbiased Christian sources."  Right.  If the Klan is unbiased, so are those sources.
  • Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven...
  • provided they do not have to believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says.
That word "everyone" is overused by almost everyone.  Some of us, hundreds of millions of Buddhists for example, would be satisfied with not having to return to life.  Believe it or not, everyone has a different concept of what heaven might be.  The male Islamic heaven, with its 27 virgin slaves, sounds hellish to many women, for example.  Everyone would not be interested in the heaven imagined by everyone else.  I, for example, would rather go almost anywhere than be where a chorus of shrieking Midwestern protestants are howling their out-of-key, rhythm-less "praise."  Heaven is not a universal concept and it's absolutely not a universal vision. 

 Having read a good bit of the Christian Bible, I think it's impossible to not "do anything the Bible says."  The Bible can give justification to just about any act, if you look for a specific justification.  Murder ("an eye for an eye"), genocide, incest, it's all there.  The Old Testament, in particular, is specially ruthless and wide open for interpretation.
  • Funny how someone can say "I believe in God"...
  • but still follow Satan (who, by the way, also "believes" in God).
Having watched the results of the last Presidential election, I am amazed at how true that is.  How Pro-Life Christians can vote for a man who executed more than 250 people and, by his own words, has a clear conscious, is amazing.  But not funny, it's scary.
  • Funny how you can send a thousand 'jokes' through e-mail and they
  • spread like wildfire... but when you start sending messages regarding
  • the Lord, you think twice about sharing. 
Apparently not.  I have received no shortage of this kind of message.  To trap and dispose of internet preachers, cheap Viagra sources, and body organ enlargement systems, I have constructed a half-dozen email filters and, still, most of the junk slithers its way into my mailbox.  I only wish this last erroneous statement were true.  Jokes and porno are much easier to filter than superstitious claptrap.
  • Funny how the lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene pass freely through
  • cyberspace... but the public discussion of Jesus is suppressed in the
  • school and work place.
If by "suppressed" the author means that fellow workers, especially management, are not allowed to forcibly harangue other employees about their "faith," I suppose this is true.  If she means that public schools, paid for by all of our taxes, are not allowed to promote a national religion? Again she's right.  But you're living in a fantasy world if you believe that "public discussion of Jesus" does not happen in schools or at work.  It's practically impossible to escape from cubicle evangelists pushing their special perversion of religion.  But, I guess, if they can't force it on us by power of law and gun, religion is being repressed.  So much for Christians being fed to the lions: Christians are the lions.
  • Funny, isn't it? Funny how someone can be so fired up for Christ on
  • Sunday... but be an invisible Christian the rest of the week.
Again, look to the White House for a wonderful example of Sunday Christians.  Drop bombs Monday thru Saturday, worship the Lord (and drop bombs) on Sunday.  Steal from the needy, the uneducated, the disabled, and the dying Monday thru Saturday,  and ask forgiveness on Sunday.  Why would ordinary citizens behave differently if the folks at the top get away with murder and still, apparently, float into Heaven?
  • Are you laughing?
  • Funny how when you go to forward this message...
  • You will not send it to many on your address list because you're not
  • sure what they believe...
Less funny, you who do send it on won't care what others believe.  They believe that their particular take on their specific offshoot of Catholicism should be universal and all other versions of "the truth" should be suppressed.  They don't worry about offending people with different views because they believe the law should pick our position and force it on us.  Possibly, like Rev. Jimmy Swaggert, they believe god is so dumb and unobservant that He wouldn't even notice their murdering another human, as long as he lied, convincingly, to Him.  With that kind of arrogance, no wonder shipping religious propaganda to everyone they know seems inconsequential.  They might even imagine that they are doing the rest of us a favor.  
  • or what they will think of you for sending it to them. *Funny how I
  • can be more worried about what other people think of me...... than what God thinks of me.
Strange use of repetitive periods, wonder if there is some underlying Satanic meaning to six periods separating a statement?  This six period thing occurred several times in this message.  Care to interpret? Inspirational messages are universal and they are always welcome.  Religious propaganda is less welcome, regardless of the source or the motivation.  Considering the feelings of friends and relatives is not immoral or heresy.  Forwarding a poorly written, irrationally considered, irritating cant that is as likely, or more likely, to offend as it is to inspire is not a religious act; it is a political act.  It used to be that religion, politics, and sex were off limits for general discussion in polite company.  America is not a polite society, maybe it never was, but we're so divided today that we may be on the verge of a second Civil War.  Like the first Civil War and the Revolutionary War, this will be parent against child, brother against brother, friend against friend, and it will be a waste of time and energy because nothing will change when it's done.
  • Are you thinking?
  • Will you share this with people you care about?
  • Or not?
Normally, no.  I'd just let it go as another of the thousands of attempts to mind-control.  This election and the radical right wing that controlled it has ruined my civility.  The less quiet the radical right is about it's dream for a "New Christian America," a return to the theocracy we escape during the American Revolution, a government similar to that suffered in Iran, today, the less inclined I am to quietly suffer the disrespect intended in this kind of message. 

 January 2005


#128 What's an Executive Worth? (2005)

During a recent NPR business-babble program, Weekend Edition, Bill Catlin asked numbskull "expert, Jim Sillery, an executive compensation consultant, if executives were "worth" the idiotic salaries they receive for mismanaging over-stuffed American Misfortune 500 disaster zones.  This brilliant question was inspired by the recent Fannie Mae accounting mismanagement fiasco, which was preceded by ENRON and a few hundred similar incidents of gross and corrupt mismanagement in the last few years.  Of course, Sillery assured Catlin that boards of directors only pay what they "need" to pay to get the "talent" their companies require.  Talent?  Need?  What would a couple of stuffed suits who never worked an honest day in their lives know about talent or need? 

NPR's "business" program morphed into an equally silly discussion between Scott Simon and Fortune magazine editor Joe Nocera.  They continued the fanzine babble over the wonders of executive inspiration.  Spoken like the true outsider he is, Nocera pronounced Steve Jobs to be the 2004 Business Man of the Year.  Somehow, Nocera fantasized that Jobs was the Apple "founder" who's technical wizardry turned Apple into the poster-biz for rags-to-riches.  Catlin listened to this BS as uncritically as GeeWizz Bush receiving a lecture on world affairs from his puppet master, da Veepmeister. 

I would wager a good piece of spare change that neither Catlin, Sillery, Simon, or Nocera have worked on a production line, been a part of a product design team, or spent time in customer service.  At best, these four spoiled children might have had a summer job flipping burgers or pretending to be country club lifeguards.  There is no way that people with such limited useful business experience could know what a CEO "contributes" to a company, its products, the company's morale, inspiration, or daily function. 

Jobs is about as far from a tech-wiz as GeeWizz Bush.  Steve Wozniak provided the technical skills that created and still inspire Apple.  Jobs chased Wozniak out of his own company with power plays, back-stabbing, and by turning a cool, creative company into a tech sweatshop.  Jobs' claim to fame, in every Apple product, is the quickly dated "look" of Apple products.  With the same trendy vision that new cars look like old cars in two years, Jobs cranks out plastic boxes that look 50 years old by the time the next generation of products appears.  Jobs might be a marketing wiz, but he's no Woz.  He is not a technical innovator, an inspiring manager, or a creative force.  He's a political animal and there is no shortage of those in these United States.  The best analogy I've seen of Wozniak and Jobs compared them to the Beatles: Jobs was McCartney, a self-promoting pop icon with limited skills but lots of unfounded sex appeal, Wozniak is Lennon, multi-talented, ahead of his time, and completely dedicated to music and making the world a better place to live. 

Leadership is a grossly misunderstood quality.  For some reason, humans want to imagine that leaders are something you can breed and grow like pedigreed sheep.  For centuries, human cultures have gravitated toward promoting the most useless, least visionary, least talented men to the highest positions in the country.  We all know this isn't reality.  Hollywood and historians have made a living out of retelling the story that we all know to be true; that our leaders are distracted and incompetent and, without the constant assistance and supervision of critical middle management, they will drive us to ruin.  Crooked and doped up politicians, dimwitted kings and CEOs, loudmouthed but foolish bosses, sexist and clueless managers, and the long list of people in power who don't have the capacity or motivation to do the leading their job implies they should provide.  That's the universal stereotype for "leadership."  Writers and comedians have been working with that material for centuries. 

Cultural and corporate heroes are always the rare born leader who spends his time leading and doing the work that needs doing, instead of politicking, stuffing knives into backs, and avoiding useful work.  The fools who rise to the top of the corporate and political ladder are excess baggage with ambition.  They don't care who they hurt, how much damage they do to their culture and associates (they rarely have friends), or what happens to the business or country they mismanage after they receive their golden parachutes or are assassinated (politically or actually). Claiming that these men are critical to a company's success is as clueless as imagining that Reagan destroyed the Soviet Union or that Bill Clinton created the Information Society.  Just because they were sitting at the top of the pile when those things happened is no evidence that they were any part of the cause or the effect.

The myth survives because, rarely, a real leader actually ends up on top of the heap.  When that happens, the lucky heap is massively stronger than other heaps.  Microsoft is that kind of company and we all know how popular that company's leader is.  Human herds do not like people who actually are smarter than the average dull upper-crust wit.  But when a company or a culture does well, that isn't an indication of that kind of luck.  It's most often a different sort of happenstance.  The kind that is driven from somewhere less visible but more typical.  Most companies can get along fine without any of their deadbeat executives, but no company can survive without middle management, customer service, and the rest of the folks who actually do work.

January 2005


How'd That Hopey Changey Stuff Work Out for You?

Yep, I’m quoting the laziest, most corrupt, dumbest ex-politician on the planet, Sarah Palin (the “funniest Palin”). I heard a local dimbulb quote her on the radio this morning and decided I’d had enough. Most of the people whining—on either side of the political spectrum—about what President Obama has not accomplished consider handing their income tax information to a clerk working for H & R Block their most impressive achievement of the year. (The accounting for most of those people don’t require anything more complicated than the usual 1040 short form, so this “accomplishment” is a pretty sad statement of incompetence.)

I’ve managed two manufacturing companies (20 to 140 employees) and at least a half-dozen small to mid-sized departments (3 to 60 employees) from start-up privately held companies to Misfortune 500 disasters and I had big “hopey, changey” goals for everyone of those jobs. I planned on fixing everything I’d seen done poorly by my predecessors or companies I’d done business with in the past. I had BIG plans. Like President Obama, I came to a hard, rough landing within a year or so of taking those jobs. Upper management was usually what shot me down, sort of like the Congressional Teabags, the Fox News propaganda machine, and Obama’s big plans for cooperation between the three branches of our fragile and dysfunctional government.

Outside of unnecessary obstacles, I often discovered industry presented a fair number of unreasoning roadblocks without the assistance of mismanagement. Underwriters Laboratory (Yes, “Underwriters’” should be possessive plural, but only the Canadian offices get that right.), for instance is a large, brain-dead bureaucracy that, like ISO9000 is best negotiated with bribes and luxury accommodations for the “inspectors,” rather than actual product safety or quality improvements and processes. Asking any of these morons “why” their sub-standards are as they are will not get you a useful answer. Again, pretty much like the Koch Congress and Extreme Court.

Then, of course, you have the people who work for you. During the extended economic downturn of the 80’s, the company whose manufacturing facility I managed had a couple of mediocre years followed by one bad one. Management decided to take a 20% salary cut (off of some very reasonable salaries) to prevent layoffs for the first year and a half. The economy didn’t get better and we were forced to cut back on manufacturing salary expenses. People were just standing around or we were building inventory we couldn’t hope to sell. We gave the assembly crew a choice: cut back to 4-days-a-week, 8-hour-a-days (and the associated 20% decrease in income) or we’d have to layoff 20% of the manufacturing crew. The crew voted to have their fellow workers (they hoped) laid off. This would be the national equivalent of conservatives voting to limit the effectiveness of the President who saved their economic asses from the full brunt of the Bush/Cheney Depression in 2010 and 2014.

As for the jackasses who whine that President Obama hasn’t been an effective “leader” because he can’t get Fox and the Koch Congress on his side, fuck you, you ignorant morons. Did Roosevelt get Hitler or Tojo on his side? While I’d stop short of calling Republicans “fascists,” they are traitors to the nation while being focused on their loyalty to the people who would love to trash the country and turn it into a dictatorship. Mostly, they’re fools who don’t realize how quickly their usefulness will expire. Some are spectacularly corrupt and amoral psychopaths. You can not lead people who refuse to be led and you can not educate people who are proud of their ignorance.
Here’s a fair list of President Barak Obama’s accomplishments, borrowed from http://PleaseCuttheCrap.com/obama-accomplishments/:
  • Within his first week, 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. To that end, he also signed the Democratic-sponsored Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, which attempted to put a stop to waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system.  http://bit.ly/hOw1t1http://bit.ly/fz8GAd
  • Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. http://bit.ly/hwKhKa
  • Pushed through and signed the Democratic-sponsored American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as “the stimulus package.” The bill passed, even though only three Republicans voted for it. In a major departure from the previous administration, he launched recovery.gov, a website that allows taxpayers to track spending from the Act.   http://1.usa.gov/ibiFSshttp://1.usa.gov/e3BJMk
  • The Bush-led Great Recession was costing the economy nearly 800,000 jobs per month by the time President Obama took office. But by the end of his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy by  3.5%.  http://reut.rs/i46CEE
  • Not only did he completed the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, he also leaned on the banks and others, and recovered virtually all of the bail-out money. http://1.usa.gov/eA5jVShttp://bit.ly/eCNrD6
  • He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan.  http://1.usa.gov/goy6zl
  • Oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years. http://bit.ly/hrrnjY
  • Along with Democrats, and almost no Republicans, 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/gj7mt5This resulted in GM returning to its place as the top car company in the world.  http://lat.ms/zIJuQx
  • Doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency.  http://bit.ly/eYD4nf
  • Signed the Democratic-sponsored Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act giving the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud in every corner of the financial system, and create a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial fraud that led to the economic meltdown.  http://abcn.ws/g18Fe7
  • Signed the Democratic-sponsored 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
  • Increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect. http://bit.ly/f77aOw
  • Signed the Democratic-sponsored and passed 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/dZgXXwhttp://bit.ly/gORYfL
  • Initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses. http://1.usa.gov/eu0u0b
  • Created business.gov, which allows for online collaboration between small businesses and experts re managing a business. (The program has since merged with SBA.gov.)   http://www.business.gov
  • Played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.   http://nyti.ms/gHlgp5
  • Took steps to improve minority access to capital. http://bit.ly/f9xVE7
  • Signed an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to review all federal regulations and remove any unnecessary and/or burdensome regulations from the books.  http://1.usa.gov/Lpo5bd
  • Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost.  http://1.usa.gov/ez30D
  • Dismantled the Minerals Management Service, thereby cutting ties between energy companies and the government. http://nyti.ms/bw1MLu
  • Along with Congressional Democrats, 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
  • Used recovered TARP money to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.   http://on.msnbc.com/i1i8eV
  • Crafted and signed an executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans. http://bit.ly/eyqsNE
  • China’s largest manufacturer, Foxconn, is building a large plant in Pennsylvania http://cnnmon.ie/1k7LT4S
  • Worked with Apple Computer to get them to build more product here, and thecompany is building two large plants to manufacture products here; one in Texas http://zd.net/1nkpt2O and one in Arizona http://bit.ly/1mXY5Vg
  • Oversaw increase of manufacturing jobs by more than 500,000 since 2010, and created an institute to invest in more manufacturing jobs in the technology fields of the future. http://nyti.ms/1egyXrV
  • Ordered all federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour, leading the way to a national increase. http://wapo.st/1iaU5kd
  • Ordered the completion of the International Trade Data System, a digital trade record book, by 2016. This move will streamline and simplify the process through which small- and medium-sized businesses set up the export of US goods.  http://bit.ly/1nwSRF4
  • Created a climate in which there have been 55 consecutive months of job growth, totaling more than 10 million jobs, which is roughly 10,000,000 more jobs than Bush created in eight years.   http://1.usa.gov/1vBDeyCThis is also the longest stretch of private-sector job growth in US history. http://wapo.st/1w3J8Zy
  • Led the country to 64 consecutive months of economic expansion, eclipsing Saint Reagan’s record, by far.  http://onforb.es/1sxJ2by
  • Oversaw a reduction in the dollar amount of the federal budget deficit by two-thirds since taking office. http://bit.ly/1xKMmjY
  • Reduced the federal budget deficit from 9.8% of GDP in Fiscal Year 2009 under Bush, to 2.9% of GDP in FY 2014.  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45653
  • Under Obama, the stock market has reached record highs, restoring most of the economic losses felt during the Bush Recession, when it reached record lows, adjusted for inflation.   http://bit.ly/1z4FAtL
  • Signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the Executive Branch.  http://bit.ly/fsBACN
  • Signed an order banning anyone from working in an agency they had lobbied in previous years, and put strict limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House.   http://nyti.ms/gOrznV
  • Held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public. http://bit.ly/gVNSgX
  • Became the first to stream every White House event, live.  http://1.usa.gov/kAgOP5
  • Established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities.  http://www.serve.gov
  • Issued 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. Provides 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
  • Improved aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, and issued new guidelines to make FOIA more open and transparent when processing FOIA requests.  http://1.usa.gov/gjrnp2
  • Proposed rules that would streamline the Department of Education’s procurement policies and make them more transparent. http://bit.ly/1r9oQvh
  • Provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history. http://1.usa.gov/hQ7
  • Signed a law to completely reform NSA Data Collection program and keep phone records in the hands of the phone company.  http://bit.ly/1dG34vD
  • Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.  http://huff.to/eAi9Qq
  • Along with Congressional Democrats, pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression.  http://bit.ly/hWCPg0http://bit.ly/geHpcD
  • By signing Dodd-Frank legislation, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau http://1.usa.gov/j5onG
  • Created rules that reduce the influence of speculators in the oil market.  http://bit.ly/MDnA1t
  • Fashioned rules so that banks can no longer use YOUR money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers’ interests.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj
  • Supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation. http://bit.ly/fnTayj
  • Endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes.   http://bit.ly/esOdfBhttp://bit.ly/eG4DPM
  • Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks that now permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and  tax evaders.  http://bit.ly/htfDgw
  • Signed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which closed many of the loopholes that allowed companies to send jobs overseas, and avoid paying US taxes by moving money offshore.http://1.usa.gov/bd1RTq
  • Established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj
  • Oversaw and then signed a Democratic bill constituting the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression.  http://thedc.com/gxkCtP
  • Through the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, extended the False Claims Act to combat fraud by companies and individuals using money from the TARP and Stimulus programs.  http://bit.ly/SLTcSa
  • Set up rules for banks in handling legal marijuana money. http://nyti.ms/1b80o2K
  • Signed Executive Order to add a number of further protections to consumer financial transactions, to further limit instances of identity theft. http://1.usa.gov/1pjfUFq
  • Took steps to prevent pirate fishing and protect fish populations, and ordered stricter labeling requirements on labeling of seafood products in stores. http://1.usa.gov/1BYhTUn
  • Along with Congressional Democrats, 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
  • Pushed through, signed and demanded the Pentagon enact a repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that forced soldiers to lie in order to be eligible to fight for their country, and put our troops at risk by disqualifying many qualified soldiers from helping.  http://bit.ly/fdahuHhttp://bit.ly/mZV4Pz
  • Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.  http://1.usa.gov/g2RLCj
  • Appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history.  http://bit.ly/g1lA7D
  • Appointed first openly transgender Cabinet Official in History.  http://bit.ly/58zUp7
  • Changed HUD rules to prohibit gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination in housing  bit.ly/9RxEnP
  • Changed his mind and publicly expressed support for same-sex marriage. http://bit.ly/JsiFKp
  • Issued a Presidential Memorandum reaffirming the rights of gay couples to make medical decisions for each other. http://1.usa.gov/aUueGT
  • Wrote and signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies evaluate the effect of their policies and programs on women and families. http://bit.ly/e1puTkhttp://1.usa.gov/rFfqMM
  • Signed the Democratic-sponsored Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored 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
  • Signed two executive orders that mirror provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act, because the GOP Congress refuses to pass it. It makes is possible for employees to talk about their salaries without retaliation, and orders salary data collection. These measures will make it harder for employers to pay women less.   http://huff.to/1nwVOWf
  • Expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act. http://1.usa.gov/dSbI0x
  • Under his guidance, National Labor Relations Board issued final rules that require all employers to prominently post employees’ rights where all employees or prospective employees can see it, including all websites and intranets.  http://1.usa.gov/qu2EhQ
  • Advocated that United Nations adopt a policy supporting gay rights worldwide.  http://lat.ms/pQe1RS
  • Issued an order requiring hospitals to allow visitation by same-sex couples.   http://reut.rs/llNJek
  • Appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. http://1.usa.gov/fi5IY0
  • Helped Democrats in Congress pass and signed the Civil Rights History Act. http://bit.ly/th0JC8
  • Established the White House Council of Native American Affairs, to improve government-to-government relations with Native American nations. http://1.usa.gov/1cIEeEv
  • Formed a commission to examine and make recommendations for fixing the broken voting system. http://wapo.st/16K0D
  • As soon as the Supreme Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, he moved to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples.   http://wapo.st/1avDjue
  • At a press conference August 9, 2013, gave up a small measure of executive power, promising to create adversarial process in FISA regarding NSA surveillance.  http://1.usa.gov/1dQmnyQ
  • Proposed new HUD rules that would enhance Fair Housing Laws, to give HUD and other enforcement agencies more teeth in enforcing them. http://bit.ly/1qkz4uQ
  • Shattered another glass ceiling by naming Janet Yellen chair of the Federal Reserve beginning Feb. 1, 2014. http://usat.ly/1gqMBfk
  • Appointed several prominent gay athletes and others, and plans to show US government’s commitment to gay rights to anti-gay Russia. http://on.cpsj.com/1fckN9h
  • Ordered a review of capital punishment policies after several botched executions. http://nyti.ms/RDJp58
  • Obama’s Department of Agriculture propagated new rules designed to better enforce nondiscrimination when it comes to USDA investigations. These rules also extended nondiscrimination to gender identity.   http://bit.ly/1yChJhi
  • Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clarified and strengthened rules prohibiting discrimination against pregnant workers.  http://alj.am/1mo0kjV
  • Banned all federal contractors from discriminating against gay workers.  http://1.usa.gov/1ok1gfH
  • Created a requirement in which companies who bid on federal contracts of more than $500,000 must publicly disclose all previous violations of labor law, including unpaid claims for back wages.  http://1.usa.gov/V54qY3
  • Made it illegal for federal contractors with more than $1 million in contracts  to force employees into arbitration to settle workplace discrimination accusations. http://1.usa.gov/V54qY3
  • The Obama Department of Justice made significant reductions in drug sentencing guidelines for current prisoners, thus releasing thousands from US prisons. This is the first step in 30 years toward reducing the US prison population, which is the highest in the world.   http://n.pr/1mWBLkM
  • Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, inflation in the healthcare sector dropped to its lowest point in 50 years.  http://on.wsj.com/1E6cYjF
  • Through a Presidential Memorandum, changed the rules to concentrate immigration enforcement on those who commit crimes, and voed to stop breaking up families.  http://1.usa.gov/1uTZ8gV
  • Through another Presidential memorandum, President Obama streamlined the visa process, to make it more responsive and humane for those who want to be here legally. http://1.usa.gov/1tgDRti
  • Took steps to tighten the reins when it comes to providing local law enforcement agencies with military-style equipment and exercising more control over the equipment they receive.   http://1.usa.gov/1ATWV3K
  • Oversaw the first drop in the federal prison population in 32 years. http://bit.ly/1B5h8rW
  • Vetoed Republican bill that would have blocked new NLRB rules that were designed to speed up the time it takes workers to unionize.   http://reut.rs/1agujMO He also added a Memorandum of Disagreement to make his reasons for the veto clear and made a major statement in support of unions.   http://1.usa.gov/1NG7RuA
  • Persevered with his campaign to turn “gay marriage” into “marriage” and won in the Supreme Court. http://cbsloc.al/1M4qLKb
  • Plans to broaden his use of clemency to release thousands of non-violent drug offenders from prison. http://nyti.ms/1KE8DJG
  • Created new rules to improve fair housing rules and make more affordable housing available to more people.  http://cnn.it/1JcR3qB
  • 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
  • Helped to restore America’s reputation around the world as a global leader that does the “right thing” in world affairs, at least according to the rest of the world.   http://bit.ly/h743y7http://bit.ly/ho4TCr
  • Re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues.  http://1.usa.gov/e7QuDj
  • Closed a number of secret detention facilities. http://nyti.ms/rpUc9l
  • Improved relations with Middle East countries by appointing special envoys. http://1.usa.gov/tiGAGe
  • Pushed forward the first realistic Middle East peace strategy in more than a decade, without abandoning the two-state solution. http://wapo.st/1avyste
  • Pushed for military to emphasize devlopment of foreign language skills. http://bit.ly/AxUCLV
  • Offered $400 million to the people living in Gaza, called on both Israel and the Palestinians to stop inciting violence.  http://bit.ly/9axfWh
  • Refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program, and thus avoid another war that Republicans wanted.  http://bit.ly/xVmSZK
  • Ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and, unfortunately, progressive Democrats) who prevented follow 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
  • Ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed. http://bbc.in/h6N9ax
  • 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/dL6Zvehttp://nyti.ms/hzWWys
  • In response to the emerging “Arab Spring,” he created a Rapid Response fund, to assist emerging democracies with foreign aid, debt relief, technical assistance and investment packages in order to show that the United States stands with them. http://bit.ly/zfmGv9
  • Ended the F-22 program, saving $4 billion. Though the single-seat, twin-engine, fighter aircraft cost $358 million each, and the military had 187 built, the F-22 never flew a combat mission. http://slate.me/PYzmzT
  • Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war and encourage the Iranian government to give up their nuclear program. http://1.usa.gov/wLtNjb
  • Ended the Iraq War. http://tgr.ph/ru0tyS
  • Worked to keep our withdrawal from Afghanistan on track, despite GOP opposition.http://reut.rs/1cIOsF1Reiterated that commitment in 2014. http://nyti.ms/1exnmRF
  • Authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates. http://bit.ly/y8c9Fz
  • Through United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, helped negotiate a peaceful split of Sudan into two countries, this allowing for the creation of an independent South Sudan.   http://reut.rs/qzE0Tj
  • Worked with Democratic Congress to make donations to Haiti tax deductible in 2009. http://huff.to/6YkAVY
  • Established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.   http://1.usa.gov/eX28DP
  • Issued Executive Order blocking interference and helping to stabilize Somalia. http://1.usa.gov/hxdf8U
  • 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
  • Negotiated the framework for an agreement with Iran that would end their nuclear weapons program. http://bit.ly/1y5aD97
  • Became the first US President to visit Jamaica in more than 30 years and worked to restore relations with the country, and signed a natural gas distribution agreement with the country.  http://bit.ly/1JtpFqi
  • Opened the first Embassy in Cuba in more than 55 years.  http://abcn.ws/1ghLrEs
  • Negotiated a deal with Iran that will prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon anytime soon, without firing a shot or invading the country.   http://cnn.it/1M3Hpvv
  • Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat. http://1.usa.gov/gDX1nE
  • Authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010. http://1.usa.gov/gLFZl2
  • Restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush.   http://lat.ms/gkcl3i
  • Signed and pushed through ratification a new SALT Treaty.  http://bit.ly/f3JVtw
  • Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will lst until at least 2021.  http://1.usa.gov/cI1bC4
  • Through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq.   http://bit.ly/hk73OJ
  • Developed 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
  • Returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops from the country. http://bit.ly/lNXUna
  • Negotiated a deal with Afghan govenment, to withdraw troops and military support, while assisting in rebuilding and modernizing of the country.  http://bit.ly/K362an
  • Took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world. http://yhoo.it/n5lXs6
  • Negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.  http://1.usa.gov/aHp0Cn
  • Took decisive action to use NATO to limit the slaughter of innocents in Libya, so that the Libyan people could topple the despotic Khadaffy government and determine their own fate. http://aje.me/qAh4Sj
  • Got Egyptian President/dictator Mubarak to leave the Egyptian government to the people, to determine their own fate.    http://f24.my/efvgNZ
  • In 2011, reoriented American focus from the Middle East to the Asian-Pacific region by simultaneouly engaging China and crafting new alliances with Asian countries uncomfortable with Chinese behavior.    http://bit.ly/RGlMDi
  • 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
  • Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast. http://nyti.ms/efBO7B
  • Increased border security http://bit.ly/1JQDGz9
  • Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden.  http://bit.ly/jChpgw
  • Established the Homeland Security Partnership Council, which will attempt to enhance the nation’s ability to “address homeland security priorities, from responding to natural disasters to preventing terrorism, by utilizing diverse perspectives, skills, tools, and resources.” http://1.usa.gov/VJjLXO
  • Signed agreement with Afghanistan to end war, turn security over to Afghans. http://nyti.ms/1xSjgBd
  • Breaking with presidential tradition, especially recent tradition, instead of just attacking Syria in the wake of chemical weapons attacks on Syrians, Obama ordered a full report on the decision-making process, should he decide to order one.  http://cbsn.ws/184RFgu
  • Instead of holding hearings and trying to create a political football, quietly captured a suspect who actually committed the Benghazi terrorist attack.  http://wapo.st/1jFlmzv He is also getting a lot of useful information from the suspect.  http://nyti.ms/UfE2Ka
  • Signed an executive order allowing sanctions against individuals and groups that threaten national cybersecurity.  http://1.usa.gov/1HWcGMG
  • Limited local police acquisitions of military-style equipment, to reduce the likelihood of overkill.   http://n.pr/1NGkBjT
  • Signed Blue Alert Law, which provides police officers with more information when they are threatened.   http://bit.ly/1NGksga
  • Provided active combat troops with better body armor.  http://bit.ly/hzSv2h
  • Created Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order http://abcn.ws/1ghLrEshttp://abcn.ws/1ghLrEsto improve the quality of their medical care.  http://1.usa.gov/f4yaxW
  • Put an end to the Bush-era stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan beyond their enlistment date. http://nyti.ms/e2YQ7Q
  • Along with Congressional Democrats, supported and signed 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
  • Along with Congressional Democrats, ushered through largest spending increase in 30 years for Department of Veterans Affairs, with money to go to improved medical facilities, and to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities.    http://1.usa.gov/gY8O3x
  • 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
  • Initiated and signed a recruitment and employment plan to get more veterans into government jobs.  http://bit.ly/b48coi
  • Oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals.  http://bit.ly/gjzTxX
  • Signed the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, which ensures that spouses of military personnel who are forced to move because their spouse is posted for military duty will be able to avoid state taxes in their temporary residence.   http://bit.ly/1Gh0NX
  • Issued an Executive Order to improve access to mental health care for veterans, military personnel and their families.  http://1.usa.gov/TP7PVZ
  • was able to get Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons without military firing a single shot or dropping a single bomb. http://nyti.ms/1lVEkU7
  • Along with Congressional Democrats, not only reauthorized families of fallen soldiers to be able to visit when the body arrives at Dover AFB, but also provided funding for it.  Ended the media blackout on coverage of the return of fallen soldiers.  http://nyti.ms/glqN66  http://bbc.in/gWSSkA
  • Funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services.  http://1.usa.gov/huhqfo
  • Signed into law a bill that provides support, counseling, and breastfeeding supplies to military moms who are covered under TRICARE, the health insurance provided to veterans.   http://bit.ly/1yNxL8O
  • Refocused the Federal Government on Education, Made Rational Reforms
  • Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.   http://1.usa.gov/gGRIAr
  • Created the Race to the Top program, which encouraged states to come up with effective school reforms and rewards the best of them.   http://bit.ly/NHtZ7L
  • Oversaw major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide.   http://bit.ly/fNDcj3
  • Oversaw major expansion in school construction.  http://bit.ly/fYwNrV
  • Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start. http://1.usa.gov/tzT2Rr
  • Signed the Democratic-sponsored Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0  http://bit.ly/hPhG7J
  • Oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low and middle income students to go to college.  http://bit.ly/hI6tXz
  • Along with Democratic Congress, passed and signed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds.  http://1.usa.gov/dQvtUe
  • Took major new steps to protect students from ineffective for-profit colleges through “gainful employment” measures, whereby schools have to demonstrate that its students actually find work to get federal aid.  http://1.usa.gov/jkzQe2
  • Repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process, thus us creating greater accountability.   http://bit.ly/gYWd30  http://bit.ly/e9c7Dr http://bit.ly/eEzTNq
  • Reformed student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.  http://nyti.ms/dMvHOt
  • Created a rating system for colleges, so that those applying for student financial aid know better what they’re paying for.   http://bit.ly/14Dn7UL
  • Created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making. http://1.usa.gov/g2SDuw
  • Opened up process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects. http://bit.ly/j0KV2U
  • Eliminated Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research.   http://bit.ly/h36SSOhttp://ti.me/edezge
  • Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs.  http://nyti.ms/fTs9t7
  • Signed Democratic-sponsored Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis.  http://bit.ly/fOi2rb
  • Expanded the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families, to cover more first-time mothers.http://bit.ly/jRRRJc
  • Obama EPA reversed research ethics standards which allowed humans to be used as “guinea pigs” in tests of the effects of chemicals, to comply with numerous codes of medical ethics.  http://bit.ly/bKgqdS
  • Conducted a cyberspace policy review.   http://1.usa.gov/gmbdvC
  • Provided financial support for private sector space programs. http://bit.ly/fn8ucr
  • Oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.   http://bit.ly/dNTRyP
  • Along with Democrats in Congress, ushered through and signed a bill authorizing FDA to regulate tobacco.  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 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provided $500 million for Health Professions Training Programs.  http://bit.ly/ecQSgA
  • Increased funding for community-based prevention programs.  http://bit.ly/frMPG3
  • Oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors. http://bit.ly/e5b1iqhttp://1.usa.gov/fVNkt9
  • Eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price. http://bit.ly/fOkG5b
  • Two weeks after taking office, signed Democratic-sponsored Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which increased the number of children covered by health insurance by 4 million.  http://bit.ly/fDEzGv
  • Urged Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross for raising premiums 39% without explanation. Democratic Rep. Waxman responded by launching a probe, and Anthem Blue Cross put increase on hold for two months.    http://yhoo.it/e8Tj9C
  • Ushered through and signed Affordable Care Act, which expanded health insurance coverage to at least 30 million more people, ended many common insurance company practices that are often detrimental  to those with coverage.  He also established healthcare.gov, so that taxpayers could keep up with developments.  http://www.healthcare.gov/
  • Through ACA, allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26.  http://nyti.ms/fNB26V
  • Through the ACA, 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 ACA, expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level. http://nyti.ms/ekMWpo
  • Through the ACA, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care.  http://nyti.ms/fNB26V
  • Provisions in the ACA have already resulted in Medicare costs actually declining slightly this fiscal year, for the first time in many years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The increase in 2011 was 4%, which is very low compared to the average 12% annual inflation rate during previous 40 years. http://1.usa.gov/oMxpTh
  • Since passage of the ACA, health care inflation is at its lowest level since 1960. http://1.usa.gov/1vXR0Ld
  • Created the HIV Care Continuum Initiative, to strengthen the government’s ability to respond to the continuing domestic HIV epidemic, after years of Republicans weakening the government’s ability to deal with the crisis.  http://1.usa.gov/1iLED0t
  • Expanded space exploration and discovery options to include more players.  http://1.usa.gov/13qmZpm
  • Through the Connect America Fund, pushed through and received FCC approval for a move of $8 billion in subsidies away from telephone landlines to assist lower-income rural families in accessing broadband.   http://lat.ms/vhRUEs http://bit.ly/129V3SY
  • In the wake of the West Fertilizer tragedy, in which an entire small town was devastated by an explosion at a fertilizer plant, in part because Republican negligence let the company do whatever it wanted, formed the Chemical Safety and Security Working Group, to work on measures to prevent another such event.  http://1.usa.gov/18kHSlA
  • By 2014, the Affordable Care Act dropped the number of uninsured Americans by 22.3%, which amounts to more than 10.3 million people with insurance who didn’t have it before. Only 13.9% of Americans are uninsured, a drop from 18.9% in 2013.  http://on.msnbc.com/1r4kjGn
  • The Affordable Care Act has increased the life expectancy of Medicare greatly. http://on.wsj.com/1yuNco6
  • Established a Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, a recommendation made by the 9/11 Commission, to coordinate efforts to fight cyber-crime and terrorism.    http://1.usa.gov/1A0aEoS
  • The Obama FCC, with his leadership, adopted strong net neutrality rules, to keep the Internet open and equal for everyone.   http://fcc.us/1MhTlIA
  • Signed bill that will provide health insurance premium support to workers who lose their health insurance due to foreign competition.  http://bit.ly/1evvVDF
  • In response to the confusion triggered by the asinine Hobby Lobby decision, which essentially declared that corporations could have “religious rights” and lord them over employees, created new rules to give all women with insurance the right to free birth control.   http://on.wsj.com/1O44a1t
  • Implemented the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for 2015-2020, which is a follow-up to the first such strategy in US history, which he implemented in 2010.    http://1.usa.gov/1IXknHm
  • Set up a National Strategic Computing Initiative, to “maximize benefits of high-performance computing (HPC) research, development, and deployment.”    http://1.usa.gov/1IN3FZa
  • Worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families.  http://bit.ly/fNfidS
  • 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, cut taxes for 95% of America’s working families.  http://bit.ly/eSEI4F
  • Tax rates for average working families are the lowest since 1950.  http://bit.ly/f74pD8
  • Extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years. http://bit.ly/eFeSdP
  • Extended discounted health coverage under the COBRA health insurance law for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s also extended unemployment benefits more than a few times.  http://aol.it/evtVxDhttp://nyti.ms/emrqKJ http://bit.ly/hOtIpg http://bit.ly/fTT7kz
  • Provided  a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). http://nyti.ms/gfLqyM
  • Signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs. http://wapo.st/eWECA8
  • Included the Buffet Rule in his 2014 budget proposal, thus trying to fulfill a campaign promise, to make sure tax rates are fair between the rich and the middle class. http://1.usa.gov/19PkdQo
  • Used the fiscal cliff negotiations to extend for five additional years the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides tax credits to families for college-related expenses, thus saving those families up to $10,000.  http://onforb.es/17zYg3u
  • Increased protections for those who are unemployed and are seeking a government job.   http://1.usa.gov/1jgXATu
  • Updated and modernized overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)  http://1.usa.gov/1iGDO8e
  • With First Lady Michelle Obama, passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will improve nutrition in schools and make children healthier.   http://1.usa.gov/GAXkSk
  • In his continuing effort to make college more affordable and accountable, will begin rating colleges with regard to affordability and value. http://bit.ly/14Dn7UL
  • Initiated a reform of federal job training programs, to make them more relevant to the current economy and the job market.   http://1.usa.gov/1kZLQHG
  • Under Obama, the bottom 95% of taxpayers are paying lower federal income taxes than at any time in the last 50 years, including under Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43.  http://bit.ly/1w1W8Ns
  • Signed a presidential memorandum authorizing six weeks paid leave for all federal employees with a new baby, and encouraged Congress to do the same for all workers.   http://bit.ly/18613XA
  • 2014 marked the first time since 1984 that unemployment dropped in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  1.usa.gov/1E25u0C
  • Took steps to improve workplace safety by creating an Advisory Board to study workers’ exposure to toxic substances. http://1.usa.gov/1M4s8IG
  • Changed overtime rules to make it far more difficult for employers to avoid paying overtime to workers. http://politi.co/1KHfiBe
  • Doubling federal spending on clean energy research. http://bit.ly/iN0sCE
  • Pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.   http://bit.ly/j8UP5Y
  • 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
  • Reengaged in the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions agreements talks, and 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/fE2PxKhttp://nyti.ms/hfeqvv
  • Fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide.  http://bit.ly/eJ6QOO
  • Required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption.  http://bit.ly/lBhk7P
  • Under Obama, our dependence on foreign oil has dropped to its lowest rate since 1985, and continues to drop. http://1.usa.gov/1p6kTUy Meanwhile, consumption is way down because of reduced driving and higher mileage standards. http://ti.me/1z4HFG8
  • Improved siting, review and permitting stations for power plants, in an attempt to seriously improve the nation’s electric grid.   http://1.usa.gov/1l8zNqn
  • Following the neglect of Bush’s eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic.  http://bit.ly/fzQUFO
  • 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
  • Established a quadrennial review of our energy infrastructure, to encourage a modernization of the grid, and to encourage the transition away from fossil fuel use.  http://1.usa.gov/1nx2oMo
  • 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/h5KZqyhttp://1.usa.gov/fLWq5chttp://1.usa.gov/hmUSbk
  • Got BP to cough up $20 billion to establish Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, to reduce the need for taxpayer funds to be used for compensation and clean up.   http://wapo.st/ds2BxT (Note: it took 20 years to get $1.3 billion for the Exxon Valdez spill. )
  • Oversaw and pushed through an amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 authorizing advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://1.usa.gov/yTRYVo
  • Actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills. http://nyti.ms/bxjDi3
  • Became the first President to simply say “Climate Change is a fact,” and set up the first federal government protocols for dealing with the impacts of climate change.  http://1.usa.gov/1b7V67B
  • Initiated Criminal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://nyti.ms/bVuB7a
  • Asserted federal legal supremacy to bar Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own.http://bit.ly/ww8eMd
  • Set up new, stricter standards limiting power plant emissions.  http://1.usa.gov/1mML2M3
  • Strengthened the Endangered Species Act.  http://bit.ly/hscjsH
  • Strengthened protection for wildlife, and expanded enforcement of laws against wildlife trafficking.  http://1.usa.gov/1fce1Ai
  • Obama EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year. http://bit.ly/jYH7nt
  • Through the EPA, attemped to take steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans. http://bit.ly/fBuWd2
  • Through new EPA regulations, he created a pretext for closing the dirtiest power plants in the country, by limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic gasses.  http://bit.ly/rQCIgA
  • Increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%  http://bit.ly/fbJPjY
  • Announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards.  http://1.usa.gov/oQiC1K
  • Announced a huge increase in average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg in 2010 to 35.5mpg starting in 2016 and 54.5 starting in 2025   http://1.usa.gov/qtghsW
  • Issued an Executive Order to facilitate investments in industrial energy efficiency that will help create jobs, while strengthening US manufacturing. Increased efficiency could save businesses $100 billion over the next decade.  http://1.usa.gov/WsIgbx
  • Through an executive order, set up the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, which will to oversee Gulf Coast restoration efforts in the wake of the 2010 BP oil splll. The money to fund the restoration efforts comes from fines against BP.  http://1.usa.gov/Rxjb29
  • Through executive actions and bypassing the ineffectual Republican Congress, announced the most comprehensive plan to combat climate change in a generation. http://bit.ly/13lXhET
  • 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 (Republicans are trying hard to kill it.)
  • Oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers. http://bit.ly/mjnq2R
  • guided the country into a 418% increase in solar power capacity between 2010 and 2014.  http://bit.ly/1rHkWJC
  • Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions.   http://bit.ly/froaP5
  • Oversaw a tripling in the use of wind power to generate electricity. For the third year in row, the United States led the world in increased wind power capacity. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5448
  • Ordered the federal government to incorporate climate resilience and climate science into all international development in which the United States engages.  http://1.usa.gov/YV1EpW
  • Fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact fuel efficiency standards that exceeded federal standards.    http://nyti.ms/e8e94x
  • 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
  • Oversaw establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, to create more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies. http://bit.ly/lZp73y
  • Obama EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history.  http://bit.ly/lP3yEL
  • Ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances.    http://1.usa.gov/g3MTbu
  • Obama EPA ruled that excess CO2 is a pollutant. http://bit.ly/iQTSNN
  • Closed a deal with China to limit carbon emissions to perhaps slow down climate change.  http://nyti.ms/1xzyS8K
  • Blocked all oil and gas drilling in Bristol Bay, Alaska, one of the most pristine environments in North America  http://lat.ms/13xUVFD
  • Signed an Executive Order to improve environmental efforts in the Arctic region and to combat climate change by better coordinating the efforts of the 23 federal agencies operating in the area.   http://usat.ly/ZEzLzE
  • Vetoed a bill to fast track construction of the parallel Keystone XL pipeline. http://nbcnews.to/1DVDFo7
  • Expanded clean water regulations to more stringently protect all of the nation’s waterways, even when states fail in their duty.   http://bit.ly/1RdQpTc
  • Signed an Executive Order committing the federal government to lead the way in building a sustainable economy. It’s his fifth doing just that.  http://1.usa.gov/1EzO2ne
  • Banned the use of antibiotics in food served in US Government-run cafeterias and ordered agencies to only use antibiotic-free meat.  http://bit.ly/1G1vUxi http://bit.ly/1KHkl4N
  • Developed new rules to address climate change and to create a significant boost to clean energy.   http://bit.ly/1UnQcuR
  • 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/eOChg6http://bit.ly/i02wgP
  • Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president.   http://bit.ly/dX6vNB
  • Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and rescinded the global gag rule. http://bit.ly/eCFAI1  http://bit.ly/f92drF
  • Loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference.   http://huff.to/eQfa7j
  • Signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program.   http://bit.ly/idgQH5
  • Signed an Executive Order that will speed up deployment of a more comprehensive broadband infrastructure.  http://1.usa.gov/M7rVpe
  • Signed an Executive Order creating jobs immediately by instructing them to reduce the time needed for review and permitting of infrastructure projects.  http://1.usa.gov/GHxaYt
  • Signed a bill that provided $4.3 billion in additional assistance to 9/11 first responders.  http://bit.ly/o7cWYS
  • Signed an Executive Order pledging support for efforts to end the global problem of violence against women and girls.  http://1.usa.gov/MHTRVU
  • Signed the Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion in funding for a legal settlement with black and Native American farmers who had been cheated out of government loans and natural resource royalties in the past.  http://1.usa.gov/dGppUa
  • To help those communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy, issued an executive order setting up the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, and asked Congress to approve $60 billion in supplemental assistance to aid in storm recovery. http://1.usa.gov/134L7hl
  • Produced 23 Executive actions designed to make it easier for law enforcement to identify those who shouldn’t have guns, thus helping them enforce the law.   http://on.wsj.com/SX9xaZ
  • Expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA.  http://bit.ly/etznpY
  • 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
  • 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%.   http://n.pr/i3d7cY


#127 All Terrorists are . . . (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid, the Editor-in-Chief of the Arab Press Review, recently wrote an editorial titled, The Sad Truth Is That All Terrorists Are Muslim.  While it is brave of an editor in his position to take that stance, he's letting an awful lot of True Believers off of the hook.  The real sad truth is that all terrorists are True Believers.  From Osama bin Laden to the Unabomber, Jeffrey Dahlmer, Adolf Hitler, George W. Bush, Attila the Hun, Rush Limbaugh, Timothy McVeigh, neocons, neo-Christers, eco-terrorists, corporate raiders, and the rest of history's long, painful list of viciously scary folks, every one of these nuts is a True Believer in something.  Usually something that seems completely idiotic to the rest of us. 

If we want to make the world safe from terrorists, we need to spend serious money disproving the fantasies of the world's True Believers.  Now that would make a terrific campaign for a Presidential campaign, wouldn't it?  "Help stomp out irrational faith, vote for The Brain!"  Or, maybe, Pinky would be a more credible candidate behind that platform?  Or some completely suicidal politician who has a brain tumor and absolutely nothing to lose?

The fact is, most humans are some whacked out True Believer.  At the dawn on this country, a few humans labored under the fantasy that humanity was at the beginning of a new age, the Age of Reason.  Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and George Washington created a country that would be free of religious interference and irrational fantasies, largely against the prevailing winds of the time.  The nasty fact is that only a few of the country's founding fathers were affected by the Age of Reason. 

The overwhelming majority of their fellow citizens were just as superstitious as cavemen, or more so because they had been infected by the past 1,000 years of Catholic and Protestant weirdness.  You'd think that European expatriates would be a tich nervous about religion in general, after the Inquisition, the witch trials, and the various whacky religious persecution of various whacky religious groups.  They supposedly immigrated to the "New World" to get away from all that, but they really came here to turn the tables.  Almost every religious colony established its particular fantasy as the delusion of choice.  Very few of the refuges provided a lick of tolerance to people of differing faith. 

As for different cultures or races, intolerance was the philosophy of choice.  The majority of the country's founders were so committed to slavery that Jefferson and Adams had to write limited tolerance for the "institution" into the Constitution to keep the country from breaking into dozens of mini-states even before the United States were united.  By the time the Constitution was written, Manifest Destiny was the nutty fantasy of the age.  Neo-Americans were dispossessing, shooting, strangling, chasing away, and poisoning with disease Native Americans as if killing the existing residents were a god's law.  More True Believers doing more serious damage.

Even science has True Believers who may need a massive dose of veracity.  From the global warming advocates and opponents to alternative and conservative energy promoters to evolution vs. "intelligent design" proponents, science is overfull of folks who believe so strongly in their pet fantasies that the unbending rules of science never come into play during their arguments.  It's past time for a New Age of Reason.  In fact, if humanity wants to survive into the 22nd Century, it's possible that True Believers may have to cash in their weird fantasies for a tenuous grip on reality.


#126 A Voting Resolution (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

2004 could be my last election for a long while.  I have voted in every election, local and national, since 1968.  I have put my mark next to names for Presidents and City Council members, Senators and county judges, and I've found some reason to either write-in a name or select an properly registered name for every position on every ballot that I've been allowed to complete.  The 2000 and 2004 elections have proved that exercising that "right" is a pointless waste of time.  Republicans have bought, bribed, terrorized, and cheated our election system into a foregone conclusion and I don't want to contribute to the illusion that our democracy is still democratic.  We are a corporate communist state, blended with a neocon crackpot theocracy, and justice has gone the way of the dodo.  I mean the bird, not the dumbass Texan in the White House.

Citizens were shown that their wimpy little participation in "democracy" was unwanted and unneeded in 2000.  After the voter fraud in Florida, the Supreme Republican Court decided the election with the most blatant and vile distain for states' rights, one-man-one-vote, and the concept of representative democracy in general.  The Republican Senate refused to exercise its responsibility and allowed the fraudulent "election" to stand, in spite of irrefutable evidence that the Bushies had violated the voter rights of thousands of Florida citizens and, after all that, had still lost the Florida election. 
In 2004, the Republicans were even more blatant.  They put up thousands of fake electronic voting machines in Ohio and other backward states.  They tossed out hundreds of thousands of votes and broke so many civil rights laws that even other countries were astounded at the passivity of United States citizens. 

I am disgusted.  While whacky neo-Christers are babbling about how the founding fathers would be turning over in their graves at how "liberals" have removed religion from government and education, I know that the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights would be disappointed that there hasn't been a revolution against the corporate commies who arrogantly own the country.  Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Sam and John Adams, George Washington, and Ben Franklin did not risk everything to create a corporate theocracy.  Those thoughtful men did not accidentally begin the Bill of Rights with "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."  Humans had suffered several hundred years of religious persecution, horrific torture, vicious totalitarian governments, and unbalanced economic systems, all at the hands of governments based on religion.  One of the key components of The Enlightenment was the understanding that government and religion should never mix.  The fall of the republic of the United States is one more piece of evidence to support that obvious platform of democracy. 

The reason I am leaving the polls is that I don't believe my vote will even be counted in the future.  Republicans have shown that they will do anything to achieve their goals.  Anything.  They will destroy this country and all of the good things it stands for to protect the interests of the rich, powerful, and superstitious scumbags they represent.  They will invalidate voter rights, abolish the Bill of Rights, terrorize citizens and foreign nations, wage war against random fictional enemies," and bankrupt the world's natural resources.  There have never been more evil people in charge of weapons of mass destruction in the history of humanity.  Voting is a waste of time in a time and something we don't have to waste.