Kristen Gillenbrand - A better bet than Hillary?

I am a huge Kristen fan. I don’t think she is a better Hillary, just younger. She has some policies that I prefer and has had a shorter career to accumulate distasteful compromises. If she ever wants to be President, I will support her enthusiastically. But this time, it's Hillary all the way.

The main reason that I support Hillary so emphatically is that, more than any other candidate in my lifetime, she has prepared for the campaign and the job. Everyone else, douche bag Republican or charming Democrat, came to the initiation of their Presidential primary campaign on a whim. Sure, many knew they were going to do it and had a handful of supporters but their preparation for the campaign began when they announced an exploratory committee. And sure, many had jobs that gave them a variety of public service experiences.

But nobody has done what Hillary has done. You don’t recall her ‘forming an exploration committee’ because she has been preparing for this since she left the senate. She already has a national organization and a ton of money. She already has a well-formed policy apparatus. She’s not getting ready to run. She is already running a fully competent campaign while everyone else has their dick in their hands.

And, there is nobody who has her experience. They will complain about the “Clinton dynasty’ but she has lived in the White House. She has had national policy failures and successes. She has done foreign policy as part of the Presidential contingent and as Secretary of State. She was an active First Lady, running a large staff and acting on policy initiatives, working with the legislature as part of the Executive Branch. She was a well-respected, remarkably effective Senator from a large state. She learned the details of legislation and how to work across the aisle. She has experience working with state government to accomplish stuff.

It’s incredible. She has the potential to be the best president ever. She is certainly the best qualified. She is a once in a lifetime gift for Democrats.

I love Bernie and I am a Kristen fan. I also love Mila Kunis but, she isn’t as good for me as my wife. Sometimes one has to leave romance aside and make a strong, healthy choice. Hillary is the one for 2016.

How I could accept the PATRIOT act

I would stop objecting to the PATRIOT act if they would amend it to say that everything they looked at was absolutely sealed. That a government person who revealed a single detail would go to prison. And, that the information could never, ever be used as probably cause or evidence for anything other than an immediate threat. 

Basically, I would have them subject to pretty much the same rules as a psychiatrist relative to his patient's records. No talking. No cooperating with law enforcement. No nothing unless there is an immediate, demonstrable threat of harm.

If they find out that you are selling drugs, laundering money, or cheating the IRS, they are not allowed to tell anyone.

If they added that to the PATRIOT act, I would believe they were sincere about it's being applicable to terrorism and not a stalking horse for the police state.

Mr Burns: A post-electric comedy

'Mr Burns: A post-electric play' was entertaining but, even more, I really liked the idea.

It was structured into three acts, each of which was set some time after some sort of unspecified global calamity. It looked at how The Simpsons was transformed by people as it became a myth.

The first scene took place shortly after, even during the disaster. Electricity and civilization were apparently gone. In those troubled times, The Simpsons was used as a way to push away the darkness. Trading lines around the camp fire was fun, funny and connected people to each other and to happier times.

Seven years later, performing The Simpsons was a desperate way of making a living. Ragged theater troops performed episodes for audiences. People still remembered the shows but, without having seen it in years, it was hard to remember exactly how they went. Stories were mixed up with other cultural artifacts as the myth changed in peoples' minds.

Seventy-five years later, no one alive had actually seen the show. By then, the myth served only as unconstrained inspiration. The characters were still known, though mixed up, and they had been changed to icons with simplified characteristics. Bart was practical. Homer was hopeful. Etc. Pure mythology of clarified virtues and vices. A play produced in those times used the myth to express the hope that, despite the peeling away of comfort, security and pleasure, those who accepted the new reality would prevail – in a strangely passive way.

It made me think of the Hercules myth. I don't really know how the Romans portrayed him in their culture but they had theater and poetry and the rest. His basic story was as a protector at a time when outside forces were threatening Rome. Where today's Simpsons are a way of looking at American families and small town culture, Hercules was, presumably, a way of understanding the military culture, perhaps the equivalent of terrorism at that time. Later, Hercules changed from his original emphasis as protector to being an heroic inspiration for  warriors.

Centuries later, in the nineteen fifties, Hercules was a comic book hero. "The world's strongest man". That is, the myth, with all those in the real world who lived during the popularity of his origin story long gone, changed again into a symbol of pure masculinity and power. Not having read the books, the cover suggests that he was big and strong and mighty. A good use of the myth for post-war America as the country reveled in its wartime successes or, perhaps more accurately, sought to retain that self-perception in light of the mixed events in Korea.

In the nineties, Kevin Sorbo portrayed him as a response to that era's needs. He was a pleasant, ethical helper. He redefined masculinity as congeniality and restrained strength. He was a helper, not a savior. He avoided violence but, it was because he was strong enough to risk engagement. He was self-effacing. Perhaps it was a response to the "greed is good" eighties or an expression of the power of feminism in myth. Maybe a response to the immense overkill that was applied in the first Iraq war. An attempt to recast our self-image as more thoughtful than violent.

In any case, the sequence is a practical example of the transformation of a myth through time and in response to different social changes. As with the change of Superman story from its creation in the thirties as the American Hercules to the eighties Lover Superman to today's Flawed Introspective Superman, Hercules and The Simpsons adapt to the needs of modern society.

It is peculiar to think of The Simpsons as our mythology. It is thought of as a crude entertainment but, that's how all myths start. The Simpsons has real myth potential because of its longevity (we replace things much more quickly now than in the heyday of historical myth making) and because of its complex reflection of social reality.

'Mr Burns: a post-electric play' is not a fabulous play but the author does a credible and imaginative job of envisioning the changing demands that society places on myths and how a particular one might adapt to fit those needs. From The 'Chase Away the Darkness' Simpsons to The 'Nostalgic Rerun' Simpsons to The 'We Will Endure' Simpsons, the play provides a way of understanding that, even in these cynical and anti-cultural times, mythology is an essential way of helping us adapt and look at ourselves.

'Yo Mama' Attack

When, in a discussion online or elsewhere (but usually online) a conversational opponent fails to argue the issue and resorts to personal attacks, calling names or expressing other, irrelevant nasty attitudes about the person.

This is exemplified by the (possibly apocryphal) phrase, "Yo Mama" to suggest that someones mother is a whore, even when neither she or whoring is under discussion.

Other examples include, "you're a communist", "asshole" and "you're a hypocrite.

Executing an unforced (ie, the opponent did not engage in it first) 'yo mama' attack results in a win for the recipient of the nasty accusation.

Religious Freedom. At Home.

Our society is crowded and diverse. Mere knowledge of your heretical belief in that obscene false deity *you* call 'God' is an insult to mine, the *true* God, the one who insists that It is Supreme and that all other claims are blasphemy.

You might think it's innocent to wear a cross in public. Whenever I look at it, I see evidence of deep, awful corruption. I see a person who has turned their back on God (the real One, mine) and by doing so, has denied my God's existence and insults the very streets upon which you walk that It created.

My God insists that I must convert or kill non-believers because they are dangerous. Their fake deity causes them to try to convert or kill. I might be able to resist, but my children are innocent and weak. Heretics will try to convert them, to take them away from the path of light. They might hear of the false, corrupt delights that your fake God offers, heaven or virgins or peace and believe the lies.

I know that you, heathen, feel the same way. You actually think your God is the real one but, since you are wrong, dangerously, blasphemously wrong, my God says I have to avenge Its honor and kill you.

Over your cross.

The thing is, I am right. I should, must protect God's honor. You would be, too.

So, you are a mild person. You think, live and let live. But, I am not and I have the right to religious freedom and it's absolutely *not* extreme to deny blasphemy, to fight heresy, to protect the honor of one's God. It is less common in these soft and weak-willed times. Many so-called believers are too focused on their worldly goods to do God's work but, throughout history, my view, the righteous view insisted upon by my God has held sway.

So, your cross is a provocation. My God says I have to kill you and your God. My God is the absolute ruler and so, you claim, is Yours. My God says that tolerance is blasphemous and so does Yours. That means I must kill you and your false God. No other path makes any sense at all. No other path honors my God as it should be.

It is incumbent upon civilized people to keep their Gods to themselves to keep the peace. Only by doing so can we have a peaceful society.

Oh, you're telling me I'm wrong. I can hear it in your head. "Sensible people do not believe their God insists on the death of the unrighteous. Jesus never said kill the heathen." But, of course, you're wrong on both counts, or close enough.

Sensible people *are* killing heathens as we speak. Their sense, of course, is different than yours but, they can do sums, they can read books, they can run military industrial complexes. If that's not sensible, I do not know the meaning of the word. They merely prioritize differently than you. Or that you would if you were actually devout.

Because, while there is no sign that Jesus said "kill the heathen", Jesus did not have a whole lot to do with the religion that grew up around Him. And, that religion is pretty clear about heathens. And gay people, and women who don't want to have a baby.

The Constitution actually says that the government will not "establish" a religion. It doesn't say anything about allowing religious practices or, worse, providing space for them to occur. The idea that government should not *interfere* with religion, is midrash, additional elaboration by people who think they understand more than the others. Just like those who justified the Inquisition.

A better midrash, a better interpretation, would be to consider that the establishment clause referred to the whole of society, to say that there can be no official religion and that any public expression of religion is an attempt to coerce those who believe in other things.

This would not only have been more correct according to the language of the Constitution, but it would have prevented a whole host of problems. No arguments about crosses on public land, no discussion of whether Moslems can be required to handle pork at work.

All of those questions would be answered, "Religion must not be practiced in public. It is a private thing, between you and your God and your family." You can no more impose your views about pork onto your employer than he can require you be circumcised.

When you are in public, among believers in other Gods, your God is no longer relevant. If that is unacceptable to you, stay home. You have complete religious freedom, there.

On Netanyahu's Victory

This is one of the very most difficult problems. I am a strong believer in the need for a Jewish homeland. I am a strong opponent of religious fundamentalism and intolerance. Israel is putting me in conflict about things that should never be an issue.

Among the principles that I believe is that, with their genocidal views about "the zionist entity", the Palestinians have chosen a permanently indefensible position. No one is obligated to compromise with such an idea.

But, as Israel develops, they are turning into a right-wing, fundamentalist society increasingly indefensible as well. Netanyahu finally won his election with frankly racist statements that align Isreal with similar ideas that are equally vile.

Netanyahu's election confirms an Israeli policy that is, for all practical purposes, the same as the Palestinians'. The views he enunciated, and that caused the Israeli people to give him the election, are that Palestinians have no right to a homeland and that Arab participation in Israeli elections is a foreign threat.

Palestinians claim that the Jews have no right to their own state and that the Jews should be pushed into the sea. How can Netanyahu's assertion that the Palestinians have no right to a state imply anything other than that the Palestinians should be pushed into the Jordan?

Israel has gone from being a beacon of democracy in the Middle East made brighter by the generous ethos of the Mitzvot, Tzdekah and Tikun Olam.

Today, democracy is compromised and is dimmed by having ratified the worst of the principles of fundamentalist intolerance and selfishness of it's enemies. Politically, I can see no difference.

Yet, a Jewish homeland is paramount. I now find myself trying to imagine if there is any limit to that principle. One should never have to face that question. Benjamin Natanyahu is a monster.

Obama Accomplishments

Really, you should go read this on Addicting Info so they can get their ad revenue.

However, Even their link to the original list has rotted to uselessness, so I copied this for backup purposes, here.

Enjoy. 3/15/15

What follows is a PARTIAL list of Obama’s accomplishments so far. Unlike many such lists, there is a link to a citation supporting every single one.

Legislative Prowess.

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%.

Fiscal Responsibility.

Within days after taking office, Obama signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse.

Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money.

On his first full day, he froze White House salaries.

He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending.

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.

Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Improving the Economy, Preventing Depression.

Obama 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, so that taxpayers could track spending from the Act.

In his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy 3.5%.

Obama completed the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, and recovered virtually all of its costs.

He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan.

Obama oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years.

He oversaw a bailout of General Motors that saved at least 1.4 million jobs, and put pressure on the company to change its practices, resulting in GM returning to its place as the top car company in the world.

Obama also doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency.

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.

Obama signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which was designed to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices.

He increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect.

Obama 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.

Through the Worker, Home Ownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, Obama and Congressional Democrats provided tax credits to first-time home buyers, which helped the U.S. housing market recovery.

He initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses.

Obama created, which allows for online collaboration between small businesses and experts re managing a business. (The program has since merged with

He played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.

Obama took steps to improve minority access to capital.

He created a $60 billion bank to fund infrastructure improvements such as roads and bridges.

He implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs.   Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Obama saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost.

Obama dismantled the Minerals Management Service, thereby moving forward to cut ties between energy companies and the government.

He provided funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police and firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession.

He used recovered TARP money to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.

Obama crafted an Executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans.

Wall Street Reforms and Consumer Protection.

Obama ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.

He pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression.

Dodd-Frank also included the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Obama 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.

He supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation.

Obama wholly endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes.

He made a deal with Swiss banks that permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and  tax evaders.

He established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses.

Obama oversaw and then signed the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression. 

Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination.

Obama 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.

He 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 to fight for their country, and put our troops at risk by disqualifying many qualified soldiers from helping.

Obama appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.

Helped Congress pass and signed the Civil Rights History Act.

He extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

Obama has appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history.

He issued a Presidential Memorandum reaffirming the rights of gay couples to make medical decisions for each other.

He established a White House Council on Women and Girls

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.

Obama 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.

He expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act.

Under Obama’s watch, National Labor Relations Board has issued final rules that require all employers to prominently post employees’ rights where all employees or prospective employees can see it, including websites and intranets, beginning November 2011.

Fighting Poverty.

Obama provided  a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps).

He signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs.

Improved Foreign Relations and American Status Abroad.

Obama visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president during his first six months in office.

As he promised, he gave a speech at a major Islamic forum in Cairo early in his administration. 

He did much 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 planet.

He re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues.

Closed a number of secret detention facilities.

Obama improved relations with Middle East countries by appointing special envoys.

He pushed for military to emphasize development of foreign language skills.

Offered $400 million to the people living in Gaza, called on both Israel and the Palestinians to stop inciting violence.

He refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program.

He worked to make donations to Haiti tax-deductible in 2009.

He established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Issued Executive Order blocking interference and helping to stabilize Somalia.

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.

He ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and a smattering of Democrats) who prevented him from following through.

Obama 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.

He ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed.

He released the Bush torture memos.

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.

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.

Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war, and to encourage Iran to give up their nuclear program.

Ended the Iraq War.

He authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates.

Better Approach to “Defense.”

Obama created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat.

He authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010.

He restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush.

He signed and pushed to ratification a new SALT Treaty.

Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will last until at least 2021.

Through the Defense Authorization Act, he reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq.

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.

He returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops.

Fulfilled campaign promise and ended our involvement in Iraq, and will complete full troop withdrawal before Christmas 2011.

He took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world.

He negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.

He took decisive action to use NATO to limit the slaughter of innocents in Libya, so that the Libyan people could topple a despotic government and determine their own fate.

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.

He funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services.

He provided the troops with better body armor.

Created the Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order  to improve the quality of their medical care.

He put an end to the Bush-era stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan beyond their enlistment date. (personal note: my son will be in harm’s way for six fewer months with Obama as president, so you know I love this one).

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.

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.

He created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs.

He oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals.


He has repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process.

Completely reformed the student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , he invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.   This includes a major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide , as well as an expansion in school construction.

Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start.

Signed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0 

He oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low-income students to go to college.

He passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds. 

Greater Transparency and Better Government.

He signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the Executive Branch.

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.

He held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public.

The Obama White House became the first to stream every White House event, live.

He established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities.

He provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history.

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.

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.

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.

Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast.

Has repeatedly beefed up border security

Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

Science, Technology and Health Care.

He created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making.

Opened up the process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects.

He eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. He also provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs.

He signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis.

He 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.

His 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.

Conducted a cyberspace policy review.

Provided financial support for private sector space programs.

He oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.

He ushered through a bill that authorized the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products. 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.

He also increased funding for community-based prevention programs.

He oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors.

He eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price.

Two weeks after taking office, he signed the Children’s Health Insurance Re-authorization Act, which increased the number of children covered by health insurance by 4 million.

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.

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

Through the Affordable Health Care Act, he allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26.

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.

Through the Affordable Health Care Act, he expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level.

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.

Provisions in Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act 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. Last year’s increase was 4%. Compare that to the average 12% annual inflation rate during the previous 40 years.

Strengthening the Middle Class and Families

Obama worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families.

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.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , he cut taxes for 95% of America’s working families.

Under Obama, tax rates for average working families are the lowest they’ve been since 1950.

He extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years.

He extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s extended unemployment benefits several times.

Environment and Energy.

He fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact federal fuel efficiency standards that were above federal standards.

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.

He oversaw the establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, which creates more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies.

His EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history.

He ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances.

He ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021.  (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.

Obama bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions.

His EPA ruled that CO2 is a pollutant.

He doubled federal spending on clean energy research.

He pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.

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.

Obama  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.”

He fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide.

He required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption.

Following Bush’s eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic.

Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars.

Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles.

Obama 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.

He also actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills.

He initiated Criminal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Through Obama’s EPA, he asserted federal legal supremacy, and barred Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own.

He strengthened the Endangered Species Act.

His EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year.

Through the EPA, he took steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans.

Obama increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%

He announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards.

He announced the development of a huge increase in average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg to 35.5mpg starting in 2016 and 54.5 starting in 2025

Other Stuff.

Obama has expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA.

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.

Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Obama  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.

He appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president.

He eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and  he rescinded the global gag rule.

Obama loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference.

His FDA banned the use of antibiotics in livestock production.

Obama ushered through and signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program.

Republished with permission from

Read the original article at

Other AI posts on President Barack Obama’s many achievements.

The right to take money from rich people

I start by observing that the natural order of things is that each person cringes in a cave, waiting for starvation or an animal to kill him. I progress to the tribe, where the biggest, toughest bastard pounds your skull in if you don't do what he says or give him what he wants. In no natural setting is there anything like a 'right'.

The idea of a 'right' is a construction of society. At some point, the biggest, toughest bastard looked up and thought, "if I don't leave this guy some food, he's going to die and I'll have to do all the work myself." There was no 'right' to food. It was in the best interest of that chieftain to let him keep some.

As societies got more complicated, we figured out that it was really useful to let the lowlifes have 'ownership' of some stuff (I add apostrophes to 'ownership' because I think it was an illusion; the king could, and often did, come along and change the ownership to back himself). Turns out that having the continuity of 'ownership' allowed the worker to do some planning, including rearing more little workers. Kings like that.

All along, there was 'right' to ownership. It's a thing that some leader decided was a good idea and that it served his purposes. I know it's extreme but it is literally true that nobody ever gave one minute's thought to the idea of 'right' until, with some quibbles, the industrial era and the French Revolution.

At that point, the workers realized they outnumbered the kings. They realized that they were being screwed and so they invented 'rights'. The first right was the right be be killed if you were a rich asshole who said, "let them eat cake" (though I know that's actually fiction). What's true is that, in response to an idea of ownership that left most people poor, the workers killed everybody. In droves.

The cool thing about that is that they actually did define rights (no more permanent, really, than the right defined by kings, but a little more durable because they support the interests of many people) and acted on them. They encoded notions of property and obligation. (And that includes a thirty five hour work week, highly progressive taxation, and a whole lot of stuff rich people hate.) The reason that I come to this point is to make clear. Rights don't have anything to do with nature or morality or any external constant. Rights are things that are granted by the powerful to the weaker.

The genius of democracy is that it says, "We don't care if you a big, tough badass. Power resides in broad social agreement. The most brutal no longer gets to decide what's right. The populace does." Put another way, whoever could put together an army or a police force, defines the rights.

People with money and property tend to think that it is sacrosanct. That, ownership is a fundamental aspect of nature. Even cave people 'owned' their cave. Except that's not exactly right. They only kept their cave as long as the chief said they did. Since the French revolution, the decision is made by the populace with no more intrinsic restraint than a chieftain or king.

Choosing not to take money and property away from people in the country is actually a mere tradeoff of priorities. People want to conceive this as a moral issue where 'taking' is obviously wrong, but that is a fabrication of the modern age. The closest thing we have to positions based on some external moral principle are of the human species, followed by preservation of one's own society, followed by preservation of human life. After that, the competing moral positions are so varied that it's not worth discussing.

Are rich people right when they say they "earned it" so they deserve to keep it? Only if they are the only people voting. In many ways, we are all tenant farmers, working the land owned by the body politic. As with the real tenant farmers of yesteryear, they get to keep exactly what the landlord allows. If that's nothing, they have the right to go find someplace else – unless the chieftain, king or voters say you can't.

The Establishment Has Done It's Job

"Hands Up. Don't Shoot" remains the iconic phrase in this time as we realize that the police are violent enemies of justice. But now we watch the "liberal media" join the rest in pushing Ferguson down the memory hole. What was obvious before is now in question because, well, because we know that the situation was much worse than we realized. Doesn't that call everything into question?

The iconic phrase is now put to a "test". Really, now that Wilson has not been indicted on racism, wasn't this thing overblown?  Since Wilson has been proven not to be racist, don't you think that we should reconsider the other details. You need to be sure your slogans are accurate. We need to be fair to the police. And why don't we talk about whether Brown's hands were up. Maybe the report says they weren't, didn't it? Don't remember how this paragraph started? Can't put your finger on the exact issue any more? Then, as we would have said in my day, the establishment has done it's job.

To be clear: The report failed to indict Wilson of federal violations. That means that they did not feel they could prove crimes with the evidence available. It did not exonerate him. The only advance this report shows over the grand jury in Ferguson is that I believe that they would have indicted him if they could.

It remains true that Darren Wilson shot and killed an innocent man on the streets. One who many perceived to be surrendering and who was far away from him at the time. It remains true that the grand jury in Ferguson was run by a corrupt prosecutor who guided them away from indictment.

It is certainly possible that Darren Wilson did not kill Michael Brown simply because he was black. It is absolutely true that Darren Wilson worked for and participated in a job where racist acts were committed daily. This wasn't a place with a few racists. He was an active, and deadly, part of a department that systematically abused black people.

You can be 100% certain that, were I to find myself working in a place that *ever* said things quoted in the report, *ever* targeted and abused people, especially by race, that there would be hell to pay. I would have been fired in a short time because I would no more tolerate that than allow them to dip me in shit every morning.

That's because I am not a racist. Darren Wilson is.