Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Civil Unions, A Love Story

This is a cute video I found at Pam's House Blend that has been making the rounds. Catch the words to the song at the end during the credits. ( I don't think I have a gay cousin but ya never know.)

Friday, November 26, 2010


By Bj Jackson Lincoln

I love Extreme Home Makeover because it reminds me there are good people in the world. Every week some deserving family gets a new home often with the mortgage paid and the kids get scholarships for college. Good people helping their neighbors in need. I always cry.
A woman in Chicago has been a crossing guard for years at an elementary school. She has won the hearts of the kids, parents, and staff with her constant joy. When a parent found out that this wonderful woman was about to lose her apartment, she organized a fund raiser, got everyone involved, and generated enough to help the guard find and secure a new place. People helping people. Everyone feels good. I got misty
Everyday people do good deeds. I know we all have helped someone open a door or carry something. We are taught from a very young age to help and share with others. The scout helping the old lady cross the street is a piece of our Rockwell American image. 
We are taught to be proud Americans and are unified each weekday when the whole school stands and says the Pledge of Allegiance. We are the melting pot of the world and should be proud that people come from far and wide to have a better life.
At what point do some become bullies? When do some start to dislike something about another person to the point of needing to push or say something nasty?
Our schools are full of bullies. They come in all ages from kindergarten to board members. Some of the bullies are heads of businesses. Some are elected officials from local to federal. The news is full of it. Some grow up to hate. I mean really hate. Some people grow up and spend all their time, energy, and money to discredit a group of people? People who have not done a thing to them except to exist. ( Place any minority group name here_________) They hate something so much that they will not just push but punch. They will say nasty things and even make things up just to hurt someone. Some will go so far as to fight against laws that make everyone equal. Laws to say that we are all the same and should be treated with respect.  
Ya know? I thought that was the best part of being an American. The 14th amendment says if you were born here, then you are covered by laws that say you are equal. Some even want to change that. I am angry and hurt. Being bullied for any reason at any age hurts.
I think I will go back to watching good deeds but I am afraid that my tears will not just be the joy others giving and receiving. Some will be for the sadness of knowing not everyone is good and to watch out for the bullies.

Just what is our freedom?

From the SPLC's web site , this is how they determine what group qualifies as a hate group. Please note what is highlighted red.

Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

 I am all for freedom of speech. I am all for religious freedom. So is the SPLC.
I DO  think  spreading lies about people or using lies to sway voters does not fall under freedom of speech.
There is fear that people will lose the freedom to say what they feel or  think .
This fear is unfounded. It is another example of the way some people twist the issue to make it seem like something it is not.
Our freedoms to speak, think, and believe will never be taken away.

The issue is about is when your freedom is causing others to suffer because what you are saying is not true. It is not the freedom to lie.

When people say hurtful things and have NO proof or support to back up their claim, it is wrong. We have laws to protect us from slander. You can't yell fire in a theatre if there is no fire.
The same applies to what these anti-gay groups are doing. They can think, feel, and believe all they want, but they can not go around saying hurtful things that are proven to be untrue.

Not only are they saying untrue and nasty things about gays but they are trying to get voters to side with them and create laws that will further hurt us.

Most of us believe the KKK and skinheads are hate groups. They can have their clubs and think and feel all they want, but they are NOT permitted to act on their hate nor are they allowed to spread lies.

It is sad that these groups and the people who run them spend so much time and money trying to prevent us from having the same protections and freedoms they have.

The same rights, not special or additional, just the same. Equal.

All the SPLC did was call them on the lies. We have the freedom of speech and we have the freedom to point out when someone is telling lies. We do not have the freedom to bully or deliberately hurt someone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sicko gets validation !

For those of you who are Michaell Moore fans, you will love this. For those of you who are not fans, you need to watch the movie at http://freedocumentaries.org/film.php?id=133 after watching this clip. Thank you Michael.

DC Gay Men's Chorus - It Gets Better

Morgan Slusher is the staff advisor to the Rainbow Club at CCBC where Tami is the president. He is also a member of the DC Gay Men's Chorus. The Rainbow Club has had the privilege to go and see the chorus 4 times and I always get to go too!. These guys are GREAT! They also opened for the inaugurationn of President Obama. Enjoy. It is one of the better ones put out by a chorus.

Dan Savage Appears On CNN

Dan Savage is not afraid to say what is on his mind. Here he speaks the truth. No news station or even FOX would put hate groups like the KKK on for "Balance".

Dan Savage Appears On CNN To Slam CNN Because CNN Gives Airtime To Hate Groups

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chained to the Fence

We NEED more like this!

Where is Our Lunch Counter?

There is a great article by Autumn Sandeen at Pam's House Blend  Asking where is our lunch counter? Visible civil disobedience.There are some great responses.  Here is mine.

I think Dan Choi has the right idea. Making himself visible by handcuffing himself to the White House fence several times will be our lunch counter in the history books.
I do believe we need more. Marching and standing with signs during assigned hours in assigned places is NOT working. Stopping traffic to get Harry Reid’s attention did.
We have been playing by the rules and trying to be nice for a long time. We have supported groups like the HRC for years and have gotten nowhere. We have engaged in quiet, peaceful protests to just get shoved back in the closet.
Part of the problem is we are not as visible. The LGBT population cuts across every line that segregates. We come in all shapes, sizes, beautiful colors, wealth, location, religion and so on. Some of us are very out and it shows while many more hide or pass unnoticed.
We are a minority of an unknown amount. We will never know how many of us are out there because of the closet, so our army of out and proud seems small.
Our fight for equality is similar to others in that we want protection from discrimination in all things plus we want and need the right to marry to protect our families and we are up against the same forces that others have faced, but our unknown amount and invisibility works against us like no other group has had to face before.
Thanks to science and education we are slowly gaining support. The opposition is getting desperate to the point that they are actually making the case for us with all the lies and hate they spew. (They will always be around and thankfully they are now on the list of hate groups.)
While I truly believe we are on our way, the time has come for a more CREATIVE way to pressure the powers that be into enacting the laws we need as a people and Nation to ensure equality and justice for ALL.  I am not promoting violence even though I AM angry.
Our population is full of the world’s most creative minds. As artists of every kind, we are resourceful, skilled, and talented. Why can’t we come together for something really big? Not another march, parade, or concert.  Everyone has their 1000 hits of fame with video on line. (I am not knocking the “It Gets Better”. I have mine up there too.) The flash mobs are great. Most are for fun and they are. The flash mob in the train station to draw attention to the teen suicides was more like it.
I am thinking a cross between a flash mob and sculpture. I love the music and dance as well as a few theatrical productions but they are all performance art and disappear as quickly as they came. A random act of Art. Something to say while we are there and something to leave behind as a reminder.
I am an artist. I know I am not the only one out there who wants and NEEDS to say something. We need to get louder, more frequent, and more visible. We need more sit ins and more handcuffs on the fence. We also need to pool our resources as artists and start adding some public visual art as “Teachable Moments” for those who missed the flash.

Graeme Taylor On Ellen DeGeneres

Openly gay 14 year-old Graeme Taylor appeared on Ellen today to talk about his impassioned speech in defense of a teacher who was suspended for kicking out a student for anti-gay remarks. This kid is amazing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

SPLC’s Intelligence Report: Gays Targeted for Hate Crimes Far More Than Any Other Minority in America

Homosexuals are far more likely to be victims of a violent hate crime than any other minority group in the United States, according to a new analysis of federal hate crime statistics in the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, released today.
The SPLC’s analysis of 14 years of hate crime data found that homosexuals, or those perceived to be gay, are more than twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews or blacks; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and 14 times as likely as Latinos. The findings are based on FBI hate crime statistics from 1995 to 2008, the period for which there is complete data. The basic pattern also holds true in individual years.

The analysis is being released to coincide with the scheduled release of the FBI’s hate crime statistics for 2009.
These findings come as a wave of anti-gay attacks have washed across the country. In New York, for example, 10 suspects were arrested for brutally torturing three gay victims. And in Covington, Ky., a neighborhood was hit by a series of violent anti-gay attacks. Most dramatically, four teenagers committed suicide in September after being bullied, taunted or outed as homosexuals.
This analysis of hate crime data can be found in the Winter 2010 issue of the Intelligence Report, which also explores how the hard-core anti-gay movement in America is becoming more extreme in the face of gay rights advances.
“As Americans become more accepting of homosexuals, the most extreme elements of the anti-gay movement are digging in their heels and continuing to defame gays and lesbians with falsehoods that grow more incendiary by the day,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report. “The leaders of this movement may deny it, but it seems clear that their demonization of homosexuals plays a role in fomenting the violence, hatred and bullying we’re seeing.”
Even after the recent string of teen suicides, which brought national attention to the issue of anti-gay bullying, leaders of these groups blamed those seeking to protect students from bullying.
Eighteen anti-gay groups are profiled in the Winter 2010 issue, which also contains an article debunking 10 key claims spread by the anti-gay movement to demonize homosexuals. These claims – ranging from the myth that homosexuals don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals to the utterly bizarre claim that gays helped orchestrate the Holocaust – are examined in detail.
Anti-gay “murder music,” a style of music that features lyrics advocating the murder of homosexuals and is growing in popularity far beyond its native Jamaica, is also described. The music has sparked an effort by gay and lesbian activists in Jamaica and throughout the Western world to stop its growth.
The law enforcement edition of Intelligence Report, which is being sent to about 55,000 officers, also contains a training DVD to help officers recognize the threat when dealing with extremists from the “sovereign citizens” movement. This past May, two officers in West Memphis, Ark., were murdered when they stopped two sovereigns.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

From Truth Wins Out

This is the full article and a few of the comments from Truth Wins Out at http://www.truthwinsout.org/

Here’s the Student Editorial a Minnesota Catholic High School Felt the Need to Censor
Posted November 16th, 2010 by Evan Hurst
The student paper at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, a Catholic high school in Minnesota, published an editorial speaking out against the Catholic archdiocese’s opposition to same sex marriage and their subsequent mailing of thousands of anti-gay DVDs to Catholic families in the state. Then they pulled the piece, because if there’s one thing that’s like Kryptonite to a religious institution like the Roman Catholic Church, it’s reasoned dissent. Hamilton Nolan at Gawker explains:

Yes, the Catholic school’s administration played their role perfectly by pulling the students’ editorial (and an accompanying piece titled “Life as a Gay Teenager”) and replacing it with a statement explaining that “The online comments regarding the editorial and the opinion piece in question were creating a disrespectful environment as well as confusion about the teachings of the Catholic Church; therefore, the administration exercised its prerogative to have the material removed from the website.”

The DVD in question manipulated Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words to make it appear as if anti-gay bigots are somehow continuing King’s legacy, and the student editorial in question laid that out for the BS it was. Hamilton continues:

Using Martin Luther King, Jr’s words to support an assertion that same-sex marriage leaves men “fundamentally dehumanized”: fine. Pointing out that that is bullshit, in a remarkably eloquent and fair editorial: unfair. Even more brilliant: use the fact that assholes were leaving disrespectful comments on a story as an excuse to pull the entire story! Good work, zealous Catholics! This’ll teach those gay-accepters to speak out of turn, or ever!

Since we on the side of fairness, justice, love and equality are no fans of censorship, here’s the student editorial in its entirety, via a commenter at the above Gawker link:

“Staff finds DVD unsubstantiated
November 11, 2010

The Catholic Church has been a long-standing opponent of gay marriage both in civil law and the Church itself. In keeping with this teaching, Archbishop Nienstedt produced and mailed a DVD in which he explicitly endorses an amendment to our state constitution that would bar homosexuals from the right to marry under civil law.

We as a staff believe the Church has both the right to have a teaching on this issue and to deny homosexuals the right to get married within the Church itself. However, we also feel that the DVD many of our families received is inappropriate due to the civil nature of the issue, and the content is nothing more than simple, emotional propaganda.

Archbishop Nienstedt states in the DVD that gay marriage poses a threat not only to the children taken out of the foster care system and adopted by married gay couples, but to children everywhere. He warns us that if we were to legalize gay marriage, the government would start teaching children in public schools that gay marriage is okay––something that is not consistent with Catholic teachings. The DVD further equates the effects of growing up in a household with two moms or two dads to growing up in a polygamous household, or an impoverished, financially struggling, single parent home.

The DVD tells us that the legalization of same-sex marriage will result in a world that no longer cares about a one-man one-woman vision of marriage, which will in turn result in a society that is, “callous and indifferent to the suffering it imposes on its own children, and on women who are left to carry the burden of parenting, and on men who are fundamentally dehumanized.”

How gay marriage results in heterosexual divorce and poverty, the DVD fails to address. How gay marriage leads to the acceptance of polygamy, the DVD makes no mention of either.

In the end, the DVD simply tries to equate gay marriage (an institution that would actually bring families together through the adoption of children) to broken homes and polygamy, without providing any facts to back it up. And, while the struggles of raising a child without a mother or father as support are certainly real, this stems from the fact that single parents are doing the job of two people and is not a reason to deny homosexuals the right to marry under civil law.

The DVD also aimed to reject the notion that the issue of gay marriage is an issue of civil rights. They did this in the most subtle way imaginable: by having a black man quote Martin Luther King Jr. The quote in question was from “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and stated that for a law to be just it must be in line with natural law.

What the speaker fails to address is the very next line of the letter that states, “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues are unjust because segregation distorts the soul.” Clearly this omitted line proves that MLK would not have supported discriminatory policies against any group, including homosexuals. The fact that the Church would go as far as to evoke MLK in an issue which he clearly wouldn’t have supported speaks volumes to the argument which the DVD presents.

To close its argument, the DVD states that the civil recognition of same-sex marriage would be an attack on our religious liberties as Catholics; however, no law that would be passed for gay marriage would have any impact on the Church’s ability to control its own definition of marriage. The legislature is discussing granting civil liberties to homosexuals in a legal way, not a religious one.

We have been told through this DVD to defend the historical definition of marriage through our votes. Well, up until 1967 it was a historical precedent not to let two people of different races get married in 17 states. In previous centuries, married women were considered their husband’s properties. But these things have changed, and it’s time for the civil definition of marriage to change again to account for our gay brothers and sisters, not in the Church, but at least in the civil arena.”

Smart kids.

Tags: Benilde-St. Margaret's, Catholic Church, equality, John Nienstedt, marriage equality, Martin Luther King Jr., Minnesota, Roman Catholic Church, teens

Related posts
•Minnesota Catholics Getting Special DVD About Hating Gays From Bishops (10)
•It’s Really Gross when Anti-Gay Bigots Use MLK, Jr.’s Image to Support Discrimination (3)
Comments (6)
1.No wonder they pulled it. reason in the face of religious bigotry. can’t have that!!!!

Comment by Ben in Oakland — November 16, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

2.Thanks for sharing this. And you’re right, empires, of any kind, cannot stand dissent.

Comment by Tom — November 16, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

3.Sent today:

November 16, 2010

Senator Jim DeMint
340 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Senator DeMint:

This regards your repeated remarks that gay people should not be allowed to teach school. I object to them because that kind of discrimination against a minority violates the Pledge of Allegiance’s promise of liberty and justice for all.

I hereby challenge you to face me on national television and explain why I shouldn’t be allowed to teach. I studied at Master’s level at Harvard University and speak German, French, Spanish and Italian. I have published two novels. The phrase “By Scott Rose” has appeared in over 1,000 venues including Strings, (a publication for *students* of string instruments), The World Scholar (a publication for *students*), Bon App├ętit, The Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, ShowBoats International, Decanter, Opera News, the New York Blade, Girlfriends, Caviar Affair, the Advocate, Relish’s The American Table and Mia/Enas, a magazine for Greek Americans. I have taught with conspicuously positive results. I have for example guest lectured on the arts in journalism at Brooklyn College. The students loved me. I gave them pointers on how to break into journalism and subsequently learned that some of them have done so.

When you demonize minority members of American society, saying they should not be allowed to teach school, you contribute to the terroristic atmosphere of hatred that results in gay students and teachers living in angst and in some cases even committing suicide. It is therefore most ironic that you of all people have served on a U.S. Senate Subcommittee for human rights. Recently in Tennessee, a lesbian couple found their house burned to the ground and the word “Queer” spray-painted on a remaining adjacent structure. Your demonizing of gay Americans contributes to the ongoing occurrence of such hate crimes. Do you intend to behave responsibly to stop the hate?

In addition to facing you on national television, I intend to organize a group of GLBT teachers from around the country to meet with you in Washington. I will not rest in my campaign to reverse your bigotry until you 1) retract your statement; 2) apologize for it and 3) commit to fostering atmospheres of diversity and acceptance in U.S. schools nationwide.


Scott Rose

CC: Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Charlie Rose, Keith Olbermann, Kenneth B. Mehlman. R. Clarke Cooper, Tony Ortega, Steven Thrasher, Matt Taibbi, other community members


Friday, November 19, 2010

American Family Association And Liberty Counsel Object To Hospital Rights For Gays

crosspost from joemygod.com  at http://www.joemygod.blogspot.com/

"Certainly there are Catholic hospitals and Baptist hospitals that recognize homosexual behavior as sinful behavior and they do not want to take part in affirming homosexual sin under the strong arm of the government." - Liberty Counsel spokesbigot Matt Barber, objecting to new federal rules which stipulate that any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding must allow LGBT patients to be visited by their partners. The rule goes into effect in 60 days. The American Family Association calls the rule "special visitation rights" under the headline "Fed To Hospitals: Go Gay Or Go Broke."

As unbelievably cruel as it may sound, God's Gentle Loving People™ are actually publicly saying that gay people should die alone without their loved ones by their sides. I can't think of a single thing more vile or detestable. Or one that more perfectly encapsulates the vicious nature of American Christianism.

UPDATE: The American Family Association has added the below poll to the above-linked story.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Golden Revenge On A Bully

From today's Ask Reddit, which queries the Reddit community on legal issues.
From today's Ask Reddit, which queries the Reddit community on legal issues.
From today's Ask Reddit, which queries the Reddit community on legal issues.
Question: A relative of a close friend helped a school bully drink piss, and now the family is suing. Is he liable?

Background: Relative of a close friend (we'll call him Todd) carried Mountain Dew in his backpack to school every day. For a few weeks, this bully ("Brian") would go in his bag, say fuck you, and drink the Mountain Dew. Fed up with this and being a cunning lad, last Tuesday Todd drinks the Mountain Dew before class, and pisses in the bottle. Brian drank the piss, shat brix, and Todd emerged the victor that day. Now, Brian's family is threatening to sue, claiming Todd endangered Brian's health. Todd's family is apparently shitting and scrambling to collect character references for Todd from teachers, letters from doctors saying urine isn't harmful, and generally thinking their son is a psycho. I applaud Todd and think that he should walk into court holding a bottle of piss, it's freedom of expression, some people like piss filled bottles, but IANAL.

SYDNEY: Kylie Minogue Flash Mob

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just for fun!

Which one grills faster?

Neff: Love, marriage and the law

I have been enjoying Lisa Neff's work for some time. This is a touching story and highlights the reasons we must end the federal ban on gay marriage. Read to the end about the love story of Edie and Thea.
Lisa Neff
, columnist, 365gay.com
The day we learned that the Mexico House of Representatives voted to amend the nation’s social security rules to allow medical and social benefits for same-sex couples, we again were reminded of an ugly, selfish vote of our own House of Representatives in 1996.
That was the year Congress passed the so-called Defense of Marriage, defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman for federal purposes and allowing states to refuse recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages. President Bill Clinton signed that bill late one night, without ceremony but with much anger. Remember that DOMA arrived to the White House, on a tide of unchristian-like Christian right conservativism.

On Nov. 10, legal defense groups filed two more lawsuits seeking to overturn DOMA.
Already a federal court in Massachusetts, the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage, has ruled aspects of the DOMA unconstitutional in two challenges, one brought by the state and the other by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.
Last week, GLAD filed another challenge, this one in federal court in Connecticut on behalf of a Connecticut widower and married couples from Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.
The American Civil Liberties Union also filed a challenge — a complaint on behalf of a widow in New York state.
The goal of these suits is to secure multiple rulings against DOMA from multiple federal districts, increasing the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue.
We want to get to the High Court because we’re not going to see a repeal of DOMA during the lame-duck session, and we’re certainly not going to see a repeal of DOMA when the new House of Representatives is seated in January.
The courts are our hope on this issue.
The courts will decide just how fairly the federal government has treated Edith “Edie” Windsor, who, in 2009, while bereaving the loss of her spouse of 44 years, found herself paying $350,000 in estate taxes to the federal government.
Windsor is the ACLU’s plaintiff in the New York challenge to DOMA. She and Thea Spyer met in the early 1960s, became engaged in 1967 and, when they could finally legally marry, went to Canada in 2007 and exchanged vows.
The brief in Windsor’s complaint details a legal argument — that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because it recognizes marriages of heterosexual couples, but not of same-sex couples.

Canada recognizes the marriage. New York state recognizes the marriage, but the federal government does not, with serious financial consequences. Windsor is ineligible to receive survivor benefits from Social Security, and, as the sole beneficiary of Spyer’s estate, she had to pay a sizable federal estate tax, as if she were a stranger to her wife.
Wives who lose their husbands do not pay estate taxes. Husbands who lose their wives do not pay estate taxes. But wives who lose their wives? When Windsor asked the IRS to refund the estate tax, which substantially reduced her retirement savings, the government refused, citing DOMA.
“There can be no dispute that if Thea were instead ‘Theo,’ her estate would have passed for the benefit of Edie tax-free. Solely because Edie and Thea were both women, Thea’s estate was denied the marital deduction,” the ACLU brief states.
The brief offers a convincing legal argument, but also tells a remarkable story of love and affection and dedication, a story not enough people can hear or read.
Thea Spyer was born in Amsterdam in 1931. “Having lost her mother as an infant, Thea not only knew great sadness, but as a Jew witnessed first-hand the devastation wrought by Nazi Germany. Thea was fortunate enough to be able to flee Amsterdam with her stepmother at the outbreak of the Second World War, thereby escaping the Holocaust.”
Edie Windsor was born in 1929, in Philadelphia. “Edie’s parents struggled for financial security during the Great Depression, and her family lost its home when she was a child.”
Both women went to college and pursued professional careers. Spyer was a clinical psychologist and Windsor, a systems programmer.
The women met at a restaurant in New York City in 1963, when they shared their first dance and many more — Windsor danced a hole through the bottom of one of her stockings.
“After that first night dancing together, Edie and Thea occasionally saw each other at parties over the next two years,” the brief states. “At these parties, they would start dancing, and their respective dates would stand frustrated on the side of the dance floor with their coats on, waiting for Edie and Thea to separate.”
Dating and courtship led to an engagement in 1967. It was a lengthy engagement, lasting until 2007, when the two women married. “Having spent virtually their entire lives caring for each other in sickness — including Thea’s long, brave battle with multiple sclerosis — and in health, Thea and Edie were able to spend the last two years of Thea’s life together as married,” the ACLU states.
We can laugh at the thought of Windsor dancing a hole in her stocking.
And the hole in our system that drains us financially and scoffs at our commitments even as we mourn our husbands and wives? The courts are our hope now.

Westboro Church Gets Tires Slashed

Crosspost from JoeMyGod.com

OKLAHOMA: Westboro Church Gets Tires Slashed, Locals Refuse To Perform Repairs

Members of Westboro Baptist Church returned to their minivan to find its tires slashed after their picket of the funeral of a McAlester, Oklahoma soldier. And every shop in town refused to make any repairs.
As their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police. The minivan finally pulled over several blocks away in a shopping center parking lot, where AAA was called. A flatbed service truck arrived and loaded up the minivan. Assistant Police Chief Darrell Miller said the minivan was taken to Walmart for repairs. Even before the protesters discovered their damaged tires, they faced off with a massive crowd of jeering and taunting counterprotesters at Third Street and Washington Avenue, two blocks from the First Baptist Church, where the soldier's funeral was held. Miller estimated that crowd to number nearly 1,000 people, and they not only drowned out the Westboro protesters with jeers, but with raucous chants of "USA, USA." A few motorcyclists interspersed among the crowd also revved up their engines to muffle the protests.

What a Kid !

The 14-year-old, who is openly gay, bravely stood up for his teacher, Jay McDowell at a recent school board meeting. McDowell was disciplined on October 20 for removing two students who had made anti-gay remarks in class. During his speech in support of his teacher, Taylor revealed his problems with bullying and a suicide attempt at the age of 9.
Watch young Taylor's very mature and highly inspiring speech.

Friday, November 12, 2010

For My Transgender Friends

There is a transgender character on Nickelodeon's Teen Nick channel  Degrassi: The Next Generation.  As you can imagine there is a big stink from the extremists. I love it .
You will need to click here to see the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiF3obhlLIo

Something funny!

Something funny from our friends to the north at Canada's 22 Minutes .

Not Your Average Celebrity Clip

I am sure Cindy and John have some interesting conversations over dinner.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What has he done for us lately?‏

I want to thank my friend Louise Harmony for sending this .

 update on our president:

                                   The 244 ACCOMPLISHMENTS of PRESIDENT OBAMA
• Ordered the White House and all federal agencies to respect the Freedom of Information Act and overturned Bush-era limits on accessibility of federal documents (2009)
• Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible (2009)
• Placed limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House (2009)
• Placed limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration (2009)
• Signed a measure strengthening registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists (2009)
• Ordered that lobbyists must be removed from and are no longer permitted to serve on federal and White House advisory panels and boards (2009) * Note: After saying he would not hire lobbyists, a few have been hired in the Administration
• Companies and individuals who are delinquent on their taxes or owe back taxes are no longer allowed to bid for federal contracts (2009)
• Initiated the “e-Rulemaking Initiative” (in cooperation with Cornell University) to allow for online public “notice and comment” of federal laws and initiatives (2010)
• Issued the “Open Gov Directive” ordering all Cabinet departments to promote transparency and citizen participation in their policies (2010)
• Signed extensions on banning lobbyists from serving on agency boards (2010)
• Developed the “Don Not Pay List” with data on contractors and recipients of federal funds who are deemed to be ineligible because of fraud and abuse (2010)
• The White House website now provides information on all economic stimulus projects and spending, along with an unprecedented amount of information on our government (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era practice of circumventing established FDA rules for political reasons (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era practice of having White House staff rewrite the findings of scientific and environmental regulations and reports when they disagreed with the results (2009)
• Limited the salaries of senior White House aides (salaries cut to $100,000) (2009)
• Has urged Congress to adopt “Pay-Go” (whereby each dollar of spending is offset by a dollar in cuts or revenues, which was used in the `90s but abandoned in the `00s) (2010)
• Has been holding open meetings with Republican leaders, although they complain of a lack of access and information (2010)
• Signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2010) * Note: To curb wasteful spending
• Tasked federal agencies to develop plans for disposing of unneeded real estate and then to eliminate unnecessary or non-economical lands, properties, etc. (2010)
• Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane (which wasn’t even used in Iraq/Afghanistan) and other outdated weapons systems (2009)
• Announced his intention to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay (2009) * Note: The closure has been delayed due to massive opposition but it remains on the agenda.
• Stated his interest in housing terrorists at a new federal “super max” facility in the US (2009) * Note: this has been delayed in the face of massive opposition but it remains on the agenda
• Cut the expensive Reagan era missile defense program, saving $1.4 billion in 2010 (2009)
• Cancelled plans to station anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic (2009)
• Replacing long-range, expensive missile systems with more efficient smaller systems (2009)
• Increased US Navy patrols off the Somali coast in response to pirating (2009)
• Established a new cyber security office and appointed a cyber security czar (2009)
• Ordered the first nation-wide comprehensive cyber threat assessment (2009)
• Instituted a new Nuclear Posture Review, revising US nuclear deterrence policy to encourage more nations to join the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2010) * Note: Components of the policy include: a pledge to stop nuclear testing; a pledge to not build a new generation of nucs; identifying nuclear terrorism, rather than a launch from another nuclear state, as the major threat; a pledge to not use nucs on a non-nuclear state in a conventional conflict; etc.
• Executive orders to block payment, transfers, exports, etc… of individuals and organizations support the regimes of North Korea, Iran, Somali pirates, and other foreign threats (2010)
• Presidential Memoranda to extend certain provisions of The Trading with Enemies Act which was to expire in September 2010 (2010) * Note: This includes freezing assets and banning trade that benefits the Cuban regime; however further efforts at normalizing travel to Cuba are supported
• Signed bill for southwest border security and increased funds and agents on the Mexican border (2010)
• Signed the Comprehensive Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act to deal with foreign regimes like Iran and North Korea (2010)
• Began the phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq (2009); continuing the withdrawal (2010)
• Changed the US military command in the Afghan conflict (2009)
• Tasked the Pentagon to reorganize US policy in Afghanistan; the new policy includes 30,000 additional troops deployed, priority training of Afghan forces, developing agriculture and infrastructure, limiting aerial bombing, etc. (2009)
• Ordered the Pentagon to send additional helicopters to assist US Marine units and Special Forces in Afghanistan (2009)
• Increased unmanned drone strikes on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date (2009)
• Ordered the Pentagon to cover expenses of families of fallen soldiers if they wish to be on site when the body arrives back in the US (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era “blackout” imposed on media coverage of the return of fallen US soldiers (2009) * Note: The media is now permitted to cover the story pending adherence to respectful rules and with the approval of the fallen soldier’s family
• Ended the Bush-era “black out” policy on media coverage of war casualties (2009) * Note: Full information is now released for the first time in the War on Terror
• Ordered better body armor to be procured for US troops (2009)
• Funding new Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles (2009) * Note: The old Hummers were very vulnerable to roadside explosives and an alarming percentage of our soldiers lost in Iraq were on account of IEDs
• Working to increase pay and benefits for military personnel (2009)
• Improving housing for military personnel (2009)
• Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses (2009)
• Ordered that conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other neglected military hospitals be improved (2009)
• Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military to a post-Cold War, modern fighting force (2009) * Note: Bush announced in 2001 his intention to do this but backed off the reforms after 9/11, which include: new procurement policies; increasing the size of Special Ops units; deploying new technologies; creating new cyber security units; etc.
• Ended the Bush-era practice of awarding “no-bid” defense contracts (2009)
• Improving benefits for veterans as well as VA staffing, information systems, etc. (2009)
• Authorized construction of additional health centers to care for veterans (2009)
• Suspended the Bush-era decision to purchase a fleet of Marine One helicopters from suppliers in favor of American made helicopters (2009)
• Ordered a review of the existing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military (2010)
• New GI Bill for returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan (2009)
• Signed bill providing assistance for caregivers of veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010) * Note: The omnibus bill does the following: Training, funding, and counseling for caregivers; promoting pilot childcare programs for women vets under treatment at the VA; independent oversight to prevent abuse; readjustment counseling for National Guard and reservist units; etc.
• Eliminated co-payments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled (2010)
• Fulfilled campaign promise to have combat troops (90,000) out of Iraq by August 31, 2010 (2010)
• Established a new interagency task force to assist veterans owning small businesses (2010) * Note: The efforts include promoting federal contract opportunities, improve access to loans and capital, mentor assistance programs, etc.
• Signed The Families of Fallen Heroes Act, which covers the moving costs of immediate family members of those lost in service (military, intelligence, and security personnel) (2010)
• Closed the Bush-era “secret detention” facilities in Eastern Europe (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era policy allowing “enhanced interrogation” (torture); the US is again in compliance with Geneva Convention standards (2009) * Note: Obama has permitted some controversial interrogation techniques to continue
• Restarted international nuclear non-proliferation talks and reestablished international nuclear inspection protocols (2009) * Note: Bush withdrew from non-proliferation talks and dismantled the inspection infrastructure
• Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush
• Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush
• Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office (2009)
• Banned the export of cluster bombs (2009)
• Overturned Bush-era plans to increase the US nuclear arsenal (2009)
• Authorized the Navy SEALS operation that freed by force the US shipping captain held by Somali pirates (2009)
• Restored the US commitment to the UN population fund for family planning; overturned the ban on providing funds internationally for family planning (2009) * Note: The family planning efforts were suspended under Bush
• Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return “home” to visit families (2009)
• Extended an offer of engagement (free from sanctions and penalties) to Iran through December 31, 2009 (Iran did not accept the offer) (2009)
• Sent envoys to the Middle East and other parts of the world, reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy (2009)
• Authorized discussions with North Korea and the private mission by former president, Bill Clinton, to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons (2009)
• Authorized discussions with Myanmar and the mission by Senator Jim Web to secure the release of an American held captive (2009)
• Renewed loan guarantees for Israel (2009)
• Signed the USIFTA trade agreement with/for Israel (2009)
• Authorized a $550m advance for Israel (six months prior to the scheduled date) in order to accommodate Israeli’s economic and financial needs (2009)
• Continued agreements with Israel for cultural exchanges, immigration, etc. (2009)
• Spoke on Arab television, spoke at an Egyptian university, and met with Arab leaders in an effort to change the tone of US-Arab relations (2009)
• Ordered the US to finally pay its dues to the United Nations (2009)
• Attended the Summit of America’s meeting in Trinidad and Tobago (2010)
• Dispatched several envoys and initiated talks with numerous nations (2010)
• Signed a nuclear limitation treaty with Russia (2010) * Note: The agreement calls for both countries to reduce their nucs by one-third (1,500) and launch systems by half (800)
• Hosted nuclear non-proliferation summit for several nations (2010)
• Executive Order to establish support offices in the State Department to assist the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan (2010)
• Presidential Memoranda to continue drug interdiction support with Columbia (2010)
• Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) (2009) * Note: Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to not make infrastructure a priority
• Authorized the US auto industry rescue plan and two GMAC rescue packages (2009)
• Authorized the housing rescue plan and new FHA residential housing guarantees (2009)
• Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan (2009) * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police  officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls
• Instituted a new rule allowing the public to meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (in as quickly as one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying (2009)
• Authorized a continuation of the US financial and banking rescue plans initiated at the end of the Bush administration and authorized TARP funds to buy “toxic assets” from failing financial institutions (2009)
• Authorized the “Cash for Clunkers” program that stimulated auto sales and removed old, inefficient, polluting cars from the road (2009)
• Convened a “jobs summit” to bring experts together to develop ideas for creating jobs (2009)
• Ordered the FDIC to beef up deposit insurance (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era policy of protecting credit card companies (2009) * Note: In place of the old policy, new consumer protections were instituted and the industry’s predatory practices were banned
• Authorized the federal government to make more loans available to small businesses and ordered lower rates for federal loans to small businesses (2009)
• Placed a 35% tariff on Chinese tires and a few other products such as pipes after China was found to be illegally “dumping” exports below cost (2009) * Note: Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan all refused to “get tough” on China’s predatory trade practices; Bush II refused four times during his presidency
• In November 2009, Obama extended unemployment benefits for one million workers
and expanded coverage for some existing homeowners who are buying again (2009)
• Called on Congress to deliver a “Jobs bill” (2010)
• Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010)
• Signed a bill to extend unemployment benefits set to expire (2010)
• Signed historic Wall Street reform bill (2010) * Note: Designed to reregulate and end abusive practices and promote consumer protections
• Signed the HIRE Act to stimulate the economic recovery (2010) * Note: The bill includes: tax cuts for small businesses who hire someone unemployed for at least two months; small businesses can write off their investments in equipment this year; etc.
• National Export Initiative established to enhance federal support (technical assistance, training, trade missions, etc.) and coordination efforts to help US businesses export products and services (2010)
• Initiatives to promote a “Wireless Broadband Revolution” (2010) * Note: Among other things, broadband is finally being considered as necessary infrastructure, with efforts to expand use, access, and spectrum…
• Expanded agricultural credit to farmers during current economic crisis (2010)
• Signed bill - US Manufacturing Enhancement Act (2010)
• Signed bill - Single Family Housing Mortgage Insurance (2010)
• Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks to permit the US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs (2009) * Note: The new policy promotes in-sourcing investments to brings jobs back to the US
• Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provides small tax cuts for 95% of “working families” (2009) * Note: The tax cuts were not as big as was suggested during the 2008 campaign
• Convened an advisory board that is looking into simplifying the tax code (2009)
• Ordered the closing of offshore tax safe havens (for individual and business tax evaders) (2009)
• Reduced taxes for some small businesses to stimulate the economic recovery (2009)
• Extended the Home Buyers Credit for first-time home buyers (2009)
• Proposed doubling the child tax credit (2010)
• Called for the repeal of the capital gains tax for small businesses (2010)
• Proposed rolling back the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (2010) * Note: This would be for families earning over $250,000/year and would return their tax rates to the 1990’s level
• Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut federal spending (2009)
• Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify wasteful spending and practices (2009)
• Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient (2009)
• Overturned the Bush-era practice of not listing certain federal programs in the federal budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did this (so did Reagan) in an effort to hide programs and make the budget look smaller; such “off budget” items are now included in the annual budget
• Full appropriations for war are now included in the budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did not list many of the appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan, and War on Terror
• Funds for emergency appropriations are now included in the budget (2009) (2010)
• Proposed a three-year freeze on federal discretionary spending beginning in 2011 (2010)
• Is in the process of cutting 120 federal programs identified as either wasteful or unnecessary (2010)
• Established a bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility, staffed by House and Senate members and private citizens, tasked with submitting proposals to balance the budget (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down
• Established a bipartisan commission on the future of Social Security, tasked with submitting proposals to preserve and strengthen Social Security (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down
• Cut $20 billion from federal budget and has pledged to cut at least this much every year (2010)
• Ultimately decided to cancel planned new presidential helicopter fleet and stick with marine One (2010)
• Freezing all discretionary spending for next three years, except on national security (2010)
• Presidential Memoranda to freeze discretionary awards, bonuses, etc. for federal political appointees (2010)
• Beginning to use “Pay-As-You-Go” (Pay-Go) to offset budget expenditures with budget cuts or revenue enhancements (2010)
• Removed Bush era restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research (2009)
• Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research (2009)
• Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children (2009)
• Established an independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare (2009)
• Reversed some of the Bush-era restrictions that prevented Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical firms for cheaper drugs, allowing government to again competitively bid (2009) * Note: Obama had promised to lift all restrictions but, while he did negotiate with drug companies for them to lower their costs the deal only lifted some restrictions
• Expanding government vaccination programs (2009)
• Issued new disease prevention guidelines and priorities for the CDC (2009)
• Authorized the FDA to finally begin regulating tobacco (2009)
• Tasked federal labs to prioritize research on and deployment of H1N1 vaccines (2009)
• Asked multiple congressional committees to bring forward a healthcare reform bill; held dozens of public hearings and town halls on the issue (2009) (2010)
• Established a new council on National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health to be chaired by Surgeon General and charged with promoting healthy lifestyles and integrative healthcare (2010)
• When accusations to the contrary arose, an Executive Order was signed to reaffirm that federal funds are not to be used for abortion services (2010)
• Historic healthcare reform bill signed - $940 billion over 10 years (2010) * Note: 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage and costs will be lowered for most Americans, but many of the goals are phased in over four years
Components of the bill
- Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals/family members with pre-existing health conditions; a temporary plan is being developed to cover high-risk individuals with pre-existing conditions until the full reforms go into effect in 2014
- Prevents insurance companies from placing lifetime limits on benefits
- Bans “rescission” so insurance companies can’t cancel coverage if individuals keep their policies current or if they become ill
- An individual’s out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are capped
- Closes the “donut hole” (Part D) for Medicare prescription drug coverage (under Bush, Medicare helped pay for drugs up to $2,600 and above $4,550, but individuals had to pay 100% of the costs in between these amounts); now Medicare helps cover costs irrespective of the amount – seniors will now pay only 25% of drug costs up to $4,550 and only 5% of drug costs above that amount
- In 2010, an emergency provision will offer seniors a $250 rebate on the costs incurred within the “donut hole”
- Individuals living at or below the poverty line were eligible for healthcare under Medicaid, but by 2014 individuals/families living slightly above (making up to $14,404/$29,327) the poverty line will also be eligible for benefits
- Individuals/families making less than $43,320/$88,200 per year will qualify for government subsidies to help purchase health insurance
- All individuals must have health insurance or face a government fine; all large (over 50 employees) employers must offer health insurance to employees or pay a fine
- Small businesses can get a tax credit if they offer health care
- There are hardship exemptions if individuals can’t afford health insurance
- Families can keep their children in college on their plans through age 26
- Promotes health insurance “exchanges” so consumers can buy “wholesale”
- Creates consumer assistance offices to help consumers file complaints or appeal decisions from insurance companies; beginning in 2011, insurance companies can no longer make excessive rate hikes without justification and approval, and those doing so may be barred from participating in new health insurance exchanges
Funding sources:
- Large employers (over 50 workers) that don’t offer health benefits will be charged a $2,000/worker fee; if the employer offers coverage but employees instead purchase federally subsidized insurance the fee is $3,000/worker receiving federal subsidies or $750/worker (whichever is lower)
- Annual fees on pharmaceutical companies ($27 billion), health insurance companies ($60 billion), and medical device-makers ($20 billion)
- Annual penalties on individuals who do not have health insurance (up to a maximum of $695/person)
- Increase in the Medicare payroll tax from 1.45% to 2.35% for individuals making $200,000+ and families making $250,000+
- 3.8% tax on unearned income for millionaires
- Insurance companies will be subject to a tax on each high-end insurance plan (so-called “Cadillac” plans) they offer
- Illegal immigrants are not eligible for insurance or subsidies
- By Executive Order, such federal funding can’t be used for abortion
- The federal government will assist states by covering all of the increased expenses of expanding Medicaid coverage (90% of costs after 2020)
• Removed a ruling that now allows individual states to enact automotive fuel efficiency standards above federal standards (2009)
• Offered attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles (2009)
• Overturned Bush-era rule that weakened the Endangered Species Act (2009)
• Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions (2009)
• Signed a measure requiring energy producing plants to begin producing 15% of their energy from renewable sources (2009)
• Announced that the federal government would reengage in the long-delayed effort to clean up “Superfund” toxic waste sites (2009)
• Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s energy reform was killed by Senate Republicans
• Proposed a new refuge for wild mustangs (2009)
• Cancelled several Bush-era mountain-top removal and mining permits (2009)
• Reengaged in international treaties and agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009)
* Note: Bush had withdrawn from such efforts
• Asked Congress for an energy reform and “cap and trade” bill (2009) * Note: The Congress failed to pass such a bill
• Developing plan to lease US coastal waters for wind and water-current energy production (2009)
• Overturned Bush-era policies that allowed uranium mining near national parks such as the Grand Canyon (2009)
• Expanded the Petrified Forest National Park (2009)
• Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act that protects millions of acres of scenic, historic, and recreational lands and trails (2009)
• Requiring that government buildings and facilities be retrofitted to save energy costs (2009) * Note: These green retrofits are moving very slowly
• Authorized studies in several western states to determine how to support large-scale solar installations (2009)
• Attended the Copenhagen talks and, after the talks were stalled, negotiated an international (voluntary) agreement on reducing carbon emissions and raising funds to assist developing nations in offsetting carbon emissions (2009)
• Banned importation of pythons in response to a growing population of pythons damaging the Florida Everglades (2009)
• Committing the federal government to increasing research and use of renewable, clean energy sources such as wind, biomass, etc. (2009)
• Executive orders establishing a federal initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all federal operations (2009) (2010)
• Called for exploring the possibility of additional off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf, Atlantic, and off Alaska (but not in ANWR) (2010)
• Agreed to consider increases in nuclear energy production and requested a study on the feasibility of nuclear power plant construction (2010) * Note: Nearly all energy initiatives were defeated by Republican opposition in Congress
• Increased investment in clean energy projects (2010)
• Executive Order to develop a new strategy for and commitment to ocean and lake resources, and for scientific research on water quality (2010)
• Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (Lilly Ledbetter Bill) (2009)
• Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina, to the Supreme Court (2009)
• Held the first Seder in White House (2009)
• Appointed a diverse Cabinet and diverse White House staff (2009)
• Spoke at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization (2009)
• Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes (2009)
• Reversed the Bush-era practice of politicizing Justice Department investigations and prosecutions against political opponents (2009)
• Pushing for some of the 9/11 perpetrators to be tried in federal court (2009) * Note: The process has moved at a snail’s pace and, in the face of opposition, Obama has remained quiet
• Signed an extension of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Bill to provide federal research and support for treating the disease (2009)
• Allowed the State Department of offer same-sex benefits for employees (2009)
• Proposed that the Pentagon repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; placed a “freeze” on current efforts to remove alleged homosexuals from the military (2009)
• After eight years of neglect, the Justice Department and EEOC are again enforcing employment discrimination laws (2009)
• Convened the White House Tribal Nations Conference, inviting representatives from 564 federally-recognized Indian tribes (2009)
• Provided increased school projects for Indian lands and increased funds for the Indian Health Service (2009)
• Signed an Executive Order mandating that his Cabinet develop plans to work with and consult Indian tribes on issues impacting Indian lands (2009)
• Commissioned a study to develop alternatives to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)
• Called for federal agencies to look into recognizing gay partnerships in terms of benefits (2010)
• Signed an Executive Order for the President’s Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)
• Increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)
• Signed Executive Order to promote the federal government as a “model employer” when it comes to hiring the disabled (2010) * Note: This includes new efforts to increase the recruitment, hiring, and training for the disabled
• Programs to assist Spanish speakers with the US Census (2010)
• Elena Kagen appointed to Supreme Court (2010)
• Tasked all federal agencies to develop new strategies to address HIV/AIDS (2010)
• After organizing studies on the topic in 2009, tasked the Pentagon to eliminate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)
• Signed Fair Sentencing Act (2010) * Note: The Administration continues to deescalate marijuana interdiction and raids; increased dramatically the amount of cocaine one must possess to be sentenced to jail; eliminated mandatory sentencing for first-time drug abusers and simple possession
• Authorized construction funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access in K-12 public schools (2009)
• Increased funding for school construction (2009)
• Increased funding available for student loans (2009)
• Expanded the national youth service program (2009)
• Streamlined the federal student loan process to save $87 billion over the next 10 years (2009)
• Changed the rule to allow students struggling to make college loan payments to refinance their loans (2009)
• Beginning discussions with Congress for education reform (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s education reform has been sidelined by opposition in Congress
• Initiated a “Race to the Top” competitive federal grant program for states who develop innovative policies (2009)
• Instituted a “judgment review” allowing families with student loans to petition to have their current financial status determine the loan rather than the previous year’s finances (2009)
• Launched “Educate to Innovate,” a public/private partnership making $236 million available for science, mathematics, and technology education programs (2009)
• Proposed capping the maximum amount students must pay on student loans (as percentage of their income) (2010)
• Proposed reducing student loan obligations for individuals going to work in community and public service jobs (2010)
• The federal government will offer direct student loans, cutting out the cost of private banks (“middle man”) who increase the costs in order to make a profit (2010)
• Increased investment in technologies for schools/education (2010)
• Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness (2009)
• FEMA once again reports directly to the president (2009) * Note: Bush removed FEMA (prior to the Hurricane Katrina disaster) from this status
• Demonstrated an immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters (2009)
• Ordered that funds be released and red tape be streamlined for the ongoing Hurricane Katrina recovery effort in the Gulf Coast (2009)
• Timely and massive relief effort in response to the January 2010 earthquake and ensuing humanitarian crisis (2010)
Components of the response:
- The FBI’s National Center for Disaster Fraud was tasked to look into possible fraud with organizations soliciting funds for relief
- Announced the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund
- Established an emergency Haiti Task Force in the State Department
- Established a website with information, resources, and a posting of a “person finder” online to help families and friends to locate loved ones
- Joint aid and relief planning with the U.K.
- Sponsored a resolution in the UN Security Council for additional security and police forces in Haiti
- Dispatched the US Navy floating hospital (USNS Comfort) and, within 5 days, 9 naval and relief ships, 5 Coast Guard cutters, 8 Coast Guard aircraft, and 12,000 US military personnel
- Initial dispatch of several ships and cargo planes full of humanitarian aid and supplies, 6 search/rescue teams (500 personnel), and 265 Department of Health & Human Services personnel for emergency medical and aid support
- Established a mobile US air traffic control center at the destroyed airport in Port-au-Prince
• After the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a freeze was placed on new deep water projects (2010)
• Executive Order to establish new security measures to minimize accidental release of bio and chemical agents; new strategies for public health and bioterrorism response (2010)
• Established a national commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon spill to examine facts and report a plan of action; new efforts to prevent offshore spills (2010)
• After a slow start in responding to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the White House is promoting a long-term plan to reconstruct the damaged Gulf and negotiated with BP the establishment of a multi-billion dollar trust fund for victims of the spill (2010)
• Extended national flood insurance program for those in need during current economic crisis (2010)
• New federal funding for science and research labs (2009)
• Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program (2009)
• Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program (2009)
• Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud (2009)
• Ordered the DEA to stop raids on medical marijuana usage (2009)
• Ordered a review of existing “mandatory minimum” prison sentencing (2009)
• Signed an order to limit airport tarmac delays and the time passengers had to sit in the plane/on the tarmac during delays (2009)
• Restored the EPA to “Cabinet level” status (2009) * Note: Bush removed the EPA from this status
• Beginning discussions with Congress for comprehensive immigration reform (2010)
* Note: Much of Obama’s immigration reform had been stalled by opposition in Congress
• Commissioned expert panels and reports from NASA; announced a new direction for human space flight that involves funding a new heavy lift-launcher and jettisoning the Ares 1 program; boosting NASA’s budget by $1 billion in 2011 (2010)
• Ordered a ban on text-messaging for all commercial truck and bus drivers (2010)
• Signed bill – FAA Air Transportaiton Modernizatin and Safety Improvement Act (2010)
• The Obamas paid for the renovations of the private living quarters in the White House with their own money rather than using the funds provided to all new first families (2009)
• The Obamas reused many Christmas ornaments from previous White House trees rather than buy new ones (2009)
• The Obamas used LED energy-saving lights on White House Christmas tree (2009)
• Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; donated the award money for the prize to several charities (2009)
• Planted a garden for the White House’s vegetables and flowers (2009)
• Installed a swing set/playground for the Obama daughters and children of White House employees (2009)
• Held over 150 public town halls, press conferences, interviews, etc. in first year in office (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not available on such things, but this seems to be a new record high
• Less than 30 days of vacation in first year in office (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not readily available on such things, but this seems to be a new record low
B4B NOTE: Special Thanks to Robert P. Watson, Ph. D., Professor of American Studies, Lynn University who compiled this list and writes "Like all presidents, Barack Obama has made mistakes. But, as a presidential historian, I have been struck by claims being put forward by Obama’s many critics and the news media that he has accomplished little when, in fact, his presidency is easily one of the most active in history." And Thanks to our friend Sherry Lou Meeks.
Thank You Mr. President !
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