Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tim Tebow has God on his side!

[AP Photo by Julie Jacobson]

Over the past year or two, we've had some fun with Tim Tebow and his religious pretentions - praying and placing Bible verses on his face while playing football for the University of Florida and the Denver Broncos.
We have nothing against Tim Tebow.  He is no doubt a fine, young man.  

However, I am sick to death of this kind of in-your-face Christianity espoused by Tebow and others who think they have been called to save the world.  I'm sick of that kind of religion and those who preach it because the reality is their god is a small, incompetent pissant who can do nothing about tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, famine, floods, drought, cancer, TB, unemployment, anti-Semitism, racism, or war ... 

Hell, their god is such a numbskull he (it's always a "he") can't even shut up  asshats like Bachmann and Santorum and Romney and Gingrich, who claim to speak in his name.

Yet they seem to think that this pissant of a god gives a damn about football games and a quarterback named Tebow!  Take a bow, Tebow!!!


Tebow and his co-religionists are convinced that their god will give everyone whatever it is they pray for and eventually eternal life if they turn their hearts over to Jesus and be converted to this egregious form of fundamentalist Christianity.  

What the heck, their god might even help Tebow win a football game if he gets down on his knees and makes an ass of himself in front of millions of people every week.

It's rather amusing, really.  Tebow, who claims to love Jesus, does just the opposite of what Jesus commands.  Jesus hated public displays of piety because he knew they were inherently hypocritical.  That's why he counseled his followers not to pray on street corners (football fields) but rather go into a closet and pray SECRETLY to Yahweh!

Tebow must have missed that particular teaching!  Among other things.



My good friend, Bob Poris, after following the antics of Mr. Tebow on the gridiron, had this to say:

According to Tebow, he has God on his side when he plays. Is that fair and ethical? If an opposing player is a Muslim or a Jew, do they all pray to the same God? If so, how come Tebow gets God on his side most of the time? Are there no rules that limit outside help for a player? Should there be?



If players of other religions or none at all, win or lose, does that make the game a contest between Gods?


I wonder why God helps Tebow sometimes but not others. Is he busy elsewhere the days He does not help Tebow or is He upset because Jesus was not happy with those that loudly prayed in public and wore their religion on their sleeve, so to speak (in whatever the language He spoke those days.)



Personally my suggestion or request to whichever God is watching Tebow play, is that They devote more effort to saving lives anywhere -- people or pets who are in danger. There is a time to play games for money, and a time to help those in need. Praying to win a game seems selfish to me and should not be rewarded.



Where is it written that a single game of football is worthy of God’s attention? It is not mentioned in either the Old or New Testament as far as I know. I am sure it is not in the Koran or in any of the holy books in the Eastern religions. If Tebow has a losing streak will he continue to devote himself to Jesus or pursue some other endeavor?

Friday, December 30, 2011

President Obama Will Win In An Overwhelming Landslide in 2012....

Frank Schaeffer writes at the Huffington Post.  He says:

America is a one party state. The Democratic Party is the sole political party in the US now.

The Republican Party is no more. It is not a normal political party... It has become a clearing house for religious fanatics, Ayn Rand groupie weirdos and angry white racists driven literally mad by seeing a black man in the White House, a black man more articulate and intelligent -- not to mention annoyingly even tempered -- than they or their bizarre leaders are.

I was a Republican activist in the 1970s and 80s. My father was a founder of the religious right and I was his sidekick. What he and I did -- sadly -- still resonates today.

For instance Michele Bachmann got into politics because of reading my father's work. I escaped -- fled -- in the early 1990s. ...

...

As Hal Crowther writes:

The Republican Party's slapstick search for a leader would be heartwarming and sidesplitting, but for the tragic knowledge that one of these scrambling midgets will collect tens of millions of votes in the presidential election of 2012. Never have so many amounted to so little, talked so much rubbish, dreamed of an office so far above their abilities. ...

The GOP dilemma -- a golden opportunity to rule but nothing to say and no one to say it -- is so desperate that my instinct is to help them sort it out. Could we make a start, at least, by dismissing candidates who called for President Obama's birth certificate or raised the specter of Sharia law in America, followed briskly off the stage by lunatics who dismiss global warming as a socialist plot?

This is what not whom, President Obama will run against in 2012. He will be running against the "party" that in the matter of the debt crisis is happy to take the whole country with them over the cliff of loony and contradictory Bible-based/Ayn Rand-inspired, ideology into economic chaos. None of which any former Republicans, let alone any actual Christians -- i.e., those who try to follow the teachings of Christ -- would recognize.

The rest of this essay as to why Obama will win overwhelmingly in 2012 - which details his very real accomplishments and his strength of character, can be read here.

For example, Obama, in spite of the total non-cooperation of the Republican Party, "Extended child tax credits and marriage-penalty fixes; killed bin Laden; increased minority access to capital; closed the 'doughnut hole' in [the] Medicare prescription drug plan, required insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions" and much more.

The concluding paragraph is blunt, to the point, and absolutely on target: "As for the 'Republicans,' there are none, just a rag-tag group of losers who have hooked their despicably low expectations to bronze-age biblical myths on the one hand and a cult of anti-middle-class selfishness and union-busting, job-exporting, billionaire worship on the other."

Can anyone say "Amen!"?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Your friends in the House of Representatives wish you one hell of a Merry Christmas and a bitch of a New Year!

 This is a guest post by my good friend, Bob Poris

CNN Breaking News!

Speaker John Boehner said Monday morning that he expects the House to reject the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut bill that the Senate approved on Saturday.  Boehner also said he expects the House to pass legislation reinforcing the need for a one-year extension and wants the matter to be taken up by a House-Senate conference committee.  

A Senate Democratic aide told CNN that the chances were "zero" that the Senate would return to Washington from its holiday recess to continue negotiating with the House on the issue.

The payroll tax cut extension expires at the end of the year and is worth roughly $1,000 a year for an average family. 

Commentary by Bob Poris:

I assume most people reading this are not directly affected by the monumental stupidity of the House, nor are our elected representatives who created this monumental stupidity.   About 47% of our representatives are millionaires!  The rest are well paid and have taken care of themselves through their government jobs.

It is sad that so many formerly working people at all levels are now homeless or out of work - in most cases through no fault of their own!  When the government checks stop coming for those dependent upon them, I guess they will find ways to survive or die. 

Because most of the members of the House claim to love Jesus, it behooves us to ask, "What would Jesus say?  What would Jesus do?"  Charitable organizations are having a difficult time during this Great Recession with more people to help with less funding.  

A minister who belongs to a discussion group I attend told me that God has a plan and will provide.  This minister has done well with his Army retirement, his VA benefits, etc., added to his current salary as a minister. 

God has provided for him, along with help from our socialist government programs, e.g. government retirement and veteran's benefits.  He dislikes Obama and Obama's "socialist" secret goals. 

The minister is very opposed to Obamacare and wants the government to get out of his life, with some exceptions, of course.  I did not ask him what Jesus would say about such hypocrisy as he is sensitive to questions like that.  

I am lucky to live in a gated, senior community, so I do not see those in need or the sick who try to survive without health care. I do hear of many that were forced to sell and move as their retirement funds were insufficient to handle their losses in the stock market, or the depletion of their retirement agreements. 

I do not see all the children who are living in cars or motels because they have no other homes.  I don't know what happens to them when the government checks stop.   CBS' 60 Minutes did two segments that focused on the huge numbers of homeless children and families here in Central Florida. I hope the charities can help them but know they are having trouble too.
 
I am trying to learn to ignore them all but am having trouble saying that God will provide.



From CNN:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Monday he will not agree to reopen negotiations with House leaders on a payroll tax cut until the House passes the two-month extension already approved by the Senate.

Earlier Monday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he expected the House to reject the tax cut bill that the Senate approved Saturday.

Boehner also said that he expected the House to pass legislation reinforcing the need for a one-year extension and that he wanted the matter to be taken up by a House-Senate conference committee.  Reid said in a statement that, "My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today. If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans, their intransigence will mean that in ten days, 160 million middle class Americans will see a tax increase, over two million Americans will begin losing their unem ployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians."

The payroll tax cut extension expires at the end of the year and is worth roughly $1,000 a year for an average family. 


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all from our wonderful representatives in Washington.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Catholic bishops, cretins, pedophiles and birth control




 [Photo by AP/J. Scott Applewhite.  OrlandoSentinel.com]

I am so damn sick of religious people insisting that it's their way or the highway.  It matters not what religion or what cult within any religion, they are all the same.  Give the religious a little power and they will do everything within their power to force the rest of the world to believe as they do and act as they say.

That's the road the Roman Church has taken, all the way from the Nicene Council in the 4th century to the seat of American episcopacy in the 21st century.  When the so-called "orthodox" took control in 381 CE, they immediately banned all books they didn't like and required everyone to toe their theological line.  Those who dared disobey the orthodox bishops were killed and their books were burned.  If the American bishops had their way today they might not kill, but you can be sure that no one would be able to publicly or privately disagree with them or print anything not approved by the Vatican!

Down through the years, there has been no religion more horrendous and murderous than the Christian religion, represented mainly by the Roman Church.  Those defined as heretics were routinely burned at the stake.  So-called witches were raped by priests and then brutally murdered.  Jews were sought out and killed wherever they were found.  Dissent was disallowed and mercilessly suppressed.

Protestants were no better.  Martin Luther was a vicious hater and had no problem killing those who opposed him.  He took the side of the princes rather than the peasants in a war where thousands were slaughtered!  Luther hated Jews with a passion, and the book he wrote on the Jews became the blueprint for Adolph Hitler's "Final Solution."  John Calvin, representing another Protestant faction, actually killed one of his closest supporters who dared oppose him as Calvin became more insane.


Today, in the United States, the Roman Church does not have the power to torture, maim or kill dissenters.  But that does not deter them from attempting to force their beliefs on every man, woman and child in the country!

The issue of the moment is birth control.  Because the Roman Church has medieval and non-scientific views on sexual issues and behavior and because it has hitched it's wagon to an other-worldly mythical theology (which even the ancient Greeks would reject), it promotes the notion that sex is only for procreation and not recreation!  Therefore, anything that gets in the way or procreation is taboo.  They have the audacity to claim this is the will of God.

It's fascinating that a bunch of celibate, male, priestly characters running around in dresses would claim the right to circumscribe the sexual behavior of normal human beings!  Not only so, but the Roman Church, filled as it is with the worst hypocrites, has no moral authority whatsoever.  That ship, as they say, sailed long ago.

Studies have shown that somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of Roman Catholic priests are homosexuals.  Not that that is necessarily bad except for the fact that the church teaches homosexuality is a disorder of creation and homosexual behavior is a sin!  Every gay priest is living a hypocritical life!

I'm not sure of the percentage of priests and nuns who are child-abusers and pedophiles, but many thousands of Catholic children are suffering long-term damage from the treatment received at the hands of these cretinous "religious" leaders.  Almost every day a new story appears in the media related to child sexual abuse by priests who are supposed to be mediators of God's love in the world!


Now, the Roman Catholic bishops in the USA (these are the same bishops who, for years, have used every device at their disposal to hide and cover up the sexual abuse of their clergy!) are lobbying hard to make it more difficult, if not impossible, to obtain birth control devices in this country.  Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance providers are required to provide contraceptives without a co-pay.  Note this applies to "private" insurance plans.  This has nothing to do with government money or government insurance plans.

Note also there is an exemption for certain religious groups.  Irin Carmon, writing at Salon, says, "An institution which provides its employees with health benefits can qualify for it, if its major purpose is to employ and serve co-religionists - like a church.  That's not enough for the Catholic Church, which says (though possibly not in these words) that it doesn't want to subsidize the shameful non-procreative sexing of its employees at affiliated hospitals, charities and universities, whether they agree with the Church about birth control or not."

And all this in spite of the fact that studies done for a number of years have shown that a large majority of Catholic men and women have used contraceptive devices in direct opposition to the teaching of the Church!

The bishops are lobbying the Obama administration to deny those who disagree with the sexual views of these male celibates the right to "essential medical care."  We've got to hope Obama will not bow to the wishes of these bishopricks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Georgia, public schools, and the Bible

Nobody would ever mistake the state of Georgia for a progressive state.  But Georgia doth love the Bible!

There are 180 schools districts in the state of Georgia.  Public school districts.  School districts which are paid for with taxes paid to the state by its hard-working citizens.  These are not religious schools or Sunday Schools.  Because they are public school districts they are bound by the constitutional provision that the state must refrain from mixing religion with public education.  Public schools contain students of many different faiths or of no faith.  It is not the business of the public schools to teach material from any particular "holy" book for any reason.


Georgia missed that constitutional lesson along the way.  Or more likely, Georgia is flouting the law!  Forty eight of its schools districts have been conducting "Bible education classes."  Because Georgia is overrun with fundamentalist Christianists, it has been able to get away with this by claiming they don't teach any particular religion but rather the "literature" of the Bible.  But what the Bible says depends on who is interpreting it.  And the material they use interprets the Bible from a fundamentalist Christian perspective.  One example is that all the magical stories are treated as factual.


Honk, honk!  The material used in these classes is from an fundamentalist Christianist outfit called the Bible Literacy Project.  The BLP is a thinly-disguised attempt by radical Christianists to foist their religious/biblical beliefs on unsuspecting and basically ignorant young people.  It appears that you could sit through a year's worth of classes and never learn that the creation stories, the Noah story, the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David and Solomon are mythological in nature and not historical.  You can read a more detailed and scholarly analysis of BLP material here.

What's quite humorous is that while the Bible Literacy Project is less offensive than other such biblical "projects," it isn't fundamentalistic enough for the nutcases on the far right, like World Net Daily and you can get the flavor of their hostility to it here.

But however one feels about the Bible and however one interprets the Bible is irrelevant.  The Bible is not to be taught in our public schools.  Neither should the Quran be taught in our public schools.  Nor any other religious "holy" book.  Georgia has enough Christian churches to gag a god!  It seems most sensible that those churches should be the sites for Biblical "literacy," or any other biblical studies.  That's why there are churches, which, by the way pay no taxes!


Well, there's good news in and amidst the economic decline.  Because of the lack of funds, only 16 school districts are able to offer Bible classes in the coming year!  Budget cuts, you know!  That's still 16 too many, and these school districts are still in direct violation of our constitution (the Law!) but that will not deter them from what they perceive as a "good" thing.

Bible studies are not "good" things when run by fundamentalists who interpret the Bible according to their faith.  Can't really blame them, though, because if they turned that around and really understood what the Bible was and how it came to be and how it was written, they'd probably lose their faith!

So, we can rejoice that fewer young people will be exposed to a faulty understanding of the Bible.  And perhaps we can take all of this as a good sign; a sign that Georgia's school districts don't take "biblical literacy" too seriously.  When push comes to shove, economically, the first thing to go is Bible classes!  Yeah!

Now, perhaps there could be a special emphasis in history and civics classes about how our Constitution provides for a separation of church and state and how, if students want to know more about their particular religion or holy book, they should ask their parents or their pastors/priests!

Washington pours federal money (welfare) into the coffers of the wealthy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Steven Spielberg to direct epic of mythical proportions!

The Huffington Post is reporting today that Steven Spielberg has expressed an interest in directing an epic film titled "Gods and Kings."

The film would tell "Moses entire life story.  A sweeping narrative about the biblical figure's birth through death, which would include the story of the Jews' emancipation from Egypt and years in the desert..."

This is really quite humorous.  I know that Spielberg is an entertainer and doesn't worry too much about the difference between fact and fiction.  He wants to draw people in to watch his film and there's nothing wrong about that.

The funny thing is that most biblical scholars today are convinced that Moses is a mythical figure not an historical one!  Scholars of the Bible and archaeologists studying the ancient Near East have been unable to discover any external evidence for the Israelites' sojourn in Egypt, the person of Moses, the escape from Egypt, the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, or the wandering in the desert!

NO evidence whatsoever.  The Egyptians, who kept quite detailed records never mention Israelites living in their midst.  Moses is not cited in any Egyptian document.  There is nothing recorded anywhere that mentions 600,000 Israelites escaping from Egypt with the Egyptian army on their heels, or of a sea parting or the Egyptian army drowning when the parted seas came back together.

What is especially damning is the fact that archaeologists, after extensive work for many years, have yet to come up with a shred of evidence of the Israelites desert wanderings.  If 600,000 people had actually plodded around the desert for 40 years, there should be a great deal of Israelite trash and treasure buried beneath its sands!  Maybe even the Ark of the Covenant!

It is pure craziness to think that such a large group could go unnoticed for any period of time.  Egyptian police stations were placed at various intervals all the way up to Palestine.  The Egyptians would know very quickly of any large group of people in the desert.

But I guess fiction is stranger than reality; and more fun.  So, in Spielberg's epic we'll probably see Moses in his wee basket in the river.  We'll see him in the Pharoah's court.  I wonder, though, how Spielberg will film the plagues and the "passover?"  You can bet Moses will be a heroic figure as he defies Pharoah and leads his people out of the land, through the water and into the desert.  I wonder, too, if Spielberg will include the bit where Moses finds a wife out in no-man's land and adopts the religion and the god (Yahweh) of his father-in-law?  That's an interesting touch.  Could this be the same god of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and his sons, Abraham and Isaac, etc?  Nah, probably not.  Moses wouldn't have known anything about that god and those folks.  Those stories hadn't been created yet.  So, we've got a new god and new commands. 

Being an epic filmmaker of some note, you can expect Spielberg to give you a rollicking good time watching the Israelites bumping into each other in the desert; ignoring Moses and his so-called Ten Commandments; flaunting the laws of god; eating manna; worshiping a golden calf and dying by the thousands by the hand of one really pissed-off god.  And the climax will come when poor Moses, old and withered and disappointed in his people will not be allowed by his beloved Yahweh to enter the "promised land."  Poor Moses, no matter how hard he worked, no matter it wasn't his fault the Israelites were so damn stubborn, god, being a hard-nose, said Moses just didn't cut it.  No promised land for him!

Of course, the assault on and the conquering of the promised land is also mythical.  It never happened.  In fact, most everything in the Hebrew Bible never happened.  But, hey, there are some good stories, and if Spielberg wants to film one of them that's OK with me.

Except for one nagging concern:  there are already too many ignoramuses who actually believe this stuff.  If Spielberg presents it as history, it simply perpetuates ignorance and gives the Christian fundamentalists more ammo in their fight against biblical literacy and common sense!

Rick Santorum makes a fool of himself. Again.



Maybe Santorum could go live in another country; say Saudi Arabia.  His views would be welcome there and he could be a closet Christian while pretending to be a Muslim.  In this country he's really a closet Muslim extremist into Sharia-type laws while pretending to be a Christian. 

It is possible, however, that some real Christians see through him for what he is:  a bigoted, 16th Century Roman Catholic whose Christianity has no relationship to the Jesus character of the Gospels. 

Well, hell, Christianity as a whole today has little or no relationship to the Jesus character of the Gospels.  Christianity is "Paulinism in disguise."  But that's another whole article.

Rich Santorum believes single moms give the Dems an advantage!



It's hard to describe someone as despicable as is Rick Santorum.  One of the things the Roman Catholic Church could do to scrub its image is excommunicate Santorum.  Can someone be excommunicated just for being incredibly stupid and prejudiced?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

GOP contenders hate Jesus!

 Photo by Richard Shiro/AP

By and large, most of the current crop of nutcases running for the Republican nomination for president, are professing Christians solidly in the ultra-right fundamentalist camp.  They believe that Jesus was god and also the son of god who was sacrificed on a cross in Jerusalem about 30 CE. 

That sacrifice was propitiatory which means it satisfied god's blood lust.  We are all "sinners" and thus it is only right and just because God is just that God kill us for our sins.  But Jesus' death atoned for our sins; his death was a substitute for ours so now God, happy as a lark because his need for justice was satisfied, gives eternal life to all people who "confess" Jesus is god and are thereby "born  again." Those who fail to believe or accept Jesus as the sacrificial lamb whose bloody death on Calvary was necessary to earn God's forgiveness, will burn forever in hell complements of the loving creator who made them in his image.

These fundamentalist Christians also believe that Jesus is coming back soon at which time true believers will be "raptured" into heaven and the rest of us will have hell to pay.  Additionally, they are certain every word in the Bible is the word of God and absolutely true no matter what the subject matter is.  If there is ever a conflict between science and the Bible, the Bible has the last word.  Most of these fundys do not accept the theory of evolution as explanatory relative to life's origin and subsequent development, because they perceive evolution to be contrary to the ancient creation myths in Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. 


What strikes me is the fact that in spite of their protestations of profession of faith, these Republican contenders really don't know the Bible and they have no clue what the Jesus character said and did as recorded in the Gospel story(s) about him.  Or, if they do have a clue, they don't care and hate him so much they do the opposite of what he instructed his followers to do.

For example, today Michele Bachmann, perhaps the most ignorant fool of the bunch, slammed President Obama for banning the torture method of waterboarding.  She said she would, if elected, make that a tool of her fight against the Islamic terrorists.  She said waterboarding has successfully provided us with essential information about our enemies.  The rest of the contender clowns jumped on board to agree waterboarding was a wonderful addition to our arsenal of anti-terrorist weapons.

Actually, they are dead wrong on every count.  It has been shown over and over again that torture in whatever form does not work.  The person being tortured will say anything, make up anything, just to get the torture to stop.  The truth is, no matter what Dickie Cheney claims, torture has provided us with no important information.  But whether it works or not is ultimately irrelevant!  It goes against everything we stand for in this country.  It is unconstitutional!  And that's the most important indictment against it.

Finally, and this matters only to people who profess to follow Jesus, it goes against everything Jesus taught!

But consider, all these Republican pretenders to the throne claim to love Jesus.  They do not love Jesus!   They hate Jesus.  They must, for Jesus said to love your enemies, to turn the other cheek, to never resort to violence.  It is inconceivable that anyone who gives a damn about what Jesus said would condone waterboarding or any other form of torture.


These would-be presidents are hypocrites of the highest (or maybe lowest) order!  They do not love Jesus!  They hate Jesus and they refuse to follow Jesus' teachings.  They publicly deny their Lord every time they open their mouths!  They are, as one author called their type years ago, "A Generation of Vipers."


But there's more.  The Jesus of the Gospels went out of his way to take care of the sick and the needy.  The Jesus of the Gospels taught his followers to go the extra mile, to love their enemies, to turn the other cheek, and if someone wants your cloak, give him your coat, too.  He also said that we should not bear false witness!

That's not the Jesus of  Bachmann, et. al.  These Republican vipers would destroy our country's safety nets for the needy.  They fight tooth and nail every attempt to provide the poorest among us with the resources to survive in an increasingly hostile world made more so by the machinations of the richest of our brethren.  They want to torture those they perceive as enemies and lock away forever those they hate.  Perry even prides himself on how many people he has legally murdered as governor of Texas!  These vipers want to bomb a country and a people they consider to be the enemy!

As to bearing false witness, each of them lies through their teeth at every opportunity.  They lie about our president, about our Constitution, about our heritage.  They lie about their background and their beliefs.

Finally, the Jesus of the Gospels said straight out that riches will void your passport to the heavenly gates.  Rich people don't have a chance in hell of reaching paradise.  He said it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Obviously, a camel can, under no circumstances, go through the eye of a needle!

But what do these Republican vipers do?  Accumulate wealth!  As I recall ol' Newt recently blew about a quarter of a million on baubles at Tiffany's.  They defend to the death their rich friends in positions of corporate power.  As for the least among us who need health care?  Forget it!  The elderly who depend upon Social Security?  Take it down!  Privatize it and make the Wall Street barons richer!  And for those who cling to Medicare to meet their health needs?  Cut their damn benefits!

But they do not, under any circumstances, ask the rich to pay their fair share.  That's "socialism," say the vipers as if Jesus would care about labels!  In fact the New Testament indicates that the earliest followers of the Jesus character "held all things in common," and distributed resources fairly among the group as to each person's need.  Sounds like "socialism" to me.

These vipers do not believe that Bible story, either.  The actually believe Jesus was a capitalist and that's why they worry so much about our national debt (well, except when George W. Bushski ran it up by several trillion fighting illegal and stupid wars!  They didn't care about the national debt then!)


It should not be necessary to discuss religious beliefs held by people running for the presidency.  But these contender/pretenders have brought it on themselves.  They hold up themselves as paragons of virtue, or faith.  They pretend a belief in Jesus such as they have is vital for a president of the United States.

I think more and more people, watching the sickening display of amorality put on by these Republican candidates, are realizing their religious beliefs are a sham.  They are the Pharisees praying in the public square so that people will see them and thus hold them in greater esteem.  Jesus denounced those Pharisees for the hypocrites they were, just as he denounces Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich.  God, especially Gingrich.  George W. Bush is probably the only one who has done more harm to our country than Gingrich!


So, if you are a Republican and you are called upon to vote for a Republican candidate for president, remember there is no religious test.  Your vote should not be based upon the religious beliefs of any candidate.  But, if you find that a candidate's life contradicts what that candidate professes to believe, you must, in good conscience, vote for another.  Even if it's a Democrat.

One final word:  All of us are hypocrites to a certain extent.  That's only to say we do not always act in accordance with our beliefs.  So, in an election like this, what might be most important is to choose the one who is the least hypocritical, the lesser of two evils, so to speak.

At this point I can't imagine any individual with a conscience voting for any one of the current crop of Republican candidates.  Every one is a major hypocrite, a liar, and a phony and their religion is a sham!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Herman Cain, God and the GOP (Goofy Odd People) Candidates

It was inevitable, I suppose.  Just a matter of time.  One wonders, though, why old Herman didn't come forth with this revelation previously.  It doesn't make sense.  If, indeed, his god called his name and said, "Herman, I want you to run for president of the United States," then we would expect old Herman would have trumpeted this from the rooftop of every pizza place in the country!

But old Herman did not do that.  He said nothing about god calling him to run for president until today, November 12, 2011.  Old Herman's been flitting all over the country yammering about his 9-9-9 tax plan (by the way, please note if'n you turn that upside down you get 666!  Yikes.  Maybe Herman is the anti-Christ!  It's not Obama after all!  Jesus, save us!) and about how he didn't make any sexual overtures to all the women coming out of the woodwork claiming that old Herman is a groper, and about how only he's smart enough to be president 'cause he's a business man you know!

And god loves him 'cause he's against abortion.  Well, he may be against abortion but then again he thinks that women ought to be able to choose.  Nope.  That's not right, either.  Maybe old Herman can clarify his position before election time.  (It's also reported by the woodwork women that ol' Herman don't much care for the "missionary" position)!


None of this god stuff is true, of course.  Old Herman's just saying that 'cause his reputation has taken a nose dive amongst the fairer sex in the last week or so.  And it is a matter of principle with ultra-fundamentalist Christian crackpot Repugnicans running for office that god speaks to them and is backing their candidacy.

One problem is this:  Which god are we talking about? The nasty old SOB of the Hebrew Bible who loves to murder and rape and steal land?  Or are we talking about the god of the Jesus character who seems a bit more loving.  Well, until you get to the part where everyone who doesn't confess the name of Jesus will burn forever (and that's a long, long time) in terrible hellfire.  That god sounds a lot like the old SOB of the Hebrew Bible.

Doesn't matter.  Neither exist.  Well, except in the minds of people like Herman Cain who hears voices.  Oh, and Michele Bachmann who also insists that this same god called her to run for president because she so much smarter than the other mucky-mucks running against her.  Wait!  This same god has also been talking to Ricky Perry, the governor who has screwed up Texas so badly it's soon gonna lose third-world status!  Yep, Perry the guy who can't remember which multi-billion dollar agency he's going to shut down which will mess up the country so bad it will become like Texas and put thousands of people out of work, claims that god has called him to become president.  He even had a big prayer fest (for fundy Christians only) in Houston where the most radical nutcases on the Christian right came by to pump his hand and let the masses know god wants Perry in the White House.


Please read this carefully:  ANYONE who claims to speak to some unfathomable deity out in space is NOT qualified for the presidency or any other elective office.  He or she is clearly insane with an imagination that is bound by neither reason nor common sense!

This does not let Mitt or Newt off the hook.  Ol' Mitt can believe anything he wants because with his record he shouldn't be elected to any position of responsibility.  But when you add to that the nonsense that Mormons believe he's got an even bigger problem.

Gingrich, the serial adulterer, has the gift of gab, but he, too, has fallen into a snake-filled pit of religious nonsense and has not a clue as to what he's about or what he believes.  He's always been a man to seize the moment and easily bends with the prevailing wind in order to do so.

I'll just mention that other kook, the "libertarian" Ron Paul.  He may talk to god, too.  But he's so crazy not even the god of Cain, Bachmann and Perry would talk back to him!

Forget Rick Santorum.  No god would talk to that wingnut!

According to our Constitution, there is to be no religious test for political office in our country.  And that's as it should be.  But when these fruitcakes try to gain votes by pushing their religion as if their religion is the most important thing about them, the situation is turned on its head.  Now, we've got to toss them out of the presidential ring because they have established a new and unwarranted religious test!  They think that only people who believe as they do should be elected president because that is what their god wants! 

They are people of "faith."  Not a single one of them accepts the validity of science or reason.  Facts don't matter.  Faith matters.  They don't believe in climate change even though the fact and the consequences of global warming hit them in the face every single day.  God promised in their precious holy book that he would never again destroy the people of earth and they have "faith" that this promise found in an ancient folk tale written by men ignorant of the most fundamental knowledge about the earth is true.

They would destroy our country by living their "faith."

You remember James Watts, Reagan's Secretary of the Interior who argued that he need do nothing to protect the environment because the Rapture was going to happen soon and Jesus would return and it would be all over!


And now, Herman Cain, supposedly a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for president in the year 2012, said:

"I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I'm a man of faith.  I had to do a lot of praying for this one, more praying than I'd ever done before in my life.  And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses.  'You've got the wrong man, Lord.  Are you sure?"

Sadly, this resonates with millions of our fellow citizens.  We have never left the 16th century.

I'd say, "God help us," but this time we're on our own.  And we know it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Roman Catholic Church introduces new translation of the Mass...

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

...and people everywhere are confused, angry, mystified, joyous, stunned, remorseful, leaving the church, drinking excessively, and voting Democratic.

The next major topic the Roman church will take on in these perilous times is the perennial favorite, which has never been answered satisfactorily in accordance with Holy Scripture:  "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

If you have nothing better to do and like to waste time you can learn everything you want to know about the new translation of the Mass by clicking here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

God declines the support of the U.S.



If there were a god, he or she or it would most certainly find the antics of the U.S. House of Representatives, dominated by Repugnicans and too many bought-and-paid-for Democrats, amusing.  Or not.  Maybe sad.  In fact, mad!  Really mad!

God, according to the Bible, doesn't give a damn about people proclaiming their trust in him.  According to  the later Hebrew prophets, God cannot abide religious ceremonies, resolutions proclaiming trust in him/her/it and similar nonsense.  He/she/it finds them abominable.

I admit that's a minority opinion among writers of the Bible in that most of those unknown authors believed God to be about hatred and killing.  God told those writers that if the Israelites would follow his laws he would help them massacre millions of innocent and unsuspecting people throughout the ANE (Ancient Near East) and take over their land.  And sure enough, that's what he did.  So the Israelites took the land, slaughtered their male enemies, raped their women enemies and smashed the heads of their enemies' children against rocks.  If you can believe the Bible. 

However, in recent years, many biblical scholars have, through intensive study and prayer, determined that the majority opinion as presented in the Bible is a crock and all these stories do not represent the true nature of God.  They have been enlightened and now realize that God is really a loving god who wishes people to take care of each other and live in peace with one another.  They believe that the god the prophets proclaimed -- a god who desired mercy and justice -- was a better god than that old SOB who gave the legendary Moses those rules on that legendary mountain!

Thus, most biblical scholars today (biblical scholars is a phrase that does not include fundamentalist nincompoops or mega-pastor asshats!) believe that resolutions such as the one passed by the House of Representatives not only do not make God happy, but piss him/her/it off to the nth degree!

In fact, some of these scholars would go so far as to suggest that God became extremely angry when the U.S. Congress, clutched in fear of the Soviet Union, decided to change the national motto from "E Pluribus Unum" to "In God We Trust" back in 1956!

He/she/it said at the time to those who listen that the facts of the matter are these:  If there is any ONE or any THING that the United States does not trust, is God.  As a whole, the U.S. trusts money, greed, the good life, hate, war, killing, etc., but does not trust in any god in any sense.  And to blather about our trust (which is really a lack of trust) in God or how much we love God when god's people are suffering and dying because of our commitment to what we really trust -- greed and money, etc., -- makes God angry as only a god can get angry.

Look what he/she/it did to Texas after Guv. Goodhair told people to pray to God to send rain.  Texas has become a desert with its rivers and lakes dry as a bone!  Guv. Goodhair, as you know, exemplifies the commitment to money and greed over the welfare of his people more than anyone in the country;  except for the governors of Florida, Arizona, South Caroline, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Ohio ...

And that should be a warning to the posturing jackasses that inhabit the halls of the Congress of the United States!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So, who's the big tuna?



Our thanks to Greenpeace for this fine video!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Obama Record - by Professor Robert Watson, Lynn University - A most important document that should be read by all Americans!

                                  THE OBAMA RECORD


Like all presidents, Barack Obama has enjoyed accomplishments but also made mistakes. As a presidential historian, however, 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. As such, with all the misinformation circulating on talk radio, at town hall meetings, and in the blogosphere about the President, here is a fact-checked list of some of President Obama’s initiatives. At the end are some interesting factoids and misconceptions about the President.

Robert P. Watson, Ph.D.
Lynn University
October 4, 2011


 BUDGETING

• 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)
• Signed Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act (May 22, 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 (2009-2011) * Note: Bush did not list many of the appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror
• Funds for emergency appropriations are now included in the budget (2009-2011)
• Signed statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act (Feb 12, 2010) after urging 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)
• 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 (2010-2011)
• 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 (2010-2011)
• Signed Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (July 22, 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 (2010-2011)
• Presidential Memoranda to freeze discretionary awards, bonuses, etc. for federal political appointees (2010)
• Measures to promote savings in government contracting (Jan 30, 2011)
• Measures to reduce size of federal budget/signed Budget Control Act (Aug 3, 2011)


 CONSUMER PROTECTIONS

• Ended the Bush-era policy of protecting credit card companies (2009); signed Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (May 22, 2009); credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010) * Note: In place of the old policy, new consumer protections were instituted and the industry’s predatory practices were banned
• Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud (2009)
• Signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act (May 20, 2009)
• Signed Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailing Act (April 7, 2010)
• Signed measures detailing what mailed items can be marked “Census” (May 24, 2010)
• Signed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (July 21, 2010)
• Signed Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (July 27, 2010)
• Signed Social Security Number Protection Act (Dec 18, 2010)
• Signed Truth in Caller ID Act (Dec 22, 2010)
• Protections from online shopping fraud (Dec 29, 2010)
• Signed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (Jan 4, 2011)
• Enhancements to Consumer Protection Safety Commission (Aug 5, 2011)


 DISASTER RESPONSE

• 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 in Haiti and ensuing humanitarian crisis; signed emergency Aid to American Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake Act (Jan 27, 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
-          Signed Tax Breaks for Haiti Donations Act (Jan 22, 2010)

• Signed Haiti Debt Relief and Earthquake Recovery Act (April 15, 2010)
• Signed Haiti Economic Lift Program Act (May 24, 2010)
• Signed Help Haiti Act (Dec 8, 2010)
• After the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a freeze was placed on new deep water projects (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)
• 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)
• 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 (2010-2011)
• Signed Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act (June 3, 2010)
• Extended national flood insurance program for those in need during current economic crisis (2010); signed National Flood Insurance Program Extension (July 2, 2010)


 ECONOMY

• Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) (2009-2010) * 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 (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) (Feb 17, 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)
• Signed the Serve America Act (April 21, 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); due to large response to program, signed Cash for Clunkers Extension (Aug 6, 2009)
• Convened a “jobs summit” to bring experts together to develop ideas for creating jobs (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
• Ordered the FDIC to beef up deposit insurance (2009)
• Authorized the federal government to make more loans available to small businesses and ordered lower rates for federal loans to small businesses (2009) and signed a temporary extension of the Small Business Act (March 20, 2009)
• Signed Jobs for Main Street Act (Feb 24, 2010)
• Efforts to protect US firms’ trademarks, patents, and copyrights; signed Trademark Technical and Conforming Amendment Act (March 17, 2010)
• Secured authority to compensate certain furloughed federal employees (March 11, 2010)
• Signed Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (March 18, 2010)
• Signed Airport and Airway Extension Act (April 30, 2010)
• Enhanced antitrust penalties and reforms (June 9, 2010)
• Signed Small Business Investment Act (June 17, 2010)
• Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act (July 2, 2010)
• Extension of Unemployment Compensation (July 22, 2010)
• FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (Aug 10, 2010)
• Signed US Manufacturing Enhancement Act (Aug 11, 2010)
• Signed Small Business Jobs Act (Sept 27, 2010)
• Signed Worker, Homeowner, and Business Assistance Act (Nov 6, 2010); signed
• Extended unemployment benefits for one million workers and expanded coverage for some existing homeowners who are buying again (Nov 2010)
• Called on Congress to deliver a comprehensive “Jobs bill” (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)
• Forwarded 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 US Manufacturing Enhancement Act (2010)
• Signed Single Family Housing Mortgage Insurance (2010)
• Signed Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act (Dec 17, 2010)
• Signed America Competes (Reauthorization) Act (Jan 4, 2011)
• Extension of funding for federal support of transportation programs (Sept 16, 2011; March 4, 2011…); extension of funding for airports and airways (several piecemeal increases Aug 5, 2011; June 29, 2011; May 31, 2011 March 21, 2011… because of Republican opposition to full funding of construction, expansion, and improvements)
• Announced a comprehensive jobs proposal: cut payroll taxes for working families; incentives to hire the unemployed; reform unemployment insurance; incentives for businesses to hire “returning heroes,” federal supports to states to prevent loss of thousands of teachers and essential public workers; funding for infrastructure repair and construction and school modernization and construction projects; temporary payroll tax holiday… (September 2011)


 EDUCATION

• 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)
• Discussions with Congress for education reform (2009-2011) * 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 changed the system to 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)


 ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

• Removed a ruling that now allows individual states (like California) 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 (2009-2011)
• Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act that protects millions of acres of scenic, historic, and recreational lands and trails (March 30, 2009)
• Signed Energy and Water Development Act (Oct 28, 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)
• 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 (2009-2011)
• Called for exploring the possibility of additional off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf, Atlantic, and off Alaska (but not in ANWR) (2010)
• Authorized use of funds for Deepwater Horizon oil spill from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (June 15, 2010)
• Signed North American Wetlands Conservation Act (March 25, 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)
• Signed Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act (Dec 14, 2010)
• Signed Truth in Fur Labeling Act (Dec 18, 2010)
• Species protection measures for sharks and other animals (Jan 4, 2011)
• Signed Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (Jan 4, 2011)
• Measures to reduce levels of lead in drinking water (Jan 4, 2011)
• Signed Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (Jan 4, 2011)
• Executive Order for an interagency effort on domestic energy sources (July 12, 2011)


 ETHICS

• 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 (Jan 2009)
• Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible in the release and availability of government documents (Jan 21, 2009)
• Placed limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House (Jan & Feb 2009)
• Placed limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration (Jan 21, 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)
• Established a special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (April 24, 2009)
• Enhanced the role and powers of the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (June 30, 2009)
• Signed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (May 20, 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 “Do Not Pay List” with data on contractors and recipients of federal funds who are deemed to be ineligible because of fraud and abuse (2010)
• Signed the Anti-Border Corruption Act (Jan 4, 2011)
• Opened additional presidential records to the public (Jan 21, 2011)


 FOREIGN POLICY

• 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 lucrative loan guarantees for Israel (2009-2011)
• Signed the USIFTA trade agreement with/for Israel, which offers Israeli products preferred status (2009-2011)
• 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, commercial cooperation, security/military cooperation, counterterrorism supports, joint military exercises (“Juniper Cobra” in Oct 2009), etc. (2009-2011)
• 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)
• Provided missile defense supports to Israel (2010); including $205 million for Israel to develop short-range rocket defenses (“Iron Dome”) (2010-2011)
• Dispatched several envoys and initiated talks with numerous nations (2010-2011)
• 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)
• Rejected international calls to condemn or use sanctions on Israel after the “Turkey flotilla” incident (2010)
• Executive Order to establish support offices in the State Department to assist the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan (2010)
• Issued memoranda to continue drug interdiction support with Columbia (2010)
• Secured largest “foreign military funding” allocation to Israel in history (2011)
• Proposed a two-state solution in Mideast based on the 1967 borders with clauses for either side to amend the borders (“Mutually agreed upon swaps”) and develop security arrangements, designed to move the process forward before the UN (in Sept 2011) proposes and votes on a Palestinian state (May 2011)
• Executive Order for additional sanctions on Iran (May 23, 2011); ditto with North Korea (April 18, 2011)
• Initiative to promote US exports (June 15, 2011)
• Executive Order imposing certain sanctions/transaction prohibitions on Syria (Aug 18, 2011


 GOVERNANCE

• 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 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)
• Signed Fair Sentencing Act (Aug 3, 2010)
• Signed Federal Judiciary Administrative Improvements Act (May 27, 2010)
• Mandated federal agencies to write in “plain English” and documents be written in “plain writing” (Oct 13, 2010)
• Signed Access to Criminal History Records for State Sentencing Commission Act (Jan 4, 2011)
• Initiative to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of federal government (June 13, 2011)


 HEALTHCARE

• 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 and signed Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act (Feb 4, 2009)
• Established an independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare (2009)
• The First Family initiated several personal projects to promote healthy lifestyles, including planting a garden for the White House’s vegetables and flowers, installing a swing set/playground for the Obama daughters and children of White House employees, and promoting exercise and fitness for children (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 (2009-2011)
• 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)
• Signed Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (June 22, 2009)
• 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)
• Assisted Social Security recipients with claims; signed Social Security Disability Applicants’ Access to Professional Representation Act (Feb 27, 2010)
• Signed Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act (Feb 27, 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)
• Signed the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (March 31, 2010)
• Signed the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act (Oct 8, 2010)
• Signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (Dec 13, 2010)
• Signed the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act (Dec 22, 2010)
• Extended healthcare and compensation for 9/11 responders (Jan 2, 2011)
• Established National Alzheimer’s Project (Jan 4, 2011)
• Signed a reauthorization of the Combatting Autism Act (Sept 20, 2011)
• Asked multiple congressional committees to bring forward a healthcare reform bill; held dozens of public hearings and town halls on the issue (2009-2010); signed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (March 23, 2010); healthcare reform bill is $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
Miscellaneous:
-          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)


 IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN

• Began the phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq (2009); fulfilled campaign promise to have combat troops (90,000) out of Iraq by August 31, 2010; over 100,000 combat troops withdrawn by late 2010; continuing the withdrawal (2011)
• Authorized the deployment of 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, which had been pending for months during the Bush Administration (2009); begin withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan (August 2011)
• Changed the US military command in the Afghan conflict (2009)
• Tasked the Pentagon to reorganize US policy in Afghanistan; the new policy included 30,000 additional troops deployed, priority training of Afghan forces, developing agriculture and infrastructure, limiting aerial bombing, etc. (2009-2010)
• 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 (2009-2011)
• Ended the Bush-era “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date (2009)
• Visited US soldiers in Afghanistan (2010)


 MILITARY & VETERANS

• 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)
• Signed Korean War Veterans Recognition Act (July 27, 2009)
• Signed Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act (Oct 22, 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
• Increasing pay and benefits for military personnel (2009-2010)
• Improving housing for military personnel (2009-2010)
• Signed Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act (Oct 22, 2009)
• Signed Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (Nov 11, 2009)
• Expanded veterans’ reimbursement for non-VA emergency care (2009 & 2010)
• Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses (2009-2010)
• 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 (2009-2011) * 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 VA staffing, information systems, etc. (2009)
• Authorized construction of additional health centers to care for veterans (2009-2011)
• Suspended the Bush-era decision to purchase a fleet of Marine One helicopters from foreign 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)
• Supports for blinded veterans (April 7, 2010); improvements in services for blind veterans; established Major Charles R. Soltes Blind Rehabilitation Center within the Department of Veterans Affairs (May 7, 2010)
• Increased cost-of-living adjustment and compensation for veterans (Sept 30, 2010)
• New GI Bill for returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan (2009-2011)
• Signed bill providing assistance for caregivers of veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010); signed Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act (April 23, 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)
• Established enforcements for minimum essential care for veterans (May 27, 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)
• Signed the For Vets Act (Dec 22, 2010)
• Measure to help prevent military families and vets from losing their homes (Dec 29, 2010)
• Proposal to offer tax breaks for businesses that hire unemployed Iraq/Afghanistan veterans; job training support for Iraq/Afghan vets (2011)
• Signed Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act (Aug 3, 2011)


 NATIONAL SECURITY

• 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 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 due to 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)
• Signed Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act (May 22, 2009)
• Replacing long-range, expensive missile systems with more efficient smaller systems (2009-2010)
• Increased US Navy patrols off the Somali coast in response to pirating (2009-2010)
• Established a new cyber security office and appointed a cyber security czar (2009)
• Ordered the first nation-wide comprehensive cyber threat assessment (2009)
• Signed a one-year extension on some provisions of the controversial PATRIOT Act (2009;and again on Feb 27, 2010 and May 26, 2011)
• Authorized the use of more unmanned warplanes/drones (Predator, Reaper, etc.) in the War on Terror (2009); eliminated more terrorist targets in same time period than the Bush Administration
• 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.
• Signed Executive Orders to block payment, transfers, exports, etc… of individuals and organizations supporting the regimes of North Korea, Iran, Somali pirates, and other foreign threats (2010)
• Signed Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (July 1, 2010); signed related measures for sanctions and divestment Act to deal with other foreign regimes like North Korea (2010)
• Additional funds and supports for southwest border security (Aug 13, 2010)
• Signed First Responder Anti-Terrorism Training Resources Act (Sept 30, 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)
• Ordered another review of efforts to close Guantanamo Detention Facility (Jan 22, 2011); review of unlawful interrogations (Jan 22, 2011); review of Guantanamo detainees (March 7, 2011)
• Authorized bombing of military targets in Libya in support of rebels; support NATO mission against Qaddafy regime (winter 2011)
• Many terrorists and senior leaders of al-Qaeda and the Taliban have been killed on Obama’s orders and on his watch (Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, Abus Hafs al-Shahri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Ammar al-Wa’ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, Ali Saleh Farhan, Harun Fazul, Baitullah Mahsud, Noordin Muhammad Top, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, Saleh al-Somali, Muhammad Haqqani, Qari Zafar, Hussein al-Yemeni Dulatin, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, Sheik Saeed al-Masri, Hamza al-Jawfi, etc.; many others were captured including Abdul Ghani Berader, Younis al-Mauritani, etc.)


 RIGHTS

• Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act) (Jan 20, 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) (4 women, 2 Latinos, 4 African Americans, 3 Asians in Cabinet) *Note: Obama offered 3 Republicans Cabinet posts, but only 2 accepted
• Signed Civil Rights History Project Act (May 12, 2009)
• Established protections and incentives for adopting children with special needs (May 15, 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)
• Pushed for some of the 9/11 perpetrators to be tried in federal court (2009-2010) * Note: The process 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 Extension Act to provide federal research and support for treating the disease (Oct. 30, 2009)
• Allowed the State Department of offer same-sex benefits for employees (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)
• Signed Human Rights Enforcement Act (Dec 22, 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); commissioned a study to develop alternatives to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010); signed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act (Dec 22, 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)
• Signed International Adoption Simplification Act (Nov 20, 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
• Signed Hoh Indian Tribe Safe Homelands Act (Dec 22, 2010)
• Additional supports for housing for the elderly (Jan 4, 2011)
• Executive Order for notification of employee rights under labor laws (Jan 30, 2011)


 TAXES

• 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 bring 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; however, the President backed off proposal in late 201 because of Republican opposition
• Proposed “Buffet Rule” which requires millionaires to pay a fair/minimum tax (Sept 2011) *Note: Many take advantage of tax laws to pay less than or lower percentages than middle class Americans


 OTHER INITIATIVES

• 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)
• Signed Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (April 21, 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 (2010-2011) * 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)
• Signed a bill so that members of Congress would NOT receive a cost of living adjustment in FY 2011 (May 14, 2010)
• Signed Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act (May 17, 2010)
• Ordered a ban on text-messaging for all commercial truck and bus drivers (2010)
• Signed Special Agent Samuel Hicks Families of Fallen Heroes Act (June 8, 2010)
• Signed FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (2010)
• Executive Order to seize transactions/property of criminal organizations (July 25, 2011)
• Signed Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (Sept 20, 2011)


  
FACTOIDS & MISCONCEPTIONS

Online/talk radio claim:  The Obamas demanded and spent more money than any first family to move into the White House.
Fact:  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.

Online/talk radio claim:  The Obamas are Muslims (some emails claim atheists) who did not allow Christmas to be celebrated in the White House.
Fact:  The Obamas are Christian and celebrated Christmas in a very traditional way during each holiday season at the White House.  They also recognized celebrations and customs from other religions.  What was different about the Christmas celebration was that the Obamas reused many Christmas ornaments from previous White House trees rather than buy new ones and used LED energy-saving lights.

Online/talk radio claim:  Obama received extra money as part of his Nobel Peace award and he pocketed it all.
Fact:  Obama received the same award as other Nobel laureates, but donated the award money for the prize to several charities.

Online/talk radio claim:  Obama has been secretive and unwilling to allow public or media access.
Fact:   In only his first year in office, Obama held 23 town hall meetings, gave 158 interviews, and held 42 press/news conferences, as well as 411 speeches, comments, and remarks * Note: Official numbers are not available on such things, but this seems to be a new record high in the White House

Online/talk radio claim:  Obama vacations more than any president.
Fact:  In his first year in office, Obama took only 26 days of vacation (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not readily available on such things, but this seems to be a new record low and far lower than Bush

Online/talk radio claim:  Obama was not born in America and is some sort of international “Manchurian” plant who supports other countries over America.
Fact:   Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961.  He has been an internationalist president insofar as he took 10 foreign trips to 21 nations and met with 74 foreign leaders in only his first year in office (he also took 46 out-of-town trips to 58 cities and 30 states in 2009).

Online/talk radio claim:  Obama has not kept any of his campaign promises.
Fact:  Official numbers are not kept on such things historically, but it appears Obama made more promises and discussed more policy issues during his campaign than any other presidential candidate. But, it also appears he has kept more promises than perhaps any other president. (As of 10/4/11) Obama has kept 147 of his campaign promises and another 197 of them are currently in progress; but he has broken 49 of them and compromised with Republicans on 44 of them; another 69 of his campaign promises have been stalled by Republicans. (Source: PolitiFact)

… and in case you were wondering
Obama promoted the celebration of the Reagan Centennial and established the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission (June 2, 2009)