very interesting, informative, and funny …
Any discussion of the causes of America’s public-debt problems, or any discussion of the solutions to it, that is “spending only,” and excludes the role of revenues — for instance, the discussion that raged through Congress last week — is a pointless and unrealistic discussion. It is historically ignorant and economically fanciful. You’ll note, for instance, that the last time the federal budget was in surplus, 11 years ago, total taxes were higher than they are now. That doesn’t prove anything about future policy but is a crucial fact to grasp.
In Bill Maher’s final New Rule of the night, he suggested that if tea partiers get to control the Republican party and act like hostage negotiators, the Democrats should have their own branch party that would be just as ridiculously partisan as the tea party, because the only thing they haven’t tried yet is fighting crazy with crazy.
Reflecting on the past week of debt talks, Maher compared the tea party to that loon you always see in the subway who’s rambling on about something or other. He then compared the tea party’s influence over the Republican party to a really cheesy action movie where a bank robber is pointing a gun at some woman’s head in order to get her cooperation. In these scenarios, as Maher stated, you have the typical police negotiator (played by some random character actor) who can’t get anywhere with the psycho holding a gun, so they have to bring in the renegade, a “Mel Gibson” character, who can talk the robber down because they’re both operating on the same insane level. Maher concluded that if the Democrats are going to be effective negotiators against tea party Republicans, they’re going to need “their own Mel Gibson.”
“The only way they’re going to pull the debate back from the far right is for liberals to elect their own slate of 60 unstable, looney-toon, mad-as-a-hatter, crazy motherfuckers.”
He called for liberals to search for “angry left-wing lunatics” to make them part of a new party, a party residing within the Democratic party, as the tea party does within the Republican party. Maher’s name for this party-within-a-party? The Donner Party. Their platform? “We will literally eat each other before we give an inch.” (Oh, great. Now I’ve got a hankering for Harry Reid stew.) And Maher brought back a familiar face to regular show viewers: face-ripper monkey, who would be the leader of this new Donner party.
But shifting to the serious momentarily, Maher took on the idea that liberals already have groups like that anyway in the ACLU, Greenpeace, or MoveOn.org, arguing “those are educated people,” and a liberal Donner party can only exist with “loudmouths” who can act just as stubborn and partisan as the tea party.
There has been a great deal of change and reform delivered over the last two years. While most of these have gone by unnoticed or are not remembered, a fine Wiki team has recorded and organized every major point in a comprehensive database, now available here.
There are a few excellent resources where the victories of Change and Reform have been assembled on the internet, including the Democratic Change Update (reposted on News Junkie Post), the 244 Accomplishments of Obama, and the Things Obama Has Done page on Facebook.
While the mainstream media narrative has been dominated by right wing and Tea Party talking points, many of the fundamental changes in direction of this country have not received the attention they deserve. Now in one day, the very politicians who venomously opposed these reforms, the very people who want to take America back to the days of Bush are poised to retake the US House of Representatives. They are banking on the short attention span of voters, so share this list liberally!
Arts and Culture
Banking and Financial Reform
Commerce, Trade and technology
Education: Health of Children
Foreign Affairs and International Relations
Health and Wellness
Health Care Reform (See also Taxes)
Law and Justice
Military and National Security
Military Veterans and Families
National Disasters and Emergencies
Scientific and Medical Research
Space Exploration and Space Station
Transparency and Accountability
Recovery, Progress and Change
Chapter 1: BANKING AND FINANCIAL REFORM
Established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. [pdf]
Dodd-Frank (DF) Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the biggest financial reform law since the Great Depression.
Managed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) [pdf]
Assigned a Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Act of 2009.
Pension Relief Act of 2010.
Played a lead role in G-20 Summit re: financial crisis.
Reformed deferral rules to curb tax advantages for investing overseas.
Cut salaries for 65 bailout executives (Pay Czar).
Banks have repaid 75% of TARP funds, bringing the cost down to $89B as of June 2010.
Created the Financial Stability Oversight Council to monitor stability of the financial system & individual firms. [pdf]
New requirements for reporting financial data. [pdf]
Created self-funded Office of Financial Research (OFR) to collect information from financial firms. [pdf]
OFR employees must wait a year before working for certain financial firms. [pdf]
Provided for orderly liquidation of financial companies. [pdf]
Limited trading activities of banks (Volcker Rule) beginning 2 yrs after passage. [pdf]
Swaps Pushout Rule prevented federal assistance to swaps (including derivatives) traders. [pdf]
Derivatives must be traded transparently through a clearing house. [pdf]
Defined the amount and nature of assets required to meet capital requirements. [pdf]
Originators of asset-backed securities must retain 5% ownership/risk. [pdf]
Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (DF). [pdf]
Stronger client fiduciary duty for broker-dealers. [pdf]
Higher standards for securities advertising and disclosures. [pdf]
Expanded “insider loans”. [pdf]
Higher standards for systemically important ($50 billion assets+) institutions, including annual stress tests and restrictions on bank acquisitions. [pdf]
Executive compensation must be determined by an independent committee.[pdf]
Financial agencies must establish Offices of Women & Minorities to promote more diverse hiring. [pdf]
Credit CARD Technical Corrections Act of 2009.
Established a credit card bill of rights.
Reformed credit card swipe fees.
Created new criminal penalties for mortgage fraud.
Congress pursued Goldman Sachs for securities violations.
Permanently extended Research and Experimentation Tax Credit for domestic investments.
(Treasury) Sold 1.5 billion shares of Citigroup at a profit.
G-20 summit produced a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.
Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals.
Financial reform has ‘strongest consumer financial protections in history
Chapter 2: HEALTH CARE REFORM
Requires large employers to contribute to a national healthcare plan
Requires Insurance Companies to cover pre-existing conditions
Requires health plans to disclose how much of premium goes to patient care
Establishes an independent health institute to provide accurate & objective information
Provides minimal essential healthcare coverage by Veterans Affairs
Prevents children from being denied health insurance coverage
Establishes early retiree reinsurance program
Cut prescription drug cost for medicare recipients by 50% and began eliminating the plan’s gap (doughnut hole) in coverage
TRICARE Affirmation Act
Chapter 3: CIVIL RIGHTS AND ARTS & CULTURE
Provide $12.2 Billion in new funding for Individuals With Disabilities Act through the American Recovery and Investment Act
Presidential Memorandum protecting gay and lesbian partners’ visitation and healthcare decision making rights
Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to include gender, sexual orientation and disability
Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act
Appointed more openly gay officials (150) than any other president in history
Established White House Council on Women & Girls
Financial agencies must establish Offices of Women & Minorities to promote more diverse hiring
Increase minority access to capital
Signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities
ARTS & CULTURE
Created an artist corps for public schools
Championed the importance of arts education
Promoted cultural diplomacy
Chapter 4: Commerce, Trade & Technology, Conservation
Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009
Satellite TV Extension Act of 2010
Expanded loan programs for small businesses
Small Business Act
Small Business Investment Act
Denied federal contracts to tax delinquents
Appointed the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer
Established Federal IT Dashboard
Modernized USA.gov portal to connect people to services they require
Launched piracy crackdown
Morris K Udall Scholarship & Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009
Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009
North American Wetlands Conservation Act
Stewardship of the Ocean (established National Ocean Council) for Coasts and the Great Lakes (executive order)
Established partnerships to share environmental technology with other countries
Increased funding for Land and Water Conservation Fund
Increased funding for national parks and forests
$175 million of ARRA allocated for water conservation – $135 million of that in the West
Expanded access to places to hunt and fish
Led effort to phase out whaling
Pursued wildlife management plan
Encouraged more controlled burns to reduce wildfires
Ordered removal of more brush, small trees and vegetation that fuel wildfires
Chapter 5: THE ECONOMY
The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009: a $789 billion economic stimulus plan [pdf]
Start-up activity now higher than it was during the dotcom boom
Created task force to fight deficit (actually senate voted it down – only 53 votes)
Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009
Temporary extension of programs under Small Business Investment Act of 1958
Increased minority access to capital
$26 billion aid to states package (Aug. 2010)
Raised small business investment limit to $250,000 through the end of 2009
Created an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to invest in peer-reviewed manufacturing processes
Improper Payments Elimination & Recovery Act – establishes a federal “Do Not Pay” list
Extended and indexed the 2007 Alternative Minimum Tax patch
Adopted Economic Substance tax doctrine
Economy grew 5.9% in 4th quarter
U.S. Economy: Manufacturing has grow more than since 2004
U.S. GDP up 3.2% in first quarter
Largest rise in consumer spending in three years
Orders for most durable goods rose
Wholesale inventories and sales rose
$26 billion state aid triggered a surge of private municipal investment
EXHIBITS – THE STIMULUS ONE YEAR LATER
Success of the stimulus: How do you illustrate it could have been much worse?
Distribution of ARRA funds by years
Need for financial education: Investors who act on their own than T-bills; market timers warn negative returns
Consumer debt patterns (revolving & non-revolving) through end of 2009
Growth of the national debt from 2000-2009
Bar chart: 2009 showing increases in national debt by president (since Carter)
Pie chart: 2009 annual deficit contrasting large Bush tax cuts and relatively small ARRA
The Legacy: August 2010
The economy has been growing – seasonally adjusted change in GDP by quarter 2007-2010
The private sector has begun to add jobs – Monthly change in nonfarm employment 2008-2010
GDP would have been lower without the Recovery Act: 2007-2010
Unemployment would have been higher without ARRA: 2008-2010
The gap between actual and full-employment GDP would have been much larger without TARP and AARA: 2008-2010
More Private Sector Jobs Created In 2010 Than During Entire Bush Years
Chapter 6: EDUCATION
Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010
Increased funding for land-grant colleges
Provided means for students struggling to make college loan to refinance
Expanded Pell grants for low-income students
Expanded Pell grant pool by eliminating private lender subsidies for student loans
EDUCATION: HEALTH OF CHILDREN
Created the Race to the Top Fund ($4.35 billion) to reward states that create comprehensive education reform plans [pdf]
Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization of 2009
Provided funding for high speed, broadband internet access to K-12 schools
Established State Equalization Fund: new funds for school construction (ARRA)
Provided $77 billion for reforms to strengthen Elementary and Secondary education [pdf]
Fully funded the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
Provided $12.2 billion in new funding for the Individuals with Disabilities and Reinvestment Act.
$26 billions state aid package saved 160,000 teacher jobs (Aug. 2010)
Provided over $2.3 billion in additional funding to Head Start & Early Head Start programs in 2009
Provided $5 billion for Early Learning Programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. [pdf]
Doubled the amount available in Federal Child Care Block Grants
Helped rebuild schools in New Orleans
Established school programs to highlight space and science achievements
Recruited math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession
Expanded the Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first time mothers
Provided affordable, high-quality child care
Unveiled initiatives to help men be better fathers
Chapters 7-33 and the full expandable database are located at the Obama Achievements Center, a project led by @shoq and @maysgg71 and contributed to by over 80 researchers on the oWiki crowdsourcing team. Special thanks to Wayne Bomgaars for some style corrections and list/citation additions and creating a discussion group for this on Reddit. The banner was designed by Ole Ole Olson.134diggsdigg
- October 29, 2010 — Democratic Change Update
- May 14, 2010 — The 2010 Midterms: What If The Democrats Win?
- May 29, 2010 — The Backlash Against Anti-Reform Democrats Is Unleashed
- March 23, 2010 — Four Lessons From The Health Care Fight: A Game Plan For Reform In 2010
- March 21, 2010 — Congress Passes Historic Health Care Reform
- November 24, 2009 — Conservative Counter-Revolution and the Coming Violence
- October 22, 2010 — Do Americans Want To Be The Road Kills On Rove’s Crossroads?
- October 2, 2010 — Four Million Attend One Nation Working Together Rally!
- February 11, 2010 — A Progressive Game Changer: Immigration Reform In 2010
- February 8, 2010 — Preaching to the Choir
I hope turnout of youth voters is very high on Election Day.
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert responded to the America’s culture of punditry Saturday with their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
After three hours of musical performances, comic bits and taped video tributes to the most reasonable people in America, Stewart closed the Rally with a serious message to the estimated 150,000 in attendance in Washington D.C. and untold numbers watching at home.
See the full text of Jon Stewart’s closing speech below
Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Closing Remarks:
“I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.
But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.
If we amplify everything we hear nothing. There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate—just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more. The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker—and perhaps eczema.
And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a fun house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.
So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!
The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundations that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—but they do it—impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.
Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are. (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel). These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car, swinging, I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA and she loves Oprah. There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.
And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.
And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.
Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.
If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted.
Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you.”
CARSON CITY, NV—In an effort to promote diversity within their political base, national Tea Party leaders gathered today in Nevada’s capital to announce their intention to embrace more coloreds in the lead-up to the 2010 midterm elections. “We’re bringing new voices and perspectives into the movement every day, and the addition of some more coloreds is only the beginning,” Tea Party spokesman Michael Kealey told reporters, adding that he was “excited to welcome Negroes into the fold.” “The time has come for everyone, Orientals even, to take America back.” Kealey went on to say that the inclusion of homos in the movement would be “out of the question,” unless they were the normal kind.
Truth in satire.
A News Corporation shareholder has written a letter to the company’s board objecting to the company’s political donations, like the recent $1 million contribution to the Republican Governor’s Association, and demanding full disclosure of all the company’s political spending by Friday. The shareholder warned in the letter against the use of “corporate treasury funds to further the personal political agendas of corporate management.”
Oil companies and environmentalists alike continued to lambast the Obama administration following its lifting of its offshore drilling moratorium. “Our companies remain doubtful that this announcement is anything more than symbolic until permits are actually issued for new drilling,” said a statement by the National Ocean Industries Association. Public Citizen called the move “reckless and misguided.”
Investors in some of California’s largest energy companies are beginning to pressure those companies about money being spent to pass Proposition 23, which would effectively stop the state from taking action on global warming. Institutional investor groups will announce three shareholder resolutions today challenging Valero Energy Corp., Tesoro Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp., which have spent over $8 million to pass Prop. 23.
An alliance of Republican groups is planning to spend $50 million this week on attack ads “in a final push to help the GOP win a majority in the House.” The Alliance, which includes American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS — groups founded by Karl Rove, will spend more this week than the House GOP election committee is expected to spend for the entire election cycle.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged the IRS “to quickly investigate the tax status of Crossroads GPS and other organizations” that are spending millions on campaign ads without disclosing donors. While these groups can keep donors secret as 501(c)(4) organizations, their purpose and primary activities cannot be political and thus, Durbin states, “appear to be in violation of the law.”
Afghan civilian deaths and injuries resulting from NATO-led airstrikes have “dropped dramatically” in recent years, despite and increase in fighting. Airstrikes causes 88 civilian casualties this year, down from 169 in 2008. Officials said “more careful vetting of targets and restrained use of airstrikes have led to the reductions in civilian casualties.”
“A surprise inspection has turned up serious safety violations that could have caused an explosion at another Massey Energy Co. coal mine in West Virginia, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration” announced this past week. Violations include skipping mandatory tests for explosive gases and digging too deep into a coal seam at Seng Creek Powellton Mine.
And finally: Newt Gingrich is offering an unbeatable deal. For a small $5,000 contribution, Gingrich is willing to deliver you a “prestigious” award. Call now, operators are standing by to take your order!
ThinkProgress is hiring! Details here.
Ads for the DVD show Jones’ eyes above the words, “Death camps Are Real.”
Jones’ Obama Deception film claims that “Obama is continuing the process of transforming America into something that resembles Nazi Germany, with forced National Service, domestic civilian spies, warrantless wiretaps, the destruction of the Second Amendment, FEMA camps and Martial Law.”
An April 17, 1999, Austin American-Statesman article (retrieved from Nexis) reported that, even then, Jones believed that FEMA was “building hundreds of concentration camps on military bases with separate areas for men, women and women with children.”
BP oil spill a deliberate act. Jones has pushed the theory that the BP oil spill was a deliberate attack. Jones co-wrote a June 8 article headlined, “Evidence Points To BP Oil Spill False Flag.” A false flag event is an operation carried out by a powerful entity to deceive the public into thinking it was carried out by someone else. False flag examples cited by conspiracy theorists include the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9-11 attacks. From Jones’ article on Infowars.com:
- Sales of shares and stocks in days and weeks beforehand
- Halliburton link, acquisition of cleanup company days before explosion
- BP report cites undocumented tampering with well sealing equipment
- Government uses disaster to push for Carbon Tax, Nationalization talk
Troubling evidence surrounding the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20th suggests that the incident could have been manufactured.
Jones has discussed “evidence” that the spill was a false flag event on his radio program. A program posted on Jones’ YouTube channel on June 20 states that Jones “reveals why he is now sure it’s a 100% false flag event to usher in the global carbon tax talked about at the G-20 summit.”
Jones was pretty good in A Scanner Darkly. That was a work of fiction. He is not so good at nonfiction, unfortunately for all of us American citizens and citizens of the world that want to reduce pollution, normalize immigration, and promote global cooperation and unity … .
A few months ago, the cable-television and radio host Glenn Beck began his Fox News show with one of his favorite props: a pipe clenched between his teeth. “I’ve got my pipe,” he told his audience, his speech slightly muddled by the stem, “because we’re going to speak about schoolish kind of things.” The theme of the day was “Restoring History,” and Beck, looking professorial in a neat dark blazer and a pink button-down shirt, began the lesson by peering at a stack of history textbooks and pronouncing them full of falsehoods, produced by “malicious progressive intent.” Progressives, he explained—liberals, socialists, Communists, the entire spectrum of the left—“knew they had to separate us from our history to be able to separate us from our Constitution and God.” For the next hour, Beck earnestly explained some of the history that “is being stolen from us”: the depression of 1920, for example, or how conservative economics saved the nation from the “near-depression” of 1946—crises that progressives don’t want you to know about. “You’ve been taught one lie, I think, your whole life,” he said.