Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Day's Odds and Ends

Just a whole bunch of unrelated stories instead of one long narrative, okay?

Beginning with the decline or crisis of the middle-class in the US. It's a story that all should pay close attention to, especially when going to vote. There are people actively doing what they can to shrink the middle-class and that term the hate-mongers on the right like to throw around as they talk about the left and their evil intent to redistribute... well it's already happened! Wealth has been redistributed from the middle-classes to the wealthy and is the cause of how we got into such a nasty recession in the first place.

A former Republican firebrand ousted by a tea party nutjob gets honest about his party's tactics - guess what? Apparently Republicans are intentionally playing into the racism, anger, and paranoia we see daily on the news.

That freak out over the Muslim community center being built near ground zero is a great example of right-wing demagoguery. Happily, the NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg was having none of it and eloquently defended their rights to worship how and whomever they please asking, "...should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion?"

From over at the NYT's, someone whose columns have given credence to those touting "climategate" comes an op-ed that notes while the climate bill in the US is paralyzed, the climate isn't (I predict everyone's going to get very brave on the subject of climate change soon - evidence pouring in from all directions will do that). Anyhow, he links to a fascinating interview conducted by Tom Yulsman, whom he calls an an old friend and journalism professor at the University of Colorado, with Jim White, a climate specialist there who just returned from Greenland.

He writes: In White’s view, it’s already too late to turn back the clock on climate change to save low-lying coastal cities like Miami. The ice cores that he and his colleagues drill from Greenland and Antarctica tell us that the last time greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere were as high as they are today, the world was even warmer than it is now, Greenland was largely deglaciated, and sea level was 10 to 15 feet higher.

In the interview, White barely mentioned reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases to mitigate climate change, although I know he thinks this would be a very good idea. Instead, he emphasized the need for societies to adapt to what he considers to be inevitable and very significant changes.

In a sane world that would be a very sobering statement - want a Xanax?

Obama has had to deal with massive republican obstructionism at every turn - even on issues they once supported. Rachel has the details:

So, anytime someone says to you, I like that Obama guy but I just wish he'd do more. Well, here's a list of what he's managed to get done amidst all that attempted gridlock and fear-mongering:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

College Tuition Inflation Bill increasing the amount of federal Pell Grant awards and stripping banks privileges as intermediaries for student loan servicing

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Health Care Reform

SCHIP health-care program

Public Lands bill

Credit card industry reform

Jobs bill

Government Transparency especially on lobbyist’s access to the White House

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees

Instructed HHS to allow hospital visitation rights to LGBT couples

Banning of job discrimination based on gender identity

Giving benefits for Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Foreign Service Employees

Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending

Appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court

Beginning the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq

No permanent bases in Iraq

Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date

No torture policy

Ended media blackout on war casualties; reporting full information covering the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB

Housing rescue plan

US Auto industry rescue plan

Federal support for stem-cell research

Cash for clunkers program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars stimulating auto sales

Making more loans available to small businesses

Increased funding for the Violence Against Women Act

Expand the Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers

Increase minority access to capital

Establish a credit card bill of rights

Close the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug plan

Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions

Expand eligibility for Medicaid

Increase funding to expand community based prevention programs

Signed the nuclear reduction Treaty with Moscow to reducing warheads by 30%.

Securing $20,000,000,000 from BP to help those that have been affected by the oil spill and to clean up the mess around the gulf.

The most profound restructuring of financial regulation since the Great Depression (Financial Reform Bill)

$90.9 billion Education Investment

$82.5 billion Aid to low income workers, unemployed and retirees

$80.9 billion in Infrastructure Investment

$61.3 billion investment in Energy Smart Grid, Energy Efficiency, and environmental clean-up

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