Change That Matters

Hi Guys

I found this comment hiding somewhere in the forest that is I’m Grateful 😉

I think President Obama is a man with a heart for the people. As of today my 25 year old son is back on my health insurance and able to get the medical help he needs. We are so grateful. I pray for him and his family daily.

Sardebra Wright

It gave me the idea to create a post with stories about people’s lives getting better as a direct result of the president’s actions and policies. Just send me stories to blackwaterdog44@gmail.com (make sure you write “change that matters” in the subject line, so it won’t get lost) and when there’s enough substance, I’ll post a sticky.

Thanks, and happy new year.

2011 first mishmash

Hello and happy new year!

Few things from the past couple of days.

1. Remember the president’s reaction when it was announced that he won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009? He was as surprised as anyone, as humble as one can be, and promised that he’ll accept the prize as a “call for action”.

 One year later, US combat troops are out of Iraq, there’s a new START treaty between the US and Russia – and the president’s most ambitious and noble vision – A world free from the threat of nuclear holocaust – is actually in practical motion.

Back in April, president Obama was able to convince Ukraine president, Victor Yanukovich, to give up his country’s highly enriched uranium, which can be use to build TWO atomic bombs. And over the holidays – it happened.

The initial scoop belongs to Rachel Maddow, who had a terrific segment on it. DO NOT MISS THIS. IT’S FANTASTIC.

President Obama released this statement:

“I congratulate President Yanukovych on the recent shipment of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine for secure disposal in Russia, which advances a top priority for my administration and for global security. This action brings us all one step closer to securing all vulnerable nuclear materials, as President Yanukovych and I and 45 other world leaders pledged to do this April at the Nuclear Security Summit. The low enriched uranium and nuclear safety equipment provided to Ukraine in connection with this shipment will support Ukraine’s development of safe and secure nuclear energy. These actions represent continued Ukrainian leadership in making sure that nuclear weapons never fall into the hands of a terrorist, and working toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

Sometimes I wish he wasn’t so noble to think that celebrating national security achievements is undignified. I mean, can you imagine what the Bush PR machine would have done with this?  Steve Benen – one of my favorites – agrees.

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2. Two Major Health Care Reforms Take Effect TODAY.

A)  The first will dramatically clamp down on insurance industry waste, abuse, and excesses. Starting on New Year’s Day, insurance companies will have to spend at least 80 percent of the revenues they receive from premiums on actual health care. Not on salaries or overhead.

B) Seniors who reach the donut hole will now receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs, the first step in a 10 year plan to fill the hole completely. Seniors will also now receive free annual checkups, screenings and other preventive care.

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3. Everybody read Frank Schaeffer’s  latest, right? Just making sure.

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4. No one would suggest that Tim Kaine is objective, but boy, he is right.

On Nov. 5, 2008, the day after Election Day, the big story was Barack Obama’s history-making win. Today, the big story is the many historic changes that he has enacted during his first two years in office. At the halfway point of this term, the president’s list of achievements already dwarfs that of many presidents.

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…While the political chattering class is consumed with who is up and who is down, the president’s accomplishments transcend such short-term political calculations. They are historic in their own right and likely to have a lasting impact on the well-being of all Americans.

Taken together, these accomplishments represent the most progressive and productive period of U.S. governance since the New Deal. The president has set a new direction, restoring our country to its true path — one that leads to a better, brighter and more prosperous future for ourselves, our children and our nation.

// much more reality-based read

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5. The media in India will say what the MSM here won’t:

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…. Many of them, such as the Senate Minority whip John Kyl, who voted against the treaty, had been manifestly disingenuous, participating in a lengthy series of discussions and then announcing that it was too late in the Congressional term to debate New Start fully. They have been exposed for their unthinking, reactionary antipathy to anything that has to do with Mr. Obama.

 President Obama, for his part, will now be better prepared to handle more Republican hostility and obstructionism in the next Senate, which will start its term with a much smaller Democrat majority than the present one. He emerges from this episode greatly strengthened as a shrewd, tough political negotiator — and as an international statesman.

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6. Ten Democratic Accomplishments You May Not Have Known About

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7. Here’s another Rachel Maddow segment, from the day the president signed the repeal of DADT. “The president was freaking elated to sign the repeal of DADT”. 🙂

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8. Finally, the president’s weekly address (obviously taped a little while back…;)

The Mishmash

1. Dude, look at this:

Unemployment benefit applications dropped 388,000, the fewest since July 2008

2. And this:

Pending Sales of U.S. Existing Homes Rose 3.5% in November

3. And how about this?

Business Activity in U.S. Grows at Fastest Pace in Two Decades

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4. When the president is back from Hawaii on Tuesday, he’ll have quite a list of bills to sign – which means ceremonies and photos and all that fun. 😉 Some of the bills: 

–  The 9/11 first  responders health care bill.

– The defense authorization bill.

– The food safety reform act.

–  The National Alzheimer’s Project Act.

 – The America COMPETES Act. (bill aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness in science and technology fields).

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5. Yesterday, in Hawaii, the president was busy:

President Obama Makes Six Recess Appointments & Signs 4 Laws In Hawaii

 

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6. You just know that this is the president’s top 10, right? 😉

 
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7. I know that everyone probably saw this already, but this quote from Merle Haggard should be repeated:

 
 

It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It’s really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.

He’s not conceited. He’s very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we’ve had who come across like they don’t need anybody’s help
..

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8. See? this is what I mean. Look at this great link I just got in the mail. This is the sort of stuff we need to chase and publish. There’s a whole world of progress that no one knows of. (I’m not sure if the senders wants me to credit them, but if you do – please let me know). 

EPA details ‘historical’ bay plan

RICHMOND — The Environmental Protection Agency outlined a plan Wednesday to restore the Chesapeake Bay, calling the 64,000-square-mile water pollution control project the largest ever undertaken in the United States.

The restoration plan involves individual agreements with six states and the District of Columbia to sharply reduce the flow of pollutants and sediments that have choked the bay and crippled it environmentally. The states and the district are part of the bay’s watershed, which includes 17 million people.

The goals are to be achieved by 2025.

With the backing of President Barack Obama, the EPA is shepherding the restoration plan because of the lack of progress throughout the years by the individual states to protect or restore the bay

// much more

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9. Better late than ever, credit where credit due: Thank you, evonnc, for finding this wonderful video I posted yesterday:

Marty Nesbitt’ best friend

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10. Check out this excellent post from TiMT:

Poverty, Health Care, Corporatism, Class, Pragmatism & HOPE!

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11. I still remember Mike Bloomberg criticizing president Obama’s respond to the BP oil spill. Yea, Karma is a bitch.

Krugman: Bloomberg’s Katrina

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Beautiful

Behind The Scenes: signing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Prepare some tissues.

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And here’s a link to a terrific video from January 20 2009, that I’ve never seen before. This was posted as a comment here yesterday (my apology for not remembering who deserves the credit. Please, let me know).

Enjoy.

Obama’s Circle Of Friends

The NYT praises President Obama on Guantanamo

As you know, an executive order is being prepared these days for the president to sign, regarding the fate of 48 Guantanamo detainees who are too dangerous to be released, but can’t be tried due to the actions of the idiot who occupied the WH for the previous 8 years, and his evil VP.

As the professional left and the rest of la-la-land are ready with their predictable “Obama = Bush” bullshit memo, it was heartening to read this editorial coming from what considered to be the beacon of the “Liberal media” – not only appreciating the president’ effort to restore the rule of law, but also laying the blame for Guantanamo still being open exactly where it should be  – Congress.

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A Step Toward Fairness

This country continues to pay a high price in both security and reputation for the Bush administration’s many violations of international law at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. After more than a year of review, the Obama administration is preparing an executive order intended to resolve the situation of four dozen prisoners in the prison there who are caught in a legal limbo: they cannot be freed because they are considered a potentially serious terrorist threat, and they cannot be tried because the evidence against them is classified or was improperly obtained, often through torture.

The proposed order could give these prisoners a form of legal representation and a system to review their cases. It would not remove the tarnish to the American justice system of holding prisoners without trial. But it could represent a significant step forward in dealing with these cases and possibly reducing their number.

The order, which could be signed by the president as early as next month, would require periodic review of each prisoner’s case by a kind of parole board drawn from agencies throughout the executive branch and not just the military.

This board would regularly assess whether a prisoner still represented a danger to public safety or was safe enough to release. The prisoners would have access to an outside lawyer, if they requested one, and would also be allowed an advocate within the system — a change from the Bush administration’s policy of allowing them only a “personal representative,” who was unable to help them make the case for release.

President Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo — thwarted by Congress — had always recognized that there would be a small core of prisoners who could not be tried because of the nature of the evidence against them or the illegal way that evidence was obtained. (Others could be tried by a civilian or military court, or sent to another country or simply released.) These endless detentions clashed with the most basic legal protections of the Constitution. But judges have upheld them because of the public-safety issues involved.

The Obama administration deserves credit for trying to come up with a realistic legal process for these 48 prisoners, particularly after the Bush White House seemed content to hold them indefinitely with only a thin whitewash of due process. President Obama has rightly barred coercive interrogations and other forms of torture for new prisoners, and the administration needs to ensure that any future detainees are held only on admissible evidence.

Unfortunately, Congress seems determined to stymie every effort to close GuantĂĄnamo and begin dealing with its remaining prisoners in court. Last week, Congress passed a defense authorization bill that prohibits spending money to transfer a prisoner from Cuba to the United States, or to buy any prison facility in the United States that might hold the 48 in-limbo detainees.

To continue with military operations, the president will probably have to swallow his objections and sign the bill. Over the next year, he must work harder to persuade Congress not to interfere with the work of bringing fairness to the justice system at Guantánamo. As Mr. Obama rightly argued when discussing the detentions last week, “We have these core ideals that we observe — even when it’s hard.”

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Monday morning mishmash

1. That terrible, terrible health care law:

More small businesses are offering health benefits to workers

Major insurers around the country are reporting that a growing number of small businesses are signing up to give their workers health benefits, a sign of potential progress for the nation’s battered healthcare system.

The increase, although not universal, has brought new security to thousands of workers, many of whom did not have insurance or were at risk of losing it.

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The independent nonprofit insurer has been particularly aggressive in marketing the new tax credit, which can mean a discount of as much as 35% for very small companies with low payrolls.  38% of the businesses it is signing up had not offered health benefits before.

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For Bistro Kids, a small business in the Kansas City suburb of Gladstone that serves school meals made with locally grown, organic produce, the deal was too good to pass up.

“We said, ‘How could we not do this?'” said Kiersten Firquain, 42, a trained chef who started the company after being appalled by the quality of the food her son was being served at school.

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2. That terrible, terrible health care law:

Medicaid Bonuses to Reward for Insuring Children

The Obama administration plans to announce Monday that it will make $206 million in bonus Medicaid payments to 15 states — with more than a fourth of the total going to Alabama — for signing up children who are eligible for public health insurance but had previously failed to enroll.

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3. Terrible, terrible news:

Analysis: Job creation happening at faster rate than other recessions

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4. Terrible, terrible news:

U.S. Online Holiday Sales Climb 15%

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5. Usually I will try to stay away from the war in Afghanistan. IMO, the only good news about a war, any war, is when it ends. But, this is a very interesting read, because apparently things on the ground are a little bit better than the administration is ready to say in public:

NYT: Taliban Fighters Appear Quieted in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — The deadliest group of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan has not conducted a complex large-scale attack in the capital city of Kabul for seven months, its momentum stymied as elite American-led commandos have escalated raids against the militants’ bomb makers and logisticians.

But in a testament to the resiliency of the fighters, the so-called Haqqani network, and a nod to the fragility of the allied gains, the White House is not trumpeting this assessment. Instead, it is tucked into a classified portion of the Obama administration’s year-end review of its Afghanistan war strategy, and senior American officials speak of it in cautious terms, as if not wanting to jinx the positive trend.

// more

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6. My condolences to the MSM:

WaPo: Obama’s two months of foreign policy wins

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7. My condolences etc.

Steve Clemons: Obama’s Game May Be Picking Up — Even with Tougher Congress

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8. Best feel good holiday story:

Haitian orphans settling in with adoptive families

PENFIELD, N.Y.—Under a towering Christmas tree, 3-year-old Sevil Fletcher giggled in delight amid some not-so-rough roughhousing with his brother and sister.There were snow drifts outside the comfortable suburban home, and the warmth of a close-knit family inside, as his parents, Brian and Emily Fletcher, recounted how Sevil—his infancy spent in a faraway orphanage—came to be their son.It’s a remarkable tale, all the more so because it is shared to a degree by hundreds of other American families who were seeking to adopt children from Haiti when the cataclysmic earthquake struck nearly a year ago, on Jan. 12.// much more and must read

Gail Collins: It’s kind of cheery to think we have a president who actually does know what he’s doing

Love me some witty Gail Collins in the morning:

Good work, White House! Thank heavens we got rid of our former president, Barack Obama, who couldn’t even get the trade agreement he went all the way to South Korea to sign. Our current president, Barack Obama, would never let that happen, and, in fact, came up with a really excellent trade agreement with the South Koreans just the other day.

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But let’s admit it. Nothing would have gotten done if Obama hadn’t swallowed that loathsome compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy.

If he’d taken the high road, Congress would be in a holiday war. The long-term unemployed would be staggering into the new year without benefits. The rest of the world would look upon the United States as a country so dysfunctional that it can’t even ratify a treaty to help keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. The people who worked at ground zero would still be uncertain about their future, and our gay and lesbian soldiers would still be living in fear.

It’s depressing to think that there was no way to win that would not have involved giving away billions of dollars to people who don’t need it. But it’s kind of cheery to think we have a president who actually does know what he’s doing.

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Also, LOVE this from the comments section of the article:

We here in Chicago have long known that President Obama should never be underestimated, that he has long term strategies and the courage to stick with them, and that he closes strong. He has proven those once again during this lame duck session. Thank you, Mr. President, for all you have done these past two years, and I look forward to helping to achieve progress and to stop whatever ridiculous ideas the House Republicans pursue over the next two years.