Posts Tagged ‘hope


President Obama: Changing The Face Of Government For The Better



Juliet Eilperin: Obama Has Vastly Changed The Face Of The Federal Bureaucracy

Friday afternoon announcements in Washington are usually aimed at attracting as little attention as possible, but last Friday was different. President Obama’s decision to nominate Eric Fanning — an openly gay man — to head a branch of the military which only four years ago did not allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, was both historic and attention-grabbing. And it underscored an often-overlooked feature of the Obama presidency: Obama has presided over the most demographically diverse administration in history, according to a new analysis of his top appointments. The majority of top policy appointments within the executive branch are held by women and minorities for the first time in history. The shifts are significant enough, experts say, that they may have forever transformed the face of government. The Obama White House, by contrast, has established specific programs to boost diversity among appointees.

The Presidential Personnel Office targets historically black colleges and universities, as well as minority-serving institutions, as part of a new campus recruitment program. It has a liaison to identify candidates by working with leaders from underrepresented groups, including those who are LGBT or have disabilities. The impact of Obama’s diversity efforts could reverberate for decades in people such as Michael Blake, a son of Jamaican immigrants who was homeless as a child but worked on Obama’s two presidential campaigns and in the White House as associate director of public engagement. Last year, Blake won election to the New York State Assembly, with the help of a lot of other Obama alumni, including Marlon Marshall, who is now Hillary Rodham Clinton’s director of state campaigns and political engagement. Blake’s campaign slogan was about his transformation: “No House to the White House.”  Obama, Blake said, has helped create a new network of people of color now climbing the ranks of government. “He did that,” Blake said. “He grew that.”

More here



On Death Cults and the Modern World

Today as the US woke up, it was greeted with horrific news. The Pakistani Taliban attacked a school run by the Pakistani Army and slaughtered over 140 civilians, mostly children. Yes, the school wasn’t a military school, but an ordinary school for kids. At the same time, a car bombing in Yemen carried out by Al Qaeda claimed the lives of 20 children. And over the weekend, a crazed gunman with pretensions of Islamic State membership took a restaurant hostage in Sydney, causing his own death and the death of two hostages when the Australian special forces stormed the building.

I think the fallacy that the Taliban and AQ are “freedom fighters” combating “Western hegemony” has been put to rest. The last I checked, the children in Yemen and Peshawar weren’t on the CIA’s payroll. What the Taliban, AQ, IS, and their affiliates are is death cults. Any legitimate grievance they may have had has long faded into the rear view mirror. They now perpetuate violence, all in the service of a dark utopia. That utopia is being partly realized in the IS-held sections of Iraq like Mosul, and the results aren’t pretty, even for orthodox, conservative Muslims. It is a cult of death and austerity, a yearning for a return to some prelapsarian state which never existed. It is a search for a dark Eden which never was but should have been.

But, of course, a death cult isn’t peculiar to the Muslim world. We have our own versions here.

Continue reading ‘On Death Cults and the Modern World’


That Hopey Changey Thing Is Working Out Great. Thanks, President Obama!

Obama Hope Progress


Rolling Stone: The Obama Hope And Change Index: 6 Years Of Progress, By The Numbers

Peak unemployment, October 2009: 10 percent
Unemployment rate now: 5.9 percent
Consecutive private sector job growth: 55 months
Private sector jobs created: 10.3 million
Federal deficit, 2009: 9.8 percent of GDP
Deficit in 2013: 4.1 percent of GDP

Average tax rate for highest earners 2008: 28.1 percent
Average tax rate for highest earners 2013: 33.6 percent
Banks regulated as too big to fail, 2009: 0
Banks regulated as “systemically important financial institutions” — a.k.a. too big to fail — 2014: 29
Billions returned to consumers by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enforcement: $4.6 billion
Americans compensated for being swindled by banks, lenders and credit card companies: 15 million
Dow Jones close, inauguration day 2009: 7,949
Dow Jones yesterday: 16,719


Required MPG (miles per gallon) for cars when Obama took office: 27.5
Required MPG for light trucks/SUVs when Obama took office: 23
MPG requirement by 2016 for cars, light trucks/SUVs: 35.5
MPG required by 2025: 54.5
Gigawatts of wind power installed when Obama took office: 25
Gigawatts of wind power installed through end of 2013: 61
Peak summertime solar power generation June 2008: 128 gigawatt hours
Peak summertime solar power generation June 2014: 2,061 gigawatt hours
Coal burned in electrical generation 2008: 1 billion short tons
Coal burned in electrical generation 2013: 858 million short tons
Reduction: 14.2 percent
EPA-proposed CO2 reductions for power sector by 2030: 30 percent


Pell grant funding 2008-2009: $18 billion
Pell grant funding 2013-2014: $33 billion
Adults gaining insurance under first year of Obamacare: 10.3 million
As a percentage of the uninsured: 26
Annual cost for birth control prior to Obamacare: Up to $600
Annual cost for birth control under Obamacare-compliant policies: $0
Prescriptions now required to obtain emergency contraception: 0
2009 projection for Medicare going broke: 2017
2014 projection for Medicare going broke: 2030


Troops in Iraq, inauguration day 2009: 144,000
Troops in Iraq today: 1,600
Osama bin Ladens alive 2009: 1
Osama bin Ladens alive 2014: 0
Troops in Afghanistan, day, 2009: 34,400
Troops pledged in Afghanistan by end of 2014: 9,800
Guantánamo detainees inauguration day 2009: 242
Gitmo detainees today: 149
Crack vs. Powder cocaine-crime sentencing disparity when Obama took office: 100:1
Crack vs. Powder disparity today: 18:1
Drug offenders eligible to seek early release under new sentencing guidelines: 46,000

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POTUS Thumbs Up


A few thoughts on “not good enough”-ism

If you haven’t read The Obama Diary’s call out to Shaun King (here and here), you really should.

Shaun King has been passionate about the horrors occurring in Ferguson. I don’t fault him for that. I actually laud him for his efforts to keep a light shining on something too many Americans want to have swept under the rug.

The crux of Chip’s open letters to Mr. King was that his attacks on President Obama were not helpful to the larger cause. That they were shortsighted. That they were unfair. That they were, at heart, dishonest. They certainly seem to be done as a pro-forma exercise. Pres. Obama always has to be criticized, as not being “good enough”. (The book I’ve been hawking for 2 weeks, “Against Football” by Steve Almond, descends in its final chapter to such an attack on the President.)

It’s the “not good enough” which kills the progressive movement. It’s the “not good enough” which destroys social justice.

Another piece you should read is one by Twitter warrior ReignOfApril. President Obama Is Not Our Savior is a slap to the face of every disappointed lefty who feels that every “failing” by this president is a betrayal of deeply held hopes.

The problem is that these hopes were of their own making.

Continue reading ‘A few thoughts on “not good enough”-ism’


A Darkness Visible


It was 2003. My sister-in-law was visiting us. It was a weekend, and her, my wife, and our niece were going to go up the coast to a fish shack just over the Ventura County line. They asked if I wanted to join them. I said no.

The fly-by-night telecommunications company for which I worked had just closed its doors, but I had quickly found a job at a similar company. I started that following Monday. And all I could see was a hopeless, endless succession of dead-end jobs, one following the other, none leading to anything, no hope of doing anything better, anything more meaningful. I was trapped. I was in the grip of my depression.

Depression can be triggered by anything—or it can be triggered by nothing. It can have warning signs; or it can come upon you like Judgment Day, as a thief in the night. It robs you of you, turning you into someone other than who you were, altering you irrevocably. You are suddenly or not so suddenly this person you weren’t before, a distorted image of the person loved and cherished by others, an image of yourself dark, twisted, sent into the world too soon.

My depressive episodes, stretching back to the late Nineties, have usually been triggered by the combination of pointless work, or lack of work, and the curious malady of my stutter which made me despair of ever being able to do anything other than what I was doing. But triggers don’t always happen. As Robin Williams shows, people who have it all can feel as if they have nothing. Fame, glory, money: they don’t matter. When depression strikes, it doesn’t discriminate. It will take the high and the low, the rich and the poor. It’s very democratic in that way.

Continue reading ‘A Darkness Visible’


Whistling towards the graveyard

From CNET: A bulletproof blanket seeks to shield kids during school shootings

Civilizations die from suicide, not  by murder.

– Arnold Toynbee

Let’s review a few news items from the past few days/months:

— A scofflaw rancher attracts a motley assortment of militia defenders threatening to shoot federal agents.

— A “sovereign citizen” in Georgia dies in a shootout with deputies while trying to take over a courthouse.

— Right wing extremists walk up to two Las Vegas police officers and shoot them, declaring the beginning of a revolution.

— A POW is released, and a sizable portion of the nation, instead of celebrating, rains down opprobrium upon the POW, his family, and President Obama.

And those are just off the top of my head. I could also include Senator Rand Paul tweeting that next time Pres. Obama does a prisoner swap, he should send five Democrats instead.

Things which were once beyond the pale have become commonplace, even excused. This isn’t something endemic solely to the Age of Obama. Oklahoma City happened on the watch of the previous Democratic president, who shares the trait of being demonized with Pres. Obama.

The pass in which we find ourselves has been long in gestation. It’s just been brought to gruesome birth upon the election and re-election of the nation’s first black President.

For close on two decades, the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and their cohorts on right wing hate radio and Fox News hate television have been providing a steady diet of outrage and conspiracy. But outrage and conspiracy are like heroin: each successive hit has to be more potent, has to up the high, as their acolytes seek to keep the outrage up, seek meaning for all the travails besetting them. Thus you get people like Alex Jones, who is more than willing to feed the addicts with ever more insane junk, upping the potency, wasting what’s left of their minds.

Continue reading ‘Whistling towards the graveyard’


Change Has Come To America


TPM: Justice Department To Launch Push For Full Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriage

In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights, Attorney General Eric Holder is applying a landmark Supreme Court ruling to the Justice Department, announcing Saturday that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages. The Justice Department runs a number of benefits programs, and Holder says same-sex couples will qualify for them. They include the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in the line of duty.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign in New York. The advocacy group works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.


On Monday, the Justice Department will issue a policy memo to its employees instructing them to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law. After the Supreme Court decision last June, the Treasury Department and the IRS said that all legally married gay couples may file joint federal tax returns, even if they reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. The Defense Department said it would grant military spousal benefits to same-sex couples. The Health and Human Services Department said the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer a bar to states recognizing same-sex marriages under state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management said it is now able to extend benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of federal employees and annuitants.

More here






The new meanness

One of the most popular shows on television is CBS’ “Two and a Half Men”. And I’ve often wondered at its popularity.

It is a very well-written and acted show, as far as it goes. But if you watch it for any length of time, you come away with a wretched taste in your mouth. It is, without a doubt, a show with characters who have no redeeming qualities. Everyone is gleefully mean to everyone else, reveling in cutting barbs and casual humiliation. Obviously, it’s a comedy painted in broad strokes, as sitcoms normally are. However, if you watch it on your local station in reruns before the prime time schedule comes on, you’ll be forgiven for wondering why anyone should give a damn about what happens to any of the show’s characters.

And yet, for more than a decade it has been one of the most popular shows on television. Before Charlie Sheen melted down, he was the highest paid actor on TV thanks to it. Millions of people tune in to watch a weekly display of dysfunction so severe that suspension of disbelief becomes increasingly difficult.

Obviously, you can’t judge an entire culture by the popularity of one television show. But here is another data point. Bloomberg has an article helpfully entitled “Obamacare Shows How Americans Are Becoming Jerks“. From the piece:

What’s clear is that the shifting views on health care predate the Affordable Care Act. The number of Americans who think health care is the government’s responsibility hovered around two-thirds for the first half of the 2000s, peaking at 69 percent in 2006. Then those numbers started falling, hitting 50 percent in 2010 and 42 percent this year.

The shrinkage of American generosity during that period wasn’t just about health care. The onset of the recession corresponded with a change in public opinion on a range of issues, and in most cases the effect was to make Americans less caring about others.

Starting in 2007, the portion of Americans who said the government should guarantee every person enough to eat and a place to sleep started falling, from 69 percent to 59 percent last year. People who said the government should help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt, fell from 54 percent to 43 percent over the same period.

Continue reading ‘The new meanness’


Out of the Mountain of Despair….


3:05 EDT President Obama delivers remarks at the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington


A few words on hope


How’s that hopey-changey thing goin’ for ya?

—Sarah Palin, half-term governor of Alaska, speaking about Barack Obama

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops… at all. 

—Emily Dickinson

My life would be impossible without hope.

For as long as I remember, I’ve stuttered. Most of my life has been spent in compensation for this malady, trying to pass it off as no big deal, as no impediment to achieving my goals in life. But the fact is that, despite supportive friends and family, the world does view you differently when you’re different. But, even greater, you view yourself as Other, as not quite the same as those around you, magnifying your flaws to the point where they become huge boulders standing in your path.

With an affliction such as mine, one can go one of two ways: towards desperation, or towards hope. I count myself lucky; again, because of supportive friends and family, I always kept hope foremost in my mind, that something would break my way.

To make a long story short, I eventually found a doctor whose therapy worked. Thanks to keeping faith in things getting better, I’m now a librarian, talking my head off, reading and singing to children in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to do before my therapy.

I don’t tell this personal story to elicit commendation. I tell it to illustrate the centrality of hope in any decent human life.

Hope gives you a chance at a decent life. Hopelessness only leads to death.

Continue reading ‘A few words on hope’


Chat away

Nick Anderson



10:0: President Obama departs the White House

10:50: Delivers remarks at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va

12:05: Departs Va.

1:15: Arrives in Cleveland, Ohio

2:30: Delivers remarks at Cleveland State University in Ohio

4:55: Departs Cleveland

6:20: Arrives at the White House





‘Affordable Care Act: Hope Delivered for USW Families’


a memorable day

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson tour the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial before the dedication ceremony in Washington, D.C. (Pete Souza)



10:50 ET: The President holds an event at Asheville Regional Event in Fletcher, NC.

4:50: Gives remarks at West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek, NC.


11:0: Visits YMCA on Guilford Technical Community College campus in Jamestown, NC.

5:00: Delivers remarks at Greensville County High School in Emporia, VA


10:30: Delivers remarks at Joint Base Langley-Eustis

2:40: Speaks to fire fighters at Fire Station 9 North Chesterfield, VA



Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson said, would be sad that a “redemptive moment of historic proportions” that came with the election of President Obama in 2008 “has been met with unrelenting retribution, retaliation and unprecedented opposition.” “Many seem willing just to sink the ship just to destroy the captain,” Jackson said. “We must do better than that.”


the concert

CNN feed:

“A Concert for Hope” at the Kennedy Center in Washington


‘an ongoing project’

President Obama (speaking at a fundraiser in New York Thursday night):

Democracy is messy and it’s tough, and our system is broken to a large degree. And that makes this election more important than 2008. 2008 put us in a position to do some extraordinary things and I can’t be prouder of what we did. But in 2008, I also think everybody figured, we get through this one election and then it’s all done. And then, after two and a half years, and it’s been tough and there have been setbacks, there are a lot of folks who suddenly feel deflated, this is hard, I’m not sure I believe in change. (Laughter.) They’ve still got the Obama poster but it’s all kind of frayed. (Laughter.) And Obama is grayer — (laughter) — he doesn’t seem as cool. (Laughter.)

But in some ways, that’s a healthy thing, because what that means is in 2012 … we realize this is about us. This is not about my election; it’s not about one person. It’s about competing visions about where we’re going to take the country. Are we going to have a country that’s inclusive? Are we going to have a country that gives opportunity to everybody? Are we going to have a country where everybody is sharing sacrifices but also sharing opportunities? Are we going to have a country in which what we project to the world is not just our military might, but it’s also our capacity to champion human rights and women’s rights and feed folks and help them become self-sufficient?

And those competing visions are going to be determined in this next election as much as they ever have before. And so I hope you guys aren’t tired because we’ve got a lot more work to do. And this is an ongoing project.







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