Archive for December, 2010

31
Dec
10

‘obama’s critics owe him a new years (fact-based) apology’

Frank Schaeffer (HuffPost): ….. commentators like Paul Krugman owe President Obama an apology, an “I was wrong” about the economy, the direction of our country, the success of President Obama’s methods of “compromise” (as opposed to their’s of “bold” ideological intransigence…)

Why? Because 2011 will see the USA rebounding, the Democratic Party doing well in 2012, the country in boom times by 2013 and the President having a great second term.

….We find ourselves in the position of survivors of a shipwreck clinging to a life raft. President Obama is that “life raft.” Our young president is leading us at a time of extraordinary peril. He and we face overwhelming challenges including two wars and a financial crisis he had dumped into his lap by fools.

….A reassessment should come from what might be called the Krugamites. They could do what Rachel Maddow did when she said “I was wrong” while speaking of how she’d given up hope that the President could pull out his year end list of remarkable victories.

Then again Maddow hasn’t staked her reputation on our president’s failure, as have people like Krugman, who has never warmed to our first black president …. he never forgave Obama for winning the election … his support for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama was clear in 2008 …

….The President keeps proving himself smarter than his detractors. (This must be tough to take for Krugman. When you are a Nobel Prize winner in economics and stake your claim on a place in history by second guessing a man who – it’s turning out – is smarter, even about your own field, than you are, it’s time to prepare to eat crow….

Obama’s lefty critics … seem to be blind to the fact that the President is a genuine progressive but not a fundamentalist crank. He’s proving that he’d rather get something actually done than achieving nothing while grandstanding, as do the ideologues of both the left and right.

President Obama also keeps proving that, compared to the talking-head Left of the Democratic Party, he knows how to get things done that actually change lives and matter – health care reform, actual gay rights (instead of mere slogans), actual education reform, etc….

…..his Lefty critics look more and more like petulant teenagers who are too small to admit that they are wrong.

Read the full article here

31
Dec
10

‘kneeling again next to rfk’

LA Times: As a skinny teenage busboy, Juan Romero knelt beside a mortally wounded Bobby Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel. On Saturday morning, more than 42 years later, he knelt again, this time beside RFK’s grave on what would have been Kennedy’s 85th birthday.

Romero was wearing a suit for the first time in his life, saying it was the proper way to show his respect for a man whose memory he has tried to honor by living a life of tolerance and humility.

Getting up the courage to visit Arlington National Cemetery was not easy for Romero, a construction worker from San Jose who has been haunted for decades by the events of June 5, 1968. Under a soft blue sky, with fall colors exploding across the velvety slopes of the cemetery, Romero walked off to be alone and have one last good cry before visiting the grave.

Full article here

31
Dec
10

2010 …. september to october …. picture perfect

January to February video here

March to April video here

May to June here

July to August here

31
Dec
10

‘major health care reforms take effect january 1’

TPM: Starting Saturday, two of the new health care law’s most significant reforms take effect – or at least begin to take effect.

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…..

..…The other is much more visible. Senior citizens – a demographic that’s skeptical of the bill – will see real benefits. In 2011, the law will begin to close the Medicare Part D coverage gap – the infamous “donut hole.” 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.

Other changes will also kick in … but these are the biggies. Add them to other reforms that have already taken effect – such as a ban on discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions, and the new right parents have of keeping their children on their family insurance plans until they’re 26 years old – and you’re talking about a bunch of stuff that would be very unpopular to repeal.

31
Dec
10

happy new year keyboard buddies!

I hope 2011 brings you all good health, happiness and love – thank you so much for your company in 2010

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” (Edith Lovejoy Pierce)

31
Dec
10

‘quietly executing a national security triumph’

Thank you cat48 for passing on this GREAT news

‘Quietly Executing A National Security Triumph’

Washington Monthly – One of the year’s biggest national security developments actually gets overlooked. In April, at the kickoff of the Nuclear Security Summit, the Obama administration reached an agreement with the Ukrainian government on the country giving up its entire stockpile of highly enriched uranium, inherited after the fall of the Soviet Union.

For those concerned about the security of the most dangerous material on the planet, this was quite a breakthrough. What we didn’t know until last night is that the process of moving more than 110 pounds of highly enriched uranium — enough to make two nuclear bombs — was quietly completed this week.

….The result, of course, is a safer world.

…President Obama established a goal early on of securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years — a task that encompasses locking down materials in 35 countries. Less than two years later, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration has completed its work in 19 of those countries, and D’Agostino believes the agency is on track to meet the White House’s deadline.

The political world covers quite a bit of ground, but arguably nothing is quite as important to global security as this. The developments in Ukraine are a triumph to be celebrated.

December 31, 2010 – Statement by President Barack Obama on Removal of HEU from Ukraine: “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.”


MSNBC: The United States has helped Ukraine send two atomic bombs’ worth of weapons grade uranium to Russia during a secret operation over the holidays, the Obama administration confirmed Thursday on msnbc’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

The removal of more than 111 pounds of highly enriched uranium followed a pledge by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to get rid of all of his country’s highly enriched uranium by April 2012 ….The material will be blended down in Russia, rendering it useless for bomb making.

Yanukovych agreed to give up the uranium in a multinational deal announced at a nuclear security summit hosted by President Barack Obama in April.

Shipments like the one recently completed from Serbia result in permanent threat reduction because they eliminate weapons-usable nuclear material at civilian sites…. as an incentive, the United States is providing replacement low-enriched uranium that can be used for Ukraine’s research reactors.

…The removal operation involved 21 specially designed casks for the uranium to be flown on five flights from three cities … the U.S. also helped deliver some of the replacement fuel to Ukraine.

Read the full article here

Interesting article from the NYT last year – ‘Obama’s Youth Shaped His Nuclear-Free Vision’


In the depths of the cold war, in 1983, a senior at Columbia University wrote in a campus news magazine, Sundial, about the vision of “a nuclear free world”. He railed against discussions of “first- versus second-strike capabilities” that “suit the military-industrial interests” with their “billion-dollar erector sets,” and agitated for the elimination of global arsenals holding tens of thousands of deadly warheads.

The student was Barack Obama….

…Twenty-six years later, the author, in his new job as president of the United States, has begun pushing for new global rules, treaties and alliances that he insists can establish a nuclear-free world … no previous American president has set out a step-by-step agenda for the eventual elimination of nuclear arms.

…When he became a senator in January 2005, Mr. Obama zeroed in on arms control, an issue with little traction in the Republican-controlled Senate … he found a mentor in Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a longtime star of nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Later that year, Mr. Obama asked to accompany his Republican colleague on a trip to monitor Russian efforts to scrap nuclear arms and secure atomic materials from theft or diversion.

“When we got there, he was clearly all business — a very careful listener and note taker and a serious student,” Mr. Lugar recalled.

…“I don’t think I was that unique at that time,” the president said of his Columbia days, “and I don’t think I’m that unique today in thinking that if we could put the genie back in the bottle, in some sense, that there would be less danger — not just to the United States but to people around the world.”

Full article here

Thank you hgerhard for this comment and link to Global Zero:

As a long-time advocate of a “world without nuclear weapons”, I am delighted to find out about this latest action. I am so proud of our President. I remember his speech in Berlin when he first mentioned the importance of nuclear disarmament and securing all loose nuclear materials within a period of four years. Then again in Prague, he reiterated this goal and ever since becoming President, he has worked tirelessly to bring this issue to the U.N. Security Council and start negotiations with Russia and other nations. The new START Treaty is one major result of these efforts; the removal of enriched plutonium from many countries does not get the notice this important issue deserves. To bring about a “world without nuclear weapons” and eliminating materials that can be used to make new ones is the greatest gift we can pass on to our children and grandchildren. History will record that President Obama was the most instrumental leader in moving this goal closer to reality.

For more information about the world-wide movement to achieve this goal, please go to www.globalzero.org

31
Dec
10

aloha 2011

The sun rises near President Barack Obama’s vacation home in Kailua, Hawaii, December 31, 2010

Politico: President Obama will have a low-key New Year’s Eve at his rented Kailua vacation compound. Obama will spend time with the first lady Michelle Obama, his daughters, Sasha and Malia, his sister and her family, as well as a small group of close friends. The president’s night will also include the first family’s annual New Year’s Eve talent show, said deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton. Obama began the day with a trip to the gym on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

31
Dec
10

positive signs

Supporters of President Barack Obama hold signs outside his vacation home in Kailua, Hawaii, December 31

31
Dec
10

hands up: which one of you ordered five desserts?

31
Dec
10

holiday reading

NYT: Can you judge a president by what he is reading? As has been reported, President Obama’s vacation reading includes a Lou Cannon biography of Ronald Reagan, another president who was confronted with a divided Congress. But the White House said today Mr. Obama also brought two novels: “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet” by David Mitchell, a well-reviewed historical romance about a Dutchman in Edo-era Japan; and “Our Kind of Traitor,” by the spy novelist John Le Carre.




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