Posts Tagged President Obama

George W. Bush Helped Save Lives – It’s The Truth

Posted by Matt on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

looks great o'hai sequester.

looks great o’hai sequester.

Amidst a constant stream of poor and destructive 2003 decisions, George W. Bush did something that should be considered his crowning achievement (unless you’re a billionaire or esteemed magnate of the military-industrial complex or Both!).  In fact, it might be the only substantial and positive contribution he made to the planet before picking up a mirror and a paintbrush.  However, chronic boobery aside, he deserves to be lauded.

10 years ago, the United States expanded on Bill Clinton’s global initiative to combat HIV/AIDS, when on March 27th, 2003, President Bush signed the US’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, better known by its acronym PEPFAR.

At the time that PEPFAR was conceived of and then established during the George W. Bush administration, the world was witnessing first-hand the destruction of an entire generation of individuals in the prime years of their lives and the reversal of remarkable health and development gains, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and to a lesser extent in other developing nations. Rates of new HIV infections were rising rapidly, and hospitals, communities, and families were often too under-resourced and overwhelmed to cope with the enormity of this burden. At that time in 2003, despite the availability of life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in most countries in the developed world, in southern Africa and other regions of the developing world, an HIV diagnosis meant a virtual death sentence, since few had access to such drugs.

This is a notable issue.  Many government officials balked at providing wide-scale treatment, and wanted to instead focus solely on prevention.  One US government official said that Africans wouldn’t be able to take their medication consistently because “they didn’t have watches.” The seemingly arbitrary differences in pharmaceutical pricing of ARTs were also a hang-up. However, they persevered.

Today, as we mark the 10th anniversary of PEPFAR, the situation has changed dramatically. Plummeting life expectancy rates in much of Africa have been reversed; HIV-infected, but healthy, fathers and mothers who are receiving therapy are able to return to work, care for their families, and spur economic development. Doctors, nurses, and community health workers, who once had little to offer their patients beyond a more dignified death, are delivering life-saving ART to millions of people. AIDS-related mortality has declined by more than 26 percent since its peak in 2005. Where despair once cut a devastating swath through so many communities and countries, hope has been renewed.

With regard to the prevention of HIV infection, globally, in the decade since PEPFAR began, new HIV infections have declined by nearly 19 percent. Between 2009 and 2011, new HIV infections among children, still an important component of the epidemic in many southern African countries and other regions in the developing world, declined by 24 percent globally, compared to a 23 percent decline in the previous six years. Not only is progress happening, but its pace is accelerating.

PEPFAR is not perfect.  In its early days, too many resources were pushed towards abstinence-only programs. There are issues with family planning and contraception access as well.  Condom distribution is part of the program, but that’s it.  Still, look at the numbers below:

PEPFAR now estimates that it has provided life-saving treatment for more than 5.1 million people—a number that is set to go up and likely exceed the 6 million target set for the end of 2013.  In 2012 alone, it also provided treatment for 750,000 HIV-positive women to help prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies and support and care for more than 5 million orphans and vulnerable children.

The term “American Exceptionalism” makes me cringe, but if we’re looking for true examples of high-minded ideals, isn’t this it?  A bipartisan achievement that brought together names like Durbin, Santorum, Pelosi and Isakson in order to assist in saving a generation of people from deadly disease. When conservatives scoff about ‘soft power,’ or the relatively small amount of money spent on foreign aid, they do so derisively – decimating the discourse and dehumanizing those this country has helped. Isn’t this the type of undertaking the richest and most powerful country in the world should pursue?

PEPFAR has also been a common cause of three US Presidents: President Bush, whose steadfast political leadership was critical in PEPFAR’s early years; President Obama, who has expanded treatment and prevention targets; and President Clinton, who has championed the program since leaving office.

Here’s to another 10 years of growth, program improvements, and ultimately saving more lives.

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“Thank Dead Reagan For Electing Obama,” Says America’s Favorite Congressman

Posted by Matt on Friday, May 24th, 2013

In 1986, Ronald Reagan signed an immigration bill that included amnesty for about 3 million undocumented immigrants and secret Russian agents.  The consequences were twofold:  Having to press “1″ for English and the election of President Obama.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said Thursday that President Obama would not be president if it weren’t for the 1986 amnesty bill that Ronald Reagan signed into law.

In an effort to dissuade Republicans, King argued that the 1986 immigration bill that Reagan signed into law is estimated to have brought amnesty to three million illegal immigrants.

He said conservative estimates show that, on average, each of these people brought in five others, leading to 15 million more people in the country, most of whom voted for Obama.

If these illegals aren’t in jail or busy pushing a Jarritos cart (without a permit!), they’re getting their vote on for “anchor president” Barack Obama.

Steve King is so against immigration reform he’ll throw Saint Zombie Reagan under the Greyhound and then build a fence made out of unsubstantiated election statistics.

You may remember congressman King from such gems as, The Only Congressman to vote against acknowledging slave labor built the capitol (and also elected Obama, amirite?); hating on hate crime protections; hating on Messicans (v.I to v.MMLM); hating on Messico and even hating on traveling to Messico.

Set your clocks to Teh Crazy. Steve King will be back.

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Commie Hussein Obama Can’t Keep Country From Hemorrahging Public Workers

Posted by Matt on Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Job trends don’t always reflect conventional narratives.

PrivateBushObama

The above graph relates to private sector job growth during Bush + Obama terms.  Obviously, Obama took office shortly after the ’08 economic collapse – the worst in 3 generations.  To be fair, Bush took office during a period of tepid growth following the burst of the stock market bubble.

At the end of Mr. Bush’s second term, private employment was collapsing, and there were net 665,000 jobs lost during Mr. Bush’s two terms.

The recovery has been sluggish under Mr. Obama’s presidency too, and there were only 1,933,000 more private sector jobs at the end of Mr. Obama’s first term.  A couple of months into Mr. Obama’s second term, there are now 2,282,000 more private sector jobs than when he took office.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/04/public-and-private-sector-payroll-jobs.html#tUp1GYkfRccTBGyX.99

But what about Big Government Obama? Stimulus. Obamacare. Basketball.

PulbicBushObama

 

A big difference between Mr. Bush’s tenure in office and Mr. Obama’s presidency has been public sector employment. The public sector grew during Mr. Bush’s term (up 1,748,000 jobs), but the public sector has declined since Obama took office (down 718,000 jobs). These job losses have mostly been at the state and local level, but they are still a significant drag on overall employment.

Dozens of election cycles focused on Obama’s middling job numbers without drawing this distinction.  Obviously many of these jobs were at the state and local level – governments similarly hit by crippling financial crisis (for some) of ’08 and the subsequent loss in revenue.

Austerity measures are hurting job growth (and worse) in all corners of the globe.  As the economy strengthens, maybe a little reinvestment will help job numbers match other economic growth numbers and we can all capture a sliver more than the 7% the top-1% is leaving for us…

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After Volumes Of Studies On Importance Of Pre-K Education, Spending On It Lowest In A Decade Because ‘Screw It’

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

[AP]

WASHINGTON (AP) — State funding for pre-kindergarten programs had its largest drop ever last year and states are now spending less per child than they did a decade ago, according to a report released Monday.

The researchers also found that more than a half million of those preschool students are in programs that don’t even meet standards suggested by industry experts that would qualify for federal dollars. And 10 states don’t offer any dollars to pay for prekindergarten classrooms.

Brought to you by the letter "7"

whatever, oldz

Good early education has been linked to lower crime rates, better academic performance and billions in economic long-term economic benefits. Secretary Sebelious?

“This year’s report has some pretty grim news but I think it also highlights the urgency for the historic investment in early education that the president called for in his State of the Union,” said Sebelius, whose department runs the Head Start programs for the poorest young students.

The President called for funding public preschool for any 4-year-old whose family income was below twice the federal poverty rate and proposed a $1.95/pack federal cigarette tax to pay for the expansion.

But since it doesn’t deal with lessening flight delays before a congressional recess, it probably won’t go anywhere in Congress.

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Happy Bush Library Week! Read About How He Fought Regulation Of Chemical Plants Like The One In West, Texas!

Posted by Matt on Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Really well done by Chris Hayes and his staff.  This site previously noted the muted Media response to the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, and some of the fishy circumstances that plagued the plant’s recent history.

In the aftermath of 9/11, heightened awareness of possible terrorist targets permeated the country.  Logically, chemical plants such as the West Fertilizer Plant landed on many of these target lists.  Many of these 15,000+ industrial chemical facilities contain large amounts of explosive materials and very little security.

Shortly after 9/11, Jon Corzine introduced the Chemical Security Act, approved 19-0 by the Senate Environment Committee, which would’ve required chemical plants to take certain safeguards, such as using safer chemical alternatives where possible, and bolstering plant security.  The Bush Administration blocked the legislation as too burdensome on an industry that contributed roughly $8 million to the RNC and Bush Campaign between 2000-04.

Perry (right) w/ America's Sweethearts.

a/k/a – Perry (right) with America’s Sweethearts.

Even Bush EPA head Christine Todd Whitman & DHS head Tom Ridge recognized the risks posed, and issued a joint-statement in October 2002 indicating voluntary safeguards put in place by the chemical industry were insufficient to protect plants and surrounding communities.  Together they put together a plan to address the safety concerns.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Hayes pieced together a head-shaking, yet typical timeline of the Bush Administration’s response, which includes all the standard corporate cronyism and predictable Cheney-ness.

[Whitman and Ridge] came up with a plan to deal with the vulnerability. Whitman believed that the EPA was already empowered to expand her agency’s oversight of chemical plants under a section of the Clean Air Act and she and Ridge worked out a deal to do so.

That’s until the son-in-law of former Vice President Dick Cheney walked into the room, a guy by the name Phillip Perry, who was at the time the general counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget. And he made it clear that the Bush administration was not going to support granting regulatory authority over chemical security to the EPA. According to reports, Perry claimed that their proposal was tantamount to overreach, and that they would need Congress to specifically authorize it.

So the 2 Cabinet secretaries went to Congress looking for a miracle.  According to Whitman…

“Although both Tom and I agreed such legislation was necessary, strong congressional opposition–led by some Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee–to giving EPA even the modest additional statutory authority made it difficult to secure administration support for a meaningful bill.”

And so it goes.  Hayes then moves forward to 2007, where Perry, now general counsel w/ DHS, makes another appearance…

And what he manages to do, in an uncontroversial bill, in an appropriations rider, is slip in industry-friendly language into the bill that moves the task of regulating chemical plants from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland Security. But DHS is given none of the tools it would need to actually do that. The Washington Monthly wrote this back in 2007:

“Perry reworked the language and helped to get it added to the spending bill in a conference committee. Under the new amendment, the DHS would have nominal authority to regulate the chemical industry but also have its hands tied where required.”

Let’s recap: The Bush administration’s own cabinet secretaries come up with a plan to regulate these chemical plants. It’s stymied by Phil Perry once. The Bush administration sides with the chemical industry when it’s brought before Congress. And then, basically in a backroom maneuver, Perry does the chemical industry’s bidding by moving the oversight of this from the EPA, which the chemical industry hates, to DHS, which the chemical industry thinks they can more easily manipulate.

One more nugget:

Now here’s what makes this all the more incredible. In 2006, when a bill was introduced in the Senate to make chemical plants safer, a bill that was blocked by Republicans, the young Senator who introduced that bill was now-President Obama.

As we pointed out a few days ago, West Fertilizer possessed 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Yet it’s not clear the plant was even on the DHS radar.

Hayes closes with the Chemical Industry’s continued fight against any EPA oversight.

Given that the Bush-backed bill moving oversight of big places storing fertilizer from EPA to DHS is law of the land, and Republicans in Congress aren’t going to change it, the administration has been considering recently granting the EPA the original authority that Christine Todd Whitman wanted. The chemical industry lobby hates this. So in February, 10 Republicans and one Democrat teamed-up with a bunch of chemical industry groups to fight this tooth and nail. Here’s a letter from the groups to members of Congress. It reads in part:

“We have concerns about EPA’s arbitrary application of the General Duty Clause as well as the potential for future expansion of the General Duty Clause to regulate the security of chemical facilities.”

We still don’t know the cause of the explosion. However, initial reports indicate ongoing negligence and noncompliance on behalf of the company and the situation itself exemplifies our willfully defanged regulatory apparatus (on state and federal levels).

So ‘Where’s Philip Perry?,’ you ask.  He’s semi-retired and sells roadside crystals in Northern California.

No just kidding.  He’s obviously in private practice working on behalf of megacorporations and doing terrible things.  For instance, check out his work for Monsanto against those bastard alfalfa farmers who just wouldnn’t stop complaining about Monsanto’s genetically engineered alfalfa seeds infecting their crops and creating Hulk Weeds. (Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 130 S. Ct. 2743 (2010))

Conventional alfalfa farmers brought suit seeking an injunction against the Animal and Plant

Health Inspection Service‟s deregulation of a genetically engineered alfalfa strain resistant to the

herbicide Roundup.  Monsanto Co., owner of the Roundup Ready Alfalfa, appealed the District Court‟s

injunction barring the deregulation and planting of the alfalfa to the United States Supreme Court, which

reversed the permanent injunction.

Perry earned his dimes.  When the opinion was issued, Perry’s clients dumped a RoundUp-filled Gatorade cooler on him in celebration of their victory.  Or at least they should have…

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Before The Koch Brothers Buy The Tribune Company, Read This Excellent Opinion Piece On Guantanamo

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Yes, the Koch Brothers are looking to buy more pulpits from which to whine about how rough life is for the Captains of Industry in a country where the top 1% has only captured 93% of all income gains in recent years.

But before this happens, 2 Jenner & Block attorneys who represent Guantanamo detainees managed to sneak in an excellent piece/plea:

I recommend reading in full here, but among the highlights…

Now, more than three years later [after Obama's Executive Order], the prison remains open with 166 prisoners, including 86 men cleared for release in 2010 by the presidential task force! Moreover, in the intervening years, no new reviews have been undertaken. Most of the men still in Guantanamo Bay have been imprisoned there — without charge or trial — for seven to 11 years. Most are locked in small maximum security cells, shackled when moving outside, served poor food, provided third-rate medical care and prohibited from having any visitors except lawyers.

[...]

For the first three years of the prison’s existence, captives were held in wire mesh cages and in isolation from the world. Many were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” otherwise known as torture. They suffered daily degradation, physical and emotional distress, deep depression and a profound sense of hopelessness. Even now, the vast majority of these men — many of them totally innocent of any wrongdoing — have never been charged with a crime or given any hope of a trial at which their involvement in any alleged acts of terrorism could be fairly resolved. It is no wonder that they have reached the point of despair, which in turn has led to the current hunger strike.

[...]

The remedy must thus come from our fellow Illinois lawyer, President Obama. There simply is no reason — none — why charges cannot be filed and trials cannot proceed in an orderly manner against those detainees for whom the government has reasonable evidence of guilt, and the remainder returned to their home countries. Despite road blocks imposed by Congress, the president has adequate authority to do this, and we urge him to take steps to exercise that authority. The disgrace that is Guantanamo cuts to the very heart of America’s most fundamental commitment to the rule of law and the elementary concept of justice. It should be dealt with as Obama promised some four years ago.

Our legal system has had no problem charging and trying the Oklahoma City terrorists, individuals who have committed mass murder and other horrifying crimes, including major political assassinations. We are confident that the criminal proceedings against alleged terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, arrested last week in Watertown, Mass., will once again demonstrate how we respond to horrible acts with fidelity to the law. We should rely on our criminal justice system — the finest in the world — to properly charge and try the individuals at Guantanamo who warrant charges and trials. Although the United States Constitution does not permit preventive detention, that is precisely what we are doing at Guantanamo. To repeat what the president said in January 2009, our nation does not have “to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals.”

So the point still stands. Anytime you’re ready…

 

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Samantha Power Stepping Down To Spend More Time With Her Family / Be A Delightful Ginger

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Samantha Power.

GW Favorite Samantha Power, longtime foreign policy advisor to President Obama, is leaving the administration.  Power has been an advisor to the president for almost a decade and is the author of the must-read, comprehensive genocide chronicle, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

[Power] is leaving the administration in the next few weeks to “spend more time with her family.”

(That may be the first time we’ve ever written that phrase where it actually happens to be true. She’s got two little kids at home; one is three, the other 8 months.)

What else, Washington Post?

She had been the number one pick for the U.N. slot if incumbent Susan Rice had become secretary of state.

That didn’t happen, of course. But with deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough moving down the hall to be White House chief of staff, it’s hard to figure anyone but Rice becoming National Security Adviser if, as expected, that slot opens up with incumbent Tom Donilon leaving perhaps later on this year.

Power knows her stuff, but insiders ride both sides of the fence on the answer to this question: if a forceful human rights advocate speaks in a forest of 21st Century American militarism, does she make a sound?

Enjoy your time off but come back anytime.

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Picture Of The Week

Posted by Matt on Saturday, November 17th, 2012

I strongly discourage proliferation of the word, “meme,” mostly because it’s a 4-letter word pronounced 9 different ways.

Anyways…

 

Good one, Guys! Add the daughter from Homeland and I would send this out as my Holiday card.

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Georgia Republican Did Not Mail It In On His Powerpoint Detailing Obama’s Mind Control Conspiracy

Posted by Matt on Thursday, November 15th, 2012

This meeting did not take place in a Best Western Conference Room off I-16.  It did not take place in a hunting blind. It did not take place in a living room containing Third Reich memorabilia prominently displayed behind glass.  It did not take place in the back yard of a Rest Home.  Or in the back of a van covered in Monster Energy Drink stickers.

This 4 HOUR meeting of the Republican Caucus took place at the State Capitol.  It was not convened by Georgia’s “Michele Bachmann,” which I assume is just a goat with a peanut necklace carrying a Confederate Flag.  It was called by the senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers.

A video of this meeting can be seen here.

you are going to eat these god damn organic radishes!

So who’s the dude with the PowerPoint?

It was emceed by Field Searcy, a local conservative activist who was  forced out of the Georgia Tea Party in April due to his endorsement of  conspiracy theories about the president’s birth certificate and the  collapse of World Trade Center Tower 7.

Repeat. This guy got kicked out of the tea party. In Georgia.

About 23 minutes into the briefing, Searcy explained how President Obama, aided by liberal organizations like the Center for American Progress and business groups like local chambers of commerce, are secretly using mind-control techniques to push their plan for forcible relocation on the gullible public:

“They do that by a process known as the Delphi technique. The Delphi  technique was developed by the Rand Corporation during the Cold War as a  mind-control technique. It’s also known as “consensive process.” But  basically the goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a  targeted group of people to a pre-determined outcome while keeping the  illusion of being open to public input.”

This all relates to the recent rash of state Glenn Beck/GOP Tin foil conspiracies regarding Agenda 21, a 20-year-old UN program that attempts to address hunger, poverty and sustainability. It’s primarily focused on Developing Countries.

And it’s going to fucking destroy America, our daughters, and the NFL!

The presentation also featured a special video cameo from conservative talking-head Dick Morris in which the former Clinton aide warns that Obama “wants to force everyone into the cities from whence our ancestors fled.”

Heed Dick Morris’ warnings or be banished to a multi-unit building close to public transportation.

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There Was An Election?

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

A week has passed and everything has changed.  Congratulations to all the liberal, gay potheads out there.  You are the big winners.  Love you guys.  Also, math.

That’s my primary take-away. Here are some other thoughts.

1.  When the Bangkok Post broke Tammy Duckworth’s victory, I took a moment to be happy. Not gloating. Not relieved. Just happy.  Most election days are debaucherous emotional rollercoasters. Yes, it’s nice when your candidate wins – but usually because the other guy (or girl, but usually guy) lost.    Politicians are almost universally compromised, so the black lining of the silver cloud always remains.

Duckworth/Walsh could possibly fit this mold. In my opinion, Joe Walsh is Washington’s most despicable elected official, though that’s a trough that runs wide and sinks deep.  Yes, it’s great that the millions of outside dollars that supported the flame throwing deadbeat birther were wasted.  It’s great that his attacks on her military service were not rewarded.  It’s great that voters possibly had some buyer’s remorse….And they should’ve been embarrassed, like the family whose relative goes on Price Is Right and accidentally says something anti-semitic.

But in that moment it wasn’t about Walsh.  Politicians universally disappoint and Duckworth might do the same. Is it possible there’s a skeleton in her closet?  Of course. Most of us have at least one, but baseless speculation is a waste of energy.

I’ve followed Duckworth since her narrow ’06 loss to Peter Roskam in a historically “red” district.  I knocked on some doors and made some calls on her behalf during that campaign, so I’m not unbiased.  However, her record as a Veterans’ Advocate speaks for itself.  An area the Bush administration effectively ignored, on a state and national level she has been a central part of the effort to address veterans’ issues such as employment, health care and education.  While the unemployment rate for veterans has dropped dramatically over the last 3 years, in some states (like Michigan), veterans’ unemployment is well over 10%, so there’s a long way to go.  Veterans will need advocates like Duckworth on Capitol Hill – real advocates and not merely some Suits who invoke them for political gain.

While she certainly touts her military experience, it’s not exploitative.  She shows strength.  A vote for her should not be a pity-vote for a veteran amputee, as Walsh would have you believe. She wouldn’t want that and that’s no reason to give anyone your vote.

Duckworth is not the most eloquent or dynamic speaker. She’s not the wonkiest person in the room. She’s not an old, rich, white man.  However, in a body bereft of grace, honor and intelligence, I’m confident she will bring those much-needed qualities.  I wish her well.  Congrats Tammy!

2.  OK, now back to your regularly scheduled idiocy…

History will note that the current GOP is one of the most obstructionist opposition parties in a century.  For 4 years, they collectively placed political power ahead of governing. How’d you do, buddy?

3.  Can’t believe I’m doing this, but I would like to compliment CNN on their relatively reserved election night coverage.  With previous panels bursting out of the studio, I thought they were escalating towards a Hollywood Square-type set-up with Dana Loesch in the center square.

I’ll take Ali Velshi for the block!

I was also lucky enough to tune in for the Fox News Meltdown, featuring Karl Rove and narrated by Megyn “of the Pod” Kelly.  That was epic.  Fox + CNN = big winners.  There’s a first time for everything.

4.  Rudy Giuliani – go away.

5.  One week later and no reports concerning the results of Sergeant Nicholas Brody’s election.

6.  DANGER!!! Voter fraud is such a huge problem that suppressing millions of voters with limited early voting, long lines, caging and confusing ID requirements failed to deter bipartisan arrests that numbered in the High Single Digits.  Fainting couches for some!  (Poll taxes for others.)

7.  It was a bad election cycle to be a dude with weird-ass theories about rape.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

So, Congratulations President Obama – while you had your missteps, you managed to save the american auto industry from liquidation, effectively end the Iraq War, turn the tide for gay marriage and repeal DADT, pass a comprehensive health care bill + CHIP, increase veteran support, begin Afghanistan drawdown, kill Bin Laden, codify equal pay for women, and squeeze through enough stimulus and financial control to extinguish an economy that was on fire in ’08 and facilitate incremental recovery in a time when much of the industrialized world continues to flounder.  This was virtually all without the assistance of congressional republicans.

To wit, thank God the Dow hit 14,000! Remember when that was a key indicator of presidential accomplishment?  Harumph.  Also, if the worst “dirt” Darrell Issa and co. could fling at the administration over the course of 4 years was Solyndra and Fast & Furious, that’s one term void of a serious scandal.

A well-deserved reelection.  Good luck.  Fortunately, I expect a lot more cooperation from Republicans. Heyo!

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Gratuitous World Blog

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