Racism in America: The Scarlet Letter of a Nation

Racism in America

The_Scarlet_Letter_by_abandoned_echoes

Let me tell you a secret. White America’s issue with minorities is a simple one. Blacks in the US are the Scarlet Letter (look it up) on the face of what appears to be a prosperous and significant nation. A high-quality lie to the rest of the world that hard work leads to prosperity and America is prosperous because it works hard. This is a disingenuous truth.

When White America sees a minority face and most importantly a Black face, it is reminded that the wealth of this nation, the invisible labor (yes, the word no one can say) labor, not capital, is what made this country rich. The ability to, for four hundred years, give or take, burn human beings lives like kindling in the forge of what is now a great nation, is what America is built on.

White America is a very poor winner. They want to own the spoils of a war (the complete and total annihilation of an enemy, see: Native Americans) and pretend there were no wrong-doings committed. No smallpox blankets, no extermination orders, no routing of the natives, no Trail of Tears. America just spread its legs and said “come on in” we were waiting for your Manifest Destiny.

We are constantly reminded that Blacks sold other Blacks into slavery. We never question who was buying those slaves, what would happen to those slaves, how many of those slaves would become diseased by being carried like wood, how many of those slaves would die in the greatest human disaster ever (the Middle Passage) and would become part of the most monstrous human engine of progress and destruction called “The North America Project” started in 1492.

Blacks are the Scarlet Letter that says to every country, everywhere: America will eventually fuck you. Yes, we will promise you nice stuff in the beginning, (See: Black Slavers, Native Americans) but in the end, we will take everything you own, everything you believe in and replace it with our religion, everything you dream of, everything you ever held dear, we will grind it into the dust, turn you into labor and then pretend you are capital until we have taken every bit of value from you. Then and only then will we let you die, an ignoble death, bereft of any meaning, any cultural value, reduced to a cypher, reduced to a numerical statistical element, only fit for a ledger. You won’t even get a tombstone. It costs too much.

So when you hear the ranting of Conservative Party X or the mouth-breathings of Tea Bag on the Forehead member Y, you know now what this is really about. The truth of their rantings is found in their own discomfort with what they know to be truth. Their ancestors were not the stuff of heroic legend. Not at all. They were small men and women who despite writing history could not erase the far greater men and women who were destroyed so this nation could exist as a paragon of faux virtue to a world who holds them in high enough esteem to destroy itself trying to be them.

America is a land of wastrels, destroying its populace with mindless entertainment, pathetic blandishments of eternal beauty, sex past eighty, a mechanized fetishism bereft of satisfaction, little more than digital masturbation. Stroking, rubbing, playing with toys keeps the masses calm and quiet while the true monsters continue to promote left is right, right is wrong and freedom is not slavery, guns protect everyone, children should be armed, wealth is only for the rich, unions impoverish the poor, autism isn’t caused by environment, violence is caused by video games, global warming doesn’t exist and America is your friend.

Look through history and find America’s friends. None of them survived the experience. Ask yourself this question: Would White America be so unkind if just once they could imagine themselves in the roles of the victims they have destroyed over the centuries (yes, this means you Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, and any other country which participated in the slave trade).

Spare me the cultural relativism too, while you are at it. Every culture has had slavery in history. We are not talking about those cultures or those histories. We are talking about this history, this culture, this America where minorities, people of color, Blacks are still treated as second class citizens, not as part of a terrible wrong which could have been a right. If White America hadn’t spent and still spends so much of its time pretending didn’t happen, so much time trying to sanitize their evil from the pages of history (See: Kentucky, Slave Triangle). What if they had said: We have done a great wrong to the Natives, let’s make it right, truly right. Find a way to return their some of their land to them, give them sovereignty in this nation, show some measure of contriteness for our atrocities perpetrated by less civilized men. Let’s treat new members of our land with more deference than we had treated the natives who once lived here on land we have stolen from them.

No. That will never happen. Nor will any effort be made to assist the countries, the peoples, the nations, the histories of people destroyed by the social engine of Capitalism, promoted by White people as the ultimate express of human development no matter how many people it grinds into the dust in the name of progress. Capitalism is the engine, humanity is the grain. Widgets are the bread.

Let those who survive the engine of capitalism, poor, huddled masses, quivering in the smoky darkness, awaiting the next dawn with dread and trepidation, waiting outside what was once their home, hoping for the kindness of a stranger but expecting the baton of the police or military, let those masses of tired, hungry and disfranchised masses remember, there are no other shores to go to. There are no other places where you can start over. There is nothing left out there which is not already owned by capitalists who have already tried to claim your water and will soon claim your very breath as their property. You now have no place on Earth where they cannot reach and do not want dominion over.

What will it take for you to fight back against the people who oppress you with their rhetoric of “too big to fail” and use your last dollars, your retirement, your opportunities to power their very wasteful existence. Or will you go quietly to the grave cursing your enemies while playing with your electronic toys, blissfully ignorant of your role in the Great Machine, not as the cog you were promised and the opportunity to exceed your humble station, but as the grist itself.

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“Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.” — W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks

Robert Jensen: “The Color of the Race Problem is White”

Author of “The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege”

A video from a class held at the University of Texas at Austin.

“If you look at the data right from the immediate aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement, the late Sixties the early Seventies, look at that racialized gap between White and Black America then, and compare it to the gap today and what you will find on some of those measures on wealth and well-being, you find the gap is as wide today as it was forty years ago. On the measures where that gap is narrowing, it is narrowing at such a glacial pace that it will be decades or in some cases, even centuries before the gap is closed. Before we achieve parity, before we achieve a rough equality in this society.”

“The United States is the most affluent society in the history of the world. There has never been a society in the history of this planet that is as affluent and as wealthy as the United States.”

“If the United States wanted to close the racialized gap between White and Non-White Americans, could it do it? it certainly has the resources. It certainly has the belief in its ability to accomplish such things, yet it hasn’t closed that gap. What does that tell you? What it tells me is that it is still appropriate to call America a White Supremacist society in material terms.”

What Has Obama Done? Here Are 200 Accomplishments! With Citations!

by Milt Shook

If you’re one of those who thinks President Obama is a “disappointment,” my condolences for you not getting your unicorn. And it’s time to grow up, and get over it. We have a little over two months to go before an election that will feature more political ads than you have ever seen before. We don’t just have to beat Willard Romney; we also have to beat Citizens United. There will be TWO choices for president; it’s not a smorgasbord. You can either work for Obama and every other Democrat (yes, including Blue Dogs), or you can sit back and watch Willard Romney complete the job of taking apart the social fabric of the country that was first undertaken by Ronald Reagan 32 years ago.  That is your choice.

What makes the “disappointment” argument even more irritating is that it’s simply not true. He’s done nearly everything we elect a president to do, and he did it all with little support from the left, and massive obstruction from the right. .

Is he perfect? No, he’s human. Does he deserve some criticism? Of course, but at this point, it really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that this president has compiled a STELLAR recordm given the circumstances under which he took office. If you can look at this list of the president’s accomplishments and not be excited, you have a serious problem with perspective.

Pass this list around to everyone you know. And don’t be afraid; unlike many such lists, every item includes a link to a citation supporting it.

He Returned The Executive Branch To Fiscal Responsibility After the Bush Debacle

1. Within his first week, he signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse.   http://1.usa.gov/dUvbu5

2. Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money.   http://n.pr/hcgBn1

3. On his first full day, he froze White House salaries.  http://on.msnbc.com/ewJUIx

4. He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending. http://www.cio.gov

5. He committed to phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems. To that end, he also signed the Democratic-sponsored Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, which attempted to put a stop to waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system.  http://bit.ly/hOw1t1     http://bit.ly/fz8GAd

6. Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  http://bit.ly/hwKhKa

He Improved the Economy, Preventing a Bush Depression

7. Pushed through and signed the Democratic-sponsored American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as “the stimulus package.” The bill passed, even though only three Republicans voted for it. In a major departure from the previous administration, he launched recovery.gov, a website that allows taxpayers to track spending from the Act.   http://1.usa.gov/ibiFSs   http://1.usa.gov/e3BJMk

8. The Bush-led Great Recession was costing the economy nearly 800,000 jobs per month by the time President Obama took office. But by the end of his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economyby  3.5%.  http://reut.rs/i46CEE

9. Not only did he completed the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, he also leaned on the banks and others, and recovered virtually all of the bail-out money. http://1.usa.gov/eA5jVS   http://bit.ly/eCNrD6

10. He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan. http://1.usa.gov/goy6zl

11. Oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years. http://bit.ly/hrrnjY

12. Along with Democrats, and almost no Republicans, implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs.  http://bit.ly/ibhpxr   Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest.  http://bit.ly/gj7mt5 This resulted in GM returning to its place as the top car company in the world.  http://lat.ms/zIJuQx Willard Romney, on the other hand, advocated for the entire industry to go belly-up. http://nyti.ms/k0zp

13. Doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency.  http://bit.ly/eYD4nf

14. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act giving the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud in every corner of the financial system, and create a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial fraud that led to the economic meltdown.  http://abcn.ws/g18Fe7

15. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which was designed to to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices.  http://1.usa.gov/gIaNcS

16. Increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect. http://bit.ly/f77aOw

17. Signed the Democratic-sponsored and passed Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, expanding on the Making Home Affordable Program to help millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures. The bill also provided $2.2 billion to help combat homelessness, and to stabilize the housing market.  http://bit.ly/eEpLFn

18. Through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he and Congressional Democrats provided tax credits to first-time home buyers, which helped the U.S. housing market recovery.   http://bit.ly/dZgXXw   http://bit.ly/gORYfL

19. Initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses.
http://1.usa.gov/eu0u0b

20. Created business.gov, which allows for online collaboration between small businesses and experts re managing a business. (The program has since merged with SBA.gov.)   http://www.business.gov

21. Played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.   http://nyti.ms/gHlgp5

22. Took steps to improve minority access to capital. http://bit.ly/f9xVE7

23. Signed an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to review all federal regulations and remove any unnecessary and/or burdensome regulations from the books.  http://1.usa.gov/Lpo5bd

24. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost.   http://1.usa.gov/ez30Dc

25. Dismantled the Minerals Management Service, thereby cutting ties between energy companies and the government. http://nyti.ms/bw1MLu

26. Along with Congressional Democrats, provided funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police and firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession.  http://bit.ly/g0IKWR

27. Used recovered TARP money to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.   http://on.msnbc.com/i1i8eV

28. Crafted an Executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans. http://bit.ly/eyqsNE

He Fostered Greater Transparency and Better Government, After the Excesses of the Bush Years

29. Signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the Executive Branch.  http://bit.ly/fsBACN

30. Signed an order banning anyone from working in an agency they had lobbied in previous years, and put strict limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House.   http://nyti.ms/gOrznV

31. Held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public.  http://bit.ly/gVNSgX

32. Became the first to stream every White House event, live.  http://1.usa.gov/kAgOP5

33. Established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities.   http://www.serve.gov

34. Provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history.  http://1.usa.gov/hQ7ttV

35. Issued an Executive Order on Presidential Records, which restored the 30-day time frame for former presidents to review records, and eliminated the right for the vice president or family members of former presidents to do the reviews. Provides the public with greater access to historic  White House documents, and severely curtails the ability to use executive privilege to shield them.  http://1.usa.gov/gUetLb

36. Improved aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, and issued new guidelines to make FOIA more open and transparent when processing FOIA requests.  http://1.usa.gov/gjrnp2

Wall Street Reforms and Consumer Protection

37. Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.  http://huff.to/eAi9Qq

38. Along with Congressional Democrats, pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression.  http://bit.ly/hWCPg0   http://bit.ly/geHpcD

39. Through Dodd-Frank legislation, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  http://1.usa.gov/j5onG

40. Through Dodd-Frank, the Executive Branch fashioned rules that reduce the influence of speculators in the oil market.  http://bit.ly/MDnA1t

41. Fashioned rules so that banks can no longer use YOUR money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers’ interests.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

42. Supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

43. Endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes.   http://bit.ly/esOdfB   http://bit.ly/eG4DPM

44. Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks that now permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and  tax evaders.  http://bit.ly/htfDgw

45. Signed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which closed many of the loopholes that allowed companies to send jobs overseas, and avoid paying US taxes by moving money offshore.  http://1.usa.gov/bd1RTq

46. Established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

47. Oversaw and then signed a Democratic bill constituting the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression.  http://thedc.com/gxkCtP 

48. Through the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, extended the False Claims Act to combat fraud by companies and individuals usingmoney from the TARP and Stimulus programs.  http://bit.ly/SLTcSa

He Ushered Through Many Changes That Enhanced Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination

49. Along with Congressional Democrats, advocated for and signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made it a federal crime to assault anyone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. http://bit.ly/gsMSJ7

50. Pushed through, signed and demanded the Pentagon enact a repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that forced soldiers to lie in order to be eligible to fight for their country, and put our troops at risk by disqualifying many qualified soldiers from helping.  http://bit.ly/fdahuH  http://bit.ly/mZV4Pz

51. Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.  http://1.usa.gov/g2RLCj

52. Appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history.  http://bit.ly/g1lA7D

53. Appointed first openly transgender Cabinet Official in History.  http://bit.ly/58zUp7  

54. Changed HUD rules to prohibit gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination in housing   bit.ly/9RxEnP  

55. Changed his mind and publicly expressed support for the right to enter into a same-sex marriage.  http://bit.ly/JsiFKp

56. Issued a Presidential Memorandum reaffirming the rights of gay couples to make medical decisions for each other. http://1.usa.gov/aUueGT

57. Wrote and signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies evaluate the effect of their policies and programs on women and families.     http://bit.ly/e1puTk   http://1.usa.gov/rFfqMM

58. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. This was after the GOP blocked the bill in 2007. Only 5 Republican Senators voted for the bill.   http://bit.ly/fT3Cxg

59. Expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act. http://1.usa.gov/dSbI0x

60. Under his guidance, National Labor Relations Board issued final rules that require all employers to prominently post employees’ rights where all employees or prospective employees can see it, including websites and intranets, beginning November 2011.  http://1.usa.gov/qu2EhQ

61. Advocated that United Nations adopt a policy supporting gay rights worldwide.  http://lat.ms/pQe1RS

62. Issued an order requiring hospitals to allow visitation by same-sex couples.  reut.rs/llNJek 

63. Appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.  http://1.usa.gov/fi5IY0

64. Helped Democrats in Congress pass and signed the Civil Rights History Act. http://bit.ly/th0JC8

He Made Major Improvements in Foreign Relations and American Status Around the World

65. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president during his first six months in office.   http://bit.ly/hZycda

66. As he promised, he gave a speech at a major Islamic forum in Cairo early in his administration. http://nyti.ms/dKvY4g 

67. Helped to restore America’s reputation around the world as a global leader that does the “right thing” in world affairs, at least according to the rest of the world.   http://bit.ly/h743y7  http://bit.ly/ho4TCr

68. Re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues.  http://1.usa.gov/e7QuDj

69. Closed a number of secret detention facilities. http://nyti.ms/rpUc9l

70. Improved relations with Middle East countries by appointing special envoys.  http://1.usa.gov/tiGAGe

71. Pushed for military to emphasize devlopment of foreign language skills. http://bit.ly/AxUCLV

72. Offered $400 million to the people living in Gaza, called on both Israel and the Palestinians to stop inciting violence.  http://bit.ly/9axfWh

73. Refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program, and thus avoid another war that Republicans wanted.  http://bit.ly/xVmSZK

74. Worked with Democratic Congress to make donations to Haiti tax deductible in 2009.  http://huff.to/6YkAVY

75. Established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.   http://1.usa.gov/eX28DP

76. Issued Executive Order blocking interference and helping to stabilize Somalia.  http://1.usa.gov/hxdf8U

77. Established new, more reasonable policies in our relations with Cuba, such as allowing Cuban-Americans to visit their families and send money to support them.  http://n.pr/hY3Kwa   http://nyti.ms/emQBde

78. Ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and, unfortunately, progressive Democrats) who prevented follow through.  http://bit.ly/eW6CVF

79. Ordered a review of our detention and interrogation policy, and prohibited the use of torture, or what Bush called “enhanced interrogation.” He ordered interrogators to limit their actions to the Army Field manual.  http://bit.ly/g6MTuC

80. Ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed. http://bbc.in/h6N9ax

81. Released the Bush torture memos.  http://bit.ly/hWJ5z0

82. On his second day in office, he signed a detailed Executive Order that banned torture, reversed all  Bush torture policies, and put the United States in compliance with the Geneva Convention.  http://1.usa.gov/dL6Zve    http://nyti.ms/hzWWys

83. In response to the emerging “Arab Spring,” he created a Rapid Response fund, to assist emerging democracies with foreign aid, debt relief, technical assistance and investment packages in order to show that the United States stands with them. http://bit.ly/zfmGv9

84. Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war, and to encourage Iran to give up their nuclear program. http://1.usa.gov/wLtNjb

85. Ended the Iraq War. http://tgr.ph/ru0tyS

86. Authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates. http://bit.ly/y8c9Fz

He Took a More Realistic Approach to “Defense”

87. Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat.  http://1.usa.gov/gDX1nE

88. Authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010.http://1.usa.gov/gLFZl2

89. Restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush.   http://lat.ms/gkcl3i

90. Signed and pushed through ratification a new SALT Treaty.  http://bit.ly/f3JVtw

91. Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will lst until at least 2021.  http://1.usa.gov/cI1bC4

92. Through the Defense Authorization Act, reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq.   http://bit.ly/hk73OJ

93. Developed first comprehensive strategy with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan designed to facilitate the defeat of al Qaeda and the withdrawal of most troops, as well as the rebuilding of Afghanistan.  http://wapo.st/ee4Xcs

94. Returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops from the country. http://bit.ly/lNXUna

95. Negotiated a deal with Afghan govenment, to withdraw troops and military support, while assisting in rebuilding and modernizing of the country.  http://bit.ly/K362an

96. Took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world.  http://yhoo.it/n5lXs6

97. Negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.  http://1.usa.gov/aHp0Cn

98. Took decisive action to use NATO to limit the slaughter of innocents in Libya, so that the Libyan people could topple a despotic government and determine their own fate.  http://aje.me/qAh4Sj

His Administration Treated Soldiers and Veterans with Respect That Was Missing Previously

99. Along with Congressional Democrats, not only reauthorized families of fallen soldiers to be able to visit when the body arrives at Dover AFB, but also provided funding for it.  Ended the media blackout on coverage of the return of fallen soldiers.  http://nyti.ms/glqN66   http://bbc.in/gWSSkA

100. Funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services.  http://1.usa.gov/huhqfo

101. Provided active combat troops with better body armor.  http://bit.ly/hzSv2h

102. Created Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order  to improve the quality of their medical care.  http://1.usa.gov/f4yaxW

103. Put an end to the Bush-era stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan beyond their enlistment date. (personal note: my son will be in harm’s way for six fewer months with Obama as president, so you know I love this one.)http://nyti.ms/e2YQ7Q

104. Along with Congressional Democrats, supported and signed Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which made more money available to enable better medical care for veterans.  http://1.usa.gov/fN4ur1

105. Along with Congressional Democrats, ushered through largest spending increase in 30 years for Department of Veterans Affairs, with money to go to improved medical facilities, and to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities.    http://1.usa.gov/gY8O3x

106. Created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs.  http://bit.ly/epwUQY

107.  Initiated and signed a recruitment and employment plan to get more veterans into government jobs.  http://bit.ly/b48coi

108. Oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals.  http://bit.ly/gjzTxX

109. Signed the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, which ensures that spouses of military personnel who are forced to move because their spouse is posted for military duty will be able to avoid state taxes in their temporary residence.  http://bit.ly/1Gh0NX

He Refocused the Federal Government on Education

110. Repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process.   http://bit.ly/gYWd30  http://bit.ly/e9c7Dr   http://bit.ly/eEzTNq

111. Reformed student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.   http://nyti.ms/dMvHOt

112. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.   http://1.usa.gov/gGRIAr

113.  Created the Race to the Top program, which encouraged states to come up with effective school reforms and rewards the best of them.   http://bit.ly/NHtZ7L

114. Oversaw major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide  http://bit.ly/fNDcj3 ,

115. Oversaw major expansion in school construction.  http://bit.ly/fYwNrV

116. Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start. http://1.usa.gov/tzT2Rr

117. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0  http://bit.ly/hPhG7J 

118. Oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low income students to go to college.  http://bit.ly/hI6tXz

119. Along with Democratic Congress, passed and signed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds.  http://1.usa.gov/dQvtUe 

120. Took major new steps to protec students from ineffective for-profit colleges through “gainful employment” measures, whereby schools have to demonstrate that its students actually find work to get federal aid.  http://1.usa.gov/jkzQe2

121. With First Lady Michelle Obama, passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will improve nutrition in schools and make children healthier.   http://1.usa.gov/GAXkSk

He Pushed Through Improvements in National Safety and Security

122. Restored federal agencies such as FEMA to the point that they have been able to manage a huge number of natural  disasters successfully.   http://bit.ly/h8Xj7z

123. Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast. http://nyti.ms/efBO7B

124. Has repeatedly beefed up border security http://bit.ly/mMYB4i

125. Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden.  http://bit.ly/jChpgw

Reoriented Government to an Adult View on Science, Technology and Health Care

126. Created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making.  http://1.usa.gov/g2SDuw

127. Opened up process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects.  http://bit.ly/j0KV2U

128. Eliminated Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research.   http://bit.ly/h36SSO   http://ti.me/edezge

129. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs. http://nyti.ms/fTs9t7

130. Signed Democratic-sponsored Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis. http://bit.ly/fOi2rb

131. Expanded the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families, to cover more first-time mothers. http://bit.ly/jRRRJc

132. Obama EPA reveresed research ethics standards which allowed humands to be used as “guinea pigs” in tests of the effects of chemicals, to comply with numerous codes of medical ethics.  http://bit.ly/bKgqdS

133. Conducted a cyberspace policy review.   http://1.usa.gov/gmbdvC

134. Provided financial support for private sector space programs. http://bit.ly/fn8ucr

135. Oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.   http://bit.ly/dNTRyP

136. Along with Democrats in Congress, ushered through and signed a bill authorizing FDA to regulate tobacco.  http://on.msnbc.com/fiKViB As a result,  the FDA has Ordered Tobacco Companies to Disclose Cigarette Ingredients and banned sale of cigarettes falsely labeled as “light.”

137. Through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provided $500 million for Health Professions Training Programs.  http://bit.ly/ecQSgA

138. Increased funding for community-based prevention programs. http://bit.ly/frMPG3

139. Oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors. http://bit.ly/e5b1iq    http://1.usa.gov/fVNkt9

140. Eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price. http://bit.ly/fOkG5b

141. Two weeks after taking office, signed Democratic-sponsored Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which increased the number of children covered by health insurance by 4 million.   http://bit.ly/fDEzGv

142. Urged Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross for raising premiums 39% without explanation. Democratic Rep. Waxman responded by launching a probe, and Anthem Blue Cross put increase on hold for two months.    http://yhoo.it/e8Tj9C

143. Ushered through and signed Affordable Care Act, which expanded health insurance coverage to at least 30 million more people, ended many common insurance company practices that are often detrimental  to those with coverage.  He also established healthcare.gov, so that taxpayers could keep up with developments.  http://www.healthcare.gov/

144. Through ACA, allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26.   http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

145. Through the ACA, provided tax breaks to allow 3.5 million small business to provide health insurance to their employees, and 29 million people will receive tax breaks to help them afford health insurance.  http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

146. Through the ACA, expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level.  http://nyti.ms/ekMWpo

147. Through the ACA, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care.  http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

148. Provisions in theACA have already resulted in Medicare costs actually declining slightly this fiscal year, for the first time in many years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The increase in 2011 was 4%, which is very low compared to the average 12% annual inflation rate during previous 40 years. http://1.usa.gov/oMxpTh

149. Through the ACA, expanded space exploration and discovery options to more players   http://bit.ly/PNTS7e

150.  Through the Connect America Fund, pushed through and received FCC approval for a move of $8 billion in subsidies away from telephone landlines to assist lower-income rural families in accessing broadband.   http://lat.ms/vhRUEs

He Took Steps to Strengthen the Middle Class and Families, and to Fight Poverty

151. Worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families.  http://bit.ly/fNfidS

152. Cracked down on companies that were previously denying sick pay, vacation and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare tax payments through abuse of the employee classification of independent contractor.   http://nyti.ms/fOGLcj

153. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , cut taxes for 95% of America’s working families.   http://bit.ly/eSEI4F

154. Tax rates for average working families are the lowest since 1950. http://bit.ly/f74pD8

155. Extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years.  http://bit.ly/eFeSdP

156. Extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s extended unemployment benefits several times. http://aol.it/evtVxD   http://nyti.ms/emrqKJ    http://bit.ly/hOtIpg   http://bit.ly/fTT7kz

157. Provided  a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps).  http://nyti.ms/gfLqyM

158. Signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs.  http://wapo.st/eWECA8

He Took Concrete Steps to Improve Our Environment and Address Our Energy Needs

159. Fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact fuel efficiency standards that exceeded federal standards.    http://nyti.ms/e8e94x

160. Fast-tracked increased fuel economy standards for vehicles beginning with the 2011 model year. It was the first time such standards had been increased in a decade.   http://politi.co/hiaPKM

161. Oversaw establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, to create more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies. http://bit.ly/lZp73y

162. Obama EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history.  http://bit.ly/lP3yEL

163. Ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances.    http://1.usa.gov/g3MTbu

164. Ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021. http://reut.rs/fV155p  (As you can see, Republicans are trying hard to kill it.)

165. Oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers. http://bit.ly/mjnq2R

166. Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions.   http://bit.ly/froaP5

167. Obama EPA ruled that CO2 is a pollutant. http://bit.ly/iQTSNN

168. Oversaw doubling federal spending on clean energy research. http://bit.ly/iN0sCE

169. Pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.   http://bit.ly/j8UP5Y

170. Created a program to develop renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that will produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents.   http://1.usa.gov/fgfRWq

171. Reengaged in the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions agreements talks, and proposed one himself. He also addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference, officially reversing the Bush era stance that climate change was a “hoax.” http://bit.ly/dX6Vj3  http://bit.ly/fE2PxK  http://nyti.ms/hfeqvv

172. Fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide.  http://bit.ly/eJ6QOO

173. Required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption. http://bit.ly/lBhk7P

174. Following the neglect of Bush’s eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic.  http://bit.ly/fzQUFO

175. Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars.   http://bit.ly/glCukV

176. Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles.   http://bit.ly/h5KZqy   http://1.usa.gov/fLWq5c   http://1.usa.gov/hmUSbk

177. Oversaw and pushed through amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 authorizing advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://1.usa.gov/yTRYVo

178. Actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills. http://nyti.ms/bxjDi3

179. Initiated Criminal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://nyti.ms/bVuB7a

180. Through his EPA, he asserted federal legal supremacy, and barred Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own.  http://bit.ly/ww8eMd

181. Strengthened the Endangered Species Act.  http://bit.ly/hscjsH

182. Obama EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year.  http://bit.ly/jYH7nt

183. Through the EPA, attemped to take steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans. http://bit.ly/fBuWd2

184. Through new EPA regulations, he created a pretext for closing the dirtiest power plants in the country, by limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic gasses.  http://bit.ly/rQCIgA

185. Increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%  http://bit.ly/fbJPjY

186. Announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards.  http://1.usa.gov/oQiC1K

187. Announced a huge increase in average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg in 2010 to 35.5mpg starting in 2016 and 54.5 starting in 2025   http://1.usa.gov/qtghsW

But That’s Not All…

188. Expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA.  http://bit.ly/etznpY

189. Oversaw funding of  the design of a new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, which is scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015.  He protected the funding during the recent budget negotiations.   http://on.fb.me/fD0EVO    http://bit.ly/ff5Luv

190. Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. http://bit.ly/dFb8qF

191. Nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Justice in the court’s history, and the women represent only the third and fourth women to serve on the court, out of a total of 112 justices.   http://huff.to/eOChg6  http://bit.ly/i02wgP

192. Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president.   http://bit.ly/dX6vNB

193. Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and rescinded the global gag rule.  http://bit.ly/eCFAI1  http://bit.ly/f92drF

194. Loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference.   http://huff.to/eQfa7j

195. Signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program.   http://bit.ly/idgQH5

196. Signed an Executive Order that will speed up deployment of a more comprehensive broadband infrastructure.  http://1.usa.gov/M7rVpe

197. Signed an Executive Order creating jobs immediately by instructing them to reduce the time needed for review and permitting of infrastructure projects. http://1.usa.gov/GHxaYt

198. Signed a bill that provided $4.3 billion in additional assistance to 9/11 first reponders.   http://bit.ly/o7cWYS

199. Signed an Executive Order pledging support for efforts to end the global problem of violence against women and girls.  http://1.usa.gov/MHTRVU

And Did You Know?

200. Despite the characterizations of some, Obama’s success rate in winning congressional votes on issues was an unprecedented 96.7% for his first year in office.  Though he is often cited as superior to Obama, President Lyndon Johnson’s success rate in 1965 was only 93%.   http://n.pr/i3d7cY

News-washing: How fact-free is your news today?

News-washing: A trend that creates a populace unable to make decisions in its own best interests.

News-washing is a portmanteau of a similar vein to brain-washing. I created it to discuss the idea in which events take place that should be turned into news. The event should be described as accurately as possible, as devoid of emotional involvement as possible. This information should then be coupled with the potential ramifications to the people closest to the event, any witnesses and potential participants as well as how it will affect the circumstances locally. As news agencies propagate this information, the relationship of this information related to the people who are having the news distributed to them should be made relevant without distorting the event, or news about the event in relationship to the receiver of the news.

Though the graphic above is relatively self-explanatory I thought I would include how it came to be. In the military, I was trained as an observer, to be able to render an event in an ordered fashion, remaining aware of things like time, placement of people, resources, equipment and events. It is important because your life may depend on what happened in what order and a decision based on those observations can be critical. When I began working as a civilian with the police department, I discovered the ability of the average person to observe events varied widely.

Most people are NOT trained to be aware of how events unfold and during an interview with twenty people regarding an event, you will have twenty different accounts. This is why the police will take statements from everyone they can AND gather evidence to piece together what actually took place.

This is a similar process to what is done for news reporting except with one vital variation: The news grows less effective, less accurate and more distorted the further you are from the event. The best event is one where the journalist (the supposed objective and trained observer) sees it and hopefully without bias reports the event as it happens. Of course, film helps but is no guarantee of objectivity. But once the reporter has done their job, the news is subjected to an potential array of forces, postive and negative:

  • The editor is the first force that controls what is important is and how it is portrayed. They may decide to not report the event or to change the emphasis of the event.
  • The company’s particular slant on the news. If they have a company bias, or an organizational bias, the news article’s commentary may not reflect the event.
  • If it is an issue of national security, it may never see the light of day at all. The military may control what is seen or heard or may send misinformation if its in the “best interest of the nation.”
  • There may also be the conversion of news to propaganda if it serves national or corporate interests to do so.
  • The effectiveness of these tactics may also be augmented by the number of times the news is repeated, repetition is believed to build credibility even if it isn’t true.
  • Resonance is how news may be interpreted by viewers/readers with extensive backgrounds. Their interpretations can either cloud or make clear, important topics to the layreader.
  • Amplitude is the quality of that news service overall. Do they or are they known for producing news that is accurate, high quality and respected by others journalists, organisations or readers.

These six forces are the primary forces affecting our news today. As such, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know who is telling you what and why. So my advice is simple. TRUST NO ONE. Verify everything you can with as many reputable sources as you can. Treat news like you would Wikipedia. Everyone who writes in it isn’t your friend, or knowledgeable or for that matter has an objective point of view.

The hidden agendas of corporate media can lead to strange manipulations of how events may be seen. The chief force in this transformation of news media has been the 24 hour news cycle. Forced to report on news all day long, has made the media, hungry for topics, and often less responsible in these days of needing more news and having less staff, less resources and more responsibility for the bottom line.

News is supposed to hold people long enough for them to see commercials. That is the reality of your news corporations. It’s the primary reason news has become more like info-tainment rather than information.

Unfortunately, much of the world’s events, things that should make it into the mediasphere are instead hidden either as state secrets or corporate secrets held in collusion, often with the consent of governments.

I have watched as:

  • Information that should be in the mainstream media remains unseen or minimally reported
  • Information is watered down with less pertinent facts, personal opinion or through distribution agencies removing news elements via their corporate requirements.
  • Events that should be covered are completely ignored and only covered on smaller networks.
  • Events that have less significance are given greater news coverage.
  • Information from events is covered up, hidden or declared a state secret preventing it from becoming news for general consumption.

I am so suspicious of news media these days, I check and double check information I see everywhere. But since no source is perfect, it is good to have a variety of places to go to. Here is my short news source list. I will add to it when I get a moment. Share yours or dispute mine…

I am open to hearing how you think news-washing is accomplished and what we can do to get more news that isn’t in the hands of megacorporations or billionaires who control media, lock, stock and barrel. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to be and remain informed. With that in mind, I want to close with an awesome monologue from The Newsroom. How many of the facts that get rattled off do YOU know personally? Brace yourselves. Reality isn’t pretty.

An Incredible Injustice of Being

This is a rally in New York in solidarity with the family of Trayvon Martin. The Million Hoodie March.

Injustice

Trayvon Martin was a young black man who was killed unjustly in Florida. If you haven’t read any articles, I will point you at the New York Times. It has the view of the story I like the most. ThinkProgess.org keeps an updated chart of information. Go ahead, read them and then get right back. Then I read an article at the Good Men Project as it was talking about how Black men enjoy flying on Southwest Airlines because no one wants to sit next to them on a flight, giving them more leg room. However, this particular perk came with other questions. Do you experience other times when such isolation and covert racism can be a problem? I read the comments for the article (and while I know better than to read comments, I couldn’t help myself). And those comments irked me, a whole lot. I try not to let covert racism reach me in my heart. So I wrote:

Is this really news to anyone? Oh wait, it is if you are not a Black man. I have experienced this phenomenon my entire life. Whenever I ride any form of mass transit, the seat next to me will remain open unless the person is more infirm or potentially more threatening than I appear to be. On airplanes, unless seating is assigned, the seat next to me remains open. I have even tested the idea of walking down the street and not deviating from my flight plan. People walk around me and anyone I am walking with, even if I walk against the flow of traffic. This subtle act of fear, built around racism regarding Black Men, has turn me from being 5 feet 9 inches of a highly educated, well spoken, unassuming, non-threatening, well-dressed Black Man into the Most Dangerous Man Alive. It would amuse me if it wasn’t such a sad statement about our society. This trick works no matter where I lived in the country. This is such an isolating condition. Imagine what the workplace is like when this “untouchable” state is active. Corporate work is hell when you are an “untouchable.” (And before someone rants and tells me about the castes of untouchables in other cultures, I know they exist and that is why I mentioned it.)

Someone at the publication decided to move my comment to its own section and everyone wanted to give me their opinions on my experience. Their comments varied from mild to condescending. I was prepared to ignore them until I did more research into the death of Trayvon Martin. At this time, more news had become available and I was emotionally distraught. I have an eight year old son who look suspiciously like Trayvon did as a young child. I lost my composure and wrote what I was feeling. At first I had not planned to press send. I was writing to release it to the ether and planned on pressing delete. I realized that was just as much of the problem as anything else. I did not feel empowered to speak my mind. To hell with that!

“Being” While Black

Now in light of our recent tragedy of Trayvon Martin, anyone willing to look at me, yes, I am the guy that wrote the selected comment and tell me that “Being or Walking While Black” is not an obstacle in our current supposedly “post-racial” society is simply not paying attention.

If you were not aware, Trayvon Martin was a young Black man in Florida who was shot because “he looked suspicious.” If you were a White person who told me that I should yield to people coming down the street, or a Black person who told me I should work to be happier so that I mind the racism less, neither of those answers will address the reality that as I move down any street in at least fifteen states in the US who have similar “Stand Your Ground” laws, I could be accused of being aggressive, belligerent, or hell just being there is all it takes for me to find myself shot and my shooter walking away, as long as he said, he was “engaged in an act of self defense.”

Let’s add to that, the tendency of law enforcement to grab young Black men off the street, crime or not and harass them at will. I have dealt with that all of my life. “Driving while Black, Walking while Black” now I can add to it “Being while Black” as a reason to deprive me of my social rights, respect, or even my life without any consequences to any White person who can mouth the right legal words to escape. Does this make me angry? Hell, yes. And if it were happening to you or your sons, you would be livid. But it’s not so for most of you, you don’t give a damn.

Now all of you who would put words in my mouth about how I should do things in this society remember this: NONE of you have to walk in my shoes. You do not have to fear every time you walk out your door, it may be the last time, through no fault of your own but through the racial stigma associated with being a Black Man. I do not have to do anything. I simply have to exist for someone to decide that I might be a threat and that threat needs to be neutralized. Know that when the system has gathered the last Black Man from the streets, and put them in the prisons or the morgue, they will come for you next. This is not just about my Blackness. This is about power and control. This society needs a demon, a boogeyman for people to fear while they are being manipulated, led about and exploited as the natural resource they are. The next time you consider the phrase “human resources” it should give you a chill.

Turn your back on me and my travails, it is after all the American way. Black men are the most unemployed members of our society, even when their skills and training are comparable or superior, most imprisoned, no matter the type of crime, we are over-represented within the penal system, most under-educated, we are plucked out of the school system, called unteachable by the fourth grade and fast-tracked into the penal system. I challenge all of you snarky folk with something to say about “perceived racism” or my reaction to it, to work on the “actual racism” visibly inherent in society.

Otherwise when you see me coming down the street, get the hell out of my way. I am fighting the system because I have no choice. It is trying to kill me and everyone like me. I don’t have time for you and your petty fears, my life is on the line.

And more importantly, so is my son’s.