Friday, August 31, 2012

What has President Obama Accomplished?

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. 2. Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money. 3. On his first full day, he froze White House salaries. 4. He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending. 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 He committed to phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems.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. 6. Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. 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, a website that allows taxpayers to track spending from the Act. 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%. 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. 10. He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan. 11. Oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years. 12. Along with Democrats, and almost no Republicans, implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs. Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest. This resulted in GM returning to its place as the top car company in the world. Willard Romney, on the other hand, advocated for the entire industry to go belly-up. 13. Doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency. 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. 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. 16. Increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect. 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. 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. 19. Initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses. 20. Created, which allows for online collaboration between small businesses and experts re managing a business. (The program has since merged with 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. 22. Took steps to improve minority access to capital. 23. Signed an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to review all federal regulations and remove any unnecessary and/or burdensome regulations from the books. 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. 25. Dismantled the Minerals Management Service, thereby cutting ties between energy companies and the government. 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. 27. Used recovered TARP money to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan. 28. Crafted an Executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans. 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. 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. 31. Held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public. 32. Became the first to stream every White House event, live. 33. Established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities. 34. Provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history. 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. 36. Improved aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, and issued new guidelines to make FOIA more open and transparent when processing FOIA requests. 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. 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. 39. Through Dodd-Frank legislation, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 40. Through Dodd-Frank, the Executive Branch fashioned rules that reduce the influence of speculators in the oil market. 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. 42. Supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation. 43. Endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes. 44. Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks that now permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and tax evaders. 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. 46. Established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses. 47. Oversaw and then signed a Democratic bill constituting the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression. 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. 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. 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. 51. Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. 52. Appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history. 53. Appointed first openly transgender Cabinet Official in History. 54. Changed HUD rules to prohibit gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination in housing 55. Changed his mind and publicly expressed support for the right to enter into a same-sex marriage. 56. Issued a Presidential Memorandum reaffirming the rights of gay couples to make medical decisions for each other. 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. 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. 59. Expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act. 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. 61. Advocated that United Nations adopt a policy supporting gay rights worldwide. 62. Issued an order requiring hospitals to allow visitation by same-sex couples. 63. Appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. 64. Helped Democrats in Congress pass and signed the Civil Rights History Act. 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. 66. As he promised, he gave a speech at a major Islamic forum in Cairo early in his administration. 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. 68. Re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues. 69. Closed a number of secret detention facilities. 70. Improved relations with Middle East countries by appointing special envoys. 71. Pushed for military to emphasize devlopment of foreign language skills. 72. Offered $400 million to the people living in Gaza, called on both Israel and the Palestinians to stop inciting violence. 73. Refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program, and thus avoid another war that Republicans wanted. 74. Worked with Democratic Congress to make donations to Haiti tax deductible in 2009. 75. Established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. 76. Issued Executive Order blocking interference and helping to stabilize Somalia. 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. 78. Ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and, unfortunately, progressive Democrats) who prevented follow through. 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. 80. Ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed. 81. Released the Bush torture memos. 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. 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. 84. Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war, and to encourage Iran to give up their nuclear program. 85. Ended the Iraq War. 86. Authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates. He Took a More Realistic Approach to “Defense” 87. Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat. 88. Authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010. 89. Restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush. 90. Signed and pushed through ratification a new SALT Treaty. 91. Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will lst until at least 2021. 92. Through the Defense Authorization Act, reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq. 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. 94. Returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops from the country. 95. Negotiated a deal with Afghan govenment, to withdraw troops and military support, while assisting in rebuilding and modernizing of the country. 96. Took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world. 97. Negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India. 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. 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. 100. Funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services. 101. Provided active combat troops with better body armor. 102. Created Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order to improve the quality of their medical care. 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.) 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. 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. 106. Created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs. 107. Initiated and signed a recruitment and employment plan to get more veterans into government jobs. 108. Oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals. 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. 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. 111. Reformed student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate. 112. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. 113. Created the Race to the Top program, which encouraged states to come up with effective school reforms and rewards the best of them. 114. Oversaw major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide , 115. Oversaw major expansion in school construction. 116. Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start. 117. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0 118. Oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low income students to go to college. 119. Along with Democratic Congress, passed and signed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds. 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. 121. With First Lady Michelle Obama, passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will improve nutrition in schools and make children healthier. 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. 123. Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast. 124. Has repeatedly beefed up border security 125. Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden. 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. 127. Opened up process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects. 128. Eliminated Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research. 129. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs. 130. Signed Democratic-sponsored Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis. 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. 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. 133. Conducted a cyberspace policy review. 134. Provided financial support for private sector space programs. 135. Oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use. 136. Along with Democrats in Congress, ushered through and signed a bill authorizing FDA to regulate tobacco. 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. 138. Increased funding for community-based prevention programs. 139. Oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors. 140. Eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price. 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. 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. 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, so that taxpayers could keep up with developments. 144. Through ACA, allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26. 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. 146. Through the ACA, expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level. 147. Through the ACA, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care. 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. 149. Through the ACA, expanded space exploration and discovery options to more players 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. 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. 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. 153. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , cut taxes for 95% of America's working families. 154. Tax rates for average working families are the lowest since 1950. 155. Extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years. 156. Extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s extended unemployment benefits several times. 157. Provided a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). 158. Signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs. 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. 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. 161. Oversaw establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, to create more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies. 162. Obama EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history. 163. Ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances. 164. Ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021. (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. 166. Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions. 167. Obama EPA ruled that CO2 is a pollutant. 168. Oversaw doubling federal spending on clean energy research. 169. Pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars. 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. 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.” 172. Fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide. 173. Required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption. 174. Following the neglect of Bush’s eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic. 175. Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars. 176. Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles. 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. 178. Actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills. 179. Initiated Criminal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 180. Through his EPA, he asserted federal legal supremacy, and barred Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own. 181. Strengthened the Endangered Species Act. 182. Obama EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year. 183. Through the EPA, attemped to take steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans. 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. 185. Increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10% 186. Announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards. 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 But That's Not All... 188. Expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA. 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. 190. Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. 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. 192. Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president. 193. Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and rescinded the global gag rule. 194. Loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference. 195. Signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program. 196. Signed an Executive Order that will speed up deployment of a more comprehensive broadband infrastructure. 197. Signed an Executive Order creating jobs immediately by instructing them to reduce the time needed for review and permitting of infrastructure projects. 198. Signed a bill that provided $4.3 billion in additional assistance to 9/11 first reponders. 199. Signed an Executive Order pledging support for efforts to end the global problem of violence against women and girls. 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%. Source: What has Obama Done? Here Are 200 Accomplishments! With Citations! If you like this blog, consider supporting it with a one-time donation or as an ongoing ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

“It’s the story of my Dad, who was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba, beaten nearly to death. He fled to Texas in 1957, not speaking English, with $100 sewn into his underwear. He washed dishes making 50 cents an hour to pay his way through the University of Texas, and to start a small business in the oil and gas industry.

Transcript of remarks by Texas senatorial candidate Ted Cruz at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 28, 2012: “Good evening. I have the honor of standing before you this evening for one reason, because thousands upon thousands of grassroots activists stood united, not for a candidate, but for the sake of restoring liberty. Accountability, quite rightly, rests firmly in the hands of “We the People.” “Since 2010, something extraordinary has been happening, something that has dumbfounded the chattering class. “It began here in Florida in 2010. In Utah, Kentucky, Pennsylvania. “Was repeated this summer in Indiana. Nebraska. Wisconsin. “And this past month, in the Lone Star State, Texas. “What is happening all across America is a Great Awakening. “A response to career politicians in both parties who’ve gotten us into this mess. “This national movement is fueled by what unites us: a love of liberty, a belief in the unlimited potential of free men and women. “I want to tell you a love story. It’s the story of all of us, a love story of freedom. “It’s the story of our Founding Fathers, who fought and bled for freedom and then crafted the most miraculous political document ever conceived, our Constitution. The Framers understood that our rights come, not from monarchs, but from God-and that those rights are secure only when government power is restrained. “This love story is the story of the brave Texans in the City of Gonzales. When General Santa Anna demanded that they give up their guns and the cannon that guarded the city, they responded with the immortal cry “Come and take it.” “It’s the story of the greatest generation of Americans, who rose up to confront the grotesque evil that was the Nazis, and ushered in the greatest era of peace and prosperity the world has ever seen. “It’s the story of civil-rights heroes, like Dr. Martin Luther King, who stood strong against the scourge of discrimination, and bravely championed that every man and woman should be judged, not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. “It’s the story of President Ronald Reagan, who turned back the creeping growth of government and restored Morning in America. Who spoke out against the oppressive evil of communism and demanded “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” “It’s the story of my Mom. Irish and Italian, working class, the first in her family to go to college - a pioneering mathematician and computer programmer in the 1950s. “It’s the story of my Dad, who was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba, beaten nearly to death. He fled to Texas in 1957, not speaking English, with $100 sewn into his underwear. He washed dishes making 50 cents an hour to pay his way through the University of Texas, and to start a small business in the oil and gas industry. “My father is here tonight. When he came to America, él no tenía nada, pero tenía corazón. He had nothing, but he had heart. A heart for freedom. Thank you, Dad. “It’s the story of each and every one of you. We are all sons and daughters of those who risked everything for freedom, and we have the duty to pass that same opportunity to the generations to follow. “And yet today, many in Washington seem content to saddle our children with a financial debt larger than our nation has ever seen. “Government is out of control, and we’re going broke. “But I’m here with a word of encouragement. Millions of Americans are standing up, saying we want our country back. Republicans, Democrats, and independents. We will not follow the path of Greece; we will not go quietly into the night. “This election presents a stark choice. Two visions: we can continue down the road of the Obama Democrats, towards more and more spending, debt and government control of the economy and our lives. Or we can return to the founding principles of our nation-free markets, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberty. “Unfortunately, President Obama’s campaign is going to try to divide America. They’re going to try to separate us into little groups, and try to scare everybody. They’re going to tell seniors that Medicare will be taken away, tell Hispanics that we’re not welcome here and send the Vice President to preach a message of division. “It’s sad, how far we’ve come from hope and change. “All of this is designed to distract from the real issues that matter. Twenty-three million Americans struggling for work. Sixteen trillion dollars in national debt. Government takeovers of healthcare, of financial services and many aspects of our economy. “Imagine, for a moment, if someone surreptitiously charged hundreds of thousands of dollars on your credit cards, saddling your kids with debts they could never escape. “That’s exactly the impact of this administration’s misguided policies. Heidi and I are blessed with two little girls, Caroline and Catherine, 4 and 1. When Caroline was born, our national debt was $10 trillion. Today, as the debt clock shows, it’s $16 trillion, larger than our gross domestic product. “How do we turn things around? How do we get America back to work? President Obama thinks the answer is more and more government. “Government is not the answer. You are not doing anyone a favor by creating dependency, destroying individual responsibility. “Fifty-five years ago, when my dad was a penniless teenage immigrant, thank God some well-meaning bureaucrat didn’t put his arm around him and say let me take care of you. Let me give you a government check and make you dependent on government. And by the way, don’t bother learning English. That would have been the most destructive thing anyone could have done. “Instead, my parents worked together to start a small business, to provide for their family and to chart their own future. That’s the American dream, and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand that. “Under President Obama, 23 million Americans are struggling for work. Hispanic unemployment has risen to over 10 percent; African-American unemployment is over 14 percent. This is tragic. “And here I want to say something especially to the Democrats who are listening tonight. You can send a wake-up message to your party-the party that was once proud to be the party of working people. Obama’s policies have failed. “Jobs don’t come from government; they come from entrepreneurs and small businesses. Two thirds of all new jobs come from small business, and 2.3 million Hispanics own small businesses and yet this Administration has imposed higher taxes and crushing regulations on small businesses across our nation. “To restore America, to get Americans back to work, we must rein in the leviathan. We must stop spending money we don’t have and turn around our crushing debt. “Each of you comprises the fabric of our nation. Together, we must revive our many-century love story with liberty and restore that shining City on a Hill that is America. “I’d like to close with asking you a few questions, with apologies to Barack Obama. “Can we restore the Constitution? “Yes we can. “Can we retake the U.S. Senate? “Can we repeal ObamaCare? “And can we defeat President Barack Obama? “That, my friends, is change we can believe in. “Thank you, and God bless America.”

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake," Romney quipped. "I didn't make a mistake with this guy!"

NEWS from The Hill

Romney Welcomes Ryan as VP pick, Vows Bold Economic Plan

By Justin Sink - 08/11/12 09:15 AM ET

Mitt Romney argued Saturday that he and Paul Ryan would "offer solutions that are bold, specific and achievable" and welcomed the Wisconsin lawmaker to his ticket in a speech in front of the decommissioned USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said he and the House Budget Committee chairman together would confront the difficult financial challenges facing the United States, saying they had the combined experience inside and out of Washington necessary to tackle major obstacles.

"We will preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security and keep them there for future generations," Romney said, "unlike the current president, who's cut Medicare funding by $700 billion."

And he heralded his new running mate as "an intellectual leader of the Republican party" with "character and values" appreciated on both sides of the aisle.

"He's never been content to curse the darkness," Romney said. "He'd rather light candles."

The Wisconsin lawmaker echoed those sentiments in his remarks, arguing that he and Romney will "take responsibility" for the challenges facing the nation.

In a nod to what is considered his biggest weakness — his budget proposals that include dramatic spending cuts and the restructuring of popular entitlement programs — Ryan pledged that he and Romney "won't duck the tough issues."

Ryan hits Obama for 'record of failure’Romney mistakenly introduces Ryan as 'next president'Ryan from the floor: A frequent and sharp Obama critic

"We can turn this thing around. Real solutions can be delivered. But it will take leadership and the courage to tell you the truth," Ryan said.
The seven-term Wisconsin congressman also quickly adopted the traditional attack-dog role of vice presidential nominees, slamming the Obama administration as presiding over the "worst economic recovery in 70 years."

"Whatever the explanations, whatever the excuses, this is a record of failure," Ryan said.

His address stressed that his Washington experience works well with Romney's private sector experience, and that together they can push forward a new economic vision.

"I believe my record of getting things done in Congress will be a very helpful complement to Gov. Romney’s executive and private sector success outside Washington," Ryan added. "I have worked closely with Republicans as well as Democrats to advance an agenda of economic growth, fiscal discipline and job creation."

And Ryan asserted the Republican ticket offers an alternative to the "diminished dreams, lowered expectations, uncertain futures" he sees in America.

"I hear some people say that this is just 'the new normal,'" said Ryan. "High unemployment, declining incomes and crushing debt is not a new normal. It's the result of misguided policies. And next January, our economy will begin a comeback with the Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class that will lead to more jobs and more take home pay for working Americans."

The combined effect served to highlight the intention of the Ryan pick: framing the GOP as the responsible, capable ticket with the experience to bring America back from the economic brink.

Republicans hope that Ryan's economic credentials and Midwestern roots can appeal to swing voters in the heartland. A recent poll from CBS and The New York Times showed Romney trailing Obama by 6 percentage points in Wisconsin, and an Epic-MRA poll earlier this month showed the president with an identical margin in Michigan. And in polls from Reuters and Fox News released Friday, Romney's advantage on the economy — once his strength — had evaporated.

If Ryan can significantly erode those advantages and force Obama to play defense in the upper Midwest, that could divert resources from other crucial swing states. And if Romney is able to capture Ryan's home state of Wisconsin — and its 10 electoral votes — he could potentially afford losses in Ohio and Virginia.

Ryan concluded his remarks by arguing that he and Romney will "take responsibility" and saying they can unite the country behind their campaign.

"I'm excited for what lies ahead and I'm thrilled to be a part of America's Comeback Team," Ryan said. "And together, we will unite America and get this done."

There were some growing pains with the new ticket, however. Romney mistakenly introduced Ryan as "the next president of the United States" — forgetting to add the "vice."

The slip elicited laughter from the crowd, and Romney jogged back to the podium with a smile to correct himself.

"Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake," Romney quipped. "I didn't make a mistake with this guy!"

— Posted at 9:15 a.m. and has been updated.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mars looks so much like Arizonia...

NASA’s Curiosity rover shot its first color picture using one of its 17 cameras, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).

The view shows the rim of Gale crater, where Curiosity safely landed on Sunday, looking north. The photo looks moody and atmospheric because of high levels of dust coating MAHLI’s dust cover during the rover’s descent. Once that cover is opened in about a week, the camera’s picture quality will dramatically improve.

MAHLI is currently stowed over the body of the rover but will soon be extended outward to get a closer peek at the rocks and soil surrounding Curiosity. It will then be able to image details down to a few microns, or smaller than the width of a human hair.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems