Saturday, December 29, 2012

And do I dare?


A Modest Proposal *

Another day, another Mass Shooting.
What is a Freedom Loving Country to do?
Many are calling for, ironically, More Guns…
If only, they wail, there had been Good Guys with Guns, to counter the Lone Bad Guy, the atrocity could  have been, at the very least, Mitigated.
Arm the Teachers! Arm the Principal! Arm the Children!
Call out the National Guard, and Deploy them in Schools, Shopping Mall Food Courts, and wherever else Precious Children gather!(Boxer,of all people)
Just Arm Everyone!
I submit that this will not be sufficient.
Drastic measures are called for…with which all Freedom loving Americans would surely agree.
I propose that we wire every Public School, indeed, every Public Place….Wire them all with Explosives.
Perhaps C-4…and wire these Patriotic Explosives with so called “Gun Shot Sensors”(mentioned on NCIS, Law and Order, et al)….so that, whenever a Gun is Fired in a Public Place by some deranged Lunatic, the whole frikkin place goes up!
Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.) has a long and proud History in the American Republic…it worked to keep us from being vaporized by the Communist Threat…it will work, similarly, to protect our Precious Children, as they…learn stuff…or hang out at the Mall.
Pass me the Rainwater and Grain Alcohol….

For a rational critique of the Insanity I sarcastically channel here, see:

Monday, December 17, 2012


“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
We are fortunate to have a relatively unspoiled River, here in Mason...the Llano.
It was named after a mistranslation (likely due to bad penmanship) of the Chama Indians, who once lived along it's banks.
Although I am no longer Able to get to the River as much as I would like, it still holds a large swath of the real estate of my heart.
Under Texas Law, as a "Navigable River", the River Bed is Public Property...and We, the Owners, have guaranteed access...simply put, wherever a Road crosses the River.
With this Privilege comes Responsibility.
At every such Access Point I have been to, there is, as evidence of Human Visitation, a Debris Field.
This is most Unfortunate.
It is also the reason that I habitually carry Garbage Bags in my is my habit to come out of the River with More than I went in with.
I encourage the Folks of Mason to adopt such a habit.
Some lazy Sunday afternoon, load up the kids, grab a few trash bags, and teach the next generation a little about Stewardship.
 This Commons need not be Tragic.

us vs me, II

Endeavor to Persevere(*)

“God will not have his works made manifest by cowards.”-Emerson.
Food for Thought:

The “Way We Do Things Now”, is counterproductive, mean, nasty and stupid.
The beneficiaries are large Artificial Entities, whose sole Moral Imperative is, simply, “More Profit”.
Under their System, jobs and production and Capital are sent to the Third World, and the Profits realized are sequestered in Tax Havens, where they can remain safe from paying their way, here…in the USA.
To get out from under this Cartel System, We will have to do more, for ourselves….not in the fantastical way of Rugged Individualism,…but, instead, by Community.
Protecting Cargill, ADM and Monsanto…let alone Exxon…is Not “Conservatism”; it’s being Suckers.
“Conservatism” implies that we are Conserving something…like, perhaps, a Local Economy.
The  Giant Cartels, and their System, are in the process of coming apart…this is due to their Model’s over-reliance on “Growth”, on a Finite Planet.
It’s also Failing for Us…especially those of us who live in former Farm Country….Small Town America.
When I first moved to Mason County, I drove around, a lot…to get a feel for the place, and because I have a thing for dirt roads. What jumped out at me were the numerous former Towns…Fredonia, Grit, and the like. These places used to Be Something…were once thriving Communities.  In a big way, the Mechanisation of Agriculture was the knife at the throat of these places, ensuring their inevitable Decline.
But Mechanisation was part of a larger story…that of Farm Policy.

We behave as if “the Way We Do Things Now” is set in stone, handed down from God, or a Function of Nature. Economics is none of these things, rather, it is the Invention of Human Minds…and, as such, it can be changed.
Remember Hurricane Rita?
That storm went into Houston, in ’05…not long after Katrina. It’s immediate, and unexpected, effect on Mason was a shortage of Everything. Gasoline tanks ran dry, cheapest to most expensive; Store shelves emptied out, until there was little but canned oysters and corn shucks.
Turns out that a whole lot of the things Mason takes for granted, from Fuel to Food, is sourced from the Port of Houston. That’s our Supply Line, and it’s frail and scary enough, just on it’s own…but used as Metaphor, it’s Terrifying.
It was the clearest evidence that I had ever witnessed that our Way of Doing Things was far from Robust…and that, indeed, that it was Foolish, and lacking in Foresight.
Everyone cries and shouts about “Welfare”…the perennial enemy is the “Lazy Poor”, the “Welfare Queen”, and the “Socialist Menace” who pays them to Lay About.
Leave , for a moment, the evident Non-Existence of such creatures(entirely Mythological)….and Think.
Why are so many folks Poor?
Could it be the growing Lack of Decent Jobs?
The Wage Stagnation of the last 35 years, relative to Inflation?
High Costs of Necessaries, like Healthcare, Energy, Durable Goods?
It’s, of course, all of these things.
But Fundamental to the breakdown is one thing, that no one wants to talk about:
We don’t Make Anything, anymore.
We do not Grow our own Food, Provide our own Energy, or even make our own Toilet Paper.
To fix this requires a reordering of how we Think about Economy….and Informed Consumers.
It also requires a commitment, by those Consumers, to Vote with their Dollars.
What I am proposing is a garden of Self Reliance…Toilet Paper, as a Cottage Industry.
Instead of going to HEB, and buying Lamb from Australia, Beef from Argentina, Grapes from Chile, and Eggs from wherever Eggs come from…a way must be found to do these things for ourselves.
Regulations, written largely by the Parasitical Giant Corps(e), hinder these efforts…especially with Meat, milk and Eggs…but these are easily overcome, if Local Government could be persuaded to do so.(see:  )
Another Hindrance is the Purchasing Policy of our One Grocery Store.
Has anyone else noticed that the Produce Sucks?
That the Meat is often sub-par(to be charitable)?
I purchased a loaf of bread, there…just yesterday…and it was dry and hard and well on it’s way to Stale.
But the Local Bakery, if they so desired, could not sell Bread at the one Supermarket.
Similarly, a local gardener…say some retiree who happens to have a surplus of tomatoes,…cannot sell more than a few.
and Regulation by the State.
Instead of continuously, and tiresomely, Hating on “the Least of these”…perhaps some thought needs to be given to the Reasons for their plight.
Instead of “Take Back Mason(before it’s too late!)”… how about, “Make Mason Work for Us”?!

* Chief Dan George in “Outlaw Josey Wales”

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place that divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides , redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.”
                                                            - R.W. Emerson, from, ”Self-Reliance”.

Me vs Us

“What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea.”
Mahatma Gandhi

I find it difficult to think small.
Context, broad and deep, is my habit of mind.
The woes of a Raw Milk Producer fits into a larger Context…and makes more sense if thought of so comprehensively. We let our Civilisation, currently, be run by the worst among us…in the service, almost exclusively, of Greed.
The Randians, like Paul Ryan, would have us at each other’s throats over relatively small , personal issues, while the Big Boys run away with what’s left of Our Common Interests. Here is the Speech, by their Hero, John Galt:
Given Ms. Rand’s well known wordiness, let me sum it up:”I am an Island. I need no one. Fuck Everybody, I got mine.”
Run such a sentiment out to it’s logical end, and you will arrive in Somalia…the “Producer’s Paradise”…the Heaven on Earth for Self Made Men.
I routinely make that assertion, and just as routinely, get called hyperbolic for it…but there is never any substantial refutation. Currently, in our country, there is a lot of rhetoric about “Makers and Takers”…but I reckon this is simplistic and silly, and distorts the Reality….who, exactly, are the “Makers and Takers”?
Are the Makers the Ceo’s or the Shareholders and Boardmembers…or, rather, the Workers…the ones who actually Make things, Perform Services, and turn Capital into Surplus Capital?
I’ll warrant that the latter are the Makers…the former, while having a function in the process, are Takers; they Take the Surplus Value, created by the Workers, and run away with it….to the Caymans, or to Switzerland…anywhere they can find, where that Surplus can be hidden from the Tax Man…anywhere that they can avoid paying their Fair Share in the Maintenance of Our Common Civilisation. There’s a word for such people:” Freeloaders.”
This seems upside down, because for more than a hundred years We, as a Nation of Workers, have been trained to think the Opposite.
It is the reason for Red Scares, and “Anticommunist “Hysteria…the Real reason for the Cold War….not because the USSR was such a shining example of “Socialism”, but precisely because it was such a Poor Example. Under this assessment, Stalin could be held out as the Face of Marxism…no matter that he was anything but.
It’s the Real Reason for the “War on Drugs”…all those Hippies on the White House Lawn, refusing to play the Game….what to do?!
“Socialist Europe” is often trotted out as a bogey-man, intended to scare us into handing over the rest of Our Power, as Citizens and Workers…as if Europe’s status as Hell Hole was self-evident…and irrefutable.
What a happy circumstance for the Takers, that so many American Workers have never been to Europe!
Over there, Social Democracy is the order of the day…and they manage to outperform Us in almost all measures of Civilisation, even the Economic ones. Folks are happier, healthier, and much less worried about having to eat cat food when they get old.
Terrible, right?
The recent Economic Woes in Europe can be laid at the feet of those who have brought Our Brand of Neoliberalism there…and injected the same Randian Avarice into the halls of Power. “Lower Taxes”…”Austerity”…the Greedy Few are trying to make Europe into Texas…and the People are having none of it. This illuminates another , fundamental difference between the American People,  and the European People….when Government listens overmuch to the Avaricious CEO and “Investor” Class, the People….the Workers…the Citizens!...go out, into the street, and Burn Shit!
The Class Lines are bright and shiny , there…and Our Plutocrats are well aware of this fact…
So We are trained, from birth, that America is “Classless”…that Working Folks agitating for a Fair Shake is, somehow, “Class Warfare”.
We are harried and harassed and kept so busy that We cannot lift our heads from the Grindstone for long enough to Think about Our situation….nor are We provided, in Our horrible excuse for “Public Education”, the Tools of Mind, let alone the Factual Information, necessary to engage in such Thought.
At the same time, myriad, largely artificial Divisions are fomented among We, the People…in order to keep us fighting amongst Ourselves…Racial and Class Resentment (this, in a “Classless Society”,lol)…Mythological Political Divisions(Dems are “Big Gov Liberals”; Reps are all about “Freedom” and Small Government)
 Where I live, the folks who holler the loudest about the “threat” of Socialism are elderly, and receiving Social Security and Medicare…and, often, various and sundry Veteran’s Benefits.
We are so befuddled and miseducated, uneducated, that even those at the very Bottom of Our Society are often to be found loudly supporting the very same Parasitical Elites who keep them in Poverty.
Here’s Albert Einstein’s take on the matter:

The Focus of Our Collective Conversation has, for far too long, been about Me, Me Me…which only benefits those who already Have.
It has become an anathema to think about We, about Us…about Our Collective  Commonalities…
Anything that would help We…Us…the People, as a Whole…is routinely eviscerated(illogically) as “Socialism”!...
Totally disregarding Our History, Our Common Interests and the Economic Realities We find  Ourselves in.
I want to talk about Us.
If this makes me a Socialist, so be it…as FDR said, "I welcome their Hatred."

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cold Shower

The Potential is there…
But it’ll take Work…even/especially in places like Rural Texas, where the Left-Leaning hide in the hills.
 There are so many threads, all tangled together, at this moment…
Confusion and Shock on the Right…the Echoes of Occupy…Demographic Changes…and, yes, the Inspirational Qualities of Mr Obama….
the Ongoing Economic Malaise adds fuel to the glowing coals…take care that the various and disparate Factions of the Wounded Right don’t use any of these Opportunities against Us…
Or, for that matter, the Corps(e) Worshipping Wing of the Democratic Party.
If Folks at the Grass Roots want to see the Dems eschew Corporate Financing, with it’s attendant Strings, those Grass Roots are gonna hafta get out of their Closets…come down from the Hills…and become Visable.
Praxis, from Myriad Directions.
Stuff like this lends credence to a Focus on the Local.
Is there anyone there?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Riff on Alternative Economics

Found this, “Local Utopia as Unobtrusive Resistance: The Greek Village Micro-Economy “ by, Marina Karides
Florida Atlantic University

After the Intro, and then the few paragraphs of rather dry econ-speak, we get to the Meat…Alt Econ.

“Historically, individuals and communities in the global South have developed through independent action solutions to the ecological destruction, poverty, and unemployment wrought since colonialism.
These efforts have significantly increased, and were first conceived as traditional or “backward” and anathema to development (Geertz 1963), and later as part of the informal sector (Portes 1983). Over the last several decades of neoliberalism these same activities are considered emblems of entrepreneurship. “ (1)

….as well they should be.
I’m thinking, while reading this, in the context of my Disappointment with the Capture of Libertarians, by the Corporate Model. (Corporation’s very existence is dependent entirely on Government, from courts to rules and regs, and enabling legislation). This is Germaine, because for all of the hollering we heard, starting in 1980, about Deregulate! Free the Market!!....the most important Market Entities of all, Families and Small Business(not Raytheon) have seen their Economic Activity increasingly Regulated…often out of existence. This is among the reasons I left the  Libertarian Party.
I’m also thinking (becoming a trend) about Mason…what’s wrong with it, and whether or not it can be modified for the better.(2)

“The astounding growth of alternative economics in the last decade is also distinctly informed by popular rejections of work and careers that are regulated and organized for capitalist production, hierarchical, and punitive. Formal jobs, often in urban environments, require such a commitment of time, mind, and physical presence that many who enter into one aspect of alternative economics or another are choosing to do so for the sake of having some personal control in their everyday lives. Actors in both the global South and North are acting, in Harvey’s (2000: 235) phrasing, as “insurgent architects” who attempt “to shape their own beingness,” not condemning themselves to work paths set out by pre-existing structures and values. “ (1)

 The Current Paradigm almost ensures that we will work ourselves to death, with little to show for it.(we, here, meaning Po Folks). Even when one is able to get a small business going, and get out of Wage-Slavery(3), often one finds that it’s not really worth it.
This state of affairs seems to be regarded as perfectly natural, for a place like Mason…way out here, in the Wilderness.
I don’t think that’s quite as certain a thing as is commonly thought.
Localism, again!
I envision Toilet Paper as a Cottage Industry!
(I’m only a little hyperbolic, here.)
We Import far too much, from outside…and, in exchange, Export our Wealth, what there is of it.
A lot of this is Habit…left over from the glory days (Clinton), when there were lots of Jobs and Opportunity, and more Relative Wealth. A lot of it is, also, due to the Walmartisation of the , formerly, Local Economy.(this is well documented)
Still another factor is the Corporatisation, overall , of the American Economy…Rules and Regs written Of By and For Giant Multinational Fictional Persons.(see; Acres USA, and Ch. Walters, for application to Giant Ag, vs the Extinction of “family farms”)
Why isn’t there Mason-Produced Beef, Chicken, Pork(feral hogs, anyone?), Goat, Lamb and Fruits and Veggies on the shelves at the One Store?
The answer, of course, is the nexus between the Corp Ruled Market Structures, and the Corp- Benefiting Regulatory and Tax Structures.
For the Meat, there’s nowhere to legally, economically, or efficiently slaughter and process. Too much BS for anyone to want to even try to do that.
For Fruits and Veggies, it’s all on the Corporation that operates the Store. When it was Super S, they told me I’d hafta take my Produce to the Warehouse in Houston (!!) if I hoped to have anything over a tiny amount in the store.

.” Yet by virtue of scale and intention, small and micro- enterprises operate outside capitalist principles of mass production and consumption and centralized bureaucratic control, offering environmental viability, autonomy, and creative expression in one’s work.” (1)
Here, they’re talking about the Black and Gray Economies…in Mason,from Dope, to Tamales, to Yard Work, and Handymen….and Garage Sales.
City/County could encourage Cottage Industry, including Ag. First, by resolving to keep their fingers out of the pie…Tax the Imports. Regulate the Imports(aside from necessary, but unobtrusive Health/Environmental Concerns).
Second, by following the trail blazed by a couple of towns in Vermont(4)…essentially going around the State and Federal Governmental Regs that are at least one of the Roots of this problem.

More:” To locate small shops, farms, and artisanal enterprises in a framework of resistance to capitalism and social inequality, it is worth resuscitating Ivan Illich’s (1973) position for “tools that guarantee the right to work with independent efficiency” that is in advance of but consistent with the current growth of alternative economic studies. In Tools of Conviviality, Illich (1973) builds an argument against industrialization or large-scale production in which workers are no longer directly in control of their labor or “tools” such as technology, production facilities, or systems of decision-making. For conviviality to occur there must be “autonomous and creative intercourse among persons, and the intercourse among persons with their environment; and this in contrast with the conditioned responses of persons to the demands made upon them by others” “(1)

 Remember, lest I be labeled (again! Sigh) a Rabid Marxist, that when these folks say “Capitalism”, they mean, for the most part, “Corporate/Monopoly Capitalism”…the Walmart Model.  Remember, too, that Adam Smith advocated against such Behemoths, as detrimental to Liberty and widespread  Economic Prosperity. His “Wealth…” and “Theory of Moral Sentiments”, along with Marx’s “Das Capital”, were evangelism for the widest possible Distribution of the Means of Production.
Diversity = Robust Stability = Multiple-Redundancies.
Economy as Ecosystem.
These same ideas may be familiar, to folks who remember the early 70’s…Back to the Land, etc.
Those efforts, back then, were subverted politically, pooh-poohed rhetorically, and undermined economically(by the above mentioned means). Instead of pursuing such Egalitarian endeavors, we instead went whole hog in the other direction…Reaganomics, Supply-Side, “Neoliberalism”.(5) All of these are of a piece…they describe a System where Large is Beautiful, and the only thing that matters is Profits.
Look where such Wild Eyed Utopian Experimentation has gotten us!(6)

We must begin to Think about these things…instead of continuing to merely beat up on the Victims of Neoliberalism.(all of Us, but especially the Poor)

2 I’ve got around 20 Word Docs, in progress, on numerous topics of what I consider to be of Local Concern…attempting to leave Campaign Season(and rhetoric) behind.(snort)
Remember, my usage of Right/Left is of my own Taxonomy,….and Not about Political Parties. Machine (Matrix, Leviathan, Corpo-Governmental Nexus, whatever) …Leans Rightward…towards the Large, Wealthy and Powerful.   Phaoronic Hydraulic Despotism, as business model of Empire.
or get a job in town.

6 by just one metric, Real Wages have stayed the same or Fallen, Relative to Inflation, in this same period…while Prices for Everything have risen enormously.

Narrative Spaces, Political and Ethnic Implications of a Built Environment

A little light reading, this morning…lol.
I think about Mason, and the various Neighborhoods.
Old Barrio, New Barrio(I didn’t invent these terms, or their Connotations 1)…the “Historical District”(from the Square, to the Fort)…what I think of as the Rich Hill…and, way out East, where the Feedlot is, what I think of as a sort of Redneck Barrio,lol…(Confederate Flags).
There’s no hard and fast  exclusivity…it’s difficult to generalize…there’s plenty of diversity in all these Neighborhoods…( except for the Rich Hill; I can think of no Po Folks, up there)
Diversity based on Ethnicity/Race, as well as Wealth(or it’s Lack).
This town is steeped in History…although, I glean that it’s only thought about in a rather anodyne, superficial way; as in the general habit of ignoring the Hoodoo War of the Civil War Era, that still festers, under the surface.
Since I’ve been in the (“new”) Barrio….what Officialdom refers to as “The North Side”…I’ve sort of been thinking about these things; but never in a cogent way…until I read this paper, today.
We have 2 bridges over the creek, to get to Town…and an out of the way low water crossing…and an old, condemned bridge, that they have failed to replace, despite having the Funding all lined up, as of several years ago. If one wants to travel North...or get easily from the Barrio to the part of town along the Brady Highway, one must go to the Square. I don’t know if such Channeling is intentional(there’s little evidence of that level of Intelligence), but it does have an effect. Too, the lack of that bridge further isolates the Old Barrio, especially disconnecting it from the New Barrio…and making the Old Barrio, now, effectively, at a Dead End…that area is, for all intents and purposes, a Collonia 2. Shitty Sewer System, shitty  Water Lines, shitty roads, shitty drainage….forgotten. It’s also where the poorest residents live…including the Immigrants, both legal, and illegal. 2 cops can cordon off that neighborhood.(it takes 4 to  ineffectively block egress from the New Barrio….many more for the other, more white neighborhoods).
Again, I don’t know if it’s intentional…but there it is.
 Even unintentional channeling and barricading(dare I call it “Ghetto-ization”,lol 3) has an effect, even if it’s largely unconscious.
Now…how to fix this?
Build the Bridge…the “planned” new one, connecting the   Pontotoc Street to that part of Spring Street that goes from the Creek, to Dairy Queen…like the Minutes from the Council, several years ago, indicated was in the works(including Grants, etc)…but, for some unknown reason, was stopped.
With the recent Economic Decline, I have noticed a lot more folks walking…mostly to the one Grocery Store, away on the South end of Town. Aside from the Square, there are no sidewalks to speak of….and only that green bus thing for “public transportation”.
I have considered, for this reason, opening a “Bodega”, here in the “New Barrio”…but have not…due to my Disability, and lack of Funds… the State Regulatory Labyrinth…as well as the Byzantine and Unwelcoming City Government. (4)
The recent talk of sidewalks…building new, and rejuvenating/modernizing old…has been specifically focused on the Square…not on where they are needed by Po Folks.(the Poor don’t shop on the Square)(5)
Similarly, I have considered a Taxi/Rickshaw/Mule-Cart Service…specifically for Po Folks to get from their far-flung homes, to the one, single store.
Fuel Cost negates the Taxi Idea…and I suspect that there’s Imperial Entanglements to consider(Permits/Insurance/Licenses) ….perhaps if I had a place for a Mule…
These are things clattering around in my mind…I can’t help but Observe…
“About 15.9% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.9% of those under age 18 and 19.7% of those age 65 or over.”(from Wiki)
Almost a Fifth of the Population are below the Federal Poverty Line….interestingly, my little family is not (!?), which should be a good indicator of the (dis-)Utility of FPL(Ha! 6)…
In other words, the Poor are much more numerous in Mason, than the Official Numbers indicate.

1  I use this word as I’ve heard it used…meaning “Neighborhood”…stripped of any negative Connotations….where one can hear Conjunto, and smell Barbacoa, on any given Sunday.

2  I use this in it’s broadest sense…
4 the City, likely unconsciously, maintains an adversarial  hostility to it’s poorer patrons…especially regarding the myriad permits and zoning ordinances. The Zoning, specifically, appears to have been lifted, entirely, from Austin, or somewhere…and has little real applicability to Mason. This is a whole other subject, of course…but, one example: Electrical Work. Folks I know(Po Folks) cannot afford an Electrician, due, in part to City Requirements for contractors…and cannot afford the Code Requirements…which, according to electrician friends, are  overkill, and needlessly expensive. These requirements are sold as necessary for Safety. However, the actual effect, is that Po Folks learn to live with the ancient wiring and screw in fuses(1950’s),  that are already extant…and utilize “power strips” and extension cords for any needed modifications…the Inspectors are seen as Intrusive, and Nit Picking, and Not On Our Side. This is hardly in the service of “Safety”.

5 Admittedly, the sidewalks around the Square are piss-poor; especially if you’re disabled/wheelchair-bound…but this is of concern to tourism, tourist-related businesses. and to those residents who can afford to patronize those businesses.
6 This is why the various Agencies,(Foodstamps, Medicaid, etc) now use things like “130% of FPL” as criteria for Eligibility…even the Government realizes the disutility of those numbers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thank you, Mr Spielberg

“The whole fabric of southern society must be changed, and never can it be done if this opportunity is lost. Without this, this government can never be, as it never has been, a true republic.” –September 6, 1865 (Thaddeus Stevens) 1

The new film, “Lincoln” (which I haven’t seen, it’ll come to Mason, eventually), will  have Us talking about these things for the next year, at least.
How fortuitous, that such topics as Slavery, Lincoln, the all-but-forgotten Thaddeus Stevens 2, and the Unfinished Civil War, will be on the Collective Mind of America,  in these first years of Mr Obama’s second term.
These things will, perhaps, draw out the NeoConfederate Sympathy, that lines the dark underbelly of the Right…the Racism, loudly denied, despite all of the Evidence; the whole mess of “the South will Rise, again”…entailing the Revenge Fantasies of the American Right; “Heritage, Not Hate”, and other similar nonsense; and the Politico-Historical Reality of the past near-fifty years, of an actual resurgent South, begun with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”….which has had the effect, in the real World, of Dixifying the whole country.
That the Civil War is Unfinished may come as a shock to many of my neighbors.
Consider that, if it had been finished, decisively, there would have been no Jim Crow, no Segregation, and no need for the Civil Rights Movement, a Century after  Lee Surrendered.(the South Lost…try to remember that.)
Even now, fifty years after that dark time of fire hoses and dogs, set upon Black Americans…and a hundred and fifty years after the “end” of the Civil War, there are Public Figures still calling for repealing parts of the Civil Rights Act…of Undoing the Fourteenth Amendment….let alone screaming about Secession whenever they don’t get what they want.
An uncomfortably large portion of Americans speaks in Coded Language about Race, and we all know what they mean…but when the rest of us call them forth about their  Not-So-Hidden Racism, it is they who accuse us of “Playing the Race Card”.
The Unfinished Business of the Civil War is a large part of the Surreality we are surrounded by, in 21st century American Politics.
I hope that this film is as good as the few clips I’ve seen would indicate…We need to have these discussions. The Racists must be confronted, and called out, at last…then, perhaps, We can move forward.

2  Thaddeus Stevens is one of my minor heroes…minor, not because of his stature, or influence, but due to my arbitrary ranking system, and the relative dearth of information, here, in Texas.I am very happy to see this man, finally, portrayed in film as the Giant he was.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Constituencies, real and imagined

Our Government no longer listens to Us.
This is a Bipartisan Statement…or should be.
It’s one place that everyone, from Tea to Commie, should be able to agree.
The other side to this is, of course, the Power and Influence, of Big Money… especially Corporations.
My Rep’s Aide says that “Corporations are just People”….implying assent to the idea that Money is Speech, and muddying the fact that, under current Law, Corps(e) are Persons, in their own right…..
( if this is the case, then why can’t I join and effective Union(I’m in “right to work” Texas), which should  enjoy the same Rights?  Unions in Texas are, under this argument, being Denied their First Amendment
The above Links are to Folks who are trying to do something about all the corruption and shenanigans that go on so routinely in DC. I support these efforts.

In addition to these Necessary Things, I have long been an advocate for Smaller Polities…which means More Representatives. It’s silly to expect One Representative to “Represent” hundreds of thousands of  Constituents. Heaven forbid, that more of those Constituents actually Get Involved!
I have had in my mind a sort of Political Experiment…where one would spend a few years basically hollering…calling and writing letters to their Rep….make note of the response, if any.(non rubber stamped responses, and the like); then, for the second part of the Experiment, one would Donate a large-ish sum to the Rep’s Campaign…and make note of the response, if any, thereafter.
My Hypothesis is that the second time period would garner a far more tangible, as well as personal, response, than the former.
Some would say, I guess, that it’s a good thing that I possess insufficient Funds for such an endeavor…

It’s interesting to compare the list of who gives money, and the list of  the Bills sponsored and co-sponsored.
There’s a lot of meaningless hay thrown to Tea, of course…but the substantive stuff seems to track rather nicely with the biggest contributors.
I realize that I am somewhat prejudiced against Mr Conaway….due to his long association with the Bush People….But I have tried to remain open-minded, and give him the benefit of the doubt. To his credit, many of my missives have been answered, in some form.
Still, the evidence, such as it is, indicates that those who pay, enjoy the Congressman’s attention.

Imagine if Mr  Mike didn’t have to pay so much for commercials(over Our Airwaves!)…that, alone, would free up a lot of his time…and at least do more than nibble at the need to raise so much money….thus  mitigating the appearance of corruption. “Free” air time could be provided…simply mandate it, and require the various Stations who Use Our Air, to run an equal number of ads for each candidate. The Air Time belongs to Us, to We the People…this could be like a Tax on Media. Simple.
Imagine, as well, if his Constituency included only a Fourth, or less, of the folks it includes, today…less money needed, and more access for constituents. Mason’s Rep, closer than 250 miles away, in Midland.

I think of Star Wars, and the imagery of the Galactic Senate…with today’s Tech, why is it so far-fetched to consider 2000 Representatives in the US House?
Or more?
Our system only works for Us if We participate.
Most reason, Why participate?! They will never listen to Me.
My Rep should be allowed to Listen to Me…currently, he is Not…due to expediency, and the overwhelming ratio of  him vs. 600,000 folks.
Article 1 of the Constitution  says, “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative...[5]” (from: )
Plenty of room, there, for Improvement.

FTA:” Then in 1929 Congress (Republican control of both houses of congress and the presidency) passed the Reapportionment Act of 1929 which capped the size of the House at 435 (the then current number), but allowed temporary increases upon the admission of new states which were to be reverted upon the implementation of the immediate subsequent census.
In truth, the rules prohibiting legislative entrenchment would allow any subsequent legislature (after 1929) to increase or decrease the membership of the House of Representatives if such legislature so desired.”
A Wiki Chart of  Population and Representatives
Congress could Change this.
They might , if We Demand it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Room Enough

What  conservatives  do not seem to understand, is that the USA does Not belong, exclusively, to them.
It never has, and it never will.
Of course, that is not to say that it, instead, belongs to their Opponents…
America Belongs to All of Us.
Black Brown White Yellow Red Pink and Purple.
Liberal, Conservative, Moderate, A-Political.
Gay, Straight, and all shades of Gray.
Racists and non-Racists.
Capitalists, of all stripes…and Communists, also of all stripes….or no stripes, at all.
It belongs to the Young, the Old, and the Middle Aged.
Rich, Poor, and all in between.
Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, and even Atheists!
The Intelligent, and the Stupid….and the merely Ignorant, and Misinformed.
All of Us, Every One.
This is the Ideal that the Founders had in mind…not as an accomplished Fact, but as the Ideal that We should work towards.
Diversity, Complex Relationships, between Disparate sorts of Organisms, as all Ecologists know well, is Essential to Healthy Ecosystems.
The Uniform field of Cloned Wheat is always less Robust, than the Chaotic field of Diverse Weeds, hence the need for tons of chemicals, in order to thrive.
We, as a Country, are Not becoming Less American, but more so.

                                                                         Relax, It’s not the End of the World,

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I'm a little worn out...election,season's change(Pain),etc...and cannot keep a train of thought.
So I'm off reading,both real books, and online...
I'm deciding where my focus should be.
On the one hand, I've given in to temptation, and started lurking in Right Wing Land(Jane Goodall) try and determine which way that lot will rhetoric, and philosophy, and possibly action. Very interesting things bubbling away in
On the other hand, there's Doom.
We Humans always....always...make the mistake of thinking that The Way We Do Things Now(tm) will continue on, indefinitely...that we are somehow exempt from History(or at it's Logical End).
This is a silly, and counterproductive, way of running a Civilisation, or it's various parts and pieces.
But we keep on doing it, anyway.

The first hand is given flesh by something the Odious Clown, Glenn Beck said, just after the election:beck, on the election
No need to lurk on Free Republic...unless, like me, you enjoy that sort of perverse Anthropological exercise.
The second hand....or at least the Thinking that goes with summed up , comprehensively, by one John Michael Greer (
The upshot is that the two could be connected....the Gun Nuts and Apocalypse Seekers, Tea in all it's forms, are already re-entering the Survivalist Mode that we saw in the 90's. The problem is their Approach...and the Belief Systems (Foundational, Unexamined Assumptions), that they use to arrive at that Approach.
Gearing Up for the "inevitable" arrival of Federal Troops(or Chinese, or UN,lol) in Mason...or Hunkering Down, so's the Forces of the Antichrist won't notice you....leads to certain forms of Preparation. Most of these Forms will be inapplicable to Real World Conditions.
That's where Common Ground can be found, I reckon.
They're right, about the fact that nothing lasts forever, change is inevitable, and we should expect large change in the near future...
They just have the Causes wrong.
Ergo, they're spending more resources on Bullets, than on Beans and Bandaids.
I think it would be in our interest to mitigate that trend...
Sustainability, for one, should be a focus of every little town and neighborhood...Got Garden?!
Got Seed Saving?
The Trucks won't always run, I'm afraid(Hurricane Rita)...the Grid won't always work(it's in a horrible state of disrepair)...and no one wants to Think about stuff like Triple Redundancy for Food, Water and Heat.
Doing nothing, despite the Logic of the Situation, will ensure Hell World....starvation, Warlordism, and all of that fun stuff.
I reckon it would also be a good idea to make some informal alliances with the 4 towns within 40 the event of a Catastrophe, a Collapse, a Sudden Systems Failure, it won't be the damned UN, let alone the Fedgov, coming to get us, matter the Fantasies of the'll be hungry folks from Menard.
Such tentative alliances must likely be Informal.....the current systems of governance Assume a continuation of what has gone before.
The City, or the County, will never even contemplate such things, until it's too late.
In a Perfect World, Decentralisation...Democratisation of Everything....should be a Liberal Thing...
With the Gun Nuts, et alia, relegated to the necessary tasks of Defense, and well under the control of non-Gun Nuts, et alia.
This is impossible with our current penchant, as leave such thoughts to the Right.
The phrase "Conspiracy Theory" should be stricken from the Lexicon...and a sober look should be taken at What Ifs...
Doomers call our current Paradigm, "Cornucopian".
Those don't really exist, I'm sorry to report...and Civilisations who, for a time, pretend to such nonsense, are doomed to Failure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Sure is quiet in Mason, Texas, this chilly AM.
Folks at the convenience store quietly huddled….
whispered, yet still feverish.
Almost No cars on the road.
Looks more like a Sunday, during the xmas break, than a Wednesday, in the first week of Hunting Season.
We stayed out at Mom’s(Mom-Sitting), and I honked the horn on the truck, around 11;30…
A momentary triumphalism, ere digging into the numbers.
Good day, all around, for us.
Found out the Lunatic Neighbor who’s been Prowling around Mom’s since at least 04, is being shuffled off to a home for Alzheimer’s Patients.
And, while it’s early days, yet…Dems may have their Reagan.
Tea will  Dry Up.
Obama’s Policies are vindicated.
And Marijuana, Gay Marriage, and Healthcare for All are well on their way to mainstream success.
I’ll lay around, today.
Perhaps stay sober for more than 2 1/5 months.
The Global Problems(Peak Resources,Climate Change,Peak Economics), are still there….
But there is, at least, a little bit of Hope to put under our hats.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

revisiting Rawls



So Predictable.
Couldn’t be due to the Subtropics shifting Northward….due, inexorably, to Human’s penchant for injecting several million years worth of Prehistoric Carbon into the Atmosphere, in a century and a half…
That’s just Crazy!
Nah. It’s God…pissed off about Gays.
or about Liberals…
or Women working, voting, and having some say in what happens with their bodies…
Soon, if it hasn’t already occurred, Pat Robertson will come on TV, and say that he has spoken with God…
and that God said it’s not the Liberal Fascist Queer Herring of Global Warming…it’s God’s Righteous Punishment for Real Americans allowing Liberals and Queers(and, on and on…) to exist.
And No One will be able to say anything about it, for Fear of Upsetting “Christians”.
Well, dear friends…pull in yer Toes.
Here’s a rundown of the folks that are in charge of Science Policy in the US House:

It’s not just Science…it’s History.

The most recent version of the texGOP’s Platform, an overview:

But if we, in the Reality Based Community say anything to question….let alone Oppose…these nutjobs, and their Agenda…well, that means we Hate Christians, and have the Lions all lined up!
I’ve had enough.
We all hafta tip-toe on Eggshells so we don’t hurt the feelings of Bronze Age Zealots…they might be offended, if we counter their Crazy with Science, and Actual, Verifiable History.
I have been continually Offended for as long as I can remember.
I am offended every time a Pat Robertson, or a Bryan Fischer, opens their mouth, and lets fly the Hate and Fear.
I’m offended when various and sundry Nutjobs, from Congress, on down, imply, and insist, that Rape can’t get a woman Pregnant.
I’m offended when the Rights of Gays, Women, and so many others are Neglected and Abrogated, in order to please the most Hateful among us.
I am offended that My First Amendment Rights, as well as My Right to Live in a country  whose Governance is based, at least in part, on Reason, and Objective Fact, has been routinely Harmed by an intense and singular focus on the Rights of Zealots.
The necessary caveat, as usual, is that all of these folks have a Right to believe whatever they choose. But I have that Right, as well. The Country, or the World, does NOT Belong exclusively to them! Their Rights do NOT extend to Imposing their Beliefs on all of us.

(To be consistent… let’s put these folks in charge, exclusively, and without oversight or the right to appeal…put these folks in charge of Geography: *)

It is time, well past time, for NonCrazy Folks….including NonCrazy Christians, and others of  Faith…to stand up to the Intimidation and Bullying.
These folks, the antiscience, anti history,”Christian Nation”, “when the last tree falls, Jesus will come”-folks…have had the country by the throat for far too long.

*(“Q: "If you go directly south won't you eventually fall off the edge of the Earth?"
A: Yes, you will. In order to use this fact as proof you need to record a video of someone flying directly south around the world without falling off the edge. Furthermore you need to prove that your navigational equipment allows you to travel directly south without deviating. “
From their Faq.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

an ad to counter the BS

To: Mason County Democrats, and other, assorted Non-Right Wing Crazy-People…

One more edition of the Mason County News, ere the Election(I think. I’m a little timeless…)
To counter all of the Bullshit in the paper of late, I think we need to run an ad of our own. or two.
I’ve received Permission for these, except for Maddow(2nd, below), to reprint.
The list of 200+ things Obama has done would prolly take a full page.
The other two…the graphs…could fit anywhere, but would be more visable as a full or half page.
My only problem is severe Lack of Funds.
So, here is my appeal….
I’ll do the work(already done most of it), and I’ll even take the Blame(crosses burning in my yard, or whatever(eye-roll))…just need the money.
Can we take up a collection?
I’ll put the proceeds of a sale of 3 geese towards this(I expect that tomorrow,fwiw).
Au Deamus,

The President's Done a Lot! Here Are More Than 200 Obama First Term Accomplishments, With Citations!

If you're one of those who thinks President Obama is a "disappointment," my condolences that you didn't get your unicorn.  But it's time to grow up and get over it. 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.
Obama2What makes the "disappointment" argument so 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 record 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.
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. Ended the F-22 program, saving $4 billion. Though the single-seat, twin-engine, fighter aircraft cost $358 million each, and the military had 187 built, the F-22 never flew a combat mission. (The "fiscally conservative GOP fought to keep it.)
85. Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war, and to encourage Iran to give up their nuclear program. 
86. Ended the Iraq War.
87. Authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates.  
88. Through United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, helped negotiate a peaceful split of Sudan into two countries, this allowing for the creation of an independent South Sudan.   

He Took a More Realistic Approach to “Defense”
89. Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat.
90. Authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010.
91. Restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush.
92.  Signed and pushed through ratification a new SALT Treaty.
93. Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will lst until at least 2021.
94. Through the Defense Authorization Act, reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq.
95. 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.  
96. Returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops from the country.
97. Negotiated a deal with Afghan govenment, to withdraw troops and military support, while assisting in rebuilding and modernizing of the country.
98. Took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world.
99. Negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.
100. Took decisive action to use NATO to limit the slaughter of innocents in Libya, so that the Libyan people could topple the despotic Khadaffy government and determine their own fate.  
101. Got Egyptian President/dictator Mubarak to leave the Egyptian government to the people, to determine their own fate.
102.  In 2011, reoriented American focus from the Middle East to the Asian-Pacific region by simultaneouly engaging China and crafting new alliances with Asian countries uncomfortable with Chinese behavior.

His Administration Treated Soldiers and Veterans with Respect That Was Missing Previously
103. 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.
104. Funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services.
105. Provided active combat troops with better body armor.
106. Created Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order  to improve the quality of their medical care.
107. 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.)
108. 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.
109. 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. 
110. Created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs.
111.  Initiated and signed a recruitment and employment plan to get more veterans into government jobs.
112. Oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals.  
113. 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
114. Repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process. 
115. Reformed student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.
116. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.  
117.  Created the Race to the Top program, which encouraged states to come up with effective school reforms and rewards the best of them. 
118. Oversaw major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide ,
119. Oversaw major expansion in school construction. 
120. Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start.
121. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0 
122. Oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low income students to go to college.
123. Along with Democratic Congress, passed and signed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds.  
124. 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.
125. 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
126. Restored federal agencies such as FEMA to the point that they have been able to manage a huge number of natural  disasters successfully.
127. Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast.
128. Has repeatedly beefed up border security
129. Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden.  

Reoriented Government to an Adult View on Science, Technology and Health Care
130. Created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making.   
131. Opened up process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects. 
132. Eliminated Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research.  
133. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs.
134. Signed Democratic-sponsored Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis.
135. 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.
136. 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.
137. Conducted a cyberspace policy review.
138. Provided financial support for private sector space programs. 
139. Oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.
140. 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.”
141. Through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provided $500 million for Health Professions Training Programs. 
142. Increased funding for community-based prevention programs.
143. Oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors.
144. Eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price.
145. 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.
146. 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.
147. 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.
148. Through ACA, allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26. 
149. 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. 
150. Through the ACA, expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level.
151. Through the ACA, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care.
152. 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.  
153. Through the ACA, expanded space exploration and discovery options to more players
154.  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
155. Worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families.
156. 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.
157. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , cut taxes for 95% of America's working families.  
158. Tax rates for average working families are the lowest since 1950. 
159. Extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years.
160. Extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s extended unemployment benefits several times.  
161. Provided  a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps).
162. 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
163. Fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact fuel efficiency standards that exceeded federal standards.
164. 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.
165. Oversaw establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, to create more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies.
166. Obama EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history.
167. Ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances.
168. 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.)
169. Oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers.
170. Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions. 
171. Obama EPA ruled that CO2 is a pollutant.
172. Oversaw doubling federal spending on clean energy research.
173. Pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.
174. 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.
175. 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.”
176. Fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide.
177. Required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption.
178. Following the neglect of Bush’s eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic.
179. Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars.
180. Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles. 
181. Got BP to cough up $20 billion to establish Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, to reduce the need for taxpayer funds to be used for compensation and clean up.  (Note: it took 20 years to get $1.3 billion for the Exxon Valdez spill. )
182. 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. 
183. Actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills.
184. Initiated Criminal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
185. Through his EPA, he asserted federal legal supremacy, and barred Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own.
186. Strengthened the Endangered Species Act.
187. Obama EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year.
188. Through the EPA, attemped to take steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans.
189. 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. 
190. Increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%
191. Announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards. 
192. 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...
193. Expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA. 
194. 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.
195. Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
196. 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.
197. Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president.
198. Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and rescinded the global gag rule.
199. Loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference.
200. Signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program. 
201. Signed an Executive Order that will speed up deployment of a more comprehensive broadband infrastructure. 
202. Signed an Executive Order creating jobs immediately by instructing them to reduce the time needed for review and permitting of infrastructure projects.
203. Signed a bill that provided $4.3 billion in additional assistance to 9/11 first reponders. 
204. Signed an Executive Order pledging support for efforts to end the global problem of violence against women and girls.
205. Signed the Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion in funding for a legal settlement with black and Native American farmers who had been cheated out of government loans and natural resource royalties in the past.  
And Did You Know?
206. 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%.