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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Frustrations regarding the injustices of Trayvon Martin

There have been many thoughts, opinions and emotions being exchanged recently on Facebook regarding the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African American teenage boy that was gunned down by a half-Latino, half-White, 28 year old neighborhood watchmen, George Zimmerman, in an upscale, primarily White Sanford, Florida neighborhood.  And through a process that has angered communities and individuals nationwide, breaking news of what really happened that day slowly emerge discrediting initial findings only further angering and frustrating those of us that saw the truth behind the smoke and mirrors.

I always say, there are two sides to a story, and then there's the truth. In this situation, one side was gunned down.  The other side, interestingly enough may have completely fabricated the truth. Questions around the integrity of Officer Timothy Smith from the Sanford Florida police department in reporting the facts that day are becoming increasingly sketchy. Witness encounters are seemingly becoming less credible.

I know we will all form our own opinions on what happened that day, what should have happened and why it happened in the first place. We're not all going to agree. I get that. What I do not get is how people can say this case was not in some way "possibly" racially motivated. If you are one of those individuals that doesn't understand the possibility of this incident being racially motivated, you are incredibly naive.  Perhaps, you are disillusioned into thinking that racism doesn't exist in such inadvertent ways, or that racism can't occur from minority to minority, or perhaps the color of your skin hasn't affected your life as it may have to another minority. Either way, you are incredibly naive. And that's my feeling on it. Trayvon Martin died because he was racial profiled. This is something that the country cannot, no matter how hard many people may try, ignore.

This is 2012. Yes, over 200 years has passed since the enslavement of Africans in U.S. history. But it has been less then 50 years since the civil rights movement aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring equal voting rights to them occurred. Less then 50 years! Yes, we have made some progress, but we are not that far advanced from a nation free of racism to think that the situation leading to the death of a 17 year old African American boy was NOT racially motivated in some way. Especially when there were encounters, including taped conversations that led so many to believe that this incident was in some way racially charged.

I lost a friend recently on Facebook that I found out was prejudice toward Muslims. This "friend" has always cracked inappropriate, politically incorrect jokes. But he never made me feel less of a person because of my faith.  I am a Muslim-American. I don't claim to be an overly religious person, but I am faithful to Islam and my beliefs. That being said, ignorant and hateful comments and jokes were being made about Muslims that I took to be incredibly offensive. I could have ignored the comments, I could have deleted that person from my Facebook and I could have been silent. But I wasn't. I wasn't silent. I let that "friend" and any ignorant commenter's on that thread know exactly how I felt. I deleting him after the fact because a friendship at that point was severed and I had no interest in repairing any damage after learning that deep down this "friend" was a damn racist neanderthal! And truthfully, I can live with that "friend" no longer being in my life. What I cannot live with is ignoring other people's views, stances or underlying racist comments, when they offend me. That will not happen. It didn't happen in the case of hateful comments being made toward Muslims, it won't happen with the  views in the Trayvon Martin killing. I am not Black, but that doesn't change the fact that I still found some of the insane comments in recent days around the Martin killing to be incredibly offensive. And I addressed them. And I will keep addressing them.

My views are based on my sociological lens, specifically around my intense dissection of race relations through my undergraduate studies. And while I am NO expert, and while we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are also entitled to address and stand up for our views when they are being negated and dismissed.

Kai Wright, wrote a blog in Colorlines: News For Action, that described in profound ways how Martin was doomed from birth.
Trayvon Martin did in fact have it coming. He was born black and male in the United States and was thus marked for death. The cruelness of our economy and of our criminal justice system isn’t reserved for men or for black people. But there is a particularly gendered and particularly racist way in which black men are set upon in this country, most acutely those who don’t have the resources to push back. And it has a very long, still relevant history.
Society has proved time and time again, that being black and male in America is doomed for success. There are many reasons for that. One being years of institutionalized racism.
From a sociological perspective, racists and racism can be broken down into several forms/levels.
  • We have the Aware/Blatant Racist who is an outright racist, without any apology or confusion who will make it very well known that his hate stems from the color of someones skin. There is no mistaking the Aware/Blatant Racist.
  • There's also the Aware/Covert Racist. When racists are being racist but just not saying it. For instance, upon seeing that a potential tenant is Indian, rather than saying it directly, a landlord will pull the apartment “off the market” without providing an explanation.
  • There's the Unaware/Unintentional Racist who with the best of intentions, the best of education, and the greatest generosity of heart, operates on the misinformation fed to them from day one, and will behave in ways that are racist, will perpetuate racism by being ‘nice.'
  • Then there's the Unaware/Self-Righteous Racist. This person will make racist attempts to shame Blacks into being blacker, scorns Japanese-Americans who don’t speak Japanese, and knows more about the Chicano/a community than the folks who make up the community. They know everything. Or so they think they do.
  • Last but not least, there's the Internalized Racist. Stereotypes and attitudes of the white hegemonic system are internalized by members of oppressed groups and peoples and taken for truth or inform the ways they think about themselves and others from similar backgrounds or cultures.
Personally, in regards to the Martin killing, I haven't had to deal with very many Aware/Blatant Racists, but I have dealt with a fair share of Aware/Covert Racists, Unaware/Self-Righteous Racists as well as Unaware/Unintentional Racists and it has been very frustrating.

Wright, from Colorlines: News For Action, also wrote:
The fact is the U.S. often seems like it’s built to kill black people. This is not to say racism is equally lethal today as it was even a single generation ago. But it is to say that the same set of deeply ingrained ideas about what black people have coming to us justified the brutality of yesterday and today alike. And one particular manifestation of those ideas routinely leads to the early death of men like Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell and Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin.
Those very same ingrained ideas about what Black people have coming to them are exactly the narrow-minded views that are the most frustrating. It has also been increasingly frustrating how unaware people are to the term White Privilege, which can be described as the way in which American society continues to limit the opportunities for minorities while favoring those of white people. This includes police discrimination, as well as many others, demonstrate the fact that white Americans are “overprivileged” in comparison to African and Latin Americans.  Acknowledging that White Privilege exists in a time where young Black children, among other minorities, are inadvertently treated as if their existence doesn't matter is one step in addressing this systematic issue. The social system in which we live completely favors the majority racial group and limits the opportunities of those not belonging to this group, which keeps White people at the top of the social ladder, and minorities, specifically Black people, at the bottom. Statistically, "as a black infant, Martin was more than twice as likely to die as his White peers. In his teens, he was at least one and a half times as likely to meet an early death as his White peers. Homicide is the leading cause of death for black men his age, and comes at a rate many times more than every other racial or ethnic group. If he had reached his 20s, he had a 1 in 8 chance of going to prison, because that empty bag of marijuana he had at school would have meant something very different for him than it does for the middle class white kids who use drugs at higher rates. He’d have gone on to live in a country in which nearly 4 in 10 black children live in poverty, in which 1 in 4 black households lack food security." And while statistics show that Trayvon Martin was marked for death from birth, understanding the institutionalized and systematic reasons for why that is, is crucial in understanding race relations. He wasn't just a "bad" Black kid roaming the streets of a predominantly White neighborhood. He was a Black kid that was sought out because of the color of his skin, and killed. People can deny it all they want. It doesn't change the truth.

Ironically, the Facebook war that ensued in recent days, has validated my thoughts and rebuttal from my original stance. Recent updates in the Martin case have emerged stating that Zimmerman was not as hurt as he claimed or as hurt as was fabricated by Officer Timothy Smith of the Sanford Florida police department in his first encounters documented in initial police reports.  Zimmerman did NOT look like someone who had only moments before been fighting for his life. Clearly, his appearance and his story do not match up and it has led to the lead investigator seeking a warrant for his arrest. View video footage here. What is utterly disgusting is that despite an overwhelming amount of police evidence, no one has arrested Zimmerman. As I said before, there are two sides to a story and then there's the truth. And needless to what some have been saying, the truth is emerging and it's clouding a lot of what has been assumed on Martin's death not being racially motivated.

The bottom line: JUSTICE HAS NOT BEEN SERVED for Martin. Martin was killed a little over one month ago. That's over one month of justice denied. Personally, I have been very angry regarding Martin's death. Being a new mother to a little boy has definitely fueled some of that anger. Because my son has brown skin. My son will probably listen to rap music.  My son will probably wear hoodies, eat skittles, drink ice tea and walk in his neighborhood or other neighborhoods where the majority of people may or may not be, White. My anger stems for my love for Elijah, my son, and that this sort of racially motivated injustice could easily happen to him. Just recently, I posted a picture that previous friends on Facebook had shared -- the picture was of a sticker on the back of someone's car window. It read "Remember when Elk Grove was White - right!" Elk Grove is where I live. It is a pretty diverse suburb in Sacramento County. But it was once, predominantly White. And some parts, specifically East Elk Grove/Old Elk Grove is still largely made up of White Americans. You can see how scratching out the word "White" and replacing it with "right" can make you wonder if your own son, who has brown skin, is next? I do not apologize for my thoughts and concerns regarding this incident with people that I have come across, whether in person or online. I have never been one to sit down and shut up and I definitely am not one that feels intimidated or fearful in exchanging my views on something I'm passionate about. Feelings will get hurt in the process, but I've never meant any disrespect.  However, I can NOT apologize for addressing some very ignorant people, some who are just naive - in my opinion, and in some cases, inadvertently racist.

With everything being said and done with the Facebook war I took part in, I have learned a lot. I have learned that some people truly are naive. No matter how much education and experience they have gained in their adult life, their naivety is transparent. I have also learned that some people are truly unaware of their internal racism, and will never see it as such, or understand that to be the truth. I have also learned that although we will never agree on many social issues, including racial injustices and the motives of crimes such as the unjust killing of Trayvon Martin, I will not back down. I will not sit down and shut up. I will not be dumbed down or intimidated.  I will listen to your side of the story, but I will also engage. I will not stop confronting and speaking out against those injustices.  Because I live in a world where my son could be the next Trayvon Martin. And I refuse to let that happen.

Ask yourself this, if Trayvon Martin was a White boy walking through a predominately White neighborhood, do you think any of this would ever have happened? That's what I thought.

(to read the full blog posting from Kai Wright in Colorlines, please click here)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Maternity Photos, "yay" or "nay?"

I love maternity photos. Well, if their done tastefully. They are a great way of capturing such an extraordinary time in a woman's life. Creating life is such an amazing gift only women get to experience and being able to capture photos of your body changing as you create a person inside of you is amazing. I loved my maternity photos and can't wait to take more with baby #2 (one day). I think the second time around, I'll do more studio photos. With my first child, we took photos outside in a special place for us. Old Sacramento was where my husband and I had our first date in 1999, which led to our first kiss. We thought it was fitting to take pregnancy photos of our first child there also.
But I gotta say, some maternity photos really make me scratch my head and think "what the hell were these people thinking?" Mom 365 posted a photo of a couple that took a photo that will definitely make you scratch your head. If anything, it's a good laugh. Because I agree with the author's take on the photo, to each is definitely their own.

Check this out... What are your thoughts? "Special" isn't it? Hahaha!

check out the post and the author's take on this picture on Mom 365: "Interesting" Maternity Photo

Here are some pix from MY maternity photo shoot :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

With a heavy heart...

With a heavy heart, I prepare my departure from the Child Abuse Prevention Center. This morning, I shakily went into my supervisor's office to give her my three weeks notice. It was a very difficult decision. One mixed with several emotions. It was tough, but I'm thankful that she was incredibly supportive. We hugged and cried.

I will soon shut a chapter of my life -- not the chapter of giving, social services, and making change for families and children, but my employment with an amazing organization. The Child Abuse Prevention Center has been a second home to me, with a mixed bag of individuals that have become family. Family that have pissed me off, and made me want to pull my hair out -- like any family would at some point. But more so, a family that I have learned so much from. One that has made me laugh and look forward to seeing the next day. A group of mission driven individuals that sacrifice so much for the greater good of society. To make change -- that's why you work at the Child Abuse Prevention Center. Although I never perfected the intense work that goes into being the Project Manager of the Child Death Review Team (CDRT), I hope I have left my mark. That I have made change and helped families and children even though they'll never know it. I will miss my colleagues, the mission of this organization and being part of such a great group of individuals and a collaborative team.

A new chapter opens in three weeks as I start a position at the State with room for advancement, growth and upward mobility. I am looking forward to the financial stability that comes with this new position/agency, the team of individuals I will meet and the challenges I will face. This new position will be nothing like my current, and although I'm sacrificing a mission that I admire, I have to do what's best for my family.

Having a child changes everything. I hope Elijah knows how much I love him. How many sacrifices his mommy had to make for him. Because he is my world, and nothing is more important.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Feminists. We're Not All Lesbians.

Reading through other blogs on, I came across a blog that had several posts titled something like "Day 5 of Housewife Training: Today - Cooking, Laundry, Vacuuming and Toilet Paper Duty" ... Am I the only Mom who finds this incredibly offensive? I honestly feel like vomiting in my mouth. It's no secret that I'm a feminist. Wait, don't run away!! Being a feminist isn't as scary as it sounds. We don't hate men. We aren't all lesbians. We DO clean, cook and provide for our families. We may also be "housewives." But what makes us feminists is that we strongly believe in the the principles of gender equality. I would think all women would want that. Apparently, I'm wrong.

The standard definition of Feminism/Feminist, and in this case according to Merriam-Webster online, is:


noun \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

Definition of FEMINISM

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2: organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests
fem·i·nist\-nist\ noun or adjective
fem·i·nis·tic\ˌfe-mə-ˈnis-tik\ adjective  

And this is what makes me a die hard feminist. I strongly and firmly believe in the theory of political, economical and social equality between genders. I am also all for teaching our daughters responsibility, how to pitch into the family unit and strong family values, but I equally feel strongly in teaching those same principles to our sons. The title in itself "Day X of Housewife Training" literally made me vomit in my mouth! I'm sorry, I didn't realize I stepped into a time machine that took me back to the 1950s. I can't help but wonder if this mother is teaching her son(s) "Day X of Househusband training?"  Because isn't it true that young boys, who will eventually turn into grown men, also need to know how to cook, clean, wash and fold laundry and wipe their own asses, for goodness sake!?!?! If we're going to teach our daughters to be good "housewives" shouldn't we also teach them about finances, how to be independent, self-sufficient and strong leaders? Shouldn't we be teaching all those principles to any of our children, regardless of their gender? Am I too 'new-age' in believing that? I don't think so. I am firm believer of education being the key to progress, no matter what your goals are (to-be-or-not-to-be a house-person). So for me, it's important that I teach my son (and any other children I may have -- boy or girl) essential functions of maintaining a household so that when they leave our nest, they can fend for themselves. This includes while they are away obtaining their college education.

I guess what bothered me most about this mother's blog posts were that they were geared around teaching her daughters to be 'housewives' by instilling 'traditional' and stereotypically 'woman duties' rather then teaching them how to be equal members of the household. In fact, one of her posts had a timeline of the day-to-day events. The day started with waking up and cooking chocolate chip pancakes for daddy (with her two daughters, both under age 5), mid-day was teaching them how to scrub the bathtub (apparently an essential housewife duty), folding laundry, putting dishes away, feeding their brother AND then starting dinner. Sigh. What happened to letting these young girls be CHILDREN. When did they become child workers and indentured servants?

This won't be the case for my husband and I. We will be teaching our children (both daughters and sons), as it pertains to duties around maintaining a home, responsibility, distributing chores evenly and the ins and outs of everyday household duties. Currently, when one cooks, the other one cleans up after. My husband loves to cook, so I end up cleaning the kitchen and washing the dishes more often then I like. But it's a fair trade off since I enjoy his cooking. When I cook, he cleans the kitchen and washes the dishes. We both change Elijah's diapers, feed, bathe and put him to sleep. Sometimes I do it more, sometimes he does. I don't foresee this changing drastically if I decide to be a stay-at-home mom. And yes, as a feminist, I really would LOVE to be a stay-at-home home.

Although, I respect the right of a woman to be a "housewife" I truly find it archaic and a disservice to their youth by teaching such young girls to become housewives, filling their day with household chores and duties and greatly limiting their time to be "kids." Especially since those chores and duties are ONLY being taught to the daughters! At least after reading through several posts, that's the conclusion I made. I hope somewhere between scrubbing bathtubs and toilets, folding laundry and cooking/feeding daddy and their brother, these young girls are being taught that if they so choose, they can be Doctor's, Lawyer's, Fire fighter's, President's, Teacher's, and Mother's -- that they can maintain a household and not necessarily "have" to be a housewife. And if they choose to be housewives, they can still contribute to the greater good of the world in many ways, other than folding laundry and making sure daddy is fed and happy. I hope their being given 'opportunties' and a 'choice' and that becoming a housewife isn't their only option. Sigh.

Time machine, please take me back to 2012!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Power of a Doula

I was asked today if I would write a letter of recommendation for my Doula and friend, Sarah. Of course, there is no way I could say no. Sarah helped me in ways I couldn't even fully express. Putting the letter together, I started reflecting on my labor and delivery process. All 72 grueling hours. It's funny, people have told me that most mothers forget pretty much everything about their labor and delivery process, the pain, anxiety, how tired you were, etc. I know I may have forgotten tiny details, but almost a year later, I remember it like it just happened.

During my first trimester, I, like most new mothers I know, researched everything I could about my pregnancy, read every book I could get my hands on and took every pregnancy related course possible. To say I was excited is an understatement. I decided to try to undertake my labor and delivery naturally – free of medications. Furthering my research, I learned the benefits of having a Doula, especially in the natural labor and delivery process. Culturally, a Doula for East Indians would be your mother. So you can imagine the surprise of my family and friends that I had a Doula, when they had never heard of such a thing. My husband and I met with Sarah during my second trimester and several times thereafter. She gave us books to read, DVDs to watch, exercises to try and offered helpful advice every step of the way. I was always able to reach her over the phone or via email with any questions or concerns I had.
As my pregnancy progressed, I felt exhausted learning in my third trimester that I had gestational diabetes – something that was not present in my first or second trimesters. As a 29 year old woman with a normally healthy medical history, you can imagine my dismay. To make matters more difficult, a few days before giving birth to my son, I was also diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia. I was disappointed that due to my severe pre-eclampsia, I would have to be induced and would need several different medications to prevent severe risks to myself and my unborn child. Ironically, not having a medication free labor and delivery made having Sarah, as my Doula, even more crucial. She was by my side every step and stage of a new and scary process, giving direction to my mother and husband, as this was both their first times witnessing a birth of a child. I will never forget how Sarah helped us. Massaging my hands and feet, rubbing my back, using different objects and techniques to alleviate my pain (I went pain medication free for over 60 hours), and providing extra support to both my husband and mother. Her gentle touch, soft voice, reassurance, and presence made a world of difference.

On Monday, May 23, 2011, Elijah was born blue and was not crying. I was prepped beforehand that due to the medication I was given, Elijah may be born groggy. Of course, nothing could prepare a mother for a baby who wasn’t crying. My heart stopped as I panicked. A thousand thoughts ran through my head as I lay weak from a tremendous loss of blood.  Sarah stepped in, without hesitation, following Elijah as he was given CPR and updating both my husband and I those first few critical moments of life. Thankfully, what felt like an eternity, only lasted a few minutes, and Elijah was okay. After a couple of minutes, Elijah cried loudly. And I cried – tears of relief and joy. Sarah took his first picture showing it to me to prove that he was in fact okay. She took my fears away. At that moment, I needed that, as both my mother and husband were in complete shock and afraid beyond belief. Sarah was my rock.

My experiences have made Sarah not only an amazing Doula, in my eyes, but a life-long friend, and an Auntie to Elijah. She will be a part of our lives, always. Looking back at how Sarah helped me, I cannot imagine what my labor and delivery process would have been like without her.  And I cannot imagine other mothers going through this process without a Doula, like Sarah. 

I've told everyone that has asked, having a Doula through my pregnancy, labor and delivery changed my life. She not only assisted me through a grueling 72 hours of labor and delivery, she helped my very scared husband with any angst he had.

The power of a doula. I will never be able to thank her enough. And if I have any more children in the future, I only hope I will be as lucky as I was the first time to have Sarah by my side.

Why Rick Santorum Will Be the Fall of American Societies

My political affiliations are no secret. Some would say I am a bleeding heart, tree hugging liberal. I agree on the "tree hugging" part, but I would consider myself a libercrat (part liberal part democrat). My stances are primarily liberal, but greatly democratic. I try to understand the madness of the GOP, but I have yet to encounter a situation where I don’t fall to the left on almost any and every issue. I voted for President Obama in 2008 and I will be voting for him again in November, proudly. I believe that he has done the best possible job a man could do inheriting the mess our country and economy was in and considering the constact cock-blocking of Republican Congress members.

But I’ll also be completely honest with you, I don’t really dislike Ron Paul or Mitt Romney. I don’t see eye-to-eye with both of them on every issue, but they don't scare me. I don’t foresee the downfall of civilization should one (especially if Ron Paul were to) win office. As much as the GOP hates it, Paul and Romney are actually kind of socially moderate and if I can’t have socially liberal, I’ll take that as the next best option.

Especially when the other contender is Rick Santorum. I don’t believe you can even call him conservative because this is an insult to conservatives everywhere. I believe he’s running on a closed minded platform. I am not exaggerating when I say that this man scares the living shit out of me. Mainly because I believe Santorum being elected into office would in fact be the fall of American civilization. Any progress we've made, would be lost. Any chance for growth and improvement, would be lost.

Rick Santorum is opposed to all birth control, well, except natural family planning, which by the way, is totally a form of birth control. The whole point is to allow you to have sex without getting pregnant if you don’t want to, which spoiler alert! is exactly what birth control does. Just because "natural family planning" can’t be purchased or swallowed, does not mean it’s not birth control. Though with 8 children, I think Rick and his wife might be doing it wrong, I’m just saying.

He has recently spoken out as being against pre-natal testing because though it can save the lives of children and mothers, it could also cause some mothers to have an abortion. Which when the alternative is a diagnosis that is incompatible with life, or a condition where a child will suffer horribly for several years before dying a painful death, or risk the life of a mother, is actually not the worst case scenario, it turns out. Or it isn’t for normal people, I guess. Because Rick Santorum would rather save the life of a child who literally has no chance at life, he would rather risk the life of a mother who would birth a non-viable baby, he would rather deprive testing that could detect treatable defects than risk a woman deciding to spare a child with a severe birth defect a life filled with pain and disease. What a freaking saint he is. A knight in shining armor! Bravo, asshole.

Santorum is opposed to gay marriage, and has even been quoted as saying that it would make the country fail. He says this on religious principals, which is so funny, because I’m fairly sure that Jesus Christ (pbh) was actually much more in favor of loving your neighbor instead of bad mouthing them and saying that they would cause the downfall of a country. Frankly, Mr. Santorum, I’m pretty sure your sad closed mind is much more likely to make this country fail.

He is also opposed to separation of church and state, except when discussing the Obama administration's requirement that insurance provide birth control for employees of Catholic institutions, in which case he is a firm believe that government should stay out of religion. And he gets bonus points for repeatedly misquoting JFK, who, another spoiler alert! was also Catholic, a fact I’m fairly sure completely escapes our knight in shining close minded armor, Rick.

Santorum also claims that U.S. colleges drive young adult Christians out of church, a claim that was disputed by Protestant and Catholic. He told talk show host Glenn Beck that “62% of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.”  Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, a Nashville evangelical research and marketing agency, said, “There is no statistical difference in the dropout rate among those who attended college and those that did not attend college. Going to college doesn’t make you a religious drop out.”  Yes, kids! College is bad for you because it makes you think critically and puts you into contact with people from other cultures who MAY NOT EVEN BE CHRISTIANS! The horror! The horror! You will be far better off not going to college and working for your Uncle Joe’s tree-pruning business instead. Let a real Christian, homo-hating guy like Rick Santorum do all your thinking for you.  Higher education is NOT the villain here, Ricky.  Anyone with a brain knows that. Apparently, you are lacking that vital organ.

I just cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around how Rick Santorum is still a GOP contender. How anyone could, in good conscience, think that this man would lead our country in the right direction. I guess unless you believe backwards is a good way to go, in which case, you got the right guy.

America, I implore you, stop this crazy train now! Don’t let Rick Santorum have even the tiniest of chances of running our country into the ground, of forcing religion down the throats of people who have no desire to have it or who's religious beliefs are not in line with his. Don't forget that the beauty of America is our diversity, not just in racial diversity, but religious diversity. That is what makes us AMERICANS. Don’t let him take away prenatal testing or decide when and how women should be able to choose to have families or dictate whose marriages are acceptable and whose aren’t. This would be the downfall of American society. This would halt any progress we have made as a nation of acceptance, kindness and peace and take us back to the dark ages. What's next, interracial marriages should be banned?

Americans, WE can do better than this. We have to do better than this. Our future, and the future of our children depends on it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Room-sharing. What's the big fucking deal?

I need to vent, so please excuse, in advance, my expletives. But if another person (a mom at that) gives me shit for still sleeping Elijah in our room (his bassinet was in our room and now his crib is), I am going to scream and possibly go postal on that person! He is ONLY 9 months old, not 9 years old!

Why is the idea of room-sharing with my 9 month old son so crazy to some? I don't get it?  I respect a parent's choice to move their kid into their own room/space at an early age, I completely respect that, but what I just don't get why it seems to be such an issue for some that I still have Elijah in our bedroom? The feeling I get is that I am somehow making him less independent, too clingy and not giving him his space.

He's ONLY 9 MONTHS old!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!! <screaming>

Okay, woosah...

Research indicates that having your baby sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed, with you in the first 6 to 12 months of life may be protective against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
"recommends the arrangement of room-sharing without bed-sharing, or having the infant sleep in the parents' room but on a separate sleep surface (crib or similar surface) close to the parents' bed. There is evidence that this arrangement decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50% and is safer than bed-sharing or solitary sleeping (when the infant is in a separate room). In addition, this arrangement is most likely to prevent suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment, which may occur when the infant is sleeping in the adult bed. Furthermore, room-sharing without bed-sharing allows close proximity to the infant, which facilitates feeding, comforting, and monitoring of the infant."
For me, it's just a personal preference. I'm not ready to have Elijah be in a separate room. Just as I'm not ready for date nights and other activities that keep me from him.

Have other mommies/parents dealt with people giving them shit for room-sharing?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

President Obama's Accomplisments

The political shit slinging has begun. This is election year. Republican politicians have segwayed their ad campaigns claiming President Obama hasn't done anything for the American people (pet peeve #1). Ironically, many "changes" that could have been made were stopped by Congress and Senate Republicans. GOP ads are aimed not only at President Obama, but their own potential candidates. And thus, the Republican way to "win an election" (or steal it, circa G. Dubbya Bush's second term) begins.

For some, this election year will come and go and they won't bat an eye. For others, like myself, this is a big year. One that doesn't only affect me, but my son. At 9 months old, he has no idea what this world is really about. But I do. As his mother, I want nothing more but infinite opportunities for growth and advancement, freedom, equality, and a world free of hate and bigotry. I know, that all seems impossible. It will definitely be less possible, in my opinion, if a Republican is appointed into office in lieu of Obama's 2nd term. One I strongly believe is well deserved. My son's reach for opportunities will weaken even more so if that Republican candidate turns President is Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, or Newt Gingrich.

Through this process, I've heard an echoed statement made mostly by people that I strongly feel haven't truly done any research of their own. Instead, they've fallen into the GOP media hype and have chosen to get their facts from opinions (i.e.: Fox News). I mean let's be real, is Fox News really "news?" I think anyone with any sense knows that answer. My number one pet peeve and that annoying echoed statement has become an offensive, nagging, repulsive joke: "Obama hasn't done anything for us." Really? Nothing at all? He hasn't made any change? Nothing? Have we stayed stagnant from the Bush administration? Really? I find that incredibly offensive, ignorant and a blatant example of how people will believe what they want to believe rather that base their knowledge off of facts and the truth.

The truth is, President Obama is NOT God. In one four year term, he cannot fix all that was broken. He can make moves, he can start processes, he can implement the foundation to make change and he, to some extent, can deliver some of which he promised the American people. Can we expect everything to be done in four years? No. It's unrealistic, ignorant and idiotic to assume President Obama, a human, can singlehandedly fix America. Especially after the mess George W. Bush left behind.

What did Bush Jr. leave behind?
In short:
The worst recession in 70 years
Two wars
$12 trillion in national debt
Record deficits
Negative 6% GDP growth
DOW at 7,949
And we were losing over 700,000 jobs a month.

That, my friends, cannot be fixed in ONE term. To think that it can, is just plain stupid.

So what has Obama done for the American people in the four years he has been President of the United States? I promise you, the answer is NOT "nothing." It may not be everything we want. It may not be the "change" we dreamt of in four years, but he has made change.

Here is a list of President Obama's accomplishments over the course of his first term. Some would say President Obama has done more in four years than some presidents have done in their lifetime:

• Ordered the White House and all federal agencies to respect the Freedom of Information Act and overturned Bush-era limits on accessibility of federal documents (2009)
• Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible (2009)
• Placed limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House (2009)
• Placed limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration (2009)
• Signed a measure strengthening registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists (2009)
• Ordered that lobbyists must be removed from and are no longer permitted to serve on federal and White House advisory panels and boards (2009) * Note: After saying he would not hire lobbyists, a few have been hired in the Administration
• Companies and individuals who are delinquent on their taxes or owe back taxes are no longer allowed to bid for federal contracts (2009)
• Initiated the “e-Rulemaking Initiative” (in cooperation with Cornell University) to allow for online public “notice and comment” of federal laws and initiatives (2010)
• Issued the “Open Gov Directive” ordering all Cabinet departments to promote transparency and citizen participation in their policies (2010)
• Signed extensions on banning lobbyists from serving on agency boards (2010)
• Developed the “Do Not Pay List” with data on contractors and recipients of federal funds who are deemed to be ineligible because of fraud and abuse (2010)

• Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) (2009) * Note: Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to not make infrastructure a priority
• Authorized the US auto industry rescue plan and two GMAC rescue packages (2009)
• Authorized the housing rescue plan and new FHA residential housing guarantees (2009)
• Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan (2009) * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls
• Instituted a new rule allowing the public to meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (in as quickly as one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying (2009)
• Authorized a continuation of the US financial and banking rescue plans initiated at the end of the Bush administration and authorized TARP funds to buy “toxic assets” from failing financial institutions (2009)
• Authorized the “Cash for Clunkers” program that stimulated auto sales and removed old, inefficient, polluting cars from the road (2009)
• Convened a “jobs summit” to bring experts together to develop ideas for creating jobs (2009)
• Ordered the FDIC to beef up deposit insurance (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era policy of protecting credit card companies (2009) * Note: In place of the old policy, new consumer protections were instituted and the industry’s predatory practices were banned
• Authorized the federal government to make more loans available to small businesses and ordered lower rates for federal loans to small businesses (2009)
• Placed a 35% tariff on Chinese tires and a few other products such as pipes after China was found to be illegally “dumping” exports below cost (2009) * Note: Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan all refused to “get tough” on China’s predatory trade practices; Bush II refused four times during his presidency
• In November 2009, Obama extended unemployment benefits for one million workers
and expanded coverage for some existing homeowners who are buying again (2009)
• Called on Congress to deliver a “Jobs bill” (2010)
• Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010)
• Signed a bill to extend unemployment benefits set to expire (2010)
• Signed historic Wall Street reform bill (2010) * Note: Designed to reregulate and end abusive practices and promote consumer protections
• Signed the HIRE Act to stimulate the economic recovery (2010) * Note: The bill includes: tax cuts for small businesses who hire someone unemployed for at least two months; small businesses can write off their investments in equipment this year; etc.
• National Export Initiative established to enhance federal support (technical assistance, training, trade missions, etc.) and coordination efforts to help US businesses export products and services (2010)
• Initiatives to promote a “Wireless Broadband Revolution” (2010) * Note: Among other things, broadband is finally being considered as necessary infrastructure, with efforts to expand use, access, and spectrum…
• Expanded agricultural credit to farmers during current economic crisis (2010)
• Signed bill – US Manufacturing Enhancement Act (2010)
• Signed bill – Single Family Housing Mortgage Insurance (2010)

• The White House website now provides information on all economic stimulus projects and spending, along with an unprecedented amount of information on our government (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era practice of circumventing established FDA rules for political reasons (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era practice of having White House staff rewrite the findings of scientific and environmental regulations and reports when they disagreed with the results (2009)
• Limited the salaries of senior White House aides (salaries cut to $100,000) (2009)
• Has urged Congress to adopt “Pay-Go” (whereby each dollar of spending is offset by a dollar in cuts or revenues, which was used in the `90s but abandoned in the `00s) (2010)
• Has been holding open meetings with Republican leaders, although they complain of a lack of access and information (2010)
• Signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2010) * Note: To curb wasteful spending
• Tasked federal agencies to develop plans for disposing of unneeded real estate and then to eliminate unnecessary or non-economical lands, properties, etc. (2010)

• Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks to permit the US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs (2009) * Note: The new policy promotes in-sourcing investments to brings jobs back to the US
• Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provides small tax cuts for 95% of “working families” (2009) * Note: The tax cuts were not as big as was suggested during the 2008 campaign
• Convened an advisory board that is looking into simplifying the tax code (2009)
• Ordered the closing of offshore tax safe havens (for individual and business tax evaders) (2009)
• Reduced taxes for some small businesses to stimulate the economic recovery (2009)
• Extended the Home Buyers Credit for first-time home buyers (2009)
• Proposed doubling the child tax credit (2010)
• Called for the repeal of the capital gains tax for small businesses (2010)
• Proposed rolling back the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (2010) * Note: This would be for families earning over $250,000/year and would return their tax rates to the 1990’s level

• Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut federal spending (2009)
• Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify wasteful spending and practices (2009)
• Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient (2009)
• Overturned the Bush-era practice of not listing certain federal programs in the federal budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did this (so did Reagan) in an effort to hide programs and make the budget look smaller; such “off budget” items are now included in the annual budget
• Full appropriations for war are now included in the budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did not list many of the appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan, and War on Terror
• Funds for emergency appropriations are now included in the budget (2009) (2010)
• Proposed a three-year freeze on federal discretionary spending beginning in 2011 (2010)
• Is in the process of cutting 120 federal programs identified as either wasteful or unnecessary (2010)
• Established a bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility, staffed by House and Senate members and private citizens, tasked with submitting proposals to balance the budget (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down
• Established a bipartisan commission on the future of Social Security, tasked with submitting proposals to preserve and strengthen Social Security (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down
• Cut $20 billion from federal budget and has pledged to cut at least this much every year (2010)
• Ultimately decided to cancel planned new presidential helicopter fleet and stick with marine One (2010)
• Freezing all discretionary spending for next three years, except on national security (2010)
• Presidential Memoranda to freeze discretionary awards, bonuses, etc. for federal political appointees (2010)
• Beginning to use “Pay-As-You-Go” (Pay-Go) to offset budget expenditures with budget cuts or revenue enhancements (2010)

• His leadership helped KILL OSAMA BIN-LADEN

• Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane (which wasn’t even used in Iraq/Afghanistan) and other outdated weapons systems (2009)
• Announced his intention to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay (2009) * Note: The closure has been delayed due to massive opposition but it remains on the agenda.
• Stated his interest in housing terrorists at a new federal “super max” facility in the US (2009) * Note: this has been delayed in the face of massive opposition but it remains on the agenda
• Cut the expensive Reagan era missile defense program, saving $1.4 billion in 2010 (2009)
• Cancelled plans to station anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic (2009)
• Replacing long-range, expensive missile systems with more efficient smaller systems (2009)
• Increased US Navy patrols off the Somali coast in response to pirating (2009)
• Established a new cyber security office and appointed a cyber security czar (2009)
• Ordered the first nation-wide comprehensive cyber threat assessment (2009)• Instituted a new Nuclear Posture Review, revising US nuclear deterrence policy to encourage more nations to join the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2010) * Note: Components of the policy include: a pledge to stop nuclear testing; a pledge to not build a new generation of nucs; identifying nuclear terrorism, rather than a launch from another nuclear state, as the major threat; a pledge to not use nucs on a non-nuclear state in a conventional conflict; etc.
• Executive orders to block payment, transfers, exports, etc… of individuals and organizations support the regimes of North Korea, Iran, Somali pirates, and other foreign threats (2010)
• Presidential Memoranda to extend certain provisions of The Trading with Enemies Act which was to expire in September 2010 (2010) * Note: This includes freezing assets and banning trade that benefits the Cuban regime; however further efforts at normalizing travel to Cuba are supported
• Signed bill for southwest border security and increased funds and agents on the Mexican border (2010)
• Signed the Comprehensive Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act to deal with foreign regimes like Iran and North Korea (2010)
• Began the phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq (2009); continuing the withdrawal (2010)
• Changed the US military command in the Afghan conflict (2009)
• Tasked the Pentagon to reorganize US policy in Afghanistan; the new policy includes 30,000 additional troops deployed, priority training of Afghan forces, developing agriculture and infrastructure, limiting aerial bombing, etc. (2009)
• Ordered the Pentagon to send additional helicopters to assist US Marine units and Special Forces in Afghanistan (2009)
• Increased unmanned drone strikes on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date (2009)

• Ordered the Pentagon to cover expenses of families of fallen soldiers if they wish to be on site when the body arrives back in the US (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era “blackout” imposed on media coverage of the return of fallen US soldiers (2009) * Note: The media is now permitted to cover the story pending adherence to respectful rules and with the approval of the fallen soldier’s family
• Ended the Bush-era “black out” policy on media coverage of war casualties (2009) * Note: Full information is now released for the first time in the War on Terror
• Ordered better body armor to be procured for US troops (2009)
• Funding new Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles (2009) * Note: The old Hummers were very vulnerable to roadside explosives and an alarming percentage of our soldiers lost in Iraq were on account of IEDs
• Working to increase pay and benefits for military personnel (2009)
• Improving housing for military personnel (2009)
• Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses (2009)
• Ordered that conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other neglected military hospitals be improved (2009)
• Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military to a post-Cold War, modern fighting force (2009) * Note: Bush announced in 2001 his intention to do this but backed off the reforms after 9/11, which include: new procurement policies; increasing the size of Special Ops units; deploying new technologies; creating new cyber security units; etc.
• Ended the Bush-era practice of awarding “no-bid” defense contracts (2009)
• Improving benefits for veterans as well as VA staffing, information systems, etc. (2009)
• Authorized construction of additional health centers to care for veterans (2009)
• Suspended the Bush-era decision to purchase a fleet of Marine One helicopters from suppliers in favor of American made helicopters (2009)
• Ordered a review of the existing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military (2010)
• New GI Bill for returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan (2009)
• Signed bill providing assistance for caregivers of veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010) * Note: The omnibus bill does the following: Training, funding, and counseling for caregivers; promoting pilot childcare programs for women vets under treatment at the VA; independent oversight to prevent abuse; readjustment counseling for National Guard and reservist units; etc.
• Eliminated co-payments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled (2010)
• Fulfilled campaign promise to have combat troops (90,000) out of Iraq by August 31, 2010 (2010)
• Established a new interagency task force to assist veterans owning small businesses (2010) * Note: The efforts include promoting federal contract opportunities, improve access to loans and capital, mentor assistance programs, etc.
• Signed The Families of Fallen Heroes Act, which covers the moving costs of immediate family members of those lost in service (military, intelligence, and security personnel) (2010)

• Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (Lilly Ledbetter Bill) (2009)
• Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina, to the Supreme Court (2009)
• Held the first Seder in White House (2009)
• Appointed a diverse Cabinet and diverse White House staff (2009)
• Spoke at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization (2009)
• Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes (2009)
• Reversed the Bush-era practice of politicizing Justice Department investigations and prosecutions against political opponents (2009)
• Pushing for some of the 9/11 perpetrators to be tried in federal court (2009) * Note: The process has moved at a snail’s pace and, in the face of opposition, Obama has remained quiet
• Signed an extension of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Bill to provide federal research and support for treating the disease (2009)
• Allowed the State Department of offer same-sex benefits for employees (2009)
• Proposed that the Pentagon repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; placed a “freeze” on current efforts to remove alleged homosexuals from the military (2009)
• After eight years of neglect, the Justice Department and EEOC are again enforcing employment discrimination laws (2009)
• Convened the White House Tribal Nations Conference, inviting representatives from 564 federally-recognized Indian tribes (2009)
• Provided increased school projects for Indian lands and increased funds for the Indian Health Service (2009)
• Signed an Executive Order mandating that his Cabinet develop plans to work with and consult Indian tribes on issues impacting Indian lands (2009)
• Commissioned a study to develop alternatives to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)
• Called for federal agencies to look into recognizing gay partnerships in terms of benefits (2010)
• Signed an Executive Order for the President’s Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)
• Increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)
• Signed Executive Order to promote the federal government as a “model employer” when it comes to hiring the disabled (2010) * Note: This includes new efforts to increase the recruitment, hiring, and training for the disabled
• Programs to assist Spanish speakers with the US Census (2010)
• Elena Kagen appointed to Supreme Court (2010)
• Tasked all federal agencies to develop new strategies to address HIV/AIDS (2010)
• After organizing studies on the topic in 2009, tasked the Pentagon to eliminate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)
• Signed Fair Sentencing Act (2010) * Note: The Administration continues to deescalate marijuana interdiction and raids; increased dramatically the amount of cocaine one must possess to be sentenced to jail; eliminated mandatory sentencing for first-time drug abusers and simple possession

• Authorized construction funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access in K-12 public schools (2009)
• Increased funding for school construction (2009)
• Increased funding available for student loans (2009)
• Expanded the national youth service program (2009)
• Streamlined the federal student loan process to save $87 billion over the next 10 years (2009)
• Changed the rule to allow students struggling to make college loan payments to refinance their loans (2009)
• Beginning discussions with Congress for education reform (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s education reform has been sidelined by opposition in Congress
• Initiated a “Race to the Top” competitive federal grant program for states who develop innovative policies (2009)
• Instituted a “judgment review” allowing families with student loans to petition to have their current financial status determine the loan rather than the previous year’s finances (2009)
• Launched “Educate to Innovate,” a public/private partnership making $236 million available for science, mathematics, and technology education programs (2009)
• Proposed capping the maximum amount students must pay on student loans (as percentage of their income) (2010)
• Proposed reducing student loan obligations for individuals going to work in community and public service jobs (2010)
• The federal government will offer direct student loans, cutting out the cost of private banks (“middle man”) who increase the costs in order to make a profit (2010)
• Increased investment in technologies for schools/education (2010)

• Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness (2009)
• FEMA once again reports directly to the president (2009) * Note: Bush removed FEMA (prior to the Hurricane Katrina disaster) from this status
• Demonstrated an immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters (2009)
• Ordered that funds be released and red tape be streamlined for the ongoing Hurricane Katrina recovery effort in the Gulf Coast (2009)
• Timely and massive relief effort in response to the January 2010 earthquake and ensuing humanitarian crisis (2010)
Components of the response:
- The FBI’s National Center for Disaster Fraud was tasked to look into possible fraud with organizations soliciting funds for relief
- Announced the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund
- Established an emergency Haiti Task Force in the State Department
- Established a website with information, resources, and a posting of a “person finder” online to help families and friends to locate loved ones
- Joint aid and relief planning with the U.K.
- Sponsored a resolution in the UN Security Council for additional security and police forces in Haiti
- Dispatched the US Navy floating hospital (USNS Comfort) and, within 5 days, 9 naval and relief ships, 5 Coast Guard cutters, 8 Coast Guard aircraft, and 12,000 US military personnel
- Initial dispatch of several ships and cargo planes full of humanitarian aid and supplies, 6 search/rescue teams (500 personnel), and 265 Department of Health & Human Services personnel for emergency medical and aid support
- Established a mobile US air traffic control center at the destroyed airport in Port-au-Prince
• After the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a freeze was placed on new deep water projects (2010)
• Executive Order to establish new security measures to minimize accidental release of bio and chemical agents; new strategies for public health and bioterrorism response (2010)
• Established a national commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon spill to examine facts and report a plan of action; new efforts to prevent offshore spills (2010)
• After a slow start in responding to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the White House is promoting a long-term plan to reconstruct the damaged Gulf and negotiated with BP the establishment of a multi-billion dollar trust fund for victims of the spill (2010)
• Extended national flood insurance program for those in need during current economic crisis (2010)

• New federal funding for science and research labs (2009)
• Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program (2009)
• Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program (2009)
• Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud (2009)
• Ordered the DEA to stop raids on medical marijuana usage (2009)
• Ordered a review of existing “mandatory minimum” prison sentencing (2009)
• Signed an order to limit airport tarmac delays and the time passengers had to sit in the plane/on the tarmac during delays (2009)
• Restored the EPA to “Cabinet level” status (2009) * Note: Bush removed the EPA from this status
• Beginning discussions with Congress for comprehensive immigration reform (2010)
* Note: Much of Obama’s immigration reform had been stalled by opposition in Congress
• Commissioned expert panels and reports from NASA; announced a new direction for human space flight that involves funding a new heavy lift-launcher and jettisoning the Ares 1 program; boosting NASA’s budget by $1 billion in 2011 (2010)
• Ordered a ban on text-messaging for all commercial truck and bus drivers (2010)
• Signed bill – FAA Air Transportaiton Modernizatin and Safety Improvement Act (2010)

• Closed the Bush-era “secret detention” facilities in Eastern Europe (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era policy allowing “enhanced interrogation” (torture); the US is again in compliance with Geneva Convention standards (2009) * Note: Obama has permitted some controversial interrogation techniques to continue
• Restarted international nuclear non-proliferation talks and reestablished international nuclear inspection protocols (2009) * Note: Bush withdrew from non-proliferation talks and dismantled the inspection infrastructure
• Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush
• Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush
• Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office (2009)
• Banned the export of cluster bombs (2009)
• Overturned Bush-era plans to increase the US nuclear arsenal (2009)
• Authorized the Navy SEALS operation that freed by force the US shipping captain held by Somali pirates (2009)
• Restored the US commitment to the UN population fund for family planning; overturned the ban on providing funds internationally for family planning (2009) * Note: The family planning efforts were suspended under Bush
• Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return “home” to visit families (2009)
• Extended an offer of engagement (free from sanctions and penalties) to Iran through December 31, 2009 (Iran did not accept the offer) (2009)
• Sent envoys to the Middle East and other parts of the world, reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy (2009)
• Authorized discussions with North Korea and the private mission by former president, Bill Clinton, to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons (2009)
• Authorized discussions with Myanmar and the mission by Senator Jim Web to secure the release of an American held captive (2009)
• Renewed loan guarantees for Israel (2009)
• Signed the USIFTA trade agreement with/for Israel (2009)
• Authorized a $550m advance for Israel (six months prior to the scheduled date) in order to accommodate Israeli’s economic and financial needs (2009)
• Continued agreements with Israel for cultural exchanges, immigration, etc. (2009)
• Spoke on Arab television, spoke at an Egyptian university, and met with Arab leaders in an effort to change the tone of US-Arab relations (2009)
• Ordered the US to finally pay its dues to the United Nations (2009)
• Attended the Summit of America’s meeting in Trinidad and Tobago (2010)
• Dispatched several envoys and initiated talks with numerous nations (2010)
• Signed a nuclear limitation treaty with Russia (2010) * Note: The agreement calls for both countries to reduce their nucs by one-third (1,500) and launch systems by half (800)
• Hosted nuclear non-proliferation summit for several nations (2010)
• Executive Order to establish support offices in the State Department to assist the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan (2010)
• Presidential Memoranda to continue drug interdiction support with Columbia (2010)

• Removed Bush era restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research (2009)
• Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research (2009)
• Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children (2009)
• Established an independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare (2009)
• Reversed some of the Bush-era restrictions that prevented Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical firms for cheaper drugs, allowing government to again competitively bid (2009) * Note: Obama had promised to lift all restrictions but, while he did negotiate with drug companies for them to lower their costs the deal only lifted some restrictions
• Expanding government vaccination programs (2009)
• Issued new disease prevention guidelines and priorities for the CDC (2009)
• Authorized the FDA to finally begin regulating tobacco (2009)
• Tasked federal labs to prioritize research on and deployment of H1N1 vaccines (2009)
• Asked multiple congressional committees to bring forward a healthcare reform bill; held dozens of public hearings and town halls on the issue (2009) (2010)
• Established a new council on National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health to be chaired by Surgeon General and charged with promoting healthy lifestyles and integrative healthcare (2010)
• When accusations to the contrary arose, an Executive Order was signed to reaffirm that federal funds are not to be used for abortion services (2010)
• Historic healthcare reform bill signed – $940 billion over 10 years (2010) * Note: 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage and costs will be lowered for most Americans, but many of the goals are phased in over four years
Components of the bill
- Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals/family members with pre-existing health conditions; a temporary plan is being developed to cover high-risk individuals with pre-existing conditions until the full reforms go into effect in 2014
- Prevents insurance companies from placing lifetime limits on benefits
- Bans “rescission” so insurance companies can’t cancel coverage if individuals keep their policies current or if they become ill
- An individual’s out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are capped
- Closes the “donut hole” (Part D) for Medicare prescription drug coverage (under Bush, Medicare helped pay for drugs up to $2,600 and above $4,550, but individuals had to pay 100% of the costs in between these amounts); now Medicare helps cover costs irrespective of the amount – seniors will now pay only 25% of drug costs up to $4,550 and only 5% of drug costs above that amount
- In 2010, an emergency provision will offer seniors a $250 rebate on the costs incurred within the “donut hole”
- Individuals living at or below the poverty line were eligible for healthcare under Medicaid, but by 2014 individuals/families living slightly above (making up to $14,404/$29,327) the poverty line will also be eligible for benefits
- Individuals/families making less than $43,320/$88,200 per year will qualify for government subsidies to help purchase health insurance
- All individuals must have health insurance or face a government fine; all large (over 50 employees) employers must offer health insurance to employees or pay a fine
- Small businesses can get a tax credit if they offer health care
- There are hardship exemptions if individuals can’t afford health insurance
- Families can keep their children in college on their plans through age 26
- Promotes health insurance “exchanges” so consumers can buy “wholesale”
- Creates consumer assistance offices to help consumers file complaints or appeal decisions from insurance companies; beginning in 2011, insurance companies can no longer make excessive rate hikes without justification and approval, and those doing so may be barred from participating in new health insurance exchanges
Funding sources:
- Large employers (over 50 workers) that don’t offer health benefits will be charged a $2,000/worker fee; if the employer offers coverage but employees instead purchase federally subsidized insurance the fee is $3,000/worker receiving federal subsidies or $750/worker (whichever is lower)
- Annual fees on pharmaceutical companies ($27 billion), health insurance companies ($60 billion), and medical device-makers ($20 billion)
- Annual penalties on individuals who do not have health insurance (up to a maximum of $695/person)
- Increase in the Medicare payroll tax from 1.45% to 2.35% for individuals making $200,000+ and families making $250,000+
- 3.8% tax on unearned income for millionaires
- Insurance companies will be subject to a tax on each high-end insurance plan (so-called “Cadillac” plans) they offer
- Illegal immigrants are not eligible for insurance or subsidies
- By Executive Order, such federal funding can’t be used for abortion
- The federal government will assist states by covering all of the increased expenses of expanding Medicaid coverage (90% of costs after 2020)

• Removed a ruling that now allows individual states to enact automotive fuel efficiency standards above federal standards (2009)
• Offered attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles (2009)
• Overturned Bush-era rule that weakened the Endangered Species Act (2009)
• Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government (2009)
• Ended the Bush-era policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions (2009)
• Signed a measure requiring energy producing plants to begin producing 15% of their energy from renewable sources (2009)
• Announced that the federal government would reengage in the long-delayed effort to clean up “Superfund” toxic waste sites (2009)
• Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s energy reform was killed by Senate Republicans
• Proposed a new refuge for wild mustangs (2009)
• Cancelled several Bush-era mountain-top removal and mining permits (2009)
• Reengaged in international treaties and agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009)
* Note: Bush had withdrawn from such efforts
• Asked Congress for an energy reform and “cap and trade” bill (2009) * Note: The Congress failed to pass such a bill
• Developing plan to lease US coastal waters for wind and water-current energy production (2009)
• Overturned Bush-era policies that allowed uranium mining near national parks such as the Grand Canyon (2009)
• Expanded the Petrified Forest National Park (2009)
• Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act that protects millions of acres of scenic, historic, and recreational lands and trails (2009)
• Requiring that government buildings and facilities be retrofitted to save energy costs (2009) * Note: These green retrofits are moving very slowly
• Authorized studies in several western states to determine how to support large-scale solar installations (2009)
• Attended the Copenhagen talks and, after the talks were stalled, negotiated an international (voluntary) agreement on reducing carbon emissions and raising funds to assist developing nations in offsetting carbon emissions (2009)
• Banned importation of pythons in response to a growing population of pythons damaging the Florida Everglades (2009)
• Committing the federal government to increasing research and use of renewable, clean energy sources such as wind, biomass, etc. (2009)
• Executive orders establishing a federal initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all federal operations (2009) (2010)
• Called for exploring the possibility of additional off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf, Atlantic, and off Alaska (but not in ANWR) (2010)
• Agreed to consider increases in nuclear energy production and requested a study on the feasibility of nuclear power plant construction (2010) * Note: Nearly all energy initiatives were defeated by Republican opposition in Congress
• Increased investment in clean energy projects (2010)
• Executive Order to develop a new strategy for and commitment to ocean and lake resources, and for scientific research on water quality (2010)

I would have to say that list concludes that President Obama IS doing SOMETHING.