Yeah, if you put it that way, Obama is a very successful president

December 18, 2014

Got this chart from the national Democrats, The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC):

Obama's presidency is a success, by the GOP's favorite numbers.

Obama’s presidency is a success, by the GOP’s favorite numbers.

An old friend on Facebook told me he wants verification of the numbers, because he doesn’t feel it. Few of us below the very, very rich feel it — which is what Obama’s been saying, and what Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Paul Krugman and Robert Reich have been saying in various ways daily.  That’s what the struggle on income inequality is all about.

But the numbers check out.  Go see for yourself (some of the sites I list below update monthly, or daily, so if you’re not looking at this in December 2014, they may vary; look for the link to historic numbers).

I wrote:

Numbers are dated in Consumer Confidence (but much higher than I thought! See below).

But the other numbers are well published.

Dow Jones Index plugged at least nightly on NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS — hourly at least on CNN and MSNBC (I don’t get the latter two).

http://stockcharts.com/freecharts/historical/djia1900.html

Unemployment is updated monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — and again, plugged on national news when it happens.

http://www.bls.gov/bls/unemployment.htm

GDP growth:

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG
and
http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/glance.htm

US deficits as % of GDP:

Bloomberg press report:
http://www.bloomberg.com/…/u-s-deficit-decline-to-2-8…

St. Louis Branch, Federal Reserve:
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/FYFSGDA188S

Consumer Confidence is tracked by the anti-Obama Conference Board:

http://www.conference-board.org/data/consumerdata.cfm

Reuters report on October Consumer Confidence report:

http://www.reuters.com/…/us-usa-economy-confidence…

As a socialist anti-free market guy, Obama is the worst in history.

Now will you listen to Obama when he tells you that we need to do something OTHER than what the GOP says, to make the growth something YOU feel? Please?

So tomorrow, and every day until January 21, 2017, when your very conservative and otherwise not stupid friends tell you we must “cut government” because “America can’t afford to be great any longer,” instead of flipping them the bird like you usually do, send them here to get the links to look at the numbers for themselves.

Don’t take my word for it, nor the DCCC’s word for it. Look for yourself, using the sites I’ve listed above.

Now ask: Why can’t Congress figure this out, and give Obama some support?


Is December the flag-flyingest month?

December 16, 2014

November offers several flag flying days, especially in years when there is an election.

But December may be the month with the most flag-flying dates, if we include statehood days.

December 7 is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.  It’s not in the Flag Code, but it is in a public law (P.L. 103-308) that the president should issue a proclamation asking Americans to fly flags.

December 25 is Christmas Day, a federal holiday, and one of the score of dates designated in the Flag Code.

Other dates?

Several states attained statehood in December, so people in those states should fly their flags (and you may join them):

  • Illinois, December 3 (1818, 21st state)
  • Delaware, December 7 (1787, 1st state)
  • Mississippi, December 10 (1817, 20th state)
  • Indiana, December 11 (1816, 19th state)
  • Pennsylvania, December 12 (1787, 2nd state)
  • Alabama, December 14 (1819, 22nd state)
  • New Jersey, December 18 (1787, 3rd state)
  • Iowa, December 28 (1846, 29th state)
  • Texas, December 29 (1845, 28th state)

December 15 is Bill of Rights Day, marking the day in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was declared ratified; but though this event generally gets a presidential proclamation, there is no law or executive action that requires flags to fly on that date, for that occasion.

Eleven flag-flying dates in December.  Does any other month have as many flag flying opportunities?

Have I missed any December flag-flying dates?

Flags at the Washington Monument, looking down the Capital Mall towards the U.S. Capitol.

Flags at the Washington Monument, looking down the Capital Mall towards the U.S. Capitol.


Pearl Harbor survivors dwindle, but still make the pilgrimage

December 7, 2014

Back in 2008, most of the formal reunions stopped. http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/pearl-harbor-a-day-that-will-live-in-infamy/

We owe them, big time.

Wikipedia image. Pearl Harbor Survivors Assn breaks ground on USS Oklahoma Memorial, in 2006

Wikipedia caption:  Members of the Peral Harbor Survivors Association break ground on USS Oklahoma Memorial, in 2006

 


Fly your flag December 7, 2014, for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

December 7, 2014

President Obama paid respects to those who died at Pearl Harbor on a visit in 2011; White House caption: President Barack Obama places a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial, part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama paid respects to those who died at Pearl Harbor on a visit in 2011; White House caption: President Barack Obama places a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial, part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

From the White House:

Presidential Proclamation — National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2014
NATIONAL PEARL HARBOR REMEMBRANCE DAY, 2014

- – – – – – -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes thundered over Hawaii, dropping bombs in an unprovoked act of war against the United States.The attack claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Americans.It nearly destroyed our Pacific Fleet, but it could not shake our resolve.While battleships smoldered in the harbor, patriots from across our country enlisted in our Armed Forces, volunteering to take up the fight for freedom and security for which their brothers and sisters made the ultimate sacrifice.On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we pay tribute to the souls lost 73 years ago, we salute those who responded with strength and courage in service of our Nation, and we renew our dedication to the ideals for which they so valiantly fought.

In the face of great tragedy at Pearl Harbor — our first battle of the Second World War — our Union rallied together, driven by the resilient and unyielding American spirit that defines us.The millions of Americans who signed up and shipped out inspired our Nation and put us on the path to victory in the fight against injustice and oppression around the globe.As they stormed the beaches of Normandy and planted our flag in the sands of Iwo Jima, our brave service members rolled back the tide of tyranny in Europe and throughout the Pacific theater.Because of their actions, nations that once knew only the blinders of fear saw the dawn of liberty.

The men and women of the Greatest Generation went to war and braved hardships to make the world safer, freer, and more just.As we reflect on the lives lost at Pearl Harbor, we remember why America gave so much for the survival of liberty in the war that followed that infamous day.Today, with solemn gratitude, we recall the sacrifice of all who served during World War II, especially those who gave their last full measure of devotion and the families they left behind.As proud heirs to the freedom and progress secured by those who came before us, we pledge to uphold their legacy and honor their memory.

The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2014, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.I encourage all

Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities.I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

If your flag staff doesn’t have a half-staff ability, fly the flag anyway.

If you’re wondering: no, this flag-flying date has not been added to the Flag Code; but according to the law, it will recur every year.

More: 


Changing a nation’s flag? New Zealand might

December 4, 2014

A few of us, a vanishing few, remember when Canada changed its flag in 1965.

Canada's flag in 1965. Wikipedia image.

Canada’s flag in 1965, featuring the British Union Jack. This design dates from 1957, following several earlier, similar designs. Wikipedia image.

Change the flag?  What a concept!

We probably forget that the U.S. flag, while recognizable since 1789, changed quite a bit between then and now, mostly in stars, but also in stripes.

Here’s what Canada settled on in 1965, after a surprisingly bitter debate that ran for months in 1964:

Wikipedia:  The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l'Unifolié (French for

Wikipedia: The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l’Unifolié (French for “the one-leafed”), is a flag consisting of a red field with a white square at its centre, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, 11-pointed, red maple leaf. Adopted in 1965 to replace the Union Flag, it is the first ever specified by statute law for use as the country’s national flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use “wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag”

New Zealand contemplates changing her flag, with a referendum on the action pending, probably in 2016.  What are they in for?  Will the debate in New Zealand be so bitter as Canada’s was?

At the BBC site, a few more details:

New Zealand is to hold a binding referendum in 2016 on whether to change the national flag.

The announcement by Prime Minister John Key of the referendum came after his government last month won a third term in a general election.

A panel of “respected New Zealanders” will lead the public discussion on potential designs for a new flag.

Mr Key has previously said he would like to see a new flag featuring a silver fern, on a black background.

That would be similar to the banner already used by many New Zealand teams such as the All Blacks national rugby union team.

“I believe that this is the right time for New Zealanders to consider changing the [flag’s] design to one that better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation,” Mr Key said.

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club -- Getty Images

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club — Getty Images

A fern leaf.  Hey, that’s rather like Canada’s switch from the mostly-red flag with a Union Jack to a maple leaf.  Canada’s been happy with that flag for more than 50 years, now.  Right?

Wait. Canadian Prime Minister Harper wants to change the maple leaf now?

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised media this morning by unveiling a “new-look” Canadian flag in red, white, and blue that “just by fluke” matches the colours of the Conservative Party’s logo.

“I was doodling with my magic markers a while back and it just came to me out of the blue. Our flag needs some blue!” said Harper sporting a lapel pin with his proposed new flag design.

“Frankly, the boring old flag doesn’t reflect my new Canada…we needed something with more energy, something gutsier to better reflect my world leadership role.”

Harper’s doodle, cleaned up a bit:

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in?  And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in? Stephen Harper’s proposed new flag. And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

When a CBC reporter pointed out that Harper’s new flag colours are identical to the Conservative Party logo the PM said he was surprised by the question and hadn’t really noticed the similarity.

“Wow…I guess if you squint at our new flag you could maybe see some loose, loose likeness to my party’s logo colours.  But my new design really captures the new Canada…bold and not to be messed with.”

ConservativePartyLogoSmaller

“Proud Canadians will rally behind this new flag as a patriotic symbol of what Canada has become.”

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau reacted immediately telling the Ottawa Citizen, “I, like most Canadians, must now question the very sanity of Mr. Harper.  Has he gone nuts?  That’s a real and pressing question.  Has Mr. Harper’s ego finally won the sweaty arm-wrestling match that goes on in his brain.”

“The NDP has been calling loudly for increased spending on mental health care and Mr. Harper just proved the need,” said opposition leader Tom Mulcair.

[Well, no, not really.  Notice that the source of the Canadian flag proposal is The Lapine, Canada’s most successful on-line satirical news site — the Onion of the Frozen North.  Yes, I got suckered in, until I read the entire article; if it makes you shake your head, be suspicious, even if it doesn’t trigger your Hemingway™ Shit Detector. New Zealand is serious, though.]

Flag wars ahead!  Social studies teachers, you should tee this up so your students can enjoy the popcorn.

Good thing the U.S. had Betsy Ross around to tell the rebels what the flag would be, eh?*

More, and resources:


60 years ago this month: Disneyland, a gleam in Walt’s eye

December 3, 2014

Let’s check the archives.

From the Orange County Archives: Walt Disney shows Disneyland plans to Orange County officials, Dec. 1954  The men in the front row (left to right) are Anaheim Mayor Charles Pearson, Orange County Supervisor Willis Warner, Walt Disney, Supervisor Willard Smith, and Orange County Planning Commission Chairman Dr. W. L. Bigham. The photo was taken at Disney Studios in Burbank. Photo from the Orange County Archives' Willard Smith Collection.

From the Orange County Archives: Walt Disney shows Disneyland plans to Orange County officials, December 1954.
The men in the front row (left to right) are Anaheim Mayor Charles Pearson, Orange County Supervisor Willis Warner, Walt Disney, Supervisor Willard Smith, and Orange County Planning Commission Chairman Dr. W. L. Bigham. The photo was taken at Disney Studios in Burbank. Photo courtesy the Orange County Archives’ Willard Smith Collection.

Newspaper and public relations photography relied heavily on posed images such as this one, through most of the 20th century.  Cameras often were bulky.  For a good image, film was slow, with a lot of light needed.  Public groups often were taken out of an office or auditorium and posed in the sun, as here, just to get enough light.

By the end of the 1950s, faster films and smaller cameras encouraged more spontaneous photos of events.  Especially after the Kennedy presidential campaign hired a photographer to take candid shots, which showed up everywhere, candid photos started to take over newspapers.

Posing these photographs was an art itself, an art mostly lost these days.

These posed photographs still beat most selfies.

More:

  • Early History of Disneyland in Pictures, slideshow at the Orange County Register; that site suggests an alternative caption for the photo above:
    July 21, 1954 – Race against time
    Walt Disney visited Anaheim often to oversee every detail of the construction. On July 21, 1954, the park held its official groundbreaking – starting a race against time to build Disneyland in one year. Shown here, Anaheim Mayor Charles Pearson, left, with O.C. Supervisor William Warner, Walt Disney, O.C. Supervisor Willard Smith and O.C. Planning Commission Chair W.L. Bigham look at plans for what would soon be called The Happiest Place on Earth.
    REGISTER ARCHIVE PHOTO, TEXT BY TOM BERG, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

December 2: Millard Fillmore’s Guano Day!

December 1, 2014

Why December 2?

(You couldn’t make this stuff up if you were Monty Python.)

English: Millard Fillmore White House portrait

Millard Fillmore’s White House portrait, via Wikipedia

President Millard Fillmore, in the State of the Union Address, December 2, 1850

Peruvian guano has become so desirable an article to the agricultural interest of the United States that it is the duty of the Government to employ all the means properly in its power for the purpose of causing that article to be imported into the country at a reasonable price. Nothing will be omitted on my part toward accomplishing this desirable end. I am persuaded that in removing any restraints on this traffic the Peruvian Government will promote its own best interests, while it will afford a proof of a friendly disposition toward this country, which will be duly appreciated.

Did any other U.S. President spend so much time thinking about guano?  Did any president ever mention it in a State of the Union Address?  The curious case of Millard Fillmore, Seer, just grows.

Guano, or bird poop (and its relative, bat poop), contains phosphorus, which is an essential element for life.  Consequently, it turns out to be a key ingredient in effective agricultural fertilizers.  In international competition for supremacy in farming and farm exports, guano became a key resource to fight over, in the 19th century.

It’s almost safe to say the fights were economic; but guano did play a key role in wars in South America (see Andrew Leonard’s article, noted below).

Fillmore figured out that the substance had great importance, coupled that with the rather esoteric knowledge that sea birds tended to deposit guano in great abundance on certain islands, often unoccupied, and ordered the U.S. Navy to claim islands found to contain guano deposits that were not claimed by other nations.

By the American Civil War, the importance of phosphorus to the production of gun powder became an issue for the armies of the North and South.  Millard Fillmore had set the stage for the North to win an important advantage in gun powder production, just one of many that led to the defeat of the South.

It’s one more thing we should thank Millard Fillmore for doing. Our study of history should inform us that it is, indeed, important for politicians to understand the importance of guano.

Fillmore knew his guano.

Take a moment on December 2 to toast Millard Fillmore’s prescience, on Guano Day!

More:  


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