I understand the Canadian confusion. Our electorate does defy reason — and a whole lot of other things that suggest thoughtfulness.
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Economic Morality: EQUALITY of advancement opportunity and treatment under law & social memes — EQUITABILITY of economic and social rewards & outcomes. We're responsible for the decisions we make, but we are not responsible for the options given. Thus, we should create that society we would want if we didn’t know in advance who we’d be.
I understand the Canadian confusion. Our electorate does defy reason — and a whole lot of other things that suggest thoughtfulness.
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Though in almost every measurable way the American people are profoundly better off today than they were before President Obama took office, the American people soundly repudiated him yesterday in the election. Why?
The President never actually led the nation to feel hope during economic recovery, never made the people feel secure in a threatening world, never guided them confidently through the most major change in health care coverage, and finally never offered reassurance from a menacing and deadly virus seeping its way into the country. In other words, the voters lashed out against failed executive leadership.
As was so correctly said by a member of the Republican National Committee in an op-ed to businesspersons, “At the national level, disgusted and angry voters vented in a very direct way on President Barack Obama, taking their concerns to the ballot box… Contrary to a Republican self-proclaimed resurgence at the national level, the 2014 midterm elections were not as much validations of a Republican national agenda as repudiation” of President Obama’s leadership, or lack thereof.
On a night when Republicans were expected to do well, they did. Or, to be more accurate, on a night when Democrats were expected to do poorly, they did – losing in places they never expected to lose (like Iowa and Colorado) and slipping further and further behind in state capitols and legislatures around the country (including governorships in traditionally dark blue states like Maryland and Massachusetts).
Yet, across the nation progressive ballot initiatives passed easily, such as minimum wage increases, transportation tax initiatives, prison reform and decriminalization, marijuana legalization, and conservation programs, to name only a few.
Make no mistake, this election was transformed into a referendum on President Obama, and was not a movement against progressive causes or policies.
Notwithstanding the results, the Republican brand at the national level remains tarnished, and sustaining a governing majority for longer than a single election cycle will be a challenge unless changes continue to happen within the Republican Party itself, a moderation and appeal to reasonableness.
Failed leadership does not mean “failed administration.” The sad aspect of the election reality and the disillusionment of the electorate is that so much has been accomplished by the Obama Administration and, yet, went unappreciated.
People have many perceptions of how the US economy or the country as a whole is doing in recent years. Depending on your political views, you may think the country is doing exceptionally well or on the verge of collapse. Even those knowing the nation has done very well in the last six years remained untethered and insecure due to the cold void created by a lack of reassuring communication and guiding leadership from the President.
Listed below are 14 objective facts, without interjecting any opinion, about the state of America under the leadership of President Obama. Each statement is followed up with a link to a source where you can verify these facts for yourself.
1. We’ve now had 63 straight months of economic expansion.
That’s right, for 63 consecutive months the US economy has gotten progressively better. That includes 54 consecutive months of private sector job growth. Forbes magazine, no fan of President Obama, crunched the numbers and demonstrated how the economic recovery under President Obama has been better in just about every measurable way than the recovery under President Reagan.
2. We are currently enjoying the longest period of private sector job creation in American history.
Again, this statistic comes from the Forbes Magazine article listed above. In fact, we have now had 54 straight months of private sector job creation. That is the longest period of job creation since the Department of Labor has been keeping statistics. See the link below.
3. Unemployment has dropped from 10.1% in October of 2009 to 5.9% and projected to reach 5.4% by summer of 2015.
Not only has the unemployment rate dropped significantly, but since the recession ended, our economy as added over ten million new jobs. You can refer to the Forbes article above or check this article on PoliticsUSA.
4. The stock market continues to set new records since President Obama has been in office.
Since early 2009 there has been a steady trend in stock market growth. The Dow Jones Industrial averages reached an all-time high of 17,098 in August, 2014. Since most Americans have 401K retirement investments in the stock market, this stock market growth benefits millions of middle class Americans.
5. The Federal budget deficit is shrinking. It’s been reduced by two-thirds since 2009.
The $1.4 trillion federal budget deficit that Obama inherited in 2009 was in a large part due to the high rate of unemployment. When millions of people were put out of work in 2008 and 2009, it resulted in far less income taxes and less economic activity to generate federal revenue. As ten million people have been put back to work, there have been billions more tax dollars generated. As a result, the deficit has been shrinking each year. The 2014 deficit is projected to be around $500 billion, the smallest deficit since 2007 and roughly 1/3 of what it was in 2009.
6. Under President Obama, spending has increased only 1.4% annually, the lowest rate since Eisenhower was president.
You may have heard critics say that President Obama is spending money wildly and running up our debt. According to this article from Forbes, Obama has increased spending by 1.4% annually, far less than President Reagan (8.7%) or George W. Bush (8.1%). In fact, Obama has increased spending less than any president since Eisenhower.
7. For 95% of American taxpayers, income taxes are lower now than just about any time in the previous 50 years.
After President Obama took office, thousands of Tea Party members all over the country held rallies protesting Obama’s tax increases. At that time, President Obama had actually passed several tax cuts to stimulate the economy. Most of the Tea Partiers who were protesting had only seen their taxes decrease under Obama. Yet polls indicated that most Tea Party members wrongly believed their taxes had gone up.
In fact, the only people whose income taxes have gone up during Obama’s presidency are those making $400,000 per year or more. That’s less than 2% of the population. Today, for the vast majority of people, tax rates are exactly where they were when Obama first took office or lower. The article below from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains this in greater detail.
8. Our dependence on foreign oil has shrunk due to record domestic oil production and improved fuel efficiency standards.
While some people claim that oil production has declined under President Obama, the truth is just the opposite. Oil production has reached record highs. The United States now produces so much oil that we export more oil and gasoline than we import.
9. Up to 10 million more Americans now have health insurance than before.
Depending on whose numbers you use, between 7 and 10 million Americans acquired health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act. Now that those 7 to 10 million Americans have insurance, the rest of us are no longer on the hook to pay for their health care when they get sick. This saves the American people billions of dollars in the long run.
10. The Affordable Care Act has added years to the life of Medicare.
The Medicare trust fund had been on course to run out of money by the end of 2016. But due to cost savings from the Affordable Care Act and lower healthcare expenses, Medicare’s trust fund is now stable until the year 2030 without cutting benefits.
11. Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, we are seeing the slowest rate of increase in healthcare costs since 1960.
Contrary to the predictions from Republicans, health care costs have increased at a much slower pace since the passage of the ACA.
12. We currently have fewer soldiers, sailors and airmen in war zones than any time in over 10 years.
With the end of the Iraq war and the steady withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, we have fewer people in war zones now than any time since 2002.
13. There have been zero successful attacks by al Qaeda on US soil since Obama became president.
Despite Dick Cheney’s claim that if voters elect a Democrat as president, we’ll be “hit again and hit hard” by al Qaeda, we have actually been far safer from terrorist attacks on US soil in recent years than we were under the previous president. There have been several unsuccessful attacks against the US under both presidents, but under Obama, al Qaeda has been largely unsuccessful in striking the US on our home soil.
14. We now successfully catch and deport more illegal immigrants than ever before.
Despite the publicity from busloads of children who illegally entered the country, the numbers prove that President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president.
All of the facts stated above can be confirmed through multiple sources, yet most Americans are not consciously aware of all of this positive news; they don’t feel it, either. That’s what happens when the reassuring hand and voice of leadership are absent. Cold and stark reality offer no warmth and comfort to a concerned and disquieted nation.
The numerous achievements of the administration, cited above, resulting from the last six year’s work were an outstanding achievement. But, the people were never helped to feel secure and hopeful along the way. What they know is that they read or hear about this great economic and stock market performance, yet they don’t have much more, if any more, income than they used to have and don’t feel secure or hopeful about future improvement.
There’s an underlying truth or reason for that feeling… because the top 10% has received 98% of the income growth over the recovery (and 95% of 2009-2012 Income Gains Went to Wealthiest 1% — check the Wall Street Journal). That reality didn’t start with Obama. Even when times were good before the crash, “the people” were falling further behind the elites: according to the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan policy analysis arm of Congress, “The poorest tax filers (the bottom fifth) saw average after-tax income fall by 6 percent between 1996 and 2006,” the report said. While “the richest 1 percent of tax filers experienced a 74 percent increase in after-tax income.”
All the people know and feel is that they are not as better off compared to the great achievement numbers talked about. And they blamed the man in charge who never got close to them, never led them.
The GOP basically destroyed the country under W. Bush, continue(d) to foster a system that skews wealth and income away from the middle-class (favoring capital gains and interest income over earned income), and then blamed it on the President who sat by almost silently.
The truth is, most other presidents would envy President Obama’s performance record despite the fact that he inherited the worst economic crash since the Great Depression. If only Obama had the reassuring and warm-yet-strong leadership skills of Reagan or Clinton, last night’s election results would have been dramatically different.
But, no other modern President received as cold an introduction to his office as Obama, either. He had to develop thick skin immediately. Perhaps that isolated him from the feelings and concerns of the people as much as it did protect him from the vitriol of those who opposed him, in either case not serving him well in the end.
For more than 165 million Americans — more than half the US population — Same-Sex Marriage Equality is now very real.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to decline hearing a series of appeals cases on same-sex marriage will have the effect of immediately legalizing gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. When combined with the 19 states (and the District of Columbia) that had previously legalized same-sex marriage, these states have a collective population of roughly 165 million, according to 2013 census figures.
For the first time, same-sex marriage is legal for the majority of the U.S. population. The 26 states where the practice is not legal have a total population of about 151 million.
The Supreme Court’s decision will also lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those states have an additional 25 million people combined. When these states follow suit because they fall under federal circuit courts that have ruled same-sex marriage restrictions unconstitutional, 30 states and the District of Columbia — totaling about 60 percent of the U.S. population — will allow same-sex marriage.
Two years ago at this time, same-sex marriage was legal only in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District, which together have about 11 percent of the U.S. population.
Progress marches onward.
2138 Micheltorena St, Silver Lake 90039 – “The Reiner-Burchill Residence” (Silvertop), John Lautner, architect, Construction: 1956-1976 – Built for Ken Reiner, Sold 1974 to The Burchills, For Sale 2014 at $7,500,000
Silvertop — the Reiner-Burchill Residence — was originally commissioned in 1956 by Kenneth Reiner, an entrepreneur who became wealthy with industrial designs for a spring-loaded ladies hair clip and a self-locking lightweight aircraft nut. “Silvertop” is named for its expansive concrete domed ceiling over the living area, which seems to rest on walls of glass, as it peers down upon the Silver Lake Reservoir.
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Focused on technology and engineering, Reiner and Lautner made excellent collaborators. The two set out to accomplish an advanced home design, featuring faucet-less sinks that automatically filled with water, a dining table with a hydraulic pedestal that lowered for cocktails and elevated for meals, a system for heating and cooling that could not be seen or heard (Reiner wanted to feel only the ambient temperatures rise or fall), controls for lights and appliances that were discreetly set into walls and doors jambs, lights that pivot into the ceiling, and electrically-controlled skylights.
Lautner built such novel innovations into the home specifically according to Reiner’s specifications; in the event that the equipment didn’t exist to meet those specifications, Reiner would design, engineer, and manufacturer the necessary parts in his own factory for Lautner.
The two men brought in master structural engineer, Eugene Birnbaum to execute the challenging build with a cantilevered driveway up to the residence and a massive concrete domed ceiling over walls of glass that are slotted into concrete. The City of Los Angeles’ building codes couldn’t keep up with Lautner and Reiner, and the city denied permits for the cantilevered drive… until both men created irrefutable engineering plans and constructed a demonstration project.
The home was originally budgeted at $75,000, but rose to $1,000,000 after many refinements of the design throughout its build. Unfortunately, Reiner never lived in his wondrous home. Due to a lawsuit with his business partner and a divorce, Reiner filed bankruptcy and lost the nearly finished house. The project then sat for several years, while Reiner moved to Long Beach. Associates said the pragmatic Reiner never looked back with regret.
Dr. Philip and Jacklyn Burchill bought the home in 1974. The Burchill’s turned to Lautner to complete the home. The Reiner-Burchill Residence was finally realized in 1976, when the Burchill’s became live-in stewards of the architectural phenomenon until 2014. Mrs. Burchill has decided to sell the home she has maintained with stewardship toward authenticity for 40 years.
The Reiner-Burchill Residence is located at 2138 Micheltorena St in the Moreno Highlands area of Silver Lake and is being offered for $7,500,000.
The 3 bedroom and 4 bathroom design of the main house is made up of a series of interlocking circles, half-circles and ellipsis, creating geometric pattern for which Lautner was known. The infinity pool, a first of its kind, mimics the shape of the roof line. With a massive, arched concrete roof over the living area, the spacious 4,721 of interior living space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, in proportion to the site on which it is built. “Silvertop” situates on 1.26 acres, comprised of six lots, on the crest of a hill. The home is approached by vehicle up one side of the hill and is exited down the other side of the hill via the cantilevered curved concrete driveway that wraps around a circular guest house, called the Round House, which contains a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and a photography darkroom.
The home consists of three general areas including the living area, sleeping quarters and guest house. From the entry, one passes through an atrium filled with plants and before entering into the expansive light-filled open living space. The sleeping quarters are located somewhat perpendicular to the living area as it bows away from the central living area.
At once familiar and strange, this single family home — House VDV by Graux & Baeyens Architects – is located just outside the town of Ghent, in Destelbergen, Belgium. The land is part of a site where once stood a castle destroyed in WWII. Part of the surrounding wall remains standing and is a silent reminder of this history.
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