Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and Sen. Carmelo Rios unveil a bronze statue of President Barack Obama, along the “Avenue of Heroes” outside the Capitol building, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Feb. 20. Puerto Rican officials unveiled statues of Obama and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Every sitting U.S. president who has ever visited Puerto Rico is honored with a statue, dating back to Theodore Roosevelt. Obama became the eighth when he visited in June.
Steve Benen’s growing list of achievements by PBO’s administration on gay rights:
* announced it will not defend the constitutionality of statutes blocking same-sex military spouses from receiving marriage benefits
* successfully repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law
* expanded federal benefits for the same-sex partners of executive-branch employees
* signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law
* cleared the way for hospital-visitation rights for same-sex couples
* lifted the travel/immigration ban on those with HIV/AIDS
* ordered the Federal Housing Authority to no longer consider the sexual orientation of applicants on loans
* expanded the Census to include the number of people who report being in a same-sex relationship
* directed U.S. agencies abroad to ensure our humanitarian and diplomatic efforts “promote and protect” the rights of gays and lesbians
* endorsed repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act
* stopped trying to defend DOMA against federal court challenges
A carnival float depicts US President Barack Obama as Captain America during the traditional parade in Cologne, Germany, Feb. 20
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire): ….. Having aligned itself in the mid-1960′s with the angry remnants of American apartheid, the Republican party – and the conservative “movement” which is its only real energy – is now scrambling, one state at a time, to undo the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement on the wrong side of which it decided to place itself for political advantage…..
….. The shift is driven by the fact that people do not want black people, or poor people, or Democrats in general, to vote. This was obvious from the voter cadging in Florida in 2000, and in the mischief with the voting machine placements in Ohio in 2004. It was energized recently by the fact that black people and poor people helped elect a black person president, and a substantial portion of the Republican party and its conservative base found that to be an illegitimate outcome and has worked ever since his inauguration to delegitimize him on the grounds that he is a black man who was elected and is, therefore, not really president.
SmartyPants: One of the things that concerns me as we watch the Republicans revert to their old culture wars against women, people of color, gays & lesbians, poor people, unions, etc. is that we will all divide again into our camps to defend our root causes and forget the bigger picture that binds us. Other than fear, the right’s most effective weapon against us is division.
What will keep us united is to always remember the big picture of what’s happening. As I’ve been saying, keeping an eye on the forest means recognizing that the old white male heterosexual patriarchy is dying and the Republican Party is in chaos. What we can expect is that the old beast is going to strike out at anything it perceives as a threat and therefore the cause of its demise.
Carter Eskew (Washington Post): I was thinking of taking today off, but Rick Santorum wouldn’t let me.
Rick Santorum went and said another stupid thing. “The Earth is not the objective,” he told “Face The Nation.” “Man is the objective. And, I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down.”
I think he says these things not because he is, in fact, stupid, but because he is angry, and anger fuels his supporters.
Ed Kilgore: A good deal of the excitement over the recent contraception coverage mandate has resulted from the hopes of Republicans, and the fears of some Catholic liberals, that the controversy could prove to be a “wedge issue” that would drive significant numbers of Catholic voters into the GOP column in November.
The assumption behind such scenarios, of course, is that there is a self-conscious “Catholic vote” that operates independently of the rest of the electorate, and that can be moved by the pronouncements of Catholic religious leaders.
My latest column for The New Republic examines this assumption, and finds it uncompelling in several respects: Catholic voters are remarkably similar to all voters in their partisan inclinations; they do not have any overall inclination to follow the Church hierarchy on hot-button cultural issues; and in fact, they are not responding differently from other Americans to the contraception coverage mandate controversy. “The Catholic Vote” looks just like America.
Tuesday: 11:35 AM – PBO hosts a payroll tax cut event, VP Biden also attends.
The President and First Lady will invite music legends and contemporary major artists to the White House for a celebration of Blues music and in recognition of Black History Month as part of their “In Performance at the White House” series.
Wednesday: The President will deliver remarks at the construction site of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Thursday: The President will travel to the University of Miami to continue to discuss his blueprint for an economy built to last.
Friday: The President will host Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark for a meeting in the Oval Office.
Reverend Keith A. Gordon: Blues fans, circle Monday, February 27th, 2012 on your calendars, ’cause we’re going to paint the White House blue! The Emmy Award-winning PBS series In Performance At The White House is going to document a historic celebration of the blues with a taping of a February 21st concert to be held in the East Room of the White House, the event hosted by President and Mrs. Obama in recognition of Black History Month.
In Performance At The White House program host Taraji P. Henson will oversee the concert, which will feature performances by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Gary Clark, Jr., Keb’ Mo’, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Shemekia Copeland, Warren Haynes, and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. Stax Records legend Booker T. Jones will serve as the concert’s music director and bandleader.
….. The concert will be streamed live (from 7:20) on the White House, Public Broadcasting, and Black Public Media websites….
AFP: In a cramped campaign office a couple of blocks from a sprawling General Motors assembly plant, Linda Koch rings the bell used to signal that a new volunteer has signed up for the fight to reelect President Barack Obama.
“Woohoo!” the triumphant Koch chirps. “She’s bringing her sister too!” …..
….. In the month leading up to the January 31 Florida primary, the Obama campaign registered nearly as many new voters in the Sunshine State as it had in all of 2011.
Linda Koch is one of 15,000 “neighborhood team leaders” working on Obama’s ground crew. She says the most persuasive message she has is the story of why she got involved in politics for the first time a few months ago at the age of 56.
Koch was laid off from her job at a Detroit-area hospital shortly before she was diagnosed with throat cancer. Then Chrysler warned that it would go out of business without government help, putting her husband’s livelihood – and their health insurance – at risk.
“I didn’t want to die of lack of insurance,” she said. “It’s just not the way we should do things here in America – it’s not right.”
Politics came home to Koch when Obama was elected and pushed through the bailout of Chrysler and GM and landmark health care reform. Her husband’s job – and the US automotive industry – was saved. And people like Koch couldn’t be denied insurance coverage anymore because of a “pre-existing condition.”….
TPM: When President Obama spoke to workers in Wisconsin last week, Politico accidentally made itself the story. The paper’s reporter mistook the Wisconsin state flag for the seal of a local union, and cited it as an illustration of President Obama’s pro-union bias.
Politico cleaned the egg off its face by wiping the story from the Internet. But the gaffe made the rounds among actual union officials in the state and now that the laughter’s subsided, they’ve turned it into a membership drive…..