“You may be pretty or plain, heavy or thin, gay or straight, poor or rich. But nobody has more votes than you. All human beings are more equal to each other than they are unequal. And voting is the great equalizer.”
Washington Post: …. Rick Perry, whose bid for the White House depends heavily on support from religious conservatives, finds himself confronting an issue that is a flash point for that part of his base: his attempt to order schoolgirls to take a vaccine that would protect them against a sexually transmitted virus.
The uproar over the Gardasil vaccine – manufactured by Merck, a major Perry campaign donor – knocked the candidate off-stride during a Republican debate Monday night ….
Perry bristled at accusations from Michele Bachmann that he had pushed the vaccine in 2007 at the bidding of Merck, a Perry donor that also employed a former aide to the governor as a lobbyist.
“It was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them,” Perry said. “I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”
But campaign disclosure records portray a much deeper financial connection with Merck than Perry’s remarks suggest.
His gubernatorial campaigns, for example, have received nearly $30,000 from the drugmaker since 2000, most of that before he issued his vaccine mandate, which was overturned by the Texas legislature.
Merck and its subsidiaries have also given more than $380,000 to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) since 2006, the year that Perry began to play a prominent role in the Washington-based group…
Perry served as chairman of the RGA in 2008 and again this year, until he decided to run for president. The group also ranks among the governor’s biggest donors, giving his campaign at least $4 million over the past five years….
…. One of Perry’s closest confidantes, his former chief of staff Mike Toomey, was then working as an Austin-based lobbyist for Merck, which was in the midst of a multimillion-dollar campaign to persuade states to make the vaccine mandatory.
Toomey, who has declined requests for comment, has since helped found Make Us Great Again, a pro-Perry super PAC that can accept unlimited donations from corporations and wealthy donors. The group plans to raise as much as $55 million to help Perry compete for the GOP nomination, according to media reports.
Frank Schaeffer: The “disappointed” left says president Obama sold out. The racist-laced Medicaid-mugging, billionaire-codling right staggers under the weight of terminal “birther” mythology … Meanwhile president Obama continues to bide his time and looks down the road to the post-2012 reality when his patience with an impatient country, his thoughtfulness in the context of a sound-bite-entertain-ourselves-to-death era of short attention spans and historical amnesia will be vindicated.
…President Obama has met the vile far right (and religious right lynch mob) and also met the disappointment of the shrill impatient left with a calm smile and good humor … he has also played chicken with each new crisis and – invariably – pulled last moment hair raising victory from what critics said would be defeat…
….Before he’d served a year president Obama lost the support of the easily distracted (bitter?) left of the Left and also became the target for the white hot rage of the hate-filled right of the Right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds are sticking with our president.
….The disappointment on the left has apparently led some folks to concoct an alternate reality in which – in a mirror image of the loony embittered far right… no matter what president Obama does they dismiss it….
For instance here’s how blogger media personality and professional Obama-hater Glenn Greenwald describes president Obama:
“[Obama will] pay lip service to some Democratic economic dogma and defend some financially inconsequential culture war positions: that’s how he will signal to the base that he’s still on their side. But the direction will be the same as the GOP desires and, most importantly, how the most powerful economic factions demand: not because he can’t figure out how to change that dynamic, but because that’s what benefits him and thus what he wants.”
Think about Greenwald’s claim that what president Obama really wants is the same thing that the Republican leaders in congress want. He dismisses president Obama’s defense of stem cell research, a woman’s right to choose, gay rights, gays’ right to serve in the military et al as “inconsequential culture war positions.” Parkinson’s disease suffers waiting for a cure, women with unwanted pregnancies and gay men and women in the military might disagree that the costly stand the president has taken is inconsequential.
…Maybe there are some on the left who (besides selling anti-Obama screeds) suffer from some sort of psychological problem of denial and are unable to deal with the reality of what America has become and actually is: A place where progressive ideas are routinely crushed beneath the weight of the corporate state and entrenched bigotry. But THAT reality is where president Obama must function.
…We Americans are very lucky people. A sane and compassionate president is in charge. Over an 8 year period he will change American history for the better. Only president Obama’s dimwitted and/or hate-filled opponents are unlucky: they are betting against a political genius who also happens to be a very good human being.
Will catch up later – so much good news to report :-)
AP: Employers hired in February at the fastest pace in almost a year, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent – a nearly two-year low.
The economy added a net 192,000 jobs. Factories, professional and business services, education and health care were among the sectors that hired…
Private employers added 222,000 jobs last month, the most since April. That shows companies are feeling more confident about the economy and their own prospects. The job gains bolstered hopes that businesses will hire aggressively through the rest of the year and strengthen the economic recovery.
The unemployment rate is now at its lowest point since April 2009. It’s been falling for three months, down from 9.8 percent in November, marking the sharpest three-month drop since 1983.
“These numbers can be sustained and built on,” said Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors. “Businesses are finally taking some of those profits they are earning and putting them back into the work force.”
Rick Ungar (Forbes): The first statistics are coming in and, to the surprise of a great many, Obamacare might just be working to bring health care to working Americans precisely as promised.
The major health insurance companies around the country are reporting a significant increase in small businesses offering health care benefits to their employees.
Why? Because the tax cut created in the new health care reform law providing small businesses with an incentive to give health benefits to employees is working.
….United Health Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, added 75,000 new customers working in businesses with fewer than 50 employees ….. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City reports an astounding 58% increase in the number of small businesses purchasing coverage in their area since April, 2010 – one month after the health care reform legislation became law.
“One of the biggest problems in the small-group market is affordability,” said Ron Rowe, who oversees small-group sales for the Kansas City operation for Blue Cross Blue Shied. “We looked at the tax credit and said, ‘this is perfect.” Rowe went on to say that 38% of the businesses it is signing up had not offered health benefits before.
Whatever your particular ideology, there is simply no denying that these statistics are incredibly heartening. However, for those of you who cannot get past your opposition, even for a moment of universal good news, let’s break it down.
The primary, most enduring complaint of the opponents of the ACA has been that the law is deathly bad for small business: Apparently, small businesses, and their employees, do not agree.
The next argument has been that the PPACA is a job killer: If these small businesses found the new law to be so onerous, why have so many of them voluntarily taken advantage of the benefits provided in the law to give their employees these benefits? They were not mandated to do so…
Of course, there is the nagging banter as to how Obamacare is leading us down the road to socialism: Let it go, folks.
Private market insurance companies are experiencing significant growth because of a tax break provided by the PPACA. I may have missed the day this was discussed in economics class, but I’m pretty sure this is not a socialistic result of federal legislation.
When data like this appears, we have the opportunity to really find out who is talking smack for political benefit and who actually cares about getting affordable and available health care to America’s workers … if you cannot celebrate what appears to be an important early success, you really should give some thought as to where your true interests and intents lie.
If you’re all about beating up on President Obama, you can conveniently forget this bit of data as if it never really happened. However, if your interest is to make health care available to more Americans, this should be a happy day for you – no matter what your ideological beliefs.
This is seriously wonderful news: Full article here
President Barack Obama visits the Great Buddha of Kamakura with Michiko Sato, director, and Dr. Takao Sato, Chief Monk, at the Kotoku-In Temple in Kamakura, Japan, Nov. 14, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Bystanders watch the motorcade of President Barack Obama driving past as he visits the Great Buddha of Kamakura
…. greeting people at the Kotoku-In Temple in Kamakura, Nov. 14. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
White House YouTube Channel: This installment takes you step-by-step with the President as he hosts the Great Outdoors Conference, holds a meeting of the Presidents Economic Recovery Advisory Board, meets with his Special Envoy to the Sudan, discusses Supreme Court nominations with congressional leadership, travels to New York City to talk Wall Street Reform, and celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in the White House Rose Garden.
We also pulled out a clip from a Martin Luther King Jr. Day discussion that President Obama held in the Roosevelt Room. One of those present was Dr. Dorothy Height who passed away last week at the age of 98, a hero of the civil rights movement and an inspiration to all Americans