I think Pete Souza has to be one of the most brilliant White House photographers in recent memory. This photo that he took of President Obama sitting in the Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan a couple of days ago really touched me; so much so that I wanted to share it with everyone.
The Supreme Court will be ruling on the constitutionality of Affordable Health Care Act soon. Many Republicans believe that the mandate to require all Americans to purchase health insurance is an overstep by the federal government. They consider health insurance a luxury that should be available only to those who can afford it. Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal the act as soon as he is elected. Many Americans, though,have already benefited from the the preliminary application of this legislation; the following infographic clearly illustrates those benefits.
My last two posts on this blog have been a departure from the regular format. They are based on the suggested activities for my social media class which include providing posts that consist of original photo content. To be honest, I didn’t relish the idea of trudging around the city in order to gather the material to fulfill this requirement. Surprisingly, though, I truly enjoyed my outing.
Philadelphia is a city that is so very rich in historical significance. We are considered the birthplace of this nation. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were conceived, written and signed right here, over 200 years ago. Even if you are not a history enthusiast, you cannot walk through the cobblestone streets and not feel yourself transported back in time.
In this election year, it is especially important to remember the courage and sacrifice of our Founding Fathers. Their unrelenting quest for freedom laid the foundation for the experiment in democracy that changed the world.
Earlier this week, Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney campaign advisor, created a controversy during an interview on CNN that went viral. The reporter asked Fehrnstrom whether the self-described severe Republican would be able to appeal to mainstream moderate voters in the general election given some of the rather unpopular ultraconservative positions he has had to take during the primaries. Fehnstrom, without skipping a beat, replied that Romney would “hit the re-set button. It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of mix it up, and we start all over again.”
Gingrich and Santorum, who continue to fight for the dubious distinction of being the true conservative candidate, seized on this with a ferocity that can only signal desperation. Both candidates, days later, are still carrying around these devices in hopes of reminding voters that Romney is a RINO; a candidate who simply changes his policy positions as quickly as the aluminum powder and beads shift in the 1960’s toy.
There is an upside to this controversy. Etch a Sketches are selling like hotcakes on Amazon; it now ranks #14 on the bestselling Novelty and Gag Toy List.
Mitt Romney has been leading the charge lately that the Obama administration is single-handedly responsible for the increasing prices at the gas pump. In an Op-Ed column that he wrote for The Columbus Dispatch, Romney actually wrote that “expensive energy was Obama’s plan all along.” He then proceeds to accuse the Obama administration’s energy officials of some nefarious plot to strangle the oil and coal industry through their green ambitions. Romney, of course, once he’s elected president, will miraculously solve our high energy prices by “enacting regulatory reform to accelerate the exploration and development of oil and gas.” Romney also promises to allow more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf and the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. While Romney’s proposals don’t match the ridiculousness of Newt Gingrich’s promise of $2.50 per gallon gasoline prices, they come pretty darn close.
Contrary to Republican assertions, under Obama’s watch, domestic oil production has actually increased over 15% during the past two years. Despite this inconvenient truth, prices have continued to climb over the same period and will probably follow the same trajectory for the foreseeable future. The price of oil is determined by global demand. China’s incessant growth will remain a constant pressure on prices regardless of how much domestic production increases. Some think tanks even expect demand for oil to reach U.S. levels by 2040; 200 million cars are expected to be on the road in China by 2020.
Republicans seriously need to start thinking about taking a page out of Obama’s playbook. Cutting our dependency on foreign oil shouldn’t translate into the unregulated exploration of oil and gas in pristine federal reserves. Certainly, the expanded drilling will generate enormous profits for the energy companies, but the negligible impact on prices do not justify the environmental damage that will be the end result. If Romney and company are truly interested in averting the coming energy crisis, introducing and enforcing new fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and supporting “green” companies who have already found ways to cut our dependency on oil, both Obama administration initiatives, should be the order of the day.
Over the past couple of weeks, Republican candidates on the campaign trail and in legislatures all over the country, in an egregious lapse in judgement, have decided to disrespect one of the most important voting demographics: women. When the Department of Health and Human Services announced a mandate requiring that all employers, with the exception of churches, provide preventative services for women, including contraception, through their health insurance plans, a veritable firestorm erupted among faith based organizations. Citing the First Amendment, many, the most prominent being representatives of the Catholic Church, claimed that such requirements infringed on their religious liberty. All of the Republican politicians, in their attempts to bolster their credentials with Christian conservatives, aggressively supported this flagrant attack on religious freedom and the rights of women in this country.
The Republican storm did not end with President Obama’s attempt to conciliate this minority view by proposing to transfer the costs to insurance companies. Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri introduced an amendment that would have allowed any employer to opt out of any healthcare service that they found objectionable on moral grounds. Incredulously, this amendment was only narrowly defeated by four votes.
Socially conservative Republicans in many state legislatures continue to blur the lines between church and state with the introduction of laws that basically legislate their own personal ideas of morality and provide a means for government interference in the private healthcare matters of women. Virginia, Texas, Utah and South Carolina, have all passed anti-choice legislation that places an undue burden on women seeking access to services that are protected under the right to privacy. None of these procedural mandates claim to provide any medical benefit; they have been passed solely to inject the religious right’s agenda into the provision of medical services.
If Republicans continue to focus on a socially conservative platform that appeals to a religious albeit vocal minority and ignore issues that are relevant to the majority, they will lose elections all over the country in November. The increasing cost of healthcare is an issue that affects everyone regardless of religious ideology. A mandate that provides preventative healthcare services at a low cost is not only compassionate, but economically smart in the long run. While the Obama administration explores ways to cut spiraling healthcare costs, the Republicans focus on ways to undermine privacy laws and deny people access to the services that they struggle to pay for each month.