PA Obamacare Rates Among the Lowest in the Country

The Department of Health and Human Services has released estimates for how much those newfangled Obamacare health insurance packages will cost in each state. The good news? The cost of the insurance plans are among the lowest in the country, at an average of $286 a month. “Factoring in tax credits [for lower-income individuals] a family of four with $50,000 in annual income will pay an average $282 a month. It would cost $675 without the credits.”

The bad news?

One hitch in Pennsylvania is that it is likely that many childless adults and some others with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level — $11,490 for a single person — will not be eligible for a tax credit or for Medicaid because Corbett and the state Legislature have not signed on to a Medicaid expansion that was envisioned by the 2010 federal health care law.

Still, $286 is less than the national average of $328 and much, much less than the $385 New Jerseyans will be paying. The plans will be available through the exchange, or insurance marketplace, being run by the feds. [AP]

Obama Blocks Mega-Beer Merger to Keep Your Beer Cheap

The Department of Justice is suing Budweiser’s parent company to prevent it from buying the Modelo Group, which makes Corona, in order to control more of the Latino market, based primarily in Texas and California. (Modelo also owns the Modelo triumverate of beers.) If a sale were completed, the Belgian conglomerate InBev would control 46% of all beer sales in the United States, which the DOJ thinks is too much.

What’s more, InBev would control both Budweiser and Corona, which stay cheap in lare part because they compete against each other. Think of it this way: It’d be like if the Jets simply tried to buy the Sharks, and the president said ‘No, because if you did that, West Side Story will never get made.’ More or less. [LA Times]

NRA VP Statement: More Guns and Police in Schools

Earlier this year National Rifle Association Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre accused Barack Obama of giving “first term lip service to gun owners” to “deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment.” This wasn’t unusual talk from LaPierre, the public face of America’s most powerful interest group. Even so, LaPierre’s letter, issued a week after the Newtown shooting, was remarkably combative, often addressing the NRA’s critics directly. LaPierre’s two central solutions are to lessen access to violent video games and movies, and install police officers in schools (as he recommended after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting) for protection. Here are some key tidbits:

  • “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
  • “With all the foreign aid the United State does…can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school?”
  • “What if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security? Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared? Is that so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternative?
  • “Why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect our President or our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in their schools?”
  • “There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people…And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?”

[The Guardian]

Obama Nominates Philly Lesbian for Judge

Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro could become the nation's first openly lesbian Latina to serve on the federal court

Philadelphia’s own Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, who currently serves on the county’s Court of Common Pleas, has been nominated for a federal judgeship by President Obama. She could become the first openly gay Latina in the nation to serve on the U.S. District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania. She’s among several nominations Obama made this week – and one who is said to have been recommended by Sen. Bob Casey.

“These men and women have had distinguished legal careers and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench,” the president said. “They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice.”

She is the eighth openly gay life-tenured federal court judicial nominee named by Obama. Prior to this administration, only one openly gay person had been confirmed to serve with lifetime tenure on the federal judiciary, according to the HRC.

She previously worked as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She was also a staff attorney for Community Legal Services here in Philadelphia after graduating with her law degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law in 1975.

LGBT Celebs for Obama

Even though the presidential debates seem to be sorely lacking any questions about LGBT issues, several openly LGBT celebrities, including Wanda Sykes, Chaz Bono, Zachary Quinto and Jane Lynch, have endorsed President Obama as the best choice when it comes to the future of equality in America.

“We don’t have to hide,” says Billie Jean King.

Check it out:

Was Madonna in the Wrong?

Here’s the good news, Democratic Americans: Madonna has joined the ranks of George Clooney, Will Smith, Demi Moore, Julia Roberts and scores of other celebs in endorsing Barack Obama for reelection. The bad news: She called him a “black Muslim.”

During a concert at the Verizon Centre in Washington, the aging pop star announced to a crowd of thousands: “It’s so amazing and incredible to think that we have an African-American in the White House … So y’all better vote for fucking Obama, OK? For better or for worse, all right, we have a black Muslim in the White House, OK? Now that is some shit. That’s some amazing shit. It means there is hope in this country. And Obama is fighting for gay rights, OK? So support the man, goddammit!”

Madonna was quickly called out on her mistake—Obama is well-known for his Christianity—and released the following statement:

“I was being ironic on stage. Yes, I know Obama is not a Muslim – though I know that plenty of people in this country think he is. And what if he were? The point I was making is that a good man is a good man, no matter who he prays to. I don’t care what religion Obama is—nor should anyone else in America,” she said.

Ironic? Seems doubtful, Madge. (Especially since I’m pretty sure she’s referring to sarcasm and not irony.)

Click here to read the full story.

Gay Social App Launches Obama Pride

Turns out that not only can you peruse which guys are into what on Hornet, a gay social app, but you can also find out about their other persuasions – politically speaking. The app recently launched ObamaPride, a tool to share campaign information, facts about LGBT issues and spread the word about elections among users of the app. Guys can even indicate their support for the prez by adding an Obama Badge to their profile pictures.

“Hornet is proving that the LGBT space is broad, and that building an application focused on health and security is how you win record user support,” says Christof Wittig, Hornet co-founder, “which is why we hit 200,000 users yesterday.”

In a space dominated by apps like Grindr and Scruff, Hornet is definitely setting itself apart with the new feature, which uses the same geo-targeting technology for finding Mr. Right (or at least Mr. Tonight) that it does sending calls to actions in swing states just in time for the November election. This season, there are four states that are considering marriage equality on ballots, including nearby Maryland, as well as Washington, Minnesota and Maine.

Read more »

DNC Hosts LGBT Welcome Party

As Charlotte, N.C., heats up in anticipation of Pres. Obama’s speech this week, the Democratic National Convention kicked off with an LGBT welcome party. More than 1,000 people attended on Sunday, according to reports. Organized by Unity Through Community, the party was held at the North Carolina Dance Theatre, a few blocks from the official convention site.

Quite a few notables were spotted, including HRC President Joe Solmonese and Clinton White House advisor Richard Socarides.

Charlotte itself is becoming a more LGBT-friendly city in recent years, according to Unity Through Community. “The city has a strong diverse heritage, reflected in part by the growing LGBT population,” says the group. “Same-sex domestic partners are among North Carolina’s fastest growing demographic groups. Between the 2000 and 2010 Census, same-sex couples jumped 68 percent, from 11,052 to 27,250.”

Click here for photos.

Vick Will Slide On First Run Of The Year For Obama

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Michael VickMichael Vick is still on a high after learning that the President of the United States is hip to his game and wants the QB to start sliding this season.

In true campaign form, Vick vowed he would change and made a promise to President Obama.

“I was stunned. I didn’t believe it. It was awesome, though,” said Vick of being recognized by the most powerful man in the world. “You think to yourself, ‘Yo, man, he’s got a point.’ If he says it then I’ve got to do it, so the first run of the year I’ll slide and he’ll know it was for him.”

Nnamdi Asomugha, a big player in charitable circles, met with the President this offseason. Asked if he had any football advice, Asomugha on Wednesday revealed that Obama wants Vick to start protecting himself. He is not the first.

“I get it from my teammates, I get it from my mom, I get from friends, I get it from Andy, I get it from the President,” said Vick.

Vick has never met Obama, but wants to and knows winning the Super Bowl would give him that opportunity.

“That may be my opportunity to meet him. It’s something to pray for, something to work for,” he said. “It’s not going to  be easy, that’s the one thing we do know. And I acknowledge that. That’s why I come out here each and every day and put in as much effort as I can to try and be better than the day before.”

Since the President is handing out advice on football, does Vick have any advice for him?

“Nah, we’ll try and convert him over to an Eagles fan,” said Vick of Obama, who is a Bears fan. “We’ll see if we can make him an Eagles fan after this season.”

You can follow Tim McManus on Twitter and email him at

This is What’s Wrong With PA’s Voter ID Law

Photo by Think Stock

As the trial is about to begin this Wednesday in Harrisburg over whether Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is discriminatory, there have been a few recent developments that remind us just how dangerous a decision to keep citizens away from the polls could be come November.

The case has been brought to the courts by the ACLU and other civil rights groups in defense of plaintiffs who say they’ll be denied the right to vote in the next election. All along the GOP in the state have claimed that the new law would protect against voter fraud. But defendants in the case made a major concession this week: They admitted there’s no in-person voter fraud on record in the Commonwealth, nor is there likely to be come the November election.

So what’s the real reason for the law?

Civil rights groups oppose voter IDs, saying that many elderly and low-income voters (including racial and transgender minorities) will have a tough time casting their vote if they head to the polls without the approved identification. As many as 750,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have IDs from the Transportation Department – it’s an especially big problem in cities like Philly. The number of voters without identification is greater than the margin by which Obama could win the state – a figure that is definitely not being ignored by conservatives who have supported the law from the beginning.

The line that’s drawn now is a partisan one – and for good reason.

Read more »

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