I'll be the first to admit it. I keep my head planted firmly in the sand most of the time when it comes to playing politics. Even when I'm only partially sand castled-in, I'm usually not going to write about it here. There are so many other sites, so many other writers who have so much more knowledge and have done so much more research than I ever would have.
Also? I'm kinda dumb. I like clothes. And Us Weekly.
Today, however, marks the second time I have (on this site) ventured into the wild jungle of - sigh - politics. I'm going to try and avoid the branches of evasiveness and stay out of the swamplands of insidiousness, and just state my opinion on a particular issue. However, and I am stating this up front, since this is MY opinion, it will probably be expressed every bit as strongly as I feel it should be. It being my opinion and all. So, with that, here we go.
Have you ever heard of this state, Texas? It's kinda at the bottom of the US, that big giant state, where everyone has horses and wears cowboy hats and says howdy before they lasso you into their Southern Baptist Church, make you repent of all your sins, proclaim your undying love for George W. Bush, get real stupid-like, and then go out back for the church potluck barbecue? Well, that's where I live. Minus the horses, and the cowboy hats. Oh, and all of the rest of that stuff, too. But I digress.
Rick Perry is what, or rather who, I want to talk about. He is the governor of Texas, and apparently the man really has a heart for health care. Or, reelection campaign donations. What? Did I let that slip? Of course I meant health care. Obviously.
Because Governor Perry, in February, made a ground-breaking decision. Governor Rick Perry decided that the vaccine Gardasil, manufactured by pharmaceuticals giant Merck and Co., should be a mandatory requirement for all 11 and 12 year old girls before entering the 6th grade. This vaccination is supposed to help guard against HPV, a common sexually transmitted disease that can, if untreated, lead to cervical cancer.
This mandate would take place in 2008, making Texas the first state to require the vaccine for school admission. For girls. I'm not sure why Merck didn't come up with something for the boys as well. I'm sure they're in the labs right now, working on that. But for now, it's just for the girls. If anyone knows someone high up in a plastics or scrap metal company, I would suggest that they start work now on a prototype to lock up little boys penises. Because if they can't stick 'em in the girls, then hey! No more HPV! And that's just the tip of that iceberg. I mean, think of the possibilities. No more pregnancies, no more sexually transmitted diseases at all, no more broken-hearted little girls....oh but seriously, I'm getting off the subject of HEALTH CARE and SAVING LIVES and OTHER BUZZ WORDS, so let me return.
Merck and Co. has donated a lot of money to Governor Rick Perry's reelection campaign. Oh, and Perry's former chief of staff is now a lobbyist for the drug company. Weird. I'm sure the decision was about HEALTH CARE, though, and nothing else. Just looking out for the girls! Those sex-having, HPV contracting girls! Silly things, they better ALL GET VACCINATED OR NOT BE ALLOWED TO ENROLL IN THE 6TH GRADE, because obviously they can't think for themselves. Long-term effects be damned! Cervical cancer must be prevented!
Governor Rick Perry, he felt so strongly about Health Care, he had to circumvent the normal routes to get this requirement signed into law form, and issued an executive order instead. When can I expect the bank transfer to take place, Merck? As soon as I sign this paper here? Alrighty then!
Handily, our government does have a system in place, a system that Perry overstepped with his executive order, a system that has since convened and voted 118-23 in support of squashing
Merck's Perry's brilliant Health Care Scheme Greedy Plan Order.
Oh also, Governor Rick Perry is getting sued. By several parents of preteen girls who, I suppose, don't want to be required to subject their daughters to expensive and largely untested vaccines that might help prevent against one type of STD if the girls start having wildly unprotected sex. Weird! Obviously they don't care about their children, because Governor Rick Perry CARES ABOUT HEALTH CARE. And they're suing him!
Recently, Merck & Co. made the tough decision to suspend its lobbying campaign aimed at getting states to require the vaccine for middle-school-aged girls. "It distracted from the real issue, the importance of the vaccine and the ability to save lives," spokesman Chris Loder said.1 Is that right, Chris Loder? Or was it just too uncomfortable, too weird, for you guys back at Merck, when every single governor in the nation rejected your ridiculous vaccine? Well, every governor except for our very own Rick Perry. And then the lawsuits? Well, that was just awkward. I mean, LET'S FOCUS ON THE HEALTH CARE, SERIOUSLY, IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY.
House of Representatives member Dennis Bonnen said parents should consult with doctors and decide whether their daughters should receive the Gardasil vaccine. He also argued that it would be unprecedented for the state to mandate a vaccine for girls only and that the state should wait to see the long-term effects of the vaccine, which has been on the market less than one year.2
Wow, now those are some heady thought processes. Good thing we have Mr. Bonnen to reason all that out for us, because obviously it is a concept far above the normal person's capacity for understanding. Or, at least, Rick Perry's. Or, at least, we haven't all gotten enough money from Merck yet.
This whole thing infuriates me. Oh, you noticed? Huh.
I just cannot believe the audacity of Rick Perry. How does one reach a place in life where you are so willing to sell out? And I have no idea what Merck is offering to Perry, in terms of perks and actual monetary amounts. All that has been officially reported is a well-timed $5000 campaign donation (the same day Perry's staff met to discuss the state's immunization program - weird!). I'd like to think it would take more than a paltry five grand. But however much the giant pharmaceutical company paid him, and however much blame they should (and they really, really should) receive, I can't get over Perry.
I would have had to get this vaccination. An expensive, scary, untested vaccination, spread out in three rounds, and I would have had to have it before I could start the 6th grade. Do you remember what you were like in the 6th grade? Perhaps you have a 6th grader at home right now, or a daughter close to that age. She's probably scared of needles, and of shots. She's busy hanging out with her friends, dealing with puberty, trying to figure out whether or not she wants to be a cheerleader or play volleyball next fall. She wonders if the boy she likes notices her. She likes to go to the mall. She would be horrified, embarrassed to know that her parents and school ASSUMED she was either already having or was going to have unprotected sex. She might, if she were especially mature, wonder what those shots were going to do to her body. She might get on the internet, and type in "Gardasil". She might freak out at the possible side-effects.
Or, she might already be having unprotected sex. She might be cynical, damaged, and hardened. She might be on drugs. She might need help. Maybe she should consider doing something, anything, to protect herself against STD's and pregnancy.
Or, she might be somewhere in the middle. The point is, all 6th grade girls are not alike. And even if they were, even if somehow Governor Rick Perry could predict the behavior of that subset of society - 12 and 13 year old girls (ha! haha!) - requiring them to have the Gardasil vaccination would STILL not be the right move. The drug has been out for LESS THAN A YEAR. For all we know, Merck might end up having to pull the drug altogether because it's CAUSING cancer. Happens ALL. THE. TIME.
This is old news, really. It all started on February 2, when Governor Rick Perry made his fabulous announcement and, I assume, simultaneously sold his soul to the devil. The reason I bring it up now is because it was only yesterday that the bill to overturn Perry's decision passed. Perry now has 10 days to sign, ignore, or veto the bill. He has not yet said what he will do. If he does issue a veto, two-thirds of the House and Senate will have to overrule him. Considering the last vote was 118-23, I feel that it has a pretty decent chance of being squashed, at least for the time being. But it's incredibly scary, nonetheless.
When did everyone become such sell-outs?