Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The nuclear issue & security

I've been very disappointed, though not at all surprised over the hyperventilating over nuclear energy in the aftermath of the disaster in Japan. I noticed even as early as Friday night, the day of the earthquake and tsunami, that some voices on the left, eager not to let a crisis go to waste, had started building the case against the use of nuclear energy.

Without question this has been an extremely serious situation which could still have catastrophic consequences, so it's understandable to want to have a knee-jerk reaction to this, but we need to stay focused and rational as we take a deeper look into the issue of the use and security of nuclear energy.

I think we all should be assessing the risks of nuclear power and how to make it safer. In the case of the Fukushima plant in Japan there was much that went right {the plant apparently withstood the earthquake well} and many things that went wrong {backup systems apparently failed due to the tsunami}. But to me this is no reason to now take a hard stand against the use of nuclear plants in the U.S. nor prohibiting the addition of more of them.

Nuclear power clearly isn't the panacea to our ever-growing energy problems, nothing yet designed is or could be, but I do think it is one of many sources that we're going to have to rely on for many decades to come. In fact, I believe we will need to rely on it more as we move away from coal — a move which most environmentalists demand and I agree with. This in concert with hydro-electric, limited use of coal & natural gas, along with more wind, solar and perhaps tidal generation, while continuing in energy conservation should easily meet our energy needs into the 22nd century. We'll also still be cutting carbon emissions as we do.

From what I've read over the years, nuclear facilities are much safer now than they were decades ago. That said, in the U.S., are standards are reportedly well below that of the Japanese, and their standards are clearly not adequate for the conditions they are likely to deal with in the region. We need to take a very serious look at that. What safety regulations are we going to need to match conditions which we have to meet with tsunamis along the coasts, hurricanes in the Gulf, earthquakes in places like California, Missouri and New York, and tornadoes throughout the mid-west.

Of course this isn't all.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Some thoughts on the union issue

All the legal wrangling and protests going on in Wisconsin over collective-bargaining, pay cuts, benefit reductions, etc. has had me to thinking about unions lately. I'm honestly not a big fan of unions. I used to be in one and wasn't very impressed by it. It didn't keep mine, nor any of the 800 jobs at the plant I worked at from being shipped to Mexico. I'm not in a union now, but some jobs where I work are.

I agree that unions can gain too much leverage over employers. "Rights" {protections} can be stacked so much in favor of employees, especially in the education sector, that getting rid of a bad employee can be nearly impossible. It creates an expensive, inefficient system, one that in some ways can even be a risk to the public when severely incompetent people get to continue doing work they shouldn't be doing.

I can also see where some of the national unions have consolidated too much power, and seem to exist only as a means for generating money for party bosses and gaining votes for the Democratic party.

That said, I do believe in the concept of unions, and of collective-bargaining. I'm aware of many of the much needed improvements in pay, benefits, and safety which we all take for granted now that wouldn't have happened were it not for the efforts of organized workers.

And this is not just a thing of the past. Most businesses are ever trying to find new ways to increase productivity, cut benefits, and minimize pay all at the expense of employees.

Employers today have a great deal of leverage over employees. More than they probably have in several decades. And they are amassing more of it as unions dwindle, technology, outsourcing and a bad economy causes domestic jobs to become more scarce, unemployment rates high, and the cost of living is continually rising.

I can see where there needs to be some union and labor reforms. There is going to have to be more compromises from laborers, especially in the public sector. And certainly some limitations in the 'rights' of public sector workers.

But this union-busting is detrimental to working-class people, and it doesn't help from a tax burden standpoint either because it has the potential to depress wages & benefits. What good is lower deficits if wages & benefits stay stagnant?

The new surge in assaults on unions is part ideological, but mostly political — meant to tip the scales of fund raising and voter organizing away from Democrats and toward Republicans.

It's probably long overdue for a shake up, but what has taken place in Wisconsin and is beginning in Indiana and Ohio is more like a war. It isn't a war on public sector unions, it's a war on the middle-class, working-class people nationwide.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Repeal of DADT passes house!

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 250-175 to pass a repeal of the discriminatory 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell' policy enacted during Bill Clinton's Presidency. As usual, the Republican party overall reiterated their bigotry by voting overwhelmingly against repeal. However, 15 Republicans showed some rare integrity in voting for the repeal. A positive sign that there are some enlightened individuals in the party. For their efforts I think they deserve respect and perhaps support from those who support equality for homosexuals. The 15 Republicans and their residencies are as follows:

Judy Biggert-IL
Mary Bono Mack-CA
John Campbell-CA
Anh Cao-LA
Michael N. Castle-DE
Charlie Dent-PA
Lincoln Diaz-Balart-FL
Charles Djou-HI
David Dreier-CA
Vernon J. Ehlers-MI
Jeff Flake-AZ
Ron Paul-TX
Todd R. Platts-PA
Dave Reichert-WA
Ileana Ross-Lehtinen-FL

Conversely, the following 15 Democrats showed either A) cowardice, or B) bigotry by voting against repeal of DADT:

Dan Boren-OK
Bobby Bright-AL
Travis W. Childers-MS
Mark Critz-PA
Artur Davis-AL
Lincoln Davis-TN
Jim Marshall-GA
Mike McIntyre-NC
Solomon P. Ortiz-TX
Collin C. Peterson-MN
Nick J. Rahall II-WV
Mike Ross-AR
Ike Skelton-MO
John Tanner-TN
Gene Taylor-MS

I urge my friends and everyone who supports equality for homosexuals, including equality in our military, to show that support by refusing to vote for the Democrats above in any upcoming elections.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The last stand for financial course correction

I saw this comment on a blog and thought it succinctly summed up an inescapable reality few — least of all the pro-corporatist/pro-globalists who have overrun both the Republican and Democratic national parties, as well as mainstream media outlets — will dare acknowledge::

"Globalization, the ability of U.S. corporations to escape domestic environmental and labor standards while still accessing U.S. markets, is the root cause of both the financial meltdown and our continuing economic problems. The idea behind globalization was to put downward pressure on U.S. wages and it worked, is still working, all too well.

Global U.S. corporations don't care and don't suffer from reduced U.S. demand because the whole world, more-or-less, is now their market. This is not true for U.S. labor [purely domestic based companies], and the government gets stuck with the tab to maintain the unemployed at even a subsistence level."

Wal-Mart is a fine example of this. A corporation which for years has had a substantial segment of employees who have been forced to rely on government subsidized housing, medical and food relief just to get by. In spite of their insanely high profit margin, they still can't manage to give the bulk of their employees decent wages or benefits.

What I find particularly sad is how many of us continue to shop at globalist businesses like Wal-Mart regardless how much it has damaged our labor market and domestic economy by doing so, and yet still bitch and moan about so-called "free trade" agreements. Worst yet, a growing segment of the voting population are demanding a continuation of tax cuts to the 1-2% of the mega-wealthy who own & manage these globalist corporations whilst simultaneously demanding cuts or ceasing essential programs which lower-economic class people are forced to rely on because of this elitist-engineered globalist system. Included in this outrage is the call among conservative politicians, encouraged by conservative common folk {TEA party, et al.} to cut unemployment benefits! This even at a time when {9.8% unemployment} people need it more now than in generations.

The disconnect between the reality of what this globalist system is, what it does, who put it in place and who maintains it versus those who encourage them and yet are hurt the most by it is mind-boggling.

For all the hope that maybe things could begin to turn around {if ever so slowly} via the grassroots movement that helped elect Barrack Obama to the White House, now, 2 years later all hope seems absolutely lost. We have seen a growing pile of concessions to the banksters, corporatists, globalists and conservative ideologues peddling their failed fascist economic systems.

The pile of concessions continues to grow, power has continued to consolidate among the elitists, the wealth disparity has grown much wider, the economy is more fragile — propped up like a teetering house of cards than ever, and the drooling masses continue to agitate for more. Self-destruction has become the inevitable goal, dressed up in the populist mantra of "common sense solutions" bandied about by wannabe elitist, white trash morons like Sarah Palin.

I never really believed that we nearly underwent a total economic armageddon back in '07. Instead, I believed that if we didn't make DRASTIC changes to the system which has been in place for decades and became far more entrenched during the Clinton and Bush presidencies, that a real economic apocalypse was certain. Little has been done to correct anything, and as it stands today nothing will be done. That brings us to all hope is lost.

I think extending these irresponsible & unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of our population may be the last indicator left as to whether those who enact and enforce our laws are even remotely capable of saving the country from ruin. I've made so many apologies for President Obama and the Democrats overall for exercising compromise, and I do understand how politics works. Even the stalling on DADT I've been understanding of, but this... I'm done with the Democrats if this things passes and gets signed into law.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Injunction of DADT & the Republicans who brought it about

I'm pleased that U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips — who ruled the discriminatory 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell' policy is a violation of soldier's constitutional rights — has now issued an injunction for the military to cease enforcing the policy. Of course, it remains to be seen how the military will handle this order, & whether the administration will appeal.

What I think needs to happen now is for the Congress to step up & repeal the law, however, Republican obstructionists have prevented this & the Democrats in the Senate have, overall, shown no spine in addressing this issue. The White House also hasn't made it much of a priority, though the Defense Department has. A Republican takeover of the Congress makes it all the more likely that nothing {legislatively speaking} is going to be done to repeal this policy which NEVER should have been instituted in the first damn place. Perhaps with the injunction this won't be necessary, but it seems an appeal is likely & so a higher court could overrule Judge Phillips.

I don't want to be too pessimistic about this, but I'm very skeptical that it's going to actually result in homosexuals being able to openly serve in the military with little to no fear of being discharged solely because of their sexual orientation. Legal though it is {bogus whining of "activist judges" be damned} I do not feel particularly secure with laws being effectively neutered via judicial technicalities. If I were in the military, I don't think I could really rest safely until this policy is fully repealed by the body which instituted it back in 1993.

On a side note. I thought it was interesting, and ironic, that this case in particular was brought to the court via the Log Cabin Republicans — a homosexual faction of the Republican party. Fascinating timing, too, considering that over the past few years and particularly the past few months more Republicans have been either coming out of the closet {former Bush campaign manager & RNC chair Ken Mehlman} or advocating for homosexual equality {former Bush admin. solicitor general Ted Olson; former Bush/McCain political adviser Mark McKinnon; former McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt}. It seems an almost concerted effort by some in the Republican party to address the concerns of the homosexual community. It's often seemed a little too convenient.

I believe Meghan McCain's support of gay rights issues is quite genuine, she is far too outspoken not to be, but others, like Mark McKinnon and Ken Mehlman {a traitor, as far as I'm concerned}, seem to me much more concerned about gaining the votes of those who have favored Democrats because Democrats have been more supportive of homosexual issues and certainly less inclined to use us as a political football and scapegoat.

I hate to sound too cynical, but these Log Cabin types confuse the hell out of me. I understand that they agree with some Republican party principles, even if I can't imagine why, but I cannot fathom how they can so easily put their own legal status, their civil rights, and their human dignity as such a low priority compared to political ideologies. I, for one, will not.

Regardless the credit being owed to a group of gay Republicans, the GOP has years of gay-bashing {some of which is still continuing, in earnest} to make up for. Oh, yeah, and those constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in some 30 states. That travesty of justice, even once overturned by the Supreme Court, will forever remain a monument to just how blatantly intolerant {homophobic} the Republican party has historically been.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

'Don't ask; Don't tell' repeal?

Today is slated to be a significant day for homosexual equality as the Senate will debate whether to pass a defense authorization bill which will include a provision which would allow for the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't ask; Don't Tell" policy put in place by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Democrats have tied the repeal of "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" {as well as the DREAM Act} to the National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2011). Some Republicans and Democrats have suggested they would support a repeal of DADT once the Department of Defense has completed its study on the impact ending the policy would have on military preparedness and morale.

While I don't personally have a problem with waiting until December {when the Department of Defense study is set to be completed}, and while I don't generally approve of attaching controversial amendments to budgetary bills {as was also done with the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act}, I'm also strongly in support of repealing DADT as soon as possible. What's more, it's really come to a critical point right now.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Marriage equality via state's rights defense

A federal district court in Massachusetts recently ruled that the federal law known as 'the Defense of Marriage Act' [enacted by a Republican Congress & signed by President Bill Clinton] is unconstitutional. The law prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriage or any same-sex union that in any way resembles a marriage at the federal level. The judge in the case ruled that such a law interferes with state's rights.

Generally the "state's rights" argument is used by conservatives. It's been used to justify everything from retaining slavery, enforcing segregation to rejecting participation in health care reform legislation. In this instance, of course, many conservatives are up in arms that their pet federal law which establishes anti-homosexual discrimination nation-wide has had a significant set back. It seems they only like the "state's rights" argument when it benefits their agenda. But then, shameless, naked hypocrisy from the conservative movement is nothing new.

If this verdict is appealed, which it most likely will be, it could make it's way to the Supreme Court which could strike down DOMA once and for all, thought that doesn't seem likely considering the current political persuasion of the court.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Same-sex marriage case in California & acceptance

Soon we will know the verdict in the PERRY v. SCHWARZENEGGER case in California which could overturn Proposition 8 — the effective ban on same-sex marriage — in the state. Closing arguments are slated to be made today. Regardless the decision, the case will go on eventually to the Supreme Court.

Of course, I hope all this ultimately comes out in favor of equality, but I actually think our odds of overturning these invidious constitutional amendments which prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriage and deny same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws in most of the country would probably be best achieved if we lose this case today.

For all the fear that some pro-equality groups are having now that too much of the population is still opposed to same-sex marriage and thus could affect the Supreme Court's decision against us, we should keep in mind that when anti-miscegenation laws were overturned in 1967 in LOVING v. VIRGINIA, national polls indicated some 76% of the population were opposed to interracial marriage. That's higher than the current national opposition to same-sex marriage.

I think we also need to keep in mind that while we can and should change laws to reflect egalitarian principles, we can't legislate acceptance. I hope to be married someday, and of course for this it needs to be legally recognized. But I also want my marriage to be generally respected among my peers as it would be if I were in an opposite-sex marriage. That is going to require far more acceptance of homosexual relationships than currently exists.

I think we, as homosexuals, need to do our part to convince the rest of society why we should be judged by the content of our character as individuals and couples, and I think we can do this in part by showing that the nature of most of us is in fact good; the nature of our relationships, healthy. As a community, we need a hell of a lot of work in that department. For this, we need to be willing to face uncomfortable truths and take real responsibilities. If we can't manage that then, as far as I'm concerned, we don't really deserve legal recognition nor general acceptance by society.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Discrimination in the military

Yesterday, the U.S. Navy ended its policy which had barred women from serving on submarines. Oddly enough, this didn't seem to stir up much controversy among conservatives, unlike the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth that accompanies any discussion of allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military (just as we do in some 20 NATO countries now).

One obvious reason for this is because women are a much more numerous and politically powerful demographic than homosexuals. One which is increasingly difficult to marginalize as our sexist, paternalistic society has so readily done in the past.

The reality today is that it is far less acceptable to be misogynistic than homophobic, even among right-wingers. Of course, two decades ago this wasn't necessarily the case. Early in Bill Clinton's Presidency many military positions, previously exclusive only to men, were opened to women. Many conservatives of the time droned on about the detrimental effect it would have on the military. In spite of this, bold action was taken, plans were implemented, integration took place, there were growing pains, but the military survived and become stronger for it. Just as it did after President Truman racially integrated the military in 1948. A change that took decades to more fully implement.

Of course, while President Clinton opened the military more for women, he also created a hopelessly contradictory policy which would allow homosexuals to serve in the military on the condition that they lie about their sexual orientation and some of the most basic aspects of their personal lives.

Now the time seems to be approaching for the military to finally afford homosexuals the same dignity as racial minorities and women before them by ending this 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell' policy. It's been a long time coming. And probably won't happen as a matter of policy until next year.

20 years from now, maybe it won't even be a big deal anymore... Maybe.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No muss, no fuss...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It really doesn't have to be as damn complicated allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military as some people want to pretend it is... Not many issues about women serving. But then, considering the size of the demographic, it's a lot easier to demonize homosexuals these days than it is women.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Articles: the quandary of partisanship

Due to a personal crisis I haven't had much time or enthusiasm for writing. I hope to do some soon.

In the meantime, I did read two good articles last week in Time magazine. One was by David Frum in which he discussed the possibility of moderation coming back to the Republican party. An excerpt:
“Yes, when unemployment exceeds 10%, the GOP can elect a Senator in Massachusetts. But what happens when the economy returns to more normal conditions? The Republicans' recent electoral successes do not overcome 20 years of GOP difficulty appealing to women, young people and the college-educated. It wins elections by accumulating a huge supermajority in one demographic: whites, especially white men, who are not poor but who have not finished college. That's a big slice of America, but it's a shrinking slice.”

“Members of this new miniwave of moderate Republicans support national defense, are eager to cut other federal spending and are hostile to Democratic attempts to reregulate the economy. But these newcomers also understand that the health care status quo is unsustainable. They seek a middle way on abortion and gay rights. They want to protect the environment. And they eschew the inflammatory rhetoric of the tea parties and town halls. We don't even have a name for this kind of Republican. In the 1980s, we called them Gypsy Moths, after a pest prevalent in the Northeast. But this new strain is not found only in the Northeast, and it is not a pest. It represents the best home for a center-right politics of the future.”

The second was by Joe Klein about President Obama dealing with the obstructionism of the GOP. An excerpt:
“In Baltimore, the House Republicans seemed hurt that the President wasn't listening to their "new" ideas. Unfortunately, most of these have the sophistication of policy seminars run by high school Libertarian clubs. One of their leading intellectual lights, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has offered a Medicare reform proposal that should kill any chance he has of winning higher office: he would privatize Medicare and deliver unto the elderly vouchers that would gradually lose much of their value. This would save a boatload of money, of course ... but one wonders whether the party that gave the world "death panels" would stand behind such an all-out assault on the financial security of the nation's most devout voters.”

“This is quite sad. I've been a fan of a great many Republican policy initiatives in the past. I supported the Republican universal health care plan in 1993 (which Obama's current proposal resembles). I've supported lots of Republican urban-policy ideas, especially when it comes to education. I think the realism deployed overseas by Presidents like Eisenhower, Nixon (except for Vietnam) and Bush the Elder is the wisest foreign policy on offer. But the current Republican Party is about none of these. It is about tactical political gain to the exclusion of all else.”

Also, a good article in Newsweek by Jacob Weisberg putting much of the blame for our current hyper-partisanship crisis — us, the voters. An excerpt:
“Some say that the public is in an angry, populist, tea-partying mood. But a lot more people are watching American Idol than Glenn Beck, and our collective illogic is mostly passive rather than militant. The better explanation is that the public lives in Candyland, where government can tackle the big problems and get out of the way at the same time. In this respect, the whole country is becoming more and more like California, where the state's bonds have dropped to an A- rating (the same level as Libya's) thanks to a referendum system that allows the people to be even more irresponsible than their elected representatives. We like the idea of sacrifices and hard choices in theory. When was the last time we made one?”

“I don't mean to suggest that honesty vs. dishonesty is what divides the two parties. Increasingly, the crucial distinction is between the minority of serious politicians on either side who are prepared to speak frankly about our choices and the majority who indulge the public's delusions. I would put President Obama and his economic team in the first category, along with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Republicans are more indulgent of the public's unrealism in general, but Democrats have spent years fostering their own kinds of denial. Where Republicans encourage myths about taxes, spending, and climate change, Democrats tend to stoke our fantasies about the sustainability of entitlement spending and the cost of social programs.”

Much of this is nothing that anyone wants to face, but much of it are hard truths that we're all going to have to.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Republicans have discovered a social issue to demonize

Interestingly, and I would also say fortunately, the recent debate on repealing 'Don't ask;Don't tell' has revealed the real agenda at work among the anti-homosexual crowd.

On Chris Matthews' show 'Hardball' on Tuesday, Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council, stated in no uncertain terms that homosexuals should not be allowed to serve in the military, period. Even if they keep their sexual orientation a total secret. He went on to rail against the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence vs. Texas in which anti-homosexual sodomy laws were struck down as unconstitutional. Again, stating in no uncertain terms, that homosexual activity should be illegal.

When asked by 'Hardball' guest Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, if what he is supporting is that ”gays and lesbians should not serve their country in the uniform whatsoever?”

Mr. Sprigg responded:
“That's absolutely right.”

Asked again by Mr. Sarvis, so "not only are you opposed to repealing 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell', you would prohibit all gays and lesbians from serving their country?" Mr. Sprigg confirms:
“That's exactly right.”
Chris Matthews asked: “Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?”
“I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas which overturned, uh, the sodomy laws in this country was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”

Asked again, “So we should outlaw gay behavior?”

Mr. Sprigg's responses: “Yes.”

So there you have it, folks, the real agenda of the bigots in the anti-homosexual camp.

Now, his obvious fascist agenda in favor of criminalizing homosexuality aside, here were some other remarks revealing his errors and illustrating just how far-reaching his advocacy of discrimination in the military goes:

“The presence of homosexuals in the military is incompatible with good order, morale, disciple and unit cohesion...”

First of all, this is untrue or at least, unfounded. Second, homosexuals serving in the military, as they always have and always will, but being forced to keep this in complete secrecy (in spite of many of their peers working alongside them being aware of this) is undermining good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion. Third, apparently Mr. Sprigg doesn't believe women should serve in the military either, then...

“... the military should not be used as an avenue for social re-engineering; the purpose of the military is to fight and win wars, and we need the force that is most effective to do that.”

So obviously, just like Ellaine Donnelly, another right-wing critic of removing DADT, he would have objected to racial integration of the military and allowing women to serve, as well.

And then there was also a deliberate attempt by Mr. Sprigg to mislead the public:

“There are people who have experienced homosexual attractions who have served in the military and do continue to serve in the military, but they are restrained in their behavior by the current policy. If we had a policy where the, uh, where people were considered bigoted if they were opposed to same-sex conduct, then, the -- there would be much greater danger of misconduct on the part of the homosexuals, and, uh, much greater likelihood that people who are object to that would simply choose not to serve at all.”

To correct this statement, homosexuals in the military are currently prohibited from in any way shape or form acknowledging or having ever acknowledged their sexual orientation publicly or privately with anyone, inside or outside of the military. Furthermore, homosexuals in the military are prevented from engaging in or having ever engaged in any form of homosexual conduct even when they are not on active duty, or not on a military base or not with any member of the military.

Furthermore, repealing 'Don't ask; Don't tell' will in no way, shape or form permit homosexual (or any sexual) relations between soldiers. In spite of all the pregnancies taking place among military personnel, it is a violation of the Military Uniform Code of Justice for soldiers to engage in sexual conduct with each other... I know of no one advocating a change in this policy.

Lastly, if these soldiers are so unprofessional that they can't fulfill their duties because of irrational prejudices against their fellow soldiers, in this case other soldiers having a homosexual orientation, then good riddance. They aren't fit for military service and they should either not re-enlist or not enlist in the first place. I believe the same of those racists would-be soldiers who refused to voluntarily serve in the military due to desegregation.

Here is a good Time magazine article about the current controversy of repealing 'Don't ask; Don't tell'.

Movement on repealing DADT

The 'Don't ask; Don't Tell' policy, which allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they do not acknowledge their sexual orientation to anyone and have never engaged in any sort of homosexual activity at all, is now under serious review.

President Obama opposed the policy during his presidential campaign, he has spoke out against it as President, and recently voiced his commitment in the State of the Union address to working with the Congress this year to repeal the policy.

On Tuesday, the Armed Services Committee had a hearing on the policy, its effects, the fairness of it (or lack thereof) and what should be done going forward.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen spoke in opposition to the policy and stressed that it is time to put together a plan to phase the policy out in anticipation of a repeal.

Speaking before the committee, not limited to but including Sen. John McCain, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Roland Burris, and Sen. Joe 'Traitor' Lieberman, Secretary Gates stated:
“During the State of the Union address, The President announced he will work with Congress this year to repeal the law know as 'Don't ask; Don't tell'. He subsequently directed the Department of Defense to begin the preparations necessary for a repeal of the current law and policy. I fully support The President's decision.”

Adm. Mullen agreed, stating:
“The chiefs and I are in complete support of the approach that Secretary Gates has outlined. We believe that any implementation plan for a policy permitting gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces must be carefully derived, sufficiently through – sufficiently thorough, and thoughtfully executed.”

“it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me personally, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution. I also believe that the great young men and women of our military can and would accommodate such a change. I never underestimate their ability to adapt.”

I was very impressed and certainly very pleased to see two such venerated officials, both of whom have up until now, been lauded by Republicans and conservatives in general, speak out so forthrightly on why they believe the policy is bad for the military and why it should not continue to be implemented.

Sen. John McCain, who is likely soon to enter a primary contention with right-wing conservative J.D. Hayworth, decided to flip-flop from his position back in 2006 in which he said he would "seriously consider" changing the policy "the day the leaders of the military comes to [him] and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy'".

Apparently the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense don't count any longer as leaders of the military... At least not when they actually support repealing DADT.

Sen. McCain feigned "deep disappointment" that such high ranking military officials are now stating that the policy is a bad one:
“I'm deeply disappointed, uh, in your statement, Secretary Gates. I was around here in 1993  and was engaged in the debates. And what we did in 1993 is, we looked at the issue, and we looked at the effect on the military, and then we reached a conclusion, and then we enacted into law. Your statement is, 'the question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it'. It'd be far more appropriate, I say with great respect, to determine whether repeal of this law is appropriate and what effects it would have on the readiness and effectiveness of the military, before deciding on whether we should repeal the law or not. And fortunately, it is an act of Congress, and it requires the agreement of Congress in order to repeal it.
Your statement, obvious [sic] is one which is clearly biased,  without the view of Congress being taken into consideration. You are embarking on saying, 'it's not whether the military prepares to make the change, but how we best prepare for it', without ever hearing from members of Congress.”

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Republican savior may not be a radical

I admit, I don't know much about the new Senator-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts, but in some of what I've read about him, about his positions, and given his interview with Barbara Walters, he doesn't seem like an extremist.

In fact, at least for a modern Republican, he seems like one of those fairly sensible, moderate sort of guys with strong convictions and humility which you rarely see get elected to a high office.

For the voters of Massachusetts, I hope he is. It also appears that, perhaps, we might not have to worry about him undermining homosexual civil rights too much, either. A refreshing change coming from a Republican. We'll see if that stands...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Historic meeting

President Obama had a historic meeting with GOP leaders on Friday.  I had worked up some highlights from it and some commentary, but due to a browser crash and Blogger failing to create a recent draft, it's disappeared into the ether. And I'm not about to start over. . .

So, here is a transcript. I really liked what The President had to say, especially his focus on how the political rhetoric and grandstanding has boxed both sides into being forced to constantly demonize the other side and never reach a compromise.

They better get this in order, because while the minority bases of both parties eat this stuff up, independents — the mainstream majority of this country — are sick to death of it!

I really hope to see a lot more of this in the future,though hopefully with less talking-points and posturing next time.... I also hope such exchanges will be televised. It gives us all a glimpse into who is willing to work with the other side, come to agreements, rather than just try to score political points for future elections.