Posts Tagged ‘dont ask dont tell’

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Hump Day Catch-All: From Congressional Idealists to WikiLeaks Hackers to Westboro Protests

12.09.10

With so many items in the news of blog-worthiness, sometimes it helps to just offer a few tidbits of info for each.  Today is one of those days: I’ll be tackling tax cuts, DADT, Westboro Baptist Church and Elizabeth Edwards, and WikiLeaks.

Tax Cuts and DADT

For all the talk of bipartisanship and compromise, it seems that neither party is quite ready to give in on some topics to which they hold dear.  The Republicans in the Senate have blocked passage of a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” just missing out on the filibuster-proof 60 vote majority by only three yeas.  And across the hall in the other chamber of Congress, the House Democrats rejected the compromise tax plan unless certain changes were made — although, it’s unclear exactly what would have to be amended to get the necessary vote.

Dems: pass the compromise tax cut bill and swallow your pride — be grateful for the extended unemployment benefits and other stimulus that comprises much of the $900 billion in spending and reap the benefits of the expected economic recovery that comes with the tax cuts continuing.

Repubs: just side with equality for once and pass the DADT repeal — it’s going to happen eventually, anyway, and getting the tax cut for the rich should bolster support from your base even if they’re leery about letting gays serve open in the military.

All Things WikiLeaks

Wow. If you haven’t been following this story, it has huge implications and ramifications on privacy, government power, and freedom of the press.

It’s gotten to be like a total movie.  Assange has been arrested without bail and is currently incarcerated in England; meanwhile, hacker supporters of WikiLeaks have literally taken down – at least partially – the websites of Visa and MasterCard and PayPal for their actions — which was caving to government pressure to stop supporting donations to WikiLeaks.  I’m finding this whole thing fascinating and can’t wait to read up more on it.  Conspiracy theorists must be having a field day with this.

Wild to see how this man’s crusade against government secrecy will probably, in the short-term at least, end up causing even less transparency and possibly even more restrictions of freedoms in America.  Will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.

Fiscal Austerity

Britain’s moved much more quickly on making the harsh decisions required to balance their budget that America keeps putting off: cutting spending.  People love the idea of cutting spending so long as it’s not the programs that they like or from which they reap benefits.

Students rioted in London today in response to the government’s decision to raise tuition fees threefold. I can’t say that I support their methods whatsoever — violence isn’t the answer — but, as a former student who is still paying off my thousands and thousands in loans, I can understand the frustration and anger.  Especially if I were against the policies that had been part of the reason why my country was in such fiscal disarray, I’d find it downright unacceptable to bear the brunt of the burden of paying it off.

It’s not like not going to college is much of an option these days. Taking a look at the current unemployment rates here in the States, the less-educated are the ones who are mainly out of work, not college graduates.  So by raising tuition, it’s basically saying that it costs that much more to be an active, productive member of society.  They have the right to be angry, even if their tuition rates are still relatively affordable compared to those here in America.  It’s not like the cost of living ever truly goes down.  And it’s not like wages really go up in concert with those costs.  Hence: rioting.

Westboro Baptist Church

The lovely folks down in Florida have decided to protest the late Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral with their traditional fare of “Thank God for Breast Cancer” and “God Hates Fags” posters and chants.  To understand this mentality is to be mentally ill.  There’s truly no other explanation for the kind of misguided hate that these people ooze consistently, aiming their extreme judgment on people in their time of deepest sorrow.  I pity them because they must be some of the most damaged souls out there, battling such horrific demons of their own that they need to project that darkness onto those they’ve never even met in most cases.

The free speech battle will continue, I’m sure.  I’ve said before my thoughts on it.  If we can restrict when and how people can shout the word “FIRE!” then it doesn’t seem to me a stretch to disallow protests at anyone’s funeral.  Although, perhaps I’m being overly protective on this one.  Maybe it’s a necessary evil to protect all of our free speech and right to assembly.

Conclusion

Doing these bite-sized views of multiple stories in one blog is not nearly as time-saving as I imagined it would be.  I just end up riffing too long on each subject that it gets to be rather lengthy accidentally.  For those of you still reading this, thanks for sticking around.

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Lame Duck Congress Could Still Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

11.18.10

With the Democratic majority ending in the House of Representatives – and becoming considerably smaller in the Senate – come January, we’re currently in what we call a “lame duck” session of Congress.

It remains to be seen what legislation they will pass, if any, but it looks like the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that forces gay service members to remain in the closet if they want to serve our country has a decent chance of passing.

Andrew Sullivan pins our hopes on Senate majority leader Harry Reid:

If Harry Reid allows a two-week debate on DADT, there may be 60 votes in the Senate for repeal, bypassing McCain’s bitter, and incoherent obstructionism. If I were you, I’d email Reid, not Obama, to lobby for repeal. It may be the last chance we get for years, now that the virulently anti-gay Tea Party has taken over the House.

Sullivan follows up with a recommendation: email Reid.

While I’ve been politically vocal for a couple years now — first on MySpace, then Facebook, and now this blog you’re reading here — I haven’t been all that politically active aside from voting in every major election since turning 18.  I have only once called a representative and now my second time was just now emailing Sen. Reid.  It took me barely a couple minutes.

I encourage you to do the same and join the majority of other Americans and 70% of active-duty and reserve troops to all agree that DADT needs to end. I have no idea how much good it will do, to be honest — but, it sure can’t hurt.  If we can take the time to forward on random jokes in email or post viral videos on Facebook, it seems like we all have the time to email the Senate majority leader to end a discriminatory policy like DADT.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Stay

10.20.10
President Barack Obama delivers the 2010 State...
Image via Wikipedia

Less than one week ago, a U.S. District Court Judge struck down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy disallowing gays to serve openly in the military.

Now, the Obama Administration said that they would ask for a stay since Judge Virginia Phillip refused to suspend her ruling that the 17-year-old policy was unconstitutional. All this while simultaneously saying that they disagree with DADT.

Huh? Perhaps this snippet from ABC News can explain it:

The administration has argued that it disagrees with the policy, but that it should be repealed legislatively and not through the courts.

So, it’s now up to the executive branch to decide whether the judicial branch can make a decision on something?  Talk about expanding the presidential powers.  By that reasoning, what’s the point of even bringing a lawsuit to the high courts?  Might as well just write a letter to the sitting president and ask first if you can bring this case forward.  It’s even more frustrating that this is coming from Obama, who announced in his State of the Union address that he wanted to repeal the DADT law yet now that it’s essentially been done, he’s trying to stop it from being so.

Who cares if a wrong is righted by the courts or by the legislature?  Is one truly better than the other?

Well, some on the right consider this to be an act of a liberal, activist judge, in line with a huge push to the left against the will of the people – which would argue that yes, the legislature is better.

“Judge Virginia A. Phillips‘s brazen and error-strewn ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States provides a useful case study of the all-too-familiar phenomenon of liberal judicial activism — in brief, the wrongful judicial overriding of a democratic enactment in order to advance the agenda of the Left,” Ed Whelan of the National Review wrote.

Wrongful judicial overriding. Since when is making a ruling based on the Consitutionality of a law wrongful or overriding?  The judicial branch is a check and balance to the legislature, so that the laws that they sign pass the test of the law of the land: the U.S. Constitution.  Even if a majority of people vote on something, if it doesn’t jive with the first and fifth amendments (as in this case), it can’t be law.  Whelan should understand this since he’s clearly supportive of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which also involved the first amendment.  If that right extends to corporations, why not to gay soldiers?

But that coming from Whelan is no surprise.  It’s ridiculous coming from Obama.  The whole courts vs. congress argument feels forced — like they want to be able to say they tried to block it while saying they supported its repeal.  I mean, who is that going to please?  No one.

I love that Judge Phillip’s refused to suspend her ruling despite the president asking her to.  She’s standing by her decision as well she should.  It’s nice to see some intellectual honesty somewhere these days.