Open Thread for Night Owls: DADT

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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On Monday, Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “It is the Speaker’s intention that a vote will be taken this year on [‘don’t ask, don’t tell’] in the House.”

On Wednesday, Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a foe of repealing DADT, wrote a letter to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, asking his views on the advisability of legislative action before the Pentagon completes its review of the policy.

On Friday, Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates replied in this letter to Skelton. The short version: Congress should hold off on repeal until the review is completed, which means next year. Many people in the LGBTQ community and their allies have taken offense, as well they should.

Servicemembers United issued the following response to Gates and Mullen:

“This letter from Secretary Gates is a significant cause for concern for those who truly respect and support the gay military community,” said Alexander Nicholson, a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and who is the current Executive Director of Servicemembers United. “Several of the points in this letter are patently offensive and false, such as the claim that repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ would have a ‘direct impact for [troops] and their families’ or the suggestion that legislative action to repeal the law this year would ’send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence their views, concerns, and perspectives do not matter.’”

For more than a year, Servicemembers United has been actively lobbying for a repeal plan that would respect the need of the Department of Defense to proceed in a thoughtful and measured way and to plan for repeal implementation in advance. The plan, which Servicemembers United released publicly in early February but which the White House has had since last spring, would allow for legislative repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute now but delay the effective date of full repeal until a pre-determined future point at which the Department of Defense is comfortable and ready for the change. This type of plan, referred to as a Set End-Date / Delayed Implementation plan, would accomplish both the goals of the President and the goals of the Pentagon without risking the lives and livelihoods of gay and lesbian troops by delaying legislative action.

Nicholson added, “If the White House and the Department of Defense had been more engaged with us and had communicated with us better about the alternatives available, Secretary Gates would surely not feel that legislative action this year would disrespect the opinions of the troops or negatively impact them and their families. This is partly a failure of the Administration to substantively engage the gay military community in a timely manner, and it remains unacceptable. The Commander-in-Chief should strongly and immediately speak out about the need to move swiftly and decisively on this issue for the sake of military readiness. It is, after all, as the President said, ‘the right thing to do.’”

Some critics are arguing that Gates’s letter has turned what was assumed to be a matter of “when” into a matter of “if.” In an email to Adam Bink, the White House said not so:

“The President’s commitment to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is unequivocal. This is not a question of if, but how. That’s why we’ve said that the implementation of any congressional repeal will be delayed until the DOD study of how best to implement that repeal is completed.  The President is committed to getting this done both soon and right.”

The first part of that email message is good to hear. And the second part would be OK if the White House follows Pelosi’s advice in this statement from her office:

“We all look forward to the report on the review of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy by the Defense Department. In the meantime, the Administration should immediately place a moratorium on dismissals under this policy until the review has been completed and Congress has acted.”

A moratorium is the approach many of us have argued for the past 16 months would be an acceptable interim measure until DADT is done away with. Better to dump this abhorrent policy now, of course. But at least a moratorium would protect gays and lesbians from being kicked out of the military until such time as the Pentagon’s report recommends how a permanent change of policy would best be implemented.

[h/t to Adam Bink at Open Left and John Aravosis at AMERICAblog]

• • • • •

At Daily Kos on this date in 2009:

And so it begins:

 

A conservative politico likely to work on the coming judicial nomination battle sends over a memo circulating on the right, which targets three likely Obama nominees: Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Judge Diane Wood, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

   The early lines seem to be attacks on Kagan’s lack of bench experience, Sotomayor’s “temperament,” and Wood’s rulings on hot-button issues, including an application of a RICO statute in a case against hard-line anti-abortion activist Randall Terry.


Open Thread and Diary Rescue

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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Tonight’s Rescue is brought to you by Got a Grip, BentLiberal, watercarrier4diogenes, sunspark says, claude, grog, and pico.

Diary Rescue is all about promoting good writers, so remember to subscribe to diarists whose work you enjoy reading.

jotter has High Impact Diaries: April 29, 2010.

bronte17 has Top Comments (04-30-2010): ARBOR DAY Appreciation.

Feel free to suggest your own, and use as an open thread.


Ariz. lawmakers give conservatives plenty to cheer (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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AP – Across the country, they are known as the conservative lawmakers who are taking illegal immigration into their own hands.

Gates Warns Congress Not To Act On "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell"

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates provides cover for Democrats to put equal rights for military members on the back-burner … again:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday warned Congress not to tamper with the ban on gays serving openly in the military until he can come up with a plan for dealing with potential opposition in the ranks.

In a strongly worded letter obtained by The Associated Press, Gates told the House Armed Services Committee that forcing policy changes on the military before it’s ready would be a mistake.

“Our military must be afforded the opportunity to inform us of their concerns, insights and suggestions if we are to carry out this change successfully,” Gates wrote to the panel’s chairman, Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton.

How about this insight? Someone’s sex life is no one’s business but their own. And it shouldn’t be Congress’ job to accommodate bigotry


Second Oil Rig In Trouble?

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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Details are sketchy at this time, but as we deal with an oil spill that threatens to be worse than the Exxon Valdez:

The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday it was responding to another oil drilling rig accident near Morgan City, Louisiana.

Drill, baby, drill.

Update: From a Coast Guard press release:

The MIDU has a 20,000-gallon diesel fuel capacity, and while there is no current estimate on how much fuel was on board at the time of the incident, on-scene Coast Guard pollution investigators have determined that the rig is not leaking fuel at this time.  As a precaution, 500 feet of containment boom has been deployed around the rig, with an additional 500 feet arriving to provide a secondary string within the canal.

This sounds like good news … right now.

(H/T RLMiller)


AR-Sen: US Chamber of Commerce supporting Blanche Lincoln

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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You can tell that Bill Halter is putting the fear of god into the corporatist world, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dropping a reported 0,000 in television advertising trying to prop up Blanche Lincoln.

File this one under “with friends like these …”: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is buying TV ads to support Sen. Blanche Lincoln against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the Arkansas Democratic primary, which could help Lincoln out, obviously, but could also help Halter continue to make the case that she’s too close with big business.

It’s a solid play for the Chamber, which would like nothing more than a reliable Republican filling that seat. If they help Blanche win her primary, she is a sure-fire loser in November. Big win! But it’s also true that Lincoln is about as strong a Chamber ally as the Democratic Party will ever offer them. In fact, she was just awarded the Chamber’s “Spirit of Enterprise” award for 2009 for fealty to the Chamber’s agenda.

Follow the link, look at the list of awardees. Try to find any other Democratic senators on the list. I’ll help you, there are two:

Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Nelson has been voting for Republicans trying to kill financial industry reform. Surprising to see Specter on that list, but then again, it was his pre-party switch flip on EFCA that killed card check last year.

What’s amazing is who the list of awardees doesn’t include. It doesn’t include:

Mark Pryor of Arkansas
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Evan Bayh of Indiana
Joe Lieberman of Connecticut
Bill Nelson of Florida
Max Baucus of Montana

In addition to most of the most corporatists Democrats in the Senate, the list also omits such Republicans pro-corporatist stalwarts as Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Jim Bunning of Kentucky, putting Lincoln into truly rarified territory.

The Chamber knows full well that Bill Halter won’t ever be “honored” with their “spirit of protecting big biz” award, thus their 0,000 investment in defeating him at the ballot box.

We can help fight back:

Contribute to Bill Halter
Bill Halter for Senate
Volunteer


Military tells Congress to keep gay ban for now (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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Lt. Dan Choi, stands alone after handcuffing himself to the fence outside the White House during a protest for gay-rights in Washington, Tuesday, April, 2010. Choi was part of a group demanding that President Obama keep his promise to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell in 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)AP – Senior Pentagon leaders on Friday warned Congress not to tamper with the ban on gays serving openly in the military until he can come up with a plan for dealing with potential opposition in the ranks.

Bono gets Oval Office meeting with Obama (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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AP – President Barack Obama and U2 lead singer Bono have met in the Oval Office to discuss the administration’s development work in Africa.

Obama says new oil leases will need safeguards (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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President Barack Obama gestures during a statement on the Gulf oil spill, and the first quarter GDP numbers, Friday, April 30, 2010, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)AP – President Barack Obama on Friday, in a largely symbolic gesture, promised that no new offshore oil drilling leases will be issued unless rigs have new safeguards to prevent a repeat of the explosion that unleashed the massive spill threatening the Gulf Coast.

Can Crist learn lessons from other independent Senate bids? (McClatchy Newspapers)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2010-05-2008

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McClatchy Newspapers – WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s independent bid for the U.S. Senate is prompting comparisons to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s 2006 election, when the Connecticut Democrat bucked his party after losing a primary and successfully ran as an independent.