Good Morning Conflucians!!
The big news yesterday was the Senate passing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT):
In a landmark vote that for some echoed the nation’s greatest civil rights struggles, the Senate on Saturday moved resolutely to abolish the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which for 17 years has forced gay and lesbian members of the armed forces to keep their sexual orientation hidden.
The 65-31 vote, which came after a charged and sometimes vitriolic debate, was surprisingly bipartisan. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting to repeal the Clinton-era policy.
“It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed,” President Obama said Saturday. “It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly.”
“Our government has sent a powerful message that discrimination, on any level, should not be tolerated,” said Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, which fought for years against the ban.
The big winner, and “Democrats man of the hour“, in this effort is of all people Joe Lieberman:
The Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut drove the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy from sponsorship to the final push across the finish line in a 65-31 vote today, winning over liberal hearts, at least for the moment.
“He’s certainly one of my heroes today,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “His determination, his tenacity has kept this going all year. This would have not happened without Sen. Lieberman.”
If Joe is your party’s man of the hour, you’ve got one hell of a boring party. The Democratic party has long since jumped the shark, but this one takes the cake. Lest we forget, Joe supported John McCain in the general election. Some of us may have done something like that as protest, but Joe really wanted McCain as president. Obama of course could have stopped DADT on day one. And he could have not fought previous court rulings overturning DADT. And it seems clear Democrats in general would have been happy to drag this out another two years so it could be a campaign issue. But no more. Joe helped push this legislation through despite Obama and others best efforts to keep it a low priority and to not move it anytime soon.
The big loser in all of this is John McCain:
Here is John McCain, in full-throttled white populist mode, spinning DADT’s repeal as plot by the elite Georgetown-Manhattan axis of America. The notion, which McCain pitches here, that DADT is a victory for people who either never served in the military, and don’t know anyone in the military is demagoguery. Worse, it’s of a piece with McCain’s habit of setting his clock according to his own disposition.
So Robert Gates, an Air Force vet, disagrees with John McCain, and by the factual lights of McCain, Gates is dismissed as as “political appointee who’s never been in the military.” Admiral Mike Mullen,Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, disagrees with McCain and is transformed into someone who McCain does not “view as a military leader.” And a policy with the support of nearly 80 percent of the American, can only be viewed through the machinations of Georgetown cocktail parties. Even the military itself, in McCain’s mind, is bent to his prejudice. By implication he defines it as provincial outfit almost totally rooted, not in a time or a place, but in the smallness of McCain’s square mind.
A bit harsh. Though for the life of me I don’t understand where McCain was coming from on this one. Follow the link and watch the video of McCain down in the hold and still digging.
Boxer had a nice thing to day (from the LATimes article):
Shortly before the climactic final vote, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D- San Francisco) recalled the activists who had fought against the policy for years.
“We have come a long way because people put their fear aside and they came forward and they told their stories. They took the light and they focused it on the truth. We’ve come a long way because of their families who loved them and have spoken out,” Boxer said. “This is America at its best, when we open our arms to equality, freedom and justice.”
Yea, Democrats talking about justice after they’ve abandoned any semblance of democracy. But still, it’s nice. There’s a related article about some troop reactions and another about Gay rights in general for the year.
On the other hand the Dream Act failed in the Senate to get past a filibuster proof majority:
The 55-41 roll call Saturday by which the Senate voted to pass the Dream Act, which would give hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a path to legal status if they enrolled in college or joined the armed forces. The vote fell five short of the 60 needed to enact the legislation before Republicans take over the House and narrow Democrats’ majority in the Senate next month.
The article names names. In a fence sitting move only Obama could love, the newly elected Dem Senator from WV stayed home and didn’t vote. He made noises that he would vote against it (the only Dem), but in the end didn’t do it. I suspect he was really for the repeal, but thought he couldn’t get away with voting that way. I think he underestimates his constituents. Or he’s just an ass. Probably both.
From Politico we have Durbin saying the Senate will ban Guantanamo prisoner transfers:
One of the leading supporters of civilian trials for some Guantanamo prisoners and of bringing detainees currently there to the Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said Saturday that the Senate is likely to concur in a House-passed measure that effectively bans both those options for the rest of this fiscal year.
“I think that issue has been resolved,” Durbin told my colleague Manu Raju on Saturday. “I think it’s necessary to include the langauge. The reason is that we hope at the end of the day…to still work out an agremeent and the bureau of prisons so they will buy this Thompson prison which has been sitting vacant for so many years.”
Back to the story no one wants to talk about anymore, the wars. Our death toll so far this year is 700 more troops in Afghanistan:
Taliban insurgents launched attacks in Kabul and a major northern city on Sunday as the death toll for foreign troops in Afghanistan hit 700, making 2010 the deadliest year of the nearly decade-long war.
The grim milestone for foreign troop deaths was reached after a member of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed overnight by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan. ISAF gave no other details of the incident.
A total of 521 foreign troops were killed in 2009, previously the worst year of the war, but operations against the Taliban-led insurgency have intensified over the past 18 months.
About 2,270 foreign troops have been killed since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 by U.S.-backed Afghan forces, according to figures kept by Reuters and monitoring website http://www.iCasualties.org.
Roughly two-thirds of those killed were Americans.
How long will this insanity continue? What is the point here? There is little or no Al Qaeda left. We will likely never end this in a good way. Eventually we will drag ourselves out there after countless more lives lost. And the end result will likely be the same as if we just left tomorrow. So leave tomorrow.
Which is why all the fighting and killing in Pakistan is all the more insane. Here’s more war drumbeats for more in Pakistan:
After serving as the senior U.S. diplomat responsible for Kandahar, Bill Harris is convinced that American forces have made “staggering progress” against insurgents this fall in areas around Afghanistan’s second-largest city.
But he is equally certain that the overall war will fail if the United States does not find a way to eliminate the de facto sanctuary that Taliban fighters have established in neighboring Pakistan. “As we sat there for a year . . . we knew the insurgents who attacked us were going to Pakistan to re-equip, replenish, retrain and get orders to attack us again,” he said.
Basically he’s saying if you don’t go over into Pakistan and eliminate them, you can never win in Afghanistan. That’s the kind of story you’ll be hearing all the way off the cliff. War, it’s big business.
And speaking of crazy, the Ukraine is going to reopen Chermobyl as a tourist attraction (no, you can’t make this stuff up):
If the typical beach vacation – the one where you spend several days on the beach reading bad fiction and soaking up sun – has lost its allure, the Ukraine would like to make a suggestion: come soak up radiation and some real human drama at Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history. Starting in 2011, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site and the surrounding “exclusion zone” will be opened to tourists for the first time since the plant’s reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, blanketing the area in radiation.
Maybe if we tell all the “creative class” idiots that it’s the coolest thing to do, they’ll all go.
It’s time for all the end of the year summaries, lists, and oddities to start rolling in. Here’s one on the 10 worst predictions of the year. Here’s my favorite:
“More people are going to be put to work this summer.”
-Vice President Joe Biden, White House briefing, June 17, 2010
The “recovery summer,” as the White House termed it, seemed like a good bet for the administration after more than 300,000 new jobs were added between March and May — admittedly not enough to keep up with the number of people entering the workforce — but the economy actually retrenched over the course of the summer. By August, private-sector job growth had had fallen by two-thirds, the unemployment rate was still at 9.5 percent, and GDP growth had fallen to just 2.4 percent — nowhere near fast enough to make up for the crash.
The summer of disappointment quickly became a fall of despair when it was announced that the unemployment rate had increased to 9.8 percent in November — and voters punished Biden’s party accordingly during the midterm elections.
In some other fun news of the week, the number 1 retweet of the year was Stephen Colbert with the following:
“In honor of oil-soaked birds, ‘tweets’ are now ‘gurgles.’”
I have to admit, I retweeted that one myself.
And in lack of privacy, creepy news of the week, Android phones (via Google), can now recognize you in voice searches:
Time to add a new service to the “cool but creepy” category. Google announced that Android phones can now learn the sound of your voice for more accurate voice searches.
Personalized recognition is an opt-in service for Android versions 2.2 and higher. Once you give the go-ahead, Google begins recording voice searches and using the data to build a speech model just for you. “Although subtle, accuracy improvements begin fairly quickly and will build over time,” says the Google Mobile blog.
Always keep in mind, if you’re using free services from someone like Google for voice, email, docs, etc., read those license agreements and privacy policies. Those services are free in exchange for them data mining your information.
And finally in space news, the old Voyager 1 has reached the edge of the solar system:
A NASA space probe dispatched 33 years ago for the first close-up studies of Jupiter and Saturn has entered the tail of the solar system, a place where the constant stream of charged particles flowing from the sun ebbs.
This final phase of solar system exploration should last another four years, computer models show, though scientists overseeing the two Voyager spacecraft really don’t know what to expect.
Voyager 1 is now about 10.8 billion miles from the sun, traveling in a region of space known as the heliosheath, a turbulent area between the sphere of space influenced by the sun and magnetic forces from interstellar space that lies beyond.
Wave goodbye to Voyager. And no Star Trek: The Movie jokes about “vger” either.
That’s a bit of what’s in the news. Chime in with what you’re reading or seeing.
Filed under: Afghanistan, DADT, Gay community, General, John McCain, LGBT rights, Morning News edition, U.S. military | Tagged: General, Morning Edition, news | 43 Comments »