Tori Amos, “I Can’t See New York” :
Good morning, everyone. Today is September 11, 2010. I want to start my Saturday post off with the words of Madame Secretary Clinton herself:
Nine years later, the memories of September 11, 2001 remain searingly vivid. Loved ones and friends whose lives were cut short. Brave first responders who rushed into burning buildings to save people they had never met. Dedicated construction workers and volunteers who searched tirelessly through the smoldering wreckage for survivors. Families and communities who pulled together to turn tragedy into a new birth of service and tolerance. We remember the pain of loss, but also the pride in our people and our country.
Today I join with all Americans in honoring those who lost their lives on that terrible day. My thoughts and prayers are with their friends and families, with those people who continue to suffer lasting health effects, and with the courageous men and women who are fighting in Afghanistan and elsewhere to defeat those responsible for the attacks. Let us keep all of them in our hearts today and every day.
Out of the deepest respect for the men and women we lost on 9-11 and for the men and women who have put their lives on the line for us, I will not be distracted by the media’s games to divide and conquer Americans and all people on this day. There is so much going on right now, so instead of devoting the top of this post to the usual suspects grabbing all the oxygen in the media, I would like to first zero in on three ongoing stories that we heard some positive developments about on Thursday night and follow-up on where things stand today.
LA Times: Judge declares U.S. military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy openly banning gay service members unconstitutional
NY Times: Stem Cell Financing Ban Ends, for Now
Reuters: US prisoner Shourd to be freed soon -Iran UN mission
All of these developments on Thursday were a good start…
“And it’s the same world, honey, that has brought you down
As the one that’s gonna pick you up, and pick you up” — Good Start, Maria Taylor
Here are where things stand this Saturday morning.
On DADT, the NYT reports:
But things are rarely as straightforward as they seem in Washington, and in other ways the decision presents the White House and Congressional Democrats with a problem.
To begin with, the administration, compelled to defend existing laws, may well appeal the ruling by Judge Virginia A. Phillips of Federal District Court in California declaring the existing policy unconstitutional. (A similar dynamic occurred when the administration defended the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 statute that puts obstacles in front of legal recognition for same-sex marriages, despite Mr. Obama’s opposition to the act.)
Further, while groups that support a ban are now ratcheting up pressure on members of the Senate to vote on a measure ending the policy, there is a slim chance that the bill will make it to the floor before Congress heads home next month to campaign for the midterm elections.
There is also the political reality that Democrats in competitive states and districts are unlikely to want to engage in a fight over an issue of social policy and risk further energizing conservative voters just seven weeks before Election Day.
The government has 60 days to file any appeal of the ruling, which puts the administration in an awkward position among the liberal base voters who have been pressing for repeal of the policy.
The acting solicitor general, Neal Katyal, must approve any appeal the Justice Department files. A department spokesman said Friday that it was “reviewing the judge’s opinion.”
The House passed its measure lifting the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in May, but the Senate’s version has been stalled and might be considered in the next three weeks. Democrats blamed Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who was facing a potentially difficult primary challenge from a conservative Republican, for holding up the legislation until he secured his victory last month. “Now that his primary is over, we hope that he will allow us to take this bill to the floor,” Jim Manley, a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said Friday.
McCain’s office did not return requests for comment .
The judge has asked the plaintiffs in the case, which was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, to submit proposed language for an injunction by next week.
“At least from my viewpoint, there are more questions than answers at this point,” the senior defense official said.
The Democrats go after McRepublican while Obama received no questions about DADT at his presser yesterday. Same ol’, same ol’. The Democrats have nothing else to go on when their own president won’t give them anything to work with.
Here’s the White House statement that we finally got from the Administration of our “fierce urgency of…maybe later” president, via the Advocate:
“The Justice Department is studying the decision, including the question of its scope and immediate effect and we expect them to announce their next steps after that review is completed,” Inouye said. “The president remains committed to legislative repeal of DADT, and he will continue to work with lawmakers to achieve that goal this fall. And he will continue to work closely with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on an ongoing study of how to best implement the repeal.”
You know, they can complete their reviews, but it is a sad commentary that here in the year 2010, our “Democratic” president — who has the MLK/Thomas Parker quote inscribed on his oval office rug — still cannot come out and openly celebrate the fact that DADT has been ruled unconstitutional. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Well, the arc of the moral universe has just bent toward justice, President Obama. Please learn to be a Democrat and respond accordingly.
Moving along to the Embryonic Stem Cell front. From AnnArbor.com:
The director of the University of Michigan‘s Center for Stem Cell Biology is among a handful of scientists heading to Washington D.C. to testify before a Senate panel next week.
Sean Morrison will testify on the potential of human embryonic stem cells Thursday following a federal judge’s ruling last month that stopped the flow of federal dollars to the research. Judge Royce Lamberth argued human embryonic stem cell research violates an existing law against the federally funded destruction of human embryos.
“It’s like a nuclear bomb for the field,” Morrison said. “This injunction will decimate the field if it stays enforced for a significant period of time. When laboratories lose their funding in an unanticipated way, they’re not able to continue on with the projects.”
The hearing Thursday is separate from the legal proceedings being held in the wake of the judge’s ruling. The Senate panel in charge of funding stem cell research is hearing from scientists like Morrison to take an in-depth look at the issue and consider possible legal solutions to the human embryonic stem cell battle that has been fought in the courts over the years.
Others testifying include Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health; George Q. Daley, director of stem cell programs at Children’s Hospital Boston; and Jean Peduzzi-Nelson, an associate professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine.
“I hope these upcoming hearings going on next week in D.C. will spur Congressional action to prevent this kind of roller coaster ride with stem cell research,” said Jack Mosher, a University of Michigan scientist using embryonic stem cells to study Hirschstrung’s disease, a defect in part of the nervous system that regulates gut function. Those who have it are unable or defective in their ability to pass solid waste. If left untreated, it can lead to death.
I hope these hearings will help, too. Stem cell research was the one bright spot left for me personally as far as Obama’s domestic agenda goes. Of course, Obama and the Dems undermined their gestures to move forward on embryonic stem cell research by keeping that laugh-inducing Dickey-Wicker in place.
An update on Sarah Shourd. From the SF Chron blog, Iran Decides to Release Hiker, Then Changes its Mind:
The few foreign journalists who are in town on this holiday weekend marking the end of Ramadan, were all ready to go to a ceremony and press conference for the release of Sarah Shourd, one of three Berkeley grads arrested for hiking in Iraq near the border, and supposedly crossing into Iran. The three have been imprisoned for over a year, and the announcement yesterday that Shourd would be headed home was a welcome sign, and hinted and some sort of thawing in relations.
Well, over night the event was canceled. No text message was sent out, which is how we received the original invitation and the subsequent change of venues.
Members of the judiciary have intervened and stated that the case is not closed yet, but most still assume that the release will take place in the coming days.
Still, we’re left to wonder-with few answers-why the state would announce the release, and in a very confident way, and then sheepishly back peddle?
One answer may lay in the fact that the Islamic Republic, although often perceived to be an autocratic system with one singular voice, is actually much more complex and features countless players jockeying for leverage or attempting to discredit their rivals. It’s unclear, however, how anyone could benefit from this decision.
Although this may sound familiar to Americans, it’s of little consolation to Ms. Shourd, Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and their families.
Here is hoping they are released soon so the question of consolation becomes a moot point. I know Hillary has been urging for them to be freed for over a year now and must be putting pressure behind the scenes.
I wanted to end my post today with excerpts from a book published in 2004 called Homeland by Dale Maharidge, but unfortunately I have misplaced my copy somewhere and have not had a chance to locate the quotes I am looking for. Here is a description from Publisher’s Weekly (excerpted from the Amazon link):
Longtime collaborators Maharidge and Williamson (And Their Children After Them, etc.) return with this provocative montage of photographs and reportage that addresses the state of the American psyche before and after September 11. Williamson’s 40 stunning b&w photos and Maharidge’s fractured, descriptive reportage both explore an America that is not so much marginalized as it is simply “invisible”—places and people beyond the economic, political and urban foci of mainstream reporting. It is a disturbing portrayal of an anguished and economically depressed America, for which “[w]hat happened on 9/11 was not a genesis, but an amplifier of unease that had long been building.”
Maharidge argues that contemporary America dangerously resembles the Weimar Republic, or “Heimat,” that led to Nazi Germany. Despite his anecdotal evidence, the author’s portrait of America as “consumed by anger and fear” will strike many as questionable at best. Sympathizers will see the argument more as a provocative call for American self-assessment than a rant. While it threatens at times to dissolve into a simple juxtaposition of tolerance versus bigotry, this book emerges as a sensitive, heartfelt examination of a wounded America whose wounds existed long before the terrorist attacks.
Here is a link to the C-Span Book TV segment where Maharidge and Williamson discuss Homeland.
I have been wanting to re-read this book ever since the Park 51 debate started and especially after the unbelievably bizarre week we’ve had. I think comparisons to Nazi Germany often risk being seen as a product of Godwin’s law, but when I saw the psycho preacher’s psycho press conference on Thursday, I truly felt like I was watching a bad scene from history playing out before my eyes. Something is not right with this man. His estranged daughter is speaking up (via Reuters):
“My father is not one to give up,” said Emma Jones, 30. “As a daughter, I see the good-natured core inside him. But I think he needs help.”
“I think he has gone mad,” she added.
She described how a Christian community her father spent years building in Cologne, Germany was at first Bible-orientated but later changed. After leaving the community aged 17, Emma Jones said she returned in 2005 to find it had become sect-like.
“I saw that my father preached and did things that I didn’t find biblical at all. He demanded total allegiance to himself and his second wife,” she said. His first wife, her mother, died in 1996.
“That was real religious delusion I saw,” she added. “Typical evidence of a sect.”
Emma Jones said the community kicked out her father in 2008, when he returned to the United States.
“I really hope he comes to his senses,” she said.
According to reports this morning, after all the shit Jones has stirred up, he is vowing he would never go through with his plans to burn a Qu’ran (via The Hill). Meanwhile, FDL reports that “Gay-Hating Cult Vows to Burn Korans if Jones’ Church Doesn’t” :
A rabidly anti-gay Kansas-based cult — which has drawn nationwide outrage for staging protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan — has vowed to burn copies of the Koran, now that the pastor of a fundamentalist church in Florida has put on hold his planned burning of the Muslim holy book that was scheduled for today (Saturday), the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
In a press release posted Friday on its Web site, GodHatesFags.com, the Westboro Baptist Church announced that it will “burn the Koran and the doomed American flag” at noon local time today (1:00 p.m. EDT) at its headquarters in Topeka.
The cult branded Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida a “false prophet” who allowed himself to be “bullied by sissy, intolerant rebels worldwide into cancelling plans to burn that blasphemous idol called the Koran.”
One whacko leads to another.
In the face of fear bred by hate and hate bred by fear, we must continue to stay focused on who we are as Americans and what we are about. I would like to end with a timely reminder from FDR:
I hope everyone has a great Saturday and don’t forget to share what you are reading and thinking in the comments.