The Race Is On

October 15th, 2009 by Gid

Though Obama certainly exhibits more intelligence and savoir faire than his predecessor, he experienced what seemed to be an acute attack of cranial-rectal inversion vis-à-vis the Repugnican Party. He campaigned with an intention to foster bipartisanship; considering that the GOP gaggle includes a host of antediluvian, racist throwbacks, this was a very shrewd move. Repugnicans praised his intentions right up until his election. Within minutes, however, they showed their true red roots: RWNJs must have been in labor with the Birther Movement before the Democratic landslide was declared. Five minutes after the inauguration, it was denounced as invalid because the oath was misread. The tea-baggers came along with cries of socialism, fascism, and czarist tactics, and noises of secession were made. Not only did the Repugnican leadership (talis qualis) fail to censure such behavior, they encouraged it. The term “Party of No” was born, and yet Obama stubbornly reached for the bipartisan meringue pie in the sky.

Many say the president shot himself in the foot with regard to health care reform in an effort to eat that unattainable pie. With a clear majority of Democrats we voted into office to facilitate the changes touted by the Obama campaign, it would have made sense to present a health care reform bill to the House with twice as much as he wanted in the final product, knowing that half would disappear in the negotiations. Instead, precious time was wasted and momentum lost in the name of bipartisanship. Baucus was allowed to present a bill for “reform,” which excludes competition via a public option and guarantees billions more for a greedy industry via personal mandates and federal subsidies. This was done in hopes that the industry would relent and lower their premiums to a reasonable level, yet as soon as the bill passed the Finance Committee, health insurance representatives promised to increase premiums by more than 100% in the coming years.

While all this unfolded, Olympia Snowe was cultivated and brown-nosed as the one Repugnican who might vote for an extremely diluted version of what once might have led to health care reform. The only way she’d endorse a public option is if it’s so heavily triggered that it could never be realized, thus safeguarding the health insurance cartel from meaningful competition. She was, in my opinion, given far more significance than was ever deserved. Though she voted for the Baucus bill, she made it clear that this does not mean endorsing reform once the bill hits the floor. Her yes vote could be little more than a ploy to remain involved in the discussion over health care reform, rather then being pushed aside along with the rest of the Party of No while the Democrats do what is necessary, hobbled though they be by the Blue Dogs – another name for a Repugnican masquerading as a Democrat. It may be that she was worried about disregarding the will of 75% of her constituency who want meaningful health care reform with a robust public option.

Meanwhile, abuses of the public under the status quo continue unabated. While the senate placidly debated the issues last week, a CIGNA employee gestured “F*** you,” to a mother who came to their offices to complain. Her daughter had died because that company denied her a transplant. While the senate placidly debated, a healthy baby’s coverage was cancelled because he was too fat. While the senate placidly debated, Guardian insurance cancelled the policies of many Muscular Dystrophy patients, because one man’s annual care was in excess of $1 million – a bare fraction of what that company’s CEO made as a bonus last year – and canceling only that one man’s policy would have been blatantly illegal. While the senate placidly debated, another week passed and another 865 people died for lack of health insurance. 2993 Americans were killed on 9/11/01, and the government has since spent over $920 billion on unfounded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 45,000 Americans died last year because of skyrocketing medical costs, and the government has done nothing.  This must be somewhat akin to the theory of New Math; the number of casualties isn’t as important as the method of the killing.

And why does the US so blithely trot off to spurious wars even as it ranks among the worst nations in caring for its people? It is because the majority of our senators and congressmen over the last 9 years have been getting quietly rich on kickbacks and campaign contributions from health insurance corporations, big pharmaceuticals, health professionals, and independent military contractors. With over a million from insurance and health professionals, and the content of the Finance Committee bill, is there any real question of who authored the Baucus bill or whom Senator Baucus really supports?

Clearly, the “conflict of interest” concept is foreign to the Senate Committee on Ethics, which explains how any discussion of health reform could include any Senator receiving campaign contributions from the health insurance industry. Equally interesting is potential application of the oft controversial Honest Services Law. Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia interprets that law as that “officeholders and employees owe a duty to act only in the best interests of their constituents and employers.” Is it truly in our best interests to allow an unbridled health insurance cartel to bleed us white with premium hikes and increasing deductibles? Is it truly in our best interests to refuse a bill with a robust public option when 75% of Americans, including doctors and nurses, are in favor of either a public option or a single payer plan? A determined lawyer or two could make quite a case or two – were it not for the fact that they’d be subject to countless reprisals by those happy with the status quo.

They way I see it, we have two choices. We can do what we have been conditioned to do, which is to sit quietly by, vote occasionally, and allow our government representatives to do as they see fit, policing themselves when they see fit, and enacting legislations to benefit whomsoever they see fit, including their top contributors. We can allow the status quo to continue, grab our ankles and brace ourselves for the inevitable. Or we can do once again what we did last November, cast off the apprentice’s robes, and let our professorial side show. We can use our resources to contact our elected officials, school them in what we want, and make it plain that reelection to their cushy posts hinges upon showing their allegiance to their constituency rather than their campaign contributors and lobbyists. We can back these assertions with substance by enlisting our families, friends, and acquaintances to repeat these lessons to their representatives, and then use their vote as the ultimate report card.

As of this posting, I have contacted all of my representatives at least twice. I have contacted every blue-dog Senator at least twice, especially when they send form letters advising me of the importance of proceeding cautiously, or other such “foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging behaviors (yes, I’m a staunch Graysonite). I have written and called Harry Reid in hopes that he will bend to the public will and put a public option and public option plus into the bill sent to the senate floor. I have written to the White House to tell Obama what I expect, along with a few choice words for Mr. Emanuel. I have asked my exceedingly modest number of Facebook and Twitter followers are to call their representatives (202.224.3121 is the general switchboard, 202.224.3542 is for Harry Reid) to make their demands. And so I invite you to reject the stupidity of the status quo and raise a little hell. You never know what you might get if you ask for it.

Do as I say, Not as I do

July 16th, 2009 by Gid

Last week, amid the mêlée of the latest scandals pervading Capitol Hill, I caught part of an interview with Margaret Carlson, editor of The Week magazine. In response to some of the recent news, she reminded me of why I so loathe politics in our so-called democracy: “It’s almost not worth saying ‘hypocrisy’ anymore.” Take a moment and let that statement really sink in. “The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness,”* has become status quo. This is so prevalent among our elected leaders – questionable electoral practices notwithstanding – that it has become acceptable, if not outwardly condoned.

I can console myself somewhat with the fact that most of the current scandals and hypocrisies involve Republicants. In the last month, we’ve become intimately introduced to the private life of John Ensign of Nevada. Ensign didn’t do much, other than have an affair. Not that I care whose bed he shares; the sticky part is that he belongs to Promise Keepers, a Christian group whose members pledge to abide by biblical principles to build strong marriages. We need not ask about his stance on DOMA or gay marriage, of course; being committed to biblical principals. He wants to respect the institution of marriage, hence his 1998 demand that President Clinton resign (and subsequent vote for impeachment), and his suggestion that Senator Larry Craig (of the notably wide stance) resign after his bathroom incident. But press statements indicate that his marriage is stronger than ever – we’ll ignore the fact that his wife was nowhere to be seen at the time. There is no need to discuss that he’s anti-abortion and pro gun rights while touting small-government principles. While it seems that arrangements have been made to pay off his former mistress, that’s not necessarily hypocritical, merely illegal.

Meanwhile, Mark Sanford, governor of South Carolina, demonstrated his own brand of ethics. Sanford, who firmly believes in the sanctity of marriage, opposes civil unions and adoptions for gay couples – yet believes every child deserves a mother and a father — left his wife and four children on Father’s Day to go AWOL on an Argentinean fling with his soul-mate. Not only did he abandon his elected office to carry on this affair, he neglected to inform his subordinates, failed to arrange for state business to be carried out in his absence, and used state funds to finance his dalliances. He, like Ensign, has made no moves to resign his office, and seems to have some support as well from other sources. Not only did Sarah Palin help by stealing the spotlight to announce her own abdication of responsibilities, but members of the increasingly publicized C Street “Family” of DC seem to have been involved in crisis management for the two adulterers.

Congressman Zach Wamp told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the C Street residence is a place where members (elected representatives) can go and hold each other accountable. In an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel, he said that “The C Street residents have all agreed they won’t talk about their private living arrangements… and he intends to honor that pact.” When asked if this was a secretive group, Wamp flatly rejected the notion, and enforced his reasoning by promptly contradicting himself: “It’s not secretive. It’s that that’s the only way something like this can exist.” Ergo, residents will hold each other accountable, but have agreed they won’t talk about it, but this silence is not to be interpreted as secrecy. In his speech to the press after returning from his unannounced absence, Mark Sanford alluded to having been counseled by the C Street “Family.”

Former Republican Congressman Steve Largent of Oklahoma told The Tulsa World newspaper that he, as a former resident of C Street, participated in a discussion among its brethren regarding Senator John Ensign’s recent indiscretions. “Largent said the group who confronted Ensign left unsure of its impact but eventually the meeting produced a, quote, ‘good result.‘” Member Congressman Chip Pickering of MS also enjoyed a good result with a Ms. Elizabeth Creekmore-Byrd while at the C Street residence, and is currently being sued by Mrs. Leisha Pickering for alienation of affection. One might think it odd to conduct an illicit affair at a building formally declared as a church, but according to Jeff Sharlet’s The Family, there seems to be a different set of moral values for members and non-members of this establishment. Due to the C Street agreement of non-secretive silence, of course, the public will have no knowledge of the results of the meetings with Ensign, Sanford and possible others. These public servants, therefore, are accountable only to themselves, not to those members of the public, whom they represent.

Largent’s main concern in regard to Ensign and Sanford “is about their personal well being and their families‘ well being. …whether they stay in office or not, I think that‘s a calculation that only they can make.” Would that Largent were as concerned about the quality of representation of their constituents. Largent’s code of ethics seems to have mellowed somewhat over the last decade. In regard to the appropriate course of action for former President Bill Clinton after the Lewinsky scandal, Largent didn’t think “…any reasonable people could say that the president should not resign. I think even reading the president‘s own censure resolution, you can‘t come away with any other conclusion than that this president should resign. It‘s the honorable thing to do.”

I will not say that Jefferson B Sessions is an inbred racist bigot unqualified to question a first grader. I have neither the time nor inclination to verify his parentage, nor do I believe in torturing children. From the start of the Sotomayor judicial confirmation hearings, Sessions and his cronies showed little regard for Judge Sotomayor’s legal record, and instead concentrated on what they felt was most important. Every question seemed to revolve around her ancestry and a few sensational soundbytes taken out of context. Naturally, the judge answered their questions equably and sensibly, while Pat Buchanan sat fuming and muttering inanities about affirmative action and discrimination against white males, who are best suited for everything.

I also caught part of an address today on the occasion of the NAACP’s 100th anniversary by Martin Luther Obama. I have listened to many Obama speeches before, but it seemed that for this particular occasion, he decided to doff his usual aplomb, cultivate a subtle southern drawl, and emulate the impassioned speech patterns for which Dr. King was so well known. Mind you, I agreed with almost everything he said, but the delivery, which so blatantly pandered to the audience, indicates that he’s a little too adept at changing his appearance to suit his needs. Since theater is part of politics, I let this one slide.

But Obama has once again proven that putrid practices are bipartisan. I was surprised and disgusted this week when I learned that our Fierce Advocate in Chief who so vociferously touted transparency is now attempting to repeal not statutes which infringe upon civil rights, but those which try to guarantee them. Specifically, he wants to rescind the requirement of recording interrogation sessions. Though the CIA and military (and possibly the White House) made sure that some of the more incriminatory tapes disappeared, our leader feels it would be much more expedient to skip the tapes altogether. Perhaps he feels that nonexistent tapes are the most transparent, but my next regular missive to the White House is going to suggest that he not try quite so hard to continue the worst practices demonstrated by the previous administration.

One final reminder to the good citizens of Nevada, South Carolina, and Mississippi: If you have opinions about the character and career choices of your elected representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you to contact your elected officials. And to those from all the other states, bear in mind that some Powers That Be are still very much opposed to giving us what we want, such as affordable, clean energy and affordable health care. Regardless of the reason, I’m sure that our representatives welcome the input of their constituents, just as their websites tell us. Who knows? One day, hypocrisy and maintaining the status quo just might give way to popular opinion.

* American Heritage® Dictionary, Fourth Edition

Sleep in Peace

June 24th, 2009 by Gid

Like millions of others around the globe, I have been completely absorbed in the political events in Iran for the past 12 days. Before commenting on any of these events, I want to add my .02 to those who’ve already thanked Nico Pitney of the Huffington Post for maintaining an almost continuous live blog of events as they unfold. I also want to add my voice to those who call for the simplest of freedoms.

In many of my posts, I have criticized the US government for neglecting, withholding, or simply ignoring civil rights, such as privacy and equal treatment for minorities. While I have not changed my stance on these, the current state of affairs has made me more aware of the rights I currently do enjoy, such as walking down the street. Despite the arrest, detention or simple oppression of journalists, modern technology has allowed almost immediate dissemination of the news that the state-controlled propaganda dare not tell. We have read tweets, blogs, and emails, seen photos and videos captured by those brave enough to wield cameras or cell phones, that provide in chilling detail the lengths to which the current regime will go to maintain control.

Repost from Pitney's blog

The current government of Iran has made one thing perfectly clear: it has neither good will nor even respect for its people, remorselessly inflicting serious bodily injury or death at the hands of government officials, either the police – who, according to most reports, seem to try to pay some small attention to the law and mandates of society – or a militia whose tactics more closely resemble those of terrorists. The people asked for a voice in their government, and their government answered with insults, calling them weeds. The people had the temerity to object, and their government answered with violence. Iran’s regime may seem to be discriminatory in regard to women and minorities, but no discrimination was apparent in the beatings, shootings, or other deterrents we’ve witnessed over the last week.

On a side note, there have been objections to the choice of some journalists to show certain graphic scenes in their entirety. I respectfully disagree with such criticism, and flatly reject any notion which suggests these reports be in any way censored. This is not intended to pander to the bloodlust of those with a morbid curiosity, but rather to serve as a reminder of the capabilities to which some will resort if they deem it necessary. Those who feel they have mastered this lesson, or wish to spare their children such introductions may exercise their right to turn their heads, but clearly, the human race has not yet learned that indiscriminate harm is wrong, and needs an occasional refresher. Again, I will point as an example to the Dachau Memorial’s simple message: Never Again. And before I listen to anyone object that there is no comparison, that millions died in the Holocaust, I challenge that person to present a reasonable proposal indicating just how many people may die before moral outrage is justified.

Religion, of course, must claim its part in this. It is, after all, the country is called an Islamic Republic, with cabinets of clerics and an Ayatollah at its head. Alas, their clerics are only as godly as ours, and thus are inherently susceptible to the same misjudgments. While I’m no religious scholar, in the past week, some phrases from the Qur’an have been in the media. To wit, that “killing a person unjustly is the same as killing all of humanity, and saving a person is the same as saving all humanity.” Some have tried to claim that they’re defending the upstanding citizens from marauding demonstrators – the Qur’an commands defense if an enemy army attacks. That might have worked had any demonstrator attacked someone other than a Basiji who hadn’t attacked first. Even then, violence is sanctioned by the Qur’an only until the enemies stop their aggression. It prohibits attacks against innocent bystanders or non-combatants. If this weren’t enough hypocrisy, protesters at Baharestan Square today were descended upon by a force of about 500 Basiji and police who had hidden themselves in a Mosque (so much for sanctity). The guard opened fire on the protestors, killing several.

Not unsurprisingly, I have heard a number of people sharply criticizing Iran’s government. This I can accept, and even support. I cannot, however, support those who make broad, sweeping statements about Iran implying US superiority, morally and ethically. But mounting such a high horse makes getting thrown that much more dangerous. Consider the fact that both the elections of 2000 and 2004 were disputed; our own government is not averse to glaring demonstrations of self-interest. We have gone to war under false pretenses, and are harboring war criminals we have as yet failed to prosecute. We have people who have burned churches, even murdered in them while claiming to be good Christians. We still have a long way to go with equal rights for all citizens. Polls show that 72% of Americans are in favor of a public option for health care, and yet we are faced with a House full of our own representatives who are fully prepared to side with the AMA and other lobbyists and blatantly dismiss our wishes. We do, however, at least have the ability to speak our minds to our representatives without fear of reprisal.

It’s the middle of the night in Tehran, and somewhere, there are those standing on their roofs calling “Allaho Akbar” while Basiji violate homes and citizens. I hope it’s not too long until Iranians are afforded the liberty of free speech and assembly, and a night when they can sleep in peace.

An Open Letter to Fox News

June 19th, 2009 by Gid

(CC: CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC)

Dear Sirs:

I fully expect this letter to land on deaf ears, as it were.  There’s nothing I can say that has not already been said to little or no avail, yet I feel it is my duty to add one more feeble voice to those of others who’ve already spoken.  My request is this:  Please help put an end to hatred.  Report what you will, but do so without vilifying any scapegoats, without inspiring undue fear in the masses, without encouraging uprisings among those not yet ready to think for themselves and act responsibly of their own accord.

Take a moment to read the column of Frank Rich, which appeared in the New York Times on June 14, 2009. Fox may hold a dim view of this newspaper; this does not, however, detract from the validity of the arguments and facts presented here.  The bottom line is that journalism carries with it a great responsibility.  While I respect the fact that Fox is a business with the prime focus of earning money, as an entity whose prime focus is journalism, Fox News has a responsibility to the public: to inform.  While I certainly agree that your viewers should be informed about others’ views, I feel it should be done in a way that inspires thought and careful consideration rather than knee-jerk, emotional reactions likely to cause at least worry, at worst violent insurgence.

I ask that you remind your writers, anchors, commentators and reporters of a few crucial items:

1. We are in a period of economic difficulty; in this climate, people are more susceptible to worry and fear, and therefore more likely to react negatively and demonstratively to various stimuli.  I am not the only one who has noticed the sharp uprising of violent crime and acts of terrorism since last year’s financial crisis.  These frightened people are among your audience.

2. We are at a critical time in our nation’s history.  It has been a mere 50 years since the civil rights movement, and there at still many in this country who have not yet accepted the equality of black people, let alone a black president.  And despite the fact that this country was founded because the settlers wished (among others) religious freedom, there are many in this country who recognize only their own religion as valid or tolerable.  These intolerant people are among your audience.

3. There are those who are predisposed to violence even in the best of times, who will look for any excuse to lash out at those whom they perceive as an enemy.  There are religious extremists both within our borders and without who require little more than a trivial ideal to justify crimes up to and including murder.  These extremists are among your audience

The members of the secret service have difficulty enough without added pressure from those who would argue that our president is neither a full citizen nor of the “right” faith.  Nor am I prepared to experience a civil war.  Nor is Obama the only target to from which to choose.

In light of this fact as well as those above, I ask you to recognize that enough people have been injured.  I ask you to recognize that enough people have died.  I ask you to hold true to a judicious form of journalism which focuses on educating the public and allowing them to draw them own conclusions, and a form of journalism that encourages tolerance rather than narrow-mindedness.

Respectfully Submitted,

Gid

Fade to Black…

June 16th, 2009 by Gid

Once upon a time, there was a wicked tyrant named Shrub and a venomous, vile troll, who was so terrible that his name must never be mentioned. But they were beguiling and cunning and gained control of the land; Shrub became leader, and the vile troll vice-ruler, for eight long, dark, sad years. They began war unjustly, and brought poverty and financial ruin to the country while they became very rich. They kept the people in fear so that they might take away their rights in the name of National Security. Some people were taken to far-away dungeons, where they were imprisoned for no reason at all. Some were subjected to durance vile, where those enslaved to the maleficent powers visited foul punishments upon them; and this was hidden from the citizens so that they might never know how truly evil the rulers were.

One day came a bright knight to the land, and saw that the wicked rulers must be deposed. He spoke to the people of good things, of a government that treated everyone fairly and fought economic ruin. He condemned unjust war, unjust imprisonment, and foul punishments. He spoke of governmental transparency and answerability. He spoke of goodness for all, even those who looked or lived differently than most, for he was himself a minority. He spoke of change and the end of fear, and the good work to turn the world that is into the world that should be. And when we doubted, he told us, “Yes, we can!” And everywhere were posted banners bearing the likeness of the knight with the shibboleth of “Change” or “Hope” affixed thereto. Why, to this day, I have a banner proclaiming hope in the window of my carriage.

And so it was that the people came to believe that change was possible and there could be hope for good things to come. And the people raised their voices and spoke, and said that those who believed as the evil ones believed must rule no more, and the knight became ruler of the land. And the people watched hopefully… But this is, of course a fairy tale, and fairy tales, as we all know, bear just enough resemblance to reality to make them plausible with enough fantasy to make them highly unlikely if not altogether impossible.

When I voted for change, I was hoping for a number of things, such as an end to the vile games of Shrub & Co. making people disappear for years at a time without due process and torturing them. In response to a fear-mongering campaign by He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named defending “enhanced interrogation techniques” and other distasteful acts, President Obama made a speech of his own on May 21 at the National Archives, where he said that “our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions… we too often set [our] principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford.” He further added that “the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable” In other words, it is clear that the actions of the previous administration were not in accordance with the law. They acted unlawfully. They committed crimes, and lied about them.

When one of Obama’s first post-election speeches reiterated the fact that he intended to “look forward,” i.e., not push for indictment of the previous administration on charges of war crimes – as indeed other nations have begun to do – I thought perhaps that he was wisely waiting for the Department of Justice to do its job in the matter. This may yet turn out to be the case. We’ve also heard very little in regard to inquests into such matters by the Congress, though again, this may well be underway. We have found out through previously classified reports recently released by the CIA, that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” defended by He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named as justifiable because of the intelligence they yielded, failed to yield any useful information at all. In short, they were classified (ergo hidden) by the previous administration to cover up failure as well as crime. But I digress…

Obama criticized unconstitutional detainment: “For over seven years, we have detained hundreds of people at Guantanamo. During that time, the system… succeeded in convicting a grand total of three suspected terrorists… Instead of bringing terrorists to justice, efforts at prosecution met setbacks, cases lingered on, and in 2006 the Supreme Court invalidated the entire system.” Obama said that this indefinite detention was “beyond the rule of law. This is true, as due process is mandated by the constitution.

Then he said “Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and… [detainees] must be prevented from attacking us again. However, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded… We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.” And how will he keep them from attacking us again? By keeping them imprisoned, of course, although no actual crime has been committed. By having laws written by which such detainment becomes legal – just as Shrub & Co. had their attorneys write briefs which legalized torture. These detainees were short-changed.

In 2004 during his US Senate race, Barack Obama went on record calling for the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In March 2007, in a debate with Alan Keyes, Obama criticized Keyes for his views on GLBT relationships, stating that civil rights such as employment, housing, hospital visitation, transfer of property, are rights for everybody, not just for some people. In a subsequent pre-presidential interview, he called DOMA an “unnecessary imposition on what have been the traditional rules governing marriage and how states interact on the issues of marriage.” In August of 2008, he told us that his job as President was going to “make sure that the legal rights, that have consequences… for loving, same-sex couples all across the country… are recognized and enforced by my Whitehouse and by my Justice Department.”

Just two months earlier, Michelle Obama told the DNC’s Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council that, “Barack believes that we must fight for the world as it should be, a world where together we work to reverse discriminatory laws like DOMA and Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell… where our federal laws don’t discriminate against same-sex relationships, including equal treatment for any relationship recognized under state law… a world that recognizes that equality in relationships, family and adoption rights is not some abstract principle, it’s about whether millions of LGBT Americans can finally live lives marked by dignity and freedom.” This is the change I voted for.

Just a few days ago, the Obama administration handed down a brief from the Department of Injustice, upholding DOMA and citing its merits. The lawyers likened same-sex unions to incest and pedophilia; is this the dignity we’re working toward? DOMA’s Part 3 – barring same-sex couples from any federal benefits – was cited as a “cautious policy of federal neutrality towards a new form of marriage… [that] does not discriminate against gays for federal benefits,” even though Part 3 explicitly states that the federal government will not recognize a same-sex marriage, even should a state choose to do so. Is this the equality that was foretold? Where’s my change?

In an interview in November 2007, Obama said, “I will work [for]… a full repeal of ‘Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell’… That work should have started long ago. It will start when I take office. America is ready to get rid of the ‘Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell’ policy. All that is required is leadership.” Just a month before, he’d said that, “Anybody who is willing to serve our country and die on a battlefield for us and are patriots, that’s the criteria for whether or not they should be able to serve in our military.” Just before he took office, he proclaimed, “I think that it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on, and something that I intend to be consistent on during my presidency.” This is the change I voted for. While I’ve never had inclination or aptitude for military service, those who choose such a career should be able to pursue it. The government, in theory, should be an equal opportunity employer.

And yet, Captain James Pietrangelo of the US Army was fired after 13 years of service; Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, an F-15 fighter pilot, a decorated 18-year veteran of the United States Air Force was tossed out; Lieutenant Dan Choi of the Army National Guard, Arabic linguist, was given the boot. Three colossal wastes of time, training and talent because the Powers That Be did not condone their choice of bed partners while off duty. Since Obama took office, he has not repealed DADT, he has not pushed Congress to repeal it, he has not ceased investigation of new cases, nor has he ended dismissals under the policy. In a review of Pietrangelo’s case, his administration upheld the policy as “rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion.” Under condition of anonymity, a Democratic aide to the Senate Armed Services Committee told Lara Jakes of the AP that a review of DADT was “not a high priority” and that the issue would be looked at some unspecified time before the end of Obama’s term. These servicemen and many others like them have clearly been short-changed.

hope2This morning as we were getting into the car, my partner looked at the copy of Shepard Fairey’s poster hanging in the window and said, “The HOPE poster is fading. There’s something poetic in that.” Indeed. And they all lived hopefully ever after.

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