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This Is What (Re-Election) Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, March 19, 2007

 

Hop On The Bandwagon

Welcome to the bandwagon. Senate Republicans now realize that their own self-preservation rests on actually representing the interests of their constituents and the American people rather than the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores".

"I've told the attorney general that I think this has been mishandled, that by giving inaccurate information ... at the outset, it's caused a real firestorm, and he better get the facts out fast,"
-Senator John Cornyn (REPUBLICAN-TX)

Let's take a look at the senate seats up for grabs in 2008. Well what do you know! Cornyn is up for re-election and he wants his feeble voice heard in the Al Gonzales mess. Someone must have taken a poll somewhere.

How much trouble is the GOP in? Allow me to answer my own, rhetorical question. A Republican Senator from Texas needs to cover his own ass.

As we reported earlier, Senator Patrick Leahy (DEMOCRAT-VT), the Judiciary Committee Chairman wants White House officials to speak, under oath, in front of his committee. I can just see it now...

"Mr. Cheney... Would you like to pause for a glass of water... or to meet with your cardiologist?"

The Bushies aren't sure if they're going to allow the likes of White House Consul Harriet Miers or Presidential advisor (and politics' Satan) Karl Rove to testify yet. I say, as Cheney might put it, F--- 'em! Send them the subpoenas and let the Doofus-in-Chief claim executive privilege to get them out of it. At least in this way we'll all know what they are made up of.

"I want to see exactly what the White House response is," Specter said. "Maybe the White House will come back and say, 'We'll permit them to be interviewed and we'll give them all the records.'"
-Senator Arlen Specter (REPUBLICAN-PA), the former Judiciary Chairman

Isn't it funny that Specter never thought of that before... like when HE was in charge if the Judiciary committee and had the power of subpoena as a tool and a weapon. By the way, the chances that this White House will cooperate with any investigation are two-fold: Slim and none.

Rove needs to testify. He needs to explain emails which urge the president and the Justice Department to replace the federal prosecutors which they put in place, I might add, with those more loyal to the president. (This means that they'd be less loyal to the truth.)

Last week, Senator John Sununu (REPUBLICAN-NH) was the first member of the Greed Over People party to state that AG Gonzales should resign. That would be a great idea, but it won't end the hearings and it shouldn't. This administration needs to be investigated for crimes perpetrated against the American people. Let's start with the AG and end with GW.

-Noah Greenberg



Bush Speaks on the Fourth Anniversary of "Shock and Awe"

BUSH: Prime Minister Maliki and General Petraeus emphasized that the Baghdad security plan is still in its early stages, and success will take months, not days or weeks
MADMAN: that's on top of the 48 months which have passed, so far.

BUSH: The Iraqi government has also lifted restrictions that once prevented Iraqi and coalition forces from going into areas like Sadr City.
MADMAN: In case you all forgot, Sadr City is where the Shi'ite death squads were organized and launched from. The leader of its Mahdi Army, Muqtada al Sadr, a man who Prime Minister al Maliki couldn't stay in power without, is now "vacationing" in Iran.

Now:
BUSH: I want to stress that this operation is still in the early stages, it's still in the beginning stages.
Then:
CHENEY: My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . weeks rather than months.
DONALD RUMSFELD: (then Secretary of State) It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
GENERAL RICHARD MYERS: (then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) A short, short conflict.
KENNETH ADELMAN: (the Pentagon Advisory Board) A cakewalk.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: (then Deputy Defense Secretary) The Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator.
MADMAN: Talk about not getting it or not caring about it. if we're just beginning now, then what were they all talking about then?

BUSH: There's been good progress.
MADMAN: Funny. I bet that al-Qaeda I Iraq could say the same thing

BUSH: They (the US Congress) have a responsibility to pass a clean bill that does not use funding for our troops as leverage to get special interest spending for their districts.
MADMAN: Like Senator Ted Stevens' (REPUBLICAN-AK) bridge to nowhere?

BUSH: And they (the US Congress) have a responsibility to get this bill to my desk without strings and without delay.
MADMAN: Strings=Oversight

BUSH: Prevailing in Iraq is not going to be easy.
MADMAN: (See Above and...) Especially when our troops have to overcome the enemy and the Bush administration

BUSH: I'm grateful to our military families for all the sacrifices they have made for our country. We also hold in our hearts the good men and women who've given their lives in this struggle. We pray for the loved ones they have left behind.
MADMAN: Those would be the "dead" soldiers. Funny how with all of these deaths on their hands, the President and his band of cronies just can't use the word "death" or "killed". After four Years, you'd think they would have abandoned euphemisms by now, or at least be used to the death and the blood that's on their hands.

BUSH: The United States military is the most capable and courageous fighting force in the world. And whatever our differences in Washington, our troops and their families deserve the appreciation and the support of our entire nation.
MADMAN: A good start would be the removal of the most incompetent president, and his cabal of Neo-Cons, whose self interests trump all of the good people of the United States and those who protect them. as soon as possible. It would be a good start to remove those who put politics over people and their safety now. Dont'cha think?

-Noah Greenberg



DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL, DON’T SERVE
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

The French have a saying: “Plus c'est la meme chose, plus ça change,” which means “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

That axiom was certainly proven true by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the most senior military man in the U.S.

On March 12th, Pace said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that he supports the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. Pace said, “ I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.”

The statement by Pace echoes a similar statement made by Colin Powell when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1992. Powell was outraged at newly elected President Bill Clinton’s intention to lift the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. Powell asserted that allowing gays to serve in the military (which they always had done) would “hurt combat efficiency” and lead to disruption in the ranks.

Clinton had vowed during his campaign to permit gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military; lifting the ban was the first action he attempted as president.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was a compromise forced on Clinton by Powell and the military. Powell was the author of DADT which was legislated by Congress and signed into law by Clinton in 1993. Clinton had wanted to totally rescind the ban on gays and lesbians serving; DADT allowed gays and lesbians to serve, but under strict and disturbing guidelines: "Sexual orientation will not be a bar to service unless manifested by homosexual conduct. The military will discharge members who engage in homosexual conduct, which is defined as a homosexual act, a statement that the member is homosexual or bisexual, or a marriage or attempted marriage to someone of the same gender." — quoted in "The Pentagon's New Policy Guidelines on Homosexuals in the Military”

Under the policy, gays and lesbians may serve only if they keep their sexual orientation private and do not engage in homosexual acts. Their commanders may not ask about their orientation.

This means that even men and women who are married in Massachusetts where same sex marriage has been legal for several years, or those joined in civil unions, legal in four states including New Jersey, or those in domestic partnerships, legal in numerous municipalities including Philadelphia and New York, would not be able to disclose those relationships under penalty of being thrown out of the military or court-martialed (10,000 men and women have been ousted under the policy since it was implemented in 1993).

DADT means that gay or lesbian soldiers currently serving in the military–an estimated 65,000 soldiers according to congressional and Pentagon sources--could never discuss their gay or lesbian families or partners like their heterosexual peers do. Nor could they have their partner with them should they be injured.
Consider Eric Alva.

Alva was a Marine Staff Sergeant when he became the first American to be wounded in the war on Iraq. Alva was with a convoy outside Basra on March 21, 2003, when he stepped on a landmine. His right arm was badly damaged and his right leg so severely injured that it had to be amputated above the knee. He now has a prosthetic leg.

Alva was awarded a Purple Heart. He received a medical discharge from the military.

Eric Alva–Marine and Iraq war hero–is gay. And, according to Gen. Pace, “immoral” and “should be prosecuted.”

This is quite a message being sent by Pace to the troops who are already under the stress of fighting an unwinnable war which the Pentagon’s own report declared on March 15th had indeed devolved into a civil war. These are troops who are stressed beyond imagining: Stressed by repeated tours of duty because the military is stretched so thin. Stressed by the knowledge that they do not have the proper equipment to protect themselves from IEDs and RPGs and that the likelihood of them receiving a permanently disabling injury like Alva’s is one in seven. Stressed by the knowledge that if they are injured, they will be sent to the mold- and roach- and rat-infested Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment. Stressed by the knowledge that the Iraq war has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvements in both World War I and World War II.

Add to these stresses the comments of their highest commander: that a significant percentage of them are good enough soldiers to give their lives and limbs for their country, but are considered immoral when it comes to their sexual orientation and should be prosecuted.

Pace did not apologize for his remarks. Nor is he being sent to rehab, like Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington or NBA star Tim Hardaway, whose similar statements were rebuked by their respective employers–ABC and the NBA–in recent months.

Despite the firestorm that his comments generated, Pace would only say “In expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some personal opinions about moral conduct. I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views.”

No equivocation: like so many members of the Bush Administration’s hierarchy, Pace is not sorry for what he said, he’s only sorry his remarks were so widely disseminated.

Naturally, Pace has received no rebuke by the Bush Administration. Rather, his remarks have been applauded by many Republicans, including Republican presidential contenders Sen. Sam Brownback, Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani, who hopes to court both gays and conservatives, declined to comment.

Pace made other comments as well, including: "As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior."

Except gay and lesbian soldiers are not adulterers. They just have a different sexual orientation than their heterosexual peers.

There have been heroic gay and lesbian soldiers in the military for generations. Leonard Matlovich was a Air Force technical sergeant in Vietnam. He received the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He was also gay. In 1975, he decided to fight his discharge from the Air Force for being gay. He won his case in 1980 when a federal judge ordered that he be reinstated.

Matlovich appeared on the cover of Time magazine on September 8, 1975 in full Marine dress.

Matlovich’s case was one of the first to challenge the military ban on gays and lesbians, but far from the last. The Pentagon estimates that $34 million has been spent arguing DADT cases since 1993. Since the policy was enacted and through the 2005 fiscal year, 9,488 service members have been ousted under DADT, according to the Pentagon. Statistics from the 2006 fiscal year are still being compiled, but it is presumed another 800 servicepersons will have been ousted for that year.

The costs of sustaining the ban are far more problematic than mere monetary losses. Consider that during the war on Iraq, the military as ousted more than 300 linguists for being gay or lesbian. The majority of these were proficient in Arabic or Korean, two of the most badly needed languages in today’s military.

One month after the war on Iraq began, the Army dismissed 15 linguists through DADT. Several months later, another ten were dismissed. Several hundred have since been dismissed under DADT.

C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the Service members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) which represents gays and lesbians ousted by DADT, said in a press conference in April 2003, “Our nation faces a serious shortfall in the number of trained professionals who can speak and decipher the languages critical to our national security. The continued firing of lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans who are trained in those languages underscores the detriment of 'don't ask, don't tell' on our nation.”

After Pace’s comments last week, Osburn noted, “I think his comments are inflammatory enough that they will provide a start to the debate [on rescinding DADT].

Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-MA) has sponsored legislation to overturn the law. There are now more than 100 co-sponsors and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) of the Armed Services Committee has both expressed his displeasure with Pace’s comments and voiced his consideration for changing the law.

“I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral,” said Warner, former Secretary of the Navy under Richard Nixon.
Others, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), supported Pace’s comments, insisting that DADT “has been successful and should be maintained,” even though all evidence points to the contrary.

Democratic presidential contenders voiced their disavowal of Pace’s comments, although Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) did not immediately respond and Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) initial statements immediately after Pace’s were far from declarative.

The day after the Pace statements Clinton amended her remarks: “I've heard from a number of my friends and I've certainly clarified with them any misunderstanding that anyone had, because I disagree with General Pace completely. I do not think homosexuality is immoral. But the point I was trying to make is that this policy of DADT is not working. I have been against it for many years because I think it does a grave injustice to patriotic Americans who want to serve their country. And so I have called for its repeal and I'd like to follow the lead of our allies like Great Britain and Israel, and let people who wish to serve their country be able to join and do so. And then let the uniform code of military justice determine if conduct is inappropriate or unbecoming. That's fine. That's what we do with everybody. But let's not be eliminating people because of who they are or who they love.”

Obama followed suit with “I do not agree with General Pace that homosexuality is immoral. Attempts to divide people like this have consumed too much of our politics over the past six years.”

Clinton has led the efforts in the Senate to repeal DADT, a move with which Obama is in agreement.

How much damage DADT has done is evidenced by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY): “According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 300 language experts have been fired under DADT, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. This when even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently acknowledged the nation's ‘foreign language deficit’ and how much our government needs Farsi and Arabic speakers. Is there a ‘straight’ way to translate Arabic? Is there a ‘gay’ Farsi? My God, we'd better start talking sense before it is too late. We need every able-bodied, smart patriot to help us win this war.”

Simpson’s remarks don’t merely resonate, they reflect the growing comprehension by even far-right wing Republicans like Simpson that DADT is wrong, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t make sense. That the leading Republican candidates for president and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff don’t understand this speaks volumes about why the U.S. is now going into its fourth year of an unwinnable and wholly irresponsible war.

Gen. John M. Shalikashvili was chairman of the Joint Chiefs when DADT was first adopted. In January, Shalikashvili wrote an Op-Ed column for the New York Times in which he said that conversations with military personnel had led him to change his mind about the policy’s efficacy and that “gay soldiers and marines” had shown him that “gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers [within the military]. I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.”

There is much immoral about today’s military, but gay and lesbian soldiers and marines are not the problem.

Torture is a problem.

On March 15th, Guantanamo detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed insisted that he had been responsible for the planning of 9/11 and other terrorist actions against the U.S. But Mohammed also said he had been tortured. (NPR and BBC noted that transcripts of his testimony had those passages deleted.)

Does Pace think torture is moral?
 
On March 6th, Lewis “Scooter” Libby was found guilty in the Plamegate affair which exposed the fact that the President at best misrepresented and at worst lied about whether nuclear material was sold to Iraq prior to Bush taking the nation to war.

The war was predicated on lies–does Pace find that immoral?

What about the immorality of sending more and more troops with less and less equipment? What about the immorality of wounded soldiers coming home to face filthy conditions in the nation’s VA hospitals and bureaucratic red tape that has sent hundreds into bankruptcy? What about the immorality of expecting soldiers and marines to lie about who they are while they fight and then discharges them when they have finished serving?

DADT was a failed idea from the start which Powell should never have devised, Congress should never have legislated and President Clinton should never have signed into law. It is a punitive, vicious, retrograde law that has no place in our military.

Gen. Pace did every soldier and marine a disservice with his remarks. Every member of our military deserves the same respect; none should be treated as second-class.

Pace should be forced to apologize. He should be forced to stand on his two legs before Eric Alva and all the other gay men and lesbians who have lost limbs and sight and hearing and parts of their brain fighting in this war and apologize for treating them as less than what they are: brave men and women serving their country.

Despite the offensiveness and egregiousness of his comments, what Pace said has been an effective political tool: it has made clear how many people think this policy is wrong and how out of touch with the nation those few who still support it are.

It’s time to recognize that gay men and lesbians have been serving America for generations under stresses their fellow soldiers and marines have not faced. It is time to accord the Alvas and others who have served with the respect they deserve. It is time to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell. Our military should be a bridge to diversity, not the last bastion of segregation and bigotry.


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-Noah Greenberg