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DADT: Gates’ Statement Backfires, Why Pelosi’s Response Is Huge

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Editor’s note:

This guest post by Scott Wooledge was originally published at Daily Kos today and is published here with his permission. Scott Wooledge writes at the Daily Kos under the handle Clarknt67.

At this point the fight surrounding the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has shifted. Settled is the question of whether it should stay or go. Joint Chief of Staff Mike Mullen effectively delivered the last word in that debate when he said in Senate testimony:

“Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me personally, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”

But a debate rages on, centering on how repeal should be pursued, legislatively. Gates attempted to shut down a growing movement calling for repeal now, not later. His strong arm-tactic may have backfired. Why after the fold and why Pelosi’s statement of support should not be under-appreciated.

There are two legislative strategy camps: let’s call them “the attachers” and the “stallers.”

The attachers want to attach the repeal language to the military spending budget being marked up in the House and the Senate this month. This is a smart move as it will essentially makes repeal-filibuster proof. It’s smart politics, too, as it will provides a lot of “cover” for conservadems who will not want to vote for DADT out on the open floor of a stand alone bill strategy.

And then there’s the “stallers” camp. They want to vote “later…” (they won’t really say when). We see a timeframe in Marc Ambinder’s piece in the Atlantic of “late 2010, early 2011,” which seems blithely unaware that there may well be a very different Congress sitting in “early 2011” than there is in “late 2010.”  And absent a military budget to attach repeal to, one presumes this measure would be pursued by stand alone? Anyone know? Because I haven’t seen anyone advocating “vote later…” articulate an actual legislative plan.

Informed and invested repeal advocates recognize a standalone bill strategy as pure madness. It will require every Democrat in the Senate and 1 GOP. It just isn’t realistic to think that can happen. Congress is just not that into teh gays, even many Democrats.

Now, why Gates’ statementyesterday urging Congress not to act in this session, may well have been a major backfire in tamping down the “Repeal in 2010” movement.

Gates prompted Nancy Pelosi to post the following statement on her House Speaker website. And please note, it is a press release, not some backroom, anonymous source. It’s a direct hit, meant to be heard far and wide:

“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.”

Repeal bill lead sponsor Patrick Murphy (PA) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) also immediately piped up their respectful dissent on Gates’ directive. Now, those aren’t new positions for either of them. But added to Pelosi, it is now a story. Like kind of, like, a big story. Like kind of a big story the media can’t and won’t ignore, which they’ve mostly done up until now.

Media apathy was allowing the dates this month for military attachment  to quietly pass with little or no comment. Drawing attention to this time period was the whole point of the civil disobedience events and the heckling of the President. Activists hoped to prod the media to look up for just a tiny moment and report on the sausage making process behind repeal and report reality.

And now, we have a full blown STORY on our hands: Gillibrand, Murphy, Pelosi vs. Gates & Obama. Epic battle! And it squares nicely with the media’s favorite topic: “Dems in disarray!” which is catnip to them. And there have been previous reports of Democrats disagreeing on this.

It’s possible in the coming weeks, the media might choose to dissect the strategies that repeal might take. And the chattering class is very likely to weigh in that the prospect of passing a stand alone bill in the lame duck session, as Marc Ambinder suggested was the alternative plan, is just not realistic. And finally someone other than the LGBT community will be saying that.

To deconstruct Pelosi’s statement we find while it is very brief it is very aggressive toward the administration.

And perhaps it’s no wonder. Obama promised repealing the policy in the campaign, over and over. He collected votes, money and volunteers on that goal. And now Nancy Pelosi is one of two Congressional leaders who are ultimately tasked with delivering repeal legislation to Obama’s desk.

And she’s not a dummy.

She knows military attachment to this year’s spending budget is the easiest, least painful, most surefire path to success. And that’s her job, to map out legislative strategies that are most likely to succeed and the least likely to leave blood on the battlefield. And Gates’ statement, and the White House ambivalence, completely undermine her ability to do that.

And she–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-SF)–will feel the heat both locally and nationally should repeal efforts fail. Locally she’s sure to catch hell and be looking at a very painful midterm season.

Nationally, the buck for legislative repeal stops at her desk. She can’t do it all, but it’s her job to guide that legislation through the most successful path. And when bills fail, it is the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader who are held accountable for failures. “Oh, if only they could do their job better, the votes would be there!”

There are a few other points that make a rather uncomfortable public optics for the White House. The inclusion of word “immediately” is very interesting.

First of all it’s a welcome sound, she’s essentially saying: “DADT must end, it must end now!” Up until this point, for the most part, the only people saying that were in the LGBT community.

The implied threat that she’d like to see executive action “immediately” sounds me she’s actually owning her responsibility to solve the problem. And telling the White House, if you don’t stop discharges “immediately,”  we’re going right ahead as we’ve been planning, Gates letter or not.

And she’s also refocusing the responsibility back at the administration: Pelosi has introduced the topic stop-loss, or DOD prerogative to administer DADT investigations as a means of ending DADT.

In doing so she threatens to robbed administration of a favorite dodge for owning the policy’s continuation 15 months into the Obama Presidency. Her executive action suggestion will be dissected and discussed, and people will conclude, it is a correct reading of the law. Obama does have the power to end discharges, but he has not exercised it. And as the months and years of discharges drag on, it will become an increasing problem for him, politically and morally.

Now, perhaps recognizing a full-blown disaster in the making, White House issues a release that, doesn’t really agree with Gates, don’t really disagree. Like nearly everything they’ve said about DADT, no one can really arrive at a consensus about what it’s really saying.

The press silence on this story has been it’s death knell, a sudden surge of interest could be it’s resurrection. Just yesterday, I was griping to a friend that even Daily Kos, had thus far, mostly not Front Paged any stories examining with any detail, the “attachment” vs. “stallers” debate. Now, just last night, we saw three in a matter of hours. (The lone previous example I can think of was Dante Atkins story. Unfortunately his tacit endorsement of GetEQUAL’s more controversial attention grabbing tactics distracted most who read it from listening to his serious and correct assessment of the political and legislative realities that brought him to the conclusion.)

And maybe the press will report that “Waiting for the study,” is a dodge and not a very convincing one. We just passed health insurance reform bill that has provisions that don’t take effect until 2014. There is no reason to pretend we cannot pass a repeal law that similarly, goes into effect at a later date. Congress does this all the time.

There is a reasonable offer on the table to vote in 2010 for repeal, with a delayed implementation until after the study is complete. The policy can be sunset for sometime in 2011. The major LGBT lobbying groups including Human Rights Campaign,Servicemembers Unitedand the Servicemembers Legal Defense Networkhave indicated they are amendable to such a compromise. And my sense is, the grassroots will be too.

To avert this compromise, the stallers camp has to find a way to make the story go away. And I find it a little hilarious, in response to Chris Geidner of the LGBT news organization, DC Agenda inquiry about the White House reaction to Gates, Marc Ambinder tweeted:

@chrisgeidner all I know is that letter took WH by surprise. Working on more.

So I guess we may see them running with the idea that the Secretary of Defense issuing marching orders to Congress yesterday was a freelance project.

And with tomorrow’s GetEQUAL protest  event the story ain’t going away anytime soon.

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News

Rick Scott’s IVF Pledge Using His Own Grandkids Slammed as ‘Lie’ by Democrats

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U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), running for re-election and running to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican Leader, has put out a new seven-figure ad that uses his children and grandchildren as he pledges to protect in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but Democrats in the Sunshine State are accusing him of lying.

“My wife Ann and I have two daughters and seven perfect grandkids. Each is a precious gift from God. But sometimes families need help. Millions of babies have come into this world from IVF, in-vitro fertilization. In fact, our youngest daughter’s receiving an IVF treatment right now, hoping to expand her family. She and I both agree IVF must be protected. For our family, for every family,” Senator Scott says in his latest ad he’s also posted to social media (below).

Democrats are calling Sen. Scott out for what they say is a lie.

On Thursday, Scott voted against the Right to IVF Act, Democratic legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who blasted him on Friday: “You literally voted against my bill to protect IVF yesterday.”

READ MORE: Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked Duckworth’s bill in a 48-47 vote. Only two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats for the legislation.

“Rick Scott voted against protecting access to IVF — a miracle treatment that has allowed millions of Americans to start families,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement that also includes his voting record and statements on IVF and other issues including abortion. “Scott has made it crystal clear that he will stop at nothing to rip away personal decisions from women and their families — and it will cost him his Senate seat.”

“Scott previously blocked legislation to protect IVF treatment that was introduced in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that stored embryos have the same legal protections as children,” the Florida Democratic Party statement also reads. “Scott is now trying to cover up his anti-IVF record by touting an ’empty, symbolic’ resolution that would do nothing to actually protect IVF and spending millions to lie to Floridians about his phony support for IVF.”

The Florida Phoenix last week reported, “Scott, a Republican, will likely face former South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November. Both candidates must get through their respective party primary elections in August.”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

“Mucarsel-Powell has been relentless in criticizing Scott’s record on abortion rights. Last week, her campaign issued a statement noting that the Scott had received an “A+” rating from Students for Life Action, an anti-abortion organization that opposes IVF.”

Political consultant Dana Houle observed, “If you’re running ads trying to convince people you’re not opposed to IVF (which in effect he is, since he voted against protecting it) you’re in pretty big trouble. It’s crazy to think that it’s likely that one of the decisive events of the 2024 campaign occurred in Alabama.”

That also appears to be the position of Florida Democratic Party executive director Phillip Jerez, who responded to Scott’s ad by asking, “Didn’t you vote AGAINST the IVF bill in the Senate yesterday?”

“Rick Scott is now putting up this 7-figure ad because he needs to work OVERTIME to lie to Floridians,” Jerez added. “He’s never won an election by more than 1% and never in a presidential year. Rick Scott is in trouble.”

David Simon, the well-known author, journalist, and screenwriter known for his colorful language, also responded to Sen. Scott: “Shitheel, you voted against the bill to protect IVF and then ran out to tweet this horseshit the next day. Even by our American standards of grifting, empty political hacks, this is wondrous.”

See Sen. Scott’s ad above or at this link.

RELATED: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

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Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

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In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, an accessory used in America’s most-deadly mass shooting, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

“The Supreme Court just effectively legalized machine guns,” is the headline of Ian Millhiser’s report at Vox. He says Friday’s ruling “effectively legalizes civilian ownership of automatic weapons.”

“Bump stocks increase an AR-15’s rate of fire from 180 rounds per minute to 400-800 rounds per minute,” explained Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, in response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. “They inflict mass carnage by allowing the gunman to shoot automatically, without pulling the trigger. Yet the Supreme Court declares that they do not create a ‘machinegun.’ ”

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Legal and gun experts might delve in to the mechanics of what makes a gun a gun, what makes a machine gun a machine gun, add in the conservative justices’ “textualism” and “originalism” theories where words are supposed to only mean what they meant when the Constitution, or, in this case, a law was written, but as Stern and Aaron Fritschner, the deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman discussed (social media post below), the Supreme Court appears, they say, to have interpreted the plain language of words differently than their plain meaning to reach the conclusion they did:

Indeed, as senior advisor to the nonprofit organization Court Accountability and self-described “lapsed lawyer” Mike Sacks noted, in her dissent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

Sacks adds, “Sotomayor calls out *every* *single* *one* *of* *her* *Republican* *colleagues* for abandoning their textualist ‘principle,’ in a paragraph that concludes, “Today, the majority forgets that principle and substitutes its own view of what constitutes a “machinegun” for Congress’s.”

Berkeley professor of public policy and former Cabinet Secretary Robert Reich wrote, “Koch-backed groups called on SCOTUS to overturn the federal bump stock ban. Clarence Thomas secretly attended Koch fundraising events, but of course didn’t recuse from this case — he wrote the majority opinion. Our nation’s highest court is beyond compromised.”

NBC News reported in December of 2018 that Donald Trump “had urged the federal government to ban bump stocks this past spring following a deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. However, the device gained notoriety when a lone gunman killed 59 people and injured at least 527 others attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, had 22 semi-automatic rifles and 14 of them were equipped with bump stocks. They allowed him to fire the rifles continuously with a single pull of the trigger, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

That shooting to this day remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern day history.

See the social media posts above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

 

 

 

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OPINION

‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

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Donald Trump’s first return to Capitol Hill since the violent and deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection he fomented elicited responses of celebratory embrace, near-coronation, and a whitewashing of history from House and Senate Republicans and some of the mainstream media. That has critics sounding the alarm, likening their remarks to those of the subjects of authoritarian dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Trump is the Republican Party’s presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, a convicted felon awaiting sentencing who remains criminally indicted and out on bail in three other jurisdictions, an adjudicated rapist and fraudster who has been credibly accused by at least 18 to 23 or more women of varying degrees of sexual misconduct including harassment, assault, and rape, who allegedly had sex with a Playboy Bunny, and a porn star, the latter just four months after his third and current wife had given birth to their four-month old son.

He is a one-term, twice impeached ex-president who made over 30,000 “false or misleading claims” during his four years in the Oval Office, whose “inept and insufficient” response was in part responsible for about 40% of the COVID-19 pandemic deaths in the U.S., according to a February 2021 study that deemed them preventable.

And as of today, Donald Trump is 78 years old, and the subject of a New Yorker column published Friday alleging “age-related diminishment of a candidate.”

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The ex-president met with House Republicans Thursday morning at the same restaurant where a pipe bomb was found outside on January 6, 2021. It’s just a seven-minute walk from the halls of Congress, where many of those same lawmakers who were jovially dining with and cheering on Trump, had huddled, hunkered-down, and fled through that centuries-old symbol of American democracy, afraid for their lives as supporters of the then-Commander-in-Chief – some of whom have said in court documents they believed were acting under his instructions – attacked the U.S. Capitol building and police, used the American flag as a spear, defecated on the walls, broke windows, damaged, destroyed, and stole U.S. Government property, hunted for the Democratic Speaker of the House, calling her by name, and hunted for the Republican Vice President, chanting their threats to “hang Mike Pence,” in a coordinated effort to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election he had lost by over seven million votes, and 74 Electoral College votes.

None of that matters now to the people’s elected representatives of the Republican Party in the House and Senate.

U.S. Senator, venture capitalist, and former “Never Trumper,” J.D. Vance (R-OH) on Thursday, walking in Washington, D.C. after he and nearly all of the Republican Senators met with Donald Trump and gave him a 30-second standing ovation, told reporters the GOP has absolved Trump of guilt and responsibility for the deadly insurrection three years ago.

“Well look, I think no real Republican with any credibility in the party is still blaming him for January the 6th. Frankly, some of his critics were in the room (Thursday) and were supportive and are supportive. So I think it’s a good thing and the Republican Party’s in a good place.”

After House Republicans had breakfast with Trump, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, criticized for apparently not remembering Congress is a co-equal brach of the U.S. government and Donald Trump is no longer a leader of any branch of government, glowingly bragged the ex-president “said I’m doing a very good job.”

Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman, blasted Senate Republicans after they met with Trump, saying they “just rolled the red carpet out and welcomed him back with smiles and handshakes.”

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

He posted a photo of Trump warmly shaking hands with Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who reportedly had not spoken to Trump since before the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S Capitol, and on that day declared him “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection.

Journalist and Public Notice founder Aaron Rupar posted a “supercut” of Republicans responding to Trump’s visit, also likening their embrace to how subjects speak of dictators.

Award-winning Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall praised Rupar and blasted Republicans: “For all the ‘triumphant returns’ and ‘Trumps flexes’ and all the rest I don’t think anyone beside @atrupar really captured it. This was Pyongyang in the Rotunda. The maniacal clapping in unison, MTG almost breaking down in tears cuz Trump smiled at her. Total North Korea vibe.”

Critics are slamming not only House and Senate Republicans, but the mainstream media’s coverage, especially a social media post by the Associated Press, which declared Trump’s return to D.C. “triumphant,” a term often reserved for a conquering or undefeated hero.

Veteran journalist and D.C. Bureau Chief of Mother Jones, David Corn, co-author of the 2018 book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” criticized the AP’s post, saying: “Sounds like a North Korean report.”

Award-winning journalist Steve Silberman called the AP’s post, “an instant candidate for the Museum of American Fascism.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Buttigieg on Martha-Ann Alito: Flags Symbolizing Love vs. Insurrection Are Different

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