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.” Â 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 â€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€™ policy by the Defense Department. Â 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 Â 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,” Â 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 Â event the story ain’t going away anytime soon.
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‘Corruption of the Highest Order’: Experts ‘Sickened’ at ‘Definitely Bought’ Clarence Thomas and His ‘Pay to Play’ Lifestyle
Legal and political experts are expressing outrage and disgust after ProPublica’s latest investigation into the alleged unethical and unlawful actions of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, with some demanding his resignation and others calling it “corruption of the highest level,” “Pay. To. Play.,” and one simply saying, “This sickens me.”
“Is Clarence Thomas the most corrupt Supreme Court justice in our history? One of the most corrupt senior officials in our history? There is no doubt any more,” writes David Rothkopf, the foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator.
ProPublica is the nonprofit journalism organization that has exposed multiple instances of what experts have said is Justice Thomas’ corruption, abuse of ethics, contributions to the destruction of the high court’s reputation, and actual violations of federal law. Justice Thomas has either not commented or denied any wrongdoing.
“Clarence Thomas Secretly Participated in Koch Network Donor Events,” is the headline on Friday’s installment from ProPublica, which reveals: “Thomas has attended at least two Koch donor summits, putting him in the extraordinary position of having helped a political network that has brought multiple cases before the Supreme Court.”
The Koch network is a right-wing group of political organizations founded by “the Koch Brothers,” Charles and his late brother David.
“One of the Koch network’s most powerful allies,” is how ProPublica’s latest, lengthy investigation describes Justice Thomas The report begins with his arrival in Palm Springs International Airport to attend a “long weekend” that for Koch network members and supporters would include “strategizing, relaxation in the California sun and high-dollar fundraising.”
“The justice was brought in to speak, staffers said, in the hopes that such access would encourage donors to continue giving.”
“That puts Thomas in the extraordinary position of having served as a fundraising draw for a network that has brought cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most closely watched of the upcoming term.”
That case, ProPublica reports, is one that could greatly benefit Koch and America’s ultra-wealthy.
“The Koch network is among the largest and most influential political organizations of the last half century, and it’s underwritten a far-reaching campaign to influence the course of American law. In a case the Supreme Court will hear this coming term, the justices could give the network a historic victory: limiting federal agencies’ power to issue regulations in areas ranging from the environment to labor rights to consumer protection. After shepherding the case to the court, Koch network staff attorneys are now asking the justices to overturn a decades-old precedent. (Thomas used to support the precedent but flipped his position in recent years.)”
As with most of ProPublica’s investigations, this report includes both allegations of illegal actions and unethical behaviors.
Experts are voicing concern.
“Clarence Thomas might not be the finest Justice money can buy, but he’s definitely bought,” charges Moe Davis, the well-known retired U.S. Air Force colonel, attorney, educator, politician, and former administrative law judge.
Former federal prosecutor and legal commentator Mimi Rocah, who is now he elected District Attorney for Westchester County, New York expressed disgust.
“As a public servant who sacrifices donor $ (I don’t take donations from elected officials, PBAs, or attorneys with cases before my office), b/c I believe the justice system should be free from even the appearance of political influence, this sickens me.”
“Thomas and his billionaire pals have trashed the court’s reputation,” observed author Mark Jacob, a former Chicago Tribune editor.
“Corruption of the highest order,” is how Heather Cox Richardson, the well-known historian, author and professor of history described Justice Thomas’ alleged actions. “Personally, I’d go right to resign. It’s long overdue. And I’d revisit the cases he’s decided—including Citizens United and Shelby v Holder, which together handed our democracy to the rich—while we’re at it.”
“Does Justice go better with Koch?” mocked Jane Mayer, the award-winning author and investigative reporter at The New Yorker. “Clarence Thomas will judge a momentous case this term affecting all federal regulations after secretly partying for years with involved polluters.”
Journalist and conspiracy theory expert Mike Rothschild wrote: “Clarence Thomas hanging out with the Kochs and Harlan Crow at Bohemian Grove. No human sacrifice, no devil worship, just some old rich dudes scheming to take rights away from the rest of us. The conspiracy is in plain sight, and it doesn’t bother hiding.”
New York Times bestselling author, legal expert and senior editor at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick summed it up: “Pay. To. Play.”
‘Total Nonsense’: Joe Scarborough Pours Cold Water on Panic Over Kamala Harris in 2024
On Friday morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough rushed to Vice President Kamala Harris’ defense over hand-wringing in some Democratic quarters that Pressident Joe Biden should boot her as his running mate in On Friday morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough launched into a full-throated defense of Vice President Kamala Harris, stating that she should absolutely remain President Joe Biden’s running mate in 2024.
According Scarborough, a former Republican who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the panic in some Democratic quarters over Harris is “total nonsense.”
“Well, there is this undercurrent, like she’s black and a woman, and that’s why people don’t like her because she’s a vice president. ‘What are we going to do? We need to change her.!” the aggravated “Morning Joe” host began. “I just go, where were you when Dan Quayle was vice president? Where were you? Nobody remembers this.”
“Every vice president, we hear this all the time: ‘Change your vice presidents,'” he continued. “I’m here to say, it’s total nonsense. Nobody has ever voted against any presidential candidate because of who their vice president was.”
“If you look at Kamala’s numbers, they’re not that far off from where every other mocked and ridiculed and loathed vice president has been,” he concluded.
‘Sexy’: Comer Obtains Unredacted Emails to VP Biden Revealing Women ‘Privately Mused’ They Found Him Attractive
Amid the chaos of what top Democrats are calling the GOP House’s “civil war,” infighting that threatens to shut down the federal government in nine days, Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer has been obtaining some of then-Vice President Joe Biden‘s emails from the National Archives.
Politico reveals Chairman Comer has been able to obtain several unreacted emails, including one which relayed a tidbit of hearsay, or, “private musings,” from 2009, after an overseas trip Biden took: “multiple” women said they found the Vice President “sexy.”
The emails “include schedules with ordinary family get-togethers,” Politico adds. “One shows Biden had lunch with Hunter Biden’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan. Another reveals that the Ukrainians were praising his now-deceased brother, Beau. And then there are the private musings of multiple Georgian women saying they found Joe Biden ‘sexy’ during a 2009 trip that also included a stop in Ukraine.”
“’Must-read email below,’ read an email forwarded by Biden’s then-national security adviser Tony Blinken to Joe Biden and his sons, Hunter and Beau. The email’s subject line: ‘Biden as new Georgian sex symbol.'”
Other emails from the National Archives’ trove include a “June 14, 2016 schedule card shows Biden was to meet with the prime minister of Ukraine. The newly unredacted portions show he was also scheduled to work out with his personal trainer, and to dine with Hunter’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan, in the vice president’s office.”
Politico, noting that “Republicans have yet to turn up direct evidence that Joe Biden benefited personally or that he took any official action as a result of those [Hunter Biden’s] connections, also reveals a “May, 27, 2016 schedule card includes a call with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Hunter Biden was copied on the day’s schedule. It’s already been reported that Biden was also due to attend the one-year anniversary of the passing of his son, Beau, back home in Delaware.”
“Comer had been pointing to this scheduling item, since it was also emailed to then-Vice President Biden under a pseudonym email address. Comer even said the vice president was sending a secret message to his son that he was about to fire the prosecutor. As recently as last week, Comer included that email on a list of ‘evidence’ of Joe Biden’s ‘involvement in his family’s influence peddling schemes.'”
Politico also notes that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy “and his allies insisted that opening a formal impeachment inquiry would empower them to dig deeper. Yet the emails are another example of the House GOP failing to turn up evidence they’ve assured the public exists and that will implicate Biden in some form of corruption that rises to an impeachable offense.”
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