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Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama

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Editor’s note:

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has started a new campaign to increase public awareness of the terrible impact “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has on servicemembers, their families, and their friends. Every weekday for the next few weeks, until the Defense Authorization Bill is complete, we’ll publish a letter from someone, often a servicemember, possibly someone discharged under DADT, to help Americans understand the tremendous effect this unjust law has on those putting their lives on the line to defend American values.

Via SLDN:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), today launched “Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama,” a new media campaign to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal DADT. Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law. We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.

“This is a critical hour as we’re very close to reaching the 15 votes needed to include repeal to the Defense Authorization bill,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “We are just two or three votes away and we urge the President to engage now and help us line up key votes still needed to get DADT repealed this year. By people sharing their personal stories on how this terrible law has impacted them, we can send a powerful message to the President and our own community as we build momentum going into this crucial vote.”

The campaign began yesterday, with its first letter by someone you probably have heard of: United States Air Force Major Mike Almy, who has appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show.

I’m publishing his very powerful letter here, and then later today I’ll publish another letter to President Obama.

April 26, 2010

President Barack H. Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

If you end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), I’d re-enlist the day you sign repeal into law.

For thirteen years, I served in the United States Air Force where I attained the rank of major before I was discharged under DADT.

As the Senate Armed Services Committee considers including repeal in the Defense Authorization bill, we’re very close — just two or three votes — to passing repeal in committee. I ask for you to voice your support to put us over the top.

I come from a family with a rich legacy of military service. My father is a West Point graduate who taught chemistry at the Air Force Academy, flew helicopters in Vietnam, and ultimately retired as a senior officer from the Air Force. One of my uncles retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant from the Marine Corps, with service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Another uncle served in the Army in Korea.

Growing up, I didn’t really know what civilians did, I just knew I would follow in my father’s footsteps and become a military officer.

I joined Air Force ROTC in 1988 and was awarded a scholarship. I earned my jump wings in 1991. In 1992, I graduated from ROTC in the top 10% of all graduates nationwide. In 1993, I went on active duty, just as DADT was becoming a law.

Stationed in Oklahoma, I was named officer of the year for my unit of nearly 1,000 people. Later, I was one of six officers selected from the entire Air force to attend Professional Military Education at Quantico, Virginia.

During my career, I deployed to the Middle East four times. In my last deployment, I led a team of nearly 200 men and women to operate and maintain the systems used to control the air space over Iraq. We came under daily mortar attacks, one of which struck one of my Airmen and also caused significant damage to our equipment. Towards the end of this deployment to Iraq, I was named one of the top officers in my career field for the entire Air Force.

In the stress of a war zone, the Air Force authorized us to use our work email accounts for “personal or morale purposes” because private email accounts were blocked for security.

Shortly after I left Iraq — during a routine search of my computer files — someone found that my “morale” was supported by the person I loved — a man.

The email — our modern day letter home — was forwarded to my commander.

I was relieved of my duties, my security clearance was suspended and part of my pay was terminated.

In my discharge proceeding, several of my former troops wrote character reference letters for me, including one of my squadron commanders. Their letters expressed their respect for me as an officer, their hope to have me back on the job and their shock at how the Air Force was treating me.

Approximately a year after I was relieved of my duties, my Wing Commander recommended I be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, even though the Air Force was actively pursuing my discharge.

But instead, after 16 months, I was given a police escort off the base as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security. The severance pay I received was half of what it would have been had I been separated for any other reason.

Despite this treatment, my greatest desire is still to return to active duty as an officer and leader in the United States Air Force, protecting the freedoms of a nation that I love; freedoms that I myself was not allowed to enjoy while serving in the military.

Mr. President, I want to serve. Please fulfill your promise to repeal DADT and give me that chance.

Thank you,

Major Mike Almy

United States Air Force

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FASCISM

‘Just Shoot Them’: Trump Told Top US General to ‘Crack Skulls’ and ‘Beat the F’ Out of Civil Rights Protestors: New Book

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President Donald Trump told America’s highest-ranking general and top law enforcement officials to “shoot” civil rights protestors in Seattle and Portland, “crack their skulls,” and “beat the f–k” out of them, according to a new book by a Wall Street Journal reporter.

“The President would highlight videos that showed law enforcement getting physical with protesters and tell his administration he wanted to see more of that behavior,” CNN reports, citing excerpts from Michael Bender’s book, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.”

“That’s how you’re supposed to handle these people,” Trump told his top law enforcement and military officials, according to Bender. “Crack their skulls!”

Trump also told his team that he wanted the military to go in and “beat the f–k out” of the civil rights protesters, Bender writes.

“Just shoot them,” Trump said on multiple occasions inside the Oval Office, according to the excerpts.

But Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley (photo, right) refused, Bender reveals, with Milley and Attorney General Bill Barr often finding themselves the only ones willing to push back against the president.

General Milley, who made headlines Wednesday after delivering a stunning lecture on critical race theory and “wokeness” to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who was not pleased by it, also pushed back against Trump senior advisor, white supremacist Stephen Miller.

During one Oval Office debate, senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller chimed in, equating the scenes unfolding on his television to those in a third-world country and claiming major American cities had been turned into war zones.

“These cities are burning,” Miller warned, according to the excerpts.

The comment infuriated Milley, who viewed Miller as not only wrong but out of his lane, Bender writes, noting the Army general who had commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan spun around in his seat and pointed a finger directly at Miller.

“Shut the f–k up, Stephen,” Milley snapped, according to the excerpts.

Read the entire report at CNN.

 

Image of President Trump and General Milley: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COMPETENCY?

‘No Time to Waste’: DeSantis Blasted for Going on Fox News as Biden and Miami Mayor Urge Him to Request State of Emergency

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Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis is taking time to pose for the cameras and talk to Fox News in the wake of the stunning partial building collapse that more than 12 hours later has left 99 people missing, and feared dead.

DeSantis reportedly added an interview with far right Fox News host Mark Levin to his calendar for Thursday.

President Joe Biden during a news conference announcing a bipartisan agreement on, appropriately, an infrastructure bill on-camera Thursday afternoon urged the Florida Republican governor to ask for a declaration of a state of emergency, but DeSantis has yet to do so – nor has he declared a state of emergency himself for the Surfside disaster. President Biden appears to have ordered FEMA to Florida to assess the situation, which is the most they are allowed to do until the governor acts.

Also urging DeSantis to request a state of emergency declaration is Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who says “there is no time to waste.”

Apparently DeSantis believes there is, and many are blasting the likely 2024 GOP presidential hopeful.

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NOT AN EXPERT

Watch: MSNBC’s Joy Reid Takes Down Architect of the Critical Race Theory Culture War in Epic Debate

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MSNBC host Joy Reid took on Christopher Rufo, the think-tank “scholar” who claimed to be an expert on race because he works as a “scholar” at a conservative think tank. Speaking Wednesday, Reid got him to confess that he’s neither an expert in race nor in law, which is where the idea of critical race theory is generally taught.

Rufo claimed that Reid was attacking him on air, which she corrected, saying that she was doing nothing more than reading the quote from his own documents.

Reid began by asking at what point “critical race theory” was invented, and he didn’t know, saying sometime in the 1980s or 1990s. Reid cited the Harvard University paper in which it was first mentioned in 1981 by Professor Derrick Bell, who died in 2011.

She cited Rufo’s “documentary” on critical race theory that cites professors or professorial types who he admits are academics who he claims are replacing equality with equity, which is a conservative charge Reid said she’s been hearing since she was in high school. “To ending individual property rights and even to committing reverse genocide or calling for reverse genocide.”

Rufo said that it wasn’t true, which is when Reid said she would play the clip if Rufo allowed her to do it, but he wouldn’t. He said that the term is counter genocide, a genocide perpetrated in retaliation to another genocide.

Rufo claims in his talking points that the father of critical race theory was Ibram X. Kendi, who told Reid that he wasn’t a critical race theorist.

“I admire critical race theory but I don’t identify as a critical race theorist. I’m not a legal scholar, so I wasn’t trained on critical race theory,” Kendi said. “I’m a historian and Chris would know that if he actually read my work or understood that critical race theory is taught in law schools. I didn’t attend law school.”

Rufo began to complain that Reid was citing things and not letting him answer, but she explained she wanted to go through her list of disputes.

Rufo claimed that he wasn’t a political operative, but Reid rolled a video of Rufo speaking at the Claremont Institute on May 18 in which he called critical race theory a political “cudgel,” meaning a giant political weapon. He went on to supplement his point by quoting Barbara Applebaum, who he said was a critical race theorist. She’s, in fact, listed as being trained in philosophy and education and “her research is heavily influenced by feminist ethics, feminist philosophy, and critical race theory.”

He also quoted American author Robin DiAngelo who did her thesis on whiteness in racial dialogues. She also is an education professor, not a critical theorist, according to her website.

“There are these very pathetic and very angry graduate students who try to fight me on these highly technical haggle interpretations,” said Rufo. “I don’t have time for this. Like I don’t give a sh*t.”

Reid noted that there again explains that critical race theory isn’t something being taught in kindergarten, it’s a graduate-level conversation among academics.

His argument fell apart from there.

See the videos below:

 

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