Sunday, December 19, 2010

Truth, Justice and The American Way

Yesterday the United States Senate voted to void the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law. The House did it earlier in the week and now it heads to the desk of the President for signing. Once the law is implemented the young men and women who put their lives on the line daily for my right to blog and your right not to read my blog will no longer have to hide their true nature.

I want to thank Senator Specter and Senator Casey for voting yes.

Which brings up the question.

Should we be thanking people for doing the right thing?

Or, should we just expect them to?

Either way the law was changed yesterday by the people’s representatives and not the courts, which is the way it should be.


Can I please get married?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

I learned about the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke from Martha Stewart. I was reading my Twitter time line and it was her tweet that gave me the news that we all sensed was coming. I don’t mean to turn the death of Mr. Holbrooke into one of those “Where were you when you heard the news” moments and I don’t mean to mock the death of this American hero but it is somehow fitting that Martha Stewart would be break the news to me.

Ambassador Holbrooke lived in the rarefied world that is the inhabited by “The Elites” and I am not using Elites as a derisive term the way Sarah Palin refers to anyone with an education or influence or who has read a book. A great culture needs it’s elites for those geeky history buffs from small cities in Pennsylvania to admire and aspire to become.

Richard Holbrooke was born and raised in New York City the child of Jewish parents who fled the Holocaust but chose to raise their child as a Quaker in order to expand his world view. He is a graduate of both Brown and Princeton. A few weeks after his graduation Mr. Holbrooke answered the clarion call from his generations most shining light, John F. Kennedy. Mr. Holbrooke entered the Foreign Service and within a year he was fluent in Vietnamese and sent off to that hot-spot. Within 6 years he was participating in the Paris peace talks. During the early 70’s he left the Foreign Service and became the managing editor of the very influential Foreign Policy magazine and contributed to Newsweek. During the Carter administration he served as Assistant Secretary of State. Bill Clinton then appointed him Ambassador to Germany and then promoted him Assistant Secretary for Canada and Europe. There is a revolving door in the foreign policy business and Mr. Holbrooke left to return to the private sector and think tanks. He was called back to service as a civilian special envoy to the Balkans. It is in this role that Mr. Holbrooke earned his place in the history books. He was the architect of the Dayton Peace Accords which led to a lasting peace in what was Yugoslavia. In 1999 he was appointed to be the 22nd Ambassador to the United Nations.

Throughout all these years Richard Holbrooke could also found going to the best parties, attending fundraising galas and was often seen on the Society Pages of the New York Times. He was invited to dinner with Brooke Astor, gave insightful interviews on PBS, wrote policy papers that transformed the way governments around the world treated each other and was the toast of highest echelons of Washington, London, Paris, Tokyo and Beijing society. His widow is the frequent Vanity Fair contributing writer Kati Marton who was the third ex-wife of ABC newsman Peter Jennings. Holbrooke traveled in that rare world of money men, trophy wives, power brokers, media types, great authors, TV stars and academics. He was profiled endlessly by the reporters of NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the great newspapers around the world this week will note his passing with 1,000 of words of commentary. Brian Williams tonight gave his passing an entire segment between commercial breaks on the NBC Evening News.

Richard Holbrooke will be remembered as a great diplomat, a great thinker and a man who could make things happen. He brought warlords together and forced them into peace, he mobilized the global business community to join the global fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria. He was a board member for some of the greatest institutes and think tanks as well as the Museum of Natural History.

Most significantly Ambassador Richard Holbrooke never lost sight of his reason for entering government service in the first place, John Kennedy’s call to service. Richard Holbrooke served his nation well; he served it with dignity, class and sophistication. John F. Kennedy’s peers, the men and women he brought into government with him are often referred to as “The Best and Brightest”. Richard Holbrooke was too young to be considered one of them but he was certainly one of the best and brightest of his generation. He has left his nation stronger. He solidified this nation’s role in the world and he brought peace, stability and hope to large sections of the globe.

Take a moment this week to learn more about the remarkable man and one of my hero’s.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Cloture Vote On Defense Spending

Here is today's roll call vote to allow the Senate to debate the Defense Funding bill that included repealing the Don't Ask Don't Tell law. Keep in mind that this was not a vote on the Defense Funding bill or the repeal of DADT but this was a vote just to allow debate and then a vote. In the U. S. Senate you have to vote yes or no as to whether you are going to be allowed to vote on the real issue. You need 60 Yea votes before a vote will be held.

This is the worlds greatest Democracy?

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 2nd Session
as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate
Vote Summary
Question: On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed (Upon Reconsideration, Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3454 )
Vote Number: 270 Vote Date: December 9, 2010, 03:33 PM
Required For Majority: 3/5 Vote Result: Cloture on the Motion to Proceed Rejected
Measure Number: S. 3454 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 )

Measure Title: An original bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2011 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.
Vote Counts: YEAs 57
NAYs 40
Not Voting 3
Vote Summary
By Senator Name
By Vote Position
By Home State

Alphabetical by Senator Name
Akaka (D-HI), Yea
Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Begich (D-AK), Yea
Bennet (D-CO), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Nay
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Bond (R-MO), Nay
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brown (D-OH), Yea
Brown (R-MA), Nay
Brownback (R-KS), Not Voting
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Cardin (D-MD), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Nay
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Coons (D-DE), Yea
Corker (R-TN), Nay
Cornyn (R-TX), Not Voting
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Ensign (R-NV), Nay Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Feingold (D-WI), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Franken (D-MN), Yea
Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Nay
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Gregg (R-NH), Nay
Hagan (D-NC), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Johanns (R-NE), Nay
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Kirk (R-IL), Nay
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Yea
LeMieux (R-FL), Nay
Levin (D-MI), Yea
Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Not Voting
Lugar (R-IN), Nay
Manchin (D-WV), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Nay
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Nay Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
Merkley (D-OR), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Risch (R-ID), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Sanders (I-VT), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shaheen (D-NH), Yea
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Snowe (R-ME), Nay
Specter (D-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Udall (D-CO), Yea
Udall (D-NM), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Voinovich (R-OH), Nay
Warner (D-VA), Yea
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
Wicker (R-MS), Nay
Wyden (D-OR), Yea

Thank you Senator Casey and Senator Specter for voting Yea

Don't Ask Don't Tell

President Obama has been pretty clear in his support for changing DADT. Do I wish he was more passionate about the issue? Yes, but that is not really his style. Do I wish he would be working the phones and pressuring members of the Senate to vote for repeal? Yes. Do I wish he would be out there every day trying urging the American people to rise up and force the Senate to do the right thing? Yes.

But, the President can only do so much. It is up to the people who have been impacted by this issue to tell the story of why DADT must be repealed. It is up to the GLBT community to lead the fight to secure our full and equal place in society. We have to convince the Senator’s that asking someone to die for their country while living a lie is wrong. We have to tell the Senator’s that asking someone to defend the concepts of freedom and liberty around the world and yet not have them fully in their own country is hypocrisy at its worst and it is certainly not a very moral position. We must be willing to lead the fight for our own battles before we can ask our friends to assist us. I ask my GLBT brothers and sisters; how many phone calls to Senator’s have you made? How many letters to the editor have you written? How many petitions have you either signed or circulated? What have you done to affect the change you know is right? What have you done in the name of your own freedom, in the name of justice and liberty for you and for all?

I am an old liberal warhorse and I have been through many a political and social justice battle in my time and I am getting tired of fighting but I am also getting sick and tired of waiting for full citizenship. I am getting sick and tired of seeing kids go through the same type of bullying that I went through 40 years ago. I am sick and tired of seeing the best and the brightest this country has to offer being kicked out of the military while we are fighting two wars and sabers are rattling in other hot zones. I am sick and tired not having my relationship of 27 years seen as having the same value as Newt Gingrich’s three marriages.

I am sick and I am tired.

I know that we must continue the fight and we must call on our friends to fight with us. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is un-American and it is a moral blight on the reputation of the great republic.