Memorial Day is the time to memorialize all the brave individuals who served our country throughout its history, and sometimes paid the ultimate price for doing so. But, in particular, this year I'd like to focus on all those who did their duty for their country, and fought for the American ideal of equality for all citizens -- even while they did not enjoy such rights themselves, either in the military or in American life at the time. These second-class citizens, one would think, would have even less reason than citizens accorded full rights under the law to risk death on a foreign battlefield, and therefore would not have volunteered to do so. One would be wrong in thinking this, however.
Archive of Articles for May, 2010
Our headline today quite obviously references the legislative progress this week on banning the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (of not allowing gay people to openly serve their country)... but we've got another asking-and-telling issue which we simply must deal with first, before we get to any of that.
President Barack Obama, as expected, was asked at today's press conference about the assertation by Representative Joe Sestak, who is running for the Senate from Pennsylvania, that the White House offered him a job in order to sideline him from the primary race against Arlen Specter (which Sestak then won). Obama's answer was to kick the can down the road a bit. This is not too surprising, since this is what his White House has been doing with the issue for three months now. Here is Obama's response to the question:
This, it should be easy to see, is a conflict of interest. If an agency's main purpose is to make money off of an industry (by the granting of oil drilling leases, for example), but also to police that industry, then there is an inherent, built-in conflict. When one part of the agency does its job better, the other part of the agency can't do its job as well. These jobs may not be mutually exclusive, but they're definitely working at cross purposes.
Optimism is growing this week that Congress will repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy of not allowing gays to serve openly in the United States military. To be more accurate, what Congress is proposing is a watered-down version of a full repeal. Which is ironic, because the purpose of their "compromise" is to fix DADT -- which itself was the original compromise on the issue that President Clinton signed.
The recent controversy over Republican senatorial nominee Rand Paul's comments and views on civil rights (and on the role of the federal government versus private business and private individuals in general), is certainly entertaining and quite possibly damaging to his candidacy (or possibly not, this is Kentucky we're talking about, after all), but at the same time it is probably not going to be the key issue that decides Kentucky voters this November. It's a pretty safe assumption that most people for whom civil rights are a top voting issue have already made up their minds not to vote for Paul anyway. But there's a much more fundamental argument to have with Tea Party candidates like Paul (and Republican candidates in general) which, so far, has been missing in the media debate. The real question that should be asked is: "What, exactly, in the federal budget will you cut to 'rein in Washington spending' and attack the deficit?" Because the answers to that are going to be the most effective argument to make against the Tea Party movement's surge within the Republican Party -- because my guess is that no matter what they answer, the voters are not going to like it.
New ads are coming. They're likely going to be annoying. Sorry about that, but I feel it's better to take the advertisers' money than to beg for donations, personally.
This weekend, we'll be playing around with the ad layouts. If anything looks horrendous to you, or breaks your browser, let me know.
We're starting [...]
The new media narrative, which is exactly what the White House was pushing just before the primaries happened, coincidentally (for once, Democratic framing actually worked -- the media snapped it up like a cheese puff at cocktail hour) is now: "it's an anti-incumbent year." The White House was pushing this, because it is a lot better sounding than what the media was using previously, which was: "it's an anti-Democrat year," or even: "it's an anti-Obama-agenda year." Of course, even if it is just an "anti-incumbent" year, Democrats still have more incumbencies to defend, so it's not like the party's out of the woods yet in regards to November.
Rand Paul, who just clinched the Republican Party nomination for the Senate race in Kentucky, is apparently not quite ready for primetime. His recent remarks on the Civil Rights Act painfully show why being a politician is not as easy as some people think. The problem for Paul, son of Ron Paul, is that even if he somehow survives this flap, it is almost guaranteed that there are going to be plenty more of them during the campaign. Because both Pauls, father and son, are (at heart) libertarians. Which requires some explanation, because many folks have never come into contact with the concept of libertarianism.
A lot of conventional wisdom about the 2010 elections died an ignoble death last night, as voters once again proved that even though the inside-the-Beltway crowd loves to attempt to pigeonhole them one way or another, when the election rolls around the voters have the final say. The breadth of such conventional wisdom's demise is rather staggering in its scope, too. So today, rather than dissecting yesterday's primaries (plenty of time for that in the days to come), I'd like instead to dissect a few themes which proved to be either partially or absolutely wrong last night.