America could be on the verge of finally getting rid of the officially-sanctioned discrimination against citizens willing to serve their country in uniform because of their sexual orientation. Then again, it could be on the verge of setting up an even bigger fight on the issue outside the halls of Congress. Either way, this historic debate is about to be put front and center in the political world this week.
Archive of Articles for November, 2010
President Barack Obama has a busy week scheduled, as Congress begins the lame duck session. Everyone in Washington has a few busy weeks ahead, until the 111th Congress wraps up business and heads off into the sunset, but President Obama will be at the center of this whirlwind. So it's worth taking a look at how the week is going to play out. To put it in football-watching terms, we're just returning from the "two-minute warning" commercial break, in the fourth quarter. And anything could happen.
So I invite you all to peruse the Thanksgiving presidential proclamations of years past. And, while doing so, give thanks for the internet and the web which make such easy access to information possible.
It's going to be a short one today, folks. Since Congress is on yet another one of its week-long vacations, politically it has been a pretty slow week. Even the mainstream media is left fanning the flames of the airport security foofaroo in a desperate attempt to fill their allotted timeslots, in the absence of any real news out of Washington. Well, actually, even if there were such news coming out of Washington, the media would likely still be distracted by the shiniest object in their (quite limited) ability to perceive these things.
Which is why I'd like to offer a modest proposal. Actually, to be strictly correct and technically accurate, I should say an immodest proposal -- that everyone should have to fly naked. Immediately ban all clothing of any kind from all flights, in order to reach a one-hundred percent rate of security against clothing bombs. This would be the ultimate in security for the flying public, and therefore should be our new policy for every commercial flight.
Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I thought that was a pretty good week for Democrats.
Democrats seem to be eager to fight a few battles before the sun sets on the 111th Congress. Strong statements have come from the most unlikely people. Votes are being scheduled on some very contentious issues. This push seems coordinated between the White House, the Senate, the House, and even the Pentagon. Meaning that the lame duck session might be a lot more productive than generally assumed, in the end.
Representative Bruce Braley, from Iowa's First District, returned to the House of Representatives this week, after surviving a very brutal re-election campaign in which millions of dollars of outside money from anonymous right-wing donors were spent against him. His campaign was an interesting one, because rather than try to distance himself from his own party or from what Democrats have accomplished in the past few years, Braley instead embraced his own record, and proudly defended it to his voters.
For the first time since the Vietnam War, a Medal of Honor has been awarded to a living serviceman. The Medal of Honor is the highest military award America bestows, and not very many of them are handed out, so this is indeed news. There have been other Medal of Honor recipients since Vietnam, but all of them have been awarded posthumously -- a telling statement on the type of bravery it takes to earn this medal. And, inevitably, the word "hero" is used to describe the recipient.
Republicans in Congress are going to be interesting to watch for the next two years, as they try to cope with the influx of the Tea Party Republicans who have just been elected to office. Some of these skirmishes are happening already, as both parties prepare to hold their official party caucus meetings this week, where they will vote on their leadership positions and on their policies for the next Congress. The Tea Party Republicans failed to elevate Representative Michele Bachmann to the lowest rung of the House leadership positions, causing her to withdraw her candidacy last week. But just today, the Tea Partiers seem to have won a policy battle over in the Senate, as the establishment Republican leader Mitch McConnell just announced that he has seen the light on banning earmarks -- a dramatic reversal of his position up to this point.