Archive of Articles for December, 2010

Thank You, Joe Lieberman

[ Posted Monday, December 20th, 2010 – 17:46 UTC ]

Both houses of Congress have now passed the bill which repeals the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (DADT), which did not allow gay Americans to openly serve their country in military uniform. President Obama has scheduled a signing ceremony for the repeal bill this Wednesday. While this is a significant achievement on the civil rights/gay rights front, it is also a significant political achievement. And one man stands out as the driving political force behind the successful effort to repeal this discriminatory federal policy. Which is why, today, I'd like to publicly thank Senator Joe Lieberman.

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My 2010 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]

[ Posted Friday, December 17th, 2010 – 17:45 UTC ]

My apologies to anyone tuning in who was expecting to see the 150th "Friday Talking Points" column, since it will be pre-empted for two weeks here. But the good news is we're doing so to bring you our annual "McLaughlin Awards," which are even more fun!

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Program Note

[ Posted Thursday, December 16th, 2010 – 17:57 UTC ]

No column today, sorry.
But tomorrow should make up for it, as we present the first of our two-part end-of-the-year awards, here. Preparing these columns takes a LOT of time, which is what I've been doing all day (I'm only up to May in reviewing last year...). We're doing the awards columns early this [...]

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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal's Last, Best Legislative Chance

[ Posted Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 – 17:48 UTC ]

The House of Representatives has just voted overwhelmingly to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (DADT), which forbids gays from openly serving their country. The vote was an impressive 250 to 175 -- which is sixteen more votes for repeal than the previous tally in the House (when they voted on the issue as part of the Pentagon's yearly budget). What this vote means is that we are now only one Senate floor vote and a presidential signing ceremony away from a historic end to such blatant discrimination being enshrined in federal law. Whether the Senate will pass the measure before the end of the year or not is still uncertain, but even with the down-to-the-wire nature of the lame duck session, this still represents the best chance for DADT's repeal yet -- and also the last chance for what could be a very long time to repeal the policy by legislative means.

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From The Archives: Dump The Individual Mandate

[ Posted Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 – 17:21 UTC ]

But, as Howard Dean points out, healthcare reform can succeed without it. Which means there shouldn't be anything standing in the way of throwing the whole idea of the mandate under the political bus, so to speak. Or, since the Tea Partiers hate it too, perhaps "throw it overboard" would be a better metaphor.

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A Politically-Polarized Sesquicentennial

[ Posted Monday, December 13th, 2010 – 19:26 UTC ]

A theme has emerged, in recent years, of America as a nation almost hopelessly divided, politically. This theme is most often reinforced by such superlative declarations (by "journalists" who really should know better) as "America is more politically divided than ever," or "this is the most politically polarized Washington has ever been," or similar such alarmist rhetoric. It has even gotten to the point where many see such statements as truisms -- statements so obviously true that they are seen as irrefutable. This is a gross error, born of the fact that most "journalists" simply have no concept of their own country's history. Because while we are indeed currently politically divided and somewhat polarized, this is actually our normal state as a nation -- and on the polarization scale, we're nowhere near the "most divided" we've ever been. Far from it.

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Friday Talking Points [149] -- Making Holiday Sausage

[ Posted Friday, December 10th, 2010 – 17:46 UTC ]

The holidays are just around the corner, and the preparatory legislative sausage-making on Capitol Hill is in full swing. What a happy, happy time of year!

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The Barnstorming Era Of Spaceflight Begins

[ Posted Thursday, December 9th, 2010 – 18:59 UTC ]

Well, that's one of those headlines that's a lot better poetically than literally, I'll admit up front. But yesterday's news in spaceflight deserves some sort of mention, because it could be the start of a new era. A private company launched a capsule into orbit, and then recovered it by splashing it down in the Pacific Ocean. This was a test flight, but eventually the company will use this arrangement to ferry astronauts up to the International Space Station for the United States, after N.A.S.A.'s space shuttle is retired forever.

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Attach "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal To Tax Cut Deal

[ Posted Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 – 17:29 UTC ]

As I write this, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is attempting to move forward on the Pentagon budget bill, which includes a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (DADT) of forbidding gays from serving openly in the military. At this point, most Senate-watchers expect it to fail to get the 60 votes it needs to move to the floor for debate (it could always succeed, and surprise everybody, but I wouldn't bet much on the prospect right now). But if Senate Democrats were smart, they'd change tactics after losing this procedural vote. Democrats, led by Harry Reid and Joe Lieberman, should strip the DADT repeal out of the military appropriations bill and, instead, attach it to the tax cut bill being prepared. Because doing so would not only change the entire tone of the debate in a big way, but it might actually work.

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The Deal

[ Posted Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 – 18:08 UTC ]

What a lot of people seem to be entirely missing in this debate is that President Obama and his team at the White House tried an utterly new tactic (for them) -- getting involved in the process.

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