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June 17, 2009

Comments

It is way to easy to say the problem is that Reid is a joke, even among Democrats. As well as a coward and other sundry things.

The problem is, though, that it would be nice for Obama to come right out and declare that he wants Congress to repeal DADT immediately. He has made oblique references to that, but in a way that doesn't put any pressure on Congress.

Sigh. One of my many disappointments with the administration. The only solace is knowing that the alternative presented to us last November would have been significantly worse.

It's 10:15am my time right now.

Why hasn't this been repealed yet?

Harry? Barack?

"It is way to easy to say the problem is that Reid is a joke, even among Democrats. As well as a coward and other sundry things."

But he is a joke in the same way that Rush Limbaugh is a joke: a bitter joke on the country. Someone we wish we could treat as a joke but we can't because he actually has an enormous amount of power.

Reid is the Senate Majority leader. He is easily one of the top 5 most powerful Democrats in the nation.

Of course he is a joke, I wasn't saying otherwise. What I was saying is that it goes beyond him.

Last November's decision is looking worse all the time. McCain might not have been any better on LGBT rights, and worse on women's rights, and clueless on the economy, but at least he'd be trying to bomb Iran right now.

On the other hand, I am especially disappointed in Harry Reid. I had hoped a fairly conservative Mormon from Nevada would be taking the lead on gay rights, especially given the tide of gay-friendly sentiment that swept Democrats back into power, and the way he's able to block any putative Republican + DINO filibusters with his awesome Top 5 power.

I'm also disgusted that in cases where gays are targeted by violence because they're gay, there aren't more stringent sentencing guidelines taking into account the intent to terrorize an entire group. Yet congressional Democrats have resolutely blocked hate crimes legislation using mendacious arguments about preachers in pulpits and "thoughtcrimes." Clearly, we need Republicans back in charge after all if we want to see any progress on gay rights. 'Cause hey, Mary Cheney's dad might have used banning gay marriage as a GOTV issue, but she's doing fine.

You know, my dizzying intellect is leading me to suspect that Mr. Holsclaw might just be yanking progressives' chains here.

Absolutely right, Sebastian. And the hits--or rather, the slaps to the face--just keep on comin'.

LGBT rights wasn't an area where I expected much of anything from Obama, but I figured benign neglect was better than overt hostility. But even by that very low standard, this is simply pathetic.

Repealing DADT is a potential boon the left, which I why I hope Reid et al continue to run from it. Rove used gay marriage as a wedge issue in '04 to energize the fundamentalist portion of the Republican base. It was ugly, and people now see that. Campaigning against gay marriage and especially civil union is no longer a vote getter, but rather a sign of desperation and bigotry. If Reid forces the issue on DADT, the Republicans will impale themselves on the issue, giving nationalized healthcare, confiscatory taxes and gazillions in long term debt a green light. As an economic conservative, thanks Harry.

Repealing don't ask/don't tell now has the support of a majority of all sections of the U.S. public, even among conservatives.

So the political paralysis, with the White House and Congressional leadership each shifting the responsibility onto the other, is due to... what, exactly?

In combination with the Justice Department's offensive brief defending the "Defense of Marriage" Act*, it's hard to see this as anything but a calculated brushoff. They're not that stupid.

But apparently they think we are.

*Yes, all administrations send their DoJ into court to defend existing statutes. Not all of them approve arguments as appalling as this DoJ's.

Well, as long as you're willing to sacrifice innocent people's rights for your economic policy preferences, I guess we're all OK with that, mckinneytexas. You're a real officer and a gentleman.

So the political paralysis, with the White House and Congressional leadership each shifting the responsibility onto the other, is due to... what, exactly?

Well,

(1) No particular interest in focusing any effort whatsoever on these issues,

(2) actual opposition to the repeal, either based on personal belief or on perceived majority views of the voters in their particular electoral unit, or

(3) cowardice about all the mean things Fox News will say about them.

I'd say that's at least a start.

Still not sure what Mr. Holsclaw thinks equal-rights advocates should do, though, other than return Republicans to power. Perhaps he is merely enjoying a slice of schadenfreude pie at how his progressive opponents remain so marginalized by the current political system.

Brilliant politics, Obama team. June is just the time to spit in the face of LGBT activists, one of the most energized components of the party's base and one that was in need of extra communication and trust-building measures thanks to Prop 8 passivity and the Rick Warren pander.

Like UK, I expected very little, but have been astounded at how much worse than nothing they've been when it comes to human rights.

Argh, Uncle Kvetch, don't even get me started on the completely unnecessary Obama administration intervention resulting in that horrific DOMA brief.

It didn't have to do that, and it definitely didn't have to do it the way that it did.

Obama has failed on this one, definitely.

but if it's true that there aren't any bills in the Senate that would end DADT, then all 59 Senate Democrats have failed, too. it is, after all, the legislature's job to write the laws.

But he is a joke in the same way that Rush Limbaugh is a joke

Reid seems to cower before Rush; the reverse is emphatically not true. So the two of them are not jokes in "the same way". More's the pity.

*Yes, all administrations send their DoJ into court to defend existing statutes. Not all of them approve arguments as appalling as this DoJ's.

Without in the least defending Obama's DOJ on this point, I ask out of sincere curiosity: to what extent is "this DOJ" really Obama's yet?

--TP

It is time for the Senate Democrats to chnage leaders. I'm as unimpressed with Reid as anyone, but I think part of the problem is that he comes from a relatively conservative state and his seat is not safe. He has a serious conflict of interest as a result.

Get someone who doesn't have that problem.

to what extent is "this DOJ" really Obama's yet?

Good question, Tony P.

To a great extent, as far as I can tell. His Attorney General has been officially at work since February 5. Deputy AG David Ogden and Associate AG Tom Perelli were confirmed March 12. Elena Kagan became Solicitor General on March 19.

The Asst AGs heading divisions have mostly been in place for some time as well:

National Security: David Kris, March 25
Antitrust: Christine Varney, April 20
Civil: Tony West, April 20
Criminal: Lanny Breuer, April 20
Ronald Welch, Office of Legislative Affairs (DoJ lobbyist, in effect), April 29

However, Civil Rights (presumably the division in which the DOMA work was done) is among those where named nominees await confirmation:

Civil Rights: Tom Perez
Envir. & Natural Resources: Ignacia Moreno
Tax: Mary Smith
Office of Legal Policy: Christopher Schroeder

And, of course, Dawn Johnsen's confirmation as head of the Office of Legal Counsel is being allowed to languish apparently until the end of time. Just keep pouring in the salt, Team Obama.

See here for the rest of the appointments requiring confirmation.

Lots of political hires can take place in the levels immediately beneath these appointees that don't need confirmation. Someone much more knowledgeable about the Department of Justice than I am might be able to give a sense of how much of that hiring has been done.

I do know that there's no requirement or even custom to delay such hiring until the confirmation of the boss; e.g., at OLC Marty Lederman has been in place since early February at least. So the excuse of Tom Perez not being around to oversee the DOMA brief (which, for reasons Sebastian and others could explain, was not necessary to begin with and needlessly offensive even if it had been) does not really wash. Not that you were making that excuse.

The government itself doesn't publish online the names of those holding political appointments. It may be that online sources are making up for this failure of transparency. If not, then a DoJ maven would just have to buy a "plum book" and follow along filling in hires by reading Al Kamen's column and the legal trade mags. Kind of sad, in the digital age, eh?

But, hey, Congresspeople and Congressional committees don't, with a few exceptions, make the names or issue areas of their staffs public, either. Even to constituents who ask politely. Even though a third of them go on to become lobbyists, and form one of the most important chunks of the permanent governnment. Yes, it's a festival of accountability and transparency in Washington.

to what extent is "this DOJ" really Obama's yet?

To what extent, regardless of any holdover staffing, would DOJ be permitted to file such a brief in support of DOMA without some form of administration approval of its contents, when a much more cursory approach would have satisfied the "defense of existing statutes"?

My assumption is that the paralysis is based on Obama's demonstrated willingness to cater to the military brass. The signal Harry Reid needs, I suspect, is word from the President that a Senate bill wouldn't be disrupting his understanding with them.

After a while, such as right about when the candidates for 2010 get serious about fundraising, expect to see a Democratic Senator quit waiting for the all clear.

Seb,

You do realize that Reid is the man of a million transparent excuses, right?

"After a while, such as right about when the candidates for 2010 get serious about fundraising, expect to see a Democratic Senator quit waiting for the all clear."

This is actually a bad thing. Like Republicans with pro-lifers, Democrats know that gay people have nowhere to go.

If Democrats are worried about some sort of political consequences of repealing DADT, this only gets worse as the elections get nearer. If you can't get it passed now, next year seems less likely to me, not more likely.

And this isn't the only issue. There is DOMA and the travel ban. The travel ban is the most ridiculous one. Bush's administration and a much more Republican Congress voted to allow the INS to get rid of it, but Obama's administration hasn't bothered to act yet.

Sebastian, you've missed my point. Democrats aren't worried about the political consequences of passing it; they're just not eager right now to piss off Obama, or disrupt whatever scummy deal he's made with Gates or the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Over a slightly longer term, they're worried about the political consequences of not repealing the stupid, stupid policies, because the ones who have reason to expect some fundraising and election help know they're going to get a cold shoulder if they're still in effect. LGBT voters do indeed have somewhere to go: sit on their hands. Dems can't afford that in mid-term elections. So they'll quit worrying about what Team Obama might think.

And Obama's failure to act on the travel ban just makes me think the guy is possibly a real homophobe.

Ok, I know I'm supposed to be patient. I guess my question is: how long before I'm allowed to suspect that he just doesn't want to?

If the travel ban isn't gone by the end of the summer can I be suspicious? By the end of the year? Do I need to wait until midterms are over?

What about DADT? Can I complain if it isn't gone by the end of the year? End of next year? Beginning of second term?

And I won't even worry about DOMA. I'm just under completely convinced that Congressional Democrats in general are fine with DOMA and I'm pretty sure that Obama is too.

Which is not to say that McCain would have been better or anything stupid like that. Just want to not give credit where credit is not due.

Sebastian -- to hell with patience. All the advice about patience and how much he's got on his plate is condescending when it's not snarky. (Some of it is both. See above.)

How many seconds of someone's precious time would it have taken to deal with the travel ban, given that the way was paved by the previous administration and Congress? And if he can't even do that, then there's something else at work. I'm starting to speculate along Nell's lines, and it's depressing.

I would have a different take on all of it if he hadn't so blatantly ... yes, pandered, that's the word I'm looking for ... during the campaign. If his actions and inactions from Rick Warren forward (or actually going back further than that, checking Uncle K's link from above) matched a prior record of statements on the issue, or even a record of ignoring the subject, it would be different. But they don't.

3:15 a.m. and a dog up the road from me has been barking for about 5 hours solid. I'm in a great mood, as you can see.

Sebastian: Which is not to say that McCain would have been better or anything stupid like that. Just want to not give credit where credit is not due.

Well, I think you should be exactly as patient and uncomplaining about Obama's track record on GLBT equality as you were about Bush's track record on GLBT equality. Which is to say, I think you've just already exceeded your limit of zero posts complaining about Bush's attitude towards DOMA, DADT, ENDA, and the travel ban. If none of these things were an issue for you while Bush was President, how can they suddenly be an issue for you now Obama is President?

JanieM: How many seconds of someone's precious time would it have taken to deal with the travel ban, given that the way was paved by the previous administration and Congress? And if he can't even do that, then there's something else at work. I'm starting to speculate along Nell's lines, and it's depressing.

Yeah. But it's also been clear from the start - since November - that Obama had no intention of actually acting on any of the things he said were positive. He wanted continuity in the military: that implied of course that torture and abuse would continue, which is frankly far worse than DADT, but part of continuity is approving DADT - and none of the front-page posters here spoke out against continuity in the military: indeed Hilzoy firmly and positively wrote that she felt continuity in the military was a good thing, that Obama ought not to be disruptive or impolitic in that area. Not even, apparently, by issuing an executive order that there were to be no more dishonorable discharges for DADT.

Obama isn't immune to the pressures of public criticism: after a week of protest about that brief defending DOMA, he did sign an executive order giving the same-sex partners of federal employees the same rights to employee benefits as spouses in mixed-sex relationships. That's not enough, of course, but it shows what can happen, if only his supporters - his base - are willing to speak up and criticize Obama as he deserves to be criticized.

But what we get instead from Obama supporters tends to be the kind of thing like Hilzoy's most recent front-page post: Count your blessings, it could be so much worse.

Jes, I think you're confused. I've been against DADT since Clinton, and during the Bush years I repeatedly voiced that dismissing good soldiers because they were gay was stupid, counterproductive, and wrong.

I didn't expect anything good from Bush on gay issues because he never claimed or ran on them. (And later because I didn't expect anything good from him at all.)

BTW, he didn't sign an executive order. Those last until countermanded. His act only lasts until he leaves office.

he did sign an executive order giving the same-sex partners of federal employees the same rights to employee benefits as spouses in mixed-sex relationships

He didn't really do this, either, if I'm not mistaken. The benefits he signed off on are not the same as the ones for spouses; that would violate DOMA. He signed off on some relatively minor stuff that did not include health insurance. (Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, or I'll find some cites later. I'm late for an appointment.)

But the history of people's opinions and clashes here on ObWi notwithstanding, I'll repeat what I said above, and what Sebastian said afterwards: Bush made no promises, Obama did. That's a reason to react differently right from the get-go.

From Uncle Kvetch's link above:

However, the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from extending health and retirement benefits to same-sex couples, so the benefits are more likely to be marginal -- like relocation assistance.


Okay, typepad doesn't like something, maybe the link to this news report: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/06/president-obama-signs-lgbt-partner-benefits-memo.html, which included this:

Surrounded by members of Congress, along with several lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) rights activists in the Oval Office, the President said that he is limited in the benefits he can extend, due to legal constraints under the Defense of Marriage Act. He has pledged to overturn that law, and today repeated that promise.

From candidate Obama: "Although I have consistently said I would repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' I believe that the way to do it is make sure that we are working through a process, getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff clear in terms of what our priorities are going to be," Obama said in a September interview with the Philadelphia Gay News.

That quote leads credence to Nell's assertion in her 10:09 p.m. comment from last night.

Yet why can't President Consensus find one yet?

I suspect there is plenty of support for the repeal of DADT among military brass.

Clearly, this is simply not an Obama priority. Or, as Nell speculates, maybe he is a homophobe.

I don't think it is necessary to project or find homophobia on Obama's part.

It is damaging enough to say that even in areas which would be easy to correct (travel ban), in which the political capital has already been spent, and which would not require much attention, he is not willing to have his administration take action.

This suggests to me, that on harder issues (DADT and DOMA) he is not likely to spend much political time or effort on gay people. Lip service, perhaps. Political capital, probably not.

However I like to think that he won’t actively oppose us. (For the moment I’m willfully ignoring the recent horrific DOMA brief and hoping that was a lack of oversight). So we need to push for an end to DADT through Congress without his help. That isn’t an ideal world. But it isn’t that awful either. (That is why Reid’s statements drive me nuts though).

(If this shows up as a duplicate, blame Typepad's lousy software.)

Sebastian: I've been against DADT since Clinton, and during the Bush years I repeatedly voiced that dismissing good soldiers because they were gay was stupid, counterproductive, and wrong.

Gosh, I must have just missed those posts you made on Obsidian Wings during the Bush era repeatedly arguing that Don't Ask Don't Tell and DOMA ought to be repealed. Can you link to them? My recollection is that this isn't something you used to do, except to blame Clinton for signing it: that you were silent on the Republican party strategy of using homophobia as a vote-getter: that, in short, you rarely complain about conservative homophobia or Republican homophobic party policy, and never as a front-page post. But I could be wrong, so, do: link.

Your recollection is wrong.

I live in San Diego, I've seen DADT at its stupidist, and I've been against it for a very long time.

Furthermore I expect parties who campaign on certain things, and ask for my votes on certain things, to follow through on those things. I don't expect parties who campaign on other things, and ask for my votes on other things, to necessarily do everything I want.

Lastly, this is an interesting tactic. You aren't even suggesting that I'm wrong. You're merely suggesting (incorrectly in this instance) that I was wrong in the past.

I can see why you have difficulty getting people to agree with you. Even when they do, you insist that they can't be doing it with the right motives or that they aren't agreeing with you deeply enough.

Sebastian: Your recollection is wrong.

Fine. Link to those front-page posts you wrote during the Bush era protesting DADT, DOMA, etc. I don't remember any of them, but maybe they just struck me as uncharacteristic.

Furthermore I expect parties who campaign on certain things, and ask for my votes on certain things, to follow through on those things. I don't expect parties who campaign on other things, and ask for my votes on other things, to necessarily do everything I want.

Heh. See, that's the Sebastian I remember during the Bush era - trying to pass off Republican party policy of making you a second-class citizen, or conservative homophobia making you sub-human, as "not doing everything I want", while railing against Democratic politicians for giving into conservative homophobia - without even acknowledging that the conservative homophobia, the Republican party's homophobic policies, is why DADT and DOMA exist.

You're merely suggesting (incorrectly in this instance) that I was wrong in the past.

Nope. I am merely suggesting - and if incorrectly, you can show me up - that you have never (and certainly not "regularly") written posts criticizing Republicans for passing homophobic legislation, nor conservatives in general for their homophobic rants. If you have, all you have to do is link to them.

Even when they do, you insist that they can't be doing it with the right motives or that they aren't agreeing with you deeply enough.

Specifically, Sebastian, when you only turn to GLBT equality in order to criticize Democratic party policy or politicians, I am suggesting that (a) as a self-identified conservative, you would achieve more if you criticized conservatives; (b) it suggests that you're not interested so much in equality for yourself or for other GLBT people, as you are in squirting ink at Democrats.

Though I admire the candor, I think Jesurgislac might be presupposing a little bit too much bad faith here. However [Uh oh, ve said "however"], I am curious what the goal of Mr. Holsclaw's post is. To convince us that neither President Obama nor Senator Reid are actually civil liberty crusaders? To remind us that politicians constantly disappoint us? To underscore just how wrong Dr. Pangloss was, especially when it comes to the ballot box? To urge us to ratchet up the pressure on our representatives to finally do the right thing on these issues? Because it doesn't seem to as easily lend itself to a substantive exchange as a health care post does without something more to it. IMHO. YMMV.

The goal of my post is to put pressure on Reid and/or Obama to take action--the action they said they would take.

How is that mysterious?

I see pressure to take a certain action on those who said they would take it as likely to be more effective than taking action on those who specifically said they wouldn't.

Say you have 2 politicians.

Cynthia professes on the campaign trail to believe in the importance A, B, C, D, E and anti-F.

Jeff professes to believe in the importance of D,E,F,G, H and is anti-A.

If A is really important to me I vote for Cynthia.

If F is really important to me I vote for Jeff.

You don’t worry about D or E because they are the same.

You weight the relative values of A,B,C,F,G and H and then vote for one of them.

For much of my voting past for national figures I’ve treated gay issues as either a D (where the candidates aren’t really going to do anything different) or an H (where you weigh it against the other things when making a decision. If I end up voting for Cynthia, pressuring her on H is not likely to be super effective. She never claimed to be for H. If I vote for Jeff, however, pressuring him on H makes sense because he claimed to be for it.

Now does this mean that if I vote for Cynthia that I can’t still speak up on H? No. I still do that independently if I value H. But voting for politicians is always a compromise.

The problem here is that you are interpreting an attempt to hold Jeff accountable for H as if it were an attack on him, or as if it were an argument in favor of Cynthia. It is neither unless his profession to believe in H was merely a pretextual way of fooling me into voting for him. In that case it becomes a sort of attack on him or at least a mark against him because now H isn’t going to weigh in his favor anymore. But we aren’t there yet with Obama.

And furthermore, most of his Republican opponents are so ridiculously bad that we could probably lose H entirely and I would still vote for him.

How is that mysterious?

Well, it's mysterious in light of a history in some quarters of "See? Democrats are at least as bad" purely as a rhetorical bludgeon, especially given that the post contained no explicit call to action. Haven't you noticed that sometimes you have to spell it out for us with small words, Mr. Holsclaw? In any case, thank you for the clarification. Clearly, we have a long way to go before the fallout from the homophobia so long exploited for electoral benefit by the Republican Party can be cleaned up.

"I think Jesurgislac might be presupposing a little bit too much bad faith here"

The real newsflash would be if she stopped doing that.

Sebastian: The goal of my post is to put pressure on Reid and/or Obama to take action--the action they said they would take.

And what political force is making them think twice about taking action?

Which political party is opposed to marriage equality and opposed to repealing DADT?

Which political movement is opposed to equality for GLBT people?

If you want Obama and/or Reid to take action, why are you not taking up arms* against the people who oppose their taking action - the conservatives, the Republicans... the pro-life anti-gay base?

*Metaphorically....

"And what political force is making them think twice about taking action?"

They control the Senate, the House, and the Presidency. What is stopping them? How much more do they need to change the freaking travel ban?

What is stopping them?

Did you really not understand the tenor of my comment at 05.55pm?

Or are you just too microfocussed on blaming Democratic politicians to consider whether, for example, the conservative Christian political forces that keep getting anti-marriage amendments passed in state after state might have something to do with Obama's and Reid's reluctance to take an active role in getting equality for you and for other GLBT people?

You have, on this blog, written extensive screeds which I by no means supported, identifying yourself as either a part of, or a supporter of, the conservative Christian movement against a woman's right to choose.

Yet when it comes to criticizing that movement - to declaring yourself opposed to that movement - you ... go look the other way and attack their opponents instead.

Why's that?

The repeal of the Congressional restrictions on the travel ban were passed by a much more Republican Congress, and were signed by then-President George Bush (a Republican).

Republican opposition to it is not evident.

Which makes your explanation look more like an excuse.

Moving goalposts, I see: you've decided to stop claiming you wrote any front-page posts advocating the repeal of DADT or DOMA during the Bush regime, and you're not going to respond at all to the query about why you won't criticize the conservative Christian political forces that are your real barrier to GLBT equality in the US.

The repeal of the Congressional restrictions on the travel ban were passed by a much more Republican Congress, and were signed by then-President George Bush (a Republican).

And between July 31 2008 and January 20 2009, nothing further happened but naturally you're not going to complain about that. At all events, you certainly didn't at the time, not for six months.

But the delay in regulations being written and moving from Department of Health and Human Services to Office of Management and Budget during Obama's administration - that you find time to complain about.

Your one-sided complaining about lack of movement on GLBT equality is what I find unconvincing: if GLBT equality concerned you in principle, you would have been writing about it during the Bush era. You didn't. You use it only to criticize Democratic politicians, and never the conservative Christians who oppose GLBT equality fervently and with considerable political and financial strength.

And I say again: why's that?

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