Tag: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
This is what I love about living in an apartment building: The doormen know way too much about my personal life. However, it’s an unspoken rule, a don’t ask don’t tell policy if you will, between tenants and their doormen, that they pretend to not realize when you are coming home at 4 a.m., and you pretend they didn’t see.
This is what my doormen know about me: They know I use their desk as my own private Staples. I come to them for inappropriate use of their stapler, tape, possibly a paper clip here and there. Maybe even a band-aid if the need should arise (continue reading…)
Things seem pretty solid here at home after the Justice Department announced that it would no longer defend the constitutionality of Defense of Marriage Act cases. So it seems that our straight marriage has survived the unspecified threats gay marriage poses to it. I still don’t get what these threats are, exactly, nor do I understand how it is that an institution said to be the bedrock of everything civilization holds dear can at the same time be so utterly fragile as to stand in need of a vigorous defense. Now it seems that the whole thing may be on its way to the footnotes of American constitutional history without my ever having figured it out (continue reading…)
Harvard University announced last week that it would reinstate its on-campus ROTC program, after barring the military training program from campus for 41 years. On March 4th, Columbia University’s Senate will begin deliberations on whether Columbia should follow suit. (Columbia students who wish to enroll in ROTC can do so through Fordham’s program, and receive full financial and other benefits.)
The Senate’s Task Force on Military Engagement has held a series of hearings on the issue, soliciting input from a range of stake-holders. They have set up a useful and informative website containing information about the history of ROTC at Columbia as well as materials related to recent efforts to revisit the policy.
Faculty have submitted in-person testimony and written positions on the issue (continue reading…)
Howard Fineman appeared Friday on MSNBC’s ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’ along with R. Clarke Cooper of the Log Cabin Republicans.
read full news from www.huffingtonpost.com
“Support our troops” is a mantra I’ve heard my entire life — and I’ve always felt a profound desire to do just that. However, during my four years at Harvard College, the institution’s opposition to ROTC, due most recently to the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, although justified, always left me distressed — and had deleterious effects on how the community viewed the military overall. Today, Harvard announced that it was allowing ROTC back on campus for the first time in 41 years. The announcement was a long time coming and is one that should be celebrated.
My ROTC friends at Harvard are among the bravest and most respectable people I know (continue reading…)
Last week was the kind of week that doesn’t come around often. But when it does, it’s a game-changer. In the space of eight hours the Obama administration announced that it would no longer defend the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” in court, calling it unconstitutional; the Maryland Senate advanced a bill that would allow gay couples to marry (with the measure now awaiting House action); and Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed that state’s recently passed civil union bill into law.
We’ve had a number of such moments in recent years: when Lawrence v (continue reading…)
The past year truly has been a landmark year in the fight for equality for LGBT Americans. Not only did Congress finally repeal the corrosive and immoral “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, but we won some important battles in the fight to allow every loving couple the opportunity to marry.
First, New Hampshire and Washington, DC began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples; then a federal court found provisions of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) unconstitutional; and now, just last week, President Obama and the Justice Department announced that they would no longer defend Section 3 of DOMA in court.
Prior to this announcement, I was working with colleagues and advocates to encourage this move and I applaud the President’s decision, but the fact is that DOMA will continue to be enforced until Congress repeals it legislatively. Achieving marriage equality is a top priority of mine and I believe that repeal of DOMA is a crucial step toward that goal.
I hope you’ll join me in this fight at repealDOMA.com.
We must repeal this discriminatory law (continue reading…)
The Obama administration today announced that the Justice Department would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that prevents same-sex couples from marrying. The controversial move is a leap forward for advocates of same-sex marriage, but the promiscuous segment of the gay and lesbian community is ambivalent.
The move doesn’t directly sanction same-sex marriage but paves the way for its legal adoption.
read full news from www.huffingtonpost.com
Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By Charlie Foster
An assistant secretary of the Navy upheld the forced retirement of a senior chief accused of hazing junior sailors in a canine unit based in Bahrain.
The decision comes four years after a Navy investigation in which sailors claimed Michael Toussaint, a chief petty officer at the time, had acted as ringleader for a culture of abuse within the kennel between 2005 and 2006. Last February, Toussaint denied much of his alleged misconduct before a retirement review board that was convened months after he was censured by the Secretary of the Navy (continue reading…)
There’s a certain formula that goes into a speech like the one I gave Wednesday night in my comedic debut at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s Congressional Dinner.
In that formula, the first 85 or 90 percent of your remarks are supposed to be funny – biting, a little bipartisan, and significantly self-deprecating. The rest of your speech is supposed to be serious and generous in your praise for the audience – in this case, journalists.
The first draft of my “serious close” was longer than the comedic part of the speech, so we pared it down significantly. I have a great deal of respect for journalism, but rarely get such an opportunity to speak about the field, so I thought I’d share that first draft as an alternate ending (continue reading…)
To the Columbia University Community:
As I am sure you are aware, the Columbia University Senate is once again eager to push for inviting the Reserve Officers Training Corps to Columbia (or what has more colloquially been termed the “return of ROTC”) in light of the recent vote to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. A recent discussion featured in the Columbia Spectator’s magazine, The Eye, though it featured many well-spoken and intelligent individuals, failed to provide a voice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and, especially, transgender community. In fact, given that the major reason for keeping ROTC off-campus has been its discriminatory practices against LGBT individuals (in particular, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was cited), I was surprised to find that there was no representative of the Columbia LGBT community invited to speak. In fact, not once did the acronym “LGBT” or the words “gay,” “lesbian, “bisexual,” or “transgender” appear in the transcript (continue reading…)
[Program Note: "State Of The Union Week" continues today, with a look at a handful of new ideas from President Obama's speech last night. I wrote an insta-reaction to the speech yesterday, and I will be examining the specific language of the speech this Friday, but today I wanted to highlight a few things that many in the media world seem to have missed from last night's speech. President Obama proposed a number of ideas last night, amongst the continuation of themes or policies he has pushed previously. The following are the proposals that stuck out (to me) as being truly new ideas for him, and thus worth examining.]
The day after President Obama’s big yearly speech to Congress and the American people, most pundits and talking-head types in the media are vying to outdo each other on stating “what it all means” or similar high-flown overanalysis (continue reading…)
Last year I worked with a nonprofit to advocate for the passage of the Dream Act. I knew the odds were long, and of course, the legislation ultimately didn’t pass.
But I would feel better today about fighting the good fight if I hadn’t known, at the time, that our approach was doomed. I had a queasy sensation early on, when I saw one of the video packages that the nonprofit put together (I wasn’t involved with that stage of the campaign).
The video featured kids who would directly benefit from the Dream Act’s passage. Much of it was good, with heart-tugging stories from all-American, clean-cut teens.
But then the bottom fell out (continue reading…)
With some regularity, this column excoriates the mainstream news media for all sorts of continued idiocy in the way it conducts its business. But every once in a while, we have to applaud them when they get something right. This week, Dana Milbank of The Washington Post deserves mentioning, for pledging to stay Palin-free for the month of February. Details on this in a moment.
It’s rare for members of the media to perform such self-examination (and self-criticism) (continue reading…)
I’m sure if I was born into an African-American family in 1962 in Salina, Kansas — where I was actually born, my personal sense of civil rights advancements would feel very different than I feel looking at the question through a gay portal. But I still feel great progress has been made and history is tilting in good directions for the most part when it comes to tolerance and acceptance in the country.
I’m sitting now in the “Hotel Bar” (formerly the “Lake Terrace Lounge”) at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs — one of the greatest resort hotels in the United States and one of the few I know of that seems to have actually improved and become grander and better since its very grand beginnings in the early 20th century.
When I arrived at the airport, I was in a line with hundreds of folks at the Broadmoor Hotel booth near baggage claim getting our tickets for the “shuttle” which on this occasion were a line of mega-buses. The onslaught of folks heading by bus rather than taxi or town car to this fabulous resort were here for a huge conference dealing with Christian Bible Study. Nice folks — but not my thing (continue reading…)
There is rejoicing in our house over the repeal of DADT. Ours isn’t the only one.
The thing that strikes me about it is that there were serious doldrums over the midterm elections in our house. Ours wasn’t the only one then, either. We’re liberals, and when the Republicans won their semi-sweep over the House, it was legitimate cause for lamentation.
There is a Taoist story that offers some illumination here:
Perhaps a variation on the story will help.
The obstreperous Republicans came up in the world of our government (continue reading…)
On Sunday, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling the speech given by President Barack Obama on the Arizona shootings “terrific,” moving and inspiring. “[The President] encouraged every American who participates in our political debates — whether we are on the left or right or in the media — to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves,” McCain wrote.
McCain went on to seemingly defend Sarah Palin, though not by name, who got into some hot water by using an anti-Semitic phrase to characterize the vitriolic political debate and finger pointing some believe lead to Arizona shootings. McCain wrote:
McCain noted that Americans have differing opinions and need not be “timid in our advocacy of the means we believe will achieve it (continue reading…)
Mildly Good News
President Barack Obama had a mildly good month in the polls during December. Not a fantastic month, mind you; maybe not even a great month… but a mildly good month, nonetheless.
Continuing last month’s trend (if you can even properly call it a “trend,” that is…), Obama once again charted an unbelievably stable month in terms of approval ratings. The mildly good news was in his disapproval rating, which dropped significantly over the course of December. In fact, Obama had the second-best month he’s ever had, in terms of a dropping disapproval rate. The note of caution, though — which makes this only mildly good news for him — is that all of the drop in disapproval went to the “undecided” category, and none of it translated into a bump in approval.
Let’s take a look at Obama’s actual chart, to see what I’m talking about:
[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]
As you can see, Obama’s approval rating remained flat, while his disapproval rating dipped significantly. December was a busy month in Washington, which translated into more people in the rest of the country giving the president the benefit of the doubt — although Obama hasn’t actually won them over to full support yet.
December started with the announcement of a deal struck between Obama’s White House and the Senate Republicans. The terms of the deal were that the Bush tax cuts (which were due to expire January first) would be extended for everyone (including the ultra-wealthy) for the next two years — in exchange for a year-long unemployment benefit extension, as well as some minor stimulus goodies for Obama and the Democrats. This was somewhat of a surprise to political wonks, it should be mentioned, as it will put the next big political tax cut battle smack in the middle of the 2012 presidential campaign. Obama seems to be betting that the economy will have recovered enough by then that fighting hard against tax cuts for the rich will be a politically viable position to run on, at that point. This is a risky strategy, to say the least, since Democrats have not noticeably made much political hay out of the issue in the past few decades (to put it politely).
This tax deal enraged the Left, it should be noted. Obama originally campaigned on repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, so it was seen as a serious betrayal of principles on the Left for him to cave on this issue. However, even before the aftermath, most of the public registered approval for Obama’s deal — which (it has to be said) annoyed the Left even more deeply.
But, when considering whether the deal was a good one or not, one has to now balance it with the other things the lame duck Democrats were able to get done — both as part of the tax deal, and also what got passed through Congress because they weren’t wasting all the available time fighting a tax cut “battle royale.” Unemployment benefits were extended for a full year (and not just a few scant months), for instance. Everyone’s take-home paycheck is about to get two percent bigger for the next year, as well. And after the tax deal went through, Obama won a significant foreign policy victory by getting the Senate to ratify the “New START” with Russia, then got medical care for the 9/11 first responders, and even managed to pass the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of barring gays from openly serving in the military, all in the lame duck Congress.
No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, the lame duck session has to be seen as extremely productive, and containing some political wins and losses for both sides.
What all of this translated into, in terms of the polls, was “no news” and “good news.” Obama’s approval rating — astonishingly, for the second straight month — did not budge one tiny little bit. Obama has put up exactly the same job approval number for the past three months — 45.5 percent. When you think about what these three months covered, politically, it’s practically unbelievable — the midterm elections, the lame duck session of Congress, the tax cut deal Obama cut with Republicans, and all the rest of it. A lot of ground was covered, but not in Obama’s approval numbers. This is, obviously, the “no news” segment. In terms of “good news,” Obama’s disapproval rate sharply dropped this month — almost a full percentage point — from 49.0 percent to 48.1. This is the second-largest drop in disapproval ratings Obama has ever posted, and it continues a streak of three solid months of dropping disapproval ratings. Good news, indeed, for Obamaphiles.
As happened in the previous month, the daily numbers Obama posted in December were also remarkably stable. Obama started the first day of December with a 45.9 percent daily approval rating. This number then rose very early in the month to a daily high of 46.2 percent, but then dropped back mid-month to a low of 44.7 percent — before rising again to close the month out at 45.4 percent. The total fluctuation was only 1.5 percent — the second-most-stable month Obama’s managed in daily approval ratings (second only to last month’s 1.1 percent fluctuation, I should mention).
As with last month, Obama’s daily disapproval rate fluctuated a bit more, but not much. For the second month in a row, Obama’s disapproval numbers stayed within a 2.0 percent range all month long. He started the month very high, and hit his highest number on the second day of December, at 49.6 percent. His disapproval rate then dropped quickly to 47.6 percent in the next week — a number he would hit twice more in the middle of the month. He ended the month only slightly up from this low, at 47.9 percent.
As for the overall monthly averages, Obama stayed at 45.5 percent approval for the third straight month. But the real news was on the disapproval side, where Obama dropped from a monthly average of 49.0 percent to 48.1 percent — in a single month. To put this in some perspective, Obama has only managed to drop this number for five months out of a total of twenty-three months of his term in office so far (his first month in office cannot be counted, as it is used as a baseline). The five months Obama has dropped his disapproval rates are (chronologically):
You’ll notice that three out of those five numbers were posted in a streak Obama has enjoyed over the past three months. Since September, Obama has gotten his disapproval numbers down a total of 1.6 percent — which may not sound like a lot, but is good news indeed when you look at the rest of his numbers on this line. Now, again, to put this in perspective, Obama’s disapproval numbers have risen 2.1 percentage points inside a single month as recently as August, 2010. In other words, in three months of good numbers, Obama hasn’t even made back the ground he lost in a single month last summer. Which is why all of this — good news though it may be — is still only mildly good news, at best.
Again, for perspective’s sake, here is a chart which wildly explodes the vertical scale (so it only covers a total of five percentage points), and only shows Obama’s poll numbers for the past year (which are still so uncannily stable, as these things go, that such a detailed chart is even necessary, in order to truly see the movement in the lines):
[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]
This chart shows the significance of the drop in disapproval over the past three months, as well as the amount of ground Obama still has to make up both in disapproval and approval ratings — if he ever wants to see his numbers “above water” once again (where his approval is higher than his disapproval). On the “net above water/underwater” scale, Obama is also making progress, leading to more (mildly) good statistical news for him. Since the month his lines first crossed over (last July), Obama has posted a better and better gap in this regard. Spiking immediately to 4.2 percent below the waves, Obama has since shrunk this gap every single month, until in December it was only 2.6 percent negative. As I said, good news — but only mildly so.
Other mildly good news from last month — for the second straight month, Obama did not post a single all-time high or low in either daily or monthly numbers. His monthly approval, admittedly, is still pretty close to his all-time low (at 45.3 percent, back in August); but his monthly disapproval number is over a point-and-a-half from his all-time high (49.7 percent, back in September). And neither daily approval nor daily disapproval got really close to all-time highs or lows at any point during December.
Obama’s overall trends are a little hard to predict at this point, even with all this overwhelmingly-mild good news breaking out. The one thing that last months’ numbers show for certain is that all of the movement in the public opinion polls was from “disapprove of the job Obama’s doing” to “undecided.” The entire 0.9 percent that dropped off Obama’s disapproval was added to his undecided numbers, in other words. This pushed the “undecided” line (the black line, in the first chart in this article) up to a high of 6.4 percent. Since Obama’s “honeymoon” period ended (in June, 2009), this has been the high-water mark for his undecided rating, which he has hit three times, now.
Therein lies a cautious tale, when it comes to predicting trends. Now, you’d normally expect that people who disapprove of Obama’s job performance, when they change their minds, would go through a period of indecision about how they feel about the president. And then maybe (just maybe) Obama could convince them to fully support what he’s doing, which would show up in subsequent months. Well, historically, that hasn’t ever happened. Both previous times when Obama raised his undecided numbers to 6.4 percent, it was followed by a month where (both times) his disapproval rate jumped 1.2 percentage points (in September, 2009, and again in June, 2010). Both of these months also posted small downturns in Obama’s approval ratings, as well.
Can Obama reverse this historical trend this time around? Only time will tell. Historically (if that’s any guide) Obama hits these “plateau” situations for a few months, then his approval ratings take another dive. This could indeed happen again.
Looking forward, Republicans are going to be dominating the news for the first few weeks of January, as they take control of the House of Representatives. But then later in the month, Barack Obama is going to have the biggest bully pulpit of the year, as he delivers his “State Of The Union” speech to a joint session of Congress — which will reach more Americans than any other speech he gives throughout the year. This didn’t help him much in the job approval polls last year, but this year could be different. Republicans could have already overreached in terms of what the voters want them to do — even in the few short weeks before President Obama gives his primetime speech. So your guess is as good as mine as to what the next month bodes for Obama’s poll numbers, I have to say.
For the time being, though, it’s been a mildly good month for the White House. Even with all the fractious political fights in the lame duck congressional session which played out last month, Obama — once again — is proving to be steadier than the entire political punditocracy would ever have given him credit for.
[Obama Poll Watch Data:]
Sources And Methodology
ObamaPollWatch.com is an admittedly amateur effort, but we do try to stay professional when it comes to revealing our sources and methodology. All our source data comes from RealClearPolitics.com; specifically from their daily presidential approval ratings “poll of polls” graphic page. We take their daily numbers, log them, and then average each month’s data into a single number — which is then shown on our monthly charts here (a “poll of polls of polls,” if you will…). You can read a much more detailed explanation of our source data and methodology on our “About Obama Poll Watch” page, if you’re interested.
Questions or comments? Use the Email Chris page to drop me a private note.
[Nov 10], [Oct 10], [Sep 10], [Aug 10], [Jul 10], [Jun 10], [May 10], [Apr 10], [Mar 10], [Feb 10], [Jan 10], [Dec 09], [Nov 09], [Oct 09], [Sep 09], [Aug 09], [Jul 09], [Jun 09], [May 09], [Apr 09], [Mar 09]
Obama’s All-Time Statistics
MonthlyHighest Monthly Approval — 2/09 — 63.4%Lowest Monthly Approval — 8/10 — 45.3%
Highest Monthly Disapproval — 9/10 — 49.7%Lowest Monthly Disapproval — 1/09 — 19.6%
DailyHighest Daily Approval — 2/15/09 — 65.5%Lowest Daily Approval — 10/17/10 — 44.2%
Highest Daily Disapproval — 9/26/10 — 51.2%Lowest Daily Disapproval — 1/29/09 — 19.3%
Obama’s Raw Monthly Data
[All-time high in bold, all-time low underlined.]
Month — (Approval / Disapproval / Undecided)12/10 — 45.5 / 48.1 / 6.411/10 — 45.5 / 49.0 / 5.510/10 — 45.5 / 49.1 / 5.409/10 — 45.7 / 49.7 / 4.608/10 — 45.3 / 49.5 / 5.207/10 — 46.6 / 47.4 / 6.006/10 — 47.6 / 46.7 / 5.705/10 — 48.1 / 45.5 / 6.404/10 — 47.8 / 46.5 / 5.703/10 — 48.1 / 46.4 / 5.502/10 — 47.9 / 46.1 / 6.001/10 — 49.2 / 45.3 / 5.512/09 — 49.4 / 44.9 / 5.711/09 — 51.1 / 43.5 / 5.410/09 — 52.2 / 41.9 / 5.909/09 — 52.7 / 42.0 / 5.308/09 — 52.8 / 40.8 / 6.407/09 — 56.4 / 38.1 / 5.506/09 — 59.8 / 33.6 / 6.605/09 — 61.4 / 31.6 / 7.004/09 — 61.0 / 30.8 / 8.203/09 — 60.9 / 29.9 / 9.202/09 — 63.4 / 24.4 / 12.201/09 — 63.1 / 19.6 / 17.3
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Obama Transitions from Bi-curious to Out and Proud on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
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After years of inaction, ambivalence, ambiguity and mixed messages, Obama finally comes out of the closet and signs the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
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The landmark, bipartisan, and Congressional action I witnessed the president sign last week may prove to be the tipping point when it comes to gay rights in America. The sense of optimism and hope were truly palpable amongst the several hundred at the signing ceremony.
My gut told me it was genuine. As proof, I was able to look into the eyes of and speak directly to the president, vice president, Nancy Pelosi, Admiral Mullen, Senator Collins and Barney Frank. Rather amazing they made themselves available.
Convening on that bitterly cold morning of December 22nd was a group of activists, supporters, former soldiers, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who had a big stake in the repeal. No doubt, many or all had worked long and hard for this move toward equality. In the crowd was my friend David Mixner, who was arrested at the White House gate after the policy was implemented in 1992. The president he spent years before working hard to elect had reneged on his campaign pledge to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military.
President Obama also made the campaign pledge to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military and restated that pledge in his State of the Union address earlier this year.
Justice was ultimately served by the repeal. But, at what price? We know over 13,000 brave Americans who risked their lives for their country, were discharged from military service, simply by virtue of who they are. Tens of thousands more subverted their sexual orientation or severed connections with loved ones in order to serve their country -a terrible choice to be forced to make.
Who knows how many chose not to serve in the military as they viewing it as too great a sacrifice? Admiral Mullen, stated, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.” The president cited Admiral Mullen at the ceremony and stated, “That’s why I believe this is the right thing to do for our military. That’s why I believe it is the right thing to do, period.”
If gays and lesbians can now serve with pride and integrity, as they have in the U.K. since 2000 as well as 34 other countries, will their service create other stepping-stones toward equality and social justice?
The military became increasingly out of step with the rest of the country as America discovered over the past four decades they had gays and lesbians as family members, neighbors, coworkers, health care practitioners, financial executives and just about every occupation one can recite. Both national and military polls demonstrated what most of the country already knew: gays and lesbians are clearly able to serve openly in the military. Overwhelming majority support gave politicians the political cover necessary to cast a historic vote to repeal an unfair, outdated and outmoded policy.
It’s possible the repeal of DADT will be cited as an initial stepping-stone toward equality. The repeal now permits gays and lesbians to serve to serve the nation’s largest employer and enlist them.
The president stated, “For we are not a nation that says, “don’t ask, don’t tell. We are a nation that says, ‘Out of many, we are one.’ We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for. Those are the ideals that we uphold today.”
In many parts of America, gays and lesbians have the freedom to live and work openly without discrimination and prejudice. People recognize that gays and lesbians are part of every community and are not threatened by or deem homosexuality as abnormal. Indeed, the American Psychological Association does not recognize anything abnormal, either.
But, in other parts of America, this isn’t so. Gays and lesbians are judged because they’ve allegedly made a choice — a sexual “preference”. A same sex relationship is deemed abnormal and unacceptable. In these parts of the country, including 29 states, gays and lesbians can be fired for simply being homosexual. Only 5 states permit same sex marriage or civil unions. Sadly, there are over 1100 federal provisions that are generally not available to the gay community.
Many organizations are working diligently to educate the remaining parts of America and it appears to be working. I salute the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the ACLU and the state organizations, like PROMO in Missouri for being forces for change. Friendfactor.org is new organization designed to connect and educate new supporters (mostly the heterosexual community) who are committed to helping their LGBT friends achieve full legal freedoms, faster. Harvard recognized the organization’s founder, Brian Elliot, this year for social innovation.
When does the tipping point occur? Or, has it already happened? Much work lies ahead to defeat the so-called DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), along with adding federal anti-discriminatory legislation and allowing for same sex marriage equality. Let repeal of DADT be America’s tipping point toward equality, pointing the way forward for social justice for all.
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In holiday season or any season, there’s always the urge to spruce up the old house, and nothing shows how much you care like a brand-new coat of shellac. Here at the Consumer Retorts test labs, we recently had the chance to put one highly touted brand of shellac through its paces — and the results were quite a surprise.
Barack Shellac hit the market to great fanfare in early November, the latest entry in the burgeoning Do-It-Yourself home-repair category. Backed by a multi-million-dollar ad campaign from household giant GOP MegaSlam, Barack Shellac came out of the chute with “glowing” notices, to say the least.
The early word: Here’s a shellacking you won’t find lacking. Our own findings: Don’t be so sure.
There are many measures of a quality shellac — an expensive multimedia rollout isn’t among them. Here at Consumer Retorts, we pride ourselves on looking beyond the hype; we’re looking for performance. When rating shellacs, we look at shine, of course, and at ease of application. But we also look for durability. A shellacking that wears off quickly is a bad value, whatever the price. Judged by that standard, Barack Shellac just didn’t measure up.
We gave our test floors a standard coating of shellac on November 2, then subjected each of them to the kind of foot traffic commonly found around the house (or even the Senate) as the holidays approach. The initial indications were good. Reflection was clear, with only minor distortion, and the overall combination of tackiness and “slippery-ness” at the surface meant that dramatic high-speed maneuvers were out of the question. To that point, everything was just as MegaSlam’s CEO Mitch McConnell had promised. But within weeks, change was in the air — and on the floor.
By mid-December, the supposedly long-term effects of the November shellacking were already starting to wear off. Our judges noticed multiple bare spots, and there were whole areas with no sign of shellac at all. Far from moving with caution, our volunteer pedestrians were soon crossing the floor at higher speeds than they had dared to employ in the days and weeks before the shellacking.
These results hardly lived up to the manufacturer’s claims. But because of GOP MegaSlam’s long reputation in the floor-covering field (see, for instance, the Kerry Doormat, one of our 2004 Slick Picks), we bent over backward trying to keep an open mind. It was the lame ducks that clinched it for us.
In light of our initial test results, we wondered whether we had simply chosen a particularly well-muscled group of volunteer pedestrians — men and women strong enough to overcome the normal constraints of a fresh coat of shellac. So we brought in the ducks.
They were weak. They were hobbled. They were underfed and overstressed. Not one of them had been airborne in months. Surely, if Barack Shellac was at all like the claims that had been made for it, these ducks would be incapable of doing anything. They would simply slip and slide, or stick helplessly to the floor, until we shipped them back home. That’s not what happened.
Instead, the lame ducks took flight. A few of them even soared, circling over our test floors for hour after hour, day after day. As performance art, it was stunning. As product performance? Not so much. We give Barack Shellac a failing grade.
Perhaps they can re-market it as an energy drink.
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer recently dubbed Barack Obama the “comeback kid,” because of the President’s resurgence after the brutal midterm elections. In just the last few weeks, despite being handed historic losses in the House of Representatives, the President has helped usher in a great deal of important legislation, including one of his campaign pledges to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” With the leadership of the President, the lame duck session of Congress wasn’t lame at all.
In addition to ending DADT and passing the START Treaty (over the objections of his old nemesis Senator John McCain), the President was able to work with Republicans and moderate Democrats to pass an extension of the Bush tax cuts and extend unemployment insurance for millions of out of work Americans. While the progressive wing of the Democratic Party was none-too-pleased, this move to the political middle by President Obama, in my view, offers his best hope for re-election in 2012.
Finding opportunities for compromise with Republicans on more moderate “pro-business” policies will help put people back to work and could ultimately allow President Obama win another term in the White House. American companies need more confidence that burdensome legislation and overreaching government regulations will not negatively impact their ability to operate. The White House should be trying to stiffen the backbones of American businesses and urging them to use their large cash reserves to hire more workers and reinvest in our nation. You cannot on the one hand harshly regulate big business and with the other urge them to start hiring millions of out-of-work Americans. Fair or not, it doesn’t work that way.
In addition to working with centrist-Democrats and Republicans to identify pro-business legislation, the President can also use his administration to curtail heavy-handed regulations that make it harder for industry to prosper. In my last op-ed, I spoke of reigning in the Chemical Action Plans at EPA that seek to regulate chemicals that aren’t even known to be toxic. What else can the President do? He can, for example, oppose a bill that will require cosmetic makers to jump through rigorous hoops to prove to the FDA that their products, which are known to be safe, still do not harm consumers. Other possibilities include opposing harsh new regulations for antibacterial hand soaps (also known to be safe) and ensuring that for-profit colleges are reformed and improved, not eliminated all together. While none of these proposals will destroy our economy, combined, they do create a hostile operating environment for America’s innovators and job creators.
Another reason the President will be well served by moving to the political center is because in 2012 he is going to need to win states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio — all states where very conservative Republicans just won statewide. The only way he can get back these independent voters that he won in 2008 is to adopt more centrist positions and reduce unemployment. If he cannot, the President will be vulnerable to a Republican challenger who will appeal to these independent voters by campaigning on conservative policies to end the current employment slump. To keep the White House, we need a President who appeals to moderate voters — not just hope that Republicans nominate Sarah Palin.
The President’s press conference, just a few weeks ago, where he chastised both the far left and the far right for putting ideological purity over the need for compromise to achieve legislative progress, was a bold and welcome step by Mr. Obama. That willingness to compromise gave him the necessary political capital to move several Republicans and conservative Democrats to supporting passing the START Treaty and ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. So, while moderation and compromise aren’t perfect, they are better than never-ending stalemate. Even progressives must applaud the President’s recent efforts to keep this year’s lame duck session from being lame.
There is a saying in sports that you should never underestimate your opponent. And it might apply in politics as well.
While President Obama has taken his share of knocks this year and things did not look particularly good for him after the mid-term elections, he has risen to the occasion. As the year comes to a close there is progress being made and many important pieces of legislation getting passed.
Champions adjust. And he has definitely done that.
The Obama administration and Congress are working together and they are making progress on behalf of the American people.
With the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ratification of the New START Treaty and passage of the tax bill, he has rolled with the punches and he has emerged from the fray standing tall.
I’m impressed and I think he has handled the pressure very well.
More importantly, President Obama has proven to us he is very resilient and he truly cares about the American people.
Thank you Mr. President for your leadership.