Dick Cheney Does Not Get It

This morning Dick Cheney said that we cannot run the war by committee, but my question is "have we been able to run the war as a dictator?" This seems to be a continuation of the same core philosophy that this administration has demonstrated from day one in that they are going to do what they want, whether or not anyone else is going to help, whether or not anyone else wants them to, and whether or not it works.

This recent retort by Bush and his cronies to say that if you do not like his plan then to tell him yours shows just how clueless this administration continues to be.  We all know that the population does not want the troops in Iraq any more.  We all know that the elections in November were in large part a referendum on that.  Mr Bush, Mr Cheney, it is not a matter of running the war by committee nor is it a matter of us telling you what our plan is.  We already have.  We want a full pull out now.

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Evaluating The House's first full week

(cross-posted at Daily Kos)

Today marks the end of the first full week that the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress has been in business. Given that, I think it'd be a good idea to evaluate just how Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been performing during their first week on the job. One has to keep in mind that the House and the Senate operate quite differently, so it's understandable that the House has been able to get more matters voted on in a quicker period of time, particularly since we are pushing through an agenda that is broadly supported by a vast majority of the American people. The Senate, though, prides itself on its style of deliberation, so it was a given that much of the legislation would not be passed right off.

Today, I'll be taking a look at how the House has been doing. Below the fold, there's an outline of what the House Democrats aimed to achieve in the first 100 hours of the new Congress:

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A Survey of Anti-Escalation and Redeployment Bills

I am compiling a list of bills introduced in the 110th Congress dealing with ending, lessening, or keeping at the status quo, American involvement in Iraq.  

H.Con.Res.23: Offered by Dennis Kucinich
Expresses the sense of the Congress that troops not be escalated (note the use of the word "escalated") in Iraq.  I may be wrong, but this appears to be a non-binding resolution.  Judging from the compartively high number of cosponsors and the fact that Lynch is a cosponsor, it appears this may become a "consensus" piece of legislation, basically hot air but no substance.  It has 21 cosponsors as of 12:28 PM EST on January 11:  

Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] | Rep Carson, Julia [IN-7] | Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] | Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14]| Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] | Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] | Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] | Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] | Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] | Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] | Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] | Rep Johnson, Henry C. "Hank," Jr. [GA-4] | Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] | Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] | Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9] | Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] | Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] | Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] | Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] | Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] | Rep Wu, David [OR-1]

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Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass

General John Shalikashvili, former joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, said in an op-ed this week that change is needed on our Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass (DADT) policy for gay servicemembers. (While the oft-dropped "Don't Pursue" has always been part of the policy, seems as if Defense Department added the bit on harassment in 2000.) DADT is a Washington creation, a compromise made by the whole city. In 1992, at the White House, Clinton wanted to issue an executive order opening the military to gay soldiers. Across the river, the Pentagon objected. Up on Capitol Hill, the Senate got a moratorium on any policy change and commenced to hold a series of hearings. When through the months, a "don't ask, don't tell" consensus emerged, a battered Clinton claimed it as his new plan. Congress passed the compromise into law, Clinton signed it, and the Defense Department implemented it as policy for U.S. armed servicemembers throughout the world.

The relevant section of the law, 10 U.S.C § 654, reads in part:

The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.

Perhaps natural for policy made in the way this one was, in practice it's confusing stuff. Testifying before Congress at the time, even then Defense Secretary Les Aspin wasn't sure whether or not a declaration like "I am a homosexual" would result in a military separation.

In many ways, the policy today is nobody's child. No one really wants to claim it as their own. As it stands, power to change it rests with Congress, who can pass new law to guide DOD regulations. The process of getting Congress to pass such a law would be greatly eased by getting DOD buy-in. And for its part, DOD has long argued that its hands are tied by Congress. (The statement of one Undersecretary of Defense is fairly typical of the Pentagon's public stand on the matter: "The Department's position is to administer the law in a manner that is both fair and consistent.")

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PA-08: Rockin' at the 110th Congress

(cross-posted at Progressive Wave and Daily Kos)

Yesterday, the 110th Congress began its work in Washington, D.C. After 12 years in the oft-oppressed minority at the Capitol, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid became the leaders of the House and the Senate, promising to work in bipartisan fashion. Although I wish there was a victory party for Ned Lamont (another candidate I had volunteered for this election cycle) to visit, I was able to attend one for Rep. Patrick Murphy, who won his congressional race by a slim margin of 1,518 votes. If the reception he received today from his constituents and other fans of his is any indication, he has a bright future ahead of him in the House of Representatives. I decided to catch a train down from New York to partake in the festivities.

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