Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Roundup

The upcoming November elections draw near, both Democrats and Republicans are in an election state of mind. Both parties are focusing on trying to appease their voter base, while Obama and his administration push forward to make due on some promises such as health care reform and the repeal of the ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ military policy.

According to recent surveys 32% of Americans affiliate with the Democratic Party and 26% self-identify as Republican, while 39% identify as independents. Regarding the upcoming fall election, 34% of Americans say that they will definitely vote Democratic, while 37% say that they definitely will not.A majority of the public view both Democrats and Republicans unfavorably. 51% of the public view the Democratic Party negatively, and 57% for Republicans. Three- quarters of the American public disapproves of Congress, which is their highest disapproval rating since 1977. Additionally, half of the public would like to see the filibuster rule changed, in order limit back and forth politics of Congress, and ensure sure legislation actually can be passed.

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Long Overdue - Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama took a pivotal step towards repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Approximately 16 years later, this repeal is far overdue.

It was in the middle of the speech, in one clear sentence, that America was reminded of a federal law enacted in 1993 that rips at the fabric of our nation’s core belief in liberty and equality.  President Barack Obama set a timetable to end the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy passed during former President Bill Clinton’s tenure.  “This year -- this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do.”

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NYT: Victory for Obama Over Military Lobby

Star Wars? Quite the contrary, in fact.
Effective and sensible leadership? Yes We Can.

Our Democratic President, along with his Defense Secretary and formidable White House staff, have pulled off a major accomplishment and can claim victory over the Industrial Military Complex. The people who follow such things say this is surprising. I, on the other hand, think it's just plain awesome!

Published: October 28, 2009

When the Obama administration proposed canceling a host of expensive weapons systems last spring, some of the military industry's allies in Congress assumed, as they had in the past, that they would have the final say.

Congressional lapdogs and revolving door aspirants, many who are seasoned geezers used to getting their way (and subsequent big $$$ from lobbyists), had a bit of schooling, it would seem, from the new kids up the street...

Military analysts said Mr. Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, also aimed at the most bloated programs. And Senator John McCain of Arizona, the former Republican presidential candidate, who has criticized the Pentagon's cost overruns, provided Mr. Obama with political cover to make the cuts without being seen as soft on the military.

"They probably get an `A' from the standpoint of their success on their major initiatives," said Fred Downey, a former Senate aide who is now vice president for national security at the Aerospace Industries Association. "They probably got all of them but one or maybe two, and that's an extraordinarily high score."

I'll give you minute for that to sink in.

Still, even White House officials say they were surprised at how far they got in reshaping the weapons programs.

"In terms of sort of bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington and changing the way the place works, you couldn't have picked a more challenging area than the defense budget," said Rob Nabors, the deputy director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

Good work, Mr. President. Keep it coming. ss/29defense.html?_r=2&ref=politics

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Are Don't Ask, Don't Tell's days numbered?

How about some good news for a change? Representative Patrick Murphy (PA-08) told the Huffington Post yesterday that a bill repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy will reach President Obama's desk soon:

"This policy is going to be repealed in a short matter of time," Murphy said. As for service members who are being discharged because of their sexuality, Murphy said "If they can hold on, help is on the way. And help is going to come [from] the Congress and be signed into law by the president."

Murphy has 168 co-sponsors for legislation that would repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell", as well as several commitments from party leadership that the bill will come to a vote.

Murphy became the lead sponsor for H.R. 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, last month after Representative Ellen Tauscher (CA-10) resigned to take a State Department position. Murphy announced plans to meet with every member of the House to discuss this issue and launched the Let Them Serve website. You can view the list of 168 House co-sponsors here.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to hold hearings on repealing DADT sometime this fall. Roll Call reported last month, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has also signaled support for addressing the issue -- if the House sends over legislation first." I'll believe that when I see it, but getting a bill through the House would be a significant step in the right direction.

Speaking of DADT, this week blogger Lane Hudson challenged Bill Clinton at Netroots Nation, and Clinton defended his record on LGBT issues. You can read or watch the exchange here.

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Where National Security Meets Climate Change

I whole-heartily reccomend an extremely important article in the New York Times today called "Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security." The article documents a number of the non-environmental threats posed by inaction on climate change, quoting military experts and sources like Gen. Tony Zinni (ret.), the National Intelligence Council, the DoD's National Defense University, and so on. An excerpt:

The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change....

"We will pay for this one way or another," Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine and the former head of the Central Command, wrote recently in a report he prepared as a member of a military advisory board on energy and climate at CNA, a private group that does research for the Navy. "We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we'll have to take an economic hit of some kind.

"Or we will pay the price later in military terms," he warned. "And that will involve human lives."

The ongoing health care debate matters, but I would make this point about priorities and political capital: People are hurt during delays in health care legislation, but they are hurt BY delays in climate change legislation.

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