Thursday, May 27, 2010

Not good enough

Sohn, who is of Korean descent, was one of 209 women and 279 minorities among the 619 troops discharged in 2008 under the 17-year ban.
"'Don't ask, don't tell' is like a snapshot of institutional prejudice," says Sohn, 33, a Los Angeles police officer.
The ban has disproportionately affected minorities and women. The latest data, compiled by the gay rights group Servicemembers United from Defense Department numbers, shows that in 2008, 45% of troops discharged under 'Don't ask, don't tell' were minorities, while minorities were 30% of the service. Women accounted for 34% of the discharges but were 14% of the military.

The above is from Marisol Bello's "'Don't ask, don't tell' affects women, minorities more" (USA Today) and Sohn is Iraq War veteran Julianne Sohn. Today votes are expected on the Help-Us-Get-Re-elected measure that's falsely spun as the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. GetEQUAL notes:

From what we can tell, there is no end.

And that's not good enough.

We've been reading the celebratory press releases and emails just like you have. And, for a minute, we were excited that something *real* was going to be done to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) -- the reprehensible ban on lesbians and gay men openly serving in the military.

Then we read the language that Senator Lieberman proposed yesterday as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. This language shifts responsibility for repeal from Congress to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- two-thirds of whom were not elected by a supportive American public. Repeal hinges on a subjective study to ensure that our presence in the military won't have a negative impact on the military, there is no date given to end military discharges of LGBT servicemembers, there is no change to the DADT law right now, and there is no guarantee that repeal will happen -- whether or not the conditions on the amendment are met.

We're happy that Congress may take the first step this week in repealing this discriminatory legislation -- but we're not out of the woods yet.

Watch a video response from Dan and sign our call to end military discharges now:

While we're glad that there is movement on DADT, it is not enough for the servicemembers who have been discharged under the legislation -- some of whom stood with us as we handcuffed ourselves to the White House gate on April 20. For the two of us -- and many more who have been working for the repeal of this legislation for months and years -- this effort is simply a way for Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon to shift responsibility to one another indefinitely.

We hope that you will join us, along with thousands of other GetEQUAL members, to hold the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and our LGBT organizations accountable to enact repeal this year and, in the meantime, to issue an Executive Order to end military discharges immediately. Our Commander-in-Chief made a promise this year in the State of the Union address to repeal DADT this year -- and we hope that you will lend your voice to calling him and others to make good on that promise.

Join us in calling for an Executive Order to stop military discharges now -- not later:

Get Out, Get Active, GetEQUAL!

-- Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, Lt. Dan Choi, and the GetEQUAL crew

Memorial Day is Monday. Lisa Millar (Australia's ABC) notes the fallen and wounded:

It's interesting to ask a group of soldiers how many are on their second or third or fourth deployment. Hands go up across the room. Some of them admittedly are shorter missions than others but the military is discovering what happens when soldiers go back again and again.
This week, after years of requests, the ABC was finally allowed into the Walter Reed Medical Centre in DC. They call it a centre but really it's a vast stretch of buildings that's the hospital for the majority of injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan. We were filming for The 7.30 Report - a story you'll see in the coming weeks - following the challenges facing a young soldier who lost the bottom part of his leg to an IED or improvised explosive device two months ago.
I asked the therapist taking a plastic cast of his stump how many times a week he did this. Sometimes a dozen a day, he said.

And on the topic of Memorial Day, Military Families Speak Out offers the following:

Memorial Day is upon us. We mourn the loss of the 5,523 soldiers, Marines, seamen and airmen who have lost their lives, the uncounted number who have taken their own lives as a result of the war, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children who have died as a result of these senseless wars. Each loss reverberates through a family and community that will be forever changed.

At this time we also reflect on the financial cost of the wars. On May 30th, spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach 1 trillion dollars. That is 1 trillion dollars that should be better used than for war. Used to assist our families and towns through economic hard times and for humanitarian aid in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As heartbreaking as it can be to speak out, the Memorial Day weekend provides an opportunity for us. The American people need to hear your stories and be inspired to find a peaceful solution. Please raise your voice, this weekend.

Please download our Memorial Day flyer here and use it at events this weekend. You can also make use of this "What You Can Do" flyer developed by the MFSO Upstate chapter and insert your own local contact information. If you would like a word version to edit for local information or know of local events that you would like help promoting, contact National Organizer Nikki Morse at

Call your US Representative and ask them to support the McGovern bill and vote against supplemental funding and fully fund the safe and orderly withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Call your Senators and ask them to support the companion Feingold bill and vote against funding. Our elected officials will be on recess through June 7th and in their home districts. Organize meetings with them to say "1 trillion for war: NO MORE!"

To find your Representative and Senator and contact them directly in their Washington or district offices, go to

Thank you for speaking out. Please let your friends and family know about our work.

There's not a day in the US that's held for the foreign victims of America's wars. Despite that absence, the tolls for the wounded and the dead Iraqis continues to mount.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspaper) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left six people wounded, another which left three wounded, a third which left four injured and a fourth which left two injured while a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two Iraqi soldiers and a Mosul home bombing which left Saleh al-Hadeedi's wife wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Khattab Awni (Ministry of the Interior's Inspector General office) was assassinated yesterday and that 2 gueards were shot in Mosul Tuesday. Reuters adds 1 "police captain" was shot dead yesterday in Mosul.

The following community sites -- and -- updated last night:

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee issued the following:

Two years ago, the unchecked greed and recklessness on Wall Street shattered the lives of millions of Americans, eliminating 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars in savings. After months of hard work, Senate Democrats have passed legislation that holds big banks and CEOs accountable for their own mistakes. The bill restores transparency to the systems and puts consumers back in control of their own financial future; establishes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect Main Street ’s interests; ensures that no taxpayer funds will be used for bailouts; creates an advance warning system to look out for troubled institutions; and brings transparency to the derivatives market.

Despite the overwhelming call for reform by the American people, Senate Republicans spent weeks trying to protect special interests and banks. They blocked progress and attempted to water down the legislation on behalf of CEOs and credit card companies. Democrats refused to take no for an answer, believing that hard-working American families deserve strong protections from the predatory practices of Wall Street.

The Restoring American Financial Stability Act will protect consumers, investors, and small businesses in a number of ways:

A New “Cop On The Beat” To Protect Consumers. The Restoring American Financial Stability Act will establish a new “cop on the beat” to protect consumers. The independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) will provide American consumers with the information they need to empower them to make smart financial choices for themselves. The Bureau also will help guard against the hidden terms and fine print that trap American families in unfair, deceptive and abusive financial products. American consumers already have protections against faulty appliances, contaminated food, and dangerous toys. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will establish a watchdog to oversee consumer financial products, giving Americans confidence that there is a system in place that works for them – not just big banks on Wall Street.

No Taxpayer Bailouts. After big banks and Wall Street CEOs dragged our economy to the brink of complete collapse, hard-working Americans were left to pay the price. The Restoring American Financial Stability Act will protect American taxpayers from having to bail out financial firms and will force Wall Street to pay for its own mistakes. The bill will strengthen big firms to better withstand stress, put a price on excessive growth or complexity that poses risks to the financial system, and create a way to shut down big financial firms that fail without threatening the economy.

Advance Warning System. The bill will also establish a new framework to prevent a recurrence or mitigate the impact of future financial crises that could cripple financial markets and damage the economy. The Financial Stability Oversight Council established by the bill will focus on identifying, monitoring and addressing systemic risks posed by large, complex financial firms as well as products and activities that spread risk across firms. It will make recommendations to regulators for increasingly stringent rules on companies that grow large and complex enough to pose a threat to the financial stability of the United States .

Strong Protections for Investors. For years, the big banks and Wall Street CEOs set the rules of the road and stacked the deck to guarantee themselves billions in bonuses, all at the expense of their investors. The Restoring American Financial Stability Act will give investors better protections, give shareholders more of a voice, and grant the SEC more authority. The bill will also provide tough new rules for transparency for credit rating agencies to protect investors and businesses. Transparency will help to prevent future meltdowns and give American investors and businesses access to the information they need to make financial decisions that work for them.

Transparency and Accountability in the Derivatives Market. The bill will protect taxpayers and buffer the financial system from excessive risk-taking. Over-the-counter derivatives will be regulated by the CFTC and the SEC, more will be cleared through centralized clearing houses and traded on exchanges, swap dealers and major swap participants will be subject to capital and margin requirements, and trades will be reported so that regulators can monitor risks in this large, complex market.

The Financial Stability Act Includes Many Key Amendments. Throughout the last few weeks, Senate Democrats have worked to make a good bill even better. Some of these important amendments include:

Ending taxpayer bailouts – The Boxer Amendment (3737) makes it clear that no failing firm may enter any FDIC resolution process without be liquidated. No taxpayer money may be used to keep a failing firm alive.

· Fair interchange feesThe Durbin Amendment (3989) helps ensure that the fees charged to small businesses and other entities for accepting debit cards are reasonable and proportional to the costs incurred.

· Providing consumers with credit scores – The Udall Amendment (4016) takes two existing consumer notices in federal law, and requires them to also include a consumer’s credit score.

· Federal Energy Regulatory CommissionThe Bingaman Amendment (3892) preserves existing FERC authority to ensure that rates to consumers are just and reasonable. Had this amendment not been passed, utilities could have used loopholes to harm consumers.

· Consumer protections for service members and their families – The Reed Amendment (3943) strengthens consumer protections and helps prevent military families from being victimized by predatory lenders. It establishes the Office of Service Member Affairs within the Consumer Bureau to serve as a watchdog for military personnel.

· Preventing hidden payments to lenders – The Merkley Amendment (3962) protects homeowners by prohibiting mortgage lenders and loan originators from receiving hidden payments when they steer homeowners into high-cost loans and will create strong underwriting standards to ensure borrowers have the ability to repay their loans.

· Apply recaptured taxpayer bailouts to the national debt – The Bennet Amendment (3928) ensures that repaid banking, housing and auto bailout funds are used to pay down the deficit, not fund further spending.

· Audit the Federal ReserveThe Sanders Amendment (3738), as modified, requires the GAO to conduct a one-time audit of all the emergency actions the Federal Reserve has taken within one year after the bill is passed and submit the report to Congress.

· Ending the conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie – The Dodd Amendment (3938) instructs the Treasury Department to conduct a study on how to end the conservatorship for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while preserving a deep and liquid mortgage market.

· Whistleblower protections for employees of ratings organizations – The Cardin Amendment (3840) extends whistleblower protections to employees of the 10 National Recognized Statistical Ratings Organizations.

DPC FACT SHEET | Senate Democrats Are On Your Side: Reforming Wall Street to Protect Main Street

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends