Fighting to Preserve Health Insurance for 43,000 Pennsylvanians

For several months, we have been telling Pennsylvanians about the crisis facing the state's adultBasic health insurance program — but nothing we have said so far holds a candle to Roseann Davis’ story.

Roseann DavisRoseann, like tens of thousands of other working Pennsylvanians, earns too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance. So for the past six years, she has relied on the state's adultBasic program, a no-frills, low-cost insurance plan.

That program could end as early as February if Governor-elect Tom Corbett and the incoming Legislature don't take swift action to shore up funding for it early in 2011.

Roseann, a Bucks County mother of two suffers from a number of chronic conditions, including Crohn's disease, for which treatment costs $123,000 per year. Roseann is finding it difficult to concentrate on the holidays as she worries about what will happen if she loses her adultBasic coverage early next year.

At one point in a recent interview with CBS 3 in Philadelphia, Roseann shares a heartbreaking letter she sent to state lawmakers asking them to preserve adultBasic. In it, she writes: “I will not let my family suffer with expenses cause of this, cause of me. So yes, I would rather die than let them have all my bills.”

So why is adultBasic running out of money? Agreements between the Commonwealth and Pennsylvania's four nonprofit Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans to provide critical funding to adultBasic are expiring this month. The Blues agreed to make those contributions beginning in 2005 after public outcry over their growing surpluses. Meanwhile, the Blues’ surpluses have grown from $3.5 billion in 2002 to $5.6 billion in 2009, despite their contributions to adultBasic from 2005 onward.

Earlier this year, the Blues agreed to continue funding adultBasic through June 2011, but  their actual contributions have fallen short. That could spell the end of adultBasic as early as February.

More than 200 Pennsylvania organizations and residents sent a letter to the Governor-elect and his transition team earlier this month urging them to bring the Blues to the table and come up with a solution that preserves health coverage for the 43,000 Pennsylvanians, like Roseann, enrolled in adultBasic.

CBS 3 is just one of more than a dozen news reports and editorials over the past month on adultBasic and what it means to 43,000 Pennsylvanians enrolled in the program. Check out the coverage here.

Then add your name to the growing list of Pennsylvanians urging policymakers to preserve adultBasic.

Finally, if you are on adultBasic and worried about losing your health insurance, let us know. Sharing your story is one of the most powerful things you can do to help our fight!

Senate Passes START, 9/11 Responders Bill

Now that a very dear price has been paid to bribe Republicans into doing something for the good of the country progress continues being made in Washington.  The START Treaty was finally ratified with 71 votes (26 Republicans including John “Country First” McCain voted NO) enabling us to send our nuclear arms inspectors back to Russia and to ratchet down the threats to our national security.

These GOP lawmakers were simply shamed by The Daily Show and other media into assisting the heroes of 9/11 who rushed to the WTC site to help then came down with serious illnesses.  Their opposition to the bill was built around its funding which closed some corporate tax loopholes.  To understand the actions of Republicans this fall is to see inside to the real soul of the GOP.  They extorted tax cuts for the rich and then opposed helping heroes because it would stop their rich benefactors from parking their profits overseas to avoid paying taxes.  The soul of the Republican Party is money and its heart is a cold clump of gold with no feeling, compassion or empathy for anything but gold.  The next two years with the GOP, led by a bunch of new committee chairs who represent the very crazies of the right wing, should prove interesting.

President Signs DADT Repeal

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was always a ridiculous concept and when Bill Clinton signed it into law I lost faith in Democratic Presidents to do the right thing.  Seventeen years later another Democratic President signed its repeal at the Department of the Interior this morning.  At his side were Senate and House leaders along with our own Rep. Patrick Murphy who was a major player in the success of this effort.  In his four years in Washington Patrick made DADT one of his top legislative priorities and he was there standing behind Speaker Pelosi as the President signed the bill.  We’re going to miss Patrick in DC but this young man still has a very bright future.

The President’s remarks:

THE PRESIDENT:  You are welcome.  (Applause.)

    This is a good day.

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, it is!

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You rock, President Obama!

    THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Laughter.)

You know, I am just overwhelmed.  This is a very good day.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank all of you, especially the people on this stage, but each and every one of you who have been working so hard on this, members of my staff who worked so hard on this.  I couldn’t be prouder.

    Sixty-six years ago, in the dense, snow-covered forests of Western Europe, Allied Forces were beating back a massive assault in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge.  And in the final days of fighting, a regiment in the 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army came under fire.  The men were traveling along a narrow trail.  They were exposed and they were vulnerable.  Hundreds of soldiers were cut down by the enemy.

And during the firefight, a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine.  And dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead.  But one soldier, a friend, turned back.  And with shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground.

click below for the remainder:

For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone.  It was a full four decades after the war, when the two friends reunited in their golden years, that Lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend Andy, was gay.  He had no idea.  And he didn’t much care.  Lloyd knew what mattered.  He knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life.  It was his friend.

And Lloyd’s son is with us today.  And he knew that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or by gender or by religion or by creed; that what made it possible for him to survive the battlefields of Europe is the reason that we are here today.   (Applause.)  That’s the reason we are here today.  (Applause.)

So this morning, I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  (Applause.)  It is a law — this law I’m about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.

No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military — regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance — because they happen to be gay.  No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.  (Applause.)

As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives.  None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.”  (Applause.)

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.

Now, many fought long and hard to reach this day.  I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans who put conviction ahead of politics to get this done together.  (Applause.  I want to recognize Nancy Pelosi — (applause) — Steny Hoyer —  (applause) — and Harry Reid.  (Applause.)

Today we’re marking an historic milestone, but also the culmination of two of the most productive years in the history of Congress, in no small part because of their leadership.  And so we are very grateful to them.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Joe Lieberman — (applause) — and Susan Collins.  (Applause.)  And I think Carl Levin is still working — (laughter) — but I want to add Carl Levin.  (Applause.)  They held their shoulders to the wheel in the Senate.  I am so proud of Susan Davis, who’s on the stage.  (Applause.)  And a guy you might know — Barney Frank.  (Applause.)  They kept up the fight in the House.  And I’ve got to acknowledge Patrick Murphy, a veteran himself, who helped lead the way in Congress.  (Applause.)

    I also want to commend our military leadership.  Ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a topic in my first meeting with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs.  (Applause.)  We talked about how to end this policy.  We talked about how success in both passing and implementing this change depended on working closely with the Pentagon.  And that’s what we did.

And two years later, I’m confident that history will remember well the courage and the vision of Secretary Gates — (applause) — of Admiral Mike Mullen, who spoke from the heart and said what he believed was right — (applause) — of General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Deputy Secretary William Lynn, who is here.  (Applause.)  Also, the authors of the Pentagon’s review, Jeh Johnson and General Carter Ham, who did outstanding and meticulous work —  (applause) — and all those who laid the groundwork for this transition.

And finally, I want to express my gratitude to the men and women in this room who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Services.  (Applause.)  I want to thank all the patriots who are here today, all of them who were forced to hang up their uniforms as a result of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — but who never stopped fighting for this country, and who rallied and who marched and fought for change.  I want to thank everyone here who stood with them in that fight.

Because of these efforts, in the coming days we will begin the process laid out by this law.  Now, the old policy remains in effect until Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen and I certify the military’s readiness to implement the repeal.  And it’s especially important for service members to remember that.  But I have spoken to every one of the service chiefs and they are all committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently.  We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done.  (Applause.)

Now, with any change, there’s some apprehension.  That’s natural.  But as Commander-in-Chief, I am certain that we can effect this transition in a way that only strengthens our military readiness; that people will look back on this moment and wonder why it was ever a source of controversy in the first place.    

I have every confidence in the professionalism and patriotism of our service members.  Just as they have adapted and grown stronger with each of the other changes, I know they will do so again.  I know that Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, as well as the vast majority of service members themselves, share this view.  And they share it based on their own experiences, including the experience of serving with dedicated, duty-bound service members who were also gay.

    As one special operations warfighter said during the Pentagon’s review — this was one of my favorites — it echoes the experience of Lloyd Corwin decades earlier:  “We have a gay guy in the unit.  He’s big, he’s mean, he kills lots of bad guys.”  (Laughter.)  “No one cared that he was gay.”  (Laughter.) And I think that sums up perfectly the situation.  (Applause.)

Finally, I want to speak directly to the gay men and women currently serving in our military.  For a long time your service has demanded a particular kind of sacrifice.  You’ve been asked to carry the added burden of secrecy and isolation.  And all the while, you’ve put your lives on the line for the freedoms and privileges of citizenship that are not fully granted to you.

You’re not the first to have carried this burden, for while today marks the end of a particular struggle that has lasted almost two decades, this is a moment more than two centuries in the making.

There will never be a full accounting of the heroism demonstrated by gay Americans in service to this country; their service has been obscured in history.  It’s been lost to prejudices that have waned in our own lifetimes.  But at every turn, every crossroads in our past, we know gay Americans fought just as hard, gave just as much to protect this nation and the ideals for which it stands.

There can be little doubt there were gay soldiers who fought for American independence, who consecrated the ground at Gettysburg, who manned the trenches along the Western Front, who stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima.  Their names are etched into the walls of our memorials.  Their headstones dot the grounds at Arlington.

And so, as the first generation to serve openly in our Armed Forces, you will stand for all those who came before you, and you will serve as role models to all who come after.  And I know that you will fulfill this responsibility with integrity and honor, just as you have every other mission with which you’ve been charged.

And you need to look no further than the servicemen and women in this room — distinguished officers like former Navy Commander Zoe Dunning.  (Applause.)  Marines like Eric Alva, one of the first Americans to be injured in Iraq.  (Applause.)  Leaders like Captain Jonathan Hopkins, who led a platoon into northern Iraq during the initial invasion, quelling an ethnic riot, earning a Bronze Star with valor.  (Applause.)  He was discharged, only to receive emails and letters from his soldiers saying they had known he was gay all along — (laughter) — and thought that he was the best commander they ever had.  (Applause.)

There are a lot of stories like these — stories that only underscore the importance of enlisting the service of all who are willing to fight for this country.  That’s why I hope those soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have been discharged under this discriminatory policy will seek to reenlist once the repeal is implemented.  (Applause.)

That is why I say to all Americans, gay or straight, who want nothing more than to defend this country in uniform:  Your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known.  (Applause.)

Some of you remembered I visited Afghanistan just a few weeks ago.  And while I was walking along the rope line — it was a big crowd, about 3,000 — a young woman in uniform was shaking my hand and other people were grabbing and taking pictures.  And she pulled me into a hug and she whispered in my ear, “Get ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ done.”  (Laughter and applause.)  And I said to her, “I promise you I will.”  (Applause.)  

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.”  (Applause.)  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.  (Applause.)  Those are the ideals that generations have fought for.  Those are the ideals that we uphold today.  And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law.  (Applause.)  

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We’re here, Mr. President.  Enlist us now.  (Laughter.)

(The bill is signed.)

THE PRESIDENT:  This is done.  (Applause.)

 

On How To Honor The Brave, Or, Why We Hate Republicans

( – promoted by John Morgan)

We are coming down to the end of the 111th Congress, and we are all surprised that a number of things actually got done: a nuclear arms reduction treaty appears to be on the verge of approval, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed; we have new health care and financial reforms (admittedly, they’re imperfect solutions, but…), food safety reform, a better way to do student loans, and a credit card reform act that’s forcing issuers to spend thousands of labor hours to develop new and better ways to work over consumers.

And yet there is one important bit of legislation that is still being blocked by Republicans, and, amazingly enough, it’s a bill that would provide health care and compensation for those people who ran down to the World Trade Center site on September 11th, and for months thereafter, in the effort to rescue and recover victims, and to restore normal operations in the city after the attack.

Yes, folks, you heard me correctly: the Party of waving flags and “Second Amendment solutions” and tri-cornered hats and Rudy (“noun, verb, 9/11”) Giuliani is now engaged in a desperate battle to screw over the very 9/11 first responders that you would think they would be…well, putting up on a stage somewhere next to Rudy Giuliani.

“…no! You hear me? You go to Hell! You go to Hell and you die!”

–“Mr. Garrison”, as “Mr. Hat”, talking to “Kyle”, from the television show South Park

It’s HR 847, also known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, that we’re talking about here, and it’s intended to provide health care coverage and compensation for the police, firefighters, trade workers (lots of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, operating engineers, steelworkers, and others worked on the site after the planes hit), and nearby residents who have been experiencing a litany of cancers, heart disease, respiratory, and neurological problems over the past several years.

Who, you might ask, is James Zadroga, that they should name an Act after him?

He carried NYPD badge number 6663, and Detective Zadroga was one of those who was part of the initial World Trade Center response that morning; they were able to get about 25,000 people out of the buildings alive and basically unhurt.

He was actually inside 7 World Trade Center as it began to collapse, but he got out of there that day; according to the Officer Down Memorial Page website he spent another 470 hours sifting through the debris.

Here’s something else the website says about the man:

“Shortly after finishing his rescue and recovery work at the World Trade Center, Detective Zadroga developed a chronic cough, shortness of breath, acid reflux, and was plagued by headaches. Within months he required oxygen tanks to breathe as well as other medicines to slow the deterioration of his health. His condition continued to worsen and Detective Zadroga was granted a 75% pay disability pension on November 1, 2004.

Detective Zadroga died on January 6, 2006, as a result of respiratory disease, black lung disease, and mercury on the brain. His death was directly linked to his work at Ground Zero.”

So why is a New York City cop’s biography an issue?

Well, for a variety of reasons, Zadroga, and others in similar situations, aren’t getting their health care paid for; this is often because their health insurers claim that this is an industrial insurance problem. (The industrial insurance folks, by the way, are fighting 40% of those claims.)

Beyond that, lots of the victims are losing the ability to work altogether, which means they’re getting by on either unemployment or disability payments, which means they’re in danger of losing their homes and cars and the ability to continue their former lives.

And, of course, some of these folks have died, and there are claims that have been made by survivors.

The Zadroga Bill would compensate these folks for what happened to them-and you wouldn’t think helping out the cops and firefighters and volunteers who helped dig out the World Trade Center site would be that big a deal…especially since all those Republicans are so big on supporting the troops and waving the flag and landing on aircraft carriers and accomplishing missions and all that kind of stuff.

As it turns out, that’s not the case.

Instead, every single Senate Republican, with the exception of Illinois’ Mark Kirk, has chosen not to support the bill.

And to really show just how ironic they could be, Republicans chose Senator (and Doctor) Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to announce that he would personally block the bill to provide “healthcare for heroes”:

“…this is a bill that’s been drawn up and forced through Congress at the end of the year on a basis to solve a problem that we didn’t have time to solve and we didn’t get done.”

(We are obligated to note that Coburn’s “end of the year” comment is a giant load of hooey: In June, the Senate Health Committee held a hearing on the bill; Coburn is a member of that Committee but he did not show up for the hearing.)

So with everything else getting done in the lame-duck session, what’s the problem with helping cops and firefighters and volunteer cleanup workers?

At first, of course, Republicans demanded that rich people had to get their tax cuts first, then they said they couldn’t support closing tax loopholes to pay for the bill. After that, Fox News tried to get roughly 20 Republican Senators to come on and explain their objections.

Every one refused, a fact Shepard Smith brought to the attention of the Fox Nation by naming them all on the air. In fact, things are so bad that Smith and Chris Wallace had this exchange of opinions one night:

Smith: “Who’s going to hold these people’s feet to the fire? We’re able to put a 52-story building so far down there at Ground Zero, we’re able to pay for tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them and it’s not going to stimulate the economy. But we can’t give health care to Ground Zero first responders who ran right into the fire? You know how do they how do they sleep at night after this vote on uh ground zero first responders from 9/11? Are they going to get that done or are we going to leave these American heroes out there to twist in the wind?”

Wallace: “Well, it’s a good question and it’s a national shame. The idea that, you know, the people who were there were the first responders after 9/11 and have had health problems as a result — you would think if you are going to take care of all of these other things – and they were gonna pass these earmarks and name buildings and post offices after people – that they would take care of some authentic American heroes. But, that I don’t know what the deal is and whether they will get to that or not.”

Smith: “[T]hese people ran to ground zero to save people’s lives and we are not even going to give ’em medicine for the illness that they got down there? It’s disgusting – it’s a national disgrace – it’s a shame – and everybody who voted against it should have to stand up for and account for himself or herself. Is anybody going to hold them accountable?”

To his credit, Rudy Giuliani has been out there this past week, working the media, calling for the bill to pass:

“This should not be seen as a Democratic or Republican issue. It shouldn’t even been seen as a fiscal issue. This is a matter of morality, it’s a matter of obligation…”

So what can you do about all this?

It appears there may be a vote today; the more pressure we exert, the more shameful it becomes to be Tom Coburn, John Kyl, and Mitch McConnell-and if you want to give a Christmas gift to a bunch of real, live, genuine heroes, here’s your chance to do it.

Tom Coburn’s Washington DC Senate office phone number is 202-224-5754, and I’m sure the staff would love nothing better than to spend the entire day hearing what y’all have to say about this situation. When you’re done, Jon Kyl’s Washington number is 202-224-4521-and for those who wish to make a statement with art, he accepts faxes as well, at 202-224-2207.

It’s hard to imagine how Republicans can top screwing over rescue workers at Christmas-but with a bit of effort and imagination, I’m sure it won’t be long before Dana Perino is on “Fox and Friends” defending something even more heinous in the name of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

These are indeed interesting times, and I just can’t wait to see what’s next.

Does God send natural disasters as punishment?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

It is Just Me Or….

Has the Congress gotten more done in the last 2 weeks then they’ve done in a long while?

We may not agree with everything that has been accomplished but we have unemployment & DADT. Now the Start Treaty is looking pretty good for passage and there’s word that 9/11 Responders bill might actually get through.

Is that the trick? Do we need to change the makeup of Congress every 2 years in order to force anything to get done at the last minute?

Opinions?

Green Party Says “No” to Stop-and-Frisk Policy at Philly City Council Hearing

From the Green Party of Philadelphia:

A representative of the Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP) testified against the stop-and-frisk policy at Philadelphia City Council hearings on Tuesday, December 14. Stop-and-frisk has been enforced by Mayor Nutter, City Council, and the police for the last three years. Stop-and-frisk involves a police officer running his or her hands along the outer garments to detect any concealed weapons. The stop-and-frisk program is being criticized by opponents who say that it leads to racial profiling and direct violations of citizens’ Constitutional Rights.

Hugh Giordano, www.hughgiordano.com, who is a union organizer and candidate for PA State Representative in District 194, represented the Green Party, www.gpop.org. Giordano, in his testimony told a story in which as a young teenager, he was pulled over, frisked and called “Chico” several times by the police. “I was so embarrassed,” Giordano told City Council, “I was accused of stealing the car I was driving, and when I told the officer it was my car, he told me, ‘We’ll see about that, Chico.'”

Giordano, who is Italian with tan skin and dark complexion, testified that he was told to put his hands on top of the car and was frisked as if he was some sort of violent criminal. “I did nothing wrong, but was profiled because of my age, the way I looked and because I was urban.” Giordano told City Council that he was so embarrassed because it was 5:00 p.m. on a Friday, and it was rush hour. “People were staring at me. It really ruined my day.”

Giordano feels that when stop-and-frisk is used on innocent citizens, it creates tension among the young citizens and the police. “If you make enemies with the innocent citizens of Philadelphia because you have such policies that make this possible, you will continue to have a ‘no-snitching’ mentality among the residents. They will protect other citizens rather than tell police what is going on in the area,” said Giordano. The no-snitching mentality refers to a code of the streets that you don’t “rat” on others to the police. Giordano feels that creating tension between police and citizens only makes the no-snitching mentality stronger.

Giordano made it clear that stop-and-frisk targets, urban, minority and young citizens. “This law is a form of Jim Crow law,” said Giordano, referring to discriminatory laws used to maintain segregation of the races. “It attacks a certain group of people, and the numbers and testimony shows it.” During 2009, police stopped and frisked 253,333 Philadelphians, 72 percent of whom were African-Americans. Only eight percent of these stops resulted in arrests. This is a violation of the Constitutional Rights of every resident of Philadelphia.

Giordano also criticized City Council because when it came to the testimony part of the hearing, they enforced speaking time-limits on lawyers, activist and professors. “It crack’s me up,” said Giordano. ‘When the Mayor’s people and the city administrators wanted to talk, they had all the time in the world, but when the people started speaking – Oh, now there are time limits.”

Giordano and the Green Party feel that this is a direct failure of City Council for not stepping up to the plate and defending the citizens as they were elected to do. “City Council might not be the law, but they create law; and this is one law that should be abolished,” said Giordano.

For more information about Hugh Giordano and the Green Party, please call please call 215-243-7103 or email gpop@gpop.org.

Happy Solstice!!!

To those who are Gaians, Neo-Druids, Wiccan, Asatruns, Pagan, neoPagan and a host of other nature-based belief system followers I extend wishes for a Happy Solstice.

The lunar eclipse this morning was wonderful and very visible from  here is eastern PA and a good omen for the believers in the natural religions. Not since 1638 has a lunar eclipse happened on the winter solstice. Luckily folks won’t need to wait as long for the next on slated to occur in 2094.

The solstice actually arrives at 6:38 pm EST which is 5:38 pm EDT (I think) and so the natural cycle of sleep and renewal continue.

So Happy Solstice!!!

News & Notes December 21, 2010

President Obama will sign the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into law tomorrow morning and, yes, Lt. Dan Choi has been invited to the ceremony.  Now that one vestige of the Clinton era is gone its time for DOMA to go.

South Carolina seceded from the union 150 years ago and last evening a bunch of white people still missing slavery celebrated at a ball in Charleston.  We should have simply let them leave (along with a few other states).  If SC did it again we’d say “don’t let the door hit you in the arse on your way out.”

Republican Senators continue stalling on the START Treaty as they try and line up votes to defeat this important piece of our national security puzzle.  Between refusing to fund our troops at war, protect service members from rape (yes there ARE real dangers for our women in service who get raped all the time BY STRAIGHT MEN), along with the DREAM Act which would allow children of undocumented immigrants a path to legalization through service in the Armed Forces the GOP has gone soft on national defense.  Miss McConnell is now trying to say the treaty is being jammed down their throats.  Its been in the Senate since March.  They tried this flimsy excuse on the HCR bill too after deliberating a year.  The Senate Minority Leader should clear his throat and learn how to swallow.

Explain to me please how the Republican Party justifies not funding medical care for 9/11 responders?  First President George W. Bush screwed them by falsely stating the air at Ground Zero was safe even though his Administration knew otherwise.  Now as these heroes begin to suffer terrible chronic lung diseases there’s no money to cover their care?  $3 trillion to go to Afghanistan and lose a war was a sufficient response but not money for their medical care?  Next thing you know they’ll refuse to also fund VA services for our troops.  Oops, they already did that.

Gov. elect Corbett is in transition to office and his team is full of campaign contributors.  Color me shocked that our corrupt campaign finance system does this…

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is the latest GOP heavyweight to chime in with his revisionism of Southern history.  These white supremacists are in panic mode trying to erase their sins of slavery.  It won’t pass muster Haley.  

Today is the first official day of winter.  Since it began several weeks ago can we get spring early too?

On Actually Ending DADT, Or, “Could It Really Take Another Year?”

So we got the good news that legislative repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy that kept LBGT folks from openly serving in the military has occurred, as the Senate voted Saturday to first cut off debate on the question (that’s the vote that required 60 Senators to pass) and then to pass the actual repeal legislation (which also garnered more than 60 Senate votes, even though it only needed 51).

Most people would assume that once Bill (remember Bill, from “Schoolhouse Rock”?) made it out of Congress and over to the President to for a signature that the process of repeal will be ended-but in fact, there’s quite a bit more yet to do, and it’s entirely possible that a year or more could go by before the entire process is complete.

Today we’ll discuss our way through why it’s going to take so long; to illustrate the point we’ll consider an actual military order that is quite similar to the sort of work that will be required from the Department of Defense (DOD) before the entire “DADT to open service” transition is complete.

“You cannot eliminate even one basic assumption, one substantial part of this philosophy-it is as if it were a solid block of steel-without abandoning objective truth, without falling into the arms of bourgeois-reactionary falsehood.”

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin)

To set things up, let’s define, exactly, what “transition” is: the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President all have to certify that the military is ready for the change; 60 days after that certification is made, full repeal occurs.

Soooo…now that Congress has cracked the block of steel, why is it going to take so long for full repeal to take place?

The answer, I’m afraid, is all about being way too organized.

In order to make the move to open service, there will have to be a series of official actions taken that will include developing an entire infrastructure around identifying new standards of conduct, deciding who exactly will be the “evangelizers” that go out and talk to commanders and troops, and who will be involved in supporting enforcement of the new policies.

You may recall that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was associated with a sudden spike in sexual assaults among servicemembers; this required the military to develop solutions (and yes, the controversy around how effective those solutions have been could easily be their own story, but not today).

The reason sexual assault interests us today is because the kinds of orders that were created for commanders then are quite similar to what will be needed now, and we have one of those orders readily available so that we can really visualize what kind of thing we’re talking about.

It’s too long to include in its entirety, but here’s a selected sample:

6. THIS PARAGRAPH PROVIDES DETAILS FOR APPOINTING AND TRAINING DEPLOYABLE SARCS.

A. COMMANDERS AT BRIGADE LEVEL AND HIGHER ECHELONS (DIVISION, CORPS, AND ARMY COMPONENT COMMAND) WILL IMMEDIATELY APPOINT, ON COLLATERAL DUTY, A MINIMUM OF ONE SOLDIER/CIVILAIN TO SERVE AS THE COMMAND S DEPLOYABLE SEXUAL ASSAULT RESPONSE COORDINATOR (SARC). COMMANDERS WILL SELECT QUALIFIED PERSONNEL FOR DUTY AS DEPLOYABLE SARC IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 7 OF THIS MESSAGE.

B. DEPLOYABLE SARCS SHOULD NOT BEGIN RESPONDING TO SEXUAL ASSAULTS UNTIL THEY RECEIVE TRAINING. INITIAL TRAINING FOR DEPLOYABLE SARCS WILL OCCUR THROUGH ONE OF THE FOLLOWING METHODS.

     1. FROM THE INSTALLATION SARC. THIS IS THE PRIMARY METHOD FOR TRAINING DEPLOYABLE SARCS. THIS TRAINING SHOULD OCCUR AS SOON AS INSTALLATION SARCS ARE IN PLACE AND OPERATIONAL, BUT NOT LATER THAN 30 JUNE 2005 FOR ALL ACTIVE COMPONENT UNITS.

     2. BY A MOBILE TRAINING TEAM (MTT) IN THE CENTCOM AOR. DEPLOYABLE SARCS ASSIGNED TO UNITS ALREADY IN THE CENTCOM AOR WILL RECEIVE TRAINING BY A MOBILE TRAINING TEAM AT VARIOUS LOCATIONS DURING MAY AND JUNE. SPECIFIC DATES AND LOCATIONS HAVE BEEN COORDINATED BETWEEN CFSC AND ARCENT.

     3. BY SPECIAL REQUEST OF UNITS SCHEDULED TO DEPLOY THAT WILL NOT BE IN THE CENTCOM AOR PRIOR TO THE MTT TRAINING CITED ABOVE. UNITS THAT ARE IN THIS CATEGORY AND ARE UNABLE TO HAVE THEIR DEPLOYABLE SARCS TRAINED USING ANY OF THE METHODS LISTED ABOVE SHOULD CONTACT THE CFSC POC AT THE END OF THIS MESSAGE TO COORDINATE A SPECIAL MTT.

     4. DURING DOD SPONSORED SARC TRAINING CONFERENCES SCHEDULED FOR THE FOLLOWING DATES AND LOCATIONS: 28 JUN 1 JUL (CHARLOTTE, NC); 12-15 JUL (SAN DIEGO, CA); 19-22 JUL (HAWAII); 27-30 SEP (ATLANTA, GA). PRIORITY FOR ATTENDANCE AT THESE SESSIONS WILL BE GIVEN TO RESERVE COMPONENT UNITS. ALL INSTALLATION SARCS, AND AS MANY ACTIVE COMPONENT DEPLOYABLE SARCS AS CAN BE ACCOMMODATED, MAY ALSO ATTEND THESE JOINT SERVICE EVENTS AS ADDITIONAL TRAINING. SPECIFIC COORDINATING INSTRUCTIONS ARE BEING WORKED WITH DOD BY THE ARMY COMMUNITY AND FAMILY SUPPORT CENTER (CFSC). UNITS SHOULD CONTACT THE CFSC POC AT THE END OF THIS MESSAGE TO SCHEDULE DEPLOYABLE SARC ATTENDANCE AT ANY OF THESE SESSIONS.

As you can imagine, the way that you end up with this sort of work product is for the Secretary of Defense to begin talking to his most senior Generals and Admirals, who will then will gather their paperwork forces and convene working groups, they’ll start passing drafts around and getting approvals; and the output from that process will be delivered to unit commanders all the way down the chain.

If these regulations are a model, conference centers will have to be made available, advocates and trainers will have to be appointed, and then unit commanders will have to train their troops to the new standards.

It is likely that there are regulations to be written that will impact the civilian world; if that’s the case, those regulations generally require, after they’re written, a 90 day public comment period, and that will also add to the total time that will be needed. If the regulations need to be rewritten after the comment period, there will be a bit more delay.

To add to the issues to be addressed, some of the forces are today “combat deployed”, and for the most part I wouldn’t expect a lot of effort to train any of them to new standards until they’re rotated out of combat.

It is possible that certification could occur even if those forces are not yet trained, but the training infrastructure is in place for them when they return; if that’s the case things would obviously move faster.

In addition to managing the conduct of servicemembers, the military issues standards of conduct that affect “dependants”. Some of those dependants live in base housing, and their kids often attend base schools; all of this will likely create the need for more rules and training, especially since there will be people in the military community who will be intolerant of the new regime.

Now this story actually grew out of a comment that I made at The Bilerico Project after the DADT cloture vote. The response to that comment, if I might paraphrase, was that it’s amazing that we can move tens of thousands of troops all the way to the Middle East and commence to killing everyone in sight faster than we can teach our own troops to accept each other equally.

That’s a well-focused observation, I think (and it wouldn’t surprise me if there are those in the service making the same comment), and in the end, the way the services deal with the issues behind that complaint (and the host of other issues that surround this transition) is going to be the marker by which we determine if the military will remain an institution that commands as much respect among Americans as it does today.

Will they succeed?

Starting next week, it looks like we’ll be finding out.

Does God send natural disasters as punishment?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...