The big news: The Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal bill passed the house 250-175 which is better than the previous bill did. Apparently it now has at least 61 votes in the Senate, which is one more than is necessary. Now the question is whether a vote can be held in time before the recess. Here's hoping!
Senator Cornyn emailed me back about DADT; here's his response:
Dear Mr. Stoll:
Thank you for contacting me about current Department of Defense (DoD) policy regarding sexual orientation and military service. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this matter.
As you know, in 1993, Congress passed legislation to codify the existing military “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy, which governs homosexuals serving in the Armed Forces. This policy has served our nation well, and I oppose any effort to repeal it. The readiness of our Armed Forces must always be the foremost consideration in any decision regarding military personnel policies, especially as our troops are serving in harm’s way in two active theaters of conflict. Now is not the time to increase the level of stress on our force through such a dramatic policy change.
Moreover, as you may know, three of the four military service chiefs recently testified before Congress as to their clear reservations with repealing the policy at the present time. I believe that it would be a profound mistake to disregard the informed opinion of these military leaders, and I am deeply concerned by the blatant disregard that some members of Congress have shown to their concerns by including provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R. 5136; S. 3454) that would repeal this law. For these reasons, I opposed the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3454, and I will continue to oppose the attempt to repeal the DADT policy.
The United States Government has no higher purpose than keeping the American people safe from harm. Our national security depends on the ability of our Armed Forces’ to maintain military readiness at all times. The linchpin of military readiness lies in maintaining cohesive units consisting of competent, fully trained personnel who share a sense of common purpose and confidence in their unit’s ability to accomplish its mission. Our Armed Forces recruit the finest individuals possible and help them develop into world-class Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.
My father served in the military for thirty-one years, and I was privileged to grow up around men and women dedicated to protecting our country. As such, I remain committed to ensuring that our military is the best-trained, best-equipped force in the world and able to maintain a strong national defense. I appreciate your thoughts regarding current military policies, and you may be certain that I will keep your views in mind as these matters are discussed. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
United States Senator
Comparing with Senator Hutchinson's response, it's interesting that he doesn't even mention the study the military conducted to see how repealing DADT would affect them! Instead he talks about "reservations" that three of the four military chiefs had...
- The ten best visualization projects of 2010. One thing that's missing is the Facebook friendship map, which is my new background at work. Here's a view of what's missing from the Facebook friendship map and why. (mostly other social networks that are popular)
- A long piece on income inequality and whether it matters. He makes a good point that the "inequality of personal well-being" is down compared to one hundred years ago. The second half of the essay is an investigation into the finance industry (where a lot of the very very rich come from these days) and ways to make them stop taking huge risks knowing that the government will bail them out. The depressing conclusion: we don't really know how. A response points out that although some things (big TVs, etc.) have gotten cheaper and more accessible, health care has not.
- "Homosexual activity" is illegal in Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup. The FIFA head honcho has a solution - gay people don't have sex there! And they got picked over the US...sigh.
- A great interactive map to explore Census data - similar to the city maps of race I posted a while back, but interactive and you can plot income, etc.
- A followup to the Peter Orszag leaving for Citibank story I posted before.