Open to Serve

August 26th, 2011

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The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is quickly approaching. On September 20th the repeal and certification process officially is complete and the sexuality that a person is born will no longer be grounds for discharge. As we approach this historic day that marks the end of seventeen years of institutionalized discrimination former and active duty service members are telling their stories of how they made it through and what it was like to endure.

GQ magazine has collected some of these stories and presents them here.

Like the story of Eric Alva, the first American injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When Alva signed up, before "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," he had to lie on his paperwork. "I knew I was lying," he says. "But I loved what I did, I loved my job, and I didn’t want to tell anyone. I said, ‘It’s going to be my secret.’ I knew I was not going to be happy in a way, but I knew this was what I wanted." In 2003 he was deployed to the Middle East, and on March 21 he crossed the border from Kuwait. His unit was part of a huge convoy that stopped outside Basra. Alva got out of his Humvee and went to fetch something from the back of the vehicle. "That’s when I triggered the IED. I was awake, my hearing was sort of gone. My hand was covered in blood and part of my index finger was gone. The chaplain was holding my head and I was telling him I didn’t want to die. I was taken off a helicopter in Kuwait—it was estimated that I was only in Iraq about three hours—and carried into surgery. I woke up later and when I looked down I saw that the right side of my sheet was flat. I cried myself asleep, only to wake up hours later and see that it’s true: My leg is gone."

DADT not only affected the lives of those who risked their lives on the battlefield. It also took a toll on those they loved.

"The relationship lasted for about four years, but I always felt like I was disrespecting him, to have to pretend he didn’t exist when I went to work. When I got deployed, he was there with my family when I left. It kind of sucked—to shake his hand and a little pat on the back and ‘I’ll see you when I see you’ kind of thing. And when you’re getting ready to come back, the spouses were getting classes—here’s how you welcome your Marine back into the family—and my boyfriend didn’t get any of that. I had a really hard time adjusting to being home. We tried to make it work for a year but he was getting more and more paranoid about people finding out about us. It killed me that he felt that way because of me. I don’t think we ever really had a chance, ultimately."

For some DADT became the weapon used by haters.

The harassment grew worse. Of a number of escalating events—Rocha was also force-fed dog food and locked into a shit-filled dog kennel—the most abusive and explicitly homophobic was when he was ordered by his commander to act in a dog-training scenario, repeated over and over so that every dog in the unit could be run through it. "The scenarios were supposed to be relevant to what the dogs or the handlers would experience. Like a domestic dispute, or an armed individual who has been spotted on the base, or someone strapped with explosives. This day he chose that the scenario would be that I would be getting caught giving another service member a blow job and, once the dogs came in, I was supposed to jump up from having been in between this guy’s legs. He would coach as to how exactly he wanted it played out, which was the sickest part of it." Rocha says he had to act this out between half a dozen and a dozen times, about fifteen to twenty minutes each time. As they repeated it, his commander ordered Rocha to make the scenario more extreme. "He wanted me to be very queer and flamboyant. He wanted me to pretend like there was stuff on my face. Loving it so much that each scenario was gayer and more disgusting—the introduction of fake semen, that I would have to wipe my face, or that I would have to make slurping noises. The level of humiliation I experienced that day, that’s when I knew I wasn’t safe in the military."

I highly recommend heading over there and reading more http://www.gq.com/news-politics/big-issues/201109/dont-ask-dont-tell-gay-soldiers-military#ixzz1WAXDJMrl

Creative Commons License photo credit: DVIDSHUB

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Budget

Contact your Congressmen

Contact congress and tell your Reps and Senators to negotiate on the budget in good faith and stop the stupid political posturing. Everything must be on the table, including entitlements and taxes.

House https://writerep.house.gov/wri?terep/welcome.shtml
Senate http://www.senate.gov/general/?contact_information/senators_c?fm.cfm?State=IA

Obama – The Biggest Spender ?

Many congressional Republicans as well as GOP talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Fox ?News? pundits Sean Hanity and Glenn Beck, have often made the claim that President Obama has spent more money than any President in history.

When President Clinton left office the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), had estimated a surplus in 2001 of about $800 Billion dollars. So where did it all go?

New York Times writer David Leonhardt took on this topic Tuesday and the results might actually surprise you.

You can think of that roughly $2 trillion swing as coming from four broad categories: the business cycle, President George W. Bush?s policies, policies from the Bush years that are scheduled to expire but that Mr. Obama has chosen to extend, and new policies proposed by Mr. Obama.

The first category ? the business cycle ? accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing. It?s a reflection of the fact that both the 2001 recession and the current one reduced tax revenue, required more spending on safety-net programs and changed economists? assumptions about how much in taxes the government would collect in future years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Micro-managing the Tax Payer Checkbook

image002The President and congress have been working on getting an $85 Billion dollar war spending bill passed. On Thursday the House approved the bill but added almost $12 Billion dollars in spending above and beyond what Obama asked for.

I understand what the first 85 Billion is for. Increased numbers of troops in Afghanistan requires money for transportation, supplies, and infrastructure to maintain them. Money is also needed to continue operations in Iraq.

So what does this extra 12 Billion get us?

First of all, they added an extra $2.2 Billion in foreign aid, above and beyond that of what the president asked for. Why is congresses added more money to foreign aid than what the president wants? I don?t see any reason for it.

Second, $4 Billion of it goes to the purchase of military equipment, including the C-17 cargo planes that the Pentagon has stated it doesn?t need. Hello? If they don?t need them, why are we buying them?

This is the part that gets me. What gives congress the authority to tell the Pentagon that they have to buy these planes even if the Pentagon says they don?t need them? I understand that congress sets the budget, but shouldn?t it be the Pentagon that decides how the money is spent? I can even understand congress saying ok, here is this program for buying cargo planes, you have this much cash to do it with. Then if the Pentagon says they don?t need them or buys what they need, the left over money goes back to congress for other projects. It just doesn?t make sense that congress has the ability to say to the military, or any other government organization, that you have to buy this or that regardless of if you need it or not, that?s just wasteful. Why are we letting congress micromanage the checkbook?

Cross-posted on The Pajama Pundit

The GOP Fu-dget Plan

For some time now myself and others have been railing on the idea that the GOP has been simply fighting against the President?s plan for moving the country forward and fixing our economy without providing some sort of alternative to the President?s budget.

Today the GOP put out a Budget Alternative, or at least a blue-print for one. Maybe it?s a rough draft?

After the break is video from Fox News as posted on the Daily KOS. Read the rest of this entry »

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