Monthly Archives: October 2009

Army Secretary: End DADT


danchoi

Lt Dan Choi: American Hero

I guess support for ending the archaic DADT can’t get much higher than this, in which the Secretary of the Army, former Republican Senator John McHugh states he Army is ready for the repeal of DADT:

SANTA BARBARA, CA, October 26, 2009 – The Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, indicated this weekend that the Army is prepared to lift the ban on openly gay service if the Commander-in-Chief and the Congress decide to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a prospect that has gathered steam in recent weeks. McHugh, formerly a Republican congressman from the conservative 23rd district of New York, is the highest official inside the Pentagon to express such support. He told the Army Times on Sunday that there was no reason to fear that major difficulties would result from lifting the ban, and that he would help implement the policy change when the time comes. “The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues,” he said, with “predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out.” He also suggested that repeal may come in phases, with early action involving, for example, allowing open gays to serve in some occupations and not others.

It’s good to see even the leader of the Army supporting the repeal, along with Gen. Colin Powell and over 100 retired Admirals and Generals. With historic hearings of the topic finally scheduled in Congress, and with widespread congressional and public support for the repeal of DADT, it’s time for action.

Senator Kristen Gillibrand, leader of the efforts in Congress along with Rep. Patrick Murphy, have secured over 180 co-sponsors of a bill to repeal DADT, including leaders of Congress. From Senator Gillibrand:

Since 1994, almost 13,000 gay servicemen and women have been discharged from the military based not on their performance but on their sexual orientation. In 2009 alone, we’ve had more than 400 of our brave men and women leave the military under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This is simply unacceptable. It is time to repeal this outdated and immoral policy once and for all and end the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly and honestly in our armed forces.

To that end, I’ve secured the commitment from Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Armed Services Committee, to hold the first hearing on the policy since it began 16 years ago. Chairman Levin expects to hold the hearing soon and it’s my hope that it will be instrumental in demonstrating the level of support that exists for repeal not only throughout the country — where polls consistently indicate that solid majorities oppose the policy — but within the military itself.

Tomorrow, the President will sign the Hate Crimes Bill into law.

Unfortunately, the protections provided to gay victims of hate do not transfer to gays in the military as long as DADT exists.

Let’s hope that in the next few months we’ll see additional freedoms provided to our gay brothers and sisters in the military.

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E2 Immigration Reform


A friend of mine and his wife, along with thousands of others in this country, are encountering a problem with the E-2 Visa. Few people not involved with the program are aware of it’s existence or requirements.  They’re explained fully at the link, but here’s a summary of what is expected of the Visa holder:

  • The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.
  • The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.
  • The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
  • The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
  • The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.
  • The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

Educated, hard-working businessmen and women are allowed to own a business in our country, contributing to our wealth and economy. People who came to oursol country to share in the American dream. People who have pledged their livelihood and funds to making our country a better place. People who above all, now consider America their home.

People who, after five, ten, twenty or more years want the opportunity to stand before a judge and state

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce aoathnd abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Yet they can’t, thanks to an archaic, outdated, and unnecessary law. 

From my friends, Allan and Maggie Collins:

I thought that my days of political protests were over in 1960 when I was arrested for protesting about apartheid outside the S. African Embassy in London.  The Magistrate bound me over for six months to keep the peace, fined me ten shillings and sixpence and sent me on my way.

Most of our friends know that Maggie and I have been here for about seventeen years on E-2 Business Visas.  This means we have had to invest “substantial” funds into our own business, employ Americans, pay our taxes and be profitable.  The visas have to be renewed, costing about $10K, every five years and we have absolutely zero assurance that our application will be approved.  There is a sword of Damocles hanging over our heads at all times and who knows when we might be deported or refused re-entry into the USA.  The E-2 Visa (temporary residency) cannot be converted to Green Card (permanent residency) status and much less to citizenship which is certainly what Maggie and I so desperately want. 

 On Friday, October 23rd we attended an “E-2 Visa Reform Reception” – polite words for a protest rally!  About 400 men, women and children attended representing 148 small businesses owned and managed by E-2 holders mostly located in and around Central Florida.  We discovered that those 148 businesses have about $48 million invested in the USA.  They employ 776 Americans and have a total annual turnover exceeding $55 million.  These are real and sizeable numbers and contribute considerably to the economy.  But at any time those small businesses could be closed down at the whim of an immigration bureaucrat and the owners deported, sometimes in handcuffs.  We heard some harrowing tales of people to whom this had happened.  We also heard from children who, at age 21, can be put on the next plane to their homeland, a country for which they have little affinity or knowledge.

 We also learned that politicians and, more particularly their staff, have little or no idea about this injustice.  Individuals who write letters in protest generally receive a form-letter thanking the writer for their support of immigration control with no mention of E-2 Visa reform.  Individual letters make little difference and are generally consigned to the round filing cabinet under someone’s desk.  But a concerted effort with hundreds thousands of letters and emails arriving in a single week will be noticed and, perhaps, be acted upon.

 So it was decided that November 5th (a significant British anniversary) would be the letter-writing day and I hope all y’all will join us in supporting this movement, please.  Over the next few days I will be sending out a text to be cut and pasted.  There will also be a complete list of every politician representing Florida in the Senate and House of Representatives in Washington D.C. with contact information.  Apparently emails are the most effective and cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

We’re here, we pay our way and we’d like to stay so please help.

———————————————————————————–

I ask you, my readers and friends, to sign THIS PETITION in support of

House Bill H.R.1162 – The E-2 Non-Immigrant Investor Adjustment Act of 2009 – introduced in the 111th Congress by Congressman Adam Putnam (R-FL).

For more details please visit www.E2Reform.org. Thank you!

Vote for LOST! – People’s Choice Awards


UPDATE!

 

CLICK TO VOTE HERE FOR THE FINALE!

 

 

POSTER_LOST_The_Final_Season_CarLost_Fanmade_01It’s that time of the year. What better way to honor the best television series of all time in it’s final season?

People’s Choice Awards

Favorite Sci Fi Fantasy

Favorite TV Drama

Favorite TV Drama Actor (Matthew Fox)

Favorite TV Actress (Evangeline Lilly)

Favorite TV Obsession (WRITE IN VOTE FOR LOST*)

*How in the world could they leave LOST out of this category???

Note: Vote often!

Medicare Part E


One of the most interesting conversations going around today is the talk about rebranding the concept of a Public Option regarding health care reform.

It’s easy to understand why. The term “Public Option”, a worthy phrase whenparte introduced last year, was meant to convey the thought of health care coverage for everyone who doesn’t have it.

Unfortunately, after months and months of unsubstantiated right wing attacks and claims of socialism, tyranny, and so on the phrase has taken on a new, and more disturbing connotation at the hands of the Republican Party, the tea party crowd, and various right wing Obama haters in the Fox media group and elsewhere.

Rather than allowing this to continue, isn’t it time to come up with a new name for health care reform for all?

From The Hill:

House Democrats are looking at re-branding the public health insurance option as Medicare, an established government healthcare program that is better known than the public option.

The strategy could benefit Democrats struggling to bridge the gap between liberals in their party, who want the public option, and centrists, who are worried it would drive private insurers out of business.

While much of the public is foggy on what a public option actually is, people understand Medicare. It also would place the new public option within the rubric of a familiar system rather than something new and unknown.

The idea has bubbled up among House Democrats and leaders in the past week, most prominently in a caucus meeting last Thursday.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) spoke out last week in favor of re-branding the public option as Medicare, startling many because he has loudly proclaimed his opposition to a public option.

Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), the veteran chairman of the House Transportation Committee, also voiced his support, as did House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

John Schadl, a spokesman for Oberstar, explained the congressman likes the idea because people are familiar with Medicare.

What a great idea! Medicare itself has garnered a reputation as government healthcare at it’s finest…even to the point of Americans forgetting what it actually is. Remember these comments from a town hall protester?

Keep your goddam hands off my Medicare!

It’s not a new issue or idea, but it’s definitely one whose time has come.

Welcome to Medicare, Part E

For Everybody

Supporting a Public Option: The Wrong Way


The other day, my friend Kelly posted a great blog at The VSJ, continuing her dismay over the big insurance companies cancelling policies of those with costly medical problems. Focusing this time on Ian Pearl, who has muscular dystrophy like our friend Chuck, she tells us what extent Pearl’s insurors will go through to keep from paying for his care:

 “In an e-mail to four other Guardian executives entered into evidence in the Pearls’ suit, company Vice President Tim Birely discussed how the company could “eliminate this entire block to get rid of the few dogs.”

In case you don’t understand what that means, Kelly succinctly explains:

“the New York-based insurer simply canceled lines of coverage altogether in entire states to avoid paying high-cost claims like Mr. Pearl’s”

In reply to Mr. Pearl’s lawsuit against the insurance company, and repeated by LilMike as a viable solution to the problem is this comment:

“As a last resort, Mr. Pearl would be admitted to a state hospital under Medicaid.”

Let me get this straight…The insurance companies and their Republican supporters like LilMike are dead set against a Public Option…yet are in favor of persons being denied insurance for long-term care receiving a type of government health care under Medicaid?

In another story I just came across, titled “He’s In the Army Now”, we hear thecaudle story of Bill Caudle, a recently laid off worker who, at the age of 40, enlisted in the Army in order to receive medical care for his wife Michelle’s ongoing battle with ovarian cancer. Unable to enroll in Wisconsin’s BadgerCare Plus public insurance program (apparently because the program had been suspended), Mr. Caudle decided to join the military after his COBRA insurance ran out.

Today, Mr. Caudle has become a right wing hero. No, not for the reasons you think. Because, and I quote:

“instead of reaching for a handout, the father puts his hand up to swear in and shows how to responsibly take care of his family…”

Nobody, I repeat, nobody should have to resort to having to join the Army at the age of 40 in order to get health care coverage for their spouse!

Let me get this straight…The Republican supporters are dead set against a Public Option…yet are in favor of persons without insurance joining the Army to receive another type of government health care?

Why are the Republicans so against a Public Option when government-run health care is so great?

Black Friday


It’s that time of the year…

This year’s Black Friday ads are out:

http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/

As a former frequent shopper on Black Friday, I didn’t go last year after a badblackfriday experience at our local Target the year before. After getting out of bed at 3am and waiting in line for three hours I was one of the so-called “lucky ones” to buy what I thought was a great deal on a 20″ HDTV with built-in DVD player for the bedroom. Over the next two days it was returned three times for the same model. Seems likie the TV was so cheaply built nothing liked to work, especially the DVD player. I finally got my money back and went to Best Buy and bought a much better HDTV…and Best Buy matched the $199 price!

This year I’m committed to go again…for the right deal. So let’s see what’s out there: 

After reviewing some of this year’s ads, I find the best deals for kid’s toys will again be at Wal-Mart and Toys R Us.

bfAt Target, I found this which would be a nice gift for the better half since we’re wineaholics. 🙂 If you’re into espresso, this looks like it’s well worth the early morning trip.

I’m not much of a K-Mart shopper, but if you’re in the mood for directions, this doesn’t seem to be a bad deal either.

Best Buy has disabled links to their sale products, but you can get an overview here. And, remember…most big box electronics retailers honor Black Friday prices online so you don’t even need to leave the house!

Old Navy often warrants a Black Friday trip and this year, although there’s not much of a selection, there’s a lot of great deals.

My favorite place to shop, Macy’s, has some great deals, especially on bedding.

Of course, there’s lots more out there to look over. So, have fun, and shop smart!

Now, That’s a March!


slide_3137_44420_largeRemember last month when the right wing tea partiers had their little march on Washington? Organized by the leader of the Republican Party, Glenn (Crybaby) Beck, supported by and advertised on Fox News ad nauseum for well over three months, this march was supposed to show the world that the Obama Hater Racist Homophobic Secessionists were out there in droves. Hell, I remember claims were made by national names like Michele Malkin, Beck, and the former leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, that nearly one (No! Two!) million people attended! They even posted pictures on the internet of the crowds gathered in the Square! Unfortunately, those were fake pictures (YOU LIE!) and nowhere near one million attended the march. The correct number was estimated at around 60,000 – 70,000. And they all ended up bitching about the public transit system.

Flash forward to this past weekend. A new group of Americans descended upon Washington. With numbers estimated at 150,000 Gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered men and women of all colors gathered demanding that their voices be heard. From Washington Monthly:

Tens of thousands of gay-rights activists marched Sunday in Washington to show President Obama and Congress that they are impatient with what they consider piecemeal progress and are ready to fight at the federal level for across-the-board equality, including for the right to marry and the right to serve in the military.

Key votes on same-sex marriage are coming up in the District and Maine, and Obama reiterated his campaign promise Saturday to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that forces gay and lesbian members of the armed forces to keep their sexual orientation a secret.

But organizers of the National Equality March and its participants said they want to shift the political effort toward seeking equality in all states, rather than accepting just local and state-level victories.

Amen! So there were more gays marching on Washington than right wing idiots! slide_3137_44409_largeNow who’s the minority!

Even more important, there were no signs comparing our President to Hitler or Stalin or other such hate. Just a well behaved crowd of American citizens demanding equality.

And I’ll bet they didn’t even bitch about the public transportation!