Posted by: mutantpoodle | August 9, 2007

Newsbits: Bush – Everyone else needs to reorder their priorities; Primary colors; Gays in the Military OK?; Lipstick for Pigs; and one more reason not to speed

dog-on-newspapers_smWell, that didn’t take long.

George Bush, at a press conference this morning came out against raising the gas tax for bridge repairs, suggesting instead that Congress should “examine how they set priorities.”

Now, that may be true, but if there’s one person on the planet who shouldn’t be lecturing people about reordering their priorities, it would be our “stay the course” Commander in Chief, although I imagine that irony is lost on him.

At least he didn’t claim that God told him that gas taxes were high enough.

God apparently told some South Carolina Republicans to move their primary to January 19th, which could trigger a number of states – Iowa and New Hampshire foremost among them – to adjust their dates, which, if taken to their logical conclusion, should have us getting our first caucus results around Boxing Day.

As much fun as it is to watch ambitious, hopeful (and hopeless, for that matter) Presidential candidates traipse around the country trying to find new ways to say, depending on their party, God likes me best or I’m a lot less like George Bush than anyone else, I’d have been thrilled to have that season start in a month or two and let the actual voting begin in late January (Iowa) and early February (New Hampshire).

(By the way, although I know it’s politically correct to point out the disproportionate influence two very white states have on this process, I kind of like their first caucus/primary traditions, because people actually get to meet the candidates and feel them out, and I think better judgments come out of that sort of retail politics than out of watching competing spots on television. Remember, John McCain spanked George Bush in New Hampshire in 2000, and while I’m no fan of McCain, he certainly was the better of those two.)

Alas, until states stop acting like 5 year olds, we’re on this path for keeps. Maybe we should just hope to keep any 2008 Presidential votes in, say, 2008?

Meanwhile, Peter Spiegel and Joel Rubin are reporting in today’s LA Times that the Military’s attitude toward gays in their midst is softening.

This mere months after outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace referred to homosexual acts as “immoral”, and then clarified that those were his “personal moral views.”

It’s not a dramatic change:

Subtly but unmistakably, rhetoric from the military and Congress has begun to soften on the controversial policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Powell himself has changed his tune, acknowledging that attitudes have shifted. A House bill that would lift the ban on gays serving openly has gained support from military veterans in that chamber. And the pressures of the Iraq war and the 2008 presidential campaign have focused more attention on the merits of a repeal.

And Siegel and Rubin acknowledge the obstacles ahead:

Despite the change in attitudes, ending the ban will probably be more difficult than creating it was in 1993. As part of the compromise reached by the Clinton administration, the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly — once just a Pentagon rule — was encoded in U.S. law, meaning that unless a court strikes it down, legislation would have to be passed to repeal it. Even with a Democratic president, such a proposal may have a difficult road — particularly in the Senate, where advocates of repeal would probably need a filibuster-proof supermajority to pass a new law.

Ralls said he believed there was an increasing number of moderate Republican senators such as Collins and John W. Warner of Virginia — a leading GOP voice on military issues who strongly rebuked Pace’s remarks on gays in the military — who support revisiting the issue.

“There are moderate Republicans in Congress who are beginning to understand that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is very much a national security issue,” Ralls said. “Many of those same Republicans are beginning to question the wisdom of dismissing and turning away perfectly well-qualified gays and lesbians who want to serve.”

So far, no legislation that would lift the ban exists in the Senate, but a House bill has been slowly gaining support. Last week, it gained an important cosponsor in Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), a retired Navy vice admiral.

This is a case where the soldiers in the field will be way ahead of their superiors or crusty moralizers in Congress.

I wrote about this in the context of high school sports two weeks ago – the generation coming up knows folks who are gay and largely doesn’t care. Plus, it would be nice if we weren’t drumming folks out of the services who have unique skills, – like, say, knowing arabic – because of their sexual preference.

Also taking me to my archives is Garry Trudeau, who has, this week, been running strips about Uncle Duke’s skill as a lobbyist for, shall we say, humanity-impaired regimes. This is almost certainly inspired by this Ken Silverstein article in Harpers, which I wrote about here. Duke’s firm has been having a very good year, thanks to billings from its Rogue Regime Division. Monday’s strip is here, and you can click your way forward to today.

And finally, Patt Morrison reviews her DMV-imposed cinema experience, Takehome Traffic School, and finds it wanting on a number of creative fronts.

Which I don’t doubt, and to which I’d add, speeding slightly?

Sure.

[Updated to add missing LA Times link.]

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