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Dan Choi arrested in DADT protest at the White House
March 18, 2010 11:11 AM   Subscribe

First Lieutenant Dan Choi has been arrested after chaining himself to the White House fence.

"You've been told that the White House has a plan," Choi told rally protesters. "But we learned this week that the president is still not fully committed. ... Following this rally, I will be leading [the protest] to the White House to say 'enough talk.' ... I am still standing, I am still fighting, I am still speaking out, and I am still gay."
posted by Joe Beese (158 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, so that's what a hero is. I've been wondering lately.

I'm hoping for "Letter from a Washington Jail," Choi.
posted by sallybrown at 11:18 AM on March 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


My first thought was "oh crap, the teabaggers are really gaining power".

This? This I like.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:20 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


His story on the Moth Podcast was most excellent.
posted by sararah at 11:23 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've posted this before, but in a largely unrelated thread. Dan Choi tells his story on The Moth: Don't Tell, Martha!

Unbelievably great, but may not be work safe if you don't want your coworkers to see you crying.
posted by kmz at 11:25 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


It probably would have made more sense to handcuff himself to the Pentagon, but that probably wouldn't have gotten quite so much attention. (Also, I don't think there's a fence like that around the Pentagon.) Anyway, more power to Lt. Choi and everyone else fighting the good fight.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:25 AM on March 18, 2010


My first instinct was to question the timing. You couldn't wait until after the HCR vote was over in a couple days? But seriously, the GLBT community has been waiting long enough. And Obama could have avoided a timing problem himself by pushing this forward over a year ago.
posted by DU at 11:26 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I very rarely participate in protests. They've just become route for a lot of protesters, and it's surprising how few protests have a concrete goal in mind, or any way to gauge whether the protest worked or not. Sometimes it just feels like a handwashing exercise to me.

There are concrete things a protest can do. It can publicize an issue. It can shame the people who are being protested. I participated in a protest against Operation Rescue at a church in Minneapolis that was housing the organization, because word was that there was a split in the congregation of the church -- some, despite their pro-life viewpoints, were mortified to be housing the group. The protest was broken up by the cops, who sprayed protesters with pepper spray, and the whole thing was popular on the news for a while. It effectively pushed a wedge between the two factions at the church, and seemed to have worked to discourage them from inviting Operation rescue again -- to my knowledge, they've never been back at the church. In fact, I can't see any record of them ever returning to Minneapolis. So I'd say that this was a successful protest.

Choi's seems like it might be a good one too. It's time for this idiotic policy to be dropped.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:26 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


My first reaction, also, was to wish he'd waited until next week.
posted by Danf at 11:28 AM on March 18, 2010


This is not the photo that the White House ever wanted. But, it's come to this.

Well, I doubt anyone except gay and woman staffers with very specific fetishes have ever wished for soldiers to handcuff themselves to a fence out front, but I also doubt very much that anyone's worried about it.

"Mr. President, two guys have locked themselves to the fence!"

"Jesus. Shit, shit, shit. What are their demands? Just do whatever they want!"
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:28 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good. Good, good, good on him. Go Dan! I hope this gets twice as much press as anything else today, or -- better yet -- at least a third of the amount of press that a certain celebrity cheating scandal is getting today. (aaachk!)
And ReeMonster, I don't understand your comment. What are you quoting from?

posted by heyho at 11:28 AM on March 18, 2010


Hot.

Also, cool.
posted by serazin at 11:35 AM on March 18, 2010


In my confusion about the Kathy Griffin reference in the second article I googled around for info on what Griffin had to do with it, seems google is reposting twitter feeds. k

athygriffin: just stormed out of 1st senate hearing on #DADT. I called Saxby Chambliss "cuckoo-pants" nice n loud. Good exit, yes?

Based on his Moth story, I think maybe next time have Lt. Choi in the hearing and Griffin on the fence.
posted by edbles at 11:36 AM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


It probably would have made more sense to handcuff himself to the Pentagon

No. The President is commander in chief and tells the Pentagon what to do. He's in the right place.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:36 AM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


When asked by Choi if she would march with him to the White House, Griffin responded, "Of course!" Neither Griffin nor Solmonese was seen at the White House protest, however.

Kathy Griffin can bite me. I don't have any polite words for what Solmonese can do.
posted by blucevalo at 11:36 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, Kathy Griffin. Would it have hurt you so much to actually march down there with him like you said you would?

I love you, but you make me a sad panda.
posted by Madamina at 11:37 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


My first reaction, also, was to wish he'd waited until next week.

My first impulse is never to tell people who are treated a second-class citizens that they should wait to demand equality.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:38 AM on March 18, 2010 [34 favorites]


Best Lieutenant Dan ever.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:39 AM on March 18, 2010 [17 favorites]


DU On the topic of waiting for a better time I agree with you, and also with Dr. King in his Letter from Birmingham Jail:
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
It is always a good time to fight for civil rights.
posted by sotonohito at 11:42 AM on March 18, 2010 [54 favorites]


nestor_makhno: "The President is commander in chief and tells the Pentagon what to do. He's in the right place."

If this is how hard people have to protest to get Obama to follow through on the things he's officially in favor of, I hate to think how hard they'll have to protest to get him to do anything he's opposed to.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:43 AM on March 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I support the repeal of DADT, but this is sanctimonious and futile.
posted by phrontist at 11:44 AM on March 18, 2010


Also, Choi's also distracting Republicans and Conservatives.
posted by anthill at 11:44 AM on March 18, 2010


I keep reading "DADT" as "DADA" and wondering who at the White House is teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts these days.
posted by GuyZero at 11:45 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


heyho: "I hope this gets twice as much press as anything else today..."

Not a word on the current front pages of cnn.com and nytimes.com.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:46 AM on March 18, 2010


And Obama could have avoided a timing problem himself by pushing this forward over a year ago.

Eh, he's got a lot of things on his plate.

After 8 years of shit, there's an annoying tendency for liberals to bitch and moan because everything isn't fixed RIGHT NOW. Get a grip ya'll or have you not noticed the complete craziness that was getting some kind of health care reform done?

That said, more power to Choi. If he and others were willing to risk their lives for their country, they should be allowed to have relationships with any damn consenting adult they choose.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:46 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I support the repeal of DADT, but this is sanctimonious and futile.

How is it "hypocritically pious or devout" and "serving no useful purpose; completely ineffective"--I can see an argument for the latter, maybe (although you'd have to define "useful purpose" narrowly), but how is it hypocritical?
posted by sallybrown at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sanctimonious? Lt. Choi is being hypocritical in his devotion? Really?
posted by sandraregina at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2010


I keep reading "DADT" as "DADA" and wondering who at the White House is teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts these days.

Well, they covered it up but Peter Orszag tried using an Unforgiveable Curse in his office last year....
posted by zarq at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not a word on the current front pages of cnn.com and nytimes.com.

CNN (tv) reported it.
posted by zarq at 11:49 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


In fact, I can't see any record of them ever returning to Minneapolis. So I'd say that this was a successful protest.

I don't know what Operation Rescue is off the top of my head. But for the purposes of this comment I'm going to assume they are neo-nazis advocating dividing the country along racial and religious lines, but also calling for designated free rape and baby-killing zones.

With that assumption, your definition of "successful protest" is to effectively deny someone their free speech and assembly rights. Instead of the old cliche of standing up to defend a person's right to express a view you disagree with, you participated in creating conditions that made it impossible for them in practice to exercise their rights.

My first instinct was to question the timing. You couldn't wait until after the HCR vote was over in a couple days? But seriously, the GLBT community has been waiting long enough. And Obama could have avoided a timing problem himself by pushing this forward over a year ago.
posted by DU at 2:26 PM on March 18


Yeah, because I guess everyone has to get in line to get their rights according to your schedule. Get this through your head: you don't have a constitutional right to government subsidized health care. Your asking the government to pay for something that generations of Americans before you have paid on their own. Regardless of how much you need the government's help, remember that you are demanding the government give you something that it is not constitutionally obligated to provide.

By contrast, this guy has a constitutional right to publicly identify himself as a gay man in and still remain in the military. As a serviceman, his sacrifice to the greater good should be rewarded with superlative treatment by his country and government. Instead, he has the government on the one hand telling him to stay in the closet, and people like you on the other hand telling him to keep his mouth shut until further notice.

tl;dr: Your demand for a handout takes a backseat to his right to be treated like a human being by the country he is risking his life to serve.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:51 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


More video, photos and reports here.
posted by ericb at 11:54 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq: "CNN (tv) reported it."

I await the insightful anaylsis of their new hire, Eric Erickson.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:55 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I support the repeal of DADT, but this is sanctimonious and futile.

Funnily, just like your comment.
posted by blucevalo at 11:55 AM on March 18, 2010


This could all be avoided if the White House didn't put up fences.
posted by Oddly at 11:57 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sanctimonious? Lt. Choi is being hypocritical in his devotion? Really?

No, I don't doubt his sincerity, but his let's go make history! phrasing comes off as affected. It's hard to imagine MLK or Ghandi going about it this way.

sotonohito: I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.

To be clear, that's not what I have a problem with. Direction action would be great - something like a strike among military personnel. This could work only as a publicity ploy, which isn't a bad strategy, but his execution seems inartful to me.

Who is the target audience? Who will see Lt. Choi chained up and re-evaluate their position?
posted by phrontist at 11:58 AM on March 18, 2010


After 8 years of shit, there's an annoying tendency for liberals to bitch and moan because everything isn't fixed RIGHT NOW.

It seems that the anger is based on the very good chance that NOTHING IMPORTANT will get fixed EVER.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:00 PM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


Get this through your head: you don't have a constitutional right to government subsidized health care. Your asking the government to pay for something that generations of Americans before you have paid on their own. Regardless of how much you need the government's help, remember that you are demanding the government give you something that it is not constitutionally obligated to provide.

By contrast, this guy has a constitutional right to publicly identify himself as a gay man in and still remain in the military.
Wtf are you talking about? Where in the constitution does it say you have a right to be gay and in the military?

If being gay in the military was constitutionally protected, then, obviously, DADT wouldn't exist.

Besides, what does the fact that HCR isn't constitutionally mandated have to do with anything? Lots of laws are not constitutionally mandated, but they are still good things. I mean, there is no constitutional mandate to have the FDA, or Federal reserve, but the US post office is constitutionally mandated. Does that mean the post office is more important then the FDA and Fed?
posted by delmoi at 12:00 PM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ha, he was in uniform too. Awesome!
posted by snsranch at 12:01 PM on March 18, 2010


I don't know what Operation Rescue is off the top of my head.

Perhaps you should look into what they're all about before opining.

I mean, I don't know anything about you, but it sounds like you're a furry nazi pedophile space alien in drag.
posted by absalom at 12:01 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: "It seems that the anger is based on the very good chance that NOTHING IMPORTANT will get fixed EVER."

The Fierce Urgency of Eventually.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:02 PM on March 18, 2010


tl;dr: Your demand for a handout takes a backseat to his right to be treated like a human being by the country he is risking his life to serve.
posted by Pastabagel


Uh, did you just call wanting to pass HCR being a "demand for a handout"? I'm with you that people shouldn't wait for rights. But... what?
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:02 PM on March 18, 2010


Anyway, I'm sorry but this comes across like a stupid stunt. I actually think it undermines his credibility, for one, and furthermore it seems kind of pointless when everyone knows DADT is on it's way out. The president said in the state of the union he wanted it gone by the end of the year, the military is doing studies, etc.
posted by delmoi at 12:03 PM on March 18, 2010


Instead of the old cliche of standing up to defend a person's right to express a view you disagree with, you participated in creating conditions that made it impossible for them in practice to exercise their rights.

It sounds hypocritical, but hypocrisy is part of that unholy trinity - lying, racism, and hypocrisy - that only kids care about.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:04 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know what Operation Rescue is off the top of my head.

Perhaps you should look into what they're all about before opining.

I mean, I don't know anything about you, but it sounds like you're a furry nazi pedophile space alien in drag.


I think the comment was intended to mean, "I don't care how bad the organization was your efforts denied them their right to free speech and public assembly." Which is the actual point you should be arguing with. Convincing a church not to harbor a group does not deny them free speech or public assembly, they can still go down to city hall and file for a permit.
posted by edbles at 12:05 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


AZ, you are a saint and a half.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:06 PM on March 18, 2010


With that assumption, your definition of "successful protest" is to effectively deny someone their free speech and assembly rights

Hardly. It was, instead, an expression of our freedom of speech.

Jesus, I hate discussing freedom of speech with people who have a remedial understanding of it, and it's off topic here. I won't be returning to the subject of how desperately unfair it was for us to have a successful protest against an organization that effectively got a doctor assassinated.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:06 PM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


delmoi: "The president said in the state of the union he wanted it gone by the end of the year"

I see. Like Guantanamo?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:07 PM on March 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I am really hoping this is the thread where we hammer out whether Obama has never done anything ever or if he is playing a game of chess in which each piece represents a game of Go.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:09 PM on March 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Let's not forget that Capt. Jim Pietrangelo, who (unsuccessfully) tried taking his legal challenge of DADT to the Supreme Court, also handcuffed himself to the fence with Choi this afternoon.
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, I don't doubt his sincerity, but his let's go make history! phrasing comes off as affected. It's hard to imagine MLK or Ghandi going about it this way.

Choi:
"You've been told that the White House has a plan....But we learned this week that the president is still not fully committed....Following this rally, I will be leading [the protest] to the White House to say 'enough talk.'...I am still standing, I am still fighting, I am still speaking out, and I am still gay."

Excerpts from MLK, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech:
"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation....

we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now....

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."...


Excerpts from Gandhi's "Quit India" speech:
"Let me explain my position clearly. God has vouchsafed to me a priceless gift in the weapon of Ahimsa. I and my Ahimsa are on our trail today. If in the present crisis, when the earth is being scorched by the flames of Himsa and crying for deliverance, I failed to make use of the God given talent, God will not forgive me and I shall be judged un-wrongly of the great gift. I must act now. I may not hesitate and merely look on...

I believe that in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours....It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence."


Are those too "let's go make history!"ish for you?
posted by sallybrown at 12:14 PM on March 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think Obama is a very clever man, and I think he does realize the value of tackling a single issue at a time, especially when he is dealing with an opposition party that decided simply to oppose every single thing he did, even before he was was sworn in, and have demonstrated that by repeatedly coming out in opposition of things they actually support if it has Obama's name attached.

So I am sympathetic. But injustice is injustice, and Choi has every right to say, hey, how long do I have to wait?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:14 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


DADT was probably the most embarrassing highlight of presidential career loaded with embarrassment.

The worst part was that it came after he explicitly promised to open the military to all citizens. And I voted for him. Then he gave us DADT, less of a compromise than a big fat shit all over us.

Now Obama has the same m.o. No, sir.

We need action now. What on earth does ending discrimination for sexual orientation have to do with health care?

everyone knows DADT is on it's way out

You obviously know something I don't. DADT is obviously "on its way out" in the same way that medical marijuana is obviously "on its way in." That doesn't mean we won't have to fight for it.

If being gay in the military was constitutionally protected, then, obviously, DADT wouldn't exist.

Obviously. (Can you see my eyes rolling back in my HAMBURGER?)

Don't be dense. The Constitution is obviously open to interpretation, in fact a very wide range of interpretations if you look at SCOTUS history.

"SLDN (Servicemembers' Legal Defense Network) believes that past decisions upholding the constitutionality of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell," have been rendered obsolete in light of Lawrence v. Texas, a Supreme Court ruling striking down sodomy laws under the Fourteenth Amendment; 'the ban can no longer survive constitutionally,' says C. Dixon Osborne, SLDN Executive Director."

As far as I know, these three lawsuits challenging DADT are unresolved?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:15 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


In other related news: today there is a 'blog swarm' to demand that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi move Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to a vote.
posted by ericb at 12:15 PM on March 18, 2010


It seems that the anger is based on the very good chance that NOTHING IMPORTANT will get fixed EVER.


Yeah, it's like the administration hasn't done squat and isn't working on anything!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:16 PM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


the military is doing studies, etc.

Well, if they're doing studies! Please.

Seriously, Choi is amazing and I admire that he has been brave enough to become the face of DADT. My main concern is that an arrest will give his bosses a way to boot him without resorting to DADT.
posted by Mavri at 12:18 PM on March 18, 2010


I think Obama is a very clever man, and I think he does realize the value of tackling a single issue at a time

I'm not a political wonk, but I'd have to disagree here. I think the best approach would be to overload Congress with 10-15 hot-button issues at once. Fox News wouldn't have the bandwidth outrage to cover all of them.

And if 1-2 good things snuck through while people were screaming "Guvmint OUT of my Medicare!" all the better. At least SOMETHING good might squeak by.

The strategy seemed to work well for Bush and the Republicans. Propose a bevy of batshit ideas. Your opponents will spend all their time fighting the biggest and most newsworthy issues, while you quietly pass little bill after little bill, moving the goalposts further and further in your direction. My2c.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oddly: This could all be avoided if the White House didn't put up fences.

The building of a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border has come to a virtual halt -- by order of the Obama administration.

I guess it's a start.
posted by tzikeh at 12:20 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks being stood up by Kathy Griffin was a good thing? Seriously, wtf HRC?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:21 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


My first instinct was to question the timing. You couldn't wait until after the HCR vote was over in a couple days? But seriously, the GLBT community has been waiting long enough. And Obama could have avoided a timing problem himself by pushing this forward over a year ago.

Gays don't need health care? Sorry, that was a bit glib. In all seriousness I don't think Obama has the political capital to make either change, but let's hope he can do more than I think.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:27 PM on March 18, 2010


Well, if they're doing studies! Please.

Yeah, they're doing studies, trying to figure what sort of impact this change will have and how all branches of the military will have to deal with it, what sort of problems may arise, etc.

Much as you and I may wish otherwise, it's not possible to simply say "Ok, no more DADT" and it's magical sunbeams and everything is ok. So yeah, they're studying it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:30 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW -- this protest coincides with today's Senate Committee Hearing on DADT.
posted by ericb at 12:31 PM on March 18, 2010


It probably would have made more sense to handcuff himself to the Pentagon

No. The President is commander in chief and tells the Pentagon what to do.


In theory, perhaps. While Obama could order the military to suspend the policy, only Congress could actually repeal DADT. And that's only likely to happen with the at least tacit approval of most of the military leadership. Crucially, DefSec Gats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen are on board with ending DADT (in Mullen's case, quite vocally.) But there's still some resistance from the senior uniformed officers, most notably Marine Corps Commandant James Conway. Having spent pretty much all his political capital on health care reform, Obama will have to figure out a way to win over, or at least marginalize, voices like Conway's if he has a snowball's chance in hell of permanently dismantling the policy.
posted by Rangeboy at 12:33 PM on March 18, 2010


it's not possible to simply say "Ok, no more DADT"

Why not? Why couldn't Congress repeal DADT tomorrow? And if it's because they'd have to change the benefits manuals and remove some sections from the UCMJ, then I do not believe it justifies or requires "studies." If the studies are to buy time because the support in Congress isn't there, then that's a different meaning of "possible" than I understand you to be using.
posted by Mavri at 12:38 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: "So yeah, they're studying it."

Oh boy, are they studying it.

50 Years Of Pentagon Studies Support Gay Soldiers
posted by Joe Beese at 12:38 PM on March 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I honestly expected Joe Beese's "Oh boy, are they studying it" comment to be followed by a link to some military themed gay porn.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:42 PM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


I support the abolition of DADT, and admire both of these men for their courage, but I wish the chaining was to the gates of John McCain's house (he said he'd consider repeal of DADT if the military recommended that, then announced his opposition when the Chair of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of Defense said they did recommend it), or someone else who is actually in favor of retaining the policy.

But then again, I'm always surprised at how much opposition Obama draws from the people he agrees with at times when he is doing something hard in the face of determined opposition.
posted by bearwife at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why not?

Because they're first priority is defense and before they make a radical change, they're going to want to minimize any impact on that first priority.

Oh boy, are they studying it.

I'm not saying the military is perfect or couldn't be moving better or faster on this, just that it's not a simple matter of waving their hand. If they did that and a newly outed solider or sailer wound up dead or injured because of attacks from within the military, they'd have a public relations nightmare on their hands.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:48 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale."

President Harry Truman, Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948.

President Obama? You listening? Be like Harry. Just do it. (Most) Americans know fair is fair.
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:00 PM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


DC Agenda says it "seems to be a standoff" between Dan Choi and security.

in what sense was it a standoff? what, exactly, was the tactical advantage held by the man with both hands cuffed to a wrought-iron fence? "Stand back, or I'll writhe!"?
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:02 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Stand back, or I'll writhe!"?

Jeez, everything is seeming like gay porn to me today.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:07 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some days you eat the bear and some days, well... he eats you.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:10 PM on March 18, 2010


The strategy seemed to work well for Bush and the Republicans. Propose a bevy of batshit ideas. Your opponents will spend all their time fighting the biggest and most newsworthy issues, while you quietly pass little bill after little bill, moving the goalposts further and further in your direction. My2c

Bush and the Republicans didn't have the corporatist Washington political/media establishment fighting their agenda at every step either because their agendas were the same: destroy the government, except for everyone's favorite cash cow, the military.

It was easier for the Republicans because it actually was just easier, that's all. For one thing, they had a huge historical catastrophe at their back to give them political cover. And for another, not reforming, not pushing progressive legislation is inherently just easier--striking down or ignoring existing progressive policies is far easier than formulating, enacting and implementing new ones. Just working out all the particular details of a policy proposal is a challenge in itself. Especially when the electorate seems to think all you have to do to solve a complex problem is write a law, and poof!, problem solved.

From Carter to FDR, no progressive has ever accomplished sweeping political change as rapidly or on the scale that so many persistently excoriate the president for not having already accomplished in his first year. But that's okay, because those were different times, right? Please. Even the Great Depression didn't create enough unified political will in this country to allow for one iota of health care reform.

And DADT is what happened, you might remember, when Clinton tried to allow gays to serve openly in the military in the first place:

The policy was introduced as a compromise measure in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton who, while campaigning for the Presidency, had promised to allow all citizens regardless of sexual orientation to serve openly in the military. At the time, as per 1982's Department of Defense Directive 1332.14, it was military policy that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service" and persons who engaged in homosexual acts or stated that they are homosexual or bisexual were to be discharged. Congress, opposing Clinton's proposed changes, included text in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 (passed in 1993) requiring the military to abide by regulations essentially identical to the 1982 policy

That's why it's important to be sure you can get the political support you need before you try to push ahead with your agenda. If you don't, you may end up with exactly the opposite of what you meant to accomplish.

How many more failed progressive presidencies are we going to have to have before we realize it's not the would be progressives who are failing us: it's us? We are an electorate that takes an inordinate amount of perverse satisfaction in electing progressives, expecting them to work miracles, and then working feverishly to discredit them and undermine their political support the instant we begin to suspect they aren't the superhuman saviors of mankind we'd been hoping for.

We simply don't know how to unify or form consensus coalitions among ourselves like the electorates of other countries do. We don't even understand those concepts or consciously recognize when we're pursuing a particular political strategy. Consciously forming voting blocs? Forget about it! We just let our day-to-day moods, whims and personal interests--and especially our sense of moral outrage--inform how we approach our responsibilities as an electorate.

We give our pols endless political cover for dragging their feet by letting the media push-poll us to create a distorted consensus about what we want. Then we reelect the same corrupt pols again and again, or worse, we just vote blindly for the other party, never stopping to wonder too long what actually motivated the guy from the other party to run. And forget about participating in the primary process, where the limited number of candidates we have to choose from get selected.

We take the media's word for it when they make vague and misleading statements about policy that don't accurately reflect the reality of the policy under consideration, but that are based solely on the analysis of corporate interest funded think tanks or some random blogger somewhere who's found a way to parse the meaning of a provision uncharitably.

But worst of all, we don't consciously build voting coalitions or resist coalition busting tactics. We just sort of wake up feeling one way one day, and then a different way another, and there's no deliberate strategy behind how we respond to polls or how we vote.

If European electorates behaved the way ours does, no country in Europe would have decent social welfare systems or health care programs. I promise you that. The concept of solidarity as a political technique in the US is so long lost, there seems to be little hope of ever recovering it.

So good luck to you, America. Have lots of laughs now at Obama's expense. That will surely make the world better off in the long run. And besides, it's just so darn easy.


Never mind.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:22 PM on March 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Astro Zombie: Jeez, everything is seeming like gay porn to me today.

Welcome to every day of my teenage years...and much of my twenties...and....

You get the point.

I think Dan Choi is mostly awesome; HRC not so much. But times like these aren't the times for nit-picking apart past and present tactical failure of tactics when there's such a clean and obvious choice that is both morally and logically right. Unfortunately, when it comes to gay issues, our country -- and particular, our federal government -- usually has their morals and logic skewed.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:23 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I await the insightful anaylsis of their new hire, Eric Erickson.

*jaw drops* You're shitting me. In all seriousness, was there no one more qualified for the job who wasn't a racist, anti-gay misogynist? There must be thousands of potential right-wing candidates to choose from.
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on March 18, 2010


There must be thousands of potential right-wing candidates to choose from.

Ones that can pass the "litmus test"? I'm beginning to have my doubts.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:33 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


convicted rapists can join the US military under "moral waivers", but openly gay men can't serve.

so, basically, if a guy rapes a man, and gets convicted for it, he can join the military - but if he has a loving, consensual relationship with another man and doesn't want to keep closeted, he's kicked out.

US military, you're doin' a heck of a job.
posted by nadawi at 1:36 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think Obama is a very clever man, and I think he does realize the value of tackling a single issue at a time

Didn't the Democratic Party and its media outlets rightfully give John McCain shit over wanting to postpone a presidential debate, in order to focus his time on the financial crises taking place in September 2009?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:38 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher wrote I'm not saying the military is perfect or couldn't be moving better or faster on this, just that it's not a simple matter of waving their hand. If they did that and a newly outed solider or sailer wound up dead or injured because of attacks from within the military, they'd have a public relations nightmare on their hands.

Let the ignorant, ubermacho, jerks suffer a PR nightmare. You want us to hold back civil rights out of fear of a possible PR nightmare for the military? Really?

Truman integrated the military by executive order, Obama could and should end the military's homophobic bigotry the same way. As for PR nightmares, the bigots in the military can cry me a river, they deserve to suffer a lot more than a PR nightmare for their behavior.

As for Obama, as I've mentioned in other threads, it isn't so much that he isn't doing much, as he seems to be actively doing very bad things, and doing all sorts of arm twisting in support of those bad things that he refuses to do in support of the good.

Obama lied about restoring the Constitution, ending torture, and ending the Bush era evils of indefinite detention. Instead he has decreed that he has powers that even Bush didn't claim, including the power to assassinate US citizens thus directly violating the 4th Amendment.

When Obama's "bad" column includes "supports torture", "supports putting people in cages forever without trials or charges", "supports assassinating US citizens", well he's going to have to do a whole lot of good for me to like him. Especially since he campaigned on ending all that stuff, and I voted for him on that basis.

He betrayed me and every other liberal who voted for him, and he doesn't even have the courtesy to apologize to us for that betrayal, or even explain his betrayal.

If he's going to be that two faced, that evil, that lying, why should I trust him on any other issue?

He had the will to play dirty politics against liberal politicians who opposed his plan to kill lots more people in Afghanistan, but when it came to fighting for the public option (one of his major campaign points) somehow he just couldn't be bothered to twist any arms. He has the political will to just plough ahead and keep right on torturing people, putting people into cages forever with no trials or charges, etc, but somehow when it comes time to end DADT he tells us that we have to be patient and wait like good little voters.

Bugger that for a lark. If he can do his evil quickly, efficiently, and with no concern for the consequences but for the good things on his agenda he drags his feet, declares that there must be bipartisan approval, and otherwise gives progressives the finger. If he advanced his good agenda with the same vigor that he advanced his evil agenda I wouldn't be bitching.
posted by sotonohito at 1:40 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


5th Amendment. I meant 5th....
posted by sotonohito at 1:42 PM on March 18, 2010


fwiw - obama's afghanistan position should be of surprise to absolutely no one that actually read his positions and listened to his speeches. he's been in support of that war from the beginning. it's the iraq war he was gungho about stopping.
posted by nadawi at 1:43 PM on March 18, 2010


saulgoodman: "We are an electorate that takes an inordinate amount of perverse satisfaction in electing progressives, expecting them to work miracles, and then working feverishly to discredit them and undermine their political support the instant we begin to suspect they aren't the superhuman saviors of mankind we'd been hoping for. "

If it will now take someone "superhuman" to perform the "miracle" of stopping indefinite imprisonment without trial and the Presidential assassination of American citizens - and I concede that it may - the only conversation we need to have about the government is how to expatriate our way out of its clutches.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:44 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


POLL: More Than 70% Of Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Comfortable Serving Alongside Openly Gay Troops.
posted by ericb at 1:49 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wasn't it Clinton's politically clumsy, failed attempt to allow gays to serve in the military that ended up backfiring and causing congress to do an end run around him and enact DADT into law instead?

Yeah, it was. You think Obama's got more support from congress than Clinton had? He, too, had a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate at the time.

Congress, opposing Clinton's proposed changes, included text in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 (passed in 1993) requiring the military to abide by regulations essentially identical to the 1982 policy[3]. The Clinton Administration on December 21, 1993[4] issued Department of Defense Directive 1304.26, which while following the letter of Congress's restrictions attempted to soften them by focusing on homosexual "conduct" rather than sexual orientation, and stating that military applicants are not to be asked what their sexual orientation is.[3] This is the policy now known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

Keep the pressure on Obama. See how much good it does when congress passes another law to reinstate DADT.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:52 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it will now take someone "superhuman" to perform the "miracle" of stopping indefinite imprisonment without trial and the Presidential assassination of American citizens - and I concede that it may - the only conversation we need to have about the government is how to expatriate our way out of its clutches.

Hey, no fair! You're misquoting me, Beese. I believe what I originally wrote was:

"We are an electorate that takes an inordinate amount of perverse satisfaction in electing progressives, expecting them to work miracles, and then working feverishly to discredit them and undermine their political support the instant we begin to suspect they aren't the superhuman saviors of mankind we'd been hoping for. "

Get it right. ;)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:55 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Generational Divide: Why Gen Y is over DADT -- "A Gallup poll from June found 78 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 support gays and lesbians serving openly."
posted by ericb at 1:56 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ones that can pass the "litmus test"? I'm beginning to have my doubts.

Who cares? Sincerely. How hard is it to find someone who can intelligently discuss the opposing side on a variety of issues without resorting to mockery, lying, fearmongering, race-baiting or outright hatred? They don't have to be an extremist. They shouldn't be an extremist. Most of the country is not extreme in their political views. CNN went for the lowest common denominator: someone who will scare the populace into agreeing with him.
posted by zarq at 1:56 PM on March 18, 2010


“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Research and Polls.
posted by ericb at 1:57 PM on March 18, 2010


I used to have patience with all the "impact studies" the military is claiming are needed to assess the results of reversing DADT.

And then, the other night, I saw Coming Out Under Fire when it was broadcast on LINK-TV.

It's a pretty clear summary of the queer presence in the military up until DADT was instituted. It was surprising to me to learn of army base gay newsletters and hear about men being asked to transfer into each others units in order to be able to serve together. This prohibition was instituted out of gay panic, and is pure paranoia-based bigotry.

Impact studies are not needed. Not any more than they were needed for integrating blacks into the troops. Sometimes you just do the things that are right and let the culture adjust. Waves will occur, but why is equanimity more important than basic human decency and equality? Let the waves occur, and eventually the sea will be smooth again.
posted by hippybear at 1:58 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


tl;dr: Your demand for a handout takes a backseat to his right to be treated like a human being by the country he is risking his life to serve.

I hope it doesn't happen to you, but if the health insurance you bought and paid for was canceled as soon as you were diagnosed with a serious illness, you would probably feel slightly different about the importance of health care reform.

I get it, this is all about poor people who want to get their grubby and lazy fingers on other people's money. There is no way whatsoever that hard-working people of solid financial means could believe that our current system of health care provision is fatally flawed in its current form.
posted by uri at 2:12 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


nadawi Yes, I'm aware that Obama ran on a platform of killing more people in Afghanistan, I voted for him despite that.

I had hoped it was merely an empty campaign promise and that he'd drag his feet on it. Instead he's dragged his feet on the good stuff he promised while aggressively pursuing his policy of killing lots more people in Afghanistan and his other very bad ideas.

Worse, he's shown that he was lying through his teeth when he claimed to want to end Bush's evils and has rather embraced and extended those evils.

My point is that, contrary to Brandon Blatcher's claims us liberals aren't ignoring huge mountains of good stuff Obama has done to obsess over a few minor details. We're outraged at the genuine evil Obama as wrought, stunned at his aggressive, quick, and vigorous pursuit of those evils, and outraged anew that he drags his feet and stalls on the good things he still claims to support.

Obama could end DADT tomorrow with a single executive order. Truman set the precedent for that. But instead Obama is dragging his feet and giving all appearances that his dedication to ending DADT is about as firm as his dedication to a public option.
posted by sotonohito at 2:14 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had hoped it was merely an empty campaign promise and that he'd drag his feet on it.

so you hoped he'd say one thing and do another - yet you're surprised that he's said one thing and done another.
posted by nadawi at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Choi's also distracting Republicans and Conservatives.

I can only hope that this will force them to be sending out divided talking points, potentially causing chaos and leading to a great on air gaff where they mistakenly include the "Jamming it down our throats" line they keep trotting out for HCR to reference something with DADT.

Because that'll make the Daily Show, no questions.
posted by quin at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


As much as I want to see DADT repealed, I just don't understand why people seem to think the president is the one who needs to be pressured to support the change. I understand the C-in-C argument in theory, but look what happened in practice when Clinton tried to let gays serve. His own party smacked him down.

Seriously, what reason do we have to think congress wouldn't block the attempt to allow gays to serve again this time around? If Obama just makes the change through executive order, it can immediately be rolled back the next time we get a homophobe in the White House (which inevitably will happen again). This Democratic congress hasn't exactly turned out to be as progressive as its rhetoric. And unless I'm mistaken, Congress didn't just suddenly become a lot more gay-friendly recently, even with a House Speaker from San Francisco.

A more effective strategy would focus on building voting coalitions that can put real electoral pressure on Dems who might be on the wrong side of this issue. Just demanding that the president make it happen isn't nearly enough by itself. Presidents need popular support to enjoy any real policy-influencing power. With Obama's support slipping daily in the polls, there's increasingly less incentive for his colleagues in Washington to give a damn about what policies he personally supports.

That said, I still think the repeal of DADT is already inevitable at this point. The one year review thing is just a face-saving measure the brass in the pentagon can use to deflect criticism and to provide cover for shaky congressional Dems whose constituencies include large blocks of homophobes.

Obama could end DADT tomorrow with a single executive order. Truman set the precedent for that. But instead Obama is dragging his feet and giving all appearances that his dedication to ending DADT is about as firm as his dedication to a public option.

And the next president could start it again the next day with another executive order. That's not a solution. It's a quick fix.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:26 PM on March 18, 2010


Worse, he's shown that he was lying through his teeth when he claimed to want to end Bush's evils and has rather embraced and extended those evils.

This is not true. It is, at best, truthy. But it's not even that, because here you are on the one hand, demanding Obama solve the DADT issue with an Executive Order, when you still refuse to even acknowledge he issued an Executive Order almost immediately on taking office strictly instructing all military and non-military personnel to comply with the Geneva Conventions and explicitly banning torture and/or so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

How is it that issuing an Executive Order to address the problem in the case of torture represents in your mind an inadequate, insincere attempt to address the problem, while in this case, you insist that an Executive Order is all that's needed to do the job?

Please explain this apparent contradiction.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:37 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama could end DADT tomorrow with a single executive order.

Not really, even Truman's order took years to take full effect. There's a political cost to Obama doing such an order, in light the country's raging homophobia probably isn't worth in terms of the bigger picture.

This really sucks and I wish weren't so, but frankly I don't think Obama has the political clout and power to just do whatever he wants. That sucks too, but it's a helluva lot better than McCain/Palin.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:49 PM on March 18, 2010


saulgoodman Because torture is only part of the issue? Because his torture ban doesn't include any prosecution of torturers, but rather their protection?

Yay, he issued an executive order banning torture.

Boo, he's agreed with Bush's basic premise that the President has the power to arbitrarily decree that a person is a terrorist, lock them in a cage forever, and never bother with trials or even charges.

Bigger boo, Obama has decreed that as President he has the power to simply order the CIA to assassinate any American citizen that he, as President, decrees to be a terrorist, that's a power even Bush didn't claim.

Yay, he's closing the physical facility at Guantanamo, well, eventually, if he can get bipartisan agreement, and doesn't drag his feet too much. No way will he twist arms for that the way he did for his kill more Afghans plan.

Boo, closing the physical facility doesn't matter because he'll just continue the Guantanamo process of putting people in cages without trials, or at best military kangaroo courts, which is why people opposed Guantanamo. The problem was never that the USA had people in cages without trials or charges in Cuba, but rather that the USA had people in cages without trials or charges anywhere. Closing Guantanamo only to continue to hold people in cages without trials or charges is not really doing much good.

And the next president could start it again the next day with another executive order.

Didn't happen with racial integration.

Besides, if that's a concern fix it now with an executive order then go back and get Congress to pass laws. But right this second the US military is hiring known members of racist groups, convicted rapists, etc not because they're evil but because they're desperate for recruits. Yet, despite that desperation they're conducting witch hunts to find and kick out gay soldiers. That looks like a problem that needs a quick fix to me.
posted by sotonohito at 2:49 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It might have been more effective if Lt. Choi, along with any number of other military men and women who have been ejected for their orientation, had started a 24/7 in-uniform vigil in front of the White House so that whenever Obama looks out the window, he sees soldiers staring back at him.

"J'accuse."
posted by Decimask at 3:14 PM on March 18, 2010


does handcuffing yourself to things accomplish anything? don't cops carry handcuff keys?

hmmm.
posted by Hammond Rye at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2010


does handcuffing yourself to things accomplish anything? don't cops carry handcuff keys?

hmmm.

Pretty sure handcuff keys aren't universal.
posted by kylej at 4:11 PM on March 18, 2010


It's almost charming how these types of threads bring out the concern trolls. "Aw, what a cute little community, fighting tooth and nail for it's rights.... well obviously you're going all about it wrong. It's like this....no, you're doing it wrong, *sigh* I guess I'll have to do it for you!!!"

Yeah, lets just wait another 40 years for you to figure out how we should fight for our rights. Or y'know, you could get off your sanctimonious ass and pick up a sign and do something about it.

This thread is weak. Choi put his body on the line for this, for our community. Criticism isn't the proper response. Dude is a hero and I thank him for his service to the country and especially to the gay community. He didn't have to, most people don't even care - or care only enough to post worthless critical comments on the internet - but this guy, Lt. Choi is fighting for us.

Hat tip to sotonohito for the apt MLK quote.
posted by Craig at 4:19 PM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pretty sure handcuff keys aren't universal.

Watching CNN coverage a uniformed Secret Service agent did indeed use his own handcuff key (on a key-laden chain) to unlock the handcuffs of Choi and Pietrangelo.

See also: "Most modern handcuffs in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Latin America can be opened with the same standard universal handcuff key."
posted by ericb at 4:39 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Retired U.S. Marine General John Sheehan (U.S. Atlantic Command and served as the top NATO commander in the mid-1990s) blames the Srebrenica massacre on gay soldiers in the Dutch Army.

I don't even have the words.
posted by Craig at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dan Choi is the man. Get ye to a Senate Race, sir.
posted by GilloD at 4:56 PM on March 18, 2010


bearwife said: I wish the chaining was to the gates of John McCain's house

Which one?
posted by amyms at 5:00 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The one even halfway reasonable argument I've heard for DADT was that the military was a specialized community whose members could be subject to a different justice if that difference were necessary for it to do its work. So, for example, soldiers actually do not have the same freedom of speech guaranteed to civilians by the first amendment (wikipedia overview). The question is whether DADT is necessary in the same way, and as a civilian I'm willing to wait for the DoD to complete whatever studies it thinks are necessary to answer that question.
posted by d. z. wang at 5:25 PM on March 18, 2010


I'm kind of over the idea that anything can be changed at all about anything - stick to some imperial Chinese philosophy, live your life and hope no one powerful notices you or anything you do.

(/bitter!)
posted by The Whelk at 5:44 PM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


as a civilian I'm willing to wait for the DoD to complete whatever studies it thinks are necessary to answer that question.

Enjoy the theater. Dems won't control the senate in a year anyway, the whole thing is just a stall so that it goes away. The issue has been studied to death, panel after panel of "experts" have been hauled in front of congress to testify about this for years. So now they decide they need to do a "study." Yeah, that'll help.
posted by Craig at 5:54 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


PETRAEUS: I believe the time has come to consider a change to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But I think it should be done in a thoughtful and deliberative matter...
posted by Joe Beese at 6:06 PM on March 18, 2010


bearwife said: I wish the chaining was to the gates of John McCain's house

Which one?


Any of them. Seriously, doesn't that make sense? I love the MLK quote too, but will remind everyone that the reason he was in the Birmingham jail in the first place was because he was taking on the racists with nonviolent protest, not marching on his supporters.
posted by bearwife at 6:11 PM on March 18, 2010


See also: "Most modern handcuffs in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Latin America can be opened with the same standard universal handcuff key."

They are also dirt cheap, so if you were a paranoid sort who believed that, one day, you might find yourself unexpectedly wearing a pair that you wanted to be able to get out of, it's good to know that you can obtain a universal key really easily.

Fun fact; with a bit of practice, handcuffs can be easily picked with a medium to large safety pin or a "jumbo" paper-clip.

Trivia: there is a secondary lock on police issue handcuffs that is typically engaged after they have been put on your wrist. This prevents the manacles from ratcheting any tighter once the pin is set. To unlock, you must first turn the key away from the body of the cuff a half turn, and then towards it to push down on the spring loaded ratchet.
posted by quin at 6:12 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is increasingly disturbing. It increasingly looks as though someone has decided to play hardball with Dan and James. The Park Police say that Dan is not being released on bail. Dan also has not made his phone call to the person designed to pay his bail - the person's phone number is written on Dan's arm, so there's no chance he doesn't have it. That means that Dan apparently is not being permitted a phone call, and thus not being permitted to have anyone pay his bail. Why not? We have just learned that Dan is in fact being charged with "failure to obey a lawful order," yet that charge usually means you get processed, you pay bail, and you leave. Then why are they not letting Dan Choi leave, but instead are holding him to be arraigned? Why are they apparently not permitting Dan his phone call?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:10 PM on March 18, 2010


joe beese - i wonder if the issue is complicated by him being enlisted. members of the military don't get the same free speech leeway that the average citizen gets...
posted by nadawi at 7:13 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


nadawi: " members of the military don't get the same free speech leeway that the average citizen gets..."

Whether or not he should have worn his uniform came up at the Great Orange Satan. Someone commented:

Because being good little fags has worked out so well so far. Let's see, after 40 years of the LGBT civil rights movement, we still have no federal protections, no state protections in half the country, a federal ban on any legal recognition of our relationships and families, and a ban on participation in the military (while DADT governs how the ban is enforced, a full and total ban was enacted in 1993). Wait, we do get to have the federal government help investigate when we're killed - and that only took 12 years after one of the worst gay bashings in our nation's history, with dozens, if not hundreds, of LGBT citizens slaughtered for being different in the meantime.

We have a Democratic leadership that claims to support us, but won't even speak up when we are slandered, insulted, demeaned, dehumanized and attacked. We have a President who is a "fierce advocate" for our rights, which he proves by making nice speeches but actually doing nothing.

What Dan Choi did today, which ended any hope for his military career, was to express the outrage and disgust that so many LGBT Americans feel right now. If that message is misinterpreted by the haters, so be it. They deliberately misinterpret every other fact about us, so we haven't lost anything. In fact, we may have gained something, because this protest gave us a great opportunity to learn who is with us and who is too scared to challenge the status quo (and yes, I'm talking to you Ms. Griffin and you, Mr. Solomonese).

posted by Joe Beese at 7:19 PM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


joe beese -

uniform or no, he's screwed under the UJMC if they want him to be - ending his military career is the least of it - if this goes over to military justice, depending on what article they say he's in violation of, he could be facing about a year in prison.

from an article in the army times

In United States v. Howe, an Army Lieutenant was convicted for carrying a sign during an antiwar demonstration that read ‘Let’s Have More Than A Choice Between Petty Ignorant Fascists In 1968’ on one side and ‘End Johnson’s Fascist Aggression In Vietnam’ on the other side. Lieutenant Howe did not participate in organizing the demonstration, but merely joined it after it began. During the half-hour demonstration, Howe was off duty, in civilian clothes, and no one at the demonstration knew of his military affiliation. Howe came to the Army’s attention only because a gas station attendant, who Howe had asked for directions, spotted the lieutenant’s sign and an Army sticker on his vehicle and subsequently notified the local military police.”
posted by nadawi at 7:25 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


nadawi: "uniform or no, he's screwed under the UJMC if they want him to be - ending his military career is the least of it - if this goes over to military justice, depending on what article they say he's in violation of, he could be facing about a year in prison."

If he didn't know already, I'm sure he took the trouble to find out before doing this.

I'm sure Obama doesn't want to make a martyr of him - and maybe Choi took that into account. But yeah, certain career suicide and maybe a year in prison on top of that.

I'd call that a brave man. Seems like the kind of guy you'd want for a soldier.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:31 PM on March 18, 2010


also: a group in fayetteville, ar organized a little solidarity protest today, helped along by the parents of will phillips
posted by nadawi at 7:45 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's almost charming how these types of threads bring out the concern trolls. "Aw, what a cute little community, fighting tooth and nail for it's rights.... well obviously you're going all about it wrong. It's like this....no, you're doing it wrong, *sigh* I guess I'll have to do it for you!!!"

I hope that wasn't directed at me, because you could not be more completely off base in that accusation.

What the fuck gives you the right to dismiss me as a concern troll? Do you have any reason whatsoever to believe I'm somehow secretly opposed to repealing DADT, or otherwise invested in maintaining the status quo, and hindering the progress of gay rights? Can you point to a single remark in my posting history that shows me to be anything other than completely supportive of the cause of gay equality?

Or are you just a lazy asshole who finds it easier to sling cheap insults than to participate in a thoughtful, serious discussion? Here's another suggestion: Being a dick doesn't help you convince me you're approach to the problem is right, either. And I want you to convince me you're right, because if you are, it would be better for me if I figured that out, too. But for now, you haven't convinced me of anything other than the fact that you're a smug, self-important ass.

You don't even fucking know me, prick! You don't have a single good reason to assume I'm not gay myself, you superficial, smug little ass.

As it happens, my wife's best friend was murdered for being gay. And my sister is gay.

(And before you say "Oh noes! Typical white moderate, says he's got all sorts of gay friends!" you should also know I'm not a fucking moderate either.)

I didn't express any sentiments even remotely resembling the abhorrent and condescending attitudes you appear to be ascribing to me. And my argument is a real, legitimate one, whether you choose to accept it or even take it seriously into consideration or not: It's not the case in any version of reality consistent with our own that the president has either the legal or political power to fix this alone, especially if his popular support continues to slide, no matter how much you wish that were true. And it's not an especially constructive approach to solving problems to just keep hitting the same goddamn busted piano key over and over again.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:16 PM on March 18, 2010


As for Choi himself, I agree that he's been a courageous advocate for the cause of gay equality and would, without a doubt, make a fine soldier. I just don't agree that this is necessarily the best timing, or that the White House is the best target of protest. Although, to be fair, the White House probably does symbolize the Federal government in general more than just the president personally in a lot of minds, so it's probably not that big of a deal.

But dammit, don't accuse me of concern trolling.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:21 PM on March 18, 2010


I keep thinking I'm stuck in some version of the Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep Universe, where the world is dying for unknown reasons and society is quietly falling apart and any hope people have is being into a magic box that plays the same thing over and over yet the only thing anyone is concerned with is the price and indexing of increasingly rare animals to show off to their neighbors.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 PM on March 18, 2010


I won't accuse anyone of concern trolling - I don't even exactly know what that is - but I personally resent the phenomenon of non-activists complaining about the strategies activists use, and I see that phenomenon in almost every metafilter thread that is about activists or political protest. Do you think the average white joe agreed with the timing of the Greensboro sit ins? Or average non-union activists with the post-war wave of general strikes? Or straight people with ACT-UPs kiss ins? Nope. Most people think most activism is coming too soon, is coming on too strong, etc. That is the nature of activism - it's only needed in the face of its opposition. But nothing ever changes without action.

And activism is actually pretty complicated and hard to do perfectly. Movements do need critics, but meaningful criticism comes from people engaged actively in the struggle, or at the very least by the people most directly effected by the struggle. Heterosexual critiques about the timing or strategy of queer rights activists is just hard to take very seriously.

I have plenty of disagreement with this particular protest. I'd rather our energy was going into stopping war than putting homos in uniforms, but I'm not complaining. I'm fucking grateful that someone is putting his ass on the line for more than just himself.
posted by serazin at 8:35 PM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


They will not be able to stop them. In this country everybody have rights, and they will protect their rights. I will help them to protect their rights. Civil Liberties for everyone.
posted by CRESTA at 9:03 PM on March 18, 2010


saulgoodman: " I just don't agree that this is necessarily the best timing, or that the White House is the best target of protest."

It's the best possible time and the best possible target.

Obama will continue doing nothing until an intolerable amount of political pain is inflicted upon him for it. Publicly embarrassing him during his big bill's "sweeps week" is an excellent start.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:19 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


As far as the potential year in jail, does it make any difference that he's in the National Guard rather than the Army? If a person is in the national guard, do they have the free speech restrictions all the time or just when they're called up?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:05 PM on March 18, 2010


Heterosexual critiques about the timing or strategy of queer rights activists is just hard to take very seriously.

Alrighty then, I'll keep my mouth shut and move along.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:12 AM on March 19, 2010


Some of you are making a disagreement where there shouldn't be one. Some wait for the "right time", some protest to make the right time come to being. The idea that these are opposed is an illusion. Furthermore, the next time Captain Pietrangelo wishes to be chained to a fence, he can give me a call, and I'll install one, just for the occasion.
posted by Goofyy at 3:52 AM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Some wait for the "right time", some protest to make the right time come to being.

But we're not talking about some vague "right time," far off in some hypothetical, more enlightened future; we're only talking about sometime next week, after HCR is through the process.

Look, I've got a very close uncle who works primarily as a roofer, who broke his neck about a year ago and is now permanently disabled. He can still walk, but his vertebra had to be fused, limiting his mobility, and he can no longer work in his trade (his second trade after losing his 30 year job as a mill worker when the paper mill closed several years ago).

His income had already been reduced to next to nothing thanks to the Florida housing market collapse. Now he's got a mountain of ongoing medical expenses. He stands to benefit under the HCR working its way through congress because, based on income, it would pay for most, if not all, of his continuing health care costs. I think the time is right for that, too, and I'd hate to see those efforts derailed now over a scheduling conflict. But honestly, that's not very likely at this point anyway.

But whatever. I don't mean to obscure the fact of Choi's courage in acting in accordance with his convictions. But obviously, I'm not the only one here with reservations about the timing.

Looking at it again, I realize now the timing may actually be unfortunate for a very different reason: with HCR so close to passing, this probably won't get nearly as much publicity as it might have if it followed immediately on the heels of HCR's passage.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:53 AM on March 19, 2010


Who is the target audience? Who will see Lt. Choi chained up and re-evaluate their position?
posted by phrontist at 11:58 AM on March 18 [+] [!]


I think the target audience is Barack Obama, the man that lives in the White House. He comes across as thoughtful enough that he may actually re-evaluate his position.

It's not like Choi is chaining himself to the RNC or anything.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:59 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding the timing of protests, I guess this Sunday's rally protesting for immigration reform should be called off, since that's likely the day Congress will be voting on health care reform. Remember, only one thing at a time.
posted by ericb at 8:04 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems that the anger is based on the very good chance that NOTHING IMPORTANT will get fixed EVER.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:00 PM on March 18 [8 favorites +] [!]


List of things Obama has accomplished.
posted by I am the Walrus at 8:05 AM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


FYI: A protest outside the Times Square Military Recruitment Office in NYC (12pm - 2pm) is being held today (12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.) in support of Choi, Pietrangelo, and McGehee.

Another DADT rally will be held in Orlando today (12:00pm - 1:00pm).
posted by ericb at 8:10 AM on March 19, 2010


Video: Rachel Maddow on DADT activism.
posted by ericb at 8:12 AM on March 19, 2010


It's not like Choi is chaining himself to the RNC or anything.

Why not? Why don't we ever actually try to inconvenience or embarrass those who are actually most directly responsible for blocking reform?

The point of direct action, as I understand it, is to act directly against your opposition in a way that causes them so much economic or political grief they have no choice but to grant you a specific political concession that aligns with your broader political goals.

Take, for example, the Montgomery Bus Boycotts. The planners of that action were exquisitely conscious of the specific intended effects of the action, and they were perfectly willing to put pragmatism before idealism. They had an entire legal strategy worked out ahead of time, and knew exactly how the events that followed would unfold.
... community leaders had been waiting for the right person to be arrested, a person who would anger the black community into action, who would agree to test the segregation laws in court, and who, most importantly, was "above reproach." When fifteen year old Claudette Colvin was arrested early in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white man, E.D. Nixon thought he had found the perfect person, but the teenager turned out to be pregnant. Nixon later explained, "I had to be sure that I had somebody I could win with." Parks, however, was a good candidate because of her employment and marital status, along with her good standing in the community.
And their goal was to hit their opposition (not their potential allies) where it hurts:
The boycott resulted in a crippling financial deficit for the Montgomery public transit system, because the city's black population who were the drivers of the boycott were also the bulk of the system's ridership.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how direct action is done.

Why do we so rarely target the actual opposition with direct action anymore? I think its because activists and reformers have been PWNED by political cynics applying a simple divide and conquer strategy to pit political interest groups that should be natural political allies against each other.

Why do you think Cheney, now that he's out of power, is suddenly all gung-ho about gay rights and repealing DADT. You really think he's suddenly developed a social conscience now, when he's out of office and in no position to be held to his word or to have his feet held to the fire, but is still clearly agitating on behalf of the political right? Yeah right.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:27 AM on March 19, 2010


Why do we so rarely target the actual opposition with direct action anymore?

Indeed. I keep wondering why liberals are so pissed at Democrats for the health care reform struggle over the past year. It's Republicans who keep torpedoing things left and right, yet somehow Democrats are blamed for everything (Not that they couldn't have done some things better). It's a really strange attitude, IMO.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:50 AM on March 19, 2010


saulgoodman - the Montgomery Bus Boycott was not targeting the "actual opposition" either. Do you think the Montgomery Transit System was the architect of racial segregation in this country? Hells no. The local bus company is no where near as much of the "actual opposition" as the local, state or federal government is. Their participation in the system was of course wrong, but they were a good target mostly because they were an accessible target. They depended on black dollars to run, and without black dollars they were crippled. They could be made an example of quite dramatically.

Obama has made very clear, very public statements that he opposes equal rights for gay people. He might not be the most homophobic guy in America, but as a homophobe he's a perfectly valid target, and he's a good target because he depends on gay (and gay friendly progressive) votes, and pressure on him may actually work, (where pressure on right wing politicians is much less likely to).
posted by serazin at 8:52 AM on March 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


saulgoodman: "He stands to benefit under the HCR working its way through congress because, based on income, it would pay for most, if not all, of his continuing health care costs."

Hope he can hold out until 2014. You do realize that none of the crumbs you're so excited about will be dispensed for several years?

But it wouldn't make a difference if the bill was cradle-to-grave single-payer. We don't get to say "Can you wait for recognition of your dignity as a human being until it would be more convenient for us?"
posted by Joe Beese at 8:54 AM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a really strange attitude, IMO.

It makes sense to me if I think about it as a constituency issue.

First, there are a lot of Republican targets of liberal ire, so I wouldn't say Democrats are blamed for everything.

Second, how much sway do liberals have over Republicans? If you're from a blue district and you're mad at your "home team" for not representing you well, you'll be mad at a Democrat. If you're liberal, you're not part of the Republican base generally, either--you're part of the Democratic base. The Republicans aren't going to get your vote, so they don't really care what you think, so you don't spend much time trying to influence them. You try to influence the people who want your vote--the Democrats. If you're going to criticize a party, it's going to be the one you think might be listening.
posted by sallybrown at 8:57 AM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're going to criticize a party, it's going to be the one you think might be listening.

This makes a ton of sense, and I agree with you, but I do despair that it seems to lead to a sort of 'Well of course the opposition is going to stand against everything decent and humane' attitude. I mean, yeah Republican leadership is playing to the fringe right now, and therefore the whole party comes off as sort of crazy and etc., but there's no way that giving up approximate half of the country as a lost cause is a healthy political mindset.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:01 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hope he can hold out until 2014. You do realize that none of the crumbs you're so excited about will be dispensed for several years?

That's not completely true. The prohibitions on rescission, refusing coverage, and other features of the proposal come on-line sooner.

Anyway, yes, my uncle will still benefit from practically free health care in 2014. It would be nice if it happened sooner, but at least it will be there for him when complications from his age start to become more of an issue. And there will still be people in 2014, I assume. So others in his position won't have to go through his ordeal.

To me, that's not a fucking crumb.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:02 AM on March 19, 2010


Do you think the Montgomery Transit System was the architect of racial segregation in this country? Hells no.

No. But they were the actual agents of segregation. They were actively implementing and supporting the literal fact of segregation, not just in some abstract, symbollic or indirect way, but directly. In this case, congress is the elective body that put DADT into effect, in direct defiance of President Clinton. And you might believe otherwise, but I have no reason to doubt Obama's own support for repealing DADT is sincere (you know, since he's one of the few current elected officeholder's who even had the balls to bring the subject back up; he didn't have to do that to get elected).
posted by saulgoodman at 9:08 AM on March 19, 2010


phrontist: Who is the target audience? Who will see Lt. Choi chained up and re-evaluate their position?

I am the Walrus: I think the target audience is Barack Obama, the man that lives in the White House. He comes across as thoughtful enough that he may actually re-evaluate his position. It's not like Choi is chaining himself to the RNC or anything.

Perhaps he should be.

I applaud his efforts. I truly do. But I do wonder if he's preaching to the choir and how effective that will be.

He went on Rachel Maddow. Let's face it, anyone who dislikes gays and lesbians and/or thinks that they shouldn't have equal rights in this country is going to dismiss anything on that show about that specific issue as biased propaganda. They'll tune out. Chaining himself to the White House fence as a protest stunt is not really a better way to get attention with unsympathetic audiences because it allows Fox Newschannel and conservative pundits at other media outlets to ignore his message and spin his actions as "crazy person does something crazy." They'll minimize him and portray him as an extremist.

He needs interview time now on respected news and talk shows that are considered minimally biased so he can appeal to moderates.

I suspect President Obama and his advisors think their hands are tied on this issue. Perhaps they're right about that. But I doubt they're the audience he needs to convince.

Oh, and screw the timing. "I'm sorry, but can you wait to call attention to YOUR awful injustice until we've fixed OURS?" Yeah, no.
posted by zarq at 9:13 AM on March 19, 2010


saulgoodman: "The prohibitions on rescission, refusing coverage, and other features of the proposal come on-line sooner."

Yes, very exciting.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:16 AM on March 19, 2010


You try to influence the people who want your vote--the Democrats. If you're going to criticize a party, it's going to be the one you think might be listening.

Yeah, that's what we do now, but it's not how these kinds of battles have generally been fought and won in the past from what I can tell.

The point of direct action is to manipulate your political adversary through non-violent brute force, not to get them to sing Kumbaya with you. IMO, you don't win by persuading your allies to be more scared of you. You win by making it too inconvenient or politically/economically damaging for your opposition not to implement your agenda.

You put an exploitative company out of business or make them change their policies by directly hurting their bottom line, not by staging a sit in at the house of someone else who opposes their practices but doesn't have the political power to affect a change. That's what we don't do very effectively anymore: Hit the opposition where it actually hurts them, instead of just stirring up some more controversy to feed the news cycle.

Tactically effective direct action isn't about convincing; it's about forcing.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:18 AM on March 19, 2010


Also, in response to the comment way up-thread, no, I'm not saying this stuff as someone who's never taken part in political protests or otherwise engaged in activism. I say it as someone who has taken part in protests, but gave up hope once I realized they weren't really accomplishing anything.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:43 AM on March 19, 2010


Also, in response to the comment way up-thread, no, I'm not saying this stuff as someone who's never taken part in political protests or otherwise engaged in activism. I say it as someone who has taken part in protests, but gave up hope once I realized they weren't really accomplishing anything.

This.

In my late teens and 20's I turned my energies from attending protests to volunteering instead. Volunteered at my local Planned Parenthood, GMHC and a bunch of soup kitchens, among other causes. Gave some of my time to a couple of local politicians. It's less immediately rewarding than shouting slogans in a crowd, but sometimes it's better to do things one person at a time, or by focusing on helping small groups.
posted by zarq at 9:58 AM on March 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Robin McGehee on why GetEQUAL is taking civil disobedient action:
"We believe we need to do more than lobbying, making phone calls, and giving money to people who are not making true to the promises we were given. And that's the reason that we organized with Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. James Pietrangelo today, to take action at the White House where true pressure needs to be given. Everyone knows that without repeal language added to the Defense Authorization bill, that there is not a true course or a true plan of action that will be successful by this year's end."
posted by ericb at 10:41 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


CBS News:
"According to reports, Choi crashed the rally, hosted by the gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign and comedian Kathy Griffin, and asked attendees to join him in a march to the White House, turning the event into more of a protest. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese did not march to the White House, in an illustration of the split in the gay rights movement between establishment organizations like the HRC, which generally support the Obama administration, and activists like Choi, who are pushing more aggressively for action."
posted by ericb at 10:44 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did Dan Choi Jump the Shark, or Has the Gay Community Forgotten What Real Activism Is?
posted by ericb at 10:45 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


DADT is what happened, you might remember, when Clinton tried to allow gays to serve openly in the military in the first place

DADT is what happened when Clinton promised to allow gays to serve openly in the military and then got chickenshit.

(The rest of your comment seemed insightful, but I couldn't read it because all the words had lines through them.)

convicted rapists can join the US military under "moral waivers", but openly gay men can't serve.

"What does it tell us that female soldiers deployed overseas stop drinking water after 7 p.m. to reduce the odds of being raped if they have to use the bathroom at night?"

...

"The Pentagon's latest figures show that nearly 3,000 women were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008 ... among women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number rose 25% ... close to a third (of female veterans) say they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving ... The problem is even worse than that. The Pentagon estimates that 80% to 90% of sexual assaults go unreported, and it's no wonder. Anonymity is all but impossible."


Sexual Assaults on Female Soldiers: Don't Ask, Don't Tell


meanwhile ...

"Air Force Chief of Staff General Norman Schwartz told House members that now 'is not the time to perturb the force, which is already stretched by demands in Iraq and Afghanistan.'"

I think this is EXACTLY the time to perturb the force. I also think Norman Schwartz should go fuck himself in the eye.

As for Obama, as I've mentioned in other threads, it isn't so much that he isn't doing much, as he seems to be actively doing very bad things, and doing all sorts of arm twisting in support of those bad things that he refuses to do in support of the good.

Amen.

List of things Obama has accomplished.

Classic. Kudos.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:16 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was an interesting read, ericb. The essence:

"This is either bold gay activism, the likes of which we haven't seen since the days of ACT UP, or it is a deafening cry for attention that just damaged the brand and credibility of one of the few real gay leaders the community has right now. Taking into account my conflicted feelings about the entire situation, I actually think that it may be both. I'm not entirely sure when it was that gays became so complacent that our idea of 'activism' is throwing gala fundraisers for the usual heterosexual celebrities who deign to be supportive of us, but however theatrical and overwrought they may be, Lt. Choi's actions seem to hearken back to an era that I've never really experienced. It's the era that Cleve Jones talks about when he reminisces about the work he did with Harvey Milk back in the 70's, the era when gay men founded ACT UP after becoming sick and tired of seeing each other dying from AIDS and getting nothing but silence from the Reagan Administration, and it's the era where LGBT people actually fought for their rights instead of waiting patiently for them."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:11 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. Jim Pietrangelo Plead 'Not Guilty' in Court, Opt for April 26 Trial Over $100 Fine.
posted by ericb at 12:20 PM on March 19, 2010


saulgoodman wrote Why do we so rarely target the actual opposition with direct action anymore? I think its because activists and reformers have been PWNED by political cynics applying a simple divide and conquer strategy to pit political interest groups that should be natural political allies against each other.

Can't speak for anyone else, but following the insanity the Republican party has demonstrated lately I am convinced that they are impossible to reason with, bully, force, or otherwise coerce into doing anything productive at all.

Talking to them is, from my POV, as useful and productive a use of my time as shouting at a brick wall.

More to the point, the people ostensibly on my side have the necessary votes to do what is called for, but are refusing to use those votes. There are 59 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate and 255 in the House, giving them a 59% and 58.6% majority in each house respectively. The only reason we aren't getting the good stuff is because the Democrats refuse to give it to us [1].

Yes, it'd be nice if the Republicans were less unmovable, but we don't need their votes to get DOMA and DADT and all the others repealed, all we need is for the Democratic party to stop impeding us and get it done.

So, yes, given that I think taking to, or otherwise interacting with, the Republicans is a waste of effort, and that the Democrats have the raw numbers to do it anyway, why should we waste time arguing with immovable Republicans when "all" we have to do is get people who, in theory anyway, support us to vote?

If you have evidence that the Republicans will ever break ranks and vote with us, please let me know, I'm feeling pretty damn lousy about the fact that fully half the country seems to have gone batshit insane and could use cheering up.

[1] Leaving aside the insanity of the filibuster that is, but again that's the fault of the Democrats, they had 60 votes at one point, they could have gotten rid of it, they failed to do so or even to consider doing so.
posted by sotonohito at 12:34 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not really, even Truman's order took years to take full effect.

Truman issued Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948. The last all-black unit in the US military was abolished in September 1954.

Truman's order had unintended effects that happened sooner. The Dixiecrats split from the Democratic Party during the 1948 election primarily in response to Truman's order. Most prominent Dixiecrats switched to the Republican Party, which adopted the Southern strategy.

I suspect President Obama and his advisors think their hands are tied on this issue.

I don't. I believe that President Obama intends to have DADT ended during his first term. I believe that he wants to have Congress repeal DADT because it's a law Congress passed and that's the most Constitutionally-appropriate and permanent way to do it, and because if he signs an executive order it can be overturned by a later president's executive order.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:25 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


As of the beginning of February, Dan Choi--who as far as I can tell has not actually been discharged*--was back on drill duty with his Army National Guard unit. Last June an Army National Guard committee recommended that he be discharged, but the paperwork hasn't gone through yet, and he has another appearance in front of the committee in June 2010. "'The paperwork has been floating around in the Pentagon very slowly,' Choi said. 'Usually people wait six or seven days for their discharge. Meanwhile I'm waiting for months to hear back.'"

Meanwhile the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense "forcefully backed" repealing DADT in testimony before Congress.

President Bush wanted an amendment banning gay marriage. Senator McCain says DADT is not a civil rights issue and lied when he said he'd support changing the policy when the leadership of the military said so.

* Well, at least not until this chaining-himself-to-the-White-House-in-unform stunt.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:46 PM on March 19, 2010


Also, in response to the comment way up-thread, no, I'm not saying this stuff as someone who's never taken part in political protests or otherwise engaged in activism. I say it as someone who has taken part in protests, but gave up hope once I realized they weren't really accomplishing anything.

Sometimes, I think people protest because they feel they have no other choice, because to do otherwise would be to live another day without authenticity and honesty. I am pretty sure Dan Choi felt that way.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:45 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't. I believe that President Obama intends to have DADT ended during his first term. I believe that he wants to have Congress repeal DADT because it's a law Congress passed and that's the most Constitutionally-appropriate and permanent way to do it, and because if he signs an executive order it can be overturned by a later president's executive order.

YES
posted by humannaire at 10:57 PM on March 19, 2010


Here's the raw video of Lt Dan Choi's handcuffing

[warning: Activism]
posted by humannaire at 11:14 PM on March 19, 2010


krinklyfig I really hope that isn't the case. Protesting for that reason is often counterproductive and shouldn't be engaged in. A most excellent article on the topic: "Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology" discusses why.

A protest to achieve goals is a good thing. A protest for the purpose of feeling good is not.
posted by sotonohito at 4:47 AM on March 20, 2010


Er, just realized, I should mention that I'm neither comparing Choi to Al Qaeda, nor is the article particularly about Al Qaeda except in that it addresses the question of why Al Qaeda takes actions so seemingly contrary to their stated goals.
posted by sotonohito at 5:53 AM on March 20, 2010


After Dan Choi was released, two men came up to thank him for what he'd been doing. The two men were in their 70s and on their way to the courthouse to get married; one of them had served in the navy.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:50 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


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