Tear down this wall

This was supposed to be the last obstacle, right?  This report was to be the last gasp for members of Congress who imagine themselves, in Buckley’s phrase, standing athwart history yelling Stop, at the unstoppable sunrise of civil liberties for homosexuals in America.  Well, now it’s here; let’s see what they do.

Today the Department of Defense released its own report on the anticipated impact to military readiness if Congress were to repeal the hideously-christened “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which prohibits homosexual Americans from being honest about their sexuality if they want to serve their country in the armed forces.  DOD found that, by and large, there’s no problem—you can read the reports from the major outlets:  New York Times, Associated Press, Fox News.

The House of Representatives already voted to repeal the law; some in the Senate resisted, wanting to give the Pentagon a chance to determine if changing the law would weaken our national defense.  To those senators who were betting that, surely, the men and women in uniform would object vehemently to gay men and women serving openly, and thereby provide needed political cover to affirm the ban—shame on you for thinking so little of American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.

The former maverick John McCain was perhaps most prominent about yielding to the military leadership on this question; a couple of weeks ago Jon Stewart bothered to remember what McCain had promised. (click the pic)

imageThe Pentagon report concedes that a world without DADT might experience growing pains, but it assures Congress that some brief discomfort is no reason to wait.  Logically, then, there’s no valid reason not to repeal the law, and any objection that the change should be delayed until it’s not so hard to implement should be answered with a reminder that the same argument was floated when President Truman ordered desegregation of the military.

Yes, this is a civil rights issue; I’ve made my case here before.  There’s no stopping it—the change is coming—and if some lame duck members of Congress who aren’t worried about re-election any more make the difference in changing this law, so be it.

Change of address notice

Please note–HIPRB is open for business at a second location on the Interwebs:


(I’m still at WordPress, and the old address will still get you here, but don’t you want to be seen using the new, sleeker domain?  Of course you do…)

Justice DeLay-ed, not denied

It ought to be a somber moment when a man who was once a high-ranking member of the leadership of our nation’s Congress is convicted of a high crime for his actions while in office, and it would have been in a more innocent day.  But on this day, I admit to being downright giddy that Tom DeLay—the Hammer—once my representative in the United States Congress—was nailed by a jury in Austin, Texas for violating our state’s election laws.

I don’t mean just that I was pleased Delay Trial because someone who broke the law was convicted of the offense; we all should take comfort when the system shows that the powerful are not above the law.  I mean, I was gleeful to hear that this particular sanctimonious, obnoxious, slimy, dishonest bully was finally getting what he deserved.   His wife and daughter seem to understand the seriousness of his predicament: not satisfied with mere victory at the polls, he engineered an illegal money-laundering plot to ensure partisan victory into the next generation—and that was before the Citizens United decision would have made it so easy to avoid prosecution for corrupting the process.

Schadenfreude?  You bet your ass.

The guy who forced a redistricting of the just-completed redistricting in order to secure a Republican majority that was already without doubt, is now a convicted felon?  Excellent.  The guy who insisted that lobbying firms fire every Democrat on the payroll in order to play ball with the Republicans in power, will now carry the stain of criminality for the rest of his life?  Perfect.  The guy who threatened that judges would become political targets if they couldn’t see their way clear to ignore the law to advance his partisan agenda?  Outstanding!

Sentencing comes in December so we don’t know yet if he’ll actually go to prison, but there’s hope, America…don’t give up hope.

Invasion of the body scanners

I like to think I don’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to defense of civil liberties—I was against the Big Brother-y Patriot Act before it was cool—but I don’t get all the fuss about body scanners in airports.

I’ve been able to mostly ignore the uproar about the Transportation Security Administration’s airport security measures because, well, I’m pretty good at ignore.  But I couldn’t look away from a series of posts by Padre Steve, a guy I find to be a pretty entertaining read, on the existential threat to liberty from our surrendering freedoms in the name of security.  Admittedly, I was hooked by his extended reference to an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” to illustrate the problem.

With respect to Padre Steve and the others who have suffered indignities at the hands of an idiotic TSA employee, I’m not convinced.  It seems likely to me that when one man pithily proclaimed “don’t touch my junk,” that was all that was necessary for the news media—the people with too little judgment and too much space to fill—to rev up the hysteria generator; Howard Kurtz does a good job surveying the landscape of the freak-out over pat-downs.

I’ll posit that we all agree that commercial air travel is not a right but a public accommodation justifiably subject to regulation in the interests of safety—would you get on a plane today if there was no screening of passengers or baggage?  We can debate the appropriateness of the screening measures that are being used, but that’s just details.  And in the meantime, there’s always the train or the bus.

Most experts believe the full-body scanners do not pose a serious health risk for the vast majority of travelers.  As to the complaint that they’re too invasive, because someone will see a black-and-white x-ray depiction of your naked body—

body scan image

Oh, yeah…verrry sexy.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask for the sake of better collective security, and certainly not when considered against the alternative of an all-over hands-on greeting from the TSA.  All in all, the scan seems a reasonable security tactic in a world where religious fanatics convince poor lemmings to stuff their shoes and underwear with explosives to strike a blow against people they don’t know who’ve never harmed them.

But in the spirit of the holiday, I will say I am thankful for the comedy (click the pic):


Texas jury pounds The Hammer

Must pass along the good news: my former representative in Congress, Tom DeLay, has been convicted of money laundering and faces a possible sentence of life in prison–the American jury system triumphs, even over the powerful and well-coifed!  More later…