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The Road We've Traveled

by: Publisher

Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 18:00:00 PM EDT

The Obama campaign has released this 17-minute documentary by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim's documentary about President Obama's first three years in office and the tough calls he made to get our country back on track. If you recognize the narrator's voice — that's Tom Hanks.

There are a couple of minutes about the auto bailout, since they are probably assuming that they'll be running against Mitt Romney who famously wrote Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.

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What Has Obama Ever Done For Us?

by: Publisher

Wed Jan 11, 2012 at 06:04:22 AM EST


Cartoon reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog. blogspot.com.
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Democratic Party is Improving Their Messaging

by: Publisher

Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 06:20:43 AM EDT

 

Here, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks frankly about our the cause of our national debt and leads with her values.

Next, the DNC releases a hard hitting video highlighting the inappropriate cheering during the Republican presidential debates and notes none of the candidates said anything.  

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Taking Account: The Aftermath of Don't Ask Don't Tell

by: Publisher

Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 15:49:17 PM EDT

-- by Sgt. Brian Kresge, Jewish Lay Leader of the 56th Stryker Bridge

Editor's Note: Jewish tradition calls for an accounting of the soul cheshbon nefesh during the High Holidays. Now that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is no longer in effect, we can openly discuss the issue of homosexuality in the military. In this spirit, Sgt. Brian Kresge shares his regret at getting one of his friends kicked out of the army under DADT.

In 1996, I was stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska, just north of Anchorage, as part of a separate parachute infantry battalion.  Two years before, I had become ba'al t'shuvah coming out of Fort Benning to the 101st at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.  This continued in Alaska, working with the "Frozen Chosen" of Chabad Lubavitch in Anchorage.

This cast me, sadly, an odd-man out in my unit.  The request for special accommodations often put me at odds with my leadership.  They weren't anti-Semites, they just were of the mindset that if the military wanted to bother with family or religious matters, they'd issue them to you.  I was regarded as a solid performer, a good shot, and a great infantryman, but the needs of faith compromised that at times.  The requests for kosher rations in the field and even exemptions from duties on Shabbos in garrison were met with disdain, and almost 17 years of having to repeatedly answer for a kippah in uniform never got old.

I made fast friends at my Alaskan duty station with an amiable fellow from Richmond, Virginia.  His fondness for smoking a pipe (an indulgence we shared) and flannel shirts made him look like he escaped from a porch on a hovel in Appalachia.  An infantry company only has a few non-infantry personnel, be it supply, or in this guy's case, the unit Nuclear, Biological and Chemical specialist.  As such, grunts enjoy a branch-specific chauvinism that doesn't view non-grunts as of sufficient military merit, thus he was equally an odd-man out.

Adam, my friend, was also gay.  He had a boyfriend in Anchorage who often came to visit him in the barracks, alternately dressed as a man or woman, but because of Adam's 1950s woodsman appearance, no one gave it a second glance.

More after the jump.

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Taking Account: The Aftermath of Don't Ask Don't Tell

by: Publisher

Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 15:46:33 PM EDT

-- by Sgt. Brian Kresge, Jewish Lay Leader of the 56th Stryker Bridge

Editor's Note: Jewish tradition calls for an accounting of the soul cheshbon nefesh during the High Holidays. Now that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is no longer in effect, we can openly discuss the issue of homosexuality in the military. In this spirit, Sgt. Brian Kresge shares his regret at getting one of his friends kicked out of the army under DADT.

In 1996, I was stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska, just north of Anchorage, as part of a separate parachute infantry battalion.  Two years before, I had become ba'al t'shuvah coming out of Fort Benning to the 101st at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.  This continued in Alaska, working with the "Frozen Chosen" of Chabad Lubavitch in Anchorage.

This cast me, sadly, an odd-man out in my unit.  The request for special accommodations often put me at odds with my leadership.  They weren't anti-Semites, they just were of the mindset that if the military wanted to bother with family or religious matters, they'd issue them to you.  I was regarded as a solid performer, a good shot, and a great infantryman, but the needs of faith compromised that at times.  The requests for kosher rations in the field and even exemptions from duties on Shabbos in garrison were met with disdain, and almost 17 years of having to repeatedly answer for a kippah in uniform never got old.

I made fast friends at my Alaskan duty station with an amiable fellow from Richmond, Virginia.  His fondness for smoking a pipe (an indulgence we shared) and flannel shirts made him look like he escaped from a porch on a hovel in Appalachia.  An infantry company only has a few non-infantry personnel, be it supply, or in this guy's case, the unit Nuclear, Biological and Chemical specialist.  As such, grunts enjoy a branch-specific chauvinism that doesn't view non-grunts as of sufficient military merit, thus he was equally an odd-man out.

Adam, my friend, was also gay.  He had a boyfriend in Anchorage who often came to visit him in the barracks, alternately dressed as a man or woman, but because of Adam's 1950s woodsman appearance, no one gave it a second glance.

My squad leader, a storied staff sergeant who helped write the book (literally) on long range surveillance operations, was a raging homophobe.  I, however, liked him because out of all my leadership, he looked out for me, in part because I never made him look bad in terms of my abilities.  His squad had the highest physical training average, the best marksmen, and we won squad competitions.  He was the best leader I worked for in the active duty Army.

More after the jump.

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US Joins Israel Today in Allowing Gay Soldiers to Serve Their Country

by: Publisher

Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 11:13:40 AM EDT


-- President Barack Obama

Today, the discriminatory law known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is finally and formally repealed.  As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love.  As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.

More after the jump.

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Your Representative: Working Hard or Hardly Working

by: Publisher

Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 17:34:43 PM EST


-- DocJess

Welcome to the start of the 112th Congress.  In addition to getting more paid vacation time then any other group of people, including union workers and even most part time workers, Congress generally doesn't meet Monday or Friday. That's 102 scheduled vacation days (exclusive of the Monday/Friday deal) with adjournment on 8 December, leading to an additional 16 days off. Strikes me as obscene. If I owned a company and paid someone in the neighborhood of $250,000/year in salary, benefits and perks (exclusive of the office budget) - I'd expect that person to work more than he/she took vacation. But maybe that's just me. You can see the full calendar here.

Then again, this might be a good year for gridlock, given what the House led by the Tan Man and his DeMint-led cohorts in the Senate want to do.  

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DADT Repeal is now Official

by: Publisher

Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 17:40:05 PM EST


Today was filled with historic votes:
  • the 9/11 Health Bill was passed unanimously by the Senate,
  • the Senate ratified the New START Treaty 71-26, and
  • President Barack Obama signed into law the repeal of the United States Defense Department's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Video:
"Many of you probably remember the exchange earlier this year when Lt. Dan Choi gave Harry Reid his West Point ring and said he wouldn't take it back until DADT was repealed. Today, Reid gave him the ring back. Powerful video." (John Marshall - Talking Point Memo)

Reaction by the David A. Harris (NJDC) to these three historic events follows the jump.

The Invocation at the DADT Repeal Signing was given by Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff.

Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff is a consultant on interfaith values and interreligious affairs; a former line officer who served in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, followed by assignments with Naval Intelligence before attending rabbinical school; a retired Navy Chaplain who earned the Defense Superior Service Medal for his work with military and civilian leaders throughout Europe, Africa, and the Mid-East while serving as the Command Chaplain for the U.S. European Command;  and a former National Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee.  From June 2005 to June 2006, he served as  Special Assistant (for Values and Vision) to the Secretary and Chief-of-Staff of the U.S. Air Force, with the equivalent military rank of Brigadier General.  Headquartered in the Pentagon, this appointment took him to Air Force bases in more than ten countries around the world, including those in Iraq, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.  On June 16, 2006, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne presented him with the USAF Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service--the highest award that the Air Force can present to a civilian. In addition to rabbinic ordination, he has three masters degrees, in International Relations, Strategic Studies and National Security Affairs, and Rabbinics, and a doctorate from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rep Todd Platts (R-PA) were the only Republican Congressmen in attendance.
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Congress Ends "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

by: Publisher

Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 22:01:42 PM EST


-- Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris

Today's 65-31 vote to repeal the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy that prohibited gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans from serving openly in our nation's armed forces is truly historic. The repeal sends a clear message that any willing and able American can and should be allowed to proudly serve our country. As a world leader, it was appalling that we allowed legal and public discrimination to take place against some of the brave men and women who volunteered to serve their country on the field of battle. We applaud President Barack Obama for shining a bright light on this issue, and we commend the leadership of both the House and Senate for protecting the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans.

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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Didn't Reform

by: Publisher

Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 12:40:07 PM EST

Reactions to Senate's failure to end Republican filibuster to legislation to reform United States military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

-- Rabbi David Saperstein

Senators have failed to support the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have dedicated their professional lives to the defense of our nation.  Refusing to repeal the misguided "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy rejects the views and entreaties of Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen.  It also ignores the views of the overwhelming majority of service members whose opinions were solicited in the Pentagon's extensive study of the impact of repeal and who said such action would not negatively impact unit cohesion.

The military's code of honor is tarnished when service members are required to lie about their identity.  And as people of faith, we are pained by this affront to the dignity of those in uniform, each of whom, gay or straight, embodies the spark of the Divine presence in every person, and each of whom should be a source of pride for all Americans.


No doubt the courts, which have already shown a willingness to challenge this policy, will soon overturn it in recognition that we cannot in good conscience continue to ask the members of our Armed Forces to fight on behalf of a country that refuses to recognize their basic dignity and rights.

Even as we are deeply disappointed by today's Senate vote, we know that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy's days are numbered. We look forward to the future when this policy will be a mere memory of a sad and discredited chapter in our nation's history.


Open Letter to Senator McCain from four Arizona Rabbis

Dear Senator McCain:

We, along with a delegation of retired military flag and general officers and retired military chaplains, recently requested a meeting with you in Washington DC to discuss the future of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. After multiple follow-up calls and an extended period without hearing any response, we were informed by your Chief of Staff, Mark Buse, that your office was "not able to accommodate [our] request as the Senator's schedule is full." Mr. Buse did, however, note in an email (attached) that he would ensure that you personally saw any information we wished to convey.

More after the jump.

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Open Letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

by: Publisher

Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 22:09:52 PM EST

Dear Secretary Gates,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis, we write to express our support for repeal of the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. We find disappointing the position espoused that ministering to gays and lesbians would violate religious freedom. We strongly believe that such a repeal need not compromise religious freedom within our armed services, but instead will lead to a stronger, more fair and effective military.

While respecting the complexity and seriousness of the issue, the White House and many current and retired military leaders have recognized the urgency of repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell." Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and General Colin Powell, among others, have expressed their view that the policy should be abandoned.  These views reflect the fact that since its inception, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has forced gay and lesbian service members to live their lives in secret, always at risk of losing their ability to serve our country. Almost 14,000 soldiers and sailors have been expelled under the policy. It has been estimated by the GAO that the cost of replacing these service members exceeds $200 million, with a follow up study by an expert commission placing the figure even higher, at $363 million.  Particularly in a time of war and recession, these are human and financial resources we cannot afford to squander.

More after the jump.

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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Injunction Long Overdue

by: Publisher

Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 09:02:48 AM EDT

-- Mark J. Pelavin, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

We welcome yesterday's ruling by Judge Virginia Phillips barring the U.S. military from discharging crucial and qualified personnel solely because they have been identified as gay or lesbian. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" forces our service men and women to live their lives in fear, unable to be their true selves, and its abolition is long overdue. Even as Congress and the military pursue their review of the policy, Judge Phillips's ruling makes clear that DADT is unsustainable as a policy and a detriment to our nation's and the world's security.

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