McCain Dismisses Gates’ Letter On DADT, Attacks Obama As ‘Inexperienced’ For Promising Repeal

Once again John McCain moves the goal post to keep his position “alive”…

Think Progress

Several weeks ago, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) refused to accept the findings of the Pentagon’s Working Group review of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and insisted that the Department of Defense conduct an entirely new study on “the effects on morale and battle effectiveness.” This morning, CNN’s Candy Crowley asked McCain to respond to a letter he received from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — first obtained and published by the Wonk Room — in which Gates defended the soon-to-be released study and argued that it would provide the military sufficient information into the effect of lifting the ban on gays serving openly. “I do not believe that military policy decisions — on this or any other subject — should be made through a referendum of Servicemembers,” Gates wrote, adding, “The Chairman and I fully support the approach and the efforts of the working group, as do the Service Chiefs.”

But McCain remained undeterred. He agreed that decisions about integration should not be held hostage to the opinions of servicemembers, but then insisted that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell doesn’t pose a problem for gay soldiers or the military. He also reiterated that the Service Chiefs — three of whom publicly endorsed the study last week — are still concerned about repeal:

CROWLEY: Doesn’t [Gates] have a point?

MCCAIN: Well, I think he certainly has a point. I would also certainly say that we should remember where this all started. There was no uprising in the military, there was no problems with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. […]

It wasn’t a problem because you didn’t have. It’s called ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Okay? If you don’t ask somebody and they don’t tell and it’s an all volunteer force. […] The fact is, this was a political promise made by an inexperienced President or candidate for Presidency of the United States. […]

The fact is, that this system is working and I believe we need to assess the effect on the morale and battle effectiveness of those people, those young Marines and Army people I met.           

Continue reading here…

Watch it:

Poll: Republicans Who Want To Repeal Health Care Law Should Opt Out Of Gov’t-Sponsored Health Plans

Well, given that those politicians who oppose or want to repeal the Health-Care Law are so adamant about doing so, it would be a show of good faith for them to opt out of their government sponsored health care plans.  Let’s wait and see how this one pans out…

Think Progress

Last week, responding to Rep.-elect Andy Harris’ (R-MD) hypocritical demand for government-sponsored benefits, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) began circulating a letter among his Democratic colleagues calling on Harris and other members of Congress who want to repeal the new health care law to forgo their own government health care plans. So far just two incoming Republican freshmen — Rep.-elect Mike Kelly (PA) and Rep.-elect Bobby Schilling (IL) — have agreed. But a new Public Policy Polling survey has found that most Americans “think incoming Congressmen who campaigned against the health care bill should put their money where their mouth is and decline government provided health care now that they’re in office”:

Only 33% think they should accept the health care they get for being a member of Congress while 53% think they should decline it and 15% have no opinion.

Democrats are actually the most supportive of anti-health care Congressmen taking their health care, with 40% saying they should accept it to 46% who think they should decline. But Republicans and independents- who put these folks in office in the first place- strongly think they should refuse their government provided health care. GOP voters hold that sentiment by a 58/28 margin and indys do 56/27.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein estimated that Republicans could save the federal government $2.4 million if they forgo health care for a year. New members have 60 days (after being sworn-in) to select an insurance plan from the federal health insurance exchange, which will become available on the first day of the following month. Returning members can opt-out of the government-sponsored health insurance coverage until the end of the open-enrollment period, December 13th. The Wonk Room has more on why not opting out would be a betrayal of Republican candidates’ pledges to “listen[] to the people who sent us,” and on the scheme of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), a reform proponent, to make the GOP lawmakers put up or shut up on repeal.

Scalia Jumps On The Anti-Seventeenth Amendment Bandwagon

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, we have a real problem with Supreme Court Justices who have ignored the canons of Judicial “decor” and have become totally political while sitting on the Supreme Court Of The United States…

Think Progress

One of the most bizarre developments of the last several months is the growing right-wing calls to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment, the provision of the Constitution that empowers voters — as opposed to state legislatures — to elect their senators. On Friday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia joined Senator-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) in opposing the century-old amendment:

Scalia called the writing of the Constitution “providential,” and the birth of political science.

“There’s very little that I would change,” he said. “I would change it back to what they wrote, in some respects. The 17th Amendment has changed things enormously.

That amendment allowed for U.S. Senators to be elected by the people, rather than by individual state legislatures.

“We changed that in a burst of progressivism in 1913, and you can trace the decline of so-called states’ rights throughout the rest of the 20th century. So, don’t mess with the Constitution.

Justice Scalia’s use of extremist “states’ rights” rhetoric is an ominous sign. Although Scalia has a welldeserved reputation as an ultra-conservative, his record on federal/state power issues is surprisingly sensible. Indeed, his concurring opinion in Gonzales v. Raich could have been written as a blueprint for why President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is constitutional.

It’s puzzling why Scalia, or anyone else for that matter, would suddenly take a swipe at this entirely uncontroversial amendment — although the Wonk Room offers one possible explanation. Before the Seventeenth Amendment was enacted, corporate interest groups were able to lean on state lawmakers and thus effectively buy U.S. Senate seats. In other words, repealing the Seventeenth Amendment “would be like Citizens United on steroids.”

Ken Buck Can’t Explain How Government ‘Goes Too Far’ In Separating Church And State

This is the reason most Tea Party candidates like Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Rand Paul and others refuse to talk to the media.  They know that because they are not “polished politicians”, they’re  prone to make mahy gaffes that will most certainly be headlines the following day as well as “breaking news” on televison and cable networks.

The fact is, these people are NOT the sharpest tools in the shed.  Ken Buck is indeed one of the duller tools.  (I hope Michele Bachmann’s constitution classes for the freshman teabagger representatives and senators teaches them something.)

Think Progress

Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted the anti-Constitution stance taken by the Republican Senate candidate in Colorado Ken Buck, who said that “I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state.” The story quickly gained mainstream media attention.

Spokespeople for the Buck campaign insist that the comments were “taken out of context,” and Buck gave an interview to CNN yesterday to defend his comments:

BUCK: My problem isn’t with separation of church and state. It is with how far we have gone in that area. I think when you have a soup kitchen for example that is run by the Salvation Army which has religious ties in town and you have another soup kitchen in town which is purely secular. For the federal government to give one organization money but not the other because one has ties with a religious group is wrong. The idea is that we need to have compassionate programs for people. And if religious organizations are performing some of those functions without proselytizing then I think the federal government should include both.

Buck’s comments were not taken out of context. The original post included the entirety of his comments on the separation of church and state. A video of his entire answer — which was not about the First Amendment, but rather the government’s role in preserving culture — can be found here. As Denver Post columnist Mike Littwin observed, noting Buck’s recent attempt to take back comments he made about global warming, the campaign’s “default position” is “that whenever Buck is quoted as saying something he wished he hadn’t said, he must not have actually meant it.” (As the Wonk Room noted, Buck also said he wanted to privatize Social Security, then insisted that he didn’t.)

Moreover, much like the deceit in his original comments, which falsely suggested that Obama renamed the White House Christmas tree, Buck is completely wrong with his Salvation Army example. According to their 2010 Annual Report, the Salvation Army received over $392 million in government funds last year. They are simply not allowed to use that money to proselytize, exactly as Buck recommends should be done, but certainly can use it to provide “compassionate programs” for people.

Buck has consistently said that the government has “gone too far” with the separation between church and state, yet he’s been unable to give a valid example. Perhaps he’s misinformed about current federal policy and would find it satisfactory. Alternately, perhaps he would like the government to get much more actively involved in promoting religion, but is afraid to give real examples of what that would look like.