Jarrod Chlapowski

Roasting a Lame Duck

Filed By Jarrod Chlapowski | September 30, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay military, HRC, Servicemembers United

For the sake of everyone's sanity, I'm not going to go into detail about the piece on Congress.org that details rifts kept hidden for the sake of preserving coalition going into the Senate vote on the Defense Authorization bill last Tuesday (which I'll call an After Action Review (AAR), not a circular firing squad. Some could learn lessons from the military).

aar.gifNor will I break down HRC's response. However, a very telling quote is in the latter piece, from HRC's own Fred Sainz: ""[DADT repeal] certainly won't get done in the lame duck unless all activists push like hell to get it done."

Absolutely right. So, then, HRC, learn from the criticism in the article and do what you say needs to get done. Push. Like. Hell. For DADT, and DADT only.

Calling on an attorney general to succumb to political pressure (what some would call bad juju) isn't keeping the energy going through December. Keeping the issue in the public eye will. Even through midterms.

We at SU have taken the last week to draw a quick breath, but we're ready to go. Expect action alerts coming from SU soon - and not just making phone calls this time.

We have roughly 2 months before the lame duck. Let's use our time effectively.

What choice do we have?

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The "choice" you have is to do something effective instead of pretending.

60 votes. We need 60 votes. We have 58, at best. Who are the other two? What's the strategy to get them?

"Push like Hell?" What emails, calls and protests? That didn't work, it was a waste of time and energy. Why will that work after the midterms? Why would a Senator change his/her mind?

This appeal is really about fundraising for SU and other non-profits. It's not about solving the problem and getting DADT repealed. That requires those 60 votes and an effective strategy to get those votes.

This latest appeal will include language about "how close we are" and we just need "a little more money." We weren't "close" and more money won't help.

If you think you have 60 votes Jarrod, list them here.

59 Dems plus 3-6 Republicans= the 61-64 votes we thought we had going into the Senate vote before it was disrupted by a procedural move and anticipated Republican opposition to that. This isn't anything new. You could find the same analysis on any news site covering the vote.

As to fundraising, never have I pushed for fundraising on any of these action alerts. But, let's be transparent. We run on 10K overhead at SU - that's keeping the lights on and small pay checks so we can eat - and every other dollar goes into program expenses. We have ads - part of that mainstream educating you always claim we don't do - to put on tv that cost money to put on the air, so part of our push will include raising money for those ads. The money for these ads is raised through our (c)(4), whereas operational expenses go to the (c)(3), so you know our funds are not diverted. We avoid fundraising when we can as it tends to detract from the overall mission - hence our small but efficient size - but we need money if we're to be effective. Your attack on this front is both uninformed and unrealistic.

Beyond that, it is unusal for a campaign to recover so quickly and continue a push through the midterms. Even if you don't think phone calls, etc., works, unusual actions do gain attention, which increases the likelihood of the entire NDAA being addressed. If a politician witnesses apathy, his or her formula for what takes priority (ie: what would be the most damaging if it were ignored) will be affected.

Andrew, I'm going to request you take this offline and shoot me an email so we can set up a conversation and help you understand SU more as an organization. Otherwise I'm forced to believe your purpose is to be a spiteful, unproductive troll who has made it his mission to tear apart every one of my posts for no good reason other than a quick sense of vindictive pleasure perched from the ever-present armchair.

Votes "we thought we had?" First, we have two certain Democrats that DO NOT support DADT - Lincoln and Pryor. Plus, Webb and Ben Nelson want to wait for the "study" to be completed and they are unlikely to vote "for" DADT Repeal before then. *(The study is supposed to be done by December 1st. It will be delayed until mid-January, after new Senators are sworn in).

That brings your "Democrat total" down to 55. You will need 5 Republicans. Snow and Collins are likely, that makes 57 votes. You will need 3 more Republicans to break the filibuster. Which three?

Maybe you can get Judd Gregg from New Hampshire, but I don't see any others.

We don't have 60 votes. Harassing Senators won't make them change their minds.

As far as taking this conversation "offline," no. These are important issues for the LGBT community. I just gave you some very real math, you can return the favor.

If SU is working on a limited budget and you are volunteering, I appreciate you and SU. I am simply requesting that we have a specific strategy to reach 60 votes. Simply saying we have 61-64 votes isn't accurate.

I don't want people to waste their energy making calls or writing emails especially if they understand the reality. I would rather they (and you) figure out how to get 60 votes - harassment isn't the answer.

If the situation is that we're only going to have a shot at one major LGBT rights bill during the lame duck session, then DADT needs to be taken off the table entirely. ENDA is a *vastly* more important bill which will help all LGBT persons instead of *only* gays who have chosen to be in the military, and it has already been badly short-circuited by the over-emphasis on DADT.

I hate to be combative, but I think this entire DADT mess really demonstrates the incredibly poor judgement of the major LGBT orgs that actually have a voice on the Hill; they'd rather showboat for a "sexy" sub-cause that helps a tiny fraction of the community than put in real work for a serious civil rights bill.

And watch the races in West Virginia, Delaware and Illinois. Those are "special elections" and the new Senators are sworn in immediately. Currently, all three races look like Republican gains.

The total number LGBT-supportive US Senators in the 112th looks like only 53 after the mid-terms.

This is the first Congress ever not to pass a single appropriation bill before the mid-terms.

There are 13 of them. All need to be passed in the Lame Duck session. They're already having to pass emergency legislation just to pay federal staff.

I really have doubts that in the Lame Duck session they'll have time to address any of the 200+ bills passed by the house.

None of the appropriations bills "have" to pass. The unfortunate historic reality is that many federal agencies have opereated under continuing resolutions for the entire fiscal year, and this year it will be a bumper crop.