Sunday, December 19, 2010

On to the Zadroga Act...

It’s the day after, isn’t it? 

This is the day after DADT started down the road to the dustbin of history.  We are being told that it will take about two years for its repeal to be implemented fully.  I admit that I don’t quite understand this point and the attendant administrative problems, but I hope that it doesn’t mean that pending charges against individuals will be pursued.
I also admit that I’ve not paid much attention to John McCain’s rants, except to feel very sorry for him.  For his distinguished career to end this way is a shame.      
I’ve been bemused with the various reactions in the media.   The Washington Post has had extensive and excellent coverage of the Senate actions and the reactions in the military stationed around the world.  [Here]  Ed O’Keefe of the Post asked for comments and he certainly got some lulus. [Here]  Some, unfortunately, were the usual bigoted stupidity, a mixture of rightwing hatred, village lore about gayness, and name-calling.
I was surprised, though, at the number of gay service personnel who bravely wrote in.  For obvious reasons, they had been following the story from their posts all over the world.  Even with the Senate’s action, the President has not yet signed the bill and it has not yet gone into effect.  Let’s hope that Obama picks up his pen soon!
In the meanwhile, at least two more issues are left to be settled, the nuclear arms treaty (START), and the funding of medical aid to the first responders, the Zogroda Act.  Mitch McConnell said on Sunday that he couldn’t support START. [Here]  He was quoted by CNN saying that he felt “they” were rushing the treaty through the ratification process.  No doubt McConnell does not want to spend the Christmas break remembering too many major pieces of legislation successfully passed by the Democratic majority.
Let us hope that the nuclear treaty does not end up under the bus along with the DREAM legislation.  These Senate Republicans utterly baffle me.  Their collective eyes are fixed on 2012 and, unfortunately, they are viewing every issue through that prism.  Doing the right thing for undocumented immigrants who have been here for years and are thoroughly “Americanized” appears to have no meaning for them.  Their eyes are only focused on the 2012 Presidential prize, even though there is no clear (or impressive) Republican candidate on the horizon.
Yet, with all of this said, the GOP Senators’ most flagrant violation of legislative responsibility lies in their filibustering a bill to pay for medical aid for the 9/11 first responders, the so-called Zadroga Act.  Do you remember the sight of those firefighters and police who rushed into the burning and toxic caldron to save lives?  Those are the people who now need help from the long-term environmental effects of those acts of heroism. 
The msm has been curiously quiet about this issue.  It took Jon Stewart [Here] to break the log jam.  Also, Shep Smith let loose with Chris Wallace on Fox News.  [Here]  NY Senators, Schumer and Gillibrand, have been working tirelessly to get the votes to break a possible GOP fillibuster.  The Republicans were complaining about the cost of the bill at the same time they were passing the tax breaks to the wealthy.
According to press reports in Newsday  and the NYTimes, Gillibrand and Schumer have found ways of funding the bill that they believe will be acceptable to enough Republican Senators to break the magical number of 60.
Let us all hope that the bill will move forward before the Christmas break.  What a fine holiday present this would be for those extremely ill heros.  
Before we close, we should mention how proud we all should be of the untiring and intelligent work that our two NY Senators, Schumer and Gillibrand, have done in these last few weeks.  As we bid farewell to Gov. Paterson as he leaves office, we should remember that Gillibrand was his controversial choice to fill Hillary’s vacant seat.  He took much flak when he made his decision, but time has shown that his judgment was superb.  Kirsten Gillibrand is a Senator to be proud of.  
Let’s remember to thank our retiring Governor.

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