President Obama coming to Texas

President Barack Obama

According to an email I got today from the White House Press Secretary’s office, President Obama is headed to Texas next week.

The president will travel to El Paso next Tuesday, May 10, and then will stop in Austin before heading back to Washington, D.C.

Although the “official” email from the press secretary’s office said details on the visit would be released when they become available, an Associated Press report published today by the Houston Chronicle indicates that the president is visiting Chamizal National Memorial on the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, and Julie Hillrichs with the Texas Border Coalition said her group, which represents mayors, county judges and economic development commissions in the border area, hopes the president will address border security issues during the trip.

According to the National Parks Service’s website, “The Chamizal Convention of 1963 was a milestone in diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States. Chamizal National Memorial was established to commemorate this treaty, which resulted in the peaceful settlement of a century-long boundary dispute. The Memorial provides visitors with an opportunity to better understand the culture of our borderland.”

The AP report also says President Obama will be stopping in Austin for a fundraiser while he is in the Lone Star State. He’s likely to get a relatively warm welcome in Austin, which is the most liberal city in Texas. But folks in other areas — and maybe even some Austinites — might not be too happy to see him, considering the Obama administration just turned down the state’s plea for a major disaster declaration in the wake of wildfires that have destroyed more than 400 homes and some 2.2 million acres since last November.

—  admin

White House bullying conference set

According to an e-mail sent this afternoon from the office of the White House press secretary, President Barack Obama, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting a Conference on Bullying Prevention at the White House on Thursday, March 10. The conference will include “students, parents, teachers and others” from “communities from across the nation who have been affected by bullying as well as those who are taking action to address it.”

The announcement said participants will have the chance to talk to the president and “representatives from the highest levels of his administration” on how to work together to prevent bullying.

—  admin

‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ injunction now up to judge

JULIE WATSON  |  Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — U.S. government lawyers are trying to stop a federal judge from issuing an injunction that would immediately do what President Obama has yet to accomplish so far in his first term: Halt the military’s ban on openly gay troops.

Now it is up to U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips to decide if she is willing to do that.

The White House says the legal filing Thursday, Sept. 23 by the U.S. Department of Justice attorneys in a federal court in Riverside follows government procedure by defending an act of Congress that is being challenged, but it does not detract from the president’s efforts to get ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repealed.

“This filing in no way diminishes the president’s firm commitment to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT — indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

Phillips declared the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy unconstitutional in her ruling Sept. 9 following a three-week, non-jury trial and said she would issue a nationwide order to stop the ban. She asked both sides for input first.

The Log Cabin Republicans, the gay rights organization that filed the lawsuit to stop the ban’s enforcement, wants her to issue an order that would stop the policy from being used to discharge any U.S. military personnel anywhere in the world.

Their attorney, Dan Woods, called the Department of Justice’s objections to the possible injunction hypocritical. He said the administration should be seizing the opportunity to let a judge do what politics has not been able to do.

“It’s sad and disappointing that the administration would file such a document days after it urged Congress to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,”’ Woods said.

In their court filing Thursday, U.S. Department of Justice attorneys argued the possible move would be “untenable” and that Phillips would be overstepping her bounds by halting a policy under debate in Congress.

Instead, she should limit any injunction to the 19,000 members of the Log Cabin Republicans, which includes current and former military personnel, the lawyers said.

“A court should not compel the executive to implement an immediate cessation of the 17-year-old policy without regard for any effect such an abrupt change might have on the military’s operations, particularly at a time when the military is engaged in combat operations and other demanding military activities around the globe,” federal attorneys said in their objection.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members. Under the 1993 policy, service men and women who acknowledge being gay or are discovered engaging in homosexual activity, even in the privacy of their own homes off base, are subject to discharge.

In her ruling, Phillips said the policy doesn’t help military readiness and instead has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services by hurting recruiting during wartime and requiring the discharge of service members with critical skills and training.

—  John Wright