Thursday, February 25, 2010

No muss, no fuss...

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It really doesn't have to be as damn complicated allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military as some people want to pretend it is... Not many issues about women serving. But then, considering the size of the demographic, it's a lot easier to demonize homosexuals these days than it is women.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Articles: the quandary of partisanship

Due to a personal crisis I haven't had much time or enthusiasm for writing. I hope to do some soon.

In the meantime, I did read two good articles last week in Time magazine. One was by David Frum in which he discussed the possibility of moderation coming back to the Republican party. An excerpt:
“Yes, when unemployment exceeds 10%, the GOP can elect a Senator in Massachusetts. But what happens when the economy returns to more normal conditions? The Republicans' recent electoral successes do not overcome 20 years of GOP difficulty appealing to women, young people and the college-educated. It wins elections by accumulating a huge supermajority in one demographic: whites, especially white men, who are not poor but who have not finished college. That's a big slice of America, but it's a shrinking slice.”

“Members of this new miniwave of moderate Republicans support national defense, are eager to cut other federal spending and are hostile to Democratic attempts to reregulate the economy. But these newcomers also understand that the health care status quo is unsustainable. They seek a middle way on abortion and gay rights. They want to protect the environment. And they eschew the inflammatory rhetoric of the tea parties and town halls. We don't even have a name for this kind of Republican. In the 1980s, we called them Gypsy Moths, after a pest prevalent in the Northeast. But this new strain is not found only in the Northeast, and it is not a pest. It represents the best home for a center-right politics of the future.”

The second was by Joe Klein about President Obama dealing with the obstructionism of the GOP. An excerpt:
“In Baltimore, the House Republicans seemed hurt that the President wasn't listening to their "new" ideas. Unfortunately, most of these have the sophistication of policy seminars run by high school Libertarian clubs. One of their leading intellectual lights, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has offered a Medicare reform proposal that should kill any chance he has of winning higher office: he would privatize Medicare and deliver unto the elderly vouchers that would gradually lose much of their value. This would save a boatload of money, of course ... but one wonders whether the party that gave the world "death panels" would stand behind such an all-out assault on the financial security of the nation's most devout voters.”

“This is quite sad. I've been a fan of a great many Republican policy initiatives in the past. I supported the Republican universal health care plan in 1993 (which Obama's current proposal resembles). I've supported lots of Republican urban-policy ideas, especially when it comes to education. I think the realism deployed overseas by Presidents like Eisenhower, Nixon (except for Vietnam) and Bush the Elder is the wisest foreign policy on offer. But the current Republican Party is about none of these. It is about tactical political gain to the exclusion of all else.”

Also, a good article in Newsweek by Jacob Weisberg putting much of the blame for our current hyper-partisanship crisis — us, the voters. An excerpt:
“Some say that the public is in an angry, populist, tea-partying mood. But a lot more people are watching American Idol than Glenn Beck, and our collective illogic is mostly passive rather than militant. The better explanation is that the public lives in Candyland, where government can tackle the big problems and get out of the way at the same time. In this respect, the whole country is becoming more and more like California, where the state's bonds have dropped to an A- rating (the same level as Libya's) thanks to a referendum system that allows the people to be even more irresponsible than their elected representatives. We like the idea of sacrifices and hard choices in theory. When was the last time we made one?”

“I don't mean to suggest that honesty vs. dishonesty is what divides the two parties. Increasingly, the crucial distinction is between the minority of serious politicians on either side who are prepared to speak frankly about our choices and the majority who indulge the public's delusions. I would put President Obama and his economic team in the first category, along with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Republicans are more indulgent of the public's unrealism in general, but Democrats have spent years fostering their own kinds of denial. Where Republicans encourage myths about taxes, spending, and climate change, Democrats tend to stoke our fantasies about the sustainability of entitlement spending and the cost of social programs.”

Much of this is nothing that anyone wants to face, but much of it are hard truths that we're all going to have to.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Republicans have discovered a social issue to demonize

Interestingly, and I would also say fortunately, the recent debate on repealing 'Don't ask;Don't tell' has revealed the real agenda at work among the anti-homosexual crowd.

On Chris Matthews' show 'Hardball' on Tuesday, Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council, stated in no uncertain terms that homosexuals should not be allowed to serve in the military, period. Even if they keep their sexual orientation a total secret. He went on to rail against the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence vs. Texas in which anti-homosexual sodomy laws were struck down as unconstitutional. Again, stating in no uncertain terms, that homosexual activity should be illegal.

When asked by 'Hardball' guest Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, if what he is supporting is that ”gays and lesbians should not serve their country in the uniform whatsoever?”

Mr. Sprigg responded:
“That's absolutely right.”

Asked again by Mr. Sarvis, so "not only are you opposed to repealing 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell', you would prohibit all gays and lesbians from serving their country?" Mr. Sprigg confirms:
“That's exactly right.”
Chris Matthews asked: “Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?”
“I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas which overturned, uh, the sodomy laws in this country was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”

Asked again, “So we should outlaw gay behavior?”

Mr. Sprigg's responses: “Yes.”

So there you have it, folks, the real agenda of the bigots in the anti-homosexual camp.

Now, his obvious fascist agenda in favor of criminalizing homosexuality aside, here were some other remarks revealing his errors and illustrating just how far-reaching his advocacy of discrimination in the military goes:

“The presence of homosexuals in the military is incompatible with good order, morale, disciple and unit cohesion...”

First of all, this is untrue or at least, unfounded. Second, homosexuals serving in the military, as they always have and always will, but being forced to keep this in complete secrecy (in spite of many of their peers working alongside them being aware of this) is undermining good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion. Third, apparently Mr. Sprigg doesn't believe women should serve in the military either, then...

“... the military should not be used as an avenue for social re-engineering; the purpose of the military is to fight and win wars, and we need the force that is most effective to do that.”

So obviously, just like Ellaine Donnelly, another right-wing critic of removing DADT, he would have objected to racial integration of the military and allowing women to serve, as well.

And then there was also a deliberate attempt by Mr. Sprigg to mislead the public:

“There are people who have experienced homosexual attractions who have served in the military and do continue to serve in the military, but they are restrained in their behavior by the current policy. If we had a policy where the, uh, where people were considered bigoted if they were opposed to same-sex conduct, then, the -- there would be much greater danger of misconduct on the part of the homosexuals, and, uh, much greater likelihood that people who are object to that would simply choose not to serve at all.”

To correct this statement, homosexuals in the military are currently prohibited from in any way shape or form acknowledging or having ever acknowledged their sexual orientation publicly or privately with anyone, inside or outside of the military. Furthermore, homosexuals in the military are prevented from engaging in or having ever engaged in any form of homosexual conduct even when they are not on active duty, or not on a military base or not with any member of the military.

Furthermore, repealing 'Don't ask; Don't tell' will in no way, shape or form permit homosexual (or any sexual) relations between soldiers. In spite of all the pregnancies taking place among military personnel, it is a violation of the Military Uniform Code of Justice for soldiers to engage in sexual conduct with each other... I know of no one advocating a change in this policy.

Lastly, if these soldiers are so unprofessional that they can't fulfill their duties because of irrational prejudices against their fellow soldiers, in this case other soldiers having a homosexual orientation, then good riddance. They aren't fit for military service and they should either not re-enlist or not enlist in the first place. I believe the same of those racists would-be soldiers who refused to voluntarily serve in the military due to desegregation.

Here is a good Time magazine article about the current controversy of repealing 'Don't ask; Don't tell'.

Movement on repealing DADT

The 'Don't ask; Don't Tell' policy, which allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they do not acknowledge their sexual orientation to anyone and have never engaged in any sort of homosexual activity at all, is now under serious review.

President Obama opposed the policy during his presidential campaign, he has spoke out against it as President, and recently voiced his commitment in the State of the Union address to working with the Congress this year to repeal the policy.

On Tuesday, the Armed Services Committee had a hearing on the policy, its effects, the fairness of it (or lack thereof) and what should be done going forward.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen spoke in opposition to the policy and stressed that it is time to put together a plan to phase the policy out in anticipation of a repeal.

Speaking before the committee, not limited to but including Sen. John McCain, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Roland Burris, and Sen. Joe 'Traitor' Lieberman, Secretary Gates stated:
“During the State of the Union address, The President announced he will work with Congress this year to repeal the law know as 'Don't ask; Don't tell'. He subsequently directed the Department of Defense to begin the preparations necessary for a repeal of the current law and policy. I fully support The President's decision.”

Adm. Mullen agreed, stating:
“The chiefs and I are in complete support of the approach that Secretary Gates has outlined. We believe that any implementation plan for a policy permitting gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces must be carefully derived, sufficiently through – sufficiently thorough, and thoughtfully executed.”

“it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me personally, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution. I also believe that the great young men and women of our military can and would accommodate such a change. I never underestimate their ability to adapt.”

I was very impressed and certainly very pleased to see two such venerated officials, both of whom have up until now, been lauded by Republicans and conservatives in general, speak out so forthrightly on why they believe the policy is bad for the military and why it should not continue to be implemented.

Sen. John McCain, who is likely soon to enter a primary contention with right-wing conservative J.D. Hayworth, decided to flip-flop from his position back in 2006 in which he said he would "seriously consider" changing the policy "the day the leaders of the military comes to [him] and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy'".

Apparently the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense don't count any longer as leaders of the military... At least not when they actually support repealing DADT.

Sen. McCain feigned "deep disappointment" that such high ranking military officials are now stating that the policy is a bad one:
“I'm deeply disappointed, uh, in your statement, Secretary Gates. I was around here in 1993  and was engaged in the debates. And what we did in 1993 is, we looked at the issue, and we looked at the effect on the military, and then we reached a conclusion, and then we enacted into law. Your statement is, 'the question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it'. It'd be far more appropriate, I say with great respect, to determine whether repeal of this law is appropriate and what effects it would have on the readiness and effectiveness of the military, before deciding on whether we should repeal the law or not. And fortunately, it is an act of Congress, and it requires the agreement of Congress in order to repeal it.
Your statement, obvious [sic] is one which is clearly biased,  without the view of Congress being taken into consideration. You are embarking on saying, 'it's not whether the military prepares to make the change, but how we best prepare for it', without ever hearing from members of Congress.”

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Republican savior may not be a radical

I admit, I don't know much about the new Senator-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts, but in some of what I've read about him, about his positions, and given his interview with Barbara Walters, he doesn't seem like an extremist.

In fact, at least for a modern Republican, he seems like one of those fairly sensible, moderate sort of guys with strong convictions and humility which you rarely see get elected to a high office.

For the voters of Massachusetts, I hope he is. It also appears that, perhaps, we might not have to worry about him undermining homosexual civil rights too much, either. A refreshing change coming from a Republican. We'll see if that stands...