"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Friday, March 26, 2010

Am I Being Cynical? (Updated)

From Pam's House Blend, this report on the latest antics of the anti-repeal crowd at the Pentagon. From Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway:

"We want to continue (two-person rooms), but I would not ask our Marines to live with someone who is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it," Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway told Military.com during an exclusive interview at the Pentagon. "And to me that means we have to build BEQs (bachelor enlisted quarters) and have single rooms."

This guy is a horse's ass of the first water -- just look at the actual content of his remark: he doesn't want to ask Marines to live with a gay roommate. If any of the reports coming back from veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are to be believed, they already are, and don't really give a damn.

He's a little off-message, as I recall: His commander-in-chief has said unequivocally that he wants DADT repealed. Actually, his comments are a little more than off-message:

Other top generals have noted that uniformity is what's needed for this policy change, and that divided leadership and separate rules or facilities will make the transition harder, not easier. In a 2009 op-ed in the Washington Post, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Shalikashvili, said mixed messages from leadership could be toxic, and that it was crucial for top leaders to communicate consistent signals that the force is capable of carrying out new orders. "Given the inevitability of change," he wrote, "it will be important for senior leaders to send clear signals of support to the rank and file. Every general officer knows that mixed signals undermine leadership. Indeed, studies show that when organizations implement controversial change, signals from the top must be clear." Gen. Shalikashvili wrote that when senior officers oppose the inevitable, their messages "could cause the very disruptions they predict."

Has it occurred to anyone besides me that that's why he said it?

Let's not make any mistakes here: from the president on down, everyone involved is doing as much as they can to make DADT repeal impossible.

I have more on this, but I'll come back later this evening. Things are not conducive to posting right now.


I promised more on this. First, Dan Choi on Rachel Maddow:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The "changes" announced by Sec. Gates, as Maddow points out, are nothing more than implementing the policy as it was written. And, as far as I can see, this "study," which is taking on all the trappings of a holy mission, is nothing more than a smokescreen. We've been studying this issue for decades, and every bit of available evidence points to the conclusion that if the repeal is implemented swiftly and if the message from leadership is clear (and excuse me, but this is the military, right? They follow orders, right?), there is minimal disruption. And no study has pointed to a breakdown in unit cohesiveness or morale. Here is the conclusion of the 1993 Rand study, commissioned by the Pentagon and then suppressed. If you read through, you can see why it was sat on.

And just to give you a hint of the kind of thinking we're dealing with in the Pentagon, this jumped out at me as I was reading the summary:

Senior military leaders have stated that, in their professional judgment, the effects would be substantial. The experience of analogous organizations such as foreign militaries and domestic police and fire departments suggests that any increase is likely to be quite small.

So, in their "professional judgment," the military brass think the whole house will fall down, in spite of the evidence. Tell you anything?

It's foot-dragging, from the White House on down.

This video is possibly one of the most infuriating things I've seen in this whole debacle. This is not from the video, but from the article cited above:

''In my discussions . . . the practical aspect,'' said Gates, came down to availability of two-star generals, particularly in the Marine Corps. ''Having a one-star do it made it more practical.

''I just wanted to make sure that in terms of the experience and leadership level and so on, that we elevated this to a level of people who have a lot of experience and a lot of maturity.''

So he's handing the decision on whether to initiate discharges to those least in favor of allowing gays to serve openly -- the ones whose "professional judgment" is seriously in question at this point.

Nathaniel Frank of the Palm Center does a nice summary of the changes. I thought this went right to the heart of it:

History shows that earlier attempts to make a bad, unnecessary, harmful failure of a policy "more humane" have been unsuccessful, in part because the changes were not enforced consistently, and in part because beating your wife gently is still beating your wife. . . .

[A]s admirable as Secretary Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen have been in showing leadership on this front, they are sending highly mixed messages that will end up making the job of repeal harder when it inevitably comes: they continue to say every chance they get that the repeal process could be dangerous and complicated, and must go slowly, even though research consistently says the opposite: that this kind of transition is best done quickly to avoid confusion and obstruction. Gates said today that moving swiftly to implement repeal "is very risky" and Mullen agreed, saying it could "generate a very bad outcome."

More "professional judgment," I guess.

And the president is lying low.

Following up on what he previously referred to as the ''ambiguous'' nature of the White House's support for a repeal this year, Rep. Frank said, ''They're ducking. Basically, yeah, they're not being supportive, and they're letting Gates be the spokesman, which is a great mistake.''

If even Barney Frank is pointing his finger, you know it's bad.


Alba said...

It seemed like Obama was wussing out of healthcare reform and then he (with Pelosi and others) managed to miraculously turn the tide in, like, two weeks. Hopefully he will do the same for gays in the military. Let's just give him a moment to recover from the huge task that was HCR. He looked like shit when he gave the celebratory speech. I wanted to reach into my TV sit to hand him a cup of tea and a sleeping pill!

Hunter said...

And Congress had to pass a separate batch of fixes to get something that anyone but the insurance companies could tolerate. That's not leadership. If he'd done his job to start with, he wouldn't need a cup of tea and we wouldn't have Sarah Palin inciting the teabaggers to assassination.

DADT is an either/or proposition: either it's repealed, or it's not. Gates' "more humane" mantra does nothing but move the policy back to enforcement as it was written, and I'm going to wait and see if the witch hunts stop. I'm not holding my breath. The Pentagon has been ignoring a 9th Circuit decision that requires them to prove that retaining a gay service member will actually harm their function in every case. That wasn't appealed, and it's binding in nine western states, but you'd never know it from the Pentagon's reaction. I'm sure they'll be able to ignore this as well, while Gates and Mullen continue to torpedo any hope of making a smooth and orderly transition.

Hunter said...

I don't mean to come down hard on you, but I'm seeing the same scenario taking shape: Obama is going to sit in his office, and Pelosi will sit in hers, both saying they don't want to tackle anything controversial right now. Frankly, DADT repeal is probably the least controversial part of the evil Gay Agenda (70% of Americans favor repeal, including 58% of Republicans), but they will sit on their behinds while the Sheehans and the Crowleys do everything in their power to make it controversial.

Alba said...

I'm all with you on DADT. But, dude, there is NO WAY Obama could have prevented the psycho teabagging movement. Have you ever met one of these jerks? They are the fundamentalist nutters who thought assassination of the prez would be patriotic even before he took office because he was secretly a Kenyan terrorist who'd make us all into gay, baby-killing Muslims. My aunt is one of them. She listens to five hours of Michael Savage everyday. And she keeps it on with the volume turned all the way up, not to deter potential burglars, but because she wants her DOG to be politically informed.

Hunter said...

Somehow, the conjunction of "Michael Savage" and "politically informed" in the same sentence gives major cognitive dissonance.

Not that Obama could have prevented the teabaggers -- they and/or their spiritual brethren have been a reality in American politics pretty much from Day One -- but swift action on whatever issue he chose to showcase first would have lessened the time that the Limbaugh/Beck/Palin axis had to stir them up. I'm fully aware that this is the "Keep your government hands off my Medicaid" crowd, but it would have been a year less of death panels and creeping socialism.

On DADT, we're going to have a year of separate showers and hommosectionals raping Marines in the barracks. Unfortunately, on this one it's either yes or no -- I don't see that any compromise is possible.

Alba said...

Yes, I agree that Obama should not have wasted any time (let alone an entire year) trying to win Republican support. I guess he had to learn from the school of hard knocks that bipartisanship is a load of crap.

Hunter said...

He deosn't seem to have really learned it. With DADT, there are all sorts of imponderables -- there's been a lot of speculation that Rahm Emanuel, who got his fingers burned in '93 with this whole thing, is the one saying "wait." And there's a distinct feeling in the community that the Democrats are not our friends -- they talk the talk, but that's where it ends.

One hopes (at least this one does) that the little display by Dan Choi, Robin McGehee and Jim Pietrangelo at the White House fence is only the beginning.