"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, December 03, 2010

DADT: The Hearings

I'll probably be coming back to this throughout the day, but I want to start off with Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen's statement. It's terrific.

A sample:

My belief is, if and when the law changes, our people will lead that change in a manner consistent with the oath they took. As one Marine officer put it, “If that’s what the president orders, I can tell you by God we’re going to excel above and beyond the other services to make it happen.”

And frankly, that’s why I believe that in the long run, repeal of this law makes us a stronger military and improves readiness. It will make us more representative of the country we serve. It will restore to the institution the energy it must now expend in pursuing those who violate the policy. And it will better align those organizational values we claim with those we practice.

As I said back in February, this is about integrity. Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.

Read the whole thing.

And from Igor Volsky at WonkRoom, a summary. Republican talking points get trashed:

- CLAIM: Should not lift ban in a time of war.

MULLEN RESPONDS: I find the argument that war is not the time to change to be antithetical with our experiences since 2001. War does not stifle change, it demands it. It does not make change harder, it facilities it.

- CLAIM: Combat troops believe repeal would be disruptive.

HAM RESPONDS: A subsequent question to that was, under intense combat, what would your response be. And we saw the negative rates drop dramatically.

- CLAIM: 28% response rate is too low.

HAM RESPONDS: Twenty-eight percent overall response rate is well within the historical range of Department of Defense surveys of military personnel.

- CLAIM: 265,000 servicemembers would leave the military.

GATES RESPONDS: Based on the survey itself, experience would dramatically lower those numbers. If I believed that a quarter of a million people would leave the military would leave immediately, if given the opportunity, I would certainly have second thoughts about that.

- CLAIM: Servicemembers should have been asked if they believe policy should be changed.

GATES RESPONDS: I can’t think of a single precedent in American history of doing a referendum of the american armed forces on a policy issue.

This whole thing about polling the troops on whether the policy should be changed is weird. Excuse me -- the U.S. military polling the troops on whether they're willing to follow orders? Hah? (That's Japanese for "Huh?")


Greg Sargent has an excellent piece at The Plum Line about the human dimension of DADT and one question that no one has asked:

One thing that's been oddly missing from the debate in the Senate over repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell is any discussion of the moral and human dimensions of this story, at least as it concerns the gay service-members themselves. The discussion has mostly focused on how straight troops will be impacted, and has otherwise been bone dry: It's all about what the statistics in the Pentagon report actually reveal and whether Robert Gates will implement repeal on a sufficiently flexible timetable.

Indeed, when Senator James Webb today asked the Service Chiefs a simple question about the gay human beings impacted by this discriminatory policy, everyone at the hearing acted a bit startled. Webb asked: What should we do with gay patriotic Americans who have already served our country for years, and want to lead free and open lives? Everyone looked uncomfortable, as if Webb had gone way off topic.

I have to admit, I hadn't even thought about it, but it's true: it's been all about the straights.

Sound familiar?

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