Re: Disappointed By Someone New

1

He'll get around to changing that rule, but I'm guessing after the midterm elections. He's chickenshit like that.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 9:39 PM
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Cowardly, and politically stupid. The sooner he gets in front of this and shows some leadership, the more political benefits he stands to gain. Make another badass speech a la the one on race and whatnot, sign some executive order, and be done with it. Any wingnut left bitching will be left behind too the dustbin of history. Or something like that. Time's running out for Obama to get some easy legacy points, not to mention political points.


Posted by: ed | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 9:40 PM
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I hadn't realized the guy hadn't actually been dismissed yet.

I would say it's a little soon to call him cowardly and chickenshit, but I know y'all better than that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 9:42 PM
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I wonder if Obama would have kicked Major Charles Emerson Winchester out of the Army.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 9:48 PM
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3: Only 3 comments to you sticking up for Obama. I've come to rely on you for that kind of response in these kinds of threads. (I mean that sincerely, even though I'm generally a lot less inclined to hold off on criticism of Obama even though it's obviously still very early in his presidency.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:01 PM
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even though even though even though

I get repetitive when I'm tired.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:02 PM
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5: there's plenty to criticize him for. I just feel like, almost every time I've gone along with "what a fucking jackass/I can't believe he did that/of course he's going to fuck over *" I've ended up feeling foolish because there's more to the story.

In this particular case, the more to the story is that the guy hasn't been dismissed yet. If he does get dismissed then, indeed, what a fucking jackass Obama will have been. But that time is in a possible future, not the present.

I think I also tend to be more realistic (to my way of thinking) or bullshit, triangulating, appeasement-oriented sellout-y (to some other people's way of thinking) about how much can actually get done, especially given what a clusterfuck [ some significant portion of ] congress is. Maybe I'm more fatalist? I dunno.

Finally, you know, things are way better than they were six months ago. I feel like I was a lot more outraged at things getting way worse every day than I am at things getting maybe-slightly-better-or-maybe-not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:08 PM
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5: Well, wait, if, contrary to the post, the guy has not in fact yet been fired, I am very glad that someone has pointed that out.

Thank you, Sifu, for your value-added commenting!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:12 PM
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This makes it sound like he's hasn't been dismissed yet only in the sense that the dismissal is not effective immediately upon receiving the letter. But it's not clear.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:20 PM
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7: I'm actually one of the last to criticize Obama - I think he's doing a fine job handling the banking crisis and auto industry, for example - and that's not a hugely popular opinion in these parts. But I think this is a case where he seems to be holding back on doing the right thing because he values his popularity so highly.

For all I know that's the politically wise thing for Obama to do, and the value of his popularity toward getting things done makes the ethical sacrifice worth it. He certainly has better instincts than I do, after all. But I still think its chickenshit.

And yeah, it is possible Obama will do the right thing and this dismissal won't happen. But, I'd be surprised, because sudden policy shifts like that that don't seem to be his MO...


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:21 PM
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I don't think there's any question that Obama has lost momentum on certain things, DADT included. I also feel, intuitively, like the administration should just get their fucking head out of their ass on civil liberties generally. I don't know how much I can rely on that intuition.

The article eb links seems to indicate they want to do the repeal legislatively, which would seem to contradict the link in the post that he can just sign something and have it be done with.

He also seems to be doing something fairly delicate with the top brass and the Pentagon budget. If asked whether I'd prefer to see Choi keep his job or Gates's (inadequate, sort of besides-the-point if the point was to change America's relationship to the defense establishment (which it unfortunately isn't)) attempted reform of the Pentagon budget process work... I honestly am glad I don't have to make a decision like that. And maybe that's not even the decision.

But like I said, if Choi gets fired and they try to bury it or play it off like it's irrelevant, yes, definite jackass move.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:28 PM
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But, I'd be surprised, because sudden policy shifts like that that don't seem to be his MO...

Maybe not, but this was an explicit campaign promise, and he's seemed to take those surprisingly seriously so far.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:28 PM
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12: Well, I certainly hope that you are right, although I don't expect it. This may be one of the cases where he'll stick to the promise, but only if people make a stink and hold him to it. So basically, I am endorsing making a stink about holding him to his promise.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 10:40 PM
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On Rachel Maddow there was a scan of the letter he wrote to the soldier, I think the one in question, reaffirming his commitment to overturning DADT.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 11:01 PM
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What you do is, you leak some stories showing how shittily our armed forces speak Arabic/Urdu, like this is some big exposé. Then, the next gay linguist the Army fires, Obama signs an executive order, in the interests of National Security, exempting linguists from DADT. Then you get some embittered vet to write to the Post asking why his service was less important. Then, presto, viable political case for an integrated military.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 11:08 PM
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Does Obama actually needs congress on fixing this absurd policy or can he do it through his commander in chief powers?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 11:39 PM
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13: comity!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 11:45 PM
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16: as far as I can gather (which isn't very far), he could contravene this (or any) specific firing by executive order, but actually changing the policy requires congress.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 11:46 PM
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He could do it instantly with the stroke of a pen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 11:46 PM
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Its just an executive order, right?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 11:47 PM
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No. There was an executive order banning gays in the military, but the compromise Clinton worked out resulted in DADT being enshrined legislatively.

Again, as best I understand it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-09 11:55 PM
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If 19 is right, I'd encourage him to think of the gay dude, take his pen into his hand, and stroke.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 1:27 AM
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Neil, Obama had the civil rights section of his website de-gayed already, so repealing DADT is already under the table. I'd say he's about as likely to stop this guy from getting fired as BitchPhD is to apologize for telling a transphobic joke on her blog.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 4:15 AM
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(I think I mean "off the table" not "under the table". "Under the table" would imply it was being sold covertly. In fact I think Obama's decided the people who believe in GLBT equality will likely vote for him anyway, because who else is there? so he can afford to make nice to the homophobes.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 4:17 AM
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Not that I have total faith in him, Jes, but remember that you thought he was going to keep the gag rule too, and he didn't. The thing about catering to the homophobes is that it's not clear what he'd get out of it politically -- he'd have to cater really, really, really hard, harder than I think is politically possible, to peel them away from the Republicans. Short of that, he doesn't get much for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 5:31 AM
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I've always assumed Obama's going to get around to taking apart DADT, simply because by now it's really unpopular. Clear majorities in every poll I've seen on this lately are for letting gay people serve in the military, and when Obama finally pushes to get rid of DADT, you can bet he'll rely heavily on the national security argument, rather than a civil-rights-based argument. (Repealing DOMA, as he promised he'd do in the primary, is another question entirely - I'm guessing he'll just conveniently forget about that one for a while, at least until his second term.) It seems clear, though, that gays in the military isn't a huge priority for him.

As far as pandering to the homophobes goes: sure he's pandering to the homophobes. Rick Warren wasn't at the inauguration for nothing. I imagine his logic isn't that he's trying to win over the Focus on the Family crowd, but homophobes in the center. You don't get to a 60% approval rating without winning the approval of some rancid people. It would be nice if we had presidents who tried to win that approval by doing really, really good things instead of middling-to-shitty things, but it'd also be nice if I had a magical talking elephant friend who could fly me to his tree house on the moon.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 5:54 AM
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civil rights section of his website de-gayed

"President Obama also continues to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. He supports repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security, and also believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation."

That's what's up currently. I don't have the before version. What got taken out?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 6:07 AM
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The issue isn't homophobes in society in general, but in the military establishment. I think the President can push the military a little harder on this and a number of other issues without materially damaging morale, but that's completely ex recto.

I've always agreed with Jes that keeping Gates was error, and hope he's gone by the end of the year.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 6:08 AM
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it'd also be nice if I had a magical talking elephant friend who could fly me to his tree house on the moon

There aren't any trees on the moon.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 6:22 AM
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But wouldn't it be nice if there were.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 6:24 AM
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This area is on the list of things I am inclined to give the administration time to work things behind the scenes and/or pull together all the information (despite the "stroke of a pen" possibilities).

Siegelman is squarely on that list as well. Fine for them to do due diligence, but if he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt the way Stevens did, there better be a pretty freaking good explanation.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 6:55 AM
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If Gates can get anything like the proposed Pentagon budget through, then it's worth having kept him. I'm skeptical that the price for keeping him is waffling on DADT (in a straight quid pro quo), but I suppose it's possible. But, seriously, the Obama-Gates proposal is the best thinking on the Pentagon we've seen in at least 30 years. We really can't fix this country if "defense" spending continues as it has.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 6:56 AM
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Oh, and I think 2 is exactly right. There is, apparently, still time for BHO to do the right thing, and let's hope he does. But - especially with the accelerating change on gay marriage (Iowa, y'all) - there's really no need to play this one off. Seize the moment.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 6:58 AM
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Obama has a lot to do and choosing priorities is inevitably going to leave some of his backers feeling that they've been abandoned. Strategically it makes a lot more sense to kill DADT with a one-two legislative and executive strategy so that it stays dead. The worst possibly outcome is an overturn of DADT that is reversed the next time the GOP gains power, and bolloxing up the repeal would be a boon to the right.

Some promises Obama made during the election will never be fulfilled - it's the reality of politics that you get what you can, not what you want. I think the death of DADT is within reach, and Obama will pursue it if he is actively reminded that it's important. I'm going to write to encourage him to push for it (I gave you money, man! Now gimme some justice!), and I encourage others to do the same. If you donated to his campaign it helps to mention that fact.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 7:19 AM
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Tim Fernholtz at TAPPED lays out a good approach: 6 month moratorium on enforcement, blue ribbon commission, and then overturn the policy. One of the benefits being that, as I said above, ground is shifting so fast on gay rights that 6 months hence overturning DADT will be even more popular. Hell, by then the only question will be whether gays can join the military if they haven't gotten married yet.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 7:39 AM
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||
Semi-relevant:
File under "People Who Need a Punch in the Face"
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 7:44 AM
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33 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 7:47 AM
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36: WHAT THE FUCK.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 7:55 AM
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At a purely immature level, I love the quote: "President Obama does, in fact, have stroke-of-the-pen authority to suspend gay discharges."

I'm stroking my pen to suspend gay discharges right now!


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:10 AM
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I concur with Sifu's 7 and Togolosh's 34. The facts look pretty damning on the surface, but it's hard to tell what kind of dire messages BHO is getting from his Congressional allies in marginal districts, and he may well fear fighting this battle before he is certain of winning it.

My suggested course of action for Obama would be the following:

1. Backburner the legislative repeal until after the midterms. Cover for the stalling by ordering a comprehensive review of the impacts of DADT by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, scheduled to be conveniently released just after the midterms. Naturally he should stack the deck in terms of the composition and mandate of the commission to get the desired result.

2. Take a page from GWB's playbook and hide behind the skirts of the ostensibly neutral professional recommendations of the military. To-wit, Obama should issue an executive order that no notification of dismissal can be issued under DADT without the approval of the Combatant Commander of the respective Unified Combatant Command in which the individual is stationed, and such approval must certify that the dismissal required by immediate military necessity, and certify that it will have no negative impact on the military effectiveness of the armed forces.

Basically, you put the burden of proof on the services to show that the dismissal is justified in every individual case. Simultaneously, you send the tacit message to the CINC's that any decisions in favor of dismissals will be received like recommendations to Rumsfeld to send more troops to Iraq in 2006.

Bingo, you make DADT a dead letter, and preserve flexibility to kill it legislatively after the report comes back to show that it was a bad policy and suspending it didn't cause any harm.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:24 AM
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That's a nice plan, except that it requires tacit cooperation from the "Combatant Commander of the respective Unified Combatant Command" (I have no idea what this refers to, organizationally, but I'll figure you've got it right). If the result is a series of "Oh my goodness, it's militarily vital to get this guy out of the service, people saw him smooching a boy!!11!!" opinions, that'd be a problem going forward.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:27 AM
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That's a nice plan, except that it requires tacit cooperation from the "Combatant Commander of the respective Unified Combatant Command" (I have no idea what this refers to, organizationally, but I'll figure you've got it right).

The key here is that they serve at the pleasure of the administration, which is why GWB found it so helpful to "follow the views of the commanders in the field". They know which side their bread is buttered on.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:29 AM
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42: This seems to work better for Republican presidents than Democrats, judging from my vague memories of the Clinton administration.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:32 AM
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43: Right -- the risk is that Obama would be putting DADT at the mercy of military officers who might turn out to be more ideologues than careerists.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:34 AM
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pain perdu, are you engaging in a calculated strategy of reducing-the-amount-of-time-wasted-at-unfogged by only commenting on half-dead threads? Or has that just been recent coincidence?

It's not a bad strategy, I'm just curious.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:36 AM
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44: That's why you don't put it in the hands of divisional commanders, and that's why you write the executive order very carefully to specify an impossibly high standard, e.g. they must certify that there is no negative impact on readiness or effectiveness by dismissing the person. At minimum, that would save the linguists.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:40 AM
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45: right practice, wrong motivation: it's easier to get the last word that way.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:44 AM
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It's never easy to get the last word here.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:46 AM
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Yeah, that's for sure.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:47 AM
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I do it all the time.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:47 AM
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46: Eh, I don't know a thing about the actual military officers who'd be making the decisions. I'm just thinking that generally, if the plan is to "hide behind the skirts of the ostensibly neutral professional recommendations of the military," you're in a spot if those ostensibly neutral professional recommendations aren't the ones you want. If it's perfectly reliable that Obama can use these guys as sock-puppets, that's great. Otherwise, it makes me nervous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 8:47 AM
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51: I don't see that as being inherently problematic. You could implement the order so that a draft of the approval has to be reviewed by a civilian appointee before it takes effect. And if that's not enough, you could make it so that there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period before the dismissal order can take effect, and then you deliberately move the individual to a different command. If they don't get the message at first, they soon will.

43: It was easier for the brass to sabotage Clinton in '93 for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they were defending the no-gays rule as an abstract policy (and in an environment were equal rights for gays was not fully in the mainstream of even Democratic politics). In 2008, the brass would be forced--not as a collective, but as individuals serving at the pleasure of the President--to justify discrimination against an individual soldier/sailor/airman, with a face and a story and a family and a Congressional representative. The CINC's got where they are by knowing when to keep their heads down. They're not going to start a fight that can only hurt their careers.

That's my ill-informed conjecture, anyway.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:00 AM
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And if that's not enough, you could make it so that there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period before the dismissal order can take effect, and then you deliberately move the individual to a different command.

And make him a martyr to political correctness: "General X made a good faith decision that our nation's safety depends on turfing out teh evil gheys, and Obama destroyed his career for it, disregarding our nation's security. Surely Obama will not be content until we're all gay and Muslim."

I'm not saying it couldn't work, but I wouldn't want to try to pull this sort of thing without individually knowing that every military officer who was going to have to make such a determination was predetermined to go the right way with it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:03 AM
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I think pp is essentially correct. They key is to plan for a final confrontation after the 2010 elections and spend the time between now and then manipulating the playing field so it slants in favor of a straight up repeal that is widely supported. Not only must DADT be eliminated, it must be eliminated in a way that is widely accepted as fair. That's the only way to make it stick through the next right wing administration.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:04 AM
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40 comments and nobody has brought up that it is our responsibility to force him to do what he wants to do anyway?

Public pressure, people! Write letters, gripe to your co-workers at the water cooler, send Colbert clips to your family, throw in some stuff about National Security while you're at it. Call your Congressperson, do some back-of-the-envelope calculations on the wasted training costs, get yourself into high dudgeon about wasting taxpayer money in a time like this.

Think of all of the things that presidents hated but felt they couldn't change (the most vivid and extreme example is FDR and lynching). Then GO AND MAKE HIM CHANGE IT.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:05 AM
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53.last: Generating a couple of right wing martyrs isn't necessarily a bad thing. Capping the careers of right wing ideologues in the military (who will then go on to be staples of right wing talk radio and Fox News) is a net benefit, IMO. By their very nature they will have limited appeal to the convincable center, and the benefits of getting them out of the military are an easing of the DADT repeal process, removal of a wingnut from a position of power and influence, and a chilling effect on senior officers who are unclear on the constitutional role of the Commander in Chief. For that it seems to me another Fox News regular bloviator seems a small price to pay.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:09 AM
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47: O RLY?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:10 AM
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FTR, I could not disagree more with the incrementalist, accommodationist plan expressed in 40. Fifteen years ago that might have been necessary. Now? With Maine and New Hampshire and Iowa? Seriously, the country is there. We just need to get our leaders behind us.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:11 AM
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And if that's not enough, you could make it so that there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period before the dismissal order can take effect, and then you deliberately move the individual to a different command.

By "individual" do you mean the Combatant Commander dude or the individual facing possible dismissal for teh ghey?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:15 AM
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The problem isn't the individual martyrs, it's in setting up a situation where you asked the military to provide an objective decision on whether DADT was necessary, in an individual case, for military effectiveness, and then overrode that for considerations other than military effectiveness. Setting up a situation where FOX can easily argue that it's not about hating gays, but about the reliable and trustworthy military's assessment of its own needs in terms of military effectiveness is a bad position to be in.

The six month executive order moratorium on enforcement, during which legislative repeal is pushed forward, seems like a much better idea to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:17 AM
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55: what about 13? I thought that was all (well, most of it) implied.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:19 AM
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61: Maybe Witt meant 40 comments on the blog, not just this individual thread.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:21 AM
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what about 13?

Yeah, good point. Although it's a bit more passive than I had in mind. Endorsing making a stink makes it sound like you think other people should be doing it. Spike? Want to weigh in?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:22 AM
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57 to 56.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:24 AM
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I'm with Witt -- we should all be making a stink about this. I don't care if Obama finds a sneaky way to do it (as long as it works), but he has to do it somehow.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:25 AM
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Shouldn't the post title be "Disappointed Anew by Someone"?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:25 AM
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60: I assume that getting rid of the ideologues would be done with enough deniability to partially defuse the military readiness objections, which will be coming anyway.

58: There's a quote I've seen attributed to Clement Attlee but have been unable to source: "There go my people. I must follow them. I am their leader."


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:30 AM
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By "individual" do you mean the Combatant Commander dude or the individual facing possible dismissal for teh ghey?

The individual facing dismissal. So that the civilian masters could move the decision to a friendlier forum. The idea is that the administration would stack the deck in such a way that there are no more dismissals under DADT.

When Congress finally takes up the issue of repeal of DADT (and let's not forget that this will take 60 votes in the Senate, unless you do it through reconciliation, in which case it's not much more durable than an executive order).

I don't disagree with Witt that public pressure is appropriate (Overton window and all that), but as a practical matter, but there is nothing "incrementalist" about stopping the dismissals, which my proposal would accomplish. Incidentally, it would also create a solid track record of no-harm that will make the legislative fight easier to win.

There's no shame in fighting the battle on the most favorable terrain, after you've concentrated your forces.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:33 AM
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There's no shame in fighting the battle on the most favorable terrain, after you've concentrated your forces.

This. I'd argue that there is shame in not doing this. I want to see this fight won with the kind of decisive rout that leaves opponents so demoralized they crawl into a hole and pray for death.

That said, pressure your representatives to get their asses in gear and remember who they work for.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:39 AM
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68: Oh, I misunderstood. So, Commander A would say "Military readiness requires that we turf this guy", and the Obama administration would say "Psych! You're not his commander any more, we're going to ask someone else about whether they think military readiness requires that we turf this guy. And we'll keep on asking different people until someone gives us the answer we want to hear."

Ugh. That sounds really ugly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:41 AM
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I want to see this fight won with the kind of decisive rout that leaves opponents so demoralized they crawl into a hole and pray for death.

Same here, my friend, same here. And you don't do that with the Charge of the Light Brigade, but with a Normandy landing.

If BHO sits on his hands and allows dismissals to go forward, I'll be as angry as anyone here. But I haven't given up hope that he'll finesse this in a way that accomplishes the goal of ending DADT while leaving his opponents flailing. He has worked such wonders before.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:44 AM
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Ugh. That sounds really ugly.

I would be genuinely surprised if it ever became necessary to go through all these motions. Again, the CINC's got their positions by being political animals. If they see themselves up against a process that's designed to produce one and only one outcome, they will fall in line. Unless they want to become martyrs on Fox News, in which case, fine, good that we smoked you out, homophobe.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:56 AM
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Not that I have total faith in him, Jes, but remember that you thought he was going to keep the gag rule too, and he didn't. The thing about catering to the homophobes is that it's not clear what he'd get out of it politically -- he'd have to cater really, really, really hard, harder than I think is politically possible, to peel them away from the Republicans. Short of that, he doesn't get much for it.

On a completely unrelated topic have I ever mentioned that I voted for Obama?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:56 AM
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That is excellent to hear, James. But you're not a homophobe, as far as I can tell.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:59 AM
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Hooray for a more efficient capitalist killing machine!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:59 AM
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I don't recall you mentioning it specifically, but that would have been my guess.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 9:59 AM
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74: Um . . . did you miss the thread where James told us he classifies homosexuality as a disability (basically because gay sexual organs aren't functioning properly since they don't engage in procreative behavior).


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:02 AM
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As mentioned by JRoth, Obama and Gates are in the midst of trying to push through a massive change in Pentagon spending, and need the active cooperation of most of the upper military staff to have a prayer of getting it through. If they think removing DADT will jeopoardize this support, I think leaving it for now is the right thing to do.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:07 AM
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77: apparently so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:09 AM
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78: and meeeeeeee!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:09 AM
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80: It's debatable whether you're the right thing to do.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:10 AM
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And the tasty way to do it!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:11 AM
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You misunderstand, Ned. Tweety's being pushed through the Pentagon.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:11 AM
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77

Not that I want to revisit this but it is the lack of desire that is the issue.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:28 AM
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Yes, well.

Moving on to another topic -- I've been having the same reaction to a lot of Obama's problems (well, mostly this and the Justice Department civil liberties/detainees/state secrets issues), that you can't yet hold him accountable for everything the Executive Branch does, because he hasn't cleaned house yet and I don't trust that holdovers from the Bush administration are going to follow his lead if not individually compelled. Obviously, this is mostly wishful thinking bullshit, but I wonder if there's anything of that nature going on; Bush DOJ hires stonewalling policy changes and so forth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:41 AM
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Obviously, this is mostly wishful thinking bullshit

Predictably, I'm not sure that it is.

He could definitely move faster, and on a lot of the civil liberties stuff I definitely get the sinking feeling that he doesn't quite care enough, but I think that ascribing malign intention to some of these things is almost certainly premature. I mean, it took Bush eight years to fuck all these agencies up so bad. Presumably -- especially given the confirmation delays and so on -- it'll take a significant amount of time to unfuck them.

Which is not to say that, you know, the Obama DOJ (and by extension, Obama) isn't signing off on some of the more reprehensible legal moves they've made. But it could well be that not signing off on those would require either political capital being expended elsewhere or an institutional intertia that doesn't yet exist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:45 AM
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I'm not even sure it has to be holdovers stonewalling. Obama strikes me as the sort who might want to be sure to get these policies right, which a simple rollback to pre-Bush policy might not actually do (although in some cases it would, and in some cases he's done that). In other words, he's content to leave the status quo in place until he has an opportunity to sit down and think through it. And even if these are important issues, right now he's genuinely got a lot on his plate. Give him two years and let's see where things stand.

Anyway, that's my mostly wishful thinking bullshit.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:49 AM
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I admit I don't get the argument that allowing openly gay people to serve would be bad for morale. Presumably the usual rules of sexual conduct apply. And I find it hard to believe that none of Choi's compatriots suspected he was gay, or that there aren't guys where everyone just knows. So how is morale meant to be harmed? Genuine question. I know there's the whole military homosocial towel-snapping mindset to worry about, possibly, but wouldn't that be made worse by the norm that there are gays in the military, but they're hiding it?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 10:55 AM
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I think the argument is a fact claim, that where there are open gays morale is, as a matter of fact, harmed. I think it's false and can be seen to be false by comparison with the armed forces of most other developed countries, but I don't think there's any argument absent that claim.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:00 AM
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88: It was always homophobic, but I sort of understood it before women were allowed to serve. Sexual tension will make unit cohesion impossible. Must keep out sexually desirable objects: i.e. women. Must not let soldiers be targets of sexual attraction. No gays.

Practically impossible and wrong on so many levels.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:03 AM
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Right, but that would mean the prohibition is no sexual tension ever, and as you say, we allow women, and we allows gays to serve as long as they don't mention it or get found out. So... the hell?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:04 AM
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I would have to work to maintain my professionalism if Lt. Choi were in charge of my unit. He wouldn't have the reciprocal problem.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:09 AM
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We would all do well to remember that GWB didn't accomplish all of his stroke-of-the-pen nonsense in his first 100 days, or his first year, or even his first term. The stuff that could be done quickly and under the radar, he did right away. The stuff that was better accomplished by slicing the salami thin, he did in successive steps. And the stuff that had to be done all at once, but had the potential to provoke an uproar, he crammed down when the tactical circumstances were most auspicious. (Of course, he was aided in all this by an especially supine Dem minority in the Senate, but that's neither here nor there.)

I have no problem with loudly raising hell with the administration and Congress as Witt suggests, just to remind them that there is a political cost to inaction just as there is one to action, and to keep the mental ledger even. But as a matter of personal conviction, I remain optimistic (perhaps foolishly so) that Obama will deliver on his campaign promise, and do so in a way that cements the change forever. For that matter, I am halfway convinced that there will be a federal ban on employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by the end of a second Obama term.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:11 AM
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I meet a guy in a DuPont coffee shop who was gay, in the military and HIV positive. He didn't live in the area but was flown up there regularly for treatment. He had a timeline for when he planned to leave and another job that should turn full time counseling people on safe sex and aids stuff. People must have known, surely his doctors did.

I've heard that normal doctor-patient confidentiality doesn't apply in the military, so if a military doctor on base asked you or got you to reveal it you could be suspended. The example that was given to me by the legal researcher was that women were often pushed to be on hormonal forms of birth control.

But my memory is very fuzzy.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:13 AM
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88

... So how is morale meant to be harmed ...

There are lots of ways it could be bad for morale. One way is pretending to leave the decision up to the military and then ruining the career of any officer who makes the wrong decision (as suggested above). That sort of thing is terrible for morale. Much better for Congress and the President to order changes, military people are accustomed to obeying orders.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:14 AM
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Gah. 94's "meet" should be "met" I suppose that one could say that it is meet to write "met."

I couldn't connect to Megan's link in 92.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:17 AM
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But JBS, that's not a problem with allowing gays to serve openly, but a problem with implementing it sneakily. It's the former for which I have no rationale.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:17 AM
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Hooray for a more efficient capitalist killing machine!

Assuming that this is to the idea of budget cuts at the Pentagon, I don't see how it could conceivably be possible to prefer an [economically] inefficient capitalist killing machine. Is the premise that, as the Pentagon chews up more and more revenue, people will get disgusted and dismantle the military? Because that seems, uh, unlikely.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:19 AM
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97

Just saying it could be implemented in ways that are bad for morale.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:19 AM
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Watching him talk was also nice.

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/05/07/maddow-dismantles-dadt


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:19 AM
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What I'd honestly love most, and what would almost certainly force action, would be mass defections from the armed forces by soldiers, straight and gay, who refused to serve any longer an organization with this openly discriminatory policy. Of course it would have to be accompanied by letter writing, op eds, media appearances, etc., not to mention some level of organized coordination. But given our current troop shortages, I don't think it would take much movement at all before the full attention of the administration and of congress (and the media) was obtained. Make the policy itself actively painful for our armed forces, rather than its absence.

I know it's a pipe dream.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:21 AM
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98

Assuming that this is to the idea of budget cuts at the Pentagon, I don't see how it could conceivably be possible to prefer an [economically] inefficient capitalist killing machine. Is the premise that, as the Pentagon chews up more and more revenue, people will get disgusted and dismantle the military? Because that seems, uh, unlikely.

Same way it is possible to prefer an economically inefficient medical system, your income may depend upon it.

And in both cases there are lives vrs dollars tradeoffs that people may disagree about. For example it is economically inefficient to spend a lot of money trying to save the lives of badly wounded soldiers.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:24 AM
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surely his doctors did.

The military has been testing its members for HIV since the 80s, and in 2004, a law was passed mandating biannual HIV tests for all personnel. HIV-positive military personnel aren't discharged, but I suspect they get transferred out of combat roles.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:24 AM
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One way is pretending to leave the decision up to the military and then ruining the career of any officer who makes the wrong decision (as suggested above). That sort of thing is terrible for morale.

Turnabout's fair play, I say. The brass sandbagged Clinton in an absolutely underhanded, conspiratorial fashion in 1993--not just because they wanted to keep teh gheys out, but also because they wanted to warn the pot-smoking draft dodger not to fuck with their territory. Sometimes you need to make your nominal subordinates (and keep in mind we're talking top brass here, not unit commanders) swallow a shit sandwich and pretend to like it, just so they know who gives the orders. That this can be done in the service of human rights and a better military is an added bonus -- unlike, say, mau-mauing military commanders into suppressing inconvenient opinions about the size of the force required to pacify Iraq.

BTW, I didn't even suggest ruining anyone's career; merely putting their nuts in a vice.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:26 AM
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what would almost certainly force action, would be mass defections

The action it would force would probably be stints in military prisons for desertion (which, in wartime, is a capital crime, btw).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:27 AM
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101

Of course this would encourage threats in the opposite direction. Is that really a road you want to go down? It is inconsistent with civilian control of the military.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:28 AM
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104: This is nuts. The military fucked with Clinton in an underhanded way because dealing with it straightforwardly, they were obliged to obey him -- underhanded was their only option. Obama can, as Shearer rightly notes, give orders; he's the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. You don't fuck with your subordinates, as opposed to simply telling them what they have to do, unless you enjoy pointlessly making enemies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:29 AM
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103: That's good to know, apo. I just meant, wouldn't the doctor have to ask how you might have gotten it.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:32 AM
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105: I'm fairly confident the current administration wouldn't let anyone be executed over this. It probably would result in some prison terms, no doubt--although that would be a good source of publicity. I'm not suggesting it would be an easy thing for the soliders to do--it would be incredibly morally courageous. I think it would also be incredibly effective. (Assuming you could get a respectable number of people to participate. Which is the part of the plan that's a pipe dream.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:32 AM
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Speaking of publicity stunts, given that it looks at least plausible that DADT is going to go away in the near future, I wonder if it would look good in an "Golly, America, look how mainstream we are. Can we get married in the other 45 states now?" kind of way for college GLBTQ clubs to do "Welcome Back ROTC!" events when DADT goes away, if you see what I mean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:33 AM
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Obama can, as Shearer rightly notes, give orders; he's the Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

As was Clinton, LB. And they sandbagged him anyway.

Besides, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that at least some members of the top brass in 2008 wouldn't mind seeing DADT gutted, if not rescinded entirely. If we stipulate for a moment that this is true, the solution I propose is ideal, because it diffuses the responsibility to the point that neither party has to take any real heat for the outcome.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:35 AM
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111: But he didn't give orders. No one mutinied against Clinton, they just made his life difficult until he folded. If he'd issued an executive order ending the ban on gays serving, it would have worked. (Oh, he would have taken political heat, so on and so forth; I'm sure there's an argument that it wouldn't have been worth it. But he could have done it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:40 AM
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110: As long as they don't try to organize it as a costume ball with the theme "Hey, Sailor!".


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:41 AM
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If he'd issued an executive order ending the ban on gays serving, it would have worked.

Not necessarily. This might be self-justifying spin, but one of the Clintonites later claimed that the opposing forces had the votes in Congress to annul any executive order, which would have been a disastrous outcome (and the lopsided passage of DOMA, though it came after Republican gains, can be taken as evidence of the plausibility of this claim).


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:50 AM
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They might have been able to roll it back legislatively, but it would have taken a while -- nothing in Congress happens immediately.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 11:57 AM
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Also in Clinton's defense, it was possible to believe in 1993 that the pattern of enforcement of DADT would be a kind of benign neglect, where everything would be overlooked with a wink and a nod and the ban would be de facto repealed. I certainly thought so at the time. Of course, it turned out quite differently in reality, but I wonder whether Clinton would have compromised so readily if he had known that the Pentagon would continue to persecute and dismiss gay service members so enthusiastically under DADT.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 12:00 PM
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nothing in Congress happens immediately.

Two words for you: Terri Schiavo.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 12:01 PM
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would be a kind of benign neglect, where everything would be overlooked with a wink and a nod and the ban would be de facto repealed. I certainly thought so at the time.

He easily might have thought that. This is exactly the sort of thing that underlies my concern about your suggested 'wink and a nod' plan for ending dismissals above.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 12:03 PM
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Data point.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 12:08 PM
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119: Goddamn it, my eyes just started whirling again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 12:11 PM
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Looks like someone didn't click thet link in 92...


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 12:13 PM
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It would be nice if he revoked the edict against gays in the Boy Scouts too.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 12:32 PM
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116

Also in Clinton's defense, it was possible to believe in 1993 that the pattern of enforcement of DADT would be a kind of benign neglect, where everything would be overlooked with a wink and a nod and the ban would be de facto repealed. ...

Coming out on national tv was going to be overlooked?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 12:53 PM
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re: DADT

I'm with Bill Hicks on this one:

"Gays in the military....here's how I feel about it, alright? Anyone DUMB ENOUGH to want to be in the military.... should be allowed in it. End of fucking story. That should be the only requirement. I don't care how many push-ups you can do, put on a helmet, go and wait in that foxhole, and we'll tell you when we need you to kill somebody.

I've watched these fucking Congressional hearings and all these military guys and all the pundits, seriously 'ooh the Esprit de Corps will be effected and we are such a moral ra-EXCUSE ME, AREN'T YOU ALL FUCKING HIRED KILLERS? SHUT UP! You are thugs and when we need you to blow the fuck out of a nation of little brown people, we'll let you know. Until then...

'Is that a village of women & kids? Where's the Napalm? SHABOOM!....I don't want any gay people around me when I'm killing kids.'"


Posted by: Currence | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 1:00 PM
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124

This sort of thing is potentially bad for morale also.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 1:06 PM
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125: Soldiers are tough, JBS. If you can handle rough blog comments, I'll bet they can too.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 8-09 1:15 PM
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The only part I don't really get is this:

Suppose I accept that of course I shouldn't take any of Obama's promises of immediate and decisive action as meaning what they sounded like, but instead approach them simply as statements of intent subject to all the usual consideration, liable to indefinite postponement, and like that. It wouldn't be my choice, but it's clearly not ludicrous or anything.

But once I do that, why am I supposed to cut him any slack for wishing to do nice things, if he's not doing them? If I accept that what I got was just intentions, then why should they loom nearly so large in my appraisal as what's actually happening? Having accepted that I let myself be manipulated, why should I give him a break for being a nice manipulator?


Posted by: Paige Morrow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 6:33 PM
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The usual answer I get when I ask that question is something on the lines of "Look what the alternative was!"

"Better than McCain" is not a very high bar to cross. "Better than Bush" is even lower. "Better than Palin" is hardly worth talking about. It appears that the people who want the rest of us to sit down and smile and stop raining on their parade don't have all that high standards for President.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 7:00 AM
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A little historical perspective will lower anyone's standards for President. Have you seen what they like to do with the Marines?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 7:16 AM
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I for one think that Obama was always perfectly clear that he was going to do as much as possible through consensus building, and that there would be comparatively little in the way of huge changes through executive order. Sure I think they play too cautious on a number of fronts, but they are, without doubt, playing to win, not to score 'points.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 7:28 AM
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112: The precedent I've seen paired with "just issue an EO and be done with it" is the experience of Truman's desegregation. In the telling, the military's basic orientation as subservient to political leadership meant that an unambiguous order from the president is something to be obeyed whereas consensus-building leads to undermining and gamesmanship. (Sounds simplistic, but I'm not privy to the military mind.)

So, honest question: did that order in fact cause backlash among the military hampering Truman's presidency to any appreciable extent? (I suppose if it existed the huge budgetary ramp-up might have muffled it.)

Also, small niggling point: "morale" is a concept distinct from "unit cohesion". What I've read is that in some large studies in WWII, it was discovered that levels of morale had little to no effect on a unit's effectiveness, and the key factor instead was unit cohesion - i.e., how well they trust each other, work together, etc. I only read this in one place, but I imagine that's why you often see the term in more formal anti literature.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 8:15 AM
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Minivet, the position of Truman, who'd dropped the fucking bomb, was a little different than that of post-Carter Democratic administrations. I'd do it. I'm not shocked that BHO hasn't done it, and I don't think, given how he's presented himself at every step along the way, that one should draw the inference that because he hasn't done it yet, he either doesn't care about it or isn't going to do it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 8:31 AM
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I'm interested whether or not it's relevant. Plus, Truman might have been in a stronger non-crouch position, but the decision was farther ahead of its time than any Obama action would be.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 8:39 PM
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I've read a good many discussions about the parallels between the racial integration of the US military and the failure to allow LGBT people to serve openly.

But the key difference, as I see it: Truman ordered the military to be integrated less than a decade after WWII. Even the most diehard racists knew damned well that black soldiers had served and had served well - the issue was not, at that point in time, "Can black men be good soldiers?" but "Will white men continue to be good soldiers if they're forced to serve with black men as their equals or their superiors?" (I somehow doubt that the military hierarchy were thinking about women at all.)

There are issues still about how the US military discriminates against women, but with regard to sexual orientation, the claim by the bigots in the hierarchy and elsewhere is that lesbians and gay men just aren't good soldiers - which continues to be plausibly promoted despite the number of good soldiers who have been booted from the military for their sexual orientation or gender identity: or who have come out after retirement and a long and honorable career: or who were killed in action and outed after their death.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 1:32 AM
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