Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hey Mister President

Sometime in November, when Barack Obama was elected president, some of my friends and family members asked if I'd be going after Obama when I thought he was wrong, just as I went after Bush. (The fact remains, though, that I'm no bulldog -- the last few years of Bush didn't see as much fire from me as the first years. Ya get worn down, is what I'm saying.)

Well, here's one of those times.

There have been a number of things in recent days that I'm not happy about. I'm not entirely satisfied with Obama's handling of the torture photos, nor the dismissal of the idea of prosecutions for torture. I think our moral standing is the greatest force we have as a nation, and it erodes when we don't police our own. I understand the desire to avoid further inflaming the factions in the Middle East who would point to those photos as evidence of war crimes, rather than pointing to the release of the photos as evidence that the war crimes have ceased. That's a subtle point, and one liable to be lost on a lot of people. I get that, and I'm a lot more inclined to trust Barack Obama's judgement on these matters than Bush and Cheney's. But there's a principle that makes old horror movies come alive in the way that new ones seldom do: The most terrifying thing of all is that which is unseen. By withholding the pictures, anything can be in them. Better, I think, to have concrete photos to look at than to let imaginations run wild.

But that isn't what I'd intended to write about. It's this: The majority of the country believes that gays should be able to serve openly in the military. And by majority, I mean majority. The majority (86%) of liberals (of course). The majority (77%) of moderates. The majority (58%) of conservatives. Practically every subset of American society believes gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the millitary. 69 percent of us, overall.

So get on that, willya? The Supreme Court is passing the buck, but honestly, as commander in chief, the ball should be in your court, anyhow. I'm tired of hearing about gay Arabic translators being fired for their orientation. It sucks for the people being discharged, and it makes us less secure as a nation, not more.

But regardless of the polls, equal human rights are not a popularity contest. There are some cases where the right thing to do is as clear as day, and this is one of them. An estimated 65,000 members of the military are gay. It's time they breathed a sigh of relief.



bastard central said...

begin whiskey fueled rant here...

while the bastard is with you to a certain extent on the torture photos the problem is this.

too many people will get implicated. and i'm not talking about cheney and bush 43. pelosi, no matter how much she says, "the cia lied to me" is in that soup as well. if we go with the imprison bush and cheney crowd, so is any democrat or republican who was privy to this knowledge at the time. it would tear the fabric of this country apart and while these events SHOULD see their day in court, they won't. if one person goes down from one party, they will take all the others with them and burn the mother fucker to the ground.

not that there is anything "wrong" with that to the bastard, i just like watching stuff burn. but not whiskey. that should be drinked.

as far as gays in the military goes; this issue should have been resolved during clinton, and during bush 43, and hell, during the current administration but it won't. no one has the stones to tell the old establishment that "this shit is old" and sexual preference should be a non issue. these people are out shooting up shit for our country just like the straight folks out there shooting shit up for our country out there. what people do behind closed doors is their business.

the supreme court doesn't make any of the hard decisions anymore. there is too much discussion in the media about legislating from the bench so thusly, EVERYTHING becomes a hot button issue. you will get NO ground breaking shit from the supremes anytime soon and that my friend is a shame

...end whiskey fueled rant here

Rob S. said...

See, I knew we could be on the same page about *something!*

I agree that torture prosecutions would scorch a lot of earth. To my ears as well as yours, that doesn't sound like an entirely bad thing. But I agree, it makes it a lot less likely to happen.

The photos are a different story -- they could *literally* scorch earth, rather than figuratively. I always want to err on the side of disclosure & transparency, though I worry about the world reaction to the images. I don't want to see our citizens, military or otherwise, hurt by this -- but I'm not convinced that keeping them secret is any more likely to keep us safe.

As for repealing DADT, I'm more hopeful than you. And yeah, Clinton shouldn't have caved on this. And if Bush had repealed it, he would have gotten a very big, very legit cheer from me. I think Obama *will* repeal it eventually... but every day makes me wonder what the hell he's waiting for.

You've got whiskey? Damn, I need me some'a dat.

bastard central said...

i have whiskey that allows me to travel through space and time.


i think even barry will not do it. there is too much homophobia in one of his primary voting blocks (which to a certain degree accounts for prop 8 in cali passing in my opinion) and i think his fears for re-election will override his desire to do right. but who knows. the bastard likes to be wrng once in a while.
i think it's too soon for anyone to run the photos and we sure as shit can't leave it to the media...EVER.

i think all parties will be happy to have this go away quietly

Greg! said...

I stand with Rob on the healing powers of sunshine. Although I know it sounds naively idealistic to preach full disclosure and total transparency as a consistent standard, the truth is that in most cases the strongest objections to transparency come from those who stand to lose through disclosure. I do understand the immediate concern for servicemen presently in situations that might become more hazardous as a result of the factionist elements' use of such photographic evidence for their own purposes. For the moment, I try to content myself with the thought that this reasoning behind not releasing the photos is tied to transitory circumstance; when there's less perceived risk to perceived innocents, disclosure will be reconsidered. I hope.

As for the question of serving openly, it's long been a dead horse and the poor folks who've been forced to drag it around are, for the most part, not the ones beating it. Clinton caved, and lost a hunk of my respect when he did; as I recall, he literally went back on his word. The odd thing about the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy is that "the old establishment" isn't there any more -- the upper echelons of the armed forces have been quite direct in saying that they'd prefer the policy, and all associated restrictions, gone.

bastard central said...

it's nice to believe in the power of sunshine and all but i don't think this is the situation for idealized optimism.

while i'd like to think that this is about protecting our servicemen, it's more about protecting congressmen and the president from being sucked down the same hole they initially wanted to toss cheney and bush down. there was alot of talk about putting these guys on trial and i think one of joey biden's many gaffes post election did reference putting certain previous administration folks on trial and that was all well and good with the bush cheney hating populace until we discovered that some key figures in the winning party also had the same knowledge.

what i mean about it tearing this country apart is that it would discredit too many people on both sides of the aisle and it would tear the very fabric of our government at a really bad time for our economy.

i'd be happy if all of these fuckers, regardless of party, get their day in court. this is why shit remains top secret for years (not that this is one of those times); so that we don't find out who eisenhower had assassinated in zimbabwe from the golf course until said president is dead. it ain't fair but, it is what it is.

Sharon GR said...

Re: openly serving,

This particular subject was a great disappointment for me in an otherwise promising president. We had such high hopes and he just skipped it, deciding not to fight the Joint Chiefs on it, thereby failing the people and ignoring the lack of equal rights.

BTW, I mean President Clinton. He didn't stand up then, and Obama's not standing up now. (No one expected Bush to stand up.)

Let everybody be treated equally and everybody who wants to serve should be able to serve. "Don't ask, don't tell" is bullshit- when will we learn that equality means EVERYBODY?

Dave said...

Isn't it pretty gay to want to serve & live with men? Showering, changing, bunking... yep, olive drab sausage-fest.