Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Internet Makes Me Nuts, Sarah Palin Has a Point...Sort Of, If You Still Oppose Gays In the Military It Means You Are a Bigot

When Did the Other Side Stop Being Human?
The light-hearted news of the holiday weekend involved President Obama taking an elbow to the face from one Ray Decerega in a morning basketball game at the White House. This is the sort of light-hearted, humanizing story that ought to give us a break from the usual political wrangling. But the response in this hyper-partisan age is all too predictable. Just read the comment section below any major news story on the event.

"The President is playing basketball while we are on the brink of World War 3" writes one blogger
"Lucky guy, Ray Decerega, I'd like to punch all libs in the face" writes another
And on, and on...

On the left, of course, the defense is offense....President Bush took more days often than anybody on Earth, etc., etc.

It is all very petty, stupid and undignified.

In the interest of civility, can we agree on a few things?
No President ever worked on policy every single minute of every day. They all found time to shower, use the bathroom, eat breakfast and maybe even talked to their spouses every once in a while. Blowing off steam by playing basketball for an hour in a day isn't a bad thing. Ronald Reagan took naps in the afternoon. George H.W. Bush loved going up to New England. Bill Clinton liked escaping there as well. George W. Bush had Crawford.

You cannot be a 24/7 President. So let's cut the nonsense. All Presidents have unbelievably grueling schedules. They are in the public eye all the time. They are on call all the time. They work every weekend, every holiday. Most get but a few hours of sleep a night.

Can we have a dialogue that is about policy? Barack Obama is not evil. You might think he's wrong as hell politically, but by every credible accounts, he is a nice guy, a good family man and a patriotic American. So was George W. Bush, by the way. Clinton too, if you exclude the good husband part of being a good family man.

So let's those of us of reasonable intelligence agree to debate policy and just enjoy, rather than politicize the light-hearted, humanizing parts of the Presidency.

I Don't Think Sarah Palin Is Stupid Because of Her North Korea Gaffe
It all happened so innocently during a friendly interview from Fox News Commentator (is that the right description?) Glenn Beck. Sarah Palin, asked about the recent crisis in the Koreas, stated:
“This speaks to a bigger picture here that certainly scares me in terms of our national security policy. But obviously we’ve gotta stand with our North Korean allies.”

Glenn quickly corrected her, noting that she must have meant our South Korean allies.

Predictably, the left was all over this gaffe, offering it as further evidence that the Grizzly Mama is completely out to lunch when it comes to discussing any policy matters. Palin, in turn, published a response to the criticism via Facebook, which cited a number of verbal gaffes that President Obama had made over the past 3 years and noted that she quickly corrected herself (not quite accurate, as it was Beck who corrected her, but from the context of the conversation, it is reasonable to assume that it was a verbal gaffe and not a mental one as she had been talking about our allies in South Korea just prior to the statement above.)

Sarah has a point, sort of. Her point that her intelligence or knowledge of foreign policy should not be judged solely on the basis of one verbal gaffe is absolutely correct. Her point that the President, or heck, any politician who is on the camera a lot, makes gaffes is also correct.

I don't think Sarah is stupid because of this gaffe. Heck, I don't think she is stupid at all. I do think she is profoundly ignorant. But not because of her statement about Korea. I think so because of her statement that she had foreign policy experience because she could see Russia from her window...a statement she did not correct or clarify. I think so because she said that the Vice President controls what the Senate votes on, another statement she has never corrected or clarified. I think so because she repeatedly flubbed very basic questions of policy during the 2008 campaign and seems incapable of forming complete sentences with coherent policy thoughts in even the most friendly interviews now.

Sarah is ignorant and dangerous. But not stupid. Our comparative tax returns this year will prove that fact.

Gays In the Military -- Your Excuses Are Gone
I have long contended that gay rights is the defining civil rights battle of this generation. Whether you are talking about non-discrimination laws (did you know that employers can fire gay workers simply for being gay in 33 states still?) to gay marriage and civil unions, to gay adoption to military service, LGBT Americans are the last major demographic that are still routinely denied equal rights under our laws. This is not to say that discrimination doesn't exist in other areas; we certainly still have our share of racial and gender bias problems, just that discrimination against LGBT is the only kind that is sanctioned by the law.

I have long advocated for the right of gay Americans to serve openly in the armed services. In the past, however, I was reluctant to accuse my opponents of bigotry. While there are many intrinsic logical and moral problems that I have with the point of view that gays shouldn't be allowed to serve because it would harm morale, I tried hard to accept that those who espoused that view held it honestly. No rational person can take such a stand any longer.

Consider the facts:
(1) The Israeli Army, perhaps the most fearsome fighting force on the planet, has allowed gays to serve openly for some time. An army from a heavily religious country, surrounded by people trying to destroy it, has made this arrangement work. Do we really not have our act together as well as Israel? By the way, Gays are also allowed to serve openly in 34 other countries, if you are interested, including virtually every NATO ally.

(2) 75% of troops do not believe that allowing gays in the military would damage military readiness, says a very recent pentagon study. There goes the morale argument. Do you think 75% of the enlisted supported integrating the troops at the time it was done?

(3) Every major military leader is in favor of the change, include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. By the way, all 3 are Republican appointees. Sure you can locate a General or and Admiral who opposes the change, but the top leadership is pretty united.

(4) During every draft war in the 20th century, the military refused to discharge gay soldiers. This included both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam. They were good enough then but not now? Remember Corporal Klinger from MASH? The joke was that he was behaving in an openly gay manner and couldn't get discharged.

All of this leaves me to a simple conclusion...all of the evidence points towards the right answer being allowing gays to serve openly in the military. If you oppose the opinion of the troops, the military leadership, the American people and the world, why are you doing it? You are either a bigot or you are pandering to bigots.

Shame on those who fall into either category. And shame on those who support a change but continue to shove this issue to the back burner.

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