armed services

Unsurprising Cowardice (Leadership)

The shadow over Congress, and Mitch McConnell.

In February, Republicans said no to an Authorization for Use of Military Force specifically crafted to address Daa’ish because it wasn’t a big enough war. And while Republican presidential candidates might be lining up to take it out on Syrian refugees and Muslims both at home and around the world, the one thing they won’t do, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is grant an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Daa’ish.

“The president obviously feels he has the authority now to do what he’s doing,” McConnell said. “And the discussions with Democrats on AUMF make it clear that the only kind of AUMF they would support is one that would include such micromanagement of the military exercise as how many troops you could have, how long they could stay, and all of this.

“I would not want to saddle the next president with a prescriptive AUMF. We’re going to have a new president a year from now,” McConnell continued. “He or she may have a different view about the way to deal with ISIS and that part of the world. I don’t think we ought to be passing an AUMF as the president exits the stage when he already thinks he has the authority to do what he’s willing to do now.”

(Lesniewski)

This is a weird back and forth; as near as anyone can tell, the Obama administration is operating in the Levantine Theatre under the auspices of the same post-9/11 AUMF that saw President Bush invade Iraq. We are, essentially, living in the time of perpetual warfare authorized fourteen years ago.

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A Good Day (Defense and Dignity Edition)

Then Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Ashton Carter testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee 19 May 2011, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Discrimination of any kind has no place in America’s armed forces.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter

yeah, and don’t get me started on the word meritocracy ....

Huh? Oh.

Raise a glass to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Tuesday that gay and lesbian troops for the first time will be protected from discrimination by the same equal opportunity policy that protects other servicemembers.

Carter announced the change at the Pentagon’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride event.

The change ensures that gay and lesbian troops’ complaints about discrimination based on sexual orientation will be investigated by the Military Equal Opportunity program, the same office that handles complaints based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

“Discrimination of any kind has no place in America’s armed forces,” Carter said.

(Vanden Brook)

I admit that after I outgrew childhood dreams of glory it really did become difficult to comprehend why anybody would want to be a soldier. Just sayin’. I mean, there are all sorts of jokes over the years; what was that one Doonesbury about signing up for the college benefits, not for a war? You know, that sort of thing. And it’s also true I have known families in which military service is traditional. But still, I don’t get it. What, would I join the military but only if I got to stay home and do paperwork instead of go fight and kill and maybe die?Transgender sign

Never mind. That’s me, and my own damn problem.

Reality, after all, doesn’t give a damn about what I wonder. People still apparently want to join the military.

We can certainly continue to fret about our estimated fifteen thousand transgendered service personnel; the armed forces can still kick them out for (ahem!) “health” reasons. But at the same time, a periodic policy review is underway, the Secretary seems to want to end the policy, and the services themselvs―including the Air Force―are leading the way by adding extra steps and requiring higher approval for those discharge processes.

That review is going to take a while; it is unfair to expect more good news next week, or next month. Maybe we can hope for substantive answers and substantial policy revisions next year, but in any question involving such bureaucracies, I certainly won’t be holding my breath.

But, you know. They’re on it.

And today was a good day.

Today brought something real and substantial.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

____________________

Image note: 19 May 2011: Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Ashton Carter testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Vanden Brook, Tom. “Gay and lesbian troops will be protected by new Pentagon policy”. USA Today. 9 June 2015.

Huckabeastly

Mike Huckabee, circa 2012. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“It came as a bit of a surprise, then, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said late Friday that he would disclose his plans for the 2016 presidential race on May 5. This wasn’t an announcement, so much as it was an announcement about an announcement (at which point, the far-right Arkansan may or may not make an announcement).”

Benen

This is actually an interesting point, but only in an obscure way. Armchair wonkery often seems nearly occult to those who prefer their theatrical performances from the sports or celebrity-gossip sectors, but there is something about drowning one’s announcement of an announcement in the Friday afternoon cascade. The intersection of the Friday news dump with Mike Huckabee is just one of those things, you know?

For Steve Benen, then, it seems that Mr. Huckabee is already acting like a candidate, which is important because the next place our attention goes is to Miranda Blue’s report for Right Wing Watch:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed in an interview with Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson yesterday that the Obama administration has “an open hostility toward the Christian faith,” and urged prospective military recruits to wait until the end of President Obama’s term to enlist ....

.... “There’s nothing more honorable than serving one’s country and there’s no greater heroes to our country than our military,” he responded, “but I might suggest to parents, I’d wait a couple of years until we get a new commander-in-chief that will once again believe ‘one nation under god’ and believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing this country, but defending this country.”

And while it is always tempting to pounce on the superficial bait, given Republican militaristic bluster about patriotism and supporting the troops and backing the president during wartime, we should not let such low-hanging fruit obscure the forest of stupidity the former Arkansas governor would help cultivate.

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Stupidity of an Unbelievable Magnitude

There is a strange phenomenon in American politics whereby something is true just because one said it, even if what says is observably false. We often miss it, and tend to notice it when the tacit standard spectacularly fails.

For instance, here’s a statement from a politician, as reported by Ed Mazza of Huffington Post:

“I just wanted to know what oath (the military) took,” Dunnegan told St. Louis Public Radio in a telephone interview. “I’m not calling the president a domestic enemy. I’m not calling the president anything. He is the president. Do I agree with what the president is doing? Absolutely not. Anybody that asks me, I’ll be happy to tell you that.”

In the first place, what, is this a helluva scandal, or just some petty back and forth? And in truth, flip a coin. Heads, it’s scandalous. Tails, it’s just another Republican in Missouri.

Debbie Dunnegan Waters the Jefferson County Recorder, also tweeted, “The rest choose to hate me w/o cause. Judge me on half truth and spins.”

Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan Waters, who called for a coup against President Obama and then tried to say she didn't.So, we’re all up to date? She’s not calling the president a domestic enemy. People are hating on her without cause, and judging her according to half-truths and spins.

Yeah. You know there’s a punch line, right?

The statement in question:

I have a question for all my friends who have served or are currently serving in our military … having not put on a uniform nor taken any type military oath, there has to be something that I am just not aware of. But I cannot and do not understand why no action is being taken against our domestic enemy. I know he is supposedly the commander in chief, but the constitution gives you the authority. What am I missing? Thank you for your bravery and may God keep you safe.

(Boldface accent added)

Yes, really.

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