F### You Motherland I Am A Grass Mud Horse

I wonder if I would have the courage to stand up to a government like China’s as Ai Weiwei has. Heck, I don’t even have the guts to spell out the word “fuck” in the title of this post so I highly doubt it.

Ai Weiwei, image courtesy Wikipedia

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry on LAST CALL WITH CARSON DALY from Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry on Vimeo.

The Power of Money, the Money of Power

Chinese Currency
By: Paul. B

There is much ado in the news about China’s Wen Jiabao, the supposed People’s Premier, accumulating a massive fortune, for both himself and his extended family, while serving within the highest ranks of China’s government.

According to New York Times reporting:

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

No one is surprised by this, right? I mean, when in history has there ever been an authoritarian, non-transparent government where its leaders — and often…well, usually…okay, you’re right, always…those close to the leaders — did not become fabulously wealthy as a result of their position within the government?

We all know the quote, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so it is not news that Jiabao, or any other Chinese government senior leader, and their families and friends, have profited because of their positions.

And you know what else isn’t news? The fact that China has blocked all internet access to the New York Times, as well as to other major news outlets, such as the BBC, that are reporting on the story.

Without a doubt, Western-style democracies are far from perfect; and, without a doubt, many politicians and government officials within these supposed transparent governments have amassed huge, unknowable, amounts of cash because of their positions. Still, at least we who live in countries governed by democracies, with our right to vote and with our freedom of speech, have a semblance of a notion that we can contain the corruption. Whether it’s true or not is debatable, but having a semblance of a notion is better than having none at all.

Heroes of Dystopia – A Serial Saga

Hercules Gone Mad

It’s been over a year since I released my first novel The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor and I am excited to be able to finally announce my new project — Heroes of Dystopia – A Serial Saga.

There are many reasons I am excited about this project.

For one, it is an opportunity to for me to explore political, societal, technological, war, mental, and many other issues important to me in a serious and, hopefully, an interesting way.

I am also pleased to be releasing it as a serialized saga, which means that the saga will be realized as a series of books, and each book will be released as a series of parts. Writing a serialized saga enables me to think long term and in strategic ways, while also being able to stay tactical and keep the writing fresh and, again, hopefully, moving quickly along.

The first book in the saga is Hercules Gone Mad. The first part of the book, Rebels for Love, will be available soon. Meanwhile, you can read an excerpt of it here.

If you have any feedback, and I hope you do, let me know about by leaving me a comment here or on my facebook page.

History As Our Guide?

By: drakegoodman

It is my assumption that most of us are probably more familiar with World War II history than the histories of most other wars. As most historians don’t consider something as history unless we are at least fifty years or so removed from the event, I am not considering the world’s most recent wars when I make this assumption.

Consequently, I have been doing a little research to brush up on my World War I history. I was fortunate to find a wonderfully produced ten-part documentary on youtube fittingly entitled “The First World War.”

What I relearned from my research, and I know that this is not a new revelation by any stretch of the imagination, is that we as humans were utterly brutal and merciless during the twentieth century. It’s unfathomable to me how many millions were killed during World War I. And to top it all off, just as the war ended, the Spanish Flu pandemic infected the globe and killed another twenty million or so people.

Unimaginable.

You’re probably familiar with the saying “misery loves company.” Well, we at least can find some solace for what seems like our present day madness of global wars and revolutions and piracy and economic depressions and disregard for human rights by looking back through history and finding just about any point in time when it was much, much worse.

In Honor of the End of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy

An offering from POEMS FROM THE RIVER, a collection of my poetry that will soon be released.

~~~~

We War

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.
The decayed and degraded state
of moral and patriotic feeling
which thinks that nothing is worth war
is much worse.

The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight,
nothing which is more important than his own personal safety,
is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free
unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

~ John Stuart Mills

We war, don’t we
We warriors
We worriers for the world

You, Red Death Warrior
You mobilized
You sanitized
Purified to perform ancient rights of battles
And to stake patriot claims of fragile freedom
In hearts alien, hearts eternal,
Hearts ignorant of all you know

You know
You know

You know, noble warrior,
While you wander through the heaven of Hell
Raking the shit scattered pieces
Of bitter and broken promises
Into neat, heaping piles made ready
For the devil’s dusty full bin,
I, Warrior of The Forgotten Peace
Arming my chair of flaccid command
Long for the glory fight that I never had
The fight I will never know
The fight you will never forget

You know
You know

~~~~

I would like to congratulate and thank all who courageously sacrificed their identities, and in some cases, their lives, in order to proudly and honorably serve their nation while Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was national policy.

September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011, will be a historic day for our country, and a special day for me.

It will be historic because the United States’s discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy will finally be put to rest.

And it will be special to me because I hope to release my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR on that day in honor of the historic event.

But, like the cup half empty kind of guy that I am, I won’t believe either will happen until I actually see them happening…

But I’m hopeful it will all come true.

I can hardly believe that DADT is finally coming to end because it has been a powerful presence in my life since my decision in 1994 to work outside my career field of telecommunications, and outside of my comfort zone, to become a navy Equal Opportunity Advisor. My duties as an EOA required me to become thoroughly familiar with the DADT policy and to facilitate seminars and focus groups regarding it at navy commands throughout the Western Pacific. A key element of my training was not to just remind sailors that they could not ask about someone’s sexual orientation, but also to make it very clear since it had become an issue in the military that, just because their values or stereotypes or perceptions or prejudgments motivates them to do so, doesn’t mean they can harass or abuse or murder someone who they perceive has a sexual orientation that is contrary to their beliefs. I use the word “perceive” because rarely do homosexuals violate DADT policy by telling others, especially others hostile to their lifestyle, about their sexual orientation. Consequently then, the most likely way a homophobic person can be motivated to act upon his or her (mostly his) homophobic tendency to want to harass or abuse or murder is by perceiving a service member to be a homosexual based upon the perceived homosexual’s behavior or personal characteristics. Facilitating the discussion of such a sensitive, and often combative, nature for three years was very challenging, yet very rewarding for me.

If I can hardly believe that DADT is finally coming to an end, I can only wonder how one feels who loves his or her country so much that he or she was willing to join the military knowing that the DADT policy required him or her to suppress his or her identity and sexual orientation in order to serve. (Normally, because I am a man and because I choose a male identity for myself (It’s a gender thing, you wouldn’t understand…probably.), I would not bother with all the “he or she” and “his or her” distraction; I would simply just write “he” or “his,” just as I would expect a female writer to just write “she” or “shis,” I mean, “sher,” I mean, “her,” but I feel in this situation, it is important for me to highlight and reiterate the fact, in an effort to remind everyone, that both men and women have chosen to make this enormous sacrifice for their country. Talk about Patriots. All you heterosexuals out there go ahead and try imagining what it would be like to not only not be allowed to tell others who you love, but also to not be allowed to completely express your love to the person whom you do love. Hard to imagine, isn’t it, since it’s our privilege to not have imagine such an absurd way of life?

And I can hardly believe that my novel is finally going to be released because it, too, has been a powerful presence in my life for nearly as long as DADT has been. Consequently, I find it hard to believe that in a few short days I will finally be able to call the project complete.

And I also can hardly believe that my novel is going to be released on September 20, 2011, since it is only a few short days away and, because of a few issues I am contending with, I still have yet to complete the publication review process with the publishing service I am using. So, at this point, September 20, 2011, is more like a target release date than a set release date. But we’ll see.

Regardless of whether my novel is actually published on September 20, 2011, or not, the date will always be special to me since it was DADT, or more specifically, since it was all the harassment and abuse and even murder that was inflicted on so many service members because of DADT, that provided the unfortunate impetus for why I wrote the novel to begin with.

Preparing for the End

As you may or may not be aware, the end of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy will be officially and finally declared on September 20, 2011.

I honestly am very happy, and more than a little apprehensive, that its end is coming.

Additionally, in the spirit of my shtick, I am also not as honestly very happy, and a little more than apprehensive, that I have until September 20, 2011, to complete and release my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR.

Why do I have only until September 20, 2011, to complete and release my novel, I hear you ask.

Well, how else can I best exploit for my own bloated self-interests the pain, suffering, and humiliation of thousands of those who served their country during the course of the life of the humiliating DADT policy than by releasing on or about the date of DADT’s death so that I can best leverage the public’s increased interest in the issue a book with themes that attempt to illustrate the same pain, suffering, and humiliation that those who served their country during the course of the life of the humiliating DADT policy experienced, I answer.

Key word in all that bumbling nonsense in the last paragraph: “attempt.”

But fear and puke not, for those of you whose stomach I just curdled:

For I am known for setting and committing myself to firm and fixed deadlines and then easily and breezily rationalizing them away as their date flies by and the work remains woefully incomplete.

And I certainly do have much woeful work on the novel yet for me not to complete between now and September 20, 2011.

Until then, you can check out the first five chapters of THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR at the “free reads” page, if you feel so inclined and/or charitable to my cause.

Rise Up!

It’s the bottom of the ninth.

We’re down and in desperate need of a two-out rally.

So what are we waiting for? Should we go
for the win and swing for the fence?

Or should we just drop our bats,
grab our crotches,
and wait?

Just wait for someone else to come along and bat clean up?

Just wait for them to come along and clean up all of the shit
our silence has created?

Should we wait?

Just wait for the president and the congress and the
governors and every other sleazy politician to knock
the dirt out of their spikes and lead the rally?

Or should we, instead, wait for Wall Street and the
chambers of commerce and the boards of directors
and the unions and even the goddamn Junior Achievers
to stop sucking each other off and let them lead the rally?

No.

I’m tired from waiting,
and I’m sick from feeding on bullshit
and shallow metaphors.

It’s time for movement.

It’s time to say to hell with our condoning silence
and rise up.

Hey you!

Yeah, you in the corner with the pencil.

You, the unassuming bard whose verse speaks in whispers.
It’s time for you to rise up and write the words that need
to be written.

It’s time for you to sharpen your pencil and to tear
and thrash at the page till it bleeds and screams out
in desperate fury.

And when your words are read the readers are shocked
and angered and filled with such passion and rage
that nipples harden and balls retract in their sacks.

So rise up!

Check your zippers and march.

Listen for the rhythm ‘cause no one is leading
and no one is following.

There’s just us.

You Me Her Him We, Each confused and disoriented but
Each coming together and marching in one
Throbbing Mass of Poetic Fervor.

So rise up!

Rub the crap from your eyes and focus.

Breathe deeply then grab hold of today and straddle it.
Dig in deep with your knees and spur the bitch till it bucks.

But be ready ‘cause when it bucks it’s gonna buck good.
And when you fall and taste the dirt don’t spit it out.

Taste it!

Chew on it and swallow.

Because that’s why we are here:
to taste the flavor of today
and determine what ingredients are missing.

So, if your heart’s not pounding
and your hand’s aren’t shaking
and you’re still just sitting on your ass
waiting for someone else to do your work,
then close your notebook and break your pencil
because you are dead.

But if You feel the Passion
and if You feel the Rhythm,
then know that it is You who will do.

You who must do.

Yes, You.

But first You must Rise the fuck Up!

In Defense of the American Way of Life

I spent twenty years and four days as an enlisted swine sailor in the navy. That’s twenty years and four days of living on the government dole. If you think about it, that’s exactly what happens after someone joins the United States military, they get to live on the dole.

To get on the dole, however, I did have to promise my government that I would give it my life for it to use of and/or dispose of as it required or so desired. But fortunately for me, a good chunk of my service was during the happy-go-lucky Clinton years so I never really had to worry much about that unwritten but very much binding “dying in defense of freedom” clause in my contract.

For most of that twenty years and four days I was just like every other American rat who had to get up every morning to compete against all the others in the race.

Except that I had to wear a goofy-looking racing uniform while doing so.

Seriously, ever see those horrific bell bottoms on the old dungaree uniforms that we sailors used to have to wear? And those cursed “Cracker Jack” sailor suits weren’t much better either, let me tell ya.

Sheesh…the fact that we were willing to die for our country was never so impressive to me as was the fact that so many of us were willing to wear those embarrassing uniforms while doing so.

But just like so many other unavoidable indignities one must suffer throughout one’s life, one learns to accept it, or at least try to numb oneself somehow from the sting of it, and move on.

It sure was hard for me to accept the indignity of those ridiculous uniforms though, that’s for sure.

You know what? I bet I can guess what some of you are thinking right now.

I bet some of you are thinking: “True Americans are fighting and dying in defense of our country right now and this bozo is making fun of the uniform they so proudly wear.”

Listen, if that’s what you are thinking, and I am pretty sure some of you are, and it hurts your feelings, I apologize.

It was not my intent to cause pain to your sensitivities.

However…

Aren’t those True Americans who are fighting and dying in defense of our country right now doing so so that I could do exactly just that?

Well, perhaps they are not fighting and dying specifically so that I can cause pain to your sensitivities, but I certainly believe they are doing so to provide me the protection and guarantee and freedom to say whatever it is I feel I need or want to say as I strive to live and abide by the American Way of Life, which, in my view, happens to encompass MY pursuit of Happiness.

I do sincerely believe that and I am sincerely very thankful for their sacrifice.

And I pray that there will always be those who will willingly and courageously volunteer to fight, and even perhaps, sadly, sacrifice their own life, just so I can continue on with my own selfish and never-ending-till-I-die pursuit of Happiness.

Writing and saying what’s on my mind makes me Happy, that’s why I pursue it the way I do.

But I suppose that what I write or say doesn’t always make you Happy.

Sometimes, like right now, maybe, I say things with a specific intent in mind, which is, regardless of what I say, for me to always end up sounding like I am funny and smart. But instead of me ending up sounding funny and/or smart, the actual impact of what I say usually ends up with me sounding like the misinformed dork that I really am.

And even worse than me just ending up harmlessly sounding like the misinformed dork that I really am, I suspect that far too often the impact of what I say ends up so far off the mark from my intent that I unintentionally end up sounding like some offensive and inappropriate jackass.

When that happens, what I say just might end up hurting someone.

I hope that what I have to say doesn’t unintentionally hurt too often.

But then again, sometimes that may just be my intention.

That is, in addition to always trying to make myself sound funny and smart, sometimes my intent also might be to intentionally sound like some offensive and inappropriate jackass.

That’s because sometimes it takes a real jackass with enough oomph in his hindquarters to kick hard enough to make a point truly stick.

And unfortunately, whenever we do get stuck with a point, it tends to hurt for a bit.

Just to be clear, though, I cannot ever imagine a scenario where my intent would be for me to end up sounding like the misinformed dork that I really am.

That happens far too often enough without it ever being my intention.

But, that’s not really my problem, is it?

I really have no way of determining how what I say ends up impacting you.

For that I assume no responsibility or blame.

I just write the crap.

How it ends up sounding in your head after your brain interprets it is all on you.

I hope the intent of my words always matches the impact they have on your brain.

But I cannot guarantee they will.

And when they don’t, and especially if it causes pain to your sensitivities and causes you to think what an offensive and inappropriate jackass I am, please remember one thing.

And I say this understanding that I may end up sounding both like an uninformed dork and some offensive and inappropriate jackass…

Please remember that this blog was created and is maintained by me primarily as a resource for MY Happiness, not necessarily yours.

And like “True Americans” will sometimes say in defense of their American Way of Life, I say in defense of my blog:

“If you don’t like it, you can leave it.”

But really, I hope you don’t leave if I become too offensive and inappropriate for you.

And I hope you don’t leave if you become too offensive and inappropriate for me.

I like having you here to talk to.

Having you here, regardless of where you are from, or what your “Way of Life” or “way of life” or “WAYS OF LIFE” might be, provides me with much of the Happiness I so fervently pursue.

Besides, if you think what I DO or WILL say is offensive and inappropriate, just imagine some of the things that go through this troubled mind of mine that I DON’T or WON’T say.

I shudder to think.

Thank god for the delete button that’s all I gotta say, because so many of those offensive and inappropriate bastards of thought that float around in my mind often get just this close (use your imagination here to visualize me holding my hand in front of your face and pinching my pointer finger and thumb together so tightly that my hand shakes from it as I illustrate exactly what I mean by “just this close”) to being shouted out loud at the top of my scarred and deteriorating lungs.

And by just this close to being shouted out loud at the top of my scarred and deteriorating lungs I mean that sometimes this irrational world that we are living in drives me so bonkers that I can barely refrain myself from publishing those offensive and inappropriate bastards of thought that are floating around in this troubled mind of mine here on my blog and then tweeting and bleating and blasting them out to the twitterverse and then linking and posting and liking them like a mad crazy fool to Facebook and then finding other ways—Ah hell yeah!…google+—to shove them into your self-righteously offended and offensive face but, just because those thoughts barely strayed over that very thin and swaying line in my mind which I consider to be the boundary for good taste, I refrain myself and say nothing about them at all.

You have absolutely no idea what you are missing out on.

But enough of all that patriotic nonsense.

Back to my “on the government dole” point.

It always struck me as completely ironic (and if I think about it too hard it verges on the sardonically so) how so many Americans join the military to defend the American “Way of Life,” and, as a reward for their patriotism and service, they are provided for by the American government and funded by the American tax payer with a “way of life” that is so completely different and diametrically opposed to the “Way of Life” they gave up to defend.

Once someone joins the military, their new “way of life” becomes part of one of the most successfully socialist ways of life that has ever existed on this irrational planet of ours.

Now, the way I see it, the American “Way of Life” encompasses much and means different things to different folks, but I think all Americans can agree that this “Way of Life” certainly encompasses that democratic republic mashup system of government that so many Americans do not understand yet so many righteously trumpet, as well as a pretty hardcore capitalistic economic system, that, again, so many Americans do not really understand, but most are certainly beholden to.

Nothing wrong with that at all.

I’m all for the American Way of Life.

Hope you are all for it too, especially if you consider yourself an American.

And if you consider yourself a “True American,” well…

Well…I prefer to not even consider what the “True Americans” are all for in this, or any, regard, to be honest with you.

Besides, they will certainly tell us what they are all for anyway without the least bit of consideration at all.

But sometimes, especially when I really think hard about it, it makes me SMH in amazement that those who will so willingly sacrifice their life in defense of the American “Way of Life” have to live their “way of life” in a such heavily, if not completely, subsidized, socialistic, anti-American “Way of Life” manner. (BTW, for all you dinosaurs out there, SMH = shake my head. You can figure out the BTW for yourself.)

These potential military heroes are provided for with a completely free and well-maintained “gated” community if they live on base. If they choose to or are required to live off base, then their housing costs are subsidized. Their medical costs are completely paid for if they are seen by an on-base medical facility and, again, these costs are heavily subsidized if they are seen by an off-base medical facility.

And similar to the way of life in most anti-American “Way of Life,” socialist societies, the “way of life” in the American military includes serious restrictions on its service members’ freedom of expression and speech, restrictions that Americans who have never served in the military could never understand or imagine as they Happily and freely enjoy their own unique, and, quite honestly, sometimes a little weird and occasionally even a little creepy, American Way of Life.

I have several more “Way of Life” versus “way of life” examples, but I think you get the point:

A socialist “way of life” for those who volunteer to defend the Democratic Republic and Hardcore Capitalistic American “Way of Life.”

Again, nothing wrong with that.

Just a little ironic, wouldn’t you agree?

Besides, I’m all for providing anyone who willingly and courageously volunteers to defend the American Way of Life, regardless of how one defines it, with a decent and honorable way of life, American, socialistic, or otherwise.

America better provide their courageous volunteers and potential heroes with at least that because it sure as hell pays them like crap.

Believe me, after spending twenty years and four days as an enlisted swine sailor, I know exactly how crappy American service members are paid.

*

As I think and I write about all of this BS, all of the this Way of Life BS and all of the that way of life BS, and all of the goofy-looking uniform BS, and all of my pretentious and pedantic intent versus impact BS, I am being completely overwhelmed and thoroughly embarrassed by the ridiculous politics and even more ridiculous politicians behind the budget crisis that seemingly has the potential to rip the American Way of Life, regardless of how one defines it, to shreds.

That, to me, is wholly indefensible.

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

I joined the navy in 1983, which means that I served for about ten years when it was illegal for homosexuals to enter the military.

Even though it was illegal, I think it is safe to assume that there still were homosexuals serving during that time; but back then since I was young and singularly focused on doing all those things that sailors have always been renowned for doing…you know what I’m talking about: a yo ho ho and a bottle of rum and all that other fun stuff (wink)…I did not pay the issue of homosexuals in the military much mind.  And as far as I can remember, neither did any of the sailors I hung out with back then.

Thinking back, I remember working with several individuals during the first ten years of my enlistment who were assumed to be gay, but it was no big deal.  It was no big deal to me, to my friends, or to the command where we all worked.  The assumed homosexuals came to work and did their job the best they could, just like everyone else and that was pretty much it.

The only time when  my group of friends and I did talk about homosexuals in regard to their homosexuality was probably when we were making juvenile fun of what we saw as their eccentricities.

I am sorry about that.  I guess I could try to excuse  my behavior back then on the fact that I was young and a victim of a cultural socialization process that bent toward homophobia.  However, while my opinions and attitudes have evolved since then, unfortunately, I am still not completely guilt-free when it comes to occasionally behaving in a juvenile manner, even though I know that this type of “harmless” behavior may be enabling someone elses more aggressive, dangerous behavior.

Evolution is a slow process.

Still, as far as I can tell, for the first half of my navy career, most sailors really didn’t pay the issue of homosexuals in the military hardly any mind.

That all changed under President Clinton’s watch, however.  Once he made allowing homosexuals to serve in the military an issue, it became an issue for all service members — a big one.

Prior to Clinton’s presidency, I have no recollection whatsoever of there being any open hostility or harassment towards homosexuals in the military.  I am in no way saying that there wasn’t any open hostility or harassment towards homosexuals for the first ten years of my career, I’m only saying that if there was, it did not leave an impression on my internal google, for I cannot pull up any recollections; nor has it left an impression on the external google, for I cannot pull up any major stories or websites profiling open hostility or harassment towards homosexuals in the military prior to President Clinton making it an issue.  (My definition for major is at least a story or a website that makes it on the first page of google’s search results. If I have to dig deeper than that then to me it must not have been a major event. I know, that’s a weak rationale for a lazy research method but it’s what I’m going with.)

But it seems that once homosexuals in the military became a national issue, folks of all over the country began to take notice, especially the closet homophobes.

Soon afterward, open hostility, harassment, and even assaults towards homosexuals began making the news.

Presidential candidate Bill Clinton made allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military an issue throughout his 1990-1991 presidential campaign.

This sailor was stomped to death in October 1992.

President Clinton issued Defense Directive 1304.26 which became known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in December 1993.

This college student was pistol whipped and tortured to death in October 1998.

This soldier was beat to death with a baseball bat in July 1999.

And now, with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and with the nation’s attention focused more than ever on the issue of homosexuals in the military, we may wonder if there will be additional hostility, harassment, and assaults toward homosexuals.

I am afraid we may already have our answer.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama made allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military an issue throughout his 2007-2008 presidential campaign.

Democrats began ramping up their efforts to repeal the ban in Congress in March 2009.

This sailor was gunned down and burned in July 2009.

This civilian was beaten by two marines in July 2010.

Maybe it’s a stretch to try to link these deaths and beatings to the fact that the nation is focusing on the issue of homosexuals serving in the military, maybe it’s not.  Regardless, we all should hope for the best when the repeal is finally lifted sometime this year and homosexuals are allowed to openly serve.  But while we are hoping for the best, we should also remain vigilante to the possibility that the risks toward our newly liberated brothers and sisters in arms may significantly increase as the nation continues to focus on this issue for the foreseeable future.

Homosexuality and Our National Interest

Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”
Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

Because of my personal interest in this important civil rights issue, I have been closely following the national debate regarding the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for some time now. My view on whether homosexuals should be allowed to openly serve in the military has significantly evolved since I first joined the navy in 1983. I believe, and have for some time, that homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly. I came to this conclusion for many reasons but here are the primary ones:

1.      It is in the best interest of our national security. Our country is engaged in two active military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan while still keeping all of the other national security concerns–terrorism, Iran, North Korea, and many others–in check. Our nation simply cannot afford to waste valuable resources in any form, particularly its military resources. Our most valuable national and military resource is our patriotic citizens who volunteer to serve and protect our nation. Denying our military the service of patriotic volunteers because of their sexual orientation is not only shortsighted and stupid, it is potentially damaging to military readiness and our national security.

2.      It is in the best interest of our national psyche. We all know very well that we are a country founded on the truth that all men are created equal under the laws of nature and of God. This is deeply instilled into our national psyche. Yet, we have had a painfully psychological, and at times very physical, struggle trying to turn this national belief into a national reality. We have learned from our long history of attempting to reconcile our fundamental beliefs with our country’s original sin of slavery, that when we as a nation say that we all are to receive equal rights under our laws while at the same time denying these rights to a segment of our society based on the color of their skin, our national psyche suffered deeply from it. We became dysfunctional, self-hating, and even came close to committing national suicide over it. The cognitive dissonance that occurs when saying one thing–that all men are created equal and are guaranteed equal rights under our laws–and then doing another–denying these equal rights based on race, sex, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation–is not only detrimental to our national psyche, it is damning to our national soul.

Much more work still needs to be done to ensure homosexuals receive equal rights under our laws, but as a nation, we can go a long way to securing our national security and improving the health of our national psyche simply by allowing them to serve openly in the military.

So it was with much anticipation and high expectations that I watched today while Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen briefed the findings of the “Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and then answered reporters’s questions. After Gates and Mullen finished their brief, the Co-chairmen of the study, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army General Carter Ham, provided a more comprehensive overview of the report and answered reporters’s questions.

I am still plowing through the 267-page report, but based on what I learned from today’s briefings on it and my read of its executive summary, I am very impressed with its thoroughness and its results.

Secretary Gates was asked how he would respond to Senator McCain’s claim that the report is the wrong report. McCain, although an initial supporter of the survey, quickly began rejecting the results once they had started leaking out earlier in the month, saying that the survey wrongly focused on how to implement the repeal of DADT instead of focusing on how the repeal would impact military readiness. Gates responded to the question simply by saying that while he respects Senator McCain, the senator is wrong about his assessment of the survey. And from what I learned from what was briefed by the military and from my read of the report’s executive summary, I agree with Secretary Gates.

By shifting away from his original position on the survey, Senator McCain has made it clear that is doing nothing more than engaging in the Republican strategy of blocking any political success for the president and Democrats, regardless of the political costs to himself and his party. Consequently, I have little hope that DADT will be repealed during this lame duck congressional session. Both our national security and our national psyche will suffer for it.

http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/swf/flvPlayer.swf

National Nervous Breakdown

Maybe it’s just because I’m off work recovering from cancer and have more time to pay attention to current events, but it seems to me that insane violent crimes are happening almost daily. Just this week, a doctor at Johns Hopkins hospital was shot by the son of a patient. The son ended up also shooting the patient, his mother, and then himself. The week before that, there was the Discovery building hostage situation, and several weeks before that there was the mother who drowned her children. I could go on and on with all the insanity that has been happening in the past year or two but this post has already depressed me enough so I won’t.

Instinctively, I want to say that it is the bad economy and the stress that it has been inflicting on our nation as a whole that is responsible for all these insane violent crimes; however, after a quick search of the topic, I’ve found that, according to the FBI, violent crime has actually been decreasing, even during the economic crisis.

I’m no expert, but after thinking about it for a bit, it seems to me that violent crimes—murders, rapes, assaults—which are tragic enough, are not the same as these insane violent crimes—shooting a doctor and then your mother in a hospital, taking hostages because you hate people for killing the earth, drowning your children and then making it look like an accident, or dressing up as Santa Claus and going on a killing rampage—so maybe the FBI statistics don’t really apply here. Maybe, but I really don’t know.

What I do know is that as long as we have a significant portion of our population raised and socialized in violent, abusive, poverty-ridden environments, then we’re going to continue to have a portion of our population suffering from the violent crimes that are committed as a result of this environment and socialization. And as long as these violent crimes are isolated to just a portion of our population, then the majority of the population will, unfortunately, be able to easily turn a blind eye to most of it.

But when the entire population is suffering under economic stress, debt, ineffectual national leaders, divisive, vindictive politics, perpetual war, nuclear brinkmanship, excessive military buildup, constant threat of terrorism, and an increasing feeling of no hope of change for the better, like it is now, then we all are going to suffer from it, no one is going to be able to turn a blind eye toward it, and, if things don’t change soon, the entire population will eventually have a national nervous breakdown from it.

Perhaps all of these insane violent crimes that have been happening recently are the first cracks in our national psyche.