Thursday, August 27, 2009
"Thoughtcrime" and National Security
The Tuesday, August 25 announcement of the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogation methods by US Attorney General Eric Holder demonstrates once again the contempt liberals hold for dissent. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid labels town hall attendees "evil mongers." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denigrates Americans who oppose health care legislation as "Astroturf" (a political insider euphemism describing "protesters for hire"). The Speaker goes on to allege that said "Astroturf" brandishes signs with "swastikas."
The Obama Administration advises website visitors to refer the senders of "fishy" emails to the White House. Hate crimes legislation currently under consideration by Congress institutes criminal penalties for acts motivated by "the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person" (language codified in Public Law 103-322 in 1994). Never mind that violent acts addressed by the hate crimes legislation already are criminal in their own right. This new legislation proposes to punish not only the criminal acts, but the thoughts behind the acts.
The criminalization of thought, and thereby, dissent, should be a frightening prospect to Americans. Essentially, those opposing government policies, or proposals or ideas preferred by elected officials, may soon find their disagreement punishable by law.
Go back and dust off George Orwell's 1984. Or if you haven't read it, get a copy. The totalitarian state personified by Big Brother in that dark parable punished expression unsanctioned by the government and called it thoughtcrime. The job of the book's main character consisted of continually updating and revising news reports. The state pervaded the lives of its subjects, coercing them into perpetuating its infallibility and constantly revising history to suit the state's ends.
Attorney General Holder, whose boss, President Barack Obama, came to office opposing the Iraq war and the previous Bush Administration policies that accompanied it, proposes to pursue criminally those who carried out the policy prerogatives of a political opponent. Such an enterprise can not be dismissed as petty partisan reprisal, especially when it concerns activities of intelligence services at the heart of the nation's security. It amounts to terrorizing political opponents by putting them and those in their service in legal jeopardy.
Similarly, the so-called "Military Readiness Enhancement Act," proposed legislation that would impose open homosexuality on the military, would bring with it its own policing of thought under "zero tolerance" policies. Any dissent regarding "real or perceived sexuality or sexual orientation" would become a form of expression punishable in the armed forces by reprimands, denied promotions, and ended careers. Those who do not share the military's new official perspective on homosexuality need not apply, and those currently serving in disagreement with the new law may find their careers at an abrupt end.
The political left has warned for years against "police state" tactics, allegedly employed by their political opponents on the right. Americans should become especially wary of "thought police" tactics, employed against them by their government.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Sophistry about Submarines
In a July 22, 2009 article, Stars & Stripes newspaper reported some alarming attitudes and perspectives on the issue of women on submarines. (Thanks to the USNA At-Large network for bringing it to our attention):
Breaking into the Underwater Boys' Club - Sailor One of 12 Women to be Submarine-Qualified
The unserious headline and the tone of some of the people interviewed is disappointing. The Silent Service is not a "boys' club," and this is a serious matter.
The article quotes Lt. Cmdr. Marilisa Elrod, a doctor and undersea medical officer who likes to wear her husband's dolphins because she is qualified to ride on the submarines. Dr. Elrod points to countries such as Australia, Canada, Spain, and Norway as examples that justify women being on submarines. She appears unaware of obvious realities that set the American submarine service apart from those of all other countries she mentioned. None of those countries deploy subs for months at a time in oceans worldwide.
And her cavalier attitude toward quality of life problems that would ensue if subs were gender-integrated is not a credit to her as a naval officer. (The article is unclear whether she shares a stateroom with a male officer when she rides on a submarine or whether he is displaced and sent to hot-rack with enlisted sailors.)
Lt. Cmdr. Elrod appears appallingly ignorant of biological realities that pose a real threat to all crew members, and an unborn child, if a pregnancy is discovered while on an undersea mission. The same comments apply to Petty Officer Jim Grisham, who equated the issue of women on submarines with "homosexuals in small units." That's a pretty ridiculous analysis, but as a medical doctor, Cmdr. Elrod should understand certain realities better than he.
In addition to our own Navy in recent years, Britain and Canada have resisted pressures to put women on submarines because of health risks associated with the constantly-recycled atmosphere that is safe for adults but a likely cause of birth defects in the earliest weeks of fetal development. Significant risks of ectopic pregnancy, including the possibility of death, would create the need for immediate evacuations. It is extremely hazardous to dangle a rescue basket from a helicopter in the middle of the ocean.
A comment on this story posted by a member of the USNA At-Large network provided a vivid example of real-world risks:
"A point of interest. As a station HH-46 helo pilot at Rota Spain circa 1980, I was awakened by the shore patrol at my home in the wee hours of the morning. I had standby SAR duty and was told to report to air ops immediately for an emergency medivac mission. Upon arriving at air ops I was told that I needed to medivac a sailor with severe abdominal pain off a ship operating in the western Med. Plotting the coordinates of the ship I recommended that the ship close to at least within 100 nautical miles off the eastern shore of Spain, as the HH-46 only had a round trip range of about 250 nautical miles. The ship had a deck capable of landing an HH-46 but no refueling capability. Assembling my crew including a corpsman, we launched for the eastern shore to refuel and await the estimated time of arrival of the ship at the designated coordinates. Despite poor visual conditions we located the ship and made the medivac of a young female sailor back to Rota via refueling on the eastern shore. We were met at Rota by an ambulance who took her to the hospital. The entire evolution took about 10 hours. Later that evening I went to the hospital to check on the young sailor. The diagnosis - PMS." (Posted by Peter Zuidema)
Such operations would put everyone in peril and compromise long-term stealth deployments that are fundamentally different from surface ship missions.
The Submarine Group spokesman quoted by Stars & Stripes, Lt. Cmdr. Greg Kuntz, needs to get his priorities straight and think this through with logic uncolored by political correctness. Take the question of "how" to accommodate female sailors on submarines, which is huge in itself. As explained in the SAIC Report posted below, even if the Navy could justify the enormous cost, cramped submarines cannot be "stretched" like Town Car limousines to accommodate gender-separated officers and enlisted sailors.
Career paths must include deployments on all subs, not larger, nuclear-powered boomers only. Concerns about sexual privacy in berthing areas well below the minimum habitability standards of surface ships cannot be ignored. It is difficult enough to serve in any type of submarine.
The more important question is "why." What justification is there for creating irresolvable operational hazards in undersea missions, while introducing social issues and tensions that could have a serious negative effect on morale, recruiting, retention, and readiness in the Silent Service?
A law exists that requires official advance notice to Congress before DoD money is spent to gender-integrate submarines. The Navy may be skirting that law, and Congress should hold the Navy accountable. If there is a need for more male doctors and sailors for submarines, more male doctors and sailors should be recruited and trained. Unneeded gender quotas at the US Naval Academy create pressures to gender integrate submarines, despite the potential health risks to women, which usually are not discussed, plus the negative impact on missions and crews as a whole.
Rather than straining to accommodate politically-correct social agendas, the US Navy should concentrate on maintaining and strengthening policies and standards that best meet the mission requirements of the Submarine Service and its sailors.
The following links provide further information on the issue:
The SAIC report on the subject, "Submarine Assignment Policy Assessment," considered to be definitive:
The medical aspects of the issue are discussed in this letter to Congress from retired Rear Adm. Hugh Scott, USN, an expert in undersea medicine:
Finally, the concerns expressed to the former DACOWITS (Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services) some time ago remain equally true today:
The undersea environment in which our submariners live and defend America is as dangerous as outer space. There is no compelling reason for social experiments that make our sailors' lives more difficult and more dangerous.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Summer in the Capitol City
President Barack Obama's proclaimed LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) Equality month in June extended into July, causing major liberal media to follow the traveling "Gays in the Military Campaign" (GIMC), led by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) and his new BFFs at the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay activist group in the nation.
Liberal media keep following the road show, which is planning to visit at least seven cities with an entourage of former servicemembers who tell their stories about honorable discharges for homosexuality under the 1993 law. On July 8, CMR Executive Director Tommy Sears appeared on CNN's "Situation Room," with the network's Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. (Sorry, no video link is available. The performance must have been so powerful and persuasive that activists at the network just had to remove it from the website.) However, a partial transcript and analysis of the report is available from the Media Research Center, which highlighted it as one of its "Bias Alerts," pointing out the disparity in time allotted to repeal proponents and our opposing view
Meanwhile, in response to a USA Today editorial pushing gays in the military, retired Admiral Jerome Johnson and Lt. Gen. E.G. Shuler, USAF (Ret.), two of 1,148 Flag & General Officers for the Military, signed this "Opposing View" op-ed titled A Matter of National Security.
Elaine Donnelly wrote this column for US News & World Report, which ran with one by Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Elaine analyzed the latest flawed idea from the California-based Michael D. Palm Center, an activist group that used to call itself the "Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military." In May the Palm Center issued a report advocating suspension of discharges currently required by law. Elaine explained the breaking of faith with the troops that such an action by President Obama would represent:
-Allowing Gays in the Military Would be Unfair and Hurt Troop Morale
LGBT Month was supposed to culminate with the suspension order from President Obama-a constitutionally ridiculous idea on many levels, starting with its violation of the oath of office requiring the president to uphold the laws of the land. "Not so fast," warns this commentary in (of all places) the Washington Post:
Sometimes the opposition helps to make our case with unintended absurdity. Witness Richard Cohen, who made one of the more inane arguments we have read in a June 30 Washington Post column:
-Open the Military Closet
"Of course, there will be resistance to changing 'don't ask, don't tell.' So what? It's the right thing to do and the military, of all institutions, knows how to enforce discipline. Will there be incidents? You bet. Will a gay man hit on one who is not? Again, you bet. But does this happen all the time with heterosexual women and heterosexual men? Of course. Come-ons are part of life. Same sex or opposite sex, they are not fatal."
Pardon us, Mr. Cohen, but the consequences of indiscipline in the military can be fatal-to individuals and to national security. Your elitist racial analogy breaks down in comparison with certain realities involving human sexuality. In order to encourage good order and discipline, the military continues to separate men and women to the greatest degree practicable in close quarters involving little or no privacy. It is, as you say, the right thing to do.
Audie Murphy (Not)
This review of Patrick Murphy's book Taking the Hill, posted on Military.com, analyzed the 2008 autobiography of the Army veteran from Pennsylvania who has become a hero to gay activists demanding repeal of the 1993 law regarding gays in the military. CMR President Elaine Donnelly, who has read Murphy's book, concludes that even the full title is a bit overstated:
-Taking the Hill - From Philly to Baghdad to the United States Congress
It didn't take long for Aubrey Sarvis of the SLDN to accuse Donnelly of disparaging Rep. Murphy's military record, even though she did not. It seems that anyone who quotes from Rep. Murphy's book, or from his own Bronze Star citation for seven months of honorable service with an Army Brigade Operational Law Team (BOLT) in Iraq, risks being accused of "swiftboating."
Sarvis falsely accused Elaine on a liberal blog because he cannot dispute her primary point, as stated in her article for Human Events:
-Murphy's (LGBT) Law for the Military
"[There is] every reason to expect that under Murphy's New LGBT Law -- just like the original Murphy's Law -- everything that can go wrong likely will go wrong. America's military is the best in the world, but various types of sexual misconduct still occur. Men and women are human, and therefore imperfect. Homosexuals are no more perfect than anyone else. Sound military personnel policies encourage discipline rather than indiscipline, but Murphy's New LGBT Law would have the opposite effect."
Now It Can Be Told
So - former Rep. John McHugh of New York, the former Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, really is a closet gays-in-the-military supporter. Who knew?
McHugh Says View Has Changed on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
At a hearing on his confirmation to be the new Secretary of the Army before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 30, McHugh stated his views as follows:
"It is a serious issue and it is an issue that has not been before me as a Member of Congress since 1993. The reality is the President has made very clear...I have no doubt the President is going to press forward with his intent to change that policy. To whatever degree remains to be seen. I think he would like a full reversal. It is also without question that Secretary Gates has begun a process of what he describes as softening that policy. Whatever that may mean remains to be seen.
"My view, as Secretary of the Army, if confirmed, would be to do the most effective job I could garnering the military input and information that I think any Secretary and any President would like as they go forward in finalizing the determination. That is how I described my envisioned role to the administration. They seemed content with that.
But having said that, two other factors. Whatever the decision of the President and the Secretary of Defense, it would be my responsibility, if confirmed...to best describe...the rationale, and the justification for whatever policy evolves. That is the responsibility of a service Secretary, as I see it, under title 10. And at the end of the day, I think it is worth noting, of course, this is a policy embedded in law, and there will be no overturning of it without the agreement of this Congress, the House, the Senate, and of course, the President."
Funny how Mr. McHugh has forgotten that the issue of gays in the military was right there before him not 16 years ago-but only twelve months ago. His promise to seek full information and "military input" rings hollow to anyone who remembers his sorry performance as Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee last July. During a hearing staged by Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Susan Davis (D-CA), McHugh just sat there and watched his HASC colleagues bully Elaine Donnelly and her fellow witness Sgt. Maj. Brian Jones, a former Delta Force soldier who was otherwise occupied in 1993. As a Special Operations Forces Ranger, Jones was there to rescue his buddies when the Black Hawk went down in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Ranking Member McHugh did nothing to intervene when HASC Democrats (and one since-defeated RINO, Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut, who was not even a member of the committee) tried to intimidate Donnelly with a series of absurd or insulting questions. McHugh failed in his responsibility as a legislator to defend the 1993 law, but it sounds like he will be more eager to do the bidding of President Obama if the law is repealed.
Memo to John McHugh: the 1993 law will not be repealed if pro-defense Republicans and Democrats ensure that future hearings are conducted with more courtesy than you provided as HASC Ranking Member in July 2008. With the chairman of both the HASC and SASC having committed to hearings, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have the responsibility to take the issue seriously, and to consider the extreme and harmful consequences of repealing the law. Our troops deserve no less.