Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Dan Choi's 'crime'

Lt. Dan Choi vowed Tuesday evening to fight to stay in the military after an Army board in Syracuse recommended he be the first person discharged from the New York National Guard for violating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
A four-officer panel meeting at Hancock Air Base notified Choi at about 5 p.m. that it would recommend he be discharged because he has publicly said he is gay.
The recommendation now goes to Lt. Gen. Thomas Miller of the First Army Division, and Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, who will make the final decision.
"Today was a setback for me," Choi said at a 6:10 p.m. news conference. "I got in trouble for saying three words. 'I am gay.'"
But he said he refuses to lie about being involved in a relationship with another man. Choi said the relationship has made him a better person, a better Christian and a better officer.

The above is from Mike McAndrew and Mark Weiner's "Military board in Syracuse recommends discharge for Lt. Dan Choi" (Syracuse Post-Standard). Iraq War veteran Dan Choi's 'crime' was being unwilling to lie. The Syracuse Post-Standard offers "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy must be changed:"

If, as is likely, he loses his appeals, he'll join more than 12,500 service members who have met the same fate since 1994, including at least 59 Arabic linguists discharged over the past five years. This is occurring at a time when the military desperately needs to maintain and recruit troops.
There are some 65,000 gay and lesbian service members active today, according to a letter written to President Barack Obama last week by 77 members of Congress, who called for a swift end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Countless more are discouraged from entering the military because of the discriminatory policy.
On top of all that, enforcing the policy has cost taxpayers more than $400 million since 1994.

The New York Times ignores the story. Even on the op-ed pages where Thomas Friedman offers a column of garbage that wouldn't make it in a high school newspaper ("Just Do It") and Maureen Dowd offers her usual smut -- this time the never-married Dowd has taken to advising married women about their husbands. Well, nuns taught MoDo about sex. The editorials are the usual jokes with "Firefighters and Race" being the most embarrassing. The Times really needs to improve their writing skills, no question, but they also need to start offering a little brains as well. It has been appalling to read one editorial after another attempting to turn the census into a partisan issue. Just as appalling is "Firefighters and Race." Not because of their opinion of the verdict but because they think they understand so much more than do. "Judicial activist" and "judicial restraint" refer to charges of either creating new law or observing existing law. They're terms we're not really interested in because the truth is most judges veer back and forth between both. But the paper's interested enough to toss the terms around in an editorial . . . while demonstrating that it has no idea what they mean. The editorial argues that Sotomayor practiced "judicial restraint." For her to have done that, she would have cited law. (I'm not arguing that she did, I'm not arguing that she didn't. Other than her heritage, which I've said is a moment for pride, I've offered no endorsement or slam of her.) The editorial instead argues that she practiced "judicial restraint" because she sided with an elected body. That isn't "judicial restraint." Following established law, not an elected body, is what proponents of "judicial restraint" believe in. The paper doesn't know what the hell it's talking about and should probably hire a tutor before writing another editorial. (Repeating, I'm not making a judgment on Sotomayor and I haven't read the Court's opinions so I'm also not making any statement on the decision. I'm referring solely to the paper's inability to grasp theories that they want to toss around to make themselves sound more learned.)

Juan Gonzalez is too kind on Democracy Now! today, Change to Win is dead. It's dead because it sold out labor and it's been dead for some time. The SEIU is a joke and existed solely for Barry O. In the real world, the economy's gotten worse and labor's getting leaner and leaner on a diet of pretty words. Sidebar: Stop the Presses! k.d. lang impersonator and professional jerk Brooks Barnes remains immensely unpopular. I didn't watch or hear DN! yesterday. If it was as awful as everyone says, Ava and I will grab it Sunday at Third.

Dan Choi and the ridiculous efforts to force him out of the military is the topic of Joe Garofloi's "Panel wants openly gay guardsman discharged" (San Francisco Chronicle):

Still, some analysts say Choi's case is another example of how Washington leaders aren't showing much urgency - or leadership - in overturning "don't ask, don't tell."
Obama has said he wants Congress to overturn the law; congressional leaders have said that they are waiting for the president to take the lead; and military leaders say they won't change the policy unless directed by Congress.
"It's a hot-potato party," said Nathaniel Frank, a research fellow at the Palm Center, a UC Santa Barbara think tank. "Democrats have the mistaken impression that if they lead on something that smells like a culture war issue - or if they go against the military - they will get pounded. But that's not true. Public opinion is with them."

If Barack wanted to, all he need do is issue an executive order for a stop-loss on discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That would stop it right away. Congress could then address it but all the people (over 200 under Obama already) being discharged would no longer be drummed out of the military as a result of that executive order. Alexa James (Times Herald-Record) offers:

Choi, 28, of New York City, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2003 and joined the 10th mountain Division at Fort Drum. He spent 15 months in Iraq as an Arabic interpreter and joined the Guard in June 2007.
This spring, Choi came out as a gay man and helped found a West Point alumni group called Knights Out (West Point's mascot is the Black Knight) to advocate for equal rights among strait, homosexual and transgender troops.
After Tuesday's hearing, he defended his military career. "I understand the Army values," Choi said. "A soldier must have integrity. I learned that from day one at West Point."
"All I did was tell the truth," he said. "I refused to lie about my boyfriend. His name is Matthew, not Martha."
The panel's decision heads next to the commanding general of the First U.S. Army, then on to the chief of the National Guard Bureau. If all agree with the board, the chief will decide the terms of Choi's discharge. That process could take weeks or years.

Again, Barack just has to issue an executive order. But refuses to do so. CNN notes this citing Knights Out's Sue Fulton: "Fulton said that while Obama can't change the law himself, he could sign an executive order halting discharges while the policy is under review." Barry O likes to play helpless but he's not. One executive order is all it would take.

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oh boy it never ends