the deal is that former and current service members can get back pay,
if they were involuntarily extended on active duty because of surprise
stop-loss clauses from Sept. 11, 2001, through Sept. 30, 2008.
(The Obama administration made this happen; the prior administration didn't want to pay the troops.)
History was made when the nation’s top uniformed officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee
that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military.
We must get rid of today’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, said Mullen, because
it’s simply “the right thing to do.”
Well, it’s about time. It was a mistake on Bill Clinton’s part to adopt that
policy in the first place, way back in 1993. My only questions are: What took
them so long to get this far? And now that the Pentagon recognizes that getting
rid of the old Clinton policy is the right thing to do, why’s it going to take
so long to change it?
Maybe popular thinking is wrong. It's entirely possible that when President Barack Obama advocated doing away with "Don't ask, don't tell” the other night, the Joint Chiefs of Staff generals were not being stoic, they were stunned — too panicked to move. It wasn't military bearing, it was fear.
Why? It's not as if the president was proposing that the services' chaplain be required to perform gay marriages, simply that we get real about the present policy about the non-straight orientation in our armed forces, which is basically "If you got it, don’t flaunt it.”
Hey, it's good that the current administration supports the troops.
You might recall that the prior presidency, um, forgot to pay a lot of them for some of their service.
The good news is that stop-loss pay starts flowing on Dec. 16.
In June 2002, George W. Bush went to West Point to announce “The Bush Doctrine,” a new principle of pre-emptive war — of which Iraq became the first application.
In December 2008, Bush returned to West Point to press the importance of pursuing war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And now, in December 2009, Barack Obama has gone to West Point to announce his escalation of the war in Afghanistan. This is not the change we voted for.
The political community anxiously awaits the details of
President Barack Obama’s new policy on Afghanistan. It certainly has been argued
and vetted in the courts of public and pundit opinion. Even Republicans have
come out this week questioning if we need more troops, while progressive
Democrats howl at the thought of Obama sending more troops to fight a so-called
senseless, unwinnable war, to borrow their rhetoric.
To review: Liberal response to the war so far has been
resolute support (Bill, Hillary, Biden, Kerry) then resolute opposition (Obama,
then later Hillary, Biden, Kerry), then support again in Afghanistan (Obama,
Hillary) then indecision (Obama, Biden). This is the way things fall apart. It
is good for Mitt Romney who offered principled support throughout. It is good
for Ron Paul who offered principled opposition throughout. But it is bad for
the Democrats. We could see awaken now a seismic shift in the political flow; a
shift away from the relevant countervailing dialog between Democrat and
Republican to between two different principled Republican approaches instead.
Let us stand together in awe of the war-fighting urges of former Vice President Dick Cheney and his use of war for partisan political purposes. Dick Cheney never met a war he didn't like, except those he would have to fight in himself. Cheney likes wars financed by tax cuts for the wealthy, which creates mammoth deficits and tragic deaths and wounds from lack of body armor, Humvees and post-traumatic stress, which helps the wealthy, harms the troops and soars the deficit.
As with most things, the path that led Maj. Nidal Malik
Hasan to allegedly stage an attack on his fellow servicemen and -women at Fort
Hood was complex. No doubt his minority status had something to do with it,
although an awful lot of adherents of minority religions get along just fine in
the U.S. military. Heck, these days, anybody who professes any religious belief
at all is going to find himself a target for somebody's criticism. Still, it's
highly plausible that a practicing Muslim in the post-9/11 military would run
up against more than his share.
Beyond all this identity stuff, however, it looks as if
Hasan had a clear history of professional incompetence, at least according to a
memo from a supervisor at Walter Reed Army Hospital.