But first . . .


Andy Borowitz is a riot.


This video was made specifically for OFA supporters. But even if you’re not yet one of them, watch it anyway? Health insurance reform is so close to being done – and so worth doing. (Not least those four Republican-inspired additions to the mix, like “sending investigators disguised as patients to uncover fraud and waste.” Bravo.)

And now . . .


The New York Times yesterday published an op-ed by former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak favoring the current Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell policy. For my money, his argument is demolished in this response by the Palm Center’s Aaron Belkin. In part:

Gen. McPeak claims that “advocates for gays in the service have by and large avoided a discussion of unit cohesion” which ought to be the main focus of the debate. This is simply false. There are at least twenty studies from the last fifty years, many written by the military’s own researchers, which find that gay and lesbian troops do not harm cohesion. As an article published by the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concludes, “there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.”

Gen. McPeak also claims there is no evidence that troops will fight more effectively when the gay ban is repealed. In fact, research shows that the ban itself undermines cohesion and readiness. A bipartisan study group of Flag and General Officers which took a year to assess all of the evidence on “don’t ask, don’t tell” found that commanders in Iraq are ignoring the policy and choosing to keep their teams together rather than firing loyal gay troops. A recent Military Times poll confirms that many commanders know of gays and lesbians serving in their units, but choose not to discharge them, suggesting that these leaders believe that known gays help rather than hurt the force.

Finally, Gen. McPeak has acknowledged publicly that when there is a tradeoff between pursuing moral values and military effectiveness, he prefers the former, even at the expense of the latter. He opposed women in combat in the 1990s, saying he had “personal prejudices” against expanding combat roles for women, “even though logic tells us” that women can conduct combat operations just as well as men. He actually told Congress that he would choose an inferior male flight instructor over a superior female one even if it made for a “militarily less effective situation.” “I admit it doesn’t make much sense,” he said, “but that’s the way I feel about it.” Elsewhere he repeated that his position did not meet “strict evidence standards for logic,” but that that did not change his position, a direct contradiction to his claim that he seeks to engage in an enlightened debate.

Under the guise of protecting unit cohesion, defenders of the gay exclusion rule would have us believe that they are simply looking out for the nation’s defense. What they are actually doing is using government policy to express moral animus. The reason to be disappointed by Gen. Merrill McPeak and others sharing his strategy is that their views have little to do with unit cohesion, and everything to do with an effort to encode prejudice into law and make the public believe that there is a national security rationale for doing so. That is a dangerous precedent.

The Palm Center is a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since 1998, the Center has been a leader in commissioning and disseminating research in the areas of gender, sexuality, and the military. For more information visit www.palmcenter.ucsb.edu.

☞ Have a great weekend. Ferris decided not to take the day off, after all.


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