Hail to These Chiefs
"Why are we here?" Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) wondered aloud. It's a question the American people probably share, as our leaders fritter away hour after hour debating a policy that not one senator has a legitimate reason to do away with. Yet here we are, 14 days from the end of this lame-duck session, and Senate Democrats are so focused on endearing themselves to the gay community that they're willing to spill innocent soldiers' blood to do it. "I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back, on the negative perceptions held by our Marines who are most engaged in the hard work of day-to-day operations in Afghanistan," said Gen. James Amos. One of his combat lieutenants came to him, worried that this repeal would rip his unit apart. "My team's... effectiveness is directly tied to its cohesiveness... Despite differences, we are so close that we anticipate others' moves... our ability to do our job is predicated on this kind of [close] relationship. To add any element of sexual competition, sexuality, or hesitance in trust would unquestionably prevent these bonds--and destroy [them]."
Gen. Amos was one of four service chiefs hauled before the Armed Services Committee to talk--not about ongoing military operations or national security--but how to pamper less than one-half of one percent of America's force. All but one of the top brass was adamant: the repeal is not worth the risk. According to the Army's Gen. George Casey, lifting the ban in the near term "will add another level of stress to an already stretched force; be more difficult in combat arms; and be more difficult for the Army than the report suggests." "War complicates repeal," Gen. Casey said, calling Adm. Mike Mullen's statement yesterday (that war "facilitates change") "a stretch."
Like the others, Air Force Chief Norton Schwartz told the panel that he would follow Congress's orders, but admitted, "It is difficult for me... to recommend placing any additional discretionary demands on our leadership cadres in Afghanistan at this particularly challenging time." To demonstrate what a small minority these gay service members are, Gen. Amos said that since 1993 (when the policy was enacted), the Marine Corps has discharged a total of 625,000 men and women. Most of them left the service under normal circumstances like retirement or the end of their enlistment. In 17 years, the Marines have booted 1,304 soldiers under the umbrella of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy--and 400 of them occurred at boot camp, where enlistees with second thoughts use the policy as a way to get out. In other words, homosexuals make up a microscopic portion of the military population--yet our President is willing to gamble the safety of two million service members and the security of 307,000,000 Americans to boost their self-esteem?
Speaking of gambling, the Air Force team did some number-crunching, and Gen. Schwartz estimates that this coming out party would cost taxpayers somewhere in the neighborhood of $40-50 million. That's a of lot flak jackets to give up just so the President can stroke a few egos. "I will not agree to have this bill go forward," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) vowed. "And neither will 41 of my colleagues--because our economy is in the tank, and the American people want that issue addressed... so to somehow believe that this is a compelling issue in [the middle of fighting two wars] is [absurd]." Our experts couldn't agree more. Hear what Gen. Carl Mundy, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, said in this clip from yesterday's webcast.
Total Eclipse of the Reinhardt
What comes to mind when you think of a modern court? I doubt it's impartiality. But that's exactly what Ninth Circuit Court Judge Stephen Reinhardt promises to exercise in the most important marriage case of the decade. Reinhardt, whom Ed Whelan describes as an "arch-activist," has refused to withdraw himself from the Proposition 8 case--despite his wife's involvement in overturning it. As an employee for the Southern California branch of the ACLU, Ramona Ripston (Reinhardt's wife) took a lead role in destroying California's marriage protection amendment.
The Alliance Defense Fund and other groups who submitted the motion challenging Reinhardt's involvement, explained that "The same day the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Strauss, Ms. Ripston issued a public statement on behalf of ACLU/SC, vowing that "[a] renewed effort to overturn Proposition 8 begins today." " Under Ms. Ripston's leadership, 'ACLU/SC has taken a lead role' in what it calls 'the fight to end marriage discrimination' in California." Despite the law's insistence that a judge recuse himself in cases "in which his impartiality might be reasonably questioned," Reinhardt claimed there was no conflict of interest. His refusal is so stunning that even liberal, anti-Prop 8 columnists like Ann Woolner agrees that it's unethical. "...[H]e should have stepped aside. The link between his wife's legal work and his judicial work is too close."
TONIGHT: Take a Walk in NBC's Shoes...
Grab a slice of pizza, some popcorn, and settle in for a great movie tonight on NBC! The third installment of Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble's film partnership kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. (ET) in A Walk in My Shoes. Just like Secrets of the Mountain and The Jensen Project, this movie tells a story that the whole family can enjoy. At the heart of it all is a stressed out teacher who can't seem to understand her students or their parents. That all changes when she crashes her car and wakes up living the life of Cindy Kremer--a mom she had personally criticized. Tune in tonight (and if you can't tune in, set your DVR!) for a premiere that will have your whole family talking. Check out the movie's trailer at NBC.com.
Roy Blunt, the Ducks, and More!
On this edition of Washington Watch Weekly, Rep. Roy Blunt (soon to be Senator Roy Blunt) (R-Mo.) calls in to talk about the lame-duck Congress and what we can expect to happen between now and Christmas. Also, you'll hear from a host of experts on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal with special highlights from this week's "Mission Compromised" webcast. For more information or to find a radio station near you, visit FRCRadio.org.
** Is American Foreign Policy Un-Christian? Our friend Joe Loconte (ABD, King's College, University of London), will try to answer that question with the help of FRC's own Chris Gacek this coming Monday, December 6 at a policy lecture at FRC headquarters (801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C.). Starting at noon (ET), both men will explore how biblical ideals can help frame the objectives of American policy and the practical implementation of policy. To read more about our panelists or to register, log on to FRC's events page. **