Give Me Your Sermons!

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As red-states go, Texas is about as red as they come. Much of that is based on their fiercely bred sense of independence and fondness for personal freedom. It’s not my favorite place for reasons more personal than political, but I admire it greatly. I love Shiner Bock. I love Tex-Mex cuisine. I love the state’s rich history. I loathe the weather.

I predict that the state will lean more blue in time. Maybe not fully blue, but more blue. The immigrant population will grow and cities will swell. Even California would be a red-state if were it not for her largest cities. They make up the vast majority of the population, so it’s irrelevant.

Clear evidence of this Texan transformation is underway in, of all places, Houston. Houston. Had you told me that when I was a resident of that state many years ago, I would have looked at you like you had a horn growing from your forehead. As it turns out, the time of unicorns and rainbows is upon us.

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In June of this year, the City Council, spearheaded by openly gay Mayor Annise Parker, passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. I read it for you. Do you see how much I care? Go there if you’d like, but be warned. It’s mostly legalese. It is not, however, a terribly offensive document. As they do, opponents seized on an inflammatory part of the law that allows humans to decide which restroom (male or female) to use based on the gender with which they most readily identify. I suppose that could make for some awkward moments. I don’t much care. I’ve seen plenty of women in men’s restrooms, if only because the line for the women’s restroom was too long. The emotional argument against this particular passage is that a man could go into the women’s restroom and justify it by saying he feels like a woman that day. I might exercise that right just to unlock the shackles on the female conundrum via careful eavesdropping. What?! When she says the word “fine”, she doesn’t actually mean it’s fine? Sumbiscuit. And here I thought she was totally cool with my four-day Vegas golf trip with the boys.

Houston is not just the home of a recent progressive movement. It is also the home of the mega-church. The Lakewood Church alone has 43,500 weekly attendees. Yes, you read that correctly. No, I didn’t add any zeros. These churches can mobilize folks in a hurry, which is exactly what they did. To place a referendum on the ballot to propose repeal of this (or any) ordinance, the city of Houston requires a petition with 17,269 signatures. That is not an arbitrary number. It represents 10-percent of those who voted during the most recent mayoral election. The champions of HERO opposition got 50,000 signatures, some 40,000 of which were tossed aside by the city because of irregularity in the documentation. How convenient.

Shots fired in both directions. The skirmish is on. The city of Houston escalates the conflict.

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

Boom.

Perhaps the mayor is so principled that she doesn’t care about re-election. If not, she better enjoy her time in the seat. You never give your adversary a cause around which he can rally.

There are a great many distractors here. Don’t be like the American public at-large and fall for them. Any of them. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech. States’ rights. Transgender equality. Tax-exempt status of churches. Don’t get me wrong. These are important matters one and all, but as they pertain to the issuance of subpoenas, they are noise, and they divert attention from this latest tactic. I implore you to see this tactic for what it is – government bullying. Nothing more, nothing less. You don’t issue a subpoena because you want to make sure all relevant information is on the table. You issue a subpoena to intimidate, indict, or both. The city’s message could not be more clear. You have to tolerate me, what I say, and how I live. The opposite is not true.

If the mayor and her thought police really want to know what is happening in area churches, all they have to do is grab a cup of coffee on Sunday morning and watch a live internet feed. They can also download most of the sermons from church websites. Better yet, maybe they could get off their collective arses and plop them in a pew. The hardest part will be finding a place to park.

Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because something is right doesn’t mean it’s fair. And if you want to be fair, be consistent in your fairness. If you want to be consistent, subpoena the sermons from all Houston area mosques. When you do, set your watch and tell me how long it takes for the ACLU to arrive with Hollywood celebrities in tow.

Photo Credit: Dallas Observer

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Dude, Just Put the Jacket on Your Lap

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I’ve touched on this topic previously. For those who are new to the party, and for those who chose not to devote brain cells to my family lineage, I’ll share that my father was a career Marine Corps infantry officer and Vietnam Vet. Accordingly, I grew up around the military. It’s all I ever knew. My father was still on active duty when I went to The Boat School. Aside from a steady paycheck, reasonable health-care, the commissary, and a move every three years, I don’t remember many any ancillary benefits. That’s not true. When I was in high school, my dad had a unique on-call schedule that gave him more free time than he could handle, so he signed up as s substitute teacher at my high school. He knew, and still knows, more about history than most PhDs. As he was walking past the lunchroom, an unruly kid who very few of us liked tossed an apple that splattered on the cafeteria floor. My dad saw it, grabbed the kid, and made him do pushups in front of the entire lunch crowd. It. Was. Awesome. That was the first time I witnessed the birth of a cult hero. Dad never got invited back, nor did he care.

The point is, I never once went to an NFL game for free. We didn’t get 10-percent off at the hardware store. And we couldn’t go to Sea World once each year for the affordable price of zero dollars. I didn’t complain then, and I’m not complaining now. But regardless of how you look at military service in its current state, from the standpoint of perks and respect, times are good. Actually, they’ve never been better. We would do well not to take it for granted. I was once walking to a restaurant with a fellow officer from the UK’s Royal Air Force. We were both in uniform because it was required for this function. Someone stopped us in the parking lot and thanked us for our service. My counterpart, who had not been in the States for long, said to me with an astonished look, “That would never happen back home.”

If only because it’s been jammed in your face for a few days, you must know that a female flight attendant on a US Airways flight from Portland to Charlotte refused a US Army First Sergeant’s request to hang his jacket in the first class cabin’s closet. Reports indicate that she did not exude the kindness you might hope to find in a flight attendant. I wasn’t there, so I can’t verify her tone of voice or general demeanor. I can verify that he made a reasonable request, and that his request was denied based on company policy. I would consider it a reasonable request for someone flying coach who is wearing an expensive suit. The difference is that the guy in the suit knows the answer is going to be no, whereas the guy in the uniform expects the answer to be yes. Therein lies the problem, dunnit?

Do not allow yourself to build expectations of special treatment. Do not get upset when the guy at the check-in counter refuses to check your 50 lb suitcase for free because you are not traveling on orders. Do not eat lunch off-base and even allow yourself to hope that someone is going to walk over and pick up your check. Those who have served in the modern era, to include your humble author, have done so willingly. With that service comes great sacrifice, but also occasional benefits. It’s not occasional benefits that mark the beginning of the slippery slope, it’s a sense of entitlement. Be a reluctant hero. As a vet, you have earned a modicum of respect and absolute acceptance by society, not a free lunch at Carrabba’s.

We’ve had discussions here in the past about the LGBT crowd. I won’t arrogantly claim that I speak for all readers of this blog, much less the public at large, but I will say that the majority of those who spoke-up were clear in their opinions. LGBT crowd, we accept you, even in the military, but there is no need for cake and theatrics. Just do your job. Please don’t ask me to celebrate you, as I won’t ask you to celebrate me. Do you see the parallel?

Let us not malign the First Sergeant. I don’t know why he was traveling around the country doing job interviews in a dress uniform, but that’s his business, not mine. I would not make that decision, if only because dress uniforms are uncomfortable and flying in coach is miserable enough as it is. Plus, I’m a blend-in guy. “Yes, FA-18s are very fast and night carrier landings are very scary. Might I go on reading my book now?” The First Sergeant did not make a fuss; the passengers around him did. That was a mistake. They turned a non-news story into a news story, and turned a fleeting chance for short-term good into long-term harm. Now every flight attendant at US Airways, and likely other airlines as well, is going to feel compelled to roll out the red carpet for everyone they see in uniform. That in and of itself is not horrible. It is, however, less than desirable when you account for the fact that they are doing it because they fear backlash, not because they want to honor a service member.

Should the flight attendant have hung up his coat? Yes. For the rest of us, just be glad no one is throwing blood on your uniform at a parade or calling you a baby-killer at the airport.

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Back to The Boots on the Ground Thing

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Like many of you, and I’ll admit that this is supposition since I can’t know exactly what and how much you read, I have a list of websites I visit each day in order to stay abreast of what is happening in the world. Some I read thoroughly; some I browse. This is also self-serving since it churns my brain and helps me uncover topics that churn it enough to compel me to write. Of late, most every website, whether liberal, conservative, comical, serious, military or beatnik has run an article that expresses doubts about the long-term effectiveness of an air-only campaign. I’m not going to post links. These articles are ubiquitous, and many of them come from surprising sources. In spite of repeated uppercuts to the jaw, ISIL is holding most of its ground. Coalition aviation assets have thwarted attempts to seize further territory, which is good. We should not be afraid to celebrate and find encouragement in those minor victories.

Air campaigns find success against groups like ISIL because they are not just a terrorist group. Their stated goal is to re-establish the caliphate. That is not going to happen for hundreds of reasons, but it’s still important. It’s important because they want to govern. Governing requires much more than hiding out in safe houses waiting for the next opportunity to wield the blades of terror (Al Qaeda), or waiting for your adversary to leave (the Taliban). Governing presents certain vulnerabilities that can be exploited from the air. It requires centralized leadership. It requires the ability to generate finance.

While those vulnerabilities have given us opportunities to date, it’s becoming clear (isn’t it?) that a campaign limited to precision guided weapons will not deliver a decisive victory. Degrade and destroy. That’s what we said.

Let’s concede for a moment that ISIL and its constituents are not stupid. Misguided and evil? Perhaps. Dumb? No. They are going to find ways to mitigate the effectiveness of weapons raining through the skies. It is, quite literally, not rocket science. I could list dozens of methods, but I’ll not be a party to it. Just know that they will adjust, and most likely have already.

At some point, men and women with much more nerve than I have in my personal toolkit are going to have to go house-to-house and kick-in doors. Increasingly, that looks like an incontrovertible truth. I don’t see any way around it. The optimist in me wants to continue believing that our Arab partners will be the ones to do it. I wouldn’t bet my Roth IRA on it. I wouldn’t even bet an hour’s worth of wages on it. Meanwhile, we will use terms like “advisors” in order to avoid another sticky quagmire. The Generals and Admirals in DC can implore POTUS until they are each out of oxygen and red in the face. I can’t envision a scenario by which he will formally commit ground troops. We are, after all, in the midst of a military draw-down en route to more peaceful years.

Whether or not I agree with that approach, I can live with it so long as we are honest about it, and that requires us to first be honest with ourselves. Say it with me. We are making a limited investment to combat this problem, and limited measures get limited results. ISIL is just the latest actor on the stage, albeit a capable one. If not them, it would be the Khorasan. Or the specter of the Khorasan. The number of potential actors appears limitless, for this disease is continually fed by a malignant tumor.

Eventually, you have to find the tumor and treat it. The other option is to throw your hands in the air and accept the outcome for whatever it is.

Do you remember that earlier passage about men and women with tremendous nerve in their personal toolkit? This young lady has it in spades. If you watch nothing else, start at the 3:45 mark and view for a minute-and-a-half.

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JAG Finds Flaws in Retention Survey

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War on the Rocks is a nifty website. If you haven’t been, I recommend that you add it to your list of places to visit online. The articles are well-written and insightful. The subject matter is compelling. It’s a professional gig, no doubt, unlike this particular hamlet.

Yesterday, an articulate JAG took a swipe at the Navy Retention Study. Unlike the author, I’m not going to put the word Study in quotation marks in an effort to demean its importance or veracity.

Executive Summary: The author doesn’t believe that the survey is accurate because the only people who took it were motivated by the opportunity to grind an axe, therefore the results are not fleet representative. He also posits that the survey team’s recommendation to stop highlighting the firing of COs / XOs / CMCs has no basis in data, and was simply a pre-existing opinion that found an opportunity to be heard. He spends the remaining 2/3s of his post explaining that public floggings are necessary and beneficial.

This will give you a good idea of the article’s tone.

But, the fact is, this so-called “survey of the fleet” was nothing more than an effort by the survey’s organizers and respondents to lobby Navy leadership for policy change, resulting in questionable recommendations based on unsupported extrapolations.

The methodology used for this survey does not deserve the label. It was more akin to a signature petition for change submitted to Navy leadership.

While I recognize the obvious limits in constructing an unofficial survey that is representative, the survey’s authors do not. Instead, the survey’s report provides seemingly limitless extrapolations in speaking for the Fleet’s, not the sample’s, dissatisfaction with leadership.

You get the idea.

All surveys are a reflection of those who choose to respond. Every last one of them. Does this survey suffer from volunteer bias? Absolutely. Mandatory surveys are no more accurate. Those with no desire to complete it are not going to take the time to provide thoughtful responses, so the data will be skewed. For that matter, isn’t our voting process arranged in much the same way? Not everyone votes. Those who do are motivated, whether by civic duty, passion or agenda. Like it or not, that’s how the system works.

Since all surveys are biased, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute survey is necessarily included, which is ironic since it is often used as a springboard to launch investigations that lead to relief from command. Ditto the MCAS / CSA (safety surveys).

The author cites Congressional pressure as one of the reasons the Navy should stay the course.

For instance, in May, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to include a provision in the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act mandating that the Department of Defense publicly release all DoD Inspector General investigations into senior officials.

So there you have it. Would that Congress held itself to the same standard, and all public officials for that matter. Do you remember all of the media hubbub surrounding Undersecretary Bob Martinage’s “resignation”. No, you don’t, because it never happened, and never will happen.

Assuming that Guy and Ben, who initiated and ran the survey, only wanted a pulpit requires belief that they have an agenda. They don’t. I know them both. Their only agenda was to help the Navy get in front of what they see as a looming crisis. Why on earth would anyone invest that amount of time, effort and money to advance a self-serving cause while on active duty? This wasn’t amateur hour. They hired-on a PhD from Cambridge. I don’t even know a PhD from Cambridge, much less where to find one and convince him to participate in survey-building.

Speaking of assumptions, let’s further assume that the survey and its results are garbage. Here are your takeaways:

  1. Everything is great.
  2. Sailors have absolute trust in senior leadership.
  3. Most Navy personnel want their boss’ job.
  4. There is no retention problem.

Do you feel better now? We’ll have this discussion again in 12, 24, and 36 months and see who was right.

I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that The Man doesn’t need another mouthpiece.

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Maher was Right

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I’m not a huge Bill Maher fan. I did my best to remain open-minded and give him a fair shake over the years. One of my major hangups is that he is smug. If you don’t buy whatever he is selling, you’re an idiot. Ultimately, I just don’t agree with many of his viewpoints. If that makes me an idiot, so be it.

The man is smart. Ivy League educated, actually, if you care about such things. Moreover, he is consistent, which is admirable. A self-described agnostic, he has long expressed views that are highly critical of organized religion. Any link he has to liberalism ends right there. Liberals aren’t opposed to religion universally. They are selective, and no target for their opposition is more popular than a Christian in the United States of America.

Last Friday night, actor Ben Affleck sparred with Bill Maher and a few others on Maher’s show Real Time. Press coverage has been sporadic, with most outlets focusing on Affleck’s comments that Maher’s views on Islam are “gross, racist, disgusting”, thus making him a champion of compassion and global understanding.

“You and I have been trying to make the case that liberals need to stand up for liberal principles,” Maher said to fellow panelist, author Sam Harris.

“Freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities, including homosexuals, these are liberal principles that liberals applaud for,” Maher continued, “but then when you say in the Muslim world this is what’s lacking, then they get upset.”

“Liberals have failed us,” Harris added.

Are they wrong? I don’t see how they are. Affleck would have none of it.

“How about the more than a billion people, who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don’t do any of the things that you’re saying all Muslims do,” Affleck added, passionately.

Here’s the breakdown. If you are a Christian with the audacity to oppose gay marriage, you are a bigot who is still living in the 1950s, or worse yet, The Stone Age. Even if you support the right to gay marriage and do not judge homosexuals, but choose not to endorse it/them favorably, you are condemned as one with a heart full of hatred. Remember that tolerance is no longer enough. One must embrace and celebrate.

For reasons I don’t understand, fairly common practices to Muslims, not the least of which is oppression of women, get a pass. Not only are such practices not condemned, anyone who speaks out against them is judged for wholesale denunciation of an entire religion. That, my friends, is conflating issues, and Affleck fell for it. When you are out of ideas to prop up your hollow argument, you resort to name calling. Maher cornered him with an uncomfortable truth, and we are no longer allowed to have conversations that make people squirm in their chairs. It’s unfortunate for everyone, for the world is a complex place.

Maher was right. Sorry, Ben. I hope the new movie does well.

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It’s Not a Breathalyzer!

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Those are the famous words uttered shouted by a certain four-star toward anyone who forgot to use the more euphemistic term – Alcohol Detection Device (ADD). In a world of professionals, euphemisms are not necessary. In fact, they indicate condescension. Anyone using a euphemism is either pushing an agenda or believes you don’t have the mettle to handle the truth. In my world? Just give it to me straight. Deceptions are lies, and lies don’t become us.

Since we’re being honest, I’ll admit that the Navy’s roll-out of breathalyzers shook my faith tremendously. The building blocks for the nanny-state were firmly in place, but the use of breathalyzers kompleted konstruction. The concept was bad enough; the spin campaign was worse. It is a benevolent program for the benefit of the Sailor, we were told. It will help us identify at-risk individuals and get them the help they need, they said. I never bought it. Here’s why.

Telling me, or telling anyone, that this program is not punitive doesn’t make it so. Imagine you are the Captain of a US Navy ship. For one reason or another, you send for a young Lieutenant. As you are the Captain, you become nonplussed as said Lieutenant doesn’t make his way into your presence with the speed to which you’ve become accustomed. The Ops-O arrives at your cabin and tells you that the wayward Lieutenant won’t be coming to meet you because he showed up at work this morning with alcohol in his system. He’s in the holding pen awaiting a second breathalyzer, the results of which may allow him to mill about the ship in the normal execution of his duties if it’s below the mandated threshold.

0.04 BAC or higher indicates a Sailor is not able to perform their duties. The Sailor will be relieved of their duties and remain onboard until the reading is not detectable.

Less than 0.02 BAC is considered non-detectable.

You were perplexed. Now you are angry. You also just built an indelible memory of what kind of officer this young Lieutenant really is. Not punitive? As if.

I’m not the hugest supporter of the entity that produced this particular article. Give credit where credit is due, my mom always said. It’s a good piece of journalism, complete with solid research and interviews that support its premise.

When Commander X arrived aboard his ship late one Saturday night, he was greeted by his command master chief administering a breath test, even though X was not on duty.

Less than a month later, in mid-September, X was removed from his post as executive officer of the cruiser Y, after being found guilty at admiral’s mast of drunken driving and conduct unbecoming — charges for which the alcohol detection device provided part of the basis for further action. He had left the ship less than two hours after walking aboard, and a witness saw him get into his car and drive off, said an official with knowledge of the situation.

I don’t know why the XO went to the ship on a Saturday night after drinking, nor do I know why the CMC was the one administering “random” tests with the breathalyzer. What I do know is that the test was not conducted in accordance with the Navy’s instruction.

Random ADD inspections are authorized for those Service Members who are on duty and during normal working hours. It is not the intent or purpose of ADDs to test those in an authorized leave or liberty status.

Apparently that’s not true. Even if it was true, it’s too late to benefit the former XO. Words he will never hear: “We’re terribly sorry. Not to excuse the possibility that you drove a vehicle while impaired, but this process was all wrong. It should have never happened.”

The alcohol detection device result played a central role in X’s firing. The command reported his blood-alcohol content as 0.119 in a “Navy blue” situation report that alerted the service’s leadership and used the finding as a basis to launch a command investigation.

Again, straight from the Navy instruction.

Results of ADD testing are not to be used as a basis for disciplinary measures.

Let me spell it out for you. You were duped. Are you surprised? Lack of trust in senior leadership is just a figment of your imagination.

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Re-Post: Perception? It’s Reality.

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There is a great post over at The Greenie Board. You would do well to click the link and have a look. I will give you a quick lead-in, but the original author deserves the credit and web traffic.

THE NAVY’S HEAD INTEL OFFICER HAD HIS CLEARANCE SUSPENDED AND DIDN’T GET FIRED, yet a disgruntled Sailor can use any number of anonymous methods to effect his CO’s relief – often based on little more than hurt feelings.  That is not a “perceived” problem – that is a real policy, leadership, and culture problem.

Yeah. He went there.

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GITMO – The Land of Broken Promises

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When I was at TOPGUN, another instructor and I would meet with the graduating students of each class and speak with them for hours about their course critiques. Without fail, the majority of them would suggest an increased number of training sorties in one phase or another. Having been through a number of similar sessions, I could almost tell you what they would say before the discussion began. “We need two more BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvers) sorties.” Their input was valued and appreciated, but no matter how many times I told them, they couldn’t understand that they had just participated in a zero-sum game. Furthermore, their suggestions for future curricula were also a zero-sum game. If you want two more BFM sorties, tell me which two sorties you would like to delete from the syllabus. “We don’t want to cut any sorties, we just want two more BFM rides.” Their recommendations were thus FBI. Fascinating But Irrelevant.

The movie “Amadeus” chronicles the life of Mozart. If you haven’t seen it, make the time. Find a way. Netflix. Amazon Prime. Red Box. Whatever it takes. It’s incredible. After debuting a new piece for the Austrian emperor, Mozart is perplexed and dispirited by the emperor’s review of his latest work, “The Abduction of the Seraglio”. The emperor advises him that it has “too many notes”, and that he should simply “take a few out”. Hurt and indignant, Mozart asks, “Which few did you have in mind sire?”

The point of this trip through my glory days and the 1985 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture is not only self-serving. Its alternate purpose is to illustrate the well-known fact that complaining is easier than providing viable solutions by an order of magnitude.

There are many things the left abhorred about Bush 43. They hated his war on terror and blamed it for perpetuating the terrorist threat. They hated his every-man Texas sensibility. They hated him for going to Yale, regardless of its sacred place in liberal hearts. Inexplicably, they hated him for being genuine and true to himself. If there is a single, poignant and enduring symbol for the perceived wrongs that W inflicted on our nation, it is GITMO. There is no emblem that represents the vile hatred of that man better than the detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

Irrespective of what you think of President Obama, when it comes to campaigning, he and his team were/are masters. They sensed the previous administration’s weakness vis-a-vis GITMO, and they pounced. The math was too easy. Where they failed, I will prevail. I am the opposite of everything you detest about that awful man. I am….. the anti-vote. I may not be everything you want, but I represent hope. Most important, I am not him.

When I first heard of Obama’s promise to close GITMO, I thought to myself, “Buddy, you better start doing your homework on this stuff.” What sounds wonderful and utopian often becomes extraordinarily difficult when it meets reality. Such is the case with that particular detention facility. There are problems in the world that sometimes have ugly answers, and GITMO is one of them.

The ACLU’s take on it is very simple, but it’s not a simple matter. It is a matter both sordid and complex. I readily admit there is some liberalism inside me that makes me squeamish about GITMO. Operations against trans-national threats give birth to cloudy issues. There is little doubt in my mind that there is at least one guy in captivity who simply walked out of his hut with a rifle in his hand at the wrong time. I have no doubt that most of the captives are horrible actors of the highest degree. Are the detainees combatants? Prisoners of War? International criminals? Do they even have any rights? Under what and whose laws do you prosecute them? It’s obvious they don’t follow the Law of Armed Conflict, so why should we? They have to be held somewhere. The unique sliver of land in Cuba presented an unique opportunity. It’s an imperfect solution to an imperfect problem.

Five-plus years on, it’s clear (to me, at least) the President made a promise that he should not have made, however noble his intent. The administration’s lackeys can blame the Pentagon all they want for not moving quickly and decisively enough on this issue, but the blame should be evenly apportioned. The President didn’t do his cause any favors by doing an end-run on Congress in the Bergdahl prisoner swap. If you want a litmus test of the national appetite for closing GITMO and bringing the detainees to American soil, put all 100 US Senators in a room, and ask those who want them in their state to step forward. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Stumping is easier than governing, and campaigning is easier than policy. Everyone knows that, or so I thought.

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In California, yes means… yes?

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The truth is that yes means yes in every state of the union. It is also true that dog means dog, mailbox means mailbox, and purple means purple. Pretending that words have alternate meanings doesn’t make it so. It’s just a game we play amongst ourselves in order to feel smarter, not unlike the guy at the gym pounding protein shakes instead of weights.

California Governor Jerry Brown (remember that guy?) signed legislation impacting all California colleges and universities that receive state money for student financial aid.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he has signed a bill that makes California the first in the nation to define when “yes means yes” and adopt requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assault reports.

State Senator Kevin de Leon has said the legislation will begin a paradigm shift in how college campuses in California prevent and investigate sexual assaults. Rather than using the refrain “no means no,” the definition of consent under the bill requires “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.”

The goal? Noble. The execution? Terrible F. Think about it. The definition of consent requires an “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” What a load of rubbish. Are we looking for a notarized affidavit, or would a hand-written note suffice? The thing about bad decisions made in the heat of the moment is that they are bad decisions made in the heat of the moment. (Do you see what I just did there?). Things get carried away and there is not a lot of talking. If there is no talking at all, then a rape is in progress.

Or maybe not.

Lawmakers say consent can be nonverbal, and universities with similar policies have outlined examples as a nod of the head or moving in closer to the person.

So now a nod of the head can fall into the category of consent. Is this an improvement in legislation?

Picture yourself in a courtroom. The defendant is a varsity athlete at UCLA who belongs to a hip fraternity. The accuser is a lovely young lady who claims she was sexually assaulted by this young man at a fraternity party. How many drinks did she have? She doesn’t remember exactly. “A few. Maybe more than a few.”

He testified that she said “yes” and thus provided consent. She testified that she “doesn’t remember saying yes, and doesn’t think she did”. This case has a zero-percent chance of successful prosecution, and that assumes that it survived the grand jury process in the first place.

Think about it. If this is such a wonderful idea. If this truly is landmark legislation with the potential to reverse the trend of the sexual assault “epidemic”, then why restrict it to college campuses? Are women in the general populace somehow less deserving of protection from predators? No, of course not. The law only affects college campuses because it’s nothing more than legal pond scum that would get scuttled in an actual court-room. Its foundation is so weak the state can’t even force the colleges to adopt it as policy. All California can do is withhold money from them if they don’t cooperate.

They will cooperate. They will also put a positive spin on this. According to the WaPo, affirmative consent is not only mandatory, it can be sexy, too! For those who lack creativity and practice with the new rules, they have provided examples.

  • What would you like me to do for you?
  • I’d really like to _____. Would you be into that?
  • Baby, you want to make a bunk bed: me on top, you on bottom?

And my favorite, just because it’s nautical…

  • I’ve got the ship. You’ve got the harbor. Can I dock for the night?

Ultimately, there will be no increase in the number of assailants who wind up behind bars. More cases will get reported and fewer of them will be prosecuted because the basis for sexual assault has moved into even more specious territory. Let’s hope this absurdity stays contained on the left coast. I’ll bet you it spreads with the speed of most bad ideas.

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Don’t Defend the Salute

And because I want to go about this in even-handed fashion, it’s no better to make it out to be something it isn’t.

For the benefit of anyone who has been in a coma for a week, here it is.

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The President saluted his guards at Marine One with a cup of coffee in his hand. Not his other hand. His saluting hand.

I cringed when I first saw the picture. Not because I was deeply offended, but rather in anticipation of the left-right firestorm that was sure to follow. If my following was not so small (I do love each and every one of you!), I would accuse myself of fanning the flames.

Back at The Boat School in Crabtown, we were taught the vagaries of saluting etiquette. If your right hand is encumbered in such a way that shifting the encumbrance to the left hand in order to offer a proper salute is not tenable, a left hand salute is acceptable. I never saw anyone do it, but we were told it was okay to do so. If saluted by a subordinate from a sister service whose customs differ, it is okay to salute when you otherwise would not, to include indoors and without proper cover. I’ve seen that done. Returning a salute almost always feels like the right thing to do. I do, however, clearly remember being told that there should be nothing in your saluting hand. Not a pencil, cigarette, chewing gum wrapper, or your lucky nickel. Nothing.

To date, no one has seen fit to share with me what salute-training regimen is offered to Presidents upon taking office. I’m sure there is some. I’m equally sure it’s not exhaustive. Ronald Reagan started the tradition of President’s returning salute. It was apparently never a requirement, nor is it a requirement now. That doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do. It’s a meaningful gesture, I think. The President is the Commander-in-Chief. He’s not a uniform-wearing member of the Armed Forces, but he is the guy who commits them to violent conflict. That’s a close enough tie for me. Besides, no politician is bold enough to break the tradition.

President Obama has been climbing on and off Marine One for nearly six years now. The salute could not have come as a surprise. In a perfect world, he would have done something about the coffee. Maybe he should have done something about the coffee. He has options. Hand it to an aide. Save it for later and hope it remains hot. Shove it into a bag. He didn’t exercise any of those options, and so the flap ensued.

Was it a classy move? No, it was not. I’m sure the President hisbadself would admit it was a mistake. The real mistake is going out of your way to be offended by it. Take no offense where none was intended. If you are inclined to believe that the President is an elitist who hates the military, then knock yourself silly. Just don’t base your belief on the fact that he saluted with a coffee cup in his hand.

What bothers me more is that the defense brigades were called into action. You can hear the echoes from their cries of “Foul Play!” and “It’s not fair!” on all corners of the earth. Here is a predictable take from the fair and balanced folks at MSNBC.

I’m all for holding Obama to high standards. I just wish he wasn’t held to a different standard than other presidents.

You bet. I’m sure we can all agree (engage sarcasm detectors, please) that President Obama has scarcely gotten a fair shake from the media American public world.

My favorite part of the article is the picture of President Bush 43 holding a scottish terrier while saluting. That’s a counter-point unsuitable for a playground argument between six-year olds. “Look! He did it too. Even worse!”

Sometimes it seems as if the Beltway really needs better things to do.

Concur, but let’s be sure to include people like you and your “news organization” in that category

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