June 08, 2009

Still Lying After All These Years Months

Another day, another "betrayal" by the Obama administration:
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to question the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military, turning away a constitutional challenge to the ban.

The rebuff spares President Barack Obama’s administration from the awkward task of mounting a legal defense for a policy the president says should be repealed. In urging the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal, administration lawyers said a lower court was correct to uphold the policy.
The Obama administration thus continues its policy of choosing the wrong and indefensible side on every legal question of significance. This is yet another example of the chasm between Obama's proclaimed intentions, which are almost universally regarded as noble and admirable, and his actions, which contradict his own so-earnestly proclaimed intentions at every important juncture.

Another version of the story adds an important aspect about the administration's "reasoning":
In court papers, the administration said the appeals court ruled correctly in this case when it found that "don't ask, don't tell" is "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion."
This is, you might say, a lie. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is not "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion." It is, however, "rationally related" to the method and purpose of disgusting discrimination.

For much more on these questions, see a new article by Shikha Dalmia, "Obama's Betrayal on Don't Ask, Don't Tell." You might want to read all of it; I include here a few points I found of particular interest.

After noting that most of America's NATO allies allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, together with the fact that "the cause of gay rights" is rapidly gaining widespread acceptance in the United States, Dalmia identifies the source of pressure on Obama to leave this detestable and destructive policy intact:
However, 1,000 retired military officials recently sent a letter to the president urging him to stand by Don't Ask. They say that the military's sole purpose is to wage and win wars, and that requires military cohesiveness. To foster that, they insist, the military needs flexibility to set its own rules even if these rules are at odds with fundamental constitutional values and social trends.
I assume that active military officials are discouraged (or perhaps even prohibited) from making such public pronouncements, but I think it is also probably safe to assume that most such officials and officers actively serving today have similar views about maintaining this policy. If you always remember that Obama seeks to advance America's imperial agenda of domination and occupation around the globe, you'll appreciate that support from the military is indispensable to his goals. This is one constituency he cannot afford to antagonize.

Nonetheless, as Dalmia goes on to document, the claim regarding "military cohesiveness" can find almost no supporting evidence. I also remind you that the identical claim was once made about blacks serving in the military. Bigotry of this kind may never be eradicated; it finds different targets and victims, but the dynamic of condemnation and even demonization goes on. But when no facts support this policy, and when public opinion has widely shifted on this question (all of which Dalmia discusses), it is loathsome for Obama to behave in this manner.

Here are two further brief excerpts from Dalmia's conclusive case against the Obama administration's dishonest and false arguments:
If the presence of gay soldiers were disruptive for the military, tolerance for gays would be falling among troops. In fact, post-Don't Ask, tolerance has gone up significantly. A 2006 Zogby poll of returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets found that 72 percent were "personally comfortable" around gays. This is significant not only because it is in line with broader public opinion, but it reflects their experience with known gays among NATO troops.


But while both public opinion—and evidence—are lining up in favor of repealing Don't Ask, President Obama is going in the opposite direction. The White House's civil rights Web site in recent weeks has significantly watered down the strong language it was using to signal its commitment to scrapping the law. Even more troubling, Obama did nothing—not so much as utter a whisper of protest—when West Point grad Dan Choi, an Iraq veteran and an Arab linguist, was fired recently for revealing that he was gay.
The title of Dalmia's article talks of Obama's betrayal, and in my opening sentence, I also used the word -- but I put it in quotes. I did so for one dispositive reason: if one paid attention to everything Obama said over the last few years -- and if one understood what the policies he embraced meant when translated into action -- one sees that none of this constitutes "betrayal." That would assume that Obama was genuinely committed to certain of the goals announced in his speechifying, which we are ceaselessly hectored to believe is always soaring, inspirational and transcendent. But if you understood all the factors in play -- see here, here and here as a few examples, and just today, here -- you understood long ago that Obama was and is the perfect embodiment of the establishment, and of the existing corporatist-authoritarian-militarist system that determinedly throttles the United States to death, as it lays waste to various regions of the world.

As I noted in several earlier posts about the abomination of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- see here, here and here -- none of this surprises me. It's what I expected, because Obama lies. He lies all the time, on every matter of consequence. It's what he does.

Finally, I offer what might prove to be a handy tip in the years to come (years, for pity's sake; may the non-existent gods deliver us from such determined representatives of mendacity). Don't try to keep a list of all of Obama's broken "promises." Instead, keep a list of the promises you think he made that he's kept. In this manner, your work will be brief and undemanding.

At the moment, I can't think of a single issue of importance that would appear on a list of promises Obama wanted us to believe he was making, and that he has kept. Not even one.

Nonetheless, he has kept one commitment, the overriding one that was obvious from the beginning but that he notably restrained himself from offering explicitly: that he would faithfully serve the interests of the ruling class, that he would increase their already massive power and wealth still more, and that he would entrench them and their particular interests so that they would become impervious to all serious challenge.

That promise has certainly been kept, many times over in his still-brief tenure. And it will continue to be kept in the days to come. So have a drink, or partake of other diversions that you may prefer. It's never too early in the miraculous Age of Obama.

P.S. As an important clarifying matter, I should state that, given the purposes for which the U.S. military is presently employed (purposes which have remained unchanged since World War II, and which Obama has no intention of altering), I see no valid reason for anyone to want to join any branch of our armed services. I explained my reasons in detail in, "No, I Do Not Support 'The Troops.'"

However, the deeply awful "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy still represents an especially heinous example of profoundly unjust systemic and institutional discrimination. That such a policy is actively supported and implemented by the highest levels of the federal government is unforgivable. For a discussion from a somewhat different angle of the causes and operations of systemic and cultural discrimination of this kind, see "We Are Not Freaks."