THE ARMY/NAVY SHAME
UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU (TO KEEP YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION TO YOURSELF) Bleu Copas is a 30 year old man attending East Tennessee State University, where he is pursuing a master's degree in counseling and working as a student adviser. Until recently he was also a decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist in the U.S. Army. That is until he was dismissed from the U.S. Army earlier this year under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified) less than four years after he enlisted, he said, out of a post-Sept. 11 sense of duty to his country. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, established in 1993, prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members, but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay. I have quite a few problems with this. First of all, anyone who wants to join the U.S. military should be able to. I’m certainly never going to join up so I’m very thankful for all of those people who do. Whether they sign up because they feel a sense of duty, because they are poor and have limited options, or just because they are completely foolish, it shouldn’t matter what their religion, race, or sexual orientation are. A gay man can be just as good as a straight man (or better) when it comes to being a language specialist and I have it on good authority that gay men can needlessly lose their lives in Iraq just like a straight guy can. I’m surprised Dubya and his goons haven’t actively encouraged gay men to sign up and then sent them straight to the front lines to be the first to die. I guess he still has it in for blacks and poor people before all else. Then there is the issue of the whole “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the first place. They got it 50% right. Don’t Ask. It’s no one’s business who military members have sex with when they are not doing their job. It’s not like a gay man on the battle field will not cover his fellow soldiers because he’s too busy checking out how good their asses look in fatigues. A gay linguist isn’t going to do a poor job deciphering Arab messages because he’s gay. “What did that last message say soldier?” “I’m not sure General. I got a little distracted because he had such a rugged sexy man voice. I’m sure it was something fabulous though. By the way, where’d you get those boots? They’re delicious!” Don’t Tell needs to go. Maybe all the military personnel who have a problem with gays should be dismissed from the military instead. Don’t Tell? Are you kidding me? It gets worse. More than 11,000 service members have been dismissed under the policy, including 726 last year, an 11 percent jump from 2004. Nearly 800 dismissed gay or lesbian service members had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five were proficient in Arabic, including Copas, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California. Discharging and replacing them has cost the Pentagon nearly $369 million, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara. $369 million dollars to replace qualified military personnel because they are gay! This is where our tax money is going? With our government’s history of wasting tax money it really should come as no surprise. It did give me an idea though, so for any of you soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else who may be reading this, pay attention. Sick of fighting a pointless war for a government that won’t appreciate you once you return home? Start telling anyone who will listen that you are gay, and not just a little gay, over-the-top gay. Copas received an honorable discharge. So I ask you, what is worse, being honorably discharged from the military and having people think you are gay, or being stuck in the desert in the middle of a budding civil war, getting blown up by roadside bombs, and quite possibly shot with automatic weapons? Sadly, I think a lot of military members would say that being gay is worse. For those of you, I’d rather you stay in Iraq anyway. Good luck with that. For those of you that have enough sense to realize this war is completely unnecessary and is only going to get worse, put on some lipstick, start singing show tunes (On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military's policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater) and blow a kiss or two to your superior officer. Chances are, you’ll be home safely before you have time to pack your rainbow fatigues. THE RICH GET RICHER, THE REST OF US GET IGNORED Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest public oil company, on Thursday reported quarterly profits surged 35 percent to more than $10 billion. "While American families get tipped upside down and have their savings shaken out of their pockets at the gas pump, the Bush-Cheney team devises even more ways to line Big Oil's pockets," Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement on Exxon's profits. Can anyone say windfall tax? With both a President and VP who are in bed with the oil companies, I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Even if a windfall tax was imposed, I’m sure it would be written in a language that would leave loopholes big enough for a Saudi prince and his pet elephants to jump through. While the padding of big oil’s pockets continues, our government keeps us distracted with unimportant rhetoric like banning gay marriage, embryos deserving life, and the war on “terrorism”. How can you fight a war on terrorism? Dubya’s speech writers knew what they were doing when they coined that phrase. Terrorism is such a broad term that Bush can apply it to anything he doesn’t like. You can NEVER win a war on terrorism. Period. When are we going to force our government to deal with real issues? The minimum wage needs to be raised substantially. There are almost 50 million Americans with no health care coverage. Our education system is failing American children left and right. Our right to a free press and free speech are being increasingly threatened. Our civil liberties are being mauled by a loose cannon President armed with The Patriot Act and a total disregard for the law. The Patriot Act is a sham. It should be called the Monarch Act. All it does is allow Bush to act like he’s King of America and do whatever he wants in the name of “fighting the war on terror”. While none of these important issues are being dealt with, the oil companies are recording record profits. Exxon, notorious for rarely changing its plans no matter how high oil prices are, boosted its capital spending forecast for the year to $20 billion, citing fresh exploration and production opportunities. The company, the World's largest by market capitalization, also said it planned to increase its already hefty stock buyback program to $7 billion in the third quarter to make use of its ballooning hoard of cash. It makes me sick, and very happy that I no longer drive a car. With the Senate races heating up, I urge all of you to get as many Republicans are you can out of office. That especially rings true for those of us here in PA where the devil incarnate, Rick Santorum, is up for reelection. Make your voices heard! VACATION FROM THE MADNESS As you all count the remaining hours to the weekend I myself am preparing for a trip to Canada for a few days of relaxation and fun with the in-laws, some Tim Horton’s doughnuts and steeped tea (it’s SO steeped), and fun with the wife’s friends. We will also be attending Elvis Fest which is the largest Elvis festival in North America but happens to take place in small town Canada. I will return midweek with tales to share of my Canadian adventures. If you missed the last post, it contained a link to the photos from my birthday/Spoon event on July 14th. I hope you all have a great weekend, and a great start to next week. Until then, share the Spoon, share the TRUTH.