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Semper I, General Pace

In an interview on Monday with the Chicago Tribune, Marine General and JCS Chair Peter Pace talked about morality.

"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace said in a wide-ranging discussion with Tribune editors and reporters in Chicago. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."

When a general gets to talking about morality, I say, bring it on. But let's not just talk about sex, General (where you are completely and utterly wrong, by the way), because morality is a much larger topic.

How moral is it, General, to tolerate torture (see paragraph 4) and to step away from binding international treaties by redefining it as "alternative interrogation techniques" or whatever today's White House-approved euphemism is?

How moral is it, General, to throw out habeas corpus and to use the military courts and jails like a ping-pong ball, as the White House tries to game the US legal system? 

How moral is it, General, to send an army into a war without proper post-war planning and keep it there despite failed policies?

How moral is it, General, to run a military without the proper equipment and training, putting the troops (and others) in danger?

How moral is it, General, for the DOD to continue to do buisness with war profiteers, ignoring audits that show widespread corruption and abuse?

How moral is it, General, to watch military contractors operate outside any structures of accountability, including the US civilian courts, the military's legal system, and the Iraqi legal system?

How moral is it, General, to discharge military linguists in wartime, simply because they are gay? Well known leftwing-pinko bleeding-heart-liberal former Wyoming GOP senator Alan Simpson has an answer:

According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 300 language experts have been fired under "don't ask, don't tell," including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. This when even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently acknowledged the nation's "foreign language deficit" and how much our government needs Farsi and Arabic speakers. Is there a "straight" way to translate Arabic? Is there a "gay" Farsi? My God, we'd better start talking sense before it is too late. We need every able-bodied, smart patriot to help us win this war.

Didn't you just report to Congress about how strained the military is right now — worse off than a year ago, and so bad off that it will take years to return our risks to "acceptable levels"?

General, Joe Biden gets it. Hillary Clinton is sorta, kinda, possibly considering getting it. (OK, bad example.) GOP military affairs icon John Warner gets it. (That's better.) Barack Obama . . . (*sigh*) [Note to Dems: Straddling a barbed wire fence only ends up doing serious damage to yourself.]

Maybe it's a language problem we're having, General. Retired Army Reserve Colonel Austin Bay recently published Embrace the Suck: A Pocket Guide to Milspeak. Nancy Friedman of Away With Words, notes a couple of tidbits which are pertinent here, and may help clear up any miscommunications we're having:

Semper Fi: U.S. Marines motto, short for "Semper Fidelis," which is Latin for "Always Faithful."

Semper I: Pejorative Marine lingo for being overly concerned with one's own personal interests.

Semper Gumby: Another play on Semper Fi. Means "always flexible."

Semper Knife: Yet another twist on Semper Fi. Means "backstabbing."

Semper Fidelis — I wonder what it is that you are faithful to when you say it.

With all due respect to you and your distinguished service record, General, your statement of regret was a classic "I'm not sorry for what I said, but that you noticed that I said it." You put your personal, ill-informed opinions about sexual morality on the table as the chief reason for excluding openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual patriots from military service, and backpedaling now doesn't change that fact about you. 

Semper I, General Pace.

With all due respect, General, you have shown outstanding flexibility toward whatever ill-considered plan or policy comes from the White House, turning military logic inside out to please the head of your promotion board at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Semper Gumby, General Pace.

With all due respect, General, you stuck the knife in the backs of countless gay, lesbian, and bisexual marines, past and present, who have served and continue to serve honorably and courageously, under conditions you apparently cannot begin to understand.

Semper Knife, General Pace.

And a big, big Semper Fi to those gay, lesbian, and bisexual Marines whom you slandered, and to the straight Marines who gladly support them. Maybe they can help you understand better what Semper Fi means: faithfulness to the Constitution and the nation that strives to live by it, not to the small, bitter, and twisted BushCo/TheoCon/NeoCon vision of the world.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.