Thursday, November 09, 2006


Army cover-up?

Readers who come here via the search engines often clue me in to breaking news. Here's a case in point.

Last month I mentioned the females from a unit of the Kentucky National Guard who were doing strange things with their rifles. Yesterday Google began to send traffic to that post, so I suspected there might be movement on that front. There was.

The women assigned to the 410th Quartermaster Unit were about to leave for Iraq when a local Kentucky newspaper broke the story that it had received a computer disc chockful of girlie pics from the 410th. The public is accustomed to discs like this from soldiers already in Iraq but not from those still at home. The Army shipped the women out anyway and promised it would get to the bottom of it later.

The results of that investigation are in, and Yahoo News offers full if slender coverage—

Female Kentucky National Guard soldiers who allegedly posed nude for pictures before being sent to Iraq will face nonjudicial, administrative sanctions rather than courts-martial, the Army said.

The women were not suspended and were "busy supporting the war effort," Maj. Jay Adams ... told The Courier-Journal of Louisville on Tuesday.

Andrew Wolfson, who broke the original story, has more—

The newspaper was provided a compact disc containing 232 photos of at least a half-dozen nude and semi-nude women in various poses, including kissing one another, posing suggestively with military rifles, and covering their breasts with American flag decals. One woman was photographed partially clad in a military uniform and a last name is visible on her blouse, but the Kentucky Guard wouldn’t confirm whether a woman with that name works in the unit.

The thrust of the Army's effort now is to protect the women's privacy—

Maj. Jay Adams ... declined to elaborate on the sanctions, saying he was barred from releasing more information by the federal Privacy Act.

Lt. Col. Phil Miller, a spokesman for the Kentucky Guard, said Tuesday that “as far as the leadership of the Kentucky National Guard is concerned, this incident is now closed, and the soldiers of 410th Quartermaster Unit can proceed with the mission they were mobilized to perform as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

It could have turned out worse for the soldiers—

Authorities on military law had said that soldiers involved in such photographs could be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for conduct prejudicial to good order, discrediting the service, or both, but the experts differed on the seriousness of the matter.

One expert, Texas Tech law professor Calvin Lewis, a former military judge, predicted that such misconduct likely would be viewed as minor and be punished informally because commanders know “soldiers are often young and have bad judgment.”

Which raises all sorts of questions.

Press doing its job ...

One aspect of this story is impressive—the way the media have pursued this story to the tail end and provided a follow-up after the original news was published. So often we readers, after an initial titillation, are left to our own imaginings.

... not!

For instance, do you ever wonder what happened to those two soldiers caught last year by the Colombians in what was described as an "arms-smuggling plot." They were turned over to the American military and returned to the U.S. for an investigation. That was the last they were ever heard of. I hope they're still all right.

Previous post
Nudity: The latest workplace craze (10/5/06)

Related post
But who will handle the coverup? (5/5/05)


Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Promise of the Day

Democrats intend to lead the most honest, the most open and the most ethical Congress in history. —Nancy Pelosi, soon-to-be Speaker of the House speaking at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee victory celebration


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I want to have a baby. Could I see the menu, please?

The British agency that oversees fertility treatments, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), doesn't permit gender selection for any reason other than gender-associated genetic disorders. But the gentleman who pioneered preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has changed his mind about the advisability of that position.

Peter Ross of Scotland's Sunday Herald quotes Professor Lord Robert Winston—

I think there are a lot of shibboleths to which we have paid lip service, but when you analyse them they certainly don’t threaten the moral fabric of our society. And one of them is sex selection. I think if sex selection was freely available in Britain it would change the balance of society hardly at all, if at all. There is really no evidence that it would.

Given the tatters in the moral fabric of British society, it is hard to imagine what might damage it further. And Professor Winston may well be correct that in the British society of today, the effect of gender selection would be negligible if it were available.

But to Professor Winston I would make two points: First, if the effect of gender selection might be negligible in Britain, the same cannot be said for the more populous nations of China and India, where babies with external piping are very much preferred. And second, the conditions of British society will likely resemble more closely those of China and India in the not-too-distant future thanks to the destructive effects of globalization.

The reason, however, that this story caught my eye isn't that I wish to argue against throwing out the embryos with the pink bath water but that I suspect—but do not know—that gender selection may be altering the human gene pool. For instance, if there is increased competition among males for a limited supply of females, heightened aggressiveness may be a favored trait. Just what the human race needs, right?

To put this another way, I suspect that gender selection is—currently without intention—a eugenics program. Ethicists and moralists reject the notion of eugenics out of hand in part because of the unedifying efforts of the Nazis. But I'm not sure that I do, since it may be that we have one anyway.

To have a eugenics program without intent may easily turn out to be worse than a eugenics program with intent. At least the latter forces us to consider what sort of beings we wish to be. And if brought into the open, I would anticipate a jolly good fight over the matter.


Monday, November 06, 2006


Definition of Marriage of the Day

Marriage is a relationship like my mother and father had—like I had before I got divorced. —Charlie Crist, Republican candidate for Governor of Florida, as reported by Beth Reinhard in the Miami Herald



Charlie Crist: Pretty is as pretty does

Here we are—down to the electoral wire. But Friday a gay activist group called "Proud of Who We Are" jumped up demanding that Charlie Crist, Republican candidate for Governor of Florida, come out of the closet. Though there have been rumors, this time the matter is back in the mainstream media. For instance, here's NBC2's David Sutta—

In front of the media, gay activist and former part time worker with the Democratic Party, Kyle Devries hand delivered a letter to Crist headquarters. In it he asked Crist to be honest about his sexual orientation.

"Honesty is important. Charlie Crist has come out there now and said that he's never had sex with another man and that he's not gay," said DeVries.

DeVries is claiming Crist is gay based on a video that has surfaced on the internet. The video allegedly shows a Katherine Harris aide being deposed. However, we could not verify what she was being deposed for.

The woman claims another staffer admitted to her that he is Crist's lover.

NBC2's David Sutta spoke with Charlie Crist Friday.

Sutta: Are you gay?
Crist: No. I've answered it over and over again. Absolutely untrue.
Sutta: With that said over the years you have said that you are not. Yet it's coming up 3 days before the election.
Crist: I wonder why? Listen, people are smart and the voters get it.

Both Crist and current Governor Jeb Bush are claiming this is just a political ploy. Poppycock!

Beth Reinhold of the Miami Herald noted that

[Florida] Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman issued a curious statement "criticizing any attempt to inject unfounded allegations about Charlie Crist's personal life into the campaign.''

The statement seemed like a cheap shot disguised as the high road to get the media to write about Crist's sexuality. But as it turns out, Democrats were nervous about being tied to the activist because he used to work for the state party.

So, you see! And even if I wrote about the rumor last week, no one would ever accuse me of trying to influence an election!

But let's be clear. The rumor isn't that Crist is gay—which is obvious—but that he's a hypocrite. And I'm sure that's what his Democratic opponent Jim Davis meant when he said "I condemn this kind of personal attack. It has no place in this campaign or any campaign."

It is no more a "personal attack" to aver that someone is gay than it is to aver the opposite, whatever that is. But of course to allege that someone is a hypocrite is a serious charge.

I, for instance, would welcome the first openly gay Republican governor in the State of Florida—or anywhere, for that matter. But if Crist is going to be a hypocrite about it, it just seems to me we've had enough of that.

Now I know you don't want to read all the tawdry allegations—about the claims of 21-year-old Jason Wetherington, a "young rising star" in the GOP, that he had sex with Crist. Or that Crist is in a long-term relationship with Bruce Carlton Jordan,1 convicted of felony theft. But if you do, Bob Norman of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times has the details.

Charlie Crist is currently Florida's Attorney General. After urging that prisoners be displayed working along the roadside in shackles, Crist was nicknamed "Chain gang Charlie." I had always assumed he just wanted to appear tough on crime. Now it hints of the Neronic—a cruel act for his personal titillation.

Related posts
The Republican party's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy (8/31/04)
What a closeted gay candidate for Governor of Florida might look like (10/25/06)



1Both Wetherington and Jordan worked for the campaign of Katherine Harris, Republican candidate for Senator from Florida. Wetherington is now working for the re-election campaign of Republican state representative Ellyn Bodganoff. [back]

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