Witch’s Will For A February Morning
My Pick of the Litter Today
Women in Combat
by Walter E. Williams
A senior Defense Department official said the ban on women in combat should be lifted because the military’s goal is “to provide a level, gender-neutral playing field.” I’d like to think the goal of the military should be to have the toughest, meanest fighting force possible. But let’s look at “gender-neutral playing field.”
The Army’s physical fitness test in basic training is a three-event physical performance test used to assess endurance. The minimum requirement for 17- to 21-year-old males is 35 pushups, 47 situps and a two-mile run in 16 minutes, 36 seconds or less. For females of the same age, the minimum requirement is 13 pushups, 47 situps and a 19:42 two-mile run. Why the difference in fitness requirements? “USMC Women in the Service Restrictions Review” found that women, on average, have 20 percent lower aerobic power, 40 percent lower muscle strength, 47 percent less lifting strength and 26 percent slower marching speed than men.
William Gregor, professor of social sciences at the Army’s Command and General Staff College, reports that in tests of aerobic capacity, the records show, only 74 of 8,385 Reserve Officers’ Training Corps women attained the level of the lowest 16 percent of men. The “fight load” — the gear an infantryman carries on patrol — is 35 percent of the average man’s body weight but 50 percent of the average Army woman’s weight. In his examination of physical fitness test results from the ROTC, dating back to 1992, and 74,000 records of male and female commissioned officers, only 2.9 percent of women were able to attain the men’s average pushup ability and time in the two-mile run.
In a January report titled “Defense Department ‘Diversity’ Push for Women in Land Combat” Elaine Donnelly, director of the Center for Military Readiness, points to U.S. Army studies showing that women are twice as likely to suffer injuries and are three times more undeployable than men. Women are less likely to be able to march under load — 12.4 miles in five hours with an 83-pound assault load — and to be able to crawl, sprint, negotiate obstacles with that load or move a casualty weighing 165 pounds or more while carrying that load. Plus, there are muscle-challenging feats, even for men, such as field repairs on an M1A1 Abrams tank.
Then there’s the pregnancy issue, which makes women three to four times as likely as men to be undeployable. And once deployed, they often have to be medically evacuated, leaving units understrength. Finally, there’s another difference between men and women rarely considered in deliberation about whether women should be in combat. All measures of physical aggressiveness show that men, maybe because of testosterone levels 10 times higher, are more aggressive, competitive and hostile than women. Those attributes are desirable for combat.
Here are a couple of what-if questions. Suppose a combat unit is retreating in mountainous terrain in Afghanistan, where a person’s aerobic capacity really makes a difference, and the women in the unit can’t keep up with the men. What would you propose, leaving the women behind to possibly be captured by the Taliban or having the unit slow down so the women can keep up, thereby risking causalities or capture? What if a male soldier is washed out of the Army’s Advanced Infantry Training program because he cannot pass its physical fitness test whereas a female soldier who can’t perform at his level is retained? Should male soldiers be able to bring suit and be awarded damages for sex discrimination? How much respect can a male soldier have for his female counterpart, who is held to lower performance standards?
THE OBAMA WAY
Prophets and Losses: Part II
by Thomas Sowell
Editor’s Note: This column is part II in a series. Part I can be found here.
People on both sides of tax issues often speak of such things as a “$300 billion tax increase” or a “$500 billion tax decrease.” That is fine if they are looking back at something that has already happened. But it can be sheer nonsense if they are talking about a proposed increase or decrease in the tax rate.
The government can only raise or lower the tax rate. Whether the actual tax revenues that the government will collect as a result will go up or down is a matter of prophecy. And these prophecies have been far too wrong far too often to base national policies on them.
When Congress was considering raising the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 28 percent in 1986, the Congressional Budget Office advised Congress that this would increase the revenue received from that tax. But the Congressional Budget Office was wrong, not simply about the amount of the tax revenue increase, but about the fact that the capital gains tax revenue actually fell.
There was nothing unique about this example of tax rates and tax revenues moving in opposite directions from each other — and also in opposite directions from the predictions of the Congressional Budget Office. Reductions of the capital gains tax rates in 1978, 1997 and 2003 all led to increased revenues from that tax.
The Congressional Budget Office is by no means the only government agency whose prophecies have been grossly unreliable. Anyone who looks at the history of the Federal Reserve System will find many painful examples of wrong prophecies that led to policies with bad consequences for the whole economy.
In a worldwide context, during the 20th century economic central planning by governments — prophecy at the grandest level — led to so many bad consequences, in countries around the world, that even most socialist and communist governments abandoned central planning by the end of that century.
The failures of governmental prophecies in so many different contexts cannot be blamed on stupidity. Most of the people who made these prophecies were far more educated than the average person, had far more information at their fingertips and probably had higher IQs as well.
Their intellectual superiority to others may well have given them the confidence to venture into areas where no human being has what it takes to make prophecies that lead to policies overriding the plans and actions of millions of other human beings.
As John Stuart Mill said, back in the 19th century, “even if a government were superior in intelligence and knowledge to any single individual in the nation, it must be inferior to all the individuals of the nation taken together.”
People competing with each other, and being forced to make mutual accommodations with each other in the marketplace, are operating in a trial and error process.
How Do You Spell ‘Retaliation’?
I have been thinking about the Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero lately. Like many people of my generation, my first recollection when hearing the name “Cicero” is of interminable Latin sentences where the critical word is parked like a caboose about thirty words later than you would have expected it, and in a gerundive construction suggesting causation or obligation. Or was it a double dative? In any event, in school Cicero was someone to be deciphered rather than understood. He didn’t like Catiline, whoever that was, but what has that to do with the market in ablative absolutes?
Now that I look back to Cicero’s life and work, however, few figures from any age seem as searingly pertinent to our own social and political life.
There is a reason Cicero’s work made such a profound impression on the American Founders. John Adams, reacting to a biography of Cicero, cut to the chase: “I seem to read the history of all ages and nations in every page — and especially the history of our own country for forty years past. Change the names and every anecdote will be applicable to us.”
Consider this passage from Cicero’s On Duties:
Whoever governs a country must first see to it that citizens keep what belongs to them and that the state does not take from individuals what is rightfully theirs. … As for those politicians who pretend they are friends of the common people and try to pass laws redistributing property and drive people out of their homes or champion legislation forgiving loans, I say they are undermining the very foundations of our state. They are destroying social harmony, which cannot exist when you take away money from some to give it to others. They are also destroying fairness, which vanishes when people cannot keep what rightfully belongs to them. For as I have said, it is the proper role of government to guard the right of citizens to control their own property.
It’s hard to believe that was written circa 44 BC, not the day before yesterday.
I intend to come back to Cicero at greater length on another occasion. For now, I simply want to wave the Ciceronian flag a little and suggest that his magnificent attacks on corruption and the abuse of state power have many lessons for Americans at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Consider the news, which was reported just yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, that the Justice Department is suing the rating company Standard & Poor’s “in retaliation for the S&P’s temerity in downgrading U.S. sovereign debt for the first time in history in 2011.”
Oops! That was the unexpurgated version. The announced reason the Department of Justice is going after the company is because “the firm ignored its own standards to rate mortgage bonds that imploded in the financial crisis and cost investors billions.”
What do you think? Companies like S&P and Moody’s look at a variety of factors to try to determine the creditworthiness of a company or a country. Their assessments are festooned with warnings and cautions, just like those “past performance is no guarantee of future returns” slogans you see pasted at the bottom of every mutual fund you’ve ever plunked a dime into. Investors certainly did “lose billions” in the financial crisis. But whose fault was that?
AND THE LIBS CALLED GEEDUBYA A COWBOY? WHAT HYPOCRITES!
What’s Up With the Democrats?
Senate Dems face dilemma over push for assault-weapons ban
Senate Democrats are facing a major dilemma on how hard they should push for an assault weapons ban, a sensitive topic for vulnerable centrists who are running for reelection next year.
Gun control advocates are scrutinizing Senate Democrats’ strategy for implementing President Obama’s proposals for reducing gun violence, and a watered-down effort would likely prompt a backlash from the party’s liberal base.
What Up With Republicans?
A Way Out of the Wilderness for the GOP
Republicans hold a weak hand in Washington but a stronger grip in states where voters have entrusted them with power. Performances there can boost not just the Republican image but bring the party back to power in Washington. More importantly, they can show conservative principles work. The “Red State Model” can, in the Wall Street Journal’s words, “Drive Republican Revival.”
Walter Russell Meade, one of our most brilliant thinkers, has written quite perceptively about the collapse of what he calls “the blue model.” These are states that have been firmly in the hands of the Democratic Party and their allies (unions-especially public employee unions; special interest groups — environmentalists among them). Together they have created a tax, spend and borrow model of governance that is leading to fiscal chaos. Policies have been adopted that have created a hostile business climate that has cramped growth and blighted the future of the middle class.
Prospects for these states are so dim there has been not just an exodus of their “best and brightest” (blue states are heavily dependent on taxing high-income people who have options to migrate to redder pastures) out of them, but a collapse in fertility rates, as well. When the future is bleak and the cost of living in the present is too high, people don’t have children.
Liberals may caterwaul about a sustainable environment but seemingly couldn’t care less about sustainable families or a sustainable future or a sustainable state.
SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT…
Your Inner Voice
by Bob Eilers
My day started just like all the other days for the past 15 years where I get up, make some coffee, shower, get dressed and leave for the train station at preciously 7:35 A.M. to arrive at work by 8:30. While on the train I would always choose a seat away from the crowd so I can read the newspaper in peace and quiet. At work I am always being bombarded with questions from coworkers, suppliers, telephone and then those dreaded meetings so the last thing I need is some stranger to sit beside me and make small talk.
I don’t know why but for some reason when I got on the train today it was unusually full, something I don’t recall ever happening in the past. With hesitation I sat down in the only seat available beside a middle aged man that had his head down and seemed to be lost in his thoughts. I was glad that he didn’t notice when I sat next to him as he just continued to look down towards the floor.
Shortly after the train left for my 30 minute ride downtown I found myself wondering what this man was thinking about. What could be so important that he didn’t even see me sit next to him? I tried to forget about it and started to read my paper. However, for some strange reason this “inner voice” kept prompting me to talk to this man. I tried to ignore the “voice” as there was no way I was starting a conversation with a complete stranger.
As you probably guessed I eventually broke down and came up with an excuse to ask him a question. When he raised his head and turned his eyes towards me I could see that he must have been really upset as he had red eyes and still had some tears rolling down the side of his face despite his feeble attempt to wipe them away. I can’t describe the sadness I felt seeing someone in so much pain.
We talked for about 20 minutes and in the end he seemed to be doing better. As we were leaving the train he thanked me profusely for being an angel by taking the time to talk. I never did find out what was making his heart so heavy with pain but was glad I listened to the “voice” that day.
Several weeks had passed when I noticed an envelope on my desk after returning from lunch. It was not addressed to anyone and only had the word “Angel” written on it. My receptionist attached a note saying a gentleman dropped it off saying he did not know my name but had described me well enough that the receptionist knew it was for me. When I read the note inside the envelope I was so filled with emotions that I couldn’t contain myself. It was a letter from the man I met on the train thanking me again for talking to him and saving his life that day.
Apparently he had some very hurtful personal problems that were so overwhelming he was planning to take his life that day. In his letter he went on to explain that he was a religious person and in desperation screamed out to God that if God really cared about him he would send someone to prevent him from taking his life. In his eyes I was that someone, that Angel sent by God.
Not being a religious person myself I don’t know what that “voice” was that made me take a chance and talk to a stranger but I do know that it made a difference in someone’s life that day. So the next time you feel prompted for no apparent reason to talk to a friend, relative, neighbor or even a complete stranger please remember my story. You just may make a difference in someone’s life when you listen to your inner voice.
Postal Service to halt Saturday mail delivery
The U.S. Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it would discontinue mail delivery on Saturday but still continue to deliver packages six days per week, according to the Associated Press.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla), hailed the decision, saying the plan is expected to save $2 billion, according to the CBS.
“It’s a proper business decision and [in the] long run, good for the Postal Service and good for Americans,” Coburn said.
The plan is likely to take effect in August.
Karl Rove vs. the ‘Far Right’
by Brent Bozell
If I were launching a new conservative venture, the last venue I’d choose for the announcement would be the New York Times. Karl Rove has gone to the Times to announce that he has created a new “conservative” entity “to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts.”
Rove argues that Republican fortunes have been ruined by “far-right conservatives,” but he’s shamelessly calling this entity the “Conservative Victory Project.” Yes, and I could call myself Ray Lewis, but it doesn’t make it so.
Whaddaya know. The liberal Democrats at the Times love this idea. They call it “the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party.” They would love a group to “discipline” conservatives right out of the GOP nominating process. What the heck? They could call themselves “conservative,” too.
It’s reminiscent of all the reporters who desperately wanted Colin Powell to run for president in 1996 because apparently Bob Dole was too fringy and as Howard Fineman said at the time, reporters “want a Republican Party they can live with.”
Only at the end of the Times story does a fraction of balance appear, when Grover Norquist is delicately quoted on how establishment candidates did not win in Montana (Rep. Denny Rehberg) or North Dakota (Rep. Rick Berg). That list is very incomplete.
Rove & Co. should also revisit how establishment moderates fared in other Senate races. Former governor Linda Lingle lost in Hawaii. Former governor Tommy Thompson lost in Wisconsin. Two-time self-funding Senate contender Linda McMahon lost in Connecticut. Sen. Scott Brown lost in Massachusetts. Five-term Congresswoman Heather Wilson lost her second Senate campaign in New Mexico. Chris Christie’s 2009 campaign chairman Joe Kyrillos lost in New Jersey.
So how many moderate GOP challengers won in 2012? Not one. How many Tea Party conservatives? Three.
The New York Times quoted Rove staffer Steven Law on their alleged philosophy: “Our approach will be to institutionalize the Buckley rule: Support the most conservative candidate who can win.” Uh-huh. So that’s what Rove was doing when he supported Sen. Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in 2004. Before that term was over, Specter became a Democrat. That’s what moderates were doing when they supported Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio in Florida in 2010. Crist, too, became a Democrat.
The Times did not explore Steven Law’s win-loss record. As executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 1998 and 2000, Law’s work ended up with zero gains in 1998 and four seats lost in 2000. The Times didn’t want to remind anyone how Rove “the Architect” predicted in 2006 that the GOP would retain control of both houses of Congress, and he proceeded to lose them both.
Wouldn’t that information help the public evaluate just how much the Republicans need Team Rove’s new “discipline” to win?
LINCOLNESQUE MY ASS!
“A Lincolnesque leader is confident enough to be humble — to not feel the need
to bluster or dominate, but to be sufficiently sure of one’s own judgment and
self-worth to really listen and not be threatened by contrary advice.”
Big Dangers as Obama Democrats Flout Budget Laws
“On or after the first Monday in January but not later than the first Monday in February of each year, the President shall submit a budget of the United States Government for the following fiscal year.”
— Chapter 11 of Title 31 of the United States Code, enacted as the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
What are citizens to do when their government refuses to follow its own laws?
The answers to this question throughout history have been hugely unhappy. When individuals in government de-legitimize their own institutions by breaking the rules, rebellion, repression and general lawlessness have often been the result.
This is why the rule of law has been so central to happy, healthy and prosperous lives since Cicero was still in swaddling.
Americans have done better at this than anyone else, having inherited the love of the law from our British progenitors. The Founding Fathers took it a step further by ditching the idea of a monarch altogether and crafting what has become the world’s oldest and most revered national charter. The Constitution was a fulcrum point in human history and the greatest gift from the Framers to their nation: a government of laws, not men.
Americans got to witness something very unusual in human history when a court shooed some of the president’s appointees out of office because he broke the constitutional parameters for installing members of his government, as just happened to President Obama’s efforts to pack the National Labor Relations Board.
The Coming Obamacare Recession
Actually, we already saw it last quarter and there’ll be no escaping it this year.
To the shock of many, U.S. GDP shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012 by 0.1%. Immediately, however, economists and commentators flooded the media with reassuring explanations. Super Storm Sandy reduced economic activity in the areas it ravaged; worries about the fiscal cliff and sequestration dampened business spending and government defense spending; businesses let inventory levels dwindle. Even the Federal Reserve commented that the GDP drop was the result of “weather-related disruptions and other transitory factors.” All this is true, to some extent. But none of the reporting I saw even mentioned the elephant in the room that not only depressed economic activity in the fourth quarter of 2012, but will continue to depress economic activity through 2013 and beyond. That elephant is the “Affordable Care Act,” aka “Obamacare.”
President Liar Cockroach
Seven million will lose insurance under Obama health law
President Obama’s health care law will push 7 million people out of their job-based insurance coverage — nearly twice the previous estimate, according to the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday.
CBO said that this year’s tax cuts have changed the incentives for businesses and made it less attractive to pay for insurance, meaning fewer will decide to do so. Instead, they’ll choose to pay a penalty to the government, totaling $13 billion in higher fees over the next decade.
But the non-partisan agency also expects fewer people to have to pay individual penalties to the IRS than it earlier projects, because of a better method for calculating incomes that found more people will be exempt.
Overall, the new health provisions are expected to cost the government $1.165 trillion over the next decade — the same as last year’s projection.
With other spending cuts and tax increases called for in the health law, though, CBO still says Mr. Obama’s signature achievement will reduce budget deficits in the short term.
During the health care debate Mr. Obama had said individuals would be able to keep their plans.
The fact is that Obama neither knew nor cared if people would be able to keep their insurance plans. He had no idea what Pelosi and the Dems had put in the plan that bears his name. He just runs off at the mouth, the MSM bows down and kisses his feet and bad laws, which will cause endless problems are enacted.
And hey, anything that doesn’t work is all the Republicans fault anyway.
See how easy it all is. Easy if you have no intellect, no integrity, no honesty and are in love with the sound of your own voice. I wouldn’t believe this POS POTUS if he said the sun came up in the east!
When President Obama was interviewed by the New Republic, he was prepared with a fresh list of ways to paint his Republican opponents as unreasonable. The one that garnered the most attention at the time was Obama’s insistence that Fox News was punishing Republicans for reaching across the isle. Fox contributors, liberal and conservative, chimed in to point out that this was both false and unseemly behavior from the president of the United States.
But another excuse for the GOP’s seeming intransigence that is currently favored by the president and his uninformed supporters in liberal punditry, like Paul Krugman, is that Republicans have used the process known as gerrymandering to squeeze out moderates and to boost ideological stubbornness. Aside from the coincidence that leftists are suddenly concerned about gerrymandering now that the last round seemed to help Republicans, there is also the fact that what the president said is untrue. First, what Obama said:
The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they’re really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies.
Not so, says political scientist John Sides, who took to Ezra Klein’s Washington Post Wonkblog–generally favorable terrain for the president–to try and nudge the president back into truthful waters. Sides shows that the data confirm almost the exact opposite: that congressional delegations of both parties vote in a much more partisan way than their districts. That is, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress vote with their fellow members of Congress (of the same party, that is) in ways only tangentially related to the voting patterns of their constituents.
Meacham On Drone Kills: Obama Acting Like ‘American King’
Barack The First? Wow: who would have thought that perhaps the strongest statement yet in condemnation of President Obama’s self-arrogated right to kill Americans abroad would have come from Jon Meacham? Yet on today’s Morning Joe, historian Meacham—who knows something about the use and abuse of presidential power—criticized Obama for ignoring the “rule of law” and actually described Obama as acting like “an American king.”
And Scarborough agreed?
Judge Napolitano On Drone Strikes: “Nowhere Justifiable Under The Constitution”
“That is nowhere justifiable under the Constitution, nowhere justifiable under federal law,” Judge Andrew Napolitano argued on FOX News today. “In fact, federal law and the Constitution are to the opposite. Unless you are actually pulling a trigger or are in moments of pulling that trigger or dropping a bomb, the government has an obligation to do its best to arrest you and charge you with a crime and prosecute you before it can indiscriminately kill you.”
“This power used today against an unpopular target might be used in the future by another president against a person the president doesn’t like but as to whom there’s no moral justification for pursuing whatsoever,” Napolitano also said.
“This frivolous use of language by this administration and then claiming they have the right to use force to stop dead in their tracks the people who fit into these categories violates the principles of the Declaration of Independence and violates the supremacy of the Constitution which they’ve taken an oath to uphold,” he said.
“The government gets is powers from the consent of the governed. Do you know anybody who consented to the government doing this?,” Napolitano added.
Worth a Read:
Top Ten Problems with that Skeet Shooting Picture
Spending Cut Shenanigans: Why Washington Will Fail America Again
Obama may have gained the upper hand on the GOP. But to what end?
Exposing Fraud in New Jersey’s Broken Pension System
Former cops collect hefty lifetime pensions thanks to bogus disability claims.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: