Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: November 16, 2010

MOH has been "feminized"? Really?

Some goob who I assume thinks he knows what he’s talking about has decided, based on something he read in the Wall Street Journal, that the Medal of Honor has become "feminized".

That’s right – "feminized".  We all know what that particular little code word means, don’t we?

He couldn’t just say, on the day SSG Sal Giunta became the first living recipient since Vietnam to receive our nation’s highest honor, "well done and well deserved". Oh, no. He had to make a point to try to cheapen the award by qualifying it somehow.

Here’s what he said:

The Medal of Honor will be awarded this afternoon to Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta for his heroism in Afghanistan, and deservedly so. He took a bullet in his protective vest as he pulled one soldier to safety, and then rescued the sergeant who was walking point and had been taken captive by two Taliban, whom Sgt. Giunta shot to free his comrade-in-arms.

This is just the eighth Medal of Honor awarded during our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Sgt. Giunta is the only one who lived long enough to receive his medal in person.

But I have noticed a disturbing trend in the awarding of these medals, which few others seem to have recognized.

We have feminized the Medal of Honor.

According to Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal, every Medal of Honor awarded during these two conflicts has been awarded for saving life. Not one has been awarded for inflicting casualties on the enemy. Not one.

Bullsquat you dope. Now being the nice fellow that I am and thinking this guy just isn’t worth giving any visibility I decided to tactfully handle it locally. I.e. I’d leave a message on his blog demonstrating how out to lunch he (and apparently McGurn) were. Here’s what I left:

You are completely and utterly wrong as is McGurn.

For instance – the first MOH in Iraq:

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

Don’t know about you, but the death of 50 enemy soldiers and the wounding of many more certainly speaks of “killing people and breaking things” so you can sleep safely at night.

You ought to review Robert James Miller’s MOH as well. It was recently awarded.

Instead of taking McGurn’s word for such things try reading the citations.

The MOH is not something which has been “feminized” for heaven sake.

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Earmark ban–you have to start somewhere

It is easy to be cynical about politics today, especially for long-time observers.  Years of watching fingers carefully placed in the political wind to determine its direction has given those watching the process a decided and well earned reason for cynicism. 

But that has to be leavened somewhat with the understanding of how this political process works, why the incentives it offers is one of the main reasons it is broken, and then applaud actions which  – no matter how seemingly small or insignificant they are – work toward changing those incentives in a meaningful way.

It has been said by many that “earmarks” are both trivial and insignificant when it comes to the budget deficit.  They’re barely 1% of the budget.  We’re told they’re no big thing in world of trillion dollar deficits.

Yes they are significant.  For many reasons.  Most obvious among them is they’re part of that incentive system that encourages profligacy and waste.  As one wag pointed out, they’re the Congressional “gateway drug” for profligacy and waste on a much grander scale.

Secondly while it is easy to waive away “1%” of the budget as “insignificant”, you have to ask, “is it really?”  Certainly in terms relative to a 2.8 trillion dollar budget, a few billion dollars doesn’t seem like much.  But it is

We know – all of us, even the left – that we must cut spending.  Period.  There’s no argument about that.  The argument is where we cut.  And how much.  Cutting 1% of spending wrapped up in earmarks should be a “no-brainer”.  It is a good first step.  If you’re going to say to the country, “we’ve all got to cut back”, what better way – speaking of leadership – is there to make the point than to cut out spending that is advantageous to you politically.

That’s certainly the case with earmarks and has been for decades.  It is the Congressional method of using tax dollars to help ensure a high return of incumbents on election day.  So the symbolism involved in cutting them out is important.  Especially, as I noted, when the country is going to be asked to take cuts in things which they find advantageous to themselves.

That all brings me to Sen. Mitch McConnell essentially reversing himself and signing on to the earmark ban.  I’m cautiously optimistic that the GOP leadership is actually beginning to get the message that I think was transmitted loud and clear on November 2nd.   Said McConnell:

“What I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.” 

Good. What I’m not going to do is look this particular gift horse in the mouth and try to determine whether it is a cynical political ploy or genuine. I’m simply going to take it at face value and put a plus next to earmark reform. I’ll take McConnell at his word and demand that he now be consistent in applying the same received message to areas of spending that will indeed make a huge difference.  Or said another way, I appreciate the sentiment and the symbolism of the earmark ban, but that doesn’t satisfy me or anyone else.  It just indicates some seriousness and willingness to do what is necessary to rein in the government’s spending.  While appreciated, it in no way means anything much more than that.

McConnell acknowledges the “wishes of the American people”.  Those wishes were clearly expressed as a much smaller, much less costly and intrusive federal government.  Banning earmarks is as good a place to start as any.  But the serious work of cutting government down to size must continue immediately after the ban is in effect.  The electoral gods will have no mercy on the GOP in 2012 if the American people don’t see a concerted effort by the party toward that goal.


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