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Daily Archives: December 30, 2010


WaPo–keep ROTC out of our precious Ivies

Because, you know, its all about war and stuff.

The Washington Post rolled out  what I consider an inevitable op/ed today about keeping ROTC off the campuses of Ivy League schools who banned it when DADT was in effect.  Colman McCarthy, a former Post columnist who directs the Center for Teaching Peace claims that ROTC is essentially an anti-intellectual endeavor which can be opposed on moral grounds:

It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell." They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.

Another on the left wanting to limit your choices.

Of course those who reject military solutions to conflicts for reasons of conscience don’t mind being protected by those who graduate from other ROTC programs, one supposes.  And so they are.  It is always fun and easy to be against war if others are willing to fight them for you.   And you won’t find the military against peace either – they’re the ones who have to fight a war and suffer the losses.  However, they’re also some hard-bitten realists who recognize that there are evil people in the world who want to do us harm.  They also recognize that you can be for peace all you want to, but if the other guy chooses war, you either fight or capitulate and live by his dictates for your life.   I assume McCarthy rejects “just war” as a challenge to his “peace for reasons of conscience” as well. 

But if you look closely at the words above, you get an inkling of the depth of ignorance Mr. McCarthy displays in his piece.  In this country, “military solutions” are dictated by civilian authorities.  That may have slipped past him when he was studying “Peacenik 101”.  It isn’t the military that decides when to enter a conflict, it is, for the most part, civilian graduates of Ivy league schools who’ve made those decisions.  I know – irony.

Anyway, I thought that was a bit humorous. 

McCarthy, if you haven’t guessed, is a product of the ‘60s.  And it shows in the smug shallowness of his presentation and the bits of stereotypical nonsense with which his piece is studded.  It’s also a pitch for more “peace studies”, because, you know, we have women’s studies, and black studies, and LGBT studies.  I assume he believes ROTC to be war studies and filled with Neanderthals and knuckle-draggers who want to be indoctrinated, given a weapon and pointed in the right direction with orders to kill everything in sight.

As a proud ROTC grad (and Distinguished Military Graduate) I owe a debt to the course of study.  Like most who graduated from the program, I learned the basics of something our present CiC hasn’t yet learned – leadership.  And the Army took it from there to the point that when I retired, I was both a pretty fair leader and darn sure a good evaluator of leadership.  Other than perhaps a few on-campus organizations, it was the only opportunity to learn about leadership and to apply it in a real world environment.  I don’t know about you, but watching Obama founder on the leadership rocks, I think it is a pretty critical skill.

But McCarthy’s objection doesn’t even consider that.  He’s stuck in the ‘60s Vietnam time warp by which he evaluates everything now.  And he’s really concerned about the Ivies becoming tainted now that DADT has been repealed:

However, being the good PC creature he is, he knows he’s got to be careful.  Read this and shake your head in wonder:

To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America’s or the Taliban’s: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I’ve had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.

It isn’t “anti-soldier”?  Well of course not – check out the moral equivalency in the next line.  Your young son who joined the Army is now the equivalent of a Taliban terrorist who blinds young girls with acid, executes village leaders for cooperation with the Afghan government and uses the sports arena in Kabul to execute women who’ve offended its bizarre codes.

His reasons for “admiring” soldiers are just as tatty – for their discipline, loyalty, principles and sacrifices.  Most of us assume these to be good traits.  Admirable traits as McCarthy says.  Where in the world does he think such things are taught? Certainly not in his peace studies apparently.  Uh, Mr. McCarthy, try “ROTC”.  Yup – it’s stock and trade.

Finally he panders a bit: combat veterans have lots of resolve and daring.  Daring?  Is there perhaps a bit of a yellow-streak peeking out from behind the word salad?  And aren’t “resolve and daring” what has made this nation great?  Wow – more admirable traits.

ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace. If a school such as Harvard does sell out to the military, let it at least be honest and add a sign at its Cambridge front portal: Harvard, a Pentagon Annex.

Yeah, that warrior ethic thing is a real “taint” on intellectual purity, isn’t it – if you define intellectual purity as “what I deem important and nothing else”.   Let’s review – loyalty, daring, resolve, discipline, principle and sacrifice.  I have to agree those traits contained in the warrior ethic would be a real drag on “intellectual purity” wouldn’t they?

McCarthy calls the classes taught in ROTC “softie classes” that don’t require much intellectually.  Well they’re certainly not advanced nuclear physics, but then they’re not designed to be.   They are classes which lay the ground work for what is to come in the military.  They are an introduction to the schooling the military will incrementally give its officers as they go on active duty and progress through the ranks.  When I entered the Army I went to the Infantry Officer Basic Course which picked up right where ROTC left off.  Given a few years of experience I went to my branch’s Advanced course, then the Command and General Staff College, etc.  – all part of a planned military schooling cycle that turns out the leaders that we have commanding our military today – most of whom could easily pit their intellect against that of McCarthy and come out miles ahead.

As for the intellectual purity of a school being compromised by ROTC, if this demonstrably misinformed op/ed is an example of what such intellectual purity produces, ROTC would most likely raise the intellectual level of the school this guy attended.   It just makes you wonder what he’s so afraid of.

~McQ


Atheists whine about not being included in religious event

I get tired of this sort of nonsense:

Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other nontheistic Washington, D.C. residents will have no representation at Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray’s first official inaugural event—an ecumenical prayer service entitled “One City … Praying Together” at 8 a.m. Sunday, January 2, 2011.

“We would prefer that a government function such as an inauguration not be entwined with religion,” said Amanda Knief, a Humanist Celebrant and government relations manager for the Secular Coalition for America (SCA). “However, we find it overtly discriminatory when we request to be part of an ecumenical prayer service that is supposed to unite the entire city and are told there is no place for nontheists.”

How can a prayer service unite an entire city if atheists don’t believe in prayer or a deity?  Obviously, the word “prayer” is key to the phrase as it refers to those who both believe in prayer and a deity. Just as obviously, the prayer service is aimed a those in the city who do.  And why would an atheist want to go to a prayer service in the first place?

Oh, I know – “inclusion”.

Well, in reality,  they wouldn’t want to attend – “inclusion” is a false flag.  And they’re not “left out” of anything – atheism is their choice.  With that choice comes consequences – like not being invited to attend prayer meetings.

Instead this is really about banishing such services altogether.  And their assumed leverage here is it is a government event – a city government holding an “ecumenical” service, i.e. not touting a single religion and in perfect conformance with the 1st Amendment (which, btw, doesn’t apply below federal level, but I thought I’d point it out anyway).  But it isn’t “inclusive”.

Love the line, “we would prefer that a government function such a an inauguration not be entwined with religion.”

Cool.  Go out and win an election and then you can run the inauguration any way you wish.   That’s the basic message here.  Freedom is choice – and you can choose to not have such an inauguration if you win.  But if you won’t make the attempt or lose, tough nuts – the winner gets to “choose”, note the word,  how he or she will run the inauguration within the confines of the law.

A prayer meeting isn’t about anything in particular which will effect an atheist that I know of.  It’s a meeting of like minded people to ask for help and guidance of their deity of choice.   How that is “overtly discriminatory” against those who don’t believe in prayer or a deity is beyond me.

Oh, and in case you were wondering:

A Humanist Celebrant is the nonreligious equivalent of a clergyperson. He or she may receive national certification from several organizations, including The Humanist Society, the American Ethical Union, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism; and may conduct marriages, civil unions, memorial services, funerals, and other life ceremonies.

So they were supposed to invite a “nonreligious equivalent” of a “clergyperson” to a religious event?  What is a “nonreligious equivalent” to a clergyperson?   There is no equivalency in terms of belief.  The fact that the Humanist Celebrant can conduct marriages, civil unions, (so can a justice of the peace) etc.  doesn’t make them equivalent where it counts (and no one would argue a JP is the “equivalent” of a priest).

Look whether you believe in a deity or not, this is just nonsense on a stick.  Religion is a personal choice.  And nothing that I know of precludes government officials from conducting “ecumenical” prayer meetings if it is their desire. 

My guess is had the atheists – or Humanist Celebrant – shown up at the meeting he or she would have been graciously included.   Then what?

This is just more whining by the militant atheists of the country.  If you don’t want to participate in religion, don’t.  Don’t demand your “equivalency” be accepted by the religious or that they must include you in something, that in reality, you have no real desire to be included in at all.  The religious are not welcome in your camp and it shouldn’t surprise or upset you that you’re not particularly welcome in theirs. 

Such is life.  Grow up, drop the false “inclusion” argument and quit whining, for goodness sake.

~McQ


Health insurance mandate’s Constitutionality and the "necessary and proper" clause

It appears that the main question, or at least one of the main questions, about the health care mandate in Obamacare that requires Americans buy health insurance may revolve around the "necessary and proper" clause and not just the badly abused Commerce clause.

From the New York Times:

The necessary-and-proper clause sits at the end of Article I, Section 8, after 17 paragraphs that enumerate the powers delegated to Congress, ranging from the establishment of post offices to the declaration of war. It conveys authority “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.”

The reason that is a key is because the latest decision that went against the administration involved Judge Henry Hudson rejecting the “necessary and proper” defense.  As the Times mentions, the court has struggled over the years to define the necessary and proper clause.  Here’s the case as it stands now:

The [DoJ] , which represents the Obama administration, argues that the insurance requirement is constitutional under the commerce clause and allowed under the necessary-and-proper clause as a rational means to an appropriate end. It points to a series of Supreme Court precedents that interpret those provisions as allowing the regulation of “activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.”

The act of not obtaining health insurance, the federal government’s lawyers contend, is effectively a decision to pay later rather than up front in a market that consumers cannot avoid. Such decisions, they say, have a substantial impact on the market because many of the uninsured cannot afford their care and shift costs to governments, hospitals and the privately insured.

Furthermore, the lawyers argue, the insurance mandate is essential — both necessary and proper — to making other changes work, particularly prohibitions on discrimination by insurers against those with pre-existing medical conditions [emphasis mine].

Obviously, at least in my estimation, the argument fails for a number of reasons.  Obviously, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m simply giving my arguments based on the stated particulars of the case as outlined above. 

First the wording “rational means to an appropriate end.”  I’d argue the end is not at all appropriate – i.e government dictating that someone must have insurance certainly smacks of what government had denied and called a “myth”.  That is government is now in charge of health care for everyone.  Unless you accept that premise, the argument is invalid.  Acceptance of that premise and the “appropriate end” argument means government can pretty well do whatever it wants and the Constitution as a guiding document has been mostly rendered moot.

The argument goes on to say that not having health insurance is “effectively a decision to pay later rather than up front in a market that consumers cannot avoid.”  Obviously, in the strictest sense that’s not true.  “Consumers” can avoid that market.  And do.  That’s not to say they will – but the fact is no one is forced to use it and no one has to use it if they so choose.   Arguing that consumers must be required to buy insurance because they will use the market seems a claim that is unfounded in fact.  People of means, for instance, may decide they’d rather pay as they use the service, vs. obtaining insurance.  That should be their decision, not governments if we’re really a free country.  And while they may be a small set of those who will seek health care, they still give lie to the necessity of insurance to cover the costs of their care – the “pay later than up front” mentioned in the emphasized argument.

Finally there’s the argument which says the mandate is necessary “to making other changes work, particularly prohibitions on discrimination by insurers against those with pre-existing medical conditions

No.  It’s not. Consider the fact that much of the problem we face with health insurance  today revolves around the structure of the market as one in which employers provide the coverage.  Then there’s a problem of  government’s making.  The restrictions on selling  health insurance across state lines.  This has essentially segmented the huge pool we see in other insurance markets to 50 segmented markets.  It has made the ability to buy an insurance product at the best price and outside the traditional employer furnished insurance all but impossible.  Removal of that restriction would go a long way in solving some of the toughest problems – pre-existing conditions and portability. While government may feel compelled to place “prohibitions on discrimination by insurers against those with pre-existing medical conditions”, there would probably be less of a need to discriminate in larger pools of insured.  Anyway, that solution is found nowhere in the existing law.

There is no “right” to health care.  As far as my opinion goes, I find nothing in the Constitution that gives government the power or authority to require I pre-pay for health care.  And that is precisely what it is claiming – that health care is something I will use and since I will use it, I must pre-pay for that use.  No matter what my health, age, etc.   It argues that it can remove my choice in the matter by law.

One more time – freedom is choice.   When it is removed, so is freedom.  This is just another step toward a more oppressive government presence in our lives.  One can only hope that the SCOTUS will rule against the administration on this travesty of a law and cripple it to the point that repeal is the only valid choice for Congress.  Otherwise, the door will be opened to all sorts of mandates we haven’t even imagined.   And with each mandate more choice is eliminated.

If anyone can argue that was the vision of the founders of the country or the writers of the Constitution, and do so with a straight face, I’ll be glad to nominate them for an Oscar next year.

~McQ

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