Now that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has decreed that women may not be excluded from front line combat positions, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey ordered a review of the standards applied to personnel in these positions. Dempsey's order specifically requires all commanders to justify any minimum standards that would tend to disproportionately impact women.
“As it stands now, many of the physical requirements imposed on combat troops are beyond the capabilities of the vast majority of female soldiers,” Dempsey said. “This makes the standards inherently discriminatory and denies these female soldiers equal rights. The Commander-in-Chief has made it clear that it is his policy to have an army that looks like America. Regulations must be revised to accommodate this goal.”
While acknowledging that “women might lack the physical strength to lug wounded comrades to safety,” Dempsey contended that “these deficiencies might be more than compensated by women's greater skills in nurturing those who are injured and frightened. Many grievously wounded soldiers' final thoughts are of their mothers or wives. The presence of female platoon mates could help ease their transition to deceased status.”
The General expressed a hope that “international agreements would be reached that would help level the playing field for combat between units of all-male troops vs. units of mixed genders. We're optimistic that a sense of chivalry can be instilled which will give the female soldier a fair chance of surviving a hand-to-hand encounter with a male enemy soldier.”
NLRB Appointments Ruled Unconstitutional
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that President Obama's “recess appointments” to the National Labor Relations Board last January were invalid. The decision effectively nullifies every action taken by the NLRB over the last year.
The Obama Administration is expected to appeal the Court's decision, alleging that “the pro forma sessions convened by the Senate to avoid being in a 'recess status' were a sham aimed at denying the President the opportunity to make valid recess appointments as provided for in the Constitution.”
The fact that the Senate is controlled by the President's Party and that both Republicans and Democrats have used pro forma sessions on numerous prior occasions for the express purpose of preventing the appointment of persons that they have not vetted and approved were casually dismissed by Press Secretary Jay Carney
Carney called the ruling “novel and unprecedented. This is one court, one case, one company. President Obama is the supreme leader of America. He has been given a mandate by the voters to govern and will not be turned aside by the carping of those who oppose him.”
Senate Hearing on Benghazi Infuriates Boxer
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) stormed out of the Senate Hearing into the deaths of the US Ambassador to Libya and others. The spark that ignited her fury was Senator Rand Paul's (R-Ken) questioning of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Rather than let her retire from her post with dignity, Paul insists on poking around into performance issues that have no relevance at this late date,” Boxer complained. “Maybe Secretary Clinton should have taken a greater interest in security for the Ambassador and his staff, but as she so artfully asked, what difference does that make now? Isn't it just 'Monday morning quarterbacking?' I mean, she's already accepted full responsibility, does she have to accept blame, as well?”
Boxer pointed out that “accepting responsibility is more than her husband did in that whole Monica Lewinski mess. If we can move on from that why can't we move on from this? Is there a sexist double standard at work?”
“I just can't get past how improper it is for a person of Paul's minimal qualifications to be challenging one of the best, if not the best, Secretaries of State in one of the best, if not the best, Administrations this country has ever seen,” Boxer marveled.
The California Senator said she was “somewhat comforted by the widespread media agreement that none of the Republicans has the requisite standing and stature to question this great woman.”
Kerry Defends President Obama's Unilateral War-Making in Libya
Forty years ago, John Kerry, currently a Democratic senator from Massachusetts and President Obama's nominee to take over as Secretary of State, denounced US bombing of Cambodia. More recently, he has excused President Obama's bombing of Libya.
“How are these two instances different?” Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken) asked at Kerry's confirmation hearing. “Weren't both acts of war taken without Congressional authority? Doesn't the Constitution vest the war-making power in Congress?”
“The issue is a complex one with many nuances,” Kerry replied. “In an effort to simplify it for you, let me point out that the bombing of Cambodia took place in a war that I already opposed. It was ordered by then President Nixon, who as it turns out, was a criminal that would've gone to prison if it weren't for President Ford's pardon.”
“In contrast, the bombing in Libya was ordered by a Nobel Prize winning President Obama,” Kerry pointed out. “Since President Obama is a credentialed man of peace his actions carry a patina of legitimacy that goes beyond the strictures of one nation's Constitution. He is clearly a 'man for all seasons' and justifiably, in my opinion, cannot be restrained from using his superior wisdom to resolve international disputes.”
That the intervention ordered by Obama may have contributed to strengthening al-Qaeda in Libya and leading to the later assassination of Ambassador Stevens was brushed aside as “an unforeseen series of unfortunate events” by Senator Kerry. “Who could have predicted such an outcome? When even the best minds at the Department of State are stumped who are we to second guess them?”
Congressional Pay Protected by Constitution
Recent legislation passed by the House of Representatives to extend the debt limit included a clause that will withhold salaries from members of Congress if they do not pas a budget. While existing law appears to require that Congress pass an annual budget, the body has neglected to do so since 2009.
Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) contends that this salary withholding clause is unConstitutiuonal. “The 27th Amendment says that 'No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened,'” Jeffries asserted. “My salary is Constitutionally protected regardless of what I do or don't do while I'm here.”
That the intent of the Amendment was to block Congress from increasing its own pay didn't seem to faze Jeffries. “It doesn't say Congress shall not increase its pay,” he pointed out. “It says the pay shall not vary.”
Jeffries' interpretation received support from across the aisle as Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) agreed with his assessment. “As much as I concur with the sentiment that Congress ought to be required to do its job in order to get paid, the Constitution says it doesn't,” King observed. “Does this make us a privileged class? Maybe, but as a strict constructionist I feel that my hands are tied. It's up to voters to defeat those who don't do their jobs.”
Inaugural Address Redefines Basic Freedoms
Urging that “we break free of the archaic notions of our nation's so-called 'Founding Fathers,'” President Barack Obama launched his second term with a stirring call to “update our concepts to fit our modern circumstances.”
The President maintained that “the Founders' original idea that 'liberty' means freedom from government abuses and usurpations has no relevance today. Our government does not usurp our rights. The people elect their rulers and expect them to create the kind of rights appropriate to the world we live in now.”
“How much liberty does a person have if he lacks the will or ability to make his own way?” Obama asked. “Instead of leaving such a person alone and saying he is 'free to do as he pleases,' today's caring government must provide the means for his pursuit of happiness. Merely having the opportunity to seek employment is not enough. Some aren't suited to such a life. Should they then be denied the fruits of the nation's abundance?”
“And what about those whose freely exercised choices would entrap them in lives of misery?” the President continued. “Can we truly call our selves free if we are slaves to our vices—overeating, drinking, smoking, owning guns, listening to talk radio? Shouldn't government step in to try to help free people from these damaging predilections?”
Obama vowed “to continue the struggle for a more perfect union and not rest until every single person in America is assured that his welfare is the heartfelt concern of his government. I pledge that I will not be deterred from this course. No obstruction from the naysayers will be permitted to impede our progress.”
“If those aiming to stave off the march toward a brighter future ask 'by what authority' I act,” Obama concluded. “I will say that I act for the benefit of all of humanity. No higher authority is needed.”