September 19, 2014
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My take on the news
Women have already proven their mettle in combat
Lonnie Barham

WOMEN IN COMBAT: The Pentagon has announced that women, previously relegated to large, brigade-sized units, will now be able to serve in small combat units that are likely to engage in ground combat. Many infantrymen of today and yesteryear will protest this move and proclaim women are unfit physically and emotionally to serve in combat. Those of us who served for years in combat support military police units, both in peaceful environments and in combat zones, will argue vehemently that women are indeed capable of serving in combat. Female combat MPs have served on the "front lines" in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, in the Iraq war, and more recently in Afghanistan. These women did the exact same things their male MP counterparts did – search house to house for the enemy, kick in doors, engage in physical combat with the enemy and, yes, kill the enemy.

In wars of insurgency, where there is no dividing line between the front and the rear, MP units conduct operations very similar to those conducted by infantry units. And females have helped fill the ranks of the Military Police Corps for decades. Not only have they served admirably, many have served with great distinction. For example: Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester, an MP from the Kentucky Army National Guard, became the first woman since World War II to be awarded the silver star for combat bravery after she led a squad of MPs that defeated and killed 30 insurgents who had attacked a supply convoy near Baghdad in 2005. Today, female MPs from the Rhode Island National Guard are serving in similar roles in Afghanistan with the 169th Military Police Company. The Army relies heavily upon these women's leadership skills, their professionalism and their ability to perform successfully in roles that are combat roles in every sense except the name. The bottom line: Women have already proven their mettle as MPs in small fighting units; there is no doubt they will succeed in small infantry, armor and artillery units as well.

BEWARE UNION WOLF IN SHEEPS CLOTHING: Organized labor in Rhode Island has long been in favor of gay marriage. Especially supportive has been the National Education Association (NEA) of R.I., the union that represents most of our teachers. Supporters of same-sex marriage should, however, be very wary of this union's support! Most Rhode Islanders want the state Senate to quickly vote on the controversial bill legalizing gay marriage that was passed overwhelmingly by the House. Senate leaders, however, especially Senator Michael McCaffrey of Warwick, say the bill won't even be considered in committee until spring. NEA Executive Director Robert Walsh, who should be pushing for an immediate vote, says of the delay, "That's politics 101. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I would say let the process play itself out. " As many same-sex marriage supporters contend, Walsh's statement is evidence that the Senate will hold the bill hostage to other bills that are very bad for Rhode Island. Walsh is obviously hoping the Senate will this year pass the teacher binding arbitration bill that failed last year. Though his union supports gay marriage, he is willing to let the Senate bill languish until the last minute so it can be held as leverage over the House to pass the binding arbitration bill – a bill that is extremely bad for Rhode Island. It will take financial decisions away for locally elected officials and put them in the hands of an outside arbitrator, almost all of whom have proven to be very pro-union. And, more important, it will result in municipalities raising taxes dramatically to pay for the costly teacher contracts that will result. Beware of Wolf Walsh in his sheep's clothing as he hawks his costly and dangerous elixir.

ARE THERE ANY ADULTS IN CENTRAL FALLS? A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a five-year recovery plan for Central Falls that includes required austerity measures and a five-year budget that will pull the city out of its financial morass. The new mayor and City Council have to live with the plan or face contempt charges. Even though a state administrator will remain in Central Falls to ensure the plan is administered in accordance with the judge's approval, the state receiver, John F. McJennett III, refuses to leave Central Falls until all of the city councilors sit before him for a briefing on the plan. Three have refused to do so. Meanwhile, the city must pay $9,000 per week to the receiver and his staff to sit in City Hall waiting for the City Council to bend to McJennett's wishes.

Both sides are acting like children. It's a done deal! The court has approved a plan that Central Falls has to live with. A state administrator will remain to ensure the council exercises proper fiduciary responsibility. Local politicians cannot change the plan and the receiver cannot beat additional information into councilors' heads. The state has had its two-plus years in Central Falls and has done its job, albeit to the tune of a $3.8 million bill to the taxpayers. It's now time for the City Council to make the plan work with the state administrator's oversight. It isn't necessary for the three objecting members of the City Council to be forced to kiss the receiver's ring before he leaves. It's time for him to get out and let the elected city officials, as childish as they may seem, again run the city. With McJennett and the three councilors acting so childishly, it seems the new mayor, 27-year-old James A. Diossa, is the only adult in Central Falls.

FEDERAL JUDGE STANDS UP FOR PROPERTY RIGHTS: A federal magistrate judge has overruled the U.S. Justice Department and ordered the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts to cease efforts to seize a Tewksbury motel where several drug arrests had been made. The motel owner was not connected whatsoever with the drug sales or with those arrested. Simply because the arrests took place on his property, the U.S. Attorney had ruled the motel owner must forfeit the motel. It was a ludicrous decision. Had the court allowed the forfeiture law to start down this slippery slope, soon an entire shopping mall could be taken by the government simply because a drug sale took place in its parking lot, or a Delta Airlines' 747 could be taken because a passenger transported drugs aboard the plane. Thank goodness the judge stopped this egregious act of government theft. Perhaps now President Obama's overreaching Justice Department will begin to move away from its reputation as the Injustice Department.

COURT RULES OBAMA APPOINTMENTS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: Critics of President Obama have for years complained that many of his arbitrary executive actions were in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Now a federal appeals court has sided with those critics and has ruled that Obama did indeed violate the Constitution when he circumvented the Democrat-controlled Senate in making "recess" appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was on Christmas break a year ago. The framers of the Constitution clearly intended for such appointments to be made only when the Senate was unavailable for its "advice and consent" function. The court ruled that a short Christmas break does not make the Senate unavailable; that a recess is only those months between the two legislative years of each congress.

The reason Obama used such trickery to make the appointments was because he knew the Senate would not approve his three pro-union, anti-business appointees, even as his own party controlled the Senate. Obama has committed other constitutional violations through his executive orders, some of which will also end up in the courts. Americans should be very wary of a president who thinks he is above the Constitution.


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