Rule 5 Blogging: Rangers!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Megan Fox in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

This week, we note CPT Kristen Griest and 1LT Shaye Haver, who became the first women to pass the Army Ranger School:

CPT Kristen Griest, left, and 1LT Shaye Haver, right, became the first female soldiers ever to graduate from Ranger School on August 21, 2015.

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: Rangers!’ »

The Pope should cancel his trip

It seems like everyone on the left wants to offend Pope Francis. From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Nutter says he hopes to raise LGBT issues with Pope

By Tricia L. Nadolny, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer | Last updated: Friday, September 18, 2015, 8:14 PM | Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015, 5:46 PM

Mayor Nutter, if given the chance, plans to speak with Pope Francis during the papal visit to Philadelphia about barriers faced by the LGBT community in the United States and to ask the pope to “end judgment” of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics.

In a statement issued Friday, Nutter’s office summarized the message he hopes to deliver to the pope. The comments, addressed to “Your Holiness,” touch on a range of concerns in the LGBT community including alienation from the church, discrimination in housing and employment and isolation of youth leading to depression and suicide.

“We encourage ending the systematic and institutionalized discrimination against LGBT people through the message of love, hope and acceptance,” the draft remarks from Nutter read. “For the many LGBT individuals who seek the Lord and have good will, we ask that you end judgment of these individuals by those within the Church through teaching and pastoral practice currently in place.”

Nutter’s comments, provided by his spokesman Mark McDonald, came on the heels of an op-ed published Thursday by Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney in which he called on the mayor to stand up for the LGBT community if given one-on-one time with the pope.

There’s more at the link. Of course, Mayor Nutter is only the latest Democrat to try to insult the Pope and the Catholic Church. From The Wall Street Journal:

Vatican Disputes White House Guest List for Papal Visit

Invitations to transgender activists, first openly gay U.S. Episcopal bishop and activist nun to White House event prompt pushback

By Francis X. Rocca
Sept. 17, 2015 7:45 p.m. ET

On the eve of Pope Francis’s arrival in the U.S., the Vatican has taken offense at the Obama administration’s decision to invite to the pope’s welcome ceremony transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia.

According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with these guests at the White House welcoming ceremony next Wednesday could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities.

The tension exemplifies concerns among conservative Catholics, including many bishops, that the White House will use the pope’s visit to play down its differences with church leaders on such contentious issues as same-sex marriage and the contraception mandate in the health care law.

The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on the Vatican’s reaction to the ceremony’s guest list. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday he was unaware of the names of individuals on the guest list, but cautioned against drawing any conclusions on specific guests “because there will be 15,000 other people there too.”

In the last few days, several people have acknowledged or made public their receipt of invitations to the event, which will be held on the White House’s South Lawn on the morning of Pope Francis’ first full day in the U.S.

There’s more at the link.

I wrote about Episcopal Bishop Vicky Gene Robinson ten years ago, a selfish man1 who would rather split apart the Anglican Church he purported to serve for his own selfish reasons. That President Obama would invite him to greet the Pope is offensive.2

Another guest, Mateo Williamson, is a former co-head of the transgender caucus of Dignity USA, a group for LGBT Catholics. He said the Vatican’s disapproval of his presence at the ceremony “speaks to the necessity for continued dialogue” between transgender Catholics and the church hierarchy.

“This is really not so much of a political statement as it is the reality that there are so many LGBT Catholics and family members of LGBT people who would really benefit from this message coming from the White House,” he said.

Let me be blunt here: there is no such thing as an “LGBT Catholic.” The Church holds that to be homosexual itself is not a sin, any more than any other unfortunate condition or illness. But scripture plainly forbids homosexual activity or relations,3 and homosexuals are required to remain celibate.4 We have complete freedom of religion in this country: homosexuals are absolutely allowed to choose not to be Catholics if they wish to engage in homosexual relations. And we have freedom of speech as well; they can tell everybody they wish that they really are Catholics. But, if they do so, they are exercising another part of freedom of speech, the freedom to lie, because that is exactly what such people are doing.5

The White House is seeking to play down its differences with Catholic Church leaders during Pope Francis’ visit, and to emphasize areas in which President Obama’s agenda aligns with the pope’s.

Really? Then why deliberately invite people whose presence is intended as an insult to the Pope and the Catholic Church?6 Couldn’t the President have left the homosexual lobby out of this, and focused on issues in which the Pope and he generally agree, such as climate change and socialism?

Well, no, of course not, because that isn’t the way this President operates. He smiles when he insults people, but he insults them regardless. January 20, 2017, cannot come too soon.

  1. Bishop Robinson, after divorcing his wife to shack up with and later “marry” a male, wound up “divorcing” his “husband.”
  2. Though President Obama did, at one point, trianglate Bishop Robinson right under the bus!
  3. Genesis 19:1-29; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10.
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2357-2359.
  5. What, I have to wonder, are active homosexuals thinking when they approach the altar to receive the Eucharist. If they ever attended Catechism, they must have learned that to receive the Host while in a state of grave sin is a grave sin in itself.
  6. President Obama plans to nominate Eric Fanning, an openly homosexual man, to become Secretary of the Army. Of course this would be announced before the Pope’s visit. Mr Fanning’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation, but the Republican majority will not have the courage to reject him.

#CarlyFiorina isn’t running to become the first female President; she’s running to become President!

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Card Carly Doesn’t Play

Most political women pander to gender, but Fiorina wants to make it on the merits.

By Kimberley A. Strassel | Sept. 17, 2015 7:15 p.m. ET

Asked during Wednesday’s GOP debate which woman he’d put on the $10 bill, Jeb Bush named Margaret Thatcher. As Mr. Bush then joked that it would probably be illegal to put a British prime minister on American currency, eyes flicked to the woman standing to his left. Quite so.

Carly Fiorina in Phoenix, Sept. 11. Photo: Cheryl Evans/Associated Press

Carly Fiorina isn’t Margaret Thatcher, just as her Republican rivals aren’t Ronald Reagan. Yet Ms. Fiorina has a bit of Thatcher about her—and in one way in particular. She isn’t a woman running for president. She’s a presidential contender who happens to be a woman.

That’s new for the GOP. Women have made remarkable inroads everywhere, but there still may be no tougher realm than Republican politics. This isn’t, as the press suggests, because conservative voters are old fogies who’d chain their wives to sinks full of dirty dishes. It’s because conservative voters demand more from their candidates.

Women Democrats pander on gender issues—abortion, birth control, the myth of unequal pay. They promise female voters special handouts. They pitch their womanhood as a qualification for office. And their base loves it.

Women Republicans don’t get to engage in such vote-buying. They are expected to be principled, knowledgeable, serious. They are expected to propose policies — sometimes unpopular ones — designed to help all Americans. And, because the general public (both right and left) is still new to the idea of a woman president, they are expected to do all this twice as well as men.

This was Elizabeth Dole’s problem in her fleeting 2000 presidential bid. Ms. Dole ran on her gender, arguing America ought to elect its first female president — which was no argument at all. It was a problem in 2012 for Michele Bachmann, who loved to claim special insight as “a mother of five” and a “homemaker.” It was a problem for Sarah Palin, whose occasional flubs allowed late-night comics to undermine her seriousness as a vice-presidential candidate.

The Iron Lady didn’t do identity politics, and Ms. Fiorina doesn’t either. At the debate she offered unadulterated substance. She was informed, focused, specific. Want to know what Carly thinks of Putin? Here. Need Carly to explain how hard it is to alter the 14th amendment? Right at ya. Curious if Carly is familiar with Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, and where he’s traveled lately? Boom, boom, boom.

There’s a lot more at the link.

A bit of a quibble with the author’s last (reproduced) paragraph: Mrs Fiorina didn’t get it right about how difficult it is to alter the 14th Amendment; she said that it required 2/3 of the states to ratify a change, where the requirement is actually 3/4 of the states. The 2/3 requirement is the supermajority required in each House of Congress to pass an amendment and submit it to the states for ratification.

But the article is right on target: I can’t say that it’s true for every supporter of Mrs Fiorina’s campaign, but at least for me it is important that she is not running as a female candidate but as simply a candidate, not claiming that she should be the first female President, but simply that she is the best person running to be our next President.

We already have a candidate running to be the first female President in Hillary Clinton, a woman of an extensive résumé but few actual accomplishments, a candidate running, because it’s her turn to be President, damn it! but who is considered presidentibili not because of anything she has actually done but simply because she married the right man; Hillary Clinton might have been elected to the Senate and appointed Secretary of State, but Hillary Rodham would never have been.

I am not naïve enough to believe that none of Mrs Fiorina’s support is due to her being a woman, any more than I think that her being female might not cost her some votes as well; that’s simply the way the world is. Even the oh-so-liberal New York Times sexistly tweeted last night:

My response was obvious:

You see, at The First Street Journal, we don’t care about Mrs Fiorina’s chromosomes or her genitals; we care about whether she is a good candidate, whether she would make a good President.

Will Mrs Fiorina make a good President? The answer is: we can’t know until she actually becomes President. There is no real training program for presidents, and the closest position we have in the United States is the gubernatorial seat, and while we have had former governors who have been good Presidents, we’ve had too many who have made lousy Presidents. Every presidential candidate is, in the end, a guess and a reach.

But, of all of the candidates running, Mrs Fiorina seems top-notch to me: she is intelligent, she’s obviously a quick learner, she is tough and intuitive and she gets to the core of problems quickly. She didn’t start near the top, but came up from the bottom, and has a personal understanding not only about how things work in the executive suite, but in all of the layers from the entry-level on up. We are not interested in her becoming the first female President; we are very interested in her becoming President.

Scott Walker’s campaign fouls up

Where's Carly Fiorina?

Where’s Carly Fiorina?

Scott Walker’s campaign website has a page, Who Won the GOP Debate? You can scroll down and choose from any of the eleven candidates who were on stage. Naturally, Governor Walker is the first choice, and below his image are the other ten candidates, in alphabetical order.

But the header image, which I have saved and used in this article,1 is from the previous debate on Fox, the one in which Carly Fiorina was excluded. Given that Mrs Fiorina turned in one of the best debate performances — many people say that she simply won outright, though that is not my position — that’s a pretty glaring error, and one which will be seen as a sexist attempt to exclude her from the conversation.

In my opinion, this was simply a mistake by a campaign website staffer, but it doesn’t matter: Mr Walker will get hammered for this. The candidates have to be ultimately responsible for what goes out under their names.

  1. Image captured at 15:54 on Thursday, September 17, 2015.

The Fed stands pat

From The Wall Street Journal:

Fed Stands Pat, Wary of Global Tumult

Majority of central bank officials still expect to increase rates this year

The Federal Reserve left short-term interest rates at near-zero levels despite signs of a stronger job market, signaling trepidation about recent turbulence in financial markets and in economies abroad.

Decision in Depth

There’s really no reason to raise interest rates now: the demand for loans from creditworthy customers simply isn’t there, and the banks are sitting on cash. If there’s no pent-up demand at current rates, things certainly wouldn’t improve if rates were raised.

#CNNDebate My debate scoreboard

This is the first candidate debate I’ve watched in decades; I don’t really think much of the debate format anyway. Candidate debates are exactly the opposite of what a President does: debaters have to stand there, with no notes and no help, and answer questions on the spur of the moment, while the President always has all of the available information at hand, and plenty of help with every decision. Even during the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguably the closest we’ve ever come to nuclear war, President Kennedy didn’t actually take his decision on blockading Cuba until the sixth day after he had been notified about the presence of Soviet missiles in that island nation.

And I missed the tail end of the debate. I recorded it, and didn’t start watching it until 9:00 PM, and the recording cut off at 11:30 PM, as it was supposed to do, but the debate ran overtime. Those caveats said, my impressions:

  • Grade: F If anyone lost the debate, it was Dr Ben Carson. It wasn’t for what he said, but how he said it; he did not present an image of strength or decisiveness, and he was wishy-washy on some things. His was the worst performance.
  • Grade D for Senator Paul, C for Governors Huckabee and Christie Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) gave fairly weak performances, primarily because they didn’t get as much face time as the others. Messrs Huckabee and Christie had a few strong moments, but not enough of them.
  • Grade C+ Governor John Kasich had some good answers, and was trying to tout his own record without slamming anyone else. I liked his style, but he got lost in the crowd a bit too often.
  • Grade B- Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a fair to good performance; he had some strong points, but his performance was uneven.
  • Grade B Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) had some strong and assertive answers, but suffered from a bit of face time shortage.
  • Grade B+ Carly Fiorina had a strong performance, and was easily the candidate who presented the most specifics about what she would do as President. She made one bad (to me) mistake, when she said that a constitutional amendment would need to be ratified by 2/3 of the states, when an amendment actually requires ratification by 3/4 of the states. She gave strong answers beginning, middle and end, and might have been one of the best actual debaters, however hers was a good, but not great performance. She did win a couple of exchanges with Donald Trump, but the exchange between Mr Trump and her about their respective business careers was a loss for both.
  • Grade B+ Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) turned in a strong performance, though he had a bit of an uneven spot in the middle. All of his answers were strong ones, but he got overlooked a bit too much.
  • Grade B+ Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) Possibly the best actual debater there, but some of his positions were too nuanced and didn’t play as well as they might have. He did have a couple of strong answers concerning his brother’s record.
  • Grade B+ Donald Trump was the most dominant figure on the stage, in part because so many of the questions were about him, but also because he wouldn’t be denied getting in his points. However, his actual answers lacked any specificity, and he was just plain wrong about a couple of things. Mr Bush noted that just because Mr Trump says something doesn’t make it true. He got thrashed by Mrs Fiorina on two questions, and the business exchange between Mrs Fiorina and him was a loss for both.  Governor Christie had a strong point during that, noting that the unemployed worker doesn’t care one bit about Mrs Fiorina’s and Mr Trump’s business careers.

I didn’t see any clear winner in this debate. Had there been fewer candidates, I believe Messrs Kasich and Christie would have been right at the top on performance. I didn’t see any realistic hope that Drs Carson or Paul would have done better had the debate had fewer competitors; they just didn’t have strong answers even when they got the chance.

Not exactly a vacationating vacation

Mrs Pico has insisted that we were going to clean out the basement/workshop.

We got all of the shelves cleaned off.  They were a disorganized mess.  Now they are full again, but it's an organized mess!

We got all of the shelves cleaned off. They were a disorganized mess. Now they are full again, but it’s an organized mess!

Completely cleaned off the workbench.  Then, was throwing out old cans of stain and paint, when I decided to coat the top with some old polyurethane before I threw it away.  I've put back some of the stuff in this picture.

Completely cleaned off the workbench. Then, was throwing out old cans of stain and paint, when I decided to coat the top with some old polyurethane before I threw it away. I’ve put back some of the stuff in this picture.

I'm a hot, sweaty mess after working in the shop all day, but I'm ready for tonight's debate!

I’m a hot, sweaty mess after working in the shop all day, but I’m ready for tonight’s debate!

Figuring out common core math

I finally figured it out: common core math is how some people do math in their heads, without pencil and paper. It is using tricks to help the brain organize the problem. The process is more complicated, and slower, but it does yield the correct answer. Trouble is: how many people need to do math problems in their heads?

And the answer to that question is: I do. I always know how long Elaine and I have been married, and this is the process through which I go:

  1. I always know how many years we’ve been married, currently 36. (2015 – 1979 = 36)
  2. A – I figure out how many months we’ve been married, by subtracting the current month, September, from the month in which we were married, May. (9 – 5 +4).
    B – If the current month is before May, I have to subtract one from the year calculation in 1, add 7 for the number of months between May and December, and then add the number of months in the current year. Assuming the calculation is being made in April, it would be 7 + 4 = 11.
  3. A – I subtract 19, the day we were married from the current day. This works if the date is 19 or greater.
    B – However, since this is the 16th, what I have to do is go back to last month (meaning: subtract 1 from the number of months), reducing it to 3 months, and add the number of days between 19 and the end of the month; last month being a 31 day month, that’s 12. Then I add 12 to today’s date, the 16th, and come up with 28 days.

Thus, we’ve been married for 36 years, 3 months and 28 days, today.

Now, I do this all the time, and that’s how I was able to recognize the math technique being used in common core. Perhaps it will be handy after a nuclear apocalypse destroys all calculators and pencils and paper, but I can’t figure out why we need a more complicated way of doing things today.

Note the way the common core math problem is organized in the picture. When you are doing arithmetic with pencil and paper, you move from right to left: 8 – 3 = 5. Then you move left one column. Since 6 is less than 9, you have to bring forward a 10, and 16 – 9 = 7. Move left one more column, and 5 – 1 (from the borrowed 10) = 4, -2 = 2, yielding the answer of 275. But, in the common core problem, the arithmetic is being done from left to right.

Why do this? The simple, old-fashioned way of doing the arithmetic with pencil and paper worked just fine. But, by teaching common core, while it might (plausibly) help people do the arithmetic in their heads, it is pushing the math in the opposite direction from the standard way of figuring things out, right to left. That cannot help students with the way arithmetic has been done traditionally, and could possibly hurt.

Falling like a rock? Hillary Clinton’s new poll numbers are plummeting

From The Washington Post:

Clinton’s support erodes sharply among Democratic women

By Karen Tumulty September 14 at 12:56 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hillary Rodham Clinton is suffering a rapid erosion of support among Democratic women — the voters long presumed to be the bedrock in her bid to become the nation’s first female president.

The numbers in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll are an alarm siren: Where 71 percent of Democratic-leaning female voters said in July that they expected to vote for Clinton, only 42 percent do now, a drop of 29 percentage points in eight weeks.

The period since the last survey coincides with news that the FBI is looking into the security of e-mail sent over a private server Clinton used when she was secretary of state, as well as an intense media focus on her response to the controversy. The episode has raised questions about her judgment and revived memories of the scandals that plagued the presidency of her husband, Bill Clinton, in the 1990s.

The steep decline among women, which is sharpest among whites, is the main force driving the poll’s overall numbers, which show support for Hillary Clinton falling from 63 percent in July to 42 percent now among Democratic-leaning voters. Her numbers among women have declined to the point where they are about even with her share among men.

There’s more at the original.

We have noted previously that people are starting to notice that Mrs Clinton has an impressive list of titles but very few actual accomplishments, and that the professional media are now starting to ask tougher questions about her qualifications. And Investor’s Business Daily — never a supporter of Mrs Clinton’s — noted:

What the public doesn’t understand is that Clinton not only put national security at risk with her private email server. She also knew she was exposing state secrets to hackers — and did it anyway. Consider:

  • In January 2009, diplomatic security officials “read in” Hillary on procedures to ID and handle classified information. Her security training included distinguishing classified from unclassified material and sending classified messages using the government’s closed, encrypted email system, known as Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet. Yet Hillary secretly set up and used a separate unsecured email system in the basement of her New York residence to send and receive highly classified information.
  • In February 2010, Clinton chided a staffer, Jake Sullivan, for hesitating to send a classified foreign speech to her personal and unsecured email account. “Just email it,” she ordered him in a recently disclosed email, revealing her cavalier attitude toward protecting classified information from hackers.
  • In July 2010, Clinton solicited additional classified information through her unsecured email — even though, at the time, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had hacked and released some 92,000 State Department and Defense Department cables and other classified documents.
  • In November 2012, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own private server failed — though just a year earlier Beijing had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials. The then-secretary had backed up Google’s accusations against the Chinese government, in June 2011.
  • In July 2013, Hillary hired a small Denver computer firm to manage her email server — just three months after her crony, Sidney Blumenthal, had his email account hacked, exposing some two dozen messages that he had sent to Clinton about sensitive Middle Eastern affairs.

Blumenthal was not employed by State and had no security clearance. (However, he was working full-time earning $10,000 a month for the Clinton Foundation, which has received millions of dollars in foreign donations and been accused of running an international influence-peddling operation.)

So Hillary knew what she was doing was reckless. Yet she continued to use the unsecured accounts and equipment that foreign enemies could easily hack. Such reckless behavior should disqualify her from the highest office. She has absolutely no business being commander in chief.

Those are facts that might be known only to the campaign professionals and the news junkies right now, but as the time moves forward, and the campaigns get ever-more-intense, those things will become general knowledge. And, as the Post noted, Mrs Clinton is already losing support, with the most dramatic drop being among white women, the voters on whom she counts most greatly.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The problem is simple: Hillary Clinton, whom her husband once sold as “you get two for the price of one” during his 1992 campaign, has really no notable accomplishments on her own. As First Lady of Arkansas, and then of the United States, one wouldn’t expect much, but President Clinton did give his wife one big, big job, health care reform, and she failed at it rather spectacularly.1 She was elected to the Senate from New York based on her name, but had no notable achievements in her eight years in Congress. President Obama appointed her to become Secretary of State, but foreign policy was tightly controlled from the White House, not Foggy Bottom, and her most notable “achievement” as Secretary was the Benghazi massacre. She has titles and she has degrees, but for someone to whom so much was given, her actual record is bland and sparse. And now, people are starting to notice.

Mrs Clinton’s presidency was inevitable once before, until Barack Obama made her less than inevitable; a woman with titles but no achievements was beaten by a man with titles but no achievements. The most that can be said is that Mr Obama had at least earned his titles on his own, while Mrs Clinton got hers because she was Bill Clinton’s wife.

DaTechGuy went out on a limb and said, last week, that Mrs Clinton, as far as ever becoming President, was done for, toast, her time is up. I’m not quite so optimistic, because I know that the Democrats are always willing to vote for symbols ahead of accomplishments, but if she’s failing and flailing this badly, this early, I have a difficult time seeing how she can ever win.

  1. This was at a time when the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, and yet not one single provision of her proposal came up for even one single committee vote. There was no Republican filibuster in play, because nothing ever made it out of committee.