G.S. Newbold, a retired Lieutenant General in the Marines, has an article in Time, entitled “Seven Myths About ‘Women in Combat.’” Like most articles with the word “myth” in the title, it implies that it is offering a clear-eyed and tough look at the issue. What it’s really doing, instead (and unsurprisingly), is giving a fresh coat of paint to the standard line of opposition to women in combat.
I can’t be bothered to do much more than offer a one sentence comment, response, or translation to his myths. I promise no fairness at all. After all, as Lt. Col Newbolt points out gravely, “‘Fair’ is not part of the direct ground combat lexicon,” although I’m unsure if “direct ground combat lexicon” is a book, a language, or a disease.
Here it goes, in order*: 1. No, it’s about women in combat, were you not there for the powerpoint? 2. What’s with this ‘women as wilting flowers who can’t …
The US News and World Report education issue is out! As ever, USNWR has taken on the critical task of ranking colleges and universities, including specific departments, and made a complete mess of the job. Kieran Healy has a couple of typically excellent posts on the subject (here and here). He concludes that USNWR‘s methods and conclusions are arrant nonsense and suggests that crowdsourcing the ranking of sociology departments might make more sense. Eric Rauchway, my once and future co-blogger, invites you to go here if you’re interested in doing the same for history departments.
The United States Senate, while directly elected, is organized in such a way as to overrepresent rural areas. The two Senators in Wyoming, for example, represent around 576,000 people, while the two Senators of California represent 38 million. That’s a massive disparity. Jamelle Boule, writing at The Prospect thinks that puts the Senate at the bottom of the global standings:
[Adam] Liptak suggests that the Senate is “the least democratic legislative chamber in any developed nation.” He’s right.
The United States Senate is hardly the only legislature that does not stick strictly to the principle of equal representation. Political scientists use the term “malapportioned” to describe the phenomenon, and it is common around the world. But the Senate is in contention for the least democratic legislative chamber
Thomas Friedman has MOOCs in his sights and that should worry all sides of the debate because Thomas Friedman operates a very large megaphone that helps shape public opinion, and also he is almost always wrong about everything. Yes, that is an ad hominem attack, a logical fallacy I became acquainted with in one of the classes I took taught by a professor in college. (Or it might have actually been in high school, I’m not sure.) I normally don’t go for ad hominem because as a teacher of writing I strongly believe that what matters are the ideas not the speaker. In this case, I’m making an exception because Thomas Friedman has demonstrated himself to be so wrong, so often, that he should no longer be…
Senator Sessions’s staff on the Budget Committee has contacted both me and my editor objecting to the item in the most strenuous terms. I have further explored the matter at length and determined that, in my haste, I treated Senator Sessions’s claims far too generously. Senator Sessions’s combination of ignorance and gross lack of intellectual standards turns out to be even more horrifying than I managed to initially communicate. Calling Sessions a “wonk McCarthyite” implies a level of policy understanding on his part that is wholly unsupported by the facts
Journalists on the campaign trail saw [President Lyndon] Johnson drunkenly board a plane armed with nuclear weapons and then accidentally drop them on the United States. Luckily, by the grace of God, they did not go off.
The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan incorrectly reported a decline in Taliban attacks last year, and officials said Tuesday that there was actually no change in the number of attacks on international troops from 2011 to 2012
The reputed 7% decline previously reported had been the basis for administration statements that the Afghanistan insurgency was on its way out:
In mid-December, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said “violence is down,” in 2012, and that Afghan forces “have gotten much better at providing security” in areas where they have taken the lead role. He said the Taliban can be expected to continue to attack, “but overall they are losing.”
Well, maybe. It’s hard to know, given a lack of information…
The last time the pope retired was in 1415, when Gregory XII resigned to try and resolve the Western Schism. Now, there was partisanship for you, partisanship which makes our divided politics look like a scuffle in the park. At one point, there were three people claiming to be the Pope in the west, one based in Rome, one in Avignon, and one in Pisa. The period of the Avignon Papacy was started, as most things are, by secular politics. The Pope of the time, Boniface VIII , and the French King, Philip IV, had a running feud centering around the limits of papal power in France. Philip thought there were rather a lot of limits; Boniface did not agree.
This led to the issuance, in 1302, of the Bull Unam Sanctam, which asserted the Church’s authority over all kingdoms temporal (the quote in the title comes from it). Philip did not take Boniface’s statement lightly and…
John F. Kennedy really is a blank slate to be used for whatever grand narrative someone wants to tell about 20th century American politics, foreign policy, or just about anything:
Their next hero, two decades later, is President John F. Kennedy. Startled by the Bay of Pigs fiasco two years earlier, Kennedy in 1963 was supposedly on the verge of rejecting cold war orthodoxy and leading “the United States and the world down a…path of peace and prosperity” along the lines that Wallace had prophetically laid out. But JFK, like Wallace before him, “had many enemies who deplored progressive change.” Stone and Kuznick stop just short of blaming Kennedy’s assassination on those hidden enemies, as Stone did in his conspiracy film JFK (1991). But they say his death handed the country back to those who “would systematically destroy the promise of the Kennedy years as they returned th…
Essie May Washington-Williams was the daughter of Thurmond and his family’s black maid. The identity of her famous father was rumored for decades in political circles and the black community.
But not until after the South Carolina Republican died in 2003 at age 100 did Washington-Williams come forward and say her father was the white man who ran for president on a segregationist platform and served in the U.S. Senate for more than 47 years.
“I am Essie Mae Washington-Williams, and at last I am completely free,” Washington-Williams said at a news conference in a South Carolina ballroom revealing her secret.
It’s about time. The reality, of course, is that women have been in combat for a long time, and nowhere more than in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the front lines rarely exist except in the most fluid way. This is exemplified by the awarding of Silver Stars–the nation’s third highest medal for valor–to two women, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
The integration of woman into the armed forces over the last several decades has been a contentious and slow process, with an enormous amount of resistance to the idea of women serving both from within and without the military. The debate over women in the military presaged and in some ways predicted the debate of gays in the military. Women would destroy combat cohesion; they were physically weaker than men and would be unable to handle the physical requirements of military life; the…
Okay, this is as close as I’ll come to shilling for my new book (which, you’ll note, has already been panned by a disgruntled reviewer at Amazon). My friend Phillip Barron has just built me an author website. Please check it out if you’d like. There’s a blog over there that I’m sure I’ll use about as often as I use this one.
Update: if you’d like to buy the book, it appears to be in stock here and here.
Senator Rand Paul, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today:
Mr. Paul told Secretary Clinton if he had been president at the time of the Benghazi attack that he would have relieved her from her job, for not knowing about appeals for more security.
“I would have relieved you of your post,” he said “I think it’s inexcusable that you did not know about this.”
That is military terminology. Secretary Clinton is not in the military, in the military chain of command, or have any official military connection. She is a civilian official. I wig out about this because it plugs into another bit of annoying militaristic verbal imprecision, the use of “commander in chief.” I would note that these four men–George H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama–have something in common. They are not, nor have they ever been, anyone’s commander in chief,…
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program and a senior lecturer at Cornell University. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla war, and the role of popular will in waging war.
is an associate professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).