The Case for Spanking Vox

Ezra Klein’s Vox endeavor is a mixed bag. Sometimes it has some really intelligent articles. But with 30-some posts a day, it occasionally posts some really dumb shit with very little critical thought. For example, they recently posted about a deeply flawed study claiming female-named hurricanes kill more people than male-named hurricanes because sexism (a notion I debunk here). And today, they post this article arguing that we should ban spanking.

The stupidity of the article is revealed in the first two sentences:

The law prohibits you from spanking your boss, your employee, your spouse, your best friend, or a stranger you walk past on the street.

But in the United States, it’s still perfectly legal to spank your own children.

What … I … you … but … for …

(Sounds of Hal banging his head on the keyboard)

Seriously, Vox?

The reason we can spank our kids is because they are our fucking kids. We’re expected to exercise discipline and teach kids how to live and behave properly. The rules are different when we deal with adults. It’s true, you can’t spank your boss. You also can’t force her to eat her vegetables. You can’t make strangers to go to bed on time. If you told your employees they were grounded, they would laugh at you. And frankly, I’ve known some people who probably would enjoy a good spanking. Hell, there are some people who will pay strangers to spank them.

The article gets worse. It cites some research showing that spanking doesn’t work and that it causes long term damage. I have no doubt that abuse causes long-term damage. But the research on spanking is actually somewhat mixed. The reason is that children who grow up to have problems as adults often had problems as children too and therefore earned more physical discipline. There is some hint in the literature that spanking does benefit younger children, at ages when they are less amenable to reason and other forms of punishment.

The scientific case is not nearly clear enough to ban spanking, least of all (I guess) arrest or fine parents who do it. In a country where parents can be arrested for leaving their kid in a car for five minutes on a cool day, do we really want CPS arresting every parent who swats a kid’s bottom?

The rest of the article uses “everyone else is doing it” logic to say we should join other nations in banning spanking. But everyone else is not doing it. France hasn’t. The UK hasn’t. Australia hasn’t. Italy hasn’t. Canada hasn’t. This isn’t like the metric system where we are practically the only country in the world not doing it. This is clearly something that many countries have different opinions on. If Tunisia has banned spanking, good for them. I’m not using that as a basis for our domestic policies.

More countries outlaw abortion than outlaw spanking. Is Vox going to advocate that we should too? More countries use some form of Sharia Law than ban spanking. Is Vox going to advocate that we should adopt it? Well … I shouldn’t give them ideas.

To me, this just boils down to parental freedom. Spanking is not nearly so abusive and and not nearly so damaging that it mandates government intervention. If you don’t want to spank your kids, don’t spank your kids. But don’t come into my house and tell me how to discipline my offspring. Joseph Stromberg, who wrote the Vox article, clearly has a much lower threshold for government barging into our houses than I do.

Did they really think this through?

Both Hal and Rich have visited the insane deal where the WH released some seriously dangerous people held at Club Gitmo so they could bring home a deserter and traitor. Rich hit it on the head when he pointed out that the WH did this over objections from the military and the intell community, going completely around congress and the law, which is very problematic. And I definitely agree with Hal that they did this now specifically to get the VA scandal, which bodes really ill for Obamacare and the idiots that keep pretending Obamacare won’t be an epic disaster that destroys the American healthcare system, out of the news. But there is another angle to this that is not being discussed by the LSM, and I suspect it’s because this is a ticking time bomb.

Sure, Obama might have released these jamokes and given the military orders to just drone strike them to death as soon as possible, but I doubt that’s going to work out that way. If Obama actually let these people out so they could just kill them, then he has some serious balls and I guess I would have to point out that he is far more blood thirsty than I would have credited him with. Certainly earns that Nobel peace prize of his in my mind. Mind you, I have no problem with killing these terrorists, because I believe dead terrorists are less of a problem, but that the fucking leftist scumbags that treat terrorists better than our own troops suddenly adopt this policy, after crucifying Boosh for doing the same and pretending that killing terrorists just made more of them, is something worthy of scorn. But that’s not the time bomb I am thinking about.

And yes, there is going to be some nasty political fallout from the fact that Bergdahl was a deserter and a collaborator with the enemy. When the people that died trying to get this scumbag back are being dissed by this idiotic decision, there should be some nasty fallout, and while I see the LSM trying hard to provide the WH cover, it is going to cause harm to the leftards. I expect a lot of retaliatory strikes from this WH against anyone they feel has not helped them contain the damage. There is a history of retaliation there. But in the end, this is going to hurt the WH beyond their calculated distraction to the VA scandal doing damage to Obamacare. But this is also not the time bomb I foresee.

The big question I have not heard anyone ask is what happens if one of these clowns they released to get the deserter/collaborator back has a successful operation that kills Americans, especially if it happens before this administration is out of office. I guess the LSM would help the fucking crooks in the WH hide that if the target was military, definitely if not in the US, and probably even if it was there, considering the way they have handled terror attacks against US targets, but if the target was not military, and especially if it was in the US, it would be a PR disaster for the class warriors. I am sure they will cover it up – LOOK! A video about Islam! – but this should be something so disastrous that it would kill this administration.

And no, I am not rooting for people to die, just because I think that would harm this administration. That’s the way progressives with their eye on victory at any cost think and work. But that these losers have not contemplated this scenario, or worse, have contemplated it and think they can avoid it, shows me how inept and unworthy of leadership they are.

Tiananmen at 25

Today is the 25th anniversary of China’s brutal crackdown in Tiananmen Square. While the event is not acknowledged in China, Hong Kong still enjoys a bit more freedom.

I can still remember those heady days of 1989. Communist thugocracies were collapsing everywhere. Solidarity surged in Poland. Hungary, Romania, East Germany and Czechoslovakia heaved with rebellion. For a while it seemed liked the Chinese government would fall. I was glued to the television hoping and praying that something good would happen. But it wasn’t long before the reality of the situation sank in.

The crackdown at Tiananmen worked in the sense that it kept the communists in power. But Deng Xiaoping continued the reforms that have made China an economic power. That prosperity may eventually be the communist party’s undoing. Economic freedom is frequently the father of political freedom.

More importantly, the wave of protests would not be stopped, surging around the bloody stone of Tiananmen to engulf the rest of the world. By the end of the year, the Berlin Wall would be in pieces, Solidarity would control Poland, Hungary would have torn down its own section of the Iron Curtain, Vaclav Havel would be President of Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria would be planning free elections and Ceauşescu would have a bullet in his evil head. And over the next few years, communist dictatorships or communist rebellions all over Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Oceania would fall.

1989 was the year millions of people stood up to the one of the greatest evils in human history. It’s humbling to see that bravery, even in the case where it failed to topple the regime. And we should never forget it.

A Quick Thought on the Bergdahl Deal

Events are moving quickly on the Bergdahl deal. Congress is going to have hearings about whether Obama broke the law (when even noted liberal hack Jeffrey Toobin says that Obama “clearly broke the law”, I would say that Obama probably broke the law). The army is now going to investigate his disappearance. Homecoming parades have been cancelled. And the Obama people are, once again, bumfuzzled that not everyone is baking is their gloriousness.

But I wanted to peel off a question here. When discussing this case with my father-in-law today, he was puzzled that Obama would make this deal since he thought it would encourage more abductions. I said that the Obama people saw this as a straight-forward POW exchange. And then it hit me. This deal isn’t about Bergdahl. It isn’t about leaving no man behind. It isn’t about the Gitmo 5. And it’s not about distracting from the VA scandal (the lapdog media will take care of that).

This deal is about legitimizing the Taliban.

OK, that’s a bit harsh. It’s more accurate to say that this about setting the stage for post-war Afghanistan. Karzai is a lame duck and will soon be replaced. His successor may not last long after we leave. Either the Taliban will take over or they will be part of a power-sharing agreement. The United States has been negotiating directly with the Taliban for a while, trying to bring more moderate elements to the fore (the Taliban is not a monolithic organization, but is a coalition of powers ranging from somewhat moderate to absurdly extreme).

I think this is aimed directly at building a relationship with the Taliban. It is not a coincidence that this happened just after we announced the timetable for leaving Afghanistan. The Obama Administration has seen the writing on the wall — the Taliban will rule Afghanistan again. And they’re trying to establish a relationship with Afghanistan’s future government.

Whether that’s a good or a bad thing only history will tell. I don’t think we have much of a choice. We can’t stay and nation-build in Afghanistan forever. The only force that will rid Afghanistan of fundamentalism is the Afghan people deciding they don’t want it anymore. Our main priority has to be making sure that terrorist organizations are not allowed to flourish in postwar Afghanistan.

Will this prisoner swap with the Taliban help? I’m very dubious. But I think that’s what’s going on here.

Baby Bou-Bou and the War on Drugs


Last week, a horrifying incident occurred in Habersham county. Cops on a drug raid tossed a flash-bang grenade into a house they were raiding when they found something blocking the door. That thing was a crib and inside the crib was 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh. He’s now in critical condition after suffering severe chest and face wounds and burns when his crib caught fire. Doctors give him only a 50 percent chance of survival. One lung has failed. By the time I post these words, he may be dead. He has three older sisters who love him to pieces and have been basically crying non-stop for the last week.

In the immediate aftermath, the cops claimed that everything they did was justified. They said there was a dangerous meth dealer in the house, that they’d seen men armed with assault rifles, that an informant had tipped them off and they’d made an undercover buy. They blamed the family for putting the toddler in harm’s way by dealing drugs.

Almost all of that is now known to have been a lie:

Police surveillance should have revealed that children had been playing in front of the the house for two months and that a van with four car-child seats was parked in the driveway that officers crept by the night of the raid, said Mawuli Mel Davis.

The warrant contended that an undercover agent had purchased methamphetamine at the house the day before and officials justified the no-knock warrant on the grounds that the drug dealer was dangerous and possessed firearms.

Raiders found no drugs, gun or cash — nor the suspected drug dealer — at the house but did find the Phonesavanh family who was visiting from Wisconsin after their house had burned.
The suspected drug dealer, 30-year-old Wanis Thonetheva, was arrested later and was in possession of about an ounce of methamphetamine, Terrell said.

Now some people will try to tell you this is an isolated unfortunate incident. I don’t think you can write off the possibly fatal charring of a toddler that way. But they are also lying. Radley Balko has a rundown of incident after incident where flash-bangs have been deployed in these kind of situations. These are instruments of war. People’s houses have been burned down, people have been killed, other children have been scorched.

Nor is this an isolated incident in Habersham County. A few years ago, the same jurisdiction (different task force) gunned down pastor Jonathan Ayers. They thought he had bought drugs and came roaring up in an SUV, brandishing guns. The officers were in plain clothes and had little badges dangling from their necks. Not realizing they were cops, he tried to drive away and was shot and killed. The investigation exonerated the cops and concluded Ayers might have been paying for sex. His wife, however, found out that the cop who killed Ayers hadn’t been trained in the use of lethal force and the task force and investigators were hip-deep in nepotism. The county settled the case for $2 million. They clearly didn’t learn anything, however.

The lack of drugs and guns makes this more horrifying, but it’s kind of a side point. Even if the Phonesavanh family had been dealing meth — which they fucking weren’t — this raid would not have been justified. Launching a no-knock violent raid without even a basic assessment of the situation is something we wouldn’t do in Afghanistan, let alone Habersham County. Launching a no-knock violent raid of any kind in the United States against American citizens is something that should be used only in extreme situations, not routinely. That’s true even if they are dealing drugs. When you routinely launch drug raids in the middle of the night with military gear and officers trained to throw flash-bangs into homes, something like this is inevitable. We’re lucky there haven’t been more babies burned by this callous bullshit. And all for the glorious end of keeping Americans from getting high.

The War on Drugs is not a metaphor; it is literally a war on our own people. Baby Bou-Bou just became the latest horrific casualty. We’ve ended the War in Iraq. We’re ending the War in Afghanistan. When are we going to end this one? How many burned children, traumatized families and dead bodies is it going to take before we say, “enough!” I’m not even talking about decriminalizing drugs, here. You can keep drugs illegal. But isn’t it about time we stopped treating our own country like a battlefield?

Update: Let’s count the ways this could have been prevented.

  • They could have surveilled the house for more than about ten seconds.
  • They could have talked to a neighbor.
  • They could have used more than one informant.
  • They could have arrested the drug dealer in broad daylight when he came out of the house (he was kicked out of the house that day).
  • They could have noticed that the van in the driveway had kiddy seats in it instead of using it as cover.
  • Finding one door blocked, they could have entered from a different door.
  • They could have been trained to not toss a flash-bang grenade into an uncertain situation.
  • None of those steps involve legalizing drugs or letting criminals run free. They involve not immediately escalating a situation to a violent confrontation. Patterico makes this point:

    Don’t treat this like the cops intended this. They didn’t. When the story says deputies are distraught over this, I believe it. Cops don’t go into law enforcement to hurt small children.

    But look: if you use stun grenades in the service of a no-knock warrant like this, tragedies like this are going to happen. The question that police (and members of the public who pay the police) have to ask themselves is this: is it worth this kind of risk to arrest people for the crime in question? If the crime is murder, you might have one answer. If the crime is selling drugs, you might have another.

    And if the answer to that question (should we use this tactic knowing the risk?) is “no” . . . then don’t do it.

    There’s no question in my mind what the answer is.

    Lead Or Rope?

    Many people wonder what, if anything, the military is going to do about Bergdahl. We know that everyone in his unit, everyone that has direct knowledge about the specifics of his disappearance were ordered to sign non disclosure agreements, a promise to keep their traps shut. But word has gotten out and although we don’t have all the facts (really, in this administration is that even possible?) we know enough to wonder why Bergdahl was not arrested on the spot after his release. It certainly was not because his health was so dire that immediate medical attention was required. Those present have already reported that he is fine, one more lie spread by Obama/Rice and company to justify this stinky deal. Naturally we are not going to try him on a blog, he gets the presumption of innocence like everyone else, and maybe he was not arrested because they knew he wasn’t going anywhere. Or maybe his treatment was in keeping with the general Rose Garden spirit of treating him like something he isn’t, a hero.

    Hal’s link in a comment yesterday notwithstanding, the general consensus (from what I have read and heard over the last few days) from military folks about Bergdahl is not whether he is a hero or a deserter, but what the military is going to do with this POS;

    I spoke Monday with a highly decorated former Special Forces operator and asked what he thought about Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who was released over the weekend after five years of Taliban captivity in exchange for five hard cases out of Gitmo.

    The former operator suggested a firing squad might be appropriate.

    His view is widely shared in the community of warriors who risked—and, in at least six cases, lost—their lives searching for a soldier who wrote his parents that “the horror that is america is disgusting” before vanishing from his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

    Whether Sgt. Bergdahl was taken by the enemy, deserted the Army or defected to the Taliban remains to be established. But just to be clear where the former operator is coming from, Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states: “Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.”

    And here lies the topic of debate, if an honest investigation is conducted and it reveals that all the things we have heard about him are true, does he even merit a firing squad? A semantical question, surely, but if in fact you desert, seek out the enemy, collaborate with said enemy to the demise of your unit, aiding your new friends in defeating your old ones, have you not given up your rights as a soldier and abandoned that standing so that rights and punishments befitting that status are null and void? Would not the gallows be a more fitting end to Bergdahl?

    We know that neither fate awaits him;

    The maximum U.S. penalty for desertion in wartime remains death, although this punishment was last applied to Eddie Slovik in 1945. No U.S. serviceman has received more than 24 months imprisonment for desertion or missing movement since the beginning of the post September 11, 2001 era

    It is curious why the Administration feels it cannot justify the trade to the American people on it’s one merits, no, they obfuscate and embellish. Not having the guts to just admit that the circumstances of Berdahl’s disappearance are murky at best, they paint him as a hero, snatched from his unit while on patrol.

    But wait: We are not “in time of war.” We are in Time of Obama.

    In Time of Obama, dereliction of duty is heroism, releasing mass murderers with American blood on their hands is a good way to start a peace process, negotiating with terrorists is not negotiating with terrorists, and exchanging senior Taliban commanders for a lone American soldier is not an incentive to take other Americans hostage but rather proof that America brings its people home.

    And therein lies the rub, feeding the narrative is what counts. Obama has a narrative about America’s standing in the world, about American exceptionalism ( it don’t mean dick), about our goal in Afghanistan, but mostly about the need for America to pull back and not be so pushy, as Bergdahl himself put it, to not be so conceited and think everyone else is stupid.

    Oh, and did you hear? This “hero” will get promoted to staff Sgt. What, no medal?

    Well, DUH!

    Becoming a doctor is not an easy thing to do. You have to be gifted with a lot of mental acumen, work like a dog to have the grades to get into Med school (unless you can ride the affirmative action bus it seems), and have the constitution of a bull to make it through the internship process. And you pay through the nose to have this experience. It’s not uncommon for someone to finish their med school experience, anywhere from being a generalist to a specialist, with anywhere from $200-$500K in debt. And then come the years of brutal work, mostly to pay this debt off. Even becoming a nurse is a painful and expensive process. There is nothing easy or simple about the medical profession, where even the smallest and most mundane tasks and choices can have life threatening or ending consequences, so the education required – by law – to qualify is daunting, and access is heavily controlled.

    Of course, your average progressive feels that nobody but the minimum wage earners, certainly not people in a profession where they are custodians of the ill, and definitely not your pampered doctors which should be doing things out of the goodness of their heart, should be paid big money. Profit is evil. After all, healthcare is a right, and nobody should be profiting from any other’s misfortune! It just flies in the face of the unicorn fart sniffers that anybody but the political oligarchy can make a fiscal windfall from their hard labor and years of sacrifice. So, we should not be surprised that as the left pushes harder and harder for control of healthcare to end up being a “service sector” dominated by their idiotic beliefs and controlled by government, that we end up with a doctor shortage, exacerbated by the evils of Obamacare:

    Last week, an investigative report revealed that 1,700 veterans who wanted to see a doctor at a Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital were missing from an official waiting list, mirroring a tactic used at two dozen other facilities across the country to mask long waits for medical care.

    A few hundred other people are missing from the Veterans Affairs system, too: doctors. he Veterans Affairs Department is 400 doctors short, The New York Times reports. But the doctor deficit is not limited to the VA—it’s a nationwide problem.

    America is running out of doctors. The country will be 91,500 physicians short of what it needs to treat patients by 2020, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. By 2025, it will be short 130,600.

    Like at the Veterans Affairs Department, demand will be highest for primary-care physicians, the kinds of doctors many people go to first before they are referred to specialists.

    While students are applying to and enrolling in medical schools in record numbers, high interest does not necessarily mean more doctors. The number of residences—crucial stages of medical training—has not risen with the number of applicants, thanks to a government-imposed cap. The Association of American Medical Colleges has pushed Congress to change the law, predicting that there won’t be enough residencies for young doctors by next year.

    Meanwhile, the number of patients is increasing. Millions of previously uninsured Americans are now able to seek medical care under the Affordable Care Act. Baby boomers are getting older and racking up new ailments, which means they making more trips to the doctor’s office. (The boomers who are doctors themselves are nearing retirement age.)

    And both insured and uninsured Americans—including veterans—are sicker now than ever before.

    Yeah, this all bodes well for us. The debacle at the VA is just a sneak peak at a fraction of how bad Obamacare will turn out for those of us forced to depend on government controlled healthcare. The idiots that dislike the private sector’s involvement in healthcare – because of profits – never seem to grasp the concept that while the private sector can be regulated and dissatisfied customers can choose to go elsewhere, both of those two critical mechanisms vanish when government controls healthcare. And nobody is pettier and more prone to corruption and evil than your average government bureaucrat.

    Welcome to the future. Enjoy your doctor while you still have a choice and can get to one. Get used to the idea of those death panels the left gets so pissed off about when we point out that’s the logical conclusion of their policies, because they are coming our way.

    The NOLA Experiment Forges Ahead


    Benjamin Banneker Elementary closed Wednesday as New Orleans’s Recovery School District permanently shuttered its last five traditional public schools this week.

    With the start of the next school year, the Recovery School District will be the first in the country made up completely of public charter schools, a milestone for New Orleans and a grand experiment in urban education for the nation.

    It has been two decades since the first public charter school opened in Minnesota, conceived as a laboratory where innovations could be tested before their introduction into public schools. Now, 42 states encourage charters as an alternative to conventional schools, and enrollment has been growing, particularly in cities. In the District of Columbia, 44 percent of the city’s students attend charter schools.

    But in New Orleans, under the Recovery School District, the Louisiana state agency that seized control of almost all public schools after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, the traditional system has been swept away.

    This move is naturally drawing fire from the Left, some of which is misinformed. They are claiming that the entire school district has been turned over to “fundamentalist schools”, confusing Louisiana’s experiment in vouchers with their experiment in charter schools. They are claiming that the RSD fired 7,000 mostly black teachers in favor of white ones. In fact, those teachers were fired immediately after Katrina (as the WaPo later corrects) and most found employment in whatever areas the escaped to after Katrina. They claim that this is “re-segregating” New Orleans because some charter schools are mostly white. There may be some validity to that, but dysfunctional schools that don’t teach anything are probably the most effective means of resegregation you could imagine.

    The initial results are impressive:

    Before the storm, the city’s high school graduation rate was 54.4 percent. In 2013, the rate for the Recovery School District was 77.6 percent. On average, 57 percent of students performed at grade level in math and reading in 2013, up from 23 percent in 2007, according to the state.

    There is a big caveat to this: the population of the RSD is different so a direct comparison is tenuous. And charter schools elsewhere have had mixed results. So we’ll have to see how this pans out in the years ahead.

    I do know that this idea is better than anything the Left has had for the last half century. Those ideas have included spending more money, spending more money, spending more money, spending more money and spending more money. They have included changing to a new paradigm every few years just as the teachers get used to the old one. They have included standardized testing, which encourages teachers to “teach to the test”. They have included the new Core Standards, which are becoming highly controversial. The results have been … well, nothing. Educational accomplishment has remained flat despite ever-increasing funding. Even when they have been given free reign to do whatever they want, the results have been unimpressive:

    For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.

    Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.

    The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

    The Kansas City experiment suggests that, indeed, educational problems can’t be solved by throwing money at them, that the structural problems of our current educational system are far more important than a lack of material resources, and that the focus on desegregation diverted attention from the real problem, low achievement.

    That was 20 years ago. We’re spending twice as much per student now. You can look at a more recent example in Newark where hundreds of millions of private funds were poured into the school district to accomplish nothing except enriching some consultants. You can also check out Hot Air, which has some details about DeBlasio shutting down charters that are performing well to send funds to traditional schools that aren’t.

    Maybe New Orleans’ experiment won’t work. But when your schools cost a fortune and accomplish nothing, you’ve got to try something other than burning more money. I hope this does work because the state of our education system is maddening to everyone … especially the people working in it.

    Over at the Lefty blogs, you can find plenty of people hoping it doesn’t work (that is, hoping that poor children don’t get educated) and flinging racist insults against supporters of the model. It’s not hard to see why the Left wing is so terrified. If this works, it will undermine basically everything they’ve been saying about education for the last fifty years. And severely weaken one of the Democrats’ principle sources of campaign contributions.

    Update: I was thinking about this some more and thought about something Megan McArdle said in the context of reforming the VA:

    This is the sort of turnaround that a lot of corporate chief executive officers promise: We’ll handle more customers, but faster! Most of them fail, too. And corporate CEOs have a weapon that the president doesn’t: They can fire most of the staff. When looking at corporate turnarounds for my book on failure, I came across a lot of stories of successful turnarounds, and a lot of them started with just that step.

    I know, that sounds cruel. Capital against labor! And actually, it is pretty terrible for workers who get the sack. On the other hand, it may be necessary to save the company.

    Over time, institutions develop a strong culture, a set of institutional practices, customs and norms that control what the organization is capable of doing. To see what I mean, imagine the staff of the New York Times producing Gawker — or the staff of Gawker Media producing the New York Times. This is functionally what companies are often trying to do in a turnaround situation: transform a company that had a profitable niche in one part of the industry into the very different sort of company that competes in a different niche.

    But the inability to make this kind of radical change does hamper would-be government reformers. So does the way that our government now functions after decade upon decade of prior reform: which is to say, it prioritizes processes, which can be measured, over outcomes, which often can’t be; rules over discretion; and rights over trade-offs.

    What that means in plain English is that when you put reforms in place, you can’t just rip out the stuff that’s not working and do something different. What you’re actually reforming is the process, and because many of the current elements of the process are functionally mandated by other government rules, or court rulings, or bits of legislation that your reform effort didn’t amend, you have to layer your reform on top of the system you wanted to reform, rather than in place of it. Many of your reforms simply stack another layer of bureaucracy on top of the bureaucracy that was already causing problems. This is a problem that CEOs don’t face, unless they’re in some heavily regulated business such as banking or oil refining.

    Eventually, almost every organization gets to the point where you have to burn it down and start all over. It’s not the people are evil or stupid or incompetent. It’s that they think a certain way and approach problems a certain way even if that way no longer works. They do this because that is the way it has always been done. Look at what happened in Newark. A truckload of money was backed up and it went to the same old stuff and devolved into the same political battles.

    Again, maybe remaking the RSD school system won’t work. But it’s the first time we’re going to completely reboot a school system. That’s at least worth a shot, isn’t it?

    Boy, Did We Get Bamboozled

    We knew he was really sucky at being President, who’d a thought he was equally abysmal at negotiating;

    President Barack Obama apparently traded five jailed jihadis held in Guantanamo for one American soldier, despite federal law, which requires Congress to be notified before prisoners are transferred.

    Obama used a Rose Garden press event to tout the surprise trade — which he won by making critical, last-minute concessions — while the parents of the freed soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, stood alongside.

    At the end of brief event, the soldier’s father, Bob Bergdahl, recited the most frequent phrase in the Koran — “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim” —which means “In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate.”

    After Bergdahl finished his statement and his praise for Allah, Obama hugged him.

    Praise Allah, are you kidding me?

    My first reaction (the cynic that I am) was that this was another “wag the dog” moment, but it’s worse than that. Obama told us he wanted to close Gitmo, releasing 5 very bad dudes, dudes responsible for American (and civilian) deaths, with more coming down the pike.

    I’m sitting here watching the parents speak on Foxnews, to listen to them you would think Sgt. York was coming home. Naturally they are a bit bias, them being his parents, and love him, but the few military analysts that follow mention nothing about this guy being a diserter and a willing ally to the enemy, why are we negotiating for this POS;

    “We were at OP Mest, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. It was a small outpost where B Co 1-501st INF (Airbone) ran operations out of, just an Infantry platoon and ANA counterparts there. The place was an Afghan graveyard. Bergdahl had been acting a little strange, telling people he wanted to “walk the earth” and kept a little journal talking about how he was meant for better things. No one thought anything about it. He was a little “out there”. Next morning he’s gone. We search everywhere, and can’t find him. He left his weapon, his kit, and other sensitive items. He only took some water, a compass and a knife. We find some afghan kids shortly after who saw an american walking north asking about where the taliban are. We get hits on our voice intercepter that Taliban has him, and we were close. We come to realize that the kid deserted his post, snuck out of camp and sought out Taliban… to join them. We were in a defensive position at OP Mest, where your focus is to keep people out. He knew where the blind spots were to slip out and that’s what he did. It was supposed to be a 4-day mission but turned into several months of active searching. Everyone was spun up to find this guy. News outlets all over the country were putting out false information. It was hard to see, especially when we knew the truth about what happened and we lost good men trying to find him. PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Murphrey, 2LT Darryn Andrews, were all KIA from our unit who died looking for Bergdahl. Many others from various units were wounded or killed while actively looking for Bergdahl. Fighting Increased. IEDs and enemy ambushes increased. The Taliban knew that we were looking for him in high numbers and our movements were predictable. Because of Bergdahl, more men were out in danger, and more attacks on friendly camps and positions were conducted while we were out looking for him. His actions impacted the region more than anyone wants to admit. There is also no way to know what he told the Taliban: Our movements, locations, tactics, weak points on vehicles and other things for the enemy to exploit are just a few possibilities. The Government knows full well that he deserted. It looks bad and is a good propaganda piece for the Taliban. They refuse to acknowledge it. Hell they even promoted him to Sergeant which makes me sick. I feel for his family who only want their son/brother back. They don’t know the truth, or refuse to acknowledge it as well. What he did affected his family and his whole town back home, who don’t know the truth. Either way what matters is that good men died because of him. He has been lying on all those Taliban videos about everything since his “capture”. If he ever returns, he should be tried under the UCMJ for being a deserter and judged for what he did. Bergdahl is not a hero, he is not a soldier or an Infantryman. He failed his brothers. Now, sons and daughters are growing up without their fathers who died for him and he will have to face that truth someday.”

    The apple does not fall far from the tree;

    Sounds like they are all (including the President) on the same page, Gitmo-bad, releasing anyone (including the AQ leaders)-good, America and it’s imperialist ways-bad, Islam and it’s peaceful precepts-good.

    I was always amazed when I heard about Israel not negotiating with terrorists, then read about some prisoner swap where they got one soldier back in exchange for like 200 Palestinians. Regardless of the imbalance in the numbers at least they got somebody back worth negotiating for, but this guy? Sounds like someone right out of the Snowden mold, screw over America thinking you will be amply rewarded, but not being happy with your 30 pieces of silver, desperately want to come home and undue the whole affair.

    Bergdahl’s duplicity is nothing new, his desertion was common knowledge years ago;

    With all those hugs and kisses exchanged between Obama and the parents, what are the odds that this guy will be tried under the UCMJ for being a deserter?

    Putting A Face On It

    Well, the politicians in Washington got what they wanted, Shinseki resigned, they can all pat themselves on the back with a collective ,”See, the system works, this administration does in fact hold people accountable, and heads did roll, now, can we get back to talking about the Redskins?”, thereby washing their hands of the whole affair. Who says life is complicated on The Hill?

    So, Shinseki resigned? BFD as far as I’m concerned, since this does nothing in solving the problem. Was he a colossal failure at his job? Not any more than his boss, both knew for the last 5 years that the VA was a dysfunctional, corrupt, big government nightmare that served only the bureaucrats running it (more bonuses all around, thank you), yet, is was always convenient to ignore it since reforming it would ruffle too many feathers.

    Here is something else I don’t get, we kept hearing that Shinseki was a “war hero”, how is stepping on a land mine and getting half your foot blown off heroic? I looked at his wiki page, I found nothing there that speaks to heroism, mostly staff and post work followed. Sure, butting heads with Rumsfeld over troop numbers in Iraq earned him a feather in his cap with this administration.

    But what to do now? Is the whole VA culture, the way it runs it’s affairs, handles claims and deals with our veteran’s needs, is it at all salvageable? Not with this current crop;

    Along those lines, he called on the Senate to pass a bill giving the VA more authority to quickly discipline and fire officials.

    The House passed a version of this bill, but Senate Democrats delayed consideration of it before leaving for a week-long break last week.

    Maybe putting a face on the problem might spur some action;

    His parents provide some specifics on his maladies;

    He suffered from fibromyalgia and PTSD and killed himself last year after he received treatment from the Phoenix VA hospital. He wrote that his body had become “nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems.”

    Somers’ parents read an excerpt of his suicide note on CNN Friday afternoon: “Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the State of the Union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic but rather by our system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.”

    An exercise in futility is listing all the Obama scandals in terms of relative importance, since he has two more years in office, the list will almost certainly need revising, but this must rank near the top. Not danced on the international stage (we know how much he fears leading and locks up with paralysis of analysis), not some spontaneous demonstration, a result from a video, and not some wrongdoing he can blame on a rogue auditor out of Cincinnati, this problem was ongoing from his first days in office. If the IG report is to be believed, incidents of fraud took place, certainly some folks need to go to prison over this. I’m sure Holder will jump right on that.