How a U.S. Military Contract Could Impede Women’s Progress in Afghanistan

Originally published at NewsReal’s That’s What She Said


Four Afghan women have achieved something that would have been unimaginable a decade ago: they are training alongside male recruits to become pilots in the Afghan Air Force. Amidst headlines about poverty, illiteracy, and breathtaking levels of violence against women, their accomplishments are beyond heartening.

Second Lt. Sourya Saleh hopes to serve as a role model for other Afghan women after completing her aviation training in the United States.

“We are very happy to be going to open these doors for the other women to come and join the military, to show them you can do this and make our country proud,” she said. “We want for all Afghan girls to know they can do anything.”

Another newly minted officer, Second Lt. Mary Sharifzada, told the Air Force Times that becoming a pilot has been her dream since she was a little girl:

“I want to show the people of Afghanistan that women are strong,” Sharifzada said. “We want to show the people of the world that the women of Afghanistan are strong and they can do anything they want.”

“They said I’m as brave as a man,” said Second Lt. Masooma Hussaini.

As brave as men, and according to Lt. Col. John Howard of the Thunder Lab training program, as capable as their male counterparts. But these women and future recruits may not get the chance to prove “they can do anything they want” if the United States selects Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to supply turboprop planes for the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan.

In the April 2011 issue of Smart Girl Nation, my friend Ashley Sewell explains how the Brazilian plane would bar skilled female pilots from flying Light Air Support (LAS) and light attack and armed reconnaissance (LAAR) missions:

The front-runners are the American-made Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 (a plane like the T-6 training aircraft that would accommodate 95% of women pilots) and the Brazilian-made Embraer EMB-314 (a plane that sticks to older standards thus eliminating the possibility of being flown by a woman).

Those older standards exclude more than 80 percent of women (and small men) from safely flying the planes that will be used to train and equip the Afghan Air Force.

There’s no question that operational performance and pilot safety should be the primary criteria in choosing between the Embraer and Hawker Beechcraft planes. But if the two aircraft perform comparably, can we afford to indulge the Commander-in-Chief‘s childish love affair with Brazil, forcing the struggling Afghan Air Force to sideline much needed talent?

That’s not the only reason the Hawker Beechcraft proposal is superior. Read more

Catching Up: Two Examples of Why the Left Fails at Feminism

Once again, I’m behind on posting the links to my articles at other sites. (What else is new?)  Here are two of the pieces I published at NewsReal this month:

I Now Pronounce You Wusband and Hife
The editor-in-chief of a women’s lifestyle site is so fearful of gender stereotypes in marriage that she’s decided to abolish the terms husband and wife. I’m not joking, and neither is she.

Obama is Not What a Feminist Looks Like
On International Women’s Day, the president had plenty of time for shout-outs to celebrities and Communist activists.  But when it came to voicing his support for the struggles of women outside the United States, President Obama had nothing to say.

More to follow.

Live Mocking the State of the Union Address

I’ll be tweeting the State of the Union address tonight. Please follow along on Twitter and help me mock President Obama’s attempts to win back the public trust by blaming Booooosh!!!!

Oh, and do yourself a favor: don’t play any of the State of the Union drinking games that require you to take a drink every time President AllAboutMe says “I” or “me.” Your liver will thank you.

Keep Government Out of Health Care, Say … Liberals?

Want a clear indication that the federal government has no business getting into the health insurance industry? Look no further than the Stupak amendment, the measure that attached tight abortion funding restrictions to the House health care bill.

Democratic consultant Karen Finney called the Stupak amendment “an attack on our personal freedom and liberty as guaranteed by the constitution.” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said the amendment “attempts to dictate to women how to spend their own money.” And liberal columnist Michelle Goldberg lamented, “Health-insurance reform was supposed to end the sort of hideous cruelties our system inflicts on patients, not create them.”

To call Finney, Lee, and Goldberg tone deaf would be a grand understatement.

The only reason the abortion restrictions in the Stupak amendment are so intrusive is because health care reform is so intrusive. When we increase the role of government in health care, our freedoms and choices become more vulnerable to politics. Period.

Funding for every aspect of the doctor-patient relationship, every medical test and procedure, and every health care guideline becomes susceptible to pressure from special interest groups and moral scrutiny by taxpayers.  If guys who can’t get it up have enough money to throw around, erectile dysfunction drugs make the cut.  If taxpayers think acupuncturists are predatory quacks, no reimbursement for them. And after the reconciled bill is signed by the president, an unelected body will make these decisions for all of us.

Liberals cheered when President Obama appointed an executive pay czar, reasoning that companies like AIG have no right to determine pay packages if taxpayers are footing the bill.  But somehow they missed the obvious lesson.  There are always strings attached to government handouts.

Welcome, liberals, to the hazards of government subsidy.  Either private insurance is restricted by health care reform, as with the Stupak provisions, or abortion receives some form of federal funding, thus changing the status quo.  There’s no in between.

Objectionable restrictions abound when we seek increased state participation in our lives through regulation or subsidy.  Just ask members of a United Methodist Church group that refused to make a beachfront pavilion available to a lesbian couple for a civil union ceremony.  The group lost its state property tax exemption for failing to make the venue available to everyone on an equal basis.  But that’s how it works: if you want state subsidies, you have to play by the state’s rules.

We’ve seen the impact on coverage in states that are experimenting with models of universal health care.  In Massachusetts, legal immigrants no longer have state-subsidized coverage for dental, hospice, and skilled nursing care. And if you’re a Medicaid patient, prisoner, or public employee in Washington state, don’t expect your government to cough up the cash for knee arthroscopy for osteoarthritis – it’s one of several treatments no longer covered.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that “the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited.”  Do liberals really believe that those regulations will exist to make their wildest dreams come true, now and forever?

When you invite the government to become more deeply involved in health care, you’re also inviting greater government interference in personal choice. Medical decisions become political decisions. That’s how it works, and it’s why philosophical opposition to the growth of government isn’t the crazy-eyed wingnuttery progressives make it out to be.

Proponents of liberal health care reform deliberately lured a bloodthirsty vampire over their thresholds, and now they’re shocked – SHOCKED – to find they have fangs buried deep in their necks.  I’m not one to blame the victim, but it sounds like they might be getting exactly what they were asking for.

South Carolina: The Fox News of States

It’s no secret that President Obama and his administration have attempted to sideline Fox News, openly punishing the highly rated cable news channel for failing to promote the White House agenda.  Fox was conspicuously shut out of Obama’s five-network Sunday talk show blitz in September, and the White House has already determined that the president will not grant any interviews to Fox anchors during the remainder of 2009.

Alienating the millions of Americans who watch Fox is strategic buffoonery of the highest degree. But why focus on solid strategy when you can engage in some good ol’ fashioned spite?  And why settle for popular news networks when you can make your petty resentments known to an entire state, like say, South Carolina?

U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Friday that a conversation with White House staff left him with the sense that a hostile environment in South Carolina is keeping the first lady from visiting.

The high-ranking South Carolina Democrat said he has received more than 100 invitations for Michelle Obama. But this summer when he brought one of those requests to her staff on behalf of his alma mater, South Carolina State University, Clyburn said her security was an issue.

The conversation came after former Richland County GOP activist Rusty DePass suggested on Facebook in June that an escaped zoo gorilla was not harmful because it was probably one of Mrs. Obama’s ancestors. DePass’ comment was coupled with a remark in July from U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican. DeMint said that beating the president’s health care plan would be a ‘Waterloo’ moment for Obama.

Congressman Joe Wilson’s ‘You lie!’ outburst during Obama’s joint address on health care reform last month didn’t help either, Clyburn said.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that the climate in South Carolina just is not good, and that’s a shame,’ Clyburn said at a roundtable discussion at his Columbia office.

I do believe it is keeping her away from this state,’ he said.

Emphases mine.

Yes, a moronic South Carolina GOP grunt wrote something shameful about the first lady and a couple of politicians made bold statements about the president and his policies.  How do those comments indicate a statewide climate hostile enough to jeopardize Mrs. Obama’s security?

Simple answer: they don’t.

The White House isn’t keeping Michelle Obama out of South Carolina to protect her from assassins in white hoods.  South Carolina is being kept off her itinerary to send a message: embarrassing the president will not be tolerated.  (Are you listening Joe Wilson?) Dissent will be contorted into proof that racist backwater bumpkins in the south are undermining Obama’s presidency and endangering the very life of the first lady with their dangerous coded rhetoric.

Who cares about smearing the people of South Carolina?  After all, it’s just a red state.

Update: Michelle Malkin links.  Thanks, Michelle!

Update 2: My very first Instalanche. Thanks, Glenn!

Platitudes and Abstractions? Yes We Can!

President Obama will deliver his Indoctrination Speechâ„¢ to the nation’s schoolchildren today.  His silver-tongued litany of subversive communist rhetoric is expected to completely annihilate the morals and values of American students.  Complicit teachers trained in Saul Alinsky’s tactics will use Obama-approved socialist lesson plans to reinforce the president’s radical Marxist agenda.

Or something.

I know those are the right wing talking points on the president’s planned address, but I’m having trouble raising my conservative ire to the expected levels.  Here’s why:

1. The text of President Obama’s speech is innocuous.  Released by the White House on Monday, it looks a lot like a commencement address, sans the humorous one-liners and witty anecdotes. And at 2,540 words, this painfully long speech is almost 10 times longer than the Gettysburg Address.  Kids’ eyes will glaze over, their lids will grow heavy, and they will absorb nothing substantive from the president’s vapid string of platitudes and abstractions because it contains nothing substantive.

2. Varying degrees of indoctrination are rampant in American schools.  If you’re thinking of keeping your kids out of the classroom today, you might as well keep them home everyday.

I attended public elementary school in New York City in the 1980s. My second grade class was taken around the corner from our school to the gates of the USSR Mission compound to protest the incarceration of Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. This was done without parental permission.

In 1984, after Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, my teacher excitedly handed students items from campaign headquarters. My classmates and I spent the remainder of the year with Mondale/Ferraro bumper stickers affixed to our canvas loose leaf notebooks.

From what I gather, partisan bias and philosophical indoctrination are just as flagrant in today’s schools.  That’s why conservatives are intuitively wary of a liberal president speaking directly to children.  So yes, I guarantee that in some classrooms there will be bias evident in the exercises and lessons that follow President Obama’s speech.  But I also assure you that there is informal indoctrination taking place in those classrooms all day, every day.  Shielding your children from political bias in the classroom is a laudable goal, but unfortunately, keeping your kids home today is like fixing a leaky pipe with a roll of Bounty.

3. President Obama’s address to the nation’s schoolchildren is a distraction.  Conservatives need to remain focused on the health care debate and the far more important speech the president will make to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night.

In the interest of moving on from this particular distraction, I propose that President Obama cancel his speech to kids and instead run the following video with the same message trimmed down to a succinct 30 seconds or so:

YouTube Preview Image

Next Page →