Mike Kueber's Blog

November 11, 2014

Veterans’ Day

Filed under: Business,Facebook,Military — Mike Kueber @ 8:53 pm
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A few days ago there was a poster on a friend’s Facebook wall suggesting that a veteran should never be homeless, hungry, unemployed, in need of medical care, etc. My initial reaction was that America wouldn’t be doing our veterans any favor by treating them like it treats American Indians – i.e., as helpless dependents who must be taken care of – but I wasn’t in the mood for arguing or defending that position, so I let it pass.

Today, on Veteran’s Day, Facebook as well as various other media outlets are filled with similar sentiments. In a USA Today article, the CEO of Starbucks suggests that America should honor vets by giving them jobs, his company will give vets 10,000 jobs in the next five years.   But CEO Howard Schultz provides additional insights into why this hiring priority is appropriate:

  • “Schultz… says service in Iraq and Afghanistan has becomeahurdlerather than an asset for many veterans seeking civilian employment. It’s one reason the unemployment rate for vets is higher than that among those who haven’t served in the armed forces.
    • ‘The irony there is that there is a stigma attached to many of them about either PTS (post-traumatic stress) or brain trauma or things of that nature when in fact I can personally demonstrate through the hiring of people at Starbucks who have been veterans that they have done extraordinary things.’
  • “Employers are sometimes skeptical, and veterans often have little experience with such basic job-seeking skills as writing a résumé and going on an interview.”

A few months ago, the San Antonio City Council revised its non-discrimination ordinance to protect not only the GLTB community, but also the military veterans. At the time, I thought the proponents of the ordinance were unnecessarily including veterans in the ordinance only because of crass political motives. Really, who would discriminate against veterans?  But based on this argument put forward by CEO Shultz, perhaps there is merit to creating legal protection for vets. And there is also reason for companies to go out of their way to give vets an opportunity. Eventually, however, vets need to be responsible for themselves. Service should not create a comprehensive set of lifetime entitlements.  (Incidentally, the staggering percentage of vets who file for disability based on PTS and brain trauma might be connected to this lifetime-entitlement mentality.)

One final note on thanking vets for their service. My oldest son is a captain in the Army and has served in Iraq. He tells me about being often embarrassed by all the people who treat his service like he is Mother Teresa. Yes, he is patriotic, but he also considers military service to be a challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding career. And he believes that most soldiers are in the service for the same reason.

The military may be a calling, like doctors, lawyers, teachers, and preachers, and most of those people are doing well while doing good.

March 1, 2014

Sunday Book Review #123 – Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

Filed under: Biography,Military — Mike Kueber @ 2:08 pm
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Lone Survivor, the movie, came out several months ago to mixed reviews (Rotten Tomato critics at 75%, but the audience at 90% approval).  But several of my friends who watched it claimed that it was one of the most gut-wrenching, emotionally-exhausting movies they had ever seen.  Although one friend recommended seeing the movie first, I decided to read the book first because I still don’t have a girlfriend to take to a movie.

Much like the book Fearless, Lone Survivor includes a vivid description of the grueling process to become a Navy Seal.    And both books have similar protagonists – Adam Brown in Fearless is a country boy from Arkansas, while Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor is a country boy from east Texas.  These guys and their friends/family/communities are red-state to the core, and Marcus repeatedly reveals his dislike of liberals and the media.

But Marcus’s feelings go beyond the typical red-state dislike.  According to Marcus, liberals and the media are responsible for the Rules of Engagement that resulted in the death of his three comrades in arms.

Specifically, the Rules of Engagement prohibited SEALs from killing unarmed civilians, so Marcus and his three comrades were faced with the dilemma of either (a) killing some unarmed civilians in the mountains of Afghanistan and be prosecuted for murder, or (b) letting the civilians go and have them reveal the SEAL location to Taliban fighters in the area, which would likely result in the death of the SEALs.  Marcus cast the deciding vote (to his everlasting regret and against his better judgment) to let the civilians go, and that decision resulted in his three comrades being killed and in him being the lone survivor (ironically, through the help of some other Afghan civilians).

Although it is not typical for military teams to decide things by democratic vote, the SEALs are different because most SEALs are college grads and the distinction between officer and soldier/sailor is not stark.  The vote on whether to kill the civilians had one SEAL in favor of killing them, one deferring to the others, and the third (the officer technically in charge) deferring to Marcus.  Thus, Marcus essentially made the call, and the call resulted in everyone being killed except for Marcus.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Excellent book.  Time well spent.  Can’t wait to see the movie.

p.s., while promoting the movie’s release, Marcus challenged media-guy Jake Tapper for characterizing the battle as “hopeless” and the loss of life as “senseless.”  I first saw the interview before reading the book, and thought Marcus was prickly and irritable.  After reading the book, I watched the interview again, and agreed 100% with Marcus’s reaction.

January 29, 2013

Women in combat

Filed under: Culture,Military — Mike Kueber @ 1:58 pm
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Last week, the Obama administration’s Leon Panetta announced that women would be allowed in front-line combat units – infantry, armor, Special Forces.  I heard an excellent debate of the issue on a Sunday talk show between a female captain who has flown attack helicopters and a male general who opposes women in combat. 

The general’s principal point was that women, on average, are significantly less physically able than men, and the captain’s response was that, instead of thinking of averages, it is more reasonable to think of the physical ability of men and women as on separate, but overlapping bell curves – e.g., G.I. Jane.      

The general’s secondary point was that front-line unit cohesion would be weakened by mixing the sexes, to which the captain countered that the sexes would learn to accommodate each other.  They ultimately agree to disagree about this social engineering, with the captain saying that women should be subjected to the draft, and the general saying that in his world his daughters would not be subjected to the draft.

The San Antonio Express-News published an editorial today in which it came down on the side of the captain. 

I agree with the captain and the Express-News.  My only concern is whether the overlap of bells curves is so slight that this social experiment is not worth it.  The overlap of bell curves does not enable women to play high-level football, basketball, or baseball, but I have heard that they could play high-level tennis.    

Perhaps the military should have studied whether there are significant numbers of women who can compete with the physicality of male soldiers on the low-end of their bell curve.  My guess is there are.

January 1, 2013

Sunday Book Review #94 – No Easy Day

No Easy Day is a military memoir by a former Navy SEAL.  It is subtitled, “The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden.”  Talk about an attention grabbing subtitle, and the book doesn’t disappoint.

The listed author of the book is Mark Owen, but that is a pseudonym, and according to Wikipedia, the author’s real name has been revealed to be Matt Bissonnette by an official al Qaeda website.  Since that revelation, Bissonnette has been threatened by al Qaeda for killing OBL and by the Defense Department for disclosing national-security secrets.

There is no exaggeration in the description of the book as a “firsthand account.”  Of the 22 SEALs who landed in Abbottabad, Bissonnette was the second of three who went up the staircase to the third floor, and this has to be the definitive version of how OBL died:

  • We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots.  BOP.  BOP.  The point man had seen a man peeking out of the door on the right side of the hallway about ten feet in front of him.  I couldn’t tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not…. [after entering the room] the point man grabbed both women and drove them toward the corner of the room….  With the women out of the way, I entered the room with a third SEAL.  We saw the man lying on the floor….  The point man’s shots had entered the right side of his head.  Blood and brains spilled out the side of his skull.  In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing.  Another assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds.  The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless.”

The other newsworthy item in the book relates to whether the so-called Operation Neptune Spear was a “kill mission.”  According to Bissonnette:

  • “Toward the end [of a briefing], a question was asked whether or not this was a kill mission.  A lawyer from either the Department of Defense or the White House made it clear this wasn’t an assassination.  ‘If he is naked with his hands up, you’re not going to engage him,’ he told us.  ‘I am not going to tell you how to do your job.  What we’re saying is if he does not pose a threat, you will detain him.’”

Based on this legal guidance, I suppose the point man was justified in taking the killing action that he did, but I’m not sure how Bissonnette justifies putting OBL out of his misery.

Among the less significant trivia in the book, Bissonnette points out that, not surprisingly for patriotic military men, “None of us were huge fans of Obama.”  During a subsequent Obama TV speech, one of the SEALs said, “You know we just put admiral’s stars on Jay.  And we just got this guy reelected.”  How true!  “GM is alive and bin Laden is dead” became Obama’s campaign battle cry, which reminds me of the greenhorn who got famous as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Bissonnette also describes meeting with Obama a few days after the killing – “I don’t recall much about the speech.  It was straight from the speechwriter playbook….  After the speech, we posed for a few pictures.  Biden kept cracking lame jokes that no one got.  He seemed like a nice guy, but he reminded me of someone’s drunken uncle at a Christmas dinner.”

Coincidentally, there is a brand new action-thriller movie called Zero Dark Thirty based on the search for and killing of OBL.  The movie, which doesn’t get to San Antonio until January 11, apparently focuses more on the search for OBL (including the so-called torture) and less on his killing, but I will be interested in seeing whether the movie-makers got the facts right without the benefit of reading No Easy Day.

November 17, 2012

A bad day for David Petaeus

Filed under: Biography,Culture,Military — Mike Kueber @ 3:41 am
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Today was a tough day for David Petraeus.  Despite the scandal of his affair with Paula Broadwell, he did his duty and testified to a couple of congressional committees about the Benghazi debacle.  Based on his testimony, it is fair to conclude that someone in the White House used Susan Rice to intentionally mislead the American public into believing the debacle was spontaneously precipitated by a YouTube video instead of being a pre-planned attack by al Qaeda.  Let’s see – who would benefit from that falsehood?

According to news reports, Petraeus testified to the two congressional committees with the understanding that he would not be asked to elaborate on his scandalous affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.  But that understanding did not prevent additional information from coming out that will severely besmirch the reputation that Petraeus spend a lifetime burnishing.

The first new information that I heard came from an Imus in the Morning guest, suspense-thriller author of The Last Man, Vince Flynn.  During the interview, Imus casually asked Flynn if he knew Petraeus, and Flynn responded positively.  (That reminds me of Alexander Butterfield being casually asked during the Watergate hearings whether he was aware of any recording devices in the Oval Office.)  When given the chance to elaborate, Flynn said that in the course of two or three meetings with Petraeus, he concluded (1) unlike Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus was an ambitious politician, not a warrior, and (2) Petraeus was a narcissist who had an entourage bigger than Clinton’s or Bush’s.  Suffice to say, this did not leave me with warm fuzzies about Petraeus. 

Then, later in the day, I read a raft of internet stories that not only connected Petraeus to Jill Kelley, but also revealed Kelley to be a shallow socialite.  Perhaps the most comprehensive story was published by Slate.com.  Its story included the following insights:

  • Now socialite is a hollow role aspired to by debt-addled pretenders and people who are angling to get their own reality TV show. Socialites nowadays are the Real Housewives of OC, living high on the verge of foreclosure, or Michaele Salahi, crashing a state party dinner and looking so much like she belongs that security just lets her in. Now, anyone can be a socialite if they can fake it long enough. What’s amazing is that anyone aspires to be one anymore….  One acquaintance labeled her a “Tampa Kardashian.”
  • This type of socialite builds her social credentials with the human-relations equivalent of a Ponzi scheme. She uses connections with important people to trade up to more connections with important people, hiding the fact that her initial ticket in is a fraud. Thus, Kelley went shopping with Holly Petraeus. She dined with Charlie Crist. (Natalie was no slouch, either—she name-dropped Sens. John Kerry and Sheldon Whitehouse.) Kelley had special permission to visit MacDill Air Force base in Tampa without an escort (now revoked). She was made an unpaid “honorary ambassador” to U.S. Central Command (and then tried to rope the command into assigning staff to help her organize parties). She was made an “honorary consul” of South Korea, a “largely symbolic” post that the Los Angeles Times reports she tried to milk for $80 million. Kelley also invoked this status when she called police Sunday to complain about people on her lawn, telling the dispatcher that she should have “diplomatic protection.” Even as the fraud was on the verge of collapsing, she was trying to trade up.

Brian Ross, the famous investigative reporter for ABC News re-reported and elaborated on the Slate.com/LA Times story on the $80 million fee that Kelley tried to secure based on her connection to Petraeus.  USA Today did a story that described the Kelley parties in Tampa as status-conscious, elitist events:   .     

  • Unless a person held the rank of general or admiral, they weren’t likely on the guest list, according to one retired senior officer who didn’t want his name published.  “A colonel is about as low as (Kelley would) go,” said the officer, who served at CENTCOM in Tampa and knows the players in the Petraeus scandal.

And the NY Post did a story, with a photo, about Kelley and her sister cozying up to Republican Senator Marco Rubio. 

Slate.com convincingly exposed Jill Kelly as nothing but a “Tampa Kardashian,” and the Brian Ross piece showed Petraeus’s judgment to be monumentally flawed.  Because of Petraeus’s exemplary record of service to America, we can only conclude that this debacle proves Robin Williams’ claim that God gave men two heads, but not enough blood to use both at the same time.

November 13, 2012

The elephant in the room with Holly Petraeus

The biggest scandal in weeks is the David Petraeus affair, and unlike the Benghazi affair, the media is all over this one.  First the media revealed last week that the married, 60-year-old Petraeus resigned from as CIA Director because of an affair.  Next we were told that the affair was with his married, 40-year-old biographer, Paula Broadwell.  Then we learned that the affair was discovered when a 2nd woman complained to the FBI that she had received anonymous emails warning her to keep her hands off Petraeus.  The ensuing FBI investigation determined that the emails had been sent by Paula Broadwell, and the media reporting determined that the 2nd woman was Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old surgeon’s housewife who volunteered to be a quasi-camp follower.

Although these facts are lurid enough, yesterday we learned more.  According to the Washington Post, the FBI in the course of investigating Jill Kelley learned that she had exchanged more than 20,000 “potentially inappropriate” emails in the past two years with the current American commander in Afghanistan, 58-year-old, married General John R. Allen.      

The mainstream media is trying to focus on the substantive aspect of this affair – i.e., powerful married men messing around.  Meanwhile, the tabloid media realizes that this scandal is even juicier because the women are 20 years younger than the men and undeniably hot.  Don Imus this morning said that Jill Kelley looks like she could be on the TV show, “Housewives of Tampa.”

But no one in the media, as far as I know, has commented on David Petraeus’s wife, Holly, other than to say she is highly accomplished and extremely pissed.    What the media usually fails to report:

  • Holly was the daughter of a four-star general, and some have questioned whether Petraeus married her to advance his career.  She says she was too smart to marry someone on the make, so the obvious follow-up question to her is why did he marry you. 
  • They say that 60 is the new 40 for women.  Well, someone forgot to tell Holly Petraeus.  She is a spitting image of Andy Griffith’s Aunt Bea. 

No one is arguing that General Petraeus was justified in jumping into bed with a beautiful, exciting 40-year-old amazon who could run six-minute miles with him, but Holly should be sensitive to the warning about being unequally yoked.

October 12, 2012

The Battle of Ia Drang

Filed under: Military,Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 3:45 am
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The Battle of Ia Drang in 1965 was America’s first large-unit battle in Vietnam.  It was memorialized in a 1992 book titled We Were Soldiers Once…. and Young by the battle’s commanding officer Hal Moore and a war reporter Joe Galloway, and then the book was made into a 2002 movie called We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson.

Earlier today, I had a couple of unfilled hours before the vice-presidential debate, so I decided to watch the movie.  As a huge fan of Gibson in The Patriot and Braveheart, I consider him to be the closest thing to John Wayne’s all-American patriotism.  The movie co-stars Sam Elliott, who is the next closest thing to John Wayne, as Gibson’s Sergeant-Major Basil Plumley.

As I was about halfway through the movie, I decided to watch the evening news, a habit that I just started a few weeks ago on the recommendation of Kent Cochran, who suggested that the mainstream media may not be credible, but it is worth knowing what many millions of Americans are being told every night.  Usually, I watch either Brian Williams or Scott Pelley.  Tonight, I watched Williams, and 15 minutes into the show he reported on the death of war hero Basil Plumley.  What a coincidence!  Biggest surprise – this ultimate patriot was not a Texan.  He was born and bred in West Virginia before spending 32 years in military service and then 15 more in civil service at Fort Benning, where he died of cancer at the age of 82.  Plumley’s boss, Hal Moore, was a colonel at the time of Ia Drang, and eventually became a three-star general.  He is still living 

Gibson starred in and directed Braveheart in 1995.  Aside from Gibson’s inspiration fight for freedom, my most searing memory about the movie is its graphic fighting scenes.  It surprises me that the graphic fighting scenes seven years later in We Were Soldiers do not seem as realistic or shocking.  Perhaps I have become jaded over the years.  But I have not become jaded to Gibson’s inspirational acting.  Like no other, he is able to be both sensitive and hard. 

For example, early in the film he is asked by one of his most promising officers how he reconciles being a soldier and a father, to which Gibson responds that he thinks each helps him be better at the other.  Then late in the movie, when his troops are about to be massacred, he makes some comment to his Sergeant-Major about coming to a George Custer ending, to which Sam Elliott says, as only he can, George Custer was a pussy and you ain’t.

Custer is referred to earlier in the movie because Moore’s battalion was part of the 7th Cavalry, which was Custer’s unit, and military units like to build on tradition.  And, although Moore was able to avoid a massacre, his battalion of 395 men suffered 72 fatalities.  The North Vietnamese were not so fortunate – they suffered 1,800 fatalities out of 4,000 soldier.  Sounds like the Alamo, with Moore securing a better outcome than did Travis, Crockett, Bowie et al. 

The major theme throughout the movie relates to a speech Moore gave to his men early in the movie, kind of like Patton in his movie.  Moore promises to his men at a graduation ceremony that he will be the first one on the ground with them and he will be the last one to leave.  And although he won’t promise to keep them all alive, he does promise to bring them all home, dead or alive.  I can’t count the number of people who were killed in the movie because they slowed to retrieve a fallen comrade. 

I will never leave a fallen comrade” is a part of the U.S. soldier creed.  As a lawyer, I wonder how the military feels about the concept today.  Surely, the statement is not as simple as it appears.  I will ask my soldier-son to elaborate.

August 10, 2012

A gold-plated presidential resume

Filed under: Issues,Military,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 11:46 pm
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Historically, the most important item on a presidential resume was military service.  Playing on this erstwhile requirement, there is a photo collage circulating the conservative internet showing portraits of the post-WWII presidents in uniform.  The uniforms are all military uniforms except for the last two Democratic presidents.  Former president Clinton is shown in his high-school band uniform, and President Obama is shown in some African/Muslim looking garb. 

Other than the obvious ridicule of the recent crop of Democratic presidents, a point to be taken from the collage is that for forty years every American president had served in WWII.  (A similar phenomena occurred following the Civil War.)  Sadly, when Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992, there was only minimal regret at seeing the Greatest Generation sent to the bench, to be replaced by a succession of politicians who didn’t feel an obligation to perform military service.

In recent years, the conservatives have also talked a lot about the need for citizen politicians.  According to their way of thinking, Washington, D.C. is dysfunctional because too many politicians put their highest priority on keeping their jobs instead of doing the right thing.  The perfect example of this dysfunction is the budget deficit, which is allowed to persist because Democrats can keep their jobs by deficit spending and Republicans can keep their jobs by deficit-creating tax cuts.  What a Faustian bargain by both parties!

Like many conservatives, I am attracted to the citizen politician, a person who has a life and values developed in the real world instead of in the amoral, value-challenged political world.  That is one of the reasons that I support Mitt Romney.  But a few weeks ago, when I started evaluating Romney’s potential VP nominees, I was shocked to learn that all of them were career politicians.  That prompted me to wonder whether America has been run historically by citizen politicians, or is this a conservative urban legend. 

Fortunately, infoplease.com, careerbuilder.com, and heptune.com provide convenient, succinct information.  Unfortunately, classifying someone as a career politician is not black-and-white.  Many of our presidents, especially in the first half of our history, mixed a resume of military service and dabbling in the law while transitioning into full-time politics.  Thirty of our 43 presidents (I’m not counting McKinley twice) served in the military (including 24 in wars) and 22 were lawyers. 

Based on my somewhat subjective classification of career politicians (no significant other career), we have had a plethora of them ever since the turn of the 20th century – Obama, Clinton, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Truman, Franklin Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt,   

Interestingly, Mitt Romney wants to be elected primarily on his business credentials.  Yet, according to heptune.com, America has had only four businessmen-cum-presidents – Truman, Carter, Bush -41, and Bush-43.  Prior to WWII, businessman does not appear to be something good for a presidential resume.












June 6, 2012

Military disability

Filed under: Issues,Military,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:26 pm
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I have a conservative, 60-something friend who is so frustrated by what he perceives as a precipitous decline of America that he is approaching a nihilistic philosophy.  To feed his nihilism, he almost anally tracks two items:

  1. An alarming number of our co-workers at USAA are dropping dead before reaching the golden age of 70.  While wondering if there was something in the water, he decided to start drawing his Social Security and pension as soon as possible.
  2. An alarming number of his personal acquaintances are fraudulently on some form of disability – primarily social-security disability or military disability – and this ensures the ultimate bankruptcy of America.

I haven’t been as alarmed by the premature deaths, which almost invariably were related to smoking and being overweight, but I have heard horror stories about the abuse of various disability pensions, with the most egregious being the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) granting a disability pension at a rate 12 times greater than any other railroad. 

The LIRR scandal, however, didn’t hit home with me because I characterized as just another NYC dysfunction.  Everyone knows that NYC has been dysfunction since the days of Tammany Hall.  But social-security disability and military disability are expenditures that hit home because they are paid out of my taxes. 

The issue was brought even closer to home a couple of weeks ago when a relative stopped by my apartment for a visit.  This relative has been in the Army for several years, with multiple deployments to the Iraq and Afghanistan, and is still suffering the effects of injuries suffered from an IED or grenade. 

During a conversation at my apartment pool, he mentioned that his injuries will probably result in his disability discharge from the Army.  When I asked him about the financial benefits of such a discharge, he said that he will continue to receive pay as if he were in the Army for the rest of his life. 

Well, I certainly wouldn’t begrudge a serviceman being paid if his military injuries prevent him from working, but then I remembered my conservative friend telling me about co-workers at USAA who were earning wonderful salaries while simultaneously receiving 100% military disability.  That doesn’t make sense.

Before having the opportunity to research this issue, I had the opportunity to discuss it with a couple a military men.  Yesterday, while helping the Cervera congressional campaign take down some 4×8 political signs, I met two Marines who were also helping in the effort.  During our conversations, I learned that one was already on 100% disability and the other was planning to join him within months. 

When I asked them whether a 100% military disability was granted even if the person was able to do some other nonmilitary work, they said it was.  According to them, that’s always been a unique characteristic of military disability – i.e., unlike social-security disability, military disability doesn’t mean that you are unable to work; it means that you are unable to serve in the military.

Today, I finally found the time to do some internet research.  According to Rand’s 2005 “An Analysis of Military Disability Compensation,” military disability ratings are supposed to be based on the effect of the service-related disability on an individual’s civilian earning capacity.     This objective is specifically provided for in the Code of Federal Regulations – Title 38, § 4.1   Essentials of evaluative rating. 

  • This rating schedule is primarily a guide in the evaluation of disability resulting from all types of diseases and injuries encountered as a result of or incident to military service. The percentage ratings represent as far as can practicably be determined the average impairment in earning capacity resulting from such diseases and injuries and their residual conditions in civil occupations. Generally, the degrees of disability specified are considered adequate to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbations or illnesses proportionate to the severity of the several grades of disability. For the application of this schedule, accurate and fully descriptive medical examinations are required, with emphasis upon the limitation of activity imposed by the disabling condition. Over a period of many years, a veteran’s disability claim may require reratings in accordance with changes in laws, medical knowledge and his or her physical or mental condition. It is thus essential, both in the examination and in the evaluation of disability, that each disability be viewed in relation to its history.

However, despite this objective, the Rand study concluded that military-disability evaluations are way too generous because the detailed guidelines are based on our past economy with mostly physical-labor jobs (manufacturing and agriculture) instead of current economy with mostly  information processing.  Jobs at USAA are a perfect example of service-related disabilities not significantly limiting a veteran’s ability to earn an undiminished salary.

As America deals with its structural-deficit problem, military disabilities should not be a sacred cow.  Because our economy has changed, the disability program needs to be tweaked to fit the changed economy.

May 28, 2012

Veteran gaps and gender gaps

Filed under: Culture,Military — Mike Kueber @ 7:27 pm
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An article in Sunday’s USA Today reported a new Gallup poll found that American veterans prefer Mitt Romney over President Obama by a shockingly large margin – 58% to 34%.  This compares favorably to war hero John McCain, who was preferred over Obama by veterans in 2008 by only 54% to 44%. 

Gallup was reluctant to speculate on the reason for the veteran gap, but provided two “chicken vs. the egg” explanations:

  • Why veterans are so strong in their preference for the Republican presidential candidate is not clear. Previous Gallup analysis has suggested that two processes may be at work. Men who serve in the military may become socialized into a more conservative orientation to politics as a result of their service. Additionally, men who in the last decades have chosen to enlist in the military may have a more Republican orientation to begin with.”

Neither of these explanations, however, explains why Romney, a Mormon who never served, enjoys a much larger gap over Obama than did John McCain, a war hero.  I suggest that veterans in 2008 gave Obama the benefit of a doubt, but that Obama has long since worn out his welcome with veterans.  That theory is supported by the fact that Romney’s percentage is only 4% higher than McCain’s, while Obama’s percentage has dropped from 44% in 2008 to 34% in 2012.  Romney has not won the veterans; Obama has lost them.

The Gallup poll also revealed that men prefer Romney over Obama by 8% while women prefer Obama over Romney by 7%.  I remember in the golden, olden days of Ronald Reagan, the media would argue that Reagan’s political viability was threatened by an even bigger gender gap, and they would ask what Reagan planned to do to earn a higher percentage of the women’s vote.  Inexplicably, they didn’t ask the trailing Democrats how they were going to get a higher percentage of the men’s vote.

I am encouraged that the media no longer makes this type of “glass half empty” argument against Republicans with reference to the electoral gender gap.  I do, however, see it used in areas of other social concerns, like pay equality or higher-education attainment or SAT scores.  As a man, it feels odd to have the media rooting for women to perform better vis-à-vis men.  Furthermore, in many areas women are now outperforming men, and at some point the cheerleading will have to stop.  Do we then start cheering for the other side?

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