Navy Top Gun Trainer: Social Conditioning Focus Is Suffocating Retention Efforts

Social “conditioning” programs aimed at making the U.S. military a kinder, gentler, more lawsuit-proof workplace have begun supplanting its core mission: fighting and killing enemies.

That’s the open message a former Top Gun instructor is sending the U.S. Navy’s top brass.

The website of the nonprofit U.S. Naval Institute is featuring this month a lengthy study by Commander Guy Snodgrass, who cautions that a lack of trust in senior Naval leadership – borne from a combination of factors that includes too great an emphasis on social issues and not enough on fighting wars – is precipitating a severe enlistment and retention crisis.

“Put simply, there is no dollar amount that can be spent, or amount of training that can be conducted, that will completely eradicate complex issues such as suicide, sexual assault, or commanding officer reliefs for cause – yet we continue to expend immense resources in this pursuit,” he wrote.

“Sailors are bombarded with annual online training, general military training, and safety stand-downs – all in an effort to combat problems that will never be defeated. The perception is that these efforts are not undertaken because they are incredibly effective, but rather because of significant political and public oversight…Sailors continue to cite the over-focus on social issues by senior leadership – above and beyond discussions on warfighting – a fact that demoralizes junior and mid-grade officers alike.”

Snodgrass, an F-18 pilot who went on to write speeches for the Pentagon Chief of Naval Operations, doesn’t solely attribute the Navy’s retention problem to its leaders’ forced fixation on sensitivity training – he lists a number of factors, each of which poses a serious problem on its own: attitudes of millennial-generation recruits about work for pay, sustained campaigns that lack tangible and principled objectives, a distressed global economy, and changes in promotional incentives within the Naval command hierarchy.

Supreme Court To Hear Hobby Lobby’s Obamacare Contraception Lawsuit Today

The Hobby Lobby lawsuit over whether government can impose Obamacare mandates on companies whose owners’ religious beliefs conflict with portions of the law is set to go before the Supreme Court today.

At issue is the Obamacare contraception coverage mandate, which requires employers to provide birth control coverage for employees as part of their overall health insurance. The outcome could determine the extent to which the government can enforce Obamacare’s contraception insurance mandate.

It could also determine whether Constitutional protections for individuals’ religious freedoms will be construed, by the courts, as equally applicable to the companies those individuals own — and how an employer’s religious views will reconcile with the religious views of their individual employees.

The plaintiffs, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties of Pennsylvania, are invoking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which prohibits the government from placing a “burden [on] a person’s exercise of religion.” The companies aren’t the only ones that have filed suit over the mandate; the High Court consolidated dozens of similar cases in accepting the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga suits.

“[W]hether it is the individuals, the corporations, or both who are exercising religion, the government cannot simply wish away the reality that its policies substantially burden Respondents’ religious exercise in a wholly unjustified manner,” the plaintiffs argued in a brief last month.

The government maintains that companies are not provided the same Constitutional protections reserved for individual citizens.

The Supreme Court will hear 90 minutes of oral arguments from both sides today.

Don’t expect a decision by the Court to revolutionize Obamacare — as SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston observed in an analysis of the case last week, “[t]he nation’s politics, and many of its legislatures (including Congress), are absorbed with debates over whether to keep the law, to amend it, to render it unenforceable, or to repeal it altogether. None of that depends upon the outcome of this case. The Court has not been asked to strike down any part of the law, and it almost certainly won’t volunteer to do so.”

‘White House Director Of Progressive Media’ Is A Job That Actually Exists

Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report tweeted last week that he’d just paid his first Obamacare penalty as a small-scale employer. He toyed with words, recasting the penalty as a “liberty tax.” But Jesse Lee, White House Director of Progressive Media, used his official Twitter page to call Drudge a liar, saying he couldn’t have paid a penalty because there isn’t one for anyone paying 2013 taxes. Lee was wrong about that, but the mainstream media took off with the disinformation, and a whole lot of people made fools of themselves.

That’s a synopsis of what happened, and it was predictable and interesting for 15 minutes. But what continues to puzzle us is the fact that “White House Director of Progressive Media” is a thing that exists.

The Obama Administration created the “Progressive Media and Online Response” position in 2011, just as President Barack Obama’s second Presidential campaign was ramping up. Obama hired Jesse Lee, who’d had plenty of experience using the Internet as a community organizing tool (the White House calls it “online outreach”), to the position. The newly created role was first announced by a blogger for The Huffington Post.

The job of White House Director of Progressive Media appears to be one of accepting the People’s money as remuneration for issuing unilateral political attacks on elected leaders, private individuals, companies, nonprofits and news outlets under the safe cover of a government job — one that exists at the leisure of the President of the United States.

At the time, NewsBusters’ Aubrey Vaughan described things this way:

The White House is amping up its vigilance in silencing its critics with the creation of a new communications position designed to respond to unfavorable online stories about the President.

Attacking critics is nothing new for the administration, and the creation of this position is only the latest effort to throw the considerable weight of the White House bully pulpit behind efforts to attack Obama’s critics. For the president, this tactic began during the campaign and has continued to date.

Until now, though, the fight was mostly funded by the DNC or campaign teams, as is standard practice for the sort of oppositional approach this position seems poised to adopt. But as an official White House position, taxpayers are actually the ones footing the bill for Obama’s new attack dog.

Lee indeed performed his attack dog function on cue last week, when he responded to the Drudge tweet with this (false) retort:

Lee’s role isn’t one that’s gotten a lot of attention since the 2012 campaign season. But we’re betting Lee just inadvertently raised the profile (and, hopefully, the scrutiny) of the White House propaganda machine by hitching his star to Drudge’s wagon.

Asian Americans Defeat Progressive California Effort To Institute Affirmative Action In College Admissions

A legislative bid to partially reinstate preferential treatment for racial minorities in the college admissions process was defeated in California earlier this month, thanks to a grassroots campaign spearheaded by Asian Americans who had no desire to watch deserving applicants cast aside by racist, progressive social policy.

The proposal would have put an amendment on the November general election ballot to exempt colleges and universities from a portion of Proposition 209 – passed in 1996 – that prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity and national origin.

But a robust effort led by Asian Americans already weary of having to score “140 points more than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 more points than blacks” on the SAT college entrance exam defeated the partisan effort.

The groups that played the most active role in deflating Legislative Democrats’ support for the amendment aren’t Tea Party types – they’re Asian special interest groups. But on this topic, their message to lawmakers was similar to Constitutional conservatives’ “hands-off” approach to government. From an analysis in The American Conservative:

In the end, it was the Democrats—for the most part, the party that really matters in California state politics—who folded on SCA 5. And it was Chinese-Americans who were the pivotal group in the measure’s defeat.

Olivia Liao, president of the Joint Chinese University Alumni Association, was quoted in the local press describing the initiative as racist. “[Legislators] feel like the Chinese-American community isn’t paying attention to politics,” Liao said, according to the Pasadena Star News. “We are concerned citizens. We need to stand up when things are not right; we need to be heard. We shouldn’t have any [exceptions)] related to race. After all, America is a free country.”

The newspaper also quoted Marina Tse speaking out against SCA 5. “It has a negative impact on high-performing students and Chinese students,” Tse said. “We need to put merit and academic performance as a priority.”

“What this episode demonstrates is that the zero-sum politics of divvying up a fixed pie — rather than expanding it — is a losing game for Democrats, precisely because America is becoming more diverse,” observed Reason’s Shikha Dalmia today. “…[I]t’ll be a losing battle to ask Asians to conform to the mentality of white liberal guilt.”

Indiana Ditches Common Core Standards

Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law a bill that dumps the State’s participation in Federal Common Core educational standards and requires instead that Indiana come up with its own set of guidelines.

“I believe our students are best served when decisions about education are made at the State and local level,” said Pence today. “By signing this legislation, Indiana has taken an important step forward in developing academic standards that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and are uncommonly high.”

Indiana was an early adopter of Common Core in 2010, and was eventually joined by 45 other States in adopting the Federal benchmark model. President Barack Obama has promoted the nationwide adoption of Common Core standards by offering States incentive grants through the Federal “Race to the Top” initiative.

Indiana is the first State to drop the controversial one-size set of standards. Pence said he believes the replacement standards currently being developed by State educators, stakeholders and elected representatives will provide a blueprint for academic achievement that more faithfully reflects the aspirations of his constituents.

“As the task of writing our new academic standards continues, I am grateful to the more than 100 Indiana educators who have put thousands of hours into a comprehensive, transparent, and rigorous process of academic review and am confident that our state will produce Indiana standards that will prepare our students for success in college, careers, and life,” he said.

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Oregon Obamacare Exchange A Model For Failure

We’ve written a lot about Cover Oregon, perhaps the most corrupt, wasteful, inefficient and glitchy among all the many corrupt, wasteful, inefficient and glitchy government-run Obamacare health insurance markets. But as the enrollment deadline for Obamacare approaches, we may soon be reading its valediction.

To say the rollout of Covered Oregon has been a mess is to understate the case.

There are the millions of dollars thrown at silly, insipid television advertisements designed to appeal — insultingly so — to the granola set. There’s the accidental extension of insurance benefits to 4,000 illegal aliens. There’s been a reversion to paper processing in order to offset the lack of a functioning online enrollment interface. There have been alarming, nearly constant lapses in security and the protection of patients’ personal information. There have been firings and resignations — most recently last week, when director Bruce Goldberg resigned amid a fresh round of investigative findings by an auditor. There’s even a Federal investigation.

And nobody dissembles and deflects blame more shamelessly than Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber, who’s managed to change his story by the day to suit the latest crisis.

Now, with a week to go until the Obamacare enrollment deadline passes, Cover Oregon is imploding on itself, while State politicians attempt to rewrite the narrative to expunge from the permanent record their past support for the program.

As of Friday, the online exchange had not successfully enrolled a single person in an insurance plan, even as hastily hired processors juggle thousands of alternate paper applications in a bureaucratic morass worthy of a sitcom. Here’s how KATU described one processor’s account of Cover Oregon’s efficiency problems last week:

It feels like a scene ripped from “The Office.”

Source A was deep in the middle of processing an application when a manager walked in.

“He said stop what you’re doing, lock your computers, get up,” Source A said. “I’m going to count you off by threes. Ones over here, twos over here, threes over here.

“We were told to play rock-paper-scissors against everybody in our little group and then the remaining people out of those would play against each other and we would get a certificate.”

Work was piled high. Problems with the system meant hours went by some nights with no work completed, so the staff had a backlog of applications.

Source A didn’t want to play a game of rock-paper-scissors when it felt so much like playing a game with people’s health.

“I told him, I was like, this was not a morale booster,” Source A said. “We were working. And I just went back and sat down and it was really pointless, but it was 15-20 minutes of wasted time.

In the midst of such fun, nobody knows what to do to get Cover Oregon working so that State residents can, at long last, freely avail themselves of artificially priced, one-size-fits-all health insurance. Kitzhaber has requested from the Feds an extension to the March 31 enrollment deadline. He’s also begun confessing that Oregon might need to simply ditch its own State insurance exchange and just refer everybody who wants Obamacare to Healthcare.gov.

Note from the Editor: As you’ve just read, the Obamacare abomination doesn’t bode well for anyone. But if you know how to navigate the system you can still control your own healthcare—as every American should! My trusted friend and medical insider, Dr. Michael Cutler, and I have written a concise guide to help you do just that. I urge you… Click here for your free copy.

Holder Won’t Appoint Special IRS Prosecutor In Tea Party Scandal

In January, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) approached U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder with a request that the Department of Justice get serious about its purported investigation into Internal Revenue Service discrimination against conservative organizations. Two months later, the DOJ has shrugged it off.

Cruz was among many conservatives angered by the DOJ’s languor in pursuing the source of the IRS’s discriminatory targeting of Tea Party groups. The agency’s political usefulness to President Barack Obama during his second run for the White House, through its selective delaying of conservative groups’ applications for tax exempt status, has been reflected in the partisan DOJ’s conduct of the resulting investigation.

DOJ set Barbara Kay Bosserman, an Obama campaign donor, in charge of the investigation, assuring a conflict of interest that would favor the IRS’s (and therefore Obama’s) position. News that Bosserman would lead the investigation led Cruz and others to question whether the DOJ would undertake any discovery efforts at all.

“It strains credulity to say that, out of the over 114,000 employees of the Department of Justice, the only possible choice to lead the investigation was a major political donor to President Obama,” Cruz wrote in January. “This, on its face, is a significant conflict of interest.”

But DOJ indicated this month that Holder wasn’t interested in launching an objective inquiry into the matter.

“This investigation has been and will continue to be conducted by career prosecutors and law enforcement professionals in accordance with all department policies and procedures that are designed to ensure the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik responded. “The department remains committed to integrity and fairness in all of its law enforcement efforts, without regard to politics.”

Cruz shot back last week, characterizing the absurdity of the decision by invoking history.

“Just as nobody would trust John Mitchell to investigate Richard Nixon, nobody should trust a partisan Obama donor to investigate the IRS’s political targeting of President Obama’s enemies,” he said. “Sadly, ‘in the discretion of the Attorney General,’ Eric Holder has chosen to reject the bipartisan tradition of the Department of Justice of putting rule of law above political allegiance.”

Why Would Anyone Vote For Hillary? Because She’s A Girl, That’s Why

Among likely voters in the 2016 Presidential election, those who say they would vote for Hillary Clinton indicate their choice is based not on her qualifications or statesmanship, but on the fact she could make history as the first female U.S. President.

Being a girl trumped all other reasons those polled in a Gallup survey, released today, gave for favoring Clinton if she were to run for President.

From the summary:

Clearly Clinton’s “unique selling proposition” is that she would be the first woman president. Nearly one in five Americans mention this historic possibility as a positive, including 22% of women, 27% of 18- to 29-year-olds, and 30% of Democrats. A Gallup analysis of a similar question, asked of a representative Gallup Panel sample in 2007, also found that Americans were more likely to mention her being the first woman president than any other positive factor.

To Gallup’s open-ended poll question – “In your view, what would be the best or most positive thing about a Hillary Clinton presidency?” – 18 percent of respondents indicated the fact that she “would be [the] first woman president,” followed by nine percent who said they value her foreign policy expertise or other experience.

Predictably, the party-line breakdown reflects a very different set of responses. Among Democrats, 30 percent said electing America’s first female President formed the basis of their support, followed by 16 percent who attributed their support to Clinton’s experience.

Republicans responded to the same question in lower numbers across the board (because few Republicans have any inclination to vote for Clinton for any reason), but 11 percent said they’d vote for her just to accomplish a change in leadership, followed by seven percent who said electing a female President was the deciding factor.

Like Republicans, independent voters didn’t answer that poll question in great numbers, either. But 17 percent put the girl thing at the top of their list of reasons to vote for Clinton, while eight percent cited her experience.

Issa Challenges Treasury Department Over Obamacare Politics

Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is calling on the Treasury Department to explain its Constitutional role in delaying Obamacare’s employer mandate. Issa alleges the Treasury Department is caught up in President Barack Obama’s political strategy to put off as many harmful Obamacare provisions as possible until after the 2014 Congressional midterm elections.

Issa and other Republican Congressmen wrote to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Thursday, asking the Treasury Department to provide all of its correspondence with the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services over the employer delay, which the Obama Administration pushed forward in February.

The Treasury Department’s final rule included Obama’s proposed delay for companies that employ 50 to 99 employees, even though Congress has never amended the Affordable Care Act to accommodate a change to its standing stipulation that businesses must choose between offering healthcare coverage or paying a fine.

The only reason, said Issa, is that the White House is attempting to slow the rollout of the most damaging portions of Obamacare by instructing HHS and the Treasury Department to change the law through behind-the-scenes policy tweaks.

“Information obtained by the Committee suggests that last year’s decision to delay the employer mandate was made by the White House and not the Treasury Department,” Issa wrote. “We were surprised to learn that the White House Chief of Staff knew about the employer mandate delay prior to the head of the department implementing the program. This finding raises serious questions about whether the White House directed the delay of the employer mandate for political reasons.”

According to The Hill, which reported on the Oversight Committee’s challenge Thursday, one Treasury staffer admitted to the Committee that “he couldn’t recall” any conversations about whether the Treasury Department can legally implement changes to the law:

Issa cited testimony from Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur, who in an interview with Oversight said repeatedly he couldn’t recall if anyone at Treasury discussed whether the agency had the legal authority to delay the mandate.

“These admissions are stunning: there are more than two thousand attorneys in the Department of Treasury, and the official responsible for tax policy cannot recall a single one inquiring into the legal authority for the employer mandate delay,” the letter says. “Furthermore, Mr. Mazur’s responses are inconsistent with the Department’s claim that it relied upon an asserted authority under § 7805 of the Internal Revenue Code.

“While we believe that Obamacare, including its penalties on employers, is bad policy and should be repealed, it is clear that by law the Administration cannot act unilaterally to delay unpopular aspects of Obamacare until after the next November election.”

Study: Mandatory Minimum Wage Increase Will Lead To Layoffs, Hiring Freeze

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. employers will lay off workers to offset operational costs if President Barack Obama is successful in persuading Congress to raise the Federal mandatory minimum wage, according to the Nation’s largest private staffing service.

A study released Wednesday by Express Employment Professionals indicates 38 percent of businesses that hire minimum-wage workers will scale back their existing workforce if they have to accommodate a Federally mandated hike in the minimum wage. An additional 54 percent said they would cease or reduce hiring, while 65 percent said a minimum wage hike would force them to pass along the cost of the added payroll by raising the prices of the products and services they offer.

Employers that Pay Minimum WageAmong all businesses, including those that do not pay minimum wage, 19 percent responded that they would lay off some employees, while 39 percent said they would scale back hiring. And 51 percent said they would pass along the cost of doing business — even though they hire no minimum wage workers — by raising prices.

“When the minimum wage is increased, it puts pressure on all companies to increase pay for their entry level employees, even for companies that presently pay above the current minimum wage of $7.25/hour,” Express Employment Professionals explained in its survey summary. “In effect, entry level pay will rise to $10.10 an hour and workers at or slightly above that level will also seek pay raises since they previously made more than the minimum wage. Therefore, costs can increase even for companies that don’t currently pay the minimum wage.”

Obama has focused on a nationwide minimum wage increase as one part of his overall agenda to close the gap between the Nation’s wealthiest and poorest working residents. “Raising the minimum wage wouldn’t just raise their wages — its effect would lift wages for about 28 million Americans,” the President said in February. “It would lift millions of Americans out of poverty and help millions more work their way out of poverty without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending.”

He has also described a forced minimum wage increase as a catalyst for a “virtuous cycle” of government-led altruism that can be carried out in the private sector.