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The New York Times praises the military's decision to end its ban on women in combat:
The Pentagon’s decision to end its ban on women in combat is a triumph for equality and common sense. By opening infantry, artillery and other battlefield jobs to all qualified service members regardless of sex, the military is showing that categorical discrimination has no place in a society that honors fairness and equal opportunity. [...]

Some right-wing commentators rehashed false stereotypes that women couldn’t hack it, and warned that women would be captured and raped and men would get shot trying to protect them instead of killing the enemy. These lurid hypotheticals deny the reality that military women face far greater danger of sexual assault and harassment from their fellow troops — a crisis that the Pentagon has slowly been addressing, and that full combat integration should help to remedy. Adding women to the leadership corps will foster a healthier military culture freed from testosterone-soaked abuse and scandal.

Many in the military already understand that many women can do combat jobs as well as men, if not better, but none have the chance to prove it. “Fully support,” one Army Times commenter wrote of the new policy, “as long as the training and the physical standards for such positions remain what they need to be to accomplish the mission and make every team member able to provide support and cover for their teammates.”

USA Today agrees:
Critics argue that standards will in fact be lowered, that the presence of women will create awkward situations and relationship problems, and that military readiness will suffer. Couched in slightly different terms, the same sort of arguments were raised when the military was racially integrated, and more recently when gays were allowed to serve openly.

None of the dire predictions has materialized. Over the years, the military has become a model of opportunity for almost everyone. With women getting their shot at any job for which they can qualify, the "almost" can finally be dropped.

Jump below the fold for more analysis on today's top stories...


After inching in the right direction for years, military policy finally caught up with the reality of modern warfare. More than 250,000 women have been "in combat" in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade, because in those theaters there were no clear lines separating the front from the rear. One hundred fifty-two servicewomen have lost their lives in those wars. More than 900 have been wounded. From now on, valiant women will have their roles in combat recognized when vying for promotion. That's important. In an organization built to fight, combat experience is a key to career advancement.
The Los Angeles Times on the filibuster deal:
Senate leaders reached a compromise this week on limiting the filibuster, an obstructive procedural tactic that has become almost as routine on Capitol Hill as photo opportunities and news conferences. The Times' editorial board has long argued that the right approach would be to end the rule, not mend it. The best that can be said for this week's deal is that incremental progress toward a more functional Senate is better than no progress at all.
If you missed analysis from David Waldman and Chris Bowers on the latest filibuster reform deal, take a few minutes and read their take on the matter here and here.

Robert Schlesinger at US News & World Report:

They are shocked that Obama dares to appoint a defense secretary they don't like; they presume to dictate the terms of upcoming fiscal negotiations (revenues are off the table!); and they are contriving a series of budget crises to push radical spending cuts. You would think they had just won a 1994- or 2010-style vindication at the polls.

Here's the reality the rest of us live in: Two months ago voters chose the Democrats' governing vision over the Republicans', decisively. Obama won re-election by 4 percentage points; Democrats expanded their Senate majority; and while the GOP kept control of the House, they lost seats, and nearly 1.4 million more people cast ballots for Democrats than for Republicans. Should the GOP roll over in the face of a progressive agenda? No. But as the conservative writer David Frum wrote on his blog last week, this isn't the moment for conservatives to go "big and bold. This is the time for defensive play; for rethinking, rebuilding, and retooling."

Instead, conservatives seem to see in the 2012 election results a hunger for a government shutdown or the threat of it. They should ask the ghosts of '94 how voters reacted to that the first time.

Jack Shafer at Reuters on second term curses:
Just as farmers plant and reap with the seasons, political journalists consult the calendar for the best time to scatter seed and harvest, with second-term inaugurations being the preferred juncture to deploy temple-tapping discussions of the “second-term curse,” the notion that special doom awaits any modern president who wins the White House a second time.

Like most predictions, this one is for suckers. To begin with, the definition of a second-term curse has become so elastic that anything from a few policy setbacks to death can be interpreted as fulfillment of the curse. Even the definition of a second term has been debased by those who call vice presidents who complete a dead president’s term and win one on their own — Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman  and Lyndon Johnson — two-termers.

Blake Hounshell, managing editor at Foreign Policy, looks at terrorism in Northern Africa in the context of Secretary Clinton's testimony:
Perhaps a better question is how involved we want to be. Some reports have linked al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has ties to al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan, to the Benghazi attack. Three Americans died in the gas plant in Algeria, and seven more barely escaped with their lives. The United States reportedly has had special operations forces in Mali for years. So, in a sense, America already is very much involved.

But that doesn't mean the right course of action is to get in deeper. To varying degrees, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its allies clearly do pose a threat to U.S. interests in their corner of Africa, but there's little evidence that they have the capability or intent to strike the U.S. homeland. The United States needs to lead from behind in this region -- but way, way behind, with French and African forces in the front. Al Qaeda would like nothing more than to drag the United States into another protracted quagmire.

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