Sunday, March 13, 2011

Too Many White Guys

The U.S. military has a problem, according to a DoD advisory panel. And no, we're not referring to the demands of two on-going wars (and the toll on those who serve); escalating personnel costs, a shrinking fleet, aging nuclear forces and combat aircraft that are equally long-in-the tooth. The group wasn't asked to address those pressing concerns.

Instead, the panel was asked by Congress to look at diversity in our military. In fact, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission spent two years looking at the issue and released their final report earlier this week. You can probably predict their findings without reading this Associated Press article. A few excerpts:
The U.S. military is too white and too male at the top and needs to change recruiting and promotion policies and lift its ban on women in combat, an independent report for Congress said Monday.

Seventy-seven percent of senior officers in the active-duty military are white, while only 8 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 16 percent are women, the report by an independent panel said, quoting data from September 2008....

Efforts over the years to develop a more equal opportunity military have increased the number of women and racial and ethnic minorities in the ranks of leadership. But, the report said, “despite undeniable successes ... the armed forces have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as diverse as the nation they serve.”

“This problem will only become more acute as the racial, ethnic and cultural makeup of the United States continues to change,” said the report from the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, whose more than two dozen members included current and former military personnel as well as businessmen and other civilians.

It's tempting to dismiss the report as little more than PC drivel. But the commission's chairman, retired Air Force General Lester Lyles, has a reputation as a straight-shooter and an outstanding leader. It's hard to imagine that he would simply compile the usual rot and sign off on it. If General Lyles is willing to stake his reputation on the report, then it's probably worth a look.

Based on our first read, the panel's findings appear to be a mixed bag. While General Lyles and his group offer some excellent ideas (for example, coordinating enlisted and officer recruiting, to identify candidates for commissioning programs at the earliest opportunity), there are also a few clunkers. When the commission suggests some sort of mechanism (and metrics) for tracking progress in creating a more "diverse" leadership corps, it sounds a lot like a quota system.

And quite frankly, that's the last thing our military needs. The armed forces need to train and promote the best and brightest, regardless of their ethnic background or gender. The advancement of minority and female officers has been slow, but no one can dispute that more members of those groups are reaching senior ranks in the U.S. military.

Which leads us to another point: the commission (and elected officials) say they want an officer corps that reflects America. That's a worthy goal, but are you willing to trade mission effectiveness to achieve it? Among its various recommendations, the panel urges DoD to "open additional career fields and units involved in 'direct ground combat' to qualified women." Trouble is, the vast majority of military women will never qualify to serve in such positions, the result of physiology--not discrimination.

Almost 20 years ago, columnist Fred Reed published results of an Army study, comparing fitness levels among male and female soldiers. The data reaffirms that most women simply lack the upper body strength and endurance required by an Army infantryman, a Marine rifleman, or most special forces MOS's.

The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength... An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men.

The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:

Women's aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.

In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.

The same report also cited a West Point study from the early 90s which discovered that, in terms of fitness, the upper quintile of female cadets achieved scores equal to the lowest quintile of their male counterparts.

So, what's a chief diversity officer supposed to do (don't laugh--the commission recommends creation of that very post, reporting directly to the SecDef). Water down the standards so more women will qualify for combat service, removing that "barrier" to reaching the flag ranks? Or create some sort of double-standard, allowing females to punch their resumes in the right places and continue their climb to the stars. Either approach is unacceptable, yet some sort of "modification" is inevitable, to open up more combat billets to women.

As for minorities, their under-representation in the ranks of generals and admirals reflects another set of problems. For starters, there's our failing education system which impacts blacks and Hispanics more than the general population. Because many young men and women in those groups receive an inferior education, they tend to score lower on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery ASVAB, which sets the cognitive baseline for military service, and what jobs will be open to recruits who achieve a passing score.

For many minority candidates, the ASVAB has become a barrier to military service. We noted last December that, according to a recent study, 29% of Hispanics and 39% of African-Americans failed to achieve the minimum score (31) to enter the U.S. Army. In other words, more than 25% of young Hispanics and almost 40% of their African-American counterparts couldn't score high enough to enlist in the Army, which has the lowest qualifying score of any branch of the armed services. Obviously, if a young man or woman (regardless of their ethnic background) can't pass the enlistment test, they have no chance of becoming an officer and reaching the highest military ranks.


The number one excuse: Right to a family life lets foreign convicts stay in Britain

More than 200 foreign prisoners, including killers, cheated deportation last year by claiming they have a human right to a ‘family life’ in Britain. The Home Office has confirmed that the ‘right to a family life’ has become the number one excuse used by convicts successfully blocking removal from the UK.

It has overtaken the usual claim submitted by illegal immigrants and overseas criminals that they face ill-treatment at home. MPs said it was hard proof that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – which protects the right to a ‘family life’ – was being abused, and they are demanding changes to the law.

Tory MP Dominic Raab, who obtained the figures, said: ‘It is one thing to argue against deporting an individual into the arms of a torturing state. But it makes a mockery of British justice to allow hundreds of criminals and suspected terrorists to claim family ties to defeat a deportation order.

‘This is a novel expansion of human rights by the UK courts, and an escalating threat to our border controls. Whilst the Coalition partners may not agree on scrapping the Human Rights Act, we should look urgently at specific amendments to deal with the growing deportation problem.’

Home Office figures show a 17 per cent rise in the successful human rights claims by immigrants fighting removal from Britain between January and September 2010. There were 303 cases, compared with 258 in the first nine months of 2009. The total for 2010 is expected to be 400.

Mr Raab says the figures he uncovered made a case for immediate amendments to the law. Currently, the law says offenders jailed for 12 months or more should be deported on completing their sentence – but there is an exemption if removing them would breach their human rights.

Repealing that exception would lead to fewer criminals successfully arguing they should be allowed to stay. MPs fear judges are now going even further in interpreting Article 8. In some cases, criminals who are single with no children have won appeals to stay because their parents live in the UK.

Other beneficiaries include Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, who knocked down 12-year-old Amy Houston and left her to ‘die like a dog’ under the wheels of his car.

He was driving while disqualified and committed a string of offences after the little girl’s death, but an immigration tribunal ruled that – because Ibrahim had children while living in Britain – he had a right to a ‘family life’ here.

Last night, Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Convicted foreign national criminals who refuse to comply with the deportation process should not be allowed to hold the public to ransom. ‘It is not acceptable that the British taxpayer should have to pay to accommodate foreign national criminals with no right to be here. Our priority will always be to protect the public.’

The statistics will reignite the pressure on David Cameron to make meaningful changes to the Act.

The Coalition is preparing to launch a commission to consider overhauling the legislation. But it is already mired in controversy as Lord Lester, a QC who campaigned for 30 years for EU rights conventions to be incorporated in British law, will sit on the body as will Labour peer and human rights lawyer Baroness Kennedy.

Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘If you put a fox in charge of the chicken coop, you have a problem for the chickens. If we put human rights lawyers in charge of human rights reviews, you still have a human rights problem.’


Bureaucracy means the end of a free handout to members of Britain's Women's Institute

Mostly older ladies

For 20 years the thirsty ladies in village halls have received free parcels of Yorkshire Tea. But now the complimentary cuppas, enjoyed by members in more than 6,000 branches, are to be stopped because of charity law red tape.

The decision has caused outrage among the 96-year-old organisation’s 200,000 members – who shook off their once-genteel image with stunts such as the nude calendar that inspired the 2003 film Calendar Girls. A Facebook group has been launched called ‘Reinstate our Yorkshire Tea’, on which members complain that they were not consulted by the top brass about the decision. The Facebook page also carries accusations that discussions about the tea on the WI’s own website have been ‘censored’.

Problems started when the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) decided that to protect the WI ‘brand’ Yorkshire Tea needed a contract to supply the organisation with free tea.

But the tea’s makers, Taylor’s of Harrogate, decided the contract wasn’t for them and have now dispatched the last goody boxes.

A Yorkshire Tea spokesman explained: ‘It was a case of “we need a contractual relationship”. This wasn’t for us. There were lots of elements to it. We started conversations and we didn’t get that far. ‘It’s been difficult for everyone. We have had super letters of support and thanks from ordinary members. They’re a very vocal bunch and we hope they’ll carry on drinking Yorkshire Tea for years to come.’

The WI blamed the situation on ‘constraints and obligations on the NFWI Board as charity trustees under current charity law’. A spokesman added: ‘While members are free to accept gifts in kind, no public acknowledgement for the commercial company is allowed in return unless there is an agreed contractual relationship clearly stipulating the terms of engagement.’

The decision could provoke a backlash as fierce as the occasion when members slowclapped and heckled Tony Blair at a 10,000-strong WI conference.

On Facebook, Shirley Markham of Farmborough WI writes: ‘Please NFWI have another think! Our long association with Yorkshire Tea has done nothing but good to many causes and people, why change it if it works?’

Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, said: ‘How ironic. We have a Government that promises to get rid of red tape and nurture charities yet somehow, the ever-more elaborate, trumped-up regulations imposed on charity trustees means a genuinely altruistic act by business is scuppered. 'If the Big Society means anything, surely it’s butting out of informal arrangements. ‘Mr Cameron promises to roll back the state to free up People Power. Maybe he could start with rolling back charity law.’


The British hunt saboteur, a loving couple and judges who dismiss Christianity

A Christian couple, Owen and Eunice Johns, were recently banned from fostering children because of their belief that homosexuality is wrong. Ten days ago, two senior judges concluded that the right of homosexuals to equality ‘should take precedence’ over the right of Christians to manifest their beliefs and moral values.

On Tuesday, David Cameron blundered into the controversy. The Prime Minister asserted that the couple had been dealt with in an ‘appropriate way’, and added that Christians must be ‘tolerant and welcoming and broad-minded’ towards homosexuality.

That same day, another judge in a different court ruled that the ‘deeply held’ beliefs of a prominent animal rights campaigner and hunt saboteur called Joe Hashman should be protected from discrimination in the same way as religion.

The two cases are obviously unalike in all sorts of ways, but they both illustrate an extraordinary new phenomenon. In the eyes of the courts, secular values have supplanted religious ones and, in the second case, have been accorded the status of a religion.

Perhaps you thought you still lived in a Christian country. I wouldn’t be so sure. In the case of Owen and Eunice Johns, Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson opined that Britain was a ‘largely secular’, multi-cultural country in which the laws of the realm ‘do not include Christianity’.

The learned judges must know that our common law is rooted in Christian ethics. However, they believe that ‘because of enormous changes in the social and religious life of our country over the past century’ the law should be able to place secular values above Christian ones.

Of course, there are many Christians (I would include myself) who do not share the Johns’ views on homosexuality. But there are a large number, not least the Pope, who believe that the practice of homosexuality is sinful. This view is not just dreamt up out of thin air. It is based on a reading of the Bible, and would have been accepted by virtually all Christians until about 50 years ago.

The Johns, who are Pentecostal Christians and were born in Jamaica, do not hold their views in any aggressive or hectoring way. They seem to be strikingly good people, and have fostered very many children. They were simply unable to respond in the affirmative to this question posed by Derby City Council: ‘Would you tell a child that it was all right to be homosexual?’

The couple said that in all conscience they could not say this because they did not believe it. They deny they are in any way homophobic, and stress that they would treat any child with love. They are just unwilling to say something they do not believe. That seems to me brave, principled and Christian behaviour.

In fact, the Johns had applied to foster children between the ages of five and eight for whom the rights and wrongs of homosexuality are not usually a very pressing concern.

It looks to me as though, in a mood of zealotry, Derby City Council deliberately picked a fight by invoking a piece of egregious New Labour legislation, the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.

The normally sensible Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has argued that the judges did not rule that the Johns had no right to hold their views on homosexuality — merely that they should not make them plain to prospective foster children. But isn’t the distinction a pretty meaningless one? If you are not allowed to communicate a belief, the implication must be that the belief is in some way dangerous and wrong. It is not a very big step from being prohibited from expressing a principle to being prevented from entertaining it even in private.

And yet the belief we are speaking of does not threaten the practices of anybody. It is part of traditional Christian dogma, rejected in recent times by some Christians, but still held as a matter of conscience by others.

David Cameron’s intervention when asked about the Johns’ case during a visit to Derby was unwise. I doubt he has made much of a study of Christian attitudes towards homosexuality, and he should have kept his mouth shut. He was in a small way doing what Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson had done — imposing fashionable secular values (I won’t accuse him of playing to the electoral gallery) on religious ones.

As a number of homosexual pundits have observed, the people who are displaying a lack of tolerance and broad mindedness, to borrow Mr Cameron’s words, are not the modest, retiring, public-spirited Johns — who merely want to be true to their beliefs, and might, incidentally, serve as a perfect advertisement for Mr Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ — but the original promoters of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, Derby City Council and even the learned judges.

In view of their intolerance towards the couple’s religious beliefs, it is almost farcical to find Judge Lawrence Guyer pandering to hunt saboteur Joe Hashman, and treating his purely secular beliefs as though they amounted to a religion.

Mr Hashman says he was sacked as a designer from a garden centre when his bosses discovered he was a hunt saboteur. Judge Guyer practically genuflected in front of his reputed belief ‘that people should live their lives with mindful respect for animals and we all have a moral obligation to live in a way which is kind to each other, our environment and our fellow creatures’. This is what many, probably most, people believe. It does not constitute a religion.

Moreover, bearing in mind Mr Hashman’s past as a hunt saboteur and animal rights campaigner, I doubt he has observed the ‘moral obligation to live in a way which is kind to each other’ in quite the way the woolly-headed judge suggests.

Maybe Mr Hashman has lived an unexceptionable life promoting his cause, but many animal rights campaigners have not. It is part of their credo to disrupt the livelihoods of others, and the more extreme fringes have abused, terrorised and sometimes used violence against workers in laboratories where experiments involving animals take place.

Mr Hashman’s beliefs, whether anti-social or otherwise, are not religious, and until the court establishes the truth about his sacking, it is very hard to see how he has been the victim of discrimination.

By contrast, the self-effacing Johns have not tried to impose their beliefs, which are part of this country’s religious tradition, on anyone. They are the victims of discrimination, and yet almost no one seems to care.

It is not just the law that increasingly relegates and ridicules Christianity. The BBC has steadily reduced the amount of religious broadcasting. Christian speakers have been progressively edged out on Radio Four’s daily avowedly religious Thought for Today slot at the expense of Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist ones. Though these religions have many fewer adherents in this country, they are virtually accorded equality by the secularly-minded BBC.

Even Christians who do not agree with the Johns’ views on homosexuality should wake up and grasp that many of their values are being challenged and replaced by secular ones.

And all of us, Christian or not, should understand just how blindly intolerant and narrow-minded these forces of a new secular religion often are.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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