Sunday, June 04, 2017

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has until July 1 to either delay or revoke his predecessor's change in policy on transgender individuals serving in the military

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has an important decision to make soon, which may have significant readiness implications for the armed forces

On June 30, 2016, then-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced a change in policy to allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces, effective at the latest by July 1, 2017.

Previous policy deemed those with “gender dysphoria” ineligible for service, and provided that they be automatically discharged if they had already joined in the military.

The American Psychiatric Association defines gender dysphoria as “a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify.” It is the traditional clinical term for describing what many today understand to be transgenderism.

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Carter’s unilateral decision came after years of pressure from transgender groups to change the policy. Although Carter reportedly discussed the change with the leaders of the military services before going public with the announcement, he admitted the decision was “his.”

Carter left the Pentagon on Jan. 20 with the departure of the Obama administration.

At his confirmation hearing in January to become the next secretary of defense, Mattis pledged his first priority would be to “strengthen military readiness,” adding “the primitive and often primalistic aspects of the battlefield test the physical strength, the mental ability of everyone.”

While Mattis stated he would carefully consider the decisions of his predecessors, he also indicated he would not feel bound by them.

Mattis has been extremely busy in his first four months in the Pentagon, overseeing two budget requests and numerous overseas visits to assure allies of our support and our adversaries of our resolve.

The Pentagon has been leading multiple strategy reviews of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan, the Islamic State, and North Korea.

Even accounting for his legendary work ethic, it is altogether likely Mattis has not had a chance to consider carefully the implications of a new transgender entrance policy on the short- and long-term readiness of the military.

Certainly, he does not have a new team to advise him on the subject, with only five presidentially nominated, Senate-confirmed civilian leaders in position today (including himself).

Moreover, it is not clear that Carter considered all necessary dimensions before he made his far-reaching decision last year. The news conference he conducted to announce the change focused more on transgender individuals and their desire to serve, rather than the primary and more important issue of military readiness.

Some who supported Carter’s decision pointed to the military’s looming personnel shortfall as a reason to expand eligibility. And to be sure, the military is facing such a shortfall.

With every passing year, a smaller percentage of Americans are eligible to serve. This owes to rising rates of obesity, lack of high school degrees, disqualifying medical conditions, drug use, and crime records.

These reasons for disqualification are understandable. Because the stakes are so high in war, the military is careful to ensure that those who volunteer to join the military can withstand the rigors of tough training and brutal combat.

For example, even a mention of asthma on someone’s medical records is often enough to disqualify them, since there is no guarantee that the appropriate medical treatment will be available on the battlefield.

Today, less than 29 percent of Americans between 17 and 24 years old are qualified to serve in the armed forces, and the number continues to drop. This is cause for concern, and the nation’s leadership should be working to reverse the trend.

Nevertheless, before the admission standards are changed with regard to transgender individuals, the Pentagon leadership must be certain that a change to policy would advance readiness and maintain maximal mental and physical resiliency among military personnel.

The media have already started to focus on the July 1 deadline set by Carter. Nevertheless, Mattis should take the necessary time to assess all the implications of this radical policy change.

Mattis is not bound by that deadline, nor should he enact the change unless he is absolutely convinced it will advance his highest priority—to increase, or at least not harm, military readiness.

Military leaders make a distinction between a calculated risk and a gamble. We’re advised to avoid gambles, especially with important decisions.

With the current level of understanding and facts available concerning Carter’s decision, allowing transgender individuals to join the military resembles more of a gamble.

There is plenty of time to conduct a full review, then make a fact-based decision on the issue. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.


How do we encourage terrorism? Let us count the ways

by Jeff Jacoby

AT LEAST 80 victims were murdered in Kabul on Wednesday morning when a suspected car bomb blew up in a diplomatic area of the Afghan capital. As many as 400 people were wounded, most of them civilians.

In Baghdad late Monday night, 27 people were killed when ISIS detonated two car bombs in busy commercial districts. One of the bombs exploded outside a popular ice cream shop, engulfing the building in a massive fireball and leaving the scene strewn with blood and severed limbs.

In Egypt last Friday, a bus filled with Coptic Christians on their way to pray at a nearby monastery was stopped by Islamic State gunmen. They forced the passengers off, then ordered them to recite the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith. When the Christians refused, the gunmen opened fire, murdering 28 men, women, and children.

In the southern Philippines one day earlier, Islamist killers rampaged through Marawi, beheading the police chief, torching buildings, and abducting a Catholic priest and 10 worshippers from the local cathedral.

It's been only a week and a half since the savagery at Manchester Arena, and already that atrocity is old news. The global terror wave continues unabated. So far this year, more than 510 terror episodes have been reported worldwide.

Plainly, the perpetrators of terrorism have not been deterred. And why would they be, given all the things we do to encourage them?

We encourage terrorism when we funnel money to regimes that pay for the recruitment and arming of extremists. That is what the United States and its allies did when they agreed, as part of the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, to unfreeze tens of billions of dollars' worth of Iranian assets. Iran is the world's foremost state sponsor of terror. Besides its own lethal Quds Force, it funds the Hezbollah terror network and Shiite death squads in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Last year the United States secretly airlifted $400 million in cash to Tehran just as four American hostages were released — a payment that emitted more than a whiff of ransom. No wonder Iran brashly asserts that funding for its homicidal proxies will continue.

We encourage terrorism when we lavish foreign aid on the Palestinian Authority, which uses the money to pay handsome bounties to terrorists convicted of deadly attacks on Israelis. In 2016, those payments constituted more than 7 percent of the Palestinian Authority budget. Yet that budget continues to be heavily underwritten by foreign aid from the United States and other Western nations.

We encourage terrorism in other ways, too.

The forces of terror are reinforced when terrorists are lionized in the media and treated as legitimate public-policy interlocutors. For years, terrorists have been hailed as celebrities, fawned over by journalists, and deferentially received in the halls of power.

Examples could fill a dozen columns. The United Nations invited Yasser Arafat, gun on hip, to address the General Assembly. The New York Times published — on Sept. 11, 2001, no less — a flattering profile of former Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers. The Metropolitan Opera staged "The Death of Klinghoffer," an opera rationalizing the hijacking of a cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists and the murder of an elderly, wheelchair-bound Jew.

At the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York on June 11, the guest of honor will be Oscar Lopez Rivera, an unrepentant member of the FALN terrorist group who spent 35 years in federal prison for plotting to overthrow the government.

When convicted terrorists are treated to parades on Fifth Avenue, it encourages more terrorism everywhere.

And this, too, encourages terrorism: the rush after each atrocity by those eager to condemn the victims. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, former London mayor Ken Livingstone went on Iranian TV to explain the bloodshed as an understandable reaction to "the torture at Guantanamo Bay." In an article for Foreign Policy Journal, Richard Falk — a UN official and Princeton professor — attributed the horror wrought by the Tsarnaevs to America's "fantasy of global domination."

When the global jihad will end, none of us can say. But this much, at least, is certain: The more we encourage the killers, the longer the killing will go on.


When Blacks Push Racial Superiority -- Not Equality

America's long fight for racial equality, marked by both highs and lows, is taking a disturbing trend.

While the 2008 election of our first president of color was a high from which other highs should have evolved, we have since experienced several lows. Today, the fight has transitioned into one promoting new racial divisiveness.

The international standard for true racial equality evolved due to one of humanity's greatest mass murders - World War II's Holocaust. In 1948 all United Nations member states (except Saudi Arabia) approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which recognizes all human life equally. Despite the diversity of global legal and cultural backgrounds, signers realized the Holocaust's horrors demanded recognizing human life's sanctity.

While the UDHR set the standard, implementation proved more difficult - as America's 1960s/'70s racial tensions attest. Comedians such as the late Flip Wilson - the first successful black host of a television variety show - endeavored to put a humorous face on the issue.

Wilson told the story of a hard-charging Marine general who informed his men, in his Corps, there were no white Marines nor black Marines - all wore the same uniform and, therefore, were "green" Marines. After so admonishing them, the general then ordered, "Now, some of you dark green Marines come pick up this trash!"

By generating laughter, Wilson was able to plant the seed of truth about existing racial prejudice.

Later, another accomplished black comedian, Chris Rock, similarly used humor, subtly conveying the inequality message. He told jokes about why he would not want to be an astronaut, for if something went missing on the spacecraft, the black guy undoubtedly would be blamed. Additionally, he proferred, was reluctance to respond to Houston with, "Yes NASA; no NASA."

While racial equality is by no means a laughing matter, these comedians effectively got their audiences to think about the unfortunate stereotypes reflected in their jokes.

A major high for racial equality also occurring in 1948 was President Harry Truman's issuance of an executive order (EO) mandating desegregation of the military services. Segregated black units during World War II had demonstrated unquestionable competence. Air units, such as the Tuskegee Airmen, proved even better in protecting bomber aircraft flying over enemy territory.

The military does a good job, more so than other sectors in society, of promoting a unified team concept among members. Nowhere is this more evident than in combat, where achieving the team's mission and ensuring every members' survival is most important. Today, for those who don't survive, true integration is found in military cemeteries, where warriors' headstones memorialize wars fought on our behalf, not ethnicity.

One of the early beneficiaries of Truman's EO was Ensign Jesse Brown - the Navy's first black aviator. The story of his loss in 1950 underscores the strong equality-of-life bond that quickly evolved between warriors of differing races.

While supporting vastly outnumbered U.S. Marine forces on the ground in the famous Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, Brown came under intense fire, causing him to crash on a remote snow-covered mountaintop behind enemy lines. Wounded but still alive, he was trapped inside his burning aircraft.

Aware of Brown's predicament, fellow pilot Lt. j.g. Thomas Hudner took enemy forces, attempting to capture Brown, under fire. As flames on Brown's aircraft intensified, Hudner intentionally crash-landed his own plane near Brown's in an effort to rescue him. Unable to free him, Hudner collected snow to put atop the flames to retard their advance. He then radioed for helicopter rescue to bring an ax to cut Brown out.

Ultimately, a helicopter rescue was effected, but Brown died of his wounds. For his courageous actions, Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor.

While racial equality in the military has had its highs and lows, 20th century lows have, for the most part, been exceeded by 21st century highs. The latter include, for the Navy, advancement of the first African-American female admiral - Michelle Howard.

Men like Jesse Brown - born in the South to impoverished parents, who overcame prejudice and graduated as high school salutatorian - were trailblazers in the fight to make the UDHR more than just words on a piece of paper. His success in completing pilot training and sacrificing his life in Korea to help those Marines - both black and white - fighting to survive on the ground, as well as Hudner's efforts to save Brown, evidenced the combat warrior's equality-of-life bond.

However, a disturbing trend by race activists more recently is not to seek equality, demonstrating mutual respect for all life, which allegedly is being racist, but demanding superior valuation. That is a central theme for Black (only) Lives Matter - one creating division in the fight for humanity's equality.

Such thinking recently fueled division at Washington State's Evergreen State College campus.

Recognizing black community contributions, the school previously, and reasonably, established a "Day of Absence" - calling for students and faculty of color to meet off campus, leaving others to recognize their value by their absence. This was followed by a "Day of Presence" during which the entire campus community participated in equality-focused activities.

However, activists took the Day of Absence a step further this year, asking whites to leave campus - as blacks reportedly no longer felt safe doing so following the 2016 presidential election.

A white professor very respectfully objected. He rationally argued, while it is one thing for a group to decide "to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space," it is quite another to tell "another group to go away ... (as it) is a show of force and an act of oppression in and of itself." Sadly, the professor's comments and refusal to leave incited a student mob response. Now, the professor's safety on campus is at risk.

We can only hope the racial colorblindness combat warriors come to appreciate will one day be society's norm. But this demands no member - either of the minority or majority - play the superiority card. It only creates a speed bump to getting there.

A good place to start teaching this is Evergreen State College.


The Social Justice Warrior’s Latest Tactic: Reshaping America by Targeting Its History

Social justice warriors seem to have hit a wall in American politics.

Perhaps sensing that their attempts to fundamentally transform America through top-down control have reached their limit, they are doubling down on reshaping America from the ground up.

Their new favorite target is American history, and they are starting with low-hanging fruit: Confederate monuments.

Activists are stridently taking their crusades from the college campus to a town near you, systematically pushing cities to change street names, tear down statues, and even dig up bodies to cleanse America of its Confederate vestiges.

Last Friday, the mayor of Baltimore announced that the city will follow in the footsteps of New Orleans, and consider the removal of numerous Confederate monuments throughout the city.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said of the removal of his city’s monuments:

To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our more prominent places—in honor—is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, is an affront to our present and it is a bad prescription for our future.

It may perhaps be enough to denounce the bulldozing of statues as an absurd erasure of history, but this is not the primary problem with this drive to wipe out uncomfortable elements of our past from the public sphere.

The more critical issue at stake is the loss of a common purpose and the binding heritage that Americans of previous generations forged and shared.

Dehumanizing the Past, Robbing the Present

While many on the political right have been fine, and in some cases glad, that Confederate heroes are being wiped from public places, they are deeply mistaken if they think this crusade will stop with secessionists.

Most recently, “Antifa” protestors in Texas have demanded the removal of a 100-year-old statue and “any other landmark that bears the name of Sam Houston,” according to Conservative Review.

Houston, one of the founders of Texas, was a staunch Unionist and denounced the creation of the Confederacy.

But Houston owned slaves, so he’s been added to the purge list, which now includes: Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even one of the fathers of progressivism, Woodrow Wilson, among many others.

This crusade makes little distinction between Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Jefferson Davis.

The problem was made palpable when anger poured on this Heritage Foundation tweet about a simple, and one would think, noncontroversial statement about Jefferson’s and America’s creedal foundation.

"This nation was founded not on blood or ethnicity, but on an idea: that of natural human equality"

Those with even a cursory understanding of the Civil War should understand why Jefferson’s concept of a new nation “founded not on blood or ethnicity, but on an idea: that of natural human equality” is fundamentally at odds with the philosophical cornerstone of the Confederacy.

But the savage attacks on Jefferson show how little distinction is made between various politically incorrect historical targets out of step with the milieu of the time.

In this debate, nuances are irrelevant. America’s sins must be purged. And to the left, which increasingly doesn’t recognize American exceptionalism or the greatness of the American founding documents, all of American history is in need of redemption.

Gone are the days of Jefferson’s inaugural address in which he announced, “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”

While the election that brought Jefferson to the presidency was one of the most acrimonious in our history, he went out of his way to say that the majority of his fellow Americans were still committed to the cause of the republic despite the way they voted.

And to anyone not so committed, he said, “Let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

However, in this modern battle for the soul of America there are increasingly two modes: resist or crush.

The urge to crush is what many Americans heard when presidential candidate Hillary Clinton labeled opponents a “basket of deplorables.” Many Americans simply heard: “I want you to disappear.”  This is ultimately the same impulse behind the widespread drive to tear down statues.

Rebuilding E Pluribus Unum

There are perhaps few satisfactory ways to sum up the impact of the Civil War, which defined, or perhaps redefined, the American people.

Nevertheless, we were quite fortunate that during this time we had leaders like Abraham Lincoln, backed by the power of the Union Army, who smashed the Confederacy and eliminated the great evil of slavery forever.

Yet, numerous men and women of both sides laid the groundwork for reconciliation to reforge a united nation from the ashes of the fiery civil feud.

In the years following the war, there were undoubtedly some Americans militantly committed to “Lost Cause” myths about Southern victimhood and Northern aggressors wanting to keep the South down.

Yet many other Americans to whom we owe a debt of gratitude conducted the difficult task of rebuilding the United States.

Lincoln, of course, famously referred to this in his second inaugural address, saying that in the wake of the war Americans must embrace the concept of “malice toward none and charity for all.”

He demonstrated this by having the Southern tune “Dixie” played when news of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was announced.

And Lincoln wasn’t alone. Lee, who had led the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia despite his opposition to secession, also tried to patch up the wounds of a deeply divided nation.

He once wrote to a Confederate veteran, “I believe it to be the duty of everyone to unite in the restoration of the country and the reestablishment of peace and harmony.”

The old Confederate general stuck to his words. He refused to gin up animosity toward Reconstruction and worked to restore harmony between Americans.

Many in the North recognized Lee’s contribution to reconciliation and went out of their way to make him a symbol of a nation on the mend.

Charles Francis Adams Jr. of Massachusetts, great-grandson of Founding Father John Adams, even dedicated a speech advocating that a statue to Lee be built in Washington, D.C.

While Adams, who had served in the Union Army, never conceded the justice of the cause of the free states, he noted how Lee demonstrated that good men could fight for bad causes. He said that men like Lee were still, ultimately, our “countrymen.”

No Past, and No Future

It is a discredit to modern Americans that we are now undoing the almost miraculous process of restoration achieved by men who had far more reason to hate.

This country may indeed have been blessed by divine providence, but it was also molded by the dirty hands of man. Americans may not be a perfect people, but they represent a great cause.

This is what is lost in the blind efforts to remove statues and American history.

In our iconoclastic efforts to erase the past, we rob ourselves of knowing the men who forged our national identity, and the events that made us who we are. This nation, of almost incomprehensible wealth, power, and prosperity, was created by the decisions of men like Lincoln—and Lee, too.

The zealous march to obliterate America’s past, even parts we dislike, will leave us a diminished civilization.

The divisions and differences between us will become sharpened and less tolerable—and the lessons learned from the bloodiest war in our history will have to be relearned by a people who have failed to even come to grips with the wisdom of those who have come before us.

Severing our roots to this country’s history—warts and all—will turn the United States into little more than a listless, economic behemoth, with no past and no future.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.


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