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January 14, 2009


Oh, that's comforting.

At the tail end of Vietnam I seem to remember that the phrase "hollowed-out military" was in vogue, although Wikipedia doesn't confirm it. It referred to the declining quality of the personnel.

Since I served from 1972-1974, I have anecdotal data which can confirm my co-servicemembers weren't very gung-ho.

Of course many of them are in fact gay or lesbian, which makes the whole way they have to live their lives very sad.

The current best statistics we have for LGBT in the UK suggests that about 4% of the population - given reasonable confidentiality to answer a survey - identify lesbian or gay; about 2% identify as bisexual. (From that and other statistics about sexual behavior, I would think it likely that bisexuality is far more common than 2%, but that most people who feel attracted to both women and men do not identify as bisexual, but as straight. Widespread anecdote tends to confirm this...)

Statistics for transgendered people are even more doubtful, since many trans people never out themselves except to their closest friends - and sometimes not even then.

But, regardless: Yes. There will be, there are, there have been - thousands of lesbian, gay. bisexual, and transgender Americans serving in the US military, whose service has been consistently denigrated by the military authorities, who are required to live in concealment and lies that were normal for LGBT in the 1950s and earlier, but weren't easy even then.

Given 4000+ US casualties, roughly 240 were probably lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

The proportion of LGBT casualties among Iraqis will be proportionally higher than the statistical norm, since all the Iraqi sides in the conflict have been slaughtering LGBT Iraqis whenever found. This persecution has never been regarded by the US occupation as anything to be spoken against or to be prevented.

How much of this just tracks with the massive increases in the prison population? If we lock up a huge proportion of poor young men, that has to impact the military.

Pet peeve: "Over" is a direction; "more than" is a quantity.

The data on military recruits is a lagging statistics. Considering the recession, recruiting for the military will actually become easier for a couple of years since military recruiting reflects the economic situation in the private sector. Junior officers were getting out of the military at a high rate back in the middle of the dot.com boom because the civilian job market looked great.

If we lock up a huge proportion of poor young men, that has to impact the military.

This is absolutely true - from a 2006 NYT article: "In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated". We should probably be more worried that these men aren't getting jobs than that they are getting them in the military (or, even more, that the military seems to be their only option).

I don't see a problem.

The declining intelligence of our heterosexual soldiers will be an issue NOT reported by the declining intelligence of our heterosexual bohunk journalists, like Joe the Plumber, Bob the Electrician, and Rick the Roofer, so the rest of us will end up dumber and uninformed.

Which will pave the way for the election of the sublimely ignorant Sarah Palin and whatever dumb Lee Atwater-type she can recruit for Vice President.

At some point, we can revisit the Bell Curve thesis put forward those many years ago and declare the United States of America completely white, stupid, and heterosexual.

Ronald Reagan's City of Fools On the Hill.

I wonder if most of them are non-violent drug offenses.

No one cares, Phil.

Fwiw: I didn't actually mean to claim that no one in the Army is LGBT. I have no idea why it came out that way. I'd blame the late hour at which I posted this, but more probably it was just idiocy.

A little gallows humor?

This is highly likely to be a self-correcting problem. Unemployment is already skyrocketing. Particularly hard-hit are those sectors which employ people with only a high-school level education: construction, manufacturing, retail, etc. Entry level jobs in these industries are increasingly scarce; almost no one is hiring. The result is that military recruiters will probably have a much easier time recruiting graduating seniors this spring than they did last year.

Over the long term, of course, this sort of op-tempo is unsustainable and destructive. And there's little doubt that the hemorrhaging of company-grade officers will continue unabated, for a variety of reasons. But for the next couple of years, at least, I expect these numbers to move in the other direction.

I took it to mean that none of the ones with criminal records were LGBT. ;)

Oh, goodie.

Can't wait until these folks get out to a limited job market and are back on the streets with military training and PTSD.

The idea that over one in eight Army recruits has a criminal record is really scary

Not sure that this should be. I remember reading an article about prison population reaching 1% of the population and (from memory here) somewhere near 3% of U.S. population had felony records. Any criminal record was high, over 20%, but I can't seem to find a cite. I have no idea what the percentage of those with felonies or "serious misdemeanors" would be, or those with three minor misdemeanors. Yes, pushing 13% seems high, but without the context, hard to tell.

I know what I think a "serious misdemeanor" is, but what does the military think? According to the article, ". . .a single charge of possessing marijuana or driving under the influence requires a waiver." I have an issue with the DUI part, but a single charge of pot possession? How much of the 13% is simply that? Not too worried about a stoned military.

I mean, I'm not too worried about the risk of a stoned military :). That didn't come out right.

Any criminal record was high, over 20%, but I can't seem to find a cite.

The figure I cited (21% from the NYT article) was of black men in their 20's who did not attend college.

The education worry might be more significant than the crime worry.

No one cares, Phil.

Another country heard from. Thanks for commenting!

I agree with bc: the criminal record stat isn't necessarily scary. If most of the waivers are granted to recruits with drug offenses or other non-violent incidents then I don't see a problem. Of course, violent criminals should be screened out, and the (admittedly limited) anecdotal evidence that I have suggests that they are.

I just hope they won't let fags serve.

I just hope they won't let fags serve.

Why? Cigarettes are good at killing people -- it's pretty much all they do. If we could round up a few thousand cartons and get 'em in uniform, we could get more than a few humans out of combat.

Huh? Oh -- bigot and troll! Sorry about that.

The aptitude/education level of recruits has an impact on efficacy:


Jeff, considering the commenter's name, I think that's (possibly unsuccessful) satire rather than "bigot and troll".

Then there's Osvaldo Hernandez.

"No one cares, Phil."

Yes, they do. You can be subliterate, if you like, but you can't speak for everyone, or anyone besides yourself. Clarity in writing is a virtue.

Clarity in writing is a virtue.

Like how you, think = sometimes I or maybe! ??? For why because not! if Thats total plus and really too, Staples#

Guys that got popped for smoking dope don't really worry me that much.

It's the violent extremists we are arming and training that give me pause.

I don't know how many there are, but it's more than there used to be.

Not good.

"But hey: at least they aren't lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender!"

Here in Australia, we long ago removed the ban on allowing gay and lesbian people to serve in the armed forces and it doesn't seem to have harmed our capability.

In fact, it seems that there is a policy of allowing transsexuals to serve. They have to resign while transitioning from one sex to the other, but can then reapply, subject to meeting all the requirements relevant to their new sex.

I was going to stay out of this, but since several people have now chimed in....

The use of over to mean more than grates on me, too. In my role as editor of last resort for the company I do computer work for, I had reason to look it up recently.

There's one guy at the company who always uses over in that way. A while back he did it several times in one short article, and I wanted to offer him some kind of authority for my "corrections," so I went to my two favorite usage manuals and got my comeuppance (of a sort that happens not infrequently).

From http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?r=1&ISBN=9780877796336&ourl=Merriam%2DWebsters%2DConcise%2DDictionary%2Dof%2DEnglish%2DUsage%2FMerriam%2DWebster]> Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage:

Disapproval of over meaning "more than" is a hoary American newspaper tradition. It began with William Cullen Bryant's Index Expurgatorius of 1877. Bryant simply forbade over (and above); he gave no reason. From Bryant the dictum passed to Bierce 1909. From Bierce over passed into almost all of the newspaper handbooks....

Over in the sense of "more than" has been used in English since the 14th century. Here are some examples; you will note they were not written by American newspaper reporters:

[There follows a wide-ranging set of examples.]

There is no reason why you need to avoid this usage.

From The Chicago Style Manual:

As an equivalent of more than, this word is perfectly good idiomatic English.

I left my colleague's "overs" as they were.

Is this more of an indictment of the army or the school system? Apparently the school system is not as able to produce army-worthy people as in the past.

Apparently the school system is not as able to produce army-worthy people as in the past.

Or it's producing more people with better career options. Which, from some perspectives, would be a good thing.

"... but since several people have now chimed in...."

I didn't respond about the use of "over." I responded to the assertion that "nobody cares."

Speaking of clarity, the top 25 Bushisms.

I'm more concerned about the number of EndTimes religious nuts in the Air Force than the number of people with criminal records in the military.

Lack of education seems like more of a problem to me.

But then what do i know? Maybe there is some correlation between people with criminal records and a tendency to not follow accepted boundaries of behavior in combat situations. Maybe there is some correlation between prior drug use and future job performace (I'm including alchohol in that as drug use).

I'd like the military to be able to screen out people who are more likely to go nuts and kill the wrong people or screw up and make major mistakes. How you identify those folks, I don't know. My sixth grade geography taecher told me that I had the same personality as the Austin sniper, but I turned out OK.

concerning: over vs. more than
It's exactly the same in German: über vs. mehr als. Never heard anyone complaining about that.
I just hope they won't let fags serve.

Why? Cigarettes are good at killing people -- it's pretty much all they do. If we could round up a few thousand cartons and get 'em in uniform, we could get more than a few humans out of combat.

Ye can't do any proper siege without faggots. They were still in use in WW1 too.

Faggots are not siege food.

Faggots are not siege food.

I dunno. Did you look at the ingredients in that recipe? I'm as far from vegan as you can get, and it looked like a siege weapon to me!

I was close to mentioning a certain scene in Patchett's Good Omens (the one with the witchhunter and the GI at the gates)

"What's this here," [the guard] said suspiciously, "about us got to give you faggots?"

"Oh, we have to have them," said Newt. "We burn them."

"Say what?"

"We burn them."

The guard's face broadened into a grin. And they'd told him England was soft.


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