Name that political party

It appears that Toledo, Ohio — or, at least, the mayor in Toledo, Ohio — is giving Berkeley a run for its money:

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner on Friday ordered some 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines from Grand Rapids, Michigan, out of Toledo just before the unit was suppose to start a weekend of urban warfare training downtown.

The mayor’s spokesperson Brian Schwartz said, “the mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people. He did not want them practicing and drilling in a highly visible area.”

Toledo police said they knew about the training and had approved the unit’s use of the Madison Building and the Promenade Park area. The training was scheduled to start Friday afternoon and last until Sunday. Police said the unit’s presence would have a minimal impact on the city. Police issued a press release earlier in the week saying the marines would be wearing green camouflage uniforms, operate military vehicles, carry rifles, perform foot patrols, and fire blank ammunitiion during the exercise.

Schwartz said there was a breakdown in communication between police and the Finkbeiner administration that led to the mayor’s action.

“The marines drilled here three times during the Ford administration and once under the Finkbeiner administration. After the last visit, the mayor told then police chief Jack Smith, that he did not want the marines back. Smith failed to inform the current police administration of the mayor’s feelings,” Schwartz said.

NBC24 spoke to Jack Smith who recalled that after the marines last visit, he and the mayor had a heated exchange about the training.

“He told me he did not want them, as he put it, “playing war in Toledo’”, Smith recalled. I told him, as a former marine, “that if one young marine’s life is saved because of training he or she received in Toledo, Ohio, then it was worth the inconvenience.”

You the rest here.

It’s a fairly long and detailed article, that describes much of the horse trading surrounding the mayor’s ultimate decision. There’s really only one pertinent piece of information you won’t find in the article — the mayor’s political affiliation. If you are wondering, he’s a Democrat. He is, apparently, also something of a kook, which makes Toledo’s loyalty to him impressive. Even his accomplishments don’t seem to set off adequately the fact that the man is a loose cannon.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Letting Berzerkley hear from you

My expectations of Berkeley have always been low.  Already when I was a student there many, many moons ago, I figured out that few people there actually engaged in independent thinking.  They were simply radical liberal lemmings.  I was also pretty disgusted by the professors who lived in their multi-million dollar homes in the hills; who commanded huge taxpayer funded salaries for working a few hours a week; and who had their black and Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners, but who nevertheless felt comfortable preaching Marxist class warfare and castigating students for their middle-class upbringings.  Still, even for a town that normally functions at a low intellectual and moral level, Berkeley’s government seems to have found new depths to plumb with its council resolution likening a Marine recruiting station to a porn shop — the only difference being that, while Berkeley would no doubt welcome a porn shop, it’s doing its damnedest to rid itself of the Marines.

If you think there’s good reason to slap down this newest candidate in Berkeley’s perpetual game of “How Low Can You Go,” you now have the perfect opportunity:  a petition that Move America Forward’s Melanie Morgan intends to submit to the Mayor and City Council next week.  Of course, since Berkeley follows the paranoid style of American politics, it will only cement them in their belief that they’re right and everyone else is wrong.  Nevertheless, it seems like the right thing to do so feel free to go do it.

Hat tip:  Michelle Malkin

The media again goes after the military

First, the NY Times announced that American troops were crazed killers. Next, it announced that they were crazed homeless people. The latest salvo the media has launched at the troops to counteract the Surge’s success is that they’re so crazy they are killing themselves in droves:

As many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a jump of some 20 percent over the year before, officials said Thursday.

The rise comes despite numerous efforts to improve the mental health of a force stressed by a longer-than-expected war in Iraq and the most deadly year yet in the now six-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.

Internal briefing papers prepared by the Army’s psychiatry consultant early this month show there were 89 confirmed suicides last year and 32 deaths that are suspected suicides and still under investigation.

More than a quarter of those — about 34 — happened during deployments in Iraq, an increase from 27 in Iraq the previous year, according to the preliminary figures.

The report also shows an increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries — some 2,100 in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 the previous year and less than 500 in 2002.

The total of 121 suicides last year, if all are confirmed, would be more than double the 52 reported in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks prompted the Bush administration to launch its counter-terror war. The toll was 87 by 2005 and 102 in 2006.

I’m not quarreling with the numbers for last year, which equal 121 individual tragedies. Nor do I challenge the fact that the number of suicides has been rising. However, I do have a problem with the absence of context. The story makes it appear as if there’s an ever escalating suicide epidemic in the military that sets it apart from the general American population. That is, the article forgot to compare these numbers to society at large. Significantly, it also doesn’t distinguish between active duty, guard and reserve (502,790, 346,288 and 189,975, all of which add up to 1,039,053). As always context makes things interesting.
Here are some statistics regarding suicide in America as of 2004:

Now lets look at Army demographics for the year 2006 (the last I could find):

  • Total number of troops, active, guard and reserve: 1,039,053
  • Total number of active and guard troops (not counting reserve): 849,078
  • Total active duty was 502,790
  • Men make up 86% of active duty soldiers (430,000).
  • Whites made up 61.6 percent of active duty soldiers, or almost 310,000 troops.

I’m not able to find the average age for the Army (I don’t know why), but I’m willing to bet it hovers between 19-24, with the weight at about 20.

Okay, bear with me here, and correct me when I go wildly wrong, but I think one can make a few predictions about what the suicide rate probably would be in the military if it hewed to general American statistics. First of all, if there are an average of 11.05 suicides for every 100,000 people, out of the total army strength of 1,039,053, one would expect a little more than 110 suicides, which is remarkably close to the 121 committed last year. And given that the Army is disproportionately male and that the rate of suicides is disproportionately high amongst men, one would have to expect that the average of 11.05 suicides would have to skew upwards to account for both of these disproportionalities. You then have to add in the fact that the average male soldiers age also places him in one of the high risk suicide categories (youths 15-24). After doing all that, you’d have to slide the rate down a little to reflect the fact that some of these men are minorities, who have lower suicides rates, but that kind of math is utterly beyond me. Any of you who can do math should feel free to chime in here and tell me by how much the suicide rate increases when you have a mostly white, young, male demographic in the military, and mostly white, young, male suicides in the general population. Complicated math or not, my rule of thumb tells me that, compared to the general population, the rate of Army suicides is not out of the ordinary.

Even if one rachets the numbers down from all troops and looks only at active duty and guard troops, the result isn’t that different. The total number of active and guard troops, as I noted above, is 849,078. That means that you could expect an average of 94 suicides per year. And then again, you’d have to do the higher math of factoring in all those young, white men and then factoring down slightly for minorities (who are 38.4$ of active duty troops and 25.5% of guard troops).

Things do get more tragic if one really rachets the numbers down to focus only on active duty suicides, because that would mean a base suicide rate that’s twice the national average. Even adjusting that for the young, white male military population probably wouldn’t offset the differential. I can’t find the report on which this news story is based, though, so I really don’t know which Army population is at issue.

In any event, as you think about all of this, consider that the report says that there are only 89 confirmed suicides, with 32 still being investigated. It’s certain that some of those being investigated will prove also to be suicides, but it’s anything but certain that all will.

Bottom line: It’s all very complicated for a math-phobe like me but, unless one is sure that the numbers in the article apply only to active duty troops, I’m fairly confident that the numbers, while showing 121 personal tragedies, do not prove that our American troops are killing themselves like flies. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) In other words, while the news report, to the extent it gives numbers directly from military sources, is informative, to the extent the report makes it appear that troops are dying in droves as compared to other Americans, it’s misleading.

UPDATEGateway Pundit has an more interesting take on the story than I did, which is the fact that more troops committed suicide during the Clinton years than are now committing suicide.  Perhaps doing ones job, even a dangerous job, is less demoralizing and depressing than being marginalized and denigrated.

A really beautiful commercial

A few months ago, San Francisco humiliated itself by refusing to allow the Marines to film part of a TV commercial on San Francisco’s streets. Looking at what the Marines eventually did for the Bay Area portion of their shot, which was to use the Golden Gate Bridge as soon from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, I can tell that the City That Used To Know How totally cut off its nose to spite its face when it refused to participate in the commercial. The video is absolutely gorgeous and it ties the Marines in to vast swathes of the United States. Anyway, I like the Golden Gate Bridge shot they actually used because, instead of showing the City that turned its back on the Marines, it instead shows Marin County and, by squinting and lots of imagination, I can pretend I see my home in the distance.

Watching the video put me in mind of Marco Martinez, a former gangbanger who became a Marine and received the Navy Cross. He’s written a book about his experiences called Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero. I haven’t read the book, but I did hear Martinez interviewed on a radio show. He said that the transforming moment for him occurred when he was in high school (and, at that time, he was a really hardcore gangster) and saw a Marine recruiter walk through the halls. He was so impressed by the recruiter’s imposing figure, by his dignity, and by his perfect uniform, that he suddenly realized that there was life beyond the ghetto and the gangs. Perhaps other young men and women, seeing this new video, will have the same feeling.

UPDATE: I showed the video to my 8 year old son who, predictably, loved it, and made me show it to him 4 times. I say predictably because, yesterday, when we caught a big post-holiday sale at Barnes & Noble, my daughter came home with a puppy calendar and my son came home with an illustrated book on big weapons systems.

More media attacks on vets *UPDATED*

The media supported the troops when they felt they could attack the War. Now that the Surge is working, with dramatic downturns in overall violence (setting the stage for political stability), making attacks on the War somehow doesn’t work anymore, so the media has found a tried and true target: the troops themselves. The first salvo was the NY Times “troops as killers” tripe, which Iowahawk skewered. Round two in the media’s undeclared war is “the troops as insane, drug addicted homeless people,” an attack emanating this time from AP. What’s marvelous (in a twisted way) about the AP report, is how it relies on the media’s original myth about insane, drug addicted homeless Vietnam Vets to support its central tenet. Thus, after one anecdote about a poor, lost soul, the report hits its stride:

This is not a new story in America: A young veteran back from war whose struggle to rejoin society has failed, at least for the moment, fighting demons and left homeless.

But it is happening to a new generation. As the war in Afghanistan plods on in its seventh year, and the war in Iraq in its fifth, a new cadre of homeless veterans is taking shape.

And with it come the questions: How is it that a nation that became so familiar with the archetypal homeless, combat-addled Vietnam veteran is now watching as more homeless veterans turn up from new wars?

What lessons have we not learned? Who is failing these people? Or is homelessness an unavoidable byproduct of war, of young men and women who devote themselves to serving their country and then see things no man or woman should?

(Incidentally, Erin McCalm, the author of this “report,” repeats this myth again later in the article.) Pardon me while I take a short trip to the vomitorium to purge myself of that kind of trite psychobabble.

I’m not someone who deals comfortably with numbers, so I’ll leave it to you guys to tell me what’s wrong with these:

For now, about 1,500 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been identified by the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 400 of them have taken part in VA programs designed to target homelessness.

The 1,500 are a small, young segment of an estimated 336,000 veterans in the United States who were homeless at some point in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

And yes, I am willing to bet that this minuscule statistical sampling is somehow very wrong. That is, I’m assuming that if someone compares Vet homeless figures to general homeless figures for young men and women in the same demographic, the numbers will be the same or, as seems often to be the case (whether the subject is alleged rises in Vet suicide or murder) lower.

Anyway, Ms. McClam, isn’t really interested in actual numbers. She’s much more interested in predicting imminent social breakdown because of the return of vast numbers of dysfunctional vets:

Still, advocates for homeless veterans use words like “surge” and “onslaught” and even “tsunami” to describe what could happen in the coming years, as both wars continue and thousands of veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress.

People who have studied postwar trauma say there is always a lengthy gap between coming home — the time of parades and backslaps and “The Boys Are Back in Town” on the local FM station — and the moments of utter darkness that leave some of them homeless.

In that time, usually a period of years, some veterans focus on the horrors they saw on the battlefield, or the friends they lost, or why on earth they themselves deserved to come home at all. They self-medicate, develop addictions, spiral down.

How — or perhaps the better question is why — is this happening again?

“I really wish I could answer that question,” says Anthony Belcher, an outreach supervisor at New Directions, which conducts monthly sweeps of Skid Row in Los Angeles, identifying homeless veterans and trying to help them get over addictions.

“It’s the same question I’ve been asking myself and everyone around me. I’m like, wait, wait, hold it, we did this before. I don’t know how our society can allow this to happen again.”

I suspect that poor Mr. Belcher can’t answer the question because it’s probably not happening again, just as it didn’t happen before.

And so the article goes. Broad, unsupported conclusions, breathless anguished questions, a complete absence of hard facts. This is not reporting. This doesn’t even rise to yellow journalism. This is so bad Ms. McClam couldn’t even make it as the writer of daytime soaps — the audience would expect more in the way of plot development and verisimilitude. This is the stuff of 1930s Hollywood spoofs about bad female journalists, trafficking in breathy innuendo, emotions and fantasy.

(The picture at the top, by the way, is of a Canadian homeless man.)

UPDATECurt, at Flopping Aces, is doing the math:

If my math is right (and there no guarantee it is, jarhead remember) those numbers work out to be .004% of the veteran homeless were from the Iraq/Afghanistan war.

So .004% is worthy of a 1,947 word article from the AP? This article from the NYT’s in November puts the number of Iraq/Afghanistan homeless veterans at 400. In two months it went up 1,100. That’s some jump.

And how about that 336,000 number. HUD reports that in 2006 the number of homeless in the United States was

The number of chronically homeless people dropped from 175,900 in 2005 to 155,600 in 2006, according to data collected from about 3,900 cities and counties.

Anyone see a problem there? This article from HUD puts it at 744,000. Pretty big discrepancy there. It even says 41% of that number are whole families which means only 416,000 are singles. I’m thinking that most of these veteran homeless are not taking their whole family with them so the majority of single homeless are veterans?

Any other math work from readers will be much appreciated.

Killing a canard quickly *UPDATE*

After the Vietnam War, one of the favorite liberal tropes was that the vets came back as deranged, dysfunctional, often savage subhuman creatures. I never understood that. I was the daughter of a veteran who had served in two wars, one of which was WWII, where he saw hand to hand combat at El Alamein and was strafed for three days in Crete. (The other war was the Israeli War of Independence, and he never told battle stories about that one.) My Dad was often an angry man (not violent, just put-upon), but he was that way before the war, as a result of having been brought up in one of Weimar Berlin’s worst slums before his mother (abandoned by his father before he was born) could no longer handle him and therefore delivered him, at age 5, to an orphanage. The orphanage saved him, but I don’t think he ever got over the anger that went with being abandoned — and that went with being raised a Communist. In any event, my father’s personality, which was mostly compounded of intelligence, wit, humor and hard work, was in place long before war began. I also took note of the fact that, not only did the WWII vets return to extraordinarily productive lives (think of the booming 1950s), but so too did most of the concentration camp survivors, people who experienced things horrors even soldiers couldn’t imagine.

When I’d query my parents about the difference between Vietnam Vets and all other veterans, they could only reply “Drugs. It must have happened because they all came back drug addicted.” The fact that, statistically, that wasn’t true either was something none of us could deal with intellectually. So, we simply accepted the MSM trope and, because we didn’t know any vets personally (my parents were too old and I too young), it really didn’t matter anyway.

The trope — the vet as psychotic killer — is unsurprisingly being recycled. The MSM supported the vets when they could attack the war’s progress. With the war progressing well (that darn Surge), the MSM has now turned on the vets, most recently with the infamous NY Times story about killer vets. Sadly for the NY Times, unlike the golden days of yore when it enjoyed a media monopoly, there is now a way to analyze the story and disseminate corrections — and, boy, does this story need correcting, since it is basically a fraud, not through misstatements, but through omission. That is, it retells several horrific stories about crimes involving vets, without any giving any context about either the vet or the nature of crime in society at large. (As a matter of law, in California, one form of deceit is “The suppression of a fact, by one who is bound to disclose it, or who gives information of other facts which are likely to mislead for want of communication of that fact.” Calif. Civ. Code sec. 1710.)

Thankfully, Bob Owens, who has become something of a specialist at his own blog exposing gross acts of media malfeasance, has turned a jaundiced eye on the Times‘ latest whopper, and produced a clear amalgamation of his own analysis, and the analyses that others have done. You should definitely read the article, but the bottom line won’t surprise you: through the combined sins of fraudulent omission and sheer hysteria, the Times has produced something that is wrong, wrong, wrong. I’d cry shame, but the MSM has none.

UPDATE:  It seems appropriate to include year the American Thinker’s catch about the Times’ double standard when it comes to Presidential war powers.

Stunning decline in casualties in Iraq

The Surge’s effectiveness in bringing down the rate of deaths in Iraq is stunning.  Naysayers (and there are a few who hang out here), have already moved the goal posts, saying that the Surge hasn’t worked because (a) all the necessary internecine, tribal, religious, etc., killing was already done before the Surge kicked in and (b) the Surge was supposed to bring instant harmony to the Iraqi government.  Both these arguments are specious.

As to the first, that argument is belied by the direct correlation between the Surge and the drop in casualties.  It’s possible, of course, that the Surge just coincidentally happened at precisely the same moment the Islamist slaughterers decided that they had succeeded in their bloody work.  Possible, but hardly probable.  That’s an argument only for those who resent the fact that more troops on the ground mean less deaths in Iraq.

And as to the second, that’s a cart before the horse argument.  Government cannot be stable if the country is awash in violence.  For one thing, the violence surges upwards, with assassinations being used in lieu of ballot boxes.  Only the insanely brave, the foolhardy or the complicit will seek political office under those circumstances.  For another thing, the ordinary citizenry can scarcely be expected to think in political terms if survival is its primary issue.  When violence declines, when ordinary people of good will can run for office, and when the citizens can view politics as a ballot sport, not a death sport, government tends to stabilize.

The same thing goes for economic stability.  When streets are awash in blood, ordinary people cannot develop, sell and buy goods.  All they can do is hunker down, which has a stagnating effect on the economy.

The Surge, which has always been a military operation, has achieved its military goals and, with luck and with a continued strong US presence, the political and economic goals will be able to follow.