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

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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.

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.

The networks protect us from dangerous ideas

The following advertisements are so inflammatory that the major networks are refusing to run them. And, apparently, they are so frightened of the repercussions associated with their refusal to run them that the are stonewalling any efforts at correspondence regarding the ad’s contents.

Do the ads demand jihad? Are they advocating the overthrow of the United States government? Do they support child pornography? Are they taking a position on gay marriage or abortion? No, they are much more controversial than that. Watch and decide:

For the whole story behind these dangerous videos, check out this Power Line post.

As for me, all you guys and gals in the military, thank you! And may all the blessings of the holiday season, whatever you celebrate or if you don’t celebrate anything at all, be with you.

UPDATENBC has apparently see the error of its ways.

The War at home

When I say “the war at home,” I’m not taking of the home front, a la WWII. I’m taking about Americans at war with the War. One young American, fighting (and, ultimately, dying) in Iraq, had his fill of that war:

Published: Oct 19, 2007

A Soldier’s Last Words: Listen Up CBS, CNN, Cindy Sheehan, Al Franken by Louisa Centanni

SGT. Edmund John Jeffer’s last few words were some of the most touching, inspiring and most truthful words spoken since the tragedy of 9/11 – and since our nation went to war.

SGT. Jeffers was a strong soldier and talented writer. He died in Iraq on September 19, 2007. He was a loving husband, brother and son. His service was more than this country could ever grasp – but the least you can do for the man who sacrificed his life for you … is listen to what he had to say. Listen up and pay attention to all of the Cindy Sheehans and Al Frankens of the world. To MSNBC, CNN, and CBS. To all who call themselves Americans … Hope Rides Alone.

Hope Rides Alone

By Eddie Jeffers

I stare out into the darkness from my post, and I watch the city burn to the ground. I smell the familiar smells, I walk through the familiar rubble, and I look at the frightened faces that watch me pass down the streets of their neighborhoods. My nerves hardly rest; my hands are steady on a device that has been given to me from my government for the purpose of taking the lives of others. I sweat, and I am tired. My back aches from the loads I carry. Young American boys look to me to direct them in a manner that will someday allow them to see their families again…and yet, I too, am just a boy….my age not but a few years more than that of the ones I lead. I am stressed, I am scared, and I am paranoid…because death is everywhere. It waits for me, it calls to me from around street corners and windows, and it is always there.

There are the demons that follow me, and tempt me into thoughts and actions that are not my own…but that are necessary for survival. I’ve made compromises with my humanity. And I am not alone in this. Miles from me are my brethren in this world, who walk in the same streets…who feel the same things, whether they admit to it or not.

And to think, I volunteered for this… And I am ignorant to the rest of the world…or so I thought. But even thousands of miles away, in Ramadi , Iraq , the cries and screams and complaints of the ungrateful reach me. In a year, I will be thrust back into society from a life and mentality that doesn’t fit your average man. And then, I will be alone. And then, I will walk down the streets of America , and see the yellow ribbon stickers on the cars of the same people who compare our President to Hitler.

I will watch the television and watch the Cindy Sheehans, and the Al Frankens, and the rest of the ignorant sheep of America spout off their mouths about a subject they know nothing about. It is their right, however, and it is a right that is defended by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls scattered across the world, far from home. I use the word boys and girls, because that’s what they are. In the Army, the average age of the infantryman is nineteen years old. The average rank of soldiers killed in action is Private First Class.

People like Cindy Sheehan are ignorant. Not just to this war, but to the results of their idiotic ramblings, or at least I hope they are. They don’t realize its effects on this war. In this war, there are no Geneva Conventions, no cease fires. Medics and Chaplains are not spared from the enemy’s brutality because it’s against the rules. I can only imagine the horrors a military Chaplain would experience at the hands of the enemy. The enemy slinks in the shadows and fights a coward’s war against us. It is effective though, as many men and women have died since the start of this war. And the memory of their service to America is tainted by the inconsiderate remarks on our nation’s news outlets. And every day, the enemy changes…only now, the enemy is becoming something new. The enemy is transitioning from the Muslim extremists to Americans. The enemy is becoming the very people whom we defend with our lives. And they do not realize it.

But in denouncing our actions, denouncing our leaders, denouncing the war we live and fight, they are isolating the military from society…and they are becoming our enemy. Democrats and peace activists like to toss the word “quagmire” around and compare this war to Vietnam . In a way they are right, this war is becoming like Vietnam . Not the actual war, but in the isolation of country and military. America is not a nation at war; they are a nation with its military at war. Like it or not, we are here, some of us for our second, or third times; some even for their fourth and so on. Americans are so concerned now with politics, that it is interfering with our war.

Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the Internet…and there is no outrage, but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even jailed…for doing their job.

It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this. Why are we so obsessed with the bad news? Why will people stop at nothing to be against this war, no matter how much evidence of the good we’ve done is thrown in their face? When is the last time CNN or MSNBC or CBS reported the opening of schools and hospitals in Iraq ? Or the leaders of terror cells being detained or killed? It’s all happening, but people will not let up their hatred of Bush. They will ignore the good news, because It just might show people that Bush was right.

America has lost its will to fight. It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing. It’s not like World War Two, where people rationed food, and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Unless you are in the military or the family member of a service member, its life as usual…the war doesn’t affect you.

But it affects us. And when it is over, and the troops come home, and they try to piece together what’s left of them after their service…where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives, most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends? They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can’t touch them. Somewhere where they can complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their shoulders.

We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped, and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause, and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor…we cannot place the burden on our military alone. We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not. And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars. It’s supporting our President, our troops and our cause.

Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn’t.

Let’s stop all the political nonsense, let’s stop all the bickering, let’s stop all the bad news, and let’s stand and fight!

Eddie’s father, David Jeffers, writes:

I’m not sure how many letters or articles you’ve ever read from the genre of “News from the Front,” but this is one of the best I’ve ever read, including all of America’s wars. As I was reading this, I forgot that it was my son who had written it. My emotions range from great pride to great sorrow, knowing that my little boy (22 years old) has become this man.

He is my hero. Thank all of you for your prayers for him; he needs them now more than ever. God bless.

Though Eddie is no longer with us, you can help to let his voice be heard.

Thanks to News Media Journal and David Jeffers for print permission.

Hat tip: W “B” S

More silliness from SF government

San Franciscans keep electing people like this, so I guess they get the government they deserve. By this, I mean the Stupes who decided to give everyone ID cards (which sounds like a good way to connect terrorists to their own personal bank accounts) and the School Board which is bound and determined to destroy JROTC, despite the fact that generations of American students have benefited from its camaraderie and discipline:

A controversial resolution that would have granted a one-year reprieve to the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in San Francisco schools was pulled off the school board’s agenda tonight minutes after the meeting started.

Board President Mark Sanchez, a co-author of the measure, said that he believed there wasn’t enough support for the measure as it was written.

“We need more discussion about it,” he said.

That means that unless the board takes further action in the future, the 90-year JROTC program would be eliminated at the end of this school year — fulfilling a decision the board made last November.

The resolution before the board tonight would have extended the program for a year at five high schools, although it would have prevented ninth graders from enrolling in those JROTC programs.

The JROTC programs at the other two high schools would have been eliminated and replaced with a still undeveloped alternative program.

Kim-Shree Maufas, listed as the measure’s co-author, said she disagreed with the conditions in the resolution, specifically the prohibition against ninth grade enrollment next year.

“(Sanchez) and I will work on it some more,” she said.

More than 100 students and community members attended the meeting, the vast majority supporting the JROTC programs.

Sanchez allowed 15 minutes of public comment at the beginning of the meeting even though the measure was officially withdrawn.

Lowell High School senior Connie Chen had hoped to address the board, but didn’t make it to the front of a very long line. Later, she said that the board has left the students in limbo — with no extension and no replacement program — with about seven months until the end of the school year.

“They were elected to do what’s best for the students,” said Chen, who is the most senior JROTC officers at her school. “They’re the ones who should take JROTC leadership courses.”

Read the rest here.

Incidentally, I attended a San Francisco public school that had a devoted cadre of JROTC members. They were a credit to the school: hard working, polite, never in trouble, well disciplined, enthusiastic, etc. Clearly not the type of behavior schools want to encourage, right?