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Suspicious Numbers from Reuters



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According to this Reuters report, some 300,000 U.S. troops are suffering from some form of mental illness, from post-traumatic stress disorder to clinical depression. The story also reports that an additional 320,000 troops have suffered possible traumatic brain injuries. (And what is a “possible traumatic brain injury”? It’s the possible that confuses; isn’t a traumatic brain injury reasonably evident?)

But the total number of active-service military is only something like 1.5 million. And lots of them will not be in combat. So we’re to believe that 620,000 — or nearly half — of U.S. troops are suffering mental disorders or traumatic brain injuries? That seems like a suspect claim.

The story cites a RAND study, and RAND has a good reputation in these matters, but still: 620,000 out of 1.5 million? Does that not qualify for some skepticism?

I Stand Corrected



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A reader offers a helpful reminder:

How long will it take for like-minded authoritarians to argue that the First Amendment’s free-press guarantees only apply to government-recognized journalists?
 McCain-Feingold.  What do you mean, “how long until?”

 

He’s absolutely right, of course. Journalists can do whatever they like to influence an election, but if one of the little people tries to do so, he has to answer to McCain-Feingold.

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You Have Got To Be Kidding



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Who thought this was a good idea?

McCain and the Shield Law



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John McCain has endorsed the misnamed “Free Flow of Information Act,” otherwise known as the “shield law” for journalists, which would confer special privileges on the Fourth Estate, including immunity from being forced by a court to reveal sources. It’s a bad piece of legislation and McCain is unwise to support it, though it has won him plaudits from the usual media suspects. Both the Democratic hopefuls support the bill, too.

The problems with shield laws are many. First, this is a law designed to make it easier, or even consequence-free, to break other laws. The bill should be called the “Free Flow of Classified Information Act.” It is illegal to disclose classified information. If you believe, as I do, that the government is promiscuous in its use of classification, and that much less information should be made secret, then you should support legislation to that end. Protecting those who break the law from the consequences of breaking the law is a very poor substitute for reforming laws that beg to be reformed.

But the most dangerous part of the shield law is that, at some point, either a judge or a federal functionary will be forced to make a determination about whom the law covers. Which is to say, there will be a federal determination of who counts as a legal journalist and who doesn’t. This amounts to having the federal government license journalists, which is undesirable on many levels, and which will certainly have First Amendment implications. The many uses of this sort of classification tend to get way out of hand very quickly, which is why things like an ID number for the government pension program and state permits to drive end up being entangled in so many areas of life that have nothing to do with pensions or driving. Try getting through a year without using your Social Security Number or your driver’s license. Many on the Left already believe that the Second Amendment should be restricted to state-authorized guardsmen. How long will it take for like-minded authoritarians to argue that the First Amendment’s free-press guarantees only apply to government-recognized journalists?

This Should Be the Top Story of the Day



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Signs of life on the immigration law-enforcement front.

Question: Why aren’t the managers and executives being charged, too?

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Those Bitter Small-Towners



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A reader writes:

Thanks for your mention of Elkhart, a very nice town, where people aren’t bitter.  May I share an anecdote?  I am the City Attorney for [a nearby town].  A few years back, the city’s cable TV franchise came up for renewal.  I was directed by the city council to negotiate with the cable company and to insist that it get rid of CNN and replace it with Fox News. … The conclusion to the negotiations was a glass-half-full resolution:  We got Fox News, but the cable company kept CNN.

Age, Bitterness, and Video Tape



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The Fox News All-Star Panel covered two notable questions last night:

The first is McCain’s non-answer to John Murtha’s allegation he’s too old to be president — an allegation Thomas Sowell has made as well. McCain responded that he’s not too old . . . to campaign. They’re slightly different things, no? And while he won’t get much older before the election, four years will pass before his first term is up.

Also, The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes made the interesting point that Barack Obama is lucky the “bitter” comments were not video-taped.

Post-Debate Rage



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The lefty bloggers are, as Jonah Goldberg predicted, apoplectic, clutching their skulls with rage over last night’s debate.

That’s always enjoyable. What’s irksome, though, is the Left’s insistence that anything the Left doesn’t want to talk about is not an “issue.” It’s an issue if the voters care about it, and to dismiss their concerns while redefining “issues” as “what the Left wants to talk about” seems to me like a good example of what Jonah calls “base-stealing.”

Why isn’t Mr. Obama’s longtime association with the Rev. Wright and various and sundry other radicals an “issue”? It’s certainly an issue to many, many Americans, who understand that we elect men, not abstract aggregations of policy positions, to office, and that a man’s history is often a good indicator of what he values and of how he will comport himself (cf. “Clinton, William J.”) If Mr. Obama really believes that people in Elkhart, Kansas, “cling to” church, guns, and (alleged) racism–which in Mr. Obama’s mind seem to form a single category–out of frustration that their bank accounts are not as fat as the Obamas’ are, that is an entirely legitimate concern. If we lined up Mr. Obama’s and Mrs. Clinton’s collection of radical associates, we’d have a representative sample of people who have done tremendous damage to our country in the past four or five decades. If that isn’t an issue, what is? To dismiss these issues like they’re high-school clique politics is a dishonest dodge for avoiding discussions that the Left is going to find uncomfortable.

Did Google Snooker the FCC?



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Republicans think so. Fascinating report that brings to mind the question: Do we really need government management of the spectrum? Does anybody think they’re doing a really good job? And does anybody really believe that politics will fail to enter into calculations about which communicators have what access to government-managed resources?

Times’ David Brooks on the Debate



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Huff Po Not Happy



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NY Times on Bill Ayers



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Here’s the 9/11/01 article that keeps coming up from the NY Times on Bill Ayers.  What’s missing in this whole conversaton is that Ayers is actually giving the interview to the Times to promote a book he had coming out at the time, Fugitive Days.

I’m sure there are lots of authors who’d love to have a big, splashy article in the Times to promote their new book.  Why give space to a terrorist?

Transcript From Last Night’s ABC Debate...



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here.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Blogger



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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, noted actor and occasional basketball player, has a blog for the LA Times.  I found myself agreeing with him on his latest post on race and 2008:

Barack Obama is my choice for president. I’ve already explained why in previous blogs. But if Obama isn’t elected, it would be hard to blame racism. Republicans aren’t going to vote for him, not because he’s black, but because, even worse, he’s a Democrat.

And then reality hits…

But there are many obstacles this New Era will have to face. A sagging economy. War abroad. Faltering education.

And, worse of all, the movie Horton Hears a Who.

This isn’t a review of the movie, it’s a review of how Hollywood sometimes contributes to the divisiveness within the country. Ironically, Horton Hears a Who has done more damage to our society than the recent slate of politically motivated movies about the war in Iraq (Rendition, Stop-Loss, Lambs for Lions, Redacted, In the Valley of Elah, etc.) has done good. For one thing, more people saw Horton than saw all the other movies combined.

It’s too long to post the whole thing, but Kareem thinks the movie Horton is sexist and, in his own words:

Well, if our society is willing to tolerate any form of social injustice and discrimination toward any single group, then they have created a breeding ground for injustice throughout society. If we allow sexism, ageism, homophobia, religious intolerance, than racism can only flourish as well.

Waving the Bloody Shirt



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One of the least attractive features of the anti-gun movement and its cheerleaders in the press is their ghoulish exploitation of murder to advance their own political ends. Amanda Ripley of Time is using the Virginia Tech dead as a platform upon which to stand and repeat her tired argument for truncating Americans’ Second Amendment rights. It’s an altogether unimpressive performance from the not-especially-talented Miss Ripley, and the worst of it is trotting out the myth that a magical “loophole” exempts firearms sales at gun shows from background checks and other restrictions.

As has been documented extensively enough that even a Time journalist ought to be familiar with the facts, the sale of a firearm is regulated in exactly the same manner whether it takes place at a gun show or in some other venue. Sales at gun shows are not given any special exemption; sales by people who are not gun dealers are. If my brother-in-law decides he admires my duck gun and wants to buy it from me, I am not obliged to do the things a gun dealer does before making a sale–because I am not a gun dealer. If a gun dealer sells a gun–at his store, at his home, or at a gun show–he is obliged to do the background check and whatever other bureaucratic hoop-jumping the law requires. Whether this happens at a gun show or some other place is immaterial. So Ripley is 100 percent wrong, and probably knows it, when she writes:

Meanwhile, even in states that do share mental health data, people can still buy guns without anyone checking the database at all. Under current federal law, unlicensed gun dealers at gun shows, for example, do not need to do a background check before they sell a weapon.

So it doesn’t matter what is in the federal database if you aren’t required to look. It’s as if the federal government decided you only need a license to practice surgery if you do it professionally; if you are more of a surgical hobbyist, well, then, by all means, give it a try.

By this standard, if you give your child an over-the-counter remedy for a cough or fever, you are guilty of practicing medicine without a license–a felony in most jurisdictions. The sort of controls that Ripley seems to envision are not only incompatible with Second Amendment rights, but are incompatible with a generally free society. Private, casual transactions between two private parties should not be a federal matter.

An “unlicensed gun dealer” is by definition a criminal. If you are a gun dealer, the law requires you to have a license. Casual sales of firearms are not regulated in that way precisely because the parties involved in the transaction are not gun dealers.

What Ripley cannot seem to appreciate is that there is no gun-control program that is 1. compatible with a free society and 2. invasive enough to substantially reduce crime. Killers and career criminals rarely do their work with legally acquired weapons. And the most dangerous guns on the market are precisely the ones that all “reasonable” gun-control advocates say they have no interest in: hunting rifles. Much is made in the media of scary-looking “assault weapons,” but few of them are anywhere near as powerful as a typical deer rifle, much less do they approach the power of the guns used to hunt elk, bear, or other large North American game.

Ripley also opines that more should be done with mental-health data. But one wonders if she’d be willing to extend that logic to matters other than gun control. Should people’s mental-health history be a factor in airline security screening? Applying for a visa or a passport? Should the information be available to local law enforcement, which, unlike the feds, are actually in a position to take preventative measures against local crime? What about applying for a mortgage, which is now considered a matter appropriate for federal intervention? Such measures would rightly make anybody who cares about liberty uncomfortable. But when the subject is firearms, the leftmedia’s concern for civil liberties evaporates.

The unpleasant truth, rarely meditated upon by media pundits, is that ours is a relatively violent society. Switzerland is awash in firearms, including military-grade weapons, which are available to civilians. (Swiss militia members keep fully-automatic machine guns.) Their crime rate is enviably low. Canada is well-armed, but also not as inclined to crime as the United States.

The Virginia Tech massacre was a horrible crime, but only utopians take such occasions to dream up “systems so perfect no one has to be good.”

Re: Gutless at CNN



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Here’s a different article on the Jack Cafferty/China blow-up that gives Cafferty probably the best title in the MSM:

Cafferty, a resident curmudgeon at CNN, sounded off on China on the program “The Situation Room” on April 9. He said the United States imports “their junk with the lead paint” and its “poisoned pet food” while losing factory jobs to China, a country run by “the same bunch of goons and thugs they’ve been for the last 50 years.”

Roggio: NYT Report on Sadr City Battle Lacked Context



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I generally trust the NYT’s Michael Gordon, but Bill Roggio thinks he left some key details out of his latest dispatch from Iraq. Bill’s take is worth checking out.

Gutless at CNN



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This is shameful:

CNN was forced to apologise today after a news commentator called the Chinese as a “bunch of goons and thugs”.

Jack Cafferty made the comments on April 9 on CNN’s political programme, The Situation Room, in which he also described Chinese products as “junk”.

In a statement, CNN said: “It was not Mr. Cafferty’s nor CNN’s intent to cause offence to the Chinese people, and we would apologise to anyone who has interpreted the comments in this way.

Goons and thugs? I think that’s a pretty apt description:

Newseum’s Bias Discussion



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Mother Jones is having a characteristic conniption over a seven-minute video about liberal bias in the media being shown at the Newseum in Washington:

So the message, while shallow, is clear: the media is liberal, and any critique that it may have a corporate or conservative bias is so ridiculous it doesn’t even need to be voiced. (Juan Williams says journalists should be careful not to produce a story so it “fits an idea that may have come from you or from your news editor or your managing editor.” Intriguingly, the U.S. media seems to have no owners or advertisers.

This is nonsense concentrate. What’s interesting, though, is the implicit belief that a “corporate bias” (whatever that may be) is related to, or synonymous with, a “conservative bias.” To begin with, the idea that businesses organized as corporations (as opposed to businesses organized as partnerships, sole proprietorships, or family-held firms) share a particular outlook, toward which the news can be biased, is not very much rooted in reality. In the real world, corporations compete with one another and do not necessarily share interests. Does anybody really think that an insurance corporation has the same biases as an agricultural corporation? Does Wal-Mart have the same biases as Starbucks or Saks Fifth Avenue or Ben & Jerry’s? That is doubtful.

What is even sillier is the tired trope, evergreen on the left, that corporations and their executives are particularly conservative, and that Wall Street in particular is a citadel of conservatism. This simply is not the case, as anybody with even a passing familiarity with that world knows. Wall Street barons are, for the most part, rich Manhattan cosmopolitan who have no time for such conservative fixtures as the religious right, the Second Amendment, or, in many cases, free enterprise. If preferring to pay less tax is the criterion of conservatism, then they are indeed conservative–and so is the entire population of the planet not ideologically committed to paying higher taxes.

But there is more to conservatism than that. Liberty, for instance. Big Business often adores regulation, because it raises the cost of entry into the market and suffocates scrappy but undercapitalized competitors. You think the steel industry, agribusiness, or banks want an economy that is more free, more capitalist, and more competitive than the one we have? You think Boeing wants a smaller, leaner federal government? Their actions suggest otherwise. Big employers are among the top lobbyists for enacting a French-style government-run health-care system in the U.S., because it would allow them to shift a substantial part of their personnel costs onto the government.

The idea that ABCBSNBCNN & Co. have a conservative outlook because they are corporations is laughable. And it’s just as comical to believe that other big media corporations, such as The New York Times Co. or Gannett, are peopled by closet conservatives. The executive suites may not be quite as uniformly left-Democratic as the editorial offices, but they’re not exactly the Provo Chamber of Commerce, either.

Vol. 124, No. 1



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Happy sixth anniversary to The New York Sun, a great newspaper that has plenty to interest non-New Yorkers, too.

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