Reporting the Military | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Reporting the Military
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WOEFULLY DUMB
Re: Patrick O’Hannigan’s A Pineapple or a Grenade?:

Would any news agency send a reporter who didn’t understand the Infield Fly Rule to cover the World Series? Yet, that is what is happening in the Middle East and at the Pentagon. Many reporters do not know the basic terminology of military hardware, let alone doctrine and tactics. Reporters with military experience tend to be taken into the confidence of soldiers (Band of Brothers syndrome). When an ignorant reporter shows up, two things can happen, both bad. The reporter will inaccurately report what is going on. Or the soldiers will execute a snow job on the reporter in much the same manner as they will initiate a new recruit by sending the recruit out for 50 feet of shore line, a bucket of muzzle grease or a Number Seven Skyhook. In local discussions about the Operation Tailwind fiasco, a colleague of mine figures that the reporter went looking for a scandal by talking to some Special Forces troops. The SF guys, seeing that the reporter was ignorant of military matters, concocted the story and fed it to the reporter. The reporter fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Apparently, nobody else in the reporter’s chain of command was any more knowledgeable of military matters so the story went on the air and quickly blew up in their faces. DOD used to offer orientation courses (“Military 101 for dummies”) for reporters but these were often refused because the reporters thought the course would spoil their “objectivity.”
John Manguso
San Antonio, Texas

A line from a modest hit by the pop group The Fifth Dimension stated, “I won’t study war… no more!” While the MSM seems to wear that declaration proudly (putting it on display with every report from the field), this is hardly the only subject that reporters and editors are adverse to studying.

How about economics? We’re still hearing that “Big Oil” is making record profits. Yes, there were record profits — for one quarter. With gasoline back to $2.30, the profit margin is once again under 5 percent, hardly the stuff of robber barons. It’s still BILLIONS, the MSM exclaims, never bothering to note that those billions are built on TRILLIONS of gallons (that cost consumers a whopping 15 cents a gallon).

Whether it’s the myth that America “consumes” 40 percent of the world’s wealth (actually, we GENERATE 40 percent of the world’s wealth), or that the gap between rich and poor is a calamity in the making, or that money spent is money destroyed, it’s obvious that the MSM refuses to study much of anything.
Dennis Bergendorf
Frankfort, Indiana

Greetings from up the freeway (Fresno). One of the worst offenders in military matters is the Associated Press. It must be that they hire kids right out of college but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped the copy desk from running a photo of a misidentified aircraft. When you think that AP supplies media outlets worldwide you would think they would put more effort into getting it right.
Earl Wright

Another manifestation of this ignorance is in the on-camera questions they ask of military personnel. They miss so much opportunity to illuminate matters of real substance. I’m an engineer and am appalled at their ignorance of technical matters. The general public has little understanding and tends to believe the fog and distortion offered. Same for economics.
Richard Rogers
Gulfport, Mississippi

Hey, whether or not any journalist or pseudo-journalist has jump wings is irrelevant. If any of them had just been legs — what paratroopers call non-paratroopers and it’s not a term of endearment — rather than paratroopers, that’d be a start.
C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

A PRINCIPLED POLITIK
Re: David Holman’s Republicans Turn on Santorum:

A true Republican does protect the unborn and are not for killing the un-born. They are pro-life. These people who propose killing the un-born are traitors to the Republican Party.
Ken Timmer

There is no such thing as a “pro-abortion” organization. There are many “pro-choice’ organizations. No one is pro-abortion. I would suggest you get your terminology correct. You might offend someone like me — a middle of the road Democrat who is painfully aware that if they outlaw abortion it will not stop the procedure, it will just make it unsafe.

Misuse of language has helped create traction for people on the other side of this issue. Must we relive the consequences of women not having control of their bodies in hospitals and clinics to reverse this unfortunate trend towards denying them a painful choice.
Andrew W. Ferguson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

When will the Republican Party ever learn that “moderates” cannot be trusted?

In 2004, President Bush stuck out his neck for Sen. Specter in his difficult primary. Why? Because he knew that Specter would be safely re-elected, if only he could survive his primary challenge from the right. Bush’s fear was apparently that if the conservative Pat Toomey won the GOP primary, both the Senate seat and his chances of winning Pennsylvania in the presidential election would be in jeopardy.

The result: Specter won the primary, got re-elected, Bush narrowly lost Pennsylvania, and Specter did nothing to stop the “Kerry-Specter” signs and posters that sprang up all over the Philadelphia area. To add insult to injury, the day after Dubya was re-elected, Senator Specter rained on the parade by saying Bush had better not nominate conservative, pro-life judges to the Supreme Court. Talk about supreme arrogance!

And now, the GOP is actively helping the liberal Lincoln Chafee (R.I.). Remember him? He loudly proclaimed in ’04 that he would not vote for Bush, and recently was the only Republican Senator to vote against Samuel Alito’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

So why is the Republican establishment helping Chafee stave off a primary challenge from his right flank? Because they are afraid it would jeopardize their chances of holding the Senate. Please. According to one analysis, there are six GOP seats that could go Democrat, and three Democratic seats that could go GOP. For the Democrats to retake the Senate, they would have to win all nine of these races — a stretch at best. Should Mr. Laffey defeat Chafee — and I hope he does — the Democrats would still have to win nine of ten up-for-grabs seats.

This would bring the obvious objection: “But if Chafee loses the primary, we’ve lost a Senate seat!” Actually, the Democrats win either way: if Chafee stays, they’ve got a RINO in the Senate who will reliably support their agenda, and could bolt to their ranks if the price is right, a la Benedict Jeffords. Should Chafee lose the primary, and the Democratic candidate defeat Laffey in the general election (another grand assumption, by the way), they’ll just pick up a Senate seat they could already count on. Other than voting for caucus purposes, no net change.

Will the Republican power brokers ever learn, and exercise some principle? Don’t hold your breath.
Greg Hoadley
Boca Raton, Florida

NOW OR NEVER
Re: Christopher Orlet’s Tolerant to a Fault:

Eurabia is fast becoming a reality and the United States of Islam is only a generation or two behind old Europe if the liberal/Democrat Copperhead agenda is followed. The world already has its Churchill in George W. Bush. Like Churchill he is standing firm against the Islamofascist and waging a stubborn war to defeat them. Unlike Churchill Bush’s “allies” (European politicians and American Democrat Copperheads) are predominately backstabbing Quislings (the Norwegian socialist turned fascist who worked with the Nazis to oppress Norway). Now is the time for the Republican Party to quit squirming about the midterm elections and go on the offensive against the Democrats and their media hacks. The fate of the U.S. and Western democracy is at stake.
Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

I agree with the points Christopher Orlet makes in his review of Bruce Bawer’s book While Europe Slept, but he ought to get his facts straight:

Pim Fortuyn was not Dutch prime minister, but rather a leading contender in an upcoming election at the time of his assassination, which was at the hands of an animal-rights extremist, not a Muslim jihadist.
Howard Hirsch
Dayton, Nevada

Christopher Orlet replies:
Mr. Hirsch is correct, I confused Pim Fortuyn’s title with that of the assassinated Prime Minister of Sweden, Olof Palme, though I must add that Fortuyn’s assassin told police he killed Fortuyn “to defend Dutch Muslims from persecution” and certain politicians in Fortuyn’s party alleged the assassin had been hired by al Qaeda. The killing had nothing to do with animal rights.

LIFE WITHOUT TIGER
Re: Lawrence Henry’s Match Play Ho-Hum:

I personally think the match play was very good. It is too bad that some think that golf should become like the NBA and pro wrestling where the best are allowed to win and if they don’t then the so called sports fans think it is boring. If Tiger, Phil, Veejay and the rest are as good as they are built up to be, let them earn it. An as for golf announcers the best thing about not having Tiger in the final was not seeing Tiger not play for he is good, but it was not having to listen to the golf announcers act like they were trying to French Kiss Tiger. I have nothing against Tiger, but to listen the announcer fight over who want to dance with him most. I play golf not well, I love the sport, I like to watch the pros play, but if an upstart wins I like that just as much.
Amo Stephens
Afton, Wyoming

You say you love golf, but you find the purest form boring. I suggest you don’t understand true golf. Golf is a mind game, in case you didn’t know. And this is the classic confrontation of the strongest mind winning through. I think you need to gain more understanding of golf before you embarrass yourself again.
Will Steele
Marin County, California

WIN THROUGH INTERNAL STRIFE
Re: David Yerushalmi’s What Peaceful Islam?:

David Yerushalmi articulates, in a way few could, the naked truth of the war against Terror. Just one quibble; over 2,000 Australians are also fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts of Iraq, and the jungles of South East Asia to overcome Islamic jihadists.
Jim Duncan

Mr. David Yerushalmi, in his article “What Peaceful Islam?” concludes by underlining the course we must take: we “need to totally vanquish the Islamic terrorists.” He spent much of his commentary explaining that Islam has been at war with non-Islam, including the West and its ancestors, for Islam’s entire history. Thus, without a future Islamic Reformation which would seem to require a wholesale rejection of Islam itself (a curious reformation, indeed), Islam will always be at war with non-Islam. So why the need to vanquish only the Islamic terrorists? Why not the rest of Islam, Muslims who will continue the war by the more conventional military violence and treachery? I agree with Mr. Yerushalmi’s overall thesis, but after he rightly chided the Wall Street Journal for what amounted to wishful thinking, his own wishful caveat puts a ding in an otherwise excellent exposition.

Of course Mr. Yerushalmi should be praised for being this bold. I expect he’ll be seeing a lot of hate email in the days to come.
Mark Hatzilambrou

David Yerushalmi replies:
Point very well taken. I might only say in lethargic defense two things: one, insofar as I believe that Islam as we know it and as you recognize in your note is in fact a religion of “terror,” the faithful are in fact the enemy. However, having said that, just as we were not required to kill all Germans or even all Nazis or all Japanese, we will not need to do so in this case. Moslems as religious faithful might be more difficult to vanquish than Germans or Japanese, they will most certainly succumb if they understand that the consequences are absolutely certain and total. Indeed, Assad of Syria understands that; Mubarak also; Hussein of Iraq understood that; and likewise the others. When a real threat raises its head, these tyrants are more than prepared to vanquish it. Now, these are their own people and faithful; a fortiori when fighting a war against one’s sworn enemies.

PIZZA OVER PAPERS
Re: Paul Chesser’s Working the Wrong Side of the Road:

Good article! I’m also a former carrier. My route didn’t involve inserting papers in mailbox tubes, but one customer did have a high wall over which I had to throw the paper, necessitating a swerve to the left side of the road to make the throw successful. One pre-dawn morning, a patrol car fell in behind me and, as I pulled over to make the throw, he pulled me over. “The people in that house like to have their paper land inside the wall,” I explained to the officer, and he replied, “Well, we like for you to obey the traffic laws.” I got off with a warning.

Having switched from paper carrying to pizza driving and (even better) to lawn care for moonlighting income, I don’t know how any newspaper is able to keep its papers delivered. Those “independent contractors” really do get a raw deal.
Karl Spence

FRENCH FACT CHECK
Re: Christopher Orlet’s Monsieur Fix-It:

In his BHL-bashing (why not?) and French bashing (again…) fury, Christopher Orlet makes several unfounded claims. Let me correct two of them (I don’t have my entire day to devote to this):

– BHL has always been an anti-Marxist writer. Actually, his most famous book in France (“le barbarisme a visage humain,” “human looking barbarisms”) is an essay about how many French post-war intellectuals stupidly lost themselves in Marxism.

– About the Paris crime rate being higher than that of New York: 630 homicides in NY in 2001 (I did not find more recent dates), to be compared to a number which annually oscillates between 800 and 1000 in entire France (without putting 2 millions people in jail (55000 in France), and 5 millions in judiciary control)…
Clement Sire
Toulouse, France

ANCHORS AWAY
Re: Daniel Ikenson’s Listing to Port:

All very well to cite global economic theory. But the fact of the matter is the average American can’t see it. On the one hand, we are somehow defeating Bin Laden by hiring some mullethead or illegal alien to paw your sister at the airport and take away her nail clippers, and by allowing the FBI to look at your library records and email. But at the same time it is perfectly all right to allow the port management contracts for six major US cities to go to…. the state owned company of a regime that has been more than a little friendly with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, PLO, Hamas….. need I go on?

This is every bit as scary as the willful self delusion of Jimmy Carter and Neville Chamberlain. If we only pretend they’re the good guys, the theory goes, eventually our all conquering good example will sway their wayward hearts, ‘ cause there’s no such thing as a bad boy, honest. And eventually we will reach and reason with the ” moderates” over there ’cause everybody really wants to agree with us, if we can only let them see it.

NUTS. Take it from somebody who’ s been there: in the Middle East, the definition of ‘ friend’ is ” an enemy who hasn’t had time to reload.”
We haven’t seen half of this war yet.
Martin Owens
Sacramento, California

TALKING ABOUT THE WEATHER
Re: Michael Fumento’s Empirically Biased and Bud’s letter (under “Selling the Science”) in Reader Mail’s Defining the Enemy:

One thing that always irritates me about weather reporting is comparing any one day’s weather conditions to the “average” as if there was some real significance about being above or below this average. Talking about the average without taking into account other statistical concepts such as variance, standard deviation, and control charts is meaningless. I can add the numbers 0 and 100, divide by 2, and come up with an average of 50. I can also take the number 49 and 51 and get and average of 50. Without knowing how the data set in question varies (the variation), the average tells means nothing.

Likewise, peaks in data are not really significant, even when those peaks are “outside” (above or below) previous extremes in a data set, e.g., record highs and lows in temperature, rainfall, etc. In my work, we have a tendency for some decision makers to respond frantically to what they perceive as large numbers of failures in an item. In defense, we engineers have started to use control charts to show that while the failures in a period may be high, they don’t represent an out of control “system” which WOULD require rapid response and action to get it back in control. Last year, one of my engineers applied control chart theory to hurricane data going back to the 1850s in 4 year blocks. The results showed that whatever “system” represents hurricane development, it’s not going “out of control” which would indicate global warming or some other phenomenon affecting global climate. Control charts are also useful in determining if a “system” that appears to be within control is exhibiting some phenomenon such as too many in a series of data points being on one side of the “average.” But you won’t see variance, standard deviation, or control charts being discussed in the context of global warming. Sure, it’s boring, but the answers, there’s nothing out of control, would be, as well.

What’s that old line again? Oh yeah, “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

Oh, and one last dig at weather reporting. The Weather Channel has come out with a new show called “It Could Happen Tomorrow” which talks about natural catastrophes hitting various parts of the country. The very title is meant to scare the viewer. Sure, a tsunami COULD hit the west coast tomorrow. Then again, a porcine entity could self-levitate out of the host’s alimentary canal tomorrow, but I don’t see that presented on TV. Both probabilities are finite, if unlikely. But since the former could be tied to global warming while the latter could not (?), we thankfully won’t see the latter possibility presented on TV.
Karl Auerbach
Eden, Utah

Scientific American probably escaped criticism for its bias because it gave fair warning to readers several years ago that it intended to pursue the political angle of science rather than the dry basic facts. Many articles are filled with gratuitous assertions followed by assumptions that only massive government intervention can save the day have been written since then. Economics, the dismal science, is expected to save the day as soon as the enlightenment of the authors equals the enlightenment of the masses. My excuse for still reading it is the work of Michael Shermer who still writes a good column as the resident skeptic.
Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

UNPROVED PROVER
Re: Steve Beck’s letter (You and Your “God”) in Reader Mail’s Count Hillary:

It seems strange that folks like Steve Beck can find all the contradictions and errors in the Judeo-Christian Bible, but can’t seem to find all the holes, winks and nods in the Theory of Evolution. Forgetting for just a moment that evolution is “just a theory,” and has only been around for an odd few hundred years. Why are the rest of us supposed to just accept its premise? Why would anyone believe in it anymore than they would in the bible? A couple of people dig up old bones from the prehistoric past and come up with a theory and we’re all just supposed to jump on the bandwagon? With science revising and refashioning a lot of its theories from the past and the present in everything from cosmology to medicine. One has to wonder if we shouldn’t all just sit back and wait till they finally figure it all out a couple billion years from now.

Steve Beck states that scientists are unable to find the existence of a soul. Are these very scientists able to just randomly produce life from the same goo that is supposedly the progenitor of all life on the planet? If it’s just a set of random events, shouldn’t these scientist be able to create the very conditions that existed when life began on this planet and produce their own unique life forms and watch them evolve before our very eyes. And, were those same scientists around when life was evolving from one species to the next, or are they just inferring their bias based upon similarities between dug up old bones. Do animals evolve, yes they do. Do they evolve from one species to the next, unknown, (by me anyway.) Have the scientists proven beyond a shadow of doubt that humans evolved from some randomly selected proteins and peptides and without the help of some supernatural force?

And if the supernatural doesn’t exist, why haven’t scientists been able to prove it? What scientist has come out with a written proof showing that god doesn’t exist. Just saying so doesn’t make it so. And if the supernatural, or GOD, doesn’t exist as Steve Beck says, then why do people die. If the scientists are correct and we’re all just a big bag of water, chemicals, and electrical impulses then it should be an easy feat to breath life back into dead people and animals. Life on this Earth just isn’t that simple! The Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way galaxy, and the Universe have all been around for billions of years. Who’s to say that we’ve even explored an infinitesimal amount of the mysteries that exist in our world and the universe at large. A couple of scientists come up with a theory and say this is so and that is so, and we’re just supposed to sit back and accept everything they say as gospel? It seems to me that you, Steve Beck, are just as guilty of the very thing you accused the bible believers of doing. Namely accepting a premise without question. Now who is really being the huffy one?
William Weaver

In response to Mr. Beck. The Christian Bible both (New and Old Testament) has been reproduced many times not rewritten. Is there really a God, well yes there is. Can I prove it to you? Not if you have the will to disbelieve. Is the Bible authoritative? Yes it is, quite so. If you are truly interested in doing the research you will need to get a reproduced copy of said Bible, I recommend NIV Life Application, a copy of The Case for Christ by Lee Stroble and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, to get you started on your quest. A thought for you to ponder: God gave us each free will, you have the choice to believe in Him and His Son, the Israelite Messiah known as Jesus, or you can choose to believe in something else or nothing at all. Just remember this, your choice matters for all eternity, because God will respect the choices you make while living. He will not force those who choose to hate or ignore Him in the here and now to live with Him in eternity. Choose well.
M.L. Gilbert
Bristow, Virginia

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