If you hear London calling, run in the opposite direction

This is London calling, and it’s not a place you want to go. First, from Melanie Phillips, we get a view into how the media, especially the British media, reported the war (hat tip: Crossing the Rubicon):

In short, much of the most incendiary media coverage of this war seems to have been either staged or fabricated. The big question is why the western media would perpetrate such institutionalised mendacity. Many ancillary reasons come to mind. There is the reliance upon corrupted news and picture agencies which employ Arab propagandists as stringers and cameramen. There is the herd mentality of the media which decides collectively what the story is. There is the journalists’ fear for their personal safety if they report the truth about terrorist outfits. There is the difficulty of discovering the truth from undemocratic regimes and terrorist organisations. There is the language barrier; there is professional laziness; there is the naïve inability to acknowledge the depths of human evil and depravity; there is the moral inversion of the left which believes that western truth-tellers automatically tell lies, while third world liars automatically tell the truth.

But the big answer is that the western media transmit the lies of Hezbollah because they want to believe them. And that’s because the Big Lie these media tell — and have themselves been told — about Israel and its place in history and in the world today has achieved the status of unchallengeable truth. The plain fact is that western journalists were sent to cover the war being waged against Israel from Lebanon as a war being waged by Israel against Lebanon. And that’s because that’s how editors think of the Middle East: that the whole ghastly mess is driven by Israel’s actions, and that therefore it is only Israel’s aggression which is the story to be covered. Thus history is inverted, half a century of Jewish victimisation is erased from public consciousness, victims are turned into aggressors and genocidal mass murderers turned into victims, and ignorance and prejudice stalk England’s once staunch and stalwart land.

That’s why the fact that hundreds of thousands of refugees from the north of Israel fled to the shelter of strangers in the south; that within one third of Israel, those too poor or old or handicapped or disadvantaged to seek refuge elsewhere were forced to live in shelters for a month in great hardship; that the entire economy of northern Israel was effectively shut down for a month; that thousands of rockets were fired at northern Israel, hundreds every day, many times more than were daily fired at Britain during the Blitz — that’s why none of this was reported in Britain (where as a result such facts, when now related, are received with open-mouthed astonishment) because journalists were told to ignore it all since that wasn’t the story their editors wanted. Israel’s victimisation simply was not, could not, be the story. The only story was Israel’s aggression. But that story is a Big Lie. So a host of lies were transmitted to support it.

Second, we get to see how this Big Lie plays out on London’s streets (hat tip: Seraphic Secret):

A 12-year-old Jewish girl who was beaten unconscious and robbed by anti-Semitic yobs on a bus has spoken out at her disgust that no-one came to her aid.

The girl, who does not want to be identified, was stamped on several times in a racist attack lasting around five minutes while on board a 303 Metroline bus in Mill Hill, north London.

At 6.30pm on August 11, she and a friend were sitting at the back of the bus when a group of around four girls got on at the Concourse, Grahame Park estate, and asked them if they were English or Jewish.

They both replied they were “fully English”.

One girl in the group asked the victim for money, but she said she did not have any.

She and her friend tried to leave the bus at Mill Hill Broadway but were blocked by the gang who searched their pockets and stole a bracelet.

One girl hit the victim around the face with her phone, slapped her several times, grabbed her hair and pulled her to the floor, where she was kicked and stamped on. She was left with a fractured eye socket, bruising and swelling to her face and chest.

“All I remember is her stamping on my face,” she said. “Me and my friend were screaming. Then I blacked out. There were four people on the bus who didn’t do anything.”

After regaining consciousness, the girl and her friend tried to pull the bus doors open to escape.

She said: “The driver heard the attack and didn’t open the doors. A boy opened the doors for us and I ran off.”

It’s becoming a scary thought indeed, that there might “always be an England.”  I’m sorry for those of you Brits who are good, and honorable, and true.  Your ancient country is becoming a place where you no longer belong.

The old anti-War warriors

If ever a single article told you everything you need to know about the torch the old anti-War protestors carry for their youth, you have to read this editorial by Andrew Rosenthal, the NY Times’ Assistant Editor (so the editorial also tells you a lot about the NYT). In Rosenthal’s world view, protest is an end unto itself, and he finds repugnant the fact that this generation is (to his mind) unwilling to take to the streets. Here’s just a part of it (and please note that Rumsfeld’s innocuous and apolitical speech has now morphed into Rumsfeld terrorizing anti-War anti-War protestors by calling them Nazis):

This, perhaps, is the ultimate difference between the Vietnam generation and the Iraq generation: When you hear Young and Company sing of “four dead in Ohio,” their Kent State anthem, it’s hard to imagine anyone on today’s campuses willing to face armed troops. Is there anything they care about that much?

Student protesters helped drive Lyndon Johnson — in so many ways a powerful, progressive president — out of office because of his war. In 2004, George W. Bush — in so many ways a weak, regressive president — was re-elected despite his war. And the campuses were silent.

There was a brief burst of protest when America first invaded Iraq. But if there is a college movement against the war, it’s hiding pretty well. Vietnam never had the moral clarity that the 9/11 attacks provided to this generation’s war. But in Iraq that proved to be a false clarity, and a majority of Americans now say they oppose the war and no longer trust Mr. Bush’s leadership of it.

But because there is no draft — a fact that Graham Nash noted sardonically on Sunday night — no young person has to fear being conscripted into the fight. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Americans find it much easier to stay silent when there is no shared sacrifice.

This war is also largely hidden from American eyes. Unlike Vietnam, when journalists were free to witness and record combat operations, the Pentagon controls access to American troops in Iraq and the images that come with it. The Pentagon banned press coverage of the flag-draped coffins returning home from Iraq. The president refused to attend the funerals of soldiers. Even the cost of this war was tucked from the very start into “supplemental bills” that magically don’t count toward the budget deficit.

The pressure to be silent is great. This week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared critics of Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy to those who appeased Adolf Hitler. And antiwar protesters are told they’re un-American, cowardly and lending aid and comfort to terrorists.

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Teaching by identity

I blogged earlier about how I was pleased that the California Legislature gutted SB 1437. This bill, as proposed, would have amended various Education Code provisions to require California schools, beginning in first grade, to teach positive lessons about homosexuals. In another post, I explained my position: I certainly do not believe that we should be negative about, or derogatory of homosexuals. However, I was concerned that the bill, as passed, would result in a situation in which some nonentity was placed in the curriculum, not because of his accomplishments, but because he was gay. Now that my kids are in public school, I’m getting the chance to see how public schools are handling their already existing obligation to deal with identity politics in the curriculum — and realizing that my sense about the proposed amendment was correct.
As it stands now, Education Code Section 51204.5 states that

Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and a study of the role and contributions of both men and women, black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Island people, and other ethnic groups, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.

and Education Code Section 60040 states that

When adopting instructional materials for use in the schools, governing boards shall include only instructional materials which, in their determination, accurately portray the cultural and racial [sic] of our society, including: (a) The contributions of both men and women in all types of roles, including professional, vocational, and executive roles.(b) The role and contributions of Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups to the total development of California and the United States.

In other words, just as was being proposed about gays, lesbians, etc., California schools are currently required to highlight people, not because of what they’ve done, but because of their ethnicity.

My first exposure to this policy in action is a homework folder/calendar that my daughter brings home. It’s a useful tool. It’s essentially a calendar that allows my daughter to record her required homework every day, for every subject, with spaces for both the parents and the teacher to sign off. It’s called “Character Counts! School Agenda” and comes from Alliance Publishing & Marketing, Inc., in Maryland. The book includes useful information, such as punctuation guidelines, the basic parts of speech, abbreviations, etc. The book also includes, for every week, the biography of certain people who are meant to show specific character traits such as responsibilty, citizenship, etc.

It’s these mini-bios I find interesting. Here’s the whole list, which I’ve broken down into six paragraphs just to provide some visual relief, with a brief notation for those who are less well known:

Sarah Chang (violinist); George Washington Carver; Bessie Coleman (first female African American pilot); Kyle Maynard (congential amputee and championship wrestler); Lou Gehrig; Hellen Keller; Paul Ruseasabagina (Rwandan who sheltered over a thousand Tutsis); Christopher Reeve; Bethany Hamilton (surfer who lost her arm to a shark); Theodore Roosevelt; Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (a 19th Century Rosa Parks);

Hank Aguirre; Veronica Guerin (crusading Dublin crime reporter); Chico Mendes (environmental activist); Major General Jeanne Holm (first women in the armed forces to become a major general); Ronald Reagan (I was actually surprised to see him here); Gail Small (Native American activist); Thomas Edison; Mother Theresa;

Adi Roche (raises money for Chernobyl victims); Delvar Barrett (former college basketball player who loves his mother); Arnold Palmer; Ruth Bader Ginsburg (lauded for her activism on women’s behalf; apparently Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court justice, wasn’t available for this book); Leonard Covello (Italian American educator who helped Italian immigrants in the early 20th Century);

Ella Fitzgerald; Abraham Lincoln; Temple Grandin (overcame autism); Martin Luther King, Jr.; Marlee Matlin (deaf actress); Chief Joseph; Peter Westbrook (African American championship fencer); Gandhi; Dolores Huerta (co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America); Jim Thorpe; T.A. (Tom) Barron (writes books to teach kids to respect nature); Harriet Tubman; Dean Kamen (inventor);

Joan of Arc; George Harrison (Beatle, who, rather weakly I think, is used to illustrate the trustworthiness section because he helped out Ravi Shankar re troubles in Bangladesh); Konosuke Matsushita (founder of the eponymous company); Oskar Schindler (rescued 1,200 Jews from the Nazis);

Elissa Montanti (started a foundation to help children in war torn or disaster ravaged countries); Albert Schewitzer; Mary Ann Bickerdyke (Union nurse during the Civil War); Mary Hayashi (Korean-born woman who works in various health related areas); Barack Obama; Adrian Cronauer (DJ during the Vietnam War); Ralph Nader (well known anti-Semite and crackpot).

You can draw your own conclusions about the list’s political make-up. For purposes of this post, I’d like to focus on people who seem to be there to fill a quota. The one that first leapt out at me was Mary Hayashi. She sounds like a decent, intelligent, humane and interesting woman, but she also sounds like a quota:

Mary Hayashi , whose family moved from Korea to America when she was a child, reveals how this move helped her grow as a woman in her book, Far From Home : Shattering the Myth of the Model Minority. Today Hayashi is a well-known advocate for the expansion of healthcare delivery coverage. She founded the non-profit National Asian Women’s Health Organization in 1993 to attain equal health benefits for Asian American families. Hayashi has also established the Iris Alliance Fund to help prevent suicide among children and young adults.

Reading the above makes me feel as if I’m reading the resume for someone applying for a corporate position.

Barak Obama also sounds like a filler. Yes, he’s African American, but he’s certainly not the first African American in Congress. Again, it’s just resume reading. Frankly, if they wanted to put an inspiring “minority in Congress” squiblet into this booklet, why not Bobby Jindal? Isn’t he the first Congressman of East Indian descent?

Another quota filler, from the way the bio is written, is Delvar Barrett. To be honest, he sounds like an absolutely lovely young man:

Delvar Barrett took the time to care for his diabetic mother, Vivien, while playing basketball at Ohio University. Growing up in an underprivileged, gang-ridden area of Detroit, Barrett was teased for being especially poor. When offered a basketball scholarshiop at Ohio, he happily accepted — and took his mother withhim. Barrett then balanced full-time studies and athletics with cooking, cleaning, and caring for Vivian in their shared apartment. After graudation, he became a pharmacy technician. He continues to care for his mother.

As I said, Barrett sounds like a lovely, decent young man. But has he really done something significant enough to be included in the pantheon with Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and Thomas Edison? He loved his mother? (That keeps making me think of Tom Lehrer’s masterful song about Oedipus Rex.) I’m all for mother-love, being one myself, but this is stretching.

So it goes: A bizarre mix of genuinely accomplished people, who represent a spectrum of race, colors and creeds, mixed in with decent, hardworking people who appear merely to fill quota requirements. What’s sad about this isn’t that it has a slightly demeaning smell about (“sorry, we couldn’t find a better Asian woman”), but also that it takes space that could be used for a few more genuinely accomplished or significant people (and again, I leave you to draw your own conclusions about the people you’d add to the volume if the quotas were gone).

UPDATE:  I don’t like baseball, so had never heard of Hank Aguirre, who is included in the calendar.  I noted, though, that he didn’t sound very impressive on the little squiblet (which I don’t have now; it’s at school with my daughter).  He was pretty much damned with faint praise, and sounded as if his main claim to fame was that he showed up at work every day.  Oh, and by the way, he’s Hispanic — but he’s not even the first Hispanic in the major leagues.  Again, he sounded like a quota, not a star.  I mentioned this to Don Quixote, who likes baseball, and he sent me the following:

I thought you might be interested in this link:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/a/aguirha01.shtml

Turns out Hank Aguirre was a mediocre pitcher in the 60′s.  He made the all-star team exactly one time and ended his career with an unimpressive 75-72 won-loss record.  What was he on the calendar for?  If they were looking for an Hispanic ballplayer from the 60s, they would have been better served to use my boyhood hero, Roberto Clemente who not only was one of the greatest players ever, but died a hero.  He was also a pioneer, being the first Puerto Rican player (I think the very first, but maybe the first of note) in the major leagues.

Here’s a little bio on him:

http://www.robertoclemente21.com/Biography/biography.html

and his stats:

http://www.toptown.com/hp/66/roberto.htm

Wouldn’t he have been a better choice?

Yes, DQ, he would have been a better choice.
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Popal required to undergo psychiatric evaluation

Well, it’s official: Popal’s defense will be that he’s crazy:

A San Francisco judge ordered a detailed psychiatric report today on the 29-year-old Fremont man charged with 18 counts of attempted murder stemming from a hit- and-run rampage that prosecutors said was premeditated and involved a plan to kill a police officer.

The defendant, Omeed Aziz Popal, “said he wanted to kill a police officer but didn’t see any” as he drove around San Francisco in the middle of the day Tuesday, picking off pedestrians with his sport utility vehicle, prosecutor Jim Thompson told Superior Court Judge Donna Little.

Thompson made the statements in arguing against bail for Popal, who is being held in the psychiatric ward of San Francisco General Hospital.

Popal told authorities that he had been thinking about killing someone for a day before he allegedly set off in his Honda Pilot, ran over and killed a 54-year-old man in Fremont and drove to San Francisco, where as many as 19 people were struck in about a dozen locations.

Will Maas, a public defender, quickly interceded to stop the bail discussion, and Popal’s arraignment was delayed until Sept. 6. Popal was not in court.

Outside court, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said Popal suffers “serious mental illness” and called the attacks “a horrible tragedy.”

Members of Popal’s family have said he suffered from psychological problems recently and had been hospitalized at least twice.

It could well be true — or not. The fact is, from here on out, whatever information comes in regarding his motives and conduct, it will be slotted under the “insane” heading.

And now, here’s a snarky sarcasm alert. Don’t read the next sentence if you can’t handle snarky sarcasm. Given the number of young Muslim males who have had insanity attacks, whether in San Francisco, or Seattle, or Arizona, or North Carolina, maybe we have to consider whether the pressures of living in a pluralistic, Democratic, non-Sharia society are too much for their delicate sensibilities.

By the way, to shift the focus away from the living and to the dead, here is a very lovely word portrait of Stephen Jay Wilson, whom Popal killed.

UPDATE: The family busily spins the (maybe true) insanity story.

UPDATE II: It appears that Popal is truly delusional:

Family members said Popal could be rational and calm. But he had also been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and had been hospitalized at least twice in recent months after suffering breakdowns, relative said.

At 29, Popal still lived with his parents in Fremont. His mother was especially sheltering, seeing the world as filled with “evil people” and trying to keep Popal from being harmed, said his cousin, Hamid Nekrawesh.

“Since he was a little kid, they had been overly controlling of him,” he said. “They tried to keep him away from evil situations, in their mind, and that had a negative effect on him. He just didn’t have any friend or anyone to talk to except mom and dad.”

Last spring, Popal was voluntary committed to Kaiser Medical Center in Fremont after a breakdown brought by a dream of “the devil taking him to a graveyard and trying to kill him,” Nekrawesh said.

Not long after, Popal went to his native Afghanistan for a marriage his family had arranged.

“He was supposed to be taking medication,” Nekrawesh said. “From what I heard from his mom and dad, when he was in Afghanistan, he was perfectly fine. When he came back, all these problems occurred.”

In July, Popal confessed to a murder in San Francisco, saying he had stabbed someone, said Majeed Samara, an attorney who represented Popal until Wednesday. Police concluded there was nothing to the story and took him to Washington Hospital in Fremont for psychiatric evaluation. The hospital concluded he posed no risk to himself or others and released him.

In other words, the fact that his religious identity aligns perfectly with other young men in America who have recently engaged in acts of mass (or attempted mass) murder, is a mere coincidence.  I don’t fault any of us, though, who believed that Popal’s religion is a relevant part of the story, to be considered with all the other available facts.  It also says a lot about the degradation of modern news reporting that so many of us — and I put myself in a front row seat on this one — suspected that the Press was trying to cover up his religious identity, rather than being forthcoming with it.  In any event, it’s a tragedy no matter how one looks at it.

Today’s last word on Popal

I blogged myself into exhaustion yesterday keeping up with the development (or, should I say, degradation) of the Popal story, as it went from being about random terror, to an Islamic perpetrator, to a crazy guy. Today, believe it or not, I should be working, not blogging. I’ll therefore leave the last word to Thomas Lifson, who ably writes about how we inevitably catagorize these Muslim mass murderers within our midst as deranged:

Was Hitler crazy? He certainly believed in bizarre contra-factual conspiracy theories, had a deep interest in the occult, and is believed by many historians to have so ineptly and arbitrarily handled German military strategy and weapons development that he turned quite possible victory into defeat for the Third Reich.

Does it matter whether or not he was technically insane? Probably not. Judge him by his actions.

The same approach should be taken with those who seek to slay Jews, Americans, and infidels in the name of Islam.

This week saw yet another incident of a young Muslim male traveling to a location where Jews can be found, and attempting to murder them. Omeed Aziz Popal, who drove his vehicle into pedestrians in San Francisco and Fremont, was quickly diagnosed by nearly all the media as a lone, insane young man, a paranoid schizophrenic who had been previously hospitalized. Eyewitnesses who reportedly heard him say “I am a terrorist” were all but ignored by San Francisco media, save for KTVU, Channel 2, the local Fox affiliate.

Read the rest here.

Incidentally, in my first paragraph, I originally wrote that Thomas Lifson “able writes about our secular society’s fevered insistence that anyone who kills in the name of religion isn’t a religious warrior, but is crazy.” As I finished the sentence, though, it occurred to me that, if a vocal Christian guy were to go nuts and kill (or try to kill) a bunch of people, his religious beliefs would dominate the airwaves. And this despite the fact that modern Christianity does not demand that its followers engage in Holy War. It’s only when a member of a religion that demands Holy War actually engages in such a war that we hear, absolutely, positively, that the killer is . . . crazy.

What the media sees fit to report about news out of Iraq

Yesterday, I heard on NPR that at least one of the soldiers charged with murdering an Iraqi man will not be subject to the death penalty. It was an interesting story in that it talked about the evidence, or lack thereof. At the heart of the case is a body so badly decomposed nothing can be discovered from it.  It yields no clues. On one side of the body are Marines who confessed to a murder, but now claim that their confessions resulted from coercion. On the other side are claims from some Iraqis that these Marines seized this Iraqi man, killed him brutally, and tried to cover it up. The Iraqis refuse to give their statements in court. From a legal point of view, with no physical evidence, no witnesses, and confessions that may be the result of coercion, it’s not much of a case. As always, what’s more interesting is how the media handles it.

First off, I suspect without actually knowing that, during WWII (the last of the wars people believed in), the Press wouldn’t have reported this stuff at all. Wherever you have vast numbers of young men with guns and high stress levels, you’re going to have some crime, and some of those crimes are going to be awful ones. The Press would have understood the normalcy of this fact, and would either have ignored the stories altogether, or would have made the considered decision that reporting these inevitable outbursts of ugliness would be bad for morale. News focused on (a) battles and (b) bravery.

The paradigm is so different nowadays. Reporters are obsessed with death: how many of our soldiers have been killed and how many “innocents” our soldiers have killed. When our troops successfully route bad guys, it gets covered and forgotten. When a minute fraction of our troops are accused of having killed civilians the news keeps being regurgitated like a bad meal.  (And keep it mind that it’s not always easy to tell whether the dead are, in fact, civilians.  Witness the Hezbollah fighters who, upon death, were magically transformed into Lebanese civilians for body count purposes.

In any event, you don’t need to listen to the NPR story I listened to; you just need to read this little NPR summary:

U.S. military prosecutors in California have begun to lay out their case against seven Marines and a Navy corpsman. The servicemen are accused of committing murder while serving in Iraq.

The incident in town of Hamdaniya was one of several that has called attention to the conduct of American troops in Iraq. (Bolded emphasis mine.)

Don’t you love that insouciant language? It’s an “incident” that “called attention” to ” conduct.” That’s all. But cast your mind back to the press’s savage coverage of Abu Ghraib and Haditha. It’s as if, to the American Press, every member of our military would have cheerfully participated in the My Lai massacre. That’s it, guys and gals: you’re all mass civilian murderers, every one of you. There are no bad guys (aside from the American military, of course), there are only innocent civilians.

I’ll concede, though, that the story out of Hamdaniya is news, even though I’ll also argue that American newspapers would not be impairing their ethics if they chose not to cover it. But what about the good news out of Iraq, the stories of bravery and loyalty and decency? Those are reserved for the bloggers and the military’s own publications. A case in point is the CENTCOM story I just got today about Marine Medics who have come together to save an Iraqi girl:

For a 12-year-old Iraqi girl in need of a kidney and liver transplant, time is the enemy. Her friends are a team of U.S. Marines and Sailors who have applied their medical skills to help the keep the girl alive.

Hadael Hamade is in desperate need of surgery, say U.S. Navy physicians who have treated her in recent months.

The girl first befriended Marines from 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, months ago when the Marines were on patrol in Karabilah – a city of about 30,000 near the Iraq-Syria border.

You can read the rest of this story about simple human decency here.  It’s a lovely story and, in a just world, it wouldn’t just be languishing in my email inbox, but would be in every paper’s “human interest” section.  But it’s not.  The papers don’t want this kind of human interest story because it interferes with the My Lai paradigm I mentioned above — all soldiers are brutes.

So next time you read in the newspaper about some atrocity a minority of our troops are alleged to have committed, ask yourself where the stories are about the myriad acts of decency our troops routinely engage in every day, all while functioning in a hostile environment.

Two pieces of good news

Gas prices are dropping (something I’ve already noticed at my local pumps):

Gasoline prices are falling fast and could keep dropping for months.

“The only place they have to go is down,” says Fred Rozell, gasoline analyst at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). “We’ll be closer to $2 than $3 come Thanksgiving.”

Travel organization AAA foresees prices 10 cents a gallon lower by the end of next week. It reported a nationwide average of $2.84 Tuesday, the lowest since April 20.

It’s nice to see the MSM report this story, by the way.

And the Army’s doing just fine, thank you, despite the MSM’s and Democrats’ relentless efforts to show it as a failed organization that can’t hold on to people. (And what’s really funny is that same relentless effort shows up in the AP story reporting the Army’s successes.):

While the Army struggled last year to meet recruitment goals, it has been able to keep soldiers in the service by using a growing list of incentives and escalating bonuses to shower troops with money, schooling and career advancements.

So far this year, the Army has doled out an average bonus of $14,000, to eligible soldiers, for a total of $610 million in extra payments.

The re-enlistments come despite the escalating casualties on the Iraq battlefield – where more than 2,600 troops have lost their lives since March 2003. And they have enabled the Army to meet its retention goal every year since 1998.

“The bonuses have a lot to do with it, along with a feeling of accomplishment that comes with doing their mission,” said Army spokesman Henry Minitrez. He also said that retention rates have even gone up for some of the military’s high-profile units – such as the 82nd Airborne or 101st Airborne divisions – when they return home from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Both the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve expect to meet their re-enlistment goals for this fiscal year, which are 34,875 and 17,712, respectively. Both totals are slightly higher than last year’s goals.

The number of expected and confirmed re-enlistments dipped in 2003, the year the war began, but has increased since then.

By the way, I think it’s great the Army is offering such incentives.  These men and women are putting their lives on the line to protect me.  It’s appropriate that they should have something to look forward to on their return from service.

15 minutes

Well, if the numbers at my stat counter are any indication, my 15 minutes of blogger fame are just about wrapping up.  I enjoyed it tremendously while it lasted, and do think I was a useful respository of information about an interesting, and possibly quite significant, story.  Now it’s back to normal, which is probably just as well.  Much as I found this 24 hour cycle lots of fun, the responsibility to keep the news about Popal current was difficult to balance with my work and family commitments.  Back to the usual now.  (And for those of you new to the blog, you can see “the usual” means just by scrolling down, down, down.)

Doing the dirty work at MoveOn.org

If you don’t have the stomach to wade through the banal, silly comments at MoveOn.org in order to find the more sinister and distasteful anti-American, anti-Semitic comments that pepper that same site, take heart.  Some brave bloggers have stepped forward to do it for you.  Check out MoveOn.org, Please Move On!, but be prepared to hold your nose as you read the vile garbage they found trolling through MoveOn’s forum sewers.  (Please note:  these are not comments from MoveOn.org itself; just from some, or maybe many, of its followers.)  Then, if you’re Jewish, promise, promise, promise that you’ll vote Republican this year.

(Hat tip:  Richard D.)

Idle thoughts of an idle blogger

Do you think electronic scanning at grocery stores has increased or decreased magazine sales?  In the pre-electronic age, when grocery stores had long lines, I used to read the magazines kept near check-out.  If what I was reading was interesting, and I wasn’t going to get a chance to finish it in-store, I’d toss it in my cart and buy it.  Nowadays, the lines move so quickly, I barely have time to unload my cart.  And glancing at the magazines’ front covers alone seldom tempts me (and often puts me off).  What’s your experience been?