Losing someone who made the world a better place

I couldn’t let Rose Mattus’ death pass unnoticed. Who is she, you ask? Only one of the people who made the world or, at least, my world, a much, much better place:

Rose Mattus, who launched Haagen-Dazs ice cream with her husband, peddling the super-premium treat in grocery stores, has died. She was 90.

Mattus died Tuesday, according to Gutterman-Musicant Funeral Directors in Hackensack.

Mattus, who lived in Cresskill, N.J., had been the controller of Haagen-Dazs Inc. Her husband, Reuben Mattus, died in 1994.

The company was formed around 1960, having morphed from her husband’s family’s decades-old business in New York City’s Bronx borough. Reuben Mattus concocted the nonsensical name Haagen-Dazs, which means nothing in any language, for the brand that became famous for its super-rich recipes.

During the company’s early years, Rose Mattus would offer samples in grocery stores.

You can read the rest here.

UPDATE:  I corrected the post title, replacing “bless” with the intended “place.”  Never write posts when you’re in a hurry (which is most of the time for me).

More on the Associated (with Terrorists) Press

I’ve got actual work I have to do today (how dull), so blogging will be light. However, before I sign off to help support my family, I urge you to take some time to check out Michelle Malkin’s comprehensive summary about what’s going on in the fight between AP and CENTCOM over the legitimacy of AP sources. Most of her post is taken up with CENTCOM’s most recent announcement and with links to other stories analyzing the situation. It will be interesting to see what AP’s next step is now that, once again, the news purveyors have themselves become the news.

(By the way, the wordplay in my post title isn’t original to me.  I first saw it at LGF, liked it, and borrowed it.)

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There’s one person Big Brother Jesse won’t be watching

In the wake of the Michael Richards scandal, Jesse Jackson has thoughtfully stepped forward to announce a new addition to the Orwellian NewSpeak pantheon: the deletion of a word from the English language (and you know which word I mean).

I wasn’t really paying attention to this whole thing because (a) I’m bored by now with media conniptions about the stupid things Hollywood types do (they’re Hollywood types, for goodness sakes, not an army of Miss Manners); and (b) because, being a polite person myself, I don’t use rude language, especially racially insulting rude language. Since I don’t use that kind of language, I really didn’t stop and think about the larger implications of Jesse’s ukase. John Ridley, however, writing an LA Times op-ed, did think about it, though, and he doesn’t like what he sees:

WHEN EMBATTLED, uh, comedian Michael Richards sat down with the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday, the big news wasn’t his repeating, for the 1,000th time, that he had no idea where all that “nigger” stuff came from, didn’t mean to hurt anybody, feels terrible about the whole thing … yada, yada, yada.

The big news coming out of this meeting of minds is that Jackson, as supreme leader of all things black, has launched Operation N-word Freedom, a campaign to liberate the nation (finally!) from the dreaded N-word. Jesse now challenges all black people everywhere to “give our ancestors a present.” No, not the gift of elevation though education and hard work. Jesse wants us to stop using hurtful words.

Jesse wants this?

Jesse Jackson, the same cat who once referred to Jews as “hymies” and New York as “Hymietown”? This same guy who denied it when the statement was made public, kept up the denial after the journalist who reported his slur had his life threatened, and only under immense pressure finally admitted that, well, perhaps he’d made a slip of the tongue? Twice?

And he wants to lecture us regarding the usage of hurtful words?

I am all for having open and intelligent discourse on the word “nigger.” What I am wholly against are hypocrites who sling hate in private, then smile to us while they lie, telling the rest of us that intellectual debate is closed.

Sorry, Mr. Jackson, but the America I support through paying taxes in my over-inflated bracket allows me not to bow down automatically to your linguistic fatwas. Not all of us quake and quiver before mere words.

Ridley’s absolutely right, of course, a point he makes patently clear in another eight amusing and well-reasoned paragraphs. Don’t miss it.

Hat tip: Kevin. (Thanks!)

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More education “r” us

My child came home yesterday with yet another spelling worksheet that contained a misspelling. But that’s not why I’m writing. She also came home with a math worksheet containing complicated problems she’d gotten wrong, and it was clear that the teacher had never bothered to enlighten her about the isues in that worksheet (I did), but that’s not why I’m writing.

I’m writing because of what I though was an amusing math problem in the Houghton Mifflin math worksheet. As you know, HM is very, very, very committed to textbooks that reflect an America that the school boards want to see. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that the core material in these worksheets has remained unchanged for decades. So I’m equally certain that one of the problems, as originally written, read “Tony’s Deli prepared 52 sandwiches. The sandwiches were either ham or turkey.” Then, someone at HM thought, “Goodness, that stereotypes Italians as deli owners, and it doesn’t represent the rich multicultural fabric that is America. Either will prevent us from selling textbooks to California, Texas and New York. We’d better change it.”

So, as this moment in time, the problem begins “Yusif’s Deli prepared 52 sandwiches. The sandwiches were either ham or turkey.” Now, it is possible, of course, that Yusif is a Christian Arab, but do you really think that’s what the HM editor had in mind? No, I think in the editor’s mind, the vast multi-culti panorama was meant to include a Muslim. And the editor was completely ignorant of the fact that the likelihood of a Muslim even looking at a pig product package is so unlikely that the question as written becomes a huge multi-culti joke.

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What dogs hear and what cats hear about Gitmo

Do you remember a duo of Gary Larson Far Side cartoons that took on the different way dogs and cats hear? The first cartoon published was entitled (I think) “What dogs hear.” The top panel showed what people say. With a speech balloon coming out of the person’s mouth, it was something along the lines of “That’s a good dog, Ginger. You’re daddy’s little baby, aren’t you, Ginger? Ginger is just my favorite dog.” The bottom panel, which had a thought balloon coming out of the dog’s head, showed what dogs hear: “Blah, blah, blah, Ginger. Blah, blah, blah, Ginger. Ginger, blah, blah, blah.” Pretty damn funny and accurate, I always thought.

Some time later, Larson came out with the companion cartoon, which was about what cats hear. The first panel was the same, with the speech balloon coming out of the person’s mouth: “That’s a good cat, Ginger. You’re daddy’s little baby, aren’t you, Ginger? Ginger is just my favorite cat.” In the second panel, we got to see what the cat actually heard. As with the dog, it too had a thought balloon coming out of its head except this time the thought balloon was absolutely empty. I thought then, and still think now, that this was a brilliant cartoon setup.

In any event, the idea of cartoons and the idea of two groups understanding things very differently all came together for me with a recent New Yorker. This was the annual cartoon edition, and there were a few, although a very few, funny ones in it.

What captured my interest was the cartoon/article entitled “I don’t get it.” Unsurprisingly, the magazine periodically publishes cartoons where the jokes just go over the readers’ heads. The New Yorker stated that, “To make amends, we hereby endeavor to explain a few cartoons that have caused widespread consternation. We don’t want to make things too easy, though, so for each cartoon we have thrown in three red herrings.” The presentation looks like a picture, with four mutiple choice answers next to it.

One of the cartoons takes place in that familiar cartoon staple, a dungeon. A prisoner is shown hanging by the wrists from the ceiling. The guard escorts four mimes in. My guess about the meaning, based on my own feelings, is that mimes, multiple mimes yet, are the ultimate form of torture. One of the choices says pretty much the same thing: “While mimes don’t talk, they have ways of making you talk.” Okay. I can live with that.

I was pretty taken aback, however, by one of the red herring choices: “This cartoon reflects the opinion that the international monitors who visited Guantanamo Bay were little better than mimes at reporting the outrages they witnesses.” Wow!

I’m sure the New Yorker employee who wrote this snide little throwaway line wasn’t thinking of the prison guards regularly attacked, with the attacks accompanied by urine, semen and feces assaults. And I’m sure the employee wasn’t thinking of the more subtle torture that apparently takes place when prisoners get glove handled Korans; abundant, specially prepared menus to meet their religious requirements and help stave off boredom; high level health care; and access to hundreds of lawyers. Probably, the author didn’t care that these battlefield detainees — willing warriors who fought for foreign nations or causes against the United States — receive better prison care than the average American prisoner.

All of these factors are meaningless when weighed against the horrors of fake menstrual blood. Heck, that’s even worse than mimes.

I’m perfectly willing to admit (a) that Gitmo is not a nice place to be and (b) that prison guards are often brutal to those under their care. That’s the nature of prisons. I suspect, though, that guard cruelty happens with less, rather than more frequency in Gitmo than in regular prisons for two reasons: First, Gitmo is more tightly monitored than the average American prison, making abuse more difficult to sustain. Second, hiring practices have to affect outcomes. Let me explain:

American prison guards are individuals who choose to be prison guards. Out of that population, I’d bet that there are a significant number who make that choice because there is a sadistic vein in their nature and they do enjoy the idea of being able to exercise power over a captive population. The same does not hold true for the guards at Gitmo, who have chosen to be soldiers and ended up assigned as guards. Sure, there are going to be the sadistic ones mixed in there too — as there are in every population and job — but that’s random luck, not a considered career choice.

In any event, I’ve bloviated long enough here. My point is that, like dogs and cats, those on different sides of the political spectrum hear entirely different things when the noises are coming out of Gitmo, and, to the extent they hear the same things, the spin is pretty different.

I think something has to be changed at Gitmo, not because of dubious claims of prisoner abuse (where the press always believes the prisoners claims over the statements of our own American troops), but because, in a long war, holding facilities such as Gitmo become untenable. American should either try these men and formally convict them, or do something else with them. Just leaving them there is not a viable answer — but my saying that certainly shouldn’t be understood to mean that I believe Gitmo is the Marquis de Sade’s dream playhouse.

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I am woman, hear me whine

There’s an article in today’s New York Times exposing (again) one of the problems with affirmative action — it elevates nice, ordinary people to situations where they’re bound to fail. This time the focus is on the nation’s top law firms, where African-Americans consistently fail to last:

Thanks to vigorous recruiting and pressure from corporate clients, black lawyers are well represented now among new associates at the nation’s most prestigious law firms. But they remain far less likely to stay at the firms or to make partner than their white counterparts.

A recent study says grades help explain the gap. To ensure diversity among new associates, the study found, elite law firms hire minority lawyers with, on average, much lower grades than white ones. That may, the study says, set them up to fail.

The study, of course, is being vigorously challenged. You can read about the whole debate here.

I’m actually inclined to agree with the study’s conclusion based upon my own years at big law firms. So many of these firms hired minorities solely so that they could boast about their progressive ethnic balance. This meant that they weren’t always so picky about their new hires’ qualifications. These kids were window dressing, and the firms never really committed to having them for the long haul.

However, based on my twenty-years out-of-date information, let me throw out one more reason that minorities aren’t lasting at the big firms — their sense of entitlement prevents them from working as hard as they ought to. In this regard, I speak from personal experience. I was one of a big crew of women and minorities that a large urban law firm hired so that it could boast about its diversity, something that was becoming very important in the legal marketplace. All of us were academically qualified and could have been hired without regard to our sex or race, but we still felt very special — we were the vanguard of the new lawyer. Away with the “white boys,” and in with the women, the Hispanics and the African Americans.

Of course, because we were so special, we felt pretty sure we were entitled to special treatment. It just wasn’t fair to make us work so hard, and why in the world weren’t they holding our hands constantly? Those ugly, old, white men seemed to expect us to be self-propelled, aggressive, and to stand on our own two feet. We were women and minorities, though, and we weren’t about to do that. We wanted mentoring! As it happened, mentoring wasn’t going to be in the cards at that old-line firm, with the result that those of us who didn’t leave under our own steam were swiftly “downsized.”

At the time, I was absolutely certain that all blame for the debacle that was my incoming year of associates was the firm’s fault. I’m less and less sure now. The fact is, while the firm made no effort to accommodate the new culture of incoming lawyers they’d hired, we made no effort to fit into the firm’s culture. In our youthful arrogance, and cloaked in our victim status, we believed that it was the firm that should completely change its decades old culture in our favor. Looking back, I’m quite sure that, if I hadn’t been so caught up in my special status as a touchy-feely, sensitive, needy woman lawyer, I would have been better equipped to handle the hard work and hard knocks that come with a big firm. A big firm is a dynamo, and nothing is going to shape it into the type of small, personal firm with which I routinely work now. That’s simply not the nature of the big firm beast.

(By the way, my memory says that Asian men had no problem adjusting to big firm culture. While Asian women had bought into feeling just as needy as Caucasian women, Asian men were simply hard workers who eschewed victim status.)

In any event, I realize that my observations are outdated and that there is a small number of big firms out there that has been able to handle the new breed of non-white, non-male attorney. For the most part, though, I do wonder whether a large part of the problem doesn’t lie with the various law firms’ arrogance, but with the arrogant sense of entitlement that characterizes the new breed of female and/or minority lawyer.

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The news outlet that cried “Wolf.”

Here’s a quick chronology, followed by my comments.

First, during this summer’s Israeli/Hezbollah War, AP, along with several other news outlets, was shown to have relied upon doctored and staged photographs, and false and/or misleading stories fed to them by local stringers sympathetic to Hezbollah. (You can read all about it here, at LGF.)

Second, for some time in the Iraq War, major news outlets have been caught relying on information, some true and some false, that they received from local “reporters” whose manifest sympathies lie with the insurgents. Many of these stories and photos have been nothing more than propaganda for the insurgents. I don’t know offhand whether AP has been caught in this propaganda net, but I suspect a little research would show that it has.

Third, this weekend, AP reported that Shiia militia burned six Sunni men alive.

Fourth, Curt, at Flopping Aces, dug into the story and discovered (a) that the source the AP cites is probably an imposter and (b) that the US Army has no knowledge of the alleged event — which is pretty surprising, because it was reported as a huge deal. Curt found a whole bunch of other stuff, which you should read at the source, but all of which points to problems, big problems with the AP story.

Fifth, the AP just fired back with the following story, which I read at Michelle Malkin. Please note the language I’ve highlighted:

By Steven R. Hurst, Associated Press BAGHDAD — The attack on the small Mustafa Sunni mosque began as worshippers were finishing Friday midday prayers. About 50 unarmed men, many in black uniforms and some wearing ski masks, walked through the district chanting “We are the Mahdi Army, shield of the Shiites.”

Fifteen minutes later, two white pickups, a black BMW and a black Opel drove up to the marchers. The suspected Shiite militiamen took automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from the vehicles. They then blasted open the front of the mosque, dragged six worshippers outside, doused them with kerosene and set them on fire.

This account of one of the most horrific alleged attacks of Iraq’s sectarian war emerged Tuesday in separate interviews with residents of a Sunni enclave in the largely Shiite Hurriyah district of Baghdad.

The Associated Press first reported on Friday’s incident that evening, based on the account of police Capt. Jamil Hussein and Imad al-Hashimi, a Sunni elder in Hurriyah, who told Al-Arabiya television he saw people who were soaked in kerosene, then set afire, burning before his eyes.

AP Television News also took video of the Mustafa mosque showing a large portion of the front wall around the door blown away. The interior of the mosque appeared to be badly damaged and there were signs of fire.

However, the U.S. military said in a letter to the AP late Monday, three days after the incident, that it had checked with the Iraqi Interior Ministry and was told that no one by the name of Jamil Hussein works for the ministry or as a Baghdad police officer. Lt. Michael B. Dean, a public affairs officer of the U.S. Navy Multi-National Corps-Iraq Joint Operations Center, signed the letter, a text of which was published subsequently on several Internet blogs. The letter also reiterated an earlier statement from the U.S. military that it had been unable to confirm the report of immolation…

…The U.S. military said that neither police nor coalition forces had reports of such an incident.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry later said that al-Hashimi, the Sunni elder in Hurriyah, had recanted his account of the attack after being visited by a representative of the defense minister…

…Seeking further information about Friday’s attack, an AP reporter contacted Hussein for a third time about the incident to confirm there was no error. The captain has been a regular source of police information for two years and had been visited by the AP reporter in his office at the police station on several occasions. The captain, who gave his full name as Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, said six people were indeed set on fire.

On Tuesday, two AP reporters also went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood around the Mustafa mosque and found three witnesses who independently gave accounts of the attack. Others in the neighborhood said they were afraid to talk about what happened.

Those who would talk said the assault began about 2:15 p.m., and they believed the attackers were from the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He and the Shiite militia are deeply rooted in and control the Sadr City enclave in northeastern Baghdad where suspected Sunni insurgents attacked with a series of car bombs and mortar shells, killing at least 215 people a day before.

The witnesses refused to allow the use of their names because they feared retribution either from the original attackers or the police, whose ranks are infiltrated by Mahdi Army members or its associated death squads.

Two of the witnesses — a 45-year-old bookshop owner and a 48-year-old neighborhood grocery owner — gave nearly identical accounts of what happened. A third, a physician, said he saw the attack on the mosque from his home, saw it burning and heard people in the streets screaming that people had been set on fire. All three men are Sunni Muslims…

That’s the rundown. Here’s my comment about the language I highlighted in the above “news” report:

Who are these two unidentified AP reporters? If these are the same types of stringers who have been filing false reports and shilling photos during both the Iraq War and the Israeli/Hezbollah War, why should we believe these further assertions? Frankly, AP doesn’t have any credibility with me. I’d like some independent corroboration. I’d be a whole lot more interested in this alleged proof if the AP would name the reporters who went back to the neighborhood to update their witness list.

I’m also sorry to say that, by this time, I’m unlikely to believe any local witnesses, and would accept only forensic evidence from the site itself. Because the story has legs, and because the insurgents’ favorite news outlet has been challenged, I think any witness who comes forward now is tainted. It’s just as likely that these purported eyewitnesses are plants who have been carefully groomed to give “nearly identical” and possibly false accounts of something that may or may not have happened.

AP has only itself to blame for this, even if the story is in fact true. Having blown its credibility with a series of demonstrably false stories in the past several year, why should I trust it now?

UPDATE: Read about CENTCOM’s response to the AP’s latest salvo in the War against the American Military. By the way, I love Charles Johnson’s new name for AP — Associated (with terrorists) Press.

UPDATE II:  You can see Michelle Malkin’s clear rundown of the whole sequences of events here, at Hot Air.

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I can so totally believe these accusations

Many years ago, when I was a naive college student, I got a job in an institution where the head of my department was a lesbian. She was a very nice woman, but I made sure I was never alone in a room with her. She never crossed a line, but she came awfully, awfully close to doing so by pushing physical proximity to the point of discomfort. Other female friends of mine have also complained that lesbian bosses and colleagues, while subtle, put out definite feelers that were inappropriate for the workplace.

I’ve also for the last several years had the opportunity to observe an organization where the gay former department head consistently chose as his seconds in command the gay and lesbian members of his team. I don’t think this was a deliberate policy. I think his choices reflected the fact that the people he felt closest too — and those whom he believed he could trust most to be his departmental allies (an erroneous belief, as it turned out) — where those who lived on his side of the sexual spectrum.

My own anecdotal evidence — and I recognize that it is entirely anecdotal, with all the limited weight associated with that kind of evidence — makes it easy for me to believe the accusations in this news report:

Bonnie Bleskachek, the nation’s first openly lesbian big-city fire chief, has agreed to step down in the wake of firefighter lawsuits accusing her of harassment and discrimination, her attorney and the mayor said.

Mayor R.T. Rybak announced the agreement in a letter to the city’s executive council in which he wrote that he no longer had confidence in Bleskachek as chief. The executive council was to discuss the agreement Tuesday, and the full City Council could consider it as early as Friday.

Bleskachek, 43, was hailed as a trailblazer when she was promoted to the top job two years ago, but her tenure has been troubled.

Three female firefighters have sued, alleging various acts of discrimination and sexual harassment. Two of the lawsuits were settled, but earlier this month, a male firefighter brought another lawsuit alleging he was denied advancement because he is male and not gay.

You can read this rest here.

By the way, I don’t believe that gays are any more likely than straights to engage in workplace harassment. I just think it’s interesting that a group that is proud of its sexual sensitivity, that worries constantly about its sexual vulnerability, and that allies itself politically with those who claim victim status in this country is itself not immune to the temptation to engage in sexual harassment and sexual politics.  How very human.

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Some good news out of Washington

Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida, impeached as a federal judge in 1989 on corruption charges, dropped his bid under pressure on Tuesday to chair a congressional panel designed to help protect America’s security, a party aide said.Hastings took the action after being told by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, in line to head the U.S. House of Representatives when the new Congress convenes in January, that she would not give him the coveted job, the aide said.

Read the rest here.

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Secret societies in San Francisco

You know how zealously I guard my identity, living as I do in the Bay Area, where conservatives are not welcome. Here’s an example of just how loony these things get.

Let’s start with “The Wall,” a moderated internet site set up to be a bulletin board for San Franciscans who wish to comment about the City (” The Wall is a place where you can discuss what is wrong (or right) with San Francisco Politics, society, and civic culture.”). It’s small place, boasting only 479 members. Apparently some (or maybe all) of the people who registered comment from a conservative perspective. And as is so often the case with any of these bulletin board sites, they’ve used nom de cybers, rather than their real names. Apparently that’s a bad thing.

How do I know it’s a bad thing? Because I read this:

Fog City Journal columnist h Brown today sent out a missive exposing members of the secret society of anonymous posters at the right leaning SFWALL.net.

Posters SFSweetie, Marcel Deste and Chuck Revisited are among the exposed.

San Francisco’s Court Jester [another name for h Brown] will be interviewed by Arthur Bruzzone – a recipient of Brown’s blasts – on this very subject and may include anonymous poster exposure by name.

Look for Bruzzone and Brown to generate high viewership ratings, especially if Brown takes off the gloves on Matt Gonzalez.

So, an ordinary bulletin board with posts from people who engage in the ordinary practice of using cybernames is suddenly transformed into a “secret society” of anonymous posters. I can’t wait until we start outing the people blogging at the Democratic Underground or at the Daily Kos’ various diaries. The Wall’s “residents” are sanguine about the snarky nastiness of this whole thing. Here’s a sampling of responses to the news:

If I’m not on his list, I’m going to feel my self-esteem drop and no one in SF wants to see that.

***

This is science fiction. The big liberal monster is out the stamp out the last remaining morsels of “the right wing” or what? This is hillarious.

I just went to the link thing and see that Im mentioned frankly IM amazed that I apparently am considered a writer or poster who strikes fear into somebody that I need to be singled out.

Secret society of right wing posters??? How did the guy ever find out that I ran Opus Dei for 20 years and was the consultant for The Davinci Code? And I hope he doesnt EVER reveal what the secret society does at the autumn equinox with its crisco and baseball cards and home recorded at live events Anne Coulter tapes. Or the secret handshake.

***

Is SF really so small that someone like H Brown can get media attention by outing some people on a single anonymous political chat board (Right leaning!) ?
I mean, I dont even know anyone else who knows about this board. What are the chances that the average San Franciscan would know – or even care.

***

I guess I’m missing the significance of this, so feel free to fill me in. He’s outing people because…..

Aside from the sheer meanness in exposing people who are not holding themselves out to the public as anything more than private citizens using an anonymous cyber bulletin board, I find it disturbing that this kind of thing is apparently being considered a new weapon in political wars. I should point out that, in America, there is an old an honored tradition of anonymous political writer, with such stellar practioners as Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. While their intimates may have known who they were, their point was to let their writing stand on its own, without interference from their public identities.

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NPR is at it again when it comes to the Iraq War

An NPR story has noted that the Iraq War has now gone on longer than World War II. That’s a fact and an interesting one. Even more interesting, of course, is how NPR spins the story:

Monday, Nov. 27, marks the day when the Iraq war becomes longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II. Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales notes that he is surprised that the U.S. military has held out this long, considering that it is an all-volunteer service. A veteran of Vietnam, Scales credits the country’s sergeants for holding things together.

Of sergeants, Scales says, “They are the soul of our army, the glue that bonds fighting units together. They bring young soldiers along, inure them to the frightfulness they are about to witness, and teach them the practical things that keep them alive in the heat of battle.”

Scales says that today’s sergeants’ willingness to stay in the service contrasts to 1972, when many of the NCOs left the service, dissatisfied with the war in Vietnam.

Cause and effect seems to be something that eludes the NPR-niks completely. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that the military’s resolute stance isn’t despite the absence of draftees, but because of their absence. The military is no longer made up of reluctant, ill-trained conscripts. Instead, it’s a tightly trained force whose members are there because they want to be there, whether because they’re natural warriors who need an outlet, because they see it as good professional training, because they were bored, or for any other of a thousand possible reasons. With all due credit to sergeants (and I have a lot of respect for them), it’s utterly fatuous to denigrate the troops in this way by saying that it’s the sergeants who hold together America’s entire military enterprise.

This whole line of thinking reminds me of those reporters who constantly express surprise at the fact that, even as the prison population rises, crime actually drops. Who’d ‘a thunk it? I guess you need an Ivy League degree to avoid the primitive man’s mistake of making rational connections between cause and effect. (For a nice take on this point, read the first story in yesterday’s Best of the Web.)

By the way, the same NPR story has a nice little chart at the bottom pointing out how long various American wars lasted. I thought it would be useful to augment that chart with casualty statistics (in red) for those wars as compared to the current war:

As of Monday, U.S. troops have been in Iraq for 3 years and 8 months. A comparison to other wars:

The Revolutionary War lasted for 8 years and 2 months. (4,435 died, out of a population of 3.5 million.)

The American Civil War lasted 4 years, ending on April 9, 1865. (558,000 died, more than half from disease, out of a population of 34.3 million.)

The Spanish-American War began on February 15, 1898, and ended in the same year, on July 17. (2,446 died, almost all from disease, during a six week long war, out of a population of 74.6 million.)

World War I lasted 4 years and just under 5 months. (116,700 died, out of a population of 102.8 million.)

The U.S. role in World War II started in December of 1941; it ended with the Japanese surrender in 1945. (407,300 died, out of a population of 133.5 million.)

The U.S. involvement in Vietnam lasted well over a decade, until Saigon fell to North Vietnam on April 30, 1975. (58,000 died, out of a population of 204.9 million.)

For more information on the rate at which American’s participated in her wars, the numbers of wounded and dead in each war, and the relative value of each casualty to the total population, check out this fascinating website, which is where I got the numbers I used above. Just to put everything in perspective, 2,883 military men and women have given their lives in Iraq out of a population of 300 million. Each loss is a tragedy but, for Americans, this is a low-casualty conflict, which may also account for military resolve.

UPDATEJonah Goldberg tackles the same topic, only with more information and a much better point.

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An inspiring Christmas show for Sacramento area residents

I got this from a friend, and pass it on to those of you in the Sacramento area.  It sounds wonderful:

From: Cristo Rey High School & The Concerts of All Hallows

Re: “Amahl and the Night Visitors”

To: All Parishes of the Diocese

Cristo Rey High School and the Concerts of All Hallows invite you to performances of

“Amahl and the Night Visitors”
on Dec 15 at 10 am, 11:30 and 1 pm, and December 16, at 7 pm and 8:30 pm, part of

All Hallows’ and Cristo Rey’s “Christmas Concert Weekend.”

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” will be presented by The All Hallows Concert Orchestra, a collaboration of university, community and parish artists, under the direction of Pete Nowlen (Associate Professor, UCD and CSUS), and Cristo Rey High School. Performances are on Friday, December 15 at 10 am, 11 and 1 pm ($5 student and $15 general), and Saturday, December 16, 2006 at 7 pm and 8:30 pm ($15 general and $50 preferred). Tickets are available at All Hallows, Cristo Rey High School, Easter’s Catholic Books, The Catholic Store, and on the web at www.ticketweb.com (venue All Hallows; courtesy fee applies). The All Hallows Concerts are now in their fourth year, and the sole purpose of the Concerts is to bring musical excellence to the region. This will also mark the debut performances of students from the Diocese’s newest high school: Cristo Rey High School, located on the St. Peter campus of All Hallows – St. Peter Parish. All performances take place at All Hallows Church.

The All Hallows Concert Orchestra presents “Amahl” with full theatrical staging and lighting. Composed by Gian Carlo Menotti in 1952, it is now part of the Christmas cultural landscape. Amahl” tells the heartwarming story of an impoverished young boy who experiences a miracle due to his generosity to the Three Wise Men as they travel to Bethlehem seeking the Newborn King. An Audience sing-along of Adeste Fidelis will immediately follow the main performance, with verses sung in Latin, English and Spanish, accompanied by the full orchestra and Amahl cast. Program length is just over one hour, and there will no intermission. The Concerts are highly organized and artistically excellent. Groups have the option of “buying a pew” for the performance: seating for 8 people at a total price of $120 for all.

For more information, including to claim your two complimentary tickets, please contact Cristo Rey Board Member and All Hallows Concerts Chair Chris Bakes: 916 456 7206.