October 22, 2006

Weekend Question 3: Why Aren’t We Hearing More Stories of Military Heroism (and Why Does That Make CNN an Enemy Ally)?

Filed under: Taxes & Government,TWUQs,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 4:28 pm

ANSWER: There certainly is a media bias factor, but you can’t overlook another very possible, and more chilling, reason for the shortage of such news. That reason makes what CNN did last week with acknowledged enemy propaganda all the more offensive.

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Yes, there are exceptions to what appears to be a total blackout of stories of War on Terror heroism by US soldiers:

  • The History Channel had a series of programs on the War on Iraq (link is to page with descriptions of the various DVDs). I saw “Battle for Baghdad,” and thought it was a very level-headed treatment that on the whole conveyed the quiet heroism of our soldiers.
  • MSNBC has had at least two installments of its “Faces of Courage” series. The two I am aware of tell the stories of Leigh Ann Hester (direct YouTube link here) and Paul Ray Smith (direct YouTube here).
  • Of course, the underappreciated milbloggers relay heroic stories when they learn of them, and to the extent that they are permitted (which appears to be happening less frequently [HT Michelle Malkin]).

It has become an article of faith that the reason we don’t hear stories of heroism in Iraq, or even good news about rebuilding efforts and the like, is that the 527 Media will not report the news even when it is known. There can be little doubt that a lot of this deliberate negligence is occurring.

But I have suspected for some time that there is another factor involved, one that I mentioned almost exactly a year ago:

This may be the first war we have fought since The Revolutionary War where our soldiers have had to worry about harm to their families and relatives from enemy sleepers inside our own country. Maybe even more than media bias against the war, perhaps this unfortunately legitimate fear explains why we are not hearing as much about war heroics in Iraq and Afghanistan as we have heard in previous wars. It’s a real shame not to hear the stories, but it’s hard to argue against suppressing the news if discretion is necessary to keep loved ones safe.

If you have doubts about the validity of that concern, Patterico’s five-part interview with Guantanamo Bay army nurse “Stashiu,” plus a report by Associated Press writer and recent Guantanamo Bay visitor Andrew Selsky, should erase them.

Here’s part of what Selsky wrote:

….. When soldiers pass through the “sally port” – the heavily guarded entrance to some of the detention camps on this 45-square-mile base – they rip their Velcro-attached name tags off their camouflage uniforms. If the name tags are sewn on, they cover them with black tape. Civilian visitors are advised to put their military-issue ID tags into their pockets.

“This is to prevent detainees from organizing attacks against them or their families,” Army Sgt. Vince Oliver said as he went through the sally port. As he entered the compound, a recording of a muezzin calling Muslims to prayer echoed from loudspeakers.

An Army nurse who said he worked at its medical facility for a year until last May wrote in a blog (that would be in Part 2 of Patterico’s series — Ed.) that he wouldn’t hesitate to kill a former detainee if he saw him in his town.

“I can tell you that if I ever saw a detainee face-to-face here in the States, I would immediately assume that I was targeted and do my best to kill them without further warning,” wrote the soldier, who would be identified only by his nickname, Stashiu.

Stashiu and the military know that the Gitmo detainees aren’t blowing smoke.

Who would the detainees get to organize attacks against our soldiers or their families? Any one of the probably thousands of violent jihadist Muslims and terrorist sympathizers who are already in our midst. It isn’t difficult at all to imagine that terrorists in Iraq have the same desire, and even better ability, to order the commission of violent acts against soldiers’ families, and the soldiers themselves when they return.

There is certainly evidence that the military is holding back on full descriptions of heroic battlefield acts. For example, I have read where Hester’s exploits in reality went far, far beyond what MSNBC described.

Given the inherent limits on the military’s ability to portray military heroics on the battlefield, you would hope that the press, which certainly must recognize the existence of those limits, would guard against giving the enemy undeserved opportunities for free propaganda about their successes that will not have a counterweight.

CNN has shown that those hopes are for naught.

Last Thursday (HT Hot Air), CNN gave terrorists in Iraq a free opportunity to show how occasionally effective the efforts of their snipers can be in harming our soldiers. In previous wars, such video would never have been shown. In today’s climate, an argument could possibly be made (wrongly, in my opinion) that running such video shows the other side of the story. But the fact that OUR side of the battlefield story cannot be fully told thanks to the potential for enemy sleeper retaliation negates any conceivable validity of that argument. A review of CNN’s pitiful justifications for airing the videos at Anderson Cooper’s blog gives no inkling that this factor was even considered.

CNN provided aid and comfort to an enemy whose agents in the US prevent our military from telling our side’s full story. By doing so, CNN has in essence allied itself with the enemy.

Our military may be overly cautious, and may not be doing all it can or should do to get their story out, but that’s beside the point. As long as the military’s posture is what it is, the press, simply in the interest of fairness and balance, has to be especially cautious about making the enemy look good. Instead, CNN has gone in the opposite direction. In saner times, their actions would have been nearly universally characterized as sedition. In the totality of the circumstances and even under today’s supposedly relaxed standards, I believe what CNN has done would still qualify.

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UPDATE: Meanwhile, jihadist sympathizers burrow in (HT LGF).

Harold Ford’s Disruptive Behavior Is Nothing New (See Updates re ‘Early Voting’ and Ohio Politicians Abusing It)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:25 pm

Welcome Instapundit readers! My thoughts on early voting (which I think should really be called “no-excuses absentee voting”) are in the Update. Also see Updates 2 and 3 with news of how two Ohio politicians have abused early voting.
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Current Tennessee Congressman and US Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. is getting a lot of unwanted attention this week for this (there is video at the site, but I couldn’t get it to work; Allah at Hot Air has a vid that definitely will):

Ford Jr. shows up at Corker event uninvited

Harold Ford Jr. showed up uninvited at a campaign event for rival Republican Bob Corker at a private charter airstrip in Memphis this morning. Corker had scheduled the media event earlier this week.

News reporters were surprised when Ford’s tour bus pulled up at the event and, apparently staff at Wilson Air were surprised as well, as they tried to steer media inside the property for the Corker news conference.

“You need to get this bus off our premises please. Right now,” said one Wilson Air staffer.

Corker instead, opted to come out and talk with Ford directly while the cameras were rolling. What followed was a tense confrontation between the two, caught on tape.

The two shook hands, but there was nothing civil about it. “I came to talk about ethics. And I have a press conference,” Corker told Ford. “And I think that it’s a true sign of desperation and that you would pull your bus up when I’m having a press conference.”

Harold Ford is no stranger to disruptive behavior. Last November, AFTER Jean Schmidt gave her famous/infamous one-minute “cut and run” speech on the House floor, here’s what Mr. Ford did, per the Washington Post (bolds are mine):

Just as matters seemed to calm a bit, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) suddenly charged across the aisle to the GOP seats, jabbing his finger furiously at a small group of GOP members and shouting, “Say Murtha’s name!” Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who had led the chants for striking Schmidt’s comments, gently guided Ford by the arm back to the minority party’s side.

This reference from SourceWatch doesn’t exactly mesh with the WaPo’s “gently guided” description (bold mine):

Harold Ford of Tennessee charged to the Republican side, waving his finger at Schmidt and other Republicans, yelling “Say it to Murtha!” or “Say Murtha’s name!” and had to be restrained by David R. Obey of Wisconsin.

Here’s the big point about both incidents: They were calculated attempts at gaining political advantage, and not legitimate displays of spontaneous emotion.

Last week’s tour bus disruption had to be “thought through” and of course approved by the candidate, who had plenty of time to cool down between the time he heard Corker say whatever offended him and the time his bus pulled in to Wilson Air. Though the reaction time in the Schmidt speech incident was much shorter, Ford’s histrionics occurred AFTER “matters seemed to calm,” meaning that Ford had some time (it would appear, from context, roughly 7 to 9 minutes) to “think through” his action. Ford obviously calculated that displaying a temper tantrum would be a useful piece of political theater.

These two incidents strongly suggest that Harold Ford Jr. lacks the temperament to be included in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

Harold Ford Jr. can take some consolation from his more recent childish display. The resolution involved in his November outburst went down to defeat by a vote of 403-3 (and after his dramatics, Ford voted FOR it!). The way things look at the moment, Mr. Ford’s margin of defeat probably won’t be quite that wide a couple of weeks from now.

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UPDATE: Tennessee resident Instapundit voted early, and voted for Corker. It’s not fair to criticize him for doing what is legal, but Ford’s latest disruption demonstrates, as I have felt along and have said here for almost a year, why absentee voting should be limited to those who are legitimately unable to vote on Election Day.

People voting before Election Day are voting without the full knowledge of the candidates, especially how they perform (or fail to perform) under stress. Because of that, I think their numbers should be kept as small as possible.

Elections should, as much as humanly possible, be based on how the electorate feels at a given point in time. I have to believe that some early Ford voters in the Volunteer State are second-guessing their decision.

UPDATE 2: Here’s another reason to be against “early voting” — Politicians potentially in trouble over their own voter-registration status abuse it. It has happened twice in Ohio just this year — once with a GOP congressional primary candidate (Bob McEwen in the Second District), and just this past Friday with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland.

UPDATE 3: Here’s the list of previous posts on the Strickland residency issue, which may not be moot, despite his early vote:
- Oct. 19 — What Touchy Ted Didn’t Say About His Residency Yesterday at the Dayton Daily News
- Oct. 18 — That ‘Lame’ Strickland Residency Story Has Travelled Quite a Bit
- Oct. 14 — Et Tu, AP?
- Oct. 14 — How Important Is It to Voters That a Congressional Candidate Live in the District?
- Oct. 13 — Oh, That ‘Lame’ Strickland Residency Controversy Is Getting Around Quite Nicely
- Oct. 6 — Should One Columbiana Co. BOE Member Disqualify Himself in the Strickland Complaint?
- Oct. 5 — Ted Strickland’s Ohio Gubernatorial Candidacy Challenged on Residency/Voting Grounds

UDPATE 4: Ford is Sister Toldjah’s Loser of the Week.

Weekend Question 2: Was Jackie Robinson The First Black Player in Major League Baseball?

Filed under: General,TWUQs — Tom @ 9:23 am

ANSWER. Surprise — NO.

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Put this into the “Stuff I didn’t know” list (there’s a lot of that) — from a letter in the October 23 edtion of Business Week:

Robinson Wasn’t The First Black Big-Leaguer

“The racial gap in the grandstands” (Sports Biz, Oct. 2) states that Jackie Robinson was the first black big-league ballplayer, in 1947.

But the origins of Major League Baseball are considered to date back to 1869, when the National Association of Base Ball Players began allowing professional play. At that time, blacks were on the teams. The (white) owners struck a gentlemen’s agreement in the mid-1870s to bar nonwhite players from professional baseball. The exception was that American Indians were allowed to play. Clubs dropped their black players gradually and did not sign youngsters. It wasn’t until the 1890s that there were no teams with black players.

Some owners resisted the ban. Still, it held until 1947, when Jackie Robinson joined a major league team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, after a 55-year gap.

Ben Fisher
Houston

Here’s more readily available confirmation (scroll down to “Part Two” at the link):

Baseball was originally a “gentleman’s game” played by members of rival athletic clubs for recreation. In the aftermath of the Civil War, baseball enjoyed a great surge in interest, activity and growth. Americans of all classes, creeds and races joined in the game that became our national pastime. Baseball was then still an amateur sport and some black Americans played on all-black ballclubs while others played on integrated teams.

However, black ballplayers were excluded from participation by the National Association of Baseball Players on December 11, 1868 when the the governing body voted unanimously to bar “any club which may be composed of one or more colored persons.” This was the first appearance of an official “color line” in baseball.

When baseball attained professinal status the following season, pro teams were not bound by the amateur association’s ruling, and during the 19th century black ballplayers appeared on integrated teams and some black teams played in integrated leagues. Two brothers, Moses Fleetwood Walker and Welday Walker, even played in the major leagues in 1884. But gradually, black players began to be excluded from the white leagues and by the beginning of the new century, there were no black players in organized baseball.

Positivity: Surviving, after Being Trapped in Trench under Tons of Earth

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

In Portsmouth, UK:

‘Thanks for pulling my brother out alive’

16 October 2006

THE brother of a builder who was trapped under tonnes of earth has thanked the emergency services who saved his life.

Will Carter, 15, was overjoyed when he heard 40 firefighters had managed to haul his brother, Danny, out of the 12-foot trench he was trapped in.

The painfully slow rescue took five hours, but the schoolboy is just happy his brother didn’t suffocate.

‘I’m thankful that there were so many people helping get my brother out,’ he said. ‘I know that most times someone is trapped like that, it is usually a body they are searching for in the rubble – he’s very lucky that it wasn’t so deep.

‘He is happy now that he’s out; he was quite shocked when he was pulled out and is grateful to everyone that helped get him out.’

Danny’s legs were trapped by a shovel as the team frantically dug to stop the soil burying him.

When he was finally freed from the trench, in Devonshire Square, Southsea, on Thursday, he was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham with suspected broken legs.

But the lucky builder, from Varney Avenue, Romsey, only suffered restricted blood flow to the legs and no broken bones.

Will, of Kinver Close, Romsey, said: ‘We were quite shocked. He’s taken a few days days off work to let his leg get better, but he seems to be getting better quite quickly. It wasn’t that bad. His leg went purple, but it’s all right now and he’s on the mend.’