Wednesday, April 16, 2003

The Iraqi War is officially over.

How do I know? Through yesterday BBC News 24 was streaming its full video feed through links like this.

Today all we are left with is a dumb New Headlines loop.

I want 24 hour video to my desktop. I'll even pay. I had it back in '98 from the Fox News Channel but they stopped allegedly over the streaming ad ban. Why is something I had in '98 so hard to get today?

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Handful of Lawmakers Send Their Kids to War

WASHINGTON — For U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., her vote to support the troops was also a vote to support her son.

The mother of a sailor currently serving on a Navy submarine tender in the Mediterranean, Musgrave is one of a small group of congressional members who have sons currently serving in the military and possibly participating in the war with Iraq....

Though there is no comprehensive list, there are at least seven members of Congress with children in the Armed Forces — a small number, but not surprising, according to historians who say the number of congressional sons and daughters serving in the military has declined steadily since the Vietnam War era.

"My suspicion is that it's pretty rare," said Donald Zillman, a military expert and professor of law at the University of Maine. “Basically, that's not where congressmen's kids are heading off."...

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., a National Guard member and a Persian Gulf War veteran — one of at least three Gulf veterans in the House, including Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., who was called to active duty in the Gulf last week — said he is heartened that his son has received such superior training.

"It gives me encouragement, knowing the training they've had," he said of his son Alan, 29, who is a first lieutenant in the Army National Guard and is likely to be activated. Alan is the oldest of three sons — the other two are a Naval Academy graduate and a cadet in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corp. ...

During the Vietnam War, in which 58,000 American lives were lost, anti-war protesters made much of the fact that 118 out of 234 House members' and senators' sons eligible for the draft took college deferments to avoid service. ...

Today, there is no draft, and the numbers are even lower, indicating that military service is no longer a badge of honor for the political elite, or encouraged for their children, said Zillman.

So let me get this straight. Members of Congress and their children are underrepresented in the US armed forces. "At least seven members of Congress with children in the Armed Forces." That's the numerator of the equation. Where's the friggin' denominator. How many non-members of Congress have children in the Armed Forces?

Since this is a back-of-the-envelope calculation, I'll grab the 1997 World Almanac off the shelf and determine that in 1995 we had circa 1,547,000 persons on active duty and 2,045,000 in the reserves. This totals 3,592,000. I don't know if the National Guard is included. So, assume that there were about 270,000,000 Americans at the time, that gives us a figure of 1.33% of the population in the Armed Forces. We can also assume that 1.33% of fathers and 1.33% of mothers (living or dead) have a child in the Armed Forces (ignoring for simplicity's sake multiple-service families). Multiply 535 Members of Congress (House + Senate) times 1.33% and you get 7.12. So Congresscritters seem to map reasonably well with the general population.

Now I know this isn't a definitive study because we don't have real numbers for Congressional kids (and Members!) in the Military. And we haven't normed Congress to adjust for age and parenthood and numerous other factors but it's probably close.

So why do reporters make unsupported claims as above when some of them, at least, could be easily checked?

Monday, April 14, 2003

In an Instapundit piece on militia action in Saddam City, Master Reynolds writes:

"Sadly, the story doesn't really shed much light on the how-armed-are-Iraqis question,"

But in this radio piece from NPR's All Things Considered, today, the reporter says that the Shiia militiamen were so happy to play with their AK-47s because they couldn't have guns under Saddam.

Here's the Real Audio link.

Here's the money quote:

"... these Shiia men; they clearly are enjoying walking the streets with their AK-47s they're shooting them in the air at night because they could never carry these weapons under Saddam."
Armed Human Shields -- from the WSJ (Subscription Required)

From a WSJ article on Iraqi engineers, Marines, and human shields at the Sabanissan Water Treatment Project in Baghdad:

The human shields, mostly Western antiwar activists who placed themselves in harm's way to discourage the U.S. from bombing civilian sites, added to Mr. Kinany's wartime headaches. The five men and two women from the U.S., England, Japan, Norway and Australia arrived at the end of February, accompanied by Iraqi intelligence agents, and promptly set up a commune of sorts in the top managers' office suite. It fell to the engineers to provide them with food and water. "To be frank, we hated them in the beginning," Mr. Kinany said.

He got to know the group and grew to like them, especially after the invasion of Baghdad began and looters started prowling around the plant. Thursday night, Marc Eubanks, 41, an American peace activist who spent four years each in the U.S. Army and the Air Force, and another shield agreed to patrol the grounds with an AK-47 assault rifle taken from a stash the engineers kept. On Friday, Mr. Kinany and Mr. Eubanks confronted looters, with the former G.I. speaking English and leaving the impression that perhaps he was an American soldier.

"Go and tell your partners the Americans are here, and they will destroy your houses" if you don't leave, Mr. Kinany yelled at the looters in Arabic.

"It was rather an ironic situation -- first we wanted to protect them from the Americans and then from [Iraqi] looters," said Geir Angell Oygarden, a 35-year-old Norwegian shield and social scientist.

I guess human shields who pretend to be American soldiers are worth more than those who don't. But doesn't that violate some sort of Human Shield Code of Ethics or something?