December 2007 Archives

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Huckabee's "apologies" for Bhutto death probably bad choice of words

By Michael Fumento

Many bloggers are attacking GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee who, reacting to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, expressed "our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan." Apologize for what, they're asking.

I'm no Huckabee fan, but my first reaction was that Huckabee meant "regrets" or "sympathy" when he said "apologies." In many languages the same term is used for both of these words. For example, in German you can apologize or sympathize with an expression that translates to: "It's to my regret." In French, a way of saying "I regret it" as in "I regret we don't sell that type of photo film" translates literally to "I excuse myself."

Indeed, the Huckabee campaign later tried to explain he "intended to extend his deepest sympathies to the people of Pakistan when he used the word 'apologies.'" So he seems to realize that he made a faux pas even if he's not entirely sure why.

December 28, 2007 12:03 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Terrorism

More exploitation of vets - homelessness now

By Michael Fumento

A self-styled "homeless advocacy" group is the latest to exploit vets to achieve ends that would do nothing to help former service personnel. The National Alliance to End Homelessness released a "study" prompting great media fanfare making two points, both false. 1) Vets are greatly overrepresented among the homeless in shelters, and 2) the root cause of homelessness is inability to afford a home.

In fact, as I write in the New York Post, vets are only overrepresented because of sheer demographics. Shelter denizens are overwhelmingly male and males comprise 93 percent of all vets. As to housing, it bears noting that despite the efforts of myriad "advocacy" groups to present vets as losers, they have more education, higher rates of employment, and higher salaries than comparable non-vets. The data on why people are in shelters confirms what anybody (including me) who lives near a shelter already knows. These people aren't just like you and me but without a home; their rates of alcohol and drug abuse and mental illness are astronomical.

Claims such as these, and all the journalists who simply repeat them, do the homeless - vets or otherwise - a tremendous disservice in taking attention away from the real causes of their problems. Yeah, it's wicked. What's new?

December 24, 2007 12:12 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military

CBS lies again on veteran suicide data

By Michael Fumento

"Contrary to Fumento's statement, the data, as well as the methodology used to collect and analyze it, have been available online for anyone to access." So writes Armen Keteyian, CBS's Chief Investigative Correspondent and the man behind the story that vets are killing themselves at twice the rate of non-vets.

Said Keteyian in his New York Post letter about my article, not my "statement." "Our investigative unit collected official suicide data for veterans from all branches of the military from 45 states" and had it independently analyzed by a University of Georgia biostatistics expert. Very basic data were online and I said so and my website links to it.

But "45 states sent us numbers" is not a proper explanation of methodology. It's also not changed by their having an outside bio-statistician look at their final numbers, insofar as he had no way of knowing what went into making those numbers - something CBS completely glossed over for obvious reasons.

Further, the methodology from each state would vary. What did CBS do to make this a proper meta-analysis?

Insofar as they used amateurs, even if they tried to be honest they couldn't be. And rarely does anybody ever accuse CBS of trying to be honest. Epidemiology is horribly complex. I've said it many times: After 20 years of writing about epidemiology, I can poke a hole in a bad epi study in five minutes. I can also detect that a ship is sinking in five minutes. But never would I deign to either design or build a ship. CBS took that step and was undeterred by the reality that nobody else out there came who has studied this issue got results indicating any increased suicide risk for veterans anywhere.

CBS's final word: "After the reports aired, Congressional [sic] hearings were requested," wrote Keteyian. Yes, because only Congress still believes anything aired on CBS. But gee, what if those hearings had been called by a Wisconsin Senator named Joe McCarthy . . .

December 2, 2007 12:09 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media ~ Military