OpinionJournal – Best of the Web Today – October 30, 2007

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Best of the Web Today – October 30, 2007

    By JAMES TARANTO

    Boo!
    This column is taking a brief leave of absence for Halloween. (We’re not sure what our costume will be yet, but we’re thinking of going as a blog.) We’ll be back Monday, after we’ve finished our candy.

    From Here to Eternity
    One of the ways in which the media bolster their anti-Iraq narrative is by maximizing the number of U.S. casualties. The figures you hear for the number of deaths–currently approaching 4,000–almost always include noncombat deaths. Roughly 20% of “Iraq war” deaths are from illness, accident, suicide or other “nonhostile” causes.

    By this standard, of course, every serviceman in Iraq is doomed, and so are the rest of us. Even for those who perish in combat, war is only the proximate cause of death.

    A striking example of “Iraq war” deaths that weren’t appeared last week in the New York Times:

    The Department of Defense has identified 3,825 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the deaths of the following Americans on Tuesday:

    CAMACHO, Anamarie Sannicolas, 20, Seaman, Navy; Panama City, Fla.; Naval Support Activity.

    GRESHAM, Genesia Mattril, 19, Seaman, Navy; Lithonia, Ga.; Naval Support Activity.

    The San Francisco Chronicle published news of Camacho’s and Gresham’s deaths under the headline “U.S. Toll in Iraq,” and the text said they had died “in Iraq.”

    This is false, as the Chronicle’s own Web site confirms. The paper has a database with details of all the deaths “in Iraq,” and both Camacho’s and Gresham’s entries show that they “died Oct. 22 in Bahrain during a non-combat related incident.” (Nonetheless, the heading on the Chronicle’s database pages reads “Portraits of Sacrifice: U.S. Casualties in Iraq.”)

    To find out how they died, we turn to the Gulf Daily News, an English-language Bahraini paper:

    Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, 20, and her colleague Genesia Mattril Gresham, 19, were shot dead at the Naval Support Activity Base, Juffair, at around 5am on October 22.

    Their alleged killer, fellow serviceman Clarence Jackson, 20, is still clinging to life after apparently shooting himself in the head immediately after the murders.

    He is now at the National Naval Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, US, after being transferred to the US from a specialist hospital in Germany. . . .

    [Camacho’s mother, Jovie] Paulino, who served in the US Air Force for six years, is also angry at the way the navy have handled the shooting.

    “I had entrusted my daughter to the navy when she joined and this is what has happened, I just don’t understand,” she said. “I was in the military and right now I feel so angry and disappointed. She put her life on the line for our freedom and the only thing they should do (in return) is protect her.”

    Her comments echo that of Ms Gresham’s mother Anita, who earlier blamed officials for leaving her daughter exposed to danger from a man she said turned nasty when she tried to cool their “casual” relationship.

    Ms Gresham revealed Jackson had a restraining order against him and had been on suicide watch, after he allegedly attacked Miss Gresham less than four months ago.

    She was also angry that Jackson was allowed to carry a gun after his alleged attack on her daughter and that officials were not telling her what happened in the run-up to the killings.

    If Jackson dies of his wounds, will the Times and the Chronicle list him as another casualty of the “Iraq war” rather than of his own twisted rage?

    The incident does illustrate an uncomfortable truth: that romantic entanglements can be harmful to military discipline. This is why servicemen can be prosecuted for adultery, and it is one reason that the military excludes open homosexuals and restricts the roles in which women may serve. This was a horrific and senseless crime. Imagine how disruptive it would have been in a combat unit.

    Straight Talker
    One thing we like about Rudy Giuliani is that he isn’t afraid to take an unpopular position. The Associated Press reports he talked some sense yesterday in Londonderry, N.H.:

    “Do I think the mission overall in Iraq is the correct one, I think without a doubt it is,” the former New York mayor said at Insight Technologies, which makes tactical weapon lights and laser systems for the military.

    “And I think the Democrats are going to change their minds about it again,” Giuliani said, noting that Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards voted as senators for the initial invasion in 2003.

    Another thing we like about him is his wit:

    On Iran, Giuliani criticized Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., also a candidate for president, for saying they would engage in diplomatic relations with Iran. . . .

    “This is the world we live in. It’s not this happy, romantic-like world where we’ll negotiate with this one, or we’ll negotiate with that one and there will be no preconditions, and we’ll invite (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad to the White House, we’ll invite Osama (bin Laden) to the White House,” Giuliani said.

    “Hillary and Obama are kind of debating whether to invite them to the inauguration or the inaugural ball,” he added.

    Shorter Andrew Sullivan: I do not understand your Earth humor!

    Is Global Warmism a Mental Illness?
    “Several Democrats on Thursday challenged White House officials’ claim that they removed large parts of proposed congressional testimony on global warming because the material conflicted with findings from a U.N. scientific panel,” the Associated Press reported last week:

    Sen. Barbara Boxer released a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison of the phrases that the White House removed and the U.N. panel’s report this year on how climate change affected public health.

    The comparisons showed striking similarities.

    Ho hum, right? But a global-warmist blog has obtained the redacted report, and it contains one claim that is hysterical in the sense of “laugh-out-loud funny” instead of the usual “sky is falling!” sense:

    Mental Health Problems
    Some Americans may suffer anxiety, depression, and similar symptoms in anticipating climate change and/or in coping with its effects.

    That’s right, global warmism is a mental disease, and the Bush administration is covering it up so that people like Al Gore do not get the help they need!

    Obama Clears the Table
    Back in May, we noted that Barack Obama had told George Stephanopoulos that when it comes to Social Security, “everything should be on the table.” Stephanopoulos asked if that included privatization, and Obama said no, come to think of it, not everything should be on the table.

    Now Obama, in a statement from his campaign, is taking more options off the table:

    Obama said he would strengthen Social Security by opposing any effort to create private accounts, raise the retirement age and cut benefits. He said the “best option” is to ask America’s wealthiest workers to pay their fair share and force Congress to stop irresponsibly borrowing from the Social Security trust fund.

    “There are a number of ways we can make Social Security solvent that do not involve forcing seniors to bear a heavier burden,” Obama said. “The best option, in my view, is to ask the highest income Americans to contribute a little more by raising the ceiling that’s currently put on the amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax.”

    Obama’s table is now so clear that the only thing left on it is a big tax increase on the most productive Americans–one that would, by the way, make Social Security more like a welfare program, since presumably those hit with the tax hike would not get commensurate increases in benefits.

    As we said back then, in your heart you know he’s trite.

    Red Neck
    On Sunday the Boston Red Sox defied the curse of the Bambino for the second time since the turn of the century. “To honor the Red Sox four-game World Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies, staff at the Franklin Park Zoo on Monday named a baby giraffe ‘Sox,’ ” the Associated Press reports from Boston.

    Of course, that’s what Hillary Clinton named her cat–a cat she dumped when she became a “lifelong Yankees fan.”

    Zero-Tolerance Watch
    “Captain Underpants certainly convinced me again that banning costumes was the right way to go,” Nicholas Restivo, principal of Long Beach High School on New York’s Long Island, tells Newsday. “As a result of Captain Underpants, I found out that we are definitely in the minority of schools that allowed kids to come in wearing costumes.”

    It seems that last year, three seniors decided to “emulate Mr. Underpants in all his tighty-whitey glory.” As a result, this year all costumes are verboten: “No Wonder Womans, no pirates, no bloody ghouls allowed.”

    Shouldn’t that be “Wonders Woman”?

    Restivo’s concerns go beyond underwear as outerwear. He also worries that scary costumes will make kids “uncomfortable”:

    “What seems like a real funny thing is often hurtful to our kids … with blood and guts or knives hanging out, even if they are plastic,” he said. “We don’t know what kind of emotions that evokes.” . . .

    Restivo said his decision is firm.

    “I had to sit back and ask myself ‘Are you being an ogre?’ ” he said. “I’m being a principal. I’m not being an ogre.”

    That would be against the rules.

    Life Imitates the Onion

  • “Many Cancer Deaths Preventable”–headline, Onion, April 6, 2005
  • “Daily Onion May Deter Pancreatic Cancer”–headline, NewsMax.com, Oct. 29, 2007

Can You Hum a Few Bars?
“North Korea’s Kim Knows Cooperation Key to Survival, Song Says”–headline, Bloomberg, Oct. 29

Thank Heaven for Little Girls
“Men Favor Marriage With Children”–headline, Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, Oct. 28

But 83 Other Reports Say the Opposite
“State Report Says Texas Has Too Many Reports”–headline, Associated Press, Oct. 29

There Must’ve Been a Dearth of Candidates
“Democratic Women’s Club Elects Chair”–headline, Chronicle (Tallahassee, Fla.), Oct. 24

Help Wanted
“Portland Police Seek ‘Prolific Tagger’ “–headline, KPTV Web site (Portland, Ore.), Oct. 26

Breaking News From 1945
“NEW–Altoona Woman Pleads Guilty in Patton Traffic Fatality”–headline, Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.), Oct. 30

News You Can Use

  • “Boiled Nuts Help Fight Diseases, Study Says”–headline, FoxNews.com, Oct. 29
  • “You Can Buy Excuse to Skip Work”–headline, CNN.com, Oct. 29
  • “Squirrels Safe to Eat Again in New Jersey”–headline, Daily News (New York), Oct. 30
  • “Belief in Witchcraft, Magic Serves ‘Basic Human Need,’ Professor Says”–headline, Science Daily, Oct. 25

Bottom Stories of the Day

  • “NBC Exec Says Leno Out as Planned in ’09”–headline, Associated Press, Oct. 30
  • “Bob Dylan’s Pictures Shown in Germany”–headline, Associated Press, Oct. 30
  • “On the Go: When the Work Day Is Done, Many Local Businesspeople Become Immersed in Family, Hobbies”–headline, Business First of Louisville (Ky.), Oct. 26

Things Go Bump in Night, Minorities Hardest Hit
The actual Associated Press headline is almost as silly: “Minorities Less Likely to Trick or Treat.” Yup, they actually did a poll on this, and it found “73 percent of whites versus 56 percent of minorities said their children will trick-or-treat on Wednesday.” The problem is one of personal security:

That disparity in the survey is similar to the difference in how people view the safety of their neighborhoods, according to the poll by The Associated Press and Ipsos. Lower-income people and minorities are more likely to worry that it might not be safe to send their children out on Halloween night. . . .

Overall, 86 percent of those questioned in the survey said their neighborhoods are safe for trick-or-treating. Ninety-one percent of whites, compared with 75 percent of minorities, said they felt their kids would be secure when they went out seeking candy in their area.

Similarly, 93 percent of people earning $50,000 or more said their communities are safe for trick-or-treating, compared with 76 percent of those making less than $25,000.

So this has nothing to do with race or ethnicity per se; it’s just that people are less inclined to walk around at night in bad neighborhoods than good ones. The survey does have one politically charged finding:

Seventy percent of people in the poll who consider themselves liberals and 67 percent of the moderates questioned said they would hand out treats, compared with 55 percent of conservatives.

This makes it sound as if conservatives are stingy. But it may just be that since minorities and poor people are more likely to be liberal, conservatives are less likely to be home on Halloween.

(Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to Bill Kurdziel, Steve Karass, Brian Lee, Doug Simpkinson, John Williamson, Richard Haisley, Stephan Thernstrom, Joseph DeMartino, Jeffrey Shapiro, Steve Klein, Doug Black, Claud Payne, Ed Jordan, Jed Flint, Conrad Kraus, Michael Stevens, Steve Edwards, Mark French, Julie Hill, Steven Stratton, Bruce Goldman, Mark Davies, Michele Schiesser, James Penrose, Arlene Ross, John Lord, Jeff Bodzewski, William Katz, Dennis Powell, Chris Bergman, Russel Ready, Douglas Litvin, Dave Yeary and Ethel Fenig. If you have a tip, write us at opinionjournal@wsj.com, and please include the URL.)

URL for this article: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110010802

Today on OpinionJournal:

  • Charles Rangel: Stop the middle-class tax raid.
  • Bret Stephens: Daryl Hannah goes to Ecuador and gets in over her head.
  • Pete du Pont: Charlie Rangel and other liberal leaders want to raise tax rates even if it means lower tax revenues.


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