August 30, 2007

"The New York Times editors think that the phrase 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' is in the Constitution..."

Oops! But if it's a living Constitution, surely, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have evolved there by now. Let's run with it! Possibly to things the NYT won't even like.

Now, what is this editorial position that needs LL&PH? Follow the logic. It begins with the realization that when the war is bad, the soldiers will go crazy:
As the Army’s suicide rate hits record levels in the Iraq war, there’s small wonder practically everyone in Congress wants to deal with the parallel emerging crisis of depressed veterans tempted to take their own lives. Everyone, that is, except Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma. He stands alone in blocking final passage of a suicide prevention bill in fear that the government’s record-keeping on troubled vets might somehow crimp their ability to purchase handguns.

Even the craven gun lobby should manage some shame over this absurd example of Second Amendment idolatry.

The House has unanimously approved a measure mandating the screening of all veterans for suicide risk, but Senator Coburn worries that veterans’ medical data might be appropriated by other agencies to deny that all-encompassing right to wield arms on the domestic front.

The senator’s office points to another bill near passage — prompted by the Virginia Tech gun massacre — that would encourage states to do a better job of listing mentally troubled individuals on the federal roll of risky gun purchasers. But tying these two measures together is itself evidence of defective reasoning, or at least scurrilous politicking. The Virginia Tech measure has nothing to do with veterans and affects only those Americans formally judged by a court to be mentally disturbed.

It is an eminently good thing that the anti-suicide measure would require medical specialists to keep track of veterans found to be high risks for suicide. But that’s to care for them as human beings, under that other constitutional right — to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Respect for the grave sacrifices by veterans requires the Senate to strike down the Coburn ploy and hurry this vital measure to President Bush.
Why stop at soldiers? Let's have the government come around and check on everyone's sanity and then track those of us who don't meet the standard! To show we care for them as human beings.

And you know, I think whoever wrote this overheated editorial -- it's full of "defective reasoning" -- is a little funny in the head. Respect for the grave responsibilities of the editors of great newspapers requires me to recommend that President Bush send medical specialists to test and keep track of them. (And bring the soma, because this is about your right to happiness.) If there is any absurd talk about the individual's right to be let alone, even the craven privacy lobby should manage some shame.

50 comments:

Wurly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger said...

Thats nothing--during the run up to the Iraq war the Seattle Paper stated in an editorial that the constitutional requirement for war was "a clear and present danger," thereby confounding the Constitution with a Tom Clancy novel. Layers of fact checkers and editors........

Christy said...

I keep hearing about the suicide rate going up, but I haven't seen the details. Does anyone know where they can be found? Knowing the innumeracy of the NYTimes I have to wonder if it is the total number of suicides rather than the rate. The total would go up with a greater number of active duty soldiers.

SGT Ted said...

Let quit pretending the NYT gives a shit about the US Military or it's "stuk in Irak" members, unless it's a retired General who is anti-Bush.

This is yet just another attempt to control access to guns, using the backdoor of "mental health" as an excuse, as they have repeatedly been trying to do since the "progressives" took over the field of mental health.

Doyle said...

Controlling access to guns is a good thing.

Peter said...

If, according to the NYT, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are constitutional rights -- and not a priori natural rights we are endowed with by our Creator -- does that mean that the editors believe that nobody has a right to be alive until the state gives it to them?

As for liberty -- I'd like to ask the NYT editors which government agency I have to thank for my essential freedom. Because it was very nice of them to give it to me, seeing as how I am, by nature, a slave.

And I'm also thankful for my constitutional right to pursue happiness. Thank goodness our government doesn't forbid us from trying to be happy -- as is, of course, their right to do so, according to the NYT.

Anyone know the address of the NYT editorial board? I'm going to send them a copy of John Locke. Not that I think they'd understand it.

Pogo said...

The entire leftist mindset writ large:

Controlling is a good thing.

rhhardin said...

Bush apparently took it out of the Constitution. Anyway it's not there now.

The Drill SGT said...

On the basic subject of Army suicides, as under understand the underlying stats,

The suicide rate for the Army is higher than it had been, however

the adjusted rate after weighting for age and gender among soldiers is LOWER than it is for the overall civilian population cohort.

it is another non story at its basics

Roger said...

Some data with respect to the suicide rate. It is factually true that the rate of suicides for active army soldiers has increased. And some of the media have reported the rate of 13 per 100k and compared it to overall suicide rate of 10.6/100K in the general population.

That, however, is very bad epidemiology. You have to compare the suicide rates by AGE GROUPS to ensure you are using the same denominator. When you do that, and compare suicide rates for soldiers in the 25-44 age group, against all Americans in that age group, the suicide rate for soldiers (and not all are Iraq veterans suicides) it is still LOWER THAN the overall suicide rate of 13.6 for that age group.

To expect a honest discussion of the statistics is a reach. Now having said that, it is an appropriate matter of concern that the suicide rates for soldiers has increased and that needs to be dealt with. But their rate of suicide is still lower than their corresponding age cohort in the public at large.

Original Mike said...

Christy: You're right to be skeptical. I read about this recently (if I remember where, I'll post it), and there is no epidemic of suicides.

SteveR said...

I just attended a memorial service for a young soldier, a year back from Iraq, who commited suicide. However prevelant the problem is, it was clear the VA, etc was not able to help him.

What's frustrating is when these type of bills include so many semi-and unrelated items and therefore the good gets dragged down with the unnecessary. Sure you may want to keep suicidal people from getting guns, but get them help.

MadisonMan said...

But their rate of suicide is still lower than their corresponding age cohort in the public at large.

I would hope that people who are predisposed to suicide are screened out, somehow, in the Armed Forces application process. It's not surprising, then, that the suicide rates for the public as a whole are larger.

A good question is: Is the increase because screening has relaxed, or because fighting conditions have changed and the Army/Navy/Marines/etc. have not adjusted.

Sloanasaurus said...

The media loves these stories about the war making people mad and crazy. It's just a rehash of the crazy vietnam vet story which was debunked thoroughly in "stolen valor" or the recent stories from the New Republic which was shown to be a fraud.

Earlier this year, the Mpls Star Tribune argued that a veteran from Iraq involved in a cop chase and shooting did so because of his Iraq "experience." An argument that was debunked by his own family.

What the NT Times and liberal media do not want to admit is that the Iraq war is going to produce the next generation of leadership for this country - both political and in business. Unfortunately for the MSM, experience in combat and wars produces leaders far more rapidly than the civil sector, because the general population respects what they have done and respects their experience in facing stressful situations.

Today's Democratic party is made up of has-been war protesters from the Vietnam era. It could be that tomorrows Democratic party will be made of up leaders who fought for freedom in Iraq. Something today's Democrats abhore.

Roger said...

BTW--One would expect a generally lower suicide rate among soldiers compared to their cohorts, given the fairly restrictive accession requirements in the all volunteer army. In addition, the period of basic training serves to weed out those who may exhibit problem behaviors and slipped through the enlistment screening.

Cedarford said...

Doyle said...
Controlling access to guns is a good thing.


If you don't believe in 2nd Amendment Rights, why should you think others should protect your 1st Amendment Rights. Ready for this??

Controlling liberals access to speech is a good thing.

And I will say that Tom Coburn has been one of the best, most pleasant surprises in Congress - standing up to reckless Republican spenders, the Nanny-staters, reminding Reagan Democrats what a small government, moral Christian, penny-pinching, zealous privacy protecting Republican is - while others lost their way.

Gun grabbing is a definite agenda of the NYTimes and others that see private arms ownership in the USA as a real obstacle to progressive transnationalism and the primacy of international law...

Roger said...

MM--our posts crossed--you are clearly on the mark and I think your question is one that needs some real close study. That seems to me to be a reasonable hypothesis.

Steven said...

The "record level" rate was caused by an increase of 11 suicides, out of a military population of almost 1,500,000 people, in 2006 over 2005.

Which is to say, the increase is not statistically meaningful; the magnitude is entirely within the "noise" level. In any population you get some random variation. The 2006 rate was last exceeded in 1980 -- which, we will note, was during peacetime.

Blaming the 2006 suicides on the Iraq War is as sensible, scientifically, as blaming the suicides on the Democrats wining Congress in the 2006 elections, driving Republican-voting military members to despair. Actually, less so, because the war was being fought in 2004 while the Democrats didn't win either of those years.

Steven said...
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Steven said...

(One more time)

"2004 and 2005", not just "2004".

Hoosier Daddy said...

Why stop at soldiers?

Indeed, has anyone ever thought about the suicide rates for cops? Well it’s higher than the average for the general population. In fact, more cops die from suicide than killed in the line of duty. While I think many want to attribute soldiers killing themselves because of an unpopular war, the average cop has to face the dregs of society not to mention the threat of death every single day on the job and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for him or her in terms of a withdrawal or the ‘end of their tour’.

But when you can make political hay out of Iraq, anything will do.

NSC said...

Controlling access to guns is a good thing.

How does one argue with such nonsense. If it wasn't dangerous talk it would be laughable. Still, I doubt Doyle means it . . . he looks like he keeps a shotgun in his closet to me. I wonder if he has a wide shooting stance?

From Inwood said...

Prof A

Spot on in your comments, particularly your last paragraph.

A lot of things are found in the Constitution if only you let the right people (read NYT or ACLU) put things in perspective. Let's face it, it's not enough to read the words, without reading the NYT’s explanation of the deeper meaning of such words.

BTW, as I’m sure you are aware, but let me note for the record as we lawyers pompously say, the XIV Amendment uses the term “life, liberty, or property”, which is closer to the original Lockean formulation than Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence phrase quoted by the NYT as part of the Constitution.

Hey, what’s the problem? Since we have already found many penumbras upon emendations (or is it vice versa, Nevermind!) in the Constitution, let’s read the Jefferson version as inherent therein.

Or better still, let’s take a poll & see what percentage of Americans think that the phrase "the pursuit of happiness” is in the constitution. (Hint: it’s right next to the words “Separation of Church and State”.)

Or let Jay Leno go out on the street & do his questioning thing on poor benighted people. Vox populi.

Roger & MSM; you've pointed out another example of how to lie with stats, here compare apples to oranges. All the Military suiciders are, Lake Woebegone like, above or below average as the situation demands. Perhaps The Hon. Kerry was right about the need for education lest one wind up a Military suicide; or a NYT editorialist.

John Kindley said...

"Bush apparently took it out of the Constitution. Anyway it's not there now."

rhhardin:

You're a very funny guy (or gal). I was also highly amused by your suggestion that we liquidate estates and burn the proceeds and your noting that Prof. Finklestein (sp?) appears to assume in advance that he will survive his hunger strike on other threads.

Just wanted to give credit where credit is due. Keep up the good work!

From Inwood said...

Drill Sgt

Shudda given you credit for spotting the flawed stats also.

But then I shudda given rhhardin credit for pointing that Bush must've taken the phrase "pursuit of happiness" out of our Constitution when we weren't looking. He was probably authorized to so by some section in the fascist, un-Constitutional anti-terrorist laws snuck in by Bush & his cohorts while stalwarts like Hillary weren't present.

Synova said...

Someone already mentioned that the statistical increase in suicide by Soldiers (the numbers I've seen are only for the Army) was a real increase of 11 individuals. The reasons, as I read it, were generally interpersonal ones... relationships, not war, unless one figures that deployment screwed up relationships (which includes peacetime military reality as well) and that may be right but it wasn't *fighting* or seeing horrors, generally.

Separate issue which I think has no relationship to the Army statistics for active duty regulars, reserves and Guard, is mental health care for those who have mustered out, returned home, and may be suffering from PTSD often times outside of a military culture and support structure.

The Army numbers have nothing at all to do with this.

The articles that I've seen also include that female Soldiers commit suicide at higher rates and significantly higher rates than female civilians (though the numbers I saw didn't compare ages) and considering that one in 10, last I saw numbers, soldiers are female and the overall numbers, as mentioned, are 11 additional suicides, just one or two women killing themselves would skew the numbers way up. Whatever the case, I heard the suggestion and it makes sense to me, that female soldiers might suicide more often because they succeed more often than their civilian sisters.

In the end, the personal tragedy is absolute for those involved and the challenge of preventing suicides and caring for veterans interesting and serious for those not personally involved. What it's not, even a bit, is some sort of proof that anything about being a Soldier causes suicide.

No matter how much it conforms to some people's ideology and preconceptions... or Hollywood movies.

From Inwood said...

John K

The moving hand types faster.

I posted mine of 12:04 & then read yours of 11:54

Great minds think alike dept.

From Inwood said...

John K

The moving hand types faster.

I posted mine of 12:04 & then read yours of 11:54

Great minds think alike dept.

John Kindley said...

From Inwood

Ha! Ha! Right on

From Inwood said...

Roger

Point of Order. The provenance of the phrase “Clear and Present Danger” is Holmes in a famous case arising out of WW I speech restrictions.

The justices in that case kinda thought that free speech is not an absolute as some extremists would have it. Um, that is “would have it except for ‘hate Speech’ & necessary PC restrictions like that."

Roger said...

Inwood--Thanks! Appreciate the source of the term!

The Drill SGT said...

MM,

suicides in the military I suspect have two driving factors. I don't have any basis for this other than a bit of common sense.

1. Stress. not so much the cheapening of life hypothesis of the left or the "horrors of war", but rather the fact that in a combat zone, danger can come at you from any direction at any time. That stress would coorelate with that for cops. They dont shoot much, but are always in a combat zone.

2. relationships. stress in existing ones, break-ups in marriages and romances. distance from existing familial support structures.

Roger, SGT Ted and I are expecting this suicide story line to morph into the same one we faced coming back from Vietnam.

Baby Killers, damaged goods, vets scarred for life, suicidal and homeless.

expect these from the MSM

Pogo said...

Re: "expect these from the MSM"

Spot on. I envision some ex-hippy NYTimes editor poring through the NYT microfiche file for good stories to copy from the early 1970s, just inserting Iraq here and there.

blake said...

I'm pretty sure it's not so much the Iraqi war that's behind it, as the global warming.

When you train someone to solve his problems with guns, what's he to do when confronted by a problem he can't shoot?

Roger said...

Blake is taking the first tentative steps toward a unified theory of Iraq, the Bush Administration, Global Warming, and the collapse of civilization as we know it. Clearly nobel potential!

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Pogo: The entire leftist mindset writ large: Controlling is a good thing.

Indeed.

Leftie: "Controlling access to guns / the press / the airwaves / free speech / health care / education / transportation / wealth / employment / tobacco / food / energy / public land / inheritance / the free market is a good thing."

From Inwood said...

Roger

Maybe the NYT would welcome Blake's efforts.

From The Weekly Standard:

"She Could've Been Worse

" 'You've got to say this for Leona Helmsley: She had nothing to do with global warming and she never got us into war.'

"Gail Collins on the recently deceased "Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley in the August 21 New York Times.

Jim Howard said...

As others have pointed out the military's suicide rate is not significantly different now than it was during the cold war. The 'horror of combat' isn't a factor.

I think a major stressor of military life is the very strict up-or-out promotion policies the services use, and the highly visible results of being passed over for promotions and good assignments.

Imagine a law firm where it took 20 years to make partner, and if you didn't make partner you lost your law license.

Or imagine being a college professor who required 20 years to attain tenure, and if one failed tenure one could never teach in any college anywhere at any level.

Lots of stress in the military, peace or war.

NSC said...

I think a major stressor of military life is the very strict up-or-out promotion policies the services use, and the highly visible results of being passed over for promotions and good assignments.

Imagine a law firm where it took 20 years to make partner, and if you didn't make partner you lost your law license.

Or imagine being a college professor who required 20 years to attain tenure, and if one failed tenure one could never teach in any college anywhere at any level.

Lots of stress in the military, peace or war.


Having been an officer in the Air Force I can attest to the stress of the "up or out" promotion system, but that is more a peace time military thing. The guys fighting this war - at least the ones on the ground - aren't too damn stressed over getting promoted. They have bigger concerns.

That being said, can you imagine how the quality of both the law and academia would improve with a similar policy.

Finally, I worked many a suicide case as an AFOSI investigator and the vast majority were driven by family issues (separation, home sickness, infidelity, etc.) and not the stress of the job.

Jeff said...

Well, they think the phrase "separation of church and state" is in the constitution, so why not this?

downtownlad said...

So when did the 14th amendment get repealed?


No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Everyone knows that pursuit of happiness derives from "property" as John Locke used the term.

The phrase is based on the writings of John Locke, who expressed a similar concept of "life, liberty, and estate (or property)". While Locke said that "no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions", Adam Smith coined the phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of property". The expression "pursuit of happiness" was coined by Dr. Samuel Johnson in his 1759 novel Rasselas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life,_liberty_and_the_pursuit_of_happiness

So this IS in the Constitution.

Revenant said...

So when did the 14th amendment get repealed?

It didn't, but the 14th amendment doesn't mention a right to "the pursuit of happiness" -- which is, of course, the right the NYT is trying to say the soldiers are entitled to.

Everyone knows that pursuit of happiness derives from "property" as John Locke used the term.

It replaced "property"; it did not derive from it. The two are related, but one does not derive from the other (as the link you provided states).

So this IS in the Constitution.

Nope. The right to property does not, contrary to your amusing delusions, grant the right to happiness.

From Inwood said...

Prof A

I anticipated the XIV Amendment’s wording being raised by NYT epigoni in my post of 11:51 when I noted:

"BTW, as I’m sure you are aware, but let me note for the record as we lawyers pompously say, the XIV Amendment uses the term 'life, liberty, or property', which is closer to the original Lockean formulation than Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence phrase quoted by the NYT as part of the Constitution.”

For the NYT & its true believers to be right, the word "property" has to equal "pursuit of happiness" "Um, 'property'; that word you keep using; I do not think it means what you think it means."

Any posit that the fact that Tom Jefferson in his phrasing changed Locke's word "property" to "pursuit of happiness", an entirely more expansive concept means that "property" somehow equals "pursuit of happiness" & thus the NYT’s egregious misquote is not a misquote at all does not pass the old Hee Haw test. Unless one’s arguments are based on the “whatever” school of logic.

QED, the NYT needs better fact checkers & should be embarrassed. Neither will happen.

From Inwood said...

Rev

Comments crossed in the mail.

Kirk said...

Inwood,

Good catch on “Clear and Present Danger”.

On the other hand, I'd bet a large (but virtual!) sum of money that the folks who make up the NYT's vaunted editorial and fact-checking layers are more familiar with the Clancy novel than they are with the Holmes opinion.

hdhouse said...

Naw...I know a fact checker at the Times. You can't shake her dedication to task. No way.

Is the editorial over the top? Yeah. It could have been written better with less Faux Noise drama.

BUT IT IS AN EDITORIAL. IT IS NOT REPORTING NEWS IT IS AN EDITORIAL. EDITORIAL....GOT IT? EDITORIAL.

From Inwood said...

Kirk

You're welcome.

You say that you’d

“bet a large (but virtual!) sum of money that the folks who make up the NYT's vaunted editorial and fact-checking layers are more familiar with the Clancy novel than they are with the Holmes opinion.”

The folks who make up the fact-checking layers are not familiar with Clancy’s novels, methinks, ‘cause such works on the NYT’s Index Of Forbidden Books!

Seems to me that everything about the NYT is faux: faux facts, faux stats; faux polls, faux Republicans saying that they’ll no longer vote Republican, faux editorializing masked as reporting, etc.

Let me get out of the political area for a bit. Recently the NYT had a story about a big office development in the Bronx. It quoted the spokeswoman for the developer as saying that two subway lines were nearby. Now this is just not true in the normal sense of the word “nearby”, meaning not a walker like Prof A. who doesn’t have to punch a time clock at nine & five. Where are the fact checkers? And Jason Blair….

And when it comes time for political reporting, for Bush bashing, the NYT’s reporters say: “Sometimes a story or a juicy quote is just too good to authenticate!” As someone put it: “The NYT; We Decide. You Want Reporting? Try A Blog.” To which I’d add: “You want fact checking? Try a Blog with commenters.” Any good one, such as this, will attract commenters who have some knowledge, even expertise in a particular subject, such commenters being not afraid to take on the host & other commenters for what they see as mistakes in reporting or concluding.

And funny, but NYT epigoni will not even admit something as obvious as the fact that the concept “property” does not equal “pursuit of happiness”. For some reason an, um, militant scoffing at such inanities often results in charges of “wingnut” “fanatic” & “pedantry”. Or a dismissive “understandable”, “close enough”, or the cant phrase, “whatever”. Or perhaps a deconstructionist, Humpty-Dumpty approach to language. Politics aside, I suggest that the battle is worth continuing for the sake of clarity of thought and I am indebted to Prof. A. & other bloggers for this.

NSC said...

BUT IT IS AN EDITORIAL. IT IS NOT REPORTING NEWS IT IS AN EDITORIAL. EDITORIAL....GOT IT? EDITORIAL

It was a piss poor editorial in too many ways to note and no amount of TYPING IN ALL CAPS will change that.

From Inwood said...

NSC

The whole NYT is fact-free & fancy-full, all opinion. Don't know why it thinks that we’d be fooled by its limiting truth in labeling to only two pages, the Editorial & Op-Ed pages.

Tradition!

Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Deep Shallowness.