Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Two Recruiting Stories, One True

Too bad for Terry Neal at WaPo. He put together a three-clicker of an anti-war, anti-Republican piece that leads with " the increasing difficulty the military is having recruiting young people to enlist," only to have his considerable effort blasted by a story in the New York Post reporting:
Locked in a difficult war, the U.S. Army is exceeding its re-enlistment and first-time enlistment goals.
Apparently Neal forget to check his biases at the door and neglected to fact-check his assumptions.

His piece is a stark contrast to Ralph Peters' NYPost piece. Peters gets his hands on numbers, checks them out, reports them and analyzes what they mean.

Neal looks for proof to underscore the point he wants to make. That point is that rich conservatives won't send their sons and daughters to fight a war they support. To prove his point, he presents this:
[A] Marine recruiter, Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, who went to an affluent suburb outside of Pittsburgh to follow up with a young man who had expressed interest in enlisting. He pulled up to a house with American flags displayed in the yard. The mother came to the door in an American flag T-shirt and openly declared her support for the troops.

But she made it clear that her support only went so far.

"Military service isn't for our son," she told Rivera. "It isn't for our kind of people."

Wow. That proves it! And to Neal's mind, it gets him neatly past the troubling fact that the military doesn't keep records on the family finances of its recruits.

The studies he cites are mostly too old to matter any more. They all suffer from the fact that there are no records upon which to be based, and they make the same mistake he makes: They set out to "prove" preconceived assumptions ... and they only look at recruits and overlook the military academies, which are chock full of kids from families with decent incomes.