Monday, November 05, 2007

Blocked Again

Well, reality has blocked me in many ways today.

First, the nut I was on grew bigger.  The one glimmer of hope I had chickened out.  Normally I'd feel harsh using a judgemental term like "chickened out", but those were his words, not mine.  So I feel fre to use them.

Second, as I was driving home I thought of something.  I thought of an awesome idea for a blog post (it's been a while since I had one of those so I was excited).  I knew that USAREC met its mission for the year, but I didn't recall hearing anything about it outside of the recruiting world.  I figured that "The Media" had allowed the event to pass unnoticed.

I was wrong.

A quick Google Search revealed that, indeed, Mission Box was covered.  While I was thrilled to see that an event this important wasn't allowed to pass unnoticed (including by myself), I was saddened to discover that the idea I had was now less topical.

Then, I actually put my semester of journalism in college to use.  I dug further.

Hit 1:  From NPR.  It's actually from May 2007 and refers to only that month.
Hit 2:  From the San Antonio Express.  I'm going to expand on this one in a minute.
Hit 3:  Fox News.  Although it touches on the waiver issues, there's a lot less editoralizing than the piece.
Hit 4:  Defense Link.  The DoD press release of the entire DoD's recruiting numbers.
Hit 5:  A Google Group discussion of Hit 1.
Hit 6:  Never heard of them until just now.
Hit 7, 8, 9:  Hot Air, Strategy Page,

I decided to do a bit of an experiment.  I like experiments.

Here's my thesis.  Media coverage of Army recruiting has a negative bias.

Here's my experiment.  Using a popular internet search engine, I will search for three terms related to the Army and recruiting.  There will be a search for the positive term "Army meets Recruiting", the negative term "Army fail recruiting", and a control term "Army recruiting".

If my thesis is correct, there will be noticably fewer positive results when compared to the negative.  Further, within those positive results, there will detectable negative commentary (for example, comments like "althought the Army met their recruiting goal, they accomplished it by enlisting illegal immigrants").  

I searched the national news webpages for three things.

1.  Army Meets Recruiting
2.  Army Fail Recruiting
3.  Army Recruiting

1.  221 hits with the "Most Recent" headlining "More Army Recruits Have Criminal Past".
2.  322 hits.
3.  4750 hits.  Most of them were just stories that mentioned the word "Army" and "recruiting", but not related to the topic I'm interested in.

1.  0.
2.  0.  
3.  66.  Top hit:  "Army Has Record Low Level of Recruits".

1.  1,146 pages of results.  Top hit?  "Army Meets Recruiting Goals -- Surprise Success or Accounting Trick?".  The date of the story?  December 15, 2005.
2.  1,755 pages.  The top hit that's related to the topic at hand?  "Army Marks Record Low Level of Recruits".  The date?  October 31, 2007.  We're not even out of the first quarter, yet the "Army will miss recruiting" meme has its first entry from the AP.
3.  1,573 pages.  Top hit?  "Army Defends Recruitment Standards".  This is nearly the same story that Fox News ran from the Google search above.  The headline in that story?  "Military Meets Recruitment Goals for the Year".

1.  84,100 hits.  The top hit is Fox News.  Second is NPR.  This makes sense since, apparently, uses Google as its search engine for its website.
2.  145,000 hits.  The fourth hit? which is a right-wing whackjob website run by someone very familar with the good guys at Screw Loose Change.
3.  177,000 hits.  The first hit?  The first non-Army or non-military website?  SF Gate with a story titled "U.S. is recruiting misfits for army".  They don't even have the common courtsey to capitalize the proper noun "Army".

1.  18.  Top hit?  The story from the initial Google search.
2.  8.  None of them actually related specifically to Army Recruiting.
3.  448.  Top hit?  The AP Story I mentioned in the ABCNews section.  

This is some painfully bad research on my part.  I have no illusions about this Googling to be taken seriously.  It's just something I did to give me something about which to write.  But, I'm pretty confident that, even with a poorly done experiment, I proved my thesis.

We are in Year 6 of the War on Terror.  Six years of sustained combat operations using an all-volunteer force.  This is a war that can be accuratly described as "unpopular", being fought under a lame-duck president who is called The Devil by those who disagree with him, in a good economy, with daily "butcher's bill" accounting of casualities, helpfully with combat and non-combat deaths combined, and split between total and "Mission Accomplished", and Soldiers are called stupid or inhuman by elected officials and media personalities.  Despite this enviroment 116,141 people chose to enlist into the Army and the Army Reserve this past year.  You would not know this if you were to read or watch most news outlets.


That would make Armyenlistmentburg the 206th largest city in the United States.  Actually, it should probably be called Armyenlistmentville, but I digress.

The entire city of Evansville, IN enlisted into the Army last year.  And the major theme of the stories reporting this incredible accomplishment is that 1,620 of them required a Serious Criminal Misconduct waiver.  Here is my tale of the Serious Criminal Misconduct waiver I enlisted two years ago.
I enlisted one person last year with a serious offense waiver. He’d been involved in a robbery when he was a juvenile. He enlisted when he was 28 years old. His offense was over 10 years old when he enlisted, and it still required a waiver. I’m confident that an analysis of those serious offense will show a large number of people who committed crimes a long time prior to their enlistment.
I still stand behind that last sentance.

Anyways, it's late, I'm tired. 

Normally I'll take full responsibility for formatting errors, but I've been trying Opera, and it sucks.  It sucks horribly and does terrifying things in Blogger's posting window.  I fear it.


I added a line I'd forgotten to when I wrote it.  It's in bold italics.


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