July 31, 2007

Translating the AP’s Coverage of Today’s Consumer Confidence Report

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 2:31 pm

Here’s the opening of today’s Associated Press report about the July Consumer Confidence Index (bolds are mine):

Consumer confidence hit a six-year high in July, a widely watched gauge of sentiment showed on Tuesday, as Americans shrugged off falling home prices to focus on a healthy jobs market, instead.

The New York-based Conference Board said that its Consumer Confidence Index, rebounded to 112.6, its highest level since August 2001 when it recorded a 114.0 reading. That compared to a revised 105.3 in June. The July 24 cutoff for the preliminary survey of 5,000 U.S. households was before last week’s stock market tumble, however.

Translation: This report doesn’t mean much. By the time we harp on last week’s HORRIBLE stock market, downplay last Friday’s good GDP report (what was it again? Oh, 3.4%), totally ignore the 11%-plus increase in real disposable income in just four years (2.8% per year for 2003-2006; scroll down), and keep reminding people about the non-existent housing crisis (prices, as shown here, are NOT “falling”), that confidence number will come back down.

It has to. A six-year high is bad enough; we surely can’t afford to let the index get to an 8-year high, or someone might get the mistaken idea that the current economy is as good as or (heaven forbid) even better than the the Golden Age of the 1990s (even though by a couple of respected measures it is).

Move along now.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

‘Oh, Boyda’ Follow-up: National Media Complies with Congresswoman’s Plea Not to Cover General’s Positive Iraq Testimony — Or Her Tantrum Over It

As noted here yesterday, Kansas Congresswoman Nancy Boyda walked out of a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Friday after hearing General Jack Keane testify about the potential impact of a bill meant to micromanage troop deployment. Keane also testified about progress being made in the counteroffensive that has come to be known as “the surge.”

Boyda walked out because the objections to that bill, and the descriptions of an improving situation in Iraq, were apparently too much to bear. She said as much when she returned. Boyda and the fly in her pocket (based on her several references to “we”) went into full-rant mode (painfully long and slow-loading audio is here; scroll down to July 27′s entry and click on “Audio Transcript”; Boyda’s tantrum is about 60% of the way through it; also note that at least a half-dozen hecklers and demonstrators had to be removed during the hearing):

“….. As many of us, there was only so much that you could take until we, in fact, had to leave the room for a while, and so I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things that after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to.”

“But let me just first say that the description of Iraq as if some way or another that it’s a place that I might take the family for a vacation, things are going so well, those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying here’s the reality of the problem and people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.”

Nothing in the General’s testimony was even remotely suggestive of the family-vacation idea Boyda falsely attributed to him.

As to Boyda’s fear that the general’s testimony might show up in the media (also in essence a plea not to cover it) — not to worry, as this Google News search shows:

GoogNewsBoydaHearing072707

In case you’re wondering (by this time, you shouldn’t be), the New York Times and the Washington Post have nothing relating to Boyda’s walkout or subsequent statement.

A few of the Google news links above are to the Associated Press story on the situation, which appears to have been carried almost nowhere. Even that story is about her defending herself and not the impropriety of her snit fit. The Washington Times link is to the end of an editorial, which wraps rather nicely:

We are at a moment when freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda, Kansas Democrat, feels justified walking out on retired Army Gen. Jack Keane at a hearing because she cannot stomach the general’s positive assessment of developments in Iraq. Let us hope we will soon arrive at a moment when Mrs. Boyda can be regarded as histrionic and no more.

Perhaps the voters of Boyda’s district will have a role in making those histrionics history.

Almost two years ago, all manner of hellfire, brimstone, and ridicule rained down on Ohio Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt when she was accused of calling John Murtha a coward (sorry, she didn’t; she said, “Cowards cut and run, Marines never do.” She never called Murtha a coward; Murtha voted with Schmidt and 401 other members of Congress against immediate withdrawal [i.e., the non-cowardly choice.).

If you’re a member of the other party, the consequences of, in essence, calling a general testifying under oath a liar are apparently less severe.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Allah at Hot Air has more on the Left’s “On no, we’re doing well” hysterics here and here.

UPDATE 2: Taranto at Best of the Web — “Boyda, it seems, wants to suppress information about success in Iraq, because such information would “divide the country.” Better that the country be united in defeatism.”

Positivity: Ripken, Gwynn Enshrined in Baseball of Fame

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 10:07 am

From Cooperstown:

Updated: Jul.29, 2007, 11:50 pm EDT

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn took their place in baseball’s shrine Sunday, saluted as much for their Hall of Fame careers as their character off the field.

Commissioner Bud Selig and a record crowd came to cheer them and all that was good about the game.

A continent away, a different scene played out. Barry Bonds failed to tie the home run record, a chase tainted by his surly nature and a steroids investigation.

Ripken and Gwynn sensed that poignant counterpoint on their induction day.

“This day shouldn’t be all about us,” Ripken said. “Today is about celebrating the best that baseball has been and the best it can be. This is a symbol it’s alive, popular.”

“Whether you like it or not, as big leaguers, we are role models,” he said. “The only question is, will it be positive or will it be negative?”

Gwynn offered the same sentiment.

“I think the fans felt comfortable enough in us, they could trust us and how we played the game, especially in this era of negativity,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

“When you sign your name on the dotted line, it’s more than just playing the game of baseball,” he said. “You’ve got to be responsible and make decisions and show people how things are supposed to be done.”

Boosted by busloads from Maryland, an estimated 75,000 fans turned the vast field facing the podium into a sea of black, orange and brown.

Go here for the rest of the story.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (073107)

Here’s an interesting take on who gets harmed if the estate tax isn’t repealed and comes back in full pre-2001 force in a few years.

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Ward Churchill has been fired from his position at the University of Colorado. Michael Moynihan at Reason’s Hit & Run reminds us why it’s an obvious call.

Is this the last of the controversy? Surely you jest.

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The line between news reporting and infomercials continues to blur. This particular example from Freakonomics’ Steve D. Levitt is particularly disgraceful, but, unfortunately, probably not atypical. I agree with Levitt — “I will never again listen to the interviews on in-flight radio.”

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Long-suffering Chicago Cub fans (self included) instinctively knew this already:

Statistics indicate they (the Florida Marlins) were the worst team in 30 years to win a World Series.

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Speaking of disgraces, two Senators, BizzyBlog-namedWaste Ted” Stevens (also known as Ted “The Tubes” Stevens) and Daniel Inouye are calling for universal Internet filtering.

These two, who will be referred to as “Senators Dumb and Dumber” as long as they trumpet this initiative, tell us its to “protect children.” Well of course.

Unfortunately for Senators Dumb and Dumber, Mainland China’s censors think their entire nation consists of 100% children. So, naturally, they filter everything, with the help of American high-tech enablers.

Stevens and Inouye are proposing a dangerous idea that is every tyrant’s dream come true.

July 30, 2007

Oh, Boyda: Kansas Congresswoman Walks out on General’s Positive Iraq Testimony

How Will Old Media Cover Kansas Congresswoman’s Keane Testimony Temper Tantrum?

______________________________________

Update, July 31: We have an answer — “‘Oh, Boyda’ Follow-up: National Media Complies with Congresswoman’s Plea Not to Cover General’s Positive Iraq Testimony — Or Her Tantrum Over It”

The original post follows.

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From the Gavel — At a House Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq Legislation this morning on Friday, Kansas Congresswoman Nancy Borda apparently heard as much good news as she could stand.

So she did the old cut-and-run by walking out (as The Gavel explains, “She is responding in part to General Jack Keane, who testified before the Committee but left before Rep. Boyda’s remarks, and was reportedly one of the architects of the escalation policy”; there should probably be a “from” before the second mention of Keane’s name):

“I was certainly hoping that General Keane would be able to be here as well. Let me say thank you very much for your testimony so much, Mr. Korb, and I just will make some statements more for the record based on what I heard mainly General Keane. As many of us, there was only so much that you could take until we, in fact, had to leave the room for a while, and so I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things that after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to.”

“But let me just first say that the description of Iraq as if some way or another that it’s a place that I might take the family for a vacation, things are going so well, those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying here’s the reality of the problem and people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.”

Note that she:

  • Is almost certainly mischaracterizing the general’s testimony — unless someone can find Iraq described by the general as a suitable family vacation destination (good luck).
  • Is afraid of positive news becoming known (this would appear to be a smoke signal to Old Media to ignore this testimony).
  • Is, in effect, calling an multi-star general a liar, even though he was likely under oath.
  • By walking out on a general’s testimony, is showing that SHE is more interested in keeping opinion on Iraq divided than getting at the truth.

But she supports the troops. (/sarcasm)

Let’s visit her campaign web site’s home page, shall we? Going to the last paragraph:

Now our challenge is to turn the promise of our campaign into action in Congress. Kansans cast their ballots on Election Day to end the era of one-party rule, so I am working every day in Washington to replace partisanship with leadership.

Nancy Boyda’s (possibly contrived?) hearing cut-and-run act was surely not an example of leadership.

From a Google cache of her “issues” page during her 2006 campaign (TEXT IS THERE — just click on “Foreign Policy” to see the text; backup stored here in case Ms. Boyda has Google cache scrubbed [July 28, 2008 - it was scrubbed]):

“Stay the course” is a political slogan, not a military strategy.

The administration must establish a responsible, realistic plan for dealing with the insurgency and a timeline during which the Iraqi citizens must establish a viable government for themselves.

So the administration has refined its plan, and a general comes in to explain how it’s going, in part to see if it meets Ms. Boyda’s “responsible, realistic” criteria. Apparently, Boyda’s definitions of “responsible” and “realistic” never encompassed “improving the situation in Iraq”; in fact, it seems that she can’t even handle the idea that the situation might be improving. Her expressed fears that good news might actually be reported would seem to betray a wish on her part that the mission fail, and her belief that good news testified to by a multi-star general, probably under oath, shouldn’t get out.

In light of her veiled plea to Old Media to ignore Keane’s testimony, will be interesting indeed to see how Old Media will play the testimony and Ms. Boyda’s snit fit, or whether it will bother to cover either.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

From the ‘No Surprise’ Department: GDP Growth Downplayed, Real Income Growth Ignored by the Nets’ Evening Newscasts

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:07 am

Expanding on Media Research Center’s July 30 CyberAlert and a similar post at NewsBusters (bold is mine):

Nets Barely Notice Surge in GDP as They Focus on Dow Plunge

The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Friday all devoted full stories to the fall in the stock market, touted as “the worst two-day point drop for the Dow in five years,” but barely had time for a sentence about the 3.4 percent second quarter jump in the GDP, the biggest in over a year. In fact, neither ABC nor NBC cited the specific 3.4 percent rise in the Gross Domestic Product, the measure which the AP on Friday described as the “best barometer of the country’s economic fitness.” Not one of the three evening newscasts mentioned how the Dow is still well above the 13,000 level it broke through in April and none noted fresh good news on inflation.

Not even reporting what second quarter GDP growth actually was (repeat: 3.4%) is flat-out negligence.

Also conveniently overlooked: As of Friday’s close (last year’s closing numbers are here), the Dow Jones Industrial Average, at 13265, was up 6.4%, or over 800 points, for the year thus far. The S&P was up a less impressive yet positive 3.3% (from 1418 to 1459), and the NASDAQ was up 6.1% (from 2415 to 2562).

Yet the nets want their ever-shrinking evening news audiences to believe that the sky is falling.

While the following should not be construed as investment advice by yours truly or anyone else at NB or MRC, it’s worth nothing that Don Luskin at Smart Money has plenty of reasons why the Chicken Littles are more than likely full of chicken ….. you know:

THE FINANCIAL MEDIA is so promiscuous in its use of negative language to describe the stock market when prices go down. Stocks “slid,” “plummeted” or even “collapsed.” You hear it all the time, even when nothing really happened.

So what words are left to describe a really big down day like Thursday? How about, “Stocks became a better bargain than ever!”
….. So don’t be afraid just because you see stocks slide, plummet or collapse. Not even if you see them get nuked, trash-compacted, reamed, steamed or dry-cleaned.

….. We’re talking about a disruption in the markets, not a disruption in the real world. Markets are amazingly adaptable, and they will adapt to this uncertainty and quickly transform it into certainty.

Stocks have dropped in response to heightened uncertainty, not actual deterioration of anything in the real world outside of markets themselves. When that uncertainty is resolved, stocks prices will quickly rise, because the real world will be, and has been all along, a very good place. Earnings are improving, jobs are plentiful and the economy — other than the small portion of it devoted to housing — is accelerating.

Speaking of the accelerating economy, this little non-template fitting sentence in the prior-year revisions section of the government’s GDP report also fell to the networks’ (and the rest of Old Media’s) cutting-room floor (bold is mine):

The average annual rate of growth of real disposable personal income for 2003-2006 was 2.8 percent, 0.3 percentage point more than in the previously published estimates.

That means real disposable income (i.e., after income taxes) is up over 11% in 4 years (2.8% times 4). That’s awfully good news, and further punctures the “stagnant incomes” meme. No sense in interrupting the gloom and doom with contrary reality, I suppose.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (073007)

This blog, RAB’s Matt Naugle, and former Lincoln Logs blogger Matt Dole were interviewed by Ryan Kelley of Campaigns & Elections. The result is here, and is well-done by Mr. Kelley.

I do want to elaborate on this quote of yours truly:

“I think both parties are really not in touch with what’s on the mind of the rank-and-file voters and rank-and-file non-voters.”

I specifically cited illegal immigration; it wasn’t directly germane to what Mr. Kelley was covering, so I don’t mind that he didn’t use my example. The average Democrat voter and left-leaning non-voter is NOT for open borders, which for all practical purposes is the position of the Congressional Democratic leadership. The average GOP voter and right-leaning non-voter wants the border secured first, and the guest-worker and other problems solved second; the president and too many squishy Republicans in Washington insist on a “comprehensive solution.” How about a “comprehensive” fence first?

I also take issue with Matt Dole’s contention — “I don’t think blogs are a persuasive tool.” A logical reaction would be, “OK, then why bother?” I think a few people were persuaded for the first time that CBS reporters are not heroic investigators, and that the network’s “60 Minutes” is an agenda-driven operation, when the phony Bush-National Guard documents were exposed. I also believe that at least a few people overcame a knee-jerk (and, it turns out, largely indefensible) dislike for incumbent Jean Schmidt, and were persuaded not to vote for her challenger in Ohio’s Second District GOP Congressional Primary last year, when that challenger’s residency, illegal voting, questionable lobbying, and the nature of those backing him were exposed.

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Someone should ask the ACLU why they didn’t help this aggrieved student:

Emily Brooker, a student in Missouri State’s (MSU) School of Social Work, had religious objections to an assignment made by professor Frank Kaufman. Little did she know how much trouble her objections would cause.

According to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which wound up helping Brooker, Kaufman told all his students to write a letter to the Missouri legislature expressing support for homosexual adoption, and for each individual student to sign his or her name to it. As an evangelical Christian, Brooker refused to do so, and the full weight of the school’s power fell on her. She was charged with violating three of the school’s “Standards of Essential Functioning” — diversity, interpersonal skills and professional behavior.

Furthermore, ADF said, Brooker was forced to undergo a two-and-a-half hour grilling from an “ethics” committee, which asked her questions pertaining to personally-held religious beliefs such as “Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners?”

Brooker’s treatment shows that this is not just a case of one out-of-control professor. From all appearances, this is an out-of-control university where academic freedom is a one-way street. There’s no need for radical private universities like going-defunct Antioch when taxpayer-subsidized schools like MSU imitate Antioch, at about half the price.

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Speaking of the AWOL ACLU, it should also have been front-and-center on this one:

Public school district reverses decision, guarantees student’s right to read Bible

Ann Arbor, Jul 24, 2007 / 10:30 am (CNA).- A public school district has given written assurance that a third-grade student is permitted to read his Bible in his classroom.

Elementary School District 159, located outside of Chicago, sent the written assurance after receiving a letter from the Thomas More Law Center. School officials had previously denied the third-grade student, Rhajheem Haymon, this right.

The law center, which is a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote the letter on behalf of the Haymon family.

Rhajheem’s father, Leslie Haymon, contacted the law center after being informed that school officials had denied his son the right to read his Bible during “reading time,” a time during the day when students may read a book of their choosing.

What possible defense was there for the school’s position?

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TVOH is R-I-G-H-T about this (underlying story is here):

U.S. District Judge James Munley, believes he can over ride the will of the people. He struck down as “unconstitutional” a local law (in Hazelton, PA — Ed.) designed to crack down on illegal immigration, dealing a blow to similar laws passed by dozens of towns and cities across the United States.

He wrote a 206 page opinion trying to prove his illegitimate point. I believe that this is ground (sic) for impeachment. Under the tenth amendment, any power not given to the Federal government by the states is reserved to the states and the people. The people passed a law that is not listed in the constitution, and a federal judge thinks he can override it. No he can not.

Being a judge doesn’t give you an unlimited right to make stuff up. When you do, you deserve impeachment.

Meanwhile, Clueless Chuckie Schumer saying that “We should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” reinvents advise and consent (HT Instapundit). Note that media commentary on “threats to judicial independence,” which would surely accompany any attempt to impeach Judge Munley for his objectively indefensible ruling, is notably lacking in regards to Schumer’s statement, which is as grave a threat to judicial independence as I’ve ever seen.

Positivity: Interplast’s ‘A Story of Healing’ Available Online

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

What Interplast is:

Who We Are:

Interplast — the first humanitarian organization to provide free reconstructive surgery for children with clefts, disabling burns and hand injuries — has provided 64,000 life-changing surgeries for those who have no other access to care. Working in underserved regions of 16 countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America, Interplast teaches, empowers and partners with volunteers and overseas medical professionals so every child living in poverty has free access to the safest and highest-quality care — now and in the future. Interplast is committed to transforming as many lives as possible, allocating 90 percent of its budget to medical programs.

Our Mission:

Interplast’s mission is to provide free reconstructive surgery for people in developing nations, and to help improve health care worldwide. The organization’s goals are to establish, develop and maintain host-country medical care and educational programs with the following objectives:

  • Provide direct patient care-reconstructive surgery and ancillary services to those with no other resources.
  • Provide educational training and medical interchange.
  • Assist host-country medical colleagues toward medical independence.

Their Academy Award-winning film is now available for free online:

In 1997, a Dewey-Obenchain film crew accompanied an Interplast volunteer surgical team to An Giang province in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The filmmakers donated their services to document the team’s experiences and produce “A Story of Healing,” which earned the 1997 Academy Award® for best documentary, short subject. The 28-minute film is followed by a short epilogue (after the credits) which follows-up on two patients 16 months after their surgeries.

Ten years later, Interplast is proud to announce that “A Story of Healing,” has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical-No Derivatives license (by-nc-nd) and is available for free online.

July 29, 2007

ACORN Vote-Registration Fraud in WA: Are There 2004 Ramifications?

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:12 pm

ACORN (The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has been busted again (video is available at the link; HT Michelle Malkin):

(AP) King County prosecutors filed felony charges Thursday against seven people in what a top official described as the worst case of voter-registration fraud in state history, while the organization they worked for agreed to keep a better eye on its employees and pay $25,000 to defray costs of the investigation.

The seven submitted about 1,800 registration cards last fall on behalf of the liberal Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which had hired them at $8 an hour to sign people up to vote, according to charging documents filed in Superior Court.

The video buys into the whitewash that only low-level employees were involved. The national track record of ACORN would indicate otherwise.

Other than the AP article excerpted, there has been almost no national coverage of this story. A New York Times search on “Washington ACORN” shows nothing recent. The same keyword search at the Washington Post? Only the AP story, with no indication that it made the Post’s print edition. This Google News search on the same keywords shows that the AP story received relatively little play, especially outside of Washington State.

Wait a minute ….. wasn’t the Evergreen State the site of a hotly contested gubernatorial election with serious allegations of vote fraud in 2004?

Indeed it was, and ACORN was, “oddly enough,” possibly involved. Brad Shannon of the Olympian, whose story is carried here in the Seattle Times, appears to be the only person even trying to connect some dots:

The BIAW (the Building Industry Association of Washington) has criticized the work of elections officials in King County, where most of the questioned voting took place in the 2004 gubernatorial race. Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire eventually edged out Republican Dino Rossi by 133 votes after two recounts and Rossi’s court challenge, which detailed allegations of vote fraud and improper voting by felons.

….. BIAW also is in court to seek documents from Pierce County related to the county’s elections office and ACORN registrations. Pierce elections officials and prosecutors did not return phone calls Friday.

McCabe said 300 registrations in the Pierce County case are from “the exact same address. It turns out to be a homeless shelter.” Residents are allowed to stay at the shelter for 30 days, and only one person voted from that address in 2004, which makes it unlikely so many would have registered there, McCabe said.

So did the other 299 phantoms simply not vote, or did a number of the 300 potential “voters” have their cards changed to new addresses, vote, and not get caught? That would appear to be a pretty important question, and may only scratch the surface of what extra-legal acts could have transpired to give Gregoire her victory margin.

Apparently, the private BIAW, doing work no prosecutor or, with rare exception, any media outlet is interested in, is the only entity that cares about these things.

That contrasts quite sharply with media treatment of the objectively less controversial (on the facts, not the Florida Supreme Court’s abuse of its powers) 2000 presidential vote in Florida.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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Previous Related Posts:
- Dec. 20, 2006 — PIRG, GCI, ACORN: When Does ‘Activist’ Mistreatment of Employees and Union-Busting Become a Reportable Trend?
- Nov. 10 — The National Investigation of ACORN Must Lead to High-Profile Scalps
- Nov. 2 — ACORN Nuttiness Goes Massively Criminal
- Oct. 9 — Nuts to ACORN
- Aug. 12 — Weekend Question 2: Does Anyone Think There Might Be a Party-Based Trend Here?

Quote of the Day: Ken Connor on the YouTube Debate

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:45 am

From his Sunday Townhall.com column:

George Washington. Abraham Lincoln. Franklin Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy. Ronald Reagan. Who among these men would answer, with a straight face, a question posed by a snowman?

Positivity: Catholic Scouts to celebrate 100th anniversary with Pope Benedict on August 1st

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:06 am

From Vatican City:

Vatican City, Jul 24, 2007 / 10:58 am (CNA).- On August 1st thousands of Catholic scouts and guides from all over Europe will mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first scout camp by meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

The first scout camp was created by Lord Baden-Powell (1857-1941), founder of the World Scout Movement, on Brownsea Island, United Kingdom.

In a Letter to mark the centenary of the Scout Movement, addressed to Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux and president of the Conference of Bishops of France, the Holy Father recalled the founder of Catholic Scouts, Fr. Jacques Sevin S.J. and gave thanks to God “for all the fruits which, over this century, the Scout Movement has brought.”

The Pope also encouraged Catholic scouts and guides to continue their journey, offering “young people today an education that forms strong personalities, rooted in Christ and desirous of living exalted ideals of faith and human solidarity.”

July 28, 2007

Dennis Kucinich Deserves a Primary Challenge, and Now He Has One

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:01 am

After his ridiculous history re-write of Iranian loon Ahmadinejad’s remarks about Israel, I was hoping for this, and Rosemary Palmer has delivered (Her blog is here; HT Pho):

I don’t agree with what she says towards the end of her bio, or most of what she says elsewhere. There’s little doubt that she is on the far, far left in most of her positions. But a little coherence attention to the needs of a deteriorating area would be a big improvement.

If you’re betting on an upset, double down if Ms. Palmer is prolife, and emphasizes it. Kucinich voted strongly prolife until he threw those positions overboard (a la the early 1990s Al Gore) when he made his first presidential “run” in 2004, and he “represents” what should still be a strongly prolife district.

Positivity: Teen Uses Bubble Wrap to Aid Amputees

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:35 am

From Nashville, TN, a six month-old story that shouldn’t be missed (HT Daily Good e-mail):

01-30-07 at 7:12AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Grayson Rosenberger often marveled at his parents’ work with prosthetic patients in Africa and wondered how he could contribute to their effort. The 15-year-old from Nashville finally found a way, and it was recognized Monday as the grand prize winner in Sealed Air Corp.’s inaugural Bubble Wrap Competition for Young Inventors.

Rosenberger used Bubble Wrap brand packing material to develop a cost-effective cosmetic skin covering for prosthetic limbs. Later this year, he plans to visit Ghana with his parents to fit some patients with his low-cost invention.

“I’m very honored and excited,” Rosenberger said by telephone Monday a few minutes before taping the “The Today Show.” “It gives me an opportunity to do something with my invention.”

Rosenberger was one of about 800 students who entered the contest challenging students in grades 5 through 8 to develop inventions that incorporate Bubble Wrap. Officials said judging was based on originality, creativity, usefulness, benefit to society, marketability and feasibility, as well as overall presentation.

Rosenberger was able to turn a basic artificial leg into a more realistic one using a heat gun to mold Bubble Wrap cushioning around the steel rod of a prosthetic limb to give it muscle-like tone and shape. He said his invention should benefit amputees in Africa who are viewed strangely because they have to “walk around with an open metal rod” as a leg.

“They’re looked at freakishly,” Rosenberger said. “I hope this will let them walk out their door and feel normal.”

Rosenberger’s invention costs a fraction of the $1,000 patients must pay for other prosthetic covers…..

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 27, 2007

Will the Vick Co-Defendant Plead-out Stop the Inane Duke Lacrosse Comparisons?

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:59 pm

The news:

Taylor to have plea agreement hearing on Monday
Posted: Friday July 27, 2007 9:02PM; Updated: Friday July 27, 2007 9:45PM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — One of Michael Vick‘s co-defendants doesn’t want to wait for trial.

Instead, a plea agreement hearing has been scheduled for Tony Taylor at 9 a.m. Monday in the federal dogfighting conspiracy case.

Taylor’s hearing was added to U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson’s docket Friday, a day after he and the other three defendants pleaded not guilty before the same judge. Vick and the others still are scheduled for trial Nov. 26.

Prosecutors claim Taylor, 34, found the Surry County property purchased by Vick and used it as the site of “Bad Newz Kennels,” a dogfighting enterprise. The Hampton man also allegedly helped purchase pit bulls and killed at least two dogs that fared poorly in test fights.

Perhaps Taylor’s impending plea will squelch the annoying Old Media comparisons of the Vick case to that of the innocent Duke lacrosse players wrongly indicted by Prosecutor Mike Nifong last year.

A week ago, in probably the most egregious example of Duke-Vick projection, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King appointed himself to be NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s translator:

The most telling 23 words regarding Michael Vick‘s immediate future as a football player came late in the NFL’s statement about the alleged heinous, dastardly and despicable acts that led to charges being filed against the former savior of the Atlanta Falcons.

Michael Vick’s guilt has not yet been proven, and we believe that all concerned should allow the legal process to determine the facts.

With that, rookie commissioner Roger Goodell sent a strong message: This is not going to be the Duke lacrosse case.

Does anyone besides Peter King and a few other race-obsessed reporters, opportunists, and attention-seekers think Roger Goodell had the Duke situation in mind when he made his statement?

Reacting to the Vick indictment on ESPN, Roger Cossack admonished “us” (he actually said “let’s not”) not to repeat the same mistakes as “we” did in the Duke case. If by “we,” Cossack meant the New York Times, many other Old Media outlets, the Duke administration, and 88 horrid faculty members who signed an inflammatory letter — all of whom in essence presumed guilt when the legal process had barely begun — he has a small point. If he was telling reporters and others to lay low until there is a final verdict, he was really calling for inappropriate, unwarranted, and unprecedented self-censorship.

Turner’s plea, if it indeed occurs on Monday, should break any hoped-for Vick-Duke parallels to bits. But I expect some will continue to play the tune, even though:

  • No one in the Duke case copped a plea.
  • Nifong, the now-disgraced Duke prosecutor, never had any objective evidence of substance (much of it was, to put it delicately, tainted); the Vick prosecutors have a mountain of physical evidence.
  • The Duke indictment was an exercise in prosecutorial fanstasy; the Vick indictment’s 18 pages laboriously recite alleged facts and events that will need to be refuted in their entirety.
  • The Duke case had holes you could drive a Mack Truck through, and the only question was whether one of the students would break, not because of guilt, but to stop the accompanying hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees from piling up. The Vick indictment has a sounder foundation, and it’s not unreasonable to predict that Michael Vick faces a difficult challenge trying to beat this rap.

All of which shows that there is no point in trying to draw parallels between the two situations. Other than the proceedings taking place in a courtroom, there are none.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

2nd Quarter GDP Growth Advance Estimate is 3.4%; That’s More Like It

From the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA; bold is mine):

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in the second quarter of 2007, according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.6 percent. (Note: BEA is incorrect about the final 1Q07 figure, which is 0.7%. — Ed.)

The Bureau emphasized that the second-quarter “advance” estimates are based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3). The second-quarter “preliminary” estimates, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on August 30, 2007.

As noted previously, given the continued expansions announced in all three months of the quarter in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing reports, along with steady employment growth, this acceptable GDP result seemed inevitable.

Of course, there are two more revisions to come — in August, as BEA notes, plus a final one in September.

As has been the case so often in the past five or so years, the report came in ahead of expectations, which were for 3.2%.

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UPDATE: Here’s BEA’s quick look at the detail –

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE) for services, exports, nonresidential structures, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

….. The real change in private inventories added 0.15 percentage point to the second-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 0.65 percentage point from the first-quarter change.

The first GDP report for the quarter isn’t showing the inventory bounceback I was thinking might take place, but inventory “surprises,” if they exist, normally don’t get picked up until the second or third release. I suspect/hope that you’ll see at least a couple of tenths on the upside from this factor when the August and September revisions are released. Of course, I thought the bounceback might occur in the first quarter, and it didn’t, so maybe it’s not coming at all — which begs the question of how in the world companies have managed to reduce inventories substantially and perhaps permanently.

UPDATE 2: I want to mention a couple of things about the prior-period revisions that accompanied the BEA’s report today.

First, GDP growth in 2004 (from 3.9% to 3.6%), 2005 (from 3.2% to 3.1%), and 2006 (from 3.3% to 2.9%) were all revised a bit downward. Though I don’t have the detail, I believe the trend in such after-the-fact revisions by BEA has been consistently downward for well over a decade.

Second, the other revisions that I bet won’t get much media play are to disposable income. The are in the UP direction, and of the same magnitude as the GDP decreases:

The average annual rate of growth of real disposable personal income for 2003-2006 was 2.8 percent, 0.3 percentage point more than in the previously published estimates.

UPDATE 3: Sure enough, The Associated Press’s initial coverage of today’s BEA release reports the GDP revisions and ignores the disposable income changes. Text that was clearly prepared in advance also harps on the President’s low polling on economic stewardship and a free commercial for the opposition –

Trying to capitalize on that, Democrats have accused the president of not doing enough to help close the gap between low- and high-wage workers.

AP obviously missed this mid-July BizzyBlog post — “The Meme That Won’t Die: Growing Income Inequality’.”