March 15, 2008

Obama Has Not Set Things Right about Wright — Hear Why on TIB Tonight

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:20 am

NewsBuckit has a post here (“Barack may not have heard Wright’s rants, but did he read them?”; HT Allah at Hot Air) about the writings of Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) Pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in one of TUCC’s weekly bulletins .

As you can probably imagine, what NewsBuckit has reported about Wright and the content of one of the church’s bulletins only scratches the surface of the objectionable rhetoric made available on a weekly basis to congregation members, including the presidential candidate I frequently refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama).

Tonight on TIB Radio, from “roughly” 7 p.m. until whenever (a commitment may delay the program’s opening), Matt “People Know Him” Hurley and Mark “The Whole D**n Show” Garbett of Weapons of Mass Discussion (WoMD), as well as yours truly, will share some of Rev. Wright’s, and his assistant’s, uh, unique perspectives with listeners — straight from other issues of the TUCC’s church bulletin.

At the conclusion of tonights’ festivities, you will surely be asking what NewsBuckit asked:

He (Obama) may never have heard Wright actually say the US was racist or some aspiring empire. But he never read it in his bulletin? Ever?

Other programming nuggets are surely in store for your listening pleasure. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

To tune in, go to the WoMD home page, and click on the animated TIB radio graphic that is not very far down on the right.

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UPDATE: Listen carefully to the ABC report in the video replay section about Wright, and you’ll hear the reporter say that the network reviewed “more than a dozen sermons, which are offered for sale by the church.” Say it loud — The Rev. Wright’s a raging racist and proud.

Who would bet against these tapes being present at the palatial, acquired-at-a-deep-discount (see Item 7 at link), perhaps with Oil-for-Food-Money Obama household — at least until a few days ago?

The ABC video also shows Obama characterizing the Rev. Wright as “not particularly controversial.” Would that be on the South Side of Chicago, or in the US of A?

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UPDATE 2, March 16: Here’s the New York Times, in an April 2007 article about Obama and Wright –

Services at Trinity were a weekly master class in how to move an audience. When Mr. Obama arrived at Harvard Law School later that year (1988), where he fortified himself with recordings of Mr. Wright’s sermons, he was delivering stirring speeches as a student leader in the classic oratorical style of the black church.

Who wants to bet against the content of those recorded 1980s sermons being meaningfully different from what we’ve been witness to over the past week?

UPDATE 2A, March 17 — Well, I didn’t think this deserved its own post. If I knew it would get an Instalanche, I’d have done it first. Here’s Perfunction’s post.

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UPDATE 3: Sweetness & Light has the statement Obama gave to HuffPo, and asks — “Does anyone believe this?”

With Mangled Economic Reporting Like This, No Wonder We’re So Gloomy

Note: This column was originally posted at Pajamas Media on Thursday under the title “Pass the Prozac to the Downbeat Media.”

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February’s Employment Situation Report, released last Friday by Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), had good news and bad news.

Good: The nation’s unemployment rate fell from 4.9% to 4.8%, the second consecutive 0.1% drop.

Bad: The number of jobs in the economy fell by 63,000 (105,000 including downward revisions to previous months).

You don’t have to be a genius to correctly guess which item the media’s “creative” headline writers and reporters ran with:

  • At the Toledo Blade (“Biggest workforce reduction in 5 years leaves 63,000 out of work; recession fears rise”), there was talk of a “shower of pink slips.”
  • Pink was also a popular color at South Jersey’s Courier Post (“Loss of jobs serious sign”), which told us that “Nationally, 63,000 workers received pink slips.”
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was not left behind in its headline (“Job loss frightens observers”), while moaning about “economic illness” and “our worst fears realized.”

Reporters writing of “pink slips” had no credible basis for their claim. Many workers could have, and probably did, leave their jobs voluntarily. If those jobs weren’t filled, there were no “pink slips.” But the erroneous imagery of heartless employers kicking the hapless help to the curb is powerful, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the state of the economy. But “frightened”? The unemployment rate went down, remember?

The biggest offender by far in last Friday’s reporting was the Associated Press. The AP not only created a “possible” meme with no basis out of whole cloth, but allowed future reports feeding off that meme to treat it as an established fact.

The original source of the meme was AP’s Jeannine Aversa, who, shortly after the BLS report’s release, started up the spin cycle (bold is mine):

Employers cut 63,000 jobs in February, the most in five years and the starkest sign yet that the country is heading dangerously toward recession or is in one already.

The Labor Department’s report, released Friday, also indicated that the nation’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people — perhaps discouraged by their prospects — left the civilian labor force. The jobless rate was 4.9 percent in January.

First, if she was going to deal with the “hundreds of thousands” who left the workforce in February (a seasonally adjusted 644,000), Aversa owed it to readers to say something about the seasonally adjusted 502,000 who entered the workforce in January. That nets out to only 142,000 over two months. But she didn’t.

Her “discouraged worker” explanation for the departures also doesn’t hold up. Here’s BLS’s statement relating to this:

Among the marginally attached, there were 396,000 discouraged workers in February, about the same as a year earlier.

Indeed, February 2007′s discouraged worker estimate was 375,000. And contrary to Aversa’s claim, there were actually 467,000 discouraged workers in January 2008 — 18% more than in February.

How could Aversa make her “discouraged worker” claim — even as a “perhaps” — with a straight face?

Aversa’s bogus speculation didn’t prevent AP colleague Sara Kugler from compounding her error less than 24 hours later.

Towards the end of her report from the Democratic Primary campaign trail, Kugler turned Aversa’s possibility into supposedly established reality (bold is mine):

(Hillary Clinton) told audiences in both states on Friday that the Labor Department’s report on Friday showing a loss of 63,000 jobs nationwide in February is an alarming sign of economic troubles.

“The economic policies of the Bush administration are failures. People are out of work, and the work they have doesn’t pay what it used to pay,” Clinton said in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Labor Department’s report also indicated that the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people gave up looking for jobs. The jobless rate was 4.9 percent in January.

That’s a pretty good trick AP pulled, isn’t it?

Despite the hoopla, February’s job losses are historically minor. Look it up yourself by selecting the first item at the top of the “seasonally adjusted” column at this link; there have been over 20 months in the past 20 years where reported job losses were 100,000 or more — and off of a smaller employment base.

The fixation on the job-loss number also obscures these additional good-news items from February:

  • The number of unemployed went down by 195,000 in February, after a reduction of 89,000 in December.
  • African-American unemployment dropped by 0.9%, from 9.2% to 8.3%.
  • Teenage unemployment dropped by 1.4%.

Awful reporting such as what I have just described has been a routine occurrence for many years. Is it any wonder that consumer confidence, dutifully reported by Ms. “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” Aversa, is at its lowest level since 2002? With the non-stop Old Media gloom about the economy, the wonder is that we have the strength to get out of bed every morning.

Positivity: WWII pilot repaid village that saved his life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

This is a long one, which is why I saved it for a weekend.

From New Guinea, and California (you really should read the blowaway ending of the story at the link):

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Japanese fighter caught the American pilot from behind, riddling his plane with machine-gun rounds. The left engine burst into flames. It was time to bail out.

He yanked on the release lever but the cockpit canopy only half-opened. He unbuckled his seat belt, rose to shake the canopy loose and was instantly sucked out.

Swinging beneath his opened parachute, he plunged toward a Pacific island jungle of thick, towering eucalyptus trees, of crocodile rivers and headhunters, into enemy territory, and into an unimagined future as a hero, “Suara Auru,” Chief Warrior, to generations of islanders yet unborn.

Fred Hargesheimer was shot down in the southwest Pacific on June 5, 1943. A lifetime later, he sits in his quiet California ranch house amid the snow and soaring sugar pines of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The light blue eyes, at age 91, can’t see as well as they once did. But when he looks back over 65 years, the smiling Minnesotan sees it all clearly – the struggle to survive, the native rescuers, the Japanese patrols and narrow escapes, the mother’s milk that saved him. He remembers well his return to New Britain, the people’s embrace, the fundraising and building, the children taught, the adults cured, the happy years beside the Bismarck Sea with Dorothy, his wife.

“I’m so grateful for getting shot out of the sky,” he says.

Garua Peni is grateful, too, as a member of those once-future generations here on New Britain.

“I thank God from the depths of my heart for blessing me in such an abundant way when He brought Suara Auru Fred Hargesheimer,” she says.

The improbable story of “Mastah Preddi,” a story of uncommon gratitude and the heart’s uncanny ways, begins when the 27-year-old Army lieutenant crashes to the tangled underbrush of the jungle floor.

Picking himself up, “Hargy” Hargesheimer found no broken bones, but felt a bloody gash on his head, the graze of a bullet or shrapnel. He cut off bits of nylon parachute for a bandage. Then he looked around.

He had been on a photo-reconnaissance mission from his base on the main island of New Guinea, tracking ship movements around Japanese-occupied New Britain, a primitive, 370-mile-long crescent of hot, dark, mist-shrouded forests fringed by smoldering volcanoes, 700 miles from northeastern Australia.

He came down halfway up the slopes of the 4,000-foot-high Nakanai mountains, in a wilderness of torrential rains, giant ferns, venomous insects and vicious wild pigs whose tusks could kill a man. Hargesheimer checked his survival kit, finding compass, machete, extra ammunition for his pistol, and two bars of concentrated chocolate, his only food.

First he set out southward, hoping to cross the mountains and reach New Britain’s south coast, and somehow from there the island of New Guinea, 300 miles across the Solomon Sea. Steep and muddy slopes defeated him, however, and he turned north instead, toward the Bismarck Sea. Remembering the small inflatable raft in his kit, he tried floating down a stream, but a huge crocodile reared up and sent him scrambling back ashore.

Day by day, he pushed agonizingly through the choking jungle, hoping for a trail or clearing. At night, he recalled, he’d lie beneath a parachute shelter, dreaming he was home in bed in Rochester, Minn.

After 10 days, as his chocolate dwindled, he came upon a riverside clearing and an empty native lean-to, and decided to settle in, start a fire with his emergency matches, and hunt for food. Snails he found in the riverbed became his staple for weeks to come, roasted by the dozen.

His daily existence in the jungle was miserable. Leeches clung to his skin. Flying insects sought out his eyes and nose. Losing weight and strength, out of matches and desperately keeping his fire going, he suffered through nightmares of dying alone in the jungle. From his youthful days as an Episcopalian lay reader, the lost pilot summoned words of hope.

“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want,” he told himself, over and over. From memory each day, he’d recite that 23rd Psalm to its comforting final verse, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. …”

And on the 31st day, he heard voices on the river. When they came to him, he cried. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.