March 30, 2008

Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, RIP

Filed under: US & Allied Military — Tom @ 11:10 pm

From ABC News (original HT to a caller; blog coverage first noted at Porkopolis):

The father of a soldier listed as missing-captured in Iraq since 2004 said Sunday that the military had informed him that his son’s remains were found in Iraq.

Keith Maupin said at a news conference in suburban Cincinnati that an Army general told him DNA testing had identified the remains of his son, Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, or “Matt” as he was commonly known.

There’s much more coverage at the Cincinnati Enquirer, which updated with this news a short time ago:

Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin’s mother took a call from President Bush tonight extending his condolences after the Army identified the missing soldier’s remains in Iraq.

Bush has met several times with the Maupins during the past four years and pledged to them that everything would be done to find out what had happened to their son after he was captured by insurgents on April 9, 2004.

Carolyn Maupin took the President’s call on a cell phone at 9:45 p.m. behind the Yellow Ribbon Support Center in Batavia.

Carolyn Maupin’s friend, June Izzi Bailey, said she was told the White House had just found out about the DNA match and called the family as quickly as possible.

Comments from around the SOB Alliance and elsewhere (to be updated as more appear):

  • Porkopolis, who kept up with developments better than anyone else in the Alliance — “Matt Maupin is no longer with us, but his patriotism and love of his country lives on.”
  • Taxman Blog — “May God bless his soul.”
  • Michelle Malkin — “Keep the Maupin family in your thoughts and prayers tonight ….. Let’s hope our troops find the animals who murdered Maupin and deliver justice.”
  • LW at Blackfive — “May his family know peace from having him home, and may the light shine on them all the days to come.”
  • Bill Keane — “Please pray that his parents have some measure of comfort going forward.”
  • Others — Ben Keeler, Brian at One Oar.
  • (March 31) Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion — “The great sorrow that I feel for the Maupin family is tempered only by the relief in knowing that, like the Maupin family themselves have stated, the enemy can no longer harm him. I am also experiencing a renewed seething anger at our enemy.”
  • (March 31) Excelsior’s comment at NixGuy’s place — “May God bless the Maupin family with peace and strength. And may God bless the United States of America, and give us the fortitude and determination to defeat the Islamist thugs and murderers in Iraq, in Afghanistan and wherever around the world we may find them.”

______________________________

UPDATE: I held off commenting until I learned that Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Reds would do the right thing and dedicate portions of Opening Day events to the Matt Maupin and his family. They will, and how fitting it is. It’s a great way for the Greater Cincinnati community to come together and honor their fallen hero. Rest in peace, sir.

WV Paper’s Report on Food Stamps: Closer To the Truth than Most of Old Media

In a Wednesday story on food stamp program participation in West Virginia that is still being linked at Drudge this evening, Charleston Daily Mail writer Justin D. Anderson fell into the same trap reporters have been falling into for nearly a year, but later largely made up for it by acknowledging that the program is a supplement, and is not designed, or intended, to pay for all of its beneficiaries’ food costs.

Here are paragraphs 1, 5, and 6 of Anderson’s report:

About one in every six West Virginians gets food stamps, the highest level of participation in at least 30 years.

….. A total of 122,877 of the state’s estimated 743,064 households currently receive food stamps. That’s up from 105,365 households in 2003.

But while the number of people on the program has jumped sharply, the federal government has raised the average per-person monthly benefits over that time by just $12 to $85.

The last excerpted sentence clearly demonstrates that Anderson either does not have a sufficient grasp of how the Food Stamp program works, or wasn’t interested in accurately communicating it.

The federal government does NOT raise “average per-person monthly benefits,” as Anderson claims. It DOES raise what it refers to as the Maximum Monthly Allotment (MMA) once a year, effective October 1. The MMA is the benefit a Food Stamp beneficiary with no income or resources of their own will receive. Here is what has happened to the Maximum Monthly Allotment since October 1, 2003:

FoodStampMMA2003and2007

(October 1, 2003 source is here. October 1, 2007 source is here.)

As has been described before in many posts, beneficiaries are expected to spend money on food out of their own income and assets, based on an analysis of each person’s or family’s situation. To the extent that the formulas determine that income and assets should be available, the MMA is reduced. This USDA web site link describes the process in more detail.

In West Virginia, the effect of the formula-based reductions has been to reduce the average benefit disbursed to a Food Stamp beneficiary in 2003 and 2007 to $73 and $85, respectively.

As I’ve noted several times previously (last example here: NewsBusters; BizzyBlog), if there is something wrong with the Food Stamp income/resources formulas, those who wish to reform the program have yet to specify what it is.

But give Anderson significant credit for noting something later in his report that those what have spent the last year organizing “Food Stamp Challenge” publicity stunts, and most reporters covering them, have rarely acknowledged:

The food stamp benefit is based on income and the number of people in a household, (Sarah) Young (of the Department of Health and Human Resources) said. Monthly benefits range from a minimum of $10 to $1,219 for a 10-person household with little to no income.

Young said the benefit was always meant to supplemental (sic) a family’s income, not to totally cover a month’s worth of groceries.

Anderson did a better job of noting the supplemental intent and design of the program than his supposedly more esteemed colleagues at papers like the New York Times (link requires free registration) and the Washington Post have done. I would like to have seen the point emphasized sooner, but in the context of the horrid coverage I have seen elsewhere, my complaint is a relative quibble.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Hot Air’s Morrissey Shows Negative Media Basra Narrative Is False

It is so easy to get sucked in by context-free negativity, isn’t it?

If you looked at the home page of the New York Times a couple of hours ago, these items you would have among those seen in the (appropriately) far-left column:

  • In This Shiite Battle, a Marked Shift From the Past (article link)
  • Shiite Militias Cling to Swaths of Basra and Stage Raids (article link)

Top-of-hour network radio reports in the past few days, including Fox’s, have also “successfully” left the impression that there has been serious decay in the Iraq situation. Who could blame the average person reader/listener for believing that?

As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey noted earlier this morning, not so fast. In fact, not at all:

Remind me again — who’s losing in Basra?

When the Iraqi government finally took the long-expected action to establish control of Basra after the British pullback left it in the hands of militias and gangsters, suddenly the media declared that the country had reached the brink of collapse. They highlighted stories of defections from the Iraqi military and opined that the surge had failed. Moqtada al-Sadr would finally achieve his goal of controlling the South and would expose the Baghdad government as a house of cards.

Guess which side just sued for peace?

Follow Morrissey’s link, and you’ll see that Old Media is still keeping hope (for defeat) alive in its headlines:

Al-Sadr offers to pull fighters off Iraq’s streets
Shiite cleric demands halt to raids against followers, freedom for prisoners

BAGHDAD – Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr offered Sunday to pull his fighters off the streets of Basra and other cities if the government halts raids against his followers and releases prisoners held without charge.

Morrissey gives the context that Old Media simply won’t:

Anyone who follows the news closely in Iraq knew this day would come. The British left a power vacuum behind in the south that the Baghdad government could not fill at the time, and Sadr and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Badr Brigades filled it instead. ….. The Iraqi government had no choice but to challenge the militias for control of Basra and the surrounding areas, but they waited until the Iraqi Army had enough strength to succeed.

Did our media give anyone this context? No. They reported it as some kind of spontaneous eruption of rebellion without noting at all that a nation can hardly be considered sovereign while its own security forces cannot enter a large swath of its own territory. And in the usual defeatist tone, they reported that our mission in Iraq had failed without waiting to see what the outcome of the battle would be.

(What Sadr is doing) isn’t the action of a victor. Perhaps our media would like to explain that in the context of their clueless reporting so far.

Heaven knows where we would be without bloggers like Morrissey, who is a most welcome addition at Hot Air.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Even in death, couple never parted

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From the western suburbs of Cincinnati:

Charles and Erlene Wurster knew how to build a great house, but they were better at building a marriage.

The Bridgetown couple did almost everything together.

They founded a construction company that built more than 500 houses. They traveled the world and donated to charity. They raised three children and instilled a sense of devotion so strong that the kids never moved more than five minutes from home.

“They were always so close,” said their son, Bob Wurster. “In the last couple years, they even talked about dying together.”

In the end, they would do that, too.

Charles, 82, and Erlene, 81, fell ill and died this month in a span of 15 days. Charles died after a stroke on March 11 and Erlene followed Wednesday, a few days after heart surgery.

Charles “Butch” Wurster Jr., the couple’s eldest son, said his mom suffered heart failure moments after learning his father had died. If she had not been in a hospital, he said, his mom and dad would have died almost at the same time.

No one in this tight-knit West Side family is the least bit surprised. The couple had been inseparable from each other – and from the rest of their family – for more than six decades.

“They did every single thing together,” Charles Jr. said. “They wanted to die together.”

Their long devotion began as teenagers in Cincinnati. Charles was driving a cab and Erlene, who was working at a White Castle restaurant, flagged him down for a ride home.

When she complained about the fare, Charles told her she could pay whatever she liked if she let him pick her up again the next day. They were married a year later.

Charles worked for an aluminum manufacturing company for years, but dabbled in home building. His side job became a full-time business in the 1960s when his employer wanted to transfer him to Arizona.

He turned down the job after his kids told him they didn’t want to move.

“He didn’t know if he could make it, but he did it for the family,” said Charles Jr. “They were always thinking family.”

Wurster Builders was a mom-and-pop operation in every way. Charles oversaw the construction projects and did masonry work, while Erlene hung plaster board and kept the books.

The company became one of the most successful in Western Hills, building more than 500 homes, 1,000 apartments and commercial developments such as Charlestown Square, the Good Samaritan Medical Building and T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants.

“They built their business totally together,” Charles Jr. said.

They built their family the same way, and it rubbed off on their children. Charles Jr., Bob and their sister, Sharlene Mohr, all live within five minutes of their parents’ home.

They all gathered for breakfast there at 8:30 every morning for the past 15 years.

Charles and Erlene also hosted Sunday dinners, a big spread at Christmas and summer swim parties for their seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, all of whom live within 15 minutes of their place.

A few years ago, one of the grandkids briefly considered moving to the West Chester area, but decided that would be too far from home.

“It’s funny,” Charles Jr. said. “Our family is just that way.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.