April 30, 2008

AP Descends into Gloom over Growth of Second-Hand Goods Market

You have to wonder if the Associated Press felt the need to find an exceptionally gloomy story to write when it learned that the economy would probably show positive growth in the government’s first-quarter GDP report. That report was released earlier today — and came in at +0.6%.

If so, this article by the AP’s Anne D’Innocenzio (HT to a NewsBusters e-mailer) does the job:

The for-sale listings on the online hub Craigslist come with plaintive notices, like the one from the teenager in Georgia who said her mother lost her job and pleaded, “Please buy anything you can to help out.”

Or the seller in Milwaukee who wrote in one post of needing to pay bills — and put a diamond engagement ring up for bids to do it.

Struggling with mounting debt and rising prices, faced with the toughest economic times since the early 1990s, Americans are selling prized possessions online and at flea markets at alarming rates.

To meet higher gas, food and prescription drug bills, they are selling off grandmother’s dishes and their own belongings. Some of the household purging has been extremely painful — families forced to part with heirlooms.

Besides the engagement ring noted above, D’Innocenzio cited just one other heirloom: a $6 grandmother’s teakettle.

For that matter, the AP writer cited very few “prized possessions,” including:
- “pricey Dooney & Bourke handbags.”
- “Hermes leather jackets and Versace jeans and silk shirts.”

Far be it from me to debate the definition of “prized.”

I am not denying that people occasionally come onto hard times, nor am I denying that most who do deserve our sympathy and, where possible, charitable help. But one person cited in the article got into the difficulties she is in because her live-in boyfriend left her. Another couple is in a tough situation because the husband became disabled. Can these unfortunate events be traced, as D’innocenzio seems to claims, to horrible economic conditions in general?

D’Innocenzio also cites heavy sales of used “recreational vehicles like campers and trailers, cars and trucks, and boats” — items which she acknowledges are likely being unloaded because of how expensive it is to keep some of them fueled. But with gas prices where they are, this would likely be happening even if the economy were booming.

The question that D’Innocenzio does not answer is whether the explosive growth in the market for second-hand goods at sale and auction sites like Craigslist, AuctionPal.com, and others is a product of truly tougher-than-usual times, or instead a positive reflection of the benefits of Internet-driven economic efficiency. After all, about the only ways to sell “stuff” 20 years ago were to hold a yard sale and/or place expensive classified ads, meaning that a lot of “stuff” either never got sold, got sold at fire-sale prices, or was thrown away. People going through a difficult stretch are probably better able to get their hands on needed cash by selling “stuff” when they have to than at any other time in history. I would suggest that this is a good thing, and can, to an extent, soften the blows people take when their financial circumstances sour.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Hero Engineer Dives into Canal To Save 13-Month-Old Baby Girl Trapped in Overturned Car

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 9:04 am

From Barrow on Trent near Derby, UK:

Last updated at 01:52am on 26.04.08

A passer-by dived into an icy canal to rescue a baby trapped underwater in a car.

Pat Baker, 54, forced his way into the overturned vehicle which had been almost completely submerged for several minutes.

Although unable to see anything in the murky water he managed to free the 13-month-old girl from the straps on her child seat.
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1st Quarter 2008 GDP: +0.6%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:24 am

Well, here we are.

This is probably the most-anticipated GDP report that’s come along in the three-plus years I’ve been blogging.

Will it or won’t it be negative?

The consensus ahead of the report appears to be (of all things…) positive, though barely:

(A Reuters poll) said gross domestic product, the broadest measure of total economic activity within U.S. borders, likely crept ahead at a slim 0.2 percent annual rate in the first three months this year, down from 0.6 percent growth in the fourth quarter.

The 89 estimates ranged from shrinkage of 0.8 percent to growth of 1.5 percent.

This link at IB Times has an estimate of +0.4%.

The link to the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis report when published will be is here.

UPDATE, 8:32 A.M. — and the answer is …… is ….. 0.6%.

It looks like the media’s and the Democratic Party’s (excuse the redundancy) celebration of the recession’s beginning has been delayed for at least one quarter.

In yesterday’s post about record April federal tax collections, I theorized that those much higher than expected collections, coupled with reports that there have been inventory buildups, which are typically not picked up very well in the first of the three GDP reports, provide reasons to believe that the GDP revisions in May and June will be upward. We’ll see.

Don’t get me wrong; the report isn’t impressive, even if it ultimately gets revised upward a bit. But it appears that those salivating for a recession will just have a wait a quarter — and work even harder on breaking down consumer and business confidence in the meantime.

I will hopefully have more later — probably at another post.

_______________________________________

UPDATE: Never mind on that. Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters skewers the AP’s Jeannine Aversa (whom yours truly caught writing that “It’s no longer a question of recession or not. Now it’s how deep and how long” just four weeks ago), so I don’t have to.

Recap of Jeremiah Wright’s April 25-28 Appearances

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:10 am

NOTE: This post is a “peg” for those who need to catch up with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s speeches and interviews during this past weekend, and serves as background for this May 1 post (“Obama Bulletin Blowback: Wright’s Stated and Sanctioned Equations of US War Efforts with Terrorism Is Nothing New, and Has Been Frequent”).

The best way to evaluate what Obama said yesterday at his North Carolina press conference is to have a fairly thorough understanding of what preceded it, which is why this post is here.

___________________________________________

In his Sunday morning interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said this about the relevance of his 20-year pastor and “sounding board,” the Reverend Jeremiah Wright of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, to his campaign:

I think that people were legitimately offended by some of the comments that he had made in the past. The fact he’s my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue. So I understand that.

That statement conceded a point that Obama’s critics have been insisting remains the case almost seven weeks after ABC News’s March 13 airing of “Obama’s Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11.”

Obama’s concession that Wright and his church remain topical is all the more important because Obama has stated that he and his family will continue to attend TUCC, even though the church’s new pastor, Otis Moss III, has given no public indication that he intends to conduct church affairs differently.

The Controversy

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April 29, 2008

Supply-Side Stunner: April US Receipts on Track for Record

Those of us, including myself, who thought that the supply-side boom in federal receipts had totally played out, as well as those who are concerned about the condition of the economy, have received a surprising bit of good news this month.

Old Media, which doesn’t seem interested in looking for, let alone finding, good news, is not reporting a very interesting development. With two business days remaining in April, Uncle Sam’s Daily Treasury Statement shows that federal receipts from income and employment taxes, before refunds, are actually ahead of all of April 2007:

USreceiptsThru042808

(Prior-year links: April 30, 2007 Daily Treasury Statement; April 2007 Monthly Treasury Statement.)

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TILTPAT-BIDHAT4 (042908, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 9:44 am

“Things I‘d Like To Post About Today; But I Don’t Have Any Time ‘4‘”:

  • Clinton requests $2.3B in earmarks – three times largest amount ever by a Senator.
  • From Drudge: Katie Couric was down to a new record low 5.34 million viewers last week.
  • The Supremes’ ruling on Indiana’s voter ID law went the right way, and was long overdue. John Fund has more (“A Victory Over Voter Fraud”; HT Instapundit).
  • Obama talks about “provocative” Wright sermons — none on the truly “provocative” topics.
  • Arianna is a global warming globaloney hypocrite. And your point is, what, that we’re supposed to be surprised…?

Positivity: Resolute teen finds her own way to health

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:55 am

From Brookville, Ohio (videos are also at link):

Sunday, April 27, 2008

When Heather Grill Gruber was 17, her biggest fear was not waking up.

At 21, her biggest fear is the same as any other person her age. “I’m scared that I won’t make anything out of my life,” she says.

That’s the difference weight-loss surgery — and 280 lost pounds — can make. Even her fears have become ordinary.

Lounging on the couch listening to music was once her favorite activity; now it’s taking long walks in the park with her husband of five months, Sanford Gruber.

“It’s a Cinderella story,” said her aunt, Danetta Brubaker of Brookville. “On her wedding day I was just ecstatic she was still with us. It was a miracle day.”

At times the wedding resembled something out of a TV sitcom. The justice of the peace, Brookville Mayor David Seagraves, kept getting lost on the way to the Memories banquet hall in Huber Heights, calling every few minutes for fresh directions.

A button came loose on the lace jacket of Heather’s wedding dress, with the bride calling out, “Does anybody have a safety pin?”

But nothing ruffled her deep-seated happiness as she prepared to marry Gruber, the man she met at the home of a mutual friend in July 2006.

“I’m wearing a fairy-tale dress and I’m about to marry the man of my dreams,” she declared. “So nothing else matters.”

Brubaker calls her niece “an old soul” whose long experience as a social outcast has made her more sensitive to the needs of others.

“People are apt to read a book by its cover,” said Heather. “When you’re obese most people won’t take the time to get to know you. But my real friends know I’m a good person and a great listener. I’m not a slob; I’m actually a neat freak. When I get mad, I do the dishes.”

She is saving money to have the excess skin from her rapid weight loss surgically removed. She could lose an additional eight to 20 pounds from that procedure. Her weight loss has slowed considerably, but her bariatric surgeon, Dr. John Maguire, remains optimistic about her progress. “She is maintaining well,” said Maguire, who now practices with Premier Bariatric Associates at Miami Valley Hospital. “When patients have kept the weight off for several years after the surgery, they tend to keep it off.”

Kim Hedgcorth, Maguire’s assistant, notes that Heather’s maturity enabled her to do better with the dating scene than many bariatric patients: “Sometimes they don’t know how to date and they pick the wrong people. But Heather did a great job. She and Sanford are so dear together.”

They were married on Nov. 9, 2007. At the wedding, Maguire almost couldn’t believe he was watching the same person he met as a 535-pound teenager.

She has shed 280 pounds, the equivalent of “a very big linebacker,” Maguire said.

“Her life was very limited,” he recalled.

It didn’t look limited at the wedding. One minute she was dancing with friends to “Another One Bites the Dust,” and the next she was touting the sugar-free wedding cake her groom had just smashed into her face. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 28, 2008

Newspapers’ Slides (Mostly) Continue

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 5:07 pm

I’m (still) buried in a longer-term assignment for Pajamas Media, but wanted to come up for air long enough to point to these three Editor & Publisher articles today:

- “Steep Decline at ‘NYT’ While ‘WSJ’ Gains ” — overall dips in circulation during the year ended March 31, 2008 for the top 25 newspapers in the USA were 3.5% for weekdays and 4.5% for Sunday.
- Weekday detail.
- Sunday detail.

Rush today, as he has in the past, called the Drive-by Media (his term) the only industry in which a customer who doesn’t like the product is routinely told there is something wrong with him or her.

Hopefully, I’ll have more to say and show on this in the coming day or two.

Column of the Day: Steyn on Biofuel Madness

As usual, read the whole thing (bolds are mine; internal link added by me):

The biofuels debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death. On April 15, the Independent, the impeccably progressive British newspaper, editorialized:

“The production of biofuel is devastating huge swaths of the world’s environment. So why on Earth is the government forcing us to use more of it?”

You want the short answer? Because the government made the mistake of listening to fellows like you. Here’s the self-same Independent in November 2005:

“At last, some refreshing signs of intelligent thinking on climate change are coming out of Whitehall. The Environment minister, Elliot Morley, reveals today in an interview with this newspaper that the Government is drawing up plans to impose a ‘biofuel obligation’ on oil companies … . This has the potential to be the biggest green innovation in the British petrol market since the introduction of unleaded petrol.”

Etc. It’s not the environmental movement’s chickenfeedhawks who’ll have to reap what they demand must be sown, but we should be in no doubt about where to place the blame – on the bullying activists and their media cheerleaders and weather-vane politicians who insist that the “science” is “settled” and that those who question whether there’s any crisis are (in the designation of the strikingly nonemaciated Al Gore) “denialists.”

….. Whether there’s very slight global cooling or very slight global warming, there’s no need for a “war” on either, no rationale for loosing a plague of eco-locusts on the food supply. So why be surprised that totalitarian solutions to mythical problems wind up causing real devastation? As for Time’s (infamous Iwo Jima) tree, by all means put it up: It helps block out the view of starving peasants on the far horizon.

Never forget this:

On Aug. 4, 1994, Al Gore cast the crucial vote which set the United States on the road to taking food out of the mouths of millions, by using food for fuel.

….. Four years after the vote, Gore was still boasting about his central role in perpetrating the ethanol craze.

The inconvenient truth is that a fake crisis may be leading to a really serious one.

Couldn’t Help But Comment (042808, Morning)

The repeated flubs by the candidate I irreverently refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) on the effects of the capital gains tax consistently ignore the fact that when it has been lowered, tax revenues have increased. One specific is that the 1997 cut that gave rise to almost three years of very good economic growth caused tax collections to explode, but more importantly, was a huge factor in venture capital increasing by a factor of 7:

In 1995, the first year for which these data are available, just over $8 billion in venture capital was invested. Venture capital is especially critical to a vibrant economy because high-risk/high-return investment permits promising new businesses to blossom, rapidly spreading new technologies and new ideas into the marketplace and across the economy. Such investments, when successful, generate returns to investors that are subject primarily to the tax on capital gains. By 1998, the first full year in which the lower capital gains rates were in effect, venture capital activity reached almost $28 billion, more than a three-fold increase over 1995 levels, and by 1999, it had doubled yet again.

($28 billion x 2 = $56 billion, which is seven times greater than 1995′s $8 billion. — Ed.)

The explosion in venture capital activity cannot be credited entirely to the cut in capital gains tax rates, as the cut fortuitously coincided with technological developments that gave rise to the Internet-based “New Economy.” However, the rapid development and application of these new technologies could not have occurred at such a rapid clip absent the enormous investment flows made possible largely by the reduction in the capital gains tax rate.

Obama either doesn’t get that, or believes it’s less important than an abstract concept of “fairness” — economic growth be damned.

Update: Obama is now saying — “I’m mindful that we’ve got to keep our capital gains tax to a point where we can actually get more revenue.” There’s one way that happens, pal — LOWER it.

___________________________________________

John Stossel, in the Orange County Register (bold is mine):

And are we really experiencing a mortgage-default “crisis”? No. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s 2007 fourth-quarter survey reports that foreclosures came to 2.04 percent of all mortgages. Many of those were speculators seeking flip profits rather than homeowners losing a dream house. During the quarter, 0.83 percent of homes entered the foreclosure process. It may get worse – in March, “foreclosure filings, default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions rose 5 percent,” Reuters reports. But let’s keep things in perspective: Ninety-eight percent of borrowers are not in foreclosure. Only a small percentage of them are even late in payments.

Politicians love a “crisis.” John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all think that the government should bail out homeowners who can’t pay their mortgages. When they say the government should do this, they mean the taxpayers, including those who are paying their mortgages. They also think the government should regulate the lending and investment industries further.

Why?

Because “crisis” justifies making big government bigger.

“The taxpayers” also including those who are paying rent.

_____________________________________________

The presidential candidate I irreverently refer to “JS3M3″ (John Sidney the Mad Maverick McCain III) has not been pleasing the people who are supposed to be his base lately. That would be conservatives, not Old Media.

But he got this right:

The GOP nominee-in-waiting rapped his Democratic rival for opposing his idea to suspend the tax on fuel during the summer. …..

“I noticed again today that Sen. Obama repeated his opposition to giving low-income Americans a tax break, a little bit of relief so they can travel a little further and a little longer, and maybe have a little bit of money left over to enjoy some other things in their lives,” McCain said. “Obviously Sen. Obama does not understand that this would be a nice thing for Americans, and the special interests should not be dictating this policy.”

Most spending on gas is a fixed cost, at least in the short run. The people who would benefit most from a summer bas-tax holiday would be those for whom gas is a higher pecentage of their total spending.

Positivity: Samoan baby, a miracle survivor receiving treatment in South Florida

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:42 am

From Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

April 20, 2008

Severely disfigured from birth defects, “Baby Miracle” was given 24 hours to live.

Now 8 months old, Miracletina Julie Nanai gurgles and guzzles like any ordinary infant. She nestles in her parents’ arms, squirms in the bath and cries for milk.

But unlike most newborns, she is a minor celebrity — a Samoan native whose parents’ drive to help her survive has inspired several Web sites championing her cause and an outpouring of support. To that end, dozens of people turned out at for a festive luau on Saturday to raise money for her medical treatment.

The gathering at Snyder Park was sponsored in part by the Council of Chiefs from Samoa, a Fort Lauderdale-based organization comprising about 50 Samoan clan chiefs across the state. Organizers hoped to raise about $150,000 to help pay for several surgeries she underwent last month at Miami Children’s Hospital and her ongoing treatment.

Aside from the money being raised, two surgeons at the hospital donated their time, and hospital officials agreed to cover about $125,000 for some of her medical bills, said Caroline Paul-Ah chong, a Samoan-based co-founder of Thorn Ministries Inc., a charitable relief organization in Riverview that arranged the baby’s medical treatment.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity and the outpouring of love that has been given to my baby,” said the baby’s mother, Sefulu Nanai, 28, through an interpreter Saturday. “The hope is that we’ve achieved what we came here for. We hope this will prolong her quality of life.”

Indeed, the baby may live a “long, long” time, said S. Anthony Wolfe, chief of plastic surgery at Miami Children’s Hospital, who teamed up last month with John Ragheb, chief of pediatric neurosurgery, to reconstruct the baby’s cleft lip, nostrils and a plum-sized defect on her spinal cord related to spina bifida, a birth defect.

The corrective surgeries allow the baby eat and breath more easily, Wolfe noted.

From the beginning, those have been her primary challenges.

Doctors initially didn’t feed her as a newborn, Paul-Ah chong said, thinking her deformed mouth made it all but impossible. After four days in an incubator, her father, Mikaele Nanai, secretly fed her formula with a syringe. She thrived. So much so that doctors eventually sent the couple home with their baby. She soon earned the nickname “Baby Miracle” from the local media who chronicled her struggle. Her parents then changed her name to Miracletina Julie Nanai.

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 27, 2008

AP: States Having Budget Problems, Therefore They’re In Recession

Many in the press seem to have difficulty distinguishing between the economy as a whole and individual governments’ fiscal situations. Because of that, they seem to be believe that if a state government is having difficulty balancing its budget, there must be a recession in the whole state’s economy.

That’s what you would think if you read Andrew Welsh-Huggins’s Associated Press report on Friday morning:

Many states appear to be in recession

The finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that’s true for the nation as a whole, a survey of all 50 state fiscal directors concludes.

The situation looks even worse for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in most states.

“Whether or not the national economy is in recession – a subject of ongoing debate – is almost beside the point for some states,” said the report to be released Friday by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

….. The situation is grim in Delaware, with a $69 million gap this year, and bleak in California, with a projected $16 billion budget shortfall over the next two years, the report said. Florida does not expect a rapid turnaround in revenue because of the prolonged real estate slump there.

Mr. Huggins needs to learn that economies have recessions; individual state governments don’t.

Jim Taranto at the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web also noted the weakness in Welsh-Huggins’s piece:

When a state’s budget falls short, that means two things: (1) Legislators are spending too much. (2) Tax revenues are less than expected. To infer a recession from a budget shortfall is to ignore the first part of the equation and, quite possibly, to exaggerate the second. Recession, after all, consists of two quarters of negative economic growth; and growth can still be positive while falling short of budgetary projections. The AP, as usual, is jumping the gun on declaring a recession.

Many states have been overspending like crazy for years, as if the economic expansion that media outlets like AP seem to deny ever took place was going to go on forever. Of course, they never do.

The word “spending,” associated with governments spending less, doesn’t appear until the first of the three bullet points in the final paragraph of Welsh-Huggins’s report.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Text of Pope Benedict’s April 20 Homily at Yankee Stadium

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:58 am

From New York, on April 20:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus tells his Apostles to put their faith in him, for he is “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth which gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly Kingdom. Let us take the Lord at his word! Let us renew our faith in him and put all our hope in his promises!

With this encouragement to persevere in the faith of Peter (cf. Lk 22:32; Mt 16:17), I greet all of you with great affection. I thank Cardinal Egan for his cordial words of welcome in your name. At this Mass, the Church in the United States celebrates the two hundredth anniversary of the creation of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville from the mother See of Baltimore. The presence around this altar of the Successor of Peter, his brother bishops and priests, and deacons, men and women religious, and lay faithful from throughout the fifty states of the Union, eloquently manifests our communion in the Catholic faith which comes to us from the Apostles.

Our celebration today is also a sign of the impressive growth which God has given to the Church in your country in the past two hundred years. From a small flock like that described in the first reading, the Church in America has been built up in fidelity to the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. In this land of freedom and opportunity, the Church has united a widely diverse flock in the profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of American society as a whole.

This great accomplishment was not without its challenges. Today’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks of linguistic and cultural tensions already present within the earliest Church community. At the same time, it shows the power of the word of God, authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human limitations and weakness. Here we are reminded of a fundamental truth: that the Church’s unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programs, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God’s indefectible gift to his Church.

The first reading also makes clear, as we see from the imposition of hands on the first deacons, that the Church’s unity is “apostolic”. It is a visible unity, grounded in the Apostles whom Christ chose and appointed as witnesses to his resurrection, and it is born of what the Scriptures call “the obedience of faith” (Rom 1:5; cf. Acts 6:7).

“Authority” … “obedience”. To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays. Words like these represent a “stumbling stone” for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ – “the way and the truth and the life” – we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. “In his will is our peace”.

Real freedom, then, is God’s gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32). And this freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing reality. When we put on “the mind of Christ” (cf. Phil 2:5), new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world. We become the light of the world, the salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14), entrusted with the “apostolate” of making our own lives, and the world in which we live, conform ever more fully to God’s saving plan.
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April 26, 2008

TILTPAT-BIDHAT4 (042608, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 9:03 am

Things I‘d Like To Post About Today; But I Don’t Have Any Time “4″:

  • Can’t make this stuff up, from Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters yesterday — “Harrison Ford Gets Chest Waxed to Promote Environmentalism.”
  • Long overdue, from Captain Ed at Hot Air yesterday — “Planned Parenthood protest in DC: Stop targeting African-Americans.”
  • Yikes — This guy, who wrote this blindly partisan, MoveOn mentality riff ripping John McCain for supposedly “tolerat(ing) attacks” that are “Swifboating” Barack Obama (uh-huh — ask the NC GOP) used to be in charge of the Federal Communications Commission. This is a (mostly) free country, Mr. Hundt. Are we ever lucky Mr. Hundt didn’t do even more damage than he did while he was at the FCC. The presidential candidate I irreverently refer to as “JS3M3″ (John Sidney the Mad Maverick McCain III) is not a dictator. When will you ask the candidate I irreverently refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) to stop the attacks on McCain by Howard Dean? (HT Rightwing Nuthouse)
  • At the Wall Street Journal today — “Property Tax Revolt.” Money quote: “So (Arizona’s) Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano has devised a clever way to revive the housing market: Raise property taxes.”
  • Also at the WSJ — “(British Prime Minister Gordon) Brown Takes From the Poor.” Government spending in the UK as a percentage of GDP has zoomed from 37% to 42% in 8 years. Most of it occurred on Tony Blair’s watch, but Brown was the UK’s equivalent of Treasury Secretary during that time.
  • At LGF — “Hatem El-Hady, former chairman of the Toledo-based Islamic charity Kindhearts (closed by the US government in 2006 for terrorist fundraising),” is was a “friend” of Michelle Obama’s, and has used to have a web page at the official Obama web site.
  • Sean Murphy of the Associated Press interviewed me briefly yesterday about the national trend-bucking decline in Oklahoma’s unemployment rate. I don’t mind that I’m not mentioned in his (unbylined) report (though there may be a longer version I haven’t seen yet); I’m just pleased that the possibility that the state’s enforcement-based immigration reform law might be a factor in the improvement has at least been mentioned. Economists Murphy apparently spoke to say that the “booming energy industry” is a more important factor. You can go to the bottom table here (Table 6) and decide for yourself (the energy industry is part of “Natural Resources and mining”). Whether Murphy’s report actually gets carried in the Sooner State’s major newspapers is also another matter.

Positivity: Sabden woman’s hailed a hero after sea rescue

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:40 am

From Sabden in Lancashire, England:

7:23pm Thursday 17th April 2008

A TEENAGER with ME who overcame her condition to save a young boy from drowning off the Cumbrian coast has been hailed a national hero.

Juliet Tanti, then 18, of Simonstone Road, Sabden, was on holiday in Ravenglass in the Lake District, when she saw seven-year-old Daniel Whitehead swept away by a tidal current.

Despite not having swum for years because of an illness that at times leaves her bedridden, Juliet dived fully clothed into the water to reach the boy and bring him to safety.

She has now been voted Local Hero of the Year 2007 by Reader’s Digest readers.

Daniel was on holiday with his mother, Kate Whitehead, her partner Alan McKenna, his brother and the son of a family friend when Mr McKenna and the boys got into trouble.

Mrs Whitehead said: “What Juliet did was fantastic.

“I was convinced I was watching my son die. Daniel wouldn’t be here today without her.”

For over eight years 20-year-old Juliet has battled against ME (myalgic encephalopathy), a debilitating and little-understood disease characterized by chronic flu-like symptoms, acute fatigue and at times severe pain.

Even the most routine physical activity leaves her confined to her bed for weeks, causing her to miss years of school.

Juliet and friend Kaite Mottram, were on holiday at her grandparents’ home, and had been taking a short lunchtime stroll by the estuary when they heard children screaming.

A man and three small boys were struggling in the rising tide. The girls watched in horror as Daniel, from Preston, was prised from the man’s grasp by the waves.

Julie knew the dangers of the tide, which is funnelled down a narrow sandbar to form a large wave that pounds the estuary, rising by up to 10 feet in a few hours.

As Kaite ran to get help, she acted instinctively, diving into the water to reach Daniel. Struggling against strong currents, she managed to pull him back to the shore.

The rescue took its toll on Juliet. She suffered a severe relapse and did not regain her previous strength for several months.

Wendy Holloway, from the Association of Young People with ME, told Reader’s Digest: “What she did was far beyond anything she could normally manage. She saved a life, but at the expense of her own health.”

The rescue was in August, 2006, and details were published in the magazine in September, 2007.

Nearly two years on, Daniel still has nightmares about the incident and knows he is lucky to be alive.

The family remain in touch with Juliet and they exchange Christmas presents every year. …..

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