February 27, 2011

Name That Party: AP Stops Tagging ‘Centrist’ Wu As a Dem

namethatpartyOregon residents and news followers nationwide can be forgiven for shaking their heads over the Associated Press’s latest item on the misadventures of Congressman David Wu. All of a sudden he’s apparently not a Democrat — well, at least he’s not identified as such by the wire service’s Jonathan J. Cooper.

Wu has gained a degree of infamy over his erratic behavior (to be described shortly for those unfamiliar with the story) leading up to his reelection in 2010.

What’s odd about Cooper’s failure to tag Wu as a Democrat in his latest report is that he and the AP have done so in several previous dispatches:

  • A February 19 unbylined report (“Report: Congressman urged to get psychiatric help”) identified Wu as a Democrat in its first paragraph.
  • His February 23 item (“Newspapers, GOP call for congressman to resign”) identified Wu as a Democrat twice, including once in its first paragraph, and later when it described his district as a “Democratic stronghold.”
  • A brief February 24 item on Wu (“Newspaper, GOP call for Wu to resign”) named his party in the second paragraph.

The theory here is that now that Wu’s woes have become a more prominent national story, the AP has decided that the party identification of Wu should came to a halt, lest readers get their minds polluted with the craaaaazy idea that politicians in various forms of trouble in recent years have been largely if not mostly from the Democratic Party. Logically (if there is such a thing at AP) it should have worked the opposite way, as national readers are less likely to already know that Wu is a Dem, and would be interested in knowing.

Here are several paragraphs from Cooper’s Sunday evening report:

An Oregon congressman whose erratic behavior has recently prompted calls for his resignation said Sunday that some of his actions could be attributed to a reaction to a mental health drug.

U.S. Rep. David Wu told The Associated Press, however, that it does not explain the behavior documented in reports over the last month, which included sending his staff photos of himself wearing a tiger costume.

Wu said he was hospitalized after his 2008 campaign for symptoms that were later diagnosed as a reaction to a common mental health drug. He said he felt dizzy and confused on Election Day that year, when his staff and family reportedly were unable to locate him.

The AP interview in his Portland office was the most detailed public account yet of Wu’s psychiatric treatment since reports of his erratic behavior first surfaced last month. Six staff members quit after his 2010 re-election campaign during which the congressman gave angry speeches and talked his way inside the secure portion of Portland International Airport.

The congressman said last year’s episodes were the culmination of a period of mental health challenges that began in 2008 as marital issues led toward his separation from his wife.

… He declined to detail the problems in his marriage but said they had nothing to do with his health.

… Wu attributed his outbursts in 2010 to stress from a tough campaign, a dissolving marriage and taking care of his children, ages 11 and 13.

Asked whether he can handle the stresses of Congress and of a future campaign, Wu said his October episode happened during a period of such extreme stress that wouldn’t occur again.

… Wu said he would not step down, despite calls for his resignation from Republicans and from some Oregon newspapers.

The last excerpted paragraph, the 18th of 19 in Cooper’s full report, is the only clue that Wu is a Dem through and through.

Wu may have had problems with dizziness and confusion as described above, but it’s nothing compared to the dizziness and confusion the AP’s Cooper must have been enduring when he wrote this paragraph in his February 23 report (bold is mine):

Wu was a political newcomer when he was elected to Congress in 1998 as the first Chinese-American to serve in the U.S. House. He’s maintained a centrist voting record but been a leading voice on human rights abuses in China, and he angered the high-tech firms in his district when he voted against normalizing trade relations with China.

Here are a couple of outside opinions concerning Wu’s alleged “centrism”:

  • His 2009, 2008, and 2007 grades from the conservative, economic freedom-oriented Club for Growth are 0%, 0%, and 6%.
  • At the ultraliberal Americans for Democratic Action in each of the same three years, he had ratings of 100%, 90%, and 100%. His 2009 and 2007 voting records earned him recognition as an “ADA Hero.”

Earth to Jonathan Cooper regarding Wu’s politics: Centrist, schmentrist.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP, NYT Inflate Perception of Non-Madison Saturday Pro-Union Crowds

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of massive pro-union demonstrations nationwide designed to give Wisconsin public-sector employee moral support from hordes of their union and non-union “brothers” and “sisters” around the country.

Uh, that’s not exactly what transpired.

The establishment press’s fallback position in matters such as these when the protesters involved have their sympathies is to cite decent numbers where available, while otherwise referring to “large crowds,” leaving it to the imaginations of readers, listeners, and viewers what that really means. Call it “creative crowd reporting.” With some slip-ups, the New York Times and the Associated Press each employed this tactic yesterday.

Unfortunately for them, many local reporters did estimate crowd sizes in cities other than Wisconsin’s capital of Madison, and they aren’t particularly impressive (while still being suspect, as will be seen later). William Jacobsen at Legal Insurrection (HT Instapundit) compiled press reports from other cities as follows:

In Washington, D.C., only about 500 people showed up (go to link for good photos of crazy signs). (Note, WaPo says 1000.)

In Columbus, OH, where you would expect a big crowd given a similar controversy, only “several thousand” people protested.

Other head counts, based on news reports, include: Boston (1000), Portsmouth, N.H. (few hundred), Augusta, ME (small crowd), New York City (“several thousand“), Chicago (1000), Miami (100), Austin (several hundred), Chicago (1000); Lansing, MI (2000), Nashville (hundreds), Los Angeles (2000), Richmond, VA (300), Denver (1000); Frankfort, KY (several hundred), Jefferson City, MO (several hundred), Harrisburg, PA (several hundred).

While I don’t have a complete count, based on these numbers from some major cities and labor states, total protesters nationwide (excluding Madison) likely totaled under 100,000 combined.

Given that there were events in some cities other than those cited by Jacobsen (including Denver and Minneapolis, as seen below), the nationwide turnout may have conceivably have broken six figures — but if so, not by much.

The Associated Press’s Patrick Condon and Todd Richmond followed the aforementioned template:

Chanting pro-union slogans and carrying signs declaring “We are all Wisconsin,” protesters turned out in cities nationwide to support thousands of public workers who’ve set up camp at the Wisconsin Capitol to fight Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.

Union supporters organized rallies from New York to Los Angeles in a show of solidarity Saturday as the demonstration in Madison entered its 12th straight day and attracted its largest crowd yet: more than 70,000 people. Hundreds banged on drums and screamed into bullhorns inside the Capitol as others braved frigid weather and snow during the massive rally that flooded into nearby streets.

… ”Wisconsin is opening up people’s eyes a little bit,” said Jay Van Loenen, a teacher who attended a rally in Denver that attracted about 1,000 people. [1] “So I think that the move is to try to get people more involved in their unions and create a stronger front so that if something happens here, we are prepared.” [2]

Several thousand people gathered for a rally in Columbus, Ohio, where lawmakers are considering a similar bill. Indiana Democrats successfully blocked a Republican bill last week that would have prohibited union membership from being a condition of employment.

Large crowds of teachers, firefighters and public workers also gathered for rallies — holding American flags, wearing pro-union clothing and holding signs — in other capital cities including Topeka, Kan.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Olympia, Wash.

In Los Angeles, public sector workers and others [3] held signs that read “We are all Wisconsin” during a rally. Some wore foam “cheeseheads,” the familiar hats worn by Green Bay Packers fans.

Covered in layers of coats, scarves, hats and gloves, about 1,000 rally goers outside the Minnesota Capitol chanted “Workers’ rights are human rights” and waved signs, some reading “United we bargain, divided we beg.”

Other notes:

  • [1] — The Denver Post copped out, merely saying that “Organizers estimated the crowd at more than 3,000 people.” The crowd as shown at this YouTube video doesn’t even look like 1,000.
  • [2] — Mr. Van Loenen didn’t just “attend” the rally. In that same YouTube vid, one sees that he spoke at the rally for about 5 minutes, sounding an awful lot like a teachers’ union official and hardline union activist, complete with Koch Brothers and anti-Tea Party references. I’m guessing that’s because Jay Van Loenen is a teachers’ union official and/or a hardline union activist. If so, nice lack of disclosure, AP.
  • [3] — “Public sector workers and others”? Would that be spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, their kids, and a few opportunistic politicians? This seems to be an admission that if the goal was to get sympathy from non-union members, or even private-sector union members, that the goal was not achieved in LA.

At the New York Times (“Rallies for Labor, in Wisconsin and Beyond”), Richard A. Oppel, Jr. and Timothy Williams slipped and made one reference to a pathically-sized gathering in Miami, but otherwise stuck to the script:

With booming chants of “This will not stand!” at least 70,000 demonstrators flooded the square around the Wisconsin Capitol on Saturday in what the authorities here called the largest protest yet in nearly two weeks of demonstrations.

It was a call heard in sympathy protests that drew thousands of demonstrators to state capitals and other cities from Albany to the West Coast.

… Mr. Walker’s plan is far from the only proposal to curb union power, and crowds of teachers, firefighters and other public workers held rallies Saturday in cities from Albany and Miami to Olympia, Wash.

“This is a national issue,” Jim Goodnow, who attended the demonstration in Miami, where about 150 people rallied at Bayfront Park. Many of them said they were concerned that Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, might try to strip away the few protections that unions have in Florida. A bill in the Legislature would block union dues from being automatically deducted from paychecks.

Note that the Times’s Miami estimate of 150 is 50% higher than the estimate of Jacobsen’s cited source at Reuters. That wire service’s Michelle Nichols writes that the Columbus, Ohio crowd was “Up to 1,000.” The “several thousand” Columbus description cited by Jacobsen came from the Dayton Daily News, which is hopelessly biased to the left and largely unreliable in matters such as these.

The bottom line, per Jacobsen:

Since NYT and AP stories are run at thousands of local newspapers around the country who cannot create their own content, it is likely that most people in this country never will hear about the dismal turnout for these protests. This is your biased MSM in action.

Exactly.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP’s Bauer Continues to Claim That Wis. Legislation Would ‘Eliminate Collective Bargaining’

From all appearances, the Associated Press’s Scott Bauer has a story, and he’s sticking to it — never mind the facts.

On February 17 (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in an item which mostly told readers that pending legislation would “eliminate collective-bargaining rights,” Bauer let a kernel of truth slip into his second-last of nearly 40 paragraphs:

Unions still could represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized.

If “unions still could represent workers,” and can still “seek pay increases,” then they would still have at least some “collective-bargaining rights.” They wouldn’t be as extensive, and perhaps they would be severely limited. But some level of “collective-bargaining rights” would still exist. Therefore, Bauer’s claims and implications elsewhere in his report that the legislation would completely “eliminate collective-bargaining rights” were self-evidently false and deceptive.

In a laughably titled story (“Facts overshadowed in debate over union bill”) datelined yesterday, Bauer again demonstrates, with assistance from colleague Patrick Condon, that he won’t let a silly thing like the truth stand in his way. Each of the following excerpted items implicitly or explicitly asserts that all collective-bargaining rights would end:

(Paragraph 1) The facts have been overshadowed by rhetoric at the Wisconsin Capitol, where protesters and politicians have been engaged in a tense standoff over the governor’s proposal to strip most public employees of their collective-bargaining rights.

(Paragraph 7, referring to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker) But the flashpoint is his proposed elimination of collective bargaining rights. Nearly all state and local government workers would be forbidden from bargaining for any wage increases beyond the rate of inflation.

(Paragraphs 18, 19, and 20) But the key to that plan, according to Walker, is ending collective bargaining rights. Doing that isn’t about busting unions, Walker argues, but balancing budgets.

If he’s intent on using cuts in state aid to balance the budget, eliminating collective bargaining does go a long way to achieving one of his key goals—giving local communities the ability to deal with the reductions.

With 3,000 units of government in Wisconsin, all in various stages of contractual negotiations, eliminating collective bargaining may be the only way they could quickly deal with the cuts, said Todd Berry, president of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

One could argue — in vain, in my opinion, but there’s at least a little wiggle room — that references to “eliminating collective-bargaining rights” somehow doesn’t refer to all rights. But when reporters make claims of “eliminating collective bargaining,” which Bauer and Condon did twice, that defense is no longer available.

As far as I know, the pending Wisconsin legislation hasn’t changed in the nine days between the February 17 and February 26 reports discussed here. If it is still true, as Bauer wrote on February 17, that “Unions still could represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum,” then Bauer and Condon clearly were not telling the truth in yesterday’s report. Further, Scott Bauer has to know that he was not telling the truth. Again barring proof to the contrary, shame on him and the AP.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: New phase begins in canonization cause of first African-American priest

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:58 am

From Chicago:

Feb 24, 2011 / 05:56 am

The Archdiocese of Chicago has begun a new phase of the investigation that could ultimately canonize Fr. Augustus Tolton. As the first African-American to become a priest, Fr. Tolton demonstrated remarkable patience, courage and dedication to his ministry during a time of widespread injustice.

Approximately a year after it opened Fr. Tolton’s cause, the archdiocese formally began the proceedings to examine the 19th century priest’s life, virtues and reputation for holiness. The process requires a canonical trial, which will hold its first session on the afternoon of Feb. 24 at St. James Chapel in downtown Chicago.

Chicago’s Cardinal Archbishop Francis E. George will preside over the public event, at which Bishop Joseph N. Perry – the Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, who is the postulator of Fr. Tolton’s cause for sainthood – will introduce evidence of Fr. Tolton’s faithful life and holiness. The proceeding will also feature the appointment of officials who will evaluate Fr. Tolton’s reputation and the facts of his life.

The judgment of those officials, in conjunction with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, could lead to the next step in Tolton’s cause: his designation as a “Servant of God.” After this, a declaration of “heroic virtue” would establish him as “Venerable.”

Further evidence of his miraculous intercession would be needed for Fr. Tolton to become a saint of the Church. Bishop Perry told CNA on Feb. 22 that at least one such possible occurrence is already under consideration, from the reports that the archdiocese is continuing to receive from the faithful.

In the short term, however, Bishop Perry is less occupied with possible miracles, and more interested in making the case for Fr. Tolton as a model of Christian virtue.

According to Bishop Perry, the key to understanding Fr. Tolton’s life is in recognizing his “long-suffering perseverance, in the face of what you might call ‘racial apartheid’.”

“His adult life was lived largely through the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War,” the bishop noted. “The nation had no program to assimilate blacks in society, following the Emancipation Proclamation. Anyone who was emerging as an accomplished black person, suffered – and was, more than likely, not accepted.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.