July 8, 2014

Do You Agree, Brian? Williams Says Shevardnadze ‘Admitted That Too Much Democracy Was a Bad Thing’

On Monday evening’s NBC Nightly News, host Brian Williams used a perhaps revealing verb to describe a belief held by former Soviet foreign minister and Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze, who died on Monday at 86.

It would be good to look back and learn how Shevardnadze came to say what he said a decade ago before getting to how Williams framed it. As reported in Doug Martin’s obituary at the New York Times (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Press Lionizes Buffett, Ignores Near Reappearance of Recession Under His Definition

The press loves billionaire Warren Buffett, who can be relied to support President Barack Obama even in implausible circumstances — such as the current economy, where the “recovery” following the 2008-2009 traditionally defined recession has been worse than any since World War II, and barely better than what was seen during the awful post-Depression 1930s.

Thus far, the press has managed to ignore one of the implications of the first quarter’s serious contraction. One more quarter of economic contraction could mean that the end of the recession, as Buffett himself has defined it, failed to permanently arrive.

In September 2010, a year after the recession’s official end, Buffett told CNBC what his benchmark for the end of the recession would be:

I think we’re in a recession until real per capita GDP gets back up to where it was before. That is not the way the National Bureau of Economic Research measures it. But I will tell you that to any, on any common sense definition, the average American is below where he was before, or his family, in terms of real income, GDP. We’re still in a recession. And, and we’re not gonna be out of it for awhile, but we will get out of it.

Thanks to the historically weak recovery, the economy did not get out of recession under Buffett’s “common sense” definition until the second quarter of last year. Growth during last year’s third and fourth quarters created a bit of daylight, but the first quarter’s contraction caused almost two-thirds of what had been gained to be lost:

PerCapitaGDP4Q07to1Q14asOf070814

Per capita GDP in the first quarter was only 0.5 percent above the pre-recession peak seen in the fourth quarter of 2007.

My calculations incidate that an annualized contraction of 1.6 percent or greater in the second quarter would take the nation back into the Warren Buffett-defined recession. That doesn’t seem likely — but then again, the first quarter’s 2.9 percent annualized contraction didn’t seem likely in early January.

Perhaps Buffett’s fixation on per capita GDP partially explains his obsession with funding abortions. If there are fewer people, per capita GDP will be higher.

Of course, that doesn’t answer the question of who would produce all of the goods and services that make up GDP. But leftists, even those who are good at thinking things through in their own business and investments, aren’t particularly good at global thinking — at least morally-based global thinking.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

‘Gates of Hell’ Update

Via emailer Dan Friedman, with the accompanying commentary:

An “incident” here and an” incident” there, to America’s eyes and its media, they all seem unconnected. But the origin of the current chaos circling the globe has a nexus – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where the man in the White House has, with malice aforethought, opened the Gates of Hell.

Buckle up friends, and say your prayers. This is going to be one for the ages.

Here are Dan’s headlines. It’s only a small sample of what he could have included:

Revisiting ‘Freedom Summer’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:59 am

Was it really the summer Martin Luther King’s dream began to die?

________________________________

This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Sunday.

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Fifty years ago, civil rights activists began Freedom Summer. Or, I should say, some people who held themselves out as “civil rights activists” did so.

PJ Media’s Ron Radosh recently referred to a PBS documentary on the event, which the public network described as the summer when “more than 700 student volunteers from around the country joined organizers and local African Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in what was one of the nation’s most viciously racist, segregated states.” More modestly stated, it was an effort to register black voters en masse.

Or was it? A recent revelation should cause objective historians to take a very hard second look at how and why Freedom Summer came to be, and at what really transpired in Mississippi that summer. From here, it appears that a campaign which has long been considered a civil rights movement milestone was really the beginning of the legitimate civil rights movement’s interment.

A June 19 Politico Magazine remembrance by historian Josh Zeitz shed new light on its leaders’ true intentions.

Zeitz apparently feels that he’s now in the historical clear to acknowledge and even celebrate motivations which, if widely known at the time, would have outraged millions of Americans of good will who had been moved by the nonviolence of Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers to accept the need for landmark legislation — the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — to enforce the right to vote, and to formally outlaw segregation in schools, workplaces, and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Though it wasn’t formally passed by the House and signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson until July 2, the legislation’s passage had been certain since June 19 when it cleared the Senate.

Zeitz, an open Democrat, lays bare what he admiringly acknowledges “was in many ways a very cynical strategy.”

Was it ever, as it involved deliberately placing northern white kids in mortal danger:

The architects of Freedom Summer were shrewd, pragmatic veterans of a brutal street fight … they wagered that if white students from prominent Northern families were arrested, beaten and illegally jailed—as they fully expected they would be—the federal government would finally recognize its responsibility to intervene in Mississippi.

The goal, explained (organizer Bob) Moses in advance of the summer project, was to create a political crisis. “Only when metal has been brought to white heat can it be shaped and molded,” he said. John Lewis … predicted that if white students were placed in harm’s way, “the federal government will have to take over the state … out of this conflict, this division and chaos, will come something positive.”

Though Moses rejected the charge that … (they) planned “to get some people killed so the federal government will move into Mississippi,” he also maintained that “no privileged group in history has ever given up anything without some kind of blood sacrifice.”

Zeitz’s attempt to draw a parallel between Freedom Summer and the previous year’s Birmingham Campaign led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. falls flat. Of course, Birmingham organizer King knew that serious violence in what was then known as “Bombingham” was virtually guaranteed. But he didn’t need to, and didn’t, recruit naive white Northern guinea pigs who could not possibly have been prepared to fully protect themselves in an incredibly hostile environment to ramp up the national pressure which became the catalyst for achieving passage of the Civil Rights Act. It should also not be forgotten that Mississippi’s culture of racial violence at the time was far worse than Alabama’s, or that King was not involved with Freedom Summer.

Organizers got their “blood sacrifice” even before the white students from up north arrived, when on the night of June 21-22, 1964, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner were murdered. Two of the three were from the “privileged group” Moses and Freedom Summer organizers sought to endanger.

I’m not convinced that Freedom Summer needed to happen at all.

Its two-week training event for student volunteers began on June 14 at the Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio (now part of Miami University). By its conclusion, as noted above, the Civil Rights Act was a fait accompli, and the three murder victims had gone missing. So why, especially given the clear and present danger, would Freedom Summer’s leaders not have decided to give the movement’s crowning legislative achievement a chance to work? I would argue, given the subsequent activities of many involved, particularly Che Guevera fan and African dictator-loving black segregationist Stokely Carmichael, that many of them had no desire to see the improvement in race relations the Act aimed and seemed destined to foster.

It’s not as if the federal government stood still after the Act’s passage. In a late-June op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Schenkkan showed that President Lyndon Baines Johnson went all-in with tangible enforcement:

Jim Crow began to die, in part because LBJ well understood that passing laws was one thing and enforcing them quite another. Just as he had been determined to muscle the bill through Congress, Johnson was determined to see the law carried out by every executive power at his command.

Swift directives from the White House to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to cease giving federal dollars to segregated hospitals transformed facilities overnight.

[A] quick ruling by U.S. Commissioner of Education Francis Keppel announced the withholding of federal funds ($4 billion) from school districts in 17 long-segregated states. In one year, there were more public school desegregation commitments than had been achieved over the previous decade.

In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow.

Schenkkan then made a serious historical error when he claimed that “Six days later, Watts erupted in violence, the first in a series of urban riots” after the law’s passage. That just isn’t so. Watts wasn’t even close to the first.

It’s important to note that there were no significant race riots in the U.S. for 19 years until the summer of 1963 in Birmingham. There was absolutely no reason to expect serious outbursts of violence after the Civil Rights Act’s passage.

But there were several. The first took place just two weeks later, when New York City’s Harlem burst into flames in an event described by what would become the “black power” movement as “the line in the sand to every ghetto in the country.” Over the next six weeks, race riots spread to six other cities, four of which just so happened to be easy driving distance from New York.

Is it a just an odd coincidence that many of those involved in Freedom Summer who ended up leading a “black power” movement which actively encouraged the 1960s race riots had significant Gotham and Harlem connections?

Is the conventional wisdom that the 1960s race riots and the fractured race relations and white flight to the suburbs they caused were simply manifestations of long-simmering black community frustrations triggered by specific events, or were they proactively fueled by people determined to ensure that the legitimate civil rights movement’s milestone accomplishment would not work out as hoped, and that race relations would not improve?

Questions such as these are why I wrote earlier that objective historians need to take a very hard second look at that era. This cadre would appear not to include Josh Zeitz. He might not be inclined to brag about what he might find.

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (070814)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: Divine calling — Vatican leaves phone message for Massachusetts woman over death of son

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Wakefield, Massachusetts (HT Catholic News Agency):

Published July 02, 2014

She called Pope Francis, and believes he answered.

A Massachusetts woman, grieving the sudden death of her 25-year-old son, received an unexpected voicemail last week: a message from the Vatican offering condolences over the loss of her child.

Stephany Nicolo, of Wakefield, Mass., told FoxNews.com that a message was left on her cellphone Friday at 6:30 a.m. from a man — speaking in accented English — who identified himself as a representative from the Vatican and says the pope sends a “big hug and a blessing” to Nicolo, whose son died May 14 from an epileptic seizure.

The voice of an older man, who Nicolo believes is the Pope, can be heard in the background at the beginning of the recording, which was obtained by FoxNews.com.

(Click here to listen to the phone message.)

“We [will] try to talk to you again,” the Vatican representative says in the 33-second message.

A Vatican spokesman could not immediately confirm if it was indeed His Holiness in the background on Nicolo’s message, but she is taking it on faith.

“I want him to know I love him,” Nicolo said of Pope Francis. “He has helped me so much in my time of grief. There are no words to describe what this phone call has done for me.”

Nicolo, distraught over her son Eric, called the Vatican in the days following his death.

“I was very, very upset and I said, ‘I don’t believe in God anymore,’ ” Nicolo, 58, who visited the Vatican in 2007, told FoxNews.com. “Why would he take my son?”

Nicolo said she was “sobbing uncontrollably” when she left her name and telephone number with a Vatican representative, never thinking her phone call would ever be returned.

On Friday, weeks after Nicolo made the call, she awoke at 6:40 a.m. to find a missed call and voice message on the cellphone sitting in her living room.

“I missed it by 10 minutes,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I had to play it several times.”

“I’ve always loved my faith, but when your child is taken, you can’t help but question it,” said Nicolo, who described herself as a devout Catholic. “It renewed my faith and belief in God.”

After receiving comfort from the Holy See, her faith has been restored.

“I know my son is at peace,” she said. “Thank you, Pope Francis, for reassuring my son is at peace, and showing my faith just got stronger. After all he is the Vicar of Christ.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.