August 20, 2008

Positivity: Hero Lucie runs into smoke-filled house to rescue neighbour

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Exeter, UK:

23:00, 15-August-2008

AN heroic mother battled thick black smoke to rescue her hysterical neighbour from a blaze at her Exeter home.

Brave Lucie Shaxton ran into neighbour Jackie Henley’s house, in Lower Wear Road, Countess Wear, after being alerted by another neighbour who saw smoke billowing out of the windows.

The fire had started in the back bedroom of the two-storey house at around 4.40pm on Wednesday.

As the Echo reported yesterday, fire crews arrived within minutes of the alarm being raised.

But 37-year-old Lucie, a door supervisor at Mambo’s nightclub on Exeter Quay, had already entered the smoke-filled house, where she found her neighbour collapsed on the floor downstairs in a hysterical state and suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.

Lucie was followed into the house by her daughter Stacie, 19, and the pair went upstairs to check there was nobody else trapped.

Lucie said: “One of my other neighbours knocked on my door and said there was smoke coming out of the house next door.

“I ran and out and Stacie came out behind me. I went into the house first and saw Jackie on the floor. I went upstairs to see if I could see where the smoke was coming from.

“We thought it was the attic to start with as that’s where it felt like the heat was.

“There was thick black smoke everywhere and you couldn’t see a thing.”

Friends came out to help carry Ms Henley from the house before an ambulance took her to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

Lucie said she did not think twice about running into the house.

“It didn’t bother me. I just grabbed a towel and put it over my mouth and ran upstairs.

“I quickly felt the effects of the smoke though, it went right onto my chest.

“You only think about how dangerous it is after it’s happened, but at the time I didn’t think twice about it. I just wanted to make sure there was no one else in there.”

Lucie’s other daughter, Carrie, 15, described her mum as a “hero”.

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 19, 2008

Things I’d Like To Post About Today ….. (081908, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 6:37 am

But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

(This will likely be today’s only entry.)

  • The “Diverse” Dem Leadership — Well, there’s an Italian woman and a bunch of white guys. What’s your point? (/sarc)
  • Wind farms can make people sick?
  • “The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters), in addition to refusing to tell us when he thinks life begins (“answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade“), claims that abortions went up during the Bush Administration. This is fever swamp material that has long since been debunked (also see the “abortions, estimated column here). Where has he been?
  • Obama is attempting to push back against National Right to Life’s claim that he “voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion.” His problem is that prolifers have the facts — and the documentation — on their side. Update: Within the past 36 hours, Team Obama has backed off the pushback, but is holding on to an untenable fallback. Considering that “The One” himself said that National Right to Life was “lying,” “The One” owes them an apology. Repeat after me, sir: “I was wrong, I am sorry.” Update 2: (satire) Don’t know what all the fuss is about. The guy thinks that there should be consumer protections for those who have abortions. If what the mother wants is a dead baby, by G-, er, gosh, what she should get is a dead baby. Who could possibly have a problem with that? (/sarc)
  • Bjorn Lomborg notes that as the challenges, and the reality, continue to bear down on the “global warming” AGWs (Alarmists Gone Wild), “this makes the campaigners reach for even more outlandish scares.”
  • The Rocky Mountain News (HT Michelle Malkin) stays on a story the rest of the national media appears to want to ignore (“Ticket give-away creates suspicion”), about who is getting tickets to the nomination coronation of “The One.”
  • The sad, sick saga of Congressperson/Housing Scofflaw Laura Richardson continues.

Positivity: College students become heroes

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Starkville, Mississippi:

Saturday, August 16, 2008 8:46 PM CDT

Every summer, hundreds of anglers from all over the country travel to the Kenai River in Alaska for its world-renowned salmon fishing.

To get from one bank to the other, fishermen often take the Russian River Ferry at a point roughly 100 miles south of Anchorage.

Over the past two summers, Mississippi State University senior Wesley Howell, 22, of Starkville, has been a captain on the boat. His job is to safely transport passengers and keep them out of the cold, rushing water.

On a chilly day in early July, Howell went above and beyond the call of duty when he and a fellow crew member saved the life of a woman who had been swept downstream.

July 2 began like any other day for Howell and his crew. Howell was serving as captain, and Brian Yarbrough, a student at University of Mississippi, also was working on the boat.

But the day turned ugly when a federal Fish and Wildlife Services officer called Howell’s boss, Dianne Owen, with reports of a woman floating in the river. From what Howell was told, the woman was in a boat with her husband upstream when a tree hanging over the river knocked her into the water.

The couple was trying to avoid fishermen along the banks and veered toward the opposite side, where the tree was located, Howell said. The woman’s husband tried to grab her, but couldn’t hold on.

The wildlife officer was on routine patrol and witnessed the incident from the bank, Howell said. And after hearing the officer’s report, Owen ordered her staff to spring into action.
Several crew members began pumping air into a partially deflated Zodiac rescue boat while Howell worked to get its outboard motor started.

Howell and Yarbrough then jumped in the boat and took off toward the woman, who was approaching the ferry crossing. She was belly-up, and a life jacket was keeping her afloat, though her face was barely above the water, Howell recalled.

Howell steered the Zodiac toward the woman and Yarbrough, who was in the front of the boat, grabbed her as she came by. The pair then worked together to pull the woman into the boat.

“She looked hypothermic when we pulled her out,” Howell said. “She didn’t even know we pulled her out. She was pretty out of it.”

Howell and Yarbrough then took the woman back to the ferry office, where staff members changed her into dry clothes and warmed her up with blankets and a heater. She did not go to the hospital, despite being in the frigid water for at least three minutes.

“From what I hear, the water never gets above 40 degrees up there,” Howell said. “They were telling me after the fact that in another minute she would have been passed out.”

A hero

Nell Sciple, of Sessums, is vacationing in Alaska and read about Howell’s rescue effort in an Anchorage newspaper. Sciple doesn’t know Howell, but wishes she could meet him.

“He’s a hero as far as I’m concerned,” Sciple said by phone this week from Alas

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 18, 2008

Whatever Happened to David Cay Johnston? Former NYT Business Journalist’s Leftiness Is In Full Bloom

DavidCayJohnston0808.jpegA former New York Times investigative journalist who wrote primarily on business and taxation will soon be speaking at a “progressive” gathering.

Further, in his inaugural column at a post-Times gig, he misrepresented the nature of the 1980 and 2000 tax-cut proposals by the Republican presidential candidates.

Finally, in another post-Times tax column, he used vitriolic class warfare-based language in analyzing matters relating to tax compliance.

Surprised? If you’re familiar with the work of David Cay Johnston from when he toiled at the Times, probably not.

About a year ago, yours truly and Mr. Johnston had a bit of a dust-up (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog.com) over his questionable use of IRS tax return data in this Times article (August 21, 2007; “2005 Incomes, on Average, Still Below 2000 Peak”). To make a tediously long story very short, Johnston used the IRS data, which sort of approximates “gross income,” to reach erroneous and broad conclusions about what Americans “had to make ends meet” (i.e., after-tax income).

Johnston’s article and my posts created a bit of a blogospheric stir. He posted comments at the original BizzyBlog post (here and here). Johnston gets credit for responding, but other commenters generally gave him demerits for his responses. While I made a relatively small mistake in our back and forth and acknowledged it, Johnston made at least six, a couple of them real doozies. As far as I know, Johnston has never admitted to any mistake of significance.

But rather than rehash the numbers battle, I’m more interested in Johnston’s assertions within his comments that he played his reporting straight, assertions he in essence repeated to me in phone discussions:

  • (Comment 4) The idea that in the most scrutinized news report in the world I could twist facts for some venal purpose is laughable. We fire reporters who do that and we should.
  • (Comment 4) I did not get into this line of work more than 40 years ago to make things up or twist them. If I wanted to I would have become a novelist or a screenwriter.
  • (Comment 74) Next year, whatever the numbers are and assuming I am still walking around, I’ll report whatever they show, too.

If Johnston is going to report on this year’s IRS data, he won’t be doing it for what remains of the Times. His last article was on March 18. Wikipedia says that he took a buyout, and is now an “independent reporter.”

++++++++++++

August 26, 2008 Update: Johnston unexpectedly made a comeback appearance at the Times and wrote up this report based on 2006 IRS AGI data. As noted here without detailed delving (none is really necessary, as it flunks the smell test in the first sentence), it’s right up (really down) there with last year’s. A more accurate and meaningful rendering of the income situation during the decade thus far is here (“The Pernicious ‘No Real Economic Progress’ Myth”).

+++++++++++

So what is David Cay Johnston up to?

If three items I’ve recently come across are any indication, it would seem that Mr. Johnston has become quite a bit more agenda-driven and fact-free. Either that, or he’s been that way all along, but can now operate without a mask.

The first item: Johnston is speaking at a BuzzFlash Conference in late September (bolds and links in excerpt are mine):

David Cay Johnston and Jeffrey Feldman to Speak at BuzzFlash Sep. 27 Philly Conference

We’re slowly revealing the all star and diverse line up of progressives, labor, and working class speakers (and this will be interactive, not just speeches). First we were proud to let you know that Richard Trumka, second in command at the AFL-CIO, will be addressing the group. And we also revealed that Joe Bageant, author of “Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War,” will be speaking at the conference. Today, we wanted you to know of two more speakers (and we will be announcing more in the near future): David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Perfectly Legal” and “Free Lunch,” will discuss why the working class should be concerned about government economic policies of the last few decades. And Jeffrey Feldman, “framing” expert and author of “Outright Barbarous: How the Violent Language of the Right Poisons American Democracy” will also be offering his insights.

BuzzFlash.net bills itself as “Progressive News and Commentary with an Attitude.”

It’s so nice to see that “objective investigative journalist” David Cay Johnston has found a venue such as this where he can “objectively” present his work as a “progressive, labor, and working class speaker.”

The second item: Johnston began writing a column for Tax Notes called “Johnston’s Take.” His inaugural offering was posted at the TaxProf blog in late June, complete with “objective” statements such as this one (bold is mine):

….. this is not 1980 or 2000, when the candidates whose vague but grand promises of lower taxes carried them to the White House.

Vague?

For the record, Reagan’s “vague” promise (scroll to July 29, 1981 at link) consisted of three consecutive annual 10% across-the-board cuts in federal income tax rates, or a total of 30%. He accepted 25% instead (5% in 1982, and 10% each in 1983 and 1984), but also included indexing the tax brackets for inflation. This prevented further inflation-driven automatic tax increases caused by “bracket creep.”

It wasn’t only Reagan’s promise that was “grand,” it was the result — namely, “The Seven Fat Years.”

President Bush’s promise was a “vague” $1.3 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. The second result listed at this Google News Archive search on “$1.3 trillion” (not in quotes) shows that this is the amount Bush promised. This fourth result at this search on “$1.3 trillion signed” (again, not in quotes) shows that a $1.3 trillion tax cut is what Bush signed into law in June 2001.

Bush’s “grand” result was 44% growth in federal receipts in 4 years; too bad he and the GOP Congress didn’t sufficiently control spending when they had the chance.

Vague, schmague, David.

The third item: At his August 4 Tax Notes column posted at TaxAnalysts.com, Johnston appears poised to do his annual “analysis” of IRS data. In preparation, he rails about possibly large unpaid taxes by the super-wealthy. Fair enough, but along the way he gets awfully strident for a supposedly playing-it-straight reporter:

  • “….. the Bush administration, which came into office with a nine-figure budget surplus.” (Those were pre-Internet bubble projections, David.)
  • “The pressure to end this divide between the wage slaves and the ownership class should be intense …..”
  • “Congress treats Americans who work for wages ….. the way Ronald Reagan said we should treat the Soviets on arms reduction: Trust, but verify.”

I have a difficult time buying into the idea that David Cay Johnston was not similarly agenda-driven and fact-challenged when he was at the Times.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Oh Boy ….. Here We Go Again

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:11 am

This is from Drew M. at Ace’s Place on Saturday, as he watched Rick Warren’s Saddleback Showdown between the one I refer to as “JS3M3″ (John Sidney the Mad Maverick McCain III) and “The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters):

I don’t agree with McCain on a lot of things but compared to Obama he’s simply filled with substance. I don’t mean on policy prescriptions (though McCain is stronger there) but just on being a man. McCain has lived, he’s succeed (sic), he’s failed and he just come off as someone who knows himself and the world he lives in.

An all upper-case transcript of the proceedings is here.

Don’t be too hard on Drew for his indirect denigration of “The One.” He’s just echoing concerns that have been apparent ever since Obama threw his arugula in the ring.

Those concerns have primarily come from the Left. Two examples are here and here. In the second, you won’t believe (well, maybe you will) who employed “a one-word epithet that is also used to describe kitty cats” to describe “The One.”

Also, how many times in the past few weeks have we heard questions from traditional media types and Democrats (I know, that’s redundant) about whether Obama will “fight back” against this or that real or imagined slight? Update, 9AM: One such example comes from David Shuster of MSNBC, as noted in this NewsBusters post by Geoffrey Dickens.

In fact, that big “I told you so” you just heard came from Maureen (“We’re Trying to Toughen You Up”) Dowd at what remains of the New York Times (here, here, and here). Last time I checked, she’s not exactly a rightie.

My satirical take on the Left’s obsession with testosterone from early 2007 is here.

Couldn’t Help But Comment (081808, Morning)

Front-runner for “Worst Business Reporting Math Error, Ever.” In an August 12 report (HT Powerline), New York Times reporter Lynnley Browning assumed that corporations pay the highest federal income tax rate (35%) on their gross receipts, and not their profits (I’m not kidding). Thus, Browning claimed that the corporations reviewed in a GAO study of eight years of tax returns weren’t paying $875 billion in taxes on their $2.5 trillion in sales during that period. Assuming collective pretax profits of 20% of that $2.5 trillion (even that’s probably high), they would owe only $175 billion (35% of $500 bil). That’s at least a $700 billion error, even before taking into consideration Uncle Sam’s lower rates on small amounts of reported corporate profit, and the fact that many of these firms are Sub-S Corporations and LLCs, which pass through their profits and tax-paying responsibilities to the firms’ individual owners.

The Times did issue a correction at the end of the article, and took out the original erroneous text.

An error that size is appropriate, given how much latitude the Times gave former investigative journalist David Cay Johnston to annually mishandle IRS data to promote class envy for so many years. We had fun with that last year — less-than-perfect fun, but fun nonetheless.

____________________________________________

IBDeditorials.com made the hugely important point last Monday that one of the reasons we don’t have good estimates of the oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf is that Congress, including “The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) won’t let us find out. So the opposition claims that 20-40 year-old data is OK, despite decades of improvement in methods for finding and extracting oil, and getting more of it economically. Horse manure. Based on experience elsewhere, there are billions of more barrels available.

____________________________________________

The Clintons REALLY didn’t like “The Path to 9/11″ when it was on TV in September 2006, largely because it blew their attempt at a crafted legacy to bits. ABC, which held firm and showed the film despite intense protests, won’t release it on DVD. 2+2+??. Given that the DVD would probably make millions, there’s no business reason not to release it, and its value diminishes over time. “Path’s” producers and Disney shareholders should sue.

____________________________________________

Race to the bottom — The presidential candidate I refer to as “JS3M3″ (John Sidney the Mad Maverick McCain III) might name Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney as his Veep, putting a hero and a zero on the same ticket.

In what must be causing wailing and gnashing of teeth in the leftosphere (indeed), “The One” is considering naming 2004 Dem nominee John Kerry as his Veep, putting a race-baiter and a 1970s traitor on the same ticket, with the added bonus of giving us a replay of “Christmas in Cambodia.”

Each presumptive nominee needs to remember that convention delegates must approve their choice. I think there’s a legitimate chance that neither would be acceptable to their respective assembled multitudes.

Positivity: Bright future for leukaemia girl after stem-cell transplant

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Scotland:

Published Date: 09 August 2008

EVERY time three-year-old Bethanie Thomson looks at her little brother, she will be staring at the boy who saved her life.

The young leukaemia sufferer is recovering after receiving a life-saving stem cell transplant from her baby brother – without which she would have faced certain death.

Now she is taking her first steps on the road to recovery and, although she still requires 15 different types of medication and regular trips to the Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh, and Yorkhill in Glasgow, the future is looking bright – thanks to seven-month-old Joshua.

Her dad Stuart Jackson, 31, said: “The bond between her and her brother is just amazing. We’ve always told Bethanie what a special boy he is and what he has done for her. They’re like two peas in a pod and I have never seen her look so healthy.

“She has even been able to go on rides at a funfair, which she’s never been able to do before. That was so nice to see.

“There’s a whole new world out there for her now, and that’s all because of Joshua.

“She’s still not able to stand – the doctors are looking into that – but we stand Joshua in front of her as motivation because she wants to teach him to walk.

“In many ways he is like her big brother – a mini version.”

Bethanie was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was just six months old. She bravely fought her way through it, started to learn to walk and was looking forward to a normal childhood when she relapsed aged two – just before Joshua was born on Boxing Day.

When doctors told her parents, Stuart and Vicky Thomson, from Wallyford, East Lothian, that cells from the umbilical cord were a perfect match making them suitable for a transplant they could not believe it.

Stuart said: “I didn’t really think it would work – I always had doubts. When it did work it took a few days to sink in.

“There was the possibility of a lot of side-effects afterwards, but Bethanie has breezed through it, she’s really done well.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

Pew Poll: Obama-McCain Statistically Tied; AP Decides It Knows Better

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:31 am

The Associated Press is so omnipotent that it can divine what poll results mean, even if it directly contradicts what the pollster says about them.

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press announced the results of a poll it did on the presidential race on Wednesday:

Presidential Race Draws Even
GOP Base Getting Behind McCain

With less than two weeks to go before the start of the presidential nominating conventions, Barack Obama’s lead over John McCain has disappeared. Pew’s latest survey finds 46% of registered voters saying they favor or lean to the putative Democratic candidate, while 43% back his likely Republican rival. In late June, Obama held a comfortable 48%-to-40% margin over McCain, which narrowed in mid-July to 47% to 42%.

Two factors appear to be at play in shifting voter sentiment. First, McCain is garnering more support from his base – including Republicans and white evangelical Protestants – than he was in June, and he also has steadily gained backing from white working class voters over this period. Secondly and more generally, the Arizona senator has made gains on his leadership image. …..

AP must not have liked Pew’s results or its conclusions, because, in an unbylined report, it totally recast them:

Poll: Obama with slim edge over McCain nationally

THE NUMBERS
Barack Obama, 46 percent
John McCain, 43 percent

The Democrat Obama led McCain, the Republican, by 8 percentage points in June in the Pew Research Center poll, though by July his lead was 5 points, about the same as now. Since June, McCain has solidified his support among whites, men, Republicans, white evangelicals and whites who haven’t completed college. Obama has made few gains, but has retained his overwhelming advantage among blacks and leads by 13 points with women and 24 points among those under age 30.

Even for AP, this is desperately weak:

  • Pew’s margin of error was 2.5%. Pew decided that the 3% difference was close enough that it concluded that McCain has drawn even, and that Obama’s lead “has disappeared.” Oh, but AP knew better than the pollster, and turned it into a “slim lead.” It even misdirected readers by “reminding” them that Obama’s 5-point July lead was “about the same as now.” Really? Twice the margin of error is “about the same” as within a half-point of it?
  • AP’s list of where “McCain has solidified his support” (“whites, men, Republicans, white evangelicals and whites who haven’t completed college”) appears to be calculated to make him appear as the “white guy” candidate. There’s only one problem: While McCain picked up 2 points from June to August with white men (up 55-35), he picked up THREE points among white women, and is now leads Obama 46-43. I guess AP didn’t want to let that little factoid get in the way of its white male stereotyping.
  • Even AP’s statement that Obama “has retained his overwhelming advantage among blacks” is in a sense shaky. Obama’s 90-3 advantage has narrowed by 4 points to 88-5. Obviously that’s still huge, but considering that the Illinois senator consistently got 90% or more of the black vote in virtually every post-Pennsylvania primary against another Democrat, the fact that there’s any narrowing at all against McCain has to be a bit worrisome to Team Obama. But AP blew right by it.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air got the bottom line right, noting that McCain has gained momentum, and that Obama needs to figure out a way to reverse it.

You would have barely a clue from AP’s coverage of Pew’s poll that this is what has happened. It’s hard to believe that this is accidental.

Cross-posted with slight revisions at NewsBusters.org.

August 17, 2008

BizzyBlog Post Reprise: Over 18 Months Later, I Have Seen No Substantive Response to This

The original fact v. fiction story about Barack Obama’s father came from Sharon Churcher’s the January 27, 2007 UK Telegraph, a paper doing work US media outlets have refused to do.

The link still works. My original mid-February 2007 post relating to Churcher’s story is here.

I haven’t seen anything that would lead me to believe that there is something wrong with Churcher’s story. Beyond that, Greg Ransom has found additional related info and raised additional related questions that, again, still stand.

Because of all of this, I have seen no reason to change the opinions expressed in my original post, and won’t change them until there is some kind of successful challenge to Churcher’s, and now Ransom’s, work.

So I’m reprising that 2007 post, while bolding a couple of extra items. The point made near the end about Mitt Romney remains valid, even though I have since concluded that he is Objectively Unfit to hold public office.

__________________________________________________

I Really Wouldn’t Care About This, But for Two Things

“This” is a report by Sharon Churcher at the UK Daily Mail (HT Ace) about Barack Obama’s father. Churcher reports that:

A drunk and a bigot – what the US Presidential hopeful HASN’T said about his father…

We have discovered that his father was not just a deeply flawed individual but an abusive bigamist and an egomaniac, whose life was ruined not by racism or corruption but his own weaknesses.

And, devastatingly, the testimony has come from Mr Obama’s own relatives and family friends.

Do read the whole thing.

As the title of my post indicates, I ordinarily would not care. For example, Bill Clinton’s dad had his problems; that was, properly, largely irrelevant. His father’s name wasn’t on the ballot.

Unfortunately, there are two reasons why I won’t let go of this.

First, Barack Obama has made the life story of his father an issue, because he wrote a book that is strongly at odds with what Churcher reports:

(Mr. Obama’s book, Dreams From My Father) is a classic story of the American dream made real: an impoverished Kenyan goatherd rising to become a brilliant Harvard-educated economist.

On the way he fights racial prejudice at home and corruption at work, survives the heartbreak of a broken relationship and, despite it all, leads the fight to rid Africa of its colonial legacy.

This extraordinary story is told by US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama as he recalls the life of the man who inspired him to political success – his father.

Mr Obama’s book ….. is flying off the shelves of US book stores, exciting and astonishing readers in equal measure.

The junior senator from Illinois appears to have created a set of convenient fictions about the life of his father. Even that’s okay; we all have to make peace with the past, and thinking about our loved ones idealistically is one way of doing that. But by publishing a book that pushes those convenient fictions on the rest of us, and using that book to burnish HIS political (and now presidential) credentials, Barack Obama is asking us to demanding that we accept and buy into his alternative reality. If Churcher is correct, and there’s little reason to believe she isn’t, that’s an imposition on the American public that Obama has no right to make — and voters should seriously question the judgment of someone who would attempt to make such an imposition.

Second, for those in the “how dare you?” camp — If it’s fair game for the press to smear a presidential candidate by going after his great-grandfather (!) — someone whom the candidate has not even referred to, and would not be expected to refer to — for polygamy, how can it NOT be fair game to criticize another candidate who appears to have fudged his father’s life story beyond all recognition and incorporated it into his persona, thereby incorporating it into his campaign?

There is no reason why Mitt Romney should have to answer for his great-grandfather’s actions back in the 19th century — but he’s getting grilled by a press determined to take him out.

But Barack Obama owes voters answers as to why he chose to write what appears to be a highly fictional account of his father’s life, and to use it, at least implicitly, as part of the foundation for his political career and presidential candidacy.

As of yet no one besides Sharon Churcher has raised the issue. Will anyone else?

Positivity: Hawaii Teacher’s Cure Clears Way for a New Saint

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From Aiea, Hawaii:

Saturday, August 09, 2008

When cancer spread into her lungs, doctors told Audrey Toguchi she had six months to live, at best, and suggested chemotherapy as the only option.

Toguchi, however, turned to another source—a Catholic missionary who died more than a century ago.

“I’m going to Molokai to pray to Father Damien,” Toguchi calmly told Dr. Walter Y.M. Chang after hearing her death sentence.

“Mrs. Toguchi, prayers are nice and it’s probably very helpful, but you still need chemotherapy,” replied Chang, who earlier had removed a fist-size tumor from Toguchi’s left buttock that was the source of the cancer in her lungs.

Defying Chang and the pleas of her husband and two sons, Toguchi caught a flight from Honolulu to the remote peninsula of Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai to pray at the grave of the priest who had ministered to people with leprosy until he, too, caught it and died in 1889.

“Dear Lord, you’re the one who created my body, so I know you can fix it,” Toguchi prayed. “I put my whole faith in you. … Father Damien, please pray for me, too, because I need your help.”

On a doctor’s visit on Oct. 2, 1998, a month after cancer was first detected in her lungs, doctors expected the tumors to have grown. Instead, they had shrunk, and by May 1999 tests confirmed that they had disappeared without treatment.

Chang and a half-dozen other doctors, including a cardiologist, oncologist, pathologist and radiologist, couldn’t explain it. Chang, who does not belong to any religion, urged Toguchi to report it to the Catholic church.

The Vatican conducted an extensive review and concluded Toguchi’s recovery defied medical explanation.

On July 3, Pope Benedict XVI agreed and approved the case as Damien’s second miracle, opening the way for the Belgian priest to be declared a saint.

The Vatican requires confirmation of two miracles attributed to a candidate’s intercession before canonization, or sainthood.

Church authorities approved Damien’s first miracle in 1992. In that case, Sister Simplicia Hue of France, who was dying of a gastrointestinal illness, recovered overnight in 1895 after she began a novena, or nine days of prayer, to Damien.

Toguchi’s story, and identity, were kept secret for years while the church investigated her case. Today, the 80-year-old retired schoolteacher talks openly of her experience. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 16, 2008

The Pernicious ‘No Real Economic Progress’ Myth

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:30 am

Note: This was originally posted at Pajamas Media on Thursday, with the subheadline, “The Bush years have been better for Americans’ wallets than most critics admit.”

Consider it 2008′s reality-based alternative to David Cay Johnston’s former annual flights of fantasy with incomplete IRS data at the New York Times. Johnston left the Times earlier this year after taking a buyout.

_________________________________________________

The Conventional Wisdom (CW) is that under President Bush:

  • The country’s economy has grown very little, and incomes have never gotten back to where they were before the recession.
  • That the rich have been getting richer, especially because of the Bush tax cuts, while, the poor and the middle class have been getting ever fewer crumbs.

While its performance hasn’t been as good as it could have been, the Bush economy has acquitted itself well enough that the CW should be discarded.

Let’s start with the overall economy.

Based on quarterly economic growth data from the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the economy is almost 19% bigger now than it was at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2001, the first quarter that the new president’s first budget was in effect (three of the five quarters prior to that had negative growth, first because of the bursting of the Internet bubble, and in the case of the third quarter of 2001, the September 11 terrorist attacks). Real growth during that time has averaged 2.56% — not stellar, and not as good as the best of the Clinton years, but certainly not the awful performance the CW typically assumes.

Why hasn’t it been better? I’m not alone in arguing that the post-Enron wave of burdensome regulation imposed by the Sarbanes Oxley (Sox) law has held the economy back, both by imposing onerous compliance costs on publicly-traded companies, and by largely shutting off the initial public offering market to all but the most stellar candidates. The next president and Congress are going to have to do something to reduce the excesses of Sox if we are ever to return to consistent growth of 4% or more.

Next, let’s look at overall income growth (original data obtained from BEA; this other BEA link has figures for Nominal Per Capita Income that are almost all within $10 of the figures listed below):

RealPerCapitaIncomeChart0808

At the end of 2007, the average American was almost 8% better off than in 2002 ($26,078 divided by $24,176), the trough of the post-bubble, post-9/11 recession. Again, this is nothing to party hearty over. But keep in mind that BEA data excludes capital gains, the benefits of which tend to skew towards those with higher incomes; so the measurements listed above better reflect what “working people” are seeing than other available measurements.

Many of the same people who deride the Bush Economy, especially its tax cuts, won’t face up to three very important points illustrated in the chart above.

First, the Clinton Economy didn’t become anything special for the average person until 1997, the first year of Bill Clinton’s second term. Why is that? It certainly wasn’t because of the tax increases of 1993. It’s clear from the chart that, if anything, they held back an economy that, given the technology improvements that were occurring at the time, should have been roaring after the early-1990s recession.

It was the capital gains tax cut of 1997 that caused the big personal income gains. That cut actually began having its desired effect in the year it was passed because the Clinton administration telegraphed its desire for it shortly after the 1996 election. Investors assumed correctly that passage by the then Republican-controlled Congress was assured. Thanks to that legislation, real per capita personal income skyrocketed over 12.5% during the administration’s final four years.

Second, real income during the Bush era didn’t take off until the 2003 investment-related tax cuts on capital gains and dividends took hold. Their positive impact on real income wasn’t visible until 2004. The 7.5% growth in real per capita income from 2004-2007 is also not as good as the best of the Clinton years, but, as noted earlier, you can lay a lot of the blame for that on Sox.

The third point is best made with a graph containing the chart’s final seven years, this time expressed in 2001 dollars:

RealPerCapIncomeGrowth2001to2007

As you can see, the claim that “incomes have never gotten back to where they were before the recession” hasn’t been true since 2004.

But wait, haven’t all of those income benefits gone to the rich, leaving nothing for the poor and middle class?

Hardly.

This data from the Census Bureau released last year (PDF can be retrieved by going to this web page) shows that the upper income limit and the mean household income of every income group presented went up in real terms from 2003-2006:

CensusIncomeQuintilesEtc2003to2006

As I said when I posted on this last year, “I’m not claiming these results are where I would want them to be, but they are all positive. In fact, the household results show more real improvement at the lower income levels than is found in the middle and upper-middle.”

I should also point out that the Bush rate reduction in the lowest taxable income bracket from 15% to 10% has increased spendable income for those in the lowest income quintiles disproportionately since 2001, while helping all but the very highest earners.

Since we’re about to enter presidential campaign silly season, it’s probably too much to expect politicians to challenge the CW claims noted at the beginning of this column. But one would hope that reality-based observers know better.

AP’s Nedra Pickler Has Bigfoot in Mouth in Corsi Controversy

NedraPicklerAP0808.jpgBigfoot0808he back-and-forth over Jerome Corsi’s book, “The Obama Nation,” has been heated, largely unfair to the author, and predictably marred by attacks from allegedly “objective” journalists as well as Democratic mouthpieces (but I repeat myself). Blatant examples of media bias have been noted by several NewsBusters posters, including Tim Graham (here, here, and here), Geoff Dickens, Mark Finkelstein, and Clay Waters.

But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been moments of humor. A delicious one comes at the expense of the Associated Press’s Nedra Pickler.

In her Thursday hit piece on Corsi’s book, here is how Pickler described the online publication where Corsi writes a periodic column:

Corsi writes for World Net Daily, a conservative Web site whose lead headline Thursday was “Astonishing photo claims: Dead Bigfoot stored on ice.”

(August 17 update: Joe Farah, Editor and CEO of WorldNetDaily, has informed NewsBusters and myself that Corsi “is a full-time senior staff writer ….. and has been for several years.” I regret if the previous characterization gave an incomplete impression of Corsi’s role there, which was not intended.)

Pickler’s purpose, of course was to ridicule the web site, properly identified as WorldNetDaily (without spaces between the words), by comparing it to tabloid publications like the National Enquirer — even though one of those terrible tabloids has been scooping AP and other traditional media on the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter story for months — and to attempt to dent Corsi’s fundamental credibility.

After all, the self-described and oh-so-dignified “Essential Global News Network” would never-never-never stoop so low as to do a story about Bigfoot.

Oh Nedra? Nedra? Over here:

Georgia men claim hairy, frozen corpse is Bigfoot
By JUANITA COUSINS
Associated Press Writer

A hairy corpse crammed in a Georgia freezer is Bigfoot, say two men who have been tracking the legendary creature, when they aren’t busy looking for leprechauns and the Loch Ness monster.

Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer say they stumbled across the corpse in the woods of north Georgia, across the country from the remote regions of the Northwest where people usually claim to see the man-ape.

Still, the Georgia men say DNA will prove once and for all that the frozen creature is Sasquatch. They plan to present DNA test results and photographs during a news conference Friday in Palo Alto, Calif.

Skeptics say it’s just another Bigfoot hoax.

The AP’s roughly 595-word story is longer than WorldNetDaily’s, which weighs in at about 530, but it also came two days later. The “Essential Global News Network,” scooped on the Bigfoot story. Oh, the indignity.

Someone should ask Nedra Pickler what her favorite condiments are when eating crow (pickles, perhaps?). Associated Press Writer Christopher Wills, who also contributed to Pickler’s report, should at least have to endure a side order.

To avoid further embarrassments, the AP needs to marshal its resources, and quickly. WorldNetDaily has done a Bigfoot follow-up (“Bigfoot hunters claim others of species live”).

(Disclosure: In case it’s noted by anyone — I’m not particularly fond of WorldNetDaily, as noted here and here, but the matter described at those posts is unrelated to the the points made here.)

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Rosyth’s ‘medical miracle’ ready to go back to work after brain hemorrhage

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:56 am

From the UK:

Published: Thursday, 31st July, 2008 12:10

SEVEN years ago, Elizabeth Ogg was struck down with a brain haemorrhage which was so crippling that doctors said she would spend the rest of her days in care.

But today, she is living independently, walking – albeit with the help of a stick – getting ready to start volunteer work and making plans to go back to work full-time.

It’s a far cry from the predictions that she would never lead a normal life again following her aneurysm, which “came out of the blue” in 2001.

Elizabeth (55), of Churchill Place, Rosyth, recalled, “I was living in Perth then. I just collapsed and my husband called an emergency doctor, who asked for an ambulance.

“I was taken to Perth Royal Infirmary, where they did a brain scan, and was rushed to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for life-saving surgery.

“The brain surgeon who carried out the operation later said it was the worse case he had ever seen and he couldn’t repair the damage.

“They didn’t expect me to live. My family was told to expect the worst but hope for the best, and after I came round they told me that the best that could happen was that I would be put in a nursing home for the rest of my life.”

Elizabeth said the news left her “shell-shocked” but was determined to fight her condition, which left her paralysed on her left side and blind in one eye.

Following her operation, she spent a year in intensive care at Ninewells, and was then transferred to the brain injury rehabilitation unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Dundee, where she spent another year.

As she was still too poorly to go home, she then moved to a nursing home in Forfar, before coming to Rosyth in 2004 to undertake a two-year intensive rehabilitation course, from which she was discharged 18 months ago.

She said, “I had to learn all my basic living skills all over again – walking, talking, looking after myself.

“It was a struggle physically and emotionally very draining.

“Rehab was very painful and stressful for me but I never thought of giving up because that would have meant giving in.

“I felt very frustrated because I couldn’t do a lot of things, and impatient because progress was very slow and I wanted to get things done quicker than I was able to, but not getting better was never an option.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 15, 2008

A Reverse ‘Name That Party’ on Ted Stevens: You Don’t Fool Me, AP

DemOrGOPgraphic0708.jpgI’m sorry, this is too obvious.

Matt Apuzzo’s 750-plus word story on Ted Stevens’s situation (saved at host for future reference) doesn’t contain these words:

  • GOP.
  • Republican.
  • Conservative.
  • (R-AK).

This is the case even though he notes that Stevens “is in the midst of an unusually contentious re-election campaign.”

I mean to tell you, Matt Apuzzo bends over backwards to make sure Stevens’s party affiliation is not named. His wordsmithing gymnastics rival anything we’ve seen from 14- and 15-year-old Chinese girls this past week.

C’mon, stop it, Matt.

I’m thinking that this is AP’s lame, isolated attempt to say, “See, we treat everyone the same.”

No, Matt. No, AP.

The point is that you should ALWAYS name a troubled politician’s party — Democrat, Republican, or whatever — not hide it.

Your own stylebook from 2000 (I’d gladly accept a new one) says on Page 192 that you should:

….. include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is.

If it’s a crime or corruption story, readers are curious — by definition.

And you guys in the press are dreaming if you think this makes up for:

You can do it, Matt and AP. Name that party when it matters — always.

In Obama’s Home State, Unemployment Is Spiking; Expect Media Silence

Here’s news the traditional media will work very hard to ignore.

According to data released by Uncle Sam’s Bureaus of Labor Statistics today, the unemployment rate in Illinois is the fifth-highest in the country.

The Land of Lincoln had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.3% in July, up 2.2% from the previous year’s 5.1%. That puts Illinois, along with California, in a tie for fourth place in the worst state unemployment rate derby, behind only Michigan (8.5%), Mississippi (7.9%), and Rhode Island (7.7%).

Illinois’ 2.2% year-over-year unemployment rate increase is the third largest in any state, behind only tiny Rhode Island’s 2.7% and smaller state Tennessee’s 2.3%. Over 80% of Illinois’ deterioration has occurred in the last three months, as its March unemployment rate was only 5.5%.

Meanwhile, in Arizona …..
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