December 3, 2006

Hopefully This Is the First of Many Similar Critiques of AP (and Demands for Action)

But I’m not optimistic that others will follow in the footsteps of this Boston Herald opinion piece by Jules Crittenden (HT Instapundit):

When a company defrauds its customers, or delivers shoddy goods, the customers sooner or later are going to take their business elsewhere. But if that company has a virtual monopoly, and offers something its customers must have, they may have no choice but to keep taking it.
That’s when the customers, en masse, need to raise a stink. That’s when someone else with the resources needs to seriously consider whether the time is ripe to compete.

….. The AP is making up war crimes. But the resulting stink in the blogosphere has barely wrinkled a nose in the mainstream press. The ethics-obsessed Poynter Institute seems to be oblivious to it.

….. The AP, once a just-the-facts news delivery service, has lost its rudder. It has become a partisan, anti-American news agency that seeks to undercut a wartime president and American soldiers in the field. It is providing fraudulent, shoddy goods. It doesn’t even recognize it has a problem.

This is the point at which, another big American industry learned, people start buying Japanese. But as an American newspaper, if you want to provide your readers with affordable regional, national and international news, you have to deal with the AP.

If newspapers don’t have an alternative, readers do. It’s called the Internet. That’s why newspapers, if they don’t want to be dragged further into irrelevance and disrepute, have to tell The Associated Press they are dissatisfied with its product.

I don’t think there’s anything short of the “someone else with the resources” option for fixing this.

One Thing NOT Concealed in Ohio’s Gun-Law Debate Is the Press Bias on the Topic

It’s very cool to see Instapundit shine a national spotlight on a great article by Chad Baus, the Northwest Ohio Chair of Buckeye Firearms Association, at Buckeye Firearms News. Chad was an early SOB Alliance member before he decided to go on hiatus several months ago.

Chad points to the hypocrisy of Ohio Governor Bob Taft, the Cleveland Plain Dealer (or “Pain Dealer,” as fellow SOBer Mark McNally calls it), and the Ohio Newspaper Association (ONA). All three advocate the exposure of the names of all Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holders in the state. The ONA has stated that “knowing who has tried to get a license or who has obtained one… is in the legitimate public interest.”

As I said in May (1st item at post):

Second Amendment-despising reporters are using existing law to publish the names of all permit holders, which in essence busts the “concealed” nature of the permit, violates the privacy of holders, and tells criminals by process of elimination where to go to commit their crimes, i.e., somewhere else. This makes everyone less safe. Ohio law must be changed to restrict access to those with narrow, need-to-know reasons.

Governor Taft and Ohio’s press are either too dumb to realize, or don’t care (or, I don’t know, maybe even think it’s a good thing), that every non-permit holder has a target painted on his or her back because of what they advocate.

You would think that the actual actions of permit holders might be of great interest to the print-press nannies at the Plain Dealer. After a Cleveland TV station covered an armed robbery attempt foiled by barber/CHL holder Ray Williams, Chad found that you would be wrong, and he of course knows why:

Surely they would cover the story, since indeed, even Cleveland police had expressed that there was a legitimate public interest in making sure as many people (specifically, would-be robbers) heard about the story.

Friday came, and went. Saturday too. Then Sunday. In fact, a full week has passed, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer has not uttered a word. In avoiding the story, the Plain Dealer has not served the legitimate public interest in deterring other criminals, nor has the story been used as an example of how the law is “working correctly”.

On the other hand, the Plain Dealer has found time to publish the following in the days since Mr. Williams’ defense of his life (he then lists five stories about Cleveland gun violence — Ed.) …..

The bottom line is that the Cleveland Plain Dealer has plenty of space for examples of where guns are used improperly (and in violation of numerous gun control laws), and plenty of time to devote to publishing the private, personal information of CHL-holders who have committed no crime, but has not a single drop of ink to spare for a story on another successful use of a concealed handgun for the protection of innocent life.

There is legislation before the Ohio General Assembly that will, as Chad describes it, “close media access to some CHL personal information.” Replacing “some” with “all” would be better, but it’s a start. This legislation is apparently on its way to passage, a Taft veto, and a General Assembly override. An override would be a fitting “go ahead and make our day” response to a typically gutless act by Ohio’s outgoing governor, who in his first gubernatorial campaign eight years actually promised to support concealed-carry legislation and concealed-carry holders.

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UPDATE: Matt at RAB has found one Ohio newspaper (in Findlay) supporting the legislation and strongly criticizing our so-lame-duck governor.

Weekend Question 4: When Is Ford Going to Have Its ‘Wal-Mart Moment’?

Filed under: Business Moves,Environment,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 11:12 am

ANSWER: Hopefully soon, if it wants to stay around.

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The bad news just keeps coming out of Dearborn, while the fortunes of the other members of the Big Three appear to have turned:

Ford’s slips to No. 4 in Nov. sales

With a slump in U.S. vehicle sales by Ford Motor Co. last month, the No. 2 domestic automaker was beaten out not only by Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. for a the second time ever but by DaimlerChrysler AG as well.

Ford, which also detailed planned production cuts, said Friday that sales dropped 9.7 percent in November compared with the same period a year ago. The drop came as industry sales rose a modest 2.9 percent to nearly 1.2 million vehicles.

Toyota sold 196,695 vehicles in November, a 15.9 percent increase over November 2005, and DaimlerChrysler’s were up 4.7 percent to 186,635, compared with Ford’s 181,111. Sales by GM, the world’s largest automaker, rose 6.1 percent to 293,558 vehicles in the U.S. last month.

“I think it’s more the product,” Global Insight analyst George Magliano said of Ford’s unexpected stumble.

Ford’s light truck sales dropped 13 percent to 119,259, including a 16.1 percent drop in sales of the dominant F-Series pickup, while car sales fell 2.6 percent to 61,852, reflecting lower deliveries to fleet customers.

Maybe it’s “the product,” but Bill Ford and new CEO Alan Mulally assume that “the product” is their only problem at their grave peril. It’s hard for me to believe that Ford’s product line is that bad, or that the product lines of GM and Daimler Chrysler are that good.

As noted several times previously (here, here, here [4th item], and here), Ford needs to acknowledge (and has not) that it has a serious problem on its hands with a boycott by Don Wildmon’s American Family Association over its embrace of the gay activist agenda.

This post is NOT about the merits of that agenda. Rather it is about:

  • The fact that Ford continues to divert management time and attention to items that don’t relate to its core business (this would also include its non-business-related environmental initiatives).
  • The fact that the company is ignoring pleas from its dealers (and likely from some of its employees and shareholders), who believe they are suffering from the AFA boycott, to alter its stance.
  • The fact that the company is forgetting that its primary duty is to its shareholders.

What’s more, the AFA’s latest e-mail (bolds removed; original links included) indicates that Ford, despite its borderline-dire circumstances, has gotten more instead of less distracted:

Prior to the recent elections, Ford Motor Company sent an e-mail to their salaried employees pointing them to one of the most liberal, anti-family Web sites on the Internet. Ford urged their employees to go to Ballot.org for information on how to vote on issues including homosexual marriage. (Go to 4th paragraph where it says “check out the 2006 BISC Picks [our yes and no votes].” The Ford-recommended Web site urged voters to vote against constitutional amendments which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman in Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Of the hundreds of voters guides Ford could have endorsed, Ford chose Ballot.org. Ford’s endorsement of this site clearly indicates that Ford favored the positions promoted on Ballot.org. The Web site accused those who favored the marriage amendments of “extreme bigotry” and said the amendments were an “attack on marriage equality, civil unions and all domestic partnerships.” This is the Web site Ford sent its employees to for information on how to vote.

Your efforts helped convince Wal-Mart to remain neutral in the homosexual marriage battle. AFA is asking that you do the same with Ford.

Geez, it turns out that AFA just scratched the surface. The following is just a sampling of other issue positions, characterizations, and often-insulting commentary at Ballot.org’s BISC Picks page that all Ford salaried employees were indeed referred to:

AZ Proposition 202: Economic Justice (minimum wage)
No-brainer….. The values issue of ’06.

CA Proposition 90: Environment/Land Use (regulatory takings)
Misleads voters that the issue is property rights. It’s actually special rights for big developers.

CA Proposition 89: Election Reform (Clean elections)
Cleans up a dirty system.

CA Proposition 85: Reproductive Freedom (parental notification)
Risky to teens and restrictive of reproductive choice.

ID Proposition 1: Education
More money for kids. An obvious choice.

MI Question 2: Affirmative Action
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative: Bad tactics, terrible policy. Affirmative action provides opportunities for women and minorities for better jobs and education.

NE Initiative 423: Tax & Budget (TABOR)
….. Grover Norquist’s vision of drowning government in a bathtub through TABOR.

WI Ballot Question 2: Criminal Justice (death penalty)
Meant as a conservative turnout driver. This is one policy that should never spread to new states.

Ford, in particular its Governmental Affairs area, has completely… lost… its… mind. What do any of the marriage initiatives, or any of the above initiatives, have to do with selling vehicles?

The answer, of course, is not a darn thing. This is so-called “Corporate Social Responsiblity” run completely amok coming from a company that won’t be around in a couple of years if it doesn’t get its act together.

Note that the AFA isn’t demanding allegiance to its position; it is asking for neutrality. AFA only asked Wal-Mart for neutrality; staring down the abyss, Wal-Mart went neutral, and decisively so. Yes, the retailer had a relatively weak first Christmas-shopping weekend, simply because it didn’t announce its change of heart until the previous Monday, and not all who had been upset got the news in time to alter their shopping plans. I’ll bet that most of the remaining Christmas season will be better for the company than the previous month has been.

Ford needs to get a grip, swear off ANY political activism in ANY direction, and get back to basics. The very survival of the company probably depends on it.

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RELATED: This Saturday column by Wayne Winegarden at Townhall is a hard-drive saver — “Corporate Social Responsibility is Immoral.”

Weekend Question 3: Did You Know about the Capture of the Baghdad Sniper or the 11 Ansar al Sunna Terrorists?

ANSWER. Betcha didn’t.

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Here they are:

  • Jawa Report: “Juba” the Baghdad Sniper Captured!
  • Jawa Report: Main Insurgent Group, Ansar al Sunna, Decapitated in Iraq

Here they aren’t:

  • Google News Search, sorted by Date, Nov. 27 – Dec. 2, on *Baghdad sniper captured* (NOT in quotes) — Jawa Report’s are the only relevant listings (darn, how did he get into Google News?).
  • Google News Search, sorted by Date, Nov. 27 – Dec. 2, on “Ansar al Sunna” (in quotes) — Jawa Report is there. There is a Washington Post report that has the Ansar al Sunna news at the ninth paragraph of a story that is not only primarily about the possible finding of the remains of a downed F-16 pilot, but that also gives no clue in the headline that any additional news is in the article. As of when the search was done (3 PM on Saturday), all other articles listed were either foreign publications or smaller US web sites that track military matters.

Here are capsule versions of the stories:

Baghdad Sniper

The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior announced that it has captured the Baghdad sniper known as Ali Nazar al Jubori. The name sounds eerily familiar. al Jubori….could this be the original Juba sniper? That is the claim being made.

(Note: The capture of the Baghdad Sniper was confirmed by the military at the same press conference [text at Michelle Malkin's site] where the military confirmed that Jamil Hussein is not an official Iraq police or Interior Ministry spokesman in the paragraph below.)

The third subject is, this week the strikes we made against the al-Qaeda terrorist organization in Baghdad were many and very strong in Baghdad. Before my arrival to this press conference, I was informed that one of the three who were just captured or detained is Mazer Al-Jubouri, aka the Baghdad Sniper, and his group. He admitted many things that are very important and very dangerous and our forces used this information about his network and conducted raids in the past 24 hours and detained 30 terrorists.

Ansar Al Sunna

BAGHDAD, Iraq – In one week’s time, Coalition Forces captured 11 suspected senior-level terrorists of Ansar al Sunna during a series of raids in north-central Iraq during mid-November.

During the raids, Coalition Forces captured the terrorist emirs of Iraq, Ramadi, Baqubah, Tikrit, al Qa’im, Bayji and Baghdad. They also captured two terrorist facilitators, a courier, an explosives expert and a financier.

The detention of these terrorists delivers a serious blow to the AAS network that is responsible for improvised explosive device attacks and suicide attacks and on Iraqi government, Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians. The AAS network is also responsible for multiple kidnappings, small arms attacks and other crimes in the central and northern part of Iraq.

AAS is considered by some to be a leading terror organization in Iraq as al-Qaida’s leadership continues to crumble and it loses its ability to function due to Iraqi and Coalition Forces systematic dismantling efforts.

Now you know, no thanks to the people whose job it’s supposed to be to inform us.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Omar at Iraq the Model has more news and commentary (HT Ron Wright) –

And yesterday we got the news here that 30 more militants have been arrested using intelligence that became available after arresting al-Jubori…

Where’s the MSM from all of this?
If he was a myth, then why were the media running stories about him and his operations in the first place?
And if he was for real, then why are they ignoring his arrest?

Whatever! All I care about is that a notorious bad guy has been arrested and is no longer able to harm anyone, and I like that!
Meanwhile, the silence of the MSM makes me, well…giggle but with a splash of disgust.

Positivity: Mother in coma laughs at her children’s jokes

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From the Times of London (excerpt is less than half of the whole article, so read the whole thing; HT Michelle Malkin):

November 28, 2006

A mother of two who has spent two years in a coma has started chuckling at her children’s jokes. It was the first sound Andrea Brushneen, 31, had made since suffering severe head injuries in a car crash.
The laughter started when her son, Mark, 7, began cracking jokes to see if he could get a response. Since then Mark and his sister Shaunagh, 11, have been trying different jokes to get her to chuckle again, and her 34-year-old husband, also called Mark, is hoping that she can spend her first Christmas at home since the accident in October 2004.

Although Mrs Brushneen is still in a coma, her family have raised £75,000 to convert their house to allow her to spend time at home.

Mr Brushneen, 34, said: “The kids and I were sitting around the bedside and Mark just began cracking jokes . . . they were just childish things and little family in-jokes but, amazingly, she began to laugh. We couldn’t believe it. It has lifted everyone’s spirits.

“We had only really ever communicated by nods and smiles before and we hadn’t heard her voice in two years. It was a very emotional moment.”

Mr Brushneen, a former postman who has given up his job to care for his wife, said: “Technically, Andrea is still in a coma but she is responsive . . . the children are always looking for new jokes and running around like clowns to make her laugh.

“The improvement in her has been amazing and it’s lifted everyone. We are all hopeful that soon she might start talking and that this is the first step of many.”