January 28, 2008

Latest Pajamas Media Column: ‘Driven a Ford Lately? Not If You’re Boycotting’

It’s here.

My title will be “Ford’s PC March to the Brink Continues, as Does Media Enabling” when I post the column at BizzyBlog on Wednesday morning.

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UPDATE 1: Holy moly. Shortly after midnight ET on Jan. 29, the PJM post has over 350 comments (and not one of them is mine). UPDATE 1A: The Ford boycott comment swarm was, uh, driven by an American Family Association e-mail Action Alert (web version here) that referred to the PJM column.

UPDATE 2, Jan. 29, 10:15 a.m.: Go through the 460 comments at PJM (comments there closed a few hours ago) and the ones posted below, and you can’t help but think that Ford is losing a disproportionate share of business to truck buyers because of the AFA boycott (beyond the 63-37 truck car split used in the post’s estimate — and remember, “trucks” includes minivans, SUVs, and crossovers). If so, the bottom line impact is much greater than the amount estimated at the post.

UPDATE 3, Feb. 3: The Auto Prophet makes a case that the AFA boycott is anti-Christian.

I think that reasonable people can disagree on this. Those who wish to dissociate themselves from something they consider evil surely have that right, but they should consider the implications of what they’re doing very carefully.

Ironically, in my opinion, the AFA might be inclined to call off the boycott in the name of showing mercy to employees and communities affected by Ford’s suicidal stubbornness. But Old Media, perhaps the most irresponsible party in all of this, would surely, and falsely, interpret such an action as an admission of defeat by AFA. They would say “What boycott? No one ever wrote anything about the boycott” — even though they are the ones who created the virtual blackout.

There’s little objective doubt that the AFA boycott has cost Ford an absolute minimum of $2 billion in gross profit on trucks and cars in the past two years. From a pool of 12-20 million estimated boycott supporters, it would only take 160,000 lost truck sales times the $11,000 used in the post plus 80,000 lost car sales x $3,000 to get to $2 billion — i.e. roughly 1%-2% of those promising to boycott carrying through on that promise ONE TIME in two years (many PJM commenters cited multiple vehicles not purchased by themselves and/or their families). That would be only about 35,000 lost sales per quarter, only about 40% of the 85,000 I exemplified for the fourth quarter at the Pajamas post.

To call off the boycott, AFA would thus have to deal with an undeserved loss of prestige and perceived clout, jeopardizing future efforts to influence the culture, thereby unacceptably compromising its mission. Because Old Media has painted AFA into that corner, AFA simply can’t do that.

Now, barring a sudden willingness by Old Media to report the obvious, only Ford can save itself.

Positivity: Power of Prayer

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Watermelon Park, Florida:

Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 11:33 PM EST

Pam Cribbs believes in the power of prayer. Last September, the 47-year-old mother of two was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer. Instead of sinking into depression, Cribbs pulled herself up by the bootstraps and decided to keep on living and let God handle the hard stuff.

“Throughout all of this I have had peace, I haven’t worried about it,” Cribbs said. “I wasn’t in control, God knew me before I was born, he knew this was going to happen.”

Two days before a camping trip in Stone Mountain, Ga., Cribbs decided to go to the doctor to check out some minor stomach pain she had been having.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal. I thought maybe I had a hernia or an ulcer,” Cribbs said. “Then the doctor started feeling my abdomen and said my liver was enlarged.”

By the end of the day, Cribbs was at Lake City Medical Center getting a Computerized tomography (CT) scan on her abdomen. The next day, Cribbs went back to the doctor who told her she had a mass on her pancreas and several on her liver.

She was then referred to a digestive disease specialist.

“I didn’t even want to think it was bad. They didn’t say it was cancer,” Cribbs said.

The digestive disease specialist was a little more nervous about the spots on Cribbs’ liver.

“He said the spots were innumerable and innumerable is not a good word,” Cribbs said.

The specialist suggested a biopsy and after the findings were observed by several pathologists and oncologists, Cribbs was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

The doctors told Cribbs the cancer was as bad as it gets.

“The doctors said I needed a miracle,” she said.

Asking the doctors how long she would live was never a question posed by Cribbs. For her, the doctors have no control on her life span, only God does.

“(The doctor) is not God. I believe that He is sovereign over all of it,” Cribbs said.

So Cribbs came up with a plan to keep herself healthy and keep life as normal for her kids as possible. Healthy eating, a positive attitude and a passionate belief that God would watch over her has given Cribbs an upbeat energy even as the chemotherapy brings her down.

She is bubbly and passionate, discussing her pre-teen children, D.J. and Callie, their artwork and homeschool lessons and the power of faith. The family are members of Hopeful Baptist Church. Cribbs’ father is a preacher in Tennessee. Without her faith, Cribbs said she would have probably fallen into a deep despair after the diagnosis.

“A lot of church family knew about it and they got prayer groups together to pray,” Cribbs said. “A lot of people still are.”

The thought that so many people have her health and family in their hearts and minds moves Cribbs to tears, especially since she has forgone praying for herself and has remained focused on her family.

“All throughout this I haven’t felt like praying for myself,” Cribbs said. “Everyone else has interceded for me and God has honored that.”

Cribbs said that when she prays, she prays for her husband and children and that they will have the strength to carry on and that God would comfort them if something did happen to her.

As Cribbs prepared herself for an uphill battle another less threatening but still dangerous diagnosis came through. Doctors had ruled out stage four pancreatic cancer, and Cribbs was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer.

Neuroendocrine cancer is a rare type of cancer which originates in the neuroendocrine system where the nervous and endocrine systems work together. The doctors told her that the diagnosis was better because they had a treatment plan they could treat the cancer with.

“This was the first miracle,” Cribbs said.

The procedure has Cribbs receiving six chemotherapy treatments. She goes for the treatments for a period of three days and then has two weeks off. Five of the six treatments have already been completed, Cribbs said.

The fourth treatment was completed just before Christmas.

Before the end of the year, and because of insurance constraints, Cribbs decided to get another CT scan to see how the chemotherapy was working on the cancer. A week after the scan, Cribbs went back to Gainesville to get some bloodwork done.

While waiting, a physician’s assistant told Cribbs and her husband, Rodney, that the tumors on her pancreas were gone and that except for some small lesions on her liver, the cancer was gone from there as well.

“It was nothing short of a miracle,” Cribbs said. “I said, ‘to God be the Glory,’ there is no way to explain it.”

Go here for the rest of the story.

Ford’s PC March to the Brink Continues, as Does Media Enabling

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 12:01 am

Maybe Ford Motor Company management can be forgiven for not taking seriously the American Family Association (AFA’s) call for its members to boycott the automaker in May 2005.

(Note: Yours truly does not support the AFA boycott, has one relative currently working for Ford, and another who is a Ford retiree.)

But several Ford dealers, recognizing the threat, convinced the AFA to suspend its boycott while they tried to convince the company to be less aggressive in promoting gay-agenda causes.

Ultimately, the dealers failed to change minds at the company’s Dearborn, Michigan headquarters.

AFA put the boycott back on in March 2006. AFA’s position, stated at its boycottford.com site, is that “Ford could have easily avoided this boycott had they desired to do so by simply remaining neutral in the cultural battles.”

The boycott has been in force, and has grown in force, ever since. That it has teeth is difficult to dispute:

  • The AFA’s home page claims that over 778,000 have signed its boycott petition.
  • The AFA itself claims to have over 3.3 million supporters.
  • Boycottford.com lists over 30 suporting organizations.
  • It is likely that each boycott supporter, AFA member, and at least some members of the other boycotting organizations have influenced three to five others not to buy Ford products.
  • That would mean that there are somewhere between 12-20 million Americans who will not buy Ford products.

In the 22 months since the boycott began, the company has suffered staggering losses in US sales volume:

FordMonthlySalesDeclinesThrough1207

The dropoffs at Ford are far worse than those seen during the same time period at the company’s Metro Detroit counterparts at General Motors and Chrysler.

There are, of course, other contributing factors, including a weak product line and the company’s conscious effort to reduce low-profit fleet sales. But despite the fact that the US Mainstream Media has paid almost no attention to it, there’s little doubt that the AFA boycott has contributed to a substantial portion of Ford’s pain.

Now the company may be on the brink.

Less than two years after about 33,000 employees left the company during a round of buyouts, the company is going to the buyout well again, to a degree that I believe is unprecedented, and with the cooperation of the United Auto workers, creating a staggering difference between the experienced haves and the newbie have-nots on the shop floor (bold is mine):

Ford Motor Co. will offer buyout and early retirement packages to 54,000 U.S. hourly workers, or 93 percent of its hourly work force, in an effort to cut costs and replace those leaving with lower-paid workers. Thursday’s announcement came as Ford said it narrowed its losses in 2007 but warned that the outlook for U.S. sales in 2008 remains grim.

….. Ford lost $2.8 billion, or $1.30 per share, in the fourth quarter, narrower than a loss of $5.6 billion, or $2.98 per share, in 2006. The full-year loss of $2.7 billion, or $1.35 per share, was significantly better than 2006, when Ford lost $12.6 billion, or $6.72 per share.

….. Under Ford’s new contract with the UAW, which was signed in November, Ford can pay new workers $14.20 per hour, or about half the wages of a current worker. Under the contract, up to 20 percent of Ford’s U.S. hourly work force may be paid at the lower wages.

Ford’s official results announcement noted that, excluding special items, “Fourth-quarter pre-tax loss (from continuing operations) was $620 million ….. All Automotive operations, with the exception of North America, were profitable for the full-year.”

For those who doubt the AFA boycott’s relevance, consider this — Assuming there are 17 million boycott participants, and that only 1/2 of 1% of them (85,000) had bought a Ford vehicle during the fourth quarter, the margin earned on those additional sales (assuming a product mix and incremental profit margins before fixed costs consistent with those identified at this July 2007 Forbes article on the auto industry) would have turned that $620 million fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations into a $63 million gain:

FordLost4thQsales

That’s an awfully high price to pay for political correctness.

Now consider this: Last September, Ford had $27.4 billion in cash. The Truth About Cars blog, bringing back a nearly forgotten term from the late-1990s bubble, estimates that the company’s cash “burn rate” is $12-$14 billion per year. At that rate (excluding possible sales of assets, etc.), the company, which has already utterly mortgaged itself, could run out of money by the end of 2009.

All in all, it would be much better if the suits in Dearborn had heeded the late Milton Friedman, who said that “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.” One hopes for the sake of the company’s shareholders and remaining employees that it’s not to late for Ford to face this reality, and the Mainstream Media to recognize it.

January 27, 2008

Mickey Kaus Refutes Clinton’s BOOHOO-Jackson Comparison

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:47 am

In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s 2-1 thrashing at the hands of BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) in South Carolina, the Clintonian spin is that it has no more significance than Jesse Jackson’s Palmetto State victories in 1984 and 1988.

Kausfiles blogger Mickey Kaus shows that the claim doesn’t stand up to scrutiny (links and bolds are in original):

Obama got about a quarter (24%) of the white vote, according to exit polls.

….. Update: Alert emailer L finds the following in a Christian Science Monitor story from March 17, 1988:
Although Jackson’s white support was significantly higher in South Carolina than in 1984 – it is estimated this year at between 5 and 10 percent of the voters – he has not made much headway with populist, blue-collar whites …

24% vs. 5-10%. It looks as if Bill Clinton’s comparison will not work to his wife’s advantage…. More: Tom Maguire asks the same question and gets the same answer, from an old New York Times story. The “5 percent to 10 percent” estimate of the white vote for Jackson seems to come from “party leaders.”

As a clarification, the reason the Times got the 1988 information from “party leaders” is that, at least per Wikipedia, South Carolina was a Democratic caucus state in 1988. The Times’s article further noted that Jackson received almost no white support in 1984.

Will Old Media outlets note the, ahem, vast white discrepancy between what Bill Clinton is claiming and the truth?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: My math says that BOOHOO had to have gotten almost 30% of the non-black vote in South Carolina:

ObamaRacialVotes0108

Considering the potentially toxic effect of the Clintonian spin, the difference between 30% and 25% is not insignificant.

Positivity: Lieutenant colonel Greg Gadson is Giants’ inspirational co-captain

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 7:00 am

From the New York Giants, via Iraq:

Tuesday, January 22nd 2008, 4:00 AM

His name is Lt. Col. Greg Gadson and he used to wear No. 98 for the Army football team and was with the Second Battalion and 32nd Field Artillery, on his way back from a memorial service for two soldiers from his brigade when he lost both his legs to a roadside bomb in Baghdad. It was the night of May 7, 2007, and Lt. Col. Gadson didn’t know it at the time because he couldn’t possibly have known, but it was the beginning of a journey that brought him to Lambeau Field Sunday night.

He was there as an honorary co-captain of the Giants, there on the sideline at Lambeau because this Giants’ season has become his season now and he wasn’t going to watch from some box. This is a Giant at the Super Bowl worth knowing about, as much as any of them.

“Me being a part of this team,” Gadson was saying Monday night from his home in Virginia, having made it back there from Green Bay, “really starts with the team I played on at West Point.”

He played at West Point between 1985 and 1988, and one of his teammates was Mike Sullivan, who played cornerback and some safety and is now one of Tom Coughlin’s assistants with the Giants. When Sullivan and so many other of Gadson’s teammates found out what had happened on the night of May 7, found that Gadson had first lost his left leg to arterial infections and then his right, it brought that old Army team back together.

“My injury turned out to be a catalyst event,” Gadson said. “These were guys who hadn’t talked in years, but now were rallying around me, and my family. Some of us had stayed in contact, but not to any great degree. But now an incident in a war reminded us that we were still brothers.”

Sullivan visited Gadson at Walter Reed, came back in June, this time with a No. 98 Giants jersey, Gadson’s own name on the back, signed by several Giants players. When Sullivan left that day in June, he said to Gadson, “What else can we do?”

Greg Gadson said he’d love to take his family to a Giants game.

It was the Giants-Redskins game, in Washington, third Sunday of the season, Giants 0-2 by then. The tickets were arranged and then the Friday before the game Mike Sullivan called and asked if Gadson would be interested in addressing the team on Saturday night.

Gadson’s wife Kim drove him to the Giants’ hotel. Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, Second Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, old outside linebacker from Army, spoke to the Giants. And just as no one knew that the Giants would begin a 10-game road winning streak the next day, just as no one knew this could ever become a Super Bowl season, no one in that room including Gadson himself knew that the soldier in the wheelchair was joining the season that night. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

January 26, 2008

NY Times Mentions Yours Truly; Of Course, Gets It Wrong

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 9:28 am

You wouldn’t expect the New York Times (Times links usually require free registration) to refer to work by yours truly without getting it wrong, would you? Why, of course not.

The portion of today’s “Taking the Bears to Task” brief by Times reporter Dan Mitchell that refers to my Wednesday Pajamas Media column (“Is the Downbeat Business Press Right about the Economy?”; also here at BizzyBlog) doesn’t disappoint.

Here is what Mitchell wrote (link is in original):

The mainstream media is also far too pessimistic, according to Tom Blumer, a blogger for Pajamas Media, a right-leaning Web site. On Tuesday, he quoted a routine dispassionate Reuters report about huge drops in stock index futures before the markets opened. The report, which indicated that the coming trading day might see big losses, amounted to “icing the champagne for the late afternoon,” he wrote — a typical case of the media’s seeking to “party hearty on bad news.”

That day, the Dow fell 465 points after the opening bell, then recovered somewhat as it digested the news of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut, closing down 128 points.

About that “routine dispassionate report,” which the Times conveniently didn’t link to — Since when does a “dispassionate” news report cover (celebrate?) how a trading day will fit into the record books even before the opening bell has rung?

It is also way too rich that the Times hangs the word “somewhat” on Tuesday’s intraday 337-point, 72% recovery.

The Times’s dictionary apparently defines “somewhat” a bit differently than you and I (Dictionary.com says “in some measure or degree; to some extent,” “to a small degree or extent”).

There’s a reason for that.

You see, NYT stock is also down, uh, “somewhat.” In fact, it’s down by, of all things, 72%, since its all-time high closing price of $52.79 on June 20, 2002:

NYT6yrChart012508

The stock’s peak coincides roughly with the initial onset of the paper’s case of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS). The disease first set in ahead of that year’s midterm elections, grew in the runup to the Iraq War vote, and has become ever more chronic since then.

The BDS at the Times is now so bad that on Friday, in its editorial endorsement of John McCain for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, it made these references to our current president:

  • He has been “governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe.” (projection, anyone?)
  • He “went AWOL” on September 11.
  • In Iraq, his “unsustainable escalation ….. (has) ….. not led to any change in Iraq’s murderous political calculus.”

As seen above, NYT closed at a once-unthinkable $14.66 on Friday. 5-1/2 years of “progressively” advancing BDS, accompanied by generous helpings of executive mismanagement, will do that. Battered NYT investors can be forgiven for worrying that the disease, rather than going into remission when George Bush leaves office, will instead refocus on another target.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture isn’t happy (HT Ironman in Comment 1) with how the Times covered its work either.

For those who will note that Big Pic is bearish, you’re missing the point. Ritholtz’s job is to guess which direction things are going, and to advise and invest accordingly. It’s not Old Media’s job to be bearish, which it has been since, oh, about January 21, 2001.

Positivity: Boys save Mum’s life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From New Zealand (video also at link):

Jan 5, 2008 6:49 PM

Two young boys are being hailed as heroes for helping bring their mother back from the dead.

The six and seven-year-olds rang 111 after their mother had a sudden cardiac arrest, then comforted her until help arrived.

There were kisses for mum from sons that saved her life.

Six-year-old Taine Eade and his seven-year-old brother Cullen were watching TV last Friday night when their mother Kendall had a sudden cardiac arrest.

“She stepped over a Toyworld bag and then just collapsed. So I rung up Grandad and he told me to ring 111,” says Cullen.

Cullen grabbed the phone as Kendall lay unconscious in the hallway.

“I just stayed with Mum and I saw her face going a bit purple,” says Taine.

With an ambulance on the way, the pair calmly followed the operator’s instructions.

“The lady that was speaking to me told me to roll her over. But I couldn’t so then she told me to tilt Mum’s head over a little bit and listen for if she was breathing. Well she wasn’t and then the ambulance people arrived,” says Cullen.

Kendall was clinically dead when help arrived. She had to be shocked five times with a defibrillator before her heart restarted.

Medics say the boys’ quick thinking undoubtedly saved her life.

Go here for the rest of the story.

January 25, 2008

Ford’s Buyouts: PC Wins, Workers Lose, Media Dozes

For personal and professional reasons, it gives me absolutely no pleasure to say that I saw this coming, and that it came sooner than I thought it would.

Here’s the news, assembled from wire reports by the Cincinnati Enquirer, in an article that should be entitled “Ford to Workers: Go Away” (bolds are mine throughout) —

Ford Motor Co. will offer buyout and early retirement packages to 54,000 U.S. hourly workers, or 93 percent of its hourly work force, in an effort to cut costs and replace those leaving with lower-paid workers. Thursday’s announcement came as Ford said it narrowed its losses in 2007 but warned that the outlook for U.S. sales in 2008 remains grim.

Ford wouldn’t say how many people it hopes will take the offer, but Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair said Ford has about 12,000 U.S. workers eligible for retirement, about 22 percent of its hourly work force.

Ford is offering eight different packages for employees, including a $50,000 lump-sum payment for non-skilled workers and a $70,000 lump-sum payment for skilled workers. That is sweeter than 2006, when non-skilled workers were offered $35,000.

….. The buyouts come in addition to a 2006 round of buyouts in which 33,600 U.S. hourly workers left the company. This time around, they could be replaced with lower-wage workers. Under Ford’s new contract with the UAW, which was signed in November, Ford can pay new workers $14.20 per hour, or about half the wages of a current worker. Under the contract, up to 20 percent of Ford’s U.S. hourly work force may be paid at the lower wages.

A Chicago Tribune report claims that buyout offers are being made to all hourly employees.

A Dow Jones Newswire report isolates the problem:

North American Losses Continue

Ford, since early 2006, has been trimming jobs and closing plants to match changing market demands, especially in North America where it reported a pre-tax loss of $1.6 billion for the fourth quarter, versus $2.7 billion a year earlier. The auto maker was profitable in all of its other regions.

It’s going to take more work than I have time for now to get hard numbers together, but you can’t help but think that the 778,000-plus who have signed the American Family Association’s boycott pledge over the company’s support of homosexual-activist publications and causes, along with AFA’s 3.35 million members, 40-plus other boycott-supporting organizations, and likely 3-5 word-of-mouth sympathizers for every AFA member, have collectively been a factor contributing to Ford-North America’s dire circumstances.

Yet Old Media continues to pretend that the boycott doesn’t exist, even as Ford’s sales have fallen far more than the other two Detroit-based carmakers during the almost two years of AFA’s boycott. Ford’s media pals have enabled the company to kid itself about the scope of the AFA problem, and to risk corporate suicide in the name of political correctness. For Ford hourly and salaried employees, a difficult day of reckoning has arrived.

Too bad the people who caused it aren’t the ones paying the price. Normally, a situation such as this, which I believe is unprecedented in size and scope, would be expected to lead to the killing of hundreds of trees and the consumption of terabytes of bandwidth to accommodate press outrage over high CEO pay coupled with workforce reductions — especially if a politically incorrect company were involved.

But for Ford, I’m supposed to believe all of this is just a bad break caused by bad market conditions.

Give me a break.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Wide Open, Part Deux at the Akron Beacon Journal (UPDATE: Coming Back?!? — !!!)

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,News from Other Sites — Tom @ 11:12 am

ABJthrowout

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Tip-Top of the Line Update, Jan. 26, 12:15 a.m.: The ABJs say the dueling Ks will be back in days

We hope on Monday to reopen the blogging by Democrat Kyle Kutuchief and Republican Ben Keeler. There are no guarantees we won’t hit more bumps, but we’re determined to give it a try.

Now here, it gets interesting:

Their mission is to comment on politics important to Ohioans – from their distinct partisan positions. However, if they are playing an active role in a campaign – such as working for a candidate or running for office – they cannot use our resources in an attempt to persuade voters, and they cannot be paid. Pay and commentary may resume once that active role in the campaign ceases.

Indeed, this is a limitation of freedom of speech. Kutuchief and Keeler know that they have a choice – maintain their own sites where they have complete freedom – or experiment with us in creating a central location for Ohio politics and elections that promotes public discourse while staying within the spirit of the law.

In the next several months there will be plenty of fodder for these two friends who sit on opposite sides of the aisle, even if they have to avoid comment on a couple particular races.

So, let’s have at it.

The sentence I bolded would make it appear that the dueling Ks have been asked to abandon their own blogs (why else would it be an “or” situation?). Unless I’m missing something, if that’s true, it seems wholly unnecessary.

Also, at the risk of opening an old wound, but on the plus side for ABJ and the dueling Ks, I think what we’re seeing here is a willingness to work through the issues that unfortunately wasn’t present at Wide Open. I’ll leave it to others to allocate the blame on that.

MORE, Jan. 28 — Kyle at Chief Source elaborates. Good luck to all. I’ve blogrolled Chief Source and The Point (to avoid the need for a search warrant, the links are in “Other Localities and State Lists.” :–>). Also, here’s Ben’s original announcement of the relationship.

_________________________________________________

Topline Update 1, 1:45 p.m.: Comment 1 below chides me by essentially saying that it’s not over yet. I’ll concede the possibility.

However, history gives me a reason to be skeptical. Jean Dubail’s final post at Wide Open (“Wide Open takes a holiday”) said that “we’re going to call an indefinite halt to the project and step back to regroup.” The “regroup” has been to post on what’s going on in the Ohio blogosphere. It’s reasonably well done (but I couldn’t find it just now starting from here). But it’s in-house, and I suspect the Plain Dealer will keep it that way for the foreseeable future.

For Ben and Kyle’s sake, I’d like to be wrong, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on a comeback for The Point, or at least Ben and Kyle blogging there.

Topline Update 2, 3:15 p.m.: Bill Sloat reports that he spoke with Doug Oplinger, the ABJ’s managing editor, and that, per Sloat, “no decision has been made to kill the new blog off.”

Nor to continue it with its current pair of bloggers, I might add.

______________________________

My reax: Ridiculous and outrageous. Again.

I could go on and on, but what’s the point? Even with full disclosure, “they” don’t get it. “They” are Old Media types and the politicians who can’t handle competitive voices.

I would hope that the ABJ will give Ben and Kyle a final post. I’ll be surprised if it happens.

Alex Arshinkoff should fall on his sword and stop embarrassing Ohio Republicans.

Enough.

Others (will be added to as they are found and as time is available):

  • Psychobilly Democrat
  • NixGuy
  • Pho, with an echo — “The ABJ was right to be concerned, but why then weren’t they concerned before the launch?” As politicized as everything is any more, that logic could all too easily be extended beyond party offices to memberships on boards and other forms of community involvement (churches, activist groups, etc.; “Oh, he’s a member of the Chamber of Commerce, you’re giving Big Business an undeserved platform.”).
  • (This space reserved for WLST) Ah, here’s Jill (“Jeez-us…. Are they kidding?”). Get well quickly.
  • (This space reserved for Ohio Daily Blog)
  • Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion — “….. when I hear that a GOP County Chairman whined to a 527 media outlet for having the audacity to hire a conservative blogger that opposses said county chairman, I have to think that it is time to send that county chairman packing.” A-bleeping-men.
  • Jerid at BSB — “Can’t say this is too surprising.”
  • Boring Made Dull — “At some point, if the MSM is going to engage bloggers, it needs to understand that it’s primarily engaging op-ed writers.”
  • Ed Esposito — “Consider this political free speech math: you can’t add to the debate by subtracting voices.”

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Related:
- Nov. 17, 2007 — The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Dick Feagler Explains Why Blogs Exist, and Are Important
- Nov. 6 — My Last Boring Plain Dealer-Wide Open Follow-up Post
- Oct. 31 — My $.02
- Oct. 31 — The Jeff Coryell-PD-Wide Open Thing
- Oct. 31 — Since ‘Everybody’ Is Wondering (and Before Y’all Die of Boredom Looking)

Carnival Barking, and Catch-up (012508)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 10:04 am

The latest Carnival of Ohio Politics, assembled by Scott at Pho’s Akron Pages, is here.

The monster 100th Ohio Carnival was compiled in two segments last week (Part I; Part II) by Jill at Writes Like She Talks.

Boring Made Dull’s 52nd on Econ and Social Policy is here.

First Pajamas Media Column: “How to Keep the Bearish Business Press from Talking Down the Economy”

Filed under: General,News from Other Sites — Tom @ 9:53 am

I’ve been engaged to write for Pajamas Media.

My first column was Wednesday, and is here at PJM.

There is a 48-hour embargo on the work I do for PJM. Once the hold is off, I will, as I am doing now, post a reference to the identical blog post carrying the same date and time as the PJM post (but, if applicable, using my preferred title, which in this case is “How to Keep the Bearish Business Press from Talking Down the Economy”).

I am hopeful that the PJM relationship will be long-term.

Old Media and This Week’s Markets: Who Knows They’re Up — Quite a Bit?

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 9:20 am

The tone of this week’s reporting on the US stock markets would lead you to believe that even though Wednesday and Thursday were pretty good days, the markets are down for the week.

That’s completely wrong.

The Dow is up 279 points (2.3%):

Dow012408.jpg

How about the broader S&P 500? It’s up almost 27 points (or 2.0%):

SandP012408.jpg

The NASDAQ, weighed down not by actual results, but by gloomy expectations from the likes of Apple and Ebay, is only up by a bit less than 21 points (0.9%):

NASDAQ012408.jpg

A quick review of business press coverage shows why most people probably don’t know that the markets are, heading into Friday’s opening, up for the week. It’s because there may not be anyone who’s actually reporting that fact.

Examples:

  • It’s not here at the New York Times (Jan. 25 — “With a Day of Steady Gains, U.S. Stocks Join in a Global Rebound”).
  • It’s not here at the Washington Post (Jan. 24 — “Wall St. U-Turn Pulls U.S. Stocks Out of Nosedive”; the Dow and S&P were positive for the week at the close on Wednesday).
  • This pre-opening report today from the Associated Press (“U.S. Stocks Head for Strong Open”) gets close as it describes the events of the week thus far in the second-last paragraph, but doesn’t actually say that this week has been positive.

This seems to be a pretty obvious piece of missing information business readers should know. Why is it missing?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Column of the Day: Kudlow on How Bill Gates(!) Doesn’t Get Capitalism

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:48 am

At Townhall.com:

….. Gates says he has grown impatient with the shortcomings of capitalism. He thinks it’s failing much of the world.

….. Gates is ignoring the global spread of free-market capitalism that has successfully lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and into the middle class over the last decade. Think China. Think India. Think Eastern Europe. (Maybe even think France under Nicolas Sarkozy.) Gates wants business leaders to dedicate more time to fighting poverty. But the reality is that economic freedom is the best path to prosperity. Period.

….. The reality here is that the rising tide of global capitalism is lifting all boats that employ it. Capitalism works. It’s a good thing. It’s the key to unlocking a nation’s prosperity. In fact, free-market capitalism is the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised by man.

Apple fans might argue that Gates hasn’t been a capitalist as much as he’s been a copycat, but I digress.

The phenomenon of global capitalism lifting vast numbers of people out of poverty has been noted at this blog several times (here, here, here, and here, to note just a few). Microsoft’s products, as flawed as they sometimes are, have been among the engines enabling that to happen. Gates’s remarks at Davos merely show that you don’t have to understand or appreciate capitalism to benefit from it.

Businesses, and the capitalists that run them who carry out their functions properly, are fighting poverty every single day.

Positivity: Hero Medic Rushes to the Rescue

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Renfrewshire, UK:

Jan 7 2008

A GUTSY schoolgirl whose leg snapped in two places when she was hit by a car is desperate to meet a mystery paramedic who jumped off a bus and rushed to her rescue.

Last night, 15-year-old Melissa Colvin said she believes she might have lost her shattered limb if it hadn’t been for the quick-thinking actions of the Good Samaritan.

The teenager was in agony and semi-conscious as the off-duty medic attended to her horrific injuries. Witnesses said it was only Melissa’s boot that was holding her right leg together.

The Good Samaritan held the youngster’s hand and stayed with her until an ambulance arrived at the scene.

Then she disappeared – and no-one knows who she is.

Melissa had to go through hours of emergency surgery that led to at least four metal pins and support wires being inserted in her badly-damaged leg.

As she continued her recovery, she said: “I would love to meet the paramedic to say thanks. If it hadn’t been for her, I could have lost my leg.”

Melissa was with her 15-year-old pal Heather Gibson when the nightmare accident happened.

They had just got off a bus in Renfrew and were running along Paisley Road to catch another single decker when Heather was hit by a car.

In the seconds that followed, Melissa was also struck and thrown into the air.

The brave schoolgirl said: “I ended up lying on the road and I immediately tried to stand up but just ended up collapsing straight back on to the ground.

“I don’t remember much after that but I do recall that a woman was talking to me and encouraging me to stay awake.

“All I wanted to do was to close my eyes but a woman paramedic had got off a bus and rushed to my aid and was trying to comfort me.

“I was eventually carried into an ambulance and Heather came with me because she had a foot injury.

“The accident was my fault. I was running along the road with Heather to catch a bus, which was stupid of me.

“My carelessness has caused me a lot of pain and heartache. I urge everyone to take extra care when out on the roads. Just look at what happened to me.”

A close friend of Melissa’s family described the girl’s leg injury as “frightening.”

“Her lower leg bone had snapped in two places,” said the friend. “The leg was hanging at an angle and I think her boot was holding it together.

“I’m sure the prompt action of the off-duty medic saved her from losing the leg. There was also another woman at the scene who did a brilliant job of comforting Melissa.

“I know the driver of the car was in a state of shock following the accident but there is no blame there. Melissa admits herself that she was at fault.”

Melissa is now on the mend at the family home in Erskine.

Go here for the rest of the story.

January 24, 2008

The Bob Taft vs. Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney ‘Face-off’

Filed under: Economy,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:06 pm

If the polls are to be believed, it would appear that the logical approach opponents of Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy are using to explain his record of constitution-breaking, flip-flip-flopping, and betrayal, while providing copious details to prove the points, isn’t working.

Maybe that’s because that approach is so, well, left-brained.

Maybe it’s time for a new, more (ahem) right-brained approach.

So here goes.

(Links are absent, because they’re so, y’know, left-brained.)

This is Mitt Romney:

MittRomneyFull

This is Ohio’s previous governor, Bob Taft:

BobTaftFull

Got it? Okay.

Now let’s compare MittRomney to BobTaft:

______________________

BobTaft mostly raised taxes and increased some fees, in combined amounts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
MittRomney mostly raised fees and increased some taxes, in combined amounts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

______________________

BobTaft presided over an economy that generated few new jobs and failed to share in the country’s general 2003-2006 prosperity.
So did MittRomney, in spite of his vaunted “business” experience.

______________________

BobTaft opposed Ohio’s same-sex marriage constitutional amendment in 2004. It passed anyway.
MittRomney called his state’s attempt in (I believe) 2002 at a constitutional amendment too extreme (I believe it never got on the ballot in MA). His state has never passed such a constitutional amendment.

______________________

MittRomney, an alleged champion of free-market economics, imposed a state-run health care system on his commonwealth that will penalize people who don’t buy coverage either $912 or $1,824 for not having it.
BobTaft didn’t impose any such system on his state.

______________________

MittRomney, while claiming a prolife “epiphany,” imposed taxpayer-subsidized abortions with a $50 co-pay on his state.
BobTaft, who was prolife for decades, didn’t.

______________________

MittRomney violated his state’s constitution and his oath of office by unilaterally imposing same-sex marriage on his commonwealth.
BobTaft, for all his myriad faults, did no such thing.

______________________

Despite all of this and so many other items I could list (a lot of right-brainers can’t focus for too long, so I’m stopping here), MittRomney is considered by many to have been a good governor, and is now a leading presidential contender.
Meanwhile, BobTaft is considered one of the worst governors, if not the worst, in his state’s history.
But in reality, MittRomney governed worse than BobTaft.

______________________

But MittRomney does have better hair. The hair, plus Money, remain the only conceivable reasons why MittRomney is so popular among conservatives who almost universally despise BobTaft.

______________________

So when you see or hear about Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney, this is the image you should hang onto in your head:

Bob Romney

Choosing a GOP nominee for president becomes a much easier exercise.

And you left-brainers are free to criticize yours truly for how weakly I combined the last picture. Alternative pictorial contributions are welcome.

_____________________________________________

UPDATE: The artist, formally known as Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion, is responsible for the late-night, uh, improvement to the composite picture.