April 30, 2009

Press Release From Chrysler’s Non-TARP Lenders: The Day the Rule of Contract Law Died?

Since it’s a press release, there’s no harm in posting this in full, especially since Barack Obama is using the appropriately named bully pulpit to demonize those who released it for merely representing the interests of those whose money they have invested.

And it needs to be (bolds are mine):

Statement From Non-Tarp Lenders To Chrysler

Last update: 10:47 a.m. EDT April 30, 2009

NEW YORK, Apr 30, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — As of last night’s deadline, we were part of a group of approximately 20 relatively small organizations; we represent many of the country’s teachers unions, major pension and retirement plans and school endowments who have invested through us in senior secured loans to Chrysler. Combined, these loans total about $1 billion. None of us have taken a dime in TARP money.

As much as anyone, we want to see Chrysler emerge from its current situation as a viable American company, and we are committed to doing what we can to help. Indeed, we have made significant concessions toward this end – although we have been systematically precluded from engaging in direct discussions or negotiations with the government; instead, we have been forced to communicate through an obviously conflicted intermediary: a group of banks that have received billions of TARP funds.

What created this much-publicized impasse? Under long recognized legal and business principles, junior creditors are ordinarily not entitled to anything until senior secured creditors like our investors are repaid in full. Nevertheless, to facilitate Chrysler’s rehabilitation, we offered to take a 40% haircut even though some groups lower down in the legal priority chain in Chrysler debt were being given recoveries of up to 50% or more and being allowed to take out billions of dollars. In contrast, over at General Motors, senior secured lenders are being left unimpaired with 100% recoveries, while even GM’s unsecured bondholders are receiving a far better recovery than we are as Chrysler’s first lien secured lenders.

Our offer has been flatly rejected or ignored. The fact is, in this process and in its earnest effort to ensure the survival of Chrysler and the well being of the company’s employees, the government has risked overturning the rule of law and practices that have governed our world-leading bankruptcy code for decades.

We have a fiduciary responsibility to all those teachers, pensioners, retirees and others who have entrusted their money to us. We are legally bound to protect their interests. Much as we empathize with Chrysler’s other stakeholders, the capital is just not ours to contribute to their cause by accepting a deal that is outside the well established legal framework and cannot be rationalized as being commercially reasonable.

We are continuing to discuss our position with the United States Treasury. We have made a proposal which we earnestly believe is fair and would appropriately recognize our legal position.

As President Obama implied yesterday, it is likely that Chrysler will have to file Chapter 11 whether or not all lenders agree to any particular proposal. Chapter 11 is often used to help implement an agreed deal and dispose of unwanted legacy liabilities. We are hopeful and optimistic that we will reach a positive resolution of our issues so that all stakeholders will move forward together to implement Chrysler’s “quick trip” restructuring in an un-contested proceeding. Our Group will never initiate a bankruptcy filing on Chrysler – that is a decision for the Company and the Administration to make.

As we all appreciate, laws are the foundation of our economy and society. Despite recent travails, our country remains the economic envy of the world and the United States remains a vital engine of global growth. The rule of law made it that way. We urge that people remember this and not succumb to unproductive and unwarranted finger pointing.

The Committee of Chrysler Non-Tarp Lenders
SOURCE: The Committee of Chrysler Non-Tarp Lenders

Legally, if such things matter anymore, the bankruptcy filing takes the secured non-TARP lenders back up to presumptive 100% recovery of whatever is available, with senior priority. If I were with the non-TARP lenders, I’d say “bring it on” in a normal bankruptcy proceeding. In fact, they would appear to have a fiduciary duty, if such things matter any more, to do just that.

The government can’t force them down (yet), the UAW can’t force them down, and the TARP-handicapped banks can’t force them down. Only a bankruptcy judge can. Will he or she follow his or her oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, or give in to a budding authoritarian enterprise?

April 30, 2009, may indeed go down as the day the Rule of Contract Law died.


UPDATE: A Jessica Pressler at nymag.com calls the above statement in which the lenders assert their rights and invoke the rule of law “push(ing) the Obama-is-a-Communist button.” Bleep you, Jessica. Bleeeeeeep you.

UPDATE 2: Obama’s demonization includes a heavy dose of cowardice –

With a flash of anger Thursday morning, President Barack Obama offered a blistering critique of “a small group of speculators” who refused to go along with the government’s plan to keep Chrysler out of bankruptcy.

But in a background briefing with reporters at the White House later, senior administration officials would not say exactly who the speculators are that have angered the president.

“We know who some of them are,” said an administration official. But asked if he would name them, the official said, “no.”

The White House is somewhat hamstrung because it is not dealing with the lenders directly. Instead, Obama’s auto task force is negotiating with J.P. Morgan, which is serving as the lenders’ agent. J.P. Morgan represented lenders that agreed to take the deal as well as those that rejected it.

Even as lawmakers on Capitol Hill were blaming at least three funds – Oppenheimer Funds, Perella Weinberg Partners and Stairway Capital – White House officials are declining to name names. Still, the administration official insisted, “we’re not trying to hide them or protect them.”

No, they want to ward off a backlash from those noted in the first paragraph of the release whose investments the funds have been trying to salvage.

Obama was invoking the ghost of FDR, who frequently demonized stock and other speculators during the Great Depression he singlehandedly lengthened to over a decade, and directing his wrath at lenders. These aren’t “speculators”; they are entities that rent out capital in return for (hopefully) being repaid.

This actually explains the mortgage-lending mess. Our President apparently believes that anyone who lends money, expects it back, and negotiates aggressively to protect their interests when they’re not getting paid is a “speculator” — and “speculators” can apparently be screwed without remorse or regret.

Someone will probably try to play the “coward” card with the following, so let’s head it off at the pass:

The group – which refuses to list its members – claims to represent about $1 billion in loans to Chrysler, and says its members have not taken any government TARP bailout money.

What, they’re supposed to volunteer to have Obama’s hired goons known as ACORN and others harass their execs, their families, and their neighbors? I don’t think so.

UPDATE 3: Well, I now see that Matthew Goldstein at Biz Weak played the “coward” card earlier today. See above, Matt.

Obama’s First Hundred Days (Update: ‘SWAGGA’ as the New ‘PUNK’)

ObamaMags0409.jpgI had been hoping to do more with this, but time and technology ran short.

Posting the lyrics to “The Hundred Days of Obama” nonetheless seem appropriate on the day an American icon of sorts bit the dust. So here goes, with some links and graphics to follow later:

The Hundred Days of Obama

In his first hundred days Obama gave to me,
A going-socialist economy.

In his first hundred days Obama gave to me,
Two broke automakers
And a going-socialist economy.

In his first hundred days Obama gave to me,
Three emboldened thugs
Two broke automakers
And a going-socialist economy.

In his first hundred days Obama gave to me,
Four prime-time primpings
Three emboldened thugs
Two broke automakers
And a going-socialist economy.

In his first hundred days Obama gave to me,
Five tax “things.” [1]
Four prime-time primpings,
Three emboldened thugs,
Two broke automakers,
And a going-socialist economy.

In his first hundred days Obama gave to me,
Twelve teleprompters,
Eleven costly bills,
Ten Trillion in Deficits,
Nine apologies,
Eight mags a milking,
Up to seven Gitmo terrorists,
At least six Clintonistas,
Five tax “things.”
Four prime-time primpings,
Three emboldened thugs,
Two broke automakers,
And a country heading into bankruptcy.


[1] – Actually more, if you count those who didn’t get their nominations submitted or who weren’t confirmed. There are at least Geithner, Daschle, Solis, Kirk, and Sebelius.


UPDATE: CNN is very late to the game. What they’re trying to call SWAGGA, which is really a false projected self-confidence based on lack of substance, I’ve been calling PUNK from the beginning. Once again, yours truly was a pioneer. :–>

UPDATE 2: Here’s a transcript of Obama’s “100 Days” speech.

Chrysler files for bankruptcy

News link.

Immediate thoughts: Now we have the prospect of:

  • $8 billion more of taxpayers’ money down the tubes.
  • The United Auto Workers running an auto comany, and ….
  • Representing a competitor’s workers (Ford’s) at the bargaining table.

For all the back-and-forth in Washington about conflict of interest in the most piddling situations, this is a historical doozy that is somehow no problemo. What it is, is an outrage. If I were Ford, I would oppose Chrysler’s apparent plan for bankruptcy emergence tooth and nail as a matter of survival.

Lucid Links (043009, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:48 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

Supporting the point made in this post Tuesday about newspaper circulation, namely that the New York Times sees Obama worship as a survival strategy, a Times reporter Twittered (HT Michelle Malkin) that the company “has sold $2 million worth of obama merchandise.” No conflict of interest there, eh? It’s as if he’s the local sports team. Zheesh.

Sherrod Brown’s vote to support proabort radical Kathleen “No Abortionist Left Behind” Sebelius was not a surprise (roll call here). George Voinovich’s Spectervich’s was, and is a bitter disappointment coming from someone whose sole remaining legitimate claim to conservative values is supposedly being prolife. It’s further evidence that the 17th Amendment was a mistake that should be undone (and probably never will be). Before it, senators could be recalled from Washington by their legislatures. The 17th has no recall provision. Lame ducks can do anything they want with impunity for conceivably up to six years, and are not subject to recall. The Founders gave great deference to senators, but they did not expect them to turn into multi-year untouchables.

Related — A (PDF) letter signed by 32 congressmen urged President Obama to withdraw the Sebelius nomination, because “During her time in public office she has she has worked against even such modest (life-protecting) measures as parental notification, waiting periods, and informed consent.” That letter didn’t have the signatures of Steve Driehaus, who claims to be prolife and objectively is not, or John Boccieri, who won’t even answer direct life-related questions. Don’t give me any crap about the list being all GOP, if indeed it is. If that’s the excuse, the absence of the two Ohio Democrats’ signatures is strong evidence that Driehaus’s and Boccieri’s party is more important than their principles.

Great historical point that needs repeating, especially because the Left can’t handle it — The Mathew Shepard murder was not a hate crime (“What it came down to really is drugs and money and two punks that were out looking for it”; HT Brad Wilmouth at NewsBusters). As would be expected, Keith Olbermann went ballistic over this evidence-based claim. Update: Invincible Armor elaborates nicely.

If the Bush administration had done the incredibly stupid Manhattan fly-by (which, because they had common sense, they would never have even considered), it would have supplanted swine flu as the most important story of the past few days. Doug Powers notes an error in the apology.

Ira Einhorn lawyer Arlen Specter became a Democrat primarily because of Pat Toomey. So “obviously,” someone else besides Toomey has to run against Specter in the general. This is pathetic.

In his 100th day town hall meeting set-up yesterday, Obama said, of the tea parties that he was said to be unaware of, that “I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security.” Well, the National Tea Party Coalition has accepted his offer. Put up or shut up, pal.

April 29, 2009

AP’s Calvin Woodward Does Astonishing Fact Check on Obama

APlogo0409.jpgSomebody needs to ‘fess up. Who put truth serum in Calvin Woodward’s coffee this morning?

Whoever it is, they’re in a heap of trouble, as Woodward produced a fact-checking critique of Barack Obama that is so good you’d swear most of it was ghostwritten by a conservative talk host.

It will be interesting to see how much distribution it gets. I would suggest not counting on too much, but being open to a pleasant surprise.

Regardless of its distribution, you’d better believe they’ve read it in the White House, and they’re wondering what in the world happened.

Here are key paragraphs from Woodward’s rundown, which is really, seriously, a read (and save) the whole thing item (it is saved at my host for future reference; HT to Mark Levin, who excerpted the report on his show tonight):

FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape

“That wasn’t me,” President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.

It actually was him — and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years — who shaped a budget so out of balance.

And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.

Are we having fun yet?

….. His assertion that his proposed budget “will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term” is an eyeball-roller among many economists ….

….. OBAMA: “Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit…. That wasn’t me.

….. THE FACTS: Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama’s last two years as Illinois senator. Obama supported the emergency bailout package in President George W. Bush’s final months — a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.

….. OBAMA: “You could cut (Social Security) benefits. You could raise the tax on everybody so everybody’s payroll tax goes up a little bit. Or you can do what I think is probably the best solution, which is you can raise the cap on the payroll tax.” — in Missouri.

THE FACTS: Obama’s proposal would reduce the Social Security trust fund’s deficit by less than half, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

That means he would still have to cut benefits, raise the payroll tax rate, raise the retirement age or some combination to deal with the program’s long-term imbalance.

The main criticism I have of Woodward’s report is that he doesn’t understand that there has always been a correlation between Social Security taxes paid and Social Security benefits received during retirement. Thus, he sees making the payroll tax apply to incomes higher than $102,000 (the 2008 upper limit) strictly as a revenue raiser, without realizing that a failure to increase benefits commensurately, which would almost certainly not happen, would break that historic link and officially turn Social Security into a welfare program (astute readers already know that it already is a welfare program, in the sense that it is an intergenerational transfer from current workers to current retirees, because there really is no “Trust Fund” with real assets).

But there are enough zingers in one place to talk down Obama’s 100-day defenders with ease.

Enjoy it. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking a lot of people will see it, or that it marks any kind of general change in direction at AP.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

What a Difference A Few Hours Makes: Hopeful AP Reporting on GDP Goes Dour, Looks For Excuses

The Associated Press’s Jeannine Aversa, who became infamous last year for her stories of “vanishing jobs” that weren’t, sounded hopeful early this morning before the release by Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of its first-quarter report on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth:

Economy’s free-fall probably eased in 1Q
The recession’s grip on the country may be letting up a bit.

The government is set to release a report Wednesday expected to show the economy shrank at a pace of 5 percent in the first three months of this year. If Wall Street analysts’ forecasts’ are correct, the figure — while still extremely weak — would be viewed as a hopeful sign that the worst of the recession — in terms of lost economic activity — may be past.

“The recession is easing up,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia. “We’re probably bottoming out here in the first half of this year.”

….. Many analysts predict the economy will shrink even less in the current April-June period — at a pace of 1 to 2.5 percent. Tax cuts and increased government spending on big public works projects included in President Barack Obama’s $787 billion should help bolster economic activity. Analysts hope the economy will actually start to grow again in the final quarter of this year.

Given how unimpressed AP business reporters were during the Bush Economy’s 2003-2007 reasonably strong growth period– even during quarters of 4%-plus growth, it seemed that the economy was always on the brink of recession, regardless of how well it was performing — Aversa’s mild enthusiasm over an anticipated -5% is more than a little hard to take.

But Aversa and her chosen sources consumed crow when the BEA reported at 8:30 a.m. that the quarter’s annualized contraction was 6.1%, basically as bad as the fourth quarter of 2008.

Here is how Aversa reversed herself:

The economy shrank at a worse-than-expected 6.1 percent pace at the start of this year as sharp cutbacks by businesses and the biggest drop in U.S. exports in 40 years overwhelmed a rebound in consumer spending.

The Commerce Department’s report, released Wednesday, dashed hopes that the recession’s grip on the country loosened in the first quarter. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 5 percent annualized decline.

Instead, the economy ended up performing nearly as bad as it had in the final three months of last year ….

In the January-March quarter consumers came back to life, boosting their spending after two straight quarters of reductions. The 2.2 percent growth rate was the strongest in two years.

Much stronger demand for big-ticket “durable” goods, including cars, furniture and household appliances led the increase. That spending rose at a 9.4 pace, the most in a year. Consumers also boosted spending on clothing, shoes, recreation services, medical care, gasoline and other energy products. But not on food, where spending dipped slightly.

Still, the consumer rebound was swamped by heavy spending cuts in virtually every other area.

Businesses cut spending on home building, commercial construction, equipment and software, and inventories of goods.

….. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the first-quarter’s showing a “pretty severe contraction,” but added that some more up-to-date signals on the economy have been more encouraging. “We continue to get, as the president said, some glimmers of hope,” he said.

….. Inventory reductions shaved 2.79 percentage points off overall first-quarter economic activity.

However, the recent outbreak of the swine flu, which started out in Mexico and has spread to the United States and elsewhere, poses a new potential danger. If the flu stifles trade and forces consumers to cut back further, those negative forces would worsen the recession.

The first two bolded paragraphs are strong indicators that Aversa’s chosen experts underestimated the impact of the massive levels of uncertainty the Obama administration injected into the economy, both during the post-election transition and its first 70 days in power. A short version of a much longer list would include de facto nationalizations; attacks on corporate bonuses; arbitrary TARP decisions, including forcing banks which had money forced on them to keep it; and threats to spread micromanagement of employee compensation to all public [even non-public?] companies, and to all employees.

It’s clear that businesses have responded to the uncertainty by further battening down the hatches, reining in spending and keeping inventories (and economic exposure) as low as possible — a process whose beginning can be traced back to the beginning of what I have been calling The POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy (now known as the POR Recession As Normal People Define It) last June.

The third bolded item carries the faint aroma of advance excuse-making.

I would suggest that as long as the heavy-handed intervention and uncertainly continue, any recovery that occurs will come later than it should have, and will be weaker than it should have been.

In fact, this paragraph from Aversa seems to expect that this is what will happen:

The national jobless rate is now at a quarter-century high of 8.5 percent and is expected to hit 10 percent by the end of this year. It will probably rise a bit higher in early 2010 before starting to slowly drift downward.

But earlier, she quotes an analyst, supposedly representing many others with a similar view, saying that “the economy will be entering a recovery by the end of this year.”

I would suggest that as long as the heavy-handed intervention and uncertainly continue, any recovery that occurs will come later than it should have, and will be weaker than it should have been.

In other words, instead of the “jobless recovery” George W. Bush’s opponents derided earlier this decade, they’re predicting that it will be a “job-loss recovery.” If so, even if the economy stops being in a recession as normal people define it, it may and probably should continue to be called a recession as the National Bureau of Economic Research inconsistently and arbitrarily defines it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

1Q09 Advance GDP: An Annualized -6.1%; The POR Economy Continues Unchecked

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:55 am

Here’s the first paragraph from the Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — decreased at an annual rate of 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009, (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP decreased 6.3 percent.

The first three full quarters of The POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, aka The POR Recession As Normal People Define It, which actually began in mid- to late-June of last year, have been as follows:

  • 3Q08 — minus 0.5% (-0.125% not annualized)
  • 4Q08 — minus 6.3% (-1.614% not annualized)
  • 1Q09 — minus 6.1% (-1.561% not annualized)

Including (negative) compounding, and pending subsequent revisions to 1Q09, the documented contraction during The POR Economy has been 3.27%.

That degree of contraction alone doesn’t explain the 19%-plus drop in federal tax collections from October 2008 through April 2009 (as estimated):


The POR Economy aka POR Recession itself explains a lot of it; the Obama administration’s continued injection of uncertainty into the economy in so many forms (de facto nationalizations, attacks on corporate bonuses, arbitrary TARP decisions, and threats to spread micromanagement of pay to all public [even non-public?] companies, just for starters) is now officially a large element of that. The ongoing “Going Galt” phenomenon that also began last summer” basically explains the rest, and might also explain why the advance result was worse than expectations of -5.0%, and why the federal receipts decline is accelerating. April, when the government’s receipts are highest, will more than likely come in at least 35% lower than April of last year.


UPDATE: Previous BizzyBlog posts, including this one in December, noted that conditions such as lower gas prices and lower interest rates made an economic recovery more possible.

There has indeed been a consumer recovery. But unfortunately, the business side has cratered, as these paragraphs from AP sadly note:

In the January-March quarter consumers came back to life, boosting their spending after two straight quarters of reductions. The 2.2 percent growth rate was the strongest in two years.

Still, the consumer rebound was swamped by heavy spending cuts in virtually every other area.

Businesses cut spending on home building, commercial construction, equipment and software, and inventories of goods.

Translation: Businesses didn’t respond to the consumer uptick as one would expect because of the uncertainty over what the clowns in Washington are going to dream up next. Thus, the first quarter’s awful GDP is entirely on this administration and this Congress, and consumer spending alone can’t solve that.

UPDATE 2: John Boehner made a great point in his press release on the GDP announcement (the one I’ve bolded, though the whole thing could be bolded) –

“America has lost more than two million jobs since the beginning of the year, and middle-class families and small businesses continue to suffer during this ever-deepening recession. This is no time for Democrats in Washington to do a victory lap. The news that our economy is growing even worse should give the Administration and congressional Democrats every reason to take a step back and re-evaluate the reckless spending, taxing, and borrowing of the first 100 days. Unfortunately, they have chosen a go-it-alone approach and later today, Democrats will pass the most fiscally-irresponsible budget in American history. It spends money we don’t have, piles unprecedented debt on our children and grandchildren, and raises taxes on families and small businesses, while taking away the middle-class tax cut the President promised during the campaign. Today’s report should serve as a wake-up call and encourage both parties to work together to help this economy recover.

If a Republican administration was engaging in self-congratulation in the current circumstances, there would be no end to press commentary about the unseemliness of it all.

Best-Kept Secret in America: Ford, Toyota Gaining and Could Overtake GM; I Wonder Why?

While the business press has been preoccupied with day-to-day events in the ongoing saga of Government, er, General Motors, it has failed to note that its two closest competitors have gained substantial ground — and quickly.

This chart shows just how quickly (Sources - Feb. and March 2009; January GM and Ford; January ToyotaDecember 2008):


Gosh, I wonder why this has happened?

For three months going on four, virtually no one in the press has looked into reasons for the clear consumer shunning of GM, let alone the combined gains made by Toyota and Ford. Yes, the industry as a whole is in a slump, but, as you can see, that is nowhere near the whole story.

The government bailouts of GM and Chrysler were announced on December 20. I believe that Toyota’s dramatic gain in January occurred largely because of consumers’ negative reactions to those bailouts. Alternative explanations for such a dramatic shift are in short supply. The only question is how much of the shift occurred for principled reasons (not wanting to buy from a bailed-out company) as opposed to practical ones (long-term concerns about warranties and repairs).

Ford’s gain on GM has been more gradual. I believe this is because early media coverage of the GM and Chrysler bailouts frequently referred to “the domestic auto industry” as a whole and to “Detroit,” and significantly downplayed Ford’s non-participation. As consumer awareness of Ford’s non-bailed-out status has gradually grown, so have its sales as a percentage of GM’s, though mostly at the expense of Toyota.

The above results have occurred during just the first three months after the government first “lent” GM and Chrysler bailout funds. In late March, President Obama and his car czars took their intervention to the next level. GM CEO Rick Wagoner resigned “at Obama’s behest.” Obama deliberately and visibly decided that the government would back GM’s and Chrysler’s warranties. As of this morning, it has become clear that Uncle Sam and the United Auto Worders are gunning for dominant control of whatever is left of both companies.

What if the backlash against the bailed-out also has accelerated further in reaction to the government’s actions during the past month? If it hasn’t, why has GM, which made a big deal of not needing a bailout installment seven short weeks ago, rushed into 9-week shutdowns at most of its plants? Why is there so much talk of a smaller, leaner GM?

If there has indeed been a bigger backlash against the bailed-out, April’s sales results (or May’s, or June’s) may break news that was unthinkable as little as six months ago: that General Motors, for the first time in 80 years, is no longer the USA’s number one automaker. If that happens, it will be a big surprise to casual news consumers. It shouldn’t be, and wouldn’t be, but for myopic establishment media coverage.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Laugher of the Day

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:56 am

From the Associated Press yesterday:


Trying to interpret the incoherence of the worst press secretary in my lifetime, who accomplishes something once thought impossible — making W’s Scott McLellan (a proven liar in his own right) look like a genius — I guess the government wants a 50% stake so it can be an absentee owner. Uh-huh.

A Freep.com editorial offers a few reality-based observations:

But if the definitive version of GM’s reinvention is still months away, the outlines of what will remain a year from now are coming into sharper focus:

• It will be a company whose market share, payroll, product line and dealer network are all dramatically smaller than even the most pessimistic analysts would have forecast three months ago.

It will be a manufacturer in which the U.S. government — and, by extension, U.S. taxpayers — play an unprecedented role in deciding what to build, where to compete and how to compensate employees, who will also be the government’s largest equity partners in a restructured GM.

• And it will be a concern in which institutional investors accustomed to getting their way will exercise, at least for a time, sharply diminished influence in matters of corporate governance.

If the bolded text doesn’t describe “run(ning) an auto company on a day-to-day basis,” I don’t know what does.

Positivity: Woman’s Hair Weave Stops Bullet

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Philadelphia (video is at link):

Last Edited: Friday, 20 Feb 2009, 3:36 PM EST
Created On: Friday, 20 Feb 2009, 11:01 AM EST

MyFox National Reports
MYFOX NATIONAL – Who needs body armor when you got a hair weave? A Missouri woman is thanking her hairstylist for saving her life after her gun-toting ex-boyfriend allegedly shot at her. She survived the attack with just a headache after one of the rounds was stopped by her hair weave.

“In the back of my head, it was like bam! That’s how it felt. It was hot, you could feel it,” 20-year-old Briana Bonds said.

The police found the spent slug tangled in her hair, and say her weave prevented it from penetrating her skull.

“I’ve been wearing it for years. I’ve invested a lot of money into this weave. It saved my life. It saved my life,” Bonds said.

The shooting happened as Bonds was pulling into a convenience store. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 28, 2009

As Specter Switches, the Ira Einhorn Saga Deserves Wider Mention

IraEinhornMugs.jpgIra who?

The establishment media is saying almost nothing about the man who co-founded Earth Day (yes, indeed he did — see Update 2 below), and who also happens to be in jail for life for murder. Arlen Specter’s involvement with the Ira Einhorn case is an important event in the party-switching Senator’s career that curious readers would want to know about — if the establishment media cared to note it.

You know they would be bringing out similar stories quite prominently if they existed about a Democratic senator switching parties. Look at what the Associated Press and the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) laid on Joe Lieberman in 2006 (“AP Labels Joe Lieberman ‘Democrats’ Public Enemy No. 1′”) — and he’s still considered a reliable Democratic vote.

Time Magazine recounted the sordid case history in 1997; it’s a read the whole awful thing piece if there ever was one.

But before excerpting Time, let’s look at two of the earlier paragraphs at John J. Miller’s related National Review piece in April 2004, written days before Specter barely withstood an aggressive GOP primary challenge from then-Congressman Pat Toomey:

Between serving on the Warren Commission and becoming a senator, Specter was twice elected district attorney in Philadelphia, where he earned a tough-on-crime reputation. His most famous case, however, came in 1979, when he was in private practice and thinking about running for the Senate. A man named Ira Einhorn, better known as the “Unicorn,” had been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend; she had been missing for a year and a half when police found her mummified corpse squeezed into a trunk hidden in Einhorn’s closet.

Einhorn was a celebrated leftist and is credited with helping found Earth Day. He also had strong ties to Philadelphia elites — a group of people Specter was cultivating for his prospective Senate campaign when he agreed to become Einhorn’s lawyer.

That’s important background not contained in Time’s report, which focused more on the details of Einhorn’s grisly murder of Holly Maddux and his 16-year flight from justice, which we should never forget was facilitated by Specter (bold is mine):

Ira Einhorn …. (was) a man who had risen to fame during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a counterculture guru. Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman were friends, logically enough. But so was an unlikely battalion of bluebloods, millionaires and corporate executives, many of them so charmed by Einhorn’s New Age vision that they stood by him even after his arrest for a murder so grisly an entire city had gasped.

….. The story had been absolutely epic in Philadelphia, touching off endless rounds of horror and disbelief. Ira Einhorn? Peace-loving, earth-hugging Ira Einhorn? In the March 29, 1979, Philadelphia Daily News, the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island was nearly invisible under the mutant block letters at the top of Page One:


….. with knowledge stolen from years of voracious reading, Einhorn charmed many into believing the planet was warping into new frontiers and only the Unicorn could lead them into the Age of Aquarius. Whether it was politics, environment or computer science, “he was three or four steps ahead of you at every turn,” says Norris Gelman, one of Einhorn’s attorneys. As if hypnotized, the suits responded with free lunches, grants, consulting contracts, four-figure speaking fees. A local communications company hired Einhorn to mediate a neighborhood power-plant dispute, then for years afterward sponsored his space travel by mailing copies of his scribblings and those of other “forward thinkers” to a growing list of international contacts.

Einhorn won a teaching fellowship at Harvard in the ’70s. In the ’60s he had taught an alternative-education class at Penn, his alma mater, and once reportedly broke out the joints, stripped naked and danced in the classroom. Thirty years ago, not everyone was after an M.B.A.

Warts and all, “Ira charmed the city,” says Lewis. And countless women.

….. He met Helen (Holly) Maddux in 1972 at La Terrasse, the bistro where he held court but never picked up the tab. Maddux was described as a woman of such mesmerizing elegance, everything around her would fall away. “Michelle Pfeiffer has the same kind of fragile beauty,” says Holly’s sister Mary ….

….. (Maddux) met another man and in early autumn 1977 told Einhorn it was over between them. He threatened by phone to toss her belongings into the street, and she raced over to retrieve them. She would not be seen again. Ira calmly told anyone who asked that she’d gone to the nearby food co-op and simply never returned.

In Texas, Holly’s parents Fred and Elizabeth Maddux became suspicious. Holly had never gone more than a few weeks without checking in. They called Philadelphia police, who made cursory checks but had no reason to suspect foul play. Unsatisfied, the Madduxes hired Bob Stevens, a retired FBI man working as a private detective in Tyler. Stevens hooked up with another retired G-man, J.R. Pearce, in Philadelphia. What they uncovered, in a year of spadework, was a story for Hitchcock.

A Drexel student who lived in the apartment below Einhorn’s recalled a “blood-curdling scream” and heavy banging one night in the fall of 1977. In a neighborhood of frat houses and party hounds, the student downstairs thought nothing of it. But the odor that followed within weeks was impossible to ignore, as was the putrid, dark-brown liquid that oozed down through the ceiling from Einhorn’s apartment. The tenant and his roommate tried unsuccessfully to clean it away, then called the landlord, who called plumbers. Einhorn stubbornly refused to let the workers into a padlocked closet just off his bedroom.

….. The private detectives turned it all over to police, and on March 28, 1979, at 9 a.m., homicide detective (Michael) Chitwood knocked on Einhorn’s door. Once inside, he headed straight for the locked closet. He pried it open with a crowbar and immediately smelled a “faint decaying smell, like a dead animal.” Next he sprang the lock on the steamer trunk. The newspapers inside were dated August and September 1977. Under them was Styrofoam packing material. Chitwood scooped through it until he came to something he couldn’t identify at first, and then it was clear. A hand. A human hand. He scooped some more, and as he did, Holly Maddux slowly emerged. Einhorn stood by, impassive.

Then began the parade. One after another at Einhorn’s bail hearing, his supporters took the stand in his defense. A minister, a corporate lawyer, a playwright, an economist, a telephone-company executive. They couldn’t imagine Einhorn’s harming any living thing. Release of murder defendants pending trial was unheard of, but Einhorn’s attorney was soon-to-be U.S. senator Arlen Specter, and bail was set at a staggeringly low $40,000 — only $4,000 of it needed to walk free.

It would appear that “cultivating Philadelphia’s elites” was more important to Specter than the prospect of a likely guilty man disappearing into the ether and Holly Maddux’s family not seeing justice served for 16 years — something, as Time notes at the full article, Holly’s parents never got to see before they died.

A senator switching parties from Democrat to Republican would see such an episode repeated ad nauseam in the establishment press. Specter hasn’t thus far, and probably won’t — which is why it’s referenced here.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


UPDATE: A Wayback-archived post at FreeRepublic of an item by Specter’s 1998 general election opponent raises many more very good questions about Specter’s involvement in Einhorn’s release.

UPDATE 2, May 1: It seems there was some attempted backtracking by enviros associated with the first Earth Day in 1970, as they have tried to pretend that Einhorn was not a co-founder.

Nice try, no sale:


The Philly Bulletin piece from April 22, i.e., just over a week ago, comes 11 years after the enviros’ letter. Obviously the Inquirer didn’t buy the horse manure the enviros tried to sell. As card-carrying establishment media libs, if they credibly could back away from Einhorn’s involvement, I’m sure they would. It’s clear they can’t.

The Earth Day letter writers, in pure CYA mode, claim that Einhorn was there, but that he hogged the stage without authorization.

Wikipedia, however, says that:

He also claimed to have been instrumental in creating Earth Day in 1970, and during the first Earth Day event, which was televised globally, Ira Einhorn was on stage as master of ceremonies, although other event organizers dispute his account.

The sentence structure is shaky, but his presence “on stage as master of ceremonies” reads as a fact, not something that Einhorn merely claimed.

Again, if enviros could accurately erase Einhorn from meaningful association with Earth Day at a place like Wikipedia, they would. It’s clear they can’t.

Finally, there is Russ Baker, who is an award-winning investigative reporter and founder of WhoWhatWhy.com. He has written for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Village Voice and Esquire. Definitely leans left, but seems to follow truth where it leads him.

Baker visited The Unicorn in France in 1999 as Einhorn was fighting extradition, beginning his Esquire report as follows:

Twenty years ago, the state of Pennsylvania charged Ira Einhorn, a cofounder of Earth Day, with beating Holly Maddux to death. Now he lives in a nice country house in France with his beautiful wife. As his extradition hangs in the balance, he tends his garden. Swims daily in one of the two streams on his property. E-mails the CIA. A killer on the lam never had it so good.

An investigative reporter of Baker’s pedigree would not claim that Einhorn is an Earth Day co-founder a year AFTER the enviros’ letter if it weren’t true. Thus, it clearly must be true.

Someone owes me a white flag on this one. Add that to the apologies he owes for profanely referring to yours truly and threatening readers here (“you’re with us or you’re against us”) if we didn’t fall in line and bow down to Barack Obama after the November election.

Better luck next time. Google’s search engine is indeed my friend, but clearly only his very distant acquaintance.

Newspaper Circs: Another Serious Drop; NYT’s Small Decline a Short-Term Obama Strategy Vindication

NYThistoryObama0109From Editor & Publisher yesterday (bold is mine):

The Audit Bureau of Circulations released this morning the spring figures for the six months ending March 31, 2009, showing that the largest metros continue to shed daily and Sunday circulation — now at a record rate.

According to ABC, for 395 newspapers reporting this spring, daily circulation fell 7% to 34,439,713 copies, compared with the same March period in 2008. On Sunday, for 557 newspapers, circulation was down 5.3% to 42,082,707. These averages do not include 84 newspapers with circulations below 50,000 due to a change in publishing frequency.

Here is a chart showing the specifics for the top 25, including percentage losses for the past four years and during the past year (current year source: Editor & Publisher):


Until this year, there were three notable exceptions to the downward trend: USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post. I stated during the past few years, and still believe it to be the case, that these three publications were doing better than their counterparts because they tended to play the news relatively straight — and in the Journal’s case, as its late opinion page editor Robert Bartley used to say, it is still the only newspaper people buy specifically to read the editorials.

Clearly, the New York Post has succumbed to print news’s general malaise in the past year. Still, in past four years, its 13.2% decline makes its performance the seventh-best among the top 25 papers, and its decline is less than half of five of them (Dallas Morning News, Chicago Sun-Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

It’s probably safe to say that current economic conditions have moved many print readers to get their news online at a faster rate than in previous years. In fact, it may be fair to say that a print newspaper, like the morning cappuccino, has officially turned the corner and became a tough-times luxury instead of a routine indulgence. In New York, especially given that the Daily News also declined steeply, it’s likely that Gotham’s job losses and the state’s recent round of tax increases on seemingly anything and everything have accelerated the online conversion even further.

That leaves the New York Times, which, for all its troubles, might end up being the last newspaper standing — especially if it puts its awfully-performing Boston Globe property to sleep.

The Times’s decline in the past year was relatively small because it’s positioned as a national newspaper; it’s actually New York’s third newspaper in circulation inside the city. Its shameless shilling for President Barack Obama, up to and including its ads as seen above, has thus far worked relatively well — or less poorly than almost everyone else — as a business strategy. It remains to be seen if selling out what little remained of its journalistic integrity makes the Old Gray Lady viable in the long run.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

UPDATE, April 29: Although I suspect that Burrelle’s will publish a separate Top 100 list shortly, here is the detailed 3/31/09 data, before it disappears behind E&P’s subscription wall, just in case –

USA TODAY — 2,113,725 – (-7.46%)
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL — 2,082,189 — 0.61%
THE NEW YORK TIMES — 1,039,031 — (-3.55%)
LOS ANGELES TIMES — 723,181 — (-6.55%)
THE WASHINGTON POST — 665,383 — (-1.16%)

DAILY NEWS (NEW YORK) — 602,857 — (-14.26%)
NEW YORK POST — 558,140 — (-20.55%)
CHICAGO TRIBUNE — 501,202 — (-7.47%)
HOUSTON CHRONICLE — 425,138 — (-13.96%)
THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC — 389,701 — (-5.72%)

THE DENVER POST (02/28/2009 to 03/31/2009) — 371,728 — N/A
NEWSDAY — 368,194 — (-3.01%)
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS — 331,907 — (-9.88%)
STAR-TRIBUNE, MINNEAPOLIS — 320,076 — (-0.71%)
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES — 312,141 — (-0.04%)

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE — 312,118 — (-15.72%)
THE BOSTON GLOBE — 302,638 — (-13.68%)
THE PLAIN DEALER, CLEVELAND — 291,630 — (-11.70%)
DETROIT FREE PRESS — 290,730 — (-5.90%)
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER — 288,298 — (-13.72%)

THE STAR-LEDGER, NEWARK, N.J. — 287,082 — (-16.82%)
ST. PETERSBURG (FLA.) TIMES — 283,093 — (-10.42%)
THE OREGONIAN, PORTLAND — 268,512 — (-11.76%)
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE — 261,253 — (-9.53%)

Specter Switches Parties: Ira Einhorn Must Be Pleased

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:55 pm


As of this moment …..

  • Hugh Hewitt (Specter got his coveted Judiciary Committee Chairmanship in ’04 — that really helped, didn’t it, Hugh?);
  • Rick Santorum;
  • George W. Bush;
  • Karl Rove;
  • and most of the Washington establishment GOP;

…. are apparently unavailable for comment.

All of them opposed genuine conservative Pat Toomey’s GOP Senate Primary candidacy in 2004, for no legitimate reason other than to protect an incumbent.

“Unicorn Killer” Ira Einhorn, whom Arlen Specter somehow arranged to have freed for $4,000 after Einhorn’s arrest, was also apparently unavailable — as, of course, was Holly Maddux.


Update: More on Einhorn, as a demonstration of the liberal dementia of the 1960s and 1970s that has never really left us, and which Arlen Specter supported at crunch time –

…. on March 28, 1979, at 9 a.m., homicide detective (Michael) Chitwood knocked on Einhorn’s door. Once inside, he headed straight for the locked closet. He pried it open with a crowbar and immediately smelled a “faint decaying smell, like a dead animal.” Next he sprang the lock on the steamer trunk. The newspapers inside were dated August and September 1977. Under them was Styrofoam packing material. Chitwood scooped through it until he came to something he couldn’t identify at first, and then it was clear. A hand. A human hand. He scooped some more, and as he did, Holly Maddux slowly emerged. Einhorn stood by, impassive.

Then began the parade. One after another at Einhorn’s bail hearing, his supporters took the stand in his defense. A minister, a corporate lawyer, a playwright, an economist, a telephone-company executive. They couldn’t imagine Einhorn’s harming any living thing. Release of murder defendants pending trial was unheard of, but Einhorn’s attorney was soon-to-be U.S. senator Arlen Specter, and bail was set at a staggeringly low $40,000 — only $4,000 of it needed to walk free. It was paid by Barbara Bronfman, a Montreal socialite who had married into the Seagram distillery family and met Einhorn through a common interest in the paranormal. It was Einhorn’s new rage, and his orbit of friends had expanded to include Uri Geller, the spoon-bending Israeli illusionist.

The whole thing was a setup, Einhorn assured followers. Through his antiwar research and with contacts that extended beyond the Iron Curtain, he simply knew too much about weapons development, psychic research and global conspiracies. Maddux was murdered to discredit him. The CIA, the KGB, who knew? The most damning evidence against him was also the most obvious proof of his innocence: Would a man as smart as he murder his girlfriend and keep the evidence at his bedside?

But the evidence against him mounted. Testimony from two friends who were asked by Einhorn to help him dispose of the trunk. The two former girlfriends who ended up in the hospital after trying to break off relationships with Einhorn. One was nearly strangled; the other had a Coke bottle smashed over her head. So much for flower power. The public embodiment of peace and love was in private a monster. Sickened friends spoke of betrayal and wondered if Einhorn had ever cared about anything but Ira. George Keegan: “We were walking down the street together. People who once would come up and hug Ira crossed the street and averted their eyes… He looked at me, sad, and said, ‘I’m not going to be able to be Ira Einhorn now.’ And I realized he was a selfish, arrogant bastard.”

And then, shortly before his trial was to begin in January 1981, Philadelphia’s own philosopher king simply vanished into the vapor of his grandiose mutterings.

The year Einhorn fled, Richard DiBenedetto (of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office) became a father, and it gave deeper meaning to his telephone conversations with Holly’s parents. Moved by their grief, he became obsessed with the case. Especially after Ira’s friend Harry Jay Katz baited him, “You’ll never catch Ira. He’s too smart for you.”

….. (DiBenedetto said) “I knew he liked to play a game called Go. It’s an ancient Oriental game, sort of like chess, and I found out on the Internet where the Go clubs were in Europe.” One was in Dublin, Ireland, one of Einhorn’s first stops. He and his new girlfriend rented an apartment from a Trinity College professor named Denis Weaire. When Weaire visited friends in Chicago in April 1981, he told them about this mysterious character named Einhorn. His friends thought the name rang a bell; they called newspapers and got the full story. Weaire evicted Einhorn, but Irish police told him that with no extradition treaty in force at the time, there was no cause for arrest, and the Unicorn jumped.

….. DiBenedetto suspected (singer Peter) Gabriel was funneling money to Einhorn. Gabriel told Scotland Yard he had not.

But someone else had, and after years of pursuit by DiBenedetto, she finally relented. Bronfman, by then divorced from the distilling family, at last admitted to DiBenedetto that she had sent Einhorn cash regularly until 1988, when she read “The Unicorn’s Secret,” a damning book about Einhorn by journalist Steven Levy. Find a woman in Sweden named Annika Flodin, Bronfman said.

The D.A.’s office, the FBI, Interpol and Swedish police moved quickly. It had been seven years, and this was the best shot yet. But Einhorn was quick too; once again he slithered away, just hours ahead of the sheriff.

….. DiBenedetto would never get to call Maddux’s parents with good news. Ill and depressed over a leg amputation, Fred Maddux killed himself in 1988. Two years later, his wife died of emphysema. Holly’s murder “ruined their life,” daughter Elisabeth says. “And they died thinking that Ira beat them.”

In 1993, fearing that witnesses would soon vanish, Philadelphia D.A. Lynne Abraham decided to use a new state law allowing trials in absentia. With only Einhorn’s memory filling the defendant’s chair, a jury listened for two weeks and then took just two hours to convict the Unicorn of first-degree murder.

It wasn’t satisfaction enough for DiBenedetto. Then, early this year (1997), he heard from Hjordis Reichel, a Swedish woman living in California who had seen an “Unsolved Mysteries” show about Einhorn. She had relatives in the upper echelons of the Stockholm police. Call them, DiBenedetto said. It can’t hurt.

….. Through those connections, Reichel got Flodin’s Swedish social security number. DiBenedetto’s Interpol contact ran it through motor vehicles in Sweden — and made the discovery that broke the case. In 1994 Flodin had applied for a French driver’s license under the name Annika Flodin Mallon.


Either Flodin had married the Dublin book dealer, or, more likely, DiBenedetto suspected, she had married Einhorn, and he had changed his name to Mallon.

That was May 15, Einhorn’s 57th birthday. DiBenedetto notified French authorities and gave them the Champagne-Mouton address on the driver’s license application. French police, posing as tourists and fishermen, ran surveillance on the farmhouse in Champagne-Mouton. DiBenedetto waited. Days passed. Weeks passed. Finally, on Friday, June 13 (1997), word came: There had been an arrest. DiBenedetto could hardly believe it. He didn’t trust it until two days later. “That was Father’s Day. I thought about Holly’s father, about her parents, and I just jumped up and cheered.”

Einhorn was finally extradited to the U.S. — four years later (if you can stand it, read about the leftists who STILL were protecting him). He is now serving a life sentence in a central Pennsylvania prison.

Let me suggest that Arlen Specter has finally come home — and what a sick, twisted home it is.

Lucid Links (042809, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:33 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

If the claim made at this Freep.com article is correct, and I believe it is, General Government Motors will have to file for bankruptcy to shrink its dealer network as much as it wishes. Yours truly blogged on “The Car Dealer-State Government Racket” back in August 2006.

From Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post, on “The Media Elite’s Secret Dinners” (HT Warner Todd Huston at NewsBusters, who calls it a “shocker”) — “…. the catered gatherings also sound rather cozy, like some secret-handshake gathering of an entrenched elite.” Because they are.

From the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University (HT to the Kurtz WaPo piece mentioned earlier), quantifying the obvious — “The media have given President Obama more coverage than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined and more positive coverage than either received at this point in their presidencies …. During his first 50 days in office, the three broadcast network evening news shows devoted 1021 stories lasting 27 hours 44 minutes to Barack Obama’s presidency. The daily average of seven stories and over 11 minutes of airtime represents about half of the entire newscasts. By contrast, at this point in their presidencies George W. Bush had received 7 hours 42 minutes and Bill Clinton garnered 15 hours 2 minutes of coverage, for a combined total airtime five hours less than Mr. Obama’s. …. Mr. Obama has received not only more press but also better press than his immediate predecessors.” There is some consolation in this that CMPA didn’t note: The evening news shows’ combined audience, currently at 21-24 million viewers, is, according to a chart at this July 2006 BizzyBlog post, over 30% lower than eight years ago, and about 45% lower than 16 years ago.

You Don’t Say — “Swine flu fears may hammer travel industry.” Okay, you have to have something as a headline. But where have the headlines been about how Obama administration’s and Congress’s demonization of corporate meetings at nice places has already badly hurt the travel industry? Answer: Nowhere.

While we’re on corporate affairs, where’s the lefty outrage over hefty bonuses paid at newspapers that have either gone into bankruptcy (Philly Inquirer), or that appear to be heading in that direction (The New York Times and the Boston Globe)?

Priceless paragraph at IBDeditorials.com (“Nancy ‘Scooter’ Pelosi”) — “Scooter Libby went to prison for the “outing” of a desk-jockey CIA agent. He forgot conversations. Pelosi forgets briefings. And the outing of our entire intelligence apparatus by Democrats is OK.” Where are the defenders of Plame when the rest of the CIA needs them? It was never about the “outing” of Plame. It was always about beating up on Bush.

Positivity: Girl credits neighbour with saving her life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:13 am

From Ottawa, Canada:

April 27, 2009

Nine-year-old Brianna Rose says her neighbour, Bram Champagne, saved her life when he scooped her up and swept her into his home at the peak of Saturday’s storm. She made a card for him on Sunday, using the letters of his name to express her appreciation: B for brilliant, R for riskful, A for awesome and M for magnificent.

“The wind, it sounded sort of bad, and then it started going wild and everything was flying in the air, and it picked me up and threw me back on the ground,” explained the brown-eyed girl as she hugged her little dog, Clover. “Then my dad’s friend picked me up and put me in his house.”

After dinner Saturday, the girl was playing with some neighbourhood children at one end of the courtyard of their Manor Park rowhouse complex on Glasgow Crescent, across from Beechwood Cemetery.

Her four-year-old brother, Spencer, was riding his bike at the other end, near the family’s home. Their father, Steve Rose, kept watch from the back step.

He popped inside to use the washroom just as the rain started.

Most of the children went indoors right away, but Brianna wanted to play a little more.

“I was running down the hill when it started to happen,” the fourth-grade student said. “Things started going all over the place and the wind started hitting my leg.”

Shingles, garbage-can lids, plastic lawnchairs, branches, rocks and dirt swirled around the courtyard. Champagne had just moved his car and was heading indoors.

“The wind hit and it got very bad very quick. The danger was the stuff that was flying,” the 46-year-old optician said. “I lived in Florida and I’ve never seen anything like this, the intensity and speed that it hit. It was like a three- or four-punch fight.”

From inside his house, Rose, 44, heard a rumbling sound. He didn’t stop to put his shoes on. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.