April 2, 2009

McClatchy’s Thomma Writes Obama Praise Piece That Would Embarrass an Apparatchik

McClatchyLogoTruthToPower0309Truth to power? Give me a break.

Mark Levin mmentioned a report by McClatchy’s Steven Thomma tonight on his show. When I heard Levin read from it, I assumed that when I went to the web page that McClatchy would label it as “analysis,” or “background,” or something similar.

Nope. Apparently, it’s supposed to be a straight news story.

Thomma writes as if world peace and civility were salvaged because President Obama supposedly brokered an agreement on an important matter. It wasn’t a treaty, which would require ratification by the Senate. It was a (non-binding) pact, “calling for” certain things. And the thing that was the hang-up was (I’m not really typing this, am I?) whether or not certain tax havens, which everyone who needs to know about already is fully aware of, should have their names published in an attempt to shame them. Not the names of the people taking advantage of the havens, just the havens themselves.

As fellow NewsBuster Noel Sheppard would say, “I kid you not.”

Shake your head in amazement as Thomma actually treats the naming of well-known tax havens as important and takes dictation from the White House:

G-20 reaches accord after Obama steps in to broker a deal

The G-20 economic summit reached a final agreement to restore the world’s economy Thursday only after President Barack Obama personally intervened and negotiated a compromise between France and China, White House officials said.

It was a remarkable stroke of personal diplomacy by a new president who’s making his debut this week on the world stage.

Heading into the summit’s final hours, however, it appeared that the group would fail to reach a consensus, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed to have the G-20 spotlight offending tax havens based on a list published Thursday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and China objected, largely because it doesn’t belong to the OECD.

That was when Obama, long a champion of ending or curbing tax havens, decided to float a compromise and pulled Sarkozy aside, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as a matter of policy.

“The president thought he could be helpful in resolving the differences,” the official said.

Obama proposed that the G-20 merely “take note” of the OECD list, thus opening the door to implicit but not direct endorsement of that list.

What a guy.

What a waste of ink and bandwidth.

Thomma’s tripe isn’t as bad as “Everything seemingly is spinning out of control,” which was put forth by the Associated Press’s Alan Fram and Eileen Putman in June of last year — but it’s close. Though with a slightly messed-up title, Fram’s and Putman’s effrontery is still carried in its entirety at China’s Daily (hmm …. I wonder why?). The report is unaffectionately known to yours truly as the “Worst. AP. Report. Ever” (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog).

Obama’s loyal apparatchiks must be thrilled (and snickering behind Thomma’s back) that they actually convinced an establishment reporter to carry a story that wouldn’t even have passed the laugh test had it been issued as a press release under their name.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Cal Thomas: ‘With every fiber of our still-free beings’

Filed under: Bankruptcy & Reform,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:15 pm

At Jewish World Review:

The government, which is decreasingly capable of running itself, will now dictate to corporate America how to run companies. The Obama administration has even promised that government will insure any warranties that might be in jeopardy should GM and Chrysler declare bankruptcy. It is a dangerous precedent that should frighten all of us into opposing the administration’s plans with every fiber of our still free beings.

President Obama says the American auto industry will not be allowed to “simply vanish.” No, but the direction in which it is heading will require what’s left of the companies to manufacture cars even fewer people want to buy, thus requiring the effective nationalization of the automobile industry. If people aren’t buying cars from GM and Chrysler in sufficient numbers to make a profit today, why would they buy them when they are even less attractive?

The numbers of people who will buy GM or Chrysler cars will more than likely shrink on its own in the coming months due to principled objections to bailouts and concern over warranties and repairs, despite government reassurances (we’re supposed be reassured because warranties will be handled by the same people who brought us a now-broke Social Security, a nearly-broke Post Office, and $400 hammers?).

The faster, the better. Companies, or workers, thinking that they will be saved by bailouts need to learn that it’s not going to happen. Obama and Geithner must be forced to see the futility of what they’re attempting, even if means consumers take the role of making GM and Chrysler vanish. Bankruptcy now or very soon is vastly preferable to shoveling never-ending billions into these companies.

USAT, AP Miss March Gravitation to Ford, Continued Shunning of Bailed-out GM, Chrysler

CarLotImage0309.jpgOn Tuesday, both USA Today and the Associated Press highlighted guarded optimism that seemed a bit beyond the justifiable after the release of March’s sales results for the auto industry.

Though there is perhaps some cause for hope, both reports made more out of the industry’s roughly 25% sales pickup from February to March (compared to a typical 20% in previous years) than was justified. More importantly, both reports failed to specifically cite:

  • Continued market-share losses at bailed-out General Motors and Chrysler.
  • Ford’s disproportionate share of that decent but not exceptional industrywide February to March pickup).

Both AP and USAT particularly emphasized that February to March improvement. USA Today’s James R. Healey and Chris Woodyard brought it up almost immediately:

Auto sales plunge in March from year ago, improve from Feb.

Never has bad looked so good.

Automakers sold new vehicles at an annual rate of 9.86 million in March, Autodata reported Wednesday, much worse than a year ago, but up from February’s 9.12 million annual pace. While more cars and trucks usually are sold in March than in February, the jump this year was 24.5%, the biggest February-to-March gain in at least seven years, Autodata noted.

Analysts and investors saw even the Detroit 3′s big sales drops as less terrible than expected. “We think we are getting close to turning the corner,” Ford Motor economist Emily Kolinski Morris said.

The Associated Press’s Tom Krisher took a bit longer to get there:

Glimmer of hope in March’s steep auto sales drop

Talk of government loans and bankruptcy and a 37 percent drop in March sales isn’t good news, but despite it all, there seems to be a little optimism returning to the U.S. auto industry.

Carmakers’ March sales were dismal compared with last year, but consumers lured by record incentives pushed the February-to-March increase above the normal rise that comes at the end of winter.

“Maybe we’ll get — imagine that — some momentum going,” said Mike DiGiovanni, executive director of global market and industry analysis for General Motors Corp., whose 45 percent sales decline last month was the worst among the major automakers.

Americans bought 857,735 new vehicles in March, compared with 1.36 million in the same month a year ago, Autodata Corp. said Wednesday. But sales jumped nearly 25 percent from February, beating the typical increase of about 20 percent and increasing optimism that the worst may be over for an industry battered by the global recession and bad publicity about GM and Chrysler’s financial woes.

It’s interesting that Krisher would bring up the “woes” of GM and Chrysler. I would suggest that it isn’t the companies’ “woes” so much as their bailed-out status that is hurting them in two ways: Some potential customers are refusing to buy on principle from a bailed-out-company, while others are worried about warranty and repair issues. Proof that the latter concern is valid is seen in President Obama’s announcement earlier this week that Uncle Sam will back the two companies’ warranties.

Before receiving its government “loans” (in quotes because based on what has been happening, whether they will ever be repaid is objectively questionable), GM’s monthly year-over-year sales monthly dips averaged about 30%. During the past three months, its drops have averaged almost 49%, making the company by far the industry’s worst performer in that statistic. Chrysler, at -46% is second-worst.

While Ford is third-worst at -43% over that same three-month period, the chart below clearly shows that its March-over-February improvement of over 32% significantly outpaced everyone else’s (February’s sales are at this previous post containing a USAT graphic, except for Total and All other sales, which I backed into using the 24.5% increase cited above by USAT):

VehicleCalesChart0309.jpg

GM and Chrysler have been consistently losing market share for quite a while. While Toyota’s share loss may be a one-off, that company’s situation bears watching.

Ford’s share pickup may of course be largely due to improvements in the merchandise. But it’s not unreasonable to believe that part of it should be attributed to the fact that the company consciously chose not to be among the bailed-out.

Many Americans may have only recently learned of Ford’s uniqueness in that regard. Press reports in December and January, especially the headlines and short radio/TV items, tended to be about bailing out “the domestic auto industry,” of which Ford is of course a member. Many less-engaged news consumers probably lumped Ford in with GM and Chrysler during that period. It is likely that Ford’s refusal to take Uncle Sam’s money has only recently dawned on many of them.

Now that the government has taken a much more direct role in management decisionmaking at GM and Chrysler, it will be interesting to see if the clear shunning of the bailed-out that occurred during the first quarter will accelerate. I believe it will. Barack Obama, Tim Geithner, and the government’s car guys may soon learn that they only have empty shells on their hands.

Exit question: If GM is only selling about 50% or so more vehicles than Chrysler, why is it getting over three times as much bailout money?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

____________________________________________

Validity Check: February’s 2009 sales in the chart are within a few thousand of the 685,397 reported by Reuters a month ago. This figure probably increased as additional results trickled in.

Relevant Restatement: If Ford’s March-over-February increase had instead been the same as GM’s and Chrysler’s weighted average of 21.9%, it would have sold over 10,000 fewer vehicles.

Positivity: Vatican Investigates ‘Miracle’ Recovery of Man Shot in Head

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:26 am

From Cleveland (links were in original):

April 2, 2009

Jory Aebly Given Rosary Blessed by Pope John Paul, Recovery Could Help With Sainthood

When Jory Aebly was shot in the head, execution-style during a mugging five weeks ago in Cleveland, Ohio, that should have been the end of it. Doctors at the Metro Health Medical Center told his family it was a “non-survivable” injury, according to the hospital’s Web site.

But Tuesday, a very-much-alive Aebly was wheeled to a press conference before he went home in what some believe is a true “miracle,” possibly good enough to help earn deceased Pope John Paul II sainthood.

“It’s one in a million,” Dr. Robert Geertman, a neurosurgeon involved in Aebly’s treatment, said in a press conference just days after the shooting. “My jaw was on the floor after a day or two of seeing he is hanging on. … I’d say it’s pretty miraculous.”

The connection between the 26-year-old’s incredible recovery and the late pope came in the form of hospital chaplain, Father Art Snedeker, and a single blessed rosary Snedeker gave Aebly soon after the shooting.

“[Pope John Paul II] promised me that he would always pray for the patients at Metro and he blessed a dozen rosaries with special patients here,” Snedeker said in the press conference. “The first night that Jory arrived and I performed the sacrament of the sick, I also asked Pope John Paul to pray for Jory and to protect him.”

Snedeker gave Aebly the last of the rosaries that were blessed by the pope.

From then on, Aebly repeatedly amazed doctors with consistent improvement culminating in his release Tuesday, just two days before the fourth anniversary of John Paul’s death.

“I stand before you today and can say, to my mind, Jory is a miracle,” Snedeker said at the press conference.

‘Miracle’ Could Help Earn John Paul II Sainthood

At the press conference, Aebly’s family also showed no shortage of faith concerning Aebly’s recovery.

“I believe in the power of prayer and I firmly believe that your prayers are the reason why I can introduce you to my brave and determined son,” Aebly’s mother, Deb Wolfram said.

….. If Aebly’s recovery is validated as a miracle, it would be enough for Pope John Paul’s beatification, leaving just one more before sainthood would be possible.

Go here for the full story.