May 15, 2009

Obama’s And Admin’s Blatant Chrysler Plant-Closing Fibs to Four States’ Pols Get Virtually No National Notice

ObamaAndCarGuysChryslerBk0509Imagine if in December George W. Bush and his administration had:

  • Decided to issue the initial bailout billions to General Motors but not Chrysler, thereby forcing Chrysler into bankruptcy.
  • Had his advisers get on the phone with elected officials in towns and states where Chrysler has plants and told them that the bankruptcy was about to happen.
  • Said that the Chrysler bankruptcy “will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or the communities that depend” on them.

Now imagine if, 24-36 hours later, Bush’s advisers disclosed that many Chrysler plants would close.

Does anyone reading this think that such an obvious betrayal would have gone unreported by the major TV networks or newspapers of record?

Well, on Wednesday and Thursday, April 29 and 30, Barack Obama and his administration did exactly what I described above. Then, on May 1, Obama’s car guys and Chrysler announced the closings of plants in Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Michigan. Yet this shocking deception, acknowledged as such by well-known names in both major parties, has only been news in the metro areas affected.

In a May 10 column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, reporter Stephen Koff did a fine job of laying out the details of the story. It’s a definite read-the-whole-painful-thing piece, but here are some of Koff’s key paragraphs (bolds are mine; the Plain Dealer has a separate detailed timeline here):

Late in the morning on Thursday, April 30, three officials serving under President Barack Obama got on a telephone conference call with members of Congress and Capitol Hill staffers. ….

These are smart people, and they listen carefully. They all took notes on what was said by Larry Summers, Ed Montgomery and Ron Bloom, three of the advisers Obama had tapped to rescue the American auto industry. And what these and other Congress members heard in this private telephone conference was consistent with the message that President Obama publicly made a few minutes later in the White House grand foyer: Chrysler, the storied American automaker, was entering a short, government-assisted Chapter 11 bankruptcy and would merge with Fiat, the Italian car maker.

But this “will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or the communities that depend on it,” Obama said.

That seemed straightforward enough, and it mirrored the statements the Congress members had just heard from the top task force officials — that there would be no plant closings and no layoffs, with only short-term plant idling to restructure and move excess inventory off the lots. It also followed a telephone briefing with reporters little more than an hour earlier, in which a senior administration official was asked about the potential loss of Chrysler “head counts.” The administration official, talking with reporters on the condition that he and others not be named, responded that “there are no plans to have any immediate plant closings or major white- or blue-collar head-count reductions.”

Maybe someone should have asked what the White House meant by “no plans” and “disrupt.”

Congress members say they were blind-sided by the news the next day, May 1, that Chrysler in fact intended to permanently shutter five plants: one each in Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri, and two in Michigan.

The news was embarrassing as well as shocking, since many members, like LaTourette, had issued statements applauding, for instance, the report that no jobs would be cut at the 1,250-worker Twinsburg Stamping Plant. Candice Miller, a Republican congresswoman representing Sterling Heights, Mich., home of a 1,400-worker Chrysler plant, even went on the House floor soon after Obama’s announcement, saying it meant, “most importantly, no plant closures or new job losses.”

Wrong. Sterling Heights, like Twinsburg, would be sucker-punched the next day with news of a plant closing.

Were Congress members duped? If so, by whom and why?

The short answers appear to be yes, by both Chrysler and the White House.

Koff’s very plausible theory is that the administration made its risible claims early Thursday that jobs would be saved to get all-day TV and online media plaudits and no blowback from localities they knew darn well would be affected. Then it sent Chrysler into bankruptcy on Thursday afternoon to ensure that the press didn’t have enough time to adequately scrutinize the voluminous filing ahead of their Friday print runs. Koff says that only the Detroit Free Press was able to beat their print deadline. By the time anyone caught on to the ruse, the slow-news weekend arrived, while the attention of the national press went on hiatus.

As Koff says, “If it was, in fact, a media strategy, it worked.”

A further appalling aspect in all of this is the unwillingness of virtually every Democrat involved except Dennis Kucinich to go on the record to criticize the administration’s self-evident deception. Read the rest of the story, and you’ll see pathetic cop-outs or stone silence from the likes of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio Congressperson Betty Sutton, and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

After the fact, the Obama administration is trying to claim that the closure of the affected plants was already envisioned in Chrysler’s February viability plan. That doesn’t even pass the stench test, let alone the smell test. A different Plain Dealer reporter and Ohio Republican Congressman LaTourette have separately shown that “Chrysler’s Feb. 17 restructuring proposal never mentioned plans to close additional plants, whether unidentified or not.”

A May 6 Plain Dealer story notes that “Chrysler acknowledges it failed to inform Twinsburg and other communities of imminent plant closures.” I’m not aware of any such acknowledgment by the government, let alone anything resembling an apology from President Barack (“[it] will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or the communities that depend on it”) Obama.

I wonder how the employees affected feel, knowing that they’re being left jobless while their union’s health plan controls half of the new company, and that they were further treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed horse manure) until the attention of the nation’s press disappeared?

If the national establishment media are offended at being used, and duped, I sure haven’t seen it. I don’t expect that I ever will.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

NYT Makes EU And Other GDP Contractions Look Less Awful By Comparing Them To Annualized US Figures

CalculatorPic.jpgNYThomePageEU2pt5percent0509I had no idea the financial situation at the New York Times was so desperate.

Somebody, anybody — Please spring for a $3.49 calculator like the one pictured at the far right for Times reporter Matthew Saltmarsh. And if you’ve got another few bucks, pass them on to the Times’s home-page headline writers, so they can present something more understandable to US readers than what you see to the left of the calculator.

Saltmarsh reported all first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contraction figures from Euro-zone and European countries on a “from the previous quarter” basis (a longstanding EU custom), and presented the first quarter 2009 GDP contraction in the U.S. as “annualized” (which is our custom).

But Saltmarsh and Times headline writers never converted the U.S. result to make it comparable to that of European countries — hence the urgent need for the calculators.

Here are most of the relevant paragraphs from Saltmarsh’s report:

Euro-Zone Economy Shrinks 2.5% in Quarter

….. Gross domestic product (in the Euro-Zone) declined by 2.5 percent during the first quarter from the previous quarter in the 16 nations that use the euro currency and the 27-country European Union, according to an initial estimate from Eurostat, the E.U.’s statistical office. Both regions had seen their economies decline 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

In Germany, the largest European economy, gross domestic product plunged 3.8 percent in the first three months of the year from the fourth quarter, when it fell 2.2 percent, the German Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said. Economists had forecast a 3 percent decline.

…. The French economy also shrank for the fourth straight quarter as companies cut investments and exports plunged. The economy shrank 1.2 percent from the fourth quarter, when it slipped 1.5 percent, the French statistics office Insee said. Insee also revised earlier data, revealing that France has been in a recession since the third quarter of 2008.

In Italy, the economy also contracted for a fourth straight quarter in the three months through March. The Italian economy shrank 2.4 percent from the fourth quarter, when it contracted by 2.1 percent, Istat, the statistics office in Rome, said. It was the biggest decline since the agency began publishing data in 1980.

Spain released data Thursday showing its economy shrank by 1.8 percent during the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter.

…. In the United States, gross domestic product shrank at an annual rate of 6.1 percent from January through March, its third straight quarter of decline.

…. The Hong Kong economy shrank 4.3 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months, the worst performance since records were first compiled in 1990 as plummeting exports hurt investment and consumption, Reuters reported from the city Friday.

Performing data conversions that Saltmarsh and the Times either can’t or won’t do, here is how the U.S. economy’s dismal performance in the past six months compares to the Euro-zone as a whole, and to the other countries identified (pending revisions in first quarter 2009 data):

GDPsEUvUS4Q08and1Q09at0509

Where comparisons are possible, only France(!) fared less poorly than the U.S. during the six months ended March 31.

Many Times readers likely will come away from Saltmarsh’s work thinking that the Euro-zone’s economy, those of most of its individual countries, and perhaps many of the rest of the world’s economies, aren’t performing nearly as badly as ours, when the fact is that they are largely performing even worse. The majority of those who only see the Times’s home-page headline will probably also believe that the Euro-zone is outperforming the U.S.

Readers of this post will have no such problem.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Gallup: More Americans Pro-life Than ‘Pro-choice’ for First Time; Forecast Is For Establishment Media Blackout

What a difference a radical, in your face, abortion-promoting president makes.

Pro-lifers can savor this graphic for a few minutes before returning to the trenches to work on persuading what Gallup says is, for the first since it began surveying the question, a clear minority of Americans who are still euphemistically “pro-choice” on the question of abortion. I have posted it here because the chances of seeing it or something similar in establishment media reports is somewhere between slim and none:

GallupProlifeSwing0509

The 15-point swing from “pro-choice” to pro-life (from -6 to +9) in the past year is nothing short of dramatic; only the 1996-1997 narrowing looks to be about the same.

Digging deeper, self-identified Catholics — as opposed to real Catholics, who by definition must be 100% pro-life (see Paragraph 2271 at link; Catholic vote-related responsibilities are outlined here) — are now 52% pro-life (up from 45% a year ago), but still trail Protestants (59% pro-life, up from 52%). 31% of all others (up from 27%) are pro-life.

Gallup’s “Bottom Line” is not bad, but it obscures an important point (bold is mine):

With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation’s policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans — and, in particular, Republicans — seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.

It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public’s understanding of what it means to be “pro-choice” slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.

I’m not buying the bolded statment (and yeah, I know that Gallup’s descriptions of becoming pro-life as “as a step back” and “a retreat” are obviously biased).

Instead, I believe that the ascendance of Dear Leader Barack Obama has unmasked what being “pro-choice” on abortion is all about. What I believe has really happened is that many of the switchers, with some help from Catholic and other clerics who have finally found their too-long-lost tongues, have learned that being “pro-choice,” though a nearly sure bet for avoiding arguments at PC cocktail parties, has real-world consequences that have nothing to do with “choice.”

To refresh, examples of Obama’s appalling abortion-supporting record, campaign statements, campaign promises, and campaign tactics up to his election included the following (Sources – Princeton Professor Robert P. George’s Public Discourse essays, “Obama’s Abortion Extremism” and “Obama and Infanticide,” excerpting with some paraphrasing from what was assembled in this brilliant post at Pro Ecclesia, who also excerpted from George):

  • Obama expressed support for legislation that would repeal the Hyde Amendment, which protects pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions, and which has been credited with saving over a million lives.
  • Obama, unlike even many allegedly “pro-choice” legislators, opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions when he served in the Illinois legislature and condemned the Supreme Court decision that upheld legislation banning this heinous practice.
  • On the campaign trail, Obama referred to a baby conceived inadvertently by a young woman as a “punishment” that she should not have to endure.
  • Obama has stated that women’s equality requires access to abortion on demand.
  • Obama, despite the urging of pro-life members of his own party, did not and has not endorsed or offered support for the Pregnant Women Support Act, the signature bill of Democrats for Life, meant to reduce abortions by providing assistance for women facing crisis pregnancies.
  • Obama, as an Illinois state senator, opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability. The Obama campaign lied about his vote until critics produced documentary proof of what he had done. In fact, Obama continued to lie about his inhuman voting record in regard to the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, and even stooped so low as to run a disgusting television ad attacking the disabled survivor of a botched abortion.

A complete compilation of Obama’s complete abortion-supporting record during transition and since his inauguration up to May 11 is here at LifeNews.com. Lowlights include:

  • January 23, 2009 – Forces taxpayers to fund pro-abortion groups that either promote or perform abortions in other nations. Decison to overturn Mexico City Policy sends part of $457 million to pro-abortion organizations.
  • February 27, 2009 – Starts the process of overturning pro-life conscience protections President Bush put in place to make sure medical staff and centers are not forced to do abortions.
  • March 9, 2009 – Obama signed an executive order forcing taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.
  • March 11, 2009 – Obama signed an executive order establishing a new agency within his administration known as the White House Council on Women and Girls. Obama’s director of public liaison at the White House, Tina Tchen, an abortion advocate, became director of it.
  • March 11, 2009 – Obama administration promotes an unlimited right to abortion at a United Nations meeting.
  • March 17, 2009 – Obama makes his first judicial appointment and names pro-abortion federal Judge David Hamilton to serve on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • March 26 – President Obama announced $50 million for the UNFPA, the UN population agency that has been criticized for promoting abortion and working closely with Chinese population control officials who use forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.
  • April 23 – Refused to appeal a ruling requiring the FDA to allow 17-year-old girls to purchase the morning after pill without either a doctor visit or parental involvement beforehand.
  • May 5 – Details emerge about a terrorism dictionary the administration of President Barack Obama put together in March. The Domestic Extremism Lexicon calls pro-life advocates violent and claims they employ racist overtones in engaging in criminal actions.
  • May 8 – President Obama releases a new budget that allows the Legal Services Corporation to use tax dollars to pay for pro-abortion litigation.
  • May 8 – President Obama’s new budget calls for taxpayer funded abortions in the nation’s capital, and eliminates all federal funding for abstinence-only education.

But Obama the presidential candidate also promised that “the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA),” which would create a federally guaranteed “fundamental right” to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, including “a right to abort a fully developed child in the final weeks for undefined ‘health’ reasons”, and would abolish virtually every existing state and federal limitation on abortion, including parental consent and notification laws for minors, state and federal funding restrictions on abortion, and conscience protections for pro-life citizens working in the health-care industry.

Perhaps the focus-group obsessives at Team Obama detected a few weeks ago what Gallup has just reported, because the President switched gears in his April 29 press conference, saying that “The Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority.”

If the administration and Congress are waiting for public sentiment to return being euphemistically “pro-choice” so they can push FOCA through without fear of electoral consequences, they may have a long wait. I would suggest that it is just as likely that the pro-life margin will increase in the coming years.

If establishment media reports concentrate on anything, it will be a potential “male chauvinist pig” angle. There is a 10-point difference between men, who are pro-life by 54-39, and women, whose pro-life margin is 49-44.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Was His Recovery A Miracle?

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Cincinnati:

May 9, 2009

Tom Siemers’ doctor pulled him aside 20 years ago and told him he should be dead.

The doctor, a neurosurgeon, said every attempt he’d made to fix a massive hemorrhage in Siemers’ brain in 1989 had failed. Surgery. Drugs. Cutting-edge technology.

Nothing seemed to work.

Despite his grim prognosis, Siemers not only survived but fully recovered.

“So what happened?” Siemers asked.

The doctor just shook his head and pointed heavenward.

A team of investigators from the Catholic Church now is trying to determine whether divine intervention is indeed the most likely explanation for Siemers’ recovery from a ruptured aneurysm, which left him unconscious and near death for more than a month.

Siemers, the chairman of Franklin Savings, is the star witness in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s first-ever investigation into a possible miracle attributed to someone under consideration for sainthood.

The prospective saint is Blessed Sister Frances Schervier, founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and the person Siemers’ family credits for his survival.

“It’s just a strange sensation,” said Siemers, who is convinced a miracle saved his life. “It’s spooky when I think about it.”

The challenge to church investigators is to gather evidence, listen to testimony and review medical records that may or may not support the family’s claim.

Their mandate is not to debate whether miracles happen, because the Catholic Church presumes that they do. The task before them is to find out whether a miracle occurred in this case and, if so, whether Frances Schervier, who died almost 133 years ago, is responsible for it.

The investigators will turn for answers to doctors grounded in the scientific world, and to true believers convinced the hand of God touches lives every day.

They then will send their findings to Rome, where a small group of religious scholars at the Vatican will try to answer a question that is daunting even to the faithful:

Did a 19th century German nun intervene with God to save the life of a middle-aged businessman from Cincinnati?

“The faithful have a right to know the truth,” said the Rev. Chris Armstrong, a Cincinnati priest and a member of the tribunal investigating the claim. “As far as humanly possible, we have to be sure.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.