June 15, 2009

More Attempted Government-Sponsored Auto Bailout Plunder; But This Time, A Judge Pushes Back

GovernmentMotors0609First the federal government’s auto bailout bullies came for Chrysler’s secured, first-lien creditors, and defeated them.

Then they came for General Motors’ unsecured bondholders. The feds appear to be in the drivers’ seat in shafting them disproportionately to force a better deal for the United Auto Workers’ healthcare trust.

Now, in a matter that at first only seemed to interest the Wall Street Journal, they’ve also come after Delphi’s debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing providers as GM attempts to scoop up what it wants from the bankrupt auto-parts supplier. But this time, at least for now, a bankruptcy judge with a richly appropriate name has stopped them:

Judge Orders Auction in a Rebuke to Delphi Plan

A U.S. bankruptcy court Wednesday sided with a group of Delphi Corp. lenders who said a government-led plan to sell the auto-parts maker’s operations to a private-equity fund trampled on their rights.

Judge Robert Drain ordered Delphi to hold an auction and allow bids to challenge the government-brokered sale to Platinum Equity. “What’s so special about Platinum?” asked Judge Drain.

….The ruling is a victory for a group of hedge funds who stand to (lose) 80% or more of their roughly $2.5 billion in debtor-in-possession, or DIP, financing. The decision came on the same day that Chrysler LLC and Fiat closed their government-brokered tie-up over the objections of Chrysler creditors who argued they were treated unfairly by the Obama administration.

The Delphi case is the latest in an escalating debate over the Obama administration’s attitude toward creditors’ rights in bankruptcy court. ….

“The rule of law and commercial rights of lenders cannot bend in the face of political forces,” said Marc Abrams, a lawyer for a group of the hedge funds, in a standing-room-only courtroom in lower Manhattan Wednesday before Judge Robert Drain.

…. The (government’s) plan calls for some DIP lenders, including the most senior creditors owed about $2.5 billion, to receive 20 cents on the dollar for their loans. These lenders argue that Delphi’s plan overstates the amount they would receive. A Delphi reorganization plan that collapsed in April 2008 called for DIP lenders to receive full payment.

“A DIP loan should be money good,” said Mr. Abrams, whose clients include Silver Point Finance LLC and Monarch Alternative Capital. “It’s the T-bill of a bankruptcy claim.”

Megan McCardle at the Atlantic’s Asymmetrical Information blog explains the significance of DIP financing:

…. this is an even more heavy-handed intervention than Chrysler, and considerably more disturbing. Debtor-in-Possession financing, or DIP, is the financing that allows companies to reorganize in bankruptcy. It’s senior to everything else because if it weren’t, no one would be willing to lend money to companies that definitionally have a high probability of failure. Stiffing those creditors in order to make GM, or even Delphi, better off, is incredibly short-sighted.

It also has some potentially scary implications for our political economy. The quasi-legitimate argument in favor of the government’s interventions in favor of the UAW was that Uncle Sam was the only available debtor-in-possession financier, and therefore had a right to call the tune. Screwing over the DIP providers would, of course, make it harder for other companies to get DIP. What new rights could the government discover in those bankruptcies?

In this case, however, the bankruptcy judge wasn’t buying. He ordered Delphi to put its assets up for auction. Now we get to test the theory that the government is acting in ways that actually make all the creditors getting cramdowns better off. If the government has indeed been acting in everyone’s best interest, the auction will be a dismal failure.

Given that the New York Post has reported that Carl Icahn’s Federal-Mogul Corporation appears to be interested in bidding for Delphi, we may already see the judge’s decision vindicated financially.

My only quibble with Ms. McCardle is that the result shouldn’t be the driver here in any event. Trampling on secured lenders rights, as the government successfully did at Chrysler, has no legal basis, and should never have been allowed to stand. Running roughshod over the proportional rights of unsecured lenders has no legal basis and shouldn’t be allowed at GM; it may yet be turned back.  DIP financing provider’s rights must remain superior, even if the government’s plan is better, because that’s what the law says (the same goes for governments’ supposedly superior plans in eminent domain situations that go beyond the Fifth Amendment specific permissions; it’s irrelevant that they’re superior — even though they often aren’t).

Don’t like the law? Pass a new one the old-fashioned way — through Congress.

Most of the establishment media’s laziness in covering these important matters during the auto bailout bankruptcies has bordered on disgraceful, and has been anything but informative.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Leon Panetta Explains It All

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:04 pm

DickCheney0509PanettaCrossout0609(begin sarcasm)

Thanks to Leon Panetta’s comment about Dick Cheney (“he’s [almost] wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point”), I finally have a grasp of history as revised by the Left.

You see, I now know that Winston Churchill wanted to see the Nazis rise in Germany.

I now know that Churchill wanted Hitler to break his word in that Sudetenland “peace in our time” deal the Fuhrer made with Neville Chamberlain. Not that Churchill expected Hitler to keep his word; he knew he wouldn’t. He wanted Hitler to break his word.

I now know that Churchill wanted Hitler to roll the tanks into Poland in 1939.

Churchill wanted the German tanks to run right around the supposedly impenetrable Maginot Line through Holland and Belgium and have them roll into Paris, so Hitler could then turn his attention to taking out Great Britain.

Isn’t it obvious? Churchill warned that these or very similar things would happen, and they did. Thus World War II is clearly all his fault. Chamberlain’s off the hook, a misunderstood hero.

(/sarcasm)

Seriously, if Churchill really wanted these events to happen in the name of partisanship or power, he would have shut his trap during the 1930s and waited for history to catch up with him. But he didn’t, because he was first and foremost a patriot and a statesman.

Likewise, if he really wanted to see another serious terrorist attack or a North Korean nuke on our own soil, Dick Cheney would shut his trap and let the Obama administration continue to demonstrate weakness, cut funding to key defense efforts, give more respect to our enemies than to our friends, and release the Gitmo terrorists without uttering a word.

But Dick Cheney has spoken out, precisely because above all he is a patriot and a statesman. God bless Dick Cheney.

Leon Panetta, in turning his critical office into yet another political arm of the Democratic Party, has shown himself to be unfit for that office. He should resign. An administration with even the slightest grasp of the importance of Panetta’s job would fire him. Neither will happen.

Dick Cheney forever; Leon Panetta, NEVER.

Boston Globe Incorrectly Attributes First Anesthesia Operation to MassGen Doctor Instead of Georgian

CrawfordLongMuseum0609.jpgMike Jay at the Boston Globe had what appeared to be a pretty compelling lookback piece on Sunday, June 7. It started as follows:

The day pain died
What really happened during the most famous moment in Boston medicine

The date of the first operation under anesthetic, Oct. 16, 1846, ranks among the most iconic in the history of medicine. It was the moment when Boston, and indeed the United States, first emerged as a world-class center of medical innovation. The room at the heart of Massachusetts General Hospital where the operation took place has been known ever since as the Ether Dome, and the word “anesthesia” itself was coined by the Boston physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes to denote the strange new state of suspended consciousness that the city’s physicians had witnessed. The news from Boston swept around the world, and it was recognized within weeks as a moment that had changed medicine forever.

Wow. Pretty bracing stuff, except for one thing: A commenter named “introp” told the Globe (currently the fourth comment down) that they’re wrong about Morton being first.

The evidence is on the side of “introp.”

Here’s “introp’s” comment:

The first documented case of ether use for anesthesia was by Crawford Long on 30 March 1842 to remove a tumor from a patient’s neck. That was *four years* before Morton’s well-publicized case. Before publishing an article on the development of anesthesia, you perhaps should have asked a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA): they could have set you straight.

Indeed, a quick visit to ASA’s web site, which may even be accessible from the Boston Globe’s newsroom, confirms this (paragraph breaks added by me):

On March 30, 1842, Crawford W. Long, M.D., a graduate of the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, administered the first anesthetic for surgery in his office on the corner of the village square in Jefferson, Georgia. Dr. Long was a native of nearby Danielsville, Georgia, and had recently returned home after completing several months of advanced training in surgery in New York City. The patient was a friend, James Venable, and the surgery was the excision of a lump from the back of Mr. Venable’s neck.

Dr. Long eventually moved away from Jefferson and settled in Athens, Georgia. His claim to have performed the first anesthetic was largely ignored by the rest of the world, but the citizens of Jefferson never forgot this pioneering physician.

After he moved, the building that Dr. Long used for an office continued to be occupied by another physician for a while but was eventually torn down, and in the late 1800s, two buildings were built on the site. One of the buildings was a general store until 1957 when it was converted to a museum honoring Dr. Long and his historic accomplishment at that location.

The commenter’s correct point has been at the Globe since the morning of June 10. There is no evidence of a correction at Jay’s article, but the Globe did run a separate correction on June 13 (bold is mine):

Correction: Because of a reporting error, a story in the June 7 Ideas section mischaracterized William Morton’s 1846 use of ether at Massachusetts General Hospital as the first surgical operation under anesthetic. It was the first such operation to be demonstrated publicly.

The correction, never incorporated into or mentioned at Jay’s piece as far as I can tell, is inadequate in any event. Wikipedia tells us the following:

Although William T. G. Morton is well-known for performing his historic anesthesia on October 16, 1846 in Boston, Massachusetts, C. W. Long is now known to be the first to have used an ether-based anesthesia. Morton is now sometimes credited as performing the first “public” demonstration of ether as a surgical anesthetic, however this is also erroneous as Dr. Long publicly demonstrated ether’s use as a surgical anesthetic on numerous occasions before 1846. In 1854, Long requested William Crosby Dawson, a U.S. Senator, to present his claims to the attention of Congress.

Wiki, of course, doesn’t prove anything by itself, but the book linked by Wiki, at Page 134, tells us that:

(Long) operated on at least eight cases …. before Morton claimed to have discovered anesthesia,” and that two other doctors taught by Long “used ether successfully in their surgical practice before date of Dr. Morton’s “discovery.” …. It is beyond question that Dr. Long at once announced his discovery to the physicians of the community in which he lived, an that he was regarded by them as having made a discovery of importance, so important in fact that they used ether with success in their own practice.

Maybe in the Globe’s newsroom something doesn’t count as “public” unless and until the news travels to Boston.

Much of the rest of Jay’s writing is at the very least suspect, but not easily investigated by yours truly in the time available.

The reporter seems to overstate the ferocity of religion-based opposition to the very idea of relieving pain. He further implies that the Catholic Church didn’t legitimize anesthesia for the faithful until the mid-1950s when he writes that, “Some religious voices would hold out for a good deal longer: Pope Pius XII would confirm that ‘the Christian’s duty of renunciation and of interior purification is not an obstacle to the use of anaesthetics’ only in February 1957.” Given that plenty of Catholic hospitals were using anesthesia well before the mid-1950s, Jay’s sentence introduction, shortly followed by the word “confirmed” in its body, comes off as a deliberately misleading play to the “Christians/Catholics are dinosaurs” crowd.

Jay’s article still opens with the claim that Morton’s was “the first operation under anesthetic.” Jay’s opening is wrong. Only someone looking for a correction elsewhere at the Globe’s site would find it.

The Globe is apparently okay with that. Perhaps that explains why, based on circulation figures, fewer New Englanders are okay with the idea of reading it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Otherwise Known as the Official ‘Up Yours, Colin Powell’ Poll of 2009

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:35 am

Ta-da:

GallupConservModLibPoll0609

Yowza.

Lucid Links (061509, Morning)

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

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

From Byron York at the Examiner.com, “Gerald Walpin speaks: The inside story of the AmeriCorps firing”“The White House’s decision to fire AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin came amid politically-charged tensions inside the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that runs AmeriCorps. Top executives at the Corporation, Walpin explained in an hour-long interview Saturday, were unhappy with his investigation into the misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. Walpin’s investigation also sparked conflict with the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento amid fears that the probe — which could have resulted in Johnson being barred from ever winning another federal grant — might stand in the way of the city receiving its part of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money.”

Read the whole thing.

If a similar dismissal would have occurred under Bush, it would have been a front-page and evening news-leading item.

_________________________________________

There’s a crowd-size claim disparity relating to yesterday’s Flag Day Tea Party event in New Richmond, Ohio, east of Cincinnati. One claim is from a credible source; the other isn’t.

WLWT, which had the only coverage I could find and was the only relevant listing in this Google News search, was silent about the size of the crowd.

This basic journalistic failure enabled WLWT commenter CincyCapell, who wasn’t there, and whose Twitter bio proclaims a misssion of “Pi**ing Off Right Wing A**holes One wingnut At A Time” (asterisks are mine), to snark that “it looks like there were all of 50 people” attending.

Meanwhile, Instapundit did a post that included a claim from e-mailer Justin Binik-Thomas, who was there, that there were 1,000.

Well, it’s too bad that I have to pi** off CincyCapell (not really), but I would say that these 55KRC photos (scroll through them) prove that Binik-Thomas is much closer to the truth. Anything remotely close to 1,000 would be pretty impressive, given the lousy weather and light advance notice.

Update: Make that “over 1,000,” according to Instapundit. That seems a stretch, but any other reality-based on the scene observations (this would obviously exclude CincyCapell) on crowd size, pics, and other news about the event would be welcome.

_______________________________________

From the “To Make An Omelette, You Have To Break a Few Nest EggsDept. — “GM’s deal erased many average Americans’ savings.”

As noted here on May 22, they’re also on the verge of having their proportionally equivalent rights as debtors trampled upon by the government, the United Auto Workers union, and the bankruptcy court handling the GM case.

They’re just collateral damage in our Brave New Obamaworld.

Positivity: Alexandria woman walked down the aisle by dad who saved her life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:23 am

From the UK:

Jun 12 2009

HERO dad Ian Greig walks daughter Heather down the aisle – a year after he saved her life by donating one of his kidneys.

The beautiful bride recently tied the knot with sweetheart Jamie Dyer at the Millennium Hall, Gartocharn, in a special day both she and her proud dad feared they would never see.

Heather, 36, who is originally from Alexandria, was close to death when her kidneys failed two years ago – but her dad put his own life on the line to ease Heather’s suffering.

Ian, 62, said: “It broke my heart to see what she was going through. The risk of the operation didn’t worry me one bit.”

Heather, who now lives in Thurso, was put on dialysis after her kidneys failed. Her father’s brave move may have been her last chance for a kidney transplant, as both her brother Ian and partner Jamie were previously ruled out as suitable matches.

Gartocharn man Ian, a retired Faslane electrical engineer, underwent nine months of tests and the operation was finally approved by medics at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow, in July last year.

As Ian woke up in pain and covered in tubes, his daughter also wakened from the serious operation at the other end of the hospital to Jamie by her bedside.

She said: “I still had my oxygen mask on and he said, ‘will you marry me?’

“I immediately said yes – through my mask,” she laughed.

“I woke up from the anaesthetic feeling like my old self again, it was incredible. I felt amazing from day one.”

The father and daughter both asked medics if they could see one another – and were reunited in a hospital corridor.

Ian said: “Waking up from the operation, having donated a kidney to my daughter, was the most sensational feeling.

“As we were separated I said I wanted to go and see Heather. The nurse was taking me along the corridor in a wheelchair when I saw Heather was doing the same.

“The first thing she said was, ‘dad, I’m going to get married.’

“They took us into a separate room and it was so emotional, we just broke down.”

On May 2, ten months after the operation, Ian proudly gave Heather away at her dream wedding in Gartocharn. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.