August 31, 2009

AP Coverage of Ford-UAW Negotiations Ignores Union’s Ownership Interests In Competitors

UAWfordHandshake

Ford and the United Auto Workers are set to begin new contract talks under a set of circumstances radically different from any previously faced by either party. There is the “minor” matter of the union’s ownership stakes in General Motors and Chrysler that arose in the wake of those two companies’ government-engineered bankruptcy filings, accomplished with more than a little rule-bending by the Obama administration and its car czars.

But you wouldn’t learn about any of this, let alone its potential effect on negotiations, from reading coverage of the situation by the Associated Press’s Kimberly Johnson. Additionally, there’s quite a bit of emphasis on the idea that Ford can supposedly afford to be more generous with pay and benefits than its two major Detroit rivals. How convenient — for the union and the the other two companies.

Here are key paragraphs from Johnson’s very incomplete report:

UAW bristles as Ford seeks concessions

DETROIT – The amicable relationship Ford Motor Co. has shared for decades with the United Autos Workers union may be on the verge of cracking, as the automaker seeks to cut its labor costs at time when it is in a far stronger position than its U.S. competitors.

Dearborn-based Ford and members of the UAW’s bargaining committee for Ford are meeting last week. On the table: additional concessions on work rules, strike provisions and wages for new hires.

The talks will be challenging. Ford’s union workers agreed to amend their 2007 contract in March with concessions to help the automaker cut costs and avoid taking government aid. Some local union officials say workers have no interest in accepting further cuts.

“Once you open door, it just doesn’t stop, they keep coming back for more,” said Gary Walkowicz, bargaining committee member for UAW Local 600, representing workers at Ford’s Dearborn truck plant. Walkowicz said he is opposed to future concessions and is “not surprised the company keeps coming back.”

But concessions agreed to by General Motors and Chrysler hourly workers went deeper than Ford’s, as workers feared their companies would slip into bankruptcy and be forced to layoff thousands of workers. Most of those jobs were saved during the quick trip through bankruptcy court because GM and Chrysler union contracts were already amended and approved before the bankruptcy filings.

Now Ford, the only U.S. automaker to pass on government aid and the first to get a modified contract deal approved, is back at the table looking for parity with GM and Chrysler.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has repeatedly said the company would “not be disadvantaged” when it comes to labor costs.

…. And the company is improving. Ford turned a $2.3 billion profit in the second quarter thanks to its debt reduction efforts. July sales rose 2.4 percent, and with Ford Focuses and Escapes being among the top sellers in the Cash for Clunkers program, August sales are expected show an improvement over last year.

“Everything looks favorable for Ford. This means it’s difficult for them now to suddenly claim poverty,” said Gary Chaison, professor of labor relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. “It can very easily strain their relationship with the UAW.”

The claim to poverty isn’t exactly “sudden.” The fact is that the company lost an incredible $30 billion from 2006 through 2008 and had a relatively narrow loss in the first quarter of 2009. The company has one good quarter, and “suddenly” it can afford to put itself at a 4-year competitive disadvantage? Uh, no.

If the economy doesn’t (excuse the expression) pick up, a cost structure significantly higher than that found at GM, Chrysler, and its principal Japanese transplant rivals Toyota, Honda, and Nissan could hurt margins and start the cycle of losses in Dearborn all over again — and this time the company is mortgaged to the hilt.

Johnson’s failure to explore the drop-dead obvious conflicts of interest inherent in a company having to negotiate with an entity that owns and/or controls two of its principal rivals is an unfortunately likely foreshadowing of the kid-glove approach we’ll see from the establishment media in the coming years.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Media Virtually Silent About $10 Billion Union Health Care Subsidy Built Into House Version of Health Care Bill

GMandChryslerAndCapitolSome of us have been wondering how viable the Voluntary Employee Benefit Arrangements (VEBAs) set up by the United Auto Workers for its auto industry employees really are. This is of particular concern at the VEBAs tied in to General Motors and Chrysler. What happens to the employer stock these VEBAs own will heavily influence whether they have the money to pay promised benefits.

The answer to the viability question must be “not very,” because the House version of health care that has made it out of committee has a $10 billion provision tucked into it that would largely work to back the VEBAs up in case GM and Chrysler are never able to stand on their own — or in case other high-wage, high-benefit companies, many of which are unionized, follow them into serious financial difficulty.

Maybe it’s because $10 billion doesn’t mean much any more in an era of trillion-dollar deficits, but media coverage of this “little” provision has been very, very light. A Google News search on “retiree health care UAW” (not typed in quotes) came back with only about 25 relevant items of roughly 100 total results earlier this afternoon. Many of those results are outraged editorials and op-eds. There is precious little original news coverage of the topic.

One of the few examples of original coverage is an August 24 report by Justin Hyde and Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press that explains the provision and provides background:

$10B aimed at union retirees
Provision called welfare by some, not enough by others

….. a $10-billion provision tucked deep inside thousands of pages of health care overhaul bills that could help the UAW’s retiree health-care plan and other union-backed plans.

It would see the government — at least temporarily — pay 80 cents on the dollar to corporate and union insurance plans for claims between $15,000 and $90,000 for retirees age 55 to 64.

Big businesses with union workers are twice as likely to offer retiree benefits as nonunion ones.

Greg Mourad of the National Right to Work Committee called it “a shameless case of political payback,” saying Democrats and President Barack Obama are trying “to force the rest of us to pay billions to cover those unions’ health care.”

Labor advocates say even more funding may be needed.

“It is not enough money,” said former U.S. Rep. David Bonior, a Mt. Clemens Democrat who chairs the board at Washington, D.C.-based American Rights at Work, a labor advocacy group. “That will have to be supplemented to fill the gap.”

…. The health care debate roiling the nation promises an even greater impact in Michigan: It could determine whether the UAW’s gamble that it can insure 850,000 retirees from Detroit’s automakers pays off or goes bust.

Thanks to Detroit’s twin auto bankruptcies and other concessions, the UAW’s voluntary employee benefit association, or VEBA, had to take stock of unknown value for $24 billion in claims, while adding thousands of early retirees to its rolls.

Outside experts estimate the funds have about 30 cents in cash for every dollar of future claims, with no guarantee of what its stock assets will be worth. Lance Wallach, a New York-based VEBA expert, says if the funds “don’t get something, they’re out of business in 12 years.”

…. The $10 billion is aimed at a growing gap between the skyrocketing cost of care for early retirees — ages 55 to 64, too young for Medicare — and what President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats promise will be less-expensive coverage once, and if, the much-debated reform measures kick in several years from now.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that the UAW might be incentivized to drive a tougher and perhaps unfair bargain in negotiations with Detroit’s automakers if this $10 billion backstop becomes law.

In an August 25 editorial, Investors Business Daily saw a link between this provision and the thuggish union behavior seen at recent health care town hall meetings:

Payday For Unions

Labor: If there’s any question as to why union toughs turned up at recent health care town halls and got violent, consider what they were gooning for: a $10 billion bailout for their mismanaged pensions — at our expense.

It’s nothing but another bailout for union-bankrupted industries that can’t sustain their contracts. In most of the private sector, companies cut back. They pay for what they buy. They scrimp.

Unions are different. When things get bad, they want taxpayers to pay. And they demonize corporate profits. When profits are a dirty word, one man’s wealth is another man’s loss, and creating value is no longer recognized as a means of earning money.

It’s no surprise that bailouts are the result.

But there’s a problem with all this largesse — the poor and middle class who don’t get these fat pensions end up paying for them anyway.

What IBD noted, more than the relatively “small” size of the legislated subsidy (which, as noted in the Free Press excerpt, might end being a mere down payment into a money pit many times the size), may well be the reason why the VEBA bailout in the health care bill has gotten scant media attention. It would be pretty hard for reporters to spin it to readers as a good or even neutral thing — because it isn’t.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

The ‘Take the Field Tribute’

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:57 am

Yes, “this is a great idea” (HT Tom Elia via Larwyn):

And yes, it would be wonderful if something like this could become a routine occurrence at all road football and basketball games the service academies play.

Positivity: 40,000 pack downtown Colorado Springs to thank the military

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:56 am

WelcomeHomeInColoradoSprings0809From Colorado Springs, Colorado (HT Michelle Malkin):

…. It was just “Welcome Home.”

Thanking the troops ruled at Saturday’s Red White and Brave Welcome Home Parade in downtown Colorado Springs that drew more than 40,000 supporters ….

The parade had tanks, fire trucks, cheerleaders and marching bands along with costumed characters on stilts and unicycles.

Grandpas, moms, kids and even dogs sported flags. Thousands of people waved banners of support for the soldiers and airmen marching down Tejon Street as a squadron of vintage World War II planes thundered overheard.

….. With the Iraq war still going after six years and the 8-year-old Afghanistan war heating up again, organizers wanted to give the community a chance to thank local troops for their sacrifices. Some Fort Carson soldiers have served in overseas three times.

“It’s a morale booster,” said Teresa Meza, who brought her two children to watch their dad march in the parade with thousands of his Army and Air Force comrades. Army Sgt. Daniel Meza is home between deployments.

“It is very uplifting,” said Chris McBean, whose husband, Staff Sgt. John McBean, is deployed to Afghanistan. “You know you are not alone.”

Ernie, a white French bulldog, paraded along the sidelines with a flag poked in his dog collar.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jill Colbert bedecked the dog to watch her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Colbert, march down Tejon. “This is amazing. I didn’t think they would do something like this. I was surprised, pleasantly surprised,” she said.

B.J. Cameron was among the seniors who came to show support.

“I’m here just to let the troops know how much we appreciate them, to stand here and say thank you for your sacrifice,” said Cameron, the mother of a 27-year-old disabled Army veteran. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 30, 2009

Boston Globe: Now That Ted’s Out of the Way, Hurry Up With That Cape Cod Wind Farm

KennedyopposingCapeWindOn the very day Ted Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near his two brothers, a Boston Globe editorial argued to undo part of his legacy.

The pertinent portion of Mr. Kennedy’s legacy has to do with his strident opposition, despite a career of enthusiastically imposing environmental initiatives and costs on others, to the building of a wind farm on Cape Cod (the graphic at top right is from a 2006 post at a Greenpeace web site).

The ever-opportunistic Globe wrote a 450-word editorial virtually demanding that President Barack Obama get work started on Nantucket Sound right now, this very instant (HT to an e-mailer):

…. Neither Obama nor his administration has yet weighed in on Cape Wind, the controversial 130-turbine wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound that could supply the electricity needs of more than 300,000 homes on the Cape and Islands. If Obama’s pledges for a greener economy are to be kept, his administration should not delay any longer the arduous process that began in 2001 to develop this clean energy source.

The proposed offshore wind project has sustained more than seven years of heated debate; political maneuvering, including some by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, a project opponent; and environmental review. It now awaits a decision from the Department of the Interior — the last major regulatory hurdle its developers must clear for the project to move forward. As the country’s first proposed commercial offshore wind farm, and the only project of its kind this far along in the approval process, Cape Wind could open the door for developers to harness the vast wind energy resource along the nation’s eastern seaboard. The approval could make Massachusetts the trailblazer of a power source that is an essential part of the country’s strategy to address global warming and to achieve energy security.

In January, Interior’s Minerals Management Service, the federal agency charged with assessing Cape Wind’s potential impacts on the environment, published a detailed report that found the wind farm would pose little harm to fisheries, birds, and other wildlife. The agency also concluded that developers could readily address any navigational concerns for ships and planes posed by the 440-foot turbines.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is now responsible for issuing a decision on the project. ….

Certain commenters at the Globe are not amused. In the process, they smash the Globe’s contention that Cape Wind is a truly “commercial” project, berate the paper for its tasteless timing, and remind it that there is another Massachusetts Senator whose name begins with a “K” who is apparently also not a fan of Cape Wind:

“The wind farm is a boondoggle with more public money going into it than private and at sea to save the money it would have to pay on land. Wind-wise, it doesn’t even make sense in the location they want for it. It won’t benefit any of the homeowners on the Cape and Island. It will be a constant environmental risk for the Nantucket Sound.”

“Once again the Boston Globe leaves out the facts. Hopefully, the Obama’s now know the ugly truth about this project that the Globe is afraid to print. First, according to the MMS, it will double electric rates. This is after over $70,000,000 a year in federal and state subsidies.”

“It’s a disservice to the country when articles like this don’t mention that wind farms only produce at a 25% ‘capacity factor’ and that they are usually backed up by fossil fuel generation.”

“The Globe would never said this to the face of Ted Kennedy. He has not has his funeral, and they put this in the paper today. Cape Wind is another big dig.”

“It is utterly repugnant, disgraceful and disrespectful to the memory of Senator Kennedy that the editors have chosen this day to pitch Cape Wind.”

“Now there is only one Senator from our state blocking the building of wind turbines…”

The most recent evidence I could find about John Kerry’s position on Cape Wind is that he opposed it six years ago.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Video: The Government Can…

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Taxes & Government,Wide Open — Rose @ 1:05 pm

From my favorite parody writer, Tim Hawkins (direct YouTube link):

There Are Two Types of Boycotts: The Elite-Supported, and the Invisible

NoToGMandChrysler0109glenn-beckNoWholeFoodsGuess which ones usually get results?

__________________________

Note: This item originally appeared at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Friday.

__________________________

As we enter the eighth month of our Punk Presidency, the Left’s desperation to enact the slow but sure evolution to statist health care favored in reality by Barack Obama has reached a fever pitch.

Not coincidentally, boycott fever seems to be sweeping the nation. Two of them, assisted heavily by establishment media coverage, are quite visible. One that is perhaps as effective is largely unrecognized in elite circles. Finally, the most effective one may be a totally unorganized refusal to buy largely lurking behind the scenes.

First, there is the situation with Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFMI). In an August 11 Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare; Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit,” company CEO John Mackey enraged single-payer partisans when he argued that:

…. the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction — toward less government control and more individual empowerment.

He then identified eight things that could be done to reduce government involvement and empower individuals, in the process citing several steps his company has taken in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. that are in sync with his ideas.

In a company blog post three days later, Mackey noted that he had not included his company’s name in his originally submitted title (“Health Care Reform”), was speaking for himself and not as Whole Foods CEO, and observed that he was responding to “President Obama’s invitation to all Americans to put forward constructive ideas for reforming our health care system.”

By that time, the founder of singlepayeraction.org had called for a boycott of WFMI. (Aside: If the various health care plans floating around Washington really won’t lead to single-payer, why aren’t these organizations directing their fire at the president and Congress?) On August 20, the official WFMI boycott site “boasted” (you’ll see later why that word is in quotes) of having 23,000 participants.

Since the company’s next set of financials won’t come out until early November, whether the boycott will have any real effect will be unclear for quite a while. That hasn’t stopped establishment media outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and ABC News, and even the BBC from generating glowing boycott write-ups. Opportunists at the United Food and Commercial Workers union, at which at least ten executives “earn” at least $250,000 a year, are at least partially funding a coalition of “activists, consumers and labor groups around the country” who don’t like a company that has been named one of the 25 Best Companies to Work For, and where Mackey more than earns his annual salary of a whole dollar.

The WFMI boycott seems not to have harmed the company’s stock, which rose from $27.10 on August 17 to $29.52 nine days later, and was very close to its 52-week high at the time this column was finished Wednesday afternoon. NASDAQ.com’s WFMI Company Headlines section is devoid of any mention of the boycott’s existence, indicating that at least for now the markets could care less.

Then there’s Glenn Beck. The radio talker and Fox News show host drove the nutroots crazy in late July by expressing his belief that the president is a racist. Barack Obama’s attendance at and support of an objectively racist church run by an objectively racist pastor for 20 years, his characterization of his grandmother as a “typical white person,” and his more recent knee-jerk criticism of a white Cambridge police officer’s arrest of a black friend — while admitting to all that he didn’t even know the facts of the situation – apparently aren’t germane to the accuracy of Beck’s characterization.

The Associated Press’s David Bauder copied a press release — er, pretended to run a news story — claiming that 33 Fox News advertisers had directed that their commercials not air during Beck’s show. Bauder at least partially relied on information from colorofchange.org, “a group that promotes political action among blacks and launched a campaign to get advertisers to abandon him.” That group happens to have been founded by current “green jobs czar” Van Jones. Imagine that.

On Wednesday afternoon, I could not find a list of the companies Color of Change claims will not advertise on Beck’s show. Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey reported on August 19 that at least some of the companies supposedly moving their ads from Beck hadn’t been advertising on the show in the first place. It’s possible that Fox News won’t even lose even a dime in all of the hubbub. Meanwhile, Beck’s audience continues to be greater than competing shows at MSNBC, CNN, and CNN Headline — combined. His Monday show’s audience nearly doubled the total of the other three. As with Whole Foods, the media coverage parade has been heavy, including the New York TimesReuters, and a host of business news outlets.

Those same business news outlets and others “somehow” have entirely missed a boycott with at least 15 times more supporters than Whole Foods claimed above. That would be the American Family Association’s boycott of PepsiCo over what it claims is that company’s support of “the homosexual agenda,” homosexual publications, and corporate diversity training that borders on brainwashing.

The AFA’s boycott site claims over 350,000 signed-up supporters, about the same number as successfully boycotted the Ford Motor Company for over two years (BizzyBlog August 30 Update/Clarification: AFA’s current total is about the same as the Ford boycott total at the same stage. By the time the boycott ended, AFA had over 750,000 signed-up Ford boycott supporters). Yet a Google News search on “Pepsi boycott” and a Google News Archive search from January 2008 to July 2009 on “Pepsi boycott American Family Association” (each string entered without quotes) show that there has been virtually no meaningful coverage of the AFA’s boycott since it began.

Luckily for Ford, it did what it had to in order to end their AFA boycott in early 2008 — just in time for it to refocus on its business while rivals General Motors and Chrysler slid into bankruptcy and government bailouts. The press also ignored that boycott. Although orchestrating an effective boycott of a company selling one-time big-ticket items is easier than doing it to a diverse corporate consumer-products conglomerate, Pepsi management would be well advised not to be complacent.

That leads me to cite the boycott that no one has organized, but which clearly exists.

It becomes more obvious with each passing month that General/Government Motors and Chrysler have permanently lost a large percentage of consumers who won’t buy a vehicle from a bailed-out and/or state-run company. Recent proof: Neither maker had an entry in the top 10 list of most purchased vehicles under the Cash for Clunkers program (Toyota and Honda had three each, while Ford had two). GM’s share of sales from Clunker trade-ins was only 17.6%, well below its already declining market share. (Update: From Japan Today on August 27, Chrysler’s share was an abysmal 6.6%.

The press probably won’t recognize the informal GM-Chrysler boycott unless and until the doors shut for the final time at these companies, if even then. They’re too busy promoting usually ineffective boycotts with which they agree.

AP Robert Schindler Obit Misrepresents Terri Schiavo Autopsy Results, Ignores Subsequent PVS Awakenings and Research

terri22

Robert Schindler, father of Terri Schindler Schiavo, has passed away. Condolences to his courageous family and friends.

Associated Press writer Kelli Kennedy’s coverage of Mr. Schindler’s death, and her recounting of the Terri Schiavo story, is a mixed bag.

On the one hand, she writes that “the feeding tube that had nourished her for years was removed according to her husband’s wishes.” I would expect that Michael Schiavo, who consistently said for years that withdrawing nourishment is what Terri would have wanted, and that he pursued that end “purely based on her wishes,” will be miffed at Kennedy’s assertion. Too bad, so sad, Mike. Your own words in the legal record say otherwise; Ms. Kennedy is correct.

But Ms. Kennedy erred in her single paragraph about Terri’s autopsy, continuing an incorrect media meme that has persisted for years:

An autopsy supported Michael Schiavo’s contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state with no consciousness and no hope of recovery.

It’s as if there was no support for contrary contentions. That implied assertion is patently false.

Michelle Malkin wrote a scathing June 16, 2005 critique of the developing Terri Schiavo media mythology. That critique stands up very well four years later:

You do not need a medical examiner’s license to see that the (autopsy) report raises many more questions than it answers, though from the (once again) misleading media coverage, we are led to believe that the matters of Terri’s life and murder are resolved. They are not.

(A BBC report states that) “An autopsy report on a brain-damaged woman at the centre of a long legal battle in the US has shown that she suffered no trauma before her collapse.”

But on page 4 of the M.E.’s summary, what the report actually says with regard to possible strangulation is this: ”Autopsy examination of her neck structures 15 years after her initial collapse did not detect any signs of remote trauma, but, with such a delay, the exam was unlikely to show any residual neck findings.”

….. in countless newspaper articles over the past 15 years, and during his successful malpractice trial against Terri’s primary care physician, Michael Schiavo stressed his wife’s bulimia-related low potassium level as the cause of her initial collapse. Schiavo won $1 million in damages on the grounds that Schiavo’s obstetrician had failed to diagnose bulimia.

Unquestioning journalists ran dozens of stories echoing the claim: “Eating disorder is real issue in Schiavo case.”

….. The autopsy report spends three-and-a-half pages debunking Schiavo’s claim, as well as the related claim that she had a heart attack (or, more medically precise, myocardial infarction). But if mentioned at all, the news reports I have seen have downplayed and buried these astonishing revelations (revelations which bear directly on Schiavo’s credibility regarding his claim that Terri would have wanted to die).

In Michael Schiavo’s favor, the autopsy report also casts doubt on the Schindler family’s long-held view that a 1991 bone scan indicated traumatic injury.

….. However, the report notes this caveat: “Without the orginal bone scan and radiographs from that period, no other conclusions can [be] reasonably made.”

Michelle went on to note the establishment media’s dogged insistence that the autopsy results supported the idea that Terri was in a “persistent vegetative state” (PVS).

But before Terri’s death, at least two prominent neurologists insisted that Terri was not in that condition. Additionally, the final sentence of Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Nelson’s report to the 10th Judicial Circuit of Florida (at Page 20 of the 39-page PDF) cautioned that:

Neuropathological examination of the decedent’s brain — or any brain, for that matter — cannot prove or disprove a diagnosis of persistent vegetative state or minimally conscious state.

Since Terri’s death, TerrisFight.org, the web site of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, has compiled a list of 14 people who have emerged from PVS. It also cites four sources of subsequently published information contending that PVS is often misdiagnosed, and that in any event recovery from it is more than a long-shot possibility. One of them from June 2007 leads with these two paragraphs:

New studies underline the importance of extreme caution in any decision to limit the life chances of patients during the acute phase of a vegetative state.

Around a quarter of patients in an acute vegetative state when they are first admitted to hospital have a good chance of recovering a significant proportion of their faculties, and up to a half will regain some level of consciousness, researchers from Belgium found out. Another study shows that around 40% of patients were wrongly diagnosed as in a vegetative state, when they in fact registered the awareness levels of minimal consciousness. Comparing past studies on this issue shows that the level of misdiagnosis has not decreased in the last 15 years. These studies should foster debate about appropriate standards of care for these patients, and about end of life limitations, experts said ….

It should also never be forgotten that Terri’s condition at the time of her death might have been very different had her care been adequate during the years after Michael Schiavo won his malpractice lawsuit. There’s more than a little bit of evidence that her care was far, far less than perfect.

Michelle Malkin’s bottom line is the real takeaway:

Terri Schiavo, a profoundly disabled woman who was not terminally ill and who had an army of family members ready to care for her for the rest of her natural life, succumbed to forced dehydration at the hands of her spouse-in-name-only.

Out of respect for Mr. Schindler, who would surely and correctly have disputed her write-up, the AP’s Kennedy would have been better off not mentioning the autopsy at all. Whether deliberate or not, its insertion and characterization come off as “let’s get one last dig in while we can” opportunism that at least used to be considered unbecoming of an alleged professional journalist writing an obituary.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: RIP, Robert Schindler

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:59 am

From St. Petersburg, Florida via Life News — We are blessed with another chance, following the passing of Cincinnati legend William J. Williams this past week, to read about and ponder the life of another exemplary person who is going to a better place:

Robert Schindler, the father of Terri Schiavo, whose former husband subjected her to a painful 13-day starvation and dehydration death, died overnight. Schindler, 72, had been battling health issues and he died of apparent heart failure.

In the aftermath of Terri’s euthanasia death, Robert Schindler started a foundation with the rest of his family to help other disabled patients.

The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation would connect patients or their families to legal help, physicians and pro-life groups who would speak out on their behalf to obtain basic medical care or lifesaving medical treatment denied to them by the government, hospitals or family members.

In February, Schindler pleaded with the father of Eluana Englaro not to give up on his daughter’s recovery.

“Although we come from two different continents with different cultures, we do have many things in common. We both are fathers and we both have been gifted by the same God with children,” Schindler wrote to Beppino Englaro.

“We both have a child that suffered severe brain injuries. I know very well the profound effect this type of injury can have on our loved one and their families. We both have experienced the same misfortune and hardships,” he added.

Schindler’s heart figuratively broke when both state and federal courts denied his family’s attempts to provide care for his daughter as her estranged husband Michael Schiavo sought her death.

Bioethics watchdog Wesley J. Smith noted that in his remarks upon hearing the news.

“His health was broken by the ordeal of trying to save his daughter’s life and he never fully recovered from the horror of watching her dehydrate to death,” Smith said. “The family is grieving.”

The National Right to Life Committee, which worked very closely with the Schindler family to save their daughter and which continues to support their work, sent a statement to LifeNews.com after learning of Schindler’s death.

Wanda Franz, the president of the pro-life group called Schindler a good friend and said it “joined with pro-lifers nationwide in mourning the passing of our dear friend Robert Schindler.”

“Bob Schindler was an extraordinary father, husband and friend,” Franz said. “His death is a profound loss for all of us in the pro-life movement. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife, Mary and their children, Bobby and Suzanne.”

“Despite facing legal setbacks at virtually every turn, the Schindlers, with their children at their side, fought unceasingly to defend the right of their daughter, Terri Schindler Schiavo, to receive food and fluids,” Franz explained. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 29, 2009

Ted Kennedy’s Sense of Humor…

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 1:41 pm

Sigh…I wasn’t planning on commenting on Ted Kennedy because frankly I didn’t want to waste the time, energy or keystrokes.

When an emailer sent the following audio to me however, I had to reconsider, especially in light of all the “Ted is king” crap being spewed by democrats and republicans alike. As such, we should be suspect of ANY two-bit politician who lionizes this man when he, himself made no secret about who and what he was…

This clip is from the Diane Rehm (NPR) Show. Guest host Kitty Kay is interviewing Ed Klein, Kennedy biographer & confidant.

Listen for the music to cue a commercial when everyone realizes that Ed has just disclosed the true wantonness of Ted Kennedy’s character and for all the world to hear:

What a funny guy that Ted was… I wonder if he is laughing now?

Capitalism Saved the Whales…

I’m sure it can save the caribou, too…that’s if the whacknuts (specifically Congress and domestic terrorists) will get out of the way. (HT: Emailer)

Just a couple of days ago…

MORRIS & DE LA ROSA
CHICAGO

August 27, 2009

From: Joseph A. Morris
Subject: On This Day in History: Capitalism Saved the Whales!

It was 150 years ago today — on Friday, August 27, 1859 — that “Colonel” Edwin Drake struck oil 69.5 feet below the surface at his well near Titusville, Pennsylvania.

(The title of “colonel” was entirely honorific. Drake was a native of New York who grew up in Vermont and began his adult life in Connecticut. He had worked mainly as a railway clerk and conductor. He was a newcomer to Pennsylvania, and he was never commissioned in any military organization.)

Drake would not know of the strike until the next morning, Saturday, August 28, 1859, when workers, returning to the well after drilling late on the previous day, noticed that crude oil was bubbling to the surface and they reported it to the Colonel.

Although it was already known that petroleum oil (“rock oil”, as it was then called) would yield kerosene, it was not yet available in sufficient quantities and qualities to make its use commercially viable. People still depended in the mid-19th century on sperm whale oil for lighting homes, businesses, and streets, a product obtainable only by capturing and slaughtering whales.

The lowest historical prices of the least expensive type of whale oil was reached in the 1820s, when it was priced at $200 per barrel (in 2003 dollars). By 1855 whale oil was selling at more than $1,500 per barrel (in 2003 dollars). At 42 gallons per barrel, that works out to $35 per gallon (in 2003 dollars).

In short, whale oil was extremely expensive — and, of course, came at a catastrophic price to whales. By the late 1850s the worldwide sperm whale population was seriously dwindling and was coming close to extinction. Meanwhile, people in America and elsewhere throughout the world were approaching a crisis in lighting and energy supply.

Aware that previous attempts at drilling for oil had ended in failure, Drake had an idea that would made his discovery possible: He surrounded his drill with a pipe down to bedrock, thereby preventing water seepage from causing the drill hole to collapse. This enabled the drilling of holes sufficiently deep to permit oil to be tapped in large quantities. (Before Drake, only very small quantities of oil were recoverable, mainly through chance locations of oil percolating up to the surface.)

Drake’s initial production ranged from 10 to 35 barrels per day. He used the containers that were readily at hand on short notice — recycled whiskey barrels. In generating even that small amount of crude from a single well, Drake single-handedly doubled the world’s oil supply.

Drake’s achievement on this day in 1859 led directly and swiftly to the development of the petroleum oil industry, producing oil in sufficient quantities and grades — at amazingly low prices — to allow it to be used both for energy and for lubricants and in home, business, and industrial applications. This, in turn, led to rapid mechanization and industrialization, as well as to a revolution in the supply of energy to people’s residences, schools, places of business, and vehicles.

The whale oil business — not the whales — went extinct almost overnight, replaced by the petroleum industry.

Petroleum oil and its derivatives remain abundant and, in comparison both with historic prices and with the prices of all known alternatives, cheap to this day.

This is not to say that better and cheaper sources of energy may not yet be found and made practical. Such progress is, indeed, possible. After all, no one uses whale oil any more!

But on this anniversary it is worth noting, and celebrating, three important facts about Drake and his deeds:

1. An individual can make a huge difference in history. An entire industry and a civilizational revolution flowed from the ingenuity and enterprise of one man.

2. No government planner directed Drake; no government subsidy financed him. A thoughtful man observed rising prices and realized that there was a ready market for a better and cheaper product. He had an idea about where and how to look for that product. Backed by private capital that he used to acquire drilling rights, buy good equipment, and hire willing workers — all at private risk — Drake found that product.

3. No single human act has ever done more to preserve and perpetuate a major non-human species. Drake saved the whales!

(A tip of the hat to my friend Terry T. Campo of the District of Columbia bar for reminding me of the significance of this date in history.)

Best,

Joseph A. Morris
Morris & De La Rosa
39 South La Salle Street
5th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Telephone: (312) 606-0876
Telecopier: (312) 606-0879
Writer’s Direct E-Mail Address: MDLRusuk@aol.com

I think Mr. Morris needs a larger forum!

One Inflames, the Other Informs: Comparing AP and Reuters Reports on CDC’s Chicago H1N1 Study

H1N1virus

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a study entitled “2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infections: Chicago, Illinois, April-July 2009.”

In a report Rush Limbaugh criticized on the air, Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press (“Swine flu sends more blacks, Hispanics to hospital”) irresponsibly framed CDC’s results in racial terms, and then used them as evidence of health care system “inequities.”

By contrast, Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters (“In Chicago, swine flu hit children hardest”) went right to the study’s key finding, namely that H1N1 appears to be more likely to affect children compared to other flu viruses, which have tended to hit the elderly harder.

The opening paragraphs of Steenhuysen’s work makes you wonder how the AP and Stobbe could have looked at the same CDC study and not have done anything with its critical age-based finding:

Swine flu infected 14 times as many children as adults over 60 in Chicago, city health department officials reported on Thursday in one of the first detailed looks at the new pandemic virus.

No children have died, but the officials said their analysis suggests that prevention efforts should focus on children.

In many ways, the new H1N1 flu virus acted like the typical seasonal flu in Chicago, causing fever, cough and sore throats for most people, said Dr. Susan Gerber, chief medical officer at the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“What was different was that younger age groups seemed to be getting it more often than older age groups,” said Gerber, who reported on the city’s swine flu cases in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report on death and disease.

“Our median age for all of the cases reported to the Chicago Health Department was 12 years old. That’s obviously a younger age,” Gerber said in a telephone interview.

Stobbe didn’t just bury the lede; he didn’t report it, period. The word “children” does not appear anywhere, nor does any other age-related term.

Instead, the AP reporter concentrated on largely irrelevant (to be shown shortly) racial disparities:

Swine flu was four times more likely to send blacks and Hispanics to the hospital than whites, according to a study in Chicago that offers one of the first looks at how the virus has affected different racial groups.

The report echoes some unpublished information from Boston that found three out of four Bostonians hospitalized from swine flu were black or Hispanic.

The cause for the difference is probably not genetic, health officials said. More likely, it’s because blacks and Hispanics suffer disproportionately from asthma, diabetes and other health problems that make people more vulnerable to the flu.

It’s not clear if a racial or ethnic difference will hold up when more complete national data is available, one federal health official said. The findings are based on fairly small numbers of cases from the early days of the pandemic.

“We don’t have anything definitive to say one group is more affected than another,” said Dr. Daniel Jernigan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Chicago findings, released Thursday, are believed to be the first published study to detail a racial or ethnic breakdown of swine flu’s impact.

….. Earlier this month, Boston health officials released some unpublished information that found three out of four Bostonians hospitalized with swine flu were black or Hispanic.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Barbara Ferrer of the Boston Public Health Commission, speaking about the higher rates of minority swine flu hospitalizations.

“But intuitively it’s understandable, because we have tremendous inequities in most areas of health,” said Ferrer, the agency’s executive director.

No, Mike and Barb. What’s really “disturbing” is that you could look at a report telling us that children aged 0-14 caught H1N1 at a rate 6.4 times greater than those older than 30 and ignore it (the age 0-14 weighted average at the report is 135 per 100,000, vs. 21 per 100,000 for adults over 30).

Stobbe and AP decided that we didn’t need to know that, while focusing on racial disparities — even though the CDC study specifically discounted racial factors in this statement:

These (racial) differences are likely the result of variations in exposure rather than differences in susceptibility. However, underlying conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, are more prevalent among blacks and Hispanics in Chicago, which might explain some of the difference in rates among hospitalized cases.

Note how Stobbe turned CDC’s “might explain some of the difference” into “more likely” in the third paragraph of his report.

What Rush said about Stobbe’s report yesterday was of course correct, but he could have gone much further. Stobbe’s work is worse than inflammatory; it’s also negligent. He failed to report CDC’s specific recommendation that efforts to combat the disease should “target children and young adults, who are at a disproportionate risk for infection and hospitalization,” in favor of a racially-charged, agenda-based narrative.

Shouldn’t AP feel accountable if some readers who see Stobbe’s report or hear pieces of it over the airwaves choose to wallow in racial bitterness instead of taking steps to protect their kids? I certainly think so.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

August 28, 2009

Op-ed Nails Zeke the Freak…

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 1:11 pm

I received the following column in in email from Betsy McCaughey’s “Defend Your Healthcare” organization. It was also carried in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (emphasis mine)…

Obama’s Health Rationer-in-Chief

White House health-care adviser Ezekiel Emanuel blames the Hippocratic Oath for the ‘overuse’ of medical care.

OPINION
AUGUST 26, 2009, 7:27 P.M. ET

By BETSY MCCAUGHEY

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, health adviser to President Barack Obama, is under scrutiny. As a bioethicist, he has written extensively about who should get medical care, who should decide, and whose life is worth saving. Dr. Emanuel is part of a school of thought that redefines a physician’s duty, insisting that it includes working for the greater good of society instead of focusing only on a patient’s needs. Many physicians find that view dangerous, and most Americans are likely to agree.

The health bills being pushed through Congress put important decisions in the hands of presidential appointees like Dr. Emanuel. They will decide what insurance plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have, and what seniors get under Medicare. Dr. Emanuel, brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. He clearly will play a role guiding the White House’s health initiative.

Dr. Emanuel says that health reform will not be pain free, and that the usual recommendations for cutting medical spending (often urged by the president) are mere window dressing. As he wrote in the Feb. 27, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): “Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality of care are merely ‘lipstick’ cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change.”
…In numerous writings, Dr. Emanuel chastises physicians for thinking only about their own patient’s needs. He describes it as an intractable problem: “Patients were to receive whatever services they needed, regardless of its cost. Reasoning based on cost has been strenuously resisted; it violated the Hippocratic Oath, was associated with rationing, and derided as putting a price on life. . . . Indeed, many physicians were willing to lie to get patients what they needed from insurance companies that were trying to hold down costs.” (JAMA, May 16, 2007).

Of course, patients hope their doctors will have that single-minded devotion. But Dr. Emanuel believes doctors should serve two masters, the patient and society, and that medical students should be trained “to provide socially sustainable, cost-effective care.” One sign of progress he sees: “the progression in end-of-life care mentality from ‘do everything’ to more palliative care shows that change in physician norms and practices is possible.” (JAMA, June 18, 2008).

“However, other things are rarely equal — whether to save one 20-year-old, who might live another 60 years, if saved, or three 70-year-olds, who could only live for another 10 years each — is unclear.” In fact, Dr. Emanuel makes a clear choice: “When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get changes that are attenuated (see Dr. Emanuel’s chart nearby).

Dr. Emanuel concedes that his plan appears to discriminate against older people, but he explains: “Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination. . . . Treating 65 year olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.”

Dr. Emanuel has fought for a government takeover of health care for over a decade. In 1993, he urged that President Bill Clinton impose a wage and price freeze on health care to force parties to the table. “The desire to be rid of the freeze will do much to concentrate the mind,” he wrote with another author in a Feb. 8, 1993, Washington Post op-ed. Now he recommends arm-twisting Chicago style. “Every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health-care reform agenda,” he wrote last Nov. 16 in the Health Care Watch Blog. “If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration’s health-reform effort.”

Is this what Americans want?

He can call himself a “doctor” all he wants…in reality, he is a Mengele.

Don’t read the whole thing if you don’t want to see the truth about the pre-meditated, murderous death nature of this administration.

Abandon the AARP, abandon any Congress critter who even thinks about “compromising” on YOUR healthcare options and abandon BO’s evil empire once and for all.

_______________________________________________________

Related Previous Posts:

  • Aug. 22 — Latest Pajamas Media Column (’Meet Rahm Emanuel’s Brother: Dr. Zeke the Bleak’) Is Up (See UPDATE for WaPo Editorial)
  • Aug. 24 — Zeke the Bleak Tries a Sneak

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘There Are Two Types of Boycotts: The Elite-Supported and the Invisible’) Is Up

NoToGMandChrysler0109glenn-beckNoWholeFoodsIt’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

_______________________

In the column, I noted that Glenn Beck, one of the elitist targets whose boycott getting plenty of media attention, outdrew the other three cable news channels combined on Monday night.

RedState’s Erick Erickson noted this morning that this trend is continuing, with a vengeance (“How’s That Glenn Beck Boycott Working Out For You Pathetic Leftists?”:

On Wednesday Glenn Beck had his best day ever. And it wasn’t just Glenn Beck’s best day, he crushed everyone else on cable.

The kicker? Rush Limbaugh was his guest.

….. By the way, did you know that a number of the advertisers they claim are boycotting Beck have never even advertised on his show?

Here is Media Bistro’s ratings chart for Wednesday:

CableNewsRatings082609

Beck wiped out the combined competition by 2-1. What’s more, and this is almost unheard of, his margin of 2.36 over all competitors in the 25-54 demographic was greater than it was in total viewers (2.04).

Beck might be well advised to send thank-you notes — heck, even money — to “green jobs czar” Van Jones, colorofchange.org, and the others determined to continue their boycott. 4 million viewers, here we come!

As to Erick’s contention that many supposedly boycotting advertisers weren’t airing commercials during Beck’s show in the first place, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air investigated and confirmed that very point on August 19.

Positivity: British WWII vet seeks French radio op who saved ship

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 9:45 am

From Nantes, France:

Former British World War II sailor Peter Cadman, now 84, has embarked on a final mission to close a chapter of history and pay tribute to the French resistance hero who saved his ship.

Cadman, of Cavendish in Suffolk, southern England, has written to French historians in a bid to identify the underground radio operator who tipped off a British fleet to a planned German ambush in the seas off Brittany.

On February 8, 1944 his vessel, the aircraft carrier HMS Pursuer, was spotted by the Luftwaffe as it headed south towards Gibraltar and six German bombers based at the French city of Nantes were scrambled to sink it.

Luckily for the Allies, a French radio operator intercepted the German communication and tipped off British command in London, which in turn sent fighters to intercept the German mission and saved the day.

The Attacker-class escort carrier was protecting a convoy of ships loaded with fuel for the British base in Gibraltar and would have made a choice target for the Germans.

“If a single one of the bombers had been on target just once, it could have blown up the ship and the deaths of 650 sailors would have been unavoidable,” said Cadman, in a letter sent in French to the Nantes History Museum.

The museum has begun a search for the mystery resistance operative, publicising the case in the local media and studying its archives. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.