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.
Some 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:
On 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):
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.
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:
Mark Hemingway at the Corner followed up on an item at Jules Crittenden's blog late last night.
What perked Hemingway's interest was Mr. Crittenden's relay of the following yesterday concerning an exchange during NPR's Diane Rehm Show:
Newsweek’s Ed Klein (told interviewer) Katty Kay about Kennedy’s love of humor. How the late senator loved to hear and tell Chappaquiddick jokes, and was always eager to know if anyone had heard any new ones. Not that Kennedy lacked remorse, Klein quickly added, seeming to intuit that my jaw and perhaps those of other listeners had just hit the floorboards. I gather it was a self-deprecating maneuver on Kennedy’s part, exercised with the famous Kennedy charm, though it sounds like one of those “I guess you had to have been there” things.
Hemingway went and listened. There is a 1:40 YouTube posted of what he heard.
Here is the transcript of that clip, without wrap-up niceties:
Julia Seymour, Kyle Drennen, and several others at NewsBusters have done a great job (here and here, here, and here, just for starters) exposing the establishment media's rush to characterize the government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, commonly known as "Cash for Clunkers" program, a success. This media meme has persisted despite processing snafus, slow payments to dealers, dealer opt-outs, market distortions, and less than perfect disclosure of sales and income tax consequences to buyers.
Of course, as far as the media's cheerleaders are concerned, the problems have made the program not a case study in bureaucratic weakness, but instead "a victim of its own success."
But Cash for Clunkers has indeed been an unqualified success in one important sense I don't expect the media will be too keen on reporting. The program's results have exposed just how weak the market positions of bailed-out General Motors and Chrysler really are.
Using a "clever" headline, LiveScience.com, in a report carried at Yahoo News, tries to give those who will only see the headline the impression that Americans are a bunch of dummies who don't understand what's good for them:
Majority of Americans Believe Health Care Reform 'Myths'
Yes, the word "myths" is in quotes, but the reader is left to assume that a credible outfit must be asserting what those "myths" are. But it's actually that less than credible outfit known as "the Obama White House," which claims that those who don't swallow their assertions are subscribing to "myths." The reality is that President Barack Obama and his apparatchiks continue to peddle a set of long-disproved assertions about the kind of health care plan he and the Democratic Congress intend to make law.
The good news is that the American people aren't buying most of what Obama et al are selling:
I don't anticipate that those in the UK who are rushing to the defense of their precious National Health Service (NHS) will be bringing up the item that follows any time soon, nor do I expect the U.S. statist heath care cheerleaders to take note of it.
The UK Daily Mail tells us that NHS is importing general practitioners who commute from foreign countries. Wait until you see the reason why, and the effect it has had on patient care.
Here are key paragraphs from the report by Rebecca Cambers:
A well-known newspaper had this to say about writer Nat Hentoff upon his departure from the Villiage Voice at the end of 2008 after a 50-year run:
Across his 83 years, his three dozen books and his countless newspaper columns and magazine articles, Mr. Hentoff has championed free speech and opposed censorship of any kind, whether by liberals or conservatives. Few have more assiduously and consistently defended the right of people to express their views, no matter how objectionable.
The thing is that, agree with him or not, Nat Hentoff offers no opinion that isn’t supported by facts, diligently gathered.
Mr. Hentoff may not hear as well as he once did, or stand quite as straight. But he will not fade to silence.
On Sunday evening, NewsBusters colleague Noel Sheppard highlighted a health care-related story from the Canadian Press (CP), which is that country's rough equivalent to the USA's Associated Press.
It appears that the CP is more open to reporting inconvenient news than is "our" AP, judging from a report earlier that day by the CP's Jennifer Graham. In an interview with Graham, the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association said that the supposedly idyllic wonderland known as Canadian medical care is in deep trouble. Lo and behold, Graham actually reported it:
The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.
Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.
If you were a reporter trying to gauge the credibility of Obama administration protests that it is really serious when it says that it will honor patient, doctor, and family treatment wishes in serious illness situations if the government takes an exponentially greater role in health care, you might look into how areas of health care already controlled by the government are dealing with these sensitive matters.
Apparently either no journalist has cared to look, or if anyone has looked, they haven't found anything they believe is worth reporting.
In today's Wall Street Journal, Jim Towey, a former director of the Bush White House's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and founder of the nonprofit Aging with Dignity, found a troubling, newsworthy, death-encouraging decision that has already been made during Barack Obama's short term in office.
The story of his passing is here. Brent Baker's tribute to this true exemplar of journalism is here.
Here, in my view, the most direct measure of the man: He never forgot those who worked with him (and I suspect that was the case for those who worked for him).
Proof: He and his partner Rowland Evans were responsible for the Evans-Novak Political Report until Evans died in 2001. Novak never renamed the newsletter.
Wikipedia says of Evans: "He was known best for his decades-long syndicated column and television partnership with Robert Novak, a partnership that endured, if only by way of a joint subscription newsletter, until Evans's death."
But Novak obviously didn't believe that the partnership dissolved when Evans died.
The news isn't just that self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals nationwide. That's old hat. The big news from Gallup is that conservatives outnumber liberals in every state in the union, including supposedly uberliberal Vermont and Massachusetts.
If you only read the Associated Press, New York Times, and Washington Post obituaries of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died last Tuesday at age 88, you would have no idea that she was one of the last of the old Guard, pro-life Democrats who went down fighting in 1992.
That was when the party's presidential nomination of Bill Clinton moved the party firmly into the pro-abort camp, a position from which it has never returned. Barack Obama's presence in the White House virtually guarantees that Democrats in most quarter will either condone, support, and in some cases even celebrate the 1,000,000-plus unborn infants who perish each year.
That was not where Ms. Shriver stood, as many prolife publications noted shortly after she died. The Catholic News Agency obituary called her "distinctively Catholic," recounting that she was "an early supporter of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. She and her husband also supported Democrats for Life of America and Feminists for Life."
Life News recounted three key moments when Shriver demonstrated her pro-life commitment:
Readers are advised to make peace with the Maker soon. If we are to believe the recent utterings of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (pictured at right), humanity -- or at least humanity living life as we know it -- is not long for this earth.
The Sec-Gen's August 11 speech at the Global Economic Forum in Incheon, South Korea, was so over the top that it's likely the world's media kept its coverage of the event relatively muted to spare the poor man from worldwide embarrassment. There is nothing about the speech that I could find in searches on "Ban Ki-Moon United Nations" (not typed in quotes) at the New York Times or the Washington Post. A search on the same string at AP.org at 3:30 p.m. came up empty. An identical Google News search came back with a very light total of 42 results.
Here are key paragraphs from the Sec-Gen's hysterical speech, where he also (surprise, surprise) demands large sums of money "from public and private sources":
In an August 14 report appearing on the front page of the paper's August 15 print edition ("Health Debate Fails to Ignite Obama’s Web"), Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times (pictured at right) gave readers a fairly accurate impression, while avoiding the word, of activism turning into apathy in Barack Obama's DNC- and White House-orchestrated Organizing for America (OFA) effort.
While Zeleny's report and detailed work came out of Iowa, his key finding is intended to be a national temperature gauge: "But if a week’s worth of events are any measure here in Iowa, it may not be so easy to reignite the machine that overwhelmed Republicans a year ago."
That's why it's odd, to say the least, that Zeleny ignored the results of the nationwide reignition attempt that occurred and largely failed this past week, namely its "Office Visits for Health Reform." In fact, there are some signs that "Office Visits" did OFA's cause more harm than good.
Here are some key paragraphs from Zeleny's report:
The White House's perpetual campaign site, er, home page, currently has rotating messages at the top left. Two of them relate to health care (yellow underlines are mine):
The administration would be well-advised to hold back on the blather about "blatant falsehoods" and "misinformation" until their guy in charge stops disseminating them himself.
Take Obama's claim that the surgeon's fee for a single foot/leg amputation is $30,000 - $50,000 (please).
Here, from the White House's transcript of the President's Tuesday appearance in Portsmouth, NH, is the beginning of what Obama had to say in comparing the costs involved in preventive care against diabetes to the cost of one of its potential consequences:
Topside Update, 2:15 p.m.: Imagine that -- Roxana Mayer was also an Organizing For America "host" during the Texas primary last year.
Anyone visiting here even semi-regularly knows that the establishment media consistently fails to determine the legitimacy of people who "say the right things." Further, when someone else, often a blogger, digs and finds the truth, the reporters and publications involved may sometimes grudgingly acknowledge it, but even then usually incompletely; and more often than not, they won't give credit where due.
This all-too-typical scenario has played out in the past two days in the case of a certain Roxana Mayer. In two posts (here and here), LA-area blogger Patterico, best known for his relentless skewering of the target-rich environment known as the Los Angeles Times, exposed Ms. Mayer, who claimed to be a doctor when she spoke at a town hall meeting held by Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (and who later hugged her, as seen at the top right), as a leftist fraud.
As Patterico noted in the title of his second post, Mayer's mantra ought to be "I’m Not a Doctor But I Play One at Town Hall Meetings." Patterico also showed that Mayer was also a Texas Obama delegate at last year's Democratic Convention.
At first, the Houston Chronicle took Mayer's word that she is a doctor, failed to investigate her bona fides, and reported the following:
Does the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger moonlight as a Code Pink operative?
There has to be something that explains what I'll call his Iraqnaphobia.
Last month (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the AP reporter erroneously cited the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "major factor" explaining why "the deficit has widened." In a quick review of the related June 2009 Monthly Treasury Statement, I cited three examples of higher spending in other areas of government that were larger than last year, both in dollar and percentage terms, than the $33 billion, 7% increase in total defense spending. NB commenter Arminius further pointed out that "Our military spending amounts to 5 percent of GDP. Iraq and Afghanistan amount to 15 percent of that 5 percent. Obviously, as Tom notes, larger culprits are responsible for the massive deficit."
It's simply not possible that the two wars can be a "major factor." No matter -- This month, in an otherwise fairly decent report, Crutsinger did it again (bold after title is mine):
What Shawn Tully's column at CNNMoney.com did on July 24 to expose the truth about what ObamaCare does to the coverage of those who have employer-provided health insurance (discussed yesterday at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Washington Post's Charles Lane did on August 8 ("Undue Influence; The House Bill Skews End-of-Life Counsel") to the myth that ObamaCare won't have serious negative consequences for patients who begin to have serious, potentially life-ending health issues.
Mr. Lane has clearly read the bill, clearly doesn't like what he sees, and calls it out in specific detail.
He starts out slowly by creating the straw-man argument that those "on the far right" see ObamaCare "as a plan to force everyone over 65 to sign his or her own death warrant. That's rubbish."
Of course it is, but so is the claim that opponents on the right or left are saying that. Even Sarah Palin's Facebook post never mentions "euthanasia," and Ann Althouse correctly characterizes Pailn's reference to "death panels" as "a good and fair polemical expression if in fact life-saving care will be rationed on this basis (of what Palin described as “level of productivity in society")."
There is plenty of reason to believe it will be, as Lane explains (bolds are mine):
Someone forgot to send the CNN health care kool-aid over to the office of Fortune editor at large Shawn Tully in the days leading up to July 24. Tully in turn forgot to toot his own horn, and ObamaCare opponents forgot to take a peek inside what is normally enemy lines to find it.
In a must-read special report at affiliate CNNMoney.com, Tully lays bare Barack Obama's core claim, while identifying five freedoms many Americans will lose if ObamaCare passes in its current form. In fact, Tully's piece is so good, it should be the equivalent of Betsy McCaughey's 1994 broadside that helped torpedo HillaryCare -- if only people knew about it.
Anyone who knows the e-mail address of CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, who, as Matthew Balan of NewsBusters noted earlier today, is an ardent ObamaCare defender, should forward Tully's column to her. Copies to Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Howard Kurtz, and many others at CNN wouldn't hurt either.
Here are the introductory paragraphs and key points Tully made (bolds in text are mine):
State-controlled General Motors issued a supposedly comprehensive 8-K report to the Securities and Exchange Commission last Friday.
If you only read the Associated Press's coverage of that document's release courtesy of reporter Tom Krisher, you would at least know that:
The company doesn't expect sales to improve during the rest of the calendar year.
That the $50 billion in post-bankruptcy funding it has received (over and above tens of billions in other forms of aid ranging from bailout loan write-offs to pension relief, none of which Krisher mentioned) may not last beyond "the short-term," which in accounting parlance usually means a year.
Despite the item just mentioned, GM has taken steps to get ready for a hoped-for initial public offering next year. (Though only time will tell, yours truly, as explained below, thinks this move looks more like posturing and misdirection than anything substantive.)
All of that is nice, but the fact remains that GM produced no second quarter financial results. Further, as I noted this weekend, GM has said that second quarter financials won't be coming out for a long time, if ever.
What follows is not meant in any way to make light of a literally life-and-death issue. It is instead meant to perhaps (we can always hope) drill a little truth into the thick heads of the establishment media's alleged "journalists" who continue to refuse to see what's right in front of them in ObamaCare (or in many cases to even read the legislation in the first place).
You see, abortion coverage in ObamaCare is analogous to the pasta afficionado's expected set of ingredients in Prego Spaghetti Sauce, as presented in this popular 1984 commercial -- that is, "It's in there."
On Sunday, in an alleged "Fact Check" piece on ObamaCare, the Associated Press tried to pretend abortion coverage isn't in there. Two days later, prodded by Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.com and others in the pro-life community, the wire service specifically backtracked and admitted that yes, it's in there ("Gov't insurance would allow coverage for abortion").
Now it's Stephanie Condon of CBS who is pretending that abortion coverage is not in there in ObamaCare. LifeNews.com and pro-lifers are once again out there pushing back, while deliciously reminding the network of a 2004 story that wasn't all there -- or was only there in the vivid, anchor-ending imagination of Dan Rather (link to CBS story within excerpt added by me; bold is mine):
About the only thing you can conclude about the Agence France-Presse wire service's August 4 "news" item about a health care poll result ("Majority back Obama on health care reform: poll") is that they couldn't find anything more recent than three weeks old to provide the result they were looking for. So AFP went back to a poll done between July 9-13 -- an online one no less. As NewsBusters colleague Noel Sheppard would say, "I kid you not."
The House Democrats' 1,018-page health-care plan wasn't even released until late in the day on Tuesday, July 14. To say that AFP's report and the related poll results are worse than worthless to any current discussions is almost to praise them too much.
Here is a mini-pic of the first several paragraphs presented for fair use, discussion, and repudiation purposes:
Kudos to Steve Ertelt at LifeNews.com (the source of the graphic at the right) and to others in the pro-life community for getting the notoriously stubborn Associated Press to effectively back down on a false claim it made about the availability of abortion services in the version of the health care bill passed by a House Committee last week.
The Associated Press is coming under criticism from pro-life advocates who say its recent wrap-up article on the health care debate is misleading.
AP writer Charles Babington wrote a "fact check" story attempting to make the case that abortion is not included in the health care bills and that President Barack Obama doesn't want it to be included.
But Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, says that's not the case.
Just in case you somehow haven't heard about it in the past couple of months, the Associated Press wanted to remind everyone this morning that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (who, to be clear, I believe should resign), who had AN AFFAIR(!!), went back to work today -- and that this really, really deserved to be a national story, as shown in the mini-pic of the AP's raw feed:
The unbylined AP item also reminded readers that Sanford "had been a GOP darling" earlier this year. Of course, there's no bias in that dubious statement.
Here's a picture of most of the short AP report, produced for the purposes of fair use, discussion, and ridicule:
Yours truly and others have since April noted a precipitous and likely historic dive in Uncle Sam's monthly collections. Year-over-year declines actually began last summer. The degree of monthly fall-offs has gotten "progressively" worse since then.
Yesterday, the Associated Press finally went beyond blandly reciting year-to-date comparisons to note the historic significance of the cash crash at the Treasury. Even then, Stephen Ohlemacher's report understated the degree of the decline in receipts from economic activity (i.e., excluding last year's stimulus payments, which were treated by Treasury as "negative receipts"). He also only carried his analysis through June 2009, even though sufficient information about the full month of July was available in Treasury's last daily statement of the month released yesterday afternoon.
See if you think these two assertions mean the same thing:
Small businesses pay up to 18 percent more per worker than large firms for the same health insurance policy.
.... small businesses pay up to 18 percent more per worker to provide health insurance for their employees.
Of course they don't mean the same thing. But to the Associated Press's Tom Raum, they apparently do.
The first statement comes from the Executive Summary of a study produced by the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) called "The Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees" that the administration is using to promote passage of its health care plan. Based on dated information in the detailed CEA studay, the statement appears to be true, though with overly clever "up to" wording.
The second statement unfortunately exemplifies how the AP's Raum wrote up the CEA result in his story. This means that his write-up has several items that are demonstrably false.
Here are the story's first few paragraphs, with incorrect assertions noted in red: