Patterico's Pontifications

10/29/2007

My Proposed Correction for Tim Rutten’s Column on the Beauchamp Affair

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:28 pm

Here is my proposed correction for Tim Rutten’s five factual errors from his recent column on the Scott Beauchamp matter.

In an October 27 column, Tim Rutten wrote that the editors of The New Republic had been “unable to communicate with” Scott Thomas Beauchamp since an Army spokesman had denied the existence of a signed statement by Beauchamp disavowing his piece. As Rutten’s column stated, editors from The New Republic claim to have spoken to Beauchamp at least three times since August 7, when the Army spokesman issued the denial.

In the same column, Rutten wrote that “the magazine determined that the incident involving the disfigured woman was concocted and corrected that . . .” In fact, the magazine did not determine that the incident was “concocted,” but admitted only that the incident took place in Kuwait, and not Iraq.

In the same column, Rutten wrote that Beauchamp had “described the ridicule of a disfigured Iraqi woman . . .” In fact, the woman has never been described as Iraqi.

Rutten also said that Beauchamp “described . . . attempts to run over stray dogs with Bradley fighting vehicles . . .” In fact, Beauchamp actually described three incidents in which military personnel had killed stray dogs.

In the same column, Rutten wrote that Matt Drudge had failed to provide a link to a purported “Memorandum for Record” signed by Beauchamp. Drudge did in fact provide such a link, but later took it down.

I have sent this proposal to Jamie Gold, the Readers’ Representative for the L.A. Times, with a copy to Tim Rutten.

Never let it be said that I don’t try to help.

We’ll see how close this comes to the final correction — that is, if one issues at all.

UPDATE: Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link. Readers coming in to this post might be interested in another post that considers whether Rutten violated the L.A. Times Code of Ethics by publishing self-serving statements from The New Republic personnel. If you enjoy these posts, I hope you will consider bookmarking the main page and returning in the future.

Political Donations of Tax Scofflaws in California

Filed under: 2008 Election,Miscellaneous,Politics — Justin Levine @ 9:23 pm

[guest post by Justin Levine]

For those of you who don’t know, the state of California posts a list of everyone who hasn’t paid their state taxes when their total bill is over $100,000.

Dionne Warwick and O.J. Simpson each owe the Golden State well over $1-million. In the case of Simpson, it will simply be murder for the state to try and collect its rightful tax money from him. (Badda-bing! Take my wife…please! Hey folks, I’m here all night.)

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to research which of the California tax scofflaws who owe at least $1-million have donated to political campaigns recently.

Here is what I have come up with so far. [Keep in mind, that I have only researched the people on the list that owe at least $1-million or more. Also, there were some other common names on the list that came up on political donation reports. However, I left them out of my research here unless I could be very confident that they were one and the same individuals on both the political donation and California taxpayer’s list.]

Listed in order of how much they owe California –

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Timothy Rutten: Champion of Ethics as Proclaimed by the Los Angeles Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:22 pm

From the Code of Ethics for the Los Angeles Times:

We report in environments – Hollywood and Washington, to name two – where anonymity is routinely sought and casually granted. We stand against that practice and seek to minimize it. We are committed to informing readers as completely as possible; the use of anonymous sources compromises this important value.

. . . .

When we use anonymous sources, it should be to convey important information to our readers. We should not use such sources to publish material that is trivial, obvious or self-serving.

From Tim Rutten’s latest column on the Beauchamp/The New Republic affair:

According to sources at the New Republic, who asked to remain anonymous, Foer and Scoblic never were informed that the Army was taping their telephone conversation with Beauchamp, though they had every reason to presume that was so. These sources also say that since Sept. 7, Foer has had two additional telephone conversations with Beauchamp when none of his superiors were present. According to a knowledgeable source, in both of those calls Beauchamp denied signing an admission that his story was false and apart from the incident already corrected, insisted the story was true.

According to our anonymous sources, our story was right the whole time!

Nothing self-serving there!

I stand foursquare behind the proposition that Timothy Rutten is committed to the highest standard of ethics possible as articulated by the L.A. Times.

(Thanks to Bradley J. Fikes.)

My Correspondence Thus Far with the L.A. Times’s Readers’ Representative Regarding Tim Rutten’s Laughably Error-Ridden Piece on the Beauchamp Affair

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 8:53 pm

The e-mails speak for themselves. But they are worth reading. I promise.

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Five Factual Errors in Tim Rutten’s Beauchamp Column

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:53 pm

Let’s play “Count the factual inaccuracies in a Tim Rutten column!”

The other day I detailed two factual inaccuracies in Tim Rutten’s recent column on the Beauchamp affair:

  • Rutten said:

    A report in the Weekly Standard alleged that, as part of the Army investigation, the private also had signed a statement totally disavowing his piece. When the New Republic inquired about such a statement, an Army spokesman denied it existed.

    Since then, Beauchamp has remained in Iraq with his unit and the magazine has been unable to communicate with him.

    False. The Army spokesman denied the existence of the statement on August 7. Since then, the magazine has communicated with Beauchamp at least three times.

  • “Regarding Beauchamp’s “Pre Traumatic Stress Disorder” tale of mocking a disfigured woman, Rutten wrote that “the magazine determined that the incident involving the disfigured woman was concocted and corrected that . . .”

    False.

    Although the story may well have been “concocted,” the magazine has never admitted that. Rather, the magazine admitted only that the incident took place in Kuwait, and not Iraq. Although that fact undercut the entire point of the story, the magazine never said that the story was a fabrication. Rather, they called it an “error.”

Two factual inaccuracies! I wrote about the first in an e-mail to the Readers’ Representative. (More about her response later.)

Later that day, Bob Owens noted the second of the two inaccuracies above, and pointed out two more:

  • Rutten wrote: “He described the ridicule of a disfigured Iraqi woman . . .”

    False.

    As Bob points out, the woman has never been described as Iraqi. Beauchamp said in the piece that he “couldn’t really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor.” So even if this had taken place in Iraq, one would assume that she was American. [UPDATE: Or at least a Westerner, as opposed to an Iraqi.] But, as stated above, if the incident took place at all, it took place in Kuwait. There is no reason for Rutten to believe that the woman was Iraqi — unless he sort of skimmed over Beauchamp’s piece, and paid no attention whatsoever to the magazine’s correction or its significance.

  • Rutten said: “He described . . . attempts to run over stray dogs with Bradley fighting vehicles . . .”

    False.

    As Bob notes, “Nor were the claims in the Bradley stories described as mere attempt[s]; there were three successful and grisly killings alleged by the author.” Indeed, the piece said: “One particular day, he killed three dogs.” You can read the entire relevant quote excerpted here. And Michael Combs has more detail here.

That’s four factual inaccuracies!

But wait! There’s more! Michael Goldfarb noted yet another factual inaccuracy:

  • Rutten said:

    It was interesting to note that Drudge provided links to the transcripts and report but not to the purported “Memorandum for Record.” . . . Since there was no link to the purported memorandum, we must take its existence on faith.

    False.

    Actually, the Memorandum for Record was included among the documents posted by Drudge, and is still readable at many of the various sites that copied and reposted the documents. For one example, click here and scroll to the last two pages. The Memorandum of Concern is the second to last page. The Memorandum for Record, acknowledging receipt of the Memorandum of Concern, is the last page.

    Yet Rutten still professes to doubt whether the document even exists:

    (In fact, signing such a document — if it exists — is not an admission of guilt, but merely an acknowledgment that the person under investigation has been shown the contents.)

    “If it exists”??

Five factual inaccuracies!

This is a stupendously embarrassing performance by Rutten, and demands pressure on the paper.

I’m happy to provide it.

The Readers’ Representative has responded to my inquiry regarding Factual Inaccuracy #1, with a rather obtuse e-mail that purported not to understand my complaint. I plan to respond with an e-mail that not only clarifies my (already clear) point, but that also lists the other four inaccuracies.

Naturally, all correspondence will be set forth in a future post or posts.

This is going to be the Mother of All Corrections — assuming the paper is honest about its desire to correct misstatements.

We’ll see.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mickey for the link. Readers coming in to this post might be interested in another post that considers whether Rutten violated the L.A. Times Code of Ethics by publishing self-serving statements from The New Republic personnel. Also, I have written a proposed correction for the L.A. Times. If you enjoy these posts, I hope you will consider bookmarking the main page and returning in the future.

Supreme Court will Hear Exxon Valdez Punitive Damages Award

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 4:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear ExxonMobil’s appeal of a $2.5B punitive damages award in the 18-year-old Exxon Valdez case:

“ExxonMobil on Monday won the chance to persuade the US Supreme Court that it should not have to pay $2.5bn in punitive damages to victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, the largest such award in US history. The US business community had urged the Supreme Court to intervene in the 18-year old legal fight over the Valdez crash, which released 11m gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

The Supreme Court will consider the punitive damages issue in the context of a maritime case and not as it relates to general tort law:

“Business groups wanted the court to use the case to issue a broad ruling that large punitive damage awards are unconstitutional. The justices on Monday refused to go that far, agreeing to a narrower review which would determine whether the Exxon award violated maritime law. However, the case could still have a big impact beyond the world of shipping, legal experts said.

“This is a big deal. Anytime the court takes a punitive damages case, that’s an important thing,” said Robin Conrad, executive vice-president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the legal arm of the US Chamber of Commerce. “This will affect a lot of companies and not just in the maritime arena.”

Legal experts view this case as important to businesses that face environmental issues even if they aren’t subject to maritime laws:

“The Supreme Court must decide whether federal maritime law permits punitive damages and whether it allows a shipowner to be held liable for the conduct of the ship’s master when the company did not countenance or participate in that conduct.

In their brief, Exxon’s lawyers quote Judge Alex Kozinski, a judge of the appeals court that heard the case: “Shippers everywhere will be put on notice: if your vessels sail into the vast waters of the ninth circuit, a jury can shipwreck your operations through punitive damages and the fact that you did nothing wrong won’t save you.”

The Supreme Court has thrown out high punitive damage awards in several recent cases. A ruling to reduce the Exxon award would be seen as good news for businesses that face environmental suits beyond the shipping industry.”

The Valdez case primarily raises three maritime law issues:

“At the Supreme Court, Exxon’s lawyer Dellinger asks three questions: whether maritime law permits a shipowner to be punished vicariously for the conduct of the ship’s master when the owner did not countenance or participate in that conduct; whether maritime law can expand the remedies that Congress provided in the controlling statute — here the Clean Water Act — by adding a punitive damages remedy, and whether this $2.5 billion award is within the limits allowed by maritime law or, if it is, does it comport with constitutional due process. Baker v. Exxon Shipping Co., No. 07-219. His answer to all three, not surprisingly, is no.

“As big an issue as the Exxon Valdez judgment is, this case is about far more than that in terms of the reach of maritime law,” said Dellinger. The case, he said, has caused a “huge stir” within the maritime and shipping communities, particularly the issue of vicarious liability and punitive damages.

“It is also a fundamentally important question of the relationship between the Clean Water Act to judge-made remedies in maritime law that applies across-the-board and not just in oil spills,” he added. “

Of course, the Valdez case is especially important to the shipping industry:

“In the past 17 years, the Supreme Court has decided eight cases on punitive damages, reviewing awards made under state law. Exxon, however, is asking the high court to examine the $2.5 billion award — reduced from $5 billion by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — through the lens of general maritime law.

For some maritime experts, the Exxon Valdez is, in a sense, legal history. After the ship’s massive oil spill, Congress enacted the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, governing oil spills and establishing private remedies. The act is silent on the availability of punitive damages.

But for others, the Exxon Valdez remains a very practical issue in the international world of maritime commerce. “It’s a case that in maritime law circles has world renown and is referred to all the time,” said admiralty litigator John Kimball, partner in the New York office of Blank Rome in Philadelphia. “The punitive damages issue has been looked at very closely by marine insurance markets as a sign of what’s going on in the U.S. and what is the magnitude of risk in a major environmental damage case.”

A legal analyst at the National Law Journal stated that Justices Roberts and Alito have yet to rule in a punitive damages case. There is added uncertainty because the case involves maritime law and the Clean Water Act but one thing is for sure: By the end of this Supreme Court term, we should know more about these issues.

— DRJ

Trinity University wins Game with 15-Lateral Touchdown

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 11:18 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Trinity University football team was down 24-22 with 2 seconds remaining when it pulled off the play of the week and maybe even the year. You have to see it to believe it and here’s the write-up:

“Picture the ending of the Stanford-California game in 1982, without the band and with three times as many laterals. Trinity University used 15 laterals after a completed pass on the final play of the game for an unlikely touchdown and 28-24 victory Saturday at stunned Millsaps. Call it the “Mississippi Miracle” for the Tigers, an NCAA Division III team in San Antonio.

“Things have to go perfectly for that to work,” coach Steve Mohr told The Associated Press after the Tigers got home Sunday night from Jackson, Miss. “We couldn’t do that against air if we tried.”

One of life’s best lessons: Never give up.

— DRJ

Border Fences are Popping up All Over

Filed under: International,Terrorism — DRJ @ 11:00 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The open border between the UK and Ireland will end in 2009 with the construction of an electronic border:

“The free movement of people between Ireland and Britain has survived centuries of tension and even terrorism, but that tradition is about to end with the severing of a special relationship between the two countries because of tighter security procedures.

Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, confirmed in the Dáil yesterday that the Common Travel Area – which was created between the Republic of Ireland and the UK after independence – is to be dismantled with the construction of an electronic border control system by Britain by 2009.

Mr Ahern said that it was now only sensible for the Republic to follow Britain’s example and introduce similar security. The new border controls will collect and analyse passenger information, much of it in advance of travel in a similar fashion to controls already in use in the US.

Mr Ahern told Parliament that Britain began to tighten up border security after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.”

The government’s concern is Islamic terrorists:

“Mr Ahern said: “British authorities have no plans whatsoever to introduce any controls on the land border between North and South. I want to make that clear. All they are looking at is increased cross-border cooperation, targeting illegal immigrants.”
***
One Irish newspaper commented that “there have long been concerns that Islamic militants have been using Ireland as a backdoor entry system to the UK via the North.”

As far back as 2001, there were reports that Islamic terrorists posing as Afghani refugees were using Ireland as a way-station to enter the UK.

These reports are very similar to reports that Islamic terrorists are using Mexico as a conduit to enter the US. I view this as more evidence that 9/11 changed the world and the US should secure its borders.

— DRJ

Firearms Disappearing from Airport Luggage

Filed under: Government,Terrorism — DRJ @ 10:40 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Distressing news from Seattle:

“Handguns, stored in luggage, have been disappearing from some major airports, including here at Sea-Tac. That means, firearms, and at times, ammunition are loose in secure areas with direct access to passenger jets.

If you want to take your .357 Magnum revolver from Seattle on vacation with you (to say) Los Angeles, airlines allow it, but it has to go into the belly of the jet along with your luggage. However, KIRO Team 7 Investigators discover that criminals on the tarmac just might nab it before it arrives at its destination.

It’s fair to say Ben Peterson is comfortable around guns. He grew up hunting and recently spent a tour in Iraq as a medic for the 7th Marines. The last time he flew from Seattle home to Omaha, all his luggage arrived just fine, but there was an empty hole in one of his cases. Peterson told Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne, “The pistol was just flat out gone!”

Police reports show Peterson was missing a compact 9 millimeter Taurus and 15 round clip, which disappeared after Peterson handed the locked weapon to TSA employees for a special luggage inspection. He lost a lot of sleep worrying about who stole it and what it would be used for. Then a call came from a King County detective. “It surprised me. I was extremely shocked. The idea that it had gone to being taken at an airport to used in a gang shooting in a period of four months or so,” said Peterson.”

Peterson’s stolen gun wasn’t an isolated case at Sea-Tac:

We found five weapons reported taken from luggage at Sea-Tac in three years. Police records show that (now -fired) Alaska Airlines baggage handler Vincent Hereld Young stole some Beretta pistols. During an unrelated police matter, he got caught with them weeks later, confessing he just “covered the (gun) case with his coat — placed it inside his personal tote bag — and after work walked across the street.”

Port of Seattle Police Captain Ken Irwin admits he is concerned about disappearing weapons. “Yes. We do have issues or times where weapons that have been declared have ended up missing when the bag gets to its destination,” said Irwin.

The problem isn’t just in Seattle:

“Finding out exactly how many handguns are missing from luggage after they were checked into secure areas of airports nationwide has been a challenge. So far, KIRO Team 7 Investigators tracked at least 34 handguns presumed stolen, including 10 guns missing from LAX in Los Angeles, three in Portland, three in Tampa, and two each in San Antonio and Chicago O’Hare. Oakland, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Washington D.C. Dulles and Ronald Reagan airports reported thieves stealing handguns in secure areas of the airport as well.

The Department of Homeland Security has a database of all gun theft reports for all airports, but so far has refused to provide us with it. Justice Department sources tell us it contains more than 100 reports filed since 9/11.

Experts are concerned:

“National security experts Robert Ramsey and Mark Solomon are alarmed by our findings, agreeing “there’s obviously a problem.” They say terrorists are patient. It means nothing for them to work a job inside an airport for years, or to pay a criminal with access lots of money to stash a weapon inside secure areas.

Ramsey was candid about the potential national security threat. “If I was going to mount an operation against an aircraft — that’s where I’d be looking.”

Theft victim Ben Peterson wonders when airport security will wake up to that potential threat. “Given the level of security exercises at airports, I expected, between that conveyer belt and loading it into the aircraft, there would be better measures in place,” said Peterson.

Federal rules indicate gun owners should lock their weapon cases before they go on a passenger jet. However, we found in dozens of reports that TSA employees asked gun owners to leave one side of their case unlocked, so they could slide some paperwork inside.”

I know airlines have problems with missing luggage but this is a security issue that should be resolved. Wake up, TSA and Homeland Security.

— DRJ

On Second Thought, Here’s Better Advice: Just Never, Ever Listen to a Single Word We Say

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:33 am

An L.A. Times correction states:

Fire protection: An article in Wednesday’s Section A about preparing for a fire evacuation advised leaving lawn sprinklers on and using a garden hose to wet the roof or the area around your house. In fact, sprinklers should be turned off to preserve water for firefighters, and wetting a roof or area around your house is not effective in Santa Ana winds, fire experts say.

Oops.

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