Patterico's Pontifications


More L.A. Times Layoffs

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:43 pm

A source passes along the following additional layoffs from the L.A. Times today:

Michalene Busico, Deputy Editor, Features (Image)
Leslie Brenner, recently Acting Editor, L.A. Times Magazine
Jim Fowler, Assistant Listings Editor
Janet Eastman, Reporter
Frank Torrez, Calendar Listings Coordinator
Ronit Nabi, Image Assistant
Cynthia Dea, Online Producer
Sara Lessley, Editor

Also, Kevin Roderick notes the firing of Scott Martelle.

UPDATE: According to Kevin Roderick, Sara Lessley was a volunteer.

We might be about to see two VP selections which could have fascinating electoral college implications

Filed under: 2008 Election — WLS @ 7:45 pm

[Posted by WLS]

Reports out over the last few days suggest that Mitt Romney and Va. Gov. Tim Kaine are at the top of the VP lists for McCain and Obama, respectively.

Both have significant electoral college implications, as each could bring one state to his party that has recently been the property of the other party — Romney makes McCain the favorite in Michigan, and Kaine could bring Obama a win in Virginia. 

Not since Dukakis picked Lloyd Benson in an effort to take a crack at Texas has a VP been picked on the basis of potential electoral college advantage.   Gore, Kemp, Lieberman, Cheney, Edwards — none of them could really be called an electoral college driven pick. 

I think the McCain gets more out of this gambit than does Obama.  Romney would please a key conservative constituency without really alienating anyone, and gives McCain some strength where he is weak.

Further, McCain is already popular in Michigan, and Romney would give him a significant chance to take Michigan’s 17 electoral votes.  Romney is very popular there, has long-standing family ties to the state, and beat McCain there in the primary — a primary that McCain won 8 years ago.  So it’s strength combined with strength, and given the sad state of Dem politics in Michigan, and Obama’s stance on environmental issues like CAFE standards,  Michigan could very well flip into the GOP column in November. 

Virginia is a little tougher nut for Obama to crack.  First, it’s still a largely conservative state.  State wide victories by Mark Warner, James Webb, and Tim Kaine shouldn’t be confused for a sudden nostalgia for Teddy Kennedy  or Barbara Boxer in the Old Dominion.  Obama is a liberal – unlike Warner, Webb or Kaine — and the VA voters are going to have to pull the lever for a liberal in order to move their popular Gov. across the Potomac.  They haven’t done that before. 

Almost as important, McCain is likely to widely outperform Bush in the Hampton Roads area of the state.  There’s a huge military vote in greater Norfolk area — especially a HUGE Navy vote.   And Bush beat Kerry by 54-46 there, so Obama’s got a steep hill to climb.  That’s about twice the margin that Kerry won Michigan by.   

And, if you head for southern and western Virginia you find an electorate virtually indistinguishable from West Virgina, Kentucky, rural North Carolina, etc.    

So, if Kaine can’t deliver Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, yet Romney does deliver Michigan’s 17 electoral votes, there are very few combinations possible in a close election that get Obama to the magic number of 271. 

For example, if McCain won Michigan and Virginia, he could lose Ohio, Penn, New Hamp. and New Mexico, and still win. 

Obama would have to pick off Colorado or Nevada to win.  Colorado looked bad for the GOP until oil/gas became such a big issue.  Colorado is an oil producing state, and they see oil exploration as jobs and lower gas prices.  If Obama stays on the wrong side of that issue, he’s going to end up losing Colorado.


L.A. Times Opinion Section Layoffs/Movement

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 5:25 pm

My pal Tim Cavanaugh writes to say that he was laid off at the L.A. Times. Tim was one of the people willing to stand up on principle, as he did when Andres Martinez left, and therefore it would be natural that they would single him out.

Tim says that the following people are leaving the opinion section:

Tim Cavanaugh
Amina Khan
Gary Spiecker
Diedre Ware
Nico Smedley
Sonni Efron
Jim Newton
Swati Pandey

Newton, of course, left on his own. Swati Pandey will be staying at the paper, but moving to Business. Tim says Efron volunteered to be laid off. Everyone else was involuntarily terminated.

My best wishes to Tim and the others in their future endeavors.

Five FLDS Members Turn Themselves In

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Court Decisions — DRJ @ 4:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last week, the Texas Attorney General announced indictments in the FLDS case on charges of sexual assault, bigamy and failure to report child abuse. One indictment was returned against Warren Jeffs and the remaining indictments were sealed until the suspects could be arrested.

Five suspects have turned themselves in to the Schleicher County Sheriff:

“* Raymond Merril Jessop, 36, the alleged husband of a 16-year-old daughter of Warren Jeffs, is charged with one count of sexual assault of a child.

* Allan Eugene Keate, 56, is charged with one count of sexual assault of a child.

* Michael Gorge Emack, 57, is charged with one count of sexual assault of a child.

* Merril Leroy Jessop, 33, is charged with one count of sexual assault of a child and bigamy.

* Lloyd Hammond Barlow, 38, is charged with three [misdemeanor] counts of failure to report child abuse.”


Robert Novak Diagnosed with Brain Tumor

Filed under: Current Events — DRJ @ 2:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Columnist Robert Novak has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I hope it’s benign, was caught early, and can be treated. This may explain his recent inability to grasp and recall the details of his car/pedestrian accident.

Newsbusters points out that the Huffington Post elected to close comments on this topic, which may become the norm when the subject is a conservative with a serious disease.

There probably aren’t more brain tumors statistically but I’ve noticed more cases. Ted Kennedy was recently diagnosed and I know several in my community (which may not be unusual since I’ll probably know more people with every disease as I get older). However, I also know more teens with brain tumors and that’s upsetting.

Although I was universally criticized the last time we discussed this, I still wonder if cell phones have anything to do with it. Since then, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, the head of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has expressed concern about cell phones and cancer based on early, unpublished data. But I agree the jury’s still out on this subject plus I think our genes play a significant role in determining which diseases we are more susceptible to.

That’s a lot of random thoughts for a Monday. My main thought is to send good wishes to Robert Novak and others who are currently dealing with illness.


Now Isn’t This Interesting: USA Today/Gallup — McCain +4 over Obama

Filed under: General — WLS @ 1:07 pm

Posted by WLS:

Fresh off his whirlwind tour of European Capitols, Obama returns home to find himself suddenly behind in the newest USA Today/Gallup poll out — 49-45. 

I wonder if the Obama camp’s internal polling had some indications that the grand Euro tour might not sit well with certain segment of the electorate, hence their putting out some suggestions over the weekend that they expected their polls to bump-down a little (thank you DRJ).  Some commentators suggested it was simply an effort to lower the bar on expectations with respect to the “bounce” expected by the press’ conventional wisdom, but maybe the campaign saw it coming a day or two ago. 

This poll is 791 likely voters, and is separate from Gallups daily tracking poll.  The article mentions that the number of GOP respondents in the poll is up, and attributes that to the press coverage of Obama’s trip, and the likelihood that the trip energized GOP opposition to Obama. 

I’m not completely sure why this would be the case — that there would be more GOP respondents to the poll — and the fact that the poll was taken Fri-Sun generally works against the GOP.  But I suspect that the press coverage of Obama’s trip had the effect of driving some “independents” who have previously voted Rep. off the fence and back into the GOP.  So, the increase in GOP numbers probably comes from the ranks of people who had previously described themselves as independents.   

I also suspect that the story about his failure to visit the wounded troops in Germany, which really only broke out into the open on Sat. and Sun., hurt Obama.  Both tracking polls — Gallup and Rasmussen — show his support dropping some on Sunday in the rolling 3 day averages. 

I don’t recall looking at a story about the USA Today poll in the past, so maybe someone else can enlighted me — has USA Today always included the large red, white, and blue disclaimer off  the right hand margin of the story which states:


Polls are snapshots of public opinion, not forecasts of far-off election days.”

Did they just break that out for today’s poll showing McCain in the lead?

UPDATED:  Over at Time’s Swampland, Ana Marie Cox throws a little cold water on this new poll — and I don’t necessarily disagree — saying in effect that all these mid-summer polls need to be taken with a grain of salt. 

But she does print one interesting comment from an unnamed GOP’er with ties to the campaign — “I always have to remind myself that national reporters don’t really see things like voters do.”

Fifth Circuit Decides Ramos/Compean Appeal

Filed under: Court Decisions — DRJ @ 12:33 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Fifth Circuit affirmed the convictions of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean with one relatively minor exception. From the Fifth Circuit opinion:

“We conclude. For the most part, the trial of this case was about credibility, and although the jury could have gone either way, it chose not to believe the defendants’ version of the crucial events of February 17. The trial of the case was conducted fairly and without reversible error. The exclusion of evidence relating to the size of the marijuana load and Aldrete-Davila’s alleged involvement in drug-trafficking events of October 2005 did not violate the defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights to present a complete defense nor did it deny them a proper cross-examination of a witness against them. They were denied no right of due process for lack of notice that § 924(c) could be applied to police officers while performing law enforcement duties. Nor was the § 924(c) indictment defective. Moreover, the defendants were properly convicted of substantive crimes, not for violating Border Patrol policies. In instructing the jury, no reversible errors were committed and, finally, the evidence fully supports the jury verdict. We therefore affirm the convictions for counts 1 through 5 and counts 11 and 12.

However, we reverse and vacate the convictions for obstruction of justice under § 1512(c)—counts 6 through 10 of the indictment—because the Border Patrol investigation was not an “official proceeding” within the meaning of the statute. We therefore remand for resentencing not inconsistent with this opinion.”

Bottom line: The Fifth Circuit trusts the jury to make the right decision. In addition, as WLS predicted, the Court refused to overturn the 924(c) sentences of 11 and 12 years “[b]ecause Congress directed a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years for all defendants convicted under this statute, i.e., using a gun in relation to the commission of a crime of violence.” As a result, the Court said the district court had no discretion in imposing these sentences.

Conservative court and a conservative result. As the Court notes, that’s not much consolation to the defendants.


Obama Mirrors McCain on Iraq

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama wants to bring unity to America and it seems he’s had his first success, although it’s not what I expected. According to this Hot Air article, Obama’s Iraq policy is now almost the mirror image of McCain’s:

“McCain thinks troop levels should depend on conditions but concedes that 16 months is a “pretty good timetable” whereas Obama thinks 16 months is a pretty good timetable but concedes that, er, troop levels should depend on conditions. Nuance.”

A part of Obama’s win over Hillary Clinton was the difference in their positions on Iraq so watching Obama shift like this on Iraq has to make her mad.

Obama is taking GOP issues and moving as close to them as he can – in words if not in deed – before the general election. He waffled on his support for the DC gun ban and corporate tax increases. He backtracked on his pledge to filibuster telecom immunity in the FISA bill. He said that mental distress should not be a valid basis for a late-term abortion. He even hinted that needs-based aid might be preferable to affirmative action with applicants like his own daughters. In sum, he’s triangulating.

I don’t know who hates this more: Liberals, conservatives, or the Clintons.


The Fake L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Humor — Patterico @ 6:31 am

This is the funniest thing I have seen in ages: a spoof of the L.A. Times called Not the L.A. Times. Go the link and click around. You will laugh heartily with virtually every press of the mouse button.

I love this:


Here are a couple more excerpts to whet your appetite. One is a fake Steve Lopez column:

Arnold and Antonio: You’re off the hook today. You too, Mahony. I’m even declaring a moratorium on the mayor’s transportation czar – you know, the guy whose Humvee I manage to mention in one out of every five columns lately.

Normally, going cold turkey on these clowns would leave me scrambling for material. But I’m not just here to hold bigwigs accountable with my inimitable blend of righteous indignation and rapier wit.

I’m also here to help homeless musicians recover from mental illness and play concerts at Disney Hall. Sure, I’m aware of the many selfless Angelenos who do far more important work in soup kitchens or with special-needs kids, but let’s face it, their stories just aren’t as sexy as a gruff-on-the-outside newspaper columnist with a heart of gold who helps a mentally ill violinist get back on his feet.

That’s why I got a book and movie deal out of it.

The second is a fake retraction:

Oops, they did it again. For the second time this year, the Los Angeles Times has retracted a story that connected hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs to a high-profile shooting.

In April, the newspaper apologized for hinting that Combs ordered an attack on rap artist Tupac Shakur in 1994. The mea culpa was issued after pointed out that a key document in the article should have been spotted as a hoax.

Now, the newspaper is backtracking again, this time on its claim that Combs met with Lee Harvey Oswald two hours before President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in 1963. The Times based its story on data retrieved from Oswald’s PalmPilot.

After The Smoking Gun pointed out that PalmPilots weren’t invented until the 1990s – and that, technically speaking, Combs wasn’t alive in 1963 – the Times launched an internal investigation. Two days later, the paper retracted the article.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say who’s behind it, although I know. (It ain’t me. I’m not that funny.) [UPDATE: Since his name is on the bottom of the site, I guess it would have to be OK to say. It’s Roy Rivenburg.]

Go to the link, click, and laugh.

L.A. Times Fights the Notion of Liberal Bias — Unsuccessfully

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Media Bias — Patterico @ 12:04 am

The folks at the L.A. Times are busy trying to convince readers of the Myth of Liberal Bias in Big Media. The arguments aren’t too successful when scrutinized, however.

First, blogger Andrew Malcolm takes on a study that shows journalists contribute far more money to Democrats than Republicans.

According to this article, the study shows quite a disparity in contributions:

An analysis of federal records shows that the amount of money journalists contributed so far this election cycle favors Democrats by a 15:1 ratio over Republicans, with $225,563 going to Democrats, only $16,298 to Republicans .

Two-hundred thirty-five journalists donated to Democrats, just 20 gave to Republicans — a margin greater than 10-to-1. An even greater disparity, 20-to-1, exists between the number of journalists who donated to Barack Obama and John McCain.

Searches for other newsroom categories (reporters, correspondents, news editors, anchors, newspaper editors and publishers) produces 311 donors to Democrats to 30 donors to Republicans, a ratio of just over 10-to-1. In terms of money, $279,266 went to Dems, $20,709 to Republicans, a 14-to-1 ratio.

Malcolm’s response:

Those same donation figures could also be used to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Republican journalists are a whole lot stingier than their liberal colleagues.

Very cute. Of course, that particular spin ignores research that shows that conservatives are generally less stingy than liberals, at least when it comes to charitable donations:

Although liberal families’ incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).

I suppose the argument could be made that there are equal numbers of conservatives and liberals, but conservatives save their money for charity while liberals donate to political candidates. But that argument ignores another well-known study that showed “89 percent of Washington-based reporters said they voted for Bill Clinton in 1992. Only seven percent voted for George Bush, with two percent choosing Ross Perot.” That study and many, many more discussed here.

Next we have a study touted by the L.A. Times‘s James Rainey (h/t Tom Maguire). Here’s Rainey:

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.

Well, I’d like to see the full list of allegedly critical statements. How are we to know that they aren’t attacks from the left? “Obama sold out the left on FISA” would be a critical statement. So would “I hate the fact that Obama is moving to the middle on the Second Amendment and the death penalty for child rape.” That Rainey would seize upon this study as evidence that there is no liberal bias in Big Media, without asking these questions, says to me that Rainey really wants to believe that there is no liberal bias in the media.

Which suggests to me that Rainey is biased towards liberals.

Nor does Rainey appear to have ever watched Special Report with Brit Hume. Witness:

By the way, Lichter’s group also surveys the first half-hour of “Special Report With Brit Hume,” Fox News’ answer to the network evening news shows.

The review found that, since the start of the general-election campaign, “Special Report” offered more opinions on the two candidates than all three networks combined.

No surprise there. Previous research has shown Fox News to be opinion-heavy.

I’m not going to defend Fox News outside of Fox News Sunday or Special Report. The network is generally wretched except for those two shows.

But to accuse Special Report of having a lot of opinions misses a major point: Special Report each night features an entire segment of pundits giving their opinions about the stories of the day.

Of course they have more opinions. It’s like saying that the section of the newspaper containing editorials and op-eds has more opinions than the other sections.

Keep claiming that there’s no liberal bias in Big Media, L.A. Times. And keep using these laughable, easily refuted arguments!

It’s one of the ways we know you’re still liberal.

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