Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Corrects That Misstatement on the Auto Industry Bailout

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:41 pm

On Saturday I sent this e-mail to the L.A. Times Readers’ Representative:


The L.A. Times‘s December 12 story on the bailout, titled Senate Republicans kill auto bailout bill, strongly implied that Democrats did not have 10 Republican votes to kill a filibuster:

Republican opposition killed a $14-billion auto industry bailout plan in the Senate on Thursday night, putting the future of U.S. automakers in doubt and threatening to deliver another blow to the economy.

. . . .

Senate Democrats couldn’t bring the measure up for a vote without the support of at least 10 Republicans. Ultimately, they were seven votes short.

But there were 10 Republicans voting “yea” on the bill. Here’s the link to the vote, and here are the 10 Republicans who voted “yea”:

Bond (R-MO), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Yea
Domenici (R-NM), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea

I think your paper’s story was misleading, and that some sort of clarification is in order.

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey

Today the paper runs this correction:

Auto bailout: An article in Section A on Dec. 12 about the auto bailout bill dying in the Senate said that Democrats, who hold 50 votes in the chamber, couldn’t bring the measure up for a vote without the support of at least 10 Republicans. In fact, 10 Republicans did vote to bring the measure up, but not all 50 Democrats did. The final vote was 52 to 35, with 10 Republicans joining 40 Democrats and 2 independents in favor.

All they had to do was show just a little skepticism for the Democrats’ spin, and this could have been avoided.

Amazing, too, how this correction goes in a small box on page A2, even though it undermines a central point of the story. Amazing . . . but par for the course.

Franken Ahead by 280 Votes

Filed under: 2008 Election,General,Scum — Patterico @ 8:26 pm

We knew yesterday that this was coming, but that doesn’t make the news any less depressing. The post cites a prediction by Nate Silver that sometime in January, Franken will win by 40-70 votes.

It’s bad enough to have another seat likely going to a Democrat, but it’s especially galling to see it likely going to someone as vile and unhinged as Franken.

Jerry Brown Files Legal Brief Saying Proposition 8 Is Unconstitutional

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,General — Patterico @ 7:55 pm

Via Xrlq we learn that California Attorney General Jerry Brown has filed a brief arguing that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

In a dramatic reversal, Brown filed a legal brief saying the measure that amended the California Constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman is itself unconstitutional because it deprives a minority group of a fundamental right. Earlier, Brown had said he would defend the ballot measure against legal challenges from gay marriage supporters.

“The amendment-initiative process does not encompass a power to abrogate fundamental constitutional rights without a compelling justification,” he wrote. “Proposition 8 lacks such a justification.”

While I haven’t reviewed the legal arguments, it’s hard for me to imagine that a right announced just this year is so fundamental that it can’t be changed in the same manner that we generally change the state constitution.

But then, a right first announced just 35 years ago is generally treated as the most fundamental and immutable right of them all. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Exit question, as the man says: what does this do to Gov. Moonbeam’s 2010 gubernatorial aspirations?

Obama Toking Up

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 pm

TIME just now found some college pictures of Obama, including this one of him smoking . . . something:

Above: Duuuude!

Via Vanderleun via Insty. Vanderleun has an amusing narrative to fit the series of pictures.

UPDATE: iowahawk explains why he will not be gloating about embarrassing pictures from Obama’s youth, by posting an embarrassing picture from his own youth. Pretty funny, and I appreciate the sentiment expressed in his photo.

Revived: A Place for Dishonesty Under the L.A. Times Banner

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:52 pm

I thought Michael Hiltzik lost his column due to dishonesty. So explain this to me, if you can.

First, some background. Regular readers are familiar with the story of how I caught L.A. Times staff writer Michael Hiltzik using a false name on several blogs, sometimes praising himself. Because it was Hiltzik’s second infraction — his first was reading co-workers’ e-mail without their permission years earlier — I spoke to quite a few L.A. Times employees who were surprised Hiltzik wasn’t fired.

Shortly after Hiltzik’s column was taken away in May 2006, Kevin Roderick interviewed then-editor Dean Baquet, who explained that he had taken Hiltzik’s column away because of Hiltzik’s dishonesty:

Baquet called Hiltzik’s undoing a professional tragedy, but said he knew immediately that—regardless of what the blogosphere thought—Hiltzik’s use of pseudonyms to post favorable comments about himself and disparage his critics violated Times ethics. Baquet said he wasn’t certain sure how to punish Hiltzik until he read about Ken Lay’s trial last week and thought how the Enron saga would make great fodder for a business columnist. He realized then, Baquet said, that his business columnist—Hiltzik—could no longer write credibly about duplicity in the business world. There’s no place, he said, for dishonesty under the Times banner.

The firmness of Baquet’s message was undermined by the fact that the paper kept Hiltzik on as a sports reporter. Still, Baquet’s decision to take Hiltzik’s column away sent the message that dishonesty would be met with some sort of repercussions.

I wonder what sort of message is being sent with today’s news that Hiltzik is getting his column back:

Michael Hiltzik, one of the paper’s most prolific writers and distinctive voices, will return to being a columnist for the Business section.

A 27-year Times veteran, Michael has distinguished himself since returning to Business a year ago (after a brief stint in Sports) with smart, analytical stories, many of which have been followed by our competitors.

Michael has an uncanny knack for synthesizing complicated information and making it easy for readers to understand. This year, he has produced 25 A1 stories on a broad range of subjects, from hedge funds’ track records in Hollywood to the nation’s broken health care insurance system. Most recently, he helped anchor our coverage of the Bush Administration’s financial bailout plan.

A former foreign correspondent, who has served the paper in both Moscow and Nairobi, Michael won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999 with colleague Chuck Philips for reporting on corruption in the entertainment industry.

“Mikekoshi” has been overheard praising the decision.

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit and L.A. Observed for the links.

By the way, I said at the time that Hiltzik’s sock puppetry wasn’t a firing offense, and I still believe that. I just think that Baquet’s 2006 quote is ironic, now that they’re giving him his column back.

Oilfield Service and Drilling Companies Respond to Hope and Change

Filed under: Economics,Government,Obama — DRJ @ 5:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The two largest offshore drilling companies, one of the largest oilfield service companies, and other major firms have announced plans to relocate their corporate offices to Switzerland:

Noble Corp. today became the latest in a recent string of Houston oil and gas firms to announce plans to move their corporate headquarters to Switzerland, a change experts said is cheifly for tax purposes. The world’s second largest offshore drilling contractor, now incorporated in the Cayman Islands and run from Sugar Land [Texas], said its board has approved the change, and now will put the proposal to shareholders and the Cayman courts.
The announcement came the same day Transocean, the world’s largest offshore driller, completed the process of changing its incorporation from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland. With the change, CEO Robert Long and other top officers will leave Houston to run the company from a new European headquarters.

Last week, Houston oil field services giant Weatherford International announced plans to reincorporate in Switzerland and move its CEO, Bernard J. Duroc-Danner, and other top officers there. Shareholders have not yet approved the change.

And other companies, including Tyco International and construction firm Foster Wheeler, have also recently announced plans to reincorporate in Switzerland.”

The article notes Nabors Drilling, the world’s largest land driller, is also expected to move. The moves are aimed at protecting the companies from anticipated changes in U.S. tax policies:

“Chiefly, the moves are designed to preserve tax benefits the companies enjoyed from being domiciled in countries like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands with favorable corporate tax rules, said Pierre Conner, an industry analyst with Capital One Southcoast in New Orleans.

“Now, what we’re finding is those companies feel there are better tax protection in Switzerland than in these countries,” he said. “So they’re going ahead and making another step to protect the current tax structures that they have,” Conner said.

Noble, which moved its incorporation from Delaware to the Cayman Islands, currently has an effective tax rate of about 19 percent, said Angie Sedita, industry analyst with Macquarie Capital, in a note to investors today.

Lawmakers have threatened to close tax loopholes that allow U.S. companies to benefit from incorporating in offshore tax havens while operating from the U.S. But Switzerland has tax treaties with the U.S. that would protect companies even if the laws change.”

Companies are also moving to be closer to emerging markets where oil and gas drilling and production are encouraged:

“In addition, the move will put Noble closer to a faster-growing customer base in the eastern hemisphere, where more than half of its revenue comes from today.

Last year, Houston oil field services firm Halliburton Co. cited similar reasons for establishing a dual headquarters in Dubai and moving CEO Dave Lesar there.”

I would encourage these companies to move if I were a shareholder. There’s no future in the U.S. for the oil and gas industry and that means there’s no realistic near-term energy future for America.


“I Will Fight Until I Take My Last Breath”

Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 2:29 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

If you keep fighting when most have urged you to quit, you might be Governor Rod Blagojevich:

“A defiant Gov. Rod Blagojevich told reporters this afternoon that he will fight the charges against him, asserting that he is guilty of nothing and assuring voters he plans not to quit his job despite the “political lynch mob” out to get him.

“I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing,” he said, adding “that I intend to stay on the job, and I will fight this thing every step of the way. I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong, and I’m not going to quit a job the people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob.”

Blagojevich did not take questions and concluded his statement by reciting from memory a portion of Kipling’s poem “If.”

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reports Rahm Emanuel had direct conversations with Blagojevich about Obama’s Senate seat.


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I am reminded of an exchange from “The Simpsons”:

Grampa: I think Rudyard Kipling said it best:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss . . . .
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

Homer: You’ll be a bonehead!

I think that about says it all.

Official Bush Portraits (Updated)

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 2:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

George and Laura Bush’s official portraits were unveiled today. The portraits are more casual than I expected but each captures their personalities. I especially like the close-up of Laura Bush’s portrait in the 4th photo in the gallery at the link.

UPDATE 12/20/2008: These are the Bushes’ official portraits but they will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian. I believe other, more formal, portraits will be given to the White House collection.


Yay: Bush Will Loan $17.4 Billion to Automakers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:19 am

A temporary Band-aid until we can give them the really big money.

The Bad, The Good, and The Ugly

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:11 am

The bad: Coleman’s lead over that douchebag Franken is only two votes. (Maybe five. Who’s counting?)

The good: the margin separating the candidates may well be wider tomorrow.

The ugly: Franken will probably be ahead. Which would make the good not so good after all.

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