Today's Blogs


Bloggers discuss a Chinese company’s decision to rescind its offer for Unocal. They also ponder a brewing scandal at Air America and debate the merits of bottled water.

CNOOCered: Yesterday, CNOOC, a company owned largely by the Chinese government, withdrew its $18.5 billion bid to buy Unocal; homegrown Chevron Corp.’s $17.4 billion offer is expected to succeed. CNOOC’s move came in response to a series of congressional bills aimed at blocking the purchase.

Some bloggers think that the move reflects poorly on Congress: “So an undervalued offer wins a bidding war, the conditions that have caused oil reserves to become a national security issue (to the point that CNOOC’s bid was considered a threat) went unanswered in an energy bill deemed a priority by the President, and the swarm of pro-free-trade sentiment that surrounded CAFTA somehow didn’t apply to an all cash offer for a publicly-traded company. VIVA Free Markets!” snorts1115’s left-leaning Matt.

Others disagree. Noting that the German-owned Adidas has just bid on Reebok, World Adventurers’ Mike, who’s based in South Korea, asks, “Was it wrong to prevent the Chinese from buying Unocal, while the Germans will likely prevail and buy Reebok? I don’t believe so, and here’s why. … I believe in a level-playing field.” He points out that Adidas isn’t owned by the German government, adding: “The playing field is skewed because that government is essentially the acquiring company’s largest shareholder, with very deep pockets to support and nurture that company.”

Other bloggers detail concerns that CNOOC was unprepared to take on the purchase. Houston’s Clear Thinkers’ Tom notes that CNOOC didn’t meet Unocal’s deadline to submit a bid. He writes, “When Chevron sweetened its bid recently, many institutional investors were so concerned about CNOOC’s ability to handle the federal approval process and close the deal, they began to lean toward taking the bird in the hand rather than the bigger one in the bush.” And Survived SARS’ Logan Wright, a grad student, writes, “Ironically, many Chinese companies looking to expand into emerging markets have the worst examples of all to follow: the legion of foreign companies that lost billions trying to access the China market in the mid-1990s, when costs were high, access was low, and bureaucracies remained absurd. ”

The last word goes to Full Disclosure’s Loren Steffy, a business blogger, who claims, “Unocal shareholders should send a warm thank you to CNOOC. As I pointed out earlier, without CNOOC’s unsolicited offer, shareholders would have gotten about 21 percent less in the deal.”

Read more about CNOOC.

A$r Amer$ca: According to thisNew York Sun article, Air America’s former director Evan Cohen allegedly mismanaged more than $800,000 from Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club while he was its development director. He kept some of the money for himself and channeled the rest into the liberal radio station.

Right-wing bloggers have been agitating about this for days. In her column, superstar blogger Michelle Malkin excoriates Air America luminaries Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for keeping quiet and accuses them of privileging their financial interests. Conservative FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog pooh-pooh’s Al Franken’s response in the Sun: “Franken would be probably better off if he saves his comments for the New York and federal investigations which are proceeding. Next, undoubtedly the ACLU will come to Air America’s rescue and they will all plead the 5th.”

Many liberal bloggers are ignoring the issue. In Search of Utopia’s self-described progressive/centrist Democrat David Anderson writes, “To be honest, it is hard to tell where the political opportunism ends and reality begins, and considering the clear cut common sense thing to do, it is not worth me ‘researching’. Whatever the situation, pay the goddamned money and move on! … The bozo who took it is already gone from Air America, and this ‘scandal,’ only dilutes the message Air America is trying to get out.”

Read more about the Air America scandal; read conservative blogger Ed Morrissey’s recap in the Weekly Standard.

Bottled Waterloo?: In thisNew York Times op-ed, Tom Standage damns bottled water. Noting that that bottled water is less regulated than tap water, and worse for the environment, he questions why people spend billions on bottled water and writes, “The logical response … is to stop spending money on bottled water and to give the money to water charities.”

Just a Gwai Lo’s Richard Eriksson *, who works at a tech start-up, thinks that Standage makes a good point. But he has one objection: “[A]s Malcolm Gladwell noted in Blink, people don’t taste things blind. Part of the experience of drinking a branded product is tied up in the visual brand.” The Reasoned Right’s Andy Brett attempts to stand Standage on his head: “Standage also notes that much of the time the only safe water in the developing world is bottled water. This would indicate that the first world’s demand for bottled water (a ‘lifestyle choice’) makes it harder to purchase for those in the developing world, since the increased demand drives up the price. However, it is this very demand that makes it possible for bottled water companies to exist in the first place.”

Read more about bottled water.

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Correction, Aug. 4: The article originally misspelled the name of Richard Eriksson’s blog, Just a Gwai Lo. (Return to the corrected sentence.)