Patterico's Pontifications


Coverage of the L.A. Press Club Event

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General — Patterico @ 10:08 pm

Many blogs have discussed last night’s fabulous L.A. Press Club event:

Hugh Hewitt has a comprehensive post, and also includes the text of his prepared remarks.

Mickey Kaus complains that none of the bloggers blogged about the event. You just need to give us some time, Mickey . . .

Quarens has a picture, where you can barely see me, off to the left.

SoCalPundit promises pictures, but hasn’t delivered — yet. (I think Hugh called him Kevin Drum! He was obviously mixing up SoCalPundit Kevin with Kevin Drum, the former CalPundit. He must have been surprised at the right-wing question that “Drum” asked.)

Flap does have pictures. The red eyes in the picture of me are due to his camera — not the wine I had. I assure you.

Mack Reed was appalled by the Times-bashing.

Kevin Roderick — who, like me, was surprised to find Hugh Hewitt inviting him to speak (but who, unlike me, wisely declined to) — has some thoughts.

Gay Patriot has a comprehensive list of people he met.

So does Cathy Seipp — who says she met me, but really didn’t, properly (which I regret — hopefully next time).

I did meet Carol Platt Liebau, who sometimes guests for Hugh Hewitt on the radio.

Justene from Calblog says her daughter was thrilled that her mom got to hear Hugh Hewitt . . . you know, the blogger.

Luke Ford has a post, though I can’t figure out how to permalink it.

Jason Apuzzo of the LIBERTAS blog has a post. Baldilocks, Vik Rubenfeld, and I enjoyed talking to his wife Govindini Murty about conservatives in Hollywood. Apparently they exist!

Other folks I met who didn’t/couldn’t blog it — and I know I am missing some — include L.A. Times editor Bob Sipchen; the pseudonymous LAPD officer Jack Dunphy and his lovely (and equally anonymous) wife; Amy Alkon; Jill Stewart; Roger L. Simon; Mark Alan Stamaty (who does the full-page Sunday Opinion comics for the L.A. Times); Brady Westwater; and (as I mentioned last night) frequent commenter Dafydd ab Hugh and his lovely wife Sachi. Old friends not already mentioned included Justin Levine, Richard (Calblog Justene’s husband), and Marc Danziger (aka Armed Liberal from Winds of Change). And probably some others that I somehow forgot.

I got to speak with all of these people (except for Cathy Seipp). Can you tell what a great evening it was?

UPDATE: Jay Rosen wasn’t there, but has a post that touches on the event.

L.A. Times Spins Controversy over Judicial Filibusters to Favor Democrats

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:14 am

There has been no resolution in the U.S. Senate of the dispute over the use of the filibuster to block President Bush’s nominees.

How do you figure that has been portrayed in today’s L.A. Times story on the issue?

Your choices are:

a) The Republicans have attempted to resolve matters through compromise, but the Democrats have rebuffed the offers and insisted on the right to filibuster.

b) The Democrats have attempted to resolve matters through compromise, but the Republicans have rebuffed the offers and insisted on the elimination of the filibuster.

c) Each side has made an offer of “compromise” that the other side considers unserious.

If you guessed choice “b,” you win the gold star.

Here’s how today’s article begins:

Republicans Reject Democrats’ Offer to Settle Judicial Dispute

The deal would allow votes on three nominees. But the GOP says it’s focusing on future picks.

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Tuesday rebuffed a Democratic overture aimed at ending a confrontation over federal judges, saying that any agreement must include a pledge not to filibuster future nominees — especially Supreme Court nominees.

Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered to back away from Democratic filibusters on three of seven of President Bush’s appellate court nominees if Republicans would pledge not to change Senate rules to end the use of the parliamentary tactic to stall votes on proposed judges.

But Republicans said they were less concerned about current nominees than they were about future ones, especially with an anticipated Supreme Court vacancy this summer.

Now, that sounds like an offer by the Democrats and a counteroffer by the Republicans. More accurately, it sounds like a ridiculous offer by the Democrats, and an equally ridiculous counteroffer (described further down in the story) by the Republicans. But the story’s angle is: Republicans are rejecting compromise.

I can best illustrate what I mean by rewriting the story to reflect the opposite spin. I could easily begin the story in this way, using the same exact facts reported in the story:

Democrats Reject Republicans’ Offer to Settle Judicial Dispute

The deal would allow a change to committee procedures. But Democrats want the right to block GOP future picks.

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Tuesday rebuffed a Republican offer aimed at ending a confrontation over federal judges, saying that they would accept no agreement that restricted future use of the filibuster.

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky offered to change committee procedures in return for an end to judicial filibusters.

“There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on on both sides,” he said. “This is a way to cure that.”

But Democrats said they were less concerned about current nominees than they were about future ones, especially with an anticipated Supreme Court vacancy this summer. They insisted that Republicans pledge not to change Senate rules to end the use of the parliamentary tactic to stall votes on proposed judges, leaving the two sides at an impasse.

See the difference? That is effectively the mirror image of the spin presented in today’s story, in which Republicans are the ones portrayed rebuffing a compromise.

Why this particular spin?

I don’t know for sure. But I do know this: the spin of today’s story matches the spin that Democrats are putting on the impasse:

“Republican leaders don’t want compromise,” Reid said. “Republican leaders don’t want Democrats to have a voice in this debate. Republican leaders don’t want any check on their quest for absolute power. They want total victory.”

And so do you, Sen. Reid. You want the absolute right to block any judge that doesn’t meet your party’s preferred judicial philosophy. Even though Republicans have won the Presidency and a majority of the seats in the Senate, you don’t want them to have the ability to place judges on the bench who reflect their preferred judicial philosophy.

Lucky for you, you have found at least one newspaper happy to portray the controversy the way you’d like it portrayed.

UPDATE: I finally looked at the article in the dead trees edition of the paper (I blogged this entry from the Internet version). The article in the paper obligingly runs a photo of Harry Reid standing in front of a lectern that prominently states: “PROTECT OUR RIGHTS. STOP THE PARTISAN POWER GRAB.” It’s as prominent as the headline of the story.


L.A. Press Club Event

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:54 pm

Had a wonderful time at the L.A. Press Club event tonight. It would be impossible to list all the people I met, but I can say I never met so many people I admire in one night. And seeing a number of old friends just made the evening that much better.

It was a roomful of fascinating people, and me.

One thing: Hugh, if you’re going to ask me to speak to a crowd, warn me next time! Maybe I’ll ramble a little less . . .

I also enjoyed a nice pre-event dinner with frequent commenter Dafydd ab Hugh and his lovely wife. Hurry and get that blog of yours going, Dafydd!

The L.A. Times‘s Attack on the Judiciary, or, the Armed Takeover at the Times Building

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Humor,Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:23 am

Things are really out of control in America. Now the GOP is resorting to gunplay at the offices of one of our nation’s top newspapers. The evidence of this is clear. Just open up today’s Los Angeles Times.

Yesterday, the L.A. Times editorial page described the GOP’s threat to scrap filibusters of judicial nominees as an “attack on the judiciary”:

DeLay says he wants to hold Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, accountable for citing international laws in a recent majority opinion. And DeLay and his counterpart in the Senate, Bill Frist, are working to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations. Meanwhile, evangelical Christian leaders are looking for ways to strip funding from the courts of judges they don’t like.

These attacks on the judiciary threaten the constitutional separation of powers that has long allowed this nation’s government to function more effectively than those of some of its neighbors.

The editorial compared the nuclear option (and other “attacks on the judiciary”) to bribery of judges in South America, and declared Republicans’ treatment of judges characteristic of a “banana republic.”

After this editorial ran, the gunplay began. Late last night, commandos working for Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Tom DeLay executed a covert armed takeover of the editorial offices at The Times. While heavily armed mercenaries held Michael Kinsley and the rest of the editorial staff at bay with military rifles, an unnamed Senate Judiciary Committee staffer hurriedly typed out this morning’s editorial and sent it to the presses.

The editorial, titled Nuke the Filibuster, encourages the GOP to do away with the filibuster entirely. The Senate staffer did an excellent job of making it sound like it was really written by Times editors. It was a nice touch to begin with a slap at religious conservatives:

These are confusing days in Washington. Born-again conservative Christians who strongly want to see President Bush’s judicial nominees voted on are leading the charge against the Senate filibuster, and liberal Democrats are born-again believers in that reactionary, obstructionist legislative tactic. Practically every big-name liberal senator you can think of derided the filibuster a decade ago but now sees the error of his or her ways and will go to amusing lengths to try to convince you that the change of heart is explained by something deeper than the mere difference between being in the majority and being in the minority.

The staffer further mimicked the editors’ penchant for self-congratulation, including a phrase in which the editors praise themselves for their own intellectual consistency:

At the risk of seeming dull or unfashionable for not getting our own intellectual makeover, we still think judicial candidates nominated by a president deserve an up-or-down vote in the Senate. We hardly see eye to eye with the far right on social issues, and we oppose some of these judicial nominees, but we urge Republican leaders to press ahead with their threat to nuke the filibuster. The so-called nuclear option entails a finding by a straight majority that filibusters are inappropriate in judicial confirmation battles.

The editorial goes on to encourage the GOP to eliminate filibusters across the board, and not just for judicial nominees.

I have to say that the Senate staffer who wrote this editorial did an excellent job under trying circumstances. It can’t be easy to write such a piece while surrounded by mercenaries with automatic weapons. But he pulled it off in grand style.

My description of the armed takeover of the Times editorial offices is supposition, of course. But it makes more sense than any other explanation I can think of.


Yet Another Editorial on the News Pages of the L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Politics — Patterico @ 11:17 pm

Sometimes when the L.A. Times puts an editorial on its news pages, it tries to cover it by calling it a “news analysis.”

Sometimes, I say. Not always, and certainly not in this story about Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Here’s some of the objective reporting that passes for straight news at the L.A. Times:

The unusually cohesive opposition would run millions of dollars in attack advertising that approached election-season intensity. They would pick apart Schwarzenegger’s vague and hastily drawn proposals to dramatic benefit, challenge the governor in the courts and dog him at his appearances — with teachers, firefighters and nurses in uniform spoiling his carefully staged public events.

. . . .

Although outside forces played an important part in Schwarzenegger’s slump, even those sympathetic to the governor say many of his problems are self-inflicted, a result of overreaching, hubris, poor staff work and serious miscalculations.

The governor’s penchant for improvisation, which many find refreshing, has often confounded his aides, forcing them to scramble to keep up with — and clean up after — their boss. His lack of follow-through — unveiling his agenda with a flourish, then abruptly turning to other matters — has undermined his salesmanship.

Above all, Schwarzenegger’s friends and enemies agree, the governor miscalculated by trying to accomplish too much in too short a time, without laying the necessary groundwork.

. . . .

Still, the sight of Schwarzenegger stumbling badly has energized his foes and frustrated Republicans, not to mention the governor’s influential wife, Maria Shriver, who has begun looking outside the administration for help. For one of the few times in his long and varied public career, the famously disciplined Schwarzenegger has appeared uncertain and unfocused.

“Straight news” as presented by your local rag, ladies and gentlemen.

L.A. Times on the Meaning of “Unarmed Teen”

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:49 pm

Let’s say that I am in court some day, and the defendant makes a break for it. He rushes one of the bailiffs and reaches for his gun. A second bailiff sees this, and fires a shot at the defendant.

Has the second bailiff just “shot an unarmed man”?

Ask the reporters and editors at the L.A. Times how they would report a story like that.


L.A. Times: Fighting Judicial Filibusters an “Attack on the Judiciary”

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:30 am

In an Orwellian attempt to turn all logic on its head, the L.A. Times editorial page portrays the attempt to eliminate filibusters of judicial nominations as an attack on the judiciary, on par with Latin American governments’ bribery of judges:

The region to the south, where authoritarian leaders have more often than not been the rule, continues to have a hazy attachment to the rule of law. Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez was ousted by legislators Wednesday. He came to grief partly because he was seen as a tool of the International Monetary Fund, but also because of the turmoil surrounding his dismissal of Supreme Court judges. Then there’s Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, who is clinging to power but seeing his popularity plummet as a result of scandals, including the revelation that a top aide apparently tried to bribe judges. Meanwhile, presidential hopeful and Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been charged with abuse of authority and is embroiled in controversy about whether politicians should have to obey the judiciary.

Sure, DeLay & Co. are not attempting to bribe judges, and they are cloaking their assault on “activist judges” in religious overtones. But the result is the same. DeLay says he wants to hold Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, accountable for citing international laws in a recent majority opinion. And DeLay and his counterpart in the Senate, Bill Frist, are working to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations. Meanwhile, evangelical Christian leaders are looking for ways to strip funding from the courts of judges they don’t like.

These attacks on the judiciary threaten the constitutional separation of powers that has long allowed this nation’s government to function more effectively than those of some of its neighbors.


I bow to no person in my disgust for the gutless and unprincipled Anthony Kennedy, who never picks up his judicial pen without first holding his index finger to the wind. Kennedy is far better at judging the trends of elite opinion than he is at judging cases. Nevertheless, I disagreed with DeLay’s inartful suggestion — for which DeLay has since apologized; didn’t you hear that, Times editors? — that Kennedy and his ilk could possibly face impeachment for their judicial decisions.

But to compare DeLay’s comment to bribing judges in South America is such rank nonsense it hardly merits a rebuttal.

However, that silliness pales in comparison to the breathtaking rhetorical ploy of calling the nuclear option an attack on the judiciary. President Bush is trying to fill several vacancies in our federal appellate courts. A majority of the Senate stands ready to confirm his appointees. A minority of Senators uses a parliamentary trick to create an obstacle to these appointments. And now the Republicans’ stated intention of taking away the Democrats’ ability to use that trick is an attack on the judiciary?

What’s more bizarre is the editorial’s reliance on William Rehnquist to make its point:

Perhaps no one has expressed this more clearly than conservative Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist in his traditional year-end report on the federal courts: “The Constitution protects judicial independence not to benefit judges, but to promote the rule of law: Judges are expected to administer the law fairly, without regard to public reaction.”

Fair enough as regards threats of impeachment, but Rehnquist’s report does not sanction the use of the judicial filibuster to block judicial appointments. If anything, Rehnquist suggests that it is necessary for a President’s appointments to be confirmed, if a majority of Senators approve, as that is the Constitution’s way of ensuring that federal judges are subject to the popular will:

If judges cannot be removed from office for judicial decisions, how can we be certain that the Judicial Branch is subject to the popular will? The answer to that question may be found in President Franklin Roosevelt’s clash with the Supreme Court of the 1930s. The Court had invalidated legislation FDR thought was essential to restore the country to prosperity during the Great Depression. Roosevelt, and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, faced a Court that had for 30 years been reading into our Constitution a doctrine of “freedom of contract” which was hostile to social legislation, and had adopted a very limiting view of congressional authority under the commerce clause.

In FDR’s view, the Court had become a roadblock to the progressive reforms needed in the nation, and he planned to use his immense political resources to bring the Court into step with the President and Congress. In February 1937, Roosevelt proposed a plan to “reorganize” the Judicial Branch, but the crux of his proposal was that the President would be empowered to appoint an additional six Justices to the Court and thereby enlarge the Court’s membership up to a total of 15.

Roosevelt’s true aim, of course, was to “pack” the Court all at once to produce a majority sympathetic to the New Deal. Despite his huge majorities in both Houses of Congress, however, the bar, the press, and eventually public opinion began to rally against the proposal, and it was defeated.

President Roosevelt lost this battle in Congress, but he eventually won the war to change the judicial philosophy of the Supreme Court. He won it the way our Constitution envisions such wars being won — by the gradual process of changing the federal Judiciary through the appointment process. Although Roosevelt appointed no Justices during his first term, in his second term he nominated and the Senate confirmed five, producing a Court that was much more sympathetic to the New Deal. During his entire tenure as President, FDR appointed seven Associate Justices and one Chief Justice. In this way, our Constitution has struck a balance between judicial independence and accountability, giving individual judges secure tenure but making the federal Judiciary subject ultimately to the popular will because judges are appointed and confirmed by elected officials.

So according to Chief Justice Rehnquist, federal judges’ lifetime tenure must be balanced by the ability of the public to make its will known through the appointment and confirmation process. Filibusters of judicial nominations, which have no purpose other than to thwart the popular will, are the true attack on our Constitutional system.

William Shakespeare said:

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

So too can the L.A. Times cite Rehnquist for its purpose. But, like the devil’s citation of Scripture, their quotation must be taken out of context to fit the argument.

L.A. Press Club Event

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:07 am

Some folks have e-mailed me thinking that I am going to be on a panel with Hugh Hewitt this Tuesday at the L.A. Press Club function. This is apparently based on the wording of Hugh’s post announcing the function. As much fun as it would be to be on a panel with Hugh Hewitt, I am afraid I am attending only as a spectator, though Cathy Seipp tells me that the other Outside-the-Tenters and I will be introduced. So I hope to see you there, but don’t expect me to speak.

Incidentally, Hugh appears to have gotten the e-mail address wrong for non-members to RSVP. It’s “theadvicegoddess -AT-” with the word “the” in the e-mail address.

Republicans Have the Votes for the Nuclear Option

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:04 am

Mitch McConnell says that Republicans have the votes to ban filibusters of judicial nominations.

So let’s get going!

Thanks to See Dubya

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:01 am

Thanks to See Dubya for doing an excellent job of guest-posting over the past few days.

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