Patterico's Pontifications

9/30/2005

Kozinski Strikes Again

Filed under: Law — Patterico @ 11:48 pm

Did I say that you shouldn’t cross Alex Kozinski? Yeah, I think I did.

Don’t try to slip anything past him either. (Read the dissent.)

How did I guess who the judge was?

Thanks to Jonathan S. Haas for the link.

L.A. Times on Roberts Confirmation

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Humor — Patterico @ 6:04 pm

Does the L.A. Times think the country is going to hell now that John Roberts has been confirmed? You be the judge. Here is today’s front page (I am not making this up):

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The Power of the Jump™: Those Non-Confidential Confidential Sources, Part 2

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:15 am

(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)

Once again, on the front page, the L.A. Times reports on the Judith Miller case as a straightforward question of protecting a confidential source — while burying contrary evidence on the back pages. In a story titled Journalist Freed to Testify in Plame Case, this material appears on the front page:

WASHINGTON — New York Times reporter Judith Miller, jailed since July 6 for refusing to reveal a confidential source, was freed Thursday after agreeing to testify about her conversations with the source.

Miller is expected to appear today before a federal grand jury investigating whether anyone in the Bush administration leaked the name of a covert CIA officer to reporters.

Her surprise release, negotiated between Times lawyers and a Justice Department special prosecutor, came after Miller received what the newspaper described as “a direct and un-coerced waiver” from her source that released her from any pledge of confidentiality and enabled her to testify.

You have to go to Page A13 to learn that the source was already non-confidential before Miller ever went to jail:

According to the [New York] Times account, [I. Lewis "Scooter"] Libby [the source] and [Joseph] Tate [his lawyer] strenuously argued that a waiver Libby had provided more than a year earlier was adequate to cover Miller, and that additional assurances were unnecessary.

People close to the case speculated that the possibility of a grueling and seemingly endless jail term may also have been a factor in the resolution.

As I noted last night, Miller had the waiver all along. But if you read only the front page, as most people do, you’ll never know that the “confidential” source wasn’t really confidential at all. But sssshhhhh! It’s all about blowing up Miller into a media martyr.

P.S. This isn’t the first time the paper has done this.

9/29/2005

Judith Miller to Testify, Now That Her Source Has Authorized Her To — Again

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:48 pm

Back in July, I noted that Judith Miller’s source had given her a written waiver allowing her to testify — and that the L.A. Times, anxious to portray the controversy as a test of press freedoms, had buried that fact on page A18. A couple of you commenters (you know who you are) said you didn’t buy the assertion that the source had given a truly voluntary waiver.

Now, Miller has been released from jail, and has agreed to testify. Orin Kerr collects a couple of links that explain what happened. See if any of this sounds familiar:

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Prediction

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 9:37 pm

Well, we all have to make predictions, even if they turn out to be wrong. Mine: McConnell.

My hope: Luttig.

If it’s Gonzales, then . . . well, then I’ll feel about this president the way Tony Soprano felt about his mom.

L.A. Times Spin on Ronnie Earle

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,Politics — Patterico @ 9:01 pm

Interesting how the L.A. Times portrays Ronnie Earle this morning. A cynic might even call it “spin.” (And, judging from the headline of this post, I’m a cynic.)

The profile of Earle is titled Prosecutor Takes Aim at Both Sides of Aisle. The deck headline reads: “Although DeLay calls Ronnie Earle an ‘unabashed partisan zealot,’ others say the Austin district attorney shows no favoritism.” And, although you can’t read it online, there is a picture in the print edition with this caption:

Travis County Dist. Atty. Ronnie Earle may be a Democrat, but so were 12 of the 15 politicians he has indicted.

The story starts out telling the story of how Earle prosecuted Jim Mattox, a prominent former Texas Democrat. It then says:

When he indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Wednesday, the Texas Republican lashed out at Earle, calling him an “unabashed partisan zealot.”

Just one hitch: Earle may be a Democrat, but, he said, so were 12 of the 15 politicians he has indicted over the years, including Mattox.

Do you get it yet? Have they beaten it into you? Earle is no partisan Democrat! I mean, he may be a Democrat, but — did we mention? — so were 12 of the 15 politicians he has indicted! He is an even-handed prosecutor! He prosecutes both sides of the aisle! He shows no favoritism!

You have to dig 12 paragraphs down to read this little nugget:

Earle has taken pains to project a squeaky-clean image, at one point even accusing himself of a misdemeanor when he discovered that his campaign finance reports had been filed late. Still, he has not always remained above the political fray.

Earle recently said that being called partisan by DeLay was akin to “being called ugly by a frog.” At a Democratic fundraiser in May, he called DeLay a “bully.”

Now, I’ll give the paper credit for printing this — but it deserves a little more prominent treatment. What do you think the L.A. Times would have done if Ken Starr had mocked Bill Clinton at a Republican fundraiser while he was investigating Clinton? I can see the caption now:

Special prosecutor Ken Starr called Bill Clinton a “bully” at a Republican fundraiser.

At a minimum, it’s a serious lapse in judgment for a prosecutor who is investigating a prominent political figure from the other political party to go to a fundraiser for his own party and criticize that political figure. If the L.A. Times weren’t predisposed to dislike DeLay, I strongly suspect that little tidbit would be more prominent — just like you know damn well it would be if the prosecutor were Ken Starr instead of Ronnie Earle.

There were a couple of other things about Earle that the paper left out entirely. For example, why did prosecutor Earle write an op-ed piece in the New York Times criticizing a proposed rule change that would allow DeLay to keep his leadership position even if he were indicted? What difference would that make to Earle’s criminal investigation of DeLay? The answer is: none. It was a purely political point. When you put that together with Earle’s public criticism of DeLay at a Democrat fund-raiser, you begin to see where Earle’s critics are coming from. But that piece is nowhere mentioned in today’s article.

I would have also liked to see some mention in the article of Earle’s suspect decision to condition plea bargains on the defendants’ making large donations to one of Earle’s pet causes. A bit odd, and something that casts a little dirt on that “squeaky-clean image.”

When you look at what was omitted — and the lack of prominence to the negative facts about Earle that were included — it’s hard not to view the article as anything but what I call it in the title: spin.

P.S. I’m not eager to jump on the Republican bandwagon and openly declare Earle’s indictment an obviously partisan act by an obviously partisan D.A. I don’t know what evidence he has, and I’m not a huge fan of Tom DeLay. Maybe he is dirty — and if he is, he should go. I’m just saying, there were a few facts left out today.

P.P.S. Many Republicans have leapt on the example of Earle’s dropped prosecution of Kay Bailey Hutchison (also mentioned in today’s Times article, at the very end) as evidence that Earle is a partisan. I’m not making that argument, because I don’t know all the facts of that case. Prosecutions get dropped for all sorts of reasons, and a dropped prosecution doesn’t necessarily indicate that the prosecution was bogus to begin with, or that the D.A. is a partisan.

Let’s keep a close eye on this — but for crying out loud, don’t trust the paper for all your facts.

Roberts Confirmed

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 10:01 am

78-22.

(Published from the Treo.)

Fire?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:10 am

Looks like there might be a big fire in the valley, judging from the smoke I’m seeing . . .

UPDATE: Sure enough.

Los Angeles Times Pumps Up Yet Another Meaningless Story About Racial Disparities

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Race — Patterico @ 6:54 am

The L.A. Times reports:

A racial disparity in mortgage lending rates appears to be sharper in Los Angeles and other California metropolitan areas than the rest of the country, according to an analysis of federal data to be released today.

The study by the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, an advocacy group for the poor, looked at the percentage of higher-cost loans issued in minority communities compared with nonminority neighborhoods in the same metropolitan area.

My immediate reaction upon reading that was: of course. Assuming that there is a racial disparity in lending rates to begin with — a situation that is likely to result from non-racial factors — that disparity will naturally be magnified in an area where housing prices are higher, because higher-cost loans will be used much more commonly. So I was hardly shocked to see this:

California’s high housing costs are probably one reason behind the findings, said Raphael W. Bostic, a former economist for the Federal Reserve now at USC, who was not involved in the study.

Gee, ya think?

One paragraph temporarily seems to suggest that discrimination could be a factor:

The Federal Reserve, in its own study of the disclosure act data released this month, determined that African Americans and Hispanics were far more likely to get sub-prime loans than whites and said the gap could not be fully explained by factors such as income.

Until you learn this:

The federal loan data do not include information about borrowers’ creditworthiness and other basic factors that would provide a more complete picture of the lending process, Hobbs [Dustin Hobbs, a spokesman for the California Mortgage Bankers Assn] said.

In other words, there are no controls. This so-called study does a comparison with no controls. How in the world the Federal Reserve was able to determine that “the gap could not be fully explained by factors such as income” when they didn’t have access to basic control data like creditworthiness, I have no idea. And the intrepid reporter who wrote the story apparently didn’t ask, probably not wanting to gum up a story that he knew would be on the front page of its section.

I just have one question: does anybody ever do a study of alleged racial disparities, with respect to any topic, who knows how to do a proper study with proper controls?

Because it sure doesn’t seem that way. Race disparity researchers seem to be uniquely ignorant of the need for controls, if the widely reported racial gaps in areas like criminal justice and lending practices are any indication. It’s as if these researchers all go to schools where the statistics classes completely omit any discussion of the concept of controlling for relevant factors.

We see this all the time, of course.

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The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Goes International

Filed under: Politics — Angry Clam @ 5:53 am

[Posted by The Angry Clam]

What do the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, the Kuomintang in the Republic of China, the Mozambique National Resistance, and the Republican Party have in common?

Among other things, they’re all part of the International Democratic Union, an organization founded by Margaret Thatcher to be an alliance of various conservative parties throughout the world, and was patterned after the Communist International.

That’s right, lefties, we’re conspiring to dominate the entire world.

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