Patterico's Pontifications

12/8/2008

The Pulitzer Prizes: Patterico Qualifies; Dog Trainer Doesn’t

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 7:01 pm

Another entry from the “Kicking the L.A. Times While They’re Down Department”:

Bad news for the L.A. Times: the Pulitzer Prize committee is now allowing submissions for online-only content:

The Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, which honor the work of American newspapers appearing in print, have been expanded to include many text-based newspapers and news organizations that publish only on the Internet, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced today.

The Board also has decided to allow entries made up entirely of online content to be submitted in all 14 Pulitzer journalism categories.

Woo-hoo! Patterico is in!

The news gets worse for The Times. Pay special attention to the bolded language:

While broadening the competition, the Board stressed that all entered material — whether online or in print — should come from “United States newspapers or news organizations that publish at least weekly, that are primarily dedicated to original news reporting and coverage of ongoing stories, and that adhere to the highest journalistic principles.”

Ouch. The L.A. Times is out!

(Via L.A. Observed.)

L.A. Times Discontinues Payments to Former Staffers

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:51 pm

Wow. Ex-L.A. Times staffers are seeing their severance package payments discontinued until further notice. From an internal Q&A:

All ongoing severance payments, deferred compensation and other payments to former employees have been discontinued and will be the subject of later proceedings before the Court.

Ouch. Kevin Roderick says: “Talk about kicking them while they’re down.”

That really sucks, and I’m quite serious. Some of my favorite L.A. Times staffers are former L.A. Times staffers.

The Right to Credit

Filed under: Economics — DRJ @ 5:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Didn’t we just go through a mortgage meltdown because government forced mortgage lenders to loan to people regardless of their credit status? It looks like Illinois learned nothing from that experience:

“Illinois will no longer do business with Bank of America until the bank restores credit to the shuttered factory here where workers are continuing their sit-in, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced Monday.

Executives at the plant, Republic Windows and Doors, which is on the city’s North Side, have said they need the restoration of their line of credit, which the bank canceled last week, to enable them to pay workers severance and vacation time owed to them.

“During these times of economic turmoil, we must ensure that workers’ rights are protected,” Governor Blagojevich said. He said the Illinois Department of Labor will file a complaint if negotiations between the factory’s owners, the workers’ union and Bank of America officials, expected later this afternoon, are not resolved rapidly.”

Barack Obama has already weighed in in support of the workers. They have my sympathy, especially if they are owed money for lost wages, but I’d like to hear both all sides of this story before I choose sides.

– DRJ

Supreme Court Denies Cert in Birth Certificate Case (Updated x2)

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 4:56 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ScotusBlog reports the U.S. Supreme Court denied cert today in the Obama birth certificate challenge that originated in New Jersey, Donofrio v. Wells, Secretary of State of New Jersey (08A407), and a similar Pennsylvania case, Berg v. Obama (08A391), was turned down in early November.

I’m not aware of any other Obama birth certificate cases that are pending but there may be a few. If so, please help me out by noting them in the comments.

UPDATE 1: It turns out there are other pending Obama birth certificate cases. See the comments for more information and links.

UPDATE 2: One other pending Supreme Court case is # 08A469 Wrotnowski, Applicant, v. Bysiewicz, Connecticut Secretary of State. The docket indicates it’s set for conference on December 12, 2008.

– DRJ

Obama Still Smokes But He’s Doing a Terrific Job

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 12:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Sunday on Meet The Press with Tom Brokaw, Barack Obama finally admitted he still smokes now and then. Beldar addressed this topic in March and April, and I’m still not impressed with Obama’s chronic evasiveness on this issue.

Nevertheless, America has had Presidents with similar inclinations – both smoking and evasiveness – and Obama won’t be the last President who portrays himself and his actions in the best light possible. But I hope he’s the last President who tries to sell us on the idea that even his flaws are positives:

“Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, interviewer Tom Brokaw told Obama he had ducked answering the question during an interview last month with ABC’s Barbara Walters.

Noting that the White House was a no-smoking zone, Brokaw asked Obama, “Have you stopped smoking?”

“I have,” Obama replied, smiling broadly. “What I said was that there are times where I have fallen off the wagon.”

“Wait a minute,” Brokaw interjected, “that means you haven’t stopped.”

“Fair enough,” Obama said. “What I would say is that I have done a terrific job under the circumstances of making myself much healthier. You will not see any violations of these rules in the White House.”

Brace yourself for 4 years of Clintonian-like spin and parsing. First Obama says he’s quit smoking, then he says he hasn’t. When he’s forced to admit he hasn’t stopped smoking, he replies “Fair enough” — like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar who “smiles broadly” and admits “Okay, you caught me” — and then he redirected the conversation to how “terrific” he is because he’s healthier and trying to stop smoking.

Oh, and need I add that saying we “won’t see” Obama smoke in the White House isn’t the same as saying he won’t smoke?

How ironic that one of the chief complaints Obama supporters have about President Bush is that he won’t admit a mistake. Now we learn Obama is so insecure he can’t even admit he has a flaw.

– DRJ

Obama’s “Spread the Wealth” Plan to Grow the Economy

Filed under: Economics,Obama — DRJ @ 12:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Tom Brokaw interviewed Barack Obama yesterday on Meet The Press and this is the first of two posts on excerpts from that interview.

Obama stated his top economic priority is a short-term stimulus package. He also recast his “spread the wealth” message (first elicited by Joe the Plumber) as a “more balanced” tax code, and reiterated that redistribution from rich to poor is the best way to grow the economy:

“I think the important principle, because sometimes when we start talking about taxes, and I say I want a more balanced tax code, people think, well, that’s class warfare. No. It turns out that our economy grows best when the benefits of the economy are most widely spread. And that has been true historically.”

Is this true? On the one hand, it seems to me that a wealthy person is more likely than a poor person to have “extra” money available to invest in research or business, actions that create jobs and help the economy grow. On the other hand, on a percentage basis, poor people spend more of their funds on consumption and consumption is important to keep the economy afloat.

Consumption isn’t all good, though. Over-consumption or living beyond one’s means has drawbacks on a personal and macro level as evidenced by the increase in bankruptcies, mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt, not to mention today’s economic turmoil. It seems consumers realize the pitfalls of over-consumption and perhaps that explains why most of the 2001 stimulus checks ended up in savings. Data suggests the same savings trend occurred with the 2008 stimulus checks.

Will the same thing happen to Obama’s planned stimulus program? It might, and the same may be true with redistributed tax proceeds. Alternatively, if the money is spent instead of saved, it seems likely it will go toward paying down existing debt (especially credit card debt) or purchasing goods already on the shelves. These savings and expenditures may help keep the economy afloat but it’s hard to see how they will create a significant number of jobs and help the economy grow.

It makes us all feel better to share with people who need help but in my experience that may not translate into helping the economy grow. I want an economy that will grow jobs for the future and not just tread water. Which one will Obama’s plan do?

– DRJ

Tribune Corp Files Bankruptcy (Updated)

Filed under: Dog Trainer — DRJ @ 11:41 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Tribune Corp filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy today in Delaware. It reportedly has 13 billion in debt. The Chicago Cubs franchise and Wrigley Field are not included in the filing.

Kudos to Zell and his advisers for not asking for a bailout but given recent news, I bet they thought about it.

UPDATE: Near the close, the market is up over 300 but the Tribune stock is down today by 94% to around a $1 a share.

– DRJ

Rare Perspective: A Story About KSM That Reminds the Reader of the Cost of His Murderous Plot

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:22 am

God bless Jan Crawford Greenburg for writing a story about Gitmo and KSM that shows the victims’ point of view:

Seven years ago on the morning of September 11th, the phone rang for Alice Hoagland.

“Mom, this is Mark Bingham,” said the young man, giving his mother his full name. “I’m on a flight from Newark to San Francisco. There are three guys who’ve taken over the plane, and they say they have a bomb.

“You believe me, don’t you, Mom?”

Bingham, a 31-year-old entrepreneur with a zest for rugby and adventure, was on United Flight 93, headed back home to a friend’s wedding in California.

The phone went quiet. And then Alice Hoagland said what would be among her last words to her only son: “Yes, Mark, I believe you.”

The article tells the story of Ms. Hoagland planning the trip to Gitmo, where she will see with her own eyes the man who took the life of her son.

It’s a rare case of a story about a Gitmo terrorist that truly conveys the pain of the victims. Good on JCG for telling it.

L.A. Times Publishes Article About Kozinski’s Joke E-Mail List

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Crime,Dog Trainer,General,Kozinski — Patterico @ 2:33 am

At the L.A. Times, Scott Glover today publishes a story titled Federal judge e-mailed jokes to ‘gag list’:

When new members were welcomed to an e-mail group called the Easy Rider Gag List, they were warned that they would soon be receiving a steady diet of tasteless humor.

The warning came from the Easy Rider himself: Alex Kozinski, one of the highest ranking and most intellectually respected federal judges.

On the gag list, Kozinski periodically distributed jokes to a group of friends and associates, including his law clerks, colleagues on the federal bench, prominent attorneys and journalists. The jokes he sent ranged from silly to politically oriented to raunchy.

The article strikes me as a stretch. Everyone knows people who send around silly and tasteless jokes. And, by now, everyone who followed the previous controversy knows that Kozinski has a sense of humor that can, at times, veer into the silly and tasteless.

In light of that known fact, what is the news value of this story?

But if we’re determined to have some kind of public discussion about this judge’s e-mailed jokes, then — as with the material on Judge Kozinski’s server/website, which Glover described in a way that removed much of the humorous context — I think it’s best for the general public to see the jokes themselves.

YOU MAY BE A TALIBAN . . .

The article says: “The Times was given 13 jokes by three sources that were circulated on the gag list between 2003 and 2008.” We are not told who the sources are, or whether the jokes are representative, but we are given a couple of examples of the types of jokes that were sent around:

One joke sent last spring poked fun at the Taliban, stating, “You may be a Taliban if . . .” any of the following 12 statements are true. Among the statements: “You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes” and “You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon ‘unclean.’ “

Well, on this blog we’re not constrained by space limitations, so let’s get the whole list out there. This is from Neal Boortz’s site:

YOU MAY BE A TALIBAN IF……….

1. You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.

2. You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes.

3. You have more wives than teeth.

4. You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon “unclean.”

5. You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.

6. You can’t think of anyone you HAVEN’T declared Jihad against.

7. You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in your clothing.

8. You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.

9. You’ve ever uttered the phrase, “I love what you’ve done with your cave.”

10. You have nothing against women and think every man should own at least one.

11. You bathe at least monthly whether necessary or not.

12. You’ve ever had a crush on your neighbor’s goat.

I have little doubt that plenty of people would find at least some of that to be humorous.

“DOES IT MAKE HER BETTER IN BED? WELL, IN THIS CASE, YES.”

The L.A. Times article continues:

Other jokes, labeled “P&T” in the subject heading to indicate they were “puerile and tasteless,” were cruder and more sexually explicit and used language that defies quotation in a general circulation newspaper.

The most graphic joke was set up as a three-page letter ostensibly written by a man to his estranged wife. The man sarcastically tells his wife that he still loves and misses her while at the same time detailing his recent sexual escapades with a young student, a single mother and his wife’s younger sister. The single mom, the man says, acts like “a real woman . . . [who is] not hung up about God and her career and whether the kids can hear us.”

That rather bloodless description doesn’t really convey the tone of the letter, which you can read in its entirety here. The title is “How To Get Your Ex Back” and begins with the following:

Dear JRW,

I know the counselor said we shouldn’t contact each other during our “cooling off” period, but I couldn’t wait anymore. The day you left, I swore I’d never talk to you again. But that was just the wounded little boy in me talking. Still, I never wanted to be the first one to make contact. In my fantasies, it was always you who would come crawling back to me. I guess my pride needed that.

But now I see that my pride’s cost me a lot of things. I’m tired of pretending I don’t miss you. I don’t care about looking bad anymore. I don’t care who makes the first move as long as one of us does. Maybe it’s time we let our hearts speak as loudly as our hurt. And this is what my heart says… “There’s no one like you, Terri.” I look for you in the eyes and breasts of every woman I see, but they’re not you. They’re not even close.

Two weeks ago, I met this girl at the Rainbow Room and brought her home with me. I don’t say this to hurt you, but just to illustrate the depth of my desperation. She was young, Terri, maybe 19, with one of those perfect bodies that only youth and maybe a childhood spent ice skating can give you. I mean, just a perfect body. Tits you wouldn’t believe and an ass like a tortoise shell. Every man’s dream right? But as I sat on the couch being blown by this coed, I thought, look at the stuff we’ve made important in our lives.

It’s all so surface. What does a perfect body mean? Does it make her better in bed? Well, in this case, yes. But you see what I’m getting at. Does it make her a better person? Does she have a better heart than my moderately attractive Terri? I doubt it. And I’d never really thought of that before. I don’t know, maybe I’m just growing up a little. Later, after I’d tossed her about a quart of throat yogurt, I found myself thinking, “Why do I feel so drained and empty?” It wasn’t just her flawless technique or her slutty, shameless hunger, but something else. Some niggling feeling of loss. Why did it feel so incomplete? And then it hit me. It didn’t feel the same because you weren’t there, Terri, to watch. Do you know what I mean? Nothing feels the same without you, baby.

And it goes on like that. Feel free to read it all at the link. If this is the most graphic joke Kozinski ever sent around, then The Times doesn’t have much.

To some, jokes like this are funny. To others, they’re annoying and tasteless. But the idea that someone might circulate a joke like that to friends of his, who are willing recipients of the e-mails . . . it’s just not something that merits coverage in a newspaper, it seems to me. [See the UPDATE below for evidence that the e-mails were sent only to willing recipients.]

OLD NEWS

Worse, this isn’t even really news. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reported on the e-mail gag list back in June of this year, in a post that gave a couple more examples of the types of jokes Kozinski sent around to friends:

One joke tells of the golfer who killed his wife by hitting a tee shot that strikes her in the temple. Days later, a coroner calls and tells the golfer that the coroner also discovered a bruise on the wife’s hip. “Do you know anything about this?” the coroner asks. “Yes,” the golfer says, “that would have been my mulligan.”

The Kozinski jokes border on R-rated at times, like the one about the woman who confesses to her priest that “my boyfriend made mad, passionate love to me seven times.” The priest tells the woman to squeeze 7 lemons into a glass and drink it down. “Will this cleanse me of my sins?” she asks. “No,” the priest says, “but it will wipe that grin off your face.”

The jokes suggest that Kozinsk[i] is both ribald and unusually free spirited for someone of his stature. Sure, we all have uncles who send around this kind of stuff, but the chief judge of the 9th Circuit? Maybe that’s inappropriate behavior, or maybe it’s refreshingly candid behavior from the normally cloaked federal judiciary.

WILLING RECIPIENTS

From the L.A. Times article, it appears that most of the people on the list hewed closer to the latter view. Hardly anyone who received the jokes appears to have been offended, although you get the feeling that one or two people sort of rolled their eyes and started deleting the e-mails without even reading them. The article notes that each e-mail “contained warnings about its potentially offensive content,” and according to Kozinski’s attorney, “[a]nyone who asked to be taken off the list was removed immediately.”

Certainly Kozinski has developed a reputation as someone different from your average judge. I have said that I felt it was legitimate for The Times to report that the Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit was (even unwittingly) putting sexually explicit material on a server that was accessible by the public. Kozinski has been accused of other conduct that merits news coverage, including the recent resurrection of an old accusation that he disabled security software for the computer system serving three federal circuit courts.

But writing a newspaper story about his private joke e-mail list? Come on. Let us know when you have a real story to report.

UPDATE: Proof that the list was consensual comes in this post, which reproduces the message Kozinski would send as the first message to anyone on the list:

From: The Easy Rider
Subject: WELCOME TO THE LIST!

I have added your name to the prestigious EZ RIDER GAG LIST. You are now a member of an elite corps of trend-setters and opinion-makers, selected on the basis of our rigorous criteria (mainly the willingness to receive large quantities of puerile and tasteless humor).

You should start getting current distributions in the next couple of days. …

You will note that some of the gags are marked “(P&T)” at the end of the “Subject” line. This stands for Puerile and Tasteless – the kind of humor Mrs. Garibaldi used to pull your ears for when she found it scribbled in your third-grade notebook. Feel free to pass on the gags I send you, but if they are marked “(P&T)” please PULL MY NAME OFF; I do not want to be sending P&T humor to non-consenting parties.

Hope you enjoy.

Ciao. AK

Emphasis is mine. Clearly, Kozinski did not want to send this humor to anyone who didn’t consent. So the L.A. Times has published an old story, about humorous jokes sent to consenting adults. Again, how is this a story?

UPDATE x2: An anonymous correspondent sends along another example of a link that Kozinski sent around to the gag list, here.

Suge Knight Beats Another Charge — For Now

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 12:43 am

Coming on the heels of O.J. Simpson getting a relatively stiff sentence for a robbery case, it’s disappointing to see Suge Knight beating the rap again:

A Las Vegas judge has dismissed drug and battery charges against Marion Knight, known as Suge, the hip-hop mogul and founder of Death Row Records, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Knight, right, was arrested in August when police officers said they saw him beat Melissa Isaac while holding a knife in a parking lot near the Strip. A complaint filed by the district attorney’s office of Clark County, Nev., also said that Mr. Knight had the drugs Ecstasy and hydrocodone in his possession at the time.

Sounds like a pretty good case. The cops witness the attack. The drugs are on his person. What went wrong?

Mr. Knight’s lawyer, David Chesnoff, said prosecutors had “discovery problems and witness problems.”

Witness problems? What, the cops didn’t show up to the prelim?

I thought it was only L.A. where Suge Knight had cops on the payroll.

Oh, well. The report says the case may not be over, and the D.A. may go to the grand jury. Let’s hope so.


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