Patterico's Pontifications

5/26/2010

I’m Confused

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:28 pm

Point: Dismissing the author’s intent is bad, even when doing legal interpretation (take a deep breath; it’s all one sentence!):

Textualists who adhere to a conception of interpretation that “democratizes” a text by intending to hand it over to the public (and that’s what convention is, a public expression of the breadth of prior meanings a given “culture” has come to recognize) — even if only while doing legal interpretation — lend credence to a linguistically incoherent (and yet increasingly institutionalized) view of language that, because it claims to be interpreting without appealing to intent (even if in practice it merely hides its usurpation of that intent), promotes an idea of language wherein the interpretive community not only determines meaning, but it does so while claiming it is interpreting the author’s meaning — having first dismissed his intent as irrelevant.

You can’t beat the 119-word sentence.

Counterpoint: Dismissing the author’s intent is OK:

The corporate intent of a multi-authored / ratified document is the collection of all the individual intentions that are used to signify the text as text. And, just as before, those individual intentions that don’t get signaled can be dismissed, just as if you were dealing with an individual who was signaling his meaning in a way that, without recourse to proximity and some give and take, would not be readily available to a good faith interpretation (that being one that appeals to what it believes are the intentions of the author/utterer).

Point: Dismissing the author’s intent is bad:

— to which I’d say that the worry of “textualists” is unfounded — and in fact is only an issue to those who don’t understand intentionalism; while the intentionalists’ concern is very real, given that the “textualist” methodology, as they describe it, allows them to dismiss the intent of the authors, leaving the requisite intent needed to make language language to be attached somewhere, and by some agency other than the person whose message is supposedly being “interpreted.”

Counterpoint: Dismissing the author’s intent is OK:

“Private intent” would presumably be an unsignaled intent, and so not one we need worry about from the perspective of legal interpretation, for reasons I’ve made clear time and again.

Point: Dismissing the author’s intent is bad:

The intent — whatever it is an[d] however much it is — is what makes the signs signs. Difficulty in pinning down what that intent is in every instance is not a justification for dismissing it.

I’m going to sue for whiplash.

What makes this set of seemingly contradictory passages remarkable, other than the turgid prose, is the fact that they all come from the same person — and from the same post, or comments to that post.

In the field of statutory interpretation, I have argued — hopefully with more clarity than we see on display above — that if the wording of a law is clear, textualist judges don’t really care what the legislators’ intent was. Accordingly, they will dismiss (refuse to concern themselves with) legislative intent, even if that intent completely contradicts the text. A textualist says to a legislator: your text can, will, and should be interpreted according to the fair reading that a reasonable public would give your words.

Which is either a completely outrageous and dangerous notion . . . or a completely obvious and unobjectionable notion. All according to the same person, in the passages above. Depending on which one you pick.

Can anyone explain this to me? Can anyone translate the above passages into English and reconcile them?

What Libel Looks Like: New York Magazine Defames James O’Keefe

Filed under: ACORN/O'Keefe — Patterico @ 5:37 pm

New York Magazine has claimed:

When we read this morning that ACORN-sting videographer James O’Keefe pleaded guilty today to attempting to tamper with the phones in Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu’s office, we wondered how Andrew Breitbart would react.

That is an outright falsehood. O”Keefe entered a plea to the misdemeanor crime of entering a federal building under false pretenses. The government couldn’t prove that he attempted to tamper with the phones in Landrieu’s office — which is why the charges were reduced to the far less serious misdemeanor charge.

The story links to another story at New York Magazine bearing the headline: “Activist James O’Keefe Pleads Guilty to Tampering With Senator’s Phones.” Wow — all of a sudden he’s not just “attempting to” tamper with the phones (which he never did) . . . in the headline they claim he actually pled guilty to tampering with the phones (which he didn’t do and didn’t plead guilty to). Here is the text of their bogus and false story:

Andrew Breitbart acolyte and sorta ACORN stinger James O’Keefe pleaded guilty, along with three other conservative activists, of trying to tamper with the phones in Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu’s office. O’Keefe, 25, will get three years probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $1,500 fine, but will no longer, presumably, be grounded. [WP]

False.

Let’s get screenshots in case they try to do a stealth correction, shall we? We shall.

NY Mag Libels O'Keefe 1

NY Mag Libels O'Keefe 2

NY Mag Libels O'Keefe 3

Major retractions are in order.

Netanyahu Returns to the White House

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 12:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The White House has asked Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to make a return visit, leading to this wry quote of the day:

“The White House must be very nervous. There was no way it could excuse Obama’s serial rudeness to Bibi, so it’s trying a do-over:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold another White House meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama next Tuesday, Israeli officials said yesterday. … Israeli officials said that Obama wanted to meet with Netanyahu soon, before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Washington for his White House meeting in another few weeks, due to the crisis in relations between Israel and the U.S. and the substantial criticism Obama has taken over it, both from congressmen and from American Jewish leaders.

We’ll see if it is followed by a nice photo-op and press conference.

As a colleague wryly remarks: “Wow—the fundraising must really be in catastrophic condition.”

May was a bad month for the White House. Perhaps Netanyahu’s visit will turn things around in June.

— DRJ

BP Top Kill Begins

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 11:57 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

BP has started the Top Kill process. You can watch a live feed here.

— DRJ

Rossi Enters Washington Senate Race

Filed under: 2010 Election — DRJ @ 11:51 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Seattle Times reports two-time Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi will announce for the GOP Senate race against Democratic Senator Patty Murray:

“A person with direct knowledge of Rossi’s plans said he’s expected to make his entry official Wednesday. Pat Shortridge, senior strategist for Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio, has signed on to help run the campaign, said another person close to Rossi. The sources spoke on the condition that they not be identified. Shortridge, a political consultant based in Minnesota, was an aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican.”

The filing deadline is June 11 and the primary is August 11.

— DRJ

Cordoba House

Filed under: Religion — DRJ @ 10:59 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Why did New York approve a Muslim Center near Ground Zero, and why will it be named Cordoba House?

“Plans to build Cordoba House, a 15-story Islamic Center two blocks north of Ground Zero, received a major boost yesterday when a Manhattan community board backed the proposal by a 29-to-1 vote. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said the center would help “bridge and heal a divide” among Muslims and other religious groups.

Perhaps the Imam is sincere but I find the whole project an outrage. The name Cordoba House at best conveys a total insensitivity to the families of victims of the attack at worse it shows sympathy with the terrorist’s goals. Cordoba, was the Capital of Al-Andalus the Islamic Caliphate that ruled much of Spain during the Middle Ages. One of Al-Qaida’s main goals announced after the 9/11 attack was the restoration of the Cordoba Caliphate in Al-Andalus.

The Project is said to cost $100 million and no one seems to know who is paying for all of this. There are hundreds of Mosques in the New York area in a nation dedicated to religious freedom. If the Imam wants to “bridge and heal a divide” among Muslims and other faiths he should look beyond Manhattan. There are no churches or synagogues in Mecca, Riyadh or Kuwait. In Egypt, Iran and other Islamic nations those who don’t adhere to Islam practice their faiths at great risk to themselves and their families. I don’t understand why Mayor Bloomberg and other local officials are supporting this project.

Can anyone explain?”

I don’t think New Yorkers want to know the answer.

— DRJ

James O’Keefe to Plead to Misdemeanor for No Jail Time

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:50 am

I told you this would amount to very little:

It looks like James O’Keefe won’t be in cuffs after all.

The conservative activist filmmaker, who was arrested in New Orleans in January along with three cohorts in the office of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, is expected to enter a plea to a misdemeanor on Wednesday in federal court.  He’s accused of entering federal property under false pretenses.

Originally, O’Keefe faced much more potentially serious charges. At the time of the arrests, the U.S. Attorney’s office claimed O’Keefe and three others were in the process “of committing a felony.” But federal prosecutors never made the supposed “felony” clear, and the lesser misdemeanor plea of entering federal property “under false pretenses” is expected to spare O’Keefe and his co-defendants any jail time.

So much for “Watergate Jr.”

I hear big things are in the works — possibly as early as tomorrow. Stay tuned. You haven’t heard the last of James O’Keefe.


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