Patterico's Pontifications

1/4/2011

Do We Need a Third Party?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:25 pm

I’m starting to think we do. Because I don’t think the Republicans have the slightest idea what we’re all so pissed off about.

As evidence, let me cite a recent Allahpundit post about the GOP’s dithering about whether they can cut a whole fucking $100 billion from the budget:

Their excuse will be that the fiscal year, which began on October 1, will already be almost half over by the time the budgetary resolution that was passed during the lame duck runs out in March. That means they’ll only have seven months to work with this fiscal year; when they said they’d cut $100 billion, they meant the first full fiscal year that they’re in charge. But wait, you say! Shouldn’t it be fairly easy to find $100 billion to cut in an annual budget that exceeds $3.5 trillion? Well, yes — except that the GOP’s limiting itself to cutting discretionary spending (Social Security and Medicare are, as ever, completely off-limits) and even within discretionary spending they refuse to touch “security” budgets, i.e. Defense and Homeland Security. That leaves just $500 billion or so for this year to play with, and since, as Rich Lowry noted earlier at the Corner, a good chunk of that will already have been spent by the time the continuing resolution expires in the spring, they’d have to make huge cuts to what’s left in order to get to $100 billion in savings overall.

The point to ponder here, I think, is that even the highly touted $100 billion figure is just a small fraction of last year’s deficit. Even with a tea-party Congress, even with a gigantic pool of expenditures to cut from, political reality is such that not only can’t they reach that modest, largely symbolic target in seven months, they’ll actually have to move heaven and earth during the next full fiscal year to get Obama and the Senate Democrats to agree to it. This is what we’ve been reduced to — the suspense of wondering whether the new Republican majority can achieve cuts that will barely make a dent in our annual budget shortfall. Hugely depressing.

“Depressing” doesn’t begin to cover it. There really aren’t words for how absolutely infuriating this is. More and more, the temptation to leave the keyboard one is calmly typing on, and simply pound the fucking wall in frustration and dream of an armed insurrection . . . becomes something understandable rather than something we all know we should calmly denounce.

Say what you will about President Bush — whose memoir I am about 2/3 of the way through and enjoying immensely — but at least he tried to do something about Social Security. This ridiculous notion that everything that actually contributes to spending must be considered off the table — well, we have to take that notion off the table. We have to. No matter what it takes. We have to do it.

Realize: you’re talking to someone who (for all the dishonest portrayals of me as a bloodless pragmatist) voted for freaking Ross Perot in 1992, and voted for Tom McClintock in the California recall over that bastard Ahhnold who just commuted the sentence of his bestest buddy’s kid. The thing is, a lot of us are starting to wonder about this whole “voting” thing. Because we just got through trying that. And we thought we had sent a message . . . but now, it appears, the goddamned message is being interpreted as: can you please please see if you can maybe slice $100 billion off these crushing deficits and if you can’t we understand but could you try? Please?

Fuck that. I know a lot of you share my desire to take one of these lawmakers by the scruff of their neck and scream in their face that they don’t seem to understand what we’re on about, but HOW ABOUT ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING ABOUT ALL THIS SPENDING SO OUR KIDS AREN’T FACING A HOPELESS FUTURE YOU MORONS!!!

We’re living in a country where the idiot liberal judges want to rewrite our Constitution; where the lawmakers could not care less about mortgaging our childrens’ future; where those of us who want to live our lives responsibly and be left alone are slapped in the face again and again AND AGAIN.

What does it take to wake these people up? Honestly?!

Does it take a third party?

Whatever it is, we have to do it. Because the message clearly is not getting through.

Unbelievable: Twain Scholar Plans to Publish Edition of Huckleberry Finn Omitting the N-Word

Filed under: General,Morons,Race — Patterico @ 7:42 pm

Publisher’s Weekly reports on an astonishing Orwellian cave-in to political correctness: a proposal to remove the words “nigger” and “Injun” from “Huckleberry Finn”:

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”

Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”

This sort of silliness is nothing new; I noted in 2003 that the NAACP (whose acronym includes a reference to the racist word “colored”!) objected to “To Kill a Mockingbird” on the basis that it contains the dreaded n-word. And we watched with amusement as New York City sought to “ban” the word in 2007.

But the saddest part of this story is that the guy behind the whitewashing considers himself to be a Twain scholar:

“This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with “slave” when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the “n” word (“My mother said it’s only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people”) and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. “My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it.”

. . . .

“What he suggested,” said La Rosa, “was that there was a market for a book in which the n-word was switched out for something less hurtful, less controversial. We recognized that some people would say that this was censorship of a kind, but our feeling is that there are plenty of other books out there—all of them, in fact—that faithfully replicate the text, and that this was simply an option for those who were increasingly uncomfortable, as he put it, insisting students read a text which was so incredibly hurtful.”

One should not have to explain to a Twain scholar that the hurtful nature of the word “nigger” is the whole fucking point. But you can’t argue with a guy who thinks he is saving the book by destroying it:

“Dr. Gribben recognizes that he’s putting his reputation at stake as a Twain scholar,” said La Rosa. “But he’s so compassionate, and so believes in the value of teaching Twain, that he’s committed to this major departure. I almost don’t want to acknowledge this, but it feels like he’s saving the books. His willingness to take this chance—I was very touched.”

Hm. It feels to me like, instead of saving the book, he is working to actively destroy it — not just the book and its central message, but the notion of authorial integrity, the idea of confronting injustice head on, and about a dozen other critical concepts.

It’s enough to make you want to scream in frustration. Slapping the “morons” tag on this post doesn’t feel sufficient; stuff like this makes me want to create a new category called “Utter and Complete Fucking Morons.”

I know that language may seem a little rough . . . but again: that’s the whole fucking point.

UPDATE: I have just received word of Gribben’s next project: a new version of Orwell’s “1984” that will replace the disturbing term “doublethink” with the more soothing term “harmonious cogitation.”

UPDATE x2: See also: Michelle Malkin.

Stephen Yagman Disbarred

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:52 pm

It’s been a long time coming, but the magic moment is here:

The California Bar Journal explains:

Controversial civil rights attorney STEPHEN G. YAGMAN [#69737], known for his longtime crusade against police brutality, was summarily disbarred Dec. 22, 2010. Yagman, 66, had been on interim suspension since Aug. 23, 2007, following federal convictions of one count each for tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud and 17 counts of money laundering. The State Bar Court’s review department found that because bankruptcy fraud is both a felony and involves moral turpitude, it meets the criteria for summary disbarment. It rejected Yagman’s argument that the crime does not constitute moral turpitude.

. . . .

Prosecutors denied that Yagman was targeted for his civil rights battles and Judge Stephen V. Wilson, who presided over the 2007 trial, said he became convinced of Yagman’s guilt and “the jury was right.” Wilson called Yagman’s testimony “transparently untrue in so many areas.”

An appeals court upheld the conviction.

When we last checked in with Yagman, partisan hack Erwin Chemerinsky was fighting for Yagman’s license. Chemerinsky is from the Reinhardt/Pregerson school of legal thought, where principles and logic don’t count, and sneering liberal self-righteousness is central. But even Erwin couldn’t manage to convince the State Bar that Yagman’s license should survive convictions of numerous felonies in which the government proved intent to defraud beyond a reasonable doubt. The State Bar’s short decision is here (.pdf).

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye.

Putz.

Reinhardt’s Risible Memorandum Explaining Why He refused to Disqualify himself

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:36 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Thanks to A.S. in the comments to the prior post on the Proposition 8 happenings today, I learned that Reinhardt had finally issued the memo explaining why he didn’t need to disqualify himself.  You can see where I previously argued he should, here.  And you can read his memo on why he isn’t doing so, here.  When he first refused, Patterico wrote:

100 bucks says he cites Scalia’s decision refusing to recuse in that litigation about Cheney’s energy meetings.

I’m not saying that is relevant. It will just be a fuck you. And Reinhardt is all about that.

If any of you were fool enough to take that bet, you owe Patterico $100 a pop.  I might suggest you deliver it by the various donation options on the side (and maybe consider doing so even if you didn’t take him up on the bet).

Anyway, so this is the logic.  First, Reinhardt calls the proponents sexists.  Yes, really: “Proponents’ contention that I should recuse myself due to my wife’s opinions is based upon an outmoded conception of the relationship between spouses.”  I actually agree with his ultimate argument that you cannot project the opinions of one spouse to another but there is no need to insult the proponents in the process.

Then he discusses his wife’s connections to the actual suit:

The first such action to which Proponents point is that my wife and the ACLU/SC’s then-legal director attended a meeting with one of Plaintiffs’ lawyers and a supporter of Plaintiffs’ lawsuit prior to the filing of that action in the district court.  At that meeting the ACLU/SC was asked to support the lawsuit and vigorously declined.  Surely, that provides no cause for my recusal.

But in fact it can because it means she might know things about the case that have not been disclosed to the public.

As for his wife’s organization’s participation as amicus below, he holds that 28 U.S.C. § 455 doesn’t quite apply.  Which is technically true.  But there is word missing from this opinion: “canon.”  That is, Reinhardt limits his examination to a number of statutes dealing with recusal, but never once considers what the Code of Judicial Conduct has to say on the matter, which includes certain canons of ethics that he is bound to obey.  That is relevant because there is a critical difference in the language between § 455 and Canon 3(C).  Section 455 says:

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances:

It goes on to list some specific circumstances.  By comparison, Canon 3(C) says:

A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which:

And then it goes on to list pretty much the same specific circumstances.  But notice the critical difference in language.  Canon 3 says that such circumstances include “but [are] not limited to” that list of circumstances.  Reinhardt goes on to pretend that this list is exhaustive.  And maybe that is a reasonable reading of the statute, but in the Canon it is better understood as illustrative of the kinds of issues that should disqualify it.

So consider one of the specifics on the list:

(d)  the judge or the judge’s spouse, or a person related to either within  the third degree of relationship, or the spouse of such a person is:

(i)  a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;

(ii)  acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;

As Ed Whelan noted “[i]n this case, Ripston [Reinhardt’s wife] was an officer of an entity that acted as a lawyer in the proceeding—a trivial variation on the examples given.”  And given the triviality of the difference, Reinhardt should have recused himself from this case.  Reinhardt himself said that “I do not participate in any actions by this court when the organization of which my wife is the Executive Director makes any appearance or files any brief, amicus or otherwise, before this court.”  But he wants to say that if she only files in the lower court, he is clean.

Reinhardt should have recused himself.  And the fact that he can be almost guaranteed to rule in favor of gay marriage is beside the point, regardless of his wife’s involvement in the litigation or not is beside the point.  As I wrote a few months ago, responding to a similar argument by Orin Kerr:

[T]he argument seems to be “he is so biased by his liberal activism that he couldn’t possibly be biased by his wife’s involvement”—or at least that is how I understand his somewhat cryptic remarks.  But in that case, you are easily meeting the Code of Judicial Conduct statement that one should step aside when one’s “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”  It may be the sad state of our law that we know how Reinhardt is going to rule before he reads a single word of the case, but that cannot be cited as an excuse for disregarding any other violations of the rules of judicial conduct.

I mean suppose it was learned tomorrow that anti-Proposition 8 forces actually bribed Reinhardt to rule in their favor.  I mean, I want to be clear that they have never shown any tendency to do anything so dishonorable, but suppose they did?  Then by Kerr’s logic, since the bribe isn’t likely to change Reinhardt’s decision, there is no reason to step aside.  But if there ever was a case where a judge had to step aside, it is when they are bribed.

I mean he is right to say it is a bit of a mockery to talk about these technicalities, while the elephant in the ethical room is the fact we know Reinhardt will rule in favor of gay marriage not because any plausible interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause would support that outcome, but because that is how Reinhardt wants things to happen.  Yes, that is the more egregious bias that should lead him to step aside on his own accord (and probably just generally resign from being a judge barring significant reform).  But that isn’t going t happen anytime soon, and the question is whether he should throw out the rulebook altogether.

And there is an important difference between Reinhardt’s activist bias, and the bias arising from issues such as his wife’s involvement in the case.  The difference is the evidence.  The fact is that Reinhardt doesn’t write opinions that say, “I know the Supreme Court has said X, and the Constitution also says X, but I don’t like that outcome so I will rule that Y is the rule.”  He pretends to be following the law and the constitution even as wiser minds know that it is a thin farce unlikely to fool anyone, but himself.   But he fakes it just enough that you can’t be sure he is not consciously disregarding it.  By comparison facts such as his wife’s involvement in the case are not in dispute.

Anyway, Reinhardt should have recused himself.  But as I have said from the beginning, a Reinhardt victory is a pyrrhic one.  One involving such obvious misconduct would only be more likely to be overturned.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Breaking: Proposition 8 Question Certified to Ca. Supreme Court (Update: “Dear Ca. Supreme Court, We Really, Really Want to Hear This Case” and other updates)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:17 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Update: Updates throughout this post, and a new post on the memo explaining why Reinhardt didn’t disqualify himself, here.

I just learned this via Legal Insurrection.  I will post more as I learn more.

The gist is this.  Certification is where they officially ask another court a question.  I have never heard of a court refusing to answer, so we can expect after a few rounds to see them answer it.  Here they are asking the California Supreme Court to tell them whether the pro-proposition 8 forces have standing.

By the way, Reinhardt still hasn’t issued that promised memo on his very real conflict of interest yet.

So if the Ca. Supreme Court wants to game the system, they have a choice.  On one hand, this panel looks very good for anyone who favors court-imposed gay marriage.  On the other hand, if they grant the standing to the panel, its extremely likely to rise to the U.S. Supreme Court, and that is dicier question.  No ruling might be better than a negative precedent, in their mind.  Or they can gamble that Kennedy will give them a nationwide victory for gay marriage.

That being said, I think if we go by the law, they have to grant them standing.  Their precedent, and the very logic of the initiative process demands that the proponents be treated as if they were the lawmakers for these purposes.  But we have been down this road before.

Update: I read the order and here are some thoughts.

First, there is no attempt to address the claims that Imperial County should be allowed to intervene.  Bear in mind, San Francisco was allowed to intervene in opposition to Proposition 8, but Imperial County was not.  Instead they write this entire order on the assumption that if the proponents of Proposition 8 don’t have standing, no one has standing. I suppose like Reinhardt’s explanation as to why he is not conflicted out they will get a memo to use later explaining their reasoning. Update: Legal Insurrection claims that Imperial County’s standing was decided in another opinion. So I stand corrected. The hazards of blogging a breaking news story. And Reinhardt has finally issued that memo. I will read both opinions and share any additional thoughts shortly.

Second, you know I considered taking a moment to restate why I and Patterico felt that felt that the proponents had to have standing.  But guess what?  I don’t have to!  The Ninth Circuit panel makes the case for me!  Seriously read it and you will get an eloquent explanation of why the best reading of California’s constitution requires that the Ca. Supreme Court grant standing.

Only there is one problem with that.  It’s the court making the argument.  Seriously, read it.  Hopefully I will have it posted below the fold but if not, go to Legal Insurrection and read it.  You will get characterizations of the proponent’s arguments like this:

Although the Governor has chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings, it is not clear whether he may, consistent with the California Constitution, achieve through a refusal to litigate what he may not do directly: effectively veto the initiative by refusing to defend it or appeal a judgment invalidating it, if no one else – including the initiative’s proponents – is qualified to do so.   Proponents argue that such a harsh result is avoided if the balance of power provided in the California Constitution establishes that proponents of an initiative are authorized to defend that initiative, as agents of the People, in lieu of public officials who refuse to do so.  Similarly, under California law, the proponents of an initiative may possess a particularized interest in defending the constitutionality of their initiative upon its enactment; the Constitution’s purpose in reserving the initiative power to the People would appear to be ill-served by allowing elected officials to nullify either proponents’ efforts to “propose statutes and amendments to the Constitution” or the People’s right “to adopt or reject” such propositions.

And bear in mind, the court never talks about the arguments on the other side.  At best they argue that the precedents don’t quite show what the proponents need.  But if there are any arguments to make against granting standing, you never hear it.

Mind you, if I was a federal judge hearing this case I would have granted them standing.  I agree with the Ninth Circuit’s sentiment.  But if they aren’t going to decide they should have at least faked neutrality.  They should have said, simply that they didn’t feel that the authorities were sufficiently clear to draw a conclusion as to the state of California law and be done with it.  Instead they go on and on in an order that reads more like the proponent’s brief than a neutral order.  They shouldn’t care how this turns out, but obviously they do.

Yes, I hope the California Supreme Court rules in their favor on this issue.  But it is not enough to see the right thing happen, but to see the right thing happen the right way.  And once again, the Ninth Circuit shows us why it is hard to support them even when we agree with them.

Anyway, hopefully this will work to embed the opinion below the fold and you can read for yourself:

(more…)

Looking the Reaper Right in the Eye…

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:51 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Check out this chilling photograph:

Reynaldo Dagsa, a Philippine politician, was taking a photograph of his family right at the moment that a man came out from behind a car and aimed a gun at him.  No, that is not the muzzle flash in the photo; it’s a reflection from the camera’s flash.  Still, seconds later the gunman shot and killed Dagsa, so we are literally seeing the last thing he saw on this Earth.

Source.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

“2012” is the Least Realistic Science Fiction Movie of All Time (And Other Scattered Nerding Out)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:32 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Important update: An apparent representative of the Science and Entertainment Exchange wrote to me to state that their organization did not create this top ten list.  This denial is repeated on their blog. If they say they weren’t involved, I will take their word for it, although I am hard pressed to understand why they would even care.  I mean if you look at their blog it’s full of similar stuff, so its not exactly going to harm their reputation.  But truth is truth, and it’s not really all that important, anyway.

Via Adelaide Now, we learn that NASA and Science and Entertainment Exchange discussed what counts as the most plausible and least plausible science fiction movies of all time:

Gattaca and Jurassic Park have both been named in a list, compiled by NASA and the Science and Entertainment Exchange, of the most plausible science-fiction movies ever made….

Other films praised for their realism included Contact, from 1997,Metropolis, from 1927, and the original 1951 version of The Day The Earth Stood Still.

However NASA and the Exchange also named and shamed those sci-fi flicks with the worst depictions of science.

Armageddon, in which a team of blue-collar oil drillers fly into space and blow up an asteroid, and The 6th Day, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger is cloned in just a few hours, made it onto the list of least-realistic movies.

And which film topped the “worst” list? It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that one.

The least-realistic sci-fi movie was named as 2012, Roland Emmerich’s 2009 masterpiece of disaster porn in which the entire world breaks apart in various ridiculous ways to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar.

“The film makers took advantage of public worries about the so-called end of the world as apparently predicted by the Mayans of Central America, whose calendar ends on December 21, 2012,” Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, told the Times.

“The agency is getting so many questions from people terrified that the world is going to end in 2012 that we have had to put up a special website to challenge the myths. We have never had to do this before.”

All of which can prompt a fun discussion of good and bad sci-fi in movies.  Indeed, the Science and Entertainment Exchange has a whole site and blog devoted to this kind of stuff.  But a few questions.  First, if we are going to name the worst science fiction, doesn’t this deserve at least a dishonorable mention?

Ah, but you suspect that they want people to be scared of global warming Manbearpig so naturally they don’t want to do anything to reduce the hysteria.  But you do get the feeling that this is a judgment of how much they liked the movie.  Take for instance, the 6th Day.  In my opinion, it wasn’t bad so much as blah.  It was trying to be the new Total Recall but ended up being waaay to blah for that.  But their criticism “in which Arnold Schwarzenegger is cloned in just a few hours” doesn’t seem valid.  The idea they had was that they grew the clones in a sort of “blank” state, and then imprinted at the last minute which person it would become.  Depending on what advances in genetic manipulation come on line, I don’t see that as impossible.  Certainly it is not more laughable than The Day After Tomorrow.

But one killjoy question, here.  Um, in a time of budget crunches, what the hell is NASA doing this for?  NASA seems to be about everything—finding arsenic based life in ponds, reaching out to the Muslim world, and critiquing movies—everything, that is, except for exploring space, which was supposed to be their job in the first place.  I am not saying that there is no value in doing this as outreach and education, but on the night after learning that our debt has passed $14 Trillion, are we really going to say this is the best use of our precious money?

Meanwhile, to try to unkill the joy a little, it is also worth noting that other nerdy lawyers have created a new blog called Law and the Multiverse, dealing with how the law would interact with superheroes and supervillains.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]


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