This blog began ten years ago today, on February 17, 2003, with this rather uninspiring post:
WELCOME MESSAGE: Welcome to Patterico’s Pontifications. This is destined to be the hottest blog since that one put out by that guy. You know who I mean.
Since then, I have had a run of luck beyond my wildest dreams. This blog has broken national stories, which have been cited in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, among other Big Media rags. Stories published here have been featured on national TV news networks and discussed by late-night comedians. I have published op-eds in the Los Angeles Times. The blog has broken a story that contributed to the downfall of a Congressman, published another national story that got a Big Media journalist reassigned, defended a federal judge against misleading accusations, and appeared on radio programs all across the country.
Most of these stories, I hasten to add, were based on tips from readers. Meaning it wasn’t really me who was responsible. It was you guys.
I’ve gotten to meet wonderful people through the blog — including guest bloggers, readers and commenters, other bloggers, and writers and other personalities I never thought I would be lucky enough to meet. Thanks to the blog, I met and became acquainted with Andrew Breitbart and many of his friends. I have gotten to hang out with people who have written or starred in some of my favorite movies; learned the identity of (and hung out with) talented undercover cop writers; met fearless journalists and talented novelists; and just had a fabulous time.
Over the years, I have amassed 723,852 comments, made on 16,566 posts, and 33,267,955 page views.
I’ve also experienced harassment of my wife and children; publication of my home address and pictures of my home; threats of violence and death; State Bar complaints; Google bombing of my name and job title coupled with scurrilous accusations; numerous lawsuit threats; one lawsuit filing, numerous workplace complaints . . . and I have been SWATted — all for expressing my views.
Hey, nobody said life was all peaches and cream. (Which is fine, because I don’t particularly care for peaches and cream.)
But on this 10th anniversary of the blog, I wanted to highlight some favorite posts of mine from the last ten years. I’m hoping that many of these posts are going to be new to recent readers. My favorite posts tend to give the reader something unique, whether it’s original journalism breaking national stories, exposing of tendentious media bias, or just some personal observations about my family and life in general.
This post can’t possibly be comprehensive, or it would be too long. This is just a collection of a few of my favorite posts from the last ten years.
I hope you enjoy them.
THE DOG TRAINER YEAR IN REVIEW
I probably became best known for my scathing year-end reviews of the Los Angeles Times, which I used to call the “Los Angeles Dog Trainer” — a term stolen from Harry Shearer. I stopped doing this review after 2009, in part because the paper seemed less relevant, and in part because in 2009 I was transferred to a new and very demanding unit in my office, and I soon found that I could no longer muster the time and energy to do a Year in Review.
Nevertheless, I have toyed with the idea of doing a 2010-2013 roundup, and possibly a round-up of the top stories from ten years of L.A. Times bashing.
Here are the links to past Years in Review:
(By the way, if you have trouble getting links in older posts to work, go here for tips on how to deal with that problem.)
THE GINSBURG CONTROVERSY (MARCH 2004)
I believe the first national story I broke on this blog was about Justice Ginsburg giving a speech to the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, days after ruling on a case in which that organization had filed an amicus brief. Justice Scalia had come under fire for supposedly speaking to a group that had a case pending before the Supreme Court, and I believed that the news media should give equal time to a liberal Justice doing the same thing.
I broke the story in this March 7, 2004 post, telling readers that I had informed the L.A. Times about it. They ran this front-page story on March 11, 2004. I registered my shock in this post. The episode ended up being discussed in a book by Dan Gillmor,
MICHAEL HILTZIK SOCK PUPPETRY (APRIL 2006)
In 2006 I learned that an L.A. Times business columnist was sock puppeting on my blog and on his blog at the L.A. Times. I revealed the evidence in a post titled Three in One: Michael Hiltzik, Mikekoshi, and Nofanofcablecos. Hiltzik confessed, his blog was suspended — and the story went national.
GLENN GREENWALD’S SOCK PUPPETRY (JULY 2006)
In some ways arguably the most epic post I have ever written, my post exposing Glenn Greenwald’s sock puppetry relied heavily on the Wuzzadem sock puppets to carry the narrative. It is still cited constantly and I’m often told it is among my readers’ favorite posts.
MY INTERVIEW WITH STASHIU (OCTOBER 2006)
One of my favorite sets of blog posts was an interview I did with Stashiu, a Gitmo psych nurse who regularly spoke with some of the worst terrorists in the world. Stashiu talked to me for hours about Guantanamo, and the piece has held up over the years — and Stashiu has been a reliable friend of the blog ever since. My interview with Stashiu was published in five parts:
Part One: Introduction. Stashiu tells us about a terrorist who threatened to a) have Zarqawi (who was then still alive) cut off the heads of Stashiu’s family while he watched — and then b) cut off Stashiu’s head.
Part Two: Stashiu arrives at GTMO, and tells us what the terrorists are like.
Part Three: Hunger strikes, suicides and suicide attempts, and mental illness. Stashiu opines that the suicides were a political act.
Part Four: Treatment of the detainees, and the detainees’ treatment of guards. Also, desecration of the Koran — but by whom?
Part Five: Stashiu reacts to Big Media pieces about GTMO.
THE KOZINSKI MATERIALS (JUNE 2008)
In June 2008 the L.A. Times revealed that Judge Alex Kozinski had placed bawdy material on a web server accessible by the public. I obtained the material and published it in multiple posts. I revealed that it was generally humorous material, and that one of the most inflammatory accusations, that he had a video of “bestiality,” was nothing of the sort. I also published a letter from his wife which was cited in the Associated Press and other publications, and was widely credited for helping reverse the tide of opinion against him.
An admission that Cyrus Sanai made to me that his complaint against Kozinski was part of a “litigation strategy” was cited by the Ninth Circuit — with a citation to the URL of my post and everything! (Incidentally, that decision represented the second time that this blog affected the contents of a Ninth Circuit opinion. The first occurred in May 2004, and was described here.)
FAKE DOCTOR ROXANA MAYER (AUGUST 2009)
Thanks to a tip from a reader, this blog uncovered evidence that there was a phony pro-Obama operative at a 2009 town hall meeting on health care reform. A “Dr. Roxana Mayer” in a white physician’s coat claimed to be a pediatrician, and spoke up in favor of health care reform — but this blog revealed evidence that she was a fake. I wrote her and confronted her with the evidence and she admitted it.
SOCK PUPPET ELLIE LIGHT (JANUARY 2010)
In 2010, a campaign of blatant Astroturfing appeared in publications around the country, with the same pro-Obama letters appearing in countless publications under different names. I added to the evidence here, here, here, and here.
Michelle Malkin, one of my favorite people in the world whom I have never met, mentioned this blog on Hannity (fast forward to 4:25):
WEINERGATE (JUNE 2011)
I blogged quite a bit on Weinergate, but the posts of mine that advanced the ball the most were posts about his communications with a real-life underage girl, here, here, and here. I later learned that these posts played a key role in his decision to resign.
SWATTING AND BRETT KIMBERLIN CONTROVERSY (MAY 2012)
One of the oddest things that has happened to me is undergoing a pattern of harassment from a set of crazed trolls surrounding Brett Kimberlin. As I was experiencing this harassment, I was SWATted — something I can’t prove is connected, but which seemed to be. Enjoy the short version of the story — and then bookmark the long version, which is very dense and truly repays repeated readings.
I am proud of work I did on the Roman Polanski extradition, the U.S. Attorney firings, exposing government overreaching in the prosecution of James O’Keefe, my posts on Chuck Philips (especially the ones dealing with Anita Busch), my Deport the Criminals First series, the SWIFT terrorist financing program, and my campaign against Proposition 66, the initiative to weaken the Three Strikes law.
BIG MEDIA CITATIONS AND APPEARANCES
In February 2005, less than two years after I started the blog, I published an op-ed in the L.A. Times that savaged the L.A. Times for the way they bury corrections of significant errors. The piece was called The Correct Way to Fix Mistakes. I wrote another op-ed in August 2005, about the way the paper had lionized Cindy Sheehan while papering over her omissions, contradictions, and disturbing radicalism.
In 2007 I was invited to participate in an online debate with liberal Marc Cooper about the future of the paper, at the L.A. Times web site. The feature was called a “Dust-Up” and the five entries are collected here.
This blog has been cited in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other outlets. (I don’t think it has been read by Russ Feingold on the floor of the Senate, so sock-puppetin’ Glenn Greenwald still has that on me. Good day, sir!)
I have been on the radio more than I deserve.
My radio appearances started with Clint Taylor, who was doing a show at a student-run station out of Stanford.
Once, in February 2008, my father-in-law was driving to work in Kentucky, and was taken aback to hear me on NPR, talking about how I was likely to vote for John McCain even though I thought he was a horrible candidate. (When you listen to that clip and hear that I was pulling for Romney, please remember that he was running against McCain, whom I have always, always hated.)
I talked SWATting on local station KABC with my pal John Phillips in November 2012. I was on KFI during drive time in June 2006, talking about the SWIFT terror financing program, on a day when Michelle Malkin filled in for John and Ken.
I appeared on the local public radio show “Which Way, L.A.?” with Warren Olney twice. The second time was in July 2008, to discuss my L.A. Times “Dust-Ups” with Marc Cooper. The first was in June 2008, when Eugene Volokh and I tore L.A. Times reporter Scott Glover to shreds for his misleading coverage of the contents of Judge Alex Kozinski’s web server.
I had the honor of appearing on the Stage Right Show with Larry O’Connor, including this March 2010 show where I mocked Brett Kimberlin’s business partner Brad Friedman, and got to talk to my commenter and pal daleyrocks. Larry O’Connor pretended to be Friedman on that show, which was a riot. I was on the Stage Right Show a month earlier, in February 2010, also on the same show as Friedman. That one was great because Andrew Breitbart called in to help me yell at Brad.
I have made several appearances on Pundit Review Radio, which was broadcast on WRKO in Boston. In a July 2006 appearance I discussed the SWIFT program targeting terrorist financing. In a November 2006 appearance I discussed a story where I proved that the L.A. Times had misreported details about an alleged airstrike in Ramadi. And in an October 2005 appearance I discussed my opposition to the Harriet Miers nomination, in which I played a fairly active role.
I appeared on CQ Radio with Captain Ed Morrissey on several occasions, including a March 2007 appearance discussing the U.S. Attorney firings, an April 2007 appearance discussing Alberto Gonzales, a November 2007 appearance discussing election politics and Tim Rutten, and a December 2007 appearance discussing my year-end review of the L.A. Times.
In March 2009 I was on the Northern Alliance Radio Network with Captain Ed and Mitch Berg.
I have also had radio personalities read my stuff on the air. Before he got into an insane feud with me for calling him out on some misstatements he had made, Mark Levin read my stuff. Rush Limbaugh read from my Cindy Sheehan L.A. Times op-ed in October 2005, and from a DRJ post on Obama’s tax plan in October 2008.
I have some favorite quotes about me from people over the years, but the one I will never forget is from Tony Snow, who once commented:
Thanks for the wonderful write-up. It’s always fun visiting the belly of the beast. Meanwhile, keep up the great work. Love the blog.
“Love the blog.” Tony Snow said he loved the blog! Awesome. Of course, the post about his appearance on Bill Maher is probably the only entry he ever read, but still. Pretty cool. (He actually left a second comment about an hour later, responding to a Bill Maher sock puppet. But the Tony Snow comments were for real.)
My dad died in 2005. He used to read my blog every day. I remembered him here. After he left, I dreamed about him, and this post about one particularly vivid dream remains one of my favorites. I have wished him a happy birthday every March 17 since the blog started. It’s hard to imagine that he was reading the blog for fewer than three of the last ten years.
But possibly my favorite post from this blog is one about not taking things for granted. It’s a post I wrote as the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death was coming up, and I guess it made me reflect. Anyway, that post is the only one I’ll quote at length here.
In the post, I talked about a night that we took our infant daughter to an acoustic concert, hoping she would sleep through it. If she cried, the plan was for me to take her to the car, where I would watch her for half the concert, and then call my wife out to sit for the second half. I never called her, but spent the whole concert in the car watching my daughter sleep. I wrote:
The night it happened, I didn’t mind being in the car with my daughter. But if I could go back now, there’s no question that I would want to be there.
Not only would I stay in the car with her — I would make the most of the experience, realizing that I had a precious chance to see her at that age again. I would try to commit every moment to memory.
And then I realized: some day, years in the future, I might be asking the same question about my life today — this very minute. If you could have this moment back to live over again, what would you do?
The rest of that evening, I pictured myself as having been sent into my body from the future, to relive the moments I was experiencing. And I saw everything differently. I sat on the couch and watched television with my arm around my wife — all the while imagining myself as an old man, transported back in time to relive that moment. And all of a sudden, what otherwise might have seemed like a mundane moment seemed like a privilege. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world, just sitting there with my wife.
I’ve tried the trick all weekend, and it really changes your outlook. Just sitting around with a sleepy child in your arms is great any way you look at it. But if you picture yourself as someone whose child has grown up — if you imagine yourself as an older man, who would give the world to be back in that chair with that child in his arms — it makes you realize how important the moment is. And you appreciate it more.
Even when times are tough — or seem tough — keeping this perspective in mind can help change the way you look at your life.
Thanks for spending part of the last ten years with me. I hope you keep reading.
UPDATE: A special thanks to all the guest bloggers who have helped me during the years, including DRJ, Karl, Jack Dunphy, JD, Aaron Walker, Morgen Richmond, WLS, Justin Levine, Dafydd ab Hugh, See Dubya, The Angry Clam, Xrlq, Teflon Don, Charlie (Colorado), and several others. You kept things going when I couldn’t, and contributed many worthwhile posts.