Patterico's Pontifications

3/27/2013

Supreme Court Leaning Towards Striking Down DOMA?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:10 pm



On federalism grounds.

I could live with that result. We could use more federalism. The problem is that the federal government can control anything nowadays through its purse strings.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

3/26/2013

Federal Tax Money Has Funded Radicals. CAIR, and Even Brett Kimberlin

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:49 pm



Did you know that some of your tax dollars go to the Tides Foundation?

And from there, some of those dollars go to CAIR (and from there to Hamas), some go to organizations that promote dictators . . . and some Tides dollars have gone to Brett Kimberlin.

Which means that federal tax money has sponsored harassment of your humble host.

I can’t think of anything the federal government could possibly cut. Can you?

Cyprus Could Be Taking 40 Percent

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:28 am



Did we say 30 percent? Well, that was then and this is now:

In the €10 billion, or $13 billion, bailout agreement announced Monday, only insured accounts up to €100,000 were protected from taxation to help fund the bailout, with estimates that uninsured depositors with larger accounts could face losses of up to 40 percent.

D’oh!

At least it’s only Cyprus:

Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe’s single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.

D’oh!

The guy has since retracted his statements, so rest easy, Spanish and Italian bank depositors. Your money is safe.

Just remember: the next time they talk about a “haircut,” that thing they’re holding behind their back? Yeah, that’s a set of number one clippers. You’ll get your “haircut” all right. Now hold still.

Thanks to gary gulrud for the second link.

Is Bob Menendez Being Protected By the Same Spinmeisters Who Protected Weiner?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:01 am



I have no idea, but I lay out a theory below that suggests that possibility.

I’m catching up to this story after having had spotty Internet access for a few days. But I see that on Friday the Washington Post reported:

A top Dominican law enforcement official said Friday that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative Web site the Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

Since Tucker Carlson obviously didn’t pay someone to make up a story, it makes you wonder what’s really going on. It is interesting to note that everything about this story these days is getting filtered through the Dominican government. Perhaps the most significant line of the WaPo story is: “The account that Dominican authorities said they received from Figueroa could not be independently confirmed by The Washington Post.” Which is not to say, necessarily, that the guy isn’t actually making the silly claims. I’m just noting for the record that it’s not like we’re getting to hear the specifics from him firsthand.

When we last visited this story, we were looking at the Washington Post‘s crappy article touting a declaration that had several Rathergate-style problems with it. I also noted a clever observation made by Twitchy.com: that the Daily Caller very likely interviewed one of the same women who had been interviewed by Brian Ross, which made the woman’s story questionable . . . again, if we are to believe the Dominican government regarding what she is saying these days.

I am no more impressed with that WaPo article today than I was then. But the possibility still exists, which I raised in the last post, that the WaPo story was “fake but accurate” — that the affidavit they relied on was phony, but that the women’s stories were fabricated.

To me, though, that’s where it starts to get interesting.

For weeks, I have privately raised with some of the people who have been following this story closely the possibility that one or more of the girls who made these allegations were false flags of the type that appear to have been employed in the Anthony Weiner scandal. To me, that theory is starting to look more plausible all the time.

Here’s how it works. Weiner had a genuine “talking inappropriately to an underage girl” issue and a genuine “sending inappropriate crap to women” issue. Breitbart had the goods on some of this, and Weiner likely knew it. So, next thing you know, someone comes along and creates some false underage girls who supposedly talk to Weiner. The girls try to get Andrew Breitbart to bite on the story but he doesn’t. If he had, then the girls could have been triumphantly revealed to be fakes, and now everything Breitbart put out would be discredited. (This is ultimately what John Reid claimed to me in a series of angry emails: that everything I had said about an underage girl in Delaware was discredited because . . . something something. I didn’t follow his logic but his claimed motivations were clear: he wanted to protect Weiner.)

So, apply the same strategy to Menendez. He clearly has a “sleeping with prostitutes” issue — the Dominicans are not the only hookers who have claimed he slept with them. So maybe, just maybe, someone who knows a hooker story is coming out, and who supports Menendez, creates some phony hookers whose stories can be reported and then discredited. Now every story about Menendez and prostitutes looks suspect.

It wouldn’t shock me if the same Democrat spinmeisters were behind both operations.

Just a theory. Another theory is that the Dominican hooker story is true and the government is trying to whitewash it. Since everything that supposedly discredits the Daily Caller stories is coming through the Dominican government, I am perfectly willing to believe that theory as well.

Or, I guess, you could believe that Tucker Carlson reached into his wallet and paid some dude to hire Dominican hookers to make up stories about Bob Menendez. If you find that to be the most likely possibility, then you’re probably a Democrat.

Prop. 8 Arguments Today in Supreme Court: The Backdoor Executive Veto

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:01 am



The gay marriage cases are argued today and tomorrow in the Supreme Court. One big issue is how the Supreme Court will address the situation where government officials abdicate their responsibility to defend measures passed by the people.

Today’s arguments deal with Prop. 8, which Jerry Brown refused to defend in court. Tomorrow’s arguments deal with DOMA, which Barack Obama and Eric Holder refused to defend in court. Indeed, Obama is sending in his Solicitor General to argue for DOMA to be struck down — and his argument, carried to its logical conclusion, would lead to gay marriage being legalized in all 50 states.

The immediate issue is whether lawyers not representing the State of California (for Prop. 8) or the United States (for DOMA) have standing to defend legislation when the executive has decided they will not. If the Supreme Court ultimately holds that the groups now defending DOMA or Prop. 8 have no standing in court to defend the measures, it would essentially confer a backdoor executive veto on any legislation that an executive doesn’t like. You disagree with a law? Don’t bother engaging in the political process and trying to get it overturned. Just wait until your guy sits in the governor’s office or the Oval Office, and have someone bring a lawsuit. Your guy will refuse to defend the legislation, and BOOM! you’re done. The lawsuit wins, the legislation gets invalidated, and there’s nobody around with any right to complain about it. Easy as pie!

Such a result would, in my view, radically restructure the balance of power on both state and federal levels. It’s hard for me to imagine the Supreme Court letting it happen. If even Congress doesn’t have standing to defend its own laws, something really strange is going on.

Although I have to say, it feels a little funny to be yammering on about the dangers of upsetting the careful balance of power established by our Constitution, when in reality we are leaving all such issues to be decided by a single man: our King, His Royal Highness Anthony Kennedy.

It will be interesting to hear how it all goes down today. The L.A. Times has an article today about waiting in line to attend the arguments. Not mentioned: a prominent person who will not be attending — all because he wants the pro-gay marriage side to win. I’m referring, of course, to Vaughn Walker, who shockingly never got back to me concerning those emails he exchanged with a Gibson, Dunn partner about whether his attendance would hurt his preferred side in the arguments. It would be nice if some of the coverage today mentioned Walker’s absence, and provided some context as to why that might be, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s Big Media, and they have their own agenda.

I believe that, in addition to releasing a transcript of today’s oral argument (as is standard), the High Court will also release audio, as it often does in landmark cases such as this. I’ll try to link the audio and transcript later today, and provide a little analysis if I have time.

UPDATE: Audio here, transcript here. Thanks to How Appealing for the links.

Preliminary analyses I have read indicates that the standing issues are not necessarily the same at every level of the process — i.e. a lack of standing at one appellate level does not necessarily mean a lack of standing at the trial court level. I’ll have to listen to it all to make up my own mind.

3/25/2013

Cyprus Raids Bank Deposits

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:08 pm



I told you the other day that, even though the Cyprian parliament had rejected a plan to raid bank deposits, the country basically had no other choice if it wanted to stay in the Eurozone. Just call me Carnac:

Backed by euro zone finance ministers, the plan will spare the Mediterranean island a financial catastrophe by winding down the largely state-owned Popular Bank of Cyprus, also known as Laiki, and shifting deposits below 100,000 euros to the Bank of Cyprus to create a “good bank”.

Deposits above 100,000 euros in both banks, which are not guaranteed under EU law, will be frozen and used to resolve Laiki’s debts and recapitalize Bank of Cyprus, the island’s biggest, through a deposit/equity conversion.

The raid on uninsured Laiki depositors is expected to raise 4.2 billion euros, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijssebloem said.

So how big a hit are the depositors going to take if they have accounts over 100,000 Euros? Wellllll, I’d say it’s . . . kinda hefty:

An EU spokesman said no across-the-board levy or tax would be imposed on deposits in Cypriot banks, although the hit on large account holders in the two biggest banks is likely to be far greater than initially planned. A first attempt at a deal last week collapsed when the Cypriot parliament rejected a proposed levy on all deposits.

. . . .

Asked about the level of losses on uninsured depositors in Bank of Cyprus, [a government spokesman] told state radio: “The assessment is that it will be under or around 30 percent.”

Ouch. Almost a third of your cash on deposit over 100,000 Euros, gone. Overnight. Yoink!

Mark my words: there will be a run on Spanish and Italian banks. It’s just a matter of time.

3/24/2013

Attempted SWATting on Paris Hilton

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:16 pm



She was out of state. Big waste of police resources though.

3/23/2013

Prop. 8 Defender Reacts to Yesterday’s Vaughn Walker Email Exposé

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:55 pm



I spoke today to Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, to get his reaction to yesterday’s publication of emails showing Vaughn Walker checking with the pro-gay marriage side concerning whether Walker should attend the upcoming gay marriage arguments in the Supreme Court.

Brown said: “it makes you wonder whether other collusion was going on.” He said that whether or not any ethical rules were technically violated, the emails are “not appropriate in any way, shape, or form.” Brown said that these emails were just another example of Walker’s inappropriate behavior with respect to the case, from his failure to disclose his relationship with a man until after the trial to his decision to broadcast the trial publicly, which the Supreme Court halted as improper.

Brown laughed when I asked him if he was aware whwther the judge had made similar inquiries to anyone defending Prop. 8. Brown said that if Chuck Cooper had received such a request, “people would have heard about it. I don’t think there’s any love lost for Chuck Cooper” on Walker’s part, he said.

Brown said he is “very interested to see if this is the tip of the iceberg.”

And of course it may be. If Vaughn (who has not contacted me or to my knowledge disputed the emails’ authenticity) feels certain that these are the only emails that will emerge, that certainty may be misplaced.

You have not heard the last of this story. The Prop. 8 Legal Defense Fund blasted out the news in a mass email yesterday, and Brown said he plans to mention the controversy in an appearance on Fox News tomorrow. We got a flaming skull yesterday from Ace, and links from Breitbart, Hot Air, Ed Whelan at NRO, and others. The San Francisco Chronicle has a blog entry about it here. I have a feeling word will continue to spread.

3/22/2013

METEOR!!!!!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:36 pm



Did you see it?

EXCLUSIVE: EMails Show Prop. 8 Judge Sought Ted Olson’s Advice On Whether to Attend Supreme Court Argument on Gay Marriage

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am



Vaughn R. Walker, the judge who struck down Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban, sought Ted Olson’s opinion regarding whether Walker should attend next week’s Supreme Court arguments on the gay marriage cases. Olson was one of the lawyers who successfully persuaded Judge Walker to strike down Proposition 8 after a trial held in 2010.

In December 2012 emails obtained exclusively by Patterico.com, Judge Walker, who retired in February 2011, asked Olson’s law partner to “ask Ted if he thinks my attending the argument would be an unwanted distraction.”


Above: Retired federal judge Vaughn Walker, who struck down Proposition 8, seeks Ted Olson’s opinion as to whether he should attend next week’s Supreme Court arguments on gay marriage.

When Olson’s law partner responded that Olson thought Walker’s attendance would be a “potential distraction,” Walker agreed not to go, saying he understood Olson’s reaction and was not surprised by it. Walker described himself as “only moderately disappointed not to see the argument,” and added: “Ted’s argument will be spectacular, I’m sure.”


Above: Retired federal judge Vaughn Walker. Photo credit: Mike Kepka, San Francisco Chronicle

Although the emails likely breach no ethical rules — Walker retired in 2011 — they do suggest a cozy relationship between Walker and Olson that some observers may find revealing. Walker seeks Olson’s opinion regarding attending the argument, defers to Olson’s judgment, and praises Olson’s legal skills. Walker’s demeanor in the emails is that of a well-wisher who wishes to make sure Olson’s argument is not disrupted, rather than that of an impartial former jurist. It is difficult to imagine that Walker sent a similar email to the defenders of Proposition 8, seeking their opinion as to whether it would be appropriate for him to attend.

Walker and Olson’s partner have not responded to requests for comment.

THE EMAILS

The emails can be read here (.pdf). The identity of Olson’s partner has been redacted, as well as the email addresses of all participants.

The first email was sent by Olson’s law partner at Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher to Vaughn Walker on Friday, December 7, 2012. In the email, Olson’s partner forwarded a news alert from the Wall Street Journal, announcing that the Supreme Court had decided to take up the gay marriage cases. The partner’s email read, in its entirety: “Well, well…..the day of reckoning approaches. Should be very interesting.” The email’s brevity and friendly tone suggest the existence of a social acquaintanceship between Walker and Olson’s partner, a conclusion that is confirmed in later emails.


Above: Ted Olson, one of two lead attorneys for the team that successfully won a ruling from Vaughn Walker striking down Proposition 8.

Walker responded later that evening, saying that he had received a “barrage of media calls” that day, which he had mostly “managed to duck” because he was in a mediation. Walker added:

If you get a chance and it’s not out of line, you might ask Ted if he thinks my attending the argument would be an unwanted distraction. I won’t be hurt if the answer is “yes.”

The following Monday, December 10, 2012, Olson’s partner responded. The email is worth quoting at length:

Vaughn, Ted and I have discussed this over the weekend and, reluctantly, we do think it would be a potential distraction for you to attend the argument, now scheduled for March 27. There will be a heavy press turnout and you are very likely to be recognized and asked to comment. Even if you refuse, your attendance will likely be covered and your personal situation, even though now irrelevant, again reported on.

Ted, David [Boies], and AFER [the American Foundation for Equal Rights] are discouraging demonstrations or other “media events” in connection with the argument as they are concerned with negative reactions from some of the Justices. While your simply coming to observe the argument certainly isn’t intended as a “media event,” it might take on that character. My friend, you are just too well known to slip quietly into the Supreme Court chamber unnoticed. I’d like to attend myself but I’m told that the demand for tickets will be so great we aren’t even sure we can accommodate all of the trial team and Olson/Boies immediate families.

Here is a screenshot of the response from Olson’s law partner:


Above: Ted Olson’s partner explains Olson’s media strategy to retired Judge Vaughn Walker

(The “personal situation” Olson’s partner refers to is Walker’s years-long romantic relationship with a man, which Walker spoke of openly after the decision was rendered. Walker faced heavy criticism from supporters of Prop. 8 during the case. They speculated that Walker wanted to marry his partner, and accordingly might benefit from a ruling striking down Prop. 8. Another judge later ruled that Walker had been under no obligation to reveal whether he wanted to marry his partner before deciding the case. Walker’s conduct of the case also came under public scrutiny when he announced that the trial would be publicly broadcast through a live feed accessible at federal courthouses in four states. Prop. 8 supporters had argued that their witnesses would be subject to retaliation — a realistic fear given that Prop. 8 opponents have engaged in boycotts, outing of home addresses, and other retaliation against supporters of the measure. The Supreme Court issued an order striking down Walker’s plan to broadcast the proceedings.)

Having been told about Olson’s media strategy, and that his attendance might undermine that strategy, Walker agreed not to attend, and said that he believed “Ted’s” argument would be “spectacular”:

Thanks for touching base with Ted about this. I am not surprised, understand fully and only modestly disappointed not to see the argument. Ted’s argument will be spectacular, I’m sure.

Walker concluded the email with an invitation for Walker, Olson’s partner, and others to get together at Christmastime.

VERIFYING THE EMAILS’ AUTHENTICITY

Patterico.com was provided these emails yesterday by a trusted source. The source indicated that they could not reveal where they had obtained the emails, but did say that the emails were obtained in a legal manner. It is impossible to verify to an absolute certainty that they are authentic, but several aspects of the emails withstand scrutiny.

The emails were provided to Patterico.com in an unredacted form, which allowed verification of the email addresses used. The email address for Olson’s partner is indeed a genuine email address. A Google search of the email address for Walker shows that it is associated with two Web domains. One, VRWalkerCo.com, was registered in May 2002. The other, JudgeWalker.com, was registered on March 14, 2011, about a month after Walker retired. Neither domain appears to currently host a web site. The administrative contact for both domains is Vaughn R. Walker of San Francisco.

Patterico.com received these emails yesterday morning, and emailed both Walker and Olson’s law partner within hours, at the email addresses set forth in the emails, requesting comment. A lawyer with Olson’s law firm called Patterico.com yesterday evening to ask for details about the emails, and said he would attempt to contact Olson’s partner to see if he would be willing to speak about them. As of the publishing of this post, however, neither Walker nor Olson’s partner has yet responded to requests for comment.

Patterico.com did not have a chance to contact any of the parties defending Proposition 8, in part because the proprietor was asked to keep the matter strictly confidential until the post was published. (The source did agree to have Patterico.com attempt to contact Walker and Olson’s partner before publication.)

THE EMAILS’ SIGNIFICANCE

This blog post is a piece of journalism, breaking a story that should be of public interest regarding the conduct of a former jurist on a significant case. This site does not advocate an anti-gay rights agenda, and the proprietor of this web site is a supporter of gay marriage (although he disapproves of the imposition of gay marriage on society through judicial fiat).

Nor does this web site assert that Walker, Olson, or Olson’s partner has engaged in any breach of legal ethics. Walker’s views on the decision are no secret: he has spoken since retirement of his belief that the case was appropriately brought and that his decision was correct. It is not shocking that a judge would defend a decision he has already made.

But the behavior of Walker, as revealed by these emails, creates the appearance of a partisan rather than an impartial former jurist who simply believes he issued a correct ruling. Walker was so invested in his ruling that he wanted to watch the appellate courts’ argument himself. He went out of his way to make sure that he consulted with the winning side to help them prevail in the appellate courts. Specifically, he sought to learn whether his attendance at the appellate arguments would be acceptable to the prevailing party — and when told it would not be, he deferred to the prevailing party’s media strategy. All of this, cumulatively, suggests an emotional investment in the outcome of the case. The emails are likely to reinforce the widely held perception among Prop. 8 supporters that Walker was less than impartial in his rulings during the trial.

The Supreme Court hears the gay marriage cases next week, on March 26 and 27.

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