Patterico's Pontifications


Taking the Race for Mayor “Seriously” — Part II

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Politics — Patterico @ 11:03 pm

It’s not that I am a fan of Mayor Hahn, but I have mocked the L.A. Times‘s penchant for ignoring his policy stances in favor of a cartoonish view of him as Boring Ol’ “Mayor Yawn.”

The paper continues this insulting and ridiculous treatment of Hahn today, with a Page B1 picture of Hahn next to some kid who is smack-dab in the middle of a huge yawn. I wish I could download it and show it to you. Just take my word for it: the yawning kid is very prominent. The yawn is not incidental to the photo; it’s the whole point. It fits with the paper’s clownish snickering about Hahn’s boring persona. My wife looked at the picture and said: “Boy, they really don’t like Hahn, do they?”

No doubt the editors who chose to run that picture yukked it up in the newsroom. But the selection says a lot more about the editors (and their penchant for attacking politicians through sneering ridicule) than it says about the mayor.

Hugh Hewitt Whacks the Washington Post‘s Terry Neal Good

Filed under: Judiciary,Media Bias,Morons — Patterico @ 9:03 pm

Excellent catch by Hugh Hewitt this morning. Hugh notes that Washington Post staffer Terry Neal wrote yesterday:

Eleven years ago, when Republicans were still in the minority, Sen. Orin [sic] Hatch (R-Utah) said the filibuster tool should be used because “the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents.”

This is a lie.

Orrin Hatch actually said the following:

Mr. President, one of the games that is being played around here is that whenever the majority leader wants to move something along, he files cloture, whether or not anybody has decided to use extended debate. I have heard the majority leader—who is a person I have great regard and respect for—say how beset we are with filibusters in this body.

Naturally, in the last week or so of a session, there is going to be the threat of some filibusters. It is one of the few tools that the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents. But this is not a filibuster. I find it unseemly to have filed cloture on a judgeship nomination—where I have made it very clear that I would work to get a time agreement—and make it look like somebody is trying to filibuster a Federal court judgeship.

I think it is wrong, and I think it is wrong to suggest in the media that this is a filibuster situation, because it is not.

I personally do not want to filibuster Federal judges. The President won the election. He ought to have the right to appoint the judges he wants to.

So where did Neal get the idea that “Orin” Hatch had supported filibusters of judicial nominations, when the exact opposite is true?

You guessed it: a liberal interest group.

Hugh notes that when you plug “Orin Hatch” and “the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents” into Google, the top hit (putting Neal’s column itself aside) is a screed from the liberal activist interest group People for the American Way.

Interesting, eh?

It had me rolling on the floor.

Hewitt may not know how to pronounce my handle, but he knows how to catch the mainstream media with its pants down.

Responding to Howard Kurtz

Filed under: Dog Trainer,International,Media Bias — Patterico @ 5:53 pm

Howard Kurtz said something in today’s “Media Notes” column that I think calls for a response from me:

A blog called Patterico’s Pontifications takes a whack at the LAT over this story:

WASHINGTON — The United States and Italy disagreed Friday in the conclusions of a joint investigation into the slaying of an Italian agent by U.S. troops in Iraq, further straining ties between the two allies.

“The L.A. Times story is actually an edited version of a Reuters story that appeared on the news service yesterday afternoon. The Reuters story reported that investigators using satellite footage of the incident have conclusively determined that the car was speeding, just as the U.S. has always maintained. On page two of the story, the Reuters news service reported:

CBS news has reported that a U.S. satellite had filmed the shooting and that it had been established the car carrying Calipari was traveling at more than 60 mph per hour [sic] as it approached the U.S. checkpoint in Baghdad.

“Thus, the Reuters story reported that there is definitive proof that the car was speeding towards the checkpoint — critical information that tends to justify U.S. soldiers’ decision to fire on the car. But in the version appearing in the L.A. Times, editors cut out the passage reporting that proof. . . .

“There is no excuse for the L.A. Times story not reporting this information.”

Unless, of course, there was some doubt about the CBS report.

I have said this already, but I’ll repeat it here for Kurtz’s benefit. Let’s run through the conceivable justifications for cutting the satellite story out of the Reuters report, together with the obvious responses:

Possible LAT Justification: We have a specific reason for doubting the CBS News story.

Response: Great! Let’s hear it!

As I’ve said, the satellite story has been widely circulated. If the L.A. Times is sitting on specific information that undermines that story, that is a scoop. The public should know.

Possible LAT Justification: Okay, we don’t have a specific reason to doubt the story. But we just don’t repeat allegations made by anonymous sources cited by other media outlets.

Response: Since when?? When CBS News issued a report about President Bush’s Texas Air National Guard Service — based upon documents provided by an anonymous source who was deemed “unimpeachable” by Dan Rather — your paper splashed that all over the front page.

So: that dog won’t hunt either. Now here’s one that might:

Possible LAT Justification: Don’t you think we learned from that? Ever since the CBS forged documents controversy, we have a new policy: don’t republish allegations from anonymous sources from other news organizations — at least if that organization is CBS News.

Response: You may have a point there. I didn’t initially consider that possible justification, which was later pointed out to me by another blogger.

I might be able to respect that explanation. If I were a newspaper editor, I’d probably institute a “Don’t Trust CBS News” policy myself.

But if that’s the justification, Times editors . . . I’d like to hear you say it.

Are there other possible reasons? I suppose there could be. But I can’t think of any.

In any event, why should we have to engage in such speculation? I have asked Times editors their reason for excising the information about the satellite recording.

Hopefully I’ll get a response to my query soon. If and when I do, I’ll share it with you.

If it’s interesting, maybe I’ll share it with Howard Kurtz as well.

David Greenberg’s Misleading Arguments on Judicial Filibusters

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:47 am

An op-ed in this morning’s L.A. Times, by Rutgers history professor David Greenberg, is titled: The Republicans’ Filibuster Lie. A sub-head reads: “They seem to have forgotten the Fortas case.” It opens:

To justify banning Senate filibusters in judicial nomination debates, Republicans are claiming support from history. Until now, say Republicans such as Sen. John Kyl and former Sen. Bob Dole, no one has used filibusters to block nominees to the federal courts. Because Democrats have broken an unwritten rule, their logic goes, Republicans are forced to change written ones.

But the charge that filibustering judicial appointments is unprecedented is false. Indeed, it’s surprising that so few Washington hands seem to recall one of the most consequential filibusters in modern times, particularly because it constituted the first salvo in a war over judicial nominees that has lasted ever since.

Greenberg does an admirable job of destroying a strawman. But the GOP’s true argument remains: never in the history of this country has either party used the filibuster to deny a floor vote to any judicial nominee who had clear majority support in the Senate.

The Fortas example is not to the contrary. First of all, it’s not clear it was really a filibuster. Fortas’s opponents debated his nomination only four days, and repeatedly insisted that they were not engaging in a filibuster. But let’s assume it was. There is evidence that Fortas would have lost a floor vote, 46-49. Even if you dispute these numbers, Fortas cannot be said to have enjoyed clear majority support. This distinguishes his case from that of all currently filibustered GOP nominees.

This is why I encourage the GOP to preface any attempt to employ the “nuclear option” with something I call the “conventional warfare option” — a non-binding vote of support for the filibustered judges. This would bring to the attention of the American people — in a clear, public, and unmistakable way — that the filibustered judges enjoy majority support in the Senate. They are being denied judgeships only by the obstructionism of Senate Democrats.

Prof. Greenberg’s claims get shakier as the op-ed proceeds. My favorite is his argument that ethical concerns about Fortas were “feigned”:

Fortas’ foes had various justifications for opposing him. Republican Robert Griffin of Michigan attacked the justice as the president’s “crony.” There was feigned outrage over news that he had earned $15,000 for leading summer seminars at American University — a real but petty offense that critics inflated into a disqualifying crime.

I guess it’s just an accident that Fortas resigned a year later under a cloud — something Prof. Greenberg neglects to mention in today’s op-ed. A FindLaw portrait says:

In 1969, Life magazine revealed that Fortas had accepted and then returned a fee of $20,000 from a charitable foundation controlled by the family of an indicted stock manipulator. Fortas resigned from the bench on May 14, 1969 but denied any wrongdoing.

As the book The Brethren explains, the foundation was funded by a man named Louis Wolfson. “At that time Wolfson had been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and had apparently bragged that his friend Fortas was going to use his influence to help.” Wolfson gave government investigators a document showing that “the $20,000 was not a one-time payment. The Wolfson Foundation had agreed to pay Fortas $20,000 a year for the rest of his life, or to his widow for as long as she lived.” In addition to this contract, correspondence between Wolfson and Fortas showed that they had discussed his S.E.C. case, and that “Wolfson had asked Fortas’s help in obtaining a presidential pardon.”

This help would have been valuable, because the GOP’s description of Fortas as an LBJ “crony” was true. He admitted to the Judiciary Committee that he “remained involved in White House political affairs even while serving on the Supreme Court, including advising the President regarding the Vietnam War and recent race-riots in Detroit.”

Looks like the Republicans were on to something with those “feigned” concerns over the seminar payments — which were a different matter entirely, but revealed something about the formerly well-to-do Justice’s need for extra cash.

History professor Greenberg surely knows all of this. But he “seems to have forgotten” it, as he completely fails to disclose the fact that Fortas resigned, much less the suspicious circumstances under which the resignation was submitted.

Or maybe there is some other reason Prof. Greenberg didn’t mention Fortas’s resignation to Times readers . . .

UPDATE: Pejman has an excellent post on Prof. Greenberg’s op-ed.

Still Nothing on the Alleged Satellite Recording

Filed under: Dog Trainer,International — Patterico @ 6:14 am

Today’s L.A. Times story on the Italian report on Sgrena confirms that the paper has no intention of telling its readers about the alleged satellite confirmation of the speed of the car — information that the paper has previously deleted from two Reuters stories.

What’s the reason for the omission? Suspicion of CBS News? Appropriate journalistic skepticism? Partisan politics? Not enough room in the paper? Something else entirely?

I dunno. I’m askin’ — but they’re not sayin’ . . .

UPDATE: I just noticed that the word “slaying” makes a return visit in the sub-head: “Rome agrees with Americans that slaying was accidental, but lays blame on the military.”

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