Patterico's Pontifications


Where Are the Experts Today? (Part Two)

A quick observation about today’s L.A. Times story on the federal decision yesterday ruling unconstitutional the policy of having students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The story says:

U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton said he was bound by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled that the words “under God,” added by Congress in 1954 during the McCarthy era, rendered the pledge unconstitutional.

Yes, but — nowhere does the story highlight the central problem with yesterday’s ruling: the case that supposedly bound Judge Karlton . . . doesn’t. This point has been made by legal commentators as illustrious as Howard Bashman, Eugene Volokh, William Dyer, and Xrlq, as well as by some less illustrious — such as myself.

I wonder why did the paper did not consult its stable of legal experts to say what they thought about this issue — or if they did, why they didn’t tell us what the experts said. Any reputable scholar (as opposed to a hack like Erwin Chemerinsky) would certainly agree that the judge wrongly concluded that he was bound by the reversed panel decision.

Is there some reason the L.A. Times doesn’t want its readers to know that?

P.S. There is precedent for the paper’s failure to report the opinions of independent experts, when those opinions would undoubtedly favor the conservative position. Read this post (about the disgusting NARAL ad against John Roberts) for an example.

Jack Nicholson on the O.J. Case

Filed under: Crime,Humor — Patterico @ 11:06 pm

Jack Nicholson was at the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles for jury duty today. (Yup — everyone has to do it!) A couple of my colleagues ran into him at lunchtime and walked with him for about a block as he was returning to his car. They introduced themselves as Deputy District Attorneys.

“Your office really screwed up the O.J. case,” Jack told them.

Ah, the O.J. case. Everyone still associates our office with that case.

As it happens, I have more insight than the average person into what really happened with the O.J. case, for several reasons. I intended to tell some of those stories tonight, but I’ve been too busy. Perhaps sometime soon. Consider it a teaser.

I can tell you that my understanding of what happened in O.J. is different than Jack’s. Here’s what Jack told my colleagues:

“There’s one question that your office didn’t ask,” Nicholson said. He opined that this one question — had it been asked — would have been the question that would have gotten us the conviction. What question is that? I’ll turn it over to Jack. “The victims’ blood was at the crime scene,” he said. “O.J.’s blood was at the crime scene. What your office forgot to ask was: who else’s blood was at the crime scene?

I love Jack Nicholson’s acting. “The Shining” is my second favorite movie of all time. I love the scene in “Five Easy Pieces” where he loses it over the sandwich. Jack Nicholson knows acting.

I don’t think he knows much about prosecuting the O.J. case.

P.S. Your obvious, snarky response is: neither did the O.J. prosecutors. Again: we’ll discuss that some other time.

When I do, I’ll tell you what Marcia Clark said to her colleagues during jury selection. I’ll tell you what I think the real issue in the case was — and what the real issue might have been for a different jury. It’ll be fun. Some other time — soon.

Bruce Reed, Judge Roberts, and Google

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

Be very suspicious of arguments that depend on the frequency of two terms appearing together on Google. Some guy named Bruce Reed recently fell into this trap in this piece on Slate:

Humble Pie: Because Washington is a city of such massive egos, the trait I admire most about John Roberts is his modesty. I just wish he’d stop bragging about it.

No biographical profile of Roberts is complete without a few references to his famous modesty. According to Google, the word “modesty” has already appeared alongside “John Roberts” more than 18,000 times. By contrast, the search engine records a grand total of 424 mentions – lifetime – for “modesty” and “Karen Hughes.”

Maybe Bush should have put Roberts in charge of winning America some friends in the world. His message is coming through loud and clear: “Trust me – I’m modest.”

Yuh-huh. I’ll let Orin Kerr run with this one for a while:

It’s true that googling “John Roberts” together with “modesty” yields about 18,100 hits. But I picked a few other words to run through Google that are not generally known for their association with Roberts, and this is what I found: satan — 70,900 hits; pasta — 13,900 hits; hip-hop — 150,000; French — 604,000; Social Security — 515,000; NASCAR — 74,700; and, finally, sex — 1,070,000. I don’t know exactly what it means, but it probably suggests that this Google test isn’t a very good measure of what Bruce Reed has in mind.

But why stop there? I thought I’d put the term “Bruce Reed” into a few searches. The search “Bruce Reed” and modesty: 123 hits. “Bruce Reed” and arrogance: 428 hits. Obviously, Bruce Reed is far more often described as arrogant than as modest. Who can deny the logic?

How about this comparison: “Bruce Reed” and intelligent yields only 712 hits. “Patterico” and intelligent yields 105,000 hits.

Google doesn’t lie, folks!

Feel free to set forth your own examples mocking Bruce Reed in the comments.

L.A. Times Fails to Correct the Record on Sen. Specter’s Statement

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:17 am

I tried giving the Los Angeles Times the benefit of the doubt yesterday.

Boy, was I naive!

The paper put out the suggestion yesterday that Sen. Specter thought Judge Roberts was being misleading. Yesterday, Sen. Specter clearly said that Judge Roberts was not.

I truly believed that the editors were going to set the record straight. As critical as I have been of this paper, I couldn’t really believe that the paper was simply going to let a false implication remain uncorrected in the readers’ minds.

How could I have been such a sucker?

Here’s the background:


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