Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Editor Reads Patterico

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:58 pm

Sometimes folks ask me whether I think the people at the L.A. Times read my blog. I always tell them that I know people do, on occasion — but I don’t really know the extent of it. My SiteMeter sometimes shows hits coming from the L.A. Times, but I have no way of knowing who is visiting, or if they are regular readers.

Today I learned that Dean Baquet, the new editor of the L.A. Times, reads the blog. In a Kevin Roderick profile of Baquet in L.A. Magazine, we see this passage:

Baquet reads criticism of the Times on blogs, citing Hewitt, Patterico’s Pontifications, Slate’s Kausfiles, my own L.A. Observed, and the Elegant Variation, which critiques (and usually pans) each Sunday’s Book Review. Blogger obsession with liberal bias in the news pages is mostly ideological gamesmanship, Baquet contends, but he agrees that the paper needs to get better on its home turf.

Ideological gamesmanship, eh? He must be talking about Kaus . . .

So, readers . . . now that you know Mr. Baquet is reading the blog, why not tell him something in the comments?

And remember: be polite. Rudeness is for those other guys — you know, the ones who engage in ideological gamesmanship.

Staffers Oppose Miers

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 12:31 pm

From the New York Times:

As the White House seeks to rally senators behind the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers, lawyers for the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee are expressing dissatisfaction with the choice and pushing back against her, aides to 6 of the 10 Republican committee members said yesterday.

“Everybody is hoping that something will happen on Miers, either that the president would withdraw her or she would realize she is not up to it and pull out while she has some dignity intact,” a lawyer to a Republican committee member said.

All the Republican staff members insisted on anonymity for fear of retaliation from their supervisors and from the Senate leaders.

Hugh Hewitt says:

Very nice. Committee staffers are often very bright, and superb politicos, unless they are simply the grandchildren of rich donors. There are brilliant staffers, and there are copy machine staffers. Some went to law school and excelled there, some have clerked on high or even the highest courts. Others have never worked a day in the private sector on behalf of a client. The incredible disloyalty they are showing in this instance to their bosses, the Committee, the nominee and, yes, the president, is not surprising, but disheartening. In fact, if they acted without the authorization of their Member, they will have violated the Canons of Ethics of the Bar. A small matter for some, no doubt, but call me old school.

And responding to one anonymous staffer’s criticism of Miers’s resume, Hewitt says:

I can say with complete certainty that there isn’t one staffer –not one– on the Judiciary Committee with a resume as accomplished as that. I can also say with certainty that if a month ago, Harriet Miers had offered any lawyer on the Committee’s staff the position of Associate Counsel to the President –the most prestigious law practice in the world, the Washington Post once called it– nine out of ten would have accepted. Note to the file: Many of the GOP staffers of the Judicary Committee cannot be trusted.

Pretty personal. Mike Krempasky comments:

I think Hugh Hewitt is being unfair to the Judiciary Cmte staff. I know a lot of folks that gave up ridiculously lucrative jobs in firms to take jobs on the Hill – or at Justice – or at the White House. In fact, I know some that were on the path to partner that left firms because they believed in the White House and its efforts to push the conservative legal movement. And yes – you better believe some of those folks are despondent.

I think his crack about 9 or 10 taking a White House Counsel job if they were offered is so off-point as to wonder why he made it. Just because they’re earlier in their legal careers than Ms. Miers really doesn’t warrant Hugh’s dig. Further, making hay of Ms. Miers on the “front lines of a five year war with the left” ignores the fact that much of the Senate Judiciary staff have been in the very same trenches.

Of course, the views of staffers probably will not translate into votes against Miers. Staffers have the luxury of reaching their opinions based primarily on principles. To Senators, principle is but one part in the calculus — and for some, it’s a very small part indeed.

So while this is nice to hear, it doesn’t change my pessimistic opinion that Miers will be confirmed.

More Fun with Transcripts

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 7:08 am

From a colleague on my floor. Dates and names have been blacked out to protect the innocent — and the guilty:


No More Potter Stewarts!

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:46 am

Hugh Hewitt yesterday:

The first President Bush was, I think, close friends with Justice Potter Stewart, who rose to SCOTUS after four years as a federal judge, and who, notably, retired at the age of 66. Stewart’s opinions were pointed, and usually correct in my view. His job was to get it right, not construct overarching theories. How will Harriet Miers turn out on the SCOTUS? My best guess is a lot like Potter Stewart, in temperment and tone, and in results.

That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. In terms of results, Potter Stewart voted to uphold abortion rights and strike down the death penalty, to name two of his disappointing decisions. In terms of temperament, the way he went about making his decisions was often rooted in pure arrogance.

Here is the story of how Potter Stewart came to concur in Roe v. Wade, from the book The Brethren, at p. 196:

Stewart thought that abortion was one of those constitutional issues that the Court rarely handled well. Yet it was becoming too important to ignore. Abortion was a political issue. Women were coming into their own, as Stewart learned from his daughter Harriet, a strong, independent woman.

As Stewart saw it, abortion was becoming one reasonable solution to population control. Poor people, in particular, were consistently victims of archaic and artificially complicated laws. The public was ready for abortion reform.

Still, these were issues of the very sort that made Stewart uncomfortable. Precisely because of their political nature, the Court should avoid them. But [you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? — Ed.] the state legislatures were always so far behind. Few seemed likely to amend their abortion laws. Much as Stewart disliked the Court’s being involved in this kind of controversy, this was perhaps an instance where it had to be involved.

So: Stewart recognized that this was a political issue. But he had an independent daughter who was teaching him about women’s lib, and the state legislatures were just moving too slow for his personal liking. So, in an act of pure judicial arrogance, Stewart joined the Court’s opinion in Roe v. Wade.

Stewart’s shortcomings are not limited to abortion cases. Stewart is most famous for that quintessential statement of ad hoc judging, saying of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” He also joined an opinion striking down all death penalty laws in the country.

Folks, we don’t need another Potter Stewart, in temperament or in results. This country can’t afford it.

Dafydd: Morning In Pattericoland

Filed under: Judiciary,Politics — Dafydd @ 6:18 am

[Posted by Dafydd ab Hugh]

NOTE: This post is NOT by Patterico; it’s by his evil twin, Dafydd. Forewarned is four-alarmed!

In an effort to shift thinking in a more positive direction, bring us together, and try to heal the rift among all us anti-liberals, I propose a hypothetical. So let’s put on our Imagineering Yarmulkes and envision the future….

  1. Harriet Miers is sitting there in the J-Com hearings being grilled like a toasted-cheese sandwich by Ted and Chuck and Pat (Leahy, not -terico). What plausible thing can you imagine her saying that would make you think, “you know, maybe I was wrong about her… maybe she’ll do better on the court than I was afraid she would”?
  2. Harriet Miers has been confirmed and takes her seat. We skip a year, and it’s mid-October 2006. What vote can you plausibly imagine her casting and/or opinion can you plausibly imagine her writing that would cause you to change you mind, breathe a sigh of relief, and say “thank goodness she turned out better than I was afraid she would”?

Remember, please be specific: what particular signs are you looking for that would persuade you that Bush was smarter (or at least less stupid) than you thought when he announced the nomination?

— Dafydd ab Hugh

PATTERICO ANSWERS: I gave this some thought yesterday evening.

The answer to the second question is easier than the first. I will be relieved when either of two things happens:

1) More than ten years have passed, and Justice Miers has proved to be a reliable vote with Scalia and Thomas. (In other words, no saying “I told you so” after the first opinion, or the first year, or even the first five years. UNLESS:)

2) Justice Miers writes an opinion on an issue dear to cultural liberals (including those on the New York Times editorial page), taking a position opposite to that of said liberals, which contains language reminiscent of the flair of an Antonin Scalia. I’m thinking of something like this. If I read such an opinion from a Justice Miers, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the leftward drift.

I have no real answer to the first question, and that is a large part of why I have already declared my opposition. There are plenty of things I can imagine her saying in an alternate universe — but in this universe, where candidates strive to avoid answering questions, I can’t imagine anything she might realistically say that would change my mind.

Still Want to Defend Bush Based on his Judicial Selections?

Filed under: Judiciary — Angry Clam @ 6:16 am

[Posted by The Angry Clam]

Two major, intertwined defenses of the Miers travesty are that

1) As Counsel to the President, Miers helped Bush vet judges, therefore she’s probably in the same mold;


2) Bush has been “rock solid” on judges so far, so we should trust him.

The first one quickly becomes comical. Miers assumed her current position in February 2005, right as the 109th Congress began. Let’s take a look at the judges nominated since then. Some solid names on that list- Bill Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, Brett Kavanaugh, and William Myers.

OOOOOPS! All those people are re-nominations from the 108th Congress, when Alberto Gonzales was in charge of picking people. Somehow, I don’t think that such a fact would reassure me over Gonzales, and, as you’re about to find out, his track record on this is huge and amazingly solid compared to Miers’.

So who do we have since Miers took over, anyway? Only one- James Payne, to a seat on the 10th Circuit. Good job Harriet, nearly nine months into the job and you finally get a single nominee off your desk. Not really helping much to disprove her reputation as slow and indecisive or making the rumors that Andy Card thought she was incompetent and wanted her out of her job as secretary (a position that reports to him, but from which he cannot fire her due to her friendship with the President), now does it?

(This discussion inspired by Randy Barnett)

I have to admit that #2 actually carried some weight with me, but then I sat down and thought about it some more. Bush didn’t actually go through the big stack of resumes and pick these people out. He left that up to the good Federalist Society members that inhabit the Office of Legal Counsel and, somewhat surprisingly, Alberto Gonzales’ own staff.

Bush’s own personal picks have largely been disasters- Michael Brown, Julie Meyers, Bernie Kerik, the list goes on. His judgment is not very good when people he knows personally are involved.

But there is another, deeper reason that I’m concerned, which Quin from Southern Appeal noted yesterday on Confirm Them: Bush doesn’t really care about the judiciary. Sure, he’s willing to nominate good judges, but he doesn’t lift a damn finger to help them- no press conferences, no major administration pressure on the Senate, no media campaigns.

The bottom line is this: Bush doesn’t really give a damn about the judiciary on principle like so many of us do, and he’s totally happy to sell it down the river to allow him to get back to spending huge sums of money and appointing his friends to various federal offices.

I’ve quoted nearly all of Quin’s post in the extended entry, but do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing– it’s excellent, and our good buddy actus makes an appearance, bitching about the tax cuts.


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