Patterico's Pontifications


Los Angeles Times Tries to Butter Up Patterico and Fails

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:02 pm

The L.A. Times will run a feature article tomorrow titled Blogging L.A. It’s a fairly innocuous piece whose main saving grace is a mention of yours truly:

Politics runs heavy too, with intense, phlegm-flecked rants from the left, the right and those who consider themselves nonpartisan, equal-opportunity bashers of governmental and societal inanities. Media-watching is big on sites such as, run by Kevin Roderick (a former Times staffer), and Patrick Frey’s Patterico’s Pontifications,, which mixes a conservative take on local media (particularly The Times, which has recently begun beefing up its blog presence) and politics at all levels.

Hmmm. Is my blog a “phlegm-flecked rant[] . . . from the right”? Or am I a simple media-watcher? It seems a little ambiguous to me. You make the call!

I am, of course, always happy to be mentioned in the same sentence as Kevin Roderick, who (though I share little of his politics) is an excellent blogger who makes an invaluable contribution to the L.A. blogging scene in general — as well as being an indispensable source for all matters relating to the L.A. Times.

Otherwise, I figure The Times is trying to butter me up by including this blog in the piece. Nice try, guys, but no sale! (Be sure to note the ironic Mickey Kaus-style exclamation point!)

P.S. WARNING: above post may be tongue-in-cheek. Interpret accordingly.

1985 Alito Memo

Filed under: Abortion,Judiciary — Patterico @ 10:47 pm

Here is a newly released 1985 Alito memo on a then-pending abortion case. (Via Confirm Them.) It further confirms Alito’s philosophical opposition to Roe. It also signals his cautious approach to such matters — supporting my conclusion that Alito (and perhaps Roberts) may favor an incrementalist approach to the eventual reversal of Roe.

Ayotte Parental Notification Case Argued

Filed under: Abortion,Court Decisions,Judiciary — Patterico @ 10:42 pm

The Ayotte parental notification case was argued today in the Supreme Court, and you can read a report of the arguments here. (Via Confirm Them.) (Howard Bashman has much more, of course — including a link to audio of the oral argument.) (If that doesn’t work, try here.)

My prediction: 5-4 to strike down the law, with the liberals plus Kennedy in the majority. But I would not be shocked to see Roberts or Alito (who, I believe, will participate in the final decision — likely issued in June 2006 — rather than O’Connor) voting with the majority, given the clarity of the precedents on the health exception.

I had hoped to discuss this case in more detail, but personal events have prevented a more thorough discussion. That’s my thumbnail prediction, though.

UDPATE 11-30-05 11:12 p.m.: Here is an L.A. Times article that causes me to revise my prediction. If you believe this article, it sounds like most of the Justices are interested in a compromise solution that will save the law but allow for a challenge brought by doctors in medical emergencies. I guess I’ll have to wait to hear the audio before I understand exactly how this would work. Perhaps any predictions should wait until then as well . . .

Alito Questionnaire Answers

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 10:34 pm

Here are Judge Alito’s answers to the Senate questionnaire. (Via Confirm Them.)

Wherein Patterico Agrees with — Charlie Rangel??

Filed under: Politics,Public Policy — Patterico @ 7:38 pm

It’s frightening to realize you agree with Charlie Rangel about almost anything. But I completely agree with the Rangel-Angelides op-ed in this morning’s L.A. Times, titled The tax plan that cheats California:

MOST AMERICANS think tax reform should be about fairness and simplification. But for the right-wing ideologues who dominate tax policy decisions in the Bush administration, the goals are different. They want to shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class and put pressure on states such as California and New York to shrink critical public services. The recommendations by President Bush’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform to eliminate the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes, and to cap the deduction for home mortgage interest, are a big step in that direction.

Ignoring the rhetoric about “right-wing ideologues,” I think this is absolutely right. Make no mistake: no matter what you call it, this is a tax hike. What’s more, it hits citizens of California especially hard:

The Bush tax panel’s proposal would be especially hard on California and New York. Currently, one in every four Californians filing a federal tax return deducts their state income tax and property tax, as do an even greater percentage of New Yorkers. Eliminating the deduction would add an average of $2,200 to each of those Californian’s federal tax bills and $2,774 to each New Yorker’s tax bills. This amounts to more than $23 billion in new federal taxes that would leave California and New York and end up in Washington.

. . . .

The Bush tax panel has also taken aim at states such as New York and California with its proposal to cap the deduction for mortgage interest. The $411,704 cap is well below California’s median price, $568,890, for a single-family home. Around New York City, the cap would also be well below housing costs for middle-class families. But Texans purchasing a median-priced house would still be able to deduct all their mortgage interest. That’s unfair.

What’s more, this plan will cause countless foreclosures of homes owned by households that count on the deduction to make their payments. That will drive real estate prices down. The net effect: this plan will take a huge real-estate bubble and rudely pop it, rather than allowing it to gradually deflate.

As if we here in California aren’t getting screwed enough by the toll that illegal immigrants take on our economy, straining our health care and education systems. And now this.

These tax proposals from the Bush tax panel are a double-barreled blast aimed squarely at the middle class, especially in California and New York, which are powerhouses of the U.S. economy. The citizens and elected leaders of California and New York, including the states’ governors, must quickly and strongly oppose the tax panel’s ill-conceived proposals.

I absolutely agree — and this issue transcends partisan politics for me. At a time when Republicans have spent like tax money is going out of style, I will not tolerate a tax hike that slaps middle-class Californians like myself the hardest. I will vote for any Democrat opposing this plan who runs against any Republican that supports it.

And you can bet I’m not the only middle-class Californian who feels this way.

An E-Mail from Evan Maxwell About the L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:34 am

I have occasionally received some entertaining e-mails from novelist and former L.A. Times staffer Evan Maxwell. Generally, these e-mails were not for publication or attribution — though he did once send me a very amusing comment that was.

With the recent flap over the ouster of Robert Scheer, Evan sent me an e-mail that he is permitting me to publish in its entirety. Here it is, with the embedded links added by me:


I’ve been lurking but not participating much. However, I have kept track of your continuing guerrilla war. I always thought you were pretty tough on my alma mater, the Ol’ Grey Lady of Spring Street, but compared to the guys on the left, you are a real pussycat. Just get a load of what Robert Scheer and Steve Wasserman (who was originally hired by the Times as Scheer’s researcher) are now saying about their former employer. You are positively genial by comparison.

I’m amused at the sudden and vicious attacks because those two used to be such good company men, at least as long as they had use of the bully pulpit the Times offers. Now that they have both moved on, or been moved on, they have no compunction about laying into the Times, the Trib and anybody else who they perceive as retrograde and reactionary.

Wasserman’s piece on Scheer’s website today was a perfect example of the kind of high-toned leftist excoriation that has been loosed on the Times since Scheer was ousted. And it is a perfect example of the kind of political back-scratching that the leftists on the paper have engaged in for years. The two of them, Scheer and Wasserman, were instrumental in politicizing the newsroom, marginalizing the reactionary forces (meaning anyone to the right of, say, Tom Hayden) on the staff, and enforcing a kind of political solidarity that has so alienated a great many readers over the last two decades. And when they finally get pushed out, they turn like high-strung lap dogs and start biting every hand in sight.

They and their allies would have you believe there is this groundswell of outrage but I sincerely question that. If you think this isn’t a well-orchestrated campaign, just look at Kevin Roderick’s piece on so-called reader feedback about Scheer’s ouster. Six thousand angry calls and/or emails sounds like the result of a loud call-to-arms, rather than a spontaneous uprising of the proletariat.

I don’t imagine there will be street demonstrations (even mildly silly ones like the 55 picketers who turned out while Scheer was off on his luxury cruise) on behalf of the 85 hard-working news stiffs who are now taking the buy-out voluntarily or involuntarily. Those long-time staffers, the backbone of the news operation, don’t have well-organized and highly-vocal cadres behind them. They were too busy gathering news to recognize that the newsroom around them had become as politicized as any in the country, much to the detriment of the paper.

But the loss of that astonishing pool of talent will hurt the Los Angeles Times far more than the firings that are getting so much attention. If I were still in the LA Basin, I’d mount a demonstration of my own on their behalf. They are the ones who deserve recognition and the paper will miss them more than it can ever guess.

Evan Maxwell
Sedona, AZ

PS: I used to keep a low profile and you honored my wishes. However, if you want to use my name and any part of this, use away. The last couple of weeks brought back some unpleasant memories of why I left the paper in 1984.

Thanks for writing, Evan. Stay in touch.

UPDATE: Evan responds to commenters in an e-mail published here.

Hilburn: Out (And About Time)

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Music — Patterico @ 6:31 am

Music critic Robert Hilburn is leaving the L.A. Times. I say: good riddance. Here is why I feel that way.

New House

Filed under: General,Real Life — Patterico @ 6:30 am

We ended up getting a contract on a different house from the one we were originally going to buy. It’s in the exact same neighborhood, but it’s more what we were looking for. Here is the view from the kitchen, in a photo taken by Mrs. P. during the inspection:



Patterico Recommends The Lincoln Lawyer

Filed under: Books — Patterico @ 6:02 pm

I finally finished Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer. It was excellent. I am looking forward to meeting him when he visits L.A. early next month.

On to my next book: Lawrence Block’s All the Flowers Are Dying.

Tookie Williams Nominations Made to Save His Life

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General,Nobel Peace Prize — Patterico @ 7:04 am

Congratulations to the L.A. Times for digging into the motivations behind the nominations of Tookie Williams for Nobel Prizes — and for finally reporting that it is “surprisingly easy” to make such nominations.

The story is titled Telling His Story to Save His Life. Reversing the usual habit of burying such information exclusively on the back pages, the story states on Page A1:

[Anti-death penalty writer Barbara Becnel] arranged for Williams to speak by telephone to youth and criminal justice groups, and edited his series of children’s books. Death penalty opponents also took up his cause, pushing him into the limelight by nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize for literature, prestigious nominations that are surprisingly easy to make.

More detail is provided on Page A15. Writer Bechnel obtained the first nomination during a campaign in Switzerland to save Williams from the death penalty:

Around the same time, Becnel met a woman who was active in anti-violence efforts in Zurich, Switzerland, and took Williams’ campaign to Europe. Zurich, like many California cities, was troubled by gangs, with Somali and other immigrant youths engaged in violence, Becnel said.

She made several trips to Zurich and eventually met the Swiss national legislator Mario Fehr, who would nominate Williams for the Nobel in 2001. Legislators and professors in certain disciplines can nominate Nobel Prize candidates.

“The Nobel Prize nominations really catapulted his name into the media,” Alonso said. “That’s when reporters started calling me.”

Further nominations were also made by death penalty activists, primarily to save Williams’s life:

In the meantime, Philip Gasper, an anti-death penalty activist and a professor at Notre Dame de Namur University, a small Catholic school in Belmont, near San Francisco, heard Williams speak via telephone to a UC Berkeley panel and decided to submit more Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

Barbara and I came up with the idea, and she helped me through the process,” Gasper said.

“All you need to do to nominate is to write a nominating letter to the committee in Norway,” Gasper said.

Gasper’s prime motivation in writing the four-page letter was to save Williams’ life, he said, but he also thought that Williams deserved the prize because “his message has had such resonance with kids in the U.S. and in other countries.”

“I think he has probably saved a few hundred lives, at least,” said Gasper, who has nominated Williams four times for the peace prize.

Brown University English professor William Keach, who is also active in the campaign to end the death penalty, nominated Williams for the Nobel Prize for literature.

We had, of course, guessed all along that the primary motivation behind these nominations was to save Williams’s life. Now we know for sure.

As regular readers know, I am involved in a campaign to get myself nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, to make a point about how easy such nominations are to make. Eugene Volokh suggested yesterday in this post (referring to my campaign, though not by name) that such a nomination would not be legitimate, because the nominator wouldn’t really mean it.

I think my nomination would be every bit as legitimate as Tookie Williams’s. If I can talk someone into nominating me, their motivation will be mixed. Their primary motivation will be to expose such nominations as less prestigious than they really are. But they need not be dishonest in making the nomination. Indeed, given the fact that terrorist and murderer Yasser Arafat actually obtained such an award, someone could nominate me and sincerely argue that they believe I am more worthy of the prize than Arafat was.

If Eugene Volokh thinks that Nobel Peace Prize nominations are not truly legitimate if they are made with some ulterior purpose in mind, as he seems to suggest in his post from yesterday, then I assume that he believes Williams’s nominations are not truly legitimate either. I’d love to see him weigh in on this topic in light of today’s Times article.

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