Patterico's Pontifications


AP Finds a “Fracture” Where None Exists

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 8:34 pm

I was a little worried when I was cruising the How Appealing site and saw a link to an AP story titled Senate’s “Gang of 14” Fractures Over Alito. After all, I had so far heard nothing but support for Judge Alito from the members of the Gang. Lindsey Graham and Mike DeWine have said they see no sign of extraordinary circumstances, and Ben Nelson has praised Alito. The headline discussing a “fracture” suggested that some in the Gang of 14 had indicated a desire to filibuster Alito, and I clicked on the link to see who.

Turns out there’s nobody. The biggest evidence of a “fracture” is Ben Nelson saying that, while he has nothing but praise for Judge Alito, he thinks it’s too early to be talking about whether there are extraordinary circumstances. (The group is meeting tomorrow, so I guess it’s not too early then.)

That’s it?

I think the fracture is in the mind of liberal AP Supreme Court reporter Jesse J. Holland. So far I see no evidence of a fracture in the Gang — not even a hairline one.

He Also Endorses Bush for President

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:04 pm

The Alito nomination has had an amazing effect on Republicans. For one thing, Xrlq has now decided to oppose the Miers nomination. Better late than never!

More on the New York Times and That Selectively Quoted Letter

Filed under: Media Bias,War — Patterico @ 6:58 pm

Michelle Malkin has more on that New York Times story that selectively quoted the letter from the Marine who said that freedom was worth dying for. (For the background, see this post and the links therein.)

The reporter, James Dao, has not responded to Malkin’s e-mail regarding the story — but Malkin does have the reporter’s snippy and classless response to a reader:

Even the portion of [the Marine’s] e-mail that I used, the one that you seem so offended by, does not express anti-war sentiment. It does express the fatalism that many soldiers and Marines seem to feel about multiple tours. Have you been to Iraq, Michael? Or to any other war, for that matter? If you have, you should know the anxiety and fear parents, spouses, and troops themselves feel when they deploy to war. And if you haven’t, what right do you have to object when papers like The New York Times try to describe that anxiety and fear?

There’s lots more in Michelle’s post, but my favorite part is a response to Dao from a soldier who has served in Iraq and is going back:

James, yes, I’ve been to war. Twice now, already in OIF, and I’m heading back to war within the month. Since you do not even have the courage to acknowledge that you used selected quotes from a dead soldier’s last letter home to further your (and your paper’s) agenda, you are not worthy of even writing about a Marine like Corporal Starr, never mind trying to psychoanalyze what he was feeling about being back in the war. You are a coward when only your reputation is on the line. Corporal Starr was courageous, when even his life was on the line.

Should I die in Iraq, on this, my third tour, my wife will have in her posses[s]ion, a letter from me to be released to the press, should some slimy dirtbag like you try to make it look like I served in anything other than an honorable manner. I’m proud of what I do, I do it knowingly and with full knowledge of what the background on this war is. And likely better knowledge of what the outcome can be. I’m not some poor schlep who needs a NYT reporter to “interpret” my thoughts. I’ve live in the Middle East longer than Juan Cole, I’ve met more common Iraqis than has George Galloway, and I know more about the military soldiers I serve with than you will ever know in a lifetime of mis-reporting on soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

Well said.

ANWR vs. Hybrids

Filed under: Environment,Politics — Patterico @ 6:43 pm

Power Line reports that a bill allowing drilling in ANWR is set to pass.

On Laura Ingraham’s show the other day, Laura played a clip from the Oprah Winfrey show claiming that “if everybody bought the most fuel-efficient car available, the United States would save approximately 1.47 billion gallons of gasoline each year!” (The same claim is on her web site, here.) She said the word “billion” with a Dr. Evil level of excitement, and the audience ooohed and aaahed as, I presume, the flashing signs told them to do.

But the odd thing was, Oprah also ran a clip on her show that contained this factoid: “It’s estimated that Americans use more than 380 million gallons of gas every day.” (This claim is also on Oprah’s site.) Oprah didn’t bother to do the math, but it wasn’t hard for me to do even while driving (and I’m no mathematician): this means that driving the most fuel-efficient hybrids out there would save us less than 4 days’ worth of gas every year.

I was immediately reminded of ANWR opponents’ claims that ANWR would bring us only 6 months’ or so worth of oil. Again playing amateur mathematician, I calculated that 6 months is about 45 times more than 4 days. So, it would take 45 years of all of us driving in the best hybrids possible to save as much fuel as drilling in ANWR would produce. (And that’s accepting the six month claim at face value — and there are good arguments to suggest it’s not even close to true.)

Don’t get me wrong: I think hybrids are great. The next time I purchase a car, I hope to get one myself. I have my eye on the Toyota Highlander, which is the model that Glenn Reynolds just bought. My brother-in-law just got one and I rode in it when I was in Kentucky earlier this month. It’s a tank of an SUV, it’s safe, it’s powerful (zero to sixty in eight seconds), and it gets better gas mileage than a Corolla. It’s incredibly quiet because the engine isn’t even running a good part of the time. The technology is so simple that all cars should use it.

I’m just putting things in perspective, that’s all.

UPDATE: As Nels Nelson points out in the comments, these numbers sound strange. After all, hybrids are much more efficient than gasoline-powered cars. Nels’s theory as to why hybrids apparently make such a little dent in the amount of fuel used per year is that a relatively small percentage of the oil consumed in this country is used to fuel passenger vehicles. But this theory doesn’t pan out, as 40 percent of our oil use is for passenger vehicles. Another theory: Oprah’s numbers are off.

If anyone has any insight on this topic, feel free to leave a comment.

Regardless of the exact numbers, my overarching point is how you can describe the same phenomenon in different ways and achieve a substantially different effect. If you want to make the savings of hybrids sound substantial, you go Carl Sagan on us and talk about the billions and billions of gallons saved. If you want to pretend that ANWR wouldn’t help much, you make the unrealistic assumption that all of our oil consumption would come exclusively from ANWR, and then argue that it would last us only a few months.

As the ANWR vote is reported over the next few days, watch and see which way the media spins the benefits of ANWR.

It Depends on What the Meaning of Explicit Is

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 5:05 pm

Dahlia Lithwick has explicitly promised to lie — and twist the English language beyond all recognition — in order to distort Judge Alito’s record. If that sounds hard to believe, please understand that I’m using Ms. Lithwick’s definition of “explicitly.” Eugene Volokh has the details.

L.A. Times Runs Fair Article on Judge Alito

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 12:20 pm

The L.A. Times has a highly complimentary article about Sam Alito in this morning’s paper. The article quotes numerous leftists who have nothing but praise for Judge Alito, saying he judges cases according to the text and the applicable laws, rather than according to the result he’d like.

There is a great quote from liberal former judge Timothy K. Lewis, who worked with Judge Alito on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals:

Alito does not have an agenda, contrary to what the Republican right is saying about him being a “home run.” He is not result-oriented. He is an honest conservative judge who believes in judicial restraint and judicial deference.

Don’t you get it, Judge Lewis? That is a home run!

Judge Lewis has described exactly the sort of judge that conservatives like me want to see appointed: not someone looking to incorporate their political views in judicial decisions, but rather someone who will refuse to do that.

This article reveals the criticism of Alito by the PFAWs of this world as the hysterical hyperbole that it is.

Kudos to the L.A. Times for running such a fair and balanced article.

Max Boot on the Lies of Lyin’ Joe Wilson

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:12 am

Max Boot has an excellent op-ed about Lyin’ Joe Wilson’s lies in this morning’s L.A. Times. Boot lists the high points of Lyin Joe’s hit parade of dishonest statements, debunks the idea that Republicans lied about pre-war intelligence, and concludes:

So much for the lies that led to war. What we’re left with is the lies that led to the antiwar movement. Good thing for Wilson and his pals that deceiving the press and the public isn’t a crime.


The Casey Decision As a Defense of Alito’s Casey Dissent

Filed under: Abortion,Constitutional Law,Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:28 am

Judge Alito has been criticized for applying the concept of an undue burden differently from the way it was applied by the majority in Casey. But look what the authors of the joint opinion in Casey said about their past application of exactly that standard:

The concept of an undue burden has been utilized by the Court as well as individual Members of the Court, including two of us, in ways that could be considered inconsistent.

So why should it be so surprising that Judge Alito, in trying to reconcile these inconsistent precedents, came to a different conclusion than Justice O’Connor did on the issue of spousal notification?

P.S. And, shouldn’t we junk a standard that can’t be consistently applied by members of the U.S. Supreme Court?

My Own Analysis of the Case of the Strip-Searched Ten-Year-Old

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:56 am

Yesterday, I linked to John Hinderaker’s analysis of the strip-search case. I have now carefully read the decision. Although I think John has done an excellent job of explaining the decision, I disagree with him and Judge Alito as to one aspect of it. As a result, I thought I’d give my own analysis of the case, to explain the nature of my disagreement.

It’s annoying that I have to call it the “case where the ten-year-old girl was strip-searched” so that you’ll recognize what I mean. Because that’s not what the case was about. It’s not like the majority was saying: “It’s unconstitutional to strip-search a ten-year-old girl!” and Judge Alito was saying: “No, it’s not! Plus, it’s good fun!”

This was, quite simply, a case about the scope of a warrant, and whether the police could be sued if they exceeded the scope of the warrant. But a hack like Erwin Chemerinsky will make it all about the strip-search, and might not even mention the actual legal issues involved.

This is why I have an ironclad rule: never express a definitive opinion on a judicial decision without carefully reading it. I commend that approach to others.

Having read the decision, I agree with the majority on the issue of the warrant’s scope, and with Judge Alito on the issue of whether the police could be sued. Both questions are close calls. I wouldn’t presume to say that Judge Alito is unqualified or worrisome because I disagree with a portion of his dissent, any more than I would say that Michael Chertoff (who wrote the majority opinion) is unqualified or worrisome because I disagree with a portion of his majority opinion. These are issues about which reasonable people can disagree.

On to the analysis:


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