Patterico's Pontifications


For Letterman Fans: RIP Larry “Bud” Melman

Filed under: General,Humor,Real Life — Patterico @ 9:26 pm

Larry “Bud” Melman is dead.

I was a huge Letterman fan in college, though I haven’t watched Letterman in at least 10 years.

Here is Larry “Bud” Melman passing out hot towels at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Nobody else has ever equalled his technique with a handheld microphone.


There’s No Inconsistency Here! Nobody’s Talking About Packing Up First!

Filed under: 2008 Election,Buffoons,General,Humor,War — Patterico @ 8:34 pm

As the Monty Python folks used to say:

Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Yes.

Yes a bit.

Cathy Seipp Remembered

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:46 pm

I will miss Cathy Seipp. Like Justin Levine, I was not close enough to her to qualify as a close friend. But I did have the privilege of speaking to her many times, mostly at the wonderful Yamashiro gatherings hosted by Scott Kaufer every month. Cathy was a fixture at these gatherings — at least until recent months, when her absence was noticeable — and every month I made it a point to speak to her for a while.

She was always very forthright with her opinions, and blunt in the way she expressed them. A theme that she came back to again and again was that people must be accountable for the things that they say.

For example, I talked to Cathy at length at a Yamashiro gathering held shortly after I had posted that the L.A. Times seemed poised to “push back” against its critics — including, possibly, me. Cathy told me that of course I should expect them to do that (and, basically, I shouldn’t whine about it). She was not mollified by my point that I had only a few hundred readers, while the paper commands a circulation of nearly a million, and has the power to seriously affect people’s reputations. Cathy’s feeling was, basically: tough. I was the one who chose to take on this powerful newspaper — and that’s all well and good, but I shouldn’t expect them not to fight back!

Another example came when I wrote about Dean Baquet’s e-mail to me, in which he declined my request for an interview regarding the paper’s decision to reveal classified details of the Swift counterterror program. He gave a reason in the e-mail, and I was dying to tell my readers what that reason was, because I found it exceedingly lame. But there was one problem: I hadn’t warned him in advance that I planned to publish any response. Unlike my correspondence with the Readers’ Representative, who clearly understands that anything she writes me will end up on my blog, I wasn’t sure that Baquet realized that I had intended to publish any response. So, rather than simply quoting his e-mail, I asked him for permission to publish his reason — permission that he never gave. Under the circumstances, I felt honor-bound not to quote Baquet’s e-mail — although I really, really wanted to.

You’re just completely wrong about that, Cathy told me at another Yamashiro gathering. There’s no expectation of privacy in an e-mail from the publisher of a newspaper to one of its critics. She thought I was being ridiculous not to publish the reason, and told me so. (She was mollified — a tiny bit — by the fact that I told her the reason privately.)

The unifying theme of those conversations was that you have to be held accountable for what you say. Cathy believed strongly in that principle.

Cathy and I had one major thing in common: we both delighted in skewering the L.A. Times. But she had a sort of love/hate relationship with the paper. Newspapers in general were important to her, and while she hated the political correctness of the paper, she didn’t want to see it go. She just wanted it to be better. And I think she felt she could have made it better if they had just published her more often.

And, you know, she was right about that.

I feel grateful for the little time I got to spend with her. My deepest condolences go out to her family and close friends.

Justin Levine posted about Cathy here. The L.A. Times has an obituary here. And L.A. Observed is working on a roundup of blog reactions here.

UPDATE: I found a comment Cathy left on the Baquet e-mail thing:

Why don’t you just report the exchange between you and Dean Baquet already? I can’t imagine he’d think you’re obligated to keep it off the record. As I told you before, I certainly don’t think you’re under any such obligation, and I don’t know any journalist who would.

See that word “already”? That word is what gave the comment its blunt, impatient force. That’s Cathy, right there. In my head, I can clearly hear her voice saying those words — mostly because that’s exactly how she sounded when she told me the same thing in person. I’m smiling right now thinking about it.

UPDATE x2: Treacher has it just right.

UPDATE x3: As does Matt Welch:

Cathy had an enormous talent for tiptoeing up to the line of polite-society mores, then vaulting across it with a cackle.

Well put.

UPDATE x4: There’s absolutely no question that Cathy would have appreciated this, from the L.A. Times web site:


That’s right: her obituary is currently the most viewed story on the whole web site.

Thoughts on Cathy Seipp’s Passing

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General,Real Life — Justin Levine @ 3:05 pm

[posted by Justin Levine] 

Cathy Seipp has left us. I only met her briefly 3 or 4 times myself, often at events related to blogging or journalism in Southern California. But the past few days have revealed another aspect of the blogosphere community to me that I hadn’t quite experienced before – that of collective mourning in the electronic form during somebody’s last moments on Earth, but before they pass away. It has been rather strange. It isn’t “strange” in the macabre sense of tawdry voyeurism or a media spectacle of publicly anticipating a death. It seems closer to a collective virtual gathering around the hospital bed in order to say good-bye as the final moments slip away. Obviously the public can’t do that for real, but the blogosphere provides something akin to that.

Can these tools be abused? Certainly. One could easily set up a “death” cam and watch somebody’s final moments in real time in order to tap into the purely voyeuristic impulse – perhaps even charging a fee for the event. But what happened in Cathy’s case seemed very emotionally fitting for someone I knew just enough to care about, but never had the opportunity to become an intimate friend with. If I couldn’t be at the bedside in person, it was still emotionally fulfilling to read the many blog tributes about her in the final days.

Best wishes Cathy. Your memory will live on in the virtual world, and many other realms as well.

— Justin Levine

L.A. Times: Performance Issues Were Detailed AFTER THE FACT!!!! (whispered: and before the fact as well)

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:18 am

The L.A. Times runs an article titled Making a list of reasons for firing U.S. attorneys. The article is designed to fuel the fires of the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, by suggesting that the legitimate performance-based reasons offered as a justification for firing the U.S. Attorneys were concocted after the fact. The article is teased on the front page with a blurb reading: “Memos show performance issues were detailed after the fact.”


The smaller “deck” headline reads: “Justice Department memos show performance issues were being detailed after the fact in order to justify the terminations.” And the article opens:

Senior Justice Department officials began drafting memos this month listing specific reasons why they had fired eight U.S. attorneys, intending to cite performance problems such as insubordination, leadership failures and other missteps if needed to convince angry congressional Democrats that the terminations were justified.

Wow. Performance issues were “detailed after the fact.” Memos citing performance problems were drafted “this month” in case they were “needed to convince angry congressional Democrats” that the firings were justified.

The conclusion the editors want you to reach is clear: any performance issues were transparently false rationales that were manufactured after the fact.

Of course, as I have noted on this blog, any such conclusion would be utterly false. There are reams of material preceding the firings, which thoroughly demonstrated the Administration’s dissatisfaction with certain U.S. Attorneys. Some of the most pointed criticism related to Carol Lam, the U.S. Attorney who Democrats say was targeted over the Randy “Duke” Cunningham investigation. Some of the details are set forth in this post, this post, and this post.

For example, on June 1, 2006 (months before the December 2006 firings), Kyle Sampson e-mailed a Justice Departmnt official suggesting a plan to deal with Lam that would include:

Have a heart-to-heart with Lam about the urgent need to improve immigration enforcement in SD.

Work with her to develop a plan for addressing the problem — to include alteration of prosecution thresholds; additional DOJ prosecutors; additional DHS SAUSA resources; etc.

Put her on a very short leash;

If she balks on any of the foregoing or otherwise does not perform in a measurable way by July 15 [my date], remove her.

A May 2, 2006 e-mail relates Border Patrol complaints about Lam:

They tell me that the U.S. attorney in San Diego for the Southern District of California, Carol Lamb [sic], has repeatedly refused to prosecute them; that the prosecutions have been slashed dramatically; that under the guidelines and practice of this U.S. attorney, the only way you’re really going to see a prosecution is if someone dies in the transport of the illegal aliens or if one of these alien smugglers attempts to run over someone . . . .

An October 19, 2005 e-mail says:

Congressman Lamar Smith is concerned that the Administration’s policy is to only prosecute aliens once they have been caught entering the country multiple times. Specifically, Smith cites Laredo, where he claims illegal aliens are apprehended and removed eight times before finally being prosecuted.

When I was in Phoenix with Jon, we met with USA Paul Charlton. Charlton told us that his office didn’t prosecute illegal aliens until they were apprehended 13 times (after the initial removal order). His exceptions to that “policy” were: aliens with aggravated felonies; alien smugglers with 12 or more people; and aliens who cross the border illegally with children not their own.

The examples go on and on.

Today’s article makes reference to some of this material — at the very end of the story, beginning at paragraph 27. For example:

Lam was written up for several performance failures, including that “she had focused too much attention and time on personally trying cases than managing” her office in San Diego. On border crime, the department said, “she failed to tackle this responsibility as aggressively and as vigorously as we expected and needed her to do. At the end of the day, we expected more.”

In July 2006, William Mercer in McNulty’s office poked fun at Lam, telling Elston in an e-mail that she “can’t meet a deadline” but would not admit her shortcomings. “She won’t just say, ‘OK. You got me. You’re right. I’ve ignored national priorities and obvious local needs. Shoot, my production is more hideous than I realized.’

So: performance issues were detailed before the fact and after the fact.

But the front page, and the headline, mention only the “after the fact” part. And the “before the fact” part is buried all the way at the end.

Do you think this is an accident, my friends?

Pat Leahy on Executive Privilege — From the Clinton Years!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:00 am

Sen. Pat Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 2007, wants subpoenas issued relating to a recent action taken by the President of the United States. Sen. Leahy wants witnesses to testify. And he wants it now:

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee . . . said his committee would vote Thursday on whether to issue subpoenas for [Karl] Rove as well as Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and William K. Kelley, the deputy White House counsel.

“I do not believe in this ‘We’ll have a private briefing for you where we’ll tell you everything,’ and they don’t,” Mr. Leahy said on “This Week” on ABC, adding: “I want testimony under oath.

But the Pat Leahy of 1999 — when one Bill Clinton was President — was much more cautious about issuing subpoenas and compelling testimony.

What is the difference now, I wonder?


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.0735 secs.