Patterico's Pontifications


Pants Suit Judge to Lose Judgeship

Filed under: Buffoons,General — Patterico @ 9:46 pm

Roy L. Pearson Jr., the $54 million pants suit plaintiff, is set to lose his judgeship. (Via Howard “Media Rebel” Bashman.)

Suits me fine. I’m satisfied.

California Wildfires from Space

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:41 pm

The then-actively burning fires are indicated in red in this image, taken at 7 p.m. Eastern yesterday, October 22. It is the most recent satellite photo of the fires currently on NASA’s page.

Image credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response

The L.A. Times is reporting over 1100 homes destroyed.

DREAM Act Revisited?

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 7:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Mickey Kaus reports the Dream Act (which it is estimated will legalize 2.1 illegal immigrants) will be rejuvenated by Senator Harry Reid and there could be a vote as early as Wednesday. A list of supposed Senate fence-sitters is here.

If this story is true, the Senate is moving forward despite polling results like this Rasmussen poll that shows Americans want immigration enforcement, not a relaxation of immigration rules:

“Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans believe it is Very Important to improve border enforcement and reduce illegal immigration. That view is held by 80% of Republicans, 62% of Democrats, and 64% of those not affiliated with either major political party. Those figures are little changed from earlier in the year.”

There’s a real disconnect between the people and the government on this issue.


A Tremendously Important Book That Many Should Read — “The Terror Presidency” by Jack Goldsmith

Filed under: General — WLS @ 3:28 pm

Posted by WLS:

I’ve only recently started reading Jack Goldsmith’s book about his 10 months as the Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel.

I know from reviews I’ve read of the book that Goldsmith formed some opinions about members of the Admin. that will probably leave me troubled. But, in reading the first 60 pages, I must say that I think anyone interested in the intersection of the Constitution and National Security should devote some time to what Goldsmith has produced. It’s only 216 pages, and while it has enough subject-matter involving the legal niceties of various terrorism and national security policies, it’s also tremendously informative from a layman’s perspective on the framework and structure of the law in this area.

A little background on Goldsmith was an especially interesting way for him to begin his book. While he describes himself as a political and legal conservative, he came to those beliefs while a law student at Yale in the 1980s. He was not a member of the political or cultural establishment, having been born and raised in Tennessee by parents who ran a nightclub on the Mississippi River. Following his parents’ divorce, his mother married a gentleman named Chuck O’Brien, who was widely known as Jimmy Hoffa’s right hand man in running the Teamster’s Union, and for decades was a central suspect in Hoffa’s disapperance.

Following graduation from Yale, he clerked for Judge Wilkerson on the 4th Circuit, and for Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court. After his clerkship, he practiced law in a large D.C. law firm before going into teaching, eventually ending up on the faculty at the University of Chicago Law School.

He didn’t know any GOP politicians, never donated money to GOP candidates or causes (his only political contribution was to a personal friend in Chicago running for office as a liberal Democrat), and was not one of the legions of conservative lawyers who rushed to Florida in the aftermath of the 2000 election.

He didn’t join the Admin. until Aug. 2002, after the General Counsel for the Dept. of Defense sought him out, having learned of his academic writings critical of the creeping influence of international law on American law, and on subjects concerning the legal aspects of military operations and military commissions. There were reasons why these were important subjects in DOD, and I’ll cover those in a later post as I get through the book.

His first and only government job prior to becoming AAG of the OLC was simply “Special Counsel” to the General Counsel of DOD — a job he stayed in for only 7 months prior to resigning to go back into academia at the University of Virginia in March 2003. Six months later he was sworn in as AAG of the OLC, another job he never sought, but for which he was recommended by the DOD General Counsel.

By June of 2004 he had resigned.

I’ll have more to come as I make my way through the book.

** Note: The Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice is the “referee” of legal disputes within the Executive Branch. If two agencies disagree on the meaning or application of a particular statute, OLC issues an opinion that is binding on all agencies of the Executive Branch.

OLC also has the responsibility of defining the bases and limits of Presidential authority under statutes, case law, and most significantly, the Constitution. The OLC is often described as the Attorney General’s Lawyer. But the culture of the OLC is to issue detached, apolitical legal advice about what the President and Executive Branch can and cannot do under the law as it exists at the time, and under settled interpretations of Constitutional provisions. It is not to be an advocate for changing the law or arguing for new interpretations.

California Fires Worsen (Updated)

Filed under: Real Life — DRJ @ 2:30 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The California fires just get worse as the heat goes up, the wind blows, and the largest evacuation in California history continues:

The string of wildfires plaguing Southern California has burned more than 1,000 homes, with new fires breaking out today and hundreds of thousands of people ordered to evacuate. Authorities said four evacuees in San Diego County had died, bringing the death toll to six.

New fires sprang up in San Diego and Los Angeles counties, and more evacuations were ordered in Orange and San Diego counties. As many as 10,000 people sought shelter at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Weary firefighters fought major blazes that have burned since the weekend in seven counties, and officials said containment was days away at the earliest.

In an area as large as Southern California, officials remained focused on how to cope with their individual disasters, and there was little information for the region as a whole. But most officials agreed that all of the numbers grew overnight. There were more fires, more evacuations, more damage and more fatigue among firefighters.

There have been four confirmed deaths and it’s estimated a million people have been displaced, 400,000 acres burned, and 1,500 homes and structures destroyed (1,300 in San Diego alone). Here’s a Google map of current fires.

What a tragedy. Hopefully the Santa Anna Ana winds will die down Wednesday.

Update: There are far more injuries than reported earlier including at least 16 in the San Diego burn unit of which 5 civilians and 5 firefighters are in critical condition. The UCSD facility is ready to take 100 more burn patients if needed.


No More Garden of Love

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 1:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There’s one less wedding chapel in Las Vegas NV as the City Council unanimously voted today to revoke the Garden of Love wedding chapel’s business license on the ground it is a nuisance.

Apparently part of the allegations against the Garden of Love involved the use of overly aggressive handbillers, people who stand outside the marriage license office and hand out handbills in the hope to win business for a specific chapel. Competing chapels claimed the Garden of Love handbillers had used assault, harassment, and intimidation to corner the wedding chapel market. The City Council found the competitors’ claims persuasive, although the Garden of Love owners tried to turn the focus against one of its most vocal critics, Cliff Evarts.

Read the whole thing. It sounds like something from out of a comedy but I’m sure it’s not a laughing matter to the participants since wedding chapels are big business in Las Vegas.


Peter Stark deserves credit for doing this, but it shouldn’t have taken him so long.

Filed under: General — WLS @ 12:41 pm

Posted by WLS:

This  appears to be a genuine expression of regret for his intemperate words.

But he’s still one of the Top 5 biggest horse’s asses in the House. 

Larry Craig pays Legal Fees from Campaign Funds

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 12:07 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Senator Larry Craig will use campaign funds to pay legal fees in the appeal of his Minnesota guilty plea conviction and the Senate ethics’ investigation. He’s paid $23,000.00 to one lawyer already:

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has used $23,000 in campaign funds to pay the top Washington ethics lawyer, Stan Brand, who is fighting his case before the Senate ethics committee, according to Craig’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

No additional legal expenses appear in the report, but they eventually will. Craig, according to his office, has decided to use his campaign committee for attorney fees related to his criminal defense in Minnesota as well.

“A better read (of the latest report) is that Stan Brand bills more quickly,” Craig’s spokesman, Dan Whiting, wrote in an email. The report covers spending from July 1 to Sept. 30 and showed Craig with $475,000 left in the bank.”

Craig’s campaign stated that use of campaign funds for legal expenses is authorized by the FEC, and one expert speculated the various legal matters could not only help clear Craig’s name as a Senator but might also assist Craig’s case in a Senate ethics investigation.

I can see why it’s legal to use campaign funds to pay lawyers’ fees, especially given the litigious nature of politics these days. But paying lawyers to undo a candidate’s guilty plea isn’t what I expect my (infrequent) donations to be used for and I imagine that’s true for most donors.


Sports-Related Thoughts

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 8:12 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

I had two sports-related thoughts today, one of which I read online and the other that just occurred to me.

First, from the LA Times sports blog:

“[H]ere’s how wacky this season already is:

Arizona State did not play Saturday but got four merit-raises to advance to No. 4 in the BCS standings. In the USA Today coaches’ poll, Arizona State moon-hopped from No. 12 to No. 7. The Sun Devils jumped over USC, which cheapened itself with a crushing 38-0 win over Notre Dame.

It’s come to this: Playing nobody is better than beating Notre Dame.”


Second, something that just occurred to me:

I was discussing exercise with a friend and then I realized – you’re definitely getting older when your idea of working out is going to physical therapy … and you like it.

Ouch again.


More on the Sunstein and Miles Piece

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:07 am

Another note on the Sunstein and Miles op-ed on judicial activism and partisanship, which I discussed here.

There is perhaps no decision considered more “partisan” than Bush v. Gore. Nothing fuels the partisan blood of Republicans than to read an infuriating passage like this, from a contemporary news article:

[A]s the recount battle went to court again and again, and the canvassing board members saw dimpled ballot after dimpled ballot, the basis for judging a vote evolved.

In both counties, board members started looking at the whole ballot rather than just the presidential chad in an effort to determine voter intent. In Palm Beach, the canvassing board counted dimples as votes if the rest of the ballot bore similar marks instead of clean punches.

Generally there had to be some pattern that this was how the person voted,” said Judge Charles Burton, the chairman of the Palm Beach board. “Out of 22 votes if you just had two little dings, we wouldn’t necessarily count that.”

Broward canvassing board members Robert W. Lee and Gunzburger tended to view a dimple as a vote if there were other marks on the ballot for candidates of the same party. Lee, a Democrat and county court judge, even made a list showing which punch-card numbers corresponded to Democrats and which ones corresponded to Republicans. A quick glance at the list and the ballot would show whether the voter appeared to choose a straight ticket.

“There had to be a pattern of two or three dimples in the Democratic field for me to feel comfortable to count a dimple for Gore,” Lee said.

. . . .

Even canvassing board members acknowledge they could not be 100 percent consistent over the long days. “I’m sure there’s a few [ballots] in there now that if I went back and looked, I’d say these are votes, and if I went through the votes, I’d say some are not votes,” Burton said.

The order in which ballots came before the canvassing board was another variable. If the board saw a dimpled ballot and called it for Gore, they might call the next dimpled ballot for Bush. But if a similar ballot came three hours later, it might be discarded.

“At 10 a.m. a person might be a little more conservative, and by 10 p.m they may be a little more liberal,” said LeMieux of the Broward GOP.

As I said in August 2005:

Oh my God. Are you remembering the horror of watching this all unfold? It’s all coming back to me, and it’s not pleasant.

. . . [W]e all need a reminder of just how “clear” voter intent is when punch-cards are merely dimpled — and why the Supreme Court was dead right to find an equal protection violation due to the standardless recounts at issue in Bush v. Gore. When the people responsible for counting the votes “tended to” view dimples as votes depending upon their subjective analysis of other votes on the card; when they say things like “we wouldn’t necessarily count that”; when they say that a ballot they would have counted as a vote on one day, they wouldn’t have counted as a vote the next; when the standards evolve while the count is going on — well, then . . . that is not what I call “clear.”

But that’s me, as a partisan Republican. Partisan Democrats seemed to consider this circus the very pinnacle of fairness.

So, how would Sunstein and Miles “objectively” view a Justice of the United States who wandered into that fray and said this?

I agree that, in these very special circumstances, basic principles of fairness may well have counseled the adoption of a uniform standard to address the problem.

Why, they would see that Justice as a partisan activist Republican hack! What other possible conclusion is there? This is, of course, bolstered by the phrase “in these very special circumstances,” which proves that the Justice wants to limit his or her finding to the particular circumstances only because he or she wanted to help George W. Bush.

Isn’t it obvious?

And so we clearly see that Sunstein and Miles’s analysis would label Stephen Breyer, the Clinton-appointed author of that phrase, as a partisan activist Republican hack.

Welcome to the club, Mr. Justice Breyer!

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