Patterico's Pontifications


North Korean Crisis an Opportunity for Obama?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:19 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Following a series of provocative (and largely unanswered) tests of its missiles and nuclear arsenal, North Korea reportedly no longer considers itself bound by the armistice that ended the Korean War, as a protest over the South’s participation in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative. The communist regime’s military has said that it will take “immediate, strong military measures” if the South actually stops and searches any North Korean ships suspected of spreading weapons of mass destruction.

This is an immediate problem for the Obama administration, but it is also an opportunity.

After all, the real obstacles to effective action against North Korea are Russia and China, who both have interests in the continued existence of the DPRK regime. Neither has shown much interest in nuclear non-proliferation; both would prefer less US involvement and influence in East Asia.

However, as Daniel W. Drezner points out, North Korea’s increasingly bellicose threats of war may well increase the likelihood that China and Russia can be budged into taking meaningful action against North Korea. The threat of war increases the likelihood of US entanglement in the region and even a collapse of the DPRK.  The regime has made non-proliferation an issue for China and Russia.

Accordingly, Pres. Obama should view the latest North Korean provocation as leverage to persuade China to join the Proliferation Security Initiative. Such action would serve China’s interests by sending the message to North Korea that it has gone too far, while serving US interests — and even Obama’s Utopian desire for a nuke-free world — by strengthening the PSI.

Whether the Obama administration is capable of making this sort of deal will be a measure of its ability to harness that “soft power” we heard so much about during the campaign, and will serve as a likely prelude to the administration’s dealings with Iran.


California Supreme Court Rules 6-1 That Roy Rivenburg Is Pretty Darn Funny

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:49 pm

At “Not the L.A. Times,” funnyman Roy Rivenburg reacts to the Prop. 8 ruling:

Racy photos taken when the California Supreme Court was “young and naive” began circulating on the Internet today as part of a backlash over the court’s 6-1 ruling against same-sex marriage.

Joining the fray, gossip blogger Perez Hilton called the high court “a dumb bitch.”

The justices fired back with another 6-1 ruling that said Hilton was “a twerp.” They also denied posing for nude pictures.

“It was a windy photo shoot, and our robes blew off,” the court said. “We were young and naive and had no idea the photographer kept snapping pictures.”

I demand to know who dissented from the ruling that Perez Hilton is a twerp. We’ll begin recall proceedings tomorrow.

More at the link, including an amusing Photoshop of Ron George in flagrante delicto. That’s lawyer talk for: you can see his nipples. Eeeew.

L.A. Times On Sotomayor’s “Courts Make Policy” Quote: She Was Joking!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Judiciary,Obama — Patterico @ 6:24 pm

The L.A. Times today says of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor:

Later, in a 2005 speech, she suggested that the federal appeals courts “is where policy is made” — although she quickly suggested she was joking.

I call B.S. on that characterization, and invite you to watch the (very short) clip to judge for yourself:

Here’s my transcript:

All of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people with Court of Appeals experience. Because it is — Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know, and I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don’t make law. I know. OK, I know. I know. I’m not, I’m not promoting it and I’m not advocating it. I’m, you know. OK. Um. [Laughs]

She’s not saying she was joking; she is actually saying: OK, I just realized that the truthful statement I just uttered is something I’m not supposed to say.

As I noted in an update to my initial post on this quote, when it’s understood in its proper context, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. She was distinguishing between the role of district courts (which by and large don’t worry about the policy implications of their rulings) and that of appellate courts (which have to worry about how the principles they enunciate will apply to future cases). She worded the concept especially badly — something she quickly recognized. But that’s not the same as saying she was joking. She just said it really, really badly.

But I’m pretty sure that precision in speech is not a necessary attribute for a Supreme Court justice. Not when you consider the importance of empathy and group representation.

P.S. If there’s a silver living, it’s this: she appears to be OK on criminal law issues.

The Cult of Obama (Updated)

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 2:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

My Obama Shop in Washington D.C.’s Union Station.

UPDATE 1: The link isn’t working right now. Here’s a cached page.

UPDATE 2: The Republican Governor of Nevada is not a candidate for Obama’s cult:

“I’m not interested in a handshake and a hello. I’m interested in an apology.”


Cali Supremes uphold Prop 8, existing gay marriages.

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:11 am

[Posted by Karl]

Associated Press story breaking here.  This is what many, including Patterico, predicted; you can follow Pat’s links to access the opinion and analysis as it comes in.  The other obvious prediction is that the gay marriage fight will continue In California, as it will elsewhere around the country.

Update: Ladies and gentlemen, penetrating analysis from Meghan McCain.


Obama Nominates Sotomayor

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 am

Back on May 3, I predicted Obama would choose Sonia Sotomayor as his Supreme Court nominee, purely for political/group representation:

I am going to predict that Sonia Sotomayor will be Obama’s nominee to replace Souter. Conventional wisdom is that he “has” to pick a woman. He won the 2008 election on the strength of the Latino vote in the West, and no doubt feels that it will shore up his standing among Latinos to appoint the first Latina to the High Court. Sure, it would be a grander gesture closer to the next election . . . but who knows if he’ll get another chance?

It’s not like it makes me a genius to have been right — but I was right:

President Obama will nominate appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, officials said, making her the first Hispanic in history to be elevated to the high court.

. . . .

Sotomayor’s work as a judge is not without controversy. During a speech at the University of California at Berkeley, Sotomayor said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Hey, not all my predictions pan out, so I have to make the most of them when they do.

Sotomayor will almost certainly be confirmed, but she does appear to be one of the more leftist of the nominees that had been under consideration. Empathy über alles, dontcha know. Republicans should (emphasis on should) be able to have a field day showing how she’ll move the law to the left.

Pres. Obama and the Reality Bomb

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:41 am

[Posted by Karl]

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler thinks North Korea’s nuclear test is “An Early Test for Obama’s Engagement Policy,” but he buries the key facts among speculation from various supposed experts:

U.S. administration officials took encouragement from the quick responses from China and also Russia, in particular. The two nations, North Korean allies, joined in yesterday’s condemnations. The Russian reaction was “firmer” than after the last nuclear test and the Chinese reacted faster with condemnation than after the April missile test, administration officials said. Both countries also joined in the Security Council’s unanimous condemnation of North Korea during an emergency meeting yesterday.

But analysts are skeptical that China’s response means it will be more open to sanctions than in the past. It has traditionally been more concerned about regime instability on its border than nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s intransigence threatens an arms race in the region.

Much the same could be said of Iran. Pres. Obama apparently claims he did not realize, when he came to office, how “hard” the Iran problem would be. Yet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rejected the latest Western proposal for Iran to “freeze” its nuclear work in return for no new sanctions and ruled out talks on the issue. The International Atomic Energy Agency cannot adequately monitor Iran’s nuclear program, while the administration starts preparing people for Iran being allowed to retain it. All of which proceeds with the knowledge that Iran has sought nuclear weapons all along, and that Iran’s intransigence threatens to set off a Mideast arms race.

These problems have much less to do with engaging North Korea or Iran than they do with engaging Russia and China. Russia has the most power to delay Iran’s nuclear ambitions, just as China has the most leverage over North Korea. Without more cooperation from Russia and China, Obama’s policies toward North Korea and Iran will likely be no more successful than those of the Bush administration.

The problems Obama faces here are the flip side of his decisions to embrace — and possibly extend — the Bush administration’s war policies. These are decisions made because reality ultimately intrudes upon and overrides campaign rhetoric. Obama may continue his lofty campaign rhetoric regarding North Korea, Iran and nuclear proliferation, but only because the reality of Russian and Chinese reluctance renders it irrelevant, much as it rendered the Bush administration’s isolation and its later multi-lateral approach equally irrelevant.

The reality bomb is also going off domestically. The Democratic Congress opposes Obama’s decision to close the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay without a plan. Obama’s proposed domestic spending orgy is running into the reality of an increasingly resistant global bond market.

Pres. Obama campaigned on the notion that the Bush administration alienated the rest of the world and that he would reverse this dire situation. Instead, Obama’s diplomatic overtures have been largely rejected by the European Union, NATO, Russia, North Korea, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Iran and much of Latin America. Obama’s narcissism and the New Left roots of his ideology led him to believe that it was all about US, as in the US. Now, our Citizen of the World is learning that the World has its own agenda, one that is indifferent or opposed to his, both at home and abroad.


Prop. 8 Decision Will Be Handed Down Today

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:06 am

Reports say it will be issued at 10 a.m. With any luck, DRJ (our breaking news specialist) will have links up quickly. If I’m lucky, we might even get some analysis from Karl. I’ll be at work, thanking my lucky stars for the backup crew.

You should be able to access the opinion here when it comes down. Better yet, keep your eyes on How Appealing, which will almost certainly have a link to the opinion (as well as all relevant analysis) within seconds of its issuance.

I can’t make any predictions, but I will say that the right decision is clear: uphold Proposition 8. I voted against it, but my side lost. The people have spoken. And if the court rules that Prop. 8 engaged in some kind of fundamental restructuring of the California Constitution, then you can pretty much kiss the initiative process goodbye. And that has all sorts of terrible implications that go waaaay beyond the wisdom of gay marriage.

Expert predictions apparently are in line with my hopes: they say that the state will recognize marriages occurring before the election, but that the court will uphold the proposition. Here’s hoping that the experts are right, and that the California Supremes do the right thing.

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