Patterico's Pontifications

7/31/2003

 
THE "F" WORD: For those of you who are not offended by reading something that contains literally dozens of instances of the "F" word, I commend to you this legal document available at The Smoking Gun web site, which collects legal documents of interest.

The document in question is the winner of the site's award for 2003 Legal Document of the Year. It is a motion to dismiss a disorderly conduct charge against a Colorado teenager, for his use of the "F" word and numerous variants to cuss out his school principal. As the Smoking Gun describes it, the motion "is an amusing and profane look at the world's favorite four-letter word, from its origins in 1500 to today's frequent use of the term by Eminem, Chris Rock, and Lenny Kravitz." Patterico agrees with the Smoking Gun that perhaps the best part of the document is "the chart comparing Google results for the 'F' word and other all-American terms."

According to the site, the motion was never argued. The kid cut a plea bargain that will earn him a dismissal if he stays out of trouble for four months. Still, this motion is [predictable expletive deleted]ing hilarious.


7/30/2003

 
RESPONSE ON THE OLIVERIO MARTINEZ CASE: On May 28 and 29, I wrote about the distortion of the facts of a Supreme Court case by the Los Angeles Times. You can read my complaints in detail in my May 28 post, which you can access here, and my May 29 post, which you can access here. Those posts provide the detail of my complaints, which I will summarize more briefly here.

In a nutshell, the Times had written about a guy named Oliverio Martinez who had gotten into a confrontation with police, was shot, and is paralyzed. Martinez was questioned by police while in the hospital. He sued police for questioning him without first reading him his rights, and for shooting him. The paper explained that police claimed that Martinez had grabbed an officer's gun, which is why they shot Martinez. Martinez denies grabbing the gun. What the paper didn't tell its readers, in the main story or in a companion puff piece about Martinez, was that Martinez had admitted to police on tape that he had grabbed the gun. Not only did this fact go unreported, but in an editorial, the Times claimed that police had interviewed Martinez and "got nothing useful." I wrote the Times's editor to complain.

Today, I got a response from the "reader representative." This led to a brief exchange of e-mails between that individual and myself. I would like to share the entire correspondence with you, the reader. This will be a long post, so if you're not interested in the issue, don't worry about it.

Here is the e-mail I got today:

"Your letter was forwarded to the office of the readers' representative. I apologize for the great delay in responding.

"I see your point about the fact that the Supreme Court news story on the day you wrote did not say clearly that Martinez took the gun. From that, you infer that the reporter was trying to make the man look sympathetic. While I agree that the detail could have been made more clear, I do think the information was there, in condensed form [the representative then quoted the following passage from one of the stories]:

"'When he approached, an officer called for him to halt. He did so, but when the officer grabbed for the field knife on his belt, a scuffle ensued. . . . "He's got my gun," the first officer called out. A second officer then fired five shots, hitting Martinez in the eyes and in his lower back. He was left blind and was paralyzed below the waist.'

"I think that the editors and reporters saw the Supreme Court article as a legal story more than a step-by-step recounting of the event. I understand you feel that the newsroom was trying to 'portray' Martinez as a 'complete innocent,' but the bulk of the article was a rundown of the Supreme Court legal decision and implications, rather than an examination of the run-in, and that's one reason they didn't include a line about Martinez's saying he took the gun. As you know, the other article did say: 'At that point, police said, he tried to snatch the officer's gun.'

"However, I do will [sic] pass along to editors, even now, your point that the articles should have alluded to the transcript in which he admitted taking the gun. Further, you see this as a sign of liberal leanings in the newsroom; and I'll let editors and the reporter know that as well.

"Every editor I work with here is concerned with bias in stories, and the appearance of bias, and I'm sorry that you are among readers who don't believe that to be the case. It helps when specifics like this are pointed out, so I can go back to editors and show them where readers feel their attempts at neutral reporting fall short. I hope you choose to write to this office in the future when you see coverage you feel is unfair; I send a weekly report to the staff on what readers are saying about Times coverage. I also work directly with editors in hopes of making the Times' news coverage as accurate and straight-forward as possible."

I responded as follows:

"Thanks for your reply. Although it took a while, I am pleased and encouraged that someone at the paper took the time to look into this. However, I do feel the need to respond to your e-mail. Perhaps the fault is mine for not being more clear in my initial e-mail to Mr. Carroll, but I believe that you have not understood the point I was trying to make at all.

"My complaint was specific and limited: that the paper never even hinted -- in condensed form or otherwise -- that Martinez had admitted on tape that he had taken an officer's gun in the struggle. The stories reported only that officers had claimed this. That is quite different.

"Any defense that Martinez' admission was not a crucial element of the story begs the question: why was it considered important to inform readers (in both stories) that Martinez currently denies that he took the officer's gun? If Martinez' current story is relevant, so is his admission to the contrary, made on tape.

"If such an admission had been made by a cop, as opposed to a poor Hispanic guy, would the L.A. Times report the officer's current story -- but omit a damning admission to the contrary that the officer had previously made on tape? Come on! And would there be a puff piece about the officer and what a rough time he has had dealing with some unfair situation -- again omitting his taped admission that he was the one who caused the situation to begin with? (I realize the term 'puff piece' may appear argumentative, but it is an accurate description of the companion piece the Times ran on Martinez.)

"Perhaps the worst thing the Times did that day was to print an editorial that affirmatively stated: 'officers got nothing useful from Martinez.' This was not merely a suspicious omission of a highly relevant fact, as occurred in the straight news stories. This was worse: a flat-out misrepresentation. I found it interesting that you seem to offer no defense for this statement.

"The misrepresentation in the editorial makes my point about the omission in the news stories of any mention of the taped admission. I can't imagine that the editorial writer intentionally misstated the facts. The only reason I can imagine that the editorial writer would have said something so blatantly untrue is that the editorial writer got snookered by your news coverage into thinking that the cops must not have gotten anything good from Martinez. I can't think of a better illustration of how misleading the news coverage was, than the fact that it apparently caused an editorial writer to flat-out misstate the facts.

"I accept your representation that the Times is working to keep bias off its news pages. (Presumably it is also working to keep factual misstatements off its pages, period -- even its editorials.) However, I must admit that I cannot feel even slightly satisfied with respect to this particular episode if I believe that my objections have not even been understood. It seems to me that there is no defense for what I have outlined to you above.

"I hope I have now made my point clear. Thank you again for your time and your
response."

I got a fairly immediate response:

"Thanks for this. I am in the newsroom, which is separate from the editorial pages, which is why I didn't address your comment about the editorial-page essay. I can send this as well to the editorial-page editors. Most likely they wrote their opinions based on news stories, which as you point out didn't mention the Martinez admission.

"It occurred to me that reporters might have felt the admission was in itself questionable because of the nature of the entire case -- that his comments were coerced -- but that is just my speculation. Let me ask the reporter specifically if he was aware of Martinez's taped comment, and if so why he chose to leave it out of the story. I'll let you know what I hear back."

I sent the following response:

"Thanks for the quick response. If you could, ask both reporters. I think David Savage did the legal piece, and if memory serves, someone else (don't remember who) did the companion piece about Martinez' life nowadays. Both stories reported Martinez' current version of events, and omitted the taped admission to the contrary, so I would be interested in what both reporters had to say. (Incidentally, the fact of Martinez' admission is reported at page 2 of the Supreme Court opinion, so I will be pretty surprised if at least Savage was unaware of it.)

"If either or both reporter(s) uses the defense you suggested -- that the statement was coerced, and therefore was suspect -- please also ask them why readers aren't capable of making such judgments for themselves. (I would also be interested to have them re-read the editorial that may have been based on their stories, and make their comments in light of the fact that their stories may have misled an editorial writer.)

"Thanks again. Let me add that I give you credit for writing me back, and taking these other steps. I will be very interested to hear the reporters' responses."

I trust that you, dear reader, will also be interested. I assure you that I will report back as soon as the reporters have offered their justifications.


 
TEN MINUTES: It took jurors ten minutes to vote report-writer Bijan Darvish not guilty in the Inglewood case, according to an interview with a juror.


 
FELONS AND VOTING: This article from Reason Online argues that felons should be allowed to vote, because we're all felons. The author sets forth a list of felonies and argues that we have all committed at least one -- taken a baseball bat to a mailbox, or written a lewd comment on a postcard.

Brilliant. By the same logic, we should stop sending felons to prison, I guess.

UPDATE: In the original post, I hesitated to pass along the fact that I haven't committed any of the felonies listed in the article. Obviously, I'm supposed to have committed at least one; the fact that I hadn't had me feeling a little abnormal. But a reader has written to say he hasn't, either. So that makes two of us, anyway. I feel a little better now.


 
THE OTHER TAPE: Wasn't there supposed to be another tape of the Inglewood incident -- from the convenience store? Which showed the altercation leading up to the car slam and punch? Whatever happened to that tape? Has anyone ever seen it??


 
DONOVAN JACKSON CONSISTENT?: This L.A. Times story on the Inglewood police case, which I first discussed in the post immediately below, states: "When Jackson took the witness stand, he gave confused and at times conflicting testimony. But the 17-year-old stuck to his original story: That he was unconscious and didn't remember the slam or the punch to his face." I read this as saying: he was sometimes inconsistent -- but not as to whether he was unconscious. He stuck to his original story on that issue.

I read this and thought: "Hmmmmmmm. That's not how I remember it." I had to dig through a stack of newspapers to find the Dog Trainer's original story on Jackson's testimony. The story is so old (from Friday, July 11, 2003), you gotta pay to see it on the Times's web site. No thanks! So I can't give you a working link. But here's what that story said about whether Jackson offered contradictory testimony on whether he was unconscious (all emphasis mine):

"When [Morse's attorney John] Barnett tried to pin him [Jackson] down on whether he was conscious when Morse manhandled him, Jackson gave contradictory responses, finally saying that he didn't know the definition of the word. Then he said he thought conscious means to be 'not awake.'"

Here's from an AP story:

"Jackson was not seriously injured. On the witness stand, he gave inconsistent answers about whether he was conscious when Morse slammed him and said he didn't remember much of the incident."

Your local Dog Trainer in action.


 
DARVISH SHOUTS, SUPPOSEDLY: I just read the Los Angeles Times story on the Inglewood police case: Mistrial Declared in Inglewood Police Case. The story says: "Seconds after his verdict was read, Darvish shouted, 'Yes!' and he and his attorney, Ronald Brower, pounded their fists on the table."

Shouted? I watched the verdict on television. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but I do not remember Darvish shouting. I wouldn't even describe his voice as having been raised. I remember it as a loud whisper. He and his attorney did both hit the table with their fists -- one time.

It's a minor point, to be sure, but the description of Darvish as "shouting" is so at odds with my recollection it has me wondering: did the Times reporters and I see the same thing? I am a poor witness, and I watched the verdict only once. If any other viewers remember Darvish "shouting," write me and tell me. If someone manages to see the tape of the verdict after reading this, that would be especially helpful.

Interesting side note: I have it on good authority that the black juror showed up to closing arguments with a Kobe Bryant related T-shirt on.

UPDATE: Everyone I asked who watched the verdict said Darvish said "Yes!" in a loud whisper -- not a shout. According to USA Today, "Darvish and his attorney banged their fists on the table and quietly uttered 'yes.'"


7/29/2003

 
BETTING ON TERRORISM: "The Pentagon is setting up a commodity-style market to use real investors — putting down real money — to help its generals predict terrorist attacks, coups d'etat and other turmoil in the Middle East."

Brilliant. Soon, rich people will be betting millions that a terrorist act will occur within x days. Luckily, human nature provides no incentive for those making such bets to help them come true. If, however, humans were driven by a lust for money -- well, then we'd all be in deep s**t.


 
POLL SHOWS BACKLASH ON GAY ISSUES: "Americans have become significantly less accepting of homosexuality since a Supreme Court decision that was hailed as clearing the way for new gay civil rights, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll has found."

This is too bad, I think. But not totally surprising. I think the problem here, as the public perceives it, is the Court's lack of a principled reason that the latest decision won't be read, at some point down the road, as a basis to constitutionalize gay marriage. The general principle is this: if you take away American citizens' right to decide these sorts of issues for themselves, through the electoral process, you shouldn't be surprised to see a backlash.


 
ARMSTRONG: A reader writes to offer, if not an authoritative answer, then at least a theory to answer my Lance Armstrong question. My correspondent believes that when Armstrong waited for Ullrich two years ago, the two were "within a few feet of each other." I should add that my correspondent is not certain of this fact, stating: "I might be wrong here. I see in the messy video vault of my mind that those two were pretty close to each other." My correspondent theorizes that Armstrong didn't see Ullrich's latest spill, and/or if he learned of it, Armsrong "probably thought that they were both 'even' as far as sporting favors were concerned."

If anyone has views on this, let me know by e-mailing me at the link to the left.



7/28/2003

 
SOUTH L.A. KILLINGS GET LESS POLICE ATTENTION THAN OTHERS: That is the report in today's Dog Trainer. The story, which is quite interesting, is based on a comprehensive study by the newspaper of LAPD statistics.

But it's not really "news." After reading the Dog Trainer article, I went to my bookshelf and pulled down my copy of The Killing Season, by Miles Corwin. I quickly confirmed my memory that what I read in the paper this morning had been reported by Corwin in his book, published over five years ago.

In the book, Corwin says: "Homicide detectives in South-Central investigate two to three times more cases than homicide detectives in most other LAPD divisions." Corwin quotes an expert who states that this is "totally inappropriate and unacceptable," and says that the ideal case load is six to eight homicides a year. South-Central detectives may get as many as twenty.

So the Dog Trainer story, while interesting, is old news. The Dog Trainer reporters didn't have have to do a study. All they had to do was ask Miles Corwin. This wouldn't have been so hard, incidentally. Mr. Corwin is not only a gifted author, but also a former Los Angeles Times reporter.


 
TOUR DE FRANCE: Here's what I don't get. Okay, Lance Armstrong has won. He beat the runner-up, Jan Ullrich, by one minute and one second. Ullrich, "who won this race in 1997, didn't succumb until Saturday's final time trial when, racing all-out in a blowing rain, he skidded off his bike."

But, see, Armstrong fell off his bike earlier, too -- and Ullrich waited for him. So then I thought, well, apparently they only wait for you if you're in the lead.

But reading the same article about when Ullrich waited for Armstrong, you learn that Ullrich fell two years ago. And back then, when Ullrich fell, "Armstrong, in the lead, stopped and waited."

So how did Armstrong find out about Ullrich's fall then? And why didn't he find out this time? Or did he find out this time, but just refuse to stop? And why isn't anyone talking about this?

I don't really care about the Tour de France, you understand. I just noticed this apparent discrepancy and wondered what the deal was. If any reader knows, write me by clicking on the link to the left. Any answer that has the ring of authority will be reprinted here.


 
RECALL: It just occurred to me what is odd about this whole recall process. If you count a vote against the recall as a vote "for" Davis, Davis could get more votes than anyone else -- multiples more, even -- and still lose. As I understand it, if he doesn't get 51% of the vote, he's outta there. But the winner could win with, say, 10% -- as long as he gets more votes than any other replacement candidate. So you could have a situation where Davis gets 49% of voters (voting "no" on the recall), and the next candidate gets 10% -- and Davis loses to the 10% guy.

Now that's just weird.

Even if the numbers are not that stark, it is nevertheless almost certain that if the recall succeeds, the "winner" will have received fewer votes than Davis -- if you look at votes against the recall as votes for Davis. (Of course, this is a function of game theory: Democrats are necessarily aligned behind one person, whereas the mechanics of the recall, with no primary, result in Republicans' fielding several candidates.) This will allow Democrats to continue their mythology of the "stolen" election. Perhaps this is what Terry McAuliffe had in mind all along.



7/26/2003

 
A LOGICAL STEP: Perhaps emboldened by the behavior of the Justices on the United States Supreme Court, judges are starting to do some truly outrageous things across the country.

First, as described here by Eugene Volokh, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to enact a budget, and suspended the operation of a two-thirds majority requirement for increasing taxes that is in the Nevada Constitution. That's right -- the state supreme court ordered violation of the state constitution.

The reasoning was that the state constitution also mandates the legislature to create and fund public schools. Even though the constitution doesn't say what the level of funding must be -- and therefore the two provisions are not necessarily in conflict -- the court just decided that the provision about schools was more important. So out the window with the two-thirds requirement.

Appalling. As Volokh says, it's a "flat judicial nullification of an entirely explicit command of the Nevada people."

Now, justices of the Illinois State Supreme Court have taken the notion of raw judicial power a step further, and ordered the state Comptroller to increase their salaries. The Court did this after the Governor had vetoed these same increases -- before any lawsuit had been filed! Apparently, there was no notice and no hearing -- just an order. (At least in Nevada the Justices were deciding an actual lawsuit.)

Under their order, the Justices' salaries will be boosted from $158,103 a year to $162,530 a year, and judicial salaries across the state will increase by about $4,000 a year. The Justices said that denial of cost-of-living adjustments violated a state constitutional provision against "diminishing" judicial salaries.

You folks who supported all the liberal U.S. Supreme Court decisions have no right to be appalled by any of this. Those decisions and these decisions are all based on a common principle: We Know Better Than You.

UPDATE: I told the story about the Illinois Supreme Court to my wife. I thought her comment, paraphrasing Mel Brooks, was better than anything I said about it:

"It's good to be the judge."


 
NOW THAT TAKES NERVE: "Three motorists who decided to drive home Friday from a court hearing in Long Beach in which their driver's licenses were suspended were re-arrested and their vehicles impounded, a sergeant said." The story is here.

Why don't police do this more often?


 
JANICE ROGERS BROWN OFFICIALLY NOMINATED TO D.C. CIRCUIT: Read about it here. Good move.

Now, although I oppose the recall of Governor Davis on principle (it sets a bad precedent), I have to admit it would be nice if we could get him out of office before he gets a chance to replace her. I also think that is realistic -- she may not be confirmed by October.


 
MAN FREED AMID COURT BACKLOG IS MURDER SUSPECT: The murder happened June 26, but the Dog Trainer is finally catching up.


7/25/2003

 
IS CHARLIE RANGEL RIGHT? Charlie Rangel has for months publicly supported reinstating the military draft. I read a letter to the editor this morning (first letter at this link), by one Robert Lentz of Sylmar, that may have me in agreement with Rangel. The letter reads, in its entirety:

"Re ' "A True Soldier" -- but a Statistic Too,' July 22: U.S. Army Capt. Steven Barry referred to the 'scum who continue to attack us' in Iraq. He also refers to an American soldier 'who lost his life fighting cowardly Iraqis.' It is amazing that our military leadership still has not learned to avoid demonizing and dehumanizing the 'enemy.' Naively, I thought this lesson was learned after the disastrous results of characterizing the Vietnamese as 'gooks' during the Vietnam War.

"And as far as cowardice is concerned, I believe the most powerful military in the history of the world annihilating a Third World, rag-tag army is the ultimate in cowardice."

I hereby propose a new military draft, of one guy: Robert Lentz of Sylmar. Let's send him to Iraq to show us what real bravery is.


7/24/2003

 
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: I think this letter in yesterday's Dog Trainer, written by Eric Dykeman of Long Beach, is worth reproducing in full. It is the third letter down at this link:

"I am going to disagree with the White House. I think those 16 words about Iraq seeking uranium should have been in his State of the Union address. I want all the intelligence information I can legally possess before deciding if I will support a decision for war.

"I'm astounded that so many people would rather have important intelligence hidden from them simply because the CIA was unable to confirm it — the same CIA that completely missed 9/11 and still cannot find Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."


 
ANNOYING EDITORIAL WRITER HARD AT WORK: The annoying guy who writes the cutesy editorials in the third spot for the Dog Trainer is at it again. This one is titled "Déjà Vu All Over Again." Never mind what it's about. The writer thinks the editorial is funny for some reason because he uses a lot of French words. The first line: "OK, mes amis, this is guerre." What a crack-up!


7/23/2003

 
THE POWER OF THE JUMP: Yet another installment in our semi-regular series. I am building what is quickly becoming an impressive collection of examples of the Los Angeles Dog Trainer (aka Los Angeles Times) using its back pages to hide things it doesn't want you to see. For other examples, see here, here, here, here, and here.

Here is the latest example. It's a story no paper could possibly ignore: Democrats in Sacramento, in what they believed was a private meeting, were discussing what a great idea it would be for them to be inflexible during the current budget negotiations, because precipitating a budget crisis now is good politics for Democrats.

I am not making this up. There are some great quotes in the article from nutty Democrats, most of them Los Angeles-based politicians. Take Los Angeles Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg. (Please!) "Since this is going to be a crisis, the crisis could be this year," Goldberg said, according to a transcript. "No one's running [for reelection]." Another guy from L.A., Fabian Nunez, chimed in: "If you don't have a budget, it helps Democrats."

So how do we know about this? Our old friend the open mike. Yep, that's right: the supposedly private meeting was being broadcast (and tape-recorded) all over the State Capitol. At some point, a staff member came in and said: "Excuse me, guys, you can be heard outside." To which Jackie Goldberg replied: "Oh [expletive], [expletive]."

Heh.

Of course, the Dog Trainer has been pushing the line that the budget standoff is almost completely the Republicans' fault, as I explained in this post from over a month ago. Once you read these quotes, it's pretty danged hard to believe that line.

If you read the quotes, that is. Don't forget the title of this post. You see, the most amazing thing about this story is that all of the fun, juicy quotes I just gave you were on the back pages, which (as the Times editors know) hardly anybody reads.

Well, you say, there's only so much they can put on the front page. To which I reply: hahahahahahaha! If only I could show you the front page of the actual paper edition of the newspaper, so you could see the tiny little box they had to put the story in, so as to push all the quotes onto the unknown regions of page A19. (By way of comparison, this story gets less front-page space than this story about the "personal locator beacon" -- a device that allows lost hikers to be found more easily. Miracle invention? Or spoiler of outdoor adventure? No need to turn to the back pages to see such issues discussed -- they are thoroughly explored right there on page A1.)

Since I obviously can't show you the hard-copy version, I'll have to show you where the jump is on the internet version. If you go to the link I have provided, you can see that the quotes start right there in the fifth paragraph. On the internet, that looks pretty high up in the story. Sorry, not high enough. The jump is in the middle of the fourth paragraph.

What liberal media?



 
BUBBA ON THE SIXTEEN WORDS: This one is worth quoting at length. What follows is Bill Clinton on Larry King, talking about the brouhaha regarding Bush's State of the Union address. I can't remember another time when the guy made so much sense:

KING: President, maybe I can get an area where you may disagree. Do you join, President Clinton, your fellow Democrats, in complaining about the portion of the State of the Union address that dealt with nuclear weaponry in Africa?

CLINTON: Well, I have a little different take on it, I think, than either side.

First of all, the White House said -- Mr. Fleischer said -- that on balance they probably shouldn't have put that comment in the speech. What happened, often happens. There was a disagreement between British intelligence and American intelligence. The president said it was British intelligence that said it. And then they said, well, maybe they shouldn't have put it in.

Let me tell you what I know. When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.

I mean, we're all more sensitive to any possible stocks of chemical and biological weapons. So there's a difference between British -- British intelligence still maintains that they think the nuclear story was true. I don't know what was true, what was false. I thought the White House did the right thing in just saying, Well, we probably shouldn't have said that. And I think we ought to focus on where we are and what the right thing to do for Iraq is now. That's what I think.

. . . .

KING: What do you do, Mr. President, with what's put in front of you?

CLINTON: Well, here's what happens: every day the president gets a daily brief from the CIA. And then, if it's some important issue -- and believe me, you know, anything having to do with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons became much more important to everybody in the White House after September the 11 -- then they probably told the president, certainly Condoleezza Rice, that this is what the British intelligence thought. They maybe have a difference of opinion, but on balance, they decided they should leave that line in the speech.

I think the main thing I want to say to you is, people can quarrel with whether we should have more troops in Afghanistan or internationalize Iraq or whatever, but it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks...

... of biological and chemical weapons. We might have destroyed them in '98. We tried to, but we sure as heck didn't know it because we never got to go back in there….

And what I think -- again, I would say the most important thing is we should focus on what's the best way to build Iraq as a democracy? How is the president going to do that and deal with continuing problems in Afghanistan and North Korea?

We should be pulling for America on this. We should be pulling for the people of Iraq. We can have honest disagreements about where we go from here, and we have space now to discuss that in what I hope will be a nonpartisan and open way. But this State of the Union deal they decided to use the British intelligence. The president said it was British intelligence. Then they said on balance they shouldn't have done it. You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president. I mean, you can't make as many calls as you have to make without messing up once in awhile. The thing we ought to be focused on is what is the right thing to do now. That's what I think.

(Via The Corner.)


7/22/2003

 
CARTOON LEADS TO SECRET SERVICE INQUIRY: A cartoon in the Los Angeles Dog Trainer, which depicted President Bush being assassinated by a guy whose jacket reads "Politics," prompted an inquiry by the Secret Service. The cartoon is drawn to resemble the famous picture of the gun-to-the-head assassination from the Vietnam War. It was drawn by conservative cartoonist Michael Ramirez, who said he intended to support Bush in the cartoon: "President Bush is the target, metaphorically speaking, of a political assassination because of 16 words that he uttered in the State of the Union."

My favorite line in the article is the last one: "Times spokesman David Garcia said Ramirez's cartoons reflect the opinion of the cartoonist, not that of the newspaper."

That is my candidate for Understatement of the Year.


7/21/2003

 
VACCINE, SCHMAXINE: Interesting story in today's Dog Trainer about a sailor named Troy Goodwin, who defied an order to take the anthrax vaccine. For his refusal to obey an order, he got 60 days in the brig, and a sympathetic story in the Times.

"The whole experience has left me feeling very degraded," Goodwin said. "I guess you could say I was a model soldier. Everything the military asked me to do, I did. But I wasn't going to subject my body to a vaccine that's not proven to work and could have serious side effects.

"Yes, I took an oath to obey orders, but I don't feel this order was a lawful one," he said. "I didn't sign up to blindly trust the military with my health."

I found it impressive how concerned Goodwin was about his health. He "spent six months studying the vaccine's pros and cons" and ended up writing a letter to the Navy explaining why he had decided not to take the vaccine. The story says that "he believed in his heart that the vaccine's health risks outweighed its benefits."

The more I read, the more I thought: Man, this guy's body is his temple. At least I thought so until I got to the end of the story. As I said, for his refusal to follow orders, he got 60 days in the brig. The story begins its description of the brig in this way: "It was like boot camp all over again. His cigarettes were counted — no more than five a day."

Yup. Turns out Mr. Health Nut is a chain-smoker.

You just gotta love people.


7/20/2003

 
800!: I got to 800 on the copter! (My previous best was 727.)


 
HUH?: From Haaretz: "A senior United States official said this week, in a closed-door conversation, that Israel has not done enough regarding Palestinian prisoner releases, and must do more on the issue. The official said that Israel must show flexibility on the subject of prisoners 'with blood on their hands,' indicating those prisoners that Israel holds responsible for Israeli casualties."

Why, exactly? What am I missing here? Is this not obviously insane?


 
MCAULIFFE "FIRMLY BEHIND" DAVIS: I think it's fun to see a quote like this from DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe: "The national Party stands firmly behind Governor Gray Davis." It warms my heart to see Democrats expending political (and hopefully, financial) capital on a guy with a 23% approval rating.

I don't much care who is governor of California. But this kind of nonsense could potentially give the national party a black eye. The message is clear: we don't care if the electorate hates this guy. He's our guy. We will support any Democrat, no matter how vile.

Maybe this recall thing isn't so bad after all.

It's also revealing to watch McAuliffe yap on about how the Republicans are trying to "steal" this election, in a not-so-veiled reference to the 2000 Presidential election. Sure, the recall is unusual, and in the opinion of many (including myself) sets a bad precedent. But the recall effort requires the signatures of a million California voters and is fully authorized by state law. It is not "stealing" an election by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that McAuliffe is willing to say so is not only another example of his (and the Democrats') cynicism -- it also conclusively demonstrates that their whining about 2000 has no credibility whatsoever.

Keep it up, boys!


 
JANICE ROGERS BROWN A CANDIDATE FOR D.C. CIRCUIT: For those who get their news from Patterico and not the mainstream media, I apologize for being three days late in getting this story to you. I had heard about it, but neglected my solemn duty to report it promptly to you, the loyal reader. Anyway, this is good news for those of us who would like to see her on the Supreme Court some day. We'd miss her here in California, but we have our eye on the greater good.


 
WELCOME: I occasionally like to take the opportunity to welcome any new readers. Hope you enjoy the site. E-mail me at the link on the left, to let me know what you think of the site. I welcome all feedback, and generally respond to such e-mails. Poke around the site, look at the archives if you have time, tell your friends, and keep reading!


 
MAN SIMULATES DOG: Sheriff's deputies convinced a guy they were chasing, who had run into the woods, that he needed to come out or they would send a dog in after him. The deputies didn't really have a dog, so one of them started barking like a dog.

This happened in -- you guessed it -- Tennessee.


 
NAT HENTOFF ON SANDRA DAY: I'm not sure why Nat Hentoff, a liberal who writes for the Village Voice, is against the Supreme Court's Michigan Law School affirmative action decision. But he is, and backs up his view with compelling arguments.

In last week's column, a must-read, he made a point that appears to have been completely missed in the news coverage of the case: the District Court made a factual finding that the law school's program (which was upheld by the Court) was a quota system. Usually, the appellate courts defer to factual findings, and when they don't, they usually at least explain why. O'Connor didn't do that.

This week's column by Hentoff points out that the decision will not help poor minorities at all, since the minorities attending the elite schools like Michigan Law School are almost always financially well off.

Read both. If you have time for one, read last week's. It's pretty amazing that nobody else seems to have picked up on this.


7/19/2003

 
THE POWER OF THE JUMP: Another installment in our semi-regular series (see also here, here, here, and here for more examples). This Los Angeles Dog Trainer story opens in this way:

"A committee deliberation exploded into a near-brawl in the House of Representatives on Friday, as epithets and insults like 'wimp' and 'fruitcake' filled the air and Capitol police were summoned to the scene.

"At the center of the extraordinary maelstrom were two Californians, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Bakersfield), a conservative who does not suffer political opponents lightly, and Rep. Pete Stark (D-Hayward), who is regarded as a liberal firebrand with a short fuse.

"No blows were struck or arrests made. But the day ended with a series of seething floor speeches, reflecting the frustrations of Republicans eager to use their power and Democrats tired of having none.

"Outnumbered 229-205, Democrats lose virtually all of the important House votes — and, worse yet, Republican committee chairmen regularly brush them aside. Such is particularly the case on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, which Thomas runs with an iron fist."

A couple words later, the story jumps to the back pages, which virtually nobody reads. The reader is left with the impression that some insults were traded -- some by Republicans like Thomas, some by Democrats like Stark. Isn't that the impression you get? And the spin is quickly given: it's all because the GOP is using its power in an overbearing fashion.

It's really an amazing feat of writing that the paper was able to communicate all of that without telling you that it was a Democrat who said both the words "fruitcake" and "wimp." This information comes far, far down in the story, after the Democrats' side of the story is given a full airing. The context is this: Stark had just finished belittling the intellect of a Republican named McInnis. McInnis, according to the paper, allegedly told Stark to "shut up" -- something which is not on the transcript. Here is how Pete Stark responded -- and unlike McInnis's alleged statement, Stark's statement is in the transcript:

"You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on. Come over here and make me, I dare you. You little fruitcake." Not surprisingly, the Republican thought Stark was challenging him to a fist fight.

So you see, the way these words were able to "fill[] the air" was because they all came out of a Democrat's mouth. And all you have to do to learn this is read past the jump.


 
JUSTICE TAKES A HOLIDAY: I think justice deserves it. After first taking a beating and then crossing a line, justice has had a tough year. A holiday is much deserved.


 
KOBE BRYANT: I am someone who doesn't follow sports. Still, you can't escape this story, and so I heard it discussed on one of my favorite radio programs yesterday. The amazing thing to me is that most people seem to have made up their mind about whether Bryant is guilty, without having seen any evidence whatsoever. I mean, there are people who know he's innocent because all these women who hang around these sports stars are out to get rich and famous. Because he would never do something like that. Because you don't go to a hotel room with a guy without knowing you want sex. Finally, there are the people who say he's probably guilty because the prosecutor in the press conference seemed like a good guy.

Sheesh.

Face it: you have absolutely no idea whether this guy committed sexual assault. None. So stop opining. I know America is the Land of the Uninformed Opinion, but this is ridiculous. Enough already. Let's wait for the evidence.


7/18/2003

 
TONY BLAIR: You can read his address to Congress here. Can he be the leader of our country too?


7/16/2003

 
SUPREME COURT PICTURES: Including pictures of the chambers of 7 of 9 Justices, can be seen here. Interesting stuff. (Link via How Appealing.)


 
SECOND AMENDMENT: For those who doubt that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to keep and bear arms, I commend to them this piece by Professor Eugene Volokh. It is a transcript of his testimony to a Senate subcommittee.

I link to Volokh all the time, as he is one of the most reasonable folks out there.


7/15/2003

 
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Bob Graham, when asked if Bush told a "lie" about Iraq:

"I would not use the three-letter word. I would use the five-letter word: deceit."


 
MAKING FUN OF FLEISCHER: This is a good test to see if you have been paying attention to why we went to war in Iraq. See if you can make any sense of the following statement:

"I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."

That is a quote from Ari Fleischer. You can read it here, a piece by Dana Milbank, a Washington Post writer who precedes the quote with the sneering word: "Verbatim:" -- i.e.: can you believe Fleischer said this?

Milbank doesn't understand why we went to war. I do, so I understand the quote. If you need translation, here it is: Saddam did unquestionably have the weapons earlier, in 1998. So where did they go? If you say he doesn't have them now, you tell me where they went.

Granted, it is not the most elegant statement. But it makes perfect sense to those of us who realize the war wasn't all about whether Saddam was buying nuclear material from Niger.


 
WHAT THE WAR WAS ABOUT: "Defending the broader decision to go to war with Iraq, the president said the decision was made after he gave Saddam Hussein 'a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in.'"

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Well, he didn't say in where. Maybe he wouldn't let them in his double-secret club. Or maybe he wouldn't let them in the bathroom, even if they really, really had to go.


7/14/2003

 
A FUNNY BULK E-MAIL FROM NIGERIA: Eugene Volokh got the e-mail, which you can read here. It's worth reading, trust me. Here's how it starts:

"Dear Mister Gaorge Bush:

"Please keep this in the strictest confidense. You do not know me, but my name is Umbuto Johnson, and I am the grandson of Ashtari P. Johnson, in charge of the nuclear programme of the African country of Niger."


 
MORE DOG TRAINER EDITORIALS: Check out the condescension dripping from this editorial about Ward Connerly. I could make fun of it, but really, it makes fun of itself.


 
CUTESY EDITORIAL ALERT: That annoying guy at the Los Angeles Dog Trainer -- you know, the guy who writes the idiotic editorials in the third spot -- is at it again. Beware.


 
EXTRA! EXTRA! NAACP PLEDGES TO WORK AGAINST BUSH: This AP story says: "The leader of the NAACP [Julian Bond] criticized President Bush and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, for challenging race-conscious admissions in colleges and vowed to work to unseat the president in 2004. . . .Bond also voiced his disappointment that neither President Bush nor his brother attended the 2002 NAACP conference in Texas or the 2003 meeting. He also said the group intended "to uproot the bigger 'Bush' in 2004." (All emphasis mine.)

Point number one: duh. Anyone who profeses to be shocked by this is either stupid or pretending to be.

Point number two: gee, I thought the NAACP was a tax-exempt organization. Non-profit organizations under IRC section 501(c)(3), like the NAACP, theoretically forfeit their tax exemption if they engage in "political activities." The IRS's description of "political activities" expressly encompasses "activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate, even on the basis of non-partisan criteria."

Read again the quotes in bold above. Mr. Bond has expressly declared his intent to do exactly what the rule prohibits: to actively work against a particular candidate. How can he announce this so publicly -- so brazenly? Isn't he worried about his organization's tax-exempt status?

Not in the slightest, because the IRS has given the NAACP a pass for years, a fact that has been repeatedly documented. Everyone reading this remembers the James Byrd ad from the 2000 presidential campaign, which cynically attempted to connect a notoriously brutal racially motivated murder to Bush and his policies as Governor of Texas. That ad was sponsored by the NAACP -- remember?

As much I would like to say that Bond has finally crossed the line, I sincerely doubt it. If the IRS took action, Bush thinks it would make him look bad. So he would never permit the IRS to take action. The amplified screams of so-called "black leaders" would be deafening. It won't even become an issue to begin with, because top IRS officials know not to make their boss unhappy. This is how such a blatant outrage becomes so commonplace that it is barely worth mentioning.


7/12/2003

 
SPUNGOES: Many, many people visit this page because they have searched Google for the word "Spungoes." These people are Simpsons fans. They know that the word appeared in a classic Simpsons episode, and they want to see the full context of the quote.

I welcome such readers and would like to make their search easier by directing them here, to my entry which quotes at length from the classic "Spungoes" scene where Homer has counterfeit Super Bowl tickets.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of the site.


7/11/2003

 
FLY THE HELICOPTER: This is kind of fun but mostly pretty frustrating. I haven't done any better than 727 yet. I blame it on my mouse.


 
A LITTLE NEPOTISM: Click on this link to watch video of my wife, a deputy district attorney, on the local CBS channel the other day.

She is commenting on the dismissal of child molestation charges against a Catholic priest. The dismissal was forced by the Supreme Court's Stogner decision invalidating a California statute that had purported to revive certain sex charges that were otherwise barred by the statute of limitations.

Warning: your video may not work. Different people have different results clicking on the link. Here at my house we hear audio but don't see video. Many relatives and friends have had better luck.


 
STUDENT PUNISHED BY UNIVERSITY FOR TRYING TO POST FLYER: Another story of campus PC run amok. On Larry Elder's radio program yesterday, I heard the student described in this story, Steve Hinkle. Hinkle is a student at California Polytechnic State University. He has been disciplined by his university, supposedly for disrupting a student meeting. However, the "disruption" was that he was attempting to post a flyer.

Hinkle, who seemed very articulate and credible on Elder's show, described the supposed "disruption" in this way. He was posting flyers all over campus for a speech by a black writer, Mason Weaver, a conservative who believes that blacks have become too dependent on government programs. Hinkle tried to post the flyer in the multicultural center, which is open to all students. Some minority students in the center confronted him because they didn't like what he was posting. One of them actually called the campus police. Due to the confrontation, Hinkle did not post the flyer and left by 6:45.

The campus police actually showed up and wrote a report, which states that they were "dispatched to the multicultural center to investigate a report of a suspicious white male passing out literature of an offensive racial nature." Cal Poly then charged Hinkle with disrupting a Bible reading in the multicultural center's lounge area. You see, the students who confronted him were apparently preparing to have a Bible study at 7:00, but allegedly were unable to start on time because they were so upset about Hinkle having tried to post a flyer 15 minutes earlier. This is the "disruption of a student meeting" that Hinkle has been charged with.

Hinkle had a hearing. There is a transcript. Here is a statement a university official made to Hinkle: "You are a young white member of CPCR (Cal Poly College Republicans). To students of color, this may be a collision of experience . . . The chemistry has racial implications, and you are naive not to acknowledge those."

You should not be surprised that Hinkle was found guilty. The university has now demanded that he write a letter of apology, to be approved by the university administration. Hinkle, to his credit, has refused, and faces possible expulsion for his simple exercise of First Amendment rights.

This is an outrage. If you wish to complain to the President of Cal Poly, Warren J. Baker, write him at presidentsoffice@calpoly.edu.


7/10/2003

 
A WALK IN THE WOODS: I just read the first two chapters of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Man, this book is hilarious. Run, don't walk, to your local bookstore or library.


7/09/2003

 
MORE SEYMOUR BUTZ: One day after Patterico discussed the relationship of Seymour Butz to the Davis recall (see previous post), Steve Lopez is discussing the recall and seeing more butts -- his. He promises that if we elect him we can see his naked butt (just like Arnold's).

Coincidence?


7/08/2003

 
DON'T FORGET HUGH JASS: Recall Backers Assert Victory in Signature Drive is the headline. Proponents of the Davis recall are no longer collecting signatures.

I wonder how sure they are. If I were a rabid recall opponent, I would have volunteered to collect signatures, and then written down a bunch of signatures like Seymour Butz, that would get thrown out and not counted. If enough people did this, they might prove to have halted the signature collection too soon.


 
QUIT YOUR WHINING: Whining about our low, low gas prices is one of the things that makes the U.S. look stupid to the rest of the world.


 
CONSTITUTIONAL MISUNDERSTANDING: Two of these letter-writers support the sodomy decision with the following logic: "The founding fathers also did not allow for women to vote, nor did they outlaw the institution of slavery despite the well-documented feelings of disgust for it held by many of them."

Right. That's why we had to have constitutional amendments on those topics. And that is why freedom to commit homosexual acts -- which I am not opposed to -- also requires a constitutional amendment.


7/07/2003

 
CONFUSED: Why is Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners? Not to mollify Hamas or Islamic Jihad -- members of those groups continue to be held. This won't even mollify most Palestinians -- marchers in Gaza chanted "No peace without the freedom of all!"

Israel says it won't release those directly involved in killing Israeli citizens, leaving open the possibility of releasing people indirectly involved. Also: "Those at the top of the release list include women, juveniles, the infirm and those already approaching the end of a long jail sentence, Israeli officials said."

So if they had Osama in custody -- a reportedly infirm fellow who has only indirectly helped slaughter citizens -- would they let him go?


7/06/2003

 
A PIECE ABOUT SCALIA WITHOUT LIES? IN THE WASHINGTON POST??: It may sound crazy, but it's true. This is a thought-provoking piece on Scalia's dissents. I don't agree with absolutely everything in it, but it makes for decent reading, and I didn't see a single flat-out lie or distortion about Scalia anywhere in it. Amazing.


 
O'CONNOR ALMOST WHACKED ON HEAD BY FALLING WOODEN FRAME: Watch it here. A couple of people did get bonked on the head or other parts of their body, including Arlen Specter and the mayor of Philly. Quote from O'Connor (which you can hear in the video): "Did anybody check to see if Nino helped the union guys put that thing up?" No, really what she said was: "We could have all been killed."


7/05/2003

 
SCALIA RANT REVISED: I have revised yesterday's rant about David Broder's column about Scalia. The main change is presenting Scalia's quotes together as they originally appeared in the opinion, rather than broken up by my commentary. Now the reader can more easily follow the flow of Scalia's logic. (Again, I encourage the reader to read Scalia's opinion -- and other important Supreme Court opinions -- for himself or herself. This is your country, and you should not take the news media's word for what the Supreme Court is doing.)


7/04/2003

 
HAPPY FOURTH TO PATTERICO READERS: We enjoyed the fireworks on the beach tonight. Hope your Fourth was equally rewarding.


 
ANOTHER UNFAIR PIECE ABOUT SCALIA: Debunking distortions of opinions by Justice Scalia could become a full-time job. This piece by David Broder says: "Scalia railed against 'the so-called homosexual agenda' and declared himself on the side of those who 'do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children and teachers in their children's schools or as boarders in their homes.'"

I'll give you the same link to Scalia's dissent that I gave in my previous post. Read it here. Forgive me for duplicating part of a quote from my earlier post, but it is necessary to give the full context of both of the quotes distorted by Broder.

"Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.

"Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as 'discrimination' which it is the function of our judgments to deter. So imbued is the Court with the law profession's anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously 'mainstream'; that in most States what the Court calls 'discrimination' against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal; that proposals to ban such 'discrimination' under Title VII have repeatedly been rejected by Congress . . . that in some cases such 'discrimination' is mandated by federal statute [reference to the "don't ask don't tell" policy of the armed forces], and that in some cases such 'discrimination' is a constitutional right, see Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U. S. 640 (2000).

"Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. Social perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time, and every group has the right to persuade its fellow citizens that its view of such matters is the best. That homosexuals have achieved some success in that enterprise is attested to by the fact that Texas is one of the few remaining States that criminalize private, consensual homosexual acts. But persuading one's fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority will is something else." (My emphasis.)

That is what Broder characterizes as Scalia's "rail[ing] against the 'so-called homosexual agenda and "declaring himself on the side of" people who don't want to associate with homosexuals. You can make up your own mind, but to me, Broder has unfairly characterized Scalia's position.

Scalia's point, evident when you read the entire passage above, is simply that the Supreme Court is making judgments that are supposed to be made by the people. Here, in the case of homosexuality, the Supreme Court has signed onto the "homosexual agenda," which obviously includes seeking a reduction in the disapproval that many Americans feel concerning homosexuals. That many Americans feel such disapproval now is an inarguable point, illustrated by the fact that the anti-homosexual opinions of many Americans are embodied in federal and state law. Homosexuals are making progress at eroding that disapproval, and they have every right to do so. [And I personally hope they succeed.] But that should be done through the political process, not decreed by six lawyers coming from an elitist law background which is grounded in political views not shared by many in the country.

Now. Isn't that a perfectly good defense of the people's right to make decisions for themselves? I think it is. And when you start to read Scalia's opinions, you will note that this is the common thread running through most of his opinions on controversial topics: let the people decide for themselves.

But Broder tells his readers that Scalia is "rail[ing] against the 'so-called homosexual agenda" and "declaring himself on the side of" people who don't want to associate with homosexuals. Broder has a right to his opinion, but I think it grossly distorts what Scalia said. Broder's column is unfair to his readers, most of whom will never read Scalia's opinion, but rather will take Broder's word for it. Broder is seeing this all through the lenses of his hatred of Scalia. These lenses are legion in America's newsrooms.


7/02/2003

 
MORE LYING THROUGH QUOTATION OUT OF CONTEXT: Antonin Scalia is the latest victim of the new rage: lying about conservatives through selective quotation (see the post immediately below). First, his actual quote, from his dissent in the recent Lawrence decision concerning the Texas anti-sodomy law:

"Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. . . . But persuading one’s fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one’s views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. I would no more require a State to criminalize homosexual acts -- or, for that matter, display any moral disapprobation of them -- than I would forbid it to do so." (My emphasis.)

Now for the fun part: watching the first sentence of the quote above (the one I put in bold) get chopped at the first comma, which distorts it into a "some of my best friends are black" line -- you know, like the bigots say. How does this happen? Through the magic of press laziness and/or bias. Read these various reports characterizing the quote from his dissent:

The AP got the ball rolling with this story, which says: "'The court has taken sides in the culture war,' Scalia said, adding that he has 'nothing against homosexuals.'"

Continuing its proud tradition of laziness and inaccuracy, the New York Times weighed in with this story which said: "Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent and took the unusual step of reading it aloud from the bench this morning, saying 'the court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda,' while adding that he personally has 'nothing against homosexuals.'"

John W. Porter of the Portland Press Herald still thinks it's okay to trust news organizations like the New York Times. He wrote a whole editorial based on phony reports like the one from the New York Times. This also means that Porter wrote a whole editorial about Scalia's opinion, without bothering to read the opinion. This led him to make the following asinine comments:

"What sets the issue off so well is what he adds just a few paragraphs later. 'Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals,' he says.

"Really?

"The only thing missing is a tag line saying, 'Some of my best friends are gay.'

"I REMEMBER THAT 'I've got nothing against' argument. I heard it from racist parents in my neighborhood growing up who would expound on the evils of interracial dating and integration. 'I've got nothing against the blacks' was the standard disclaimer, meant to excuse the evil in the argument."

And so on.

Porter is not the only editorial writer who fell for it, by a longshot. Albany's paper the Times Union said in their editorial: "The far more troubling holdout is Justice Antonin Scalia. His insistence that he personally has 'nothing against homosexuals' is to merge the humor of the Jerry Seinfeld TV show with the seriousness of jurisprudence."

And here is a quote from an editorial in The Buffalo News: "Then, incredibly, Scalia had the nerve to say, 'Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals.' You almost expected the next line to say, 'Some of my best friends are homosexuals.'"

Incredibly, the editorial writer had the nerve to write an editorial for thousands of people, about an opinion that he (or she) had not even read.

This confirms what I have suspected for years: 99% or more of the people who criticize Scalia never bother to actually read one of his opinions. They simply rely on news articles with selective, out-of-context quotations -- probably written by journalists who haven't read the opinions themselves. Thus does our most brilliant Justice acquire the reputation of being a wild reactionary.

By now, having read that so many fine news organizations quoted Scalia this way, you are probably doubting whether I quoted him accurately above. How could these fine news outlets be wrong and Patterico be right? I say to you: be unlike a journalist -- read the actual opinion for yourself. You can do so here.


7/01/2003

 
THE BIG LIE ABOUT THE BIG LIE: I haven't closely followed this big ol' controversy about the Bush folks supposedly lying about WMD before the war. It sure has the panties of many of my liberal friends in a wad, but I am waiting for things to shake out a little more, for several reasons. One of them is that I haven't seen much evidence of the lies themselves; rather, I have seen a bunch of isolated quotes taken so far out of context that their citation sometimes approaches libel.

The Wolfowitz quotes from the Vanity Fair article are a good example. I don't know how many times I saw it quoted that Wolfowitz said that WMD was a "bureaucratic" (i.e. phony) justification for war. As anyone following this objectively should know by now, that was a completely bogus charge -- as was the charge that Wolfotitz said we went to war because of oil. Despite the fact that these bogus charges have been thoroughly debunked, they have been (and will continue to be) repeated by wild-eyed partisans, and those whose news sources are all one-sided.

Here is another good and recent example of another phony out-of-context quote. Eugene Volokh effectively debunks the claim that Cheney maintained that Saddam had reconstituted nuclear weapons. Yes, Cheney said those words, but when you read Volokh's piece you will see that nobody who watched the whole interview could possibly have thought Cheney had done anything but briefly misspeak.

This out-of-context quote is far less outrageous than the Wolfowitz quotes, because the context is more subtle. Still, I think Volokh's piece should be compelling to any dispassionate reader. If you read it and are not convinced, I suspect that you are seeing this whole controversy through lenses stained red with partisan rage.


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