Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

Category: Patt Morrison

Chris Dodd and Sean Penn in Haiti

Christopher Dodd

Chris Dodd, the longtime Democratic senator from Connecticut, now heads the Motion Picture Assn. of America. It's a role that's often been cast from the ranks of politics.

The MPAA's earliest incarnation was headed by Republican Will H. Hays, the former postmaster general, he of the notorious Hays Code. The longest-serving MPAA chief, Jack Valenti, had been an assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Valenti's replacement was Dan Glickman, a onetime Democratic congressman and secretary of Agriculture. They all knew the ropes in Washington, which is where the MPAA is headquartered.

Dodd served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic and recently went back for a reunion -- and for a journey to the other side of the island, Haiti, in Sean Penn's company.

"It was a great reunion. I saw a lot of old friends I hadn't seen for years," Dodd told me.

At the Sundance Film Festival, he said, he had run into Penn, who invited him to Haiti. Dodd took him up on it, after his Peace Corps reunion.

"Words cannot describe the commitment he has made, the difference he's making in the lives of people," Dodd said. "This is no casual photo op -– this is a deeply serious guy making a serious commitment. And George Clooney, what he's done in Darfur, and Julianne Moore, what she's doing for Save the Children. One thing I admire about a lot of people in the industry is their willingness to use their celebrity to make a difference in people's lives. I want to do things like that as well."

Dodd said he has opened the screening theater in the MPAA's D.C. office for matinees for wounded veterans from Walter Reed Hospital so they can "come on down for a bag of popcorn and a little [movie] break, getting out of the hospital."


'Creatocracy' and the Internet free-for-all

Patt Morrison Asks: Hollywood's pol, Chris Dodd

Academy Awards: It's about art, not political correctness

--Patt Morrison

Photo: Christopher Dodd is seen here on Dec. 13, 2010. Credit: Jessica Hill/AP Photo

Honest Abe, cool superhero -- just spare us the Spandex suit

LincolnFaster than a speeding bullet? No, better not use that one (remember Ford’s Theater).

More powerful than a locomotive? The steamers of his day, maybe.

Able to leap tall buildings? He WAS extremely tall, and had a very long stride.

Hang up the cape, pretty-boy Superman. Go hang in a cave, rich-boy Batman. Honest Abe is commanding the superhero scene.

Presidents Day is officially about George Washington, but to most Americans' way of thinking, it honors both Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Was Spider-man Day ever a holiday, hmmm? I think not.

The Times’ "Hero Complex" has a bit written by the author of a forthcoming novel, "Red White and Blood," with Abe offering advice from the grave to save the present-day president.

He’ll be the subject of two films this year -- one based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that makes him out as a vampire slayer (remember that rail-splitter’s axe? It wasn’t just good for rails), and the other a Spielberg homage starring Daniel-Day Lewis. I predict a brief tizzy of indignation on Fox because Lewis was born in London.

Just about anyone can act Lincoln, and has, starting with kindergartners in construction-paper stovepipe hats and acrylic beards. Everyone wants a piece of Lincoln. He was the first Republican president, from the anti-slavery party, opposed by pro-slavery southern Democrats. He also supported the union rather than states’ secession rights.  In the middle of the Civil War, he endorsed the transcontinental railway with government bonds and land (you have to wonder whether such a transportation project would have been embraced by present-day Republicans; high-speed rail, anyone?).

Like the union he saved, he belongs to everyone. Kentucky, the state where he was born, claims him. Illinois, his political cradle, claims him. Some gay groups argue that he was gay. His face is on the most common coin of this nation’s making, carried in a million pockets and dropped into a thousand Starbucks tip boxes every day.

And President Obama, another man sent to Washington from Illinois, put Lincoln’s bust in the Oval Office. The Lincoln books just keep piling up.

Lincoln justly ranks as the best or second-best president, ever. He is at least as great as Washington -- unquestionably a better writer, and I believe his teeth were all his own.

There’s much more super-hero material to Lincoln than to Washington, in part because Lincoln was so real. He told jokes, sweated in the fields, made fun of himself, wept and worked his way through war and the deaths of his children. The backstory, as they say in Hollywood, is Carl Sandberg meets Stan Lee. George Washington, on the other hand, was so intimidating, so august and irreproachable that even his fellow Founding Fathers all but tugged their forelocks around him. Parson Weems made up that "I-cut-down-the-cherry-tree" story out of whole cloth to humanize the Olympian Washington. We admire Washington, but we love Lincoln.

So I am enchanted with a Lincoln super-surge, just so long as the man himself -- his melancholy, his insights, his complexities, his nuanced and pragmatic politics, and the character that saved this nation with wisdom and patience and perseverance, not muscle-power -- doesn’t  get lost in a simplistic telling of him.

I ask you, graphic book guys, don't inflict on me the sight of a shirtless Abe with six-pack abs, delivering a version of one of his renowned speeches, yowling "A house divided against itself cannot stand -- RRRRRGGGHHH!" as, with his bare hands, he pulls the Mason-Dixon line back into line.


Goldberg: Mr. Right eludes the GOP

Santorum's theology of the outrageous

Presidential giants of our generation, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton

-- Patt Morrison 

Photo: Abraham Lincoln. Credit: HO/AFP/Getty Images

Issa's House hearings on contraception: Where were the women?

Lines Crossed- Separation of Church and State
Let me look at that calendar -- what year is it again? 2012? Because, if you ask the Democrats, on Capitol Hill this week it was really looking like 1991.

That was the year that an all-white, all-male Senate committee quizzed female witnesses, black and white, about sexual harassment and sexual innuendo during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

This week, there were no women appearing with the first panel before a House committee, which titled its hearings "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State" but that really was about the healthcare overhaul's requirement that employers' health insurance policies cover contraception.

The Democrats’ witness of choice -- a female Georgetown law student whose friend couldn't get access to contraceptive treatment there because of the university's religious affiliation, and who, evidently as a consequence, lost an ovary because of a syndrome that causes ovarian cysts -- was not permitted to testify. That, according to California Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who heads the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was because she is not a member of the clergy, unlike the five men who did testify.

A letter to Democratic members from Issa's staff explained the decision not to let the student testify; it said the hearing "is not about reproductive rights but about the administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience."

Issa's colleague, New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney, begged to differ:

"What I want to know is, where are the women? I look at this panel and I don't see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive healthcare services, including family planning.... Of course this hearing is about rights -- contraception and birth control. It's about the fact that women want to have access to basic health services [and] family planning through their insurance plan."

A second panel later in the day included two women chosen by  Issa, both from Christian-oriented academic institutions but neither a clergy member.

The two Democratic women on the committee, Maloney and the D.C. representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, along with a male colleague, Mike Quigley of Illinois, walked out of the hearing in protest.

Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat, was a member of the House during Thomas' 1991 hearings. She and some female colleagues marched to the Senate side of Capitol Hill to demand that the all-male committee take the sexual harassment allegations seriously.

The next year, 1992 -- later called the "Year of the Woman" -- Boxer was elected to the Senate, and California became the first state to have two women as its senators.

Some of that was replayed about this week's hearings. Boxer said her 16-year-old grandson got a look at the picture of the male clergy members being sworn in and said incredulously, "It's all dudes."

Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi remarked: "Imagine having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel. Duh."

Boxer's Washington state colleague, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who was elected in the same 1992 "Year of the Woman" tide, said that "reading the news this morning was like stepping into a time machine and going back 50 years."

Or at least 20.


Komen alternatives for a cure

Contraception and women's rights -- it's still a man's world

Should Romney take the rap for Mormon Church's 'proxy baptisms'?

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), left, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), center, speaks to Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, Director Straus Center of Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University, during a recess of the Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 16. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

Newt Gingrich says, ''Hola, L.A.''

Newt Gingrich
California Republicans and Latino voters have had a rough patch in their relationship for, oh, going on 20 years now –- ever since Proposition 187, the vast anti-illegal immigration ballot measure, parted the political waters and estranged many California Latinos from the Republican party for a generation.

This week, into this complicated history and this Latino-heavy part of California, came Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and GOP presidential candidate, to raise money and raise some support for his campaign among Latinos.

There were a couple of points during Gingrich's whirlwind visit that surprised me -- surprised that perhaps Gingrich, a former history professor and now a student of Spanish, hadn't done all his homework.

The event at a South El Monte restaurant was billed as a "Hispanic Leadership Event." Maybe that’s the word they use in Eastern time zones -– Georgia, Gingrich’s home state, has a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce -– but in these parts, the term "Latino" is far and away more common and even preferred.

And then, also at the South El Monte event, Gingrich reiterated his pledge to kill the Environmental Protection Agency, as a job-killer "with no sense of responsibility."

South El Monte is at the heart of a major Superfund cleanup site, a place where the groundwater was contaminated over decades with industrial solvents. As recently as last year, several companies that owned or ran operations there have agreed to pay a total of $13 million toward the federal cleanup, with several more such claims pending.


Dogs to Mitt: We are not luggage!

Straight-shooting Republicans keep hitting themselves in the foot

Santorum blames his wife for his criticism of those radical feminists

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich meets with Latino supporters during a campaign stop at a Mexican restaurant in South El Monte. Credit: Los Angeles Times / February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston and the paradoxes of celebrity

Whitney Houston
OK, the train has now wrecked. Where will people be going next for their vicarious celeb thrills?

The death of Whitney Houston raises once more the paradoxes of celebrity: We lap it up, admire and scorn the objects of our attention, want to have what they have -- and at the same time hope they crack up.

This one, in fact, did.

"Money can’t buy happiness," we tell ourselves primly. We believe that we believe that, but we really don't. In our heart of hearts, we think, "Boy, if I had that kind of money, or fame, or both, I wouldn't be such a screw-up. I'd do it right."

It's a perfect package: We can envy celebs and feel sorry for them, even look down on them, all at the same time.

The website Gawker relayed this anecdote:

A woman who posts YouTube videos about entertainment figures for the gossip site Hollyscoop had wrapped up her account of Whitney Houston's appearance at a pre-Grammy party with, "We are happy to see Whitney back on the scene, even if she is acting a little crazy. 'Cause, I’ll admit it -- it's a lot more fun to watch!" The video has been removed from the internet.

After Houston's death, the woman, Stephanie Bauer, tweeted this:

Can't believe I just did a @Hollyscoop story on Whitney's worrisome erratic behavior yesterday! Needless to say I'm getting hate comments.

Houston's death came up during a weekend panel I took part in at the American Jewish University: that in our "bowling alone" culture of isolation, celebrities have become the only people we all "know," even though we don't know them at all. They, instead of the town floozy or the neighborhood adulterer, are now our virtual "neighbors" and the objects of our moralizing.

And yet our secret or not-so-secret desire for fame, that "frenzy of renown," as USC's Leo Braudy calls it in his excellent book of that title, makes people debase themselves in pursuit of it, and so ultimately debase the idea that celebrity stands for some noteworthy accomplishment -- think of the Kardashians and humiliating reality shows -- as opposed to the celebrity of real talent, like Houston's, however many demons may have perched on her shoulders.


Photos: Whitney Houston | 1963-2012

Timeline: Whitney Houston's highs and lows

Video: Jennifer Hudson's Whitney Houston tribute

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Whitney Houston acknowledges cheers from the audience during her performance at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on April 10, 2000, during taping of the "25 Years of # 1 Hits: Arista Records' Anniversary Celebration." Credit: Mark J.Terrill / Associated Press 

Michelle Rhee's advice: Stop overpraising kids

Michelle-RheeStudentsFirst chief Michelle Rhee is a lightning-rod figure in educational reform, and I talked to her at length for my ''Patt Morrison Asks'' column. Her goal of a tough-love, top-to-bottom overhaul of public schools doesn't stop in the classroom or with teachers; even how we reward our children is in need of a makeover, she told me.

As an example, her own daughters, she says in a radio commentary, "suck" at soccer, yet they have so many medals and ribbons, "you'd think I was raising the next Mia Hamm."

And that is not, to her mind, a good thing:

The practice of applauding kids for taking part and trying their best, whatever the results -- you are concerned that we overpraise kids.

I think it's a huge problem. We don't want to make kids feel bad. I tell the soccer story: One of the soccer leagues my kid was in wanted to stop keeping score because they didn't want the kids on the losing team to feel bad. That's so ridiculous. Life is about sometimes losing and being able to tough it out, and if you're not as good, you know you've got to put in the hard work to get better. If we're creating this cocoon for kids where they think that if they just try their best, we can tell them that's sufficient -- that is doing a disservice to kids in the long run.

Shouldn't you also hold the soccer coach responsible, the way you'd hold the teacher responsible?

Saying "we're not going to keep score" is the same as saying "we're not going to look at student achievement levels." A coach's win-loss record is the basis on which [the coach] is paid. If you were to say, "We're going to stop keeping score; we're going to evaluate coaches on how they're inspiring team spirit" -- are you kidding me? People would go ballistic!


An L.A. teacher reviews her review

Patt Morrison Asks: Hard lessons with Michelle Rhee

Does the Miramonte case argue for cameras in the classroom?

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Michelle Rhee is seen at Good Housekeeping's 'Shine On' Women Making History theatrical event at Radio City Music Hall on April 12, 2011 in New York. Credit: Evan Agostini / AP Photo

Verdict on a veteran judge, Joan Dempsey Klein -- 'smart, funny, fearless'

Justice Joan Dempsey Klein
Just about everyone knows at least something about the Supreme Court justices,  even though they may not be as famous to most Americans as those judges on TV.

But there are state benches and state judges as well as federal ones.

And one California judge, a pistol of a woman I know and admire, was recently honored for her work as she enters her 50th year on the bench.

Joan Dempsey Klein is the longtime presiding justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Three. She was put on the municipal bench in Los Angeles by Gov. Pat Brown in 1963; his son named her to her current post in 1978. At an event at the California Club, she was acclaimed by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.'s senior lawyers section, whose tongue-in-cheek emblem is a dinosaur -- the Apatosaurus, once known as the Brontosaurus, the thunder lizard.

"If I'd known I was going to get all this attention for getting older," Klein observed with characteristic wit, "I'd have done it sooner."

She was feted along with the late Y.C. Hong, a 1925 USC law school grad and the first Chinese American to be admitted to practice law in California by examination, and his son, attorney Nowland Hong. Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, summoning the aphorism that the apple never falls far from the tree, remarked, "Y.C. was a great tree; Nowland, you're a great apple."

Cooley, the retiring DA, sat at the same table as the woman he's endorsed to succeed him, his chief deputy, Jackie Lacey. County counsel Andrea Sheridan Ordin, former DA Robert Philibosian and L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich were also at the sometimes rollickingly funny California Club event; yep, you read that right: funny lawyers.

Klein was praised in person and on videos from her colleagues, among them Norman L. Epstein, presiding justice of the Second Appellate District, Division Four, of the state Court of Appeal. 

He recalled the era when United Airlines ran a 90-minute men-only "executive" flight from L.A. to San Francisco, staffed by comely flight attendants who served drinks and hors d'oeuvres and who gave every passenger a cigar as he deplaned.

"Joan called United Airlines to book a reservation" and was told it was men only. Her rejoinder: She'd be filing a complaint with (what was then) the Civil Aeronautics Board. The men-only "executive" flight ended forthwith.

Klein, who co-founded the national Assn. of Women Judges, had once been a swimming champ who had swum in exhibitions on tour with actor and Olympic swimmer Buster Crabbe. As one of her fellow justices, Arthur Gilbert, pointed out, she did synchronized swimming. "Joan, in synchronized swimming? No wonder she left the tour in Italy. I can't see Joan synchronizing with anybody!"

Klein swam upstream in her career too, even working briefly as a riveter, and going to college and law school in spite of a father who wasn't too keen on such an education for women. She became the first UCLA law school grad to be appointed to the bench.

Her colleagues called her a "dynamo," a woman who is "smart, funny and fearless" and someone who always asked herself, of the legal decisions she made, "Is the result fair and reasonable?"

Orange County Superior Court Judge Marjorie Laird Carter listed Klein as one of her heroines, along with Queen Elizabeth I and Sacajawea.

Attorney Patricia Phillips remembered Klein at a wintry conference in the upper Midwest; when someone suggested they all go for a bracing walk, Klein showed up ready to go -- in a yellow track suit and a fur coat.

And as another fan remarked, "She has always been and will always be her sister's keeper."

Once Klein rounds out that 50 years, she's planning on retiring. As she told the California Bar Journal, "I was appointed by Jerry Brown … and I feel obligated to give him my position. So I will retire in time for him to find my replacement … unless he decides to run again."


An affront Catholics agree on

L.A.'s quirky Smoking Deaths billboard

McManus: Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list'?

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Justice Joan Dempsey Klein is seen administering oath of office to newly elected Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky in 1996. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Lalo Alcaraz, master of pochismo

AlcarazWhen Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks about "self-deportation" as part of immigration reform, he's channeling Daniel D. Portado, a character political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz crafted back in the 1990s. Alcaraz, the creator of "La Cucaracha," is also a pal of "Mexican Mitt," Mitt Romney's alter-Twitter self.

Read about Alcaraz, political cartooning and Mexican Mitt in my "Patt Morrison Asks" column. And here's a bit more from the mastermind of www.pocho.com.

Me: You've done poster images of Gov. Jerry Brown as a homeboy -- "Brown pride" –- and a "Viva Obama" poster in 2008. What about this year's election?

Alcaraz: I was just as caught up and excited as anybody about [Obama's 2008] candidacy. I'm hoping to get more excited than I am now. I live in the pushing-back zone. Even when I did that original poster, I felt like I was kind of being more reactive [than] being a booster. I'm more comfortable that way. I'm more comfortable letting other people do the pro-this and pro-that. I'm always doing the anti-stuff.


In the House, a transportation train wreck

Immigration: Feds tweak student visa program

This time, the limelight for Komen is too hot a pink

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Cartoonist and artist Lalo Alcaraz is the creator of the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip, "La Cucaracha."

Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times

Newt's swan song in the key of F, as in Florida?

Newt Gingrich Florida
I'm kind of missing Newt Gingrich already.

It's pretty obvious that the Republican sachems are putting the citrus state death-squeeze on his choleric, solipsistic, haymaker-swinging, high-concept, low-road, zany Nicolas Cage-style presidential campaign.

They even sicced poor old Bob Dole on him. The former Senate leader and the GOP's 1996 presidential nominee dutifully characterized Gingrich as a "one-man band" for whom it was "his way or the highway" -- an "articulate" man, he told CBS News, but "very difficult to work with." Which no doubt he was, and is, but heck, so is the current Republican Congress.

Piggybacking on Gingrich's extramarital peccadilloes, someone in South Carolina sent out a fake news alert email using a faked CNN letterhead announcing that "a source close to Marianne Gingrich [Gingrich's second wife] tells CNN that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich forced her to abort a pregnancy conceived during the affair that preceeded her marriage to Gingrich."

Note the misspelling of "preceded." And in the age of Photoshop, such a slick trick with the logo is easy to pull off -- evidence the persistently dopey "birther" fantasists and the faking of a Kenyan "birth certificate" for President Obama.

At least Karl Rove had to go to all the trouble of using a fake ID to worm his way into the campaign of an Illinois Democrat, and then physically steal 1,000 sheets of campaign letterhead in order to print up bogus fliers. Do you know how much 1,000 sheets of paper weigh? Dirty tricksters today -- so lazy.

Newt Gingrich has promised he will not go away even if he loses Florida's primary. But without the votes to carry him forward, he may wind up at the Tampa convention like King George IV's estranged consort, Caroline, who showed up to be crowned at Westminster Abbey and was turned away at bayonet-point as George was being crowned inside.

Goodbye to Newt means goodbye to moon bases, to adultery as a conservative virtue (after all, as one voter said, at least he married 'em) and to a passion for wild critters that could have meant a budget boost for zoos and endangered species.

It means back to the same old dreary Republican steamroller campaign, and an end to delish moments like the endorsement letter from an Arizona prison, written by the felonious former California Republican congressman Duke Cunningham, who is serving time for bribery, with payoffs that ran to some pretty ugly furniture.

The Cunningham letter says Gingrich has the support of 80% of his fellow inmates, even though they can't vote -- but their families can.

It means adios to the battle over Gingrich's remark about bilingual education and the need to learn English, the language of "prosperity," not just the "language of living in a ghetto" -- and therefore adieu to Gingrich's ads pointing out that Mitt Romney speaks French "just like John Kerry,"  the Democratic presidential candidate savaged by Republicans for his bilingualism in 2004. (French was the language of the Marquis de Lafayette, who helped to save Americans' bacon in the Revolutionary War.)

It's farewell to Gingrich's kind of "I'm rubber, you're glue" fulminating attacks on the news media.  Don't worry, information haters,  other candidates will find other means to trot out that old chestnut, in the vein of Spiro Agnew.

Agnew committed the twin offenses of tax evasion and alliteration. Before he resigned the vice presidency after pleading no contest to the former, he was a three-strike offender on the latter, speaking of the media as "nattering nabobs of negativism" and excoriating "hopeless hypochondriacs of history" and "pusillanimous pussyfooters."

I do admit to being nostalgic for a time when national figures used five-syllable words in their name-calling. Nowadays the tone has plunged to the dispiritingly low bar set by the South Carolina Republican congressman yelling "You lie!’’ at the president of the United States on the floor of Congress.

If the polls are on the nose, the Florida primary means ice trumps fire, that Willard Mitt Romney heads for the nomination on greased rails aboard the Citrus Express, while Newton Leroy McPherson, adopted surname Gingrich, gets his whistle-top car rerouted to a howlingly lonely siding in the Florida Panhandle.

Like a roller-coaster ride at one of Florida's myriad amusement parks, it was fun, and kind of scary, while it lasted.


Gingrich: Fly me to the moon

Daum: Newt's debt to Clinton

McManus: A Gingrich presidency?

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Newt Gingrich greets supporters as he arrives at a rally on Jan. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel in Florida. Credit: Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images

Book 'em -- Bill Bratton draws a big and big-name crowd

While the nation's leadership was gathered under the Capitol dome on Tuesday evening to hear President Obama's State of the Union speech, the civic leadership of Los Angeles was gathered at a bookstore to hear former Police Chief Bill Bratton.

Bratton is the coauthor, with Zachary Tumin of the Harvard Kennedy School, of the book "Collaborate or Perish!" a public policy guide chock-full of salient examples on how to get an entire organization to get on the same page to get things done, from an aluminum company to the LAPD.

The book alternates voice and examples from Tumin and from Bratton, and includes Bratton's accounts of a half-century of dysfunction in the LAPD, and how the cops and the community have come to an amicable teaming. He's especially forthright about the problems and resolution in the high-stakes 2007 MacArthur Park "May Day melee."

Not all of Bratton's examples came from the thin blue lines; he had praise for the Missoni fashion house's collaboration on a budget-priced line for Target. (His necktie was not Missoni but a fetching one nonetheless, with a pattern of moons and stars.)

I moderated the event with the authors at the Barnes & Noble store in the Grove, where the audience was standing room only -- or maybe saluting room only.

Just as cameras scanned the House chamber during the State of the Union speech and caught sight of Supreme Court justices and Cabinet members, anyone scanning this crowd would have seen:

Bratton's successor, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck; L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca; Andre Birotte, the U.S. attorney for Los Angeles; former Mayor James Hahn;  Police Commission President John Mack; LAPD advisor and former Police Commission President Gerald Chaleff; former police commissioner Ann Reiss Lane and her husband, Bert; police commissioner John Mack; assistant LAPD Chief Earl Paysinger and deputy chiefs Sandy Jo MacArthur and Michael Downing; and Carol Schatz, president and CEO of the Central City Assn. ("Collaborate or Perish!" uses the new policing model for skid row as one of Bratton's examples.)

In short, like the State of the Union speech -- in which one Cabinet member always stays home in case the unimaginable happens (this time it was Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack) -- I briefly wondered the parallel question: who in the LAPD senior staff wasn't at Barnes & Noble?

Outside the body politic were Bratton friends George Schlatter, the TV producer and director, and his wife, Jolene; film producer Arnold Kopelson; Barbara Davis, whose late husband, Marvin, had owned 20th Century Fox; Wendy Stark, daughter of legendary producer Ray Stark; and the ever-glamorous Angie Dickinson, who once wore a badge herself, in her TV roll on "Police Woman."

At a post-book-signing reception for Bratton and his wife, Rikki Klieman, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put in an appearance, as did council member Tom LaBonge, who presented Tumin, a first-time L.A. visitor, with the LaBonge version of welcoming bread and salt -- a city proclamation and a loaf of pumpkin bread.

The host showed after all the other luminaries. He is the onetime president of the Police Commission and thus a Bratton collaborator himself, and the man who, with former baseball manager Joe Torre, just put in his bid for the Dodgers -– Rick Caruso.

The nosh served up for the fete: chicken skewers and mini-cheeseburgers. Not Dodger dogs. Not yet, anyway.


L.A.'s condom law hardly curtains for porn

The Supreme Court and the slaughterhouse

State of the Union: Mixing politics and policy

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Former Police Chief Bill Bratton is seen in 2002. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times



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About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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