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The Filter

The Filter: Can Judge Stephen Reinhardt Be Impartial on Prop 8?

December 3rd, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

We discussed four topics, but the meatiest was the issue about Judge Stephen Reinhardt being asked to recuse himself from hearing the Prop 8 appeal as one of the panel of three judges, because he is married to outgoing ACLU of So Cal director, Ramona Ripston. Nevermind that the ACLU of So Cal is not involved in this case. (The No Cal ACLU has filed an amicus curiae on the appeal.)

Reinhardt is one of three judges on a randomly chosen panel, by the way, so he won’t decide the case.

What is particularly laughable about the situation is that one could make a good case for recusal of one of the other judges on the panel, Randy Smith. Smith is a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush and, among other conservative activities, he served as chair of the Idaho Republican Party in the 1990s. Smith also graduated Brigham Young University and media reports this week have identified him as a Mormon.

And the Mormon Church reportedly poured millions of dollars into the effort to pass Proposition 8 in 2008.

So, should Smith recuse himself? No. Of course not.

Note to pro Prop 8 people: I’m afraid that you’re stuck having to argue the case on its merits. Sorry about that.

I’d throw a hail Mary too if I had Ted Olson and David Boise lined up against me.

But in the end, this is just the next stop on the way to the Supreme Court, where it’s all about justice Kennedy.

We also talked about Tiger Woods, the biology of cheating, and how many dogs one should be able to have in one house in our fair city.

Heck, I’m just thankful that the puppy didn’t decide to howl in the midst of the taping.

Posted in LGBT, The Filter | 9 Comments »

On NBC’s the Filter, Tonight at 7:30 p.m.

December 2nd, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

I’m on KNBC’s The Filter tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Fred Roggin
—this time during the debate section that goes on just about at 7:30 on the dot.

We’ll be talking with Fred about a list of topics, among them the question as to whether 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt should recuse himself from hearing the Prop. 8 Case because he’s married to the ACLU’s outgoing director, Ramona Ripston. (He didn’t. And the answer is, NO, he shouldn’t have. But more on that when we chat on the show.) And we’ll be talking about whether your genetics make you more likely to cheat. (Now there’s a novel excuse!)

And more.

As usual, I’ll post the video later, but you can watch it online in real time here or on your TV at digital channel 4.2.

Posted in The Filter | 8 Comments »

On KNBC’s The Filter Tonight @ 7:30 pm

October 27th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

I’m on KNBC’s The Filter tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Fred Roggin
—this time during the debate section that goes on just about at 7:30 on the dot. I’ll be on with journalist/blogger, Cameron Turner.

We’ll be talking with Fred about a list of topics. (I’ll let you be surprised.)

As usual, I’ll post the video later, but you can watch it online in real time here or on your TV at digital channel 4.2.

Posted in The Filter | No Comments »

The Filter: Immigration and Tuition, and Moral Insanity of Senators

October 7th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Here is the video for Wednesday night’s segment of The Filter with Fred Roggin.

On this show, Fred asked me about two issues:

1. The first topic had to do with a case that reached the California Supreme Court on Tuesday in which 42 out-of-state students challenged the right of undocumented California kids to attend the state’s public universities—not for free—but to pay only in-state tuition as opposed to out-of-state tuition, which those who live OUT-OF-STATE have to pay. (Duh.) (For more background see the report by the SF Chronicle.)

For me this is a no-brainer. (Among other things, denying smart, high achieving California kids—legal or illegal—the possibility of affordable entry to college, is—as my mother would say—penny wise and pound foolish to the max. (Okay, she wouldn’t say “to the max.”)

But even if the 42 out-of-staters do not prevail with the California Supremes, the case will likely go to SCOTUS, which is more conservative than the California high court.

Anyway, watch the segment.

2. The second topic was a set of remarks that South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint made six years ago in which he said that gays and unmarried pregnant women should not be allowed to teach in public schools.

At a rally on Friday he was confronted with the remarks, and rather than walking them back, astonishingly, he reaffirmed them. (Fox news has a story on the incident.)

Everything one needs to know about DeMint’s vile and arrogant bigotry can be summed up by the fact that at least 6–possibly as many as 9—American teenage boys killed themselves in the month of September because they had been harassed and bullied for their sexual preferences. Two of those boys were 13-years old.

How are boys and girls struggling to come to terms with their sexuality supposed to react when US senators are unapologetically vocal about their belief that gays and lesbians are somehow less than fully human?

So what do I think of what Jim DeMint said? I think he has blood on his hands. And the blood belongs to American kids. Our kids.

What do you think?


Nearly everyone who could pack into the SCOTUS courtroom was busy reporting on Wednesday’s hearing involving the hate-mongering funeral protesters.

But for my money, if you have to read only one bout of coverage on yesterday’s hearing (in which the court seemed to be siding, at least to some degree, against the Westboro Baptist Church), I’d opt for Dahlia Lithwick’s in Slate.

(And, if you have time for more than one report, there’s also Adam Liptak of the NY Times and David Savage of the LA Times.

Here are some clips from Lithwick:

Quick constitutional pop quiz: What do you hate? (And by you, I mean you.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in California Supreme Court, Education, immigration, LGBT, The Filter | 5 Comments »

On KNBC’s The Filter Tonight at 7:30 p.m.

October 6th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

I’m on KNBC’s The Filter tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Fred Roggin. (Actually, my segment is on about 7:45 p.m.)

I’ll be talking with Fred about two topics (presuming we get to both):

The first will be the California Supremes’ case that was heard on Tuesday about undocumented California kids paying in state tuition rates at the state’s various public universities.

Then we’ll go to Senator Jim DeMint’s recent and quite morally insane statement that gays, lesbians and unmarried pregnant women should be prohibited from teaching in public schools.

I’ll post the video later, but you can watch it online in real time here or on your TV at digital channel 4.2.

Posted in immigration, LGBT, The Filter | No Comments »

The Filter: Critical Mass, RVs and Conspiracy Theories

September 24th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Here’s the latest segment of NBC’s the Filter in which Fred Roggin asks attorney Leo Terrell and me about:

1. Critical Mass—the monthly bike ride that will take place Friday night in LA (along with other cities across the US). It had 2500 riders last month, and is expected to be larger tonight—demonstrating that the time has come for LA to become a truly bike friendly city.

2. The feud over who has the right to say who parks on the street that is being fought between semi-homeless RV squatters who, lacking options, routinely park overnight in Venice—and disgruntled Venice residents who are sick of the impact of the big vehicles and their occupants.

3. Whether the US should have walked out of the UN over the latest stupid thing that Iran Prez Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.

(Short answer: NO.)

NOTE: FYI: At 9:13 p.m. Thursday , Virginia executed the double-murder “mastermind” Teresa Lewis, a woman who is estimated to have an IQ of 72. The two men who actually did the killing received life without parole.

Posted in The Filter | 3 Comments »

On The Filter Tonight at 7:30 pm Talking Cyclists, Conspiracy Theories & Facebook

September 23rd, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

I’m on KNBC’s The Filter tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Fred Roggin.

Rather than a short stand alone segment, like last week’s, I’ll have a sparring partner in the form of civil rights attorney and radio commentator Leo Terrell.

I’ll post the video later, but you can watch it online in real time here or on your TV at digital channel 4.2.

The topics are good ones—as you can see from my teaser above.

Posted in The Filter | No Comments »

The Filter – Must We Humilate Teachers to Talk about Merit-based Evaluations?

September 16th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Here’s the video of Wednesday’s segment
of The Filter. We ended up talking about the LA Times Grading the Teacher series and the fact that teachers and the teacher’s union both continue to feel deeply angered that the Times published their ratings of thousands of individual teachers in the paper—labeling elementary school instructors as MOST EFFECTIVE and LEAST EFFECTIVE, all based on a single metric—whether their students’ scores on standardized tests improved enough from one year to the next.

Teachers rightly argue that many of the qualities that make for great educators are a bit more complicated and subtle than anything standardized test scores can possibly measure.

As you’ll see, I read portions on air of an emailed comment I got here from one of those teachers who was rated.

It was from an elementary school teacher who describes herself as deeply dedicated but who was one of those who was listed as: LEAST EFFECTIVE by the LA Times.

This teacher doesn’t subscribe to the LA Times, so she only found out about her rating when some TV news reporter got her home phone number and called her to ask how she felt about the label.

I have no idea whether or not she is a brilliant teacher or a mediocre one. But her shock and grief at the one dimensional public judgment—and invalidation really— of her years of teaching work, really affected me.

Here’s what she wrote:

I give 150%. I teach in south central. I love my students. I motivate. I question them. I make them question themselves. I love my job. I teach. I learn. I take the kids no one else wants and I love them.
I was rated least effective.

I am heart-broken, devastated, invalidated, and completely feel like my hard work was taken away in one moment.

Least effective. The label is over my head. I feel like everyone now thinks I’m a bad teacher– when all I’ve ever done is teach my children.

They do make progress…but when they come to me at 2nd grade level, it is difficult to test them at 5th grade level. They raise about 30% in a year, but that’s not good enough.

I am embarrassed to go back to work. I am mortified that friends and colleagues looked up my name and saw my ‘grade’.

I just want to crawl into a hole. And die.

As a parent who sent her kid to public schools, I want our state’s teachers to be rewarded based on merit, not seniority. I want the best and the brightest to be retained, and those who are phoning it in, or are burned out, or who actively dislike kids—and we’ve all met some of those—to be weeded out.

But, I can’t believe that publicly humiliating hardworking elementary school teachers is the best path to the kind of merit-based standards that we need and desire.

What do you think?

Posted in LAUSD, The Filter | 17 Comments »

NBC’s The Filter: School Strippers, A Controversial Scholarship, & More

May 28th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

I was on NBC’s The Filter on Wednesday night.
As usual, we talked very speedily about a list of interesting issues:

1. The first and the silliest had to do with a giant kerfuffle involving a couple of seniors at Paramount High School, both of them guys, who, when they were onstage for a school event, suddenly decided to doff their clothes and dance about in their undies, or what turned out to be Speedos, to the delight of fellow students. When the video of said dance turned up on YouTube and got a zillion hits (it’s since been taken down), then the school board freaked out and began disciplining the stripping boys and the adults who were present but did not intervene. Three students were suspended for a couple of days. One school administrator was put on administrative leave. A teacher resigned and there is an ongoing “investigation” about the incident. An overreaction? Y’think?

2. The second topic was also school related. Santa Ana College will dedicate a scholarship for undocumented immigrant students in memory of 27-year-old immigration activist named Tam Ngoc Tran who was killed in a car crash. Tran was an outstanding young woman by anybody’s standards. She graduated from UCLA and was headed to Brown to get her doctorate, was an activist for the Dream Act (she testified before Congress). But she was in the US illegally. The child of Vietnamese parents, she was brought to this country at age six.

I thought the scholarship was a fine idea for reasons that I articulate on camera. As you will see, however, my co-commenter, Megan Barth, who works and blogs at, was not in the least enthusiastic.

3. Topic three was expungement. The Filter producers liked Wednesday’s post on WLA so decided that it merited further discussion. And so discuss it we did.

But then came a perfectly appalling moment in the show.

It seems that, on Wednesday, MSNBC ran a list of questions that would be new Americans are asked on their citizenship exams. Wouldn’t it be fun……Fred Roggin and the show’s producers thought….if we asked Megan and Celeste a few of those questions.

So they did. With no advance warning. On live television.

Now please understand that while I have as wide a base of knowledge in certain areas as the next person, maybe even wider than the next person in some areas, I am not the person you want on your team for trivial pursuit. Really. I would be your last draft choice.

Charades are fairly okay with me, as long as the answers involve only movies and books (and as long as said charades are not on, you know, live television).

But, back me into a corner on something that requires a quick one-word factual answer, and my brain is likely to lock all the doors, pull every blind, arm the burglar alarm and decline to come out, no matter how much I plead with it.

I also hate games.

“It’ll be fun!” said Fred.

(Whenever anybody says, “it’ll be fun,” you know for sure that it’ll be anything but.)

In any case, here’s the video of our “fun” Citizenship game.

Posted in crime and punishment, criminal justice, Education, immigration, The Filter | 4 Comments »

Lying Politicians, Immigration Grandstanding & Organ Donation

April 30th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Okay, here are the videos from Thursday’s The Filter. As I said earlier, I was on with former city council member, Jack Weiss, who—in addition to cultural commentator Amy Alkon—is my favorite partner when I do a segment of the show.

We discussed the topics I’ve listed below.


So do we care that Meg Whitman lied about her townhall meeting ad? Steve Poizner wants us to. He has a video out pointing to Whitman’s entirely mendaciously “spontaneous” meeting.

However Poizner had his own bout of truthiness spotlighted this week on This American Life in which Ira Glass spent a long segment pointing out that Poizner’s new book about a semester spent teaching at a San Jose high school, Pleasant Valley High—a book that is figuring prominently in his campaign—was riddled with statements that are “obviously and provably untrue.”

And indeed a bit of follow-up fact checking bears this out. So why should we care? Glass tells us exactly why:

….”So many of the political discussions in our country seem so disconnected from reality. Every year there are egregious examples of politicians and commentators who believe if they repeat some non-fact over and over, it becomes true.”

And we’re sick of it. We really, really are.


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is in favor of Los Angeles boycotting Arizona in order to protest the state’s new draconian immigration law.

(As of Thursday, the West Hollywood City Council i
s also talking about suspending all official travel to the state.)

Yes, of course, it’s a hideous, impractical, national soul-damaging law and it will be challenged in the courts, successfully, I believe. But do we really want to punish everybody in the state in order to express our displeasure with the Arizona legislature? Do I, for instance, decide not to buy Arizona writer Chuck Bowden’s new book in order to protest a law that he passionately opposes too? Or is this just so much political grandstanding?

All this and more on immigration plus a look at NY’s new proposed law pertaining to organ donation.

Posted in elections, immigration, State politics, The Filter | 40 Comments »

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