Lawyers tag nominee as ‘terror on the bench’

Friday, May 29, 2009
Lawyers tag nominee as ‘terror on the bench’
Tom LoBianco (Contact)

Lawyers who have argued cases before Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor call her “nasty,” “angry” and a “terror on the bench,” according to the current Almanac of the Federal Judiciary — a kind of Zagat’s guide to federal judges.

The withering evaluation of Judge Sotomayor’s temperament stands in stark contrast to reviews of her peers on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Of the 21 judges evaluated, the same lawyers gave 18 positive to glowing reviews and two judges received mixed reviews. Judge Sotomayor was the only one to receive decidedly negative comments.

Judge Sotomayor’s demeanor on the bench will be one of the issues the Senate Judiciary Committee tackles when she appears for her confirmation hearing. A lack of a good temperament has been used as a line of attack against nominees in the past – most notably conservative Judge Robert H. Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was defeated.

But several lawyers and legal scholars on a call organized by the White House said the criticism is misplaced and that Judge Sotomayor’s legal acumen is overwhelming.

“She does not suffer fools gladly,” said Kevin Russell, a partner for Howe & Russell P.C. who argued a case before Judge Sotomayor about respiratory ailments suffered by the men and women who cleaned up ground zero after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “I guess it is predictable that some of those fools would then complain about it.”

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Much of the public vetting of Judge Sotomayor, whom President Obama nominated to be the first Hispanic woman to sit on the nation’s highest court, has focused on her range of rulings on hot-button social issues.

Although the same lawyers who chastised her temperament gave her high marks on her legal abilities, Judge Sotomayor was the only member of the 2nd Circuit to receive a universally negative review of her temperament.

“She really lacks judicial temperament. She behaves in an out-of-control manner. She makes inappropriate outbursts,” one lawyer told the almanac. Another said she “abuses lawyers.”

The authors of the almanac interviewed at least eight lawyers who practice regularly before the judges and granted them anonymity so that they could provide candid assessments, said Megan Rosen, the editor of the almanac. The guide profiles every federal judge.

Ms. Rosen said that although Judge Sotomayor’s evaluations in the area of temperament were harsh, lawyers clearly respect her abilities – something not true of every judge reviewed in the almanac.

“Generally, when lawyers have respect for a judge it shows in all their other categories,” Ms. Rosen said. “If you know it’s just the general demeanor of the judge, it can help ease some of the tension that would otherwise be there.”

The lawyer reviews cover the rulings, political leanings and legal abilities of the jurists. The almanac, published in November, said Judge Sotomayor writes good opinions, is liberal but careful to follow precedent and has good legal abilities.

“She is a direct and candid questioner,” said Thomas H. Dupree Jr., a former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general who has argued five cases before Judge Sotomayor since 2007.

People often mistake her intensity for aggression and anger, Judge Sotomayor told the Associated Press in 1998.

During a high-profile national security case heard by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in December, Judge Sotomayor gave the attorney for a Canadian man who had been detained by U.S. forces little room to work.

Judge Sotomayor interrupted the lawyer, David Cole, numerous times about whether there was standing for a U.S. court to hear the case, before eventually explaining her aggressive questioning.

“That’s why I’m trying to figure out and untie your arguments a bit,” Judge Sotomayor told Mr. Cole.

Legal scholar Jeffrey Rosen documented concerns from 2nd Circuit law clerks and New York prosecutors in a piece he wrote for the New Republic earlier this month. In the piece, he quoted anonymous members of the New York legal community who described Judge Sotomayor as an intellectual lightweight and “kind of a bully on the bench.”

On the White House-organized call, Judge Sotomayor’s colleagues praised her careful reading of laws and characterized her as a judge bent on restraint and narrow readings of statutes.

Lawyers on the call couched her aggressive questioning as a product of a “hot bench” and poring over details meticulously.

MORE ON JUDGE SOTOMAYOR:
• Obama names first Hispanic to high court
• Sotomayor battled bias in D.C.
• Sotomayor would be court’s 6th Catholic
• Sotomayor deflected Republicans before
• Sotomayor reversed 60% by high court

Judge Sotomayor’s judicial temperament was raised during her 1997 confirmation hearing to the appeals court. Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican who recently became the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Judge Sotomayor that she was out of bounds when she criticized mandatory minimum sentences from the bench during one sentencing proceeding.

“I do think that a judge, would you not agree, has to be careful in conducting themselves in a way that reflects respect for the law and the system,” Mr. Sessions said.

Judge Sotomayor said she probably should not have used the word “abomination” to describe the guidelines, but that her record showed she didn’t let her personal opinions affect her rulings.

“I do what the law requires, and I think that is the greatest respect I could show for it,” she told Mr. Sessions.

Harvard law professor and Obama mentor Charles Ogletree said lawyers caught off guard by Judge Sotomayor’s demeanor who criticize her are “misconstruing her sense as a well-prepared judge, one who is not on a fishing expedition.”

Conservative activists have decided on attacking Judge Sotomayor as a judicial activist who would work outside the rule of law. The Judicial Confirmation Network, which is leading a coalition of conservative groups, is airing an ad featuring Judge Sotomayor talking about whether judges set policy from the bench.

Newt: Sotomayor a ‘racist’

Newt: Sotomayor a ‘racist’
By: Andy Barr
May 27, 2009 05:54 PM EST

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Wednesday charged that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a “racist.”

“Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman.’ Wouldn’t they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism,” Gingrich wrote in a post on his blog.

“A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw,” he added.

Gingrich was referring to a comment Sotomayor made during remarks at the University of California, Berkeley’s annual Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture.

“A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” Sotomayor said.

Gingrich’s comment came a day after conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called Sotomayor a “racist.”

Responding to Gingrich’s post, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sotomayor’s opponents should be “exceedingly careful” in their criticisms.

Asked about the dangers in attacking the first Hispanic nominee to the nation’s highest court, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told CNN radio on Tuesday, “you have to be careful,” adding that “you don’t want to be perceived as a bully.”

In a statement issued the same day, Steele said that “Republicans will reserve judgment on Sonia Sotomayor until there has been a thorough and thoughtful examination of her legal views.”

But RNC new media director Todd Herman reposted Gingrich’s comment on Twitter today, writing “new racism = no better than old.”

RNC communications director Trevor Francis said the committee would not respond to a “personal tweet by one of our staffers” before adding that “the RNC’s and the chairman’s position on the nomination of Judge Sotomayor are reflected by our statement yesterday.”

© 2009 Capitol News Company, LLC

The Race: Sotomayor Belongs To Anti-White, Left-Wing Extremist Hate Group

The Race: Sotomayor Belongs To Anti-White, Left-Wing Extremist Hate Group
May 28th, 2009 Posted By Pat Dollard.

From Hidden Truth:

As columnist Michelle Malkin reports, La Raza seeks to inculcate young people with its worldview by funding a number of charter schools that advocate ethnic separatism and anti-American, anti-white attitudes.

With regard to national security concerns, La Raza has strongly opposed most of the U.S. government’s post-9/11 counterterrorism efforts, alleging that they have “undermined” the rights of “noncitizen Latinos.”

For example: La Raza was a signatory to a March 17, 2003 letter exhorting members of the U.S. Congress to oppose Patriot Act II on grounds that it “contain[ed] a multitude of new and sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers … that would severely dilute, if not undermine, many basic constitutional rights”; it has endorsed the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign, a project that tries to influence city councils to pass resolutions to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Patriot Act; it endorsed the December 18, 2001 “Statement of Solidarity with Migrants,” which was drawn up by the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and called upon the U.S. government to “end discriminatory policies passed on the basis of legal status in the wake of September 11″; and it endorsed the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004, which was designed to roll back, in the name of protecting civil liberties, vital national-security policies that had been adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

NCLR’s major policy positions also include the following:

– It supports access to driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
– It opposes the REAL ID Act, which requires that all driver’s license and photo ID applicants be able to verify they are legal residents of the United States, and that the documents they present to prove their identity are genuine. According to La Raza, this law “opens the door to widespread discrimination and civil rights violations.”

-It opposes the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act (CLEAR), which would empower state and local law-enforcement authorities to enforce federal immigration laws. La Raza argues this would “result in higher levels of racial profiling, police misconduct, and other civil rights violations.”

-It lobbies for racial and ethnic preferences (affirmative action) and set-asides in hiring, promotions, and college admissions.

-It supports bilingual education and bilingual ballots.

-It supports voting rights for illegal aliens.

-It supports stricter hate-crime laws.

-It opposes the Aviation Transportation and Security Act requiring that all airport baggage screeners be U.S. citizens.

-It opposed President Bush’s signing of the “Secure Fence Act of 2006″ which authorized 700 miles of new border fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

World Net Daily:

As President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee comes under heavy fire for allegedly being a “racist,” Judge Sonia Sotomayor is listed as a member of the National Council of La Raza, a group that’s promoted driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, amnesty programs, and no immigration law enforcement by local and state police.

According the American Bar Association, Sotomayor is a member of the NCLR, which bills itself as the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S.

Meaning “the Race,” La Raza also has connections to groups that advocate the separation of several southwestern states from the rest of America.

Over the past two days, Sotomayor has been heavily criticized for her racially charged statement: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

The remark was actually made during a 2001 speech at the University of California’s Berkeley School of Law. The lecture was published the following year in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.

Could Mexico retake the southwestern United States? Get the DVD that says the invasion is already happening!

The comment is being zeroed in on by voices from the political right.

“I’m not saying she’s a racist, but the statement sure is,” columnist Ann Coulter said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman,’” blogged former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. “Wouldn’t they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism. A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

Radio’s Rush Limbaugh noted, “And the libs of course say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one. …”

But others are suggesting Sotomayor’s racial views will have little impact on her confirmation to the bench.

“She’s gonna get confirmed. Get out of the way of the truck,” political analyst Dick Morris said tonight on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Host Bill O’Reilly responded, “The core conservative person … does not understand that the GOP is shrinking and needs to expand.”

The NCLR is applauding the Obama for his selection of Sotomayor.

“Today is a monumental day for Latinos. Finally, we see ourselves represented on the highest court in the land,” said Janet Murguia, NCLR’s president and CEO.

La Raza also praised former President George W. Bush for nominating Alberto Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general.

As WND previously reported, La Raza was condemned in 2007 by former U.S. Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Ga., as a radical “pro-illegal immigration lobbying organization that supports racist groups calling for the secession of the western United States as a Hispanic-only homeland.”

Norwood urged La Raza to renounce its support of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan – which sees “the Race” as part of an ethnic group that one day will reclaim Aztlan, the mythical birthplace of the Aztecs. In Chicano folklore, Aztlan includes California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Texas.

Obama’s NSA – NoKo’s no ‘imminent threat’ — then why raise alert level?

Obama’s NSA – NoKo’s no ‘imminent threat’ — then why raise alert level?
Rick Moran
More Keystone Kops foreign policy from Obama. In this piece by Roxana Trion in The Hill, we discover our national security advisor dismissing the North Korean threat:

President Obama’s national security adviser on Wednesday said that North Korea’s recent nuclear detonation and missile tests are not “an imminent threat” to the safety and security of the United States.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, in his first speech on the administration’s approach to national security, said that the “imminent threat” posed by North Korea is that of the proliferation of nuclear technologies to other countries and terrorist organizations.

North Korea still has “a long way” to “weaponize” and work on the delivery of its nuclear missiles before they pose a threat to U.S. security, Jones said in a discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council.

“Nothing that the North Koreans did surprised us,” Jones said. “We knew that they were going to do this, they said so, so no reason not to believe them.”

Very true. No need to worry quite yet that Kim will lob a missile or two toward the US.

But why then, have we raised our alert level?

One day after North Korea warned of a possible attack against the South, the United States and South Korea ordered their forces here to their highest alert for three years, increasing surveillance flights and satellite reconnaissance to counter what officials termed a “grave threat.”

The move was the latest sign of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test on Monday, sparking a confrontation with South Korea and the international community that has built into ever more bellicose rhetoric. North Korea reinforced its menacing language by test-firing six short-range missiles earlier in the week.

The South Korean Defense Ministry said allied troops, including, 28,000 U.S. soldiers based in South Korea, raised their Watch Condition, or Watchcon, to the second-highest level from Watchcon 3 to Watchcon 2.

That report by Choe Sang Hun of the New York Times makes it clear that the North Korean threat is being taken very seriously by the White House. Good, that’s the way it should be.

But why go out of your way to downplay the threat by trotting out your national security advisor to state the obvious?

Mixed signals in diplomacy can be deadly. At this point, it appears the administration is indeed taking the threat seriously. But being unambiguous about it would have been much better.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/05/obamas_nsa_nokos_no_imminent_t.html at May 28, 2009 – 12:45:30 PM EDT

Car Czar and Chrysler dealer terminations

Car Czar and Chrysler dealer terminations
Rosslyn Smith
We know that Caesar’s wife is supposed to be above suspicion, but what about a Czar’s wife, when it comes to terminating Chrysler’s dealers?

From Instapundit:

UPDATE: A reader notes something about “car czar” Steven Rattner: “Rattner is married to Maureen White, the former National Finance Chair for the Democratic Party.” The comment: “So one of the guys advising SecTreas on this thing is married to someone who used to be one of the people in charge of fundraising for the Democratic Party. This explains so much it’s scary.” Well, it bears a close look.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/05/car_czar_and_chrysler_dealer_t.html at May 28, 2009 – 12:42:56 PM EDT

Leaking Intel for Fun and Political Advantage

Leaking Intel for Fun and Political Advantage
By: Gregory Gethard
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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Congressional Democrats only believe in revealing classified information if it hurts our country.
Once again history is repeating itself. Two incidents – one involving Joe Biden and one involving the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – prove Democrats are still in the habit of releasing classified intelligence to discredit the CIA or the Republicans and, at the same time, stonewalling on releasing non-threatening information that would cast either in a positive light. It’s politicking of the worst kind; manipulating the nation’s most important secrets for a cheap boost in the polls.

In March, Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner, an event that joins Washington’s top politicians and media members for a lighthearted night of fun and entertainment. But at this year’s event, Biden divulged the precise location where Dick Cheney hid during and after the 9/11 attacks. According to Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift:

Joe Biden reveals the bunker-like room is at the Naval Observatory in Washington, where Cheney lived for eight years and which is now home to Biden. The veep related the story to his head-table dinner mates when he filled in for President Obama at the Gridiron Club earlier this year. He said the young naval officer giving him a tour of the residence showed him the hideaway, which is behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communications equipment. The officer explained that when Cheney was in lock down, this was where his most trusted aides were stationed, an image that Biden conveyed in a way that suggested we shouldn’t be surprised that the policies that emerged were off the wall. (Emphasis added.)

The vice president’s remarks are being cast by the mainstream media as another case of Biden’s infamous loose lips, and his office denies he was describing the bunker. But his words are far from innocuous; al-Qaeda could have better planned 9/11 with this information, and is now better prepared for the next attack. Biden’s statements not only revealed classified information that makes Americans, in this case his own family members, less safe, but they were spoken casually in order to discredit Dick Cheney and the Bush administration’s aggressive counterterrorism policies. Yet the Left has treated it as a non-event.

On the other hand, a Congressional Democrat has accused an opponents of threatening national security for seeking the truth about Nancy Pelosi. The Speaker has made an adamant if unconvincing case that the CIA never informed her about instances of waterboarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Media reports indicate she knew in 2002 about the CIA’s detainee interrogation tactics, but Pelosi has insisted she did not know about waterboarding until much later. She has since accused the CIA of misleading Congress “all the time.” In an effort to determine what meetings related to waterboarding Pelosi attended, Republican ranking member Pete Hoekstra managed to obtain a classified CIA document that detailed the many briefings informing Pelosi about the practice of waterboarding. Since Nancy Pelosi continued her denials, Hoekstra called for the release of all related CIA documents that would reveal what Pelosi knew and when she knew it. This drew the wrath of Democrat Silvestre Reyes, whom Pelosi appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee:

It’s irresponsible what Republicans are doing, particularly in Mr. Hoekstra’s case. When you’re asking to declassify material that’s been classified for a very good reason — that’s the height of irresponsibility. (Emphasis added.)

It’s hard to imagine that any major state secrets will be unearthed due to Hoekstra’s information; it is easy to see why Reyes would want to prevent Hoekstra’s efforts.

These two events might be humorous were they not so typical. The Left has an abysmal record on revealing classified information or cheering on those who do.

A glaring example of this came in 2006, when CIA officer Mary McCarthy was fired for allegedly leaking information about CIA “black sites” to Dana Priest, a reporter for The Washington Post. Priest’s article identified several nations which allowed the CIA to hold al-Qaeda operatives within their borders, including “several democracies in Eastern Europe” and Jordan. Exactly one week later, al-Qaeda attacked Jordan. Although it is illegal for CIA officers to leak this information and the leak destroyed the program, the Left used this information to marginalize the Bush administration.

Just months after his presidential defeat, Senator John Kerry leapt at the chance to minimize, or justify, the leak on ABC’s This Week:

A CIA agent has the obligation to uphold the law and clearly leaking is against the law, and nobody should leak. I don’t like leaking. But if you’re leaking to tell the truth, Americans are going to look at that, at least mitigate or think about what are the consequences that you, you know, put on that person. Obviously they’re not going to keep their job, but there are other larger issues here. You know, classification in Washington is a tool that is used to hide the truth from the American people. (Emphasis added.)

Coincidentally, McCarthy donated $2,000 to Kerry’s presidential campaign.

Unfortunately, this decision of a leftist to justify leaking classified anti-terror programs to the media is hardly an isolated event.

In December 2005, New York Times journalist James Risen wrote an article entitled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” which detailed the Bush administration’s policy of wiretapping foreign jihadists speaking in another country without first obtaining a warrant. Risen’s article was largely helped by Thomas Tamm, a Department of Justice official who took it upon himself to release this information to the media.

Rep. James Moran, D-VA, instantly hailed both the Risen and Priest stories for “breaking through the administration’s secrecy,” justifying crippling this program on the grounds that the Bush administration was “doing everything possible to impose censorship.”

It did not take long for Democrats to vehemently protest this policy, which became a rallying cry in both the 2006 Congressional campaign as well as the 2008 election. Senator Russ Feingold, D-WI, said on the floor of the U.S. Senate:

This program is breaking the law, and this president is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.

However, Bush administration officials were adamant about the absolute need for this program to exist. This Thursday, former Vice President Dick Cheney told the AEI:

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.

Feingold has yet to make a comment on President Barack Obama’s decision to continue the warrantless wiretapping policy.

Yet the leaks, and their enthusiastic reception by the Left, continued. On September 24, 2006, the New York Times published an article citing information from the classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which discussed the spread of Islamic radicalism in the wake of the Iraq War. The leak came in the heat of the midterm Congressional campaigns. However, in October, a never-identified Democratic aide on the intelligence committee was banned from access to classified information. According to the New York Times, the aide asked for a copy of the NIE two days before details of the report ended up in the newspaper, leading to suspicions he was the leak.

Also in 2006, the New York Times published another article which used classified material to detail the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a secretive Bush-era program tracking the financial transactions of suspected al-Qaeda suspects.

However, once this information was revealed in the press, it gave al-Qaeda an opportunity to readjust its financial strategies in funding their efforts. And it also gave Democrats yet another opportunity to paint the Bush administration as working above the law. Said Congressman Edward Markey:

I am very concerned that the Bush administration may be once again violating the constitutional rights of innocent Americans as part of another secret program created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

As a result of these intelligence leaks, House Republicans passed a measure condemning such leaks and asking for “the cooperation of all news media organizations in protecting the lives of Americans.” It passed on a near party-line vote, with more than 100 Democrats voting no.

On the other hand, the Left opposes the release of classified information under certain circumstances, specifically when it may be politically detrimental or when it might benefit their political opponents. Democrats were apoplectic when the Bush administration released some of the National Intelligence Estimate in 2006, which detailed the intelligence the administration saw before launching the invasion of Iraq. The book Party of Defeat by David Horowitz and Ben Johnson quotes future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who said with no trace of irony:

I served for years on the House intelligence committee, and I know intelligence must never be classified or declassified for political purposes. One of the constants in the Bush administration’s miserable record on Iraq has been the manipulation of intelligence precisely for political purposes.
Now Madam Speaker and her allies are at it again, accusing Rep. Hoekstra of undermining national security by investigating their lies.

This is yet another example of the hypocritical cynicism of the Left, which has a history of wanting it both ways with its manipulation of intelligence. In their eyes, politics come before pragmatism and sound bytes come before safety. Protecting the image of the party is more important than protecting the safety of the people the party is supposed to represent.

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Gregory Gethard is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer.

Obama in L.A.: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’

Obama in L.A.: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’
By Sam Youngman
Posted: 05/27/09 11:51 PM [ET]
LOS ANGELES — Even as he conceded there is still much hard work to do, President Obama was in a boastful mood Wednesday night, telling a star-studded crowd at a fundraising dinner that he “would put these first four months up against any prior administration since FDR.”

The president, speaking to a dinner that included Hollywood A-listers like Kiefer Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg, lauded the legislation he has signed since taking office but added that he is “not satisfied.”

“I’m confident in the future, but I’m not yet content,” Obama said.

The celebrity dinner, which cost couples $30,400 to attend, was followed by a larger, lower-dollar concert that all told raised between $3 million and $4 million for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Joining the celebrities feting Obama were Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), “the newest member of our caucus.”

Obama was introduced by Dreamworks CEO and longtime Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg. The president thanked Katzenberg, saying: “If it weren’t for you, we would not be in the White House.”

The trip here came on the heels of a fundraising jaunt to Las Vegas to raise about $2 million for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to aides.

The president, while seeking to bolster his record as president so far, warned both audiences that significant challenges lie ahead.

At the concert, headlined by Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind and Fire, Obama responded to an audience member yelling, “Yes we can” by saying, “Yes we have. But we’ve got more work to do. We can’t rest on our laurels.

“We didn’t ask for the challenges that we face, but we don’t shrink from them either,” he said. “It won’t be easy. There will be setbacks. It will take time.”

The president conceded that his administration “had our fits and starts.”

“I’ve made some mistakes, and I guarantee you I’ll make some more,” he said.

But Obama said in promising to continue to work hard, “Los Angeles, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Obama also lauded Judge Sonia Sotomayor, his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, repeating his line that she has more experience than anyone currently sitting on the bench when they were nominated.

He joked at the second fundraiser that she graduated summa cum laude, “not just magna or laude laude, but summa cum laude.”

Obama is scheduled to leave for Washington early Thursday morning.