Patterico's Pontifications


They Keep Saying the President Can’t Fire the SEC Chair — Yet the Law Seems to Say Otherwise. Tapper Won’t Correct the Apparent Error. Will the L.A. Times?

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General,Media Bias — Patterico @ 11:42 pm

Jake Tapper is repeating his claim that a President can’t fire the Chairman of the SEC:

“By the way I know he can’t be technically ‘fired,'” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., just said on “60 Minutes.” “But when I’m president, if I want someone to resign, he resigns.”

We fact-checked his threat to fire SEC chairman Chris Cox last week, as you may recall, pointing to a U.S. Supreme Court decision and ruling that the president does not have the power to fire the SEC Chair. But, we noted, certainly pressure can be brought to force someone out, as when then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., called for President Bush to dump then-SEC chair Harvey Pitt.

Tapper is hardly alone in his view. The L.A. Times and McClatchy newspapers have espoused the same view.

With all due respect to all of them, my reading of the relevant cases indicates otherwise. I have written Tapper about this, and while I won’t repeat the content of his e-mails without his permission, I will say that he a) utterly failed to convince me he is right, and b) shows no sign of willingness to retract his apparently inaccurate statements.

Tonight, I wrote the L.A. Times “Readers’ Representative” seeking a correction to that paper’s similar assertion. I set forth the argument in the e-mail, which I here repeat in full:

An L.A. Times article from September 20, by Doyle McManus, titled “McCain and Obama different on style as well as substance,” asserts that the President can’t fire an SEC Chairman:

On Thursday, [McCain] said he’d fire the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox [if McCain were President]. (A president appoints but can’t fire an SEC chief, though he can apply pressure to resign. The White House said President Bush had confidence in Cox.)

But a federal court decision certainly seems to say otherwise. The case is Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, 537 F.3d 667, 668-69 (D.C. Cir. 2008), and here is the relevant quote:

Members of the [Securities and Exchange] Commission, in turn, are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate and subject to removal by the President for cause; its chairman is selected by and serves at the pleasure of the President.

I have read that Jake Tapper of ABC and McClatchy newspapers have relied on a Supreme Court decision, Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935), to argue otherwise. However, I believe they have misread that case (if, indeed, they read it at all). That case, which dealt with the President’s power to fire an FTC commissioner, did not say that the commissioner could not be fired under any circumstances. Rather, it said that, when Congress restricted the president’s ability to fire commissioners except for cause, that restriction was constitutional.

In other words, a President can remove a commissioner — but only for cause. Meanwhile, according to the D.C. Circuit case I provide above, the Chair himself serves at the President’s pleasure, meaning he can be removed for any reason or no reason.

It’s true that the Chair serves a dual role as commissioner and Chair. But even if the President needs “cause” to fire Cox in his role as commissioner, he still can fire Cox. If I can fire you for cause, it’s wrong to say I can’t fire you at all.

I think Doyle McManus is repeating Conventional Wisdom on this. But I think Conventional Wisdom is wrong, and that your paper should issue a correction.

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey

I hasten to note that the consensus among the Republicans I speak with is that McCain wishes he had never made the statement, and is probably trying to sweep the issue under the rug. If that’s right, he may have no particular interest in challenging the Tapper/LAT/McClatchy spin that a President can’t fire an SEC Chair.

That’s fine; let McCain do what he’s gotta do. I’m not a McCain campaign guy. I care about accuracy. And I don’t see anyone interested in correcting this apparent misstatement.

It’s not important, in and of itself. But I’m getting increasingly frustrated with a media that seemingly wants to create its own facts, and airily dismisses anyone who dares question them. The facts, as I see them, are in this post.

I’m not an expert in this area and I haven’t fully canvassed the relevant law. I’ve read the two cases linked above and have done some Internet research, which indicates that some other people who have looked at the issue closely, agree with me. But that doesn’t mean I’m automatically right. If you see a flaw in my analysis — and you might — let me know what it is, specifically.

So far, I haven’t found anyone who can explain it to my satisfaction . . . or who has even really tried to.

All they want to do is ignore my points. And I find that frustrating.

Lopez Travels Out of State to Tell the Same Falsehoods That His Buddies Tell Right Here at Home

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:03 pm

Steve Lopez is in Chicago this week, intensely researching the record of Barack Obama, who is running for President of the United States.

Ha, ha! Just kidding! Of course, Lopez is not in Chicago, silly. He is following in the footsteps of Maureen Dowd and traipsing to Alaska to use his “inimitable blend of righteous indignation and rapier wit” (to use Roy Rivenburg’s memorable phrase) in the service of an investigation of Sarah Palin, who is running for Vice-President.

By which I mean to say, he mocks a local hick, swallows whole some patent crapola from a local lefty, and recycles a couple of moldy and discredited canards.

All in a day’s work.

Edwards said she believes, as does Palin, that creationism ought to be taught in schools along with evolution . . . .

No, she doesn’t.

Munger, who writes the Progressive Alaska blog, told me Palin is not just a creationist, but a “young Earth” creationist who believes that man and dinosaurs once shared the planet, and that the world will end in her lifetime.

If a lefty says it, it must be true!

If true, that’s a little scary. But no more so than her view that a woman who’s pregnant because of a rape shouldn’t be allowed to have an abortion, or that the Iraq war is “a task that is from God.”

She didn’t say that either.

Jesus Christ, Lopez, don’t you read your own goddamned paper? And I quote:

A video shows Palin asking a group to pray that the nation’s leaders were sending troops to Iraq “on a task that is from God.”

Gibson, however, mischaracterized her as simply asserting that the nation’s leaders were sending troops to Iraq on a task from God.

And so did Steve Lopez.

How can this newspaper say in a news article that it’s a mischaracterization to say Palin asserted that, and yet allow Lopez to repeat that exact mischaracterization in a column?

Apparently the editors haven’t ever heard the phrase: you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.

But, you know, it’s OK. Because everything Lopez said is the Conventional Wisdom. Just like John McCain praised our economy without reservation the day after the financial crisis hit. And Palin said she can see Russia from her house. And Palin said the Iraq war is a task from God. And Palin wants creationism taught in schools. And she supports abstinence-only education.

On and on and on. Every single one of these things is false, but you see them repeated again and again and again and again and again.

As I said about Maureen Dowd, does a newspaper really have to pay for a plane ticket to Alaska so a columnist can repeat discredited falsehoods? Can’t they do that from their own office in the big city, just like they always do?

Budget… Budget…. Where Have I Heard that Before?

Filed under: General — JRM @ 8:22 pm

[Please welcome JRM, an occasional commenter at this web site whom I have invited to contribute here from time to time. — Patterico]

[Posted by JRM]

I woke up this morning to NPR with Barack Obama saying, “As president, I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and I will eliminate the programs that don’t work and aren’t needed.”

Well! Excellent! While I might prefer an “or” for that final “and,” I’m all for budget-slashing. If only Barack Obama had been afforded some opportunity for input into prior budgets; if only he had been part of some sort of group that voted on appropriations bills, why, I’m sure we’d already have his long list of programs to kill off.

Or, you know, not.

Obama and the Democrats aren’t the only ones to pull this, but when you’re one of 100 senators it ought to be a substantial part of your job to look for government programs that don’t work or aren’t needed. For those paying attention at home, the programs are paid for by the people who live here. Taking our money ought to be serious business.

How many such programs did Barack Obama try to axe as a senator? Can’t we get just a few specifics? Isn’t it well past time that we outright reject politicians’ empty promises of reducing or eliminating “unnecessary” spending?


Biden and the Barbarians *

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 7:52 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Tonight Joe Biden told a group of DC lawyers that the Democrats will “mobilize thousands of lawyers to make sure they [the Republicans] don’t steal another election.”

During the speech, Biden talked about the people who would protect us from “the barbarians at the gate.” After 9/11, you might think they would be our nation’s military men and women. You would be wrong.

Now that it’s election season, Joe Biden says the only people who protect us from the “barbarians at the gate” are lawyers and organized labor:

“Biden said that he’s “done more than any other senator combined” for trial lawyers.

“There are two people — you’ve heard me say it before — two groups that stand between us and the barbarians at the gate,” Biden said. “It’s you and organized labor. That’s it. That is it.”

Joe Biden clearly has a different definition of barbarians than I do.


* Biden and the Barbarians. Wouldn’t that be a great name for a 60’s band?

Biden Gaffes

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This may be the week Joe Biden went from being an amusing gaffe-prone VP to a major liability. I wonder when we’ll see these gaffes on Saturday Night Live?

Time for a poll!

H/T Instapundit.


Bailouts and Investigations

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 5:11 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

While the lawmakers on Capitol Hill angrily debate the $700B bailout, the FBI has opened investigations into the 4 institutions that helped make the bailout necessary:

“Two law enforcement officials said the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEH), and insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG)

A senior law enforcement official says the inquiries, still in preliminary stages, will focus on the financial institutions and the individuals that ran them.”

There may have been no laws broken here but these investigations could help those like Senator Christopher Dodd who worry “the authors of this calamity” will walk “with the usual golden parachutes while taxpayers pick up the bill.”

Secretary Paulson shared the lawmakers’ anger and exasperation but reiterated that the proposed rescue plan is designed to benefit taxpayers, not “fat-cat Wall Streeters.” I agree with Secretary Paulson. Letting the US financial markets crash plunge in order to punish a few Wall Street executives is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. It won’t make US investors (most of whom are also taxpayers) feel better when their investments decline to pennies on the dollar that Wall Street was punished, too.

So these companies and CEOs may spend years dealing with and worrying about federal investigations of their actions. And let the rest of us avoid the turmoil that will surely result if there is no bailout.


Did You Know That Franklin Roosevelt Went On TV After The 1929 Stock Market Crash To Resassure People Everything Would Be Fine??? So Says A 2008 VP Candidate

Filed under: General — WLS @ 3:38 pm

Posted by WLS:

Making the rounds today — though getting no real play so far as I can tell from the MSM — are the following comments by VP Candidate Joe Biden:

“When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed,” Biden told Couric. “He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.'”

As Reason‘s Jesse Walker footnotes it: “And if you owned an experimental TV set in 1929, you would have seen him. And you would have said to yourself, ‘Who is that guy? What happened to President Hoover?'”

It comes along with the very generous caption by Politico “Joe Biden Garbles Depression History.”

I wonder if Palin would have been treated so deferentially?  (That’s a rhetorical question.)

Barack Obama, Bill Ayers and Ben Smith

Filed under: General — Karl @ 12:03 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Stanley Kurtz has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, detailing Barack Obama’s stint as chairman of an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), an experience that Obama usuall avoids putting on his resume, most likely because CAC was the brainchild of unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers:

The CAC’s basic functioning has long been known, because its annual reports, evaluations and some board minutes were public. But the Daley archive contains additional board minutes, the Collaborative minutes, and documentation on the groups that CAC funded and rejected. The Daley archives show that Mr. Obama and Mr. Ayers worked as a team to advance the CAC agenda.

One unsettled question is how Mr. Obama, a former community organizer fresh out of law school, could vault to the top of a new foundation? In response to my questions, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying that Mr. Ayers had nothing to do with Obama’s “recruitment” to the board. The statement says Deborah Leff and Patricia Albjerg Graham (presidents of other foundations) recruited him. Yet the archives show that, along with Ms. Leff and Ms. Graham, Mr. Ayers was one of a working group of five who assembled the initial board in 1994. Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval.

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds asks not only what this says about Obama’s judgment, but also what it says “about the mainstream media, whose organs have quite consciously and deliberately ignored and minimized this subject?”

To answer that question, we might look at the case study of the Politico’s Ben Smith.

In February, Smith asked Obama’s chief strategist (and reigning expert on Chicago’s political tribes), David Axelrod, about the Obama-Ayers relationship and got this answer:

“Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school,” he said. “They’re certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together.”

As it turned out, their kids did not go to school together, but Obama was the chairman of a $150 million effort spearheaded by Ayers on the important issue of public education, which funded “awful” projects and “had little impact on student outcomes.”

You would think Axelrod would have some ‘splainin’ to do. But you would be wrong.

As the CAC story emerged, Ben Smith’s blase reaction clearly communicated that he did not care that he was misled by Camp Obama about the Ayers relationship, let alone that Obama’s biggest claim to executive experience (and a reform credential to boot) was judged to be a failure, even by the CAC. Indeed, Smith took the story as evidence of how mainstream Ayers is — as opposed to how dysfunctional the political culture of Chicago is.

In contrast, Smith felt compelled to nitpick statements by John McCain’s campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, about the Ayers relationship. Smith added in a separate blog post that Schmidt’s comments were “‘Hey, look over here’ politics” — the campaign’s urgent attempt to change the subject from the economy. That was the daily talking point at the Huffington Post, too — even though McCain was making headlines talking about the economy the same day.

Perhaps those who read Ben Smith will stop thinking that he is “in the tank” for Obama when he stops doing the breaststroke through Obama’s Kool-Aid. And the same could be said for any number of Smith’s pals in the media.


Unmitigated Garbage from on Obama’s Second Amendment Record

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:23 am

Xrlq points us to this ridiculous piece on Obama and gun rights. I am by now completely disenchanted with and virtually every other “fact checking” site out there, and this piece does nothing to dispel my depression.

The summary version: FactCheck ridicules the NRA in this piece. But the NRA is careful to say: look at Obama’s record and not his rhetoric. And at least two of the NRA claims are backed up by references to Obama’s record. Yet goes on to minimize or completely ignore Obama’s record on these points, choosing instead to concentrate on citations to Obama’s later campaign rhetoric.

1) declares “false” the NRA’s claim that Obama plans to ban the possession, manufacture, and sale of handguns. But it emerges that this claim is directly based on Obama’s “yes” answer to a the following question in a questionnaire: “Do you support legislation to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?” simply faults the NRA for not noting Obama’s later attempts to explain away this answer. But doesn’t address the fact that Obama falsely denied even seeing the questionnaire, only to have it later emerge that an amended version had his handwriting on it.

2) calls “supported” the NRA’s claim that Obama would appoint judges who share his views on the Second Amendment. As part of their evidence, tells us that Obama didn’t contest the Heller decision, which upheld an individual right to bear arms. But doesn’t mention that Obama’s campaign had initially said of the D.C.’s total ban on handguns in the home: “Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.” (Obama later tried to back away from that statement, but it is part of his record, just like his answers to the questionnaire that he had claimed he had never seen, but that turned out to bear his handwriting.)

The piece is garbage. Details in the extended entry.


NYT: John McCain’s Verb-Fu is Unstoppable?

Filed under: 2008 Election,Media Bias,Politics — Karl @ 4:45 am

The NYT’s John M. Broder half-heartedly sets some Obama-friendly expectations for the first presidential debate this Friday, but the fact that John McCain “uses short, active verbs that project strength,” and “can connect with audiences on a visceral level using down-to-earth language” does not rank him as a debate champ as against the “uneven” and aloof Barack Obama

Indeed, Broder characterizes at least one McCain performance as “uneven,” but chooses to bury it in the middle of the McCain piece.  The effort reaches the point of absurdity when Broder stoops to include Obama’s Senate campaign debate against Alan Keyes as a “high-stakes” event  — when in reality, Keyes was a carpetbagging joke selected by state Republicans after Jack Ryan’s campaign imploded.  That debate was meaningless.  Moreover, even Broder admits that Obama improved as a debater over the course of the presidential primaries.

If Broder really wanted to set expectations for Obama, he might have noted that Obama previously ran away from McCain’s suggested series of town hall debates.  Or that Obama did so poorly at the Saddleback Civil Forum on the presidency that his campaign tried to claim that McCain cheated.  Or that Obama is the kind of candidate who brings a Teleprompter to town hall events and even to a rodeo.  Was Broder afraid that degree of candor might upset the delicate sensibilities of his paper’s rapidly shrinking readership?

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