Patterico's Pontifications


Schumer to Holder: “Just Say It Already”

Filed under: Law,Terrorism — DRJ @ 9:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer’s advice for Attorney General Eric Holder:

“Holder testified on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said, “This administration is in the process of reviewing where KSM and the co-defendants should be tried. … New York is not off the table as to where they should be tried. But we have to take into consideration the concerns.”

“No final decision has been made about the forum which Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-defendants will be tried,” said Holder. “As I said at the outset, this is a very close call.”

Schumer attended the hearing. But in his statement, released on Wednesday, he said: “We know the administration is not going to hold the trial in New York. They should just say it already.”

Even Democrats are getting tired of Eric Holder’s waffling.


AG Holder Protects His DOJ Kids

Filed under: Law,Obama — DRJ @ 7:05 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Attorney General Eric Holder answered questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee today but he courageously refused to tattle on his DOJ kids:

“During his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder became noticeably angry when asked about the controversy over Justice Department employees who represented Guantanamo Bay detainees before joining the Obama administration. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who last year asked Holder for the names of those lawyers and the detainees whom they represented, said he still has not received a complete answer from Holder. Grassley seemed irritated that the Justice Department had confirmed to Fox News the names of some of those lawyers while not responding fully to the Judiciary Committee. “My inquiry seeks to understand who is advising you on these decisions, given the serious impact these issues have on our national security,” Grassley said. So he asked a “very simple yes or no question” — would Holder supply the information?

No, said the attorney general. “With all due respect, senator, and I know that your request comes from what I would call a good place, yours was an honorable request,” Holder began. “There has been has been an attempt to take the names of people who represented Guantanamo detainees and to drag their reputations through the mud. There were reprehensible ads used to question their patriotism.”

“I’m not going to allow these kids — I’m not going to be part of that effort,” Holder continued. “And so, with all due respect, their names are out there now. The positions that they hold are out there. That’s all been placed in the public record. I am simply not going to be a part of that effort … I will not allow their reputations to be besmirched. I will not be a part of that.”

Two of the DOJ lawyers have already been identified. One is 40-year-old Neal Katyal and another is Jennifer Daskal, described as “a couple of years younger.” Democratic Senator Richard Durbin praised Holder for his “courageous position” in refusing to name the remaining kids.


Big Journalism SOS

Filed under: Media Bias,War — DRJ @ 1:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Big Journalism warns about treason at the New York Times:

“I have just received word that the New York Times is preparing to go public with a list of names of Americans covertly working in Afghanistan providing force protection for our troops, as well as the rest of our Coalition Forces. If the Times actually sees this through, the red ink they are drowning in will be nothing compared to the blood their entire organization will be covered with. Make no mistake, the Times is about to cause casualty rates in Afghanistan to skyrocket. Each and every American should be outraged.”


Jerry Brown: “This is Not About Sarah Palin”

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 12:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

LA Weekly looks at why Jerry Brown stepped into the Cal State-Sarah Palin event:

“State Attorney General Brown said late Tuesday that he’ll look into allegations that the California State University Stanislaus Foundation dumped documents related to its invitation to have Sarah Palin come speak at the school.

He also wants to find out why the foundation has refused a California Public Records Act request that essentially asks how much its paying to have Palin speak at the campus, part of a financially strapped Cal State system. (The foundation is a nonprofit organization with separate finances, but Brown does have jurisdiction over nonprofits in the state). Brown stated that Palin has recently been paid $100,000 to speak elsewhere.

Brown stated he will look at documents that State Sen. Leland Yee got his hands on after they were pulled from a dumpster by students at CSU Stanislaus. They are said to contain part of Palin’s speaking contract, although Brown has yet to authenticate them. He wants to know how such documents, denied as public information under the records request, ended up in the trash.
Brown indicates he plans to get all up in the CSU Stanislaus Foundation’s finances, which include $20 million in the bank and $3 million in spending each year on university “endeavors.” He warned the foundation not to trash any more documents.”

Is this contract law vs open records? Foundation privacy vs the public’s right to know? Or is it really Jerry Brown vs Sarah Palin?


MORE: A university official claims the Palin contract was stolen from an office recycling bin last week.

Obsessed with the Tea Party (Updated)

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 12:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Now! Hampshire claims former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan is obsessed with the Tea Party:

“Former Democratic State Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan is heading up the search, the source said. Sullivan has been calling and e-mailing liberal activists trying to get them to attend tea parties in different parts of the state and hold signs denying the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and make racially disparaging comments to reporters.

“This is Kathy’s [Sullivan] project,” the source told “She is absolutely obsessed with painting the tea party people as racists.”

Similar “crash the tea party” efforts are taking place throughout the country on Tax Day.”

JWF sums it up well:

“Is this the best you Democrats can do? If you think about it for a second, if Tea Partiers were the racists they’re being portrayed as, then why would these sneaky Democrats have to bus people in to pretend to be racist Tea Partiers? Taken further, why would Democrats know how to be “racist”? Does it just come natural to them?”

If Democrats think Republicans are the ‘Party of No’ for objecting to Obama’s health care reforms and record deficits, what does this make Democrats — the OCD Party?


UPDATE 4/15/2010 — Sullivan says the story is a hoax:

“Former state Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan, named in the Now Hampshire post as the instigator of the infiltration plan — which was tied to her in the post by a source “who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals” — categorically rejected the claims on the blog.

“This website has made this up,” she told me. “It’s a total fabrication.”

Sullivan not only said that she had not called for progressives to storm tomorrow’s tea party rallies, she also condemned the idea of anyone trying to distupt a tea party rally as undemocratic.

“I think it’s a bad idea to infiltrate these rallies,” she said. “I would defend to the death the right of anyone to express their free speech.”

Now! Hampshire should back up its claim or retract. Until that happens, I assume this story isn’t true.

H/T Elizabeth.

Slumping personal income and the 2010 midterms

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:06 am

[Posted by Karl]

This Washington Times item was picked up by the Drudge Report, but deserves some extra context:

Real personal income for Americans – excluding government payouts such as Social Security – has fallen by 3.2 percent since President Obama took office in January 2009, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The context is that personal income has become the Democrats’ favorite statisitic for wishful thinking about the 2010 midterm elections. The latest version of this story comes from The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki:

Given high unemployment and flat wages, no one is going to be singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” any time soon (even if the tune was F.D.R.’s theme song). But we’ve now had three straight quarters of growth, and last month saw the creation of more than a hundred and fifty thousand jobs. That prompted the Harvard economist Jeff Frankel, a member of the committee that officially declares when recessions begin and end, to declare the downturn over. So, with the midterm elections just seven months away, people are starting to wonder how a rebound might shape results in November.


A tough November for Democrats therefore looks like a foregone conclusion. And yet if the economy really starts to recover this summer a lot could change. For one thing, voters have short memories: when they cast their ballots, their decisions are shaped primarily by recent events. [Princeton political scientist Larry] Bartels, in his book “Unequal Democracy,” points out a strong correlation between voting in Presidential elections and income growth during election years, rather than income growth over the full length of a Presidency. Indeed, he narrows it down further: the second and third quarters of the election year seem to matter most. Since the second quarter started just last week, there’s time for moods to brighten substantially by Election Day. Some have argued that an economic rebound won’t matter this year, because things have been so awful that normal growth won’t feel like progress. But, as [GWU political scientist John] Sides says, “it doesn’t seem that economic growth matters less when you’re digging out of a crisis. What voters look at is whether things are getting better or worse.”


Even the high unemployment rate may be less important politically than you’d think. Seth Masket, a political scientist at the University of Denver, has found that, in midterm elections since 1950, there’s been no correlation between the unemployment rate and election outcomes. The key economic variable for voters, other studies show, has been income growth, or, more specifically, how fast per-capita G.D.P. is rising. In other words, if income growth is brisk enough, Democrats should benefit at the polls even if unemployment stays high. And Democrats do have an ace in the hole when it comes to keeping the economy moving: last year’s stimulus bill was backloaded, which means that close to five hundred billion dollars in stimulus money is still to be spent.

First, on the economy in general, the new Associated Press economists’ survey and pundits from Megan McArdle to Kevin Drum are not confident about the strength of any ongoing recovery. I hope that people like Larry Kudlow and Mark J. Perry are right in predicting a strong short-term recovery, even if Obamanomics may do longer-term damage if uncorrected. Righties don’t need to root for bad economic news. If the economy turned around before the backloaded stimulus kicks in, it merely proves how ineffectual and politically motivated Obama’s stimulus program really was and is.

Second, while many of Bartels’s larger hypotheses (on US economic performance under GOP and Democratic administrations, or the voting behavior of the white working class, to name two) are questionable, his theory about personal income is reasonable enough (it’s also a big part of Hibbs’s “Bread and Peace” model for predicting presidential elections). But what is the probability that personal income growth is going to significantly improve over the next two quarters? Surowiecki can cite Masket downplaying unemployment as a factor, but there seems to be no consideration of the effect that a large, persistent pool of unemployed (and beyond that, “discouraged” workers) has on the ability of the employed to demand higher wages.

Nor is that omission the only problem with Masket’s analysis. As Sean Trende pointed out last November, 1982 is about the only modern example of a midterm where unemployment was in the range we see today. He further noted that, historically, bad recessions are followed by rough midterm elections for the party in power.

The common denominator in these analyses is the truism that in politics, perception is often more important than reality. Voters’ opinion of the economy is likely driven by their immediate perception. Income growth is something voters notice — if it translates into higher wages, which hasn’t happened yet in this cycle. Like unemployment, it may be a lagging indicator. (Voters will also notice things like fuel prices, which are likely to increase during the summer, due to environmental regs, vacation demand, etc.) Democrats hoping these stats will turn in just a few months are likely to end up disappointed.


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