Patterico's Pontifications


BLS Unemployment Numbers Released Friday (Updated x2)

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 11:38 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Most analysts expect the unemployment numbers released tomorrow by the Bureau of Labor Statistics will show 200,000 more jobs:

“Action Economics expects the U.S. employment report for April, scheduled for release on May 7, to show an increase in nonfarm payrolls of around 200,000, beating the gain of 162,000 in March. We expect another big boost from Census hiring, while the private payroll figures in the report should continue to post a slow but steady recovery from the peak declines of the recession seen in the first quarter of last year.”

As noted, the bulk of the new jobs may be temporary Census jobs:

“The industry mix should reveal a hefty surge in government hiring in the neighborhood of 150,000 that is led by an assumed 170,000 surge in Census hiring, alongside a modest 50,000 gain for private payrolls that would mark the fourth straight monthly increase.

We will assume that the Census contribution to government employment will climb to a cumulative 570,000 by May, which is below the 635,000 estimate from the Commerce Dept. The climb to a May peak should be quickly reversed by yearend.”

If these numbers prove to be correct, government is doing well.


UPDATE: In a 1999 press release, the Commerce Department said there were 2,578 American cities with populations of 10,000 or more. Assuming tomorrow’s report shows there are approximately 50,000 new private jobs, that means each city added 19 private sector jobs.

UPDATE 2 – 5/7/2010: Most analysts were wrong. The numbers show good news:

“In April, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 290,000. Sizable employment gains occurred in manufacturing, professional and business services, health care, and in leisure and hospitality. Federal government employment increased due to the hiring of temporary workers for Census 2010. Since December, nonfarm payroll employment has expanded by 573,000, with 483,000 jobs added in the private sector. The vast majority of job growth occurred during the last 2 months. (See table B-1.)”

April added 231,000 private sector jobs, plus revisions for February and March added significantly more jobs. However, there are still concerns as the underemployment rate and long-term unemployment rose. Presumably more discouraged workers are returning to the workforce.

American Flags Not Welcome

Filed under: Education,Immigration — DRJ @ 10:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

At The Jury, aunursa posts on the students who were sent home for wearing American flags on Cinco de Mayo.


Terrorism Coverage

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 9:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Andy McCarthy links an NPR report in the New York car bomb case that indicates possible law enforcement leaks and the media response determined how law enforcement tracked Shahzad:

“Tipping off reporters so they can show up at a police stake-out of an armed terrorist’s home?”

Read the link. Is this a game to some people (and not just in the media)?


Terror Bill Would Expatriate U.S. Citizens (Updated)

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 9:15 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A bill filed in the Senate would allow the government to revoke the citizenship of Americans who support terrorism:

“Lieberman offered the legislation today along with Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Reps. Jason Altmire, D-Penn., and Charlie Dent, R-Penn, which would add to the existing federal statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1481, which identifies seven categories of actions for which U.S. citizens lose their citizenship. The legislation, called the Terrorist Expatriation Act, would authorize the State Department to revoke the citizenship of any U.S. national who provides material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization or who engages in or supports hostilities against the United States or its allies.

In a speech, Lieberman said that Times Square suspect Faisal Shahzad “is just the latest in a growing and accelerating line of cases where U.S. Citizens have supported or fought for al-Qaeda or affiliated terrorist organizations against the United States… With increasing frequency, U.S. Citizens like Nidal Hassan, Abdul Hakim Muhammad, or Faisal Shahzad, who are inspired or recruited by violent Islamist ideology plan and execute attacks right here in the United States.”

Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said that it “has become a strategy of al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups over the past couple of years to recruit U.S. citizens who can train overseas and then use their American passports to re-enter the U.S. for the purposes of planning and carrying out attacks against us. …The legislation we are introducing today will help take that ability away from the terrorists. For example, if a U.S. citizen travels to Somalia to train with and fight for al-Shabaab – as more than 20 young men have done over the past several years – the State Department will now have the authority to revoke their citizenship so that they cannot return here to carry out an attack. If, in some way, they do, and are then captured, they will not enjoy the rights and privileges of American citizenship in the legal proceedings against them.”

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs describes this as a bill to revoke the citizenship of suspected terrorists but that appears to be a misstatement. The text of the bill states the expatriation provisions apply to those who are:

“(8)(A) providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization;

(B) engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States; or

(C) engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against any country or armed force that is—

(i) directly engaged along with the United States in hostilities engaged in by the United
States; or

(ii) providing direct operational support to the United States in hostilities engaged in by the United States;”

Gibbs said that although his fellow workers at the White House did not support the bill, no one enumerated why. Maybe that’s because it’s provocative … or maybe it’s because they haven’t read it.


UPDATE 5/7/2010Senator Lieberman explains the law:

“In 1940, Congress passed a law that identifies several categories of acts that can be grounds for the Department of State to revoke an American’s citizenship. As the statute currently stands, it contains seven categories of expatriating acts. One of those acts is the [quote] “entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States” [unquote]. That law, 8 USC Section 1481, was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in 1980 in a case called Vance v. Terrazas.

During WWII, this law had been applied to a U.S. citizen who voluntarily joined the German or Japanese armies to fight against our troops in Europe or the Pacific. I believe it would have been evident to all that a U.S. citizen who took up arms against the United States during WWII had no interest in being a citizen of our country any longer – and should not be.

The war we are fighting today against Islamist terrorists is obviously not like WWII. Our enemies today are stateless actors who don’t wear uniforms and who plot attacks against Americans abroad and here in the United States, specifically targeting civilians in violation of the laws of war. But, our enemies – foreign terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda or the Taliban – are just as committed to attacking America and killing Americans as the Germans and Japanese were during WWII.

The bill we are introducing today – the Terrorist Expatriation Act – updates the 1940 law to account for the enemy we are fighting today.

Under the Terrorist Expatriation Act, the State Department will now also be able to revoke the citizenship of an American citizen who affiliates with a Foreign Terrorist Organization or who fights against our country. Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as you are likely aware, are also designated by the State Department.

The same due process that applies to the existing statute will apply to those whose citizenship is revoked under our proposed amendment to the law. The State Department will make an administrative determination that a U.S. Citizen has indicated an intent to renounce their citizenship by supporting an FTO. That individual will then have the right to appeal that determination within the State Department and, then, to a federal district court.”

Navy Seal Acquitted

Filed under: Law,War — DRJ @ 8:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The last of three Navy SEALs charged with abusing or failing to report abuse of a prisoner has been acquitted:

“A decorated Navy SEAL was acquitted Thursday afternoon of punching an Iraqi terrorist after his capture by a trio of American commandos.

The case involved Ahmed Hasim Abed, the suspected mastermind of the 2004 capture of four civilian Blackwater guards, their torture, mutilation and murder (see photo above). Last yea, in a mission codenamed Operation Amber, a team of SEALs captured Abed and turned him over to Iraqi authorities.

Abed later claimed to Iraqis that he had been punched by the Americans after his capture, receiving a bloody lip.

Three SEALs were then charged in a case that aroused intense emotion stateside as a modern-day story of political correctness gone awry:

In Norfolk, Va., on Thursday, it took the jury less than two hours to find Petty Officer 2d Class Matthew McCabe not guilty of assault, dereliction of duty and lying to investigators.

Defense attorney Haytham Faraj suggested Abed used a standard terrorist technique of biting his own lip to produce blood and feign injury from his captors.

“We’re here,” Faraj said, “because a mass murderer, a vile person cloaked in a human body, claims he was beaten.”

Other reports detail problems with prosecution witnesses that likely produced reasonable doubt.

H/T MD in Philly.


Pelosi’s Stable

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics — DRJ @ 7:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Did Politico really say this?

New bulls strengthen speaker’s stable

Levin, Dicks and Waxman are part of the new guard working with Pelosi.”

What rhetoric! But it produces powerful images, which is probably the point. Permit me to rephrase this slightly since, where I live, bulls aren’t typically found in stables. Thus, some might think of three powerful stallions pulling a chariot with Pelosi cracking the whip. Others might think of Pelosi as the trainer with her three studs. The point seems to be that Pelosi holds the reins and her men are full of strength and vigor.

Of course, if Pelosi is running a stable, I know what Nevadan Harry Reid runs.


British Sniper Sets Record

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 7:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A British sniper’s impressive shots:

“A BRITISH Army sniper has set a new sharpshooting distance record by killing two Taliban machinegunners in Afghanistan from more than a mile away.

Craig Harrison, a member of the Household Cavalry, killed the insurgents with consecutive shots — even though they were 3,000ft beyond the most effective range of his rifle.

“The first round hit a machinegunner in the stomach and killed him outright,” said Harrison, a Corporal of Horse. “He went straight down and didn’t move.

“The second insurgent grabbed the weapon and turned as my second shot hit him in the side. He went down, too. They were both dead.”

The shooting — which took place while Harrison’s colleagues came under attack — was at such extreme range that the 8.59mm bullets took almost three seconds to reach their target after leaving the barrel of the rifle at almost three times the speed of sound.

The distance to Harrison’s two targets was measured by a GPS system at 8,120ft, or 1.54 miles. The previous record for a sniper kill is 7,972ft, set by a Canadian soldier who shot dead an Al-Qaeda gunman in March 2002.”

He not only took out the shooters, he also took out the enemy weapon — but read it all, and more, at the link.


Still More on Textualism vs. Intentionalism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:53 pm

I promised to respond more directly to Jeff Goldstein’s latest post on intentionalism as applied to legal interpretation. This post is the promised response.

Before I get to the meat of the post, I must again take issue with his title. Goldstein continues to characterize the dichotomy as one between “originalism” and “textualism” — although I have already explained that textualists like Justice Scalia are originalists . . . they merely appeal to original understanding rather than original intent.

Having addressed the title, let me move on to the substance of the post. Perhaps, early on, I can emphasize a point of agreement where Goldstein seems to think we disagree:

But none of that is to say, as Frey contends, that “it wouldn’t matter that the legislators couldn’t point to specific language that a reasonable person would read as including this prohibition,” or that “it wouldn’t matter even if opponents could point to specific language that a reasonable person would read as saying the exact opposite of what the legislators’ intent was.” Of course it matters. Because under those conditions, you’d be hard pressed to get anyone to believe that you intended what you intended — and you have virtually no chance of having your meaning properly reconstructed. Failure to signal what you intend has consequences.

What it doesn’t do, however, is change your meaning — or allow others to tell you what that meaning is.

This is, in fact, precisely how I meant to characterize Goldstein’s position. When I said “it wouldn’t matter” what the words of the law said, in context, I meant “it wouldn’t matter to the meaning” — at least as Goldstein views it. Let’s look at what I said in its full context:

Under Goldstein’s argument, if we assume that this was the intent of the legislators who voted for ObamaCare, then it doesn’t matter what words are in the statute — they mean whatever the legislators intended them to mean. If the legislators intended the law to include a prohibition against denying coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions, then the law does contain that prohibition — no matter how the text reads.

It wouldn’t matter that the legislators couldn’t point to specific language that a reasonable person would read as including this prohibition. It wouldn’t matter even if opponents could point to specific language that a reasonable person would read as saying the exact opposite of what the legislators’ intent was.

As long as we assume it to be the case that every legislator intended to pass such a prohibition, then under Goldstein’s view, their intent controls.

When I say “it doesn’t matter” what words are used, in context, I intend to be restating Goldstein’s argument — and I believe I have characterized it correctly. Namely, Goldstein argues that the particular “marks” used does not determine their meaning — i.e. “it doesn’t matter” (to the meaning) what series of squiggles appear on the paper or the computer screen. All that matters is the intent behind them.

According to intentionalism, if a speaker chooses word “x” or word “y” or word “z” to express concept “a,” he means concept “a” regardless of whether the conventional meaning of “x” or “y” or “z” is “a” or “not a” or something entirely unrelated to “a.”

Thus, it does not matter (to the meaning) what words are used. Sure, it might matter in terms of how well intent is signaled, but that is not what I meant there.

(A bit of confusion is introduced by my conventional use of the word “word,” since Goldstein uses that word to refer to what is linguistically known as a “sign,” while I use it in its conventional sense, to refer to those squiggles on your computer screen, which he would call “marks” unless and until they are imbued with meaning by the speaker. My intent should be clear from context.)

Goldstein claims that I have miscast his positions when I say:

Goldstein argues that there is a distinction between what a law “means” and what a judge does with that knowledge. However, for Goldstein, judges should always enforce laws according to legislative intent, rather than how reasonable people would interpret the text on its own. He argues that, in the hypothetical, the judge should interpret the written text “$100,000″ as meaning “$10,000″ because that is what the legislature meant — and allowing the judge to interpret the term any other way places the power of lawmaking in the judge’s hands.

He takes issue with the above statement for the following reason:

But of course, nowhere did I argue that a judge “should always enforce laws according to legislative intent.” Instead, what I argued was that in order to claim to be interpreting the law in the first place, a judge has to appeal to the intent of those who wrote it (and so created the signs the very act of “interpreting” presupposes must exist). In Frey’s (imaginative, but frankly outlandish) hypothetical, the judge is certain that the lawmakers in question meant what they meant. The dilemma as posited, therefore, is one in which the legislature has failed to signal its intent in a way the law relies upon (and in fact, signaled something else entirely, going by the conventional standards of legal language). And the question then became how should a judge rule.

But “enforcement,” I noted, is a question not of linguistics but of justice. Constrained by the provisions of Frey’s hypothetical — the judge knows the legislators’ intent, and recognizes that they have failed to signal that intent in a way that is consonant with the conventions of legal language — for the judge to rule that the law means something other than what the legislators meant by it is for the judge to replace his intent with theirs. Or, to put it another way, he’d be replacing their text with his own, knowing full well that he is doing so — and using convention as his rationale for privileging his won intent over theirs.

This is activism. Whether it is “good” activism or not is a value judgment — not a linguistic question.

This is what I meant when I said: “Goldstein argues that there is a distinction between what a law ‘means’ and what a judge does with that knowledge.” The former is what he calls the “linguistic question.” The latter is what he calls the “value judgment” — what he has characterized in other places as a question of “justice” or “consequences.”

But I did read his post as taking a position on the value judgment — namely, that it should be in line with the linguistic interpretation. Put more simply, I had read his post to argue that a judge should enforce or apply the law consistent with what he has determined to be the proper interpretation of the law — namely, what the legislature intended, regardless of how a reasonable audience would interpret the meaning of the plain text.

If I interpreted him incorrectly, I apologize. But to show my good faith, let me quote a couple of passages that I read as arguing for enforcement consistent with what Goldstein considers the proper linguistic interpretation.

First we have this:

To ignore “legislative intent” because, as a specialized endeavor, one recognizes the difficulty in reconstructing it, it having come from a variety of (potentially) compromising forces whose individual intentions may sometimes conflict when taken separately, is to ignore where the originating locus of meaning for the law lies.

One may, alternately, choose to privilege the intent of the reader — and so privilege what s/he can do with the (now unattached) signifiers — but to do so is to place the meaning of law not with the lawmakers, but with those instead who read the law.

In other words, laws at that point are “made” by judges, because it is judges at that point who are responsible for turning signifiers into signs, and so writing the text themselves.

If you are okay with that, make it clear that you are. Me, I find that such a maneuver violates the spirit of the separation of powers.

Worse still, it plays into ideas of will to power, consensus meaning, and the inevitable de-legitimizing of the individual — for reasons I’ve outlined several times elsewhere. As a linguistic assumption, it favors progressive ideology, and is at odds with Enlightenment paradigms for establishing “truths” as something outside a mere voting interest.

He elaborated in comments:

For a judge to say “I know what you meant by it, but I say it means something else” is to take the power of the legislature and give it to the judge. In this example, most of us might not balk.

Me, I would. Because the argument for doing so is linguistically faulty. And I don’t want that same faulty linguistic premise – which gives power of meaning to those on the receiving end of an intended message — to gain purchase in far more likely situations than the one provided in this hypothetical.

I interpreted these passages as an argument that judges should always enforce laws according to legislative intent, rather than how reasonable people would interpret the text on its own. Again, if I misapprehended what Goldstein meant, I apologize, and hasten to add that I had no intent to misstate his positions.

Perhaps I should simply ask the question, then: does Goldstein think that a judge can ever be justified in applying or enforcing a law in a way that he knows to be at odds with the legislature’s intent?

Put more generally, in the view of an intentionalist, are there times when interpreters are entitled to *act* as if the speaker meant what a reasonable person would understand them to mean — and consequently, to *act* in a way that consciously disregards what the speaker actually meant?

Future posts will explore this issue in more depth.

P.S. My usual rule for intentionalism posts applies here. No personal attacks whatsoever.

Stock Market Tanks, Then Partially Recovers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:39 pm

As always, Hot Air has the best analysis, including the tip about the P&G error shortly after it happened.

Down 1000 points at one point. Wow.

Epic Mid-South Floods

Filed under: Current Events — DRJ @ 11:50 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky are recovering from epic floods that left 29 dead, 5 missing, and billions in damage. In some places the water rose several feet in less than an hour, leaving people little or no time to escape or to save their possessions.

In Nashville, the Cumberland River crested at 12 feet over flood stage:

The recovery will be hard as residents face toxic conditions from stagnant water, debris, and sewage.

Please pray for our neighbors and consider donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. You can also make a $10 donation by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 to help those affected. It may ask you to confirm your donation by replying “YES.”


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