Patterico's Pontifications


Newsweek: U.S. Uses Strong Anti-Terror Measures Despite the Lack of Another 9/11

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:42 pm

Remember when the New York Times expressed its puzzlement that the prison population was increasing “despite” the drop in crime?

I do. As I observed at the time:

This is like saying “Joe Blow has been continuing to exercise despite the fact that he has been getting in much better shape.”

Fareed Zakaria today has the terrorism equivalent of this idiocy: decrying our proactive anti-terrorist measures — which we have taken despite the fact that Al Qaeda hasn’t hit us with another 9/11.

Nine years after 9/11, can anyone doubt that Al Qaeda is simply not that deadly a threat? Since that gruesome day in 2001, once governments everywhere began serious countermeasures, Osama bin Laden’s terror network has been unable to launch a single major attack on high-value targets in the United States and Europe. While it has inspired a few much smaller attacks by local jihadis, it has been unable to execute a single one itself. . . . September 11 was a shock to the American psyche and the American system. As a result, we overreacted.

Who wants to explain it to him?

(Stolen from Hot Air, to steal Ace’s line.)


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:02 pm

The “f” stands for “floating.”

Monstrous boxy-shaped object floating in front of San Nicholas Island.

Bigger than any ship I have ever seen by an order of magnitude.

I just had one glass of wine with dinner. I swear.

L.A. Times Misleading Readers Regarding Confirmation of Obama’s Judicial Nominees

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Judiciary — Patterico @ 5:35 pm

[Said in the voice of Homer Simpson:] L.A. Times reporter Carol J. Williams. Is there any legal story she can’t screw up?

Times editors have an editorial today that touts a Williams-penned article about the allegedly slow pace of confirmation of Obama’s judges. Both the editorial and the article it cites do, admittedly, acknowledge that part of the problem is Obama’s slow pace of nominations. But they both imply that Republican stalling tactics are at least half of the problem, if not more. The fact is, though, on closer analysis, basically all of the difference between Bush’s and Obama’s rate of confirmations, at this point in time, can be explained by neutral factors having nothing to do with obstructionism.

In particular, one of the their cited experts says that when you compare apples to apples, the confirmation rate is the same.

Not that the editors or Carol J. Williams told you that. You have to come to this blog for that nugget.

First let’s go to the editorial:

With the exception of his two Supreme Court nominees, President Obama hasn’t made a priority of fully staffing the federal judiciary. Meanwhile, Republicans have stalled the appointments Obama has made in an adolescent grudge match with Democrats — which each party blames the other for beginning.

The result, according to an article this week by Times staff writer Carol J. Williams, is that about one in eight federal judgeships is vacant. Overall, Obama has fared worse than other recent presidents in having judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate. According to the White House, at this point in his presidency Obama has had 48% of his nominees confirmed, compared with 60% for George W. Bush and 68% for Bill Clinton.

I admit that I am having trouble reconciling that with Williams’s article, which came out five days ago, and said:

Obama’s judicial confirmation rate is the lowest since analysts began detailed tracking the subject 30 years ago, with 47% of his 85 nominations winning Senate approval so far. That compares with 87% confirmed during the first 18 months of the previous administration, 84% for President Clinton, 79% for President George H.W. Bush and 93% for President Reagan.

Hmmm. Obama’s rate was 47% five days ago and 48% today? Stranger still, Bush’s rate was 87% according to the news article, and 60% according to the editorial?? (In the five days since Williams’s article was published, did someone go back and retroactively deny a few Bush confirmations while we weren’t looking??? I wouldn’t put anything past Obama at this point.)

Based on these discrepancies, I admit at this point to lacking confidence in these figures. But whichever figure you choose, it still appears that Bush had greater success in getting his nominees confirmed, right?

Mmmm . . . as it turns out, not so much.

Both the editorial and the article quote Russell Wheeler, a Brookings Institution think-tanker. But they don’t tell you that Wheeler has made several findings this year that completely undercut the L.A. Times thesis that Republican obstructionism is a large part of the problem.

Here is a piece from April 15, 2010, in which Wheeler summarizes conclusions from a lengthier study he has done (.pdf) of Obama’s nominations. Wheeler’s lengthier study sets forth several key findings in the introduction, including these:

proportionately more Obama nominees have gotten hearings, and more quickly;

confirmation rates after four months of the nomination date are slightly higher for Obama’s circuit nominees than for Bush’s, but the time from nomination to confirmation for Obama circuit appointees is considerably higher than for Bush’s

In his summary article, Wheeler sets forth some of the statistics underlying these conclusions. He acknowledges that Obama’s percentage of confirmations “lags behind” the percentage from the George W. Bush administration. But, Wheeler notes:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled proportionately more hearings for Obama nominees than it had for Bush nominees. Ninety-five percent of Obama nominees who had been sent to the Senate before February have had hearings, versus 61% of comparable Bush nominees. (Hearings for five more nominees are scheduled for Friday, April 16.) And Obama nominees who got hearings got them an average of 42 days from nomination — 48 average days for Obama circuit nominees, versus 145 for Bush circuit nominees.

Confirmation rates, though, are nearly identical — 69% for Obama nominees versus 66% for Bush’s, counting only judges nominated before December of 2001 or 2009.


L.A. Times Profile on Breitbart: Shocking

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 1:18 pm

Shocking, that is, because it seems mostly fair.

Breitbart, who has emerged as a star of the “tea party” movement, loves telling his apostate’s tale in the italicized, frequently profane manner that is his trademark. Three epiphanies stand out:

1. The Black Dorm Moment. In 1986, Breitbart was a freshman at Tulane University when his friend Larry Solov, a sophomore at Stanford, happened to mention his school’s African-American-themed residence hall.

“He just matter-of-factly said there was a black dorm and I was like, ‘What the friggin’ hell? Are you kidding me?'” said Breitbart, who is now business partners with Solov, a former corporate litigator. “And then, when I found out that it was not segregation in the sense of white people doing it, I was like, ‘What are you talking about? Why aren’t we working toward the colorblind ideal?'”

2. The Clarence Thomas Moment. In 1991, he was riveted by Supreme Court hearings in which the future associate justice was grilled by hostile Democrats.

“I remember the mainstream media telling me, ‘Bad man! Really bad man! Sexual harassment bad man! Worst-bad-man-in-the-history-of-the-world bad man!” he told a Philadelphia tea party rally in July. “By the end of the week, I said, ‘What did this man do? This man is an American hero!’ … It was a cavalcade of Caucasians asking this man about his very private video rentals!”

3. The Kurt Cobain Moment, around 1994. “In essence, the media was saying, ‘Hey, see that guy, that’s your generation’s spokesman,'” said Breitbart, not a fan of grunge music’s suicidal prince. “I was like, ‘This guy seems like a world class [screw-up].’ And I just started to have the awkwardly pedestrian revelation that my parents were right.”

Does the piece seek out quotes from a tool like Eric Boehlert, allowing him to smear Breitbart as dishonest without pointing out Boehlert’s penchant for dishonesty? Of course.

Does there seem to be a touch of elitist sneering in the piece? Sure. What did you expect?

But it’s really just a touch.

I spoke to Breitbart about the piece today, and he had little but praise for the reporter and her article. “Robin Abcarian did as fair a job as humanly possible,” he told me. “I hope she doesn’t lose her job over it.”

Catch-22: Obama DoJ Now Telling Employers They Can’t Check Employees’ Immigration Status

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:54 am

First employers were told they might get in trouble if they check prospective employees’ criminal records or credit histories. Now this:

Employers who hire illegal immigrants can be fined, but the Obama administration warned this week that they also can be fined for asking legal immigrants to show their green cards before hiring them.

The Justice Department’s civil rights division sued the Maricopa County Community Colleges in Arizona, seeking damages from schools for having “intentionally committed document abuse discrimination.”

Prior to this year, the local colleges in the Phoenix area asked job applicants who were not U.S. citizens to show a driver’s license, a Social Security card and their permanent resident card, commonly called a green card.

The Justice Department said a valid driver’s license and a Social Security card are usually sufficient to show that a person is authorized to work. Requesting a green card amounts to “immigration-related employment discrimination,” said Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Damned if you check, damned if you don’t.

This is what you get when you elect a Democrat, folks.

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