Archives for May 2009
Commenter deekaa6 on his experiences with Dr. George Tiller:
In 1994 my wife and I found out that she was pregnant. The pregnancy was difficult and unusually uncomfortable but her doctor repeatedly told her things were fine. Sometime early in the 8th month my wife, an RN who at the time was working in an infertility clinic asked the Dr. she was working for what he thought of her discomfort. He examined her and said that he couldn’t be certain but thought that she might be having twins. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get a new sonogram that hopefully would confirm his thoughts. Two days later our joy was turned to unspeakable sadness when the new sonogram showed conjoined twins. Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants. We were advised that our options were to deliver into the world a child who’s life would be filled with horrible pain and suffering or fly out to Wichita Kansas and to terminate the pregnancy under the direction of Dr. George Tiller.
We made an informed decision to go to Kansas. One can only imagine the pain borne by a woman who happily carries a child for 8 months only to find out near the end of term that the children were not to be and that she had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and go against everything she had been taught to believe was right. This was what my wife had to do. Dr. Tiller is a true American hero. The nightmare of our decision and the aftermath was only made bearable by the warmth and compassion of Dr. Tiller and his remarkable staff. Dr. Tiller understood that this decision was the most difficult thing that a woman could ever decide and he took the time to educate us and guide us along with the other two couples who at the time were being forced to make the same decision after discovering that they too were carrying children impacted by horrible fetal anomalies. I could describe in great detail the procedures and the pain and suffering that everyone is subjected to in these situations. However, that is not the point of the post. We can all imagine that this is not something that we would wish on anyone. The point is that the pain and suffering were only mitigated by the compassion and competence of Dr. George Tiller and his staff. We are all diminished today for a host of reasons but most of all because a man of great compassion and courage has been lost to the world.
Dad has sent me two quick videos of the puppies, who are now really pretty big:
George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.[….]
Tiller has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women’s Health Care Services at 5701 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed.
Tiller had been shot earlier, but survived. His clinic was vandalized earlier this month.
At what point are we allowed to start worrying about right-wing domestic terrorism?
Update. I’m not usually one for nutpicking, but the Freeper comments on this are unusually appalling. (They’ll probably be taken down but here they are permanently: pdf1;pdf2)
The newest version of the conspiracy theory regarding Chrysler dealerships circulating the WingNet is pretty awesome. I just love it when they go old school:
This puzzled us. Why would there be a significant and highly positive correlation between dealer survival and Clinton donors? Granted, that P-Value (0.125) isn’t enough to reject the null hypothesis at 95% confidence intervals (our null hypothesis being that the effect is due to random chance), but a 12.5% chance of a Type I error in rejecting a null hypothesis (false rejection of a true hypothesis) is at least eyebrow raising. Most statistians would not call this a “find” as 95% confidence intervals are the gold standard for this sort of work. Nevertheless, it seems clear that something is going on here. Specifically, the somewhat low probability that the Clinton data showing higher survivability of Clinton donors could result just from pure chance. But why not better significance with any of the other variables? Why this stand out?
Then we got to thinking. Steven Rattner, the Car Czar, is married to Maureen White, one-time national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee. What does Maureen do now? From her website:
Maureen White is currently Chairman of the Board of Overseers of The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a member of the North American Advisory Board for the London School of Economics, and a National Finance Chair of the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign. (emphasis ours)
That website looks dated, but you get the idea.
Someone wake me when they figure out how Monica was involved.
*** Update ***
I suppose part of what makes this so funny to me is I just got done reading a puff piece on Clinton, which essentially said that big bad Bill is sweet William now, and I thought that maybe the Clinton scares were over.
*** Update #2 ***
Someone else has noticed the seamless transition from the original hypothesis to the new and improved Clinton conspiracy. Unfortunately for the conspiracy theorists, that someone is Nate Silver:
In spite of this, Singer reports that “there [is] a significant and highly positive correlation between dealer survival and Clinton donors”. Although she hedges her conclusion a bit later on, this is a fairly irresponsible sentence to have written. Most people, in looking at this same exact set of data, would not only have avoided the implication that it proves the dealergate hypothesis, but would probably have come to something of the opposite conclusion: it argues strongly against the dealergate hypothesis. After all, there is no positive relationship whatsoever in the data on Democratic, Republican, Obama or McCain donations — which until Singer’s analysis was posted approximately 10 hours ago — had been the focus of the dealergate hypothesis. In fact, in several cases — such as for the data on Republican donations — the coefficient has the opposite sign of the one that the purveyors of the dealergate hypothesis were hoping for. Republican donors were incrementally less, rather than more likely likely to have their dealerships shuttered, according to Singer’s analysis, although the pattern is nowhere in the ballpark of being “statistically significant” as most of us would define it.
Predictably, this has not prevented people like Michelle Malkin and Doug Ross from claiming that Singer’s data confirms their hypothesis. Of course, it does not confirm their original hypothesis, which was that donors to Republican candidates were more likely to have their dealership closed. Instead, a new hypothesis has evolved — it’s all about those dirty, rotten Clintons! — the sole reed of evidence for which is Singer’s overstated conclusion (but not really her underlying data itself).***
Why, after all, stop at Clinton donors, who until this morning had never been central to the dealergate hypothesis? Why not look at John Edwards donors, or Ron Paul donors, or donations to any of various political action committees, or donations to members of the Senate Banking Committee, or donations to Congressmen who voted for the auto bailout plan? If you looked at enough of these, you would eventually come up with a few positive results — and then you could work backward to formulate your own conspiracy theory around it. There is a name for this sort of practice: data dredging.
At the end of the day, people are going to believe what they want to believe: some people believe that the moon landing was faked, that 9/11 was a grand conspiracy, and that Barack Obama was born in Indonesia. There is no evidence for any of these claims, but that doesn’t stop tens of millions of people from believing them! Dealergate, particularly in its original formulation (that Obama was punishing Republican donors with the Chrysler closings), is in largely the same category.
These folks are really just hopeless.
Steve Benen on the Cheney doctrine of blame:
This generally goes unsaid, but it’s a key aspect of the recent Cheney crusade — if something horrible happens, we’re not supposed to blame the team that left this mess for Obama to clean up, we’re supposed to blame Obama himself. If only the president kept torturing people like Cheney wanted, we’d all remain safe indefinitely.
This isn’t especially new, but it seems to be increasingly common. Back in January, just 48 hours after the president’s inauguration, Marc Thiessen, George W. Bush’s former chief speechwriter, argued, “During the campaign, Obama pledged to dismantle many of [Bush’s] policies. He follows through on those pledges at America’s peril — and his own. If Obama weakens any of the defenses Bush put in place and terrorists strike our country again, Americans will hold Obama responsible — and the Democratic Party could find itself unelectable for a generation…. President Obama has inherited a set of tools that successfully protected the country for 2,688 days — and he cannot dismantle those tools without risking catastrophic consequences.”
Jason Zengerle noted at the time, “You almost get the sense guys like Thiessen are hoping for an attack so that they can blame Obama when it happens.”
I credit Zengerle for going as far as he does here, but let’s be honest: obviously, guys like Thiessen are hoping for a terrorist attack so they can blame Obama. The only “almost” here is that they’re almost using those exact words. It’s time to just admit that.
I think it’s important to be careful with the “my political opponents are rooting for America to fail.” I don’t think opposing the Iraq war means that you want America to fail in Iraq (whatever that means). And I don’t think that wanting Obama to torture, wire-tap, keep Gitmo open, etc. means that you want America to get attacked. But openly fantasizing about the political price Obama might have to pay if we’re attacked again seems altogether different to me.
I just got Chaplain Klingenschmitt’s Top Ten list of reasons Sotomayor won’t be confirmed via the Human Events mailing list. Here’s the number one reason:
1) SOTOMAYOR: BASEBALL BIAS FOR NEW YORK YANKEES!
As a native of South Bronx, Sotomayor’s hidden home-town bias became manifest in her love for the New York Yankees, judicially favoring her “Bronx Bombers” over teams from all other cities. No kidding! When ruling to end the 1995 baseball strike, she sided with the player’s union against team owners (who sought parity among all teams with an talent-sharing salary cap). Instead Sotomayor created bias in favor of rich teams who can afford to buy up all the good free agents. So when the New York Yankees hogged 4 titles and 6 pennants in the 8 years after her ruling, with payrolls averaging three times most other team salaries, you can blame Sotomayor for creating that competitive imbalance. I understand why Yankees fans might celebrate her promotion to the Supreme Court, but baseball fans from all other cities should complain loudly against her confirmation!
But George Will told me that revenue sharing was a communist plot.
(You can see the whole list here on some Paultard forum.)
By request, an open thread for people to share book choices (and other things).
Let’s go Pens!
OT: Tell me the recipe for lavender-lemon cookies in this GOS diary doesn’t sound amazing.
*** Update ***
1-1. This is stressful, and the Pens are doing some piss poor passing and puck control.
*** Update #2 ***
Wings win, and they are just a really damned good team and this will be a tough series. I guess I can take solace in the fact the Pens played tough.
Via the Washington Monthly, David Petraeus has several comments in support of Obama’s policies on Gitmo and enhanced interrogation. Here’s his comments on the closing of Gitmo:
“Gitmo has caused us problems; there’s no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has indeed been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activities since 9/11. And again, Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard.”
Now, I understand that, in his capacity as a military commander, Petraeus is supposed to support the decisions of his civilian commanders. But by speaking in a way that praises Obama’s decision while implicitly criticizes his former civilian commanders (Bush and Cheney), he seems to go a bit beyond that.
Former Bush communications person Nicole Wallace (along with others) has spoken of Petraeus as a possible Republican nominee in 2012. While I’m sure that the general is flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Gary Sinise, I have to wonder what kind of precedent there is for this. Has a high-ranking, currently serving general ever run for president (against an incumbent president) during a time of war before? Would such a run violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules governing the relationship between the military and the elected civilian leadership? And why do Republicans assume that Petraeus is a Republican who would run against Obama?
It’s hard not to think what Republicans really want is in essence a military coup that will restore the Bush dynasty. And there’s an unspoken assumption on their part that everyone in the military itself wants this, that all good red-blooded servicemen want torture, Gitmo, plans for bombing Iran, and so on, to be back on the table. That they hate working for a dirty fucking hippie like Obama. Do comments like the one made by Petraeus above make any kind of a dent in this mentality?
Update. Commenter BlackMage mentions the case of McClellan in 1864. McClellan was relieved of his command by Lincoln prior to running for president. So that would seem to me to be a different sort of situation from a general resigning in order to run.
I was wrong about the rain, and it has turned out to be beautiful. I’m going to get some errands done and swing by Animal Friends.
Here is a question for you: It is 75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, there is a cool breeze, and you are about to take a drive in the country. What is in your CD player?
A really embarrassing effort from Jonathan Chait:
Somewhat belatedly, I’ve noticed that numerous commentators have decided to label Jeffrey Rosen’s online article about Sonia Sotomayor from a few weeks ago as “gossip.” The description has been employed by left-wing or liberalcommentators like Glenn Greenwald of Salon, Adam Serwer of the American Prospect, and Matthew Yglesias of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Today it’s repeated by right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer.
“Gossip” is an effective label for those who wish to denigrate Rosen’s reporting or the reputation of TNR, but it’s an inaccurate one. Gossip is unverified information. Gossip is something you hear all the time — say, Senator X mistreats his staff. No serious publication can pass off gossip as reporting. However, if you actually speak with the principles first-hand — you interview staffers for Senator X who report that he mistreats them — then what you have is reporting. That’s what Jeff did. He spoke first-hand with several of Sotomayor’s former clerks, who provided a mixed picture. Unsurprisingly, they declined to put their names on the record, but that’s utterly standard for people who are speaking in unflattering terms about people they worked with or for.
It ends with a nice flourish: “You may not think the issue ought to disqualify Sotomayor — I don’t, and Jeff doesn’t either — but to call it “gossip” is grossly unfair.”
This post is a real embarassment for a number of reasons. First, there was a marked difference between the initial Rosen piece and the New York Times piece. From the comments section at the TNR, a rundown of the “sources” for Rosen’s piece:
one former clerk
Her former clerks
some of her Second Circuit colleagues
range of people
former law clerks
one former Second Circuit clerk
former clerks for other judges
one former clerk for another judge
But, mind you, their deep thoughts about Sotomayor’s temperament or abilities, completely off the record, free from any responsibility or allegiance to the truth, just can’t be called gossip. Why, Rosen assured us they are all well-meaning. But since we don’t know who they are, how can we accurately judge their assessments? Wendy Long, who spent the last week trashing Sotomayor as a radical activist, was also a clerk on the 2nd Circuit. Was she there during Sotomayor’s tenure? If so, was she one of Rosen’s sources? Wouldn’t it make you view some of the remarks in Rosen’s piece differently if she was one of his sources? Are you starting to understand yet why printing gossip from unnamed clerks is problematic? By way of comparison, here are the sources in the NY Times piece:
said Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University.
said H. Raymond Fasano, a Republican immigration lawyer
said Sheema Chaudhry, who appeared before Judge Sotomayor in an asylum case last year.
Gerald Lefcourt, a New York defense lawyer,
Judge Guido Calabresi, a former dean of Yale Law School who taught Ms. Sotomayor
said Judge Jon O. Newman
Judge Richard C. Wesley, another colleague
Does anyone notice a difference in the sourcing of Rosen’s piece and the NYT piece that Chait would have you believe is the same exact thing? Because I see a stark difference. Rather than having to rest on Rosen’s vague assurances that the sources are altruistic and earnest liberals who only want the best for the Obama administration, when I read the NY Times piece, I know who has said what, what their relationship to Sotomayor is, and how it is germane to the discussion.
The second reason that Chait’s work here was an embarrassment is that one of the people he called out was Glenn Greenwald. In fact, the title of Chait’s post is “Is the New York Times Printing Gossip?” (an excellent use of the Cavuto, btw). Now, I’m no journalist, but if I was going to address my critics in such a manner, I would check to see what they had to say on the issue. I suppose the first way I would do that is to check their websites.
And lo and behold, using the mystical powers of the internet, I have found my way to Glenn Greenwald’ site, and what do I discover? Why, a long piece discussing the very NYT piece that so interests Chait, and Greenwald’s lengthy explanation of the difference between what Liptak and company have done and what Rosen did with his drive-by smearing of Sotomayor. And it was all there for hours before Chait threw up his weak defense of Rosen. I’ll quote some of it here, since it is apparently so hard to find:
The excuse journalists typically give for indiscriminately granting anonymity — we have no choice because it’s the only way people will speak, and anonymous quotes are better than none — does not, even if factually true, justify anonymity, since anonymous attacks are often worse than nothing: they’re inherently unreliable because they’re made without accountability. But as the above passages demonstrate, the excuse is often factually false, as was obviously true when offered by Jeffrey Rosen. Journalists use anonymity not because they can’t get anyone to speak on the record, but because, like Rosen, they’re too slothful to do the work to find on-the-record sources and they crave the sort of sensationalism that is possible only when someone is allowed to spout inflammatory garbage without having their names attached.
You’ll notice that the NY Times piece doesn’t have any anonymous people calling her a bully or questioning her intellect. Funny, that.
Finally, this piece just smacks of institutional ass-covering. As Chait notes, no serious publication can pass off gossip as reporting, which is precisely the problem here. That is what Rosen did, and when you place his piece next to the NYT piece, it is glaringly obvious. How Chait thinks a side-by-side comparison of the two pieces makes the case for Rosen is beyond me (and I bet Rosen is thrilled- his handiwork is finally being overshadowed by the hysterical reactions from Newt, Rush, Tancredo, et. al, and Chait comes along and stirs things up again).
But here is what is even more depressing, and Chait simply doesn’t get it. I’m not a lawyer, and I’d wager that neither are the majority of my readers or the majority of the TNR’s subscribers. In order for us to be able to make sense of the Sotomayor confirmation, we need to rely on people who are lawyers and who do understand the arcane procedures, the mountains of precedent and case law, etc. I don’t want a radical with a poor mind on the court, and I don’t intend to support Sotomayor just because she has a (D) after her name. I’d like to know why she did or did not make the right decision in certain cases, but the only way I am going to be able to learn that is from folks like Mr. Rosen. Jeffrey Rosen has not only legal training, but he is a skilled educator and he has a platform at TNR from which to educate a large number of people about Sotomayor. He is the kind of person who should play a vital role in informing the American people.
And what does he do? Instead of using his years of experience, his expertise on the subject matter, and his megaphone to inform us, he passes off gossip from anonymous clerks, admits he hasn’t read enough of Sotomayor’s decisions to have a real opinion, and then acts surprised when Republicans and conservatives echo the smears in his piece, and when challenged, they toss out the charming phrase “even the liberal New Republic thinks this.” That was Rosen’s contribution to this debate, and it has far overshadowed anything he has or will do on this subject.
And Chait either can’t figure out why that is problematic, or worse, he just doesn’t care.
You know the drill.
Looks like more rain here again today. I suppose we need it, but it is making it hard to get anything done in the garden.
I know it’s all in the game and that the Obama people are smart to do this, but it makes me a little sick anyway:
But Friday, the West Wing door was held open by a matching door stop and camera crews, and television reporters came and went as they pleased.
In fact, the White House had a reality-show-like feel Friday as NBC and the network’s anchor Brian Williams taped “Inside the Obama White House,” an exclusive, behind the scenes look at what goes on inside the White House and the West Wing each day.
And maybe this means I’m one step from going full-on Dijongate but having burgers with Brian Williams at Five Guys so that he can yak about what a “regular guy” you are rubs me the wrong way too:
Obama, sans jacket, walked up the counter, scanned the menu posted above, and began ordering. Aides Reggie Love and Marvin Nicholson slipped him various requests from the crew. At one point, he brought up NBC’s Brian Williams, who ordered a cheeseburger with ketchup and fries.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I fear both men will reminisce about their childhoods and we’ll have to hear about Williams’ days as a volunteer fireman.
What this means is that the appeals court ruled against Ricci because it recognized that New Haven had tried to avoid a lawsuit that would have been possible and likely successful because of current law. In other words, the city tried to avoid falling afoul of the law, and the court did not penalize it for doing so. What is to blame in all of this is the law, rather than the judges who seem to have done what they were supposed to do. Indeed, what some people seem to have wanted to see Sotomayor do is to punish New Haven for trying to stay within the limits of the law, and for failing to do so she is declared to be an enemy of the rule of law. I submit that this doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Perhaps I have missed something, but the injustice done to Ricci seems in no small part to be a product of the law as it exists. However, under current law, even granting that the city of New Haven seems to have bungled the handling of the promotion test for its firefighters, it does not necessarily follow that throwing out the test results from the apparently flawed test was a violation of anyone’s legal rights. Presumably had Sotomayor found for the plaintiff, we would now be hearing about how all that infamous “empathy” caused her to side with the dyslexic man against a municipality–oh, the judicial activism!–and to open the latter up to long and costly litigation (which would, of course, demonstrate her abiding love of greedy trial lawyers, her desire to enrich fellow minorities and her hatred of patriotic firefighters, as so many people would be only too happy to tell us).
It’s nice to see an actual analysis of the decision, instead of the Villagers clucking “affirmative action bad, extreme decision, Ricci reminds me of my cranky uncle”, etc.
I think Larison would have been a good pick for the NYT opinion gig that Douthat got. In a few days, we’ll see what Douthat comes up with on this topic.
Update. I see John already wrote about this a few days ago, which I thought I dimly remembered, but couldn’t find “Larison” in a search (I should have tried “Eunomia” as well).