Archive:

September 2010, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Valerie Jarrett Rising:  Dana Milbank, who obviously does not like the senior Obama advisor, thinks she'll gain more power with the departure of Rahm Emanuel — and is certain that she should not even have the power that she does.
The departure of Emanuel and economic adviser Larry Summers, to be followed in the spring by the exit of David Axelrod, would leave Jarrett, Obama's longtime mentor and friend, in a position of unparalleled influence over the president -- for better or worse.

Certainly, Jarrett fills an important role for Obama: She has deep and personal ties to the president, as well as undivided loyalties, and can talk honestly to him on a first-name basis. But current and former White House officials I spoke with raised questions about Jarrett's effectiveness and judgment.
(In other words, those anonymous White House officials think Jarrett is incompetent.)

Milbank does not address Jarrett's sleazy history.   Adding that would make his strong argument almost irrefutable.

And let's not forget this point:  "Obviously, Obama believes the advice he is getting from Jarrett is good."  That tells us much about Obama's own "effectiveness and judgment".
- 11:26 AM AM, 30 September 2010   [link]


The AP Reminds Us About What We Should all know already.
A deeply unpopular Congress is bolting for the campaign trail without finishing its most basic job - approving a budget for the government year that begins on Friday.  Lawmakers also are postponing a major fight over taxes, two embarrassing ethics cases and other political hot potatoes until angry and frustrated voters render their verdict in the Nov. 2 elections.
The Democratic Congress didn't approve a budget because they don't want voters to see the deficit numbers before the election.

It's easy to add to that list of things that Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, and the other Democratic leaders just never got around to doing.  For instance, they never got around to extending the Bush tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year, not did they extend the estate tax.  (They did increase taxes on tobacco, which are mostly paid by those less well off.)

(Leaving the income tax rates for after the session makes it difficult for everyone to plan, including the people at the IRS.)
- 10:34 AM, 30 September 2010   [link]


There's Not Much New In This Michael Goodwin Column About How Obama Is Running Out Of Other People To Blame:  Except for one last nasty, but very funny, line.
All of which indicates the factory is running out of fudge.  We'll know that's the case when the blame falls on the last possible villain: His TelePrompTers.
- 5:53 AM, 30 September 2010   [link]


Would Your Kitchen Pass this inspection?

(Mine wouldn't, but I am not sure how much risk I am taking by breaking some of their rules.  I do one thing they would probably approve of:  When I am slicing meats, I use a plastic cutting board — and run it through the dishwasher immediately afterwards.)
- 6:26 PM, 29 September 2010   [link]


Is Madison, Wisconsin "Overwhelmingly White"?    No.   It's mostly white, about 85 percent, but not overwhelming white.  According to the census, Madison is about 6 percent black, 6 percent Asian, 2 percent mixed, and 4 percent Hispanic.

So one would expect that a rally in Madison for Obama would not attract a crowd that was "overwhelmingly white".  But, judging from these Ann Althouse pictures, that's just what the crowd was.

I don't draw any great conclusions from this, except to agree with Althouse that "mainstream" journalists would have made a big deal out of this, if it had been a Tea Party crowd.
- 5:23 PM, 29 September 2010   [link]


Was There Really A Big Swing To Murray In Washington State?  That's what SurveyUSA said in their press release.

In an election for United States Senator from the state of Washington today, 09/22/10, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi finish effectively even, according to a new SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KING-5 TV News in Seattle.

Today, it's Murray 50%, Rossi 48%, a result within the survey's theoretical margin of sampling error. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll one month ago, Murray is up 5 points; Rossi is down 4, a 9-point momentum swing to the Democrat.

But closer look at the internals of the poll made me wonder about that conclusion.

Comparing the August poll with the latest poll, I saw that Rossi was doing just as well among Republicans (90-91 percent), just as well among Democrats (11 percent in both surveys), and almost as well among independents (59-54 percent).

What changed between August and September surveys was mostly the composition of the sample.

Partisan Divisions in Two Washington State SurveyUSA Polls

survey datesDemocrats independentsRepublicans
August 18-19333429
September 19-21363625

There may have been a small swing to Murray in that month between the polls, but there was probably not a big swing.

All this leads us, naturally, to the next question:  What will the Washington state partisan division be this November?  As Jay Cost reminded me, we can get recent estimates of that from the 2004 and 2008 exit polls.

Though 2004 was a good year for Republicans nationally, it was a mediocre year for Republicans in Washington state.  2008 was a disastrous year for Republicans here.  What percent of Washington voters told the exit pollsters in 2008 that they were Republicans?  26.  What percent of Washington voters told the exit pollsters in 2004 that they were Republicans?  31.

In my opinion, 2010 will be more like 2004 than 2008, and so I would expect that at least 30 percent of the voters will be Republican.  (That's a conservative estimate, since Republicans are much more enthusiastic about voting this year than Democrats, and Republicans are, everything else being equal, a little more likely to vote in off-year elections.  I am allowing a little bit for the possibility that the electorate has become more Democratic through demographic changes and immigration.)   Let repeat, at least, since I expect this year to be better for Republicans in Washington state than 2004 (though not as good as 1994).

Those who want to extrapolate from that 30 percent estimate to the current leader in the Rossi-Murray race are welcome to do so.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(Are there any other obvious problems with the polls?  Not that I noticed, in a quick examination.  They have the likely turnout about right, just over 60 percent, and most of the breakdowns look about right.  The only odd thing I noticed was the split in favor of men in the second survey, but you should expect one or two results like that in a survey this size.)
- 1:13 PM, 29 September 2010   [link]


Many Voters Know Less About Politics Than Activists Think:  Let me juxtapose two recent pieces that hardly anyone else would think of juxtaposing in order to make that simple point.

First, from leftist Peter Daou.
When Robert Gibbs attacked the professional left he didn't specify anyone by name, but the assumption was that it was cable personalities, disaffected interest groups, bloggers and online commenters.

With each passing day, I'm beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher*.
Next, from Republican Andrew Malcolm.
Amid all the doom and gloom about the impending political Armageddon scheduled to impact Washington late on Nov. 2, President Obama and his Democratic Party of large congressional majorities got some unexpected good news this afternoon:

A new Pew Poll revealed that fully 41% of Americans can't name the sitting vice president, whoever he or she is.
(I'm not sure that's good news, since Joe Biden is one of the more likable people in the Obama administration.  As far as that goes, I like him myself, though his opponent would have to be truly awful before I would consider voting for Biden.)

You can see, I imagine, my simple point:  If many voters don't even know who the vice president is, then it is unlikely that they will be influenced by a few reactionary bloggers like Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher.

And, broadly speaking, the polls show that Obama has lost far more support on the right and in the center (or, almost equivalently, among Republicans and independents) than he has on the left (among Democrats).

Daou is not completely wrong in his argument; opinions do flow from activists like those he named, and voters who know little about politics often end up following activists when it comes time to mark their ballots.  And it is true that many on the left are disappointed by some of Obama's actions, especially on national security.

But it is nuts to conclude that the "crux" of Obama's political problems come from those few reactionary bloggers, if only because most voters have never heard of them, and never will.

(Were those bloggers "rubes" for backing Obama in 2008?  Probably, though I would have to go back and look at what they said then to be sure.)
- 8:43 AM, 29 September 2010   [link]


Nancy Pelosi Beats Out BP:  But only British Petroleum, in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's negative ratings have hit an all-time high in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.  A full 50 percent of those surveyed have a somewhat or very negative impression of Pelosi, while just 22 percent have a somewhat or very positive impression of her.

Pelosi's negative rating is precisely the same as oil giant BP, which has taken a public relations beating in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill.  While 50 percent of those surveyed view BP negatively, just 12 percent view the company favorably -- a rating even lower than Pelosi's.
The pollsters asked the favorability question about ten people and three groups.  Here are their net favorability ratings:  Bill Clinton (32), Barack Obama (6), Mike Huckabee (1), John Boehner (-3), the Democratic Party (-5), the Tea Party Movement (-6), Mitch McConnell (-6), Mitt Romney (-9), Newt Gingrich (-11), the Republican Party (-12), Harry Reid (-17), Sarah Palin (-18), Nancy Pelosi (-28), and BP (-38).

(Why no question on George W. Bush?  Beats me, though they may have decided to poll only about those currently active in politics.  And they threw in the BP question to provide a floor, I would guess.)

We'll be seeing Nancy Pelosi in a lot of Republican ads in the next month — and Bill Clinton in a lot of Democratic ads.

Not so incidentally, though respondents still have a net favorable view of Obama, they disapprove of his performance as president, 49-46.

(The pollsters interviewed "adults", not likely voters, not registered voters, not even American citizens, so the results are more favorable to Democrats than you would get from one of those narrower groups.

Here's the poll.)
- 8:00 AM, 29 September 2010   [link]


We Know Less About Coyotes Than I Would Have Guessed:  Mostly because they are so elusive.
Coyotes have managed to elude much serious scrutiny by being exquisitely wary, so much so that even dedicated coyote scientists can struggle to find ways to lay eyes on them, not to mention hands. Dr. Laura Prugh, a wildlife ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said trying to survey a population of coyotes in Alaska was "like working with a ghost species."  To even have a chance of catching a coyote, she said, traps must be boiled to wash away human scent, handled with gloves and then hidden extremely carefully with all traces of human footprints brushed away.  Even then, the trap is likely to catch only the youngest and most inexperienced of animals.
(They may be so wary in part because we killed the ones that weren't, for many years.)

There's much more in this Wikipedia article, including this:
Coyotes thrive in suburban settings and even some urban ones.  A study by wildlife ecologists at Ohio State University yielded some surprising findings in this regard.  Researchers studied coyote populations in Chicago over a seven-year period (2000—2007), proposing that coyotes have adapted well to living in densely populated urban environments while avoiding contact with humans.  They found, among other things, that urban coyotes tend to live longer than their rural counterparts, kill rodents and small pets, and live anywhere from parks to industrial areas.  The researchers estimate that there are up to 2,000 coyotes living in "the greater Chicago area" and that this circumstance may well apply to many other urban landscapes in North America.
Pretty amazing, even when you remember that "greater Chicago" includes suburbs and exurbs, as well as the big city.

The Times article includes a description of coyote sounds; here's a brief sound clip if you would like to hear some of the sounds Carol Yoon describes so vividly.
- 5:05 PM, 28 September 2010   [link]


Ballot Tampering In New Jersey?  In Atlantic City, a former candidate for mayor has been accused of an old-fashioned form of vote fraud.
Ten people in New Jersey have rejected plea deals and will stand trial on ballot fraud charges.

Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small and the others told a judge on Monday they knew they risked long prison sentences if they're convicted.

Prosecutors said "autograph parties" were held in which absentee ballots were steamed open and replaced or destroyed.
Actually tampering with the ballots is so old-fashioned that it almost makes me nostalgic.   Almost.

More details on how prosecutors say the fraud happened here.   Enough details to convince me that politics in Atlantic City is not conducted according to Marquis of Queensberry rules.

By way of Ace.
- 3:18 PM, 28 September 2010   [link]


Bonds And Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Cards:  The Venezuelan election has already had one positive effect, and should have another soon.

Investors are more positive about loaning money to Venezuela.
Investors have been optimistic about election results on Sunday. As a result, Venezuelan bonds have the biggest gain among emerging economies.

Venezuela's benchmark global bond price due in 2027 (Global 27), which is the debt security that more properly reflects the mood of the market, jumped to 73.50 percent of its nominal value versus 71.70 percent on Friday.
(Or, perhaps, given those numbers, one should say "less negative", rather than more positive.)

Two of the opposition members of parliament should soon be moving to nicer quarters.
José Sánchez aka Mazuco, the former Secretary of Citizen Security in the northwestern state of Zulia, and Biaggio Pilieri, the former mayor of the town of Bruzual, in the central state of Yaracuy, who remain in prison after being arrested a few months ago for different reasons could be released in the coming hours because they were elected on Sunday as new members of the Venezuelan National Assembly, and as MPs they have immunity.
If I recall correctly, several of the coalition candidates were chosen in order to get them out of prison.

(Are these men political prisoners?  Quite possibly, though I must add that I know nothing about either case.)
- 2:27 PM, 28 September 2010   [link]


One Of The Ways Chávez Rigged The Legislative Elections In Venezuelan was by redrawing the district lines.
Meanwhile, Mr. Chávez's allies retained control of the National Assembly, though not with a supermajority; they did this partly by remapping districts this year to give sparsely populated rural states greater representation.
(The New York Times calls this "gerrymandering", but going by their description it would be more accurate to call it "mal-apportionment".  It could be be both, of course.)
- 12:51 PM, 28 September 2010   [link]


Congratulations To Kim Jong-un:  Who has just been promoted to general in the North Korean Armed forces.
North Korea's official media say ruler Kim Jong-il has named his youngest son as a military general.  The [North] Korean Central News Agency announced the move on Tuesday, just hours before the start of the ruling party's biggest gathering in 44 years.  It lends credence to predictions that the Workers' Party meeting will be used to prepare for an eventual transfer of power to Kim's third and youngest son, Kim Jong-un.

The agency said that Kim Kyong-hui, which is the name of Kim Jong-il's sister, was also promoted to the rank of general.  Some experts have said she or her husband could be given a prominent post to help prepare the North Korean leader's son, who is only in his 20s, to take over power.
(It's good when a father tries to reduce sibling rivalry, don't you think?)

Although no one outside the North Korean regime really knows, it's likely that the two older sons, Kim Jong-nam and Kim Jong-chul, missed out on the succession because their father saw them as failures.

But those failures didn't lead Kim Jong-il to give up on his communist monarchy.  (And he may even see Kim Kyong-hui as a last resort, if Kim Jong-il doesn't work out.)
- 10:22 AM, 28 September 2010   [link]


Congressman Alan Grayson Is Despicable:  Infamous for vile comments attacking Republicans, he is now running dishonest campaign commercials.
We thought Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida reached a low point when he falsely accused his opponent of being a draft dodger during the Vietnam War, and of not loving his country.  But now Grayson has lowered the bar even further.  He's using edited video to make his rival appear to be saying the opposite of what he really said.
Read the whole FactCheck piece to learn just how despicable Grayson's commercials are.

(More here, with links to even more.

I don't know anything about his opponent, but there is a good chance that Grayson will lose this year.   His district, Florida 8th, leans Republican.  Bush carried it in 2004, 55-45, though McCain lost it in 2008, 47-52, which is almost exactly the margin Grayson won by in the same year.  Cook rates it +2 Republican.

And, since Grayson has annoyed one or two Republicans, his opponent should not lack for campaign funds.)
- 7:28 PM, 27 September 2010   [link]


The California Legislature May Not Be Solving The State's Budget Problems, but they are keeping busy.
On the brink of insolvency, California may have to pay its bills with IOUs soon. A budget was due three months ago, and the legislature hasn't passed one.

The lawmakers can, however, point to a list of other achievements this year.  Awaiting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature, for example, is a bill that would bar the state from filming cows in New Zealand.  It's the fruit of five committee votes and eight legislative analyses.
You'll be happy to learn, if you didn't know already, that the California legislature is a professional legislature.  Members are expected to work full time, are paid well, and have sufficient staff members to support them in their grueling work.

(It is, I am sure, sheer coincidence that two of our most professional legislatures, California and New York, are also two of the worst, by almost any measure.)
- 6:41 AM, 28 September 2010   [link]


The Art Of Gerrymandering:  The New York Times has a good discussion of the general principles, along with some spectacular examples.  My favorite is Arizona 2nd, which is hard to believe, even after you have seen it.

(But understandable if you know how long the Hopi and the Navajo have been quarreling.  The Navajo are mostly in Arizona 1st, if you are wondering.  Both are generally Republican districts, though the 1st is now represented by Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, thanks, in part, to Rick Renzi's legal problems.)
- 1:35 PM, 27 September 2010   [link]


Congressman Earl Pomeroy Misses George W. Bush:  Congressman Pomeroy is a Democrat.  From, granted, North Dakota.

(His campaign site doesn't show any pictures of him with Speaker Pelosi — who may not be all that popular in North Dakota.)
- 12:49 PM, 27 September 2010   [link]


Gains For The Opposition In Venezuela, But . . .  The opposition coalition claims to have won a majority of the vote in the legislative elections (52 percent), but did not come close to winning a majority of seats.
Supporters of President Hugo Chávez won a majority in legislative elections held on Sunday, but the opposition secured at least one-third of the seats, giving it the ability to block critical legislation and top federal appointments, the National Electoral Council said here early Monday.

The results, which also revealed a popular vote across the country that was about evenly split, may open a new phase of negotiation and debate within Venezuela's political system.  The National Assembly had been tightly controlled by Mr. Chávez's allies since 2005, when the opposition tactically erred by boycotting legislative elections that year.

Mr. Chávez's United Socialist Party won at least 90 of the legislature's 165 seats, while a coalition of opposition parties won at least 59 seats, said Tibisay Lucena, the president of the electoral council.  She said several other seats went to a small unaligned leftist party and to indigenous groups, while the winners of some seats were yet to be determined because of close races in parts of the country.
Venezuela uses a mixture of districts and proportional voting.  Chávez changed their electoral system earlier this year in order to protect his majority in the Assembly.

The opposition can, after they take office, block the worst of Chávez's measures.  They can also use their positions in the Assembly to publicize his many failures.  So there is some reason for hope, but no reason for celebration.

(My apologies for that vague description of Venezuela's electoral system.  I have not been able to find an authoritative description of it in English, and I don't read Spanish.)
- 6:40 AM, 27 September 2010
More on the elections from Venezuelan bloggers here and here.  From the first:
The Venezuelan opposition scored a big victory, despite its defeat in not having a majority of the National Assembly.  The opposition obtained 52.9% of the vote, obtaining 635,000 more votes nationwide than Chavez' PSUV party.  Thus, the opposition not only managed to block Chávez from obtaining a two-thirds majority, its minimum political goal, but also showed how rigged the system is when it obtained a majority of the votes, but only around 40% of the Assembly pending the undecided seats.
The second post celebrates Daniel's close prediction of the election results.
- 12:35 PM, 27 September 2010   [link]


NYT Fact Checks Ahmadinejad:  I have one or two little disagreements with our newspaper of record, but I still admire much of what they do.   For example.
As my colleagues Neil MacFarquhar and Liz Robbins report, at the United Nations on Thursday, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claimed that "the majority of the American people, as well as most nations and politicians around the world agree" that "some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated" the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
In fact, as Robert Mackey shows, there are "no countries in which a majority blamed the American government" for the attacks.  (Dismayingly, majorities in only nine countries blame Al Qaeda for the attacks.)
- 10:58 AM, 27 September 2010   [link]


No Substitute For An Exit Strategy:  Remember the 2008 campaign?   Obama argued, again and again, that Afghanistan was the good war, Iraq the bad war, and that we needed to concentrate our efforts on Afghanistan.

Did you believe him?  I didn't, thinking that he was making that argument only to paint himself as not completely soft on national security.  From what I can tell, many on the left agreed with my analysis, and expected Obama to look for a way out of Afghanistan as soon as he was elected.

But what they didn't allow for was the wishes of our military leaders, and their political skill in forcing Obama to accept a policy that he opposed.  If Bob Woodward is basically right, then Obama came into office, not looking for a way to win in Afghanistan (though I don't recall him ever using the words like "win" or "victory"), but looking for an exit plan from the very beginning.
At critical points in the review, the ghosts of Vietnam hovered.  Some participants openly worried that they were on the verge of replaying that history, allowing the military to dictate the force levels.  While Obama sought to build an exit plan into the strategy, the military leadership stuck to its open-ended proposal, which the Office of Management and Budget estimated would cost $889 billion over a decade.  Obama brought the OMB memo to one meeting and said the expense was "not in the national interest."
Woodward goes on to describe how the military won the argument — for the short term, anyway.   Woodward does not discuss, in that excerpt "adapted" from his book, how Obama was trapped by his own campaign rhetoric, nor does he discuss Obama's views on strategy — assuming he has any.

(Obama's efforts to find an exit plan often resulted in truly hilarious lines, though they would be funnier if he weren't the president.)
- 10:09 AM, 27 September 2010   [link]


Yes, Ahmadinejad Did Have a strange week in New York.
It was a strange week for the loony strongman from Iran.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's six nights in New York featured a secret sit-down with militant minister Louis Farrakhan, heckling in a hotel bar, and a fear of being rubbed out that bordered on paranoia.

The president shared a hush-hush meal with Farrakhan and members of the New Black Panther Party Tuesday at the Warwick Hotel on West 54th Street.
But I sure wish we could learn more about that meeting.  (Publicly, I mean.  If our security people are any good at all, the government has a good recording of the meeting.)
- 9:10 AM, 27 September 2010   [link]


Jackson Diehl Explains Why Americans Should Care About Venezuelan Elections:   (Other than wishing the Venezuelans well, of course.)

The American government has been betting that Chávez is a "buffoonish nuisance" that we should ignore.  Diehl argues that Chávez may be a "significant threat" to our interests.
Meanwhile, the argument that Chávez is a significant threat to U.S. security is getting another airing. One of its biggest proponents, former State Department assistant secretary Roger Noriega, last week went public with his case that Chávez has become an active collaborator in Iran's nuclear program.   Noriega, a soft-spoken man who is known as a hard-line conservative, now works at the American Enterprise Institute; he put on a briefing there for journalists, at which he offered what he described as copies of confidential Venezuelan government documents and testimony from undisclosed government sources.
My own opinion is that Chávez is a buffoonish nuisance who is trying, with some success, to become a significant threat to our security.  How much success is hard to tell, given his government's spectacular record of incompetence at governing.
- 8:15 AM, 27 September 2010   [link]


Gains For The Opposition In Venezuela, But . . .  The opposition coalition claims to have won a majority of the vote in the legislative elections (52 percent), but did not come close to winning a majority of seats.
Supporters of President Hugo Chávez won a majority in legislative elections held on Sunday, but the opposition secured at least one-third of the seats, giving it the ability to block critical legislation and top federal appointments, the National Electoral Council said here early Monday.

The results, which also revealed a popular vote across the country that was about evenly split, may open a new phase of negotiation and debate within Venezuela's political system.  The National Assembly had been tightly controlled by Mr. Chávez's allies since 2005, when the opposition tactically erred by boycotting legislative elections that year.

Mr. Chávez's United Socialist Party won at least 90 of the legislature's 165 seats, while a coalition of opposition parties won at least 59 seats, said Tibisay Lucena, the president of the electoral council.  She said several other seats went to a small unaligned leftist party and to indigenous groups, while the winners of some seats were yet to be determined because of close races in parts of the country.
Venezuela uses a mixture of districts and proportional voting.  Chávez changed their electoral system earlier this year in order to protect his majority in the Assembly.

The opposition can, after they take office, block the worst of Chávez's measures.  They can also use their positions in the Assembly to publicize his many failures.  So there is some reason for hope, but no reason for celebration.

(My apologies for that vague description of Venezuela's electoral system.  I have not been able to find an authoritative description of it in English, and I don't read Spanish.)
- 6:40 AM, 27 September 2010   [link]


They Are Counting The Votes In Venezuela:  And the opposition is hopeful.  Moderately hopeful, but still hopeful.
It's too soon to tell what the outcome of the Assembly will be, but early results are encouraging for the opposition.
(One interesting detail about Venezuelan elections:  They "draft" voters to help in the count, and one of the most interesting commenters on Venezuela was drafted.   Here's his description of his experience today.)
- 6:54 PM, 26 September 2010   [link]


The Answer Is A18:  The question is:  If you are a New York Times editor and have to publish a story you hate, where do you hide it?  On page A18.
An official who formerly monitored civil rights for the Justice Department says that his superiors told lawyers they were not interested in pursuing Voting Rights Act accusations against minorities who harass white voters.

A large number of people inside the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department "believe, incorrectly but vehemently," that enforcement of the Voting Rights Act "should not be extended to white voters but should be limited to protecting racial, ethnic and language minorities," said the official, Christopher Coates, the former chief of the Justice Department's voting section.
That sensational charge that belongs on the front page — which is where the Washington Post put it.  The Post described Mr. Coates quite differently than the Times did, and, in my opinion, more accurately.
A veteran Justice Department lawyer accused his agency Friday of being unwilling to pursue racial discrimination cases on behalf of white voters, turning what had been a lower-level controversy into an escalating political headache for the Obama administration.

Coates, former head of the voting section that brought the case, testified in defiance of his supervisor's instructions and has been granted whistleblower protection.
. . .
But Coates has a pedigree different from that of many conservatives.  He was hired at Justice during the Clinton administration in 1996 and had worked for the American Civil Liberties Union.  Sheldon Bradshaw, a high-level Civil Rights Division official in the Bush administration, said Coates "is nonpartisan in how he enforces voting rights laws."
Not only did the Times choose an uninformative AP story and hide it in the newspaper, they published it late, on Sunday rather than on Saturday, or even late on Friday (on the web site).

(I don't know whether Coates is telling the truth, but I do know that the idea that civil rights are the property of minorities is surprisingly common on the left, so what he said is plausible.)
- 6:23 PM, 26 September 2010   [link]


Class Prejudice At The New York Times:  Just a little slip in this review of a new TV series.
Six years ago, Edward Conlon, a New York City police officer who had been writing about his beat under a pseudonym for The New Yorker, published an acclaimed memoir about his experiences in law enforcement called "Blue Blood."  Mr. Conlon comes from a long line of cops and joined the family profession even though he had gone to Harvard.
(Emphasis added.)

In fact, being a New York police officer is more challenging job than most of those held by Harvard graduates.  The job is still seen as vaguely working class, but it isn't easy.   (And it pays better than a lot of jobs that Harvard graduates might take.)

(Ginia Bellafante may be pouting because the reporters in the story are either too ready to sleep with sources, or clueless.

Here's the web site for the program.)
- 1:07 PM, 25 September 2010   [link]